Archive for the 'Young Adult' Category

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Welcome, L.E. Fred!

We are particularly excited to feature L.E. Fred’s LUCID this week. Another fellow Astraea Press author, L.E. spins an amazing tale about dreams in the sleepy havens of R&R where we drift away each night (or at least attempt to following the crazy events of our days). L.E. takes it a step further and poses that freaky question of: What if we got stuck in our world of dreams? Go ahead. Read on, my friends and enjoy the feature! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess


LucidI know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever-you-would-like-to–call-these-stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary — dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms. Sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.

What if your dreams made you disappear?

Available now on AMAZON and BARNES AND NOBLE.

About the Author

LucidAuthorL. E. Fred is a perpetual dreamer who writes about worlds both within and without this realm. With a degree in psychology, L. E. Fred tends to get lost in the mind, the greatest adventure of all. L. E. Fred is currently traveling the world, finding more adventures to inspire new tales of dreams and beyond.

Follow L.E. Fred on Social Media:

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Q & A with L.E.

Q: You write from the P.O.V. of a 15 year-old boy. Is there anyone who shaped Devon’s character as the protagonist.

A: A wonderful counselor-in-training that I worked with actually inspired Devon’s character. Real-life Devon, who shall be nameless, was one of those campers that turned into a CIT when he outgrew the camp’s age groups. I never went to summer camp as a child, so working at one was a very interesting experience. I got to witness real-life Devon change from being a happy-go-lucky camper to a miserable CIT. As for Devon’s personality, that was shaped by my own sense of humor. I wrote Lucid through Devon’s eyes, and my own commentary sort of slipped through. It fit his sarcastic nature, though, and rereading some parts still makes me laugh.

Q: What about the villains? How did they come to be?

A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by mythological monsters. There seems to be a common thread of villainous snakes and lions. A chimera combines these two deadly creatures, along with a goat, into one evil creature. I liked the idea of having three diverse villains; the more you get to know a villain, the scarier they can become for the reader and the heroes. As I wrote, Serpentine, Gruff, and Leona, seemed to appear out of nowhere to fit the evil villain’s roles. The Nightmares were a little trickier. I thought long and hard about how they should be portrayed, and I eventually started combining features of animals and creatures that people feared the most into one character. That’s why they have shark teeth and devil horns.

Q: Lucid is your first novel. Are you currently working on anything else?

A: Since Devon and his friends’ story didn’t want to finish at the end of Lucid, I’m currently working on the sequel. The story will continue our heroes’ adventure, but you’ll get to hear from other characters in it. It will also have much more of a fantasy element with an even crazier cast of characters. Aside from Lucid, I’m working on two more stories, both in the YA fiction genre.

Q: What inspired you to write YA fiction?

A: I’m a teacher, so I love working with young adults and teens. I’ve seen the power of books transform kids’ ways of thinking about the world and boost confidence. Never underestimate the power of reading. I know it played an important role in shaping my future, and I hope to reach out to as many young adults to inspire them to find their inner heroes and go change the world for the better.

L.E.’s Top 5′s:

5 favorite YA books/series

  1. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  2. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
  3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
  4. Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda
  5. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

 5 fun facts about the Lucid crew.

  1. Devon’s favorite thing about the Dream World is the pink grass.
  2. Kyle is deathly afraid of insects. Devon hinted that his older brother screams like a small child when they find roaches in their houses.
  3. Mitch, despite his love for water sports, is afraid of open water. He saw JAWS one too many times to trust the murky deep.
  4. Viv fights with Elis frequently, but she is secretly jealous of his sword skills.
  5. Iven researched the history of human music (with the help of Sophia.) His favorite tunes come from 15th century Gregorian chants and 1980s pop.

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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult | Comment now »


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Welcome, Joanne Troppello!

We are excited to welcome Joanne Troppello — inspirational and romantic suspense author and network marketing coach — to the Highlighted Author. As Joanne is a mega Jane Austin fan, you will find many Austin-inspired details in her writing. Her latest release Mr. Shipley’s Governess is her first venture into the world of YA. Enjoy the guest feature and book spotlight! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

A Message From Joanne

H1010012I am an author of inspirational and romantic suspense novels. My husband and I are Network Marketing Coaches and owners of Mustard Seed Marketing Group, LLC. We have several active blogs and readers are encouraged to visit our Author’s Corner Blog, a place for authors and readers to connect. We host various blog parties throughout the year and many guest authors stop by to meet with readers. My newest release is an inspirational romance novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess and my current work in progress is a YA Fantasy Novel. This is my first foray into the genre of YA fiction and it is exciting growing and stretching myself as an author.

It’s fun to bring my characters to readers’ lives for them to enjoy their story. In Mr. Shipley’s Governess, I wanted to write a tale of love and inspiration with a romantic hero, and a heroine in need of “rescuing.” Now, this is not a damsel-in-distress tale per se, like a knight in shining armor rescuing the imprisoned princess. However, this is more of a modern day twist. The hero, Sebastian Shipley is a well-to-do business man who has a daughter with an illness. She is in need of a live-in tutor. Into the picture comes the heroine, Sophie Baird. So what does she need rescuing from? A few months earlier, her parents died in a car accident and she needs to escape the pain of their death and be rescued from her life.

One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen. I love her books, my favorites–EmmaSense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. I thought it would be neat to include some Austenesque elements into the book and my heroine is also a huge Austen fan. I wanted to write the book with an old-world romance style but in a contemporary setting. My goal was to maintain a classic tone reminiscent of some of the treasured books I’d grown up reading. I hope readers love Sophie and Sebastian as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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Mr. Shipley’s Governess

Mr Shipleys Governess.FINAL PRINT COVERSophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents’ deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her. Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective. When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl.

Purchase now on Amazon.

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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Fiction, Inspirational, Romance, Young Adult | 3 Comments »


Monday, August 4th, 2014

Welcome, Kelly Martin!

We are excited to welcome a fellow Astraea Press author, Kelly Martin. She has a rapidly growing back list — from historicals to inspirational to paranormals (something for everybody!) — to include her Saint Sloan series and Hindsight series. In her own words: “Kelly Martin is a southern girl who writes… a lot. She loves God, is addicted to chocolate, and would rather write than sleep. Kelly loves a good mystery and believes in Sherlock Holmes.” That’s an amazing lineup, and each one of those fave’s are reflected in her writing. Enjoy the feature on one of her latest releases, The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe! –Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

All About Kelly

c97fec7a44de0a7e9d9a49.L._V349956933_SX200_Kelly Martin is the bestselling author of contemporary, historical, and YA romance. By day, she is a preschool teacher. By night, she has her hair in a messy bun and her fingers on the keyboard. She has three little girls, a handsome husband, and somehow manages to write– putting out 10 books in the last 2 years. (She’s not sure how either ;) )

She loves tumblr, gets excited about Sleepy Hollow, and a total Divergent fangirl.

When she isn’t taking care of her family, working, chatting with fans, or writing– she sleeps. Occasionally– unless she needs to beat that ‘one last’ level of candy crush.

A list of her books:

  • Crossing the Deep
  • Saint Sloan
  • Big is Beautiful: A Love Story
  • The Deception of Devin Miller
  • The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe
  • Saving Sloan (Saint Sloan Sequel)
  • Hindsight: Out of the Blue (Part 1)
  • Coming in June: Hindsight: The Black Heart (2)
  • Betraying Ever After: A Shattered Fairytale (July)

Follow Kelly on social media at:

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The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe

81izneiQV7L._SL1500_If Shane Davis had it to do over again, he wouldn’t have gone out that night. He wouldn’t have burned down the church. And he sure wouldn’t have taken the annoying dead girl home with him. 

Now that Shane has her, he has no idea what to do with her. He can’t release her into the “wild” because people will recognize her (being a hundred and fifty year old town ‘legend’ will do that). He can’t send her away because she can’t take care of herself yet. And she can’t stay because if people find her, they’ll know he burned the church. Being eighteen now, Shane definitely doesn’t want that fact coming out. 

Unbeknownst to Shane, someone has figured out the girl’s secret and will do anything to get it for himself… even kill the girl who isn’t so immortal after all. 

…. The Life Series, Book #1

Purchase now on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!


5 STARS for The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe on Barnes and Noble

The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe is an emotional rollercoaster.

The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe is an emotional rollercoaster. I would normally NEVER read a book that has a zombie in it, they just creep me out, knowing that Kelly Martin writes some pretty amazing books I took the chance and read it.

I found myself laughing and then a few pages over feeling heartbroken for Lizzie. This book is certainly NOT a comedy but it has some incredible moments. The thoughts that go through Lizzie’s head, some of the things that she says (she lived and died during the time of the Civil War) so to get to read her reactions to our time was at times snort when you laugh funny.

Shane turns out to be a character that you can really like. He grows on you, the more you read the more you realize maybe, just maybe not everything is at it first seemed.

This book was amazing, I would recommend that you purchase it. Lizzie died from committing suicide and though it does not go into very much detail, if you are buying it for your YOUNG teen then give it a read through first, unless they are allowed to watch zombie movies and stuff like that (my kids are not) just to see if it is something that you think appropriate for them because every child is different.

Kelly Martin did it again with Lizzie Monroe, I look forward to every book that she writes.

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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult | Comment now »


Monday, November 18th, 2013

Welcome Ariella Moon

Join me in welcoming Ariella Moon to Highlighted Author.


Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon writes about magic, friendship, secrets, and love in her Young Adult novels, Spell Check, Spell Struck, and Spell Fire, Books 1, 2, & 3 in The Teen Wytche Saga. Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred Ariella’s teen years. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She now lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, shamelessly spoiled dog, and an enormous dragon.

She here with us this week sharing her fabulous series with us. Be sure to check out her board on Pinterest that’s filled with fun pictures relating to the books!


Click to check it out!


Welcome, Ariella.

Thank you Charlene for hosting me!


Entirely my pleasure! Please tell us about how you came to write The Teen Wytche Saga.

My name is Ariella Moon. I am an author and shaman, so my mind is often in an alternate universe or dimension. My dog, Miss Gracie, a Chihuahua-Papillon-Poodle-Dragon Hatchling, keeps me grounded. Although I sound (okay, am) a bit woo-woo, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis, and have a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Art History.

I began writing for my daughter. At an early age, she tested off the charts for reading and comprehension. I struggled to find age-appropriate books to satisfy her insatiable craving for big stories. By the time she entered college, I had written four award-winning but unpublished manuscripts for middle grade and young adult readers. Then Astraea Press offered me a contract for Spell Check, and the Teen Wytche Saga was born. Spell Struck followed Spell Check, and the third book in the series, Spell Fire, released this month. I am currently at work on the next two books in the series, which will include characters from the first books and feature a teen shaman who harbors a painful secret.


Spell Check

Book 1: The Teen Wytche Saga


Ever since Evie’s photojournalist dad died, paralyzing fear prevents her from picking up a camera. If Evie can’t pull it together soon, she’ll lose her position as Yearbook Photo Editor and suffer academic failure. Even worse, Evie will lose Jordan, her secret crush, if she can’t stop her supposed friend, Parvani, from casting a love spell on him. Despite a falling out, Evie never forgot Jordan. Now they are lab partners and the chemistry between them definitely sparks. Soon the moon will be in the optimum phase for magic. Parvani possesses a brimstone-hissing spell book. To save Jordan, Evie must join forces with Salem, the school Goth. The clock is ticking. Can Evie get her mojo back in time to check this spell?


What they’re saying 

“Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to put a love spell on someone to make them fall for you? What if your best friend wants to put a love spell on the guy you have fallen for because she has a crush on him? Ms. Moon tells a wonderful, entrancing story… Then the feelings that Evie had for Jordan reminded me of how first love feels, giddy and sweet.

Spell Check is a great story for the young adult or the young at heart. I enjoyed the vicarious experience of falling in love, dealing with secrets, and working out best friend issues. Evie’s father dying young does punctuate the need for Evie to live life to the fullest and go after what she wants once she wakes up from her sorrow. It’s food for thought for the rest of us as we enjoy Evie’s spell binding adventure.”—Judy and Marianne, The Long and the Short Of It Reviews

“This book was really fun! …. It had a lot more depth to it than I expected. I highly recommend this enjoyable book! … If you’re in the mood for a fun, young high school book with a little spell action go check it out.”—Kathryn Cooper, Clean Teen Reviews



The Long and Short of It Book of the Month

2008 Zola Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association



Spell Check New CoverAbout ten minutes into class, while Mr. Esenberg wrote on the board, I heard Jordan slide his feet under my desk. My breath wedged in my throat as the tips of his size nine high-performance sneakers nudged the heels of my shoes. Could the girl in front of me hear my heart thudding? Should I move my feet forward?

My feet tingled and refused to move. A blush blazed across my cheeks. I struggled to pay attention to Mr. Esenberg without making eye contact. Forty minutes passed, the bell blared, and I had no idea what had transpired. Hopefully, my notes will make sense. I think I took notes.

Jordan slid his feet back and thudded his book closed. We both bent down and reached for our backpacks. His leaned against mine. Our hands brushed and our heads were so close I could smell his herbal shampoo.

Students walked past us. I’m sure some of them were talking to each other or flipping open their cell phones. But it all faded away along with the smell of chalk, highlighters, and sweat. Everything receded except the warmth of Jordan’s skin, his cinnamon gum-scented breath, and the heart-stopping rush sprinting up my arm.


We jerked apart. Seeing Parvani in the doorway looking hurt and shocked snapped my senses into hyper focus. Conversations sounded extra loud. Colors seemed too bright. It felt like a movie had started, full blast, in a hushed theater.

I grabbed my backpack, stood up, and tried to look innocent. “Hey,” I said, a little too loudly.

Parvani adjusted her designer frames further up her nose. “My mom just called. She’s going to pick me up and drive me to the hospital. We have to drop off the pillows I made.”

Parvani glanced at Jordan as he rose from his chair and stood beside me. I wondered if he knew she made heart-shaped pillows for women who’d had mastectomies. The pillows kept seatbelts from rubbing against the stitches, or something. I should think about building my résumé for college. Besides, I’ve heard helping others alleviates depression.

“Could you tell your mom I don’t need a ride?” I heard a definite edge to her voice.


Jordan slung his backpack over his shoulder. “How’s it going?”

Parvani acted startled, like she had just noticed him. But her voice softened. “Oh. Hello, Jordan.” To me, she said, “Thank you. Goodbye.”

Unease spider-walked down my spine. I took a step toward her, trying to close the chasm that had sprung up between us. “Talk to you later.”

Parvani didn’t reply. She just left, her long black hair swinging across her shoulders.

Jordan fell into step behind me. “Did I miss something? Is she all right?”

He sounded like the old Jordan—the sensitive, pre-Smash Heads Jordan I had grown up with. Since I couldn’t give him the obvious and correct answer, I spun through possible alternatives.

Loud static from the school’s public address system blasted my eardrums, followed by the school secretary’s voice. “Evie O’Reilly. Please come to the office. Evie O’Reilly. Please come to the office.”

I froze. My flushed cheeks grew hotter. Every kid crossing the field had heard my name. Cold fear formed bricks in my stomach. What if something had happened to Mom?


Get yours!  Amazon | Barnes & Noble



Spell Struck

Book 2: The Teen Wytche Saga


Goth outcast, Salem Miller, believes her love spell failed until Aidan Cooper arrives at Jefferson High. When he chooses her over the popular girls, Salem knows magic brought him. But can she summon enough wizardry to save her sister? Salem fears Amy’s next suicide attempt will succeed. Magic brought Aidan. Maybe it can cure Amy. Salem’s last hope lies hidden within a damaged grimoire, nearly destroyed by a wrongful love spell. Was her rightful love spell enough to restore it?

Newest Jefferson High transplant, Aidan Cooper, doesn’t expect to be attracted to a goth. Then he realizes Salem is throwing a glamour — pretending to be something she’s not. Guess it takes one to know one, since his whole life has been a lie. But if his kidnappers discover he’s broken their No Attachments rule, he’ll never see Salem again. Worse, he’s terrified they’ll harm her when they discover she possesses the ancient grimoire. To protect Salem, Aidan must destroy the grimoire, and escape his captors.

While Salem races to unlock the Get Well Spell, Aidan scrambles to overcome his past. With their star-crossed paths at odds, will time run out for both of them?


What they’re saying:

“The Teen Wytche Saga is a gripping series of books that combine otherworldly magick with the everyday struggles of growing up a teenager in America. Ariella Moon draws on her own high school experiences to make Spell Check and Spell Struck ultimately believable even as they venture into the realm of the extraordinary, and Moon’s own experience as a shaman is evident in the well-researched descriptions of Wiccan rites and spell-casting.

While the first book was an enjoyable if slightly predictable teen romance with a magickal twist, Spell Struck brings something else entirely: Unexpected plot twists at every turn of the page grab you and hold on from start to finish. Desperate to learn the mystery of Nico/Aidan’s past and the secrets of the Grey Grimoire, I read Spell Struck from cover to cover in one sitting. The emotional ups and downs tug at your heart and the gripping climax and resolution leave you breathless.”—Karyn Pickles, Amazon Reviewer



SpellStruck_500x750Theater nine was located upstairs, just past the concession stand and the girls’ bathroom. Parvani and Zhù led the pack, tossing unbuttered popcorn at each other. Parvani had sprung for three super-sized popcorn orders. I considered it reparation for wrecking the grimoire. Everyone had bought bottled water except Evie and Aidan, who both claimed they weren’t thirsty. Each had asked the cashier for a free cup of water.

I stood on my tiptoes and peered into the dim, crowded theater. “Do you see any empty seats?”

“There are two over there.” Jordan pointed to a gap high on the left.

“We’ll never find six together,” Zhù said. “You and Evie should grab them.”

“Go!” Parvani said. Jordan and Evie sprinted for the stairs.

“Looks like four together down there.” Aidan nodded toward the back row in the section closest to the screen. We dashed for them, only to discover coats on two of the seats.

“These two are free.” A woman holding a box of frozen bonbons pointed to the seats without coats.

“Take them,” I told Parvani, since she was closest to the seats and had, after all, paid for everything.

“But what about you two?”

Aidan touched my shoulder and pointed. “Check out those, and I’ll scope this side.”

I ran to the left and down two rows. The lights dimmed further, signaling the previews were about to start. “Are those seats free?”

The couple closest to the seats bobbed their heads. I waved for Aidan. Watching out for toes and trying to not spill the popcorn, I excused my way to the empty seats. Aidan reached me as the theater went black.

“Made it.” Relief and excitement infused his words.

I giggled. “Ye of little faith.”

An amused grin lit his face. Guess he hadn’t realized I was capable of an expression other than scowling.

The first trailer roared onto the screen, an action flick with a thundering soundtrack. Behind us, a teen yelled, “Woo hoo!” at the screen. I jumped at the sudden, deafening whir of helicopter blades and almost dropped the popcorn. Aidan caught it.

“Only a few casualties.” Aidan’s breath was warm against my ear, further accelerating my heart. “I better hold it. You might faint when Shay Stewart comes on.”

Can’t he see how much he resembles Hollywood‘s bad boy? “Shay is Evie’s crush, not mine,” I said in his ear.

Aidan brushed back my chin-length hair. His calloused fingertips grazed my ear, fluttering my abdomen. “And who is your secret crush?”

You. “Haven’t got one,” I lied. The screen went dark in the two seconds between trailers. The next trailer played — a tragic love story due out on Thanksgiving. The boisterous theater crowd hushed. The hospital setting reminded me of Amy and my dream. Renewed worry engulfed me.

I glanced at Aidan. He leaned forward in his seat, his index finger slanted across his lips, his jaw propped up on his thumb. While watching the hospital scene, his face seemed to morph into a younger version of himself. He appeared so sad and vulnerable. Empathy and something more coursed through me.

Aidan lowered his hand. His finger pressed against my skin, shooting a delicious tingle up my arm. When I didn’t move away, he hooked his finger over mine. My breath caught. We stayed, frozen, hyper-focused, for what seemed like three lifetimes. Then Aidan trailed his fingertips across the back of my hand. The soundtrack, popcorn smells, and theater audience melted into the background. The world narrowed down to the unspoken grief and need entangled in Aidan’s touch.

I rotated my hand so my palm faced upward. Aidan hesitated. Our gazes locked in the flickering light. The spell link humming between us lit up like blue lightning. At least I think it was the spell link. Aidan plunged his fingers between mine. Our palms pressed together, igniting a current. Air shuddered from my lungs. Magic rippled from us in successive waves.

My heart stuttered. My breath ceased. Every cell within me vibrated. Troops of fairies or dragonflies took flight in my lower abdomen. It’s possible blue lightning shot from my boots.

Good thing I wasn’t holding the popcorn.


Get yours!  Amazon Barnes & Noble



Spell Fire

Book 3: The Teen Wytche Saga


New school. New friends. New reputation. High school sophomore Ainslie Avalon-Bennett works hard to hide her Crazy Girl past. But as long as her best friend’s disappearance remains unsolved, she can’t shake the depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder that once landed her in a mental ward.

Ainslie’s tenuous control over her life shatters when her warring parents ditch her at Christmas. While they take a cruise to “work things out,” Ainslie must spend the holiday in Palm Springs with her aunt and uncle, owners of a struggling Mystery School and occult store. Plunged into the world of fire fortunes, dragons, entity eaters, and an ailing spell book, Ainslie is well beyond her comfort zone. Then she meets a boy who spikes her pulse and calms her OCD.  But will she lose him once he discovers her past? Or will his deadly secret, hidden in plain view, be their undoing?



SpellFire2_500x750I found a patch of sunlight where I could sit with my back against the wall and pulled out The Scarlet Letter. I kept my head down while Uncle Esmun arrived and took his seat. Years before Sophia’s disappearance and my descent into the rabbit hole, I had sat in on a few of Dad’s business meetings. I knew the protocol. Be quiet and inconspicuous. Don’t interrupt the adults; they have important business matters to discuss. Only these adults were discussing the tarot cards they had drawn from a deck in the center of the table.

I tried to concentrate on Hawthorne’s book, on Hester’s vengeful husband who’d practiced medicine under an assumed name. But Hazel was telling the rest of the group she had just returned from Cornwall, England and had brought each of them a gift. I wondered what it could be. Seashells? Photos of quaint cottages?

ʺI have a pixie for each of you.ʺ

Right. Like you could get those past customs.

ʺHow nice of you, Hazel,ʺ Aunt Terra said.

I thought back to what I knew about pixies. Weren’t they supposed to be a) extremely troublesome and b) not real?

Hazel sashayed up to each Board member, starting with Cerelia, and acted like she was putting a pixie in their hands or on their shoulder. As she progressed around the table, some members oohed and aahed as if she was a three-year-old showing off a crayon drawing. When she approached Evie’s grandmother, the tote vibrated, rattling the glass table. Hazel faltered, her expression uncertain. She dropped back, and the rattling stopped. Brimstone smells hissed through the closed zipper. Cerelia shrank back.

Evie’s grandmother pointed a warning finger at the tote. ʺStop it. Don’t be rude.ʺ

My jaw dropped. Thor glanced at me, then flicked his gaze back to the tote. It stopped emitting smoke.

Uncle Esmun rubbed his nose. Hazelʹs head wobbled as if she were figuring out her next course of action. She still cupped her hand as if she carried an invisible pixie.

Hello! Did you not notice the real magical object in the room?

Seemingly unable to drop the pretense, Hazel advanced toward the alientologist. He ignored her and scribbled in his little notebook. Thor politely rebuffed her. Both rose at least twenty degrees on my Guy Approval Meter.

I checked my watch. The meeting had started forty minutes ago. Nothing had been accomplished. No one had addressed the tote situation. My face warmed again. I shifted position. Instead of sitting against the wall with my legs straight in front of me, I sat cross-legged and hunched over my book. A tugging sensation rippled between my shoulder blades.

Thor glanced my way.

The more I thought about how much Aunt Terra and Uncle Esmun must need every cent the store and mystery school could generate, the more energy swelled behind me. Warmth radiated from my face. My whole body felt as if it was glowing. I tried to distract myself by flitting back to my book and my lengthy homework assignment list.

I couldn’t concentrate.

Hazel had reached Aunt Terra and delivered what I hoped was the last pixie. She pivoted and spied me. The energy behind me compacted. It crackled with huge warrior/ninja/dragon chi — alert and ready to strike. The thought of straightening up and backing into it set the fine hairs on my forearms and nape on end.

Thor’s eyes met mine. Our gazes locked, and I swear he did a Zen mind meld. Soothing waves of chi — energy — flowed through me. The brimstone stink evaporated, replaced by the calming scent of lavender and sage.

Hazel’s gaze swiveled from me to Thor, then back to me. Looking buffeted by an unseen wind, she silently returned to her seat.

The corners of Thor’s full lips curved upward. Two urges warred within me — the desire to leap across the room and kiss him, and the urge to arch my neck and breathe fire.

Thor’s smile widened.


 Get yours!  Amazon Barnes & Noble


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

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Monday, February 11th, 2013

Welcome Wild At Heart Authors

This week we have a special presentation brought to you by the Diamond State Romance Authors, the Arkansas chapter of Romance Writers of America.


Wild at Heart, Volumes I & II are anthologies produced by the Diamond State Romance Authors as a project of love to benefit the rescued animals of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. All profits from these collections will go directly to the refuge to help with the care and feeding of these wonderful creatures.

In this week’s feature, we’ll meet some of the authors that donated their time and talents to make this all possible. But first, let’s take a look at these wonderful works. The beautiful models used on these covers are tigers that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge their home, by the way.




Wild at Heart Volume I

Consists of adult stories focused on large-animal rescue and/or the dangers of keeping one as a pet.

Click Image To Purchase . . .


Volume I Story/Authors:

 A Boy, A Girl, A Tiger - Cynthia D’Alba
Saving Akira - Candace Sams
True Instinct - Charlene Roberts
Beached - Dustin Stevens
Spirit of a Tiger - Elle James
Sunlight and Solace - Gina Wilkins
Archer Falls - Lauren Smith
Wedding Crasher - Lindy Dierks
Saving Angel - Lynda Frazier
Buck – M Marie
Storm Haven - Vanessa North
Available now at Amazon.  


Wild at Heart Vol II

Includes a wonderful variety of contemporary and paranormal tales. The stories in this volume were inspired by the animals and are appropriate for Young Adults. 

Click Image To Purchase . . .


Volume II Story/Authors:

Freedom - Connie Wilkins
Cat’s Rule - Aileen Fish
Salveje - Anna Meadows
Home by Midnight - Brinda Berry
In the Piney Woods - Delilah Devlin
The Girl and the Puma - Jane Hansen
Vision Quest - Karis Walsh
Refugee - Lori Freeland
Teens Gone Wild - Margaret Ethridge
Fierce Wild - Megan Mitcham 
Heart’s Solace - Tara Fox Hall 

Available now at Amazon. 








Brinda Berry on KTHV about Wild at Heart





And now, may I introduce to you this week’s featured authors…and a few other special guests. *wink*


Lauren Smith

Author of Archer Falls

(Vol I)

About Lauren

Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens historical, paranormal romance and romantic suspense stories by the light of her smartphone flashlight app. Her wickedly seductive Regency Romance series the League of Rogues about a group of London’s ultimate bad boys will be available from Samhain Publishing, with the first book Godric coming out in January 2014.

Facebook  Website




Archer Falls

Spotted Pines Refuge worker Samantha Gray gets more than she bargains for when she is rescued by a jaguar in a national park. But there’s more to this jaguar than meets the eye, in fact, he reminds her of the mysterious and wealthy owner of the refuge, Archer Falls. Caught between danger and the pull of Archer’s seductive gaze, Samantha begins to wonder just how her boss is connected to the jaguar that went missing since the night he saved her life.


Lindy Dierks

Author of The Wedding Crasher

(Vol I)


About Lindy

An avid reader her entire life it had never occurred to Lindy to start writing until a short time ago. Directionally impaired and prone to falling, comedy pretty much fills her life on a daily basis. If you add in a practical joker husband, two adorable children, and three pets there is always something to laugh at. Lindy squeezes on writing contemporary romance, with a healthy dose of humor, in between a full time job, her family, and the mountains of laundry.

You can find Lindy’s story Wedding Crasher in Wild At Heart, Volume One.


The Wedding Crasher


Uptight wedding planner, Stella, is under major pressure to pull off a storybook wedding for a very prestigious client. Her reputation and the funding of her aunt and uncle’s wildlife refuge are depending on her. When a tiger crashes the wedding festivities, sparks fly as Stella and the refuge’s sexy veterinarian, Aaden, have to work together to tranquilize the tiger and save the wedding.


Lynda Frazier

Author of Saving Angel

(Vol I)


About Lynda

Lynda Kaye Frazier is an avid reader of romantic suspense and started her writing career over a year ago.  She works full time at a Cardiology clinic, while writing her own novels at night. She grew up in Pennsylvania, but now lives in Arkansas where she enjoys the four seasons without a long, cold winter. Other than spending time with her family, her favorite things to do are writing, reading and listening to music, but her most favorite is going to the beach. Surf, sand, and a good book, her stress relief.
Website  Blog  Facebook 


Saving Angel

What if you knew the truth, but no one would listen. Jean went against everything she believed in , and broke all the rules to save Angel. An injured lion who’s life depended on her ability to stay one step ahead of the hunters and the only man she has ever loved.



Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge -

Animal of the Week – Bam Bam


Charlene Roberts

Author of True Instinct

(Vol I) 

About Charlene

Charlene Roberts lives in Toronto, Canada. Her writing career started after helping a friend type her historical novel. When she became a member of her local writing group, she pursued her love of the written word until her first sale and hasn’t looked back since.

She has worked as a Script Supervisor, Book Reviewer for Romantic Times, modeled, and now works as an Administrative Assistant at a consulting company. However, her love of creating stories for others to read and enjoy still remains her first and foremost passion.



Candace Sams

Author of Saving Akira

(Vol I)


About Candace

Candace Sams (also writing erotica as C.S. Chatterly) has published over fifty novels. Several of her paranormal/action-adventure titles are now being vetted for movie options. She resides in a rural area of the U.S. with her husband and a plethora of pets. She loves to hear from readers. Contact her any time at or Be sure to sign up for a free newsletter where giveaways and prizes having to do with her books are offered!

Website    Facebook   Twitter


Saving Akira

It’s just another day on duty. Or is it?

Mark O’Neill has been a cop for a number of years. He’s seen and done a lot, but nothing could prepare him for a call to help capture a loose and rare Bengal tiger.

Sarah Thompson is the vet brought in to help Mark. She’s the one who has to get close enough to tranquilize the 600 lb. cat.

When it comes to loving animals, the pair have something in common. But will their efforts be enough to help save the cat named Akira? Or will the tiger be the latest victim of a careless smuggler?


Tara Fox

Author of Heart’s Solace

(Vol II)

About Tara

Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chain-sawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.


Website   Facebook   Twitter

Heart’s Solace

Tasha’s heart goes out to the scarred cougar, working hard to successfully save her father’s latest acquisition. But the Russian teen quickly learns that there is much more to the great cat, who clearly understands spoken words. When the cougar is reveled to be a hunted male werecougar named Theo, Tasha must make the choice to free Theo to face his certain doom…or bespell him with the help of a mysterious benefactor to protect his life.



Turpentine Creek Wildlfe Refuge -

Ziggy, Tigger G, and Brody Get New Digs!

Lori Freeland

Author of Refugee

(Vol II)

About Lori

Lori Freeland, addicted to coffee and imaginary people, hangs out in the Dallas area, is a contributor and blogger for, a contributor and editor at The Christian Pulse, and a writing coach who facilitates critique groups at North Texas Christian Writers. She is also a member of RWA and the winner of the YA category of the ACFW First Impressions Contest. Wild at Heart is her second anthology.

Website  Facebook  Twitter






When a girl loses her memory after a traumatic accident, she is sent to work at a big cat refuge for the summer by her psychiatrist, who believes it is there that she can find herself. Not only does she discover what she really is, but she stumbles on a love that can lead her home.



Brinda Berry

Author of Home By Midnight

(Vol II)


About Brinda

Brinda Berry lives in Arkansas with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s the author of the YA Whispering woods series. Brinda is terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.

Website  Facebook Twitter






Home By Midnight

Trey thinks breaking up with his girlfriend Katie will be a piece of cake. He has a college life full of dating ahead of him. In the isolated woods, he’s delivered the news when a tiger enters the picture.  Breaking up has never been more dangerous.



Megan Mitcham

Author of Fierce Wild

(Vol II)


About Megan

Megan was born and raised among the live oaks and shrimp boats of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where her enormous family still calls home. She attended college at the University of Southern Mississippi where she received a bachelor’s degree in curriculum, instruction, and special education. For several years Megan worked as a teacher in Mississippi. She married and moved to South Carolina and began working for an international non-profit organization as an instructor and co-director.

It wasn’t until nearly a year after her son was born that Megan fell in love with books. Until then, books had been a source for research or the topic of tests. But one morning while her son was taking one of his several naps, at the time, she picked up the book Mercy by Julie Garwood that her neighbor had dropped by the day before. During the time her son napped that day she finished the book. And Oh Mercy, she was hooked!

Megan currently lives in Southern Arkansas where she is completing a romantic thriller novel series and building a career as an author.

Website  Blog  Twitter




Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge -

BB and Mack Release


~ * ~

I would like to thank all the authors who have taken part in our special Wild at Heart Presentation. We appreciate the extra time you’re spending to spread the word about this benefit and for going beyond the call of kindness. I’d also like to thank the staff at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge for the amazing job they’re doing with these animals and for making videos available for everyone to see and share.

And to all of our Highlighted Author readers, please do check out the Wild at Heart books. Get them for your family, friends, co-workers, give them as gifts, and recommend these books to others so they can do the same.  After all, doesn’t everyone need to feel a little Wild at Heart? *smile*




Until next time, 

Charlene A. Wilson



Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Anthology, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult | 4 Comments »


Monday, May 28th, 2012

Highlighted Author Revisited

From the time Highlighted Author opened its doors, I’ve had the opportunity to feature some amazing authors from around the world.  It’s been a wonderful experience for me to meet and work with these dedicated people, many of whom I continue to work with in the writing industry.  Some I have the honor to call friends.

You may not know that when I began Highlighted Author, it started out as a small blog on Blogger.  It quickly moved to its own domain here at 

This week, I’d like to go back and revisit those who believed in Highlighted Author from the beginning.  Meet the first ten Highlighted Author authors.


Tenth Post 

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

 Welcome S.R. Claridge

Please join me in welcoming S.R. Claridge to Highlighted author. First off, tell us a little about yourself, Susan. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, met my husband at the University of Missouri, Columbia where I got my BA in Psychology. We married shortly after graduation and moved to Los Angeles, then to Boulder, [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionMystery/Suspense | Comment now » |



Ninth Post

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Welcome Sandra Cox

Today I’m proud to welcome, Sandra Cox,  a fellow Class Act Books author to Highlighted Author.  Thank you so much for joining us, Sandra.  First of all, I’d like to thank Charlene for hosting me today. Thanks, Charlene! Today, I’d like to chat briefly about Crossover YAs. How many of you are familiar with the term? [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionUrban FantasyYoung Adult | 2 Comments » |



Eighth Post

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Welcome Marsha A. Moore

Please join me and welcome Marsha A. Moore to Highlighted Author. Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself. I live near Tampa, having moved here from Toledo, Ohio, officially during the summer of 2009. I stayed the previous winter helping my mother get settled into her house in a neighboring community. Who [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in EroticaFantasyFiction | 11 Comments » |


Seventh Post 

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Welcome Toni V. Sweeney

Join me in welcoming Toni V. Sweeney to Highlighted Author. Toni’s writing career began during an extended convalescence following an automobile accident. Since her recovery, she has survived hurricanes in the south, tornados and snow-covered winters in the Mid-eastern United States, and earthquakes, and forest fires in California. She has been associated with the South [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FantasyFiction | 1 Comment » |


Sixth Post

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Welcome Linda Rettstatt

Join me in welcoming Linda Rettstatt to Highlighted Author. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?  I grew up in Brownsville, a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania. My first job after high school was working as a clerk for the local newspaper. The news editor knew I wanted to write and, when a [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionWomens Lit | Comment now » |


 Fifth Post

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Welcome Anastasia V. Pergakis

I’m excited to welcome Anastasia V. Pergakis to Highlighted Author today. She is a wonderful friend and critique partner. Honestly, I don’t think her creativity ever stops. But I won’t take all her time away by doing the talking. I’ll let you meet her yourselves. Welcome Anastasia!   Thanks for having me Charlene! It’s an [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FantasyFiction | Comment now » |


Fourth Post 

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Welcome Rochelle Weber

I’m pleased to welcome Rochelle Weber to Highlighted Author today. Welcome, Rochelle. Tell us about your latest book. Rock Crazy was just contracted by MuseItUp Publishing. Katie McGowan is a spoiled brat with bi-polar disorder, and she doesn’t always take her meds. Her husband, Scott, is growing tired of her mood swings and violent tantrums. [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionSci-Fi | Comment now » |


Third Post

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Welcome Rachel D. Thompson

Please join me in welcoming Rachel D. Thompson to Highlighted Author. Welcome, Rachel.  I’ll turn the time over to you to tell us a bit about yourself and your book. It’s great to be featured on Charlene’s blog today, and to have Tied to a Demon listed on her Great Reads page. I’ve been writing [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionParanormal Romance | Comment now » |


Second Post

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Welcome Michelle Davidson Argyle

Join me in welcoming Michelle Davidson Argyle to Highlighted Author   Thanks for being with us, Michelle.  First of all, tell us a little about yourself. I started writing when I was ten years old and I’ve never stopped! I’ve always wanted to write novels for a living and I’m finally getting to the point [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FantasyFiction | Comment now » |


First Post

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Welcome Dorothy Cox

Please join me in welcoming Dorothy Cox to Highlighted Author.   Welcome, Dorothy. Please tell us about yourself and your featured book. I’m a 23 year old college student who just happened to write a book. I don’t really consider myself an author. I’m a student, a wife, a lab tech, and occasionally I write [...]

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in FictionParanormal RomanceUrban Fantasy | Comment now » |






Monday, March 12th, 2012

Welcome Carrol Wolverton

Join me in welcoming Carrol Wolverton to Highlighted Author.


Carrol spent a good share of her adult life writing and paid for her first semester of college with a winning essay as part of the D. T. John Memorial Scholarship from Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  She served for ten years as a single parent counselor in two states and also worked in a counseling position with the State of Florida, serving disabled citizens.  She also spent eight years as a real estate salesperson and broker.  Retiring in 2001, she faced boxes of unfinished manuscripts and set a goal of finally getting them right.  She is a member of North Florida Writers, having served as president.  They say to write what you know.  She’s doing exactly that.

Among her published works are:  Serious Survival: Skills for Single Parents, Back Bay Boston Basement, Sex, Lies & Real Estate, Living Cheap & Loving It, tomatoes in the flower bed, Method Weight Management: A Common Sense Approach to Weight Loss, and Raylaina, the story of a teen with an abusive boyfriend.

Welcome, Carrol.  Which book have you chosen to have featured this week?

Hello, All.  I’m featuring my most recent novel, Raylaina, the story of a teen with an abusive boyfriend. I recommend it as required reading for all young women active in the dating scene.


Raylaina is fiction.  Is it based on anyone you know?  I understand you have experience with this matter.

Yes, it’s fiction, and yes, I have experience with the subject.  I spent ten years as a single parent counselor in Georgia and Florida.  As anyone with counseling experience can attest, the stories one hears are incredible.  As I write this, I’m thinking of the then thirty-something woman who couldn’t build any keyboarding speed because her ex crushed the bones in her left hand with a hammer.

Raylaina is nowhere near that gloomy.  That her beautiful Daren selects her is no accident, however.  She is young; she is innocent.  Her family is a shadow of it’s once prominence.  He slowly weaves his way into her heart to become her first real love.  Her life changes as she distances herself from friends and family.  Everyone sees what’s happening except Ray.  After all, she’s in love.


Tell us a bit about it.

The setting is North Florida in a typical smaller community.  Her family’s old farm existence is all but history as her world subdivides around her.  Ray loves her heritage and her old Cracker farmhouse, but the community around her wants it torn down.  Mom works long hours since grandma died and the family money evaporated.  Life is not easy, but it’s okay. Her life is populated with friends and family.

Daren shakes all this apart.  The abuse is not physical.  It’s isolating and demanding as his darker side reveals itself.  Ray does not see the signs, nor does she believe what she’s being told.  The abuse is not physical until near the end.

I’m told the story is good and will draw you in.  It’s my best selling work so far, primarily because of amazon’s direct publishing site and promotion.  I will never get rich doing this, but maybe I can make a difference.  So far, it’s working.


Yes, it is.  Here’s what they’re saying:

“If this book provokes even one discussion about abuse with a family member, a teacher, or another teen, it’s a worthwhile read.  The story is good, but the message is even better.  Abusive relationships are all over, and awareness is the key to ending it.  A recommended read for sure.”—Mila Bernadkin
Award-winning author of “The Attitude Girl”

“Wow. C. A. Wolverton hit it out of the ballpark with Raylaina, the Story of a Teen With an Abusive Boyfriend.  The voice is authentic, witty, and southern.  This is a story every pre-teen and teen girl AND boy should read along with their parents.  The story delivers a thoughtful message without ever being heavy-handed or preachy.  A wonderful read.  This book will be a keeper on every shelf it graces.”—N. Jean Osborn “Elvis Fan in the 21st Century”


If you could give anyone who hasn’t made it to publication advice, what would it be?

As with many of you reading this, I’ve been rejected more times than I can count by mainstream publishers, small presses, and agents.  Publishing is a tough, brutal world.  My advice is simple: keep writing.  Read a lot.  Good writers are prolific readers.  Spend as little cash as possible. Paying big bucks to publish a book is a terrible mistake. You take all the risks and are left to do your own promoting.  So many of the publishing sites have as their sole purpose to sell YOU books.  Too many authors have a closet and trunk full of unsold books.  With websites such as and amazon’s publishing options, there is no need for this.  Barnes & Noble has their own program as well, and I’m sure there are others.  When they want your money in other than minimal amounts, hit delete.

The digital revolution is reshaping the publishing world.  The ebook of Raylaina is welling quite well, probably because I’ve signed up for all their promotion options and sell it for 99 cents.  It’s free for amazon prime customers and will be made available to libraries as well.  I only hope and pray the message in this book reaches as far and wide as I can make it reach.

Thank you, Charlene, for your help.


It was my pleasure, Carrol.  I wish you all the best with Raylaina.


Click Image To Purchase!




The setting is Southern. The old Cracker farmhouse leaks, rattles, and sags but supports Raylaina, her brother, their single parent mama – and most of the old farm’s remaining critters. The surrounding newer subdivision mocks the long-ago prosperity that once provided chickens and eggs for much of the area. Ray seeks adulthood, a better life, and the education to provide that better life.

Mesmerized by the good looks of the young man who moves in across the street, she and friend Kimmy set about to meet him. They immediately learn these are different folk. When Ray does meet him, the attraction is instant and mutual. Soon enough, in subtle ways, his conflicting behaviors puzzle her, but she is hooked but good. Becoming adult is uncomfortable and difficult. Even though she knows what to do, her conflicted emotions scream otherwise. Usually this story is told after the fact. Here you watch it happening.


Rayliana: The Story of a Teen with an Abusive Boyfriend



Chapter 1

Kimmy stood on my front porch and grinned happily. “Ray, come see my new car.” Sure enough, next to my brother’s beat-up Toyota sat a brand new light blue VW convertible so shinny it made my eyes blink in the morning sun.

The phone rang.

“Come in. Let me get that,” I said.

“Get her outside for a little bit,” my brother’s hushed voice said.

“Jerry? Where are you?”

“Upstairs, Dummy.”

“I thought you were asleep. There’s no phone upstairs.”

“It’s my cell.”

“Nobody in this family owns a cell.”

“So, I do. Don’t tell Mama, okay?” Jerry said.

“How did you pay for it?”

“It’s a cheap pay-up-front out-of-date model, just like everything else around this place. Sold some rims I got from the junkyard. I don’t use it much to save minutes. Get her outside fast.”

I told Kimmy that we needed to go back on the porch for a few, so my brother could make a run for the shower downstairs off the kitchen. We both giggled. A few years earlier, we would have hidden by the back screen door and scared him silly as he raced through. Being older now, the rules have changed. We walked outside, but Kimmy glanced backward anyway, as a blur moved past.

“I want to meet the new guy across the street,” she said, turning back around.

“I saw their daughter,” I added. Maybe we can pretend we want to meet her. I don’t know anything about them.”

“All I know is he’s totally glorious gorgeous.”

Kimmy danced around all happy as we practically skipped across the road like little girls, her perfectly blunt cut brown hair shined almost as much as the car. What happened next collapsed the skip.

“Whadya want?” A voice broke through the closed door responding to my knock. A church sounding chime froze mid-chime as if someone thumped the thing. A ghostly figure moved behind the beveled glass and metal door as we both jumped back. I couldn’t make out details other than large size. A heavy male voice scared the you-know-what out of us with its force and made me stammer.

“Um, ah, uh, hey. I’m Ray Johnstone. I live in the old Billingsley farmhouse across the street. My family originally homesteaded this place a super long time ago.” This all came tumbling out half breath.

“So?” the door ghost smacked back.

“I think you have a daughter our age. Thought we’d introduce ourselves.”

“We’re busy,” the voice said. “Go away.”

“Hey Mister,” Kimmy said. “We don’t act like that in Valendale or anywhere else in the South. Where are your manners?” she said and sounded like her mother by emphasizing the “are.”

“Get off my property,” the voice slapped again.

Kimmy and I looked at each other, turned, and walked back to my porch. Jerry stood just inside the door, fully dressed, shaved, and smelling like aftershave. He shaved? Aftershave at nine in the morning? I would break out laughing, but he’d get me later. I know the reason – it’s Kimmy – make that Country Club Kimmy and my best friend.

We don’t get together as much in the summer because she hangs at the club pool. Her parents and grandparents jointly own the pro shop, which per Kimmy, does very well because of its thriving custom-made golf club business.

“Doesn’t that just beat all,” she said, this time sounding like her grandmother Gloria. “I’m still going to meet that guy. Great neighbors you have there, Ray.”

“Want some pecan ice cream?” Jerry said and smiled so sweetly that I wanted to smack him.

“Of course I want pecan ice cream,” she said, and smiled back as Jerry held the door for her. Oh, please – this would never happen for me. Would lock me out right now if he could get by with it.

With anyone other than Kimmy, I’d be self-conscious of our weatherworn hundred-plus-year-old Cracker farmhouse, but she has been here enough that it’s okay. We have been fast friends ever since first grade when she ran straight into my arms after falling off a playground swing. I threw my arms around her and we cried together. That did it and cemented us as friends forever.

A quart of homemade ice cream later, Kimmy, Jerry, and I walked out to admire her new car, and she left. We made plans to visit the counseling office at Valendale High next week and get our schedules and homeroom number early, so we knew where we were going the first day and didn’t look like lost idiots.

“Want to join us?” Kimmy asked Jerry.

“No way,” he said. “Want no part of that place any sooner than necessary.” I found out later that he slipped in on his own and got his schedule.


I sank into our oldest wicker rocker that dated back to my granmama and set it in motion. Soft gusts blew through the tops of the pines making a breezy sound carrying me back to my past and making me feel connected with my surroundings. I’m home here, but I can’t stay protected forever, though I’d like to. There are so many times when I just don’t know what to say or do anymore, such as with this bad news character across the street.  He lives on what was once our family’s land – as if he cares. Little did I know what a year his behavior signaled.

Kimmy’s right. Nobody treats anybody that way and certainly not in here in Valendale. Mama said we may divorce, steal, and raise Cain just like the rest of the country, but we go to church and pray whole lot for forgiveness – and are polite in public. I guess maybe the polite part is not so true anymore because Mama’s a grocery store cashier and gets all kinds of crazy people through the line. So, what’s my problem? Things keep happening to me inside and out that never happened before, and I don’t know what to do when my emotions get in the way.

I live with my mother and brother and will be sixteen the end of August, a fact that allowed me to enter school earlier than many others. Jerry is two years older and already eighteen, even before entering his senior year. He is not all that dumb, but he remains a year behind in school, and I am not about to let him forget it. He entered first grade a year late after repeating kindergarten. “Not ready,” they told our mother.

He’s still not ready in my view. Mama said our daddy’s leaving put him behind early on. Jerry is either talking or eating, sometimes both at once, which makes me want to puke. Fish Face loves me just about as much as I love him. He was back behind me.

“The girl’s name is Mary Taylor. Her brother is Daren. See, ya shoulda asked da bro’.” His mocking tone irritated me all over again. “I met him at the convenience store. Nice guy. Drives a cool black Rav 4 and had cash money to fill the gas tank.” Jerry emphasized the “cash money” part. He said that Daren used to drive a 4 Runner that was a lot like his Toyota, under the hood anyway. He told me all this as if he was not completely obnoxious and nothing happened across the street.

“You’re not supposed to hang out there anymore,” I said, just to say something. “They posted a ‘No Loitering’ sign because of you. Want that old Mrs. Perkins or whatever her name is calling Mama again?”

Ignoring me, he said, “Daren gave me some good information on keeping our cars running. Even gave me his cell number if I need help.”

“He did? May I have it?” I wouldn’t call, but Kimmy would, despite the grinch bellowing at us.


Mama’s Toyota is a year newer, but it looks almost exactly like Jerry’s, which is none too good. Both wear a sun-baked dull red finish, and both are rusting from the top down, the way cars do in the South. Both came from some rental fleet our bank sold off for a rent-a-wreck agency that went broke, probably because the cars wouldn’t run. We own living proof. The Toyotas were the last two vehicles left, and Mama bought them two-for-one with no money down and another loan against our remaining property. Most people think we have just one car. I don’t correct them. It’s as if we only have one anyway because of the regular car crises.

Making it worse, Jerry keeps reminding Mama of all we don’t have. I can’t do it, and somehow we get by. It started raining and matched my mood exactly.

“Mama,” I heard him say later, “we just gotta get hold of high speed Internet. I’m the only one of my group on dial-up.”

“Why?” Mama said.

“I need it for my homework. I need it to find car parts. I need it to stay alive.”

“Use the library computers.”

“I’m allergic to the library.”

“I need a whole lot more to stay alive, too,” she said. “and high speed Internet doesn’t make the cut. You’d like us to have cable, too, maybe?  How about wireless? Hey, why not throw in three cell phones and some video stuff to make our lives complete. Yeah, we need high-speed internet something bad. How grand our lives would be.” Jerry stomped off.


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

Author Page:



You can get your copy of Rayliana at Amazon. 




Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Fiction, Young Adult | Comment now »


Monday, February 6th, 2012

Welcome Ronnie Dauber

Join me in welcoming Ronnie Dauber to Highlighted Author.


Ronnie is a published author of both young adult and adult books. She lives in Ontario with her husband and children. She enjoys cooking and gardening, but her greatest passion is writing books and short stories.

Welcome, Ronnie.  Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ronnie Dauber and I’m a Canadian author. I’ve been writing short stories and poems since I was a child, and in fact, I won my first poetry award when I was twelve years old for a dedication that I wrote to President John F Kennedy shortly after his assassination. Since then I’ve written hundreds of poems but I’ve never been compelled to do anything more with them than to write for pleasure.

I do, however, have a passion to write books, especially for teens. I believe that we as a community need to encourage children and teens to read more, and I’m aware that reading has a great influence on the development of character. So, I have made it my quest to write fast paced adventure books for teens that are loaded with action and excitement but that are void of profanity, insolence and sexual content.  I believe that a good book should build character and not tear it down.

I’m currently writing a y/a series called, The Misadventures of Sarah Davies, and to date Mudslide and Firestorm have been published, and the third, Whiteout, should be released by early spring. I’ll start writing the fourth in the series, Power Down, in March and I hope to have it out by fall. I think this book is going to be the best so far because it hits close to home for me. It’s about a little boy with autism who gets lost during a power out at an amusement park, and I’m naming him Joey after my own little grandson who suffers with this disability.

I’ve also written one adult suspense/thriller which I really enjoyed writing. I love the character, Maddie, and it’s interesting to see how she matures through the book as her life becomes turned upside down. This book is also free of profanity and sexual content.

I have just finished writing an inspirational book called, Let Faith Arise, and it is likely one of my greatest accomplishments so far. It’s a book filled with faith messages and is really my own journal in my walk of faith that I endured last year as I fought a battle with terminal cancer – and won! This book will be published by summer and I hope it will be an encouragement to others who are fighting for their lives.

I’ve had a lot of struggles and hardships in my life but I have to say that today, life is good.


Tell us about your featured book, Firestorm.

Firestorm takes place in British Columbia at the end of the summer, just months after their great adventure with the mudslide. Sarah and Meagan have spent two weeks with their grandparents every summer since they were young children, but this would be their last visti. Their grandparents were moving back to Bearsfield and right across the street from the girls. This visit was taken up with helping Grandma pack while Grandpa did his usual puttering around until Saturday when he and his friend, Don, went out on their weekly fishing trip.

The guys were going to join the girls on the last Saturday where they would all have a big campfire as a final farewell to the home. But when Grandpa is out on his fishing trip, he sends a distress call that tells the others he is in danger and needs help.

The four teens set out into the unfamiliar forest to find Grandpa’s secret fishing cul de sac and after some time, they move in to the area where the men are hiding. Grandpa is badly injured and Don has wandered off as Alzheimer’s takes him back to WW2.

The teens must get the men to safety and if the basic issues on hand weren’t enough to cope with, they realize that they are trapped in the forest that is now on fire.


Would you share an excerpt with us?



Click Image To Purchase


Just then, we could hear Ali’s distant voice echoing from the other side of the bridge as he yelled to us and then waved. We all looked over at him and I was so relieved just knowing that Grandpa was out of the direct path of the fire.

“Meg, they made it. Okay, let’s stop this nonsense and get ready to cross.”

We watched as Brad came running across the bridge by himself with his hands just gliding along the railings.  The bridge was swaying back and forth and I knew that if we didn’t have this dilemma that he could actually have enjoyed his little jaunt. He jumped off and came up to us and took the rope from Meagan.

“Okay, let’s go. Meg, you and Sarah get going and we’ll follow you.”

But Don had no intensions of moving. He stood with his back to the tree and his arms wrapped around the trunk behind him.  His face was white and without expression.

“We’re dead if we go and we’re dead if we stay. I hate fires. I don’t want to die in a fire.”

Brad tried to loosen Don’s arms.

“Well, neither do we, so that’s why I’m going to carry you across to where there is no fire. You can keep your eyes closed and we’ll be across in no time.”

Brad pulled Don’s arms off the tree and picked him up around his legs and then flung him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.  Meagan jumped onto the bridge first but when she turned to say something, she stopped and turned a million shades of white. She didn’t say a word. I was standing beside Brad and I asked her what was wrong but she didn’t answer. She just stared behind us as she slowly lifted her hand and pointed.

Brad and I both turned and stared into the woods. I had no idea what Meagan was referring to.

“Do you see anything, Brad? I don’t. The fire’s still way over there.”

Brad stared straight ahead into the woods and then down to the ground. His eyes followed the path that we had just come from and then spoke in a somber voice.

“They smell the blood.”

Brad was now wearing his own shade of white, and I quickly searched the woods with my eyes to see what they were looking at. He grabbed my arm and whispered as he pushed me.

“Move slow and get on the bridge. Now!”

I glanced back at the tall, dry grass that was spread out between the trees and I saw them staring at me, wolves with eyes that pierced my soul.


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

Official Website:

Writer’s Blog:

Inspirational blog:


Her books are available at:

Barnes & Noble




Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult | 1 Comment »


Monday, November 14th, 2011

Welcome Marcia Fine

Join me in welcoming Marcia Fine to Highlighted Author.

Marcia Fine is an award-winning author who has been on the Valley scene for many years. She has achieved success as an English teacher, model/talent agency owner, and a corporate trainer. Selected as “A Woman of Action” by Metropolitan Business and Professional Women, she also supports Rosie’s House, aMusicalAcademyfor Children.

Marcia continues to do what she does best – watch and interact with people.

Welcome, Marcia.  Tell us about your books.

My satirical series that includes,, Boomerang – When Life Comes Back to Bite You, and recently, Stressed in Scottsdale, about a multitasking mama, has won four major prizes in Humor/Satire, Women’s Fiction and eLit.

My returning character, Jean Rubin, has her own blog,

In the historical vein, Paper Children, a story based on family history and personal letters, tells of a Polish immigrant who forges a life in post-HolocaustNew York City. It has been a finalist for three national prizes.

I also have a blog for my historical novel based on my grandmother’s life,

The Blind Eye creates a narrative about a family expelled from Spain during the Inquisition and a contemporary Cuban-American woman searching for her Sephardic identity. It won a First Prize award.

Your featured book, Stressed In Scottsdale, is set in familiar surroundings.  Being a satire, have you gotten any strange responses from those you know?

When I tell people about my latest release, Stressed in Scottsdale, I wait a beat and say, “Not that there’s anything to make fun of!”

I have people who don’t speak to me because they think they’re in the book and others who are angry because they’re not in the books.

Tell us a little more about it.

Multitasking Jean Rubin has too much to do. She races to accomplish endless errands, care for an elderly mother forced to move to assisted living, help with her kid’s fertility problems and assist husband, Maury, with a Green Party campaign that includes a snarky opponent, political corruption and environmental issues. With an influx of technology, a roof rat invasion in her yard and a robbery by the Rock Burglar, Jean finds herself STRESSED in SCOTTSDALE. Even her two upscale friends, April and Glee, can’t distract her from all the anxiety with a spa intervention.

What they’re saying:

Stressed in Scottsdale was a non-stop fun book to read!  Marcia Fine’s witty, fast pace really let you experience her lovable character’s out-of-control lifestyle…”  Melanie Tighe, Dog-Eared Pages Used Books

“With the absurdities of desert living set in her literary cross hairs, Fine once again skewers some of Scottsdale’s finest while her protagonist, Jean, tries to find sanity in a world where it rains dirt and blind sheep fall off mountains. Modern living isn’t for sissies and Fine addresses the deeper issues of the environment and political corruption as she couches them in laugh-out-loud lines. It is wickedly funny.  A laugh-out-loud read by Marcia Fine. Her hilarious observations will resonate with all women.”  – Barb Davis, The Serenity Room




Stressed in Scottsdale

Chapter 21

Stress Relief Tip: Watsu water massage takes the weight off your body. With gentle twists and pulls the pressures of a stressful life disappear.  -Water for Healthy Living


April and Glee engineer an intervention. They hijack me for a day at the spa. They claim it’s to relieve terminal crabbiness, but I know it’s their way of telling me I’m not making enough time for them.

April’s horn toots early. She waits in the car while Glee comes in juggling an armload of books.

“Jean, you have to read more about your condition.”

“What condition?” I race around looking for my tote, fill my politically-incorrect water bottle, let out Amber for a last pee and tie a gauzy scarf around my neck. I leave my planner behind. I’m flying solo with the trēo.

“Anxiety is a scourge. Look, I’ve brought you these books. I’ve read all of them.”

“Now I’ve got a scourge too?”

Glee places a stack on the table. She shows me the titles while I stand near the door waiting for Amber. I pray Maury’s poisons and cages have done the job on the roof rats. I don’t want Amber to gobble down a killer tablet.

Full Catastrophe Living is about luxuriating in the moment. It reinforces giving up fat, sugar and caffeine to detox your body.”

“What would I eat?” She doesn’t respond and Amber’s taking forever.

“This one’s Wherever you Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Real Life. It has a chapter on cleaning the oven while listening to Bobby McFerrin. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World. This one’s great because the author blends personal experience and science. With meditation you have to let go. When you get to the zone it’ll lower your blood lactate levels. The exercises want you to listen to classical music, smell spices and flowers . . .”

“You have to be kidding. I don’t have time to sit and inhale oregano.”

I check on Amber, tapping my foot hoping she’ll stop sniffing and pick a spot. Any spot. At least before Glee brings in more tomes on “my condition.”

“And, this one is my favorite. Releasing Burdens through Breathing. Stress causes changes at the chromosomal level. High levels can invoke ten years of aging. I want you to pay attention.”

Glee wanders over to my refrigerator. “What’s this?” she asks, pointing to Maury’s rat chart.

“Maury’s tracking his roof rat progress,” I say. Waiting for Amber to poop is giving me anxiety.

I call Amber.

“Two dead rats and one bird?” asks Glee.

“Never mind.”

I thank her for the books, pile them on my kitchen desk, pat Amber’s head as she ambles in, fill her dishes with water and kibble, then make a hasty exit before Glee starts to read me the back covers with endorsements from Deepok Chopra.

April’s examining her lipstick in the flip-down mirror with the motor running. I get in the back, leaning over to give her an air kiss. She backs out of my driveway and steers her gleaming black Mercedes in a leisurely fashion, creeping along in luxury, a German tank invading the Champs Elyseé.

We catch up on the Pet Luncheon as I settle into the back seat. They raised $50,000 for the no-kill shelter. We discuss the Heart Ball, where some of the women, paranoid about the Rock Burglar, arrived sans jewels, their bare necks and lobes exposed for all to see. And finally, we talk about the deviant burglar who has disappeared without a trace.

When we arrive at the spa they give us keys to our lockers with a plastic card holder containing lists of our treatments. I get excited when I see I’m scheduled for a massage after lunch.

Glee announces, “First we have Ratango. Jean, you’ll love it. I took a workshop when I was in Marin a few months ago. Change into your workout clothes.”

I have no idea what Ratango is but I’m sure it will be beneficial. As I stuff my tote into the locker I read signs reminding us to turn off our cell phones. I put the trēo on vibrate.

In a few minutes I’ve slipped into a large “Go Green” T-shirt that swims around my neck and donned faded black tights with scuffed sneakers. I think there’s a small hole under my right bun.

I grab a fistful of hair and make two unruly, fuzzy bunches, one over each ear. Glee and April are decked out in gold-patterned leotards, colored tights, black ballet slippers with metallic scrunchies pulling their hair off their faces. They look hot. I look like a refugee from an eastern bloc country.

We enter a room with a mirrored wall and polished light wood floors. Rubber yoga mats, giant elastic bands, stair-steps, giant red, blue and yellow balls and barbells are stacked at the end of the room. There’s a water cooler, paper cups and small white towels at the other.

The space fills up with women, some professional looking with no-nonsense haircuts, a few who have been tightened and lifted and a group of young African-American women in stylish work-out clothes. No one looks like me. We all get mats and place them near our spot. Glee and April head for the front row. I secure a place in the back.

A tall, buffed blond with bare feet wearing grey pants and a tight pink shirt, crosses the floor with wide strides. Namaste is scrawled across her chest in script.  She speaks with a well-modulated low voice at a slow pace.

“Ladies, we have a real treat today. If you have any conditions, remember to take it easy. This is heart-fluttering, death-defying awesome. Straight fromCaliforniawe have the creator of Ratango, Billy Tuesday Munkee!”

A tanned six-foot man, his mustache and goatee trimmed to perfection, hair scooped back into a pony-tail, bounds into the room with a gold hoop earring and a sleeveless black T-shirt. It shows off his cantaloupe biceps and hairy untrimmed armpits. The blond hits the music on a stand in the corner. He’s off, jumping and clapping his hands over his head to the music.

“This is your warm-up, ladies. Let’s see what you’ve got.” He starts suggestive hip thrusts.

I look around. The babe next to me is jiving away; April and Glee in the front row swivel their hips; and I’m stunned. What have they gotten me into now? I try to move the lower half of my body in a circular fashion but it’s more like a square. And my back hurts.

“Move it,” Billy Tuesday says as the music slows down and the circular hip swivel becomes racy. “Cure that pelvic paralysis and tune into the primordial rhythms of our ancestors.”

My ancestors? Bubbe Rose with a come hither look on her face? Shifting her hips under a flowered dress with suntan-colored stockings rolled to her knee? Horrifying.

I look at the mirror in the front to see everyone’s reflection. We look like a smutty band of aging strippers.

“You, in the back row, put some grind into it.” Of the few women near me, one has her eyes closed in ecstatic energy and another gyrates with enthusiasm. He’s talking to me. Oh God. This is humiliating. I’m going to kill Glee. I close my eyes, stroke my mid-section with snaky hands and torture myself into wild circular motions.

“Do you want to be a better lover? I can’t hear you.”

“Yes,” yell a few women.

“I said do you want to be a better lover?” He cups his hand around his ear for our response. The room erupts in screams. One women’s enthusiasm turns into a coughing fit. I yell too. I don’t want him to single me out again.

It goes on like this, one song blending into another, until the room is writhing in prurient agitation. A silver-haired woman with a spiky crew cut swings her body around emitting slight moans. Glee is, of course, a show, using provocative motions toward our instructor while he encourages us.

“Turn me on. Turn me on,” he says over a drum beat.

April looks like aLas Vegasshow girl, strutting in a circle with pooched lips, one hand on her hip.

Turn him on? If anyone saw this display they’d call an ambulance with strait jackets.

We continue like this through so many songs I think I’m going to fall on the floor in a heap.

“And now for the finale and my favorite exercise, the one that will enhance sensuality, increase passion and improve intimacy. Here comes the Bad Kitty! Let’s go, girls.” The Joe Cocker song, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” begins to play.

If I thought I had seen it all, this beats everything. Women get down on their mats, roll around, hips thrust into the air, simulating sex. Anything goes. Many of the women reach out their arms and hands like claws, uttering guttural meowing sounds. It is a display of ribald activity and agitation that could compete with the best pornography.

Since I’m the only one left standing and don’t want to draw any more attention to myself, I get down and crawl in a circle. I give a weak meow once or twice. I can’t wait to demonstrate this for Maury. If I can get down on the floor again. Hell, if I can get up! Wait ’til I get my hands on Glee and April.

Afterward, when we’re all out of breath clumped together in the front of the room, Glee says to me, “Wasn’t that terrific? It’s just what you needed. Billy’s philosophy imparts such wisdom. We don’t have to age or get old. Look at me. I feel thirty-five.” She thrusts her arms into the air and shouts, “Ratango’s a fountain of youth that teaches you to live in the moment. Don’t let your mind run you, take control of your destiny.” Then she leans in with confidentiality. “I’m thinking of financing a school for Billy inScottsdale. Won’t women just love this?”

Maybe. If she can get the Babes away from their guns.

Glee expounds as I try to catch my breath and rub a few sore places. April looks in the mirror admiring her perfect body. Billy Tuesday Munkee does too. He has a towel around his neck as he approaches her.

“Hey, gorgeous, you did a terrific job today. Can I interest you in teaching a few Ratango classes? I could use instructors inArizona. I’ll show you my curriculum during our training sessions.”

April, who’s used to male attention, says, “I don’t think so. I’m way too busy. Thank you for the opportunity.” She sidles over to us with a smile that acknowledges she’s flattered.

Billy Tuesday, eyeing April up and down, goes to the other end of the room to pack up his CDs and gear. The blond appears to check on how the class went and to flirt.

“Glee, who is that guy?” I ask in a whisper. “He could be a charlatan. Have you given him any money yet?”

“He’s perfectly reputable. Amanda checked him out for me. He trained as a boxer in Guambefore he became a Chippendale dancer. He knows what men want from women. Besides, everyone can use a little training in becoming a better lover.” She raises an eyebrow at me.

“Who says I need instruction in that arena?” I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror with the silhouette of my two fuzzy bunches sticking out of my head.

Glee gives me a know-it-all look. “Didn’t you mention you were worried Maury might be interested in a young woman working on the campaign?”

April leans in with interest.

“Well, yes, but . . .”

“But, nothing. Sensual movement heightens romance.”

“Glee, this was obscene. I can’t believe you dragged me here. Besides, you’re sharing personal information.”

“Since when did you become so prudish?”

“I’m not prudish. Just reserved. And private.”

“We thought it would help loosen you up,” says Glee adjusting her straps, a bit annoyed.

“You always have these crazy ideas and drag me into strange situations like that afternoon in the nudist camp.”

The two of them glance at each other remembering that trickery. “And you,” I say turning and pointing at April who opens her eyes wide and pushes out her bottom lip in an innocent baby pose, “go along with it.”

“We thought it would be good for your soul,” says April.

“My soul? I’m going to need my back adjusted.”

April and Glee glance at one another and give a slight shrug as if to say, We tried. She didn’t appreciate it but we tried.

This annoys me. I decide not to make an issue of it. Besides, all this activity has made me hungry. We never love everything about our friends even if we remain loyal and steadfast.

“I’m sorry I was crabby. How ‘bout lunch?” I ask, looping their arms through mine. After all, my friends want the best for me. And I am a bit cranky.

We walk down a long hallway that opens into a contemporary restaurant. Men and women in various stages of undress sit at wood tables decorated with small cactus centerpieces. Copper lighting fixtures and sculptures decorate the walls. One side is a glass with a view ofCamelbackMountain, its famous humps enlarged because we’re so close. I can even spot the praying monk rock formation, a small shrouded figure that tops the camel’s head.

We order a spa feast. Two butter lettuce leaves with fresh basil and an organic cherry tomato the size of a pebble arrive. Everything’s drizzled with balsamic vinegar and imported Mediterranean olive oil. All for $18.95 a person. We refuse dessert.

“It’s time for our treatments,” says Glee.

In the locker room Glee emits a throaty few bars of music as we mock strip out of our Ratango outfits. I show off the best moves I’ve learned. I thrust out a final hip before donning a beige terry robe. They laugh.

We move to a soothing room with leather recliners. A breakfront displays pitchers with water. One contains lemon slices, another cucumber. There’s one with something I cannot identify. It’s small and brown and could possibly be rabbit turds. Glee tells me they’re baby organic red grapes. Clean glasses are stacked in the back. A tray of freshly polished apples sits next to the pitchers in case two leaves of lettuce didn’t fill you up. No one touches the apples but a few women help themselves to the various waters.

About fifteen women wait in the lounge area stretched out in fluffy robes and plastic slippers. Some have their wet heads wrapped in towels. We look like classic “before” pictures.

At first I think no one except April is wearing any make-up, that we’re all equal save for my friend who has on waterproof mascara. She’s an exotic princess with her towel  swirled around her head.

The rest of us are stripped to the essentials—-wrinkles, lines, no eyebrows except for . . . the tattooed ladies, which, when I glance around, realize is almost all of them. Their eyebrows are arched, plucked and permanent.

When I examine Glee, I realize her eyebrows are medium-brown and uniform unlike my sparse, faded ones. I squint and peer closer. She also has charcoal eyeliner, pink blush and berry-stained lips executed with perfection even though we’ve showered and washed our faces. Glee has spent some time in a tattoo parlor.

My eyes browse around the room at the lounging women. I am the only one with a naked face including flaws and original eyebrows.

“Ms. Rubin? Ms. Barstow? Ms. Lefkowitz?” Therapists in light blue scrub tops and white pants are ready to take us to our rooms. April’s having an herbal wrap with ingredients from the forests ofRomania, Glee’s signed up for the organic strawberry soak with a Watsu water treatment and I’m having a Swedish massage. Since I don’t have a weekly masseuse visit, this will be a treat.

“Hi, I’m Ingrid and I’m going to pound you today,” is what I think I hear her say with her Scandinavian accent. No matter. It’s my turn to melt into the table listening to New Age music and breathing citrus scents from a lemony candle.

After an hour of Ingrid’s man-sized hands pummeling my Ratango-ed achy body, I mush out of the room to meet the girls.

“It’s time for our hand treatments,” says Glee. I make my hand into a fist. My nails are terrible. I didn’t want another Asian assault so I haven’t had a manicure in ages.

We shuffle behind Glee in our plastic slip-ons down a hallway to another part of the facility. She guides us into an organic nail spa. There’s no list of charges on the wall like the places I go to so I pick up a standing card. A manicure is one hundred dollars.

Glee grabs it out of my hands. “Never mind. It’s our treat. This is very special. Haven’t you asked yourself why they’re wearing surgical masks in those other places? Toxins can kill.”

“Glee, April, it’s very generous of you but I can pay for my own manicure.” Even if it is five times as much.

April stands in front of a display to pick out a color from the selection of polishes. She turns around with a few in her hand. “None of these have formaldehyde.”

Glee adds, “It’s your influence that has enticed us to go green. They don’t use acrylics or perfumes either.” She takes a deep breath. “See? You can breathe. The air’s clear enough to do yoga.”

Manicurists lead us to their stations. I might as well give up. They’re determined to give me the full spa experience. My mother taught me to accept gifts graciously.

“My name’s Heather.” I nod and smile. I hope she’s not a talker who says “like” in every sentence. I have a sudden longing for the snide Asian ladies who make no effort to communicate, deriding my needy nails in another language.

“I’m going to be soaking your hands in pure distilled water and organic oils and wrapping them in a one-hundred percent organic towel. We use only sterilized surgical instruments,” she says reaching for something to push back my overgrown cuticles. If she says organic one more time I’m going to scream. “The purpose of a natural manicure is to rehydrate and seal in moisture.” I lean my head back and let her organically adjust my hands.

“Have you picked a color?” asks Heather massaging each finger with studiousness.

Color? I’m in a bathrobe covered with fragrant oil, paralyzed with relaxation. I can’t get up. I look at the young woman’s hands sitting next to me. She’s having them painted a pale pink with an iridescent flash.

“I’ll have what she’s having,” I tell Heather nodding to my next door neighbor. She hears me.

“This is a great color. It doesn’t show so much if I chip it. I work on the computer all day.”

“Oh. That’ll work for me.” I won’t mention that I unpack boxes for my mother, clean up dog doody, cook and change the grandkids diapers besides working on the computer.

“What do you do?” I ask, assuming she has a job in technology.

“I answer two hundred emails a day plus Twitter and Facebook.”

“You get two hundred emails a day?”

“Yes, and I have at least nine hundred saved for reference.” She seems very self-satisfied splaying her fingers for examination.

I repeat my original question wanting to know what occupation keeps her so entrenched in her computer all day.

“Just answering friends. MySpace. Facebook. JDate.”

I’m flummoxed as I trade hands for Heather. She wraps the one that’s been soaking in distilled water in a one-hundred percent organic cotton towel. “But can’t you call people and talk?”

“Oh no. That interrupts. Besides, I’ve never actually met most of them. We’re just cyber friends. Hey, are you on any social sites? You can join my network.”

“No thanks. But I appreciate the offer. I’m pretty busy.”

She says, “I understand. I’ve got to get home. There will be at least a hundred emails waiting for me. Whoops! Someone’s twittering me right now.” She motions her manicurist to reach into the red Kate Spade purse next to her for money, credit card and keys.

The manicurist warns her, “Remember. No BlackBerry, IMs, texting or Game Boys for at least thirty minutes. Your nails need to dry solid.”

Ms. Hi Tech whines, “I can’t drive unless I’m texting.” She slips her purse over her arm, fingers spread apart, and sashays out in rhinestone flip-flops.

I finish my manicure in silence contemplating what will happen to society when we no longer speak. Will my multi-tasking evolve into mobile perpetual-tasking? Will we all be in a constant state of communication?

I’m already annoyed when my kids text when I’m speaking to them. As if I don’t notice their hands under the table. Do we all need blow-by-blow descriptions of every activity dissected? I feel myself getting agitated so I concentrate on the top of Heather’s head. She’s a brunette with blond streaks.


All Marcia’s books can be purchased from her website at or online at Amazon, B&N or downloaded.

Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Comedy, Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult | Comment now »


Monday, September 26th, 2011

Welcome Patricia Carrigan

Join me in welcoming Patricia Carrigan to Highlighted Author.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing the youngest author we’ve had on Highlighted Author.   Patricia Carrigan  is a senior in High School and resides in California.  She published her first book, Antiserum, in December 2010.  She’s a delightful young lady and has caught my attention with her talent and professionalism.  

Welcome, Patti.  Thank you for being with us.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I decided that I wanted to be a writer toward the end of my freshman year in high school as I was changing my journal writings into my own personal story.  I first started to change my journal because there have been a couple of occasions where someone had come across my journal and read it, so I decided that this time, I would just change everyone’s name and write in third person. It turned out to be a very tedious job because I was trying to get in the habit of writing every day.  I put so much effort into it that it would take me hours to finish just one days post, and at the same time, my friends and I were getting into the whole vampire franchise (Thank you Twilight) then, in a spur of the moment decision, I added a story line to my journal and voila! a writer was born!

Do you remember the first story/poem you ever wrote?  Did you share it with anyone and if so, how was it received?

The earliest thing that I remember writing and sharing, was a poem that I wrote for my oldest brother Michael before he was shipped off to boot camp for the army.  Before then, I have never dealt with someone in my family leaving home and it was really upsetting to know that my brother was moving out of the house and that I wouldn’t know how long it would be before he came back.  The poem was about how much I would miss him and how much he meant to me and I put it on the inside of a handmade card that I cut out in the shape of a tiger.  I love my brother very much and I put all of my heart into his goodbye poem.

Who inspires you the most?

My parents inspire me the most.  Throughout my whole life, they always encouraged my imagination and often gave my sisters and me different outlets to express our artistic and creative sides. My mom is a stay-at-home mom and during the time that my twin and I had with her before we started kindergarten, we would spend hours drawing random pictures or learning new songs to sing or just playing pretend.  There never seemed to be an end to the fun and imagination, well, except for when we’d take a nap.  My dad, on the other hand, is who I thank for getting me interested in all things supernatural, mainly vampires and werewolves.  Unfortunately, I’m not too fond of ghosts.  But my dad constantly would bring home movies and I remember sitting next him on the couch watching Interview with a Vampire along with Blade, Young Frankenstein, Dracula, Dracula II, and Dracula 3000.  Watching those kind of movies was just something I always did with my dad, and if it weren’t for him (and the vampire franchise launched by Twilight to re-spark my interest) I probably wouldn’t have been so gung-ho to write my own vampire novel.

Do you have any odd writing habits?

I do have some odd writing habits.  Haha.  Usually, when I have writer’s block I munch on something to ‘give my thinking some fuel.’  I used to munch on some pretzels that I dipped in nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread), but it isn’t the healthiest of snacks so I try to steer clear of those… for the most part, otherwise, I’d grab an apple, a mini box of raisins, or anything that I crave at the moment. Another odd writing habit that usually gets me in trouble with my parents is that I have a hard time writing during the day.  For some odd reason, I write my best at night, which is why my parents get mad at me because I would go hours and hours into the night just writing even if I had school the next morning (I try not to work so late on school nights), and usually it would be my mom who comes down the hallway, opens my door, and tells me “It’s one o’clock, go to bed.”

Being a teen writer, you’re still in High School.  How do you juggle your writing career and studies?

It could be really hard to juggle a career in writing and school work sometimes, but usually I put the school studies first because if I don’t get the grades I want, then finding a good college that suits me is going to be very hard and I work hard not to let my grades slip.  Any free time that I have between school work and keeping a healthy social life, that’s when I find my time to write and promote my book.

What do your classmates think of you being a published author?

The classmates that know I’ve published a book think it’s really cool and whenever it’s brought up, they usually ask if I get paid.  Some classmates in my Creative Writing class my junior year actually purchased my book, which was pretty interesting, there was also a girl in the class that I T.A.’d for that would come up to me and talk about what parts she was getting to in the book and how she was excited for the next book.  I also would update my teachers whenever I would have a book signing coming up or if I was doing an interview of some sort, and in turn, they would tell their students.  “Antiserum” was actually popular catch phrase for a while in one of my favorite teacher’s classes.  It was really cool.

Who does the promoting/marketing of your book Antiserum?

Mostly, the marketing and promoting of my book is done by yours truly.  It’s not easy being an author, student, friend, daughter, volunteer and businesswoman!  However, my mom does help by making a ton of phone calls for me.  She will also send out letters if I ask her to.  My sister-in-law and my Aunt both manage my facebook fanpage for me.  You see, I am extremely active on LinkedIn, and twitter as well as having 3 blogs and the fanpage on facebook.  I can’t possibly be everywhere at once and still go to school, do homework, market and write.  So, I asked for help.  LinkedIn has been great! As an author, you need a business network, LinkedIn is it.  I also joined groups like Lions to help increase my connections, it really helps.  However, I have to be slightly careful to watch out and not connect with spammers… it’s not hard and the biggest majority of people are just like me, trying to further their business.  Twitter is not really the same there is still the business side.  Oh and you still need to watch who you follow, but you can block anyone bad, but on twitter, people want to know about you and they need you to care about them, otherwise they drop you like yesterday’s meatloaf.

Patti’s promoting has reached Blogtalkradio.


[Click Here To Listen]


Of the all your characters, who would you choose to have over for dinner?  What would they choose as a main course?

If I could have any of my characters over to dinner, it would probably be Adrian, and I’m not making that choice just because he’s Jocelyn’s ‘hawt’ vampire boyfriend, but because (other than Emil and Vasile) I based the other characters off of people I know and, to me, if I were to choose someone other than the three I mentioned, then it would be like having dinner with someone I’ve already spent tons of time with.  I’d rather choose someone I created completely.

Adrian would probably serve me a medium-rare steak with some angel hair pasta on the side and would have a blood baggie for himself, because, let’s face it, he’s definitely a vampire and a gentleman, so, knowing that I am not a vamp myself, I would need actual food rather than blood. But unfortunately, if I chose to have dinner with Emil, I would sadly be the main course of that vampire meal… he’s not overly nice.

When was Antiserum born?  How long did it take to write?

Antiserum was born (that’s released to the public)December 27, 2010, six days before my seventeenth birthday, in the beginning of my junior year.  Writing it took about a year, actually sophomore year, to be exact.  Not very many people knew that I spent my nights writing my own novel, I kept it to myself until I was more than three quarters of the way through writing it and put a greater effort into getting to know different publishing companies, then if the subject came up, I would mention something about it or say that I was determined to get it published.  But it wasn’t until Junior year that I became a bit more outspoken about it, especially when school came back into session after Christmas break and my English teacher asked what we did over our break, I was more than happy to raise my hand and say, “My book got published.”

Will you tell us a little about it?

Sixteen-year-old high school student Jocelyn loves blood; she lives for it.  She’s a blood addict. But that’s not all that’s going on in her life.  Strange dreams haunt her sleep; she can read minds; and she hears voices in her head.  And she discovers that J.B.—her twin sister—and their friends Sadie and Nikki all have similar powers.  She learns that all of them a part of a group known as the Genetic Race.  But their powers and existence are threatened by another group known as the Others, and their only hope lies in traveling toTransylvania, where they must locate a special blood-filled amulet.  On this trip, with the help of the very attractiveAdrian, Jocelyn will discover that the very substance she needs to survive may have become her new and very deadly addiction.

I understand you’re doing something special with the proceeds.

Yes, 50% of my proceeds are being donated to The Burn Institute of San Diego.  The Burn Institute has been a part of my life since I was five years old when my oldest sister was accidently burned by scalding hot water.  At the hospital she was being treated at, a nurse referred my parents to The Burn Institute’s Camp Beyond the Scars where young burn survivors go to re-establish their self esteem after being burned.  The camp definitely changed my sister’s life for the better and she’s always overjoyed when she talks about her camp experiences.  I couldn’t think of any other organization that I’d be happier donating money to.  And I’m proud to say that I am working to become a Leader In Training (L.I.T.) starting at the next camp.  It is an honor to volunteer with them again.

Where can readers find you?

My links: I love to connect!


Will you share an excerpt of Antiserum with us?





My eyes snapped open to a bright ray of sunlight as I screamed bloody murder.

Nikki and J.B. were at my side in an instant; pulling me into the shadowed surroundings of what looked like a holding cell.

I clung to the cold floor as I tried to clear my head.  Think, think, think straight!

My eyes widened as I realized the stone floor and walls that connected to the rusty iron bars in front of me.  “Where the hell are we?!”  I nearly screeched.

J.B. turned towards me, her eyes swirled with a silver hue, “We’re in Emil’s holding cells.”  She said in a hushed tone.

“What? Why?” I asked quickly.

Nikki quickly shushed me, “Shut up! If he heard you he will be on his way!” she hissed.

What’s going on?  Why are we stuck in here? And where is Sadie? I thought to J.B. and Nikki who were staring nervously at the hallway on the other side of the iron bars.

Nikki’s head turned in my direction, Emil found out about us sneaking around in his study.  He knows we know. It was him that came into our suite when we were asleep.  Not Sadie.

He knows what? I thought quickly.

That we’re just like him!  That we’re a product of his genes!  Nikki nearly stabbed me with her stare.

Before I could begin to ask how they knew of Emil’s past, J.B. asserted herself.

You were projecting your dream, Joss.  It was like a goddamn horror movie that just played in our heads and we couldn’t press ‘stop’.   Her forehead creased with worry.  You couldn’t wake up until you were finished with what he wanted you to see.

My head began to pound as I remembered Emil drinking the life from his father, The history of… oh my gawd… we’re –

“Vampires.”  Emil’s velvet voice floated around the room like a cloud of smoke.


Thank you so much for being with us today, Patti.

Antiserum is available in book & ebook at:
Barnes and Noble







Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult | Comment now »