Friday, January 28, 2011

Book and a Recipe Book Club: ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich

Welcome friend, author and blogger, Markee Anderson to Fiction for Dessert for our very first, "Book and a Recipe Book Club."

I'm so excited about this! I hope everyone will join in the conversation!

And now . . .

Here's Markee!

Did you hear that they’re going to make a movie from the first three of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum stories? In honor of that amazing feat, here’s a small description of the first book, One for the Money (found here: for Kindle.)

If you haven’t read it, and you like HILARIOUS books (and I’m serious…her books get even funnier as you read more of the series), read these books. The Stephanie Plum books are the gold standard all other authors want to be compared to. There are sixteen of these books in the series so far, with other Stephanie Plum ‘between the numbers’ books also for sale.

Janet’s website is here: in case you’re looking for a t-shirt from Stephanie Plum or want to play the contest (click on fun stuff at the top of her home page).

The Stephanie Plum books are primarily about Stephanie Plum and her job as a bounty hunter. She’s a 5’7”, 125-130 pound frizzy-headed brunette who lives in the ’burg,’ a blue-collar chunk of Trenton, NJ. In most of the books, she has to decide if she wants to date one of two suitors, while picking up FTAs (failure to appear) fugitives from the law. In this book, we meet Joe Morelli, a cop who’s been charged with killing an unarmed man, Lula; a woman with a passion for men; and Ranger, another expert bounty hunter. In the meantime, she runs into a crazy prizefighter named Benito Ramirez, and we meet some rather strange characters, but being from Pennsylvania myself, some of them are typical for New Jersey.

If you want to read more of the description of the book, CLICK HERE.

Stephanie Plum is a huge junk food fan. She likes cheese curls, birthday cake, and donuts, to name a few things. Here’s a quick recipe for donuts…with no yeast. I tried it the other night, making donut holes, then poured cinnamon sugar over them. They were really good!

Quick donuts:

1 egg
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup half-and-half
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ cups flour plus flour for rolling
Oil for frying

Beat egg and brown sugar.
Add salt, half-and-half, baking powder, and 1 ½ cups flour. Mix.
Roll out to ½ inch thick on floured surface, mixing in more flour if needed (I added about ¼ cup extra)
Cut out into donuts or donut holes. Let rise (about an hour).
Fry in hot oil, turning before completely browning.
Remove from oil and cool before eating, or coat with topping.

Toppings: cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or melted chocolate.

Now, in honor of keeping spoilers from those who haven’t read it, please keep your comments generic. Don’t give away the ending or any parts that would make a reader howl in laughter.

Feel free to share your recipes, tell us your favorite characters from the Stephanie Plum books, or tell us which man Stephanie should end up with -- Joe Morelli or Ranger? Let the conversation begin!!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Character Contest Winner!!!!

Back in December, I announced the "Be an Insane Character Contest" where people who left comments would be entered to win a chance to be a character in my next Barbara Marr novel, Citizen Insane.

A winner was selected randomly from the list of entrants some time ago, but I've been waiting for a good time to announce the winner.

TODAY, I am proud to announce that the winner is reader, Karen Bell!!!!



Karen will actually appear as TWO different characters in Citizen Insane: Special Agent Bell and villain, Kiki Urbanowski (Karen's nickname and maiden name combined).

So keep your eyes out for Citizen Insane, starring Barbara Marr and Karen Bell, currently scheduled for release in May, 2011.

Next month, I'll have a cover available for preview.

What's the story behind Citizen Insane you ask?

Here's a description. Stay tuned for more.

Film lover and soccer mom, Barbara Marr, hates PTA meetings worse than movies with talking animals. Reluctantly, she attends one anyway, becomes witness to a post-PTA fracas, and decides maybe all meetings aren’t nearly as boring as she thought, when one mother threatens murder in the heat of the moment. Then, when Barb discovers the body of the threatened PTA mom . . . well, it becomes the stuff that thriller movies are made of, and as usual, Barb is caught right in the middle of the action.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Excerpt: My Perfect Wedding by Sibel Hodge

It's Excerpt Monday at Fiction for Dessert, and today I'm very pleased to be posting Chapter One from the newly released romantic comedy by Sibel Hodge, My Perfect Wedding.

Helen Grey is finally getting everything she wants. She’s about to have the perfect dream wedding and begin an exciting new life abroad on the sunny Mediterranean island of Cyprus. But living the dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

After a mix-up at the airport, Helen finds herself drawn into the midst of an elaborate plot to steal an ancient statue and assassinate a local businessman. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, her wedding dress is AWOL, the statue seems to be cursed, and Helen is wanted by the police.

With the big day rapidly approaching, a roller-coaster of mishaps, misunderstandings, and disasters threatens to turn the newlyweds into nearlyweds.

Can Helen prevent an assassination, save the statue, and have the perfect wedding? Or will the day to remember turn into one she’d rather forget?

Sounds like a fun read, doesn't it?

For your reading pleasure, CHAPTER ONE of My Perfect Wedding:

The customs officer flipped open Kalem’s passport and scrutinized the photo.

I tapped my foot. Come on, come on, don’t you know we’ve got a wedding to get to? My perfect wedding, nonetheless. And on top of that, the duty-free shops were seriously calling my name. We’d already been shuffling along in the security queue for forty-five minutes like a couple of tortoises, and I could almost smell the teasing waft of bargain perfumes, designer lipsticks that stay on for three days, and bumper packs of chocolate sending out silent buy me signals in the shopping area beyond.

Luckily, we’d got to the Airport in plenty of time. Kalem wanted to check in early to try and get a seat with extra leg-room. Not that it bothered me, really. At five foot nothing, I never had a problem with being crammed in like a stuffed sausage, but Kalem’s legs were long and toned and…well, pretty damn sexy.

Kalem ran a hand through his cropped dark hair and nodded towards the passport. ‘I probably had more hair then,’ he said to the customs officer.

I giggled, remembering the frizzy out-of-control footballer’s perm he’d had when the photo was taken, which resembled my unruly curls on a good hair day.

‘I don’t think so,’ the customs officer muttered, narrowing his eyes at Kalem.

I stepped out from behind Kalem and leaned on the counter. A wave of loud tutting broke out from the queue behind me.

‘It’s a serious offence to tamper with a passport, sir,’ the customs officer said in a deadly tone, glaring at Kalem.

‘Pardon?’ Kalem’s eyes widened with surprise. ‘I can assure you that my passport hasn’t been out of my sight. And it definitely hasn’t been tampered with. If you’ll just let me show you –’ Kalem reached out his hand.

The customs officer shot his hand in the air, passport held up high, so Kalem couldn’t get anywhere near it.

‘Sorry...’ my eyes shot to his name badge, ‘Officer Head. What seems to be the problem?’ I asked, thinking he was obviously some sort of jobsworth with nothing better to do than annoy innocent travellers.

Officer Head tried the same suspicious glare on me and shot his other hand up for silence. Then he picked up a phone on the counter and whispered something into it. I heard the words ‘possible’ and ‘terrorist’ but the rest of it was inaudible.

I gulped. What was going on? This was ridiculous.

‘Right. You two will have to come with me.’ Officer Head climbed out from behind the passport control booth and marched off along the airport floor.

Another loud tutting session erupted from the group of people behind us.

I glanced at Kalem with a questioning look. ‘What’s happening?’

He shrugged. ‘I don’t know. It’s probably just some kind of simple misunderstanding. The quicker we get this over with, the quicker we can get on with our pre-honeymoon.’ He lowered his voice to a whisper. ‘And don’t say anything.’

‘What do you mean, don’t say anything? If he asks me a question, I’ll have to say something, won’t I?’

‘You know what I mean – don’t say anything ridiculous.’

Me? Ridiculous? As if.

We fell into step behind the crazy customs guy. ‘I know.’ I smirked at Kalem. ‘This is the surprise you said you’d organized, isn’t it? I bet we’re really going to be escorted to a VIP lounge, where we can drink champagne and eat those little canapé things. Ooh, great. I love those. I wonder if they’ve got those little smoked salmon rolls with the cream cheese fillings. Yum.’

‘This isn’t the surprise.’ Kalem’s forehead scrunched up into frown lines.

‘Oh, yeah, good one. I bet you’re just saying that so I’ll be even more surprised when we get there.’ I paused. ‘Well done. Good surprise.’ I giggled. Wow, this was going to be such a great start to our brand new, exciting life together.

‘It’s not,’ he hissed at me.

My jaw dropped open. ‘What do you mean, it’s not? What is it then?’ A sudden blanket of fear swept over me.

Kalem was saved from answering as we reached a door marked Customs – Private.

Officer Head punched in a security code on the keypad lock and led us into a massive rectangular interrogation room with a desk at the far end, separated by two chairs on one side and two on the other. The desk seemed miles away from the entrance, like I’d suddenly been transported into a freaky Alice in Wonderland world, where everything was out of proportion. I felt like Kalem and I had turned into tiny little munchkin-type people, but everyone and everything else was ginormous.

‘Sit,’ Officer Head barked so loud that my ear almost imploded.

We dropped down onto the hard plastic chairs. This was not good. Not good at all.

‘Another officer will be joining us shortly,’ Officer Head began, ‘but until then, I’m going to ask you some questions.’ He opened Kalem’s passport again. ‘Right. Let’s start with you.’ He looked at Kalem. ‘What is your name?’

I gazed at Officer Head, who actually looked like Mr. Potato Head – only his nose was a little less red – and panicked. My brain flickered away like a dodgy light bulb. There had to be some completely rational and normal explanation for this mix-up. I mean, yes, normal and rational weren’t words that I could usually associate with my life. I would probably describe myself more as accidentally challenged. But still, this was just a simple mix-up, surely.

‘Kalem Mustafa,’ Kalem replied.

‘Ha-ha.’ I let out a nervous laugh.

Officer Head gave me a narrow-eyed stare, then turned back to Kalem. ‘Is that your real name?’

‘Er…excuse me. Is that a trick question? It’s obvious what his name is. It’s in his passport,’ I said, not wanting to state the obvious, but someone had to do it.

Oh, I get it now. It must be a dream. Yes, that was it. Recently, I'd been having a few of those pre-wedding jittery dreams – well, more like nightmares, actually – where I turned up at the venue in front of all our guests, and my wedding dress had suddenly turned see-through. And, even worse, I'd somehow decided to have my bikini area waxed into the shape of a dartboard, complete with bullseye. This was just one of those nightmares, that was all.

I leaped off the chair. ‘Come on Kalem, let’s go.’

‘You can’t go until I say you can go,’ Officer Head insisted.

‘I can do whatever I want. It’s my dream,’ I said to him with a haughty gleam in my eye.

‘SIT DOWN,’ he shouted back at me.

I heard a loud ringing in my ear. Surely you didn’t hear ear-ringing in a dream? I pinched myself. Ow! Shit. I was still awake. I slumped back in the chair. Uh-oh. This was for real.
The door swung open and another customs official with a toilet brush crew cut walked in.

‘Richard,’ the second officer acknowledged his colleague with a tilt of his head and then turned to us. ‘I’m officer Goodbody.’ He sat down, and I heard a noise like a whoopee cushion exploding. I couldn’t tell if it was him or the chair, though.

‘Let’s start again, shall we?’ Officer Head leaned forward. ‘Is that your real name?’

Kalem swallowed. ‘Of course it’s my real name.’

I looked between the customs men with suspicion. Richard Head? Was this for real? The light bulb was back on full power now. ‘Ha! I know what’s going on.’

They both raised an intrigued eyebrow and waited for me to enlighten them.

‘No one could be called Dick Head and Officer Goodbody. It sounds like something out of a bad Seventies porn movie. This is one of those TV shows, isn’t it?’ My eyes darted around the room like a maniac, looking for any signs of hidden cameras and cabling. ‘It’s like Candid Camera, or You’ve Been Punk’d, or something. Or…I know.’ I squinted at them. ‘Are you Ant and Dec in disguise? Are we going to be on their Saturday Night Takeaway show where they’re always playing practical jokes on people?’ I leaped up and leaned over the desk, so I was inches away from their faces, examining them for signs of false noses and excessive, disguising make-up.

Kalem shot me a horrified look.

‘Give me your passport.’ Goodbody ignored my outburst and held his hand out to me.

OK then, maybe not.

I reached into my bag and handed it to him.

‘Now, where were we?’ Dick Head shuffled in his chair. ‘Ah, yes. Kalem Mustafa. I will ask you again. Is that your real name?’ He glowered at Kalem.

‘Yes.’ Kalem shot me a silencing side glance.

‘And what’s your name, hmm?’ Goodbody asked me.

‘You know what my name is; it’s on my p–’

Kalem stared at me, jerking his head towards Dick Head and Goodbody, silently willing me to just answer their questions.

I sighed. ‘Helen Mustafa.’

‘Ah ha!’ Goodbody waved my passport around. ‘It says Helen Grey here. Is this a fake passport?’

‘No! Sorry, I meant to say that my name’s going to be Helen Mustafa in six days time. We’re getting married. At the moment, I’m Helen Grey. You know how it is when a girl’s getting married: she gets a bit over-excited and starts signing her new married name for months in advance and repeating “Mrs. Mustafa” over and over again.’ I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t have a clue what I was on about. ‘In fact…’ I glanced at my watch. ‘We’re supposed to be catching our plane in about forty-five minutes. We’re supposed to be having a few days of relaxing pre-wedding sand, sea and s… ’

‘Sharap,’ Kalem interjected.

‘Did you just tell me to shut up?’ Dick Head frowned at Kalem.

‘No, he said sharap. It’s Turkish for wine,’ I informed him. Since I’d found out that Kalem and I were going to be moving to North Cyprus, I’d desperately been trying to learn some Turkish words. So far, I’d mastered the important things like: “More wine please” and “Where are the toilets?” I could also say: “cat”, “thanks”, “very much”, “I’m full”, “cucumber”, “large”, and “melon”. It wasn’t a lot, I know, but it could make for an interesting sentence.

‘Why have you got a single plane ticket? Why aren’t you returning to the UK?’ Dick Head peered at us as if this were highly suspicious.

‘We’re moving abroad. We’re going to live the dream.’ I gave him a wistful smile as I thought about how perfect our new life was going to be.

‘What dream?’ Goodybody said.

‘You know, we’re escaping the dreary British weather and the rat race to experience life in the sunny and relaxing Mediterranean.’ Daydreams rapidly filled my head: walking hand in hand with Kalem on a sandy beach after a leisurely swim in the warm sea; sitting on our orange blossom scented, sun-baked villa terrace with a chilled glass of rosé as we watched the blazing sun set over the sea; sipping tiny cups of strong coffee in a chic waterfront café; eating succulent, freshly caught sea bass or juicy king prawns, cooked to perfection on a barbeque.

‘Your name sounds like a Muslim name. Are you a Muslim?’ Officer Head’s voice broke into my daydreams, sending me spiralling back to the reality of being stuck in a tiny, lifeless room with overpowering lights and a sweaty, stale smell. ‘Well?’ He peered at Kalem, waiting for his answer.

Kalem folded his arms casually across his chest. ‘Not really.’

‘Hmm. Not really. That’s a strange answer. What does “not really” mean?’

‘Well, my parents are Turkish Cypriot. The religion of Turkish Cypriots is Muslim, but we don’t exactly practice it or anything. Most Turkish Cypriots are relaxed in their religious practices and very tolerant of other people’s religions.’ Kalem shrugged.

I jigged my leg up and down. We were going to miss our flight. My wonderful pre-honeymoon would be ruined.

‘Is that what they told you to say?’ Goodbody leaned in closer, resting his elbows on the desk.

‘Who?’ Kalem asked.

‘Are you a member of Al-Qaeda?’ Officer Head looked deadly serious. ‘We have to be extremely vigilant these days, you know.’

‘What?’ Kalem blustered. ‘Of course not!’

‘Where are you travelling to?’ Goodbody wanted to know.

‘North Cyprus,’ I said, jigging harder. ‘We’ll miss our flight if you keep us here any longer. What’s going on?’ I whined, feeling my heart bouncing around in my chest. I was going to have a panic attack in a minute. Maybe if I fainted, they would let us go. I slouched down further in my chair, so I wouldn’t have as far to fall if I hit the ground.

‘Are you a suicide bomber?’ Dick Head growled at Kalem.

‘He’s a teacher!’ I cried.

‘And who do you teach? Terrorist cells?’ Dick Head beamed with excitement at Officer Goodbody.

‘I think we’ve got one of the Al-Qaeda’s main men here.’
Kalem shook his head in amazement. ‘I teach woodcarving and sculpture!’

‘Is that a code name of some sort?’ Goodbody asked Dick Head. ‘I seem to recall one of the Bin Laden breakaway groups had a code name like that. What was it now?’ He scratched his toilet brush head, deep in concentration. ‘Ah yes! The Splinter Group.’

‘I haven’t heard of that one before.’ Dick Head frowned. ‘But it’s possible. Woodcarving… splinter…yes, it sounds possible to me.’

‘Why are we here?’ I furrowed my brow and gazed at both of them, interrupting what seemed like the most surreal conversation I’d ever heard in my life.

Dick Head ignored my question and stood up. ‘Hand over your bags, please. I want to take a look inside.’

I gave him mine. Kalem lifted his rucksack and put it on the table in front of us.
Goodbody rummaged around in my bag with interest and then pulled out my camera. ‘Why do you need such a big camera? Are you going to be taking surveillance photos?’

‘I’m a photographer,’ I said.

‘Hmm. A likely story.’ Goodbody’s eyebrow shot up.

Dick Head started on Kalem’s rucksack, pulling out a book, a couple of apples, and a tub of edible chocolate body paint. He held up the body paint to Kalem. ‘What’s this?’ He unscrewed the lid and glared at it as if it were packed full of Semtex.

Kalem shrugged. ‘Well, it is going to be our pre-honeymoon.’

I felt my insides turn to goo. He still had that effect on me. Oh, yes, bring on the chocolate body paint!

‘Was that the surprise you were talking about?’ I said to Kalem, turning my head away from the customs men who were busy scouring our bags for hidden compartments.

Satisfied there was no Semtex, suspicious looking shoes, or packets of nails in our hand luggage, they returned their attention to us.

‘We’re going to miss our flight.’ I looked at my watch again, desperately hoping they’d hurry up.

‘Why has your passport been tampered with?’ Dick Head asked Kalem again.

‘It hasn’t,’ Kalem insisted.

‘Well what do you call that then?’ Dick Head turned the passport around to face Kalem.

I gulped and my brain did a silent mental shriek. ‘Oops,’ I squeaked, suddenly feeling nauseous.

Kalem stared at the photo section on his passport. The picture of a footballer-permed Kalem had been replaced with a picture of an old, fat, bald man with huge black square glasses.
‘I think I’m going to pass out,’ I muttered. If I caused a distraction, maybe we could just make a run for it.

‘What’s that?’ Kalem gasped, turning his head slowly to me with dread.

Dick Head and Goodbody gave me an icy glare.

‘Ah,’ I croaked. It was all my fault. How was I going to explain this one?

‘Well?’ they said in unison.

‘Erm…well…what happened was…Kalem is always playing practical jokes on me,’ I paused, thinking how this was going to sound. ‘Anyway, about four months ago I bought this hair dye…’

Goodbody snorted.

‘What does hair dye have to do with this?’ Dick Head growled.

‘It’s very relevant, actually,’ I started again, running a shaky hand through my hair. ‘So, I bought this hair dye, and when I got it home, I realized I didn’t like the colour.’ My eyes darted to Kalem, who gawped at me. ‘A few days later, I took it back to the shop and asked the woman at the counter if I could return it. But when she took the box back off me, she stared at it for a while with a puzzled look and then turned it around to show me.’
Dick Head and Goodbody had deadly straight faces.

‘Do go on. This is thoroughly enlightening,’ Goodbody said in a voice that clearly meant it wasn’t at all.

‘Well, that was when I noticed that someone had drawn a moustache and beard on the picture of the woman on the front of the box.’ I narrowed my eyes at Kalem, who chuckled under his breath, remembering.

‘Anyway, I was really embarrassed and had to pretend that it must have been like that in the shop when I’d bought it.’

‘Is there a point to this?’ Goodbody asked, glancing at his watch.

‘I wanted to get Kalem back, and I knew he was going to the building society a few days later to get some money out, and he needed to take some ID. He can never find his driving licence, so he always takes his passport,’ I paused. ‘Because I’m a photographer, obviously I’ve got loads of old photos lying around, so I thought it would be really funny to pay him back for all the practical jokes he plays on me. I found this photo, cut it out, then stuck it over his passport photo with removable adhesive and put it back in the drawer. Then, of course, I forgot all about it.’ I tried to swallow, but my throat felt like I’d swallowed a Brillo Pad. ‘Until now.’ I tucked my hair behind my ears with shaky hands.

Kalem coughed. ‘Actually, I managed to find my driving licence and took that to the building society instead.’

I cast him a sheepish look. ‘Yes, I realize that now.’

‘You see! This is all perfectly innocent,’ Kalem said to Dick Head and Goodbody. ‘Can we go now?’

‘Not yet. Are you a Muslim too?’ Goodbody asked me.

‘No, I’m not a Muslim,’ I said.

A confused glance passed between Dick Head and Goodbody. ‘Well you certainly look like one. Can you please explain why you’re wearing a burka if you’re not Muslim,’ Goodbody asked me.
I glanced down at the floor length, head-to-toe black burka that I’d almost forgotten I was wearing. Even if the rest of the stuff sounded slightly odd, there was at least a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.

‘Well, there’s an ancient tradition with Turkish Cypriot families. When a new bride-to-be arrives in North Cyprus to get married, it’s good luck for her to be wearing a burka, isn’t it?’ I glanced at Kalem, willing him to explain this peculiar custom further. Instead, he kind of gave me a small shake of his head, and his jaw dropped.

Oh, God. I recognized that look. There was no such custom. This was another one of his wind-Helen-up practical jokes. If they could’ve seen my face, which of course they couldn’t because I only had a two inch rectangular slit for my eyes, they would’ve seen it completely drain of colour. Luckily, they accepted this explanation, and neither of the customs officers seemed to notice that my eyelids had just pinged open in surprise or that Kalem’s face had turned a scorching-hot shade of pink.

Dick Head picked at the adhesive on Kalem’s passport photo and pulled it off, examining the official picture of Kalem underneath. ‘What do you think?’ He handed the passport to Goodbody.
‘Mmm.’ Goodbody scrutinized it. ‘It looks legitimate.’ He sounded disappointed.
‘That’s a shame,’ Dick Head huffed and turned to Officer Goodbody, frowning. ‘Seems like we’ll miss out on our CAT bonus.’

‘What’s that?’ Kalem asked.

‘Catch-a-terrorist bonus,’ Dick Head grumbled at us. It was clear from the look on his face that he’d already worked out what he was going to spend it on.

‘Can we go now?’ I pleaded.

‘OK,’ Goodbody said with much reluctance. ‘But don’t let this happen again.’

‘Thanks, Dick.’ I yanked Kalem’s arm and hurried him away to catch our plane before they changed their minds.

We arrived at the gate with minutes to spare, just as a rather harassed looking baggage handler was about to search for our luggage to offload.

OK, maybe this wasn’t exactly the kind of start to our perfect life together that I had in mind, and one day I was actually going to laugh about this, but I couldn’t allow myself to relax until we were sitting in our allocated seats and the plane was taxiing down the runway. We were on our way to an exciting destination, full of possibilities. Living a life abroad that most people just dreamed about but never got to experience. An amazing adventure that nothing was going to spoil.

Nothing will spoil my wedding. Nothing will spoil my wedding. Nothing will spoil my wedding.
Or so I thought.

Copyright © Sibel Hodge 2011

Sibel Hodge has dual British/Turkish Cypriot nationality, dividing her time between Hertfordshire and North Cyprus. She is a qualified personal trainer, sports and massage therapist, and writes freelance feature articles on health, fitness, and various lifetyle subjects. Prior to this, she also worked for Hertfordshire Constabulary for ten years.

Her first novel, Fourteen Days Later, was short listed for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and received a highly commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. It is a romantic comedy with a unique infusion of British and Turkish Cypriot culture. Written in a similar style to Catherine Alliott and Marian Keyes, Fourteen Days Later is My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets P.S. I Love You.

The Fashion Police is her second novel and is the first in a series featuring feisty, larger-than-life insurance investigator, Amber Fox. It is a screwball comedy-mystery, combining murder and mayhem with romance and chick-lit. Written in a similar style to Janet Evanovich, The Fashion Police is Stephanie Plum meets Bridget Jones.

My Perfect Wedding is her third novel and the sequel to Fourteen Days Later. To learn more about Sibel and her works visit her website

Other books by Sibel Hodge:

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I thought I'd take this day to give a little sneak preview of my current work-in-progress -- a novel co-authored with friend and fellow writer, LB Gschwandtner:

Foxy's Tale

So far, we're calling it a humorous, chicklit YA, women's fiction, vampire mystery.

Hey, we're covering all bases.

Here's a little description:

Antique shop owner, Foxy Anders has problems.  So does her teen-aged daughter, Amanda who likes to blog about her biggest problem – Foxy.  And shoe-loving, stylish Knot, who has just rented Foxy’s basement apartment – he’s a master at creating his own problems.  They’re a quirky threesome to be sure, but when the mysterious, bumbling, Yiddish-speaking Myron Standlish arrives on the scene, desperately seeking his long-long-long-lost steamer trunk, he brings along his own set of problems, larger and stranger than all of theirs put together.  Oy vey.  How will Myron’s search and discovery affect their lives?  Well. . . that’s Foxy’s Tale.

Keep on the lookout for Foxy's Tale, April of 2011 on Kindle and Nook.

Other books by Karen Cantwell and LB Gschwandtner:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Author Interview: Drabble and Short Story Writer, Michael Crane

I have a confession to make: I have a dark sense of humor.

And of course, it's no secret I love great writing.

So when I met author Michael Crane at a reader's and writer's forum at Amazon, I just had to have him at Fiction for Dessert to talk about and share some of his DRABBLES.

What's a DRABBLE?

I'll let him tell you . . .

K: Welcome to Fiction for Dessert, Michael. I’m excited that you are here sharing some of your 100 word shorts with my readers.

M: Thanks so much, Karen! I’m honored to be here.

K: How long have you been writing 100 word short stories?

M: Actually, I just started to write them back in October. I had never attempted them before then. I’ve done short-shorts before, but nothing like this. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so shocked by how well LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES is doing.

K: Why 100 words?

M: There was an online contest awhile back on Kindleboards where you had to write a story using only 55 words, if I’m not mistaken. The title didn’t count, so long as it wasn’t very long. I participated and had a blast. It was a challenge, but it was so much fun. The great thing about a story being that short is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. That’s always a fear of mine. That a story will go on for too long.

When I mentioned that I took part in the contest, Mary McDonald (author of NO GOOD DEED) asked me if I ever tried to write a drabble, which is a story that is only 100 words long. I never did, but I have read a couple of them. Mainly, from David McAfee’s excellent collection, THE LAKE AND 17 OTHER STORIES. I was really intrigued by the idea, so I wanted to try it out. With it being October at the time, I thought I would do horror, sticking to a Halloween theme. I thought I’d only be able to come up with one or two, and then I’d put them up on Smashwords for free… but to my surprise, I couldn’t stop myself once I started! I was having way too much fun writing them.

I figured if I could get at least 25 done, then that would make a good collection to put up on Amazon. Of course, I worked on this very quickly since I wanted to get it done before Halloween. This was all done within a month, miraculously. It was a crunch, but I pulled it off. It was thrilling to write something that was completely different from what I normally write. It’s one of the exciting things about being a writer. Trying out new things, see what works and what doesn’t. LESSONS worked, Thank God.

K: I love these stories – they are darkly humorous. I know you write other short stories as well – are they all on the dark side, or do you write different types of fiction?

M: Thanks, Karen! It means a lot coming from you. I do tend to write dark stories, but usually they’re focused on human drama. I love to write slice-of-life type stories. Raymond Carver and Richard Yates were HUGE influences on me. I just love to take an ordinary situation and see how the characters react to it. My short story collection IN DECLINE mostly deals with tragic stories about everyday things—addiction, heartbreak, lies etc. I still try to add a bit of humor to them, as well. But LESSONS is a completely different beast. I’ve never written anything like it. Think that’s why I was nervous when I first published it—and then overwhelmed by the praises and success of it.

And that’s why I decided to do a follow-up: LESSONS II: ANOTHER MORBID DRABBLE COLLECTION. I was a bit hesitant to do it at first. I was afraid people wouldn’t like it as much as the first one, but that’s a risk you have to take as a writer. My love will always be writing about human drama, but I can’t deny that I’ve stumbled onto something new for me. The 100-word stories have worked for me so far, so I can’t turn my back on them.

I’m also proud to be a part of two short story anthologies/collections. My drabble, “Apology” from LESSONS appeared in David McAfee’s A POUND OF FLASH. A completely new short story of mine also appeared in A LAND OF ASH by David Dalglish, and I’m featured with a bunch of insanely talented authors. That story was fun to do, because it was going back to my roots with human drama, much like with IN DECLINE.

K: As my readers know, I’m a huge fan of short fiction both to read and to write. What particular challenges do you find in writing short stories?

M: I don’t find them as challenging as writing a full length novel. As I mentioned before, one of my biggest fears is that a story will somehow outstay its welcome. Sometimes the execution can be the biggest obstacle. You can have a great idea, but it means nothing if you can’t execute it properly.

The real challenge of short stories and short story collections is selling them. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t like to read them. That’s something I’ve learned. I can understand. I think people want something that’s longer. I’m the opposite. I have such a short attention span that short stories are the best for me to read. It’s hard for me to commit to a novel at times. Even if it’s good!

K: Is there a novel in your future?

M: Right now, I am working on a novella, although the drabbles have kind of gotten in the way. But that’s not a bad thing. You have to go with what’s working at the moment. The novella I’m working on is GOODMAN’S BAD DAY. It’s something I’ve been working on for years. I never got around to finishing it when I was at college, so after I discovered eBook indie publishing, I ended up completely re-writing what I had. I’m close to finishing the first draft, but as I said, I get easily distracted!

K: Thank you so much, Michael, for stopping by Fiction for Dessert and for sharing your “drabbles.” I’m a big fan of your work. Maybe you’ll stop by again sometime and share a bit of a short story?

M: It’d be my pleasure, Karen! You know how to get in touch with me. I doubt you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming! This has been a real honor, and I’m glad I was able to entertain you with my writing. I love it when I hear positive feedback from readers, and to receive it from a fellow author makes me very happy.

Michael has been gracious enough to share a few of his DRABBLES from both collections. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


“There isn’t a monster under your bed,” Daddy says.
“Is so.”
“Bradley, I’m not going to let you stay up late because you’re making up stories about monsters and whatnot,” he says, folding his arms and frowning.
“Look under there, and if there isn’t a monster I’ll go to sleep.”
Daddy laughs and shakes his head. “Fine. If that’ll make you feel better.” He gets down on his knees and sticks his head underneath my bed.
Then there’s a scream and a loud chomping noise. I see the color red spill on the floor…
Daddy doesn’t have a head anymore.


Chucky gave his mother the evil eye as he sat on the bed. His arms were folded and he gave a wicked scowl.
“Sweetie, I know you’re mad at me,” she said.
He huffed and his eyebrows became one.
“You’re right to be mad. I’m mad at myself, too. I hope you can forgive me.”
Chucky said nothing as he continued to stare. His lips closed tightly, forming a straight line.
“I swear, next time you tell me there’s a monster in your closet, I’ll believe you.”
He looked down at the stump, where his right leg used to be.


Joseph’s arm hurt from writing, Ms. Elroy is not a monster a hundred times on the chalkboard. He tried to stretch, but he only felt pain.
Old Ms. Elroy and her funny glasses stared at him. “Have we learned our lesson?”
“And that is?”
“That you’re not a monster?”
“That’s right.”
“Can I go home now?” he asked.
She gave an answer by growing yellow, sharp fangs. Her eyes became blood-red.
“Go?” she hissed. “But you’ll miss the fun!”


“Help! Let me in, Dan!”
I open the door and see that George’s eyes are all big and wide, like he’s seen a ghost.
“What’s wrong?”
“Billy and his goons are chasing me! Might’ve called them a few names or something. I need shelter!”
I let him in and look outside for a moment to see if they’re around, but there isn’t anybody out there. Were they hiding?
It’s after I close the door that I feel sharp teeth biting into my neck.
The last thing I hear George say is, “Sorry, Danny. Needed you to invite me in somehow.”


His wife was screaming about zombies. How retarded was that?
“There’s no such thing, Ellen. Calm the hell down.”
“They’re here! They’re on their way here!” she screamed as she gripped his arm, with her nails digging into his flesh.
“Ouch, goddammit! You’ve watched too many horror movies. They aren’t real.”
“But I saw one!” she shouted. Her nails dug deeper into his arm.
He shook her off. “Probably some homeless bum. Trust me, there ain’t no zombies.”
Cliff thought his wife was bat-shit crazy. That is, until she turned into one.
Now, he doesn’t do much thinking at all.

Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing. He is the author of IN DECLINE and LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES, and he also might've written two books while he was in high school, but he refuses to own up to them and that's why they aren't included on this page. His work has appeared in A POUND OF FLASH by David McAfee, and A LAND OF ASH by David Dalglish. He lives in Illinois and is always trying to work on something new, unless he's battling stupid writer's block.

Some of his favorite writers are Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson. You can learn more about his works by visiting his

I have also had the pleasure of reading some of Michael's short stories from his other collections and recommend them highly as I am truly a fan!

Other works by Michael Crane:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Author Linda Prather

I'm currently reading a page-turning paranormal mystery-thriller, The Gifts, by Linda Prather. I've been so taken by the writing and the story, that I asked Linda to stop by today for an interview about her Jacody Ives Mystery Series as well as her plans for future works.

K: Welcome to Fiction for Dessert, Linda. Thank you for spending this time to talk about your works.

L: Thank you for having me, Karen.

K: You have two novels out now, The Gifts and Sacred Secrets, both of which are Jacody Ives Mysteries. I’m reading The Gifts now and love it – the writing and story are compelling. Can you tell readers about the Jacody Ives series and how you were inspired to write them?

L: I've always been something of an amateur sleuth and loved following clues and figuring things out. The best mysteries to me were the ones that kept me guessing all the way to the end. I wanted to combine that type of mystery with my love of metaphysics and create a somewhat psychic character and show that being psychic didn't give you supernatural powers. In fact, it was often just the opposite because you never really knew if what you were seeing, hearing or feeling was true until after it happened. This leaves most psychics with a feeling of helplessness or frustration. From there I created Gavin McAllister/Jacody Ives. Once the character was created the story for The Gifts just flowed from beginning to end, and I would have to say that I was probably as shocked as anyone at some of the character twists and turns in that book. It truly was character written.

Sacred Secrets was written from reader requests. People wanted to know more about the split between Gavin McAllister and Jacody Ives and what caused it. So Sacred is actually the story behind the story, which must have been somewhere in my mind when I wrote The Gifts, because it too flowed easily from beginning to end.

K: Do you have a third book planned for this series?

L There are two more books planned in this series which hopefully will be released at the same time as the third book ends with a cliff hanger leading up to the fourth and I don't want readers to have to wait a year or longer to know what happens.

K: In real life, you are a paranormal investigator, which I personally find fascinating. Have you always been interested in the paranormal and can you talk a little about what it means to be a paranormal investigator?

L: Research for the third Jacody Ives Mystery led me to my interest in paranormal investigation. I've always believed that spirits and/or ghosts existed, and could on some levels communicate with us. I've studied and been tested as a psychic myself, and participated in some medium study. The third book includes a paranormal investigation group and I needed to know what they did, how they did it and why. During my quest for knowledge I met several wonderful people who led me through the process of the scientific investigations and the equipment used for those investigations. After a lot of work I earned the title paranormal investigator and still participate in investigations throughout the state of Kentucky and occasionally investigations in other states.

Being a paranormal investigator literally means trying to prove through undisputed scientific evidence that something alleged to be paranormal actually is paranormal. You first have to rule out every possible normal explanation, and even then you may not be able to prove one hundred percent that something paranormal exists. It means watching hours upon hours of blank video and listening to hours upon hours of audio. And when you do find something possibly abnormal you compare that to every other piece of audio, video or photographic evidence in an effort to first debunk it and if you can't debunk it then you attempt to authenticate it. It can be very boring, but at times also very exciting. Out of the hundreds of investigations I've attended only two have produced things I could not debunk, although I could not one hundred percent authenticate them either.

K: Many writers find it hard, once they’ve written within a certain genre, to step out of that genre and write with a different type of voice. Do you think you’ll write outside of the mystery genre, and if so, what?

L: Good question, Karen, and it came at a good time because I just started a book that is totally outside my normal style and voice. I have no idea where it came from, but I have enjoyed writing it. I shipped it off to several of my regular readers asking them if I should continue or give it up. They all agreed unanimously that they loved the voice and wanted to read more. I'm hoping to finish this in first draft form within the next three months. My biggest fear is that my mystery readers won't like it. It will have some aspects of a mystery to it, but it's written in first person not third which is my normal writing style. I’m a little scared of that and the challenges in marketing that it may present.

K: Would you be willing to share a little preview?

L: Love to. Here's a portion of Chapter One.


You grow up poor you've got to wonder if God's got a sense of humor. All the crap life throws at you. And He gives you mothers. It's kind of like that guy Brandon Lee said in the movie The Crow--"Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children."
He got that right. My momma wasn't just a good woman. She was a Saint. Somehow she managed to raise four kids on a waitress' salary. And three of them turned out pretty good. Or would have, but that's another story.

Sometimes when I'm thinking about momma I have to wonder if she knew about God's sense of humor. She read us the good book every night, but she never said nothing about no sense of humor. Still, she had to know something. I mean, after three girls she got me. She had to figure God was up to something.

I’m Jake Savior, and yeah you might as well go ahead and laugh. Everybody else does. My clients are always telling me God's got a sense of humor. The people looking for me weren't looking for a savior. They were mostly searching the want ads for killer for hire. That's me. For the right price I put a lot of people out of other people's misery. Heck, I even done some for free. Some people deserve to die, and being the nice guy I am, I gladly obliged them.
But I'm digressing. Let's get back to God's sense of humor.

I'd had a pretty good day. Won a few bucks on the horse races. Did a little charity work by ridding the world of one more piece of garbage. The courts seen fit to let a pedophile go--I didn't. So I was feeling pretty good about myself, except I was out of cigarettes.
Now anyone that knows me knows I love a good smoke. Last count I was up to five packs a day. Momma always said those thing were going to kill me. Turns out she was right.

Only a die-hard smoker goes out at 2:00 a.m. for smokes. Especially since all the safe places close down early, leaving only a few gas stations and convenience stores open at that hour. Still, I was willing to take my chances. It was too damn cold for thieves to be out and I really, really wanted that last cigarette before I turned the lights out and called it a day.
You've probably already concluded that I'm a smart ass bastard that beats my own drum. Some people will smoke anything. Not me. I'm a strict Kentucky Red's Best smoker. Which means whether I liked it or not I was gonna have to hoof it over to Winchester Road at this time of night. Not everybody carried Red's Best.

Being the cautious person I am, I scouted the parking lot and looked inside for milling customers. No cars and only one customer at the counter. I quickly ascertained he was one of the good guys like me, needing that last deep drag to calm his nerves before he called it a night. Boy was I wrong. Wrong place, wrong time and wrong guy. Five minutes after I entered the door of the Shaky Seven Gas to Go bullets started flying.

I've always heard that your life passes before your eyes when you're dying. Trust me, that's all bull. My last vision was that pack of Red's Best I held in my hand, and my last thought was how good that cigarette was gonna taste as soon as I got outside. Of course, that wouldn't have surprised anyone who really knew me. It wasn't any big surprise to me. I was surprised though. Having listened to momma all those years and growing up with three sisters extolling virtues that I never needed or wanted, I was expecting either that bright light to take me to Heaven, or most likely in my case, a little fire and brimstone trail leading to Hell. That didn't happen either.

# # #

K: Wonderful! I look forward to seeing the finished product. If readers want to learn more about you and your books, do you have a website or blog for them to visit?

L: I have both, and they can drop by and check out samples of both The Gifts and Sacred Secrets, or just catch up on what I'm up to now. My blog is: Jacody Press and my website is:

K: Thank you for your time today, Linda!

L: Thank you for having me, Karen.

If you like a really well-written, powerful mystery with strong characters, I highly recommend The Gifts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Excerpt: Second Chances by Valerie Maarten

Kadi Crowe has spent her entire life believing in the innocence of her father, convicted of murder. But could she prove it?
Dain McKnight waited for the day to come when he could wield his own brand of justice. The only justice he believed fitting for a cold-blooded killer.

That is today's excerpt - romantic tale, Second Chances by Valerie Maarten:

Hanna tucked Little Kadi Crowe in her bed and told her one of her favorite bedtime stories, but before she got to the end of the tale Kadi was fast asleep…a serene smile on her cherub-looking face. Kadi always loved a story with a happily ever after.

Hanna leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the forehead. Of all the children she’s babysat for over the years, she loved Little Kadi the most. Kadi was kind, considerate and compassionate and she was adored her spirit.

She looked down at the sleeping child. Her heart swelled with pride knowing that in a small way she was responsible for what type of woman Kadi was going to become. And Hanna wanted great things for her…and one day she wanted her to have her own personal happily ever after.

Hanna turned off the light and left Kadi to her pleasant dreams. In just a little while Mr. & Mrs. Crowe would be coming home, so she only had a short time to do what needed to be done. Something that becoming harder and harder to put off.

She picked up the phone.


Hanna’s heart thundered in her chest. She wasn’t sure if it was merely anticipation or trepidation. At this moment, it was probably a mixture of the two.

“Hey Bobby, it’s Hanna,” she said.

There was an uncomfortably long pause on the other end of the phone before he spoke. “What’s up?”

Dread…that’s what Hanna was feeling right now. She knew she loved Bobby, but she wasn’t sure how he felt about her…truly felt.

Sure he said he loved her in the heat of passion, but did he mean his words now when his true feelings were about to be tested. Or, was he just confused as he said before? She needed to know…she was desperate to know. Now more than ever.

“We need to talk,” she said.

She held her breath. She had come to learn that he did not appreciate being told what to do, but she hoped that he would hear her desperation and concede to see her…to hear her out.

Bobby blew into the phone in exacerbation. “Hanna, we’ve been through all of this before. There’s nothing else left to say. Why can’t you just let it go and move on?”

He was referring to their recent break up. A break up that he insisted upon when he began dating someone else. Hanna’s ire rose at the thought of the other girl that took her place and though she didn’t know her, she hated her just the same.

In that moment she didn’t care about Bobby’s vile temper or his penchant towards violent rages. She wanted to hurt him like he had hurt her.

“Well, you had better talk to me or everyone, including your new girlfriend, is going to know that you’re going to be a father,” Hanna threatened.

Though her words came out harsh, she didn’t mean them. Right now, she was speaking from the sense of pain and betrayal that she was feeling. Yet, her words did catch his attention. He was listening now.

“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you threatening me?” His tone changed from a bland curiosity to a bone-chilling coldness.

“ I’m not threatening you. I just think we need to talk about…”

He cut her off. “Meet me at the park at ten o’clock tonight.” He said this in a deadly calm voice. “And don’t keep me waiting.”


The next morning, the gossip was rampant about the young girl’s body that was found brutally and savagely beaten to death in the local park. It was called a crime of passion.

Yet, it wasn’t long before the Crowe’s learned the identity of the girl that was splashed across the news all morning. They were one of the first families that were interviewed after the tragic news was broken to the McKnight family. Hanna McKnight had met with a vicious and violent end. The nature of the crime was enough to unnerve the most hardened law enforcement agents.

“Mr. Crowe, you were the last person to see Hanna alive. Are you sure she never said anything about meeting with someone after you dropped her off?” The Detective asked for, what seemed like the millionth time.

“She never said anything. Like I said earlier, I dropped her off at her house like I do every time she babysits for us.

“Did you wait to see if she went into the house to make sure she arrived safely inside?”

Ryan Crowe closed his eyes, trying to remember, but nothing stood out in his mind. He could see the pleasant but strained smile on Hanna’s face as she bounded up the front stairs…then she turned and waved. That’s when he drove off. He didn’t remember her going into the house. Did she ever go into the house?

“I don’t remember her going inside,” Ryan Crowe finally said, a faraway look in his eyes. “I remembered that she waved and I drove off.

The Detective looked at the other Detective in the room, his eyes displaying nothing, except to his partner that learned to read his unspoken thoughts over the years.

They both got up and left Ryan Crowe in the small room…alone.

“What do you think?” The lead investigator asked.

“He’s hiding something. He was the last one to see her alive and I don’t believe his story that she waved and went into the house. Even her mother said she never made it home because she waited up for her.”

“What about the boyfriend? Do you believe his story?”

He thought about it for a moment. “Yeah. His mother seemed credible enough and what reason would he have to beat her to death. From what he’s said, they were already broken up and seeing other people. I think we can let him go. Mr. Crowe on the other hand has some serious explaining to do.”


Three days after the funeral an announcement was made that the police were close to making an arrest in the case of Hanna McKnight’s murder. On the fourth day, the police came knocking on the door of Ryan Crowe, charging him with her murder and hauling him away from his hysterical wife and wailing daughter in handcuffs.

Six months later, in a packed courtroom full of news media, family and spectators, he was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He never said a word in his defense, believing that justice would prevail. His wife could be heard bawling in the distance…the McKnight family could be heard crying silently as the sentence was read.

It was a thirteen year old Dain McKnight that broke through the quiet order of the court. His outburst was a startling revelation of the anguish felt by his entire family…voiced by him.

“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU! I don’t care how long it takes. As soon as they let your miserable ass out of jail, I’ll be waiting…and when you next see me, I will be the last person you’ll ever see. I hate you! I will never forgive you! You’re going to pay for what you did…do you hear me? You’re going to pay with your own miserable life.”

Dain McKnight made his declaration as he was being ushered out, by force, by the bailiff and his distraught father. It was a promise and a rage that would grow and fester inside him and he would carry for the next twenty years like a cancer eating away at his humanity.

And he waited…and waited, until…

What readers are saying: "I was sitting at lunch with my arms around myself only letting go to turn the page on my Kindle. Sigh. When I got to the end without bloodshed, I went home and re-read the end so I could write this review. It was a very good book. I enjoyed weeping over it, being terrified by parts of it, and loving Dain, Kadi’s knight." - Teresa Miller


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Excerpt: Devil Moon by Dana Taylor

Today's excerpt is a mystic romance -- Devil Moon by Dana Taylor

Welcome to the mystical town of Beaver Cove, Arkansas where country ghosts offer homey advice and the moon makes lovers of total strangers!

What reviewers are saying about Devil Moon:
DEVIL MOON: A MYSTIC ROMANCE is a lovely romance full of whimsy, comedy, and bittersweet twists. The characters are real and compelling, filled with the little foibles that drive us all and make them automatically identifiable. Maddie and Phil are driven by their own delusions of themselves, by their personal fears and misapprehensions as to what life is really about, what they can hope for, and what they need. These characters have settled--they believe that there are no happily ever afters, when they are suddenly confronted with a story-book romance. The surprises and sweetness found in DEVIL MOON are as charming as any Cinderella tale. So what if Prince Charming wears sweats and drives a pick-up, or Snow White is a bit anal and wears power-suits? Isn't it possible to have it all? Isn't it possible to find what you've looking for without even knowing you were looking? I loved this book. It made me laugh and cry. People who love romances from Jan Karon to Jane Austen will instantly find this book irresistible. The characters are wonderful, the writing is compelling and witty, the plot-twists are unexpected, and the love story is both steamy and sweet. Don't miss a chance to curl up with DEVIL MOON this winter. This book and a cup of cocoa are just the ticket for the winter blues!
-- Beverly Forehand at Round Table Review

Are you ready for a fun excerpt?

Maddie sat up straight. She'd been wishing the interminable breakfast would simply end. And now he appeared on the verge of proposing marriage.

She put a hand on his arm. "Don't say it, Phil."

"Now you don't even know what I'm going to say. See, we're good for each other." He covered her hand and looked at her with the innocence of a puppy. "I love you. I've known it for a good little while. You make me happy and I think we'd make a great team. We need each other. We're right together. Oh, hell, Maddie, either shoot me and put me out of my misery or marry me." He released a deep breath. "There, I said it. I think we should get married. What do you say?"

He looked so happy, she wanted to throw up. Her voice came out hoarse. "I can't marry you, Phil. It just wouldn't work."

An expression of shocked pain flashed across his face before it quickly changed to anger. "Oh, I get it. It's one thing to have a roll in the sheets with the football jock, but you wouldn't want to marry him."

"No, no, it's not like that."

"Then what is it? Explain it to me."

Oh God, she wasn't ready for this. She hadn't rehearsed a speech. She crossed her legs and tried to assume an elegant air. "Well, you're from one world and I'm from another and I don't think we're compatible. You're much too messy. I wouldn't want to be picking up your socks and picking out your clothes." Oh yes she would, she really would.

Phil stood up. "Okay, sweetheart, you're too good for me. I get it. An alcoholic, has-been football player isn't your idea of husband material. Well, let me tell you something, babe. You're passing up a good deal."

She knew that. She knew he was the best thing that had ever come along in her whole life. "It wouldn't be a suitable match, that's all. I think you have many fine qualities, but you're just not my type. I hope we can be friends, for the baby's sake."

He grabbed her chin and forced her to look in his face. "This is so much bullshit. You came onto me the other night like it was for keeps. You didn't say it, but I could feel it in your body, see it on your face. You love me, goddamn it! You look me straight in the eye and deny it. Say it. Say 'Phil, I don't love you.' I don't think you can."

Maddie swallowed and dug deep down to a well of strength she didn't know she possessed. She had to make the lie seem true. In a calm and measured voice she said, "Phil…I…don't… love you."

He released her as if he'd been burned, turned on his heel and rushed for the door. She flinched at the slam and closed her eyes. Taking a breath, she opened them again and surveyed the incredible mess he'd made making one small meal.

Standing before the sink was the see-through figure of Grammy Harris. "Pitiful, simply pitiful. You've set the Harris womenfolk back 'bout a hundred years."


Dana Taylor has had articles published in the Ladies Home Journal and various Christian magazines, hosted her Internet radio show, Definitely Dana! at and won several awards in the Romance Writers of America, including Best First Book from the Desert Quill Awards. Her published works include Ain’t Love Grand?, Shiny Green Shoes and Princess Robin. To learn more about Dana and her books, visit her author page atAuthors Den.



Other books by Dana Taylor:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Excerpt: Dead People by Edie Ramer

It's going to be a busy week at Fiction for Dessert!

Each day this week I will be featuring a novel and author with excerpts or interviews or a little of both! I think it's going to be very fun and you are going to find out about many new and emerging authors.

Today's excerpt is Dead People (Book One in the Haunted Hearts series) by Edie Ramer and I have to admit, this one is on my TBR list.


When Cassie Taylor talks, ghosts listen. She wants to heal their souls so they can leave earth. Brooding songwriter Luke Rivers wants to give his recently found daughter a normal home, but he discovers his new house in small town Wisconsin is haunted by a ghost with an attitude. His ghost whisperer has an attitude too—even before someone tries to kill her.

He wants conventional. She wants acceptance. No wonder she thinks men are hard and dead people are easy.

What reviewers are saying:

“Edie Ramer has done it again. She as created such a wonderful new world that enthralls and entertains. This book is filled with laughter, heartbreak, mystery, cranky ghosts, and most importantly, love. The depth of which Ramer is able to put into her characters is fantastic. It doesn’t get much better than this.” – A 5 Star review by Aimee at Coffee Table Press

Are you ready for that excerpt? The scene below takes place after Cassie and Luke have talked and she’s driving away from his haunted house. Her best friend Joe, a ghost from the 1960s, is in the car with Cassie. Joe will be the hero of Book Two in the Haunted Heart series . . .

“Turn down this job,” Joe said. “I’m getting a bad feeling.”

“Since when did you admit to getting feelings?” Rain drummed against the roof of the car and Cassie set the front defogger on high. Cool air rushed up at her face as she navigated the snaking driveway. A crack of thunder made her jerk, and a flash of lightning lit up the driveway in time for her to avoid a pothole.

“Since seeing the way Luke Rivers looked at you.”

“He didn’t like me, he made that clear.” Cassie reached the end of the driveway and she felt a sense of lightness at leaving the old house, as if she’d been holding her breath and finally sucked in pure oxygen.

“Maybe he didn’t like you, but he looked at you.”

And I looked back, Cassie thought, steering the car onto the highway. One of the perks of being alive. Checking out good looking men and eating chocolate.

“So? A rat can look at a queen.”

“You’re smiling. You liked it.”

“Don’t interrogate me.” Cassie glanced at her sulking passenger.

“I’m not only a cop, I’m a man too.”

You were a man, she thought, facing the road again, because she didn’t want her obituary to read “Killed while driving stupidly in the rain.” Nor did she want Joe to read her expression. A bullet to his heart had stolen his life, not his ego.

Headlights sped toward them on the other side of the highway. Their car was catching up to a semi, the red rear lights flickering through the barrage of rain, the upper reflectors barely visible.

“Forget Luke Rivers,” she said. “He’s not important.”

“It’s you that’s important,” Joe said.

A glow kindled n Cassie’s chest. “In this case, it’s the dead person that’s important.”

“I wonder what Rivers will say when you tell him the reason she’s sticking around on earth.”

“He won’t believe me. He doesn’t believe I talk to dead people. I could see it in his face.”

“He doesn’t want to believe. There’s a difference.”

“He’s ready to pay on the off chance that he’s wrong. As long as his check cashes, that’s okay with me.” But despite her words, the glow inside her flickered out, leaving a hollow coldness.

The truck slowed and she eased her foot from the gas pedal to avoid a backsplash of filthy water. The car’s headlights caught a sign on the side of the road, “Welcome to Bliss.” She made a face. More like “Welcome to Misery.”

“Thata girl,” Joe said. “You’ve got pluck.”

She passed a McDonald’s and pulled into the Home Away From Home motel. Chickens had pluck, she thought. And look how they ended up.

Chicken McNuggets.

“I’ll tell him tomorrow.” Then she’d sit back and watch the feathers fly.


Edie Ramer lives in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, two dogs, and Belle the cat. She started writing in the 1990's, selling short stories in the mystery genre to National magazines and two Women Sleuth books. In addition to non-fiction articles, she wrote verses for greeting cards, and she possesses a drawer filled with cards for any occasion. Visit her website Edie Ramer.




See you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

GREAT NEW BLOG - Mystery and Detective Short Stories

I just found a fun new blog for lovers of Detective and Mystery short stories:

Discretion Assured

Stop by and enjoy some wonderful stories in the classic mystery/detective genre.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Video Friday!

For Jimmy Stone, life in "Boredsylvania" has been pretty tough. His mom's died, his dad's completely checked out, and he spends his days running from the Coogan Boys, the local bullies. It isn't long, however, before "Boredsylvania" gets a lot more exciting. With his new friend, David and his dog, Trex, by his side, Jimmy discovers that the woods beyond his backyard hold the key to a world he could never even imagine. Soon, he ends up in Ghost Town, where he’s greeted by his ghost guide, Gasp, and receives an ominous prophecy.

“Seven things you must find.
One thing for each day.
Seven things you must find.
Or else they all will pay!

Suddenly Ghost Town becomes as scary as it sounds, and Jimmy Stone realizes that he's in way over his head.

A warrior with a secret. A rogue band of cut throats seeking gold before glory. And a monster of legend.

A morning that no one wanted. Battle rusty from the war infirmaries, a company of recently healed Sujins, Sunja's heavy infantry, are called to duty and ordered to march north through a war torn country. They know not why they travel, only that they must and guard a mysterious koch. They are whipped by the murderous Rusk the Two Knife and his Koor officers. They are lead by the enigmatic Bloor, the only cavalier to survive the Field of Skulls.

Together, they will march into the unknown, and arrive at the teeth of hell.

And only one man will possess the skills necessary to bring the survivors back.

Dorothy Gale is fifteen years removed from Oz and the last of her friends to get married. But Dorothy's long time boyfriend Peter is dragging his feet proposing. After a visit with Peter's wacky divorced parents, Dorothy sees behind the curtain to a failed proposal in Peter's past, making her worry he'll never pop the question. Enter John Timmins, an old friend with a perfect family who's ready to propose now, yet doesn't get Dorothy's heart racing. At a yellow brick crossroad, Dorothy is visited by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion to help her decide: wait it out with the man she loves, or settle with a man she'll have to learn to love?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Excerpt: The Crystal Facade by Debra L. Martin and David W. Small

Today, I'm very excited to be able to post an excerpt from The Crystal Facade by Debra L. Martin and David W. Small. The Crystal Facade is the second installment of their Rule of Otharia Trilogy.

Royal Otharian twins Darius and Dyla Telkur have a big problem: they know too much about the forbidden planet Earth.

When Dyla's dream visions of the London crime boss portend an imminent threat to her family, she has no choice but to secretly return to Earth and seek answers. Who is this crime boss, what’s his connection to Otharia and why does he look like the Grand Duke? What the twins don't realize is that they're walking into a conspiracy that involves a centuries old interplanetary smuggling operation between the two planets, an operation that many want to remain secret.

Assassins on both planets are on the move, and their target is the elimination of the Telkur twins. Everything is connected, but time is running out. Darius and Dyla must unravel the mystery and discover the identity of the malevolent mastermind trying to destroy them before Dyla's worst nightmare comes true.

Here's what reviewers are saying: "The Crystal Fascade has all of the good things that made The Quest for Nobility a good and enjoyable read for me. This is a solid piece of work and like The Quest for Nobility, well worth the money especially if you are looking for a series where psychic powers are used." - Richard Jackson

And now, Chapter 5, Divided Paths, of The Crystal Facade:

The sun was touching the western horizon when Ty walked into Darius’ private study.

“Hey Ty. How’d you get away this time?” Daruis asked. “This is the second time in two days your counselors have released you from their grasps.”

Ty plopped himself down in one of the over stuffed chairs before answering.

“Really, do you think anyone can tell me what to do?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.”

Ty shrugged.

“You’re right. I told my councilors that I was coming to see Trinity. That’s the only way I got out of there. There was another stack of petitions that needed my attention, but I’ll deal with those later. My councilors are great, but they’re relentless. Some days I don’t know how they do it.”

“I know. Running a duchy is much harder than I thought. My father made it look effortless.”

“I guess we both should have paid more attention during those lessons.”

“You’re probably right.”

Both young men lapsed into quiet contemplation at the mention of their fathers, each lost in their own thoughts. It was Darius who first broke the silence.

“Trinity should be off duty soon. You’re welcome to sit here until she comes back.”

“Thanks. Most generous of you cousin,” Ty chuckled. “But seriously, while we wait for Trinity, I want to talk to you about this trip to Earth.”

“So do I,” Darius said, his demeanor changing.

Ty leaned forward. “I’m deeply concerned about these three going back to Earth alone. It was bad enough when you were with them, but without you? I don’t know. I have grave reservations.”

“I understand, but I can assure that they could have no greater protection than Eclair.”

“Eclair?” Ty scoffed. “Darius please, Eclair’s my friend too and I know about his trick of bending light, but we’re talking about their very lives being at stake. It’ll be incredibly dangerous for them. This Blackheart guy will be on the lookout for them this time.”

“I know, but I stand by what I said. Eclair is the one to pull it off.”

“How can you be so confidant?”

“Ty, you haven’t seen Eclair in tight situations like I have. He’s no longer the pushover you knew in school. He’s powerful beyond all reckoning. I don’t think even he knows the depth of his power. Gods help us all if he ever turned evil. There would be no stopping him.”

“I’m sorry, I just don’t see him that way. I’ve known Eclair too long to have that level of confidence in him.”

Suddenly, Ty felt a tightening around his arms. It quickly spread over his entire body until he was completely paralyzed. Within seconds, he found himself rising and spinning around in mid air.

“Hey! What’s going . . .”

Ty’s voice stopped in mid-sentence.

Eclair stood in the doorway of the study, focusing on Ty, his head slightly bent as he concentrated.

Darius sat up straighter in his chair. This was a new trick that even he had not seen yet.
Dyla was standing behind Eclair. She gently touched his arm.

“Eclair, enough. I’m sure they get the point.”

Eclair looked up and flashed a boyish grin at Ty. He winked at Dyla and they both walked into the room.

“Still have no confidence in my abilities to protect the group?” Eclair asked.

He released Ty’s voice and slowly lowered him back into the chair.

“Damn you, Eclair,” Ty shouted, indignantly. “Release me at once.”

Eclair stood in front of Ty releasing the invisible bonds that held him.

“Why did you do that?”

“To convince you,” Eclair said, deadly serious.

Ty was stunned. Darius was right. Eclair was powerful beyond reckoning.

“I knew what you were doing and yet I couldn’t stop you. I’ve never felt such power.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet. Would you like to see more?”

Ty held his hands up in surrender.

“Stop. Please no more. I’m convinced.”

“Fair enough.”

Eclair gave Ty a mock bow and walked over to the empty chair next to Dyla and sat down. She reached over and gave his hand a quick squeeze.

“Pretty good, huh?” he said.


“All right you two, enough fun and games. We have business to discuss tonight. Let’s get to it,” Darius said trying hard not to laugh.

It was Ty’s turn to chuckle.

“Dyla, are you sure this is the same brother you had to drag out of bed during our training sessions?”

“Yep, all work and no play, that’s my brother.”

The group laughed as Cat came into the room.

“What’s going on? Are you guys having a meeting without me?”

“No, Cat,” Darius said. “Ty and I were talking business and Dyla and Eclair have just joined us.”

Dyla felt waves of tension emanating from Cat. The young woman was decidedly unhappy about something. She reached over and grabbed Eclair’s hand, pulling him out of his chair.

“Come on, Eclair. I want to finish our discussion.”

“Our discussion? What discussion?”

It took only a moment for Eclair to look at Cat’s troubled face to realize that she had something on her mind and it didn’t concern either him or Dyla.

“Oh yeah, I remember now.”

Cat watched them scamper out of the room.

Ty jumped out of his seat. “I think I’ll go meet Trinity at the portal station.” He walked over to Cat and bowed slightly. “Good-bye and good luck on your trip, Catiana. It’s been a pleasure to know you.”

“Thank you, Ty.”

He nodded to Darius and left the room.

Cat walked to the window, watching the harbor city spread below. The view from the Telkur manor was magnificent. She stared for long minutes at the teeming seaport. The sprawling docks had begun to melt into the coming twilight and the lights from the city began to shine like fireflies against the night. The normal bustle of the docks was replaced with an eerie stillness as the workers made their way home. It only served to remind her how alone she was in this strange place. This was not her world and she had no home to go to here.

Darius sat patiently and watched the Earth archeologist. He wished things could have been different between them, but fate had other plans.

“Darius,” Cat said breaking her reverie, “I wanted to talk to you alone before I left.”

Darius got out of his chair and walked over to the window, careful not to stand too close to the young woman.

“I’m glad you came here,” he said soothingly.

Cat turned toward him, a scowl etched on her face and pushed her glasses up.

“Why? You haven’t had time for me for weeks and now you say this the night before I leave?”

Darius visibly flinched at the intensity of her words.

“I’m still glad you came to Otharia.”

Cat stared at Darius. Her emotions were a cascade of confusion and she didn’t trust herself to maintain her composure. She wanted to go home, but a part of her wanted to stay with Darius. Could she fall in love with him? Did she already love him? Could one night together make up for never seeing him again? It was too much and she realized it would be better if she kept her distance.

Darius was no stranger to women. He had seen that painful look before on another woman’s face, the look of regret and unfulfilled hope. He was not happy to see it again.

“Cat, I’m sorry . . .”

“You’ve said that before,” she interrupted, folding her arms across her chest. “It doesn’t make anything better.”

“Please, let me finish.”

Cat pursed her lips and waited for him to continue.

“You’re leaving tomorrow and I wouldn’t begin to try to convince you otherwise. I know how unhappy you’ve been here, but I do wish things were different,” he said taking a step towards her.

Cat stepped back holding up her hand to stop him.

“Please don’t. Let’s not make this any more complicated than it already is.”

“Complicated? You’ve been angry with me since I brought you here. I know this is a strange place, but I saved your life back on Earth. You would have drowned in that enclosure. You should be happy now. I’m sending you back to your own world. What’s complicated about that?”

Cat stiffened and pushed her glasses up on her nose once more. “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“Understand what? Please explain it to me.”

“Of course, I’m happy to be going home, but not every part of me wants to go. I’ll be back where I belong, where I fit in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish things could have been different.”

Darius stared at her. “Cat, you must realize that I have responsibilities as the Duke of Telkur. I cannot . . .”

“Please stop.”

Darius paused. He could see the anguish in her eyes, but he was helpless to do anything about it. He did the only thing he could.

“Catiana Spencer, I wish you a long and happy life,” he said, respectfully bowing to her.
A sad smile crossed her face. She bowed her head and gave the handsome young duke one last look before hurrying from the room.

Darius watched leave. A part of him ached to reach out to her, to wrap her in his arms, to let her know that everything would be all right. Instead, he stood unmoving, watching her walk out the door and out of his life.

Debra L Martin writes science fiction and fantasy with her co-author, David W Small. They have been writing together since 2006 and have produced two novels and two novelettes to-date. Debra lives on the East Coast with her husband and 3 cats. David lives on the West Coast with his wife and daughter. They are currently working on a fantasy they hope to finish in 2011.
Visit them at their website,Two Ends of the Pen.