Our supposed “WAR ON TERRORISM”…..really a WAR ON US!!

 

 

 

 

I just watched American Sniper and OMG, there are such blatant issues that ANYONE SHOULD SEE.
1. First- WHY DO WE ALWAYS GET INVOLVED with other countries problems and think we have to send OUR BOYS/MEN IN to get killed in wars we even aren’t involved in the first place.
2. We send our people in to fight wars, they come back disabled, and PTSD and they act in ways never before seen to them or their families. We destroy people,, kids, and lives of families all FOR NOTHING!!!
I’m sorry I was in the Middle East and unless you’re a child that WAS JUST BORN that day, you’re not innocent. These children are being trained as soon as their able to walk and their trained to kill AMERICANS!!! There are no innocent bystanders. This movie will show you just that. There are mothers who give their children bombs to go and become a suicide bomber and their goal is to kill Americans!
3. WHY THE HELL don’t we just BOMB the fricking areas that these so called insurgents were congregated in. Instead we send in our troops in to walk around in these towns where there are snipers kids with RPG’s, and IED’s to blow up our Hummers that have disabled so many vets if not killed them., so our troops get killed and disabled one at a time, when we could have just put in an airstrike and bombed the entire town.
It would save our guys/gals lives.
4. People bitch about money that it costs to go to war, well people it also cost money for health care and mental health care for our soldiers when they return from these wars and usually the treatment is for life, not just for a set amount of time. And what’s worse are some Vets are being turned away for treatment due to funding. How DARE WE TREAT the people who are willing to die for us like that!!!
5. We know exact locations of these clusters of terrorist/insurgents why don’t we just BOMB these areas or screw it bomb the whole fricking country to save our people. If you can’t do this then either STAY OUT OF other countries wars and take care of our own. We were not involved personally in Viet Nam, Korea or the Middle East, our country was not threatened, yet our presidents seem to think that we need to be the ultimate “SAVIORS” for others.
6. We are not a land of freedom but rather a CONTROLLED DEMOCRACY. This country’s leaders don’t listen to the people or take care of their own. There are WAY TOO MANY HUMAN rights issues that are preventing us from just going in and ending a war within a few months by bombing places and taking out those that threaten us. Or better yet why don’t our government just keep their noses out of other countries businesses.

Sure we just got “same sex marriages approved” WHAT WAS THIS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KEEPING OUR SOLDIERS SAFE. A lot of money was put into this issue and I wonder where the hell the priorities in this government are.
We have hundreds of soldiers dying monthly and we put our priority into this. I’m sorry this sounds so caustic and overbearing on behalf of some peoples ideals but it’s my opinion and I’m allowed to express it……Wait Mr. President and others in government “AM I ALLOWED to EXPRESS THIS???? God knows I was supposedly NOT allowed to come back to the USA and tell my story of what happened to me and others in Iran, since they made me sign a non-disclosure agreement. So I was just checking? Oh HELL I’m SAYING IT ANYWAY!!
If anyone is interested in what happened to me in Iran they can go tohttp://www.loris-song.com ALL PROFITS go to CHARITY! So this is not a promotional post, but it is a READ THIS AND SHARE THE INFORMATION POST! TYVM for listening and hopefully commenting.

 

Featured Author series was FABULOUS!!

(Me and my MAIN MAN)

Hello everyone, authors/readers:

I just wanted to THANK all of the AUTHORS that participated in my series of featuring authors.  ALL the authors were outstanding and had so much to share not just with readers but other authors as well…( we all like to know our competition) 🙂

It’s come to a close for now but I leave the door open to any other authors that would like to be featured on my blog, I’m sure I can fit you in somewhere 🙂

Again THANK YOU AUTHORS you did a FANTASTIC JOB!!!!

Lori

Featured Author: Melissa Silvey

Featured Author:

Melissa Silvey

Melissa Silvey

  1. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

Who is Melissa Silvey?  I’m a mom and a student.  I also have a part time job so sometimes my schedule can be hectic.  I’m 42 years old which means I’m an older student.  I’m finding I don’t mind that at all; in fact it’s kind of liberating.  I don’t have any social pressures and can just be myself.  I’m taking my second creative writing class.  I don’t have a lot of free time to work on my own novels, but I love going to college so I’m not complaining.  Also I’m currently addicted to ABC’sOnce Upon A Time” and I’m learning a lot more than I thought I’d ever want to know about tumblr and twitter and shipping and canon and otp.  The show is blowing my mind, and learning the lingo behind internet pairings of fictional charcters is fun and new and exciting!

2.   What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.

What brought me to romance novels?  I remember when I was pre-teen to early teenage years picking up second hand romance novels and I just fell in love.  Although I go through spurts of reading other genres, I always go back to romance.  I think it’s because it’s half fantasy and half reality.  And that’s the fun of it.  I want my stories to be relatable and still have a hint of, “I wish that would happen to me!”

3.   How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I don’t really have a lot of free time to promote myself and my books.  I post the odd tweet or FB post, but currently not much more than that.  I’ve decided to take a few marketing classes, I think that will help significantly.  Yes, I think it is difficult to try to be writer and promoter.  Thankfully I have a couple of people who believe in me and are trying to promote my books some as well.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

I remember the first time someone liked my books other than my mom and my sister.  I felt validated.  I’d been writing half my life but not really allowing anyone to read what I wrote.  Finally I came to a point of, “What the heck am I waiting for?”  My mom encouraged me to self-publish, and since then I am really encouraged by the response.  And of course I try to improve my writing skills when I get a bad review.  But of course it hurts when someone gives a bad review to your life’s work.  I just think I have to use those to better myself and my writing.

5.  Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

I have several books available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I’m currently working on the third book of my Executioner series.  Happy endings are hard sometimes!  Most of the reviews are positive; I don’t think I’ve had any negative reviews yet.

6.   Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

My website is: http://www.melissasilvey.com/

The link to the list of my books on Amazon is: www.tinyurl.com/msilvey

And I love goodreads.com so here is the link to my author page there:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6949604.Melissa_Silvey

7.    I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

I’d like to thank you for having me!  It’s my first so I’m very excited to share with you!  This is an excerpt from The Executioner: A Love Story.  My mom actually gave me the idea for the book and I ran with it.  Everyone needs love, I guess, even kick-butt vigilantes.  Arianna has to be one of my favorite characters: gorgeous yet insecure, hard as nails on the exterior but a lost girl on the inside.  She’s more than enough woman for any man, so I guess that’s why she needs two!

The link to The Executioner: A Love Story is here: www.tinyurl.com/mj75vjp

The Executioner: A Love Story

When they returned to her car he opened the door for her.  He was polite and chivalrous.

“How old are you,” she wondered as she drove back to the apartment.

“I am twenty-six,” he said as he pushed several buttons on her radio and set her clock.

“That’s been off since daylight savings time.  Thank you.  I tried to fix it, but I couldn’t figure it out.  I thought it would at least be right again in the fall.”  He also reset the navigation system that had blinked on the menu page for days.

“I have a talent for technology,” he said proudly.

And I have a talent for killing people, she thought.  “I wish I had your talent.”

“I’m twenty-six too, by the way.”  She examined his face again.  She knew she looked young, but he looked much younger than her.  “Where did you go to college?”

MIT,” he said offhandedly.

“Wow,” she said, stunned to silence again.  She glanced at her newly set clock, and saw it was only 5:30.  “We’re here early.”  She pulled into her parking space and he hurried out of the car to open the door for her again.

“Where did you go to college?”  He asked as they walked up the steps together.

“I went to college in Pennsylvania.”  Her voice became quiet.  “But I didn’t finish.”

“Maybe, if you want to start again, I could tutor you,” he offered as they made it to their shared porch and he unlocked his door.

“I think you’d get tired of me really fast,” she remarked innocently.

“I don’t think I’d ever get tired of you,” he smiled.  Her heart skipped a beat.  She held her keys to her side.  She didn’t want to unlock her door and go inside.  She didn’t want to be alone again, staring at the TV and trying not to think of what she’d done.

“You could go to church with me if you want,” he offered lightly.  “I’ll let you drive, even.  Your car is awesome.”

She made a noise in the back of her throat and stared down at her hands.  He looked disappointed.

“I’m sorry, I just…”  What could she say?  She committed twenty-three murders in five years and she didn’t think Jesus would care about her reasons and her excuses?  “I’m just really tired from the flight,” she lied quickly.  “Thank you for going out with me.”  She reached out her hand to him, and he took it and shook it.  His hands were soft and warm.

He released it suddenly.  “I hear you crying at night,” he said lightly.  He didn’t look away.  “I feel bad and wish I could knock on your door.  I wish I could help.”

Her mouth flew open and her eyes grew wide.  “You can knock on my door any time.”  His eyes were gentle, and his smile was warm.  She quickly unlocked her door and hurried inside.

*** Melissa is a good colleague of mine and I urge you to check her book out.  Thank you Melissa for allowing me to interview you 🙂

Featured Author: Danielle Rose-West

Featured AuthorDanielle Rose-West

1)  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

My name is Danielle Rose-West and I live in the United Kingdom with my family and our small dog. I am something of a romantic dreamer and always have been. I have always been a rather shy person.  When I was growing up, books were often my best friends!

I have loved reading since I was a small child. My very first books were by Enid Blyton. She completely fascinated me with all the different worlds she introduced me to. My very favourite books were her Far Away Tree series. I still remember every story in those books even now! Magical!

I love to read still, of course, and I enjoy spending time with my husband when we both have time off from work. I love to get out and about. I walk very day for exercise and it really helps me to plot my books. I really am a very ordinary person getting to live the dream of being a writer!

2)    What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.

I have always been an incurable romantic, as I said. I just love romance and how two people find the love of their lives in different circumstances. For me there was never any question that I would write romance. Even if I tried to write something else, like pure fantasy, it would end up with romance in there somewhere! My stories are totally products of my imagination. I have a huge imagination and I always have. I love to explore different characters and scenarios in every book. Sometimes my heroine’s do have a little of me in them. I guess that’s hard to avoid!

3)    How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I have found it difficult to learn to market my books. At first I didn’t even realise I needed to do that! When it dawned on me that I had to get to work on social media etc to promote my work, it was quite a learning curve. I had never used facebook, twitter or any other social media site before. I am still learning now how to work with them. But I have made some wonderful friends and contacts, so it has been a blessing. I am growing in confidence every day with marketing and connecting with people and I am really enjoying it now.

4)    Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

I do remember. My very first review was for four stars and the lady said it was a beautiful story. I was ecstatic! I remember running round the house telling everyone. I laughed, cried and felt on top of the world. There was nothing like knowing someone had loved my work! It made all those hours of hard work so worthwhile!

5)    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

My book is called Wild Fire and it is the first in a series called The Fairy Tale Match. It follows a dating agency that is actually run by real fairy godmothers. They have found that since the world no longer believes in magic or them, the only way they can help their charges is to run a dating agency.

In my first book, my hero Jake’s sister actually joins the dating agency on his behalf. She wants to find him true love because a tragedy in his past has closed his heart and she also has another motive, rather more selfish! The heroine, Laura, is looking for love and a new start. She comes to Jake’s ranch to spend three weeks with him, but he has no idea who she is when she first arrives. A lot happens through the course of their story, including enemies past and present that really test the couple. Of course, unknown to them, their fairy godmothers are working in the background to help the couple overcome their difficulties and find everlasting love.

So far, I’ve had some really great reviews for the book. Many have told me that it is refreshing and different. They have laughed with the fairy godmother’s antics and enjoyed the suspense aspect of the story. My second book in this series, Forever You, is also now available.

6)    Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).   

I have several links, as follows:

My blog: http://daniellerosewest.blogspot.co.uk/

My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Danielle-Rose-West/451370021626958

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DRoseWest

Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/author/daniellerosewest

Amazon Author Page UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Danielle-Rose-West/e/B00EF5GXSO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/daniellerosewest

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7213651.Danielle_Rose_West

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/daniellerosewes/pins/

Email: danielle.rosewest30@gmail.com

I truly love to hear from readers and you can find more about my books on most of these pages.

7)    I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky number.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. It has been such fun.

Please find an excerpt from Wild Fire. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 247 Danielle Rose-West (smaller) copy

Excerpt

Laura couldn’t help but smile to herself as she climbed up onto the fence to sit and watch the class. Three young women in the group were all working very hard to gain the attention of the handsome riding instructor. The man was quite obviously enjoying the competition, blatantly spreading himself around the three in a way that was fascinating to behold. He bestowed his easy smile in one direction, then another with compliments flowing free and fast. The women preened under his flattering and then glared daggers at each other when he was looking in a different direction.

The man glanced over to the fence and saw Laura. He sent her one of his huge dimple filled smiles, his eyes gleaming in interest. He gave a small nod in her direction, which she returned. The class came to an end and the group made their way out of the paddock, taking the hot sweaty horses back to the stable for grooming. The instructor made his way over to Laura.

“Hi,” he called out to her as he approached, flashing his dimples at her again. “I’ve not seen you around here before. Are you a guest in one of the cabins?” He strode up to the fence and casually draped his arm around the post next to Laura’s leg. His dark eyes ran over her form, the admiration in them making her flush, but he didn’t make her heart flip over the way a certain dark haired, blue eyed man did.

“Actually, I’m staying with Jake and Kerry,” she replied, smiling down at him from her vantage point on the fence. “I just got here yesterday for a visit.”

“Ah, how wonderful to hear the sound of home. A fellow countrywoman if I am not mistaken?” She nodded to confirm his query. “It is always so lovely to meet up with people from home. I have been here in the US for several years now, working as a riding instructor for various ranches and still sometimes I get homesick. I’m Walter Nobel by the way.”

“I’m Laura Hamilton,” she replied, with a small laugh. The man was a real charmer. She could see why the women took to him. He had an easy smile and a naughty twinkle in his eyes. “Have you family back in England, Mr Nobel?”

“Please, call me Walter or Walt. Mr Nobel makes me look around for my father.” He gave an exaggerated shudder. “I left him back in England along with the rest of my family and I certainly don’t miss them. They are the reason I left, actually.” He gave her a cheeky wink, making her laugh. “Have you known the Carters long?” he asked, propping his boot up on the fence near her foot and leaning closer.

“A while,” she replied evasively. Somehow she didn’t think Jake would appreciate anyone else knowing the circumstances of her arrival here. She quickly changed the subject. “Do you enjoy working here?”

“I love it. How many people can say they get to earn money doing something they truly love all day long?” He cocked his head to one side as he regarded her with a deep intense look. “What about you Laura? Do you do what you love for work?”

“Not yet, but I hope to one day,” she sighed wistfully. “One of the reasons I came here was to see if I can settle into a new life in the States. Maybe I can be as lucky as you and find my perfect job here too.”

“So, you may be sticking around here permanently?” Walter asked, his voice dropping to an intimately low caress. “We must take the time to get to know each other better. Being fellow countryman and all, we should stick together.” He gave her a naughty flirtatious smile.

“It would be lovely to be friends.” She stressed the word in the hopes that Walter would take the hint and not keep flirting with her. She thought him nice enough, but he didn’t set her pulse to racing or her heart pounding. The last thing she wanted to do was give him the false impression that she was interested in him. From what she’d seen, Walter was interested in all women. She had no desire to become one of his conquests whose name he probably forgot in moments or maybe never even knew.

“Do you ride?” he asked,  running his eyes all over her in a caressing sweep she assumed was meant to make her weak at the knees, but didn’t. Unfortunately, her hint seemed to have fallen on deaf ears or he was deliberately ignoring it.

“No, but it is something I want to learn,” she replied to his question. “Actually, Bill is giving me a lesson later today.”

“Why bother him? I’d be happy to teach you. I’m always available for a little……private tutoring.” He gave her a lopsided grin, his eyes full of an invitation she had no intention of taking him up on.

“That’s very kind of you, Walter but I really don’t think I could take a member of the Carters workforce away from his regular duties.” Laura decided a more direct turndown might be in order. “I’m more than happy to learn with Bill.” She began to climb back over the fence, when Walter snagged her arm, sliding his hand down her arm and gently rubbing his thumb along the sensitive flesh of her inner wrist.

“It would be no trouble at all, I assure you, lovely Laura. Jake would probably be happy for me to teach you. He relies on Bill heavily, especially when there are horses near foaling. We’d be doing him a favour.” He smiled persuasively at her, tugging on her arm. “We could start now if you want? My next class isn’t for an hour.” His eyes took on a heavy gleam of desire as he looked her over again. Boy, this man had the hide of a rhinoceros. What did it take to get him to quit? Laura was about to firmly pull her arm out of Walters grip, when a hand clamped down onto his wrist and yanked it off for her.

Jake stood over Walter, looking furious. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Nobel?” he demanded. Laura thought he’d looked angry yesterday, but it was nothing to how he looked now.

“Calm down, Carter. What is your problem? I was only offering a riding lesson to your lovely guest. Thought I’d save Bill the job.” Walter calmly rubbed his wrist where Jake had gripped him, looking remarkably unruffled by Jake’s anger.

“I know exactly what kind of riding lesson you were offering and I doubt it was the one Laura was after. I’ll thank you to treat our guest with respect. While we’re on the subject, I don’t like the way you push yourself at our female clients. Rein it in or I’ll be speaking to Kerry about finding a new instructor. Got it?” Jake’s voice was deadly, his expression hard.

Walter shrugged, laughing softly but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. The charming air dropped away and his face took on a harder edge. “I never push myself on women, Jake. Quite the opposite if you must know. Can I help it if women love me?” he asked, spreading his hands wide with an innocent expression. “Come on, Carter,” he continued in a friendly voice, winking at Jake in a conspiratorial way. “You knew what that was like once, didn’t you. Before….” He gestured to the left side of his face.

Jake froze at the implication of Walter’s statement. Rage boiled in his veins and his fists balled at his sides. He was on the verge of punching Walter Nobel’s overly pretty face, the desire to break his perfect nose overriding his better judgement, when a small hand clamped down on his arm. He looked down to see Laura standing next to him. She shook her head slightly as she twinned her arms through his, effectively stopping him from his murderous intentions.

“Jake, did you come to get me for that tour you promised?” she asked, smiling sweetly at him. “Please excuse us, Walter. I’m sure I’ve kept you from your work long enough.”

“I have enjoyed our chat immensely, lovely Laura. Meeting you has been the highlight of my dreary day.” Walter declared dramatically, clasping a hand to his chest. “By the way, that offer for a riding lesson is always open to you. Just say the word.” He gave her a suggestive wink, grinning widely. Laura felt Jake tense up beside her, waves of anger rolling off him. She gripped his arm tighter.

Shaking her head at Walter’s nonsense, which she was sure was just to get up Jake’s nose, she sighed hoping Jake wouldn’t attempt to hit him again. “That’s very kind, Walter but I’m sure I’ll be fine with Bill.”

He gave an exaggerated sigh of despair. “Another time then, fair Laura,” he replied, executing a small bow in her direction, he threw an insolent salute to Jake before he swept off towards the stables.

Jake growled low in his throat. “I wanted to punch his stupid fake smile right off his arrogant face,” he hissed out in a low voice.

“I know and if it wouldn’t land you in jail with a huge law suit round your neck, I might have let you,” Laura told him. “He shouldn’t have said what he did. It was wrong of him. I can’t believe he would speak to his boss that way. Isn’t he worried you’ll fire him?”

“No, because he is one of best at what he does or so Kerry says. She hired him. I don’t really get involved with that side of the business. I avoid him usually. I can’t stand him and as you noticed, he can’t stand me either.” Jake gritted his teeth, unaware his hands were twisting together as if he had Walter’s neck between them.

“I can see that,” Laura said, letting go of his arm and stepping back from him. She felt the loss immediately, but didn’t want him to feel she was being too familiar with him. “Really, you shouldn’t let him get to you. Surely you could see he was just trying to wind you up on purpose. His opinion of you shouldn’t matter.”

He couldn’t admit to her that normally he was never bothered by Walter’s pathetic pursuits of women. If they were too stupid to realise the man was a Casanova that was their problem. It had, to his complete annoyance, bothered him to see Walter pursuing her. When Jake had seen the two of them together in what looked like such a cosy position, he’d felt like someone had hit him in his guts. He’d flashed right back to Victoria and every feeling of betrayal had come rushing to the surface.

He’d had to remind himself that this was Laura. She wasn’t his. If she was interested in Walter, it was none of his business. But his feet had taken him over to them anyway. He’d wanted to rip Walters arm off for touching her. It was totally irrational, but he felt like Laura belonged to him as if they were connected somehow. He tried to keep rejecting the emotions, but they kept springing up. She drew him to her like a moth to a flame. His mind had been on nothing but her all morning; to then see her smiling and chatting, apparently having a wonderful time with that stupid arrogant jerk had been too much. She obviously didn’t feel a thing for him and he’d rather die than let her know Walter’s interest in her had got to him.

“It’s not just his opinion,” he corrected. “He is simply saying what everyone else thinks. I’ve heard the whispers. They all say what a shame it is, what a waste.” He turned bitter eyes to Laura. “He just had the guts to say it to my face.”

They fell into an awkward silence, each staring at the other. Laura wanted to reach out to him, the hurt she’d seen on his face when Walter had made reference to his scar had cut into her heart like a knife. She wanted to be able to hold him close and soothe that pain away, but she didn’t have that right. She wished she could tell him it didn’t take anything away from his handsome face, but that was too personal. She was too afraid to reveal what he did to her and how he made her feel. They barely knew each other, after all.

Instead she swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the lump in her throat. The last thing he needed from her was pity. “Not everyone holds that narrow view,” she finally said. “There are people who think what’s on the inside is far more important than what is on the outside.”

“What happens when what’s on the inside is broken?” he asked quietly.

Her heart bled for him. She touched his arm gently. “I believe all things can be healed; given time,” she said sincerely.

“I don’t.” His soft reply cut her deeply. Whatever had happened to him had left a scar far deeper than the one on his face. She wondered if any woman could touch it. She doubted that she was special enough to even try. Unsure what to say, she decided to change the subject completely, but he was already turning away from her.

“If you don’t mind, I need to get back to work,” he told her abruptly.

“Of course.” Laura wished she could keep him with her, but she could see him shutting down in front of her eyes. “Will you be having lunch with us?” Her foolish heart hoped he’d say yes. But he shook his head.

“I need to stay out with the horses today. Bill will though. He is looking forward to giving you that riding lesson.” He gave her a small smile, making her stomach clench and her heart turn over, then he walked swiftly away.

Laura headed back to the house to make lunch for three, feeling lonelier than she had in her entire life.

*****

“It didn’t work!” Flo said smugly to Lotta, waving her wand in her face. “He’s walking away again. I told you it wouldn’t work! It was too boring and mortal.”

“You must have patience, Flo,” Lotta told her, gritting her own teeth and trying to practice what she was preaching. “He was most definitely jealous. You saw the way he flew up to them. He has feelings for her. I can feel it in my wand!”

“I still think we need something more dramatic and romantic to get his attention.” Flo fluttered around, her face screwed up in thought. “Didn’t she say she’s having a riding lesson?”

“Bill is giving her one, not Jake. Why?” Lotta eyed Flo suspiciously. She didn’t trust the little fairy godmother one bit.

Flo’s face was starting to go red. That was never a good sign. She began bouncing on her tiny feet. That sign was even worse. “What are you cooking up?” Lotta asked, becoming alarmed.

“I have a perfectly wonderful idea!” Flo announced. “Romantic, dramatic and perfect. This should get a kiss or two out of our prince. He’ll be declaring his love in no time!” She sighed whimsically.

“You are not turning anything into anything it shouldn’t be are you?” Lotta inquired.

“No, no. Of course not!” Flo waved her wand around as she disappeared in a twinkle of stars.

“Tell me what your plan is!” Lotta yelled after her, but she’d already vanished. Lotta grumbled under her breath as she began a frantic search for her bothersome partner. It took her half an hour to locate Flo in one of the stables, happily patting horses on their heads with her small plump hand. She was beaming at them and heaving big sighs of bliss, fluttering her eyelashes in romantic raptures.

“What have you done?” Lotta asked abruptly, too upset for any finesse.

“Don’t worry. You’re going to love this idea. You won’t have to undo it. It’s perfect!” Flo exclaimed, patting the horses all over again. “This will get Laura and Jake together in no time.”

Lotta persisted in questioning Flo, but she wouldn’t say any more. Lotta decided the only thing she could do was keep her eyes and ears open and hope she could avert any disastrous consequences of Flo’s idea. She slumped against the stable walls and wondered what the consequences were for a fairy godmother that quit!

***Danielle is a very kind and giving colleague and friend.  She has a fabulous book and I KNOW you will enjoy reading it!

Featured Author: Kathy Clark

Featured Author:  Kathy Clark

P14 CU - CONTEST

 

1.   Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but when I read The Flame and the Flower a zillion years ago, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  Just a few months ago my mother found a half dozen “books” I’d written when I was six or seven, so I guess my inspiration went much further back than I realized.

 

2.    What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.  

  In 1982 I sold my first book to Dell for their Candlelight Ecstasy line.  I eventually sold to Harlequin and went on to have 23 romance novels published that sold almost 4 million copies worldwide.  Many won awards and made it on best sellers’ lists, but I kind of burned out of genre romance.  I took a few years off to write screenplays, with limited success.  In 2012 I finally returned to writing novels because I had some characters in my head that demanded it.  (Yes, I hear voices, which is an occupational hazard!) But I wanted more freedom than the highly structured romance genre

After Midnight Paperback cover_edited-2              CRIES IN THE NIGHT ebook cover

I decided because of royalties and distribution to go the e-pub route.  In September my first romantic suspense After Midnight was published on Amazon.  It has an element of romance, but the suspense drives the plot, and it is much edgier and more mainstream than any book I had written.  It was the first of a series I called Denver After Dark because the first three books are about three brothers, one a cop, one a firefighter and the third a paramedic, set in Denver, ColoradoAfter Midnight was named as the Best Suspense Indie Book of 2013 and won third place in the prestigious Readers’ Favorite award of 2013.  Cries in the Night, the second book in the series is an insider’s look at domestic violence and the man who saves her life and helps her learn to be a survivor and not a victim.  It was released just this month which is, coincidentally, Domestic Violence Awareness month.  

 

3.    How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

Having come from a traditionally published background that did almost all the promotion for me, learning how to self-promote has been difficult.  My husband volunteered to take on that task and he spends several hours a day on social media promoting me and my books.  We also are active members of several writers’ groups and volunteer to speak at writer and reader functions.

 

4.    Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

I was very lucky to have excellent reviews on all of my books.  However, I clearly remember that first one that was done by Melinda Helfer for Romantic Times.  She loved my book and ranked it as a recommended read which made me feel validated.  That book (Another Sunny Day) hit the New York Times best sellers’ list and did very well. 

 

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

Cries in the Night in my latest book in the Denver After Dark series.  It is about a victim’s advocate who is being stalked by a psycho and the firefighter who helps her heal from old wounds in her past.  I was a victim’s advocate for several years, and I saw, first hand, the pain and suffering of domestic violence and how its ripple effects leave long-lasting scars on the entire family.  I had never seen a story about these wonderful volunteers, so the book was born.  Plus, my father was a firefighter, so I think they are the most courageous heroes.  The book has exploded.  All of its reviews are five stars except for one four star, and the sales have been phenomenal.  I guess it just hit a nerve, but I’m very proud of it.  It’s definitely the best book I’ve ever written.

My husband and I also write Young Adult books under the pen name of Bob Kat. 

 

6.     Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).   

My greatest source for research on Cries in the Night (other than the internet) was to go to a fire house and sit down with the firefighters and talk to them.  I was lucky to find a terrific fire captain who not only helped with the specifics and details of their work, schedules and equipment, but he actually proof read the book and did an amazing job.  He has been a wonderful source of information and has become a good friend.  (Yes, he’s hot!)

 

7.      I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

 

The opening chapter is so powerful and it sets the story up so well, I’ve included the entire chapter.  I hope it touches you and makes you want to read on.

 

CRIES IN THE NIGHT

 CRIES IN THE NIGHT ebook cover

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

The back door slammed with such force that the small house shuddered.  In the spare bedroom the woman froze in front of the ironing board, the iron paused in mid-air.  Steam poured out of the holes with a hiss, but she didn’t notice.  Instead, her gaze raced across the room and met the wide eyes of her son who had been playing with a boxful of Matchbox cars. 

He dropped the tiny red Ferrari he had been holding and scuttled backward, disappearing under the bed.  No words had been spoken, but he knew the drill.  This wasn’t his first rodeo.  He had learned early that out of sight also meant out of the line of fire.

The woman wasn’t so lucky. 

Heavy, quick footsteps signaled the man’s approach down the hallway.  Her heart pounded in her chest, and she realized she hadn’t taken a breath since he had entered the house.  She exhaled slowly, trying to calm her nerves and steel herself for the battle ahead.  Even before she saw his face, she knew he was angry . . . at her, at his son, at his boss, at his life.  It didn’t really matter.  He always came home to share his dissatisfaction with her. 

“Where the hell is he?”  The man wasn’t large, but when he was in one of his moods, he seemed to expand in size until his presence filled the doorway. 

“Who?” she managed to ask, struggling to keep her expression under control.  For some reason, it made him angrier if she showed fear even though her legs were visibly trembling. 

He threw his car keys at her.  She tried to dodge, but the unexpected movement and her own swollen bulk slowed her.  The keys smashed into her left cheek, then fell to the floor with a clatter. 

“You know who.  That piece of shit kid.  He left his goddamn sled in the driveway and I ran over it.  Twenty bucks.  Trashed.  I work hard and get paid shit.  And he just throws his toys around like they were nothing.”

“He’s usually really careful . . .”

He cut her off.   “Didn’t he go to school today?”

“They had a teacher’s workday.”

“Then he has no excuse for not bringing in the garbage cans.”

“It was snowing too hard.”

“Not too hard for him to play.”  He kicked the basket of laundry against the wall.  “You fuckin’ baby him too much.”

“He’s only six.”  She knew that arguing only made him angrier, but her motherly instinct was to defend her young. 

The man’s dark gaze raked the room before focusing on the abandoned Matchbox cars.  His nostrils flared and he moved toward the bed, knowing it was the most likely hiding place. 

“No!” the woman cried.  “Leave him alone.”  She reached out to grab him, but he swung his arm to fend her off as if he was swatting away an annoying insect.  She reacted by striking back.  Unfortunately, the iron was still clenched in her hand.  The hot surface landed flat against his forearm and the back of his hand.  Steam oozed out of the holes as the skin sizzled. 

With a guttural roar, he jerked back as quickly as possible and looked down at the arced-shaped blisters that had already bubbled up.  Like an enraged bull in the ring distracted by the matador’s cape, he turned his attention back to her.

“What the fuck?”  He knocked the iron out of her hand, grabbed the front of her sweater in his meaty fist and pulled her forward, over the ironing board which clattered to the floor.  Her feet scrambled to keep upright as he dragged her over the metal legs. 

“I . . . I’m . . . sorry, Carlos.  I didn’t mean to . . .”

He silenced her with a punch in the jaw so hard that her teeth rattled.  Momentarily dazed, she didn’t struggle as he slammed her back against the door frame.  Her head cracked against the wood and she could feel the sharp edges biting into her shoulders.  She didn’t fight back as he hit her again and again.  She knew she deserved this.  If she hadn’t hit him with the iron, he wouldn’t have come at her like this.  The skin over her eye slit under his knuckles, and she could feel the warm flow of blood pour down her face.  As bad as it hurt, she knew it was nothing like the pain he was feeling from the burn.  So she let him take it out on her.  She owed him that.

It wasn’t until his blows moved lower that her defense mechanism got its second wind.  His fist buried into her breast.  Swollen from the imminent birth of her baby, the pain shot through her like a lightning bolt.  He drew back and would have landed a blow in her expanded abdomen, but she collapsed, trying in the only way she knew how to defend her unborn baby.  He released his hold on her sweater, but instead of stepping away, he kicked her.

She curled her body in a protective shell, putting all the flesh and bone she could between his steel-toed boot and her stomach.  He kicked her again and again, cursing her with words that burned her soul as much as her ears.  Finally, she blacked out.

A child’s scream woke her.  She struggled to open her eyes, but one was swollen shut. 

“Mama, mama!” the little boy cried. 

Her hands slid in the puddles of blood on the floor as she struggled to push into a sitting position.  Her blood.  She could see it staining the white yarn of her sweater.  In the back of her mind came the random thought that that was her favorite sweater, and now it was probably ruined.  She had so few clothes that still fit. 

Her son’s small hands wrapped around her wrist and she stifled a scream as he pulled.   Pains shot up and down her arm telling her it was probably either broken or badly bruised.  Her brain struggled through the fog as she tried to remember where she was and why she was bleeding and aching all over. 

Carlos!  She straightened and tried to look around.  Was he hurting Danny?  Her son seemed to sense her fears and with a maturity well beyond his years, he comforted her.

“He’s gone.  But he hurt you,” Danny told her.

“I’m okay,” she lied, trying, as always, to protect him from the truth.  But this was worse than the last time which had been worse than the time before that which had been worse than the time before.  She could remember them all.  In a twisted measure of days, months and years, each marked a new ending and a new beginning of sorts.  She had never doubted that she had done something wrong to deserve his anger, and she had never doubted she would survive.  This time, she wasn’t so sure. 

A searing pain, much deeper than all the others pierced through her, starting deep in her stomach and radiating out.  She heard another scream and was surprised that it had come from her mouth.

“Mama . . .?”  Danny’s voice was terrified. 

The room began to swirl around her, and her vision blurred.  Another pain doubled her over and she slid back to the floor.

Julie’s cell phone began ringing as she juggled a bag of groceries in one arm and inserted the key into her back door lock. 

“Hold on, hold on, hold on . . .,” she chanted as she hurried inside, dropped the bag on the table and pulled her phone out of her purse. 

“This is Julie,” she spoke into the small receiver.

“We’ve got a domestic and fire at 238 W. Maple Ave.,” the voice recited crisply.

“I heard it on my scanner.”  As she spoke, Julie held the phone against her ear with her shoulder and jotted down the address on a piece of unopened mail.  “I’m on my way.”

“I’ll notify the officers on-scene.  What’s your ETA?” 

“I’m pretty close.  I’ll be there in ten.”

The line clicked off and Julie let the phone slide off her shoulder and into her hand.  She grabbed the perishable items out of the bag and tossed them into the refrigerator and left the rest of the items to be put away later.   She picked up her keys, checked to make sure her thin billfold was still in her pocket and left without bothering to take the address with her.  She knew it by heart.  She had been there before.

Less than ten minutes later, she found a parking space.  It had been snowing off and on all day, and it had picked up again just before she arrived.  Julie looped her scarf around her neck, buttoned her coat up, pulled on her gloves and got out of her car.  A white ladder truck and an engine with the familiar DFD logo painted on it were parked directly in front of the house, their hoses snaked across the snow.  The generators rumbled, spotlights focused their harsh beams on the action, radios crackled with sporadic chatter and firefighters shouted back and forth to each other as they focused a steady stream of water on the blaze that had gobbled up the left side of the house.  

Julie quickened her pace as much as she dared on the icy sidewalk made worse by the steady flow of water that was draining from the house.   An ambulance was at the end of the driveway.  The back doors were open and the stretcher was out. 

“Hey Julie.  Sorry to get you out on a night like this,” one of the cops said as he approached her.  He flipped his little spiral notebook closed and tucked it into the breast pocket of his jacket. 

“Is she alive?”  Julie held her breath, afraid of the answer.

“Barely.  He beat the shit out of her . . . again.”

“No surprise there.  Why can’t you guys put him away for good?”

The cop shrugged.  “She always bails him out and won’t testify against him.”

“I thought she had a restraining order against him.”

“She does.  But an RO is only paper.  It doesn’t stop fists.”

Two paramedics pushed the stretcher down the driveway from the house.  A thin blanket covered the woman’s prone body.  Her young son walked beside it, his hand on his mom’s arm, a gesture that was probably reassuring for both of them.  It wasn’t until she got closer that Julie noticed the rounded mound showing the woman was pregnant.

“Oh my God,” Julie cried and hurried over to the stretcher. 

The woman looked up at her . . . or tried to.  Her swollen and battered eyes clearly hampered her vision, but she was able to recognize Julie.  An expression flashed across her face, one that was part embarrassment and part happiness to see someone she knew.  “Julie . . . I know what you’re thinking . . . don’t be mad at me,” she said in a voice that shook with pain. 

“Gloria, you don’t have to apologize to me . . . or to him,” Julie rushed to calm her.  She gently took the woman’s hand and walked next to the stretcher as the two paramedics struggled pushing it through several inches of unshoveled snow and over the shattered remains of a sled. 

“He didn’t mean to hurt me,” the woman told her.

Like hell he didn’t, Julie thought, but aloud she said, “How do you feel?”

Gloria lifted her other hand that already had an IV attached and rubbed her belly.  “Not so good.  I’m worried about my baby.”

Julie looked up at one of the paramedics and he shrugged.  “They’re going to do everything they can to help you both,” she told the woman. 

“I burned him with the iron.  That’s why he got so mad,” Gloria continued, anxious that Julie know why the event had happened. 

“You need to focus on yourself and your baby,” Julie spoke soothingly.  “I’ll stay with Danny until someone comes.  Have you called your mother?”

Gloria turned her head as if afraid of being overheard.  “No, would you do that for me?  Her number is in my phone . . . you know, the one you gave me.  It’s hidden in the laundry room.  Danny will show you.”  She tried to give her son a smile, but she could manage only a stiff grimace. 

The little boy looked at Julie and nodded shyly. 

“We’ve got to go,” the female paramedic said as the stretcher reached the ambulance.  She and her partner prepared the stretcher for loading and Julie reached out for Danny’s hand. 

“Only my mother,” Gloria pleaded, twisting around and leaning toward Julie.  “Don’t let him go with anyone else.  Promise me.”

“Don’t worry about him.  I promise I won’t leave him until your mother comes for him,” Julie assured her, and Gloria relaxed back against the cushion.  The two women weren’t long-time friends or even acquaintances.  Their relationship had started almost two years ago when Julie had responded to a domestic call.  That one hadn’t resulted in hospitalization.  But it had been the first in several similar events that had created a trust great enough that Gloria knew she could leave Danny in Julie’s care.

Danny trembled but didn’t pull his hand away as he watched his mother being loaded into the ambulance.  The red and blue lights bounced off the surrounding trees and houses, magnified by the stark whiteness of the snow and turning the still-falling snowflakes into confetti.  Julie looked down at the little boy whose gaze followed the twinkling lights as they disappeared down the street. Looking down she realized he wasn’t wearing a coat.  She unbuttoned her own, took it off and knelt down in front of Danny.  Even though it was much too large and drug on the ground, he burrowed gratefully into the warmth of the wool.  Shivers of cold and lingering fear shook his tiny body.  “They’re going to take good care of your mama.  But right now we need to call your grandma.  Can you tell me your mom’s secret hiding place?”

“It’s in the house,” he told her, then lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.  “In the smelly things.”

Smelly things?  Her mind scrambled for what that might mean.  “Dirty clothes?” she asked.

“No, the good smelly things.  You know, the ones with the little bear on the box,” he whispered back.

“Dryer sheets?”

He nodded.

Good choice.  Men like Carlos never did laundry, so it would be unlikely he would stumble on it there.  Julie looked around.  Apparently the fire was out.  Smoke no longer billowed from the roof, and the firefighters were straightening out the hoses in preparation of rolling them back up.  One of the firefighters walked out of the house with an axe swung over his shoulder.  She lifted her hand and waved at him.  She recognized him from several other fires she had been called out to. 

He noticed and walked toward them.  He was tall, well over six feet.  Dressed in full firefighting uniform, he looked big and menacing, sort of like an urban alien.  Steam radiated from his long black coat with its yellow reflective stripe and the top of his black helmet.  He had an air canister strapped on his back, but he had unfastened his respirator and it hung off to one side.  His face was smudged with a layer of carbon, marked with paths where sweat and water had streaked down.  After giving Julie a crooked grin, he swung the axe to the ground and knelt in front of Danny, as if he knew what an imposing sight he must be.

“You must be Daniel,” he said to him.  “I saw some amazing drawings on the refrigerator.  I was hoping I would get to meet the artist.  Were those yours?”

Danny nodded solemnly, but Julie could see that he was flattered. 

“And that must have been your room with the race car posters.”

Again Danny nodded.  “Did my room burn up?”

“No, we were able to stop the fire before it got to your room.  But I’m afraid some of your things got a little wet and are going to smell like smoke.”

“How about my baseball cap?  The doctor people made me and my mom leave so fast I didn’t get it.”

The firefighter said, “Oh yeah, I remember seeing a couple caps in there.  They’ll be fine.”  He took off his helmet and held it out to Danny.  “Maybe you’d like to wear my hat.”

Danny’s brown eyes stretched wide.  “Oh yes, sir.”

The man set the hat on the boy’s much smaller head and it settled down to cover his ears and face all the way down to his nose.  Instead of taking it off, Danny lifted his chin and looked out from underneath it.  But most noticeable was the twitch of a smile that had softened his tense lips. 

The firefighter stood and turned his attention to Julie.  He pushed the heavy cloth hood off his head, revealing rumpled dark brown hair.  As he looked at her, she was struck by the clarity of his bright blue eyes. 

“You’re Julie, aren’t you?” he asked.

She was a little surprised that he knew her name because they had never actually spoken.  Not that she was a stranger to any of the public responders because Julie or one of her volunteers showed up at all of the more serious crime, fire or accident scenes.  “Yes, I am.  And you’re . . .?”

“Rusty,” he answered and pointed toward his last name that was printed on his jacket as he added, “Wilson.  I’m sure you know my younger brothers.”

“Oh, so you’re that Wilson,” Julie teased.  She was very well acquainted with his brothers.  Sam was a Denver cop who she worked with often, and Chris, the youngest, was a paramedic out of Denver Health.  He wasn’t one of the ones on scene tonight, but their paths had crossed often in the course of their jobs. 

Rusty held up his hands.  “Whoa, you can’t believe everything you hear about me.”

“Why do you assume it’s all bad?” she asked.

“Because some of it is true.  I’m the first to admit that I enjoy life.  But my brothers like to exaggerate my . . .,” he grinned, “. . . transgressions.”

Julie shrugged.  This was not a point she wanted to debate in the middle of a snowy night when she was without a coat.  “I was just wondering if someone could take me inside for a minute.  I need to get Danny’s things and . . . well, something else.”

“Sure, I’ll take you in, but he needs to stay out here.”  Rusty called over one of the other firefighters.  “Jackson, would you hang with my friend Daniel for a few minutes?”

Jackson, a middle-aged black firefighter who had just finished shutting off the hydrant and screwing the cap back on, nodded and knelt down next to Danny.  “Hey buddy.  My name is Jackson.  Do you mind keeping me company while they go get some of your clothes?”

Danny nodded, solemn again.  He stayed, but his gaze moved back to Julie. 

“Don’t let anyone take him away, okay?” she asked Jackson. 

“Gotcha,” Jackson confirmed. 

After giving Danny a reassuring pat on the head, she turned to follow Rusty. 

“Don’t forget my cap,” Danny called after her.

“I won’t,” she called back. 

“Watch your step,” Rusty cautioned.  He had taken a flashlight out of his utility belt and turned it on, illuminating a wide arc of destruction. 

Apparently, the electricity was off and the spotlights didn’t penetrate past the front door.  The dark house took on a sinister spook-house sort of feeling as they stepped over the threshold and into the smoldering interior. 

“The fire didn’t make it to this part of the house, but the back two bedrooms are pretty much gone,” he added as they made their way around pieces of furniture that had been knocked over or tossed out of the way.

“Any idea what caused it?”  She followed directly behind him, keeping her hand on his back because nothing could be seen outside the beam of his light. 

“Looks like an iron on the carpet.  But the investigators will find out for sure.”

They picked their way along the soggy carpet of the hallway.  Even though the flames hadn’t made it into the hallway, the sheetrock was damp and there was a heavy, acrid smell that burned her lungs.  When they arrived at Danny’s room, she hurried to collect his jacket and a few items of clothing, including his Little League baseball cap that was sitting on his chest of drawers.  She also scooped up the stuffed monkey that held an obvious position of importance on his pillow and stuffed it all into his Cars backpack. 

“We need to get out of here,” Rusty reminded her. 

“I have one more thing,” she told him.  “Did you happen to notice a laundry room?”

“Not in this part of the house.  Maybe off the kitchen?”  He led the way back down the hall and across the small living room to the kitchen.  Sure enough, in the mud room that led outside was a small stackable washer and dryer that had probably been one of Gloria’s prized possessions.  But Julie had eyes only for the box of Snuggle dryer sheets on the shelf next to it. 

“Really?” Rusty asked when he saw her pick it up. 

She didn’t answer, but pulled out the sheets until she reached the bottom of the box.  Nestled there, just as Danny had told her was the emergency cell phone she had given Gloria the last time Julie had been called out to this house.  It was something she often gave to victims of domestic abuse because their controlling spouse or partner often refused to let them have any contact with the outside world.  She was glad to see that Gloria had listened to her recommendation to hide the phone in a safe place where Carlos wouldn’t find it because Gloria clearly hadn’t paid any attention to Julie’s other advice to not let him back in her life.  Julie held up the phone so Rusty could see it, then followed him out the back door and to the driveway. 

Once back outside, she took deep, cleansing breathes of the crisp cold air.  “I don’t know how you guys do it,” she admitted to Rusty. 

He flashed her a grin, his teeth looking incredibly white against his soot-blackened face.  “Are you kidding?  I’d do this even if they didn’t pay me.  But don’t tell anyone.”

Julie flipped open the phone, turned it on and watched as it booted up.  “Hey thanks,” she told him. 

“No problem.”  His expression sobered.  “You do good work, you know.  They need someone like you to help them after all this.”  He motioned around them at the devastation.  Yes, they had saved most of the house, but the smoke and the water had ruined much of what the flames hadn’t consumed.  These people had lost a lot, if not everything, and they would need all the help they could get. 

  “Hey Wilson.  We’re ready to roll,” the captain called and gave Julie a wave of acknowledgment. 

They walked back to where Danny and Jackson waited.  Rusty reached down and lifted his heavy helmet off of the boy’s head.  “Thank you for taking care of my helmet for me.  It looks good on you, but I’m going to need it in case I have to go to another fire tonight.”

“Sure,” Danny said with pride at having accomplished something so apparently important. 

“Maybe you can get your mom to bring you by the fire station sometime when she feels better,” Rusty suggested.  “I’ll give you a tour and let you sit in a fire truck.”

“Really?  Wow, okay,” Danny agreed. 

Rusty looked back at Julie.  “And I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, we seem to hang out at the same places.”  She smiled.  “Thanks again.”  She nodded her head toward Danny, indicating that his kindness toward the little boy hadn’t gone unnoticed. 

Rusty dismissed it with a shrug, but he gave her another grin as he put his helmet back on and headed toward the waiting fire truck.

“Julie, we’re finished, too,” the police officer who had been standing nearby talking to the captain told her. 

“We can sit in my car and wait for his grandmother,” she suggested, but the officer shook his head.

“I can’t leave you here.  It’s still a hot scene.”

Julie glanced around, suddenly nervous.  “You mean he’s not in custody?” she asked while being careful to keep the conversation as neutral as possible.

“He was gone when we arrived, but you can bet he’ll come back.”

She shivered, not just because of the cold that was penetrating her heavy sweater.  She had never actually met Carlos, but she had seen his handiwork on at least three occasions.  “Let me make a quick call to Danny’s grandmother so she can be on her way.”  She went to the Contacts’ list.  There were only two numbers in it.  Gloria’s mother and Julie’s cell phone.  Even though she had encouraged Gloria to call her if Carlos came back, it was now clear that that hadn’t happened.  She clicked on the word “Mom” and put the phone to her ear. 

It rang five times before a sleepy voice answered, “Hello.”

Julie turned away so Danny couldn’t hear the conversation as she gave Gloria’s mother a quick summary of the evening’s events.  “I’m taking Danny to the police station.  We’ll wait for you there.”  She gave the woman the address, and after getting her confirmation, Julie hung up. 

“Okay, Danny, we’re going to get to ride in a police car.  Have you ever done that before?”

He shook his head, but there was a spark of excitement in his eyes. 

“First, I’m going to trade you coats,” she told him.  She released his parka from his backpack where she had clipped it and handed it to him.  He took off her coat, and they exchanged.  She welcomed the warmth as she slipped her arms into the sleeves and buttoned it up.  Danny had a little trouble with his zipper, so she helped him get it started, then reached into the backpack and pulled out his cap.  The first genuine smile of the night spread across his face as he put it on and tugged it into position.  She didn’t even need a voiced “thanks” because his expression said it all. 

The police officer unlocked the doors of his cruiser and opened the back door for them.  Julie glanced back at her white Kia that was parked down the street.  She knew it was city policy that she couldn’t carry civilians in her personal vehicle and she had promised not to leave Danny’s side until his grandmother arrived.  That left her no choice but to ride with him in the patrol car to the station.  She would worry about getting a ride back to pick it up later.  Since Danny’s grandmother lived in Fort Collins, it would take her several hours to get dressed and drive to the station. 

The spotlights that had illuminated the scene switched off as the fire trucks prepared to leave.  With only the red and blue emergency lights still flashing, the night seemed darker and the shadows deeper.  Julie glanced around.  She had the uncomfortable feeling that Carlos was there, out of sight, but watching as she took his son away from him, hopefully forever.  She shivered again and silently urged Danny to hurry up.  She wanted to be inside the safety of the cruiser.

As soon as he was inside, she climbed in after him and tried not to notice the telltale smell of urine and vomit that usually clung in the air of the back seats of all the patrol cars.  It had been a long day and was turning out to be a long night.  But she, like Rusty, loved her job and would rather be here than any place she’d ever been.  Only she knew how desperate she was to never go back.

 ***Kathy is an accomplished author and a great  colleague of mine.  I’m sure you will enjoy any/all of her books.  Thank you Kathy for allowing us to get to know you and your work better.

Featured Author: Christopher Courtley

Featured Author:     Christopher Courtley

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’ve been telling stories, writing poetry and prose, and drawing (or more like doodling) for as long as I can remember. I’m not happy unless I’m creating. A consequence of this, perhaps, is that I’ve also been a bit of a misfit for as long as I can remember. As a child I had what one might call a fey nature. I was a very solitary, private person for much of my life, mostly nocturnal and attracted to dark and lonely places, old forests and brooding wastelands, ruins, graveyards; a lover of mist and moonlight, fascinated by the creatures of the night, and by death, the paranormal, and the occult. This disposition has served to shape both my life and my work.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’ve always loved fantasy, especially dark fantasy, and Gothic horror, and found that these elements often come together in fairy tales of the type collected by the Grimms in addition to those included in the Arabian Nights and not a few written by Hans Christian Andersen as well, so naturally some of my earliest writings have been in that vein. I’m also a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, so his work has had a major influence on my own, especially pertaining to the realms of Faerie and my poetic experience of them.

3.  How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I use social networking almost exclusively to promote my books. Right now the most important promotional tools for me besides my blog are Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google +, and the Virtual Ebook Fair.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Yes, I remember it well. I almost don’t need to copy-paste it because I remember it almost word-for-word, but I will do so anyway for the sake of accuracy: “if you like the dark side of things this book is for you.i love the short stories and the poems if you like that odd creepy feeling when your reading.this book will surely do it for you”. This review made me feel really good because this is exactly the sort of reaction I was going for.

5.  Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

My book, TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS, is a collection of original dark fairy tales and fairy-related poetry. While it isn’t exactly a series, it’s a small taste of things to come. So far the reaction to this very first book of mine has been overwhelmingly positive, so I am excited about releasing my next, even larger collection of dark fairy tales, which I hope will be finished well before the end of this month, since it’s perfect for Halloween, tending more toward the Gothic, with some elements of weird fiction thrown in as well.

6.   Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

Well, my official website is www.christophercourtley.com and my blog is located at www.courtleymanor.com.

You can get the paperback edition of TROLL STEW here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Fairy-Adults/dp/148492746X/ and the Kindle edition here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Adults-ebook/dp/B0091K7HJC/

I also have a sword and sorcery series in the works called The Valruna Saga, which is currently only available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/8341

For more information on this developing series, you can also visit the official page at http://www.christophercourtley.com/valrunasaga.html

Some additional links you might be interested in are:

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/courtleymanor

My Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/courtleymanor

My Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/christophercourtley

7.   I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

An Excerpt from “The Palace At Winter’s End”, one of the stories included in TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS:

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That night, for the first time since she had come to the palace, Autumn had a dream.

She was riding through the forest. It was a sunny afternoon, and the leader of the wolf pack was running alongside her and Amani. They were hunting the unicorn.

“We’re close,” said the wolf. “I can smell him.”

Then suddenly their prey darted out from behind a tall thicket. With unnatural speed, Autumn drew her bow and shot an arrow into the unicorn’s neck. The beast stumbled and then fell to the ground, twitching in the agony of its death throes, its blood bright scarlet on the snow.

Autumn dismounted and she and the wolf approached the dying unicorn. As she stooped to examine her fallen prey, Amani came up behind her and neighed loudly.

“What have you done?” the horse said with her own voice.

She turned to Amani, on the point of telling him that she was only doing what her mother had wanted her to, but the words died upon her lips.

For it wasn’t Amani anymore. It was the unicorn, no longer near death, nor even wounded.

Then, with an anguished cry, Autumn realized that the arrow was in her own neck.

She awoke in a cold sweat. It was just before dawn, and she could see through the narrow gap between the drawn drapes the silvery-grey of the twilight.

Turning her face from the window, she tried to go back to sleep, but found that she couldn’t. So she just lay there in the waning darkness, pondering her strange dream. She was still wide awake when her mother brought in her breakfast tray.

“Good morning, daughter,” the queen said cheerily as she placed the tray beside the bed.

“Good morning, Mother.”

“Did you sleep well?”

“Not exactly. I had a terrible dream, and then couldn’t get back to sleep.”

“Would you like to tell me your dream?”

“Perhaps later.”

“Very well. Enjoy your breakfast, my darling.”

The queen drew the drapes aside to let in the light and left the room.

Autumn picked at her breakfast absently, the stark images of the dream still lingering in her mind.

Then, after she had finished eating, she rose and dressed, and headed straight to the library. It was not long before she found what she was looking for; a compendium of legendary creatures she had spied while perusing the books on the night of her arrival at the palace. She turned to the page where there should have been an entry for ‘unicorn’, but to her disappointment, she discovered that it had been torn out. So she closed the book and after carefully returning it to its place on the shelf, went looking for her mother.

She found the queen sitting beside the hearth in the dining room, staring into the fire.

“Mother, tell me about the unicorn.”

“You have seen it for yourself,” the queen replied without taking her eyes from the flames. “What more is there to tell?”

“Why do you hunt it?”

“For sport.”

“No other reason?”

“No. Why?”

“Because I recall having read once, though I can’t remember where, that the unicorn’s horn was once thought to have magical and healing properties.”

“Well, yes. I suppose that it does. But I have no need of such.”

“Well, then, what do you intend to do with the unicorn once you’ve finally killed it?”

“Oh, I will never do that.”

“You mean you don’t wish to kill it?”

“No, I mean that I can not. I will never catch the unicorn.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Then why do you hunt it?”

“I believe I have already answered that question. But come, why all these questions concerning the unicorn?” Now at last she looked at her daughter, and silver flames danced with the shadows in her eyes. “Was it him you dreamt of last night?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me your dream.”

Then Autumn related her dream, to which the queen listened attentively, but without any change in her expression. Then, when the girl was done, she said nothing, but turned back toward the fire.

“Well?” asked Autumn with growing impatience. “What does it mean?”

“What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know. I’m asking you. I wish you would just give me a straight answer for once.”

The queen glanced at her daughter’s face again and smiled softly.

“Only you can know for sure what your dream is trying to tell you, my dear. But I will say this: It does contain a grain of truth. As I said, I can never catch the unicorn. But you can.”

“I can? How?”

“You must go deep into the forest alone, and wait for it there. It will come to you.”

“But I don’t want to catch it!”

“That is precisely why you will.”

“I understand now. You want the unicorn, but you can’t get it for yourself, so you think to use me to lure it into a trap! Well, I won’t do it!”

The queen laughed. “Nor would I not want you to. Where would be the sport in that?”

“I don’t get it,” said Autumn. “What’s the point in hunting something if you know you can’t ever catch it?”

“The joy is in the hunt, my girl. There is only one unicorn; if I ever succeeded in slaying it, there would be no more hunt. Whatever would I do with myself then?”

“Well, why would I want to catch it?”

“That is another one of those questions you must answer for yourself, my darling. But I will say this: if you never catch it, you will never know the answer to that question. Such is the way of things.”

***Christopher Courtley is an accomplished author and colleague of mine.  I strongly recommend his book and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!! 🙂

Featured Author: J. Naomi Ay

 Featured Author:   J. Naomi Ay

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m a former CPA and businesswoman, who out of boredom more than 20 years ago, started writing a science fiction/fantasy story purely for my own entertainment.  Mr. Ay and I have two boys one would consider adults although they are still on our medical plan, a daughter who is fourteen and has just started high school, and a Pomeranian.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’m a life long fan of Star Trek and Star Wars and have also enjoyed historical fiction.  The Two Moons of Rehnor has a lot of elements from all that.  In fact, recently a reviewer called it “Game of Thrones meets Star Wars.”  I confess that I’ve never read or watched Game of Thrones but my sons tell me that is a huge compliment.

3.   How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

Well, that’s exactly the issue isn’t it?   We write this amazing treatise and put it out there on Amazon and somehow expect readers to notice it amongst the other 80,000 ebooks which are launched every month.  Unless you’re really lucky, that just doesn’t happen.  So, promotion means constantly working the social media, advertising in the social media and working the local area press and book stores.  It’s hard and horrible for someone who’d rather just sit in front of their computer and bond with Word.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Of course!  As I mentioned early, the Two Moons of Rehnor series evolved over a 20 year time period.  About 1 ½ years ago, I bought an iPad and discovered the whole ebook revolution and KDP.  Here I was sitting with a huge story that was almost ½ million words figuring that nobody would ever read but me.  So, figuring that I could hide under the cloak of anonymity, I bravely put up the first 70k words on Amazon as “The Boy who Lit up the Sky.”  I didn’t tell anyone, not husband, not kids, not friends.  Two days later, someone bought it.  The next day, they returned it.  Oh!  You mean I’ve got to edit it too?  Anyway, long story short, I asked two friends to take a look at it, edit it and tell me what they thought.  They both came back and said, basically, you’ve got something here.  A month later, edited and republished, I got my first review from a stranger.  Here it is:

What a great book READ April 11, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. This book renewed my love of the fantasy genre.I had just finished the “Hunger Trilogy” and feeling a little let down. This book is the opposite. It has everything you want in a book; politics, drama; the unexpected and love. The characters are developed so you feel you have a stake in what happens to them. Just when you wonder what happened to a past character there they are again in the story adding more “flavor” to this stew of intrique. I just finished book 1 and purchased the next 2 just so I can continue uniterrupted. ENJOY.

PS started book 2 last night and stayed up until late just to get to a point I could take a breath. This book promises to be even better than the 1st one.!!!!

5.    Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

Yes, as mentioned, the original Two Moons series was nearly ½ million words which I broke up into Books 1 – 5.  Amazingly, once I called that done, I started receiving letters from fans begging for more.  Now, I’m in the middle of drafting Book 11.  We’re several generations into the characters and the story is taking twists and turns in all sorts of directions.  I’ve also written 9 prequel novelettes which sort of fill in the gaps.  4 of the novelettes have been made into audiobooks and I’m also working with an illustrator to turn the series in graphic novels.  The Two Moons of Rehnor #1, a graphic novel which starts at the beginning of The Boy who Lit up the Sky will be out before Thanksgiving in ebook format.

As far as how the public is reacting, The Boy is probably the most controversial book as there is some graphic scenes of child abuse, implied rape, and a fair amount of profanity.  Some object to this while others tell me it’s mild as I don’t get into any explicit details.  Unfortunately, a lot of people think that because it’s about “a boy” it’s intended for children or teens which is NOT.  It is necessary to show the development of the character though.  That being said, The Boy is still highly rated on Amazon and Goodreads.  The series overall has 152 ratings with a 4.38 avg on Goodreads and on Amazon, every book in the series has a 5 Star average in the US, UK and Germany.  It’s truly amazing to me and heartwarming that the series and especially, the main character, Senya, has garnered so many fans.

6.     Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).  

My links are as follows:

www.jnaomiay.com

www.twomoonsofrehnor.com

www.jnaomiay.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/jnaomiay

The main series is available in ebook and paperback format at all major book resellers.  Here’s the link to Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007B77U8A

7.      I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

 theboynew1

Excerpt from The Boy who Lit up the Sky, Chapter 1, Meri

“What have you got there?” I asked Sister Moon.

“A pot of gold,” she cackled holding up a little purse and shaking it.  It jingled with heavy coins.

“No,” I said reaching for the baby in her arms.  “Who is this?”

“A Karut.”  She easily relinquished him to me.  I peeled back the blanket and looked at the little face.

“Aren’t you pretty?”  I stroked the soft cheek.  “You’re sure he’s a Karut?  He’s so pale.”

“Maybe he’s a half-breed,” she replied, already counting the coins.  “So many good Mishnese girls giving themselves to Karut men after poor Lydia was forced to do it.  I suspect we’ll be getting a lot more just like him.”

“Maybe,” I agreed, stroking the baby’s tuff of silky black hair.  “He’s sweet all the same.  Does he have a name?”

“Senya.”

“Senya,” I repeated.

“Now don’t you go taking special heart to this little rat,” Sister Moon scolded me as she tossed the coins back in the purse.  “The same will happen to him as the rest of them.”

“Maybe he’ll get adopted by a nice family,” I said wistfully.  “Look what long eyelashes he has.”

“Nobody will want a Karut,” she snorted.  “He’ll be here with the rest of the nasties until he runs off and gets himself killed on the street.  Get yourself back to work now.  Put the baby in the baby room and go check the one year olds’ buckets.”

“Yes Ma’am.”  The baby put his little fist in his mouth.  “Can I give him a bottle first?  He’s hungry.”

Sister Moon shrugged.  “Be quick about it.”

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“Thank you, Ma’am.”  I curtseyed and hurried the baby to the baby room where I could get a bottle out of the warmer and sit for a moment before I had to dump all the potty buckets.  Twice daily I had to circle through the one year olds’ room here in the Old Mishnah Orphan Home where twenty babies sat naked in chairs, eating, sleeping and pooping at will.  I spent about two minutes with each of them, wiping them hopefully before they broke out in rash, putting ointment on their rashes and hugging them all for just a moment before I must put them back down and move on to the next.  By the time they graduated on to the two year old room, they were allowed to wear pants and shirts, sleep on cots and eat at small tables.  If they messed their pants for whatever reason, they were sent back to the one year old room for a day which was such a punishment that rarely would they mess again.

The baby room was my favorite place though.  It was quiet and warm in there, and I could sit in a rocker and cuddle as many little bundles as I had time for.  The older ones stood in their cribs and waved to me as I came in.  Some babbled out a few nonsense sounds and some smiled showing me two or four tiny teeth.

“Hello babies,” I called to them.

“Hello Meri,” Sister Lena called back.  She was in a rocker with one of the few little girls we had.  Most of our children were boys.  I didn’t know why they were abandoned more often than girls.  Girls could be put to work, I supposed.  Certainly our girls unless they were rescued before age seven or eight, would be put to work earning their keep.

“Who have you got there?” Lena asked.

“A new one,” I replied, grabbing a bottle and settling down next to her.  “This is Senya.”

“A Karut,” she gasped with surprise.  The baby she was holding stopped sucking and looked at her for a moment.

“Yes, but he’s pretty isn’t he,” I said, offering him the bottle.  He sucked it greedily and patted it with his hand.

“I wonder why the Karuts didn’t take him.”  Lena peered at him through her bottle thick glasses.

“Sister Moon thinks his mum was Mishnese.  Was your mum Mishnese, Senya?” I teased.  The baby smiled with the nipple still in his mouth.

“He says yes.”  I laughed as he sucked fiercely once again.

“He is beautiful,” Lena agreed.  “What color are his eyes?”

“I don’t know.  Open your eyes, baby.  Let me see your pretty eyes.”

The baby opened his eyes as if he understood me, and Blessed Saint, I nearly dropped him.  His eyes were silver, like swirly specks of silver light.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena cried upsetting her baby who howled in protest.

Senya closed his eyes again as if he knew this is what caused us fright.  He finished his bottle and sucked air until I wrestled the bottle from his mouth and held him against my shoulder.

“He is possessed.”  Lena calmed her baby and then quickly put her back in a crib.  “Do you think this is why the Karuts didn’t want him?”

“He’s not possessed,” I insisted, burping my little friend.  “He’s sweet.”  He patted my face with his hand while looking out across my back.

Lena looked at me warily.  “It is strange though.”

“It is,” I agreed.  “But they are kind of beautiful too.”  Surely, if he was possessed, we would know that somehow.  I might have to ask the Father about that, but I hated speaking with the Father.  He always wanted favors, and his breath was bad, and his old skin was wrinkled and made my own skin crawl.

I changed Senya and put him in one of our shirts.  I was about to put socks on his little feet when I was stopped short.

“Lena, can you come here?”

She approached with narrow eyes.  I held up a little foot.  Senya reached for it too.

“Look at his nails,” I said.  “Why are they like this?”   Gingerly, Lena touched them.  She visibly shivered.  Senya played with his toes.  He put one in his mouth and sucked on the long curled nail.

“We should dispose of him,” she said.

“Dispose?” I cried.

“Throw him out in the gutter before …before…”

“Before what?  You mean to kill him?”

“No, no.”  She walked away.  “Maybe send him to the Karuts.  I have a bad feeling about him.”

“Will you tell the Father?”

Lena turned and looked into my eyes.  She nodded slowly.

“Don’t hurt this baby,” I begged.  “Let me take care of him.”

“I have a very bad feeling about him,” she repeated, and her wimple nearly fell off as she shook her head.  “Something is wrong about him.”

“I promise, Sister.  Please let me care for him.  If he turns out to be bad, then I’ll help you get rid of him.  Don’t turn him out now and don’t tell the Father.”

“What will you do for me if I agree?” She asked, lifting her head haughtily.

“What do you want?”

“All the diapers,” she said.  “All the time.”

I looked down at Senya.  He smiled at me, and when he opened his eyes they sparkled.   “Okay,” I agreed, falling in love with this strange little fellow.  “I will do anything to save little Senya.”

I was strange too.  My back was crooked, and my face was scarred.  I was ugly even though I wasn’t always.  Once I was a beautiful young girl who nice boys would ask to dance and nice girls would chat up.  Once I went to school and got high marks in Mishnese and literature and fair marks in math and science.  Then my step-father wanted me, and when I refused he pushed me down the stairs and broke my back.  As I lay crumpled, he set my clothes on fire.  The Saint saved me, and after I was healed, I came here to love other children who no one wanted anymore.

Senya loved me, I thought.  He greeted me every day with a smile.  He didn’t speak.  He didn’t even make noise, but he stood in his crib and waved at me and his silver eyes sparkled.  Everyone else he ignored.  He sat in the corner of his crib sucking his fingers, or lay on his back and played with his strange toes.

The Father came to look at him.  “How much was in the purse?” He asked Sister Moon.  She told him, and we all gasped as it was such a large sum.  It would feed everyone in this house for a year.  “Will there be more?” The Father wondered aloud.

“I think so,” Sister Moon replied.  “For as long as we keep him.”

“Then we will keep him until they want him back,” the Father declared.  The next week, the Father had a new speeder.  It was shiny and red with rich leather and polished wood inside.  It looked very expensive.  He wanted me to sit in it with him.  He wanted me to pleasure him while he drove it around.  I did because he was the Father and I was so ugly no other man would want me.  If he threw me out on the street, I would have nowhere to go and be forced to pleasure other men who were worse than him.  This is what he told me when his leavings were in my mouth, and I wished to spit them out on the fine carpet of his new speeder.

When I came back to the orphanage, I went to the baby room and found Senya crying.  He sobbed silently, his little body heaving but making no sound.  There was a red welt across his back.  “Who did this?” I demanded of Sister Lena.

“Sister Moon,” she said.  “Sister Moon says he is destroying too many socks and wasting our precious cloth.  She says he is to have cold feet all winter.  He shall have no more socks.”

“But why did she hit him?” I asked, picking him up and holding him tight until he stopped crying.  He put his hand on my face and nuzzled my neck.

“He looked at her with his wicked eyes and she said she felt dizzy because of it and nearly fell down.  He is possessed she says, but the Father says he must stay here so we cannot throw him out in the gutter.”

I wondered if I could take Senya and run away.  I would have to pleasure anyone who would give me money, and how many would want one as ugly as me?  I would have liked a real job.  Once I knew how to type and could speak well and answer a vid and perhaps put together things with my hands.  There were no jobs like that anymore.  There were no jobs for anyone because Mishnah was broke.  There were only jobs for men who joined the guards and women who worked as maids in the Palace.  I could not do that because I was a woman with a broken back and burned face.

It was a cold winter, and there was not much food.  The money from the purse had been spent on the Father’s new speeder and his fine clothes and jewelry.  The children cried because they were hungry and cold, and the old radiators spat and hissed, but little warmth came from them.  Senya’s little feet were always cold, and when I was with him I wrapped them in rags, but someone else always took them off.  Senya sat in his crib and held the bottle himself.  He was getting big, and his face was taking shape.

“He looks more and more like a Karut,” Lena said beside me.  “He looks like Prince Sorkan.”

“He does,” I agreed, admiring his handsome little face.  “But pale.”

“Maybe he’ll get darker over time,” Lena thought.  “Did you give him this bottle?  It’s not time for him to eat.”  She took it away.  Senya opened his mouth to protest.

“I didn’t,” I said.  “He was already drinking it when I came here.”

“Well I wonder how he got it then,” Lena frowned and just as she did so, the bottle went flying out of her hand and back into Senya’s.

Lena and I both screamed.

Senya popped the bottle back in his mouth and gave us a big smile.

“How did he do that?” Lena whispered, her eyes giant saucers.

“I don’t know,” I whispered back.  “Do you think that’s how he got the bottle from the warmer?”  We both looked at the warmer as if it could speak to us.  Lena turned back and snatched the bottle out of Senya’s grasp again.  He opened his mouth in a silent howl.  Lena ran across the room and put it on the warmer table.

“You want it, Senya?” She challenged.  “Then take it.”

Senya pulled himself up by the bars on his crib and held out his little hands.  The bottle flew across the room right into them.  He fell back on his bottom and sucked triumphantly.

“Don’t say a word of this to anyone,” I begged Lena.

“Blessed Saint,” Lena collapsed in a chair.  “What is he?”

“Please Lena, please!  I’ll do anything.  Don’t let them throw him out on the street!”  I was on my knees before her.

“Okay,” she said, narrowing her eyes and smiling wickedly.  “Forever and ever you will be doing the diapers, Meri.”

“I will, I will,” I promised.

Senya laughed.  It was the first noise we had heard from him.  I ran to him and gathered him in my arms.

“You little devil,” I cried, and he laughed some more.

“Mayhap, he really is,” Lena snorted and walked away.

We lost four babies from the baby room including our one little girl.  There was a fever going around, and the diapers were endless and messy.  Our one year olds and two year olds were sick too, and I was forever dumping buckets filled with loose and foul smelling stools.  Our two year olds were messing their pants, but we did not punish them because several of them had died, as well.  Our building was cold, and the snow and frost outside made it impossible to open the windows and bring in fresh air.  The children burned with fever and then shook with chills.  I wrapped and rewrapped as many as I could, but there were not enough of us Sainted Ladies here to take care of them.  There was sickness in the city, and bodies lay in the gutters where ever you walked.  Our dead children joined them waiting for the coroner’s van to collect them.

* I’d like to thank J. Naomi Ay.  She is a wonderful author and colleague.  I would personally recommend her book (s).   Thank you for allowing me to interview you.