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BLESSED OR CURSED ~ GRIS GRIS BAGS

THE IMPORTANT STUFF FIRST – CONTEST!!!

Any reader (18 or over please) who posts a comment to the “Blessed or Cursed” blogs will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Child of the Fallen Angels.  Make sure to join us each week for all five “Blessed or Cursed” blogs.  Readers are allowed one entry per blog, so readers may enter up to five times! The winner will be announced June 10, 2011 by Manic Readers!

GRIS GRIS BAGS

Gris gris bags may possibly help one achieve weight loss, career goals, or true love.  The bags are made up of pieces of cloth tied together with a string to make it into a small bag.  Gris gris bags may be made with beads, trinkets, rice, stone, herbs, or other interesting ingredients.  Directions or rituals might vary as well.  For example, a person may hide the bag on him or herself for seven days in order for the power to take full effect or simply hang the bag from a rearview mirror.

Many people bought these gris gris bags from a powerful voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau.  She was a hairdresser for the wealthy, and some believe her ability to network was more powerful than her actual voodoo.  However, if you go to St. Louis Cemetery #1, many people believe she is buried there, and her believers still leave trinkets, flowers, three Xs, and continue to ask for her blessings.  Her gris gris bags still live on as well!

Join us next week  for the final blog in the Blessed or Cursed series.

Author Bio:  In her latest release, Child of the Fallen Angels, Diana struggles to find her place in life.  After discovering a new world of witchcraft through a former lover, she tries to take control of the life she feels she worked so hard to build.  Diana finds her spells working, but not quite as she planned.  The energy blesses her with what she wants, but not without balancing those great blessings with great sacrifices.  She ends up using every bit of her strength to withstand adversaries which she herself has inadvertently nourished.

Want to know more?  Visit http://darkroastpress.com/vcannon.php.

Bless Victoria with your likes!  www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Cannon/107975685955053

Xavier Axelson wraps up the 6 senses

I believe in the power of the sensual world.  My name is Xavier and I am sensualist.  I have written extensively now on the power of the six senses and the journey has been enlightening, tantalizing, and even a little scary.  I was thinking about what I would write this week about the senses. I looked around and took a minute or two to use my senses and feel exactly what it was that was happening around me, and what’d ya know?  The miserable, cold, gloomy weather that is plaguing me in California inspired me to write about a snowy winter memory I have about my time as a kid growing up in the snowdrifts of the East Coast.  Don’t you love how the senses can bring such vivid memories back to us?

The cathedral bell was broken. It was rumored that some kids broke in and did something heinous to it. What Heinous act could be perpetrated on a bell was anyone’s guess but to be honest we were all happy it stopped ringing.  It was snowing; great big, cotton flakes, the kind you could actually catch on your tongue.  In the absence of the bell, other sounds got in under the blanket of the falling snow. Like the tractors, their engines pleading against the cold air as if they were husbands pleading angrily against their chilly wives.  Oh, and the aroma of childhood. The grandmothers made almond cookies and the smell of them was seductive, almost being almost too wonderful to experience in a snow flurry.   Smells of wood stoves, my grandfather always had the one in the barn going; it smelled sharp and strong in the cold, almond dusted air.

There would be no school, no projectors displaying long division or conjunctives.  It would be a day of magic, of things buried in white drifts and the crunch of ice under boots…the cold air made everything sound more important than it really was.  Your words urgent, romantic because you could see them in your breath as you uttered something to someone:  a plan, a wish, a way to make the day pass.

Oh by the way…did you hear?  I have two new books coming out:  “Lily” with Silver Publishing and “The Good Cop” with Seventh Window Publications.  Feel free to also stop by my examiner.com column and say hello…or send me a recipe or cookies… or come by my website!

DRESSING A DIJINNI WITH JENNY SCHWARTZ

Imagine you’re a couple of millennia old. Would you keep up with changing fashions or simply wear the clothing of whichever era suited you?

When I came to write Three Wishes, deciding how to dress Cali, my djinni heroine, was one of the more interesting challenges. She’s been trapped in a bottle for centuries, but she’s aware of what’s happening in the world outside and every now and then her human masters let her out to fulfill their wishes. She’s seen Roman togas, Dark Age smocks, Renaissance gowns, Regency muslins and Edwardian bustles — but I’m not saying she’s worn them all.

In the end, the decision on how to dress Cali came down to her character, and I realized she was the sort of independent-minded djinni who’d eagerly embrace the modern freedom of jeans and a cotton shirt — but keeping her favourite red sash and gold bangles!

Still, never pass up a chance  for research (I swear, that’s every writer’s motto!) and there are some great sites dedicated to the history of clothing and fashion.

The Costume Gallery
The Fashion Museum, Bath, England
La Couteriere Parisienne

Or sew your own. Although I have a hate-hate relationship with my sewing machine, sites like Folkwear Sewing Patterns fascinate me.

and what tour of fashion history is complete without a stopover in the laundry over at Old and Interesting? Because knowing my luck, I wouldn’t have worn the gorgeous gowns, I’d have washed, starched and ironed them for others while mucking around in calico.

***

She is the Bringer of Death

Cali, a djinni, has sworn to twist the wishes of humans so they die by their own greed and evil. Her latest master is arms dealer David Saqr, a man Cali believes deserves the fate she has in store for him. But this time she finds herself up against Andrew, David’s guardian angel.

He is a Protector of Life

Andrew believes David can yet find redemption. He fights Cali for the man’s life, even as he tries to persuade her to give in to the sizzling attraction between them. He shows Cali another side of David, and invites her to trust again, to hope. But centuries of being enslaved have hardened Cali’s heart–it’s going to take all of Andrew’s love to convince her to open it and let him in.

from Carina Press


***


You can find Jenny at her website, on Twitter and Facebook and indulging her love of pretty pictures on Tumblr.

BLESSED OR CURSED ~ ABOVE GROUND CEMETERIES

THE IMPORTANT STUFF FIRST – CONTEST!!!

Any reader (18 or over please) who posts a comment to the “Blessed or Cursed” blogs will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Child of the Fallen Angels.  Make sure to join us each week for all five “Blessed or Cursed” blogs.  Readers are allowed one entry per blog, so readers may enter up to five times! The winner will be announced June 10, 2011 by Manic Readers!

ABOVE GROUND CEMETERIES

New Orleans is a unique city because it is below sea level.  With such a higher water table, one can only dig so far before hitting water.  This poses a problem when trying to bury someone into the ground…  One good rainstorm or another flood could… could is not the right word here… WILL cause the coffin to come right out of the ground.

With such a unique challenge, New Orleans’ cemeteries are not your typical burial grounds with coffins in the ground and headstones to mark the graves.  Rows of above ground graves or vaults line the various cemeteries throughout the city.  Loved ones have the option of being buried together in these, wall tombs, or crypts.  It provides an eternal peaceful resting place for the souls who are fortunate to have each other in life and still be together after death.

Luckily, I have not had too much experience with these types of burials.  Although I have attended a handful of funerals before for extended family members, the death that hit me hardest was my aunt’s a few years back.  I felt really sad in between states of shock and disbelief.  It was a real loss… until we buried her.

When we walked up to the family wall tomb, it had been explained to me by my mother that after everyone left they would pull my uncle’s coffin out and put my aunt’s coffin behind his.  (He died a few years earlier.)  I was like —  what?  Why?  My mom said that it was symbolic of the man protecting the woman.  At that moment it dawned on me that my aunt and uncle were together again.  I never felt sad after that.

Rest in peace has since taken on a whole new blessed meaning for me.

Join us next week as we discuss: GRIS GRIS BAGS

Author Bio:  In her latest release, Child of the Fallen Angels, Diana struggles to find her place in life.  After discovering a new world of witchcraft through a former lover, she tries to take control of the life she feels she worked so hard to build.  Diana finds her spells working, but not quite as she planned.  The energy blesses her with what she wants, but not without balancing those great blessings with great sacrifices.  She ends up using every bit of her strength to withstand adversaries which she herself has inadvertently nourished.

Want to know more?  Visit http://darkroastpress.com/vcannon.php.

Bless Victoria with your likes!  www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Cannon/107975685955053

Shelli Stevens, Las Vegas, and choir teachers

What is it about Las Vegas that fascinates us? It always seems like such a popular place to set movies or books, even some television shows.

Well, I joined the club with my book Negligee Behavior. I wrote this book after returning from Las Vegas several years ago. I’d gone there to support a friend who was trying out for American Idol (and subsequently I did too at the threat of not being able to go in with her).

My friend and I stayed in Henderson with my cousin, who’s a children’s librarian over there. It got me thinking. Kind of a wholesome person in a town known for getting a little wild. I saw a book in that. Granted, my heroine isn’t a librarian but a choir teacher. The rest of the story unfolded into Negligee Behavior.

When lingerie heiress Brandy Summer gets cold feet and runs out on her Vegas wedding, she has nowhere to turn—so she hijacks a hunky biker waiting for a red light and begs him for help. What she doesn’t know is that her instincts are right: the groom has a hidden agenda. He needs her money to pay off his gambling debts and she’s his ticket to the good life.

Marco Vargas isn’t sure what he’s getting himself into when he rescues Brandy, but figures he’ll do the chivalrous thing. He offers her a job in his bar and the chance to sort out her feelings. But it seems that keeping Brandy hidden is easier than keeping his hands off her—and what will happen when Brandy discovers that Marco has secrets of his own?

Coming May 23rd from Carina Press

Leave a comment for a chance to win an Arc of Negligee Behavior!

NICE GIRL, Marcelle Dubé

WHAT’S A NICE GIRL LIKE ME…

By Marcelle Dubé

I started out as fantasy and science fiction girl. Heck, I even wrote a novel with elves in it. Okay, so they were warped and disturbing, but they were elves. I wrote a story about crossing over into other worlds, and even one with a secret race of hominids hiding among Homo sapiens.

So how did I end up releasing The Shoeless Kid, my second mystery story with Carina Press?

It boils down to the fact that every story, at its heart, has a mystery, a question that needs answering. Will Charlie be able to keep his enhanced intelligence or will the surgery fail him (Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes)? Will Boss figure out who left the mysterious Destiny ship in deep space or will its deadly technology destroy her and her crew (Diving into the Wreck, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch)? Will the plucky time-travelling historians figure out what went wrong and get back to their drop in time to be rescued (Black Out and All Clear, by Connie Willis)?

Every story asks a question, but in mystery stories, the two most important questions get asked, and hopefully answered: who did it, and why? Answering those questions reassures us that wrongdoing will be punished and that our world will once again be right. Answering those questions gives us deep satisfaction—gives me deep satisfaction, at least!

Why do you read mysteries? Or do you?

I hope you will follow Kate Williams, my heroine in The Shoeless Kid, as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a missing child. And don’t forget to check out my Carina colleagues who are also releasing books this week: Jennifer Greene’s Sweets to the Sweet and Maureen Miller’s Endless Night.

Marcelle

www.marcelledube.com

THE SHOELESS KID

The shoe appeared on her desk, gently deposited on top of the pile of occurrence reports from the last week.

It was a kid’s high-top—left foot—and it was red and grubby, but not worn.

Kate automatically picked it up, more to keep it from dirtying her paperwork than out of curiosity. It was damp. On the inside of the tongue, in red marker, was written “Josh H.” She flipped the shoe over to look at the underside. A size four. It would fit a…what? A four- or five-year-old?

Bobby MacAllister’s age.

She slowly looked up. Marco Trepalli, youngest and newest member of the Mendenhall police force—and too handsome for his own good—smiled down at her. The morning sun gilded his tanned cheek and added a twinkle to his eye. Kate stifled a sigh. Marco had the makings of a good cop, if he ever learned to get over himself.

Read the first chapter at: www.marcelledube.com

Buy THE SHOELESS KID at www.carinapress.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal but now lives in the Yukon, where people outnumber the carnivores, but not by much. Her short fiction includes science fiction, fantasy and mainstream, and has been featured in magazines and an award-winning anthology. The Shoeless Kid is her second novel with Carina Press. Her first, On Her Trail, was published in May 2010.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Marcelle-Dubé/609501278

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MarcelleDube

Blog: http://notyourusualsuspects.blogspot.com/

Xavier Axelson and the 6th Sense

Do you believe in ghosts?  I do.  The 6th sense is probably the most; no, I’m sure it is indeed the most elusive of all our senses.  Yet, can anyone really deny that it exists?  I believe it is a combination of instinct, intuition and maybe a little psychic-ness all mixed into one.  I could recount numerous stories about my experiences with psychic phenomenon but then I would probably be committed.  Perhaps this wouldn’t be a bad thing…I could write all day, not work…stare out windows while mumbling to myself…Wait let’s get back on track a second.  I will share one experience, possibly the most frightening of all the experiences I have had with the unknown.

I was about 10 years old, maybe 11; all I know is that it was when I was in 5th grade.  So how old are kids around then?  I think 10…anyway; I came home after school with a couple of friends.  Both my parents worked at this point so I was kind of on my own for a couple of hours.  Don’t worry, my Grandmother was next door and we were surrounded by neighbors who watched out for everyone else’s kids like hawks.  One neighbor, an elderly woman had a spare key to our house, I can’t tell you how many times that key saved my rear end, but I digress.

So there we were my three friends and me.  There was a sister with her younger brother and then another girl.  Let’s call them Sam, Cam and Pam shall we?  Makes it more amusing…and protects the innocent.  So naturally, being kids we soon found ourselves up to mischief and this included me pulling out the Ouija board.  I should preface this by saying I had a very active imagination and always thought I was psychic from a very early age and begged and begged my parents for a Ouija board and against my mother’s direct orders, my father of course gave in and got me one.  I think it was Pam who suggested we shut the lights off and close all the blinds.  It was late afternoon so it was still bright enough in the house for us to see what we were doing…there may have been candles lit.  My goodness…reading this makes it sound like it was Lord Of The Flies up in that house…really it was all perfectly innocent…at least we thought so until Sam and I got on the board together.

Have you ever played Ouija?  You know how this goes right.  You put your fingertips on the pointer and begin asking the board questions like “Who’s on the board?”  “What’s your name?”  “Who am I going to marry?”  “Am I going to pass the spelling test on Friday?”  You get it…

So we began playing and at first all was well, fun, and a little creepy but we were all laughing and being silly about it but then something happened…cue the scary music.  I should tell you I have goosebumbs as I’m writing this.

That pointer began jerking back and forth across the board so violently that neither Sam nor I could keep our fingers on the pointer…I know all you skeptics are like, “yeah right,”  well read on friends.  We were totally freaking out but me having some psychic prowess (yeah right) thought now would be about the time to ask who was on the board.

Quetsion:  “Who’s on the board?”

Answer:  “Ellie”

Question:  “Can you show us a sign that you’re here?”  (Again me trying to be clever)

Answer:  The phone rings.  (Now I swear on my Grandmother’s peanut butter cookie recipe that this is true)

I answered that phone and when I asked who it was they replied, “Ellie,” I hung the phone up and I think I may have started crying.  I don’t know when we all started crying but believe me tears were flowing at some point.

But did it stop there?  Oh no…because why would crying 10 or 11 year olds stop…I think we were too scared to move away from the board…but I did ask it to show us another sign that it was there and again the phone rang but this time when I answered there was just nothing…

Now I feel that I should cut the story here…there were many other revelations on the board that day that were equally terrifying and actually a little too graphic to put into words for this blog but I will say that when my mother showed up she was not happy.  We were all kicked outside and I think I remember begging her not to throw the board out because it had to be thrown into running water…blah blah blah…

My mother being of sound mind (kind of) looked at me and said, “Could you please stop with this board?  This is why I didn’t want this in the house; if any spirits feel the need to come after you, send them my way.”  With that, the board went into the huge brown trashcans in our garage.

The following week I served as altar boy at my baby cousins christening…and if you think, I did not ask the priest for a blessing of protection…you’re wrong.

I was a dramatic kid.  I never touched a Ouija Board again…Ok well one more time…but years later in 7th Grade and you know what when I asked who was on the board the same name came up and you better believe I pulled my hands off that pointer so fast I made my own head spin.

I told a psychic  this story and she said to me, “playing with a Ouija Board is like walking up to an apartment in New York City and knocking on the door, you have no idea who is going to answer…”

Ewww…I’m getting scared so I’ll stop here and say this, follow your instincts, don’t play with Ouija Boards…and always make sure you have an amazing peanut butter cookie recipe to stake your reputation on.

Hey, did you hear?  I have two new novellas coming out soon….One is called “Lily” with Silver Publishing and The Good Cop with Seventh Window Publications coming soon.  Keep up with all my other demons, ghosts, and foodies at www.xavieraxelson.com

BLESSED OR CURSED ~ TOURING MY OWN CITY

THE IMPORTANT STUFF FIRST – CONTEST!!!

Any reader (18 or over please) who posts a comment to the “Blessed or Cursed” blogs will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Child of the Fallen Angels.  Make sure to join us each week for all five “Blessed or Cursed” blogs.  Readers are allowed one entry per blog, so readers may enter up to five times! The winner will be announced June 10, 2011 by Manic Readers!

TOURING MY OWN CITY…

Even though I’m from New Orleans, but now residing about 1,000 miles away in Baltimore, I once took a tour through the French Quarter on a carriage ride.  The very thin man leading the tour was of average height.  I didn’t expect such a deep voice from him, but as he rode us around he spoke with passion about the various landmarks, legends, and history.  I was equally surprised at how he could recall so many little odd facts and stories.  Surely, he had to have been making some of this stuff up.  Upon further research, it seems my tour guide was dead on (using this expression on purpose here…) with all his facts.  Spooky!

However, aside from passing Nicolas Cage’s and Brangelina’s pads, the thing that stuck out the most about the tour was how a lot of the third floor apartments stay vacant.  According to our tour guide, anyone who had tried to live in some of these third floor apartments had been spooked away.  So, I decided when I do move back that I would rent one.

We rode passed a lot of fortune tellers who had set up tables throughout the streets.  People lined up to ask them about their true, future, or current love, but people visiting them should do so with caution.  People seeking their answers should make sure they want to know the answers first.  Sometimes it’s better not to know because the fortune tellers may foretell a blessing, or they may foretell a curse!  (For example, my best friend was told her boyfriend would go to jail and he did!)

Join us next week as we discuss: ABOVE GROUND CEMETERIES

Author Bio:  In her latest release, Child of the Fallen Angels, Diana struggles to find her place in life.  After discovering a new world of witchcraft through a former lover, she tries to take control of the life she feels she worked so hard to build.  Diana finds her spells working, but not quite as she planned.  The energy blesses her with what she wants, but not without balancing those great blessings with great sacrifices.  She ends up using every bit of her strength to withstand adversaries which she herself has inadvertently nourished.

Want to know more?  Visit http://darkroastpress.com/vcannon.php.

Bless Victoria with your likes!  www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Cannon/107975685955053

MAUREEN A. MILLER IS THIRSTY FOR KNOWLEDGE

Tap into the Author Search Engine

Thirsty for knowledge?

Nowadays, anything you want to learn, you simply type the question in your GOOGLE, BING or search engine of choice.  But think of an author’s mind as an alternative. There is an overload of data being processed there, with random knowledge existing on a host of diverse subjects. Speaking from the database accrued in my own head, I can dictate information on a variety of subjects spanning from the conjecture behind leopard spots to Mayan temple acoustics, to lobster fishing, or even Spanish trading in the 1600’s. The list goes on.

Maybe only 25% of an author’s research makes it into their books, so somewhere in their brain lurks this wave of knowledge that may never be tapped again. I aspire to one day find myself at a bus stop sitting next to a Mayan historian who wants to engage in conversation about the gods of the underworld.  You never know.

As a reader, take that knowledge and multiply it tenfold.  Every author has infused the reader’s mind with information overload. I don’t write erotica, but I get very defensive of random accusations such as, “It’s just 300 straight pages of sex.”  Even if it were, there is still research and knowledge involved.  Perhaps in the middle of those 300 pages the characters had sex in the shade of Mt. Rushmore. Maybe in the throes of desire the female character looks up into the granite eyes of Theodore Roosevelt.  Quite possibly, that reader did not know that Theodore Roosevelt was one of the faces on Mount Rushmore. They may also not have known that Mount Rushmore was made of granite.  The next day that reader may be talking to someone at the store who is planning a trip to South Dakota, and she could say, “Oh, are you visiting Mount Rushmore?”

In my new romantic suspense novel, ENDLESS NIGHT, Jake Grogan is an electrical engineer−a virtual MacGyver type. In researching the character’s background, I gained an overload of information that maybe I can put to use one day. For example, did you know that you can stack three quarters on top of a C battery to emulate a D battery!  While writing ENDLESS NIGHT I learned everything from building codes to the local beers on tap in Maine. The knowledge may be random, but it is still knowledge. We all know that knowledge gives us power.

I hope if you read the book…or any book, you walk away with a kernel of information that you did not know the day before and feed your inner search engine.

Maureen A. Miller

ENDLESS NIGHT – Carina Press

More on the senses with Xavier Axelson

Ok I’m back…Yes to talk about the senses and why not?  I have spent over a month now discussing them and my journey is really only about half over.  I am planning to post my interview with a renowned perfumer this week on my column over at examiner.com where we will revel in our sense of smell, how to wear scent properly and the truth about pheromones.

No, pheromone is not a Greek goddess.

I was traversing through my journals and came across an entry that I wrote in relation to the senses and thought I might share it with you.  This one, I must confess was written while I worked in Beverly Hills (I know I’ve told you this story before)  If you need to catch up, read my previous posts and all will be revealed.  So again, I found myself one day sitting above Armani and staring out into this amazing rooftop court yard that had an incredible fountain and it was raining and warm so I opened all the windows in the office and let the smell of the rain take me on a journey.  I closed my eyes and listened and smelled the amazing warm, clean smell of the rain and all sorts of things filled my head…below is the result.  Hope you enjoy and will open all your windows the next time it rains…tell me what you smell when you do…

4/1  Raining On The Fountain

It rained on the fountain today…even though it was already wet

It rained, rained and rained…merciless it poured and drowned the bathing birds

and made the Aquarian boy cry as he held his trumpet braving the storm like the last confederate soldier

Questioning no one it continued darkening the sky, summoning the legendary horsemen from fitful slumber to unleash lightning angels of their remembered wrath.

The sky screamed, “Tread on me!”

And they did

People drove their Bentleys and issued commands as if it were usual when it was anything but…

When the sky becomes and ocean it means you better run and pray your fire sign is lit.

So please come by examiner.com and check me out…I have all sorts of cool things going on and interviews that will tease all of your senses.  Also, keep your peepers peeped for two new novellas, “Lily” with Silver Publishing and “The Good Cop” with Seventh Window Publications coming soon…I can also be found on the web!

And just in case you are curious here is an excerpt from my most recent novella (m/m) “Dutch’s Boy,” available at Seventh Window Publications.

Blake’s eyes were deep gray, like river rock cold and appraising.  This was a man who had seen a lot and wasn’t afraid to take advantage if only for his own survival.

“You bring a gun with you, Harry?”

Harry drained his beer before responding, he had been trying not to look directly at Blake, but that familiar twinge between his legs was making it harder to look away.  Blake was not a bad looking guy; his eyes sparkled when he smiled, not unlike a snake Harry thought suddenly.  Blake’s skin was tanned, weathered, he had worked long and hard in the sun Harry guessed, and when Blake smiled, which was often,  Harry noticed the lines that formed by his gray eyes and the corners of his mouth.  Harry thought of Reb and the dream then, this wasn’t Reb but Harry wasn’t sure he would ever see Reb again and he was alone.

“You alright, Harry?”

“Yeah fine, why?”

“Cuz I asked you if you brought a gun with you and you’re just staring at me like you’re mute or something.”  Blake scratched his stubbly cheek and took a final swig of his beer, those gray eyes still searching Harry.

“Yeah, um, yeah I brought something with me, they took it though, guess I ain’t as clever as you.” Harry nodded towards Blake’s waist.

Blake looked down to wear his gun was secured.  “You wanna see it?”