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Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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The entire Ruiz house was dark. I doubted Alex had gone to bed so early, and my instincts told me he and Keeley hadn’t left the building. There should have been light. I opened my mouth to call their names.

Ghast put his hand over my face. “Silence,” he whispered.

Frantic to find Alejandro and Keeley, I struggled against his grasp and then realized he was right. Whoever had caused this might still be there.

When I relaxed enough to focus, I sensed at least two demons and an unfamiliar presence which might have been an angel, though without the usual angelic aura of good. If we detected them, they likely had detected us. Still, if we didn’t speak, they might have more difficulty finding us.

Down the hall, I heard a faint whimper. Keeley. Screw any bad guys who might have been nearby. I had to protect the child. Without waiting for Ghast, I hurried toward the sound. He followed.

The pitch blackness of Keeley’s room came from more than a mere lack of electric light. It was the total absence of light of any kind, other than a small spark in one corner of the room, which I realized came from Keeley.

My heart would have stopped if I’d had one. That spark was no match for the darkness. And in this room, I sensed more than three presences, none of which had Keeley’s best interests in mind.

Angels visited the child. So where the Heaven are they? Jochiel and his pals had sworn to protect her, and the fuckers, excuse me, the idiots had evidently fallen down on the job. Although at least one of the presences had an angelic nature, I doubted it was one of the ones Keeley had mentioned. She hadn’t been afraid of those angels. Her fear of this one permeated the entire room.

A piece of darkness turned toward me and snarled, “Leave.”

“Not a chance.” I sounded pretty darn brave for someone who didn’t even have the power to defend herself. “She hasn’t done anything to you. She’s only a child. You tried to take her once and failed. Leave her alone.”

“Omara?” Keeley whimpered.

“I’m here.” I waved even though I knew she couldn’t see me and took a step toward the bed, hoping I wouldn’t trip. All I could see was her tiny spark.

“Not for long,” the darkness said. A bolt of deeper blackness shot toward me. I ducked and it missed, hitting the wall. The force of it shook the entire house.

Good thing I’d ducked.

“Omara!” Keeley cried.

From another room came the sound of Alex’s voice. “Keeley!”

“I’m okay,” I said.

I refused to leave Keeley, but I desperately wanted to make sure Alex hadn’t been hurt. Thinking Ghast might find out for me, I opened my mouth to call out to him.

I stopped myself. While the others had sensed me, I wasn’t sure they realized Ghast had accompanied me. I didn’t want to clue them in.

I took another step toward the small light. Greater darkness obscured it.

“The child is ours,” another piece of darkness hissed. “You cannot help her.”

“Want to bet?” I needed to shift to my true form. Scaring Keeley didn’t worry me. She wouldn’t be able to see me anyway, and even if she did, saving her mattered too much. I doubted I would frighten her more than what had already occurred.

Concentrating as hard as possible, I tried to shift. Maybe I had some last residue of power.

It didn’t work.

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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Finally Norris beckoned me to the table. I sat down, and she glared at Ghast until he got up and walked away. “So tell me what happened,” she said.

“Starting with what?” I didn’t want to go into the whole leaving the apartment too late thing if she only wanted to know about the part after I’d discovered someone had taken Keeley from school.

“Starting with why someone else picked up the little girl,” she replied.

Ah. “I’m still learning the transit system. I’m new around here. I didn’t realize I’d be running late, and something held up one of the trains. I showed up at Keeley’s school about ten or fifteen minutes late and the secretary said Alex—Mr. Ruiz—had picked her up already. He’d told her I’d called to say I’d be late.”

She jotted something down on a small notepad. “Why didn’t you call him?”

“I tried. He was in a meeting.” I’d said that before. I knew I had. Keeley had a point about people not listening. “I didn’t have the phone numbers for the school or for his receptionist, as I think you heard. When he didn’t answer his phone, I could only go on to the school and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I found the worst.”

“A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?” She put down her pen. “Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” I shivered under her penetrating look. She hadn’t figured out the truth about me, had she? Even a child who recognized angels and other demons didn’t know I wasn’t human. This woman didn’t have any way of knowing what I was. I hoped.

“You show up at her school late, which opens the way for someone else to take the kid.” She ticked this off on one finger. “Then you conveniently figure out they’ve brought her here.” Another finger. “And you run in and, without noticing a fight that caused about two thousand dollars’ worth of damage, just happen to find the kid hiding in a pile of beanbags. Have you always wanted to be a hero?”

Now I understood. She thought I’d either lied about what had happened or had staged it to gain attention. Although her assumption irked me, it was probably for the best. At least she wouldn’t attempt to find the perpetrator and wind up running afoul of one of Hell’s higher-ups.

I didn’t like being falsely accused, though. “I showed up at the school late because of the trains,” I repeated. “I’m sure if you check with the subway people, they’ll tell you about the delay. The secretary said the person who took Keeley told her to tell me I’d know where they’d gone. Alex had asked me to bring Keeley here, so I figured maybe they’d come here for some reason.”

“Why would a kidnapper take a child somewhere people would be likely to look for her?”

“If I knew that, I’d be a kidnapper, not a babysitter,” I snapped. “Look. I know you’re under pressure to figure all this out. All I can tell you is what happened. If you don’t believe me, that’s your choice. I’ve done nothing wrong. In fact, I’d like you to stop and think about what might have happened to Keeley if I hadn’t found her when I did.”

“Nothing, if you’re the one who set it up,” she countered.

“Excuse me.” Ghast approached the table. “If you’re charging Omara with something, please get on with it. If you aren’t, she has a dinner engagement, and I have other business to attend to.”

“She doesn’t leave until I say so.”

Something in her tone made me take a closer look. The Officer Norris we’d seen outside had been quiet, almost shy. Probably a first-year officer or something. Now, though, she seemed completely authoritative and confident.

The change had occurred after I’d persuaded her to get permission to bring Keeley inside while we waited for Alex. Norris had been out of sight for several minutes. Longer than it should have taken to get a yes or no answer.

We’d assumed Tertarch and his buddies had gone away. Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe we just hadn’t been able to see them.

Looking Forward to 2016

Last week I looked back at what my 2015 was like. It wasn’t the best year for me, especially in terms of my romance writing career.

This year, I don’t have goals that are as structured as what I’ve had in the past, because this is a year of rebuilding, or maybe destroying and building something new. I haven’t entirely decided yet. I don’t do resolutions for a new year. When I try, I end up not sticking to them, and that makes me feel kind of cruddy. Instead I do goals and hopes, and these are a few for me for 2016.

Obviously the big thing is my writing career. Karenna Colcroft has not had a new release in 10 months, give or take. People are not really buying the books I have available, at least according to my royalty statements. Those are things that need to change.

In 2016, I plan to release three books as self-published projects. Two are previously-published, one a paranormal-with-romantic-elements about a vengeance demon (which releases a week from today!) and one male/male romance about a ninja vampire who teaches mixed martial arts in present-day Boston. The third book has never been published, and is another paranormal about a woman who terms herself a “bookstore psychic”, whose powers and abilities bring her to solve a murder from 20 years earlier–and almost get murdered herself.

I have one publisher release scheduled for March 2016, which is Dawn Over Dayfield, a novel I’ve been mentioning a lot since last January or so, which I believe was when I submitted it. Or maybe when I wrote it… I can’t remember. All I know for sure is a whole lot has changed in my personal life since that novel was written. And my publisher, DSP Publications, has already done a stellar job of getting word out about the book, including scoring me an interview for the International Thriller Writers newsletter! (For those who don’t know, Dawn Over Dayfield is a suspense novel with romantic elements.)

I really love Dayfield, both the novel and the town my ex-boyfriend and I created for it, and I’d toyed with the idea of a sequel. I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but this past week I sat down to brainstorm something else and suddenly knew what would happen in the sequel to DOD. So that’s something I’m planning to write in 2016.

And speaking of planning to write…I have not been mentally able to write any type of romance in over a year. It isn’t writer’s block; it has other roots that I won’t get into. But it’s been over a year, and I think that’s time to have healed sufficiently from the incidents that sparked the issue to try again. I have someone close to me who’s willing to be my support system while I try to get back to it, so I’m planning to write at least 1-2 new erotic romances in 2016.

I’m hoping to get Karenna Colcroft back on track this year. More books. More income (because while I write for the love of writing, being able to pay bills is kinda important). More variety. More enjoyment.

Teaser Thursday- Vengeance Is Sweet

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One positive thing about the Midworld: they had good food.

I discovered that when Ghast ordered a meal from a nearby restaurant. We didn’t even have to go outside. About half an hour after he placed the call, a small Asian man brought the food right to our apartment. I could get used to that kind of thing.

Ghast paid the delivery guy and closed the door. “Hungry?”

My stomach growled at the aromas filtering out of the large paper bag he held, and I followed him to the small round table in one corner of the kitchen. He split the food onto two plates, and we sat down. For a moment, I regarded the contents of my plate. Unaccustomed to Midworld food, I had no idea what sat there. It smelled wonderful, but looked like a pile of unappealing colors and globs.

Ghast showed no hesitation. He picked up his fork and shoveled some food into his mouth. “Try it. It’s quite good, and you’ll need to become used to this kind of thing.”

“I don’t want to get used to this human stuff.” Hesitantly, I took a forkful of food from my plate and put it in my mouth. It did have quite a good taste, and I decided I’d manage to eat it. When I swallowed, my stomach happily agreed.

“You haven’t much choice,” Ghast said. “I truly believe it’s the only way you’ll be able to prove Alejandro Ruiz’s innocence.”

“That might be harder than we thought, if angels are involved.” I toyed with my fork. “Angels gave the vengeance department the case. Angels visit the little girl. Angels may be involved in the false accusation. Angels allowed the soul of a suicide into Heaven.”

“Although I rather doubt their involvement in the accusation, it is possible,” he agreed. “Assuming the accusation is false. As for the suicide, this soul is not the first to go to Heaven. It’s dependent upon the reason the person chose to die.”

After the time I’d spent with Alejandro, I had no doubt about the accusation. “It’s false. I don’t think that man would hurt anyone for any reason, least of all his child or his ex-wife. Whatever her reason for killing herself, I don’t think Alex had anything to do with it.”

A thought flickered into my head. “If she’s his ex-wife, when would he have abused her? He said they’d been split up for over a year. They didn’t live together, and he almost never saw Keeley. He wouldn’t have had any opportunity.”

“Perhaps the abuse occurred before the separation,” Ghast suggested.

I shook my head. “The file said she killed herself to escape his abuse. She wouldn’t have any need to escape something that ended over a year ago.”

“Good point.” He ate a few more forkfuls before adding, “It does sound more likely to be a lie. However, that doesn’t mean the lie involved anyone other than her.”

“It would have had to,” I said. “I don’t think a soul would be able to fool an angel. Don’t you guys have built-in lie-dar or something?”

“We do have the ability to detect when we’ve been deceived,” he said. “Still, a particularly persuasive soul might be able to convince one of us.”

“How likely would that be?”

“Not very.” He set down his fork. “You realize you’re accusing a member of the Heavenly host of dishonesty. Perhaps more than one member. You have no proof, and you have no reason. You also cannot discount the possibility that Alejandro might have hurt his ex-wife as she claims. Perhaps he became angry at her refusal to allow him access to the child, and they fought about it.”

“I don’t believe he’d harm anyone for any reason,” I said stubbornly, twisting my fork through the stuff on my plate. “You saw how gentle he is with Keeley. Do you really think he’d do anything to her or her mother?”

“In my opinion, he wouldn’t.” He chewed a forkful of something and swallowed. “However, we’ve seen him with her only today.”

“And yesterday.”

“You saw him then. I wasn’t with you.”

“Fine.” I tried another piece of food. It tasted as good as the first, even though it looked no better. “Even so, I believe he’s innocent. Someone set him up.”

“And again, you have no reason why anyone would do this. You can’t make a claim without cause, Omara. Especially when it comes to the Heavenly host.”

“I suspect it has a lot to do with Keeley. When she said I was nice, it sounded like she knew, not like it was just something to say. It seemed like she’d seen something inside me that made her say it. Like she’d looked right into me.” It sounded ridiculous, but I didn’t have any other way to describe what I’d felt from Keeley.

Cover Reveal- Vengeance Is Sweet

Well, okay, so I’ve already revealed the cover on Facebook and Tumblr, but not on my blog until today. Because why shouldn’t I do things backwards?

Vengeance Is Sweet was originally published in September 2012, under my Jo Ramsey pen name. That was done because there’s no erotic content in the novel, but it isn’t a young adult story, so it didn’t sell well under that name. After two years of almost no sales, I asked the publisher to return rights to me, which they graciously did.

I’ve spent some time polishing up the novel: getting rid of a ton of repetition, clarifying a couple of plot points, and making it something I’m even happier with than I was originally. I ended up cutting over 10,000 words! And on January 11, I’ll be officially re-releasing the novel as a Karenna Colcroft title. It will be available exclusively on Amazon, and is already up for pre-order there.

And here’s the cover…

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