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Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Blinking against a too-bright light, Weston tried to inhale. The air stabbed his lungs like knives, and when he coughed, the pain worsened exponentially. He was covered with a thin sheet, and the smell of soot surrounded him.

“Easy.” An unfamiliar female face appeared above him. “You inhaled a lot of smoke. We’re getting oxygen set up for you. Take it easy.”

Reassured by her soothing voice, Weston closed his eyes again.

The next time he opened them, a mask covered his mouth and nose. The light wasn’t as bright now. He tried to sit up, and a hand pressed his shoulder.

“You need to be still.” The voice sounded like the same woman as earlier.

“Andy.” Weston couldn’t even understand himself through the mask.

Apparently the woman—a nurse, he guessed—had some practice at translating oxygen-mask speak. “Your friend is in the next room. He’s unconscious. Try to breathe normally. I’ll find out what’s happening with him.”

Weston nodded his thanks and stared up at the white ceiling, listening to the nurse’s footsteps fade and trying to sort out his memories of what had happened.

A fire. Someone had set fire to the library as soon as Mildred was out of the building.

The crash in the main room must have been the arsonist breaking out through one of the windows so Andy and Weston wouldn’t see him.

Someone had chained the back door shut.

Someone had wanted Andy and Weston dead badly enough to make sure they couldn’t escape. Badly enough to destroy the entire library.

Andy should never have come to Dayfield. The town had never been a good place, but Weston hadn’t realized exactly how deep the darkness ran until Andy showed up.

“Your friend’s doing better.” The nurse walked over to stand beside Weston. “Still unconscious, but the doctor says he’s going to be fine.”

Weston started to speak, but his throat was too raw and sore to make another sound. Instead, he simply nodded again.

For a little while, he dozed off and on, waking each time someone entered the room. He expected his mother to show up, but she didn’t appear.

Finally, a male doctor carrying a clipboard entered with the nurse Weston had seen first. Without a word, she removed Weston’s mask.

“Try taking a breath,” the doctor said. “Slowly.”

Weston obeyed. His chest ached, but the sharp pain had faded enough for him to draw in some air.

He put his hand on his throat. “Water?”

The doctor nodded. “We’ll get you some. How are you feeling?”

Like I almost died in a fire, idiot. “Hurts.”

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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Weston didn’t say another word until they were inside the historical society room. He took off his denim jacket and draped it over a chair, then cracked his knuckles. “My dad has a lot of friends in town, and they keep him informed of what’s going on. Including the fact that a Chaffee is poking around. Why are you going into the diner? Didn’t you learn anything yesterday?”

“I learned they have good food.” Andy shook his head. “Why do I feel like I’m in a horror novel or something? Stay away from the town, or they’ll possess you and eat you alive.”

“That’s how some small towns are,” Weston muttered. “You had a run-in this morning.”

“A couple of guys in the diner weren’t thrilled with me being there, but Rich shut them up.” Andy paused. “After I told him to get over himself.”

Weston’s frown deepened. “I heard about that too. Maybe you should take the books back to Boston and mail them to me when you’re finished.”

Andy stared at him. “Kicking me out of town? I wouldn’t have figured you’d agree with the general public.”

“I don’t, but Dad said Ernie implied you’d better get out of here sooner than later.”

Andy had no clue which of the men in the diner was Ernie. Nor did he care. He wasn’t about to leave because of a dickwad blustering over the phone. “I’ll get out of here when I’m finished what I came here for. Matt over in the photo shop doesn’t seem to hate me, at least.”

“Matt’s a little different. He’s a townie, but he tries to keep an open mind most of the time.” Weston nodded toward the bag Andy was still holding. “You bought a photo?”

“He gave it to me. It’s the factory.” Andy hesitated. “I haven’t seen the factory yet.”

“Do you want to?” Weston sounded surprised.

“It’s part of the family history, right?” Andy wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to visit the place, but since he was in town, it wouldn’t hurt.

“In a way, I guess. Not a pleasant part.” Weston walked over to one of the bookcases and ran his finger over the spines on one shelf. “I have a book about the factory here somewhere. When it started, when the Chaffees took over, all of that. Maybe you should read it first.”

“Sure.” Andy didn’t see why he needed to read a book before visiting the factory, but he appreciated Weston’s willingness to help.

“So are you planning to hang out here again today?” Weston asked. “You took all those books yesterday. I figured you’d spend the day reading at the motel.”

Andy hesitated. They were barely at the friendly acquaintance stage, and he wasn’t the kind to admit an attraction to someone after knowing them such a short time. He’d learned to be cautious.

But Weston was worth taking the chance. Worst case, Andy would avoid the library for the rest of his time in the area, except to return the books he’d borrowed.

He smiled. “I wanted the company.”

Weston glanced over his shoulder. “You did, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I don’t mind the company either.” Weston turned back to the books. “Here it is.”

“Okay.” That’s it? We say we like being around each other and then go back to talking about books?

Then again, he didn’t know what else he’d expected

Teaser Thursday- Dawn Over Dayfield

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This room smelled even more of old things and dust, and Andy stifled a cough. Around him, papers were crammed between books or piled in unsteady stacks. Andy saw no one else in the room.

He cleared his throat. “Hello?”

“Oh. Hang on.”

Andy waited, rocking slightly back and forth on his feet. A slim man who barely reached Andy’s shoulder walked out from between two shelving units. His brown hair was tousled, and a small gold hoop adorned each ear and one eyebrow. He had a sparse mustache and goatee, and his brown eyes gleamed even in the dim light.

He seemed as out of place in Dayfield as the elderly librarian would have been in downtown Boston.

Andy cleared his throat again and tried to moisten his dry lips. “Hi. I’m Andy Forrest. She, um, the librarian said she told you I’d be here today?”

“Yeah.” The man’s face crinkled into something resembling a smile. He held out his hand. “Weston Thibeault. Historian, such as it is.”

Andy shook hands with him. “Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise, though I wish it was in a nicer place.” Weston grimaced. “Sorry. I tend to be a bit cynical about this town. No reason for it to spill over on you. You won’t be here long, I take it.”

“How long I stay depends on how easy it is to find the information I need.” Andy glanced around.

Weston chuckled. “Yeah, it’s kind of a mess, isn’t it? People keep dropping off stuff they figure I can shoehorn in. Which I sort of can, but it isn’t a matter of simply shoving things onto shelves. There is, believe it or not, a system, and I haven’t had much time lately to put things away.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“You’re going to have to. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here.” Weston gestured at the nearest shelves. “This is what a degree in history gets you. So Mildred said you want to find out about a family from Dayfield?”

“Yeah.” Andy hadn’t given the librarian the whole story when he’d called. There were some things he wasn’t comfortable saying over the phone. And after the way the woman—Mildred, he guessed—had greeted him, Andy doubted he would ever be comfortable enough to tell her anything. “My birth father’s from here.”

Weston raised his pierced eyebrow. “You’re adopted?”

“Yeah.” Andy braced himself for the myriad questions he generally got when people found out he’d been “given away.” Questions which, for the most part, he couldn’t answer.

“What about your birth mother?” Weston asked.

“I think she lives on the North Shore. At least, that’s where she was living when I was born, as far as I know.”

“She might have moved since.” Weston paused. “What are their names? If one or maybe both of them are here in town, you could bypass all the paperwork and talk to them.”

“I don’t want to meet them,” Andy blurted. “I’d rather leave it at finding out more about my father and the family. History, you know?”

“Sure.” Weston wrinkled his forehead. “Okay, well, if you have their names, I’m sure we’ll have something about them here. At least about your father. We have info about pretty much everyone who’s lived here, at least in the past century and a half or so.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.” Andy glanced around again. There was no guarantee the shelves and piles contained anything about his biological father, and even if they did, he hadn’t decided how much he actually wanted to learn. The biggest question he had was one old books and papers probably couldn’t answer: Why had his birth parents given him up?

“The names?” Weston prompted.

Andy took a deep breath. “My mother is Elise Cummings. My father is Vardon Chaffee.”

He expected some sign of recognition from Weston. In a town as small as Dayfield, it was unlikely Weston wouldn’t have heard the name. But Andy didn’t expect the disgusted twist of Weston’s mouth or the narrowing of his eyes.

“Chaffee?” Weston spoke the name as if he were spitting out a mouthful of shit. “You’re a Chaffee?”

“No. I’m a Forrest.” Andy folded his arms and squared his feet. He had no clue why “Chaffee” was a bad thing, but he damn sure wasn’t about to let Weston insult him because of a guy Andy had never met. “My birth father was a Chaffee. And I’m guessing you aren’t too happy about it?”

Weston pressed his lips together and looked away for a moment. When he faced Andy again, his expression was blank. “Sorry. Yeah, that name tends to leave a bad taste in most mouths around here. You don’t know anything about the family?”

“Not really.” Andy’s adoptive father had tried to give him what little information he had beyond the names of Andy’s birth parents and their hometowns, but Andy had refused to listen. He only wanted to learn enough to relieve his dad’s fear that Andy might carry some unknown health condition, like the heart problem that had killed Andy’s mom.

“Wow. Okay.” Weston ran his hand through his hair. “So not only am I going to have to find you information about the family, but I’ll have to educate you so you don’t say that name in too many places around here.”

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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