Thursday, January 31, 2013

Krystal Shannan Features - Valerie Mann - The ABCs of Manly Men

The ABCs of Manly Men (Well, just the A & B)

Krystal asked what kind of man I prefer…the studly Alpha male, or the not-so-studly Beta male.

Well, Krystal, as an erotic romance author, of course the alpha male hero reigns supreme in all of my books. They’re always tall and dark, because I find that look sexy, tend to be on the still-waters-run-deep side, not chatty Cathy, and treat their women like hothouse flowers.

Is this realistic? Not in about 95% of the population, but this is romance fiction. I only write what my characters tell me, and my heroes are so not telling me to write them as lukewarm saps who wear bifocals and need high blood pressure meds. So, I guess you could say I prefer a good, solid, throw-me-over-your-shoulder-and-have-your-way-with-me Alpha Male. In my books.

In real life, I married an alpha. Yikes, and I’m an alpha female. We butt heads on a daily basis, always trying to climb over each other to be boss. It took us a solid twenty+ years of marriage to figure out when it’s cool to be stubborn and when it’s best to back off.  Huh, we’re still figuring it out. But we also have an insane amount of respect and devotion to each other because who else would put up with us…but us? So, I guess you could say I prefer a good, solid throw-me-over-your-shoulder-and-have-your-way-with-me Alpha Male. In real life. Not that I’d ever let him throw me over his shoulder, but I would let him have his way with me.

The beta male. Oh, you poor, misunderstood, ridiculed man! You’re the guy we all loved as tweenagers. Justin Bieber is a beta male (but you can bet he’s an alpha-in-training). When we’re young girls, we want that soft-around-the-edges, boy band guy who’s non-threatening, likes puppies and talks about his mom. Our dads are alphas, we don’t want a guy like our dad at that age! When we get a little older…we trade in the Backstreet Boy and go for hot Biker Boy. We’re too stupid to understand it’s okay to have both.

Here’s the deal—the beta guy is the man inside the alpha. He’s the softer side, the one who really does cry at Nicholas Sparks movies all the while insisting “there’s a lot of dust in the air” that’s making his eyes water. The beta man is the one sleeps on the floor next to the dog who’s not going to make it another night. And a real beta loves his mother and isn’t afraid to show her, or his wife and daughters, that a woman is not only his equal, but elevates her to higher status than his own.

An alpha man who isn’t afraid to be a beta. Having both is the whole, sexy package and I’m lucky enough to have an Alpha/beta for real.

Buy links:

Who agrees to an arranged marriage in the 21st century? Beth Malone can’t believe a date request with the 1Night Stand service morphed into an arranged marriage offer. But after a heartbreaking divorce and no knight in shining armor coming to sweep her off her feet, her desire to find that knight and have a family is looking more like a dream than a reality.
After filling out a 1Night Stand questionnaire worthy of the CIA, Christian Ramos is stunned when Madame Eve offers to arrange more than a date for one night: she suggests a wife! What the hell? After his best friend Jackson Castillo stops laughing, he advises him to consider the offer. Between the fortieth birthday looming on the horizon and his Latino upbringing, Chris is forced to take a hard look at his life. Reality check—time is running out for what he wants—a family and a woman to share his life.
First comes love, then comes marriage isn’t part of their matrimonial situation, but neither Beth nor Christian anticipated the immediate attraction and contentment that comes with saying, “I do.”

“We need to get this over with.”
Her eyes widened in shock. “Get what over with?” But she knew.
He dropped his hand and gave her a rueful smile. “We’re married. I want to make love to my wife.” He waited for her to respond again and when she didn’t, he added, “Now.”
Beth blinked. Her heart started beating again. She liked a man who knew what he wanted. Especially when he wanted her. Stretching up, she gave him a light kiss. He clasped her waist with both hands and pulled her against him, fusing his mouth to hers, nothing like he had during their wedding. He invaded her, tasting and exploring with his tongue, forcing her to open for him.
She wound her arms around his neck and gave in, letting the invasion happen. Every fear disappeared and the only trembling happening was from desire. Her breasts swelled, aching to be touched. She wanted him. How wonderful he was hers.
Chris eased away but didn’t let go, wearing the same dazed look she must have had after their wedding kiss. He stepped back a few paces, bringing her with him, until he reached the bed.
“Turn around.”
Beth narrowed her eyes but obeyed. The zipper on the back of her dress descended and the silky garment puddled at her feet as he turned her back to face him. His hungry gaze swept over her, and she shivered with anticipation. Leaning in, he kissed the space between her breasts, his face tight with desire. No man had ever looked at her body that way…so appreciative.
Reaching behind her, he unhooked her bra, and tossed it on the floor to join the dress. Her nipples stood at attention, swollen and needy. She shivered again.
He tilted his head back. “Am I going too fast?”
She cupped his face and gave him a hard kiss. “Hurry,” she whispered.

What do you think? 
Leave a comment with what kind of man you prefer. We’ll pick one commenter to receive a copy of one of my books in digital format and an Amazon gift card!

Valerie Mann

Valerie Mann is the superwoman every woman tries to be…mother of five attractive, successful children, vixen in and out of the bedroom, runway model fashionista, extreme gardener, and just recently crashed on bestseller lists as a romance author.

In real life, Valerie is the mother of five lovely, but ordinary children. Sure, she’s a vixen in and out of the bedroom, which explains the herd of kids. The closest she gets to a runway is an airport, and while she thinks gardens of all sorts are wonderful, she figures that hobby can wait until retirement, if her knees last that long. And that crashing you heard was Valerie collapsing on the couch at the end of a very long day. As for romance, she writes and likes to think she can tell an amazing tale of love or two. Her husband of nearly thirty years won’t read her stories because they make him blush but is content in the knowledge he’s the inspiration for every one of them.

Valerie currently works as a managing editor for an electronic publisher and is the co-owner of a company that provides editing services for writers.

Valerie Mann

@KrystalShannan Features - Betrayed by Shadows by Nancy Gideon @NancyGideon #pnr

Please welcome Nancy Gideon to the blog today! She has a fabulous character interview for us today!

The best way to get to know a character is to go 

behind the scenes to the people who live with them

 outside the pages of the book.  

Today, I’m interviewing Silas MacCreedy, brother of BETRAYED BY 
SHADOW’s heroine Brigit MacCreedy, and Tina Babineau, friend to hero Giles St. Clair and some would say the catalyst to much of the story’s dangerous intrigues.

NG:     Silas, you’re a detective with the New Orleans police department, right hand man to a former mobster, and part of a secretive Shape-shifter clan. We first met you as the hero of HUNTER OF SHADOWS. What’s your part in all this?
SM:     (Laughs and raises hands) None at all.  I just got married and was trying to get out of the way as quickly as possible. The last thing I need is more intrigue. Don’t blame me for my sister showing up to crash the party. One thing I’ll say for Brigit, she knows how to make an entrance and her timing is always inconvenient.
NG:     Give us a little of your family’s history.
SM:     Our parents were the original Shifter Romeo and Juliet, coming from our two most powerful clans, my mother a Guedry and father part Terriot.  They chose to raise us along with our cousin Kendra outside clan politics and for a while, we were left alone until Bram Terriot decided the way to tip that balance of power was to add to his stable of heirs through my mother. When we refused to give that child, Christina up and hid her from Bram, he had our family killed, all except Brigit, Kendra and me. We were just kids.  He kept us alive to use for leverage as long as we agreed to serve the Terriot clan.
NG:     Doesn’t sound like much of a bargain.
SM:     One does what one has to in order to survive.  And that’s the secret to my sister, Brigit.  She does whatever she needs to do to keep herself and Kendra safe in a very dangerous and unstable situation.  She’s smart and gorgeous and absolutely fearless . . . (laughs) everything that scares a brother to death.
NG:     Some, yourself included, would call her a bit of a manipulative bitch.
SM:     Oh, there’s no question of that.  A fierce, clever bitch who’ll use whatever means necessary to protect those she loves.  She’s had to use her looks and her wits to escape a hell you can’t even imagine.  So give her a break. It’s been the three of us against deadly predators for as long as she can remember.  She doesn’t know how to trust anyone outside our circle. Sure she makes trouble, but never without a reason and mostly for herself. Bree has a tough, prickly outer layer and a soft, sweet center. And someday the right man will be smart enough to figure out how to crack that shell.
NG:     Is Giles St. Clair that man?
SM:     (Chuckles) Could be.  Considering how little respect she has for humans, it would serve her right. He just might slip right under her radar.
NG:     You’ve left her in his care so you must trust him.  Do you think he’s a match for her?
SM:     I think she’s going to be in for a big surprise. Wish I was going to be around to see it.
NG:     Tina, you’re the Christina Silas was talking about, the daughter of Therese MacCreedy and Bram Terriot. How did it feel to discover you had a brother and sister?
TB:      It’s all been such a shock to me.  I never knew I was adopted until that first time Max Savoie came to our house and met my son. There was an undeniable link between them.  He was the one who finally told me the truth about my heritage.
NG:     That you were a Shape-shifter.  How did that make you feel?
TB:      It made sense of the questions I’d had all my life. It explained why my son Oscar was so different. But unfortunately it made problems with my marriage.
NG:     To detective Alain Babineau who is currently Silas’s partner?
TB:      Yes.  He felt so betrayed.  He’s a good man.  He’s tried so hard to be a father to Oscar.
NG:     So Max, who is actually Oscar’s half-brother, took you in and you’re living at his plantation estate.
TB:      For now.  That’s where I met Silas and learned the whole truth about my family.  It was a lot to take in.
NG:     And that’s where you met Giles St. Clair.  I understand he and Silas are more or less running Legere Enterprises International for Max while he’s . . . away. That’s quite a step up for a former knee-breaking thug. Tell me about him.
TB:      Giles is wonderful!  He’s been a great friend to me and a good influence on Oscar. I don’t care what people say about the things he’s done.  He’s a decent, loyal, and big hearted man who would do anything for us. Even though he doesn’t talk about his past, he must have come from a loving family to dote on Ozzie the way he does. He’s made our situation bearable.
NG:     And now your newfound sister Brigit is under the same roof, too.  How’s that going?
TB:      I’ve always wanted a sister and she’s everything I could have asked for – full of life, funny, beautiful.  She’s been everywhere and done things I’ve only dreamed of.  I think we’ll be great friends.  Giles doesn’t trust her but I’ve seen the way he looks at her.  (Smiles) I think it goes both ways.  (Scowls at Silas who has made a doubtful sound) Well, I do.  They’d be good for each other.  They’re both so lonely with so much to give.
SM:     I don’t think you really know my sister or you’d be more cautious.  I know she’s capable of using the both of you for her own purposes and won’t give it a second thought. If she’s here looking for shelter there must be a reason behind it.  And not a good one.
TB:      Then we’ll have to make her think twice, won’t we?
SM:     I wish you luck with that. Brigit never seems to have any unless it’s the bad kind.
TB:      (Smiling)  I’d say it’s time her luck changed. And I think Giles St. Clair is just the one to make that happen.

Balancing a criminal empire and a preternatural clan war, reluctant front man Giles St. Clair doesn’t need a problem like Brigit MacCreedy . . . How much trouble can the head-strong and manipulative Shifter beauty get into in two weeks? Plenty when her schemes range from kidnapping to fleeing the retribution of her dead lover’s clan.

With her family’s lives on the line, Brigit is willing to do whatever it takes to save them. The only thing standing in her way is an immovable stone wall of a man she can’t bully or beguile . . . a human, no less, who has promised to protect her from the secrets and dangers she conceals.

Risking her own safety gets complicated when an honorable and annoyingly desirable man puts himself between her and her powerful enemies in a battle he can’t win in this Taming of the Shrew meets Shifter Goodfellas on the Bayou tale of consequences, redemption and finding love in all the wrong places.

Buy Links: 
Barnes & Noble



Brigit slit her eyes open to the brightness of midmorning. She was alone in the bunk. Harsh-smelling coffee warmed on the hot plate, and Giles was nowhere in sight. Then she heard the unmistakable crack of ax into wood.

Feeling tired and sticky and . . . fabulous, she stretched and reached for the crimson-colored sweatshirt Giles had left folded on the edge of the mattress. Harvard? She slipped it over her head to swim in generous folds that came almost to her knees. Rolling back the cuffs, she found the shoe she’d tucked Boyd’s cell phone into, discouraged to see no message from Silas. She tucked it under the sleeping bag on the top bunk, pushed bare feet into her shoes, and went to pour coffee. Her whole body ached gloriously, making her smile as she stepped out onto the tiny back porch.

Because she could still hear his voice, rough with passion.


Giles had his back to her, splitting wood in the glare of morning light, a beautiful sight in his revealing muscle shirt. Strong, sexy. A light sweat had broken out on his shoulders, gleaming amid scores of scratches, some nearly healed from their passionate tussle in New Orleans and some raw stripes from hours ago. Chagrined, she put a nail trim and manicure on her agenda for the day.

He’d taken the batteries out of the flashlight to power an old cassette player and was timing his swings to the raucous beat of a late-eighties hip-hop tune that probably dated back to days spent here in male bonding. Something ridiculous about Humpty Dumpty dancing? Her gaze followed the suggestive rock and bump of his hips as the sassy backup singers crooned, “Do me, baby.”

Oh, yay. Good idea.

Time to whip up something for breakfast.

She’d taken a step forward, intending to initiate some moves of her own, when the music dialed down and muted as another sound reached her.

The cup fell from her hands, shattering on the wood planking, as all her senses trembled and went taut.

And a single cry ripped from her.

“Giles, behind you!”

Giles spun, continuing his momentum with the ax so it caught his assailant midleap in the upper chest, flinging him to the ground. Even as he wrestled the blade free, his attacker was gaining his feet, falling into a menacing crouch as his lips pulled back from a mouth full of dagger-like teeth.

Alarm became coldly dangerous intentions when he recognized the disfigured Shifter from Brigit’s description.

“Brigit, get inside!”

He didn’t look around to see if she obeyed. There was no time as the creature sprang. 

Driven to the ground on his back, Giles couldn’t angle for another swing as he was forced to grip the ever thickening throat to keep those deadly teeth away from him. A battle he knew he wasn’t going to win as the beast completed its change of form into something monstrous and impossibly strong.

Run, Brigit! That was all he had time to think. Run! 

All he had to do was stay alive long enough for her to get a head start.

There was a deafening report from the porch, and suddenly, the figure hunching over him was plucked off and sent rolling away.

Giles risked a glance toward the cabin to see Brigit with her feet planted wide, his pistol braced in both hands. The pistol he’d wisely loaded with silver rounds.

As he scrambled to his feet, his attacker was gaining his own, obviously struggling not to revert back into humanlike form from the effects of the silver. Brigit’s shot had taken him in the other side of the chest. Giles’s first blow from the ax had already healed. Making him no less lethal as he sprang a second time. No less quick. 

And this time Giles didn’t respond fast enough.

Be sure to enter to win the giveaway 

below on the raffle copter.

Author Bio:

An author of over fifty novels since 1987, Nancy Gideon thrives on variety. Under her own name and several pseudonyms, she’s written award-winning series suspense, historical and paranormal bestsellers, earned a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure”, and has had two original horror screenplays optioned for film. A Michigan native, she works full time as a legal administrative assistant and feeds a NetFlix addiction.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

@KrystalShannan Interviews - Natalie Gibson #pnr

Please help me welcome the fabulous Natalie Gibson to the blog today. She is a wonderful storyteller and I just adore her Book of Sinnis Series. 

Tell us a little about yourself. 
I try to do something a little different, share something new with each one of these I do.  I don't want to have the same author bio cut and pasted in a million different places, though I would love to have my name in a million places!  I am Natalie Gibson, 34 years old, married, with one daughter.  I have a regular 9-5 making home loans.  I started writing Ishtar Bound during my maternity leave almost 5 years ago.  It took me 2 years to write that first book.  I have sped up the process since then.  I wrote 3 books last year and 3 short stories.  I plan to write 3 books and at least 5 short stories this year.  I had a near obsession with paperbacks until my kindle took over.  It's like any other addiction, I guess.  It always escalates, moving to harder and harder stuff.  I love the ease with which I can buy books on my kindle and the secrecy I can enjoy them in.  No more bright pink or swarthy man laden covers being seen and judged by cashiers for this gal.  

Did you always want to be an author?  
I did not, but I always had a great love of reading.  I was often found with my nose in a book between classes when others were flirting and primping.  I am a performer at heart.  I have a BFA from UT Austin with a specialization in classical acting.  As a kid I was always putting on shows and just plain showing off.  I did child versions of comedy stand-up where I told funny stories.  I did write and had much encouragement to continue but it wasn't until later that I discovered my love of writing.  

What made you choose to write romance?  
Easy – Christine Feehan.  I was going through a bad time in my life after college.  My husband (now Ex for almost 10 years) had moved me for his job and I had no one and nothing.  I went to a used book store and tripped over a display for her Dark Series.  I bought one after another as they came out.  I fell in love with paranormal romance with its grand adventure, passionate sex, and overwhelming need to be together and save the world from evil.  It was just what I needed at the time.  I read romance almost exclusively now.  It is a great escape.  I write it because it is what I like to read. I will admit to another reason for starting with it – volume.  People who read romance read more books on average than lovers of other genres.  Romance readers demand high volume.  It is easier to get a following with romance, from what I have seen, though my historical horror is getting a bit of attention now.

What is your favorite part of being a writer/author?  
Writing.  I am a god in the worlds I create.  I create a world, a mythos, and then put people (who I also create) in that, bound by laws, subjected to extreme situations and desires, given great gifts or trials, and then see what they do.  I love every second of it.  

Tell us a little about your book. What inspired you to write it?  
I actually have quite a few books.  My Sinnis Series is my baby.  Ishtar Bound is the first book I ever wrote (and the third, fourth and fifth with all of the total rewrites).  All kinds of things inspire me to write: a daydream, a night dream, a memory, a good read, a bad read, a song...
The Sinnis Series is my first attempt to combine the elements I enjoy in a good read: action, adventure, magic, mystery, romance and racy sex. They are all for mature readers only. Please do not purchase or read if you are under 18 years of age.
The Daughters of Women is a secret order of magical adepts, each with abilities granted to them from their mother's bloodlines. Some will be, and some will give birth to Sinnis, a generation bound to an ancient race of men they call Guardians, the Nephilim. They are half men, half gods with mysterious abilities of their own. Their complex mental camouflage keeps them out of the thoughts of others, memory of their faces and names fading the moment they leave.

Veil of Ishtar, Book 5 of Sinns will be available on Amazon February 16th.  Here is the blurb...

The Daughters of Women have all become pretty confident with the Nephilim living amongst them, if not comfortable.  The days of being stunned and surprised by their nature and hungers are long gone. No one bats an eye when a new demi-god swoops in and claims Christy.  Belial all but says she is his Sinnis, the woman he's been waiting for over ten thousand years.  When Belial isn't muddling her mind with his allure, the one Christy really yearns for seems to be a real life monster.  Imendand looks like an Akhkharu, a betrayer of his kind, a Nephilim who has drank the blood and feasted on the flesh of his brother.  

Now the veil between this world and that of the gods of old has been torn and it looks like Christy is the only one who can repair it.  Even if she knew how seal the portal, Imendand waits outside her shield for the second she drops her guard or steps over the line.

Does Belial love her or is he just using her?  What interest does Imendand have in her?  Will the Shinar come through the tear in the veil and consume all life on earth or can Christy, with no mentor, no training, and no help, do the impossible?  How can she when the life of every human to come within ten feet of the tear is absorbed?

Forget everything you think you know about Nephilim and their Sinnis, grab a copy of this much anticipated installment, and get settled in.  Book 5 of Sinnis will keep you guessing. 

I can't wait!!!

Do you plot and outline or do you just write?  Plotter or Pantser? 
Oh goodness, I am such a list maker.  I plan the hell out of a piece before I ever write a word.  I use spreadsheets and old school outlines.  I use a modified snowflake method that seems to work for me.  My technique is always evolving but I am most definitely a Plotter.

Can you tell us about the process of getting your first book published? 
Ishtar Bound was rejected many times, as well it should have been, before I decided it was good enough to self publish.  I sent it before it was ready and most publishers won't look a piece twice even if it has been totally rewritten and most don't want to see the second in a series, so I kinda screwed myself there.  Self publishing has been wonderful, though slow going.  Marketing is hard work and complicated to figure out. I struggle with getting my books in front of the right audience without the help of a publisher.  I am currently going through the process of having all my works re-edited and redesigned.  

What advice would you give new authors?  What have you learned about the business? 
Yikes, I am the last person to give advice.  I write.  I am very bad at the business part.  They say to build a base, a platform, a market, before putting your book out there.  Instead, I put 5 books and 3 short stories out in my first year before I even had a website or facebook page.  Don't be like me is the advice I would offer. 

Do you have another book in the works? 
Book 5 of Sinnis, Veil of Ishtar, will be out on February 16th, so that is past the stage where I am actually working on it.  It is in the hands of others in the design stage.  

I just finished a Sinnis Short Story that will be put on my website as free content once that is up and running in March.

I am writing Wretched Blood, the second in the Carrier Trilogy, follow up to Hateful Burden.  It is not romantic in the least, though Hateful Burden did start out that way.  It grew into something else and I let it.  Boy am I glad.  It is a gaslight era horror/psychological thriller with a paranormal twist.  I am quite proud of it and am having a blast writing the second. It will be available this summer.

The last and final Book of Sinnis is planned and waiting for me to get to it at the end of the year.

I have a stand alone vampire novel all planned out to be available by mid year.

I also have a few more Mount Haven Quickies planned for this year too.

What do you like to do in your free time, besides read and write of course? 
I don't have time for much else.  My 4 year old daughter takes up what little time is left.  We read and do crafts.  I always have such grand craft ideas but they NEVER look as good in reality as they did in my mind.  Luckily, 4 year olds don't care.  They just want to make something and get messy doing it. 

Where do you dream of going on vacation? 
I do make time for vacation.  We do something every year.  I take mini vacations with my husband for romance.  We live very close to Shreveport, LA and just took a birthday trip to the boats for a little gambling fun.  At one point I hit 800, then 650 and 650!  I was playing penny slots so it wasn't much money but that machine still jangled a whole helluva lot!  We went to Walt Disney World last year for 11 days.  It was my 13th WDW vacation, my daughter and husband's second.    I freaking love that place and I start planning my next visit before I am home.  I love to cruise.  It is so simple and carefree.  We want to go to Alaska.  Dream Vacation: I want to pub crawl in London, ride the train across Europe, see the ruins of Rome, eat cheese and drink coffee on a sidewalk in Paris.  

Boxers or Briefs? 
Boxer briefs – you know the boy shorts kind that end in a straight line across the thigh but also highlight the package?  I think I've said too much. 
Cookies or cake? 
CAKE! - cake is magical, liquid to solid with just a little heat, fluffy and moist and sweet.  A little icing only.  I scrape off most of it.
Pizza or hamburger? 
Beer, Wine, or mixed drink? 
Mixed drink.  I like an ice cold Bloody Mary extra spicy and I'll take a Cosmopolitan any day of the week.  I cannot stomach alcohol mixed with milk or cream at ALL.  It makes me think of curdled milk and I always barf.  If I am stuck I go with simple two ingredient drinks – i.e. vodka cranberry, screwdriver.  I also enjoy a dark, dark, not too carbonated stout or porter if I have fries and curry ketchup to go with it.

Natalie is offering 1 ebook from her backlist to five lucky commenters. Enter in the raffle copter below. Be sure to leave an email so we can contact you.

Also, check out my review of Book 1-4 of Sinnis on Satin Sheets Romance Review!

Where to find you @

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Krystal Shannan Features - Garden of Sorrow by Dale Mayer @dalemayer #cblspromos #suspense #pnr

Garden of Sorrow (Psychic Visions #4)
by Dale Mayer
Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Published by Valley Publishing (Indie)
Release Date: December 3, 2012
Heat Level: Steamy
Length: 330 pages

Available at…

Her world is in chaos. His world is in order. She wants to help the innocent. He wants to catch the guilty. But someone is trying to make sure that neither gets what they want.

Alexis Gordon has spent the last year trying to get over the loss of her sister. Then she goes to work on a normal day...and reality as she knows it...disappears.

Detective Kevin Sutherland, armed with his own psychic abilities, recognizes her gift and calls in his friend Stefan Kronos, a psychic artist and law enforcement consultant, to help her develop her skills. But Kevin has never seen anything like this case - a killer with a personal vendetta to stop Alexis from finding out more about him...and his long dead victims.

The killer can be stopped. He must be stopped. But he's planning on surviving...even after death.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language which may be considered offensive to some readers.

"Ouch." A thin stream of red oozed up from her mud-covered fingers. Whatever that thing was, it had scratched her palm. She stared at the surrounding puddle. Where had it gone? There, beside her right foot. Alexis leaned over for a closer look. 

It couldn't be.

Several voices called down to her. She ignored them, and tugged the muddy piece free. Blowing away several strands of hair blocking her view, she swished the item around in the rainwater and managed to clean off most of the dirt. 

Small, white and with a distinctive shape, it resembled a bone. More like several tiny bones barely connected by stiff mud. And oh, God… It looked like…a finger

Ice settled into her spine. She held a finger. 

A tiny finger. 

A child's finger, still wearing a toy ring.

Her fingers tightened around the bones. Her insides warred to keep the precious item safe while another part of her wanted to throw it far away from her.

Then something changed. 

Dizziness and nausea fought for supremacy as her vision blurred. Disoriented, she wavered as the ditch before her suddenly lengthened and narrowed, morphing into an interior hallway.

Alexis froze, her horrified gaze locked on the changing scene.

Dear God, what was going on? Her mind raced to sort out the change. How had the dirt bank turned to gray paint? And the sewer smell smothered by heavy cooking odors? Fried chicken? 

Where was she? 

Alexis stared down the hallway. A young child, caught inside this peculiar scenario, stumbled toward her with both hands clasped over her ears. Tears streamed down her young face, and her t-shirt was inches above the dirty shorts. Bruises decorated her lower legs, and well…dirt covered the rest of her. As if she'd recently been playing in a dirt pile. Alexis tried to run to her, to hug her tight, to protect her…only to find she couldn't move. Her feet were paralyzed in place. Terror filled her heart.  

She opened her mouth to scream. No sound came out.

Run. The scream seared through her mind.

Dimly in the background, loud crashes and yelling could be heard, as if someone gave chase. Fear of retribution accentuated every step the distraught child took. The sound and tone distorted.

Alexis shuddered. Tears clogged her throat and pain choked her heart. 

"Alexis. Alex? Alex!"

Scott's alarmed voice pulled at her from outside the vision that held her transfixed. Caught between two realities, Alexis jerked toward Scott, the object dropping from her fingers.

Instantly, the hallway disappeared. 

It was if a vacuum sucked the dirt walls back into place, with a rush so powerful it forced Alexis to lean forward. Then as if caught in a giant rubber band, the force suddenly released, to throw her into reverse. She flew backwards and landed, once again, on her butt in the middle of the large puddle. 

Her gut screamed and bile tried to escape her throat. She shuddered. What the hell had just happened? She swallowed convulsively, willing her breakfast to stay down. Tremors started at her toes and rattled up her spine. 

"Alexis, damn it. Answer me!" Scott demanded.

"I – I'm fine." Was that croaking her voice? The finger... Where was it? More than a little daunted by the prospect of touching it again, she remained seated and eyed the surrounding mud. 


It rested on the muddy surface…waiting for her.

Eerie. She hated to touch it again, the last experience too horrific to repeat. She reached for it, but her fingers shook so badly she stopped. Yet, she couldn't force herself to leave it behind. Compromising, she pulled a tissue from her pocket and gingerly picked it up. 

The size bothered her. The vague image of the running child from a few moments ago slammed back. Ruthlessly, she pushed the vision out of her mind. She couldn't even begin to analyze what had happened. It had been way too weird. Alexis focused on what was important right this moment. Where there was a finger…

She studied the high expanse of dirt wall. She dimly remembered digging her fingers into the bank on her downward tumble. But how high up had that been? The ditch stood eight to ten feet deep.

"Here's the ladder, Alexis," Scott said as Mike, another coworker arrived with the ladder. Scott held the long metal structure several feet off to the side. 

"No!" she motioned. "Please, bring it over here. Where I fell in."

Scott shrugged and the two moved the ladder to the right spot. 

Alexis struggled to position it the best she could near her original flight path. Once the ladder was secured, she moved upward, one rung at a time. At each new level, she stopped and searched. The bone had to have come from somewhere. 

"Oh, for the love of God. Alexis, what are you doing?" Scott peered over the ladder at her.

Alexis didn't answer. What could she say? Three, maybe four feet from the top, a speck of white caught her eye. Reaching between the ladder rungs, she gently brushed some of the dirt away. Another bone, possibly another finger. Vomit lined her throat. She rested her forehead against the steel frame of the ladder for a long moment.

"Scott?" Her hands squeezed the ladder tight. She kept her voice low.

"Yes, beautiful. What's going on?" He crouched down for a better look, but he was at the wrong angle. 

"Are there any police close by?" She cleared her throat, tears suddenly clogging her throat. Willing him to not ask her any questions. "If not, go get one – now."

Startled, Scott stared at her for a brief moment before disappearing from sight, his heavy footsteps fading rapidly. Mike held the ladder steady. Alexis rested her head against a rung, and waited with her arm wrapped around one side of the ladder. The steel dug into her forehead as she realized something important.

This wasn't just a ditch. This was a grave. 

5.0 out of 5 stars--BEST of the Psychic Visions Books
“I've been a fan of this series ever since I read Tuesday's Child. The whole concept of psychics who work alongside police and rescuers and use their talents to tap into victims and killers really grabbed me. Because of their psychic abilities, these people are special and yet are often outsiders to society, trying to fit in. This is #4 (I think) in the series, and it's the best so far. with one, platonic with the other--no menages in this book!) and endearing. If you've read the earlier books, you'll remember Stefan and he's more central in this story. I rate it as a Must Read.”--Amy Atwell "Getting To The Heart of the Story"

5.0 out of 5 stars--Fantastic!!
“Wow! Dale Mayer has done it again. I've read this whole series and it is exceptional. This is the fourth book in the series (I hope there will be many more) and I think it's the best one yet. I love a book that pulls you in and this one definitely does that. Be prepared to read it from cover to cover in one sitting. A definite MUST read.”--BizzyBee

5.0 out of 5 stars--Dale Does IT Again! Another Page Turner
“I've been a student of intuitive development for ten years, and this book could be an instruction manual - boldly going where no one has gone before. Great plot. Great suspense. The characters are realistic. The crime is real. The author's compassion for humanity shows through in this page turning novel. I didn't want it to end. I WANT MORE. Gimme more!”--Angelika Love "A Love"

Prize is 15 eBook copies of "Garden of Sorrow" (1 each to 15 winners). Contest is tour-wide, open internationally and ends Feb 4. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Enter to win by commenting and through the rafflecopter below.

About the Author
Dale Mayer is a prolific multi-published writer. She's best known for her Psychic Visions series. Besides her romantic suspense/thrillers, Dale also writes paranormal romance and crossover young adult books in several different genres.  To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series . All her books are available in print format as well.

Connect with Dale Mayer:

Psychic Visions Series
Tuesday's Child (Book 1)
Hide'n Go Seek (Book 2)
Maddy's Floor (Book 3)
Garden of Sorrow (Book 4)

Single Title Romantic Suspense/thrillers
Touched by Death

It's a Dog's Life (Romantic Comedy)

Young Adult Books
In Cassie's Corner
Dangerous Designs (Designs, Book 1)
Deadly Designs (Designs, Book 2)
Vampire in Denial (Blood Ties, Book 1)
Vampire in Distress (Blood Ties, Book 2)
Gem Stone (Gemma Stone Mysteries, Book 1)

Non-Fiction Books
Career Essentials: The Resume
Career Essentials: The Cover Letter
Career Essentials: The Interview
Career Essentials: 3 in 1
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