Friday, September 15, 2017

What's up with me?

Life has been crazy this summer. Lots of working at the public job and not so much working at the writing job. I miss it tremendously, but what's a girl to do when she's gotta make the money? I'm still writing sporadically, but not as regularly as I'd like to be. By the time I get home from work and school pickup it's time to make dinner, get showers done, and settle down for the evening. My main writing day is every Friday (since I'm off work), but that day seems to be full of all the errands, chores, and phones calls I couldn't get done during the week. Ugh! It's extremely frustrating when I just want to sit down and write.

Speaking of school... my kids started back to school on September 5th. This year I have a middle schooler and a senior in high school, not to mention the oldest who is still in college. This time next year I'll have two in college. Eek!! I don't even know how that happened so quickly!

Over the last 6 months I've:

  • Had a breast cancer scare, plus biopsy, 
  • Started the new job, 
  • Learned a LOT about that new job, 
  • Put my 17yr old through oral surgery to expose a tooth that wouldn't come out of the gum and put a braces bracket on it, 
  • Joined a gym & go 3-5 days a week
  • Endured the 1yr anniversary of my mom's passing
  • Had to slow down on the writing in order to accommodate all of the above.
On the upside, I was able to pay off my husband's car several months early & my middle daughter's braces will be paid off in just 2 more payments. Woohoo!!  Unfortunately, on the braces front, I have one more daughter to put through them as soon as these are paid off.  LOL! Ugh.

Sooooooo, that's what I've been up to lately. It's a lot of craziness, but it is what it is. 

Lots of love to all of you wonderful readers. I am still working on Liz Baker's next book, but it's going slower than I had hoped. Please hang in there and I promise I'll keep you guys informed as the process moves forward. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer is coming to an end.

Here we go again! Summer is coming to a close and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. A lot of schools around the country have already started back, but our county doesn't start until the day after Labor Day. Therefore, my kids have three more weeks to do stay up late, have no schedule, and watch way too much YouTube.

We've had a lot of rain this summer, making it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities, like swimming. Our pool is constantly being cleaned because of the rain, and now the nighttime temps are dropping into the 70's. Thus, pulling the pool's water temp down into uncomfortable zones for me. I like my water to be at least 80 degrees, and if it's below that it makes my (warning: sounding like an old lady here) legs hurt. And that's no fun. :( So it won't be long before I have to close it up for the winter because it'll be more cleaning and less swimming. So what's the point?

On the upside, the kids will be back in school and back on their schedules. I won't have to worry about them waking Tim up during the day while I'm at work (he works nights), or have the teenager running all over creation with her boyfriend because I'm not there to say "Whoa there, missy."

Speaking of the kids: my oldest is still in college; my middle will be starting her senior year in high school; and the youngest is heading into middle school. Eek! This time next year I'll have two in college!! That's just crazy to imagine, but....

It means I'll finally be getting my very own private office!! Woohoo! I can't wait to move all my book stuff into one room. I'm looking forward to having a room where I can close the door and get my writing done without as many interruptions. All my cover art will decorate the walls. Bookshelves will be plentiful. My desk will be an actual desk instead of the kitchen table. I'm already planning paint colors, a new ceiling fan, and even window treatments. I'm still trying to decide if I want to rip up the carpet and put down hardwood to match the rest of the house. But, hey, at least I have time to think about it. LOL!

Overall, things are going well in the Silvers' household. I even added to my tattoo collection over the summer. If you're on my Instagram you've probably already seen it.  ;)  I hope you're all having a great week and that the weeks to come bring you peace and happiness.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Not an August Release After All

As most of my loyal readers know, I'm working on the 7th installment of my Liz Baker series. I've already released one full length book and a short story this year, and I have the goal of releasing this new Liz book, as well as getting started on the 2nd Penny book. My hope was to release in August and then jump right into the Penny book, with hopes of releasing in December or January.

Welllll, it looks like an August release is a no-go. Things have been a bit hectic around the Silvers homestead lately and my writing time has fallen by the wayside. Work has kept me busier than usual; the kids being out of school has prevented weekend writing; and then there's the stress of Mr. Christie working stupid night shift and finding time to spend together. Oh, and add on that my middle daughter turned 17 last week and is about to enter her senior year of high school. We're already working on college applications and SAT scores (this time next year I'll have two in college), while getting ready for her braces to come off so I can get braces on the youngest.

Needless to say, I'm struggling with finding writing time lately.

Can you tell I'm stressed the f**k out?

On the upside... I'm happy. Much happier than last year when I was still avidly mourning my mom's passing. So much has changed in the last year. I'm proud of my kids and looking forward to the middle one going to college. And an added bonus is I'll finally get the office I've always wanted when that happens. I'm looking forward to making it allllll mine! Also, I've been going to the gym religiously for almost 2 months now and I'm feeling fantastic! I love it! I've met my first weight loss goal and am closing in on the second one. I'm telling people that I've lost the baby weight from baby #3 and #2, and now I'm working off the weight from baby #1. She's almost 21 years old, but you know...  LOL!

Overall, it's a crazy time around here, and I'm hoping it will calm down soon, but in the meantime I am working in small spurts when I have the opportunity (like today) and even though the book won't release in August, I'm optimistic it will release this year. All you Liz fans out there stay positive and be on the lookout for future updates.

Lots of love to you all!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Trials of a Book Series

So, I've come to realize that picking up a series after two years leaves a massive need to reread all the books that came before. I'm working on book 7 in the Liz Baker series and realized I've forgotten a lot of the small details. I have a character database, but apparently I wasn't as detailed as I should have been. Not to mention, all the plots and subplots that are still working their way through the series. EEK!

I sat down and went through my notes on each book, but those aren't as helpful as you'd think since a lot time my stories take their own twists and turns... away from my notes. I'm really going to have to sit down, starting with book 1, and go through each on making new notes of what came before. I'd hate to disappoint readers by contradicting what was said in one book, or by not tying up loose ends before the series is over. And I certainly don't want to change the descriptions of all the hotties in those books. Heck no!

And here's where you guys come in.....

If you saw a plot or subplot in one of the books that you feel hasn't already been addressed or finished, please, let me know. If there's a character you'd like to see more of, of possibly know more about, let me know. Email me, message me on Facebook, or leave a comment here. One way or another I'll see your message and see what I can do about addressing you suggestion. In the meantime, I'm going back to the previous books to see what I can dig up. And maybe a better database is in order in case this problem arises again.  :D

Friday, July 7, 2017

Too Much Rain

Image from Ekaterina Boym-Medler
I don't about where you live, but we've had so much rain lately in North Georgia that I feel like I'm going to float away. I've screamed in frustration and huffed in desperation several times over the last few weeks. The many acres of land we have needs to be mowed and trimmed. The chicken yard is so muddy and gross, and needs a new layer of dry leaves for the hens to enjoy, but I can't do it with all the rain. The water level in our pool is maxed out due to all the rain, and boy is it hard to keep clean when it it storms twenty minutes after I've shocked it (in hopes of swimming the next day). I've literally been in my pool ONE TIME since we opened it in May. UGH!

This past weekend I got 5 days off from the day job due to Independence Day and my hubby got 3 days off. It... Rained... Every... Freaking... Day!!!  We mowed a lot of sopping wet grass over several days. A task that usually takes us 1 day when we do it together.

And to beat it all, it'll be bright and sunny during the hours of 9am & 1-2pm, but as soon as I'm supposed to get off work at 2:30pm the skies open up and it rains the rest of the day. However, today I'm off work, but had to take my car for an oil change. I woke up to a nasty rainstorm, drove to and from my oil change in light showers, came home to spend some time with the hubby before he went to bed for the day (he's a night shifter...YUCK!), and now it's bright and sunny out there. *FacePalm*

Can you hear the frustration in my words? I certainly feel it.

Screw it... I'm going to go do some writing! That always makes me happy.

I hope you're all staying dry and enjoying your summer. :)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Liz Baker Series Book 7 Under Way

So, as many of you know, I'm currently working on the seventh book in my Liz Baker series. I just started this one so I'm still fleshing out the ideas and plot points, but I finally wrote that first sentence (and page), and I know where the first chapter is going. Woohoo!

I'm not much of a planner when it comes to my stories. I start with a general idea of what I want to say and where I want the characters to end up at, and then I fill in the blanks one page at a time. Sometimes the characters do what I plan for them to do, and then other times they scoff at my ideas and go wherever the hell they want to go whether I want them to or not. I tried planning out an entire book once, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, with the ending ready and waiting for me to get the words on paper. And then my characters had other plans...

Nothing I planned happened! The characters laughed at me, pointed and called me names as they moved about the story line at their own pace and did whatever they wanted to do. That's when I knew I wasn't a planner when it comes to my books. The characters won't allow it.

As for Liz Baker, I've had the opening to book 7 in my head since the end of book 6. I knew how I wanted it to begin, and all I had to do was get back to this series and start writing. It's the rest of the story I don't know yet. LOL!  Thankfully though, Liz is a strong-willed character and she will eventually show me the way of her world once more.

It's been a while since book 6 came out at the end of 2014. Eek! I didn't even realize it has been that long until I just typed that. Wow! I've had a crazy few years. Nonetheless, I've already released a new book and a short story this year, and Liz's new story is next up. I'm hoping (fingers crossed & powerful magic dust everywhere) this story will release in late August/early September. If it all works out, that will leave me just enough time to get to the second book in my Penny Montague series before 2017 is over.

Wish me luck & keep reading!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The hardest part of writing...

Over the years, I've heard all sorts of "hard things" about writing from both authors and people who want to be authors, and every one of them has a different "hard thing" that trips them up. Some people tell me they can have a great idea, but don't know or can't figure out how to get it on paper. Then others have told me they can start strong, but the story falters and they never finish it. While even others have mentioned they can get the beginning and end perfect, but it's the middle that trips them up.

For me, the hardest part of writing comes down to two sentences: the first one and the last one.

The first sentence of a new story is the one that needs to entice a reader. It has to bring you into the story enough that you want to read the next one, and the next one, and the next one. It has to make you wonder what will happen next, or how the main character got to where they are in that first line of their story. That's why a lot of writers say staring at a blank first page gives them pause. How do I begin this? I know what the story is, but how to I start it?

Secondly, the last sentence in a story needs to tie up the entire book? It needs to supply a fulfillment to the reader. This one is a completion of the story, yet, if it's a series, needs to lead into the next book. It needs to satisfy the reader. Is this enough information? Is it too much? Will the reader understand? Or have I just pissed everyone off with a cliffhanger? Eek!

These are just a few things that go through my mind when I start and end a story. Right now I'm battling with a blank first page of my next story. I've done research and written plenty of notes, tips, scene ideas, and random sentences, but I haven't gotten the actual first line on virtual paper. Once it comes to me the stories usually flow quickly and smoothly, but it's a matter of getting those few words written.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sorrow Meets Death is live!

The day has finally arrived! Sorrow Meets Death is live and ready for all of you to read. It's a short story that links Liz Baker and Penny Montague together for future series stories. This short is available for download for FREE on my website here.

This story is meant to be read after Devastating Sorrow, so make sure you're all caught up with the first book in the Penny Montague series before starting this one.

I hope you enjoy this little snippet into the lives of these two women. Next up will be the 7th installment of the Liz Baker series. Be on the lookout for it later in the year.


Liz is a small town bar owner who doesn't know much about the supernatural creatures outside the ones who keep coming to her own town.
Penny is an immortal witch who sensed something interesting the last time she was in this small Georgia town.
What happens when these two meet each other for the first time? Trouble, of course.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Goodbye, My Love Blog Tour - Maggie Tideswell

Today's post is a little different than my usual ones. This week I'm hosting a fellow author during the blog tour for her upcoming new release Goodbye, My Love, coming May 29th and available for pre-order on

So let's get started...

Roxanne's Ghost Saga, a new mystery series from internationally acclaimed author Maggie Tideswell, is set against the stunningly beautiful backdrop of modern day South Africa. It is a compelling ghost story of identical twin sisters’ love for the same man, and the magical connection the women share.  

And the theme?  Nothing is what it seems.  

Here, we move into the realms of the mists of time that could either reveal or conceal. 

Book 1, Goodbye, My Love, sets the scene. It introduces country vet, Ben, his four-year-old autistic daughter and the would-be nanny, Jessica James. Jess’ interview with Ben for the nanny position takes place on Friday the 13th. An attraction between the two is immediate, which by all accounts isn't entirely normal.  

Ben's three oddball sisters-in-law descend on him for the anniversary of his wife Roxanne's death. They try to convince Ben that Roxanne isn't dead, more than likely to put an end to whatever might develop between Ben and Jessica. But Ben knows that no one could have survived what led to Roxanne’s death. 

His daughter, diagnosed as autistic, only sometimes does she display the symptoms that led to her diagnosis. Autism is not a disease, it's a condition. A condition with symptoms that can't be turned on and off at will. So…what is the child really suffering from? 

Ben's wife's twin sister, Millicent, is accompanied by an over-board caricature of a psychic to Ben's home in order to help them find Roxanne. Of course, Millicent isn't happy to find Jess already in Ben's house—trouble is imminent. But only as far as Ben's ancient housekeeper, will allow her to. What does the housekeeper know that will keep Millicent's ruffled feathers under control? 

More importantly… 

Where is Roxanne? 


Does anyone live here?  

The house looked deserted, kind of spooky. Jess couldn’t see any other houses nearby. Sally had not been kidding—this was a rather isolated place.  

Dilapidated outbuildings behind the sprawling house looked as unused as the house itself. Some sort of creeper covered most of the buildings except the house—it looked far too fragile to bear the added weight. 

There were what looked like turrets on each end of the house, and a domed one in between. That might be a skylight. Jess worried her bottom lip. What century was this place built?  

Lightning played over the majestic mountains behind the house, silhouetting it against the darkening sky, but down here in the valley, the late sun cast long shadows over the overgrown garden.  

It all fit so well with Friday the thirteenth, because this was creepy. What had she been thinking? She should have postponed the interview until Monday. One weekend surely wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. 

Jess studied the map on her tablet, which she held propped up against the steering wheel. This could be the right place, but she had thought that about both the previous two places, and neither had turned out to be Weltevreden. Neither had been as eerie as this place, either. 

No, this couldn’t be it. Tapping her finger against the edge of the tablet, she studied the house again. This whole thing smacked of a Friday the thirteenth Sally-prank. 

Sally, her bestie since high school, ran a very successful employment agency. The professional image notwithstanding, she still loved pranks of any kind—she would never outgrow them.  

Her eyes had lit up that morning when Jess sat in front of her desk, mugs of coffee steaming on the polished wood between them. The platter of doughnuts had been for Jess’ benefit. Sally and her perpetual dieting. 

“Something different,” Sally mused, tapping her pen against her front teeth, then pressed a button on her laptop, and reached for the sheet of paper the printer spewed out. “This might be just the thing. It came in just now.” She’d tossed her platinum curls over her shoulder, grinning at Jess. 

Another thing Sally would never outgrow, her Barbie-doll looks. 

“It has my name on it, then.” Jess leaned her forearms on Sally’s desk. “Tell me, tell me, tell me.” She grinned back, barely able to contain her excitement. “Does it involve a man?”  

Neither Sally nor Jess had found their Mr. Full Potential yet, although both had been ready for wedded bliss, the kids and the house in the suburbs thing, a long time ago. 

“As a matter of fact it does, but he doesn’t seem to be in the market. It says here that a nanny is required for a four-year-old autistic girl. Dr. Arnold specifically requested that only older women be put forward for the position.” 

“How old-fashioned. Where is this job?” 

“In the Wellington area.” Sally frowned at the monitor. 

“There you go. He won’t find anybody qualified to work that far from Cape Town. It is his child, I presume?”  

“It is, but do you seriously want to give this a go?” Sally looked worried as only she could. It went with the Barbie look.  “I’m intrigued. What kind of doctor is he?” 

“A veterinary surgeon. And a widower, it says here. That is all the information I have for you, I’m afraid.” Sally sat back in her chair. “I shouldn’t disregard so specific an instruction, Jess, but just this once, I’ll make an exception. Then it’s up to you to change his mind for him. It’ll be in his own best interest in the end.” She passed an information sheet across the desk. “I’ll tell Dr. Arnold to expect you at four. I’d pack an overnight bag if I were you. Call me, okay?” 

Now, sitting in front of the house that might or might not belong to Dr. Ben Arnold, Jess didn’t feel all that confident anymore. And it didn’t really sound like a prank, unless Sally had kept some information to herself. 

There was only one way to find out, and that was to knock on the door and ask.  

If there was anybody in the house to ask. 

Switching the engine off, she consulted the rear-view mirror to apply some color to her lips and pat her shoulder length bob into place. She took a moment to admire the rich auburn color in the late afternoon sunshine and sighed. 

I don’t know about this. It was a long way from Cape Town. 

What did people do around here for fun? 

Trying her best to ignore the goose bumps on her forearms, she opened the car door and stepped out. Her heels sank into the gravel, her shadow stretching all the way back to the gate.  

Only when she turned toward the house did she see the man sitting on the top step in the shadows, his shoulder against the railing, one knee pulled up with his arm resting on top of it. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and it looked as if his feet were bare, too. 

Was he there a moment ago? Why didn’t I see him? 

Smoothing her palms down her red pencil skirt, she started toward the house and the man on the steps. If he wasn’t Dr. Arnold, maybe he could give her directions. 

Taking a deep breath, Jess reminded herself that she wasn’t superstitious about this Friday the thirteenth nonsense. People liked to scare themselves with the silliest things. What was supposed to happen on this day? It was a day like any other.  

That certainly looked like a real man on the steps. He wasn’t going to bite her. Today being a Friday and the thirteenth meant nothing, but now that she’d thought of it, the idea would stick with her like the taste of garlic. 

Leaving the car door open for a quick escape should she need it, she’d gone no more than a few steps when she heard something other than the crunch of her shoes on the gravel. It sounded suspiciously like a dog whining.  

She slowly turned her head, curling her fingers into the fabric of her skirt. It couldn’t be a dog. She hadn’t seen any dogs when she drove through the gate. 

I don’t do dogs!  

Her breath hitched in her throat when she saw them. They were right next to her car, beside the door she’d deliberately left open, a whole pack of them. Their lips curled away from their teeth, their tongues lolling out the sides of their mouths, dripping saliva onto the gravel. Yellowish eyes watched every move she made.  

Where did they come from?   

How many were there?   

They cut her off from the safety of the Fiesta!  

Now she had only one way to go—into that house. Why hadn’t that man called them off? Why wasn’t he helping her? 

Slowly, making no sudden moves, she took another step toward the porch. The dogs followed her. Her heart hammered against her ribs. Another couple of quick steps toward the house. The dogs did the same. She broke into a trot, her scream shattered the still of the afternoon.  

Missing the first step, she stumbled, recovered her balance, and took the rest of the stairs two at a time. The dogs were on her heels, whining and yelping, their breaths hot on the backs of her legs. 
Just as a sharp whistle rent the air, but looking at the dogs, she careened into the man before the noise had even died down. Her momentum sent them both crashing to the floorboard. She landed on top of him, but with the dogs all around them, she hid her face in his neck. Another whistle— right in her ear—made her cringe, but the dogs were gone.  

He lifted his head off the floorboards to glare at her, his hands at her waist, as if he was about to lift her off him. Stubble covered his jaw, his lips pressed into a tight line. A muscle jumped in his cheek. He dragged his eyes out of her gaping blouse to meet her stare. 

They had to be the greenest pair of eyes she’d ever seen, and he was clearly not amused.  
Then she noticed how much leg was exposed by her skirt bunched around her hips and she quickly scrambled to her feet, pushing her skirt back down her legs.  

“Sorry,” she muttered, her face on fire. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, but from the corner of her eye, she saw the stranger slowly unfold himself from the floor. Up and up he went, until she felt him looking down at her. Even in her heels, the top of her head barely reached his nose.  
With fists on his hips, he glared at her. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she lifted her chin and stared back.  

Despite her bravado, she was intimidated and she had no idea if she had reason to be. She didn’t have a clue who he was. For all she knew, he was a vagrant taking advantage of an abandoned house.  
She quickly looked him up and down, hoping he wouldn’t notice. A vagrant—looking like that? This man looked too strong, too well-fed, and clean, to be homeless. He smelled good too, of soap and sunshine. Wide shoulders tapered to a flat stomach and slim hips in a pair of well-washed denim cutoffs. The button was undone and the zipped half down. And he had a hard-on! 

Jess swallowed with difficulty, forcing her eyes to the garden. Maybe he was the gardener or something. 

If he was the gardener, he wasn’t very good at it, judging by the state of the place. The flowerbeds were overgrown with weeds, and grass seeds reached for the sky. With a bit of care, it could be a rather pleasant garden.  

Her attention whipped back to the man when he spoke. “What’s wrong with you, woman? Those are lap dogs.” His voice was deep, the timbre vibrating on her skin. “They thought you were playing with them.”  

She’d forgotten about the dogs. Erections did that to her, they made her forget everything else. She took another look at the animals. There were only four of them, and now that they were at a safe distance and there was a man on hand whom they seemed to obey, they didn’t look all that fierce, or even very big. By panicking, she’d unnecessarily gotten them both in a rather embarrassing situation. 

The veranda was shadowed, despite the lightning dancing over the mountains, yet the peeling paint was clearly visible. She should ask this man for directions so that she could be on her way, but at that moment her nose itched and she sneezed instead. She just barely managed to get her hand across her nose. The dust from the floorboards, and she most likely had it all over her face now. She needed to freshen up before she met with Dr. Arnold. Rubbing her hands over her face was probably making matters worse.  

“Bless you,” the man said, his jaw clenched. “Explain yourself.” Fists planted on his hips, his bare chest rose and fell. Jess’ fingers itched to test the contours more fully before she realized that the man was actually angry. 

Who was he? And what was he so angry about? Knocking him over had been an accident, which he could have avoided it if he’d controlled the animals sooner. His annoyance didn’t stop him from giving her a thorough inspection, though.  

Barely suppressing the urge to stamp her foot, Jess snapped, “Those animals should be locked up.” The hand she pointed at the dogs was streaked with dust. Dropping it, she rubbed at the smudge with her other hand.  

“They were, until a few minutes ago. When the visitor I expected didn’t show up, I let them out again. Who are you and what do you want?”  

“How rude!” Jess gasped. “Do you welcome all visitors half naked?” His arousal was disturbing her.  

“Uninvited visitors never come into the yard,” he growled. He knew she knew about his condition. 

“That’s what the clinic entrance is for. And I’m not half naked, I’m shirtless because I took it off when my visitor failed to show up for her four o’clock appointment. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot. If you’re Jessica James, you’re way too late—”  

“The directions weren’t very clear,” she interrupted. “I got lost.” Hesitating only a moment, she stuck her hand out to him. “You’re Dr. Arnold?”  

He ignored her hand and question, reaching instead for the shirt draped over the railing behind him and shrugged it on. Doctor or not, the man has no manners. 

Buttoning the shirt, he leaned in closer. “So, it’s my fault you can’t follow a set of simple instructions? Look, miss, you might as well go back to wherever you came from. The position has been filled. Good day.” He started to turn away.  

“What? When? I had an interview for this afternoon!” 

He glanced at his wristwatch. “You missed the appointment. You wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway. Sorry for the inconvenience. It was nice meeting you. Goodbye, Ms. James.” 
She noticed his eyes on her lips as he dismissed her. “Just a minute. You’re going to disregard my application because I’m a few minutes late? I have excellent credentials, and the agency—”  

“Had been told that only older women need to apply.”  

“So you’re dismissing my application because of my age, is that it?”  

“Yes. And you’re more than a few minutes late. The appointment was for four o’clock sharp, and it’s nearly six now. Take your gripes up with your agent, Ms. James. Your timekeeping actually has very little to do with it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, you’re wasting my time.”  
Jess narrowed her eyes. “I pity the person you’ve employed, if that is in fact the truth. You are a very rude man, Dr. Arnold.”  

He wasn’t exactly what she’d expected—in his early to mid-thirties and attractive, in a wildly blond caveman kind of way. And hot.  

If only he had some manners.  

It had sounded quite romantic when Sally first told her about this position, but the reality was far from romantic. She didn’t need this man or his job, and especially not his erection. There had to be other positions available in Cape Town. Sally would find her a good job, with interesting work. She would get into her car and drive away without a backward glance.  

Not being given a fair interview had nothing to do with Friday the thirteenth. A damp gust of wind blew her hair into her eyes as she turned toward the stairs. It had everything to do with him being turned on by her. 

Jess remembered the dogs when they jumped to their feet, tails wagging.  

She froze, clutching her skirt. They might be small, but they were dogs. They had teeth. Damn it, she was going to need his help to get back to her car. Gnawing the corner of her mouth, she glanced at him. Would he help her, or would he cross his arms and enjoy the spectacle from the veranda? 

Before she could do anything, the door behind them creaked open and pale, gnarled fingers curled around the edge of the wood. Jess took an involuntary step closer to the doctor, goosebumps covering her entire body, her hand to her throat.   Oh, God.  

About the Author

Maggie lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with hubby Gareth. Over the years she’s worked in everything from nursing to catering, and then she started writing love stories. With three kids, a girl and two boys, and eleven cats at that time, life could become quite interesting.

The paranormal, things that happen for which there are no logical explanations and ghosts, are of particular interest to Maggie. What events in a person’s life would prevent that person from ‘resting’ after death? The ‘Old Religion’ is another special interest.

And love, of course. Why do people fall in love? What keeps them together for a lifetime when so many relationships fail?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Social Media Survey

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Back on Schedule

It has finally happened! I'm now on a regular schedule with the new part time job AND my writing. Woohoo! I knew it would get there eventually and now it has. I don't have as many hours in the day for writing now, but I do have a good 2 hours each day after work to plug away. That has made all the difference in the story I'm currently working on. Granted, I'm used to writing for 6 hours a day and getting anywhere from 3,000-6,000 words a day. Now I'm garnering for at least 500-1,000 a day. However, I'll still get to where I'm going, just a little slower. I'm still optimistic about my tentative release dates, also! We'll just have to get there when we get there. :)

As for my new job: I'm really enjoying the shop where I work. It's a health foods/herbal shop that also has a chiropractor, several massage therapist, a hypnotist, counselor, and several other services. It's a lot of fun and the people are just wonderful. I even got my very first EVER chiropractic adjustment today. It was quite the experience. The popping and sudden jerks are a bit disconcerting, and slightly uncomfortable, but the body was definitely feeling relief afterward.

Overall, I just wanted to keep everyone in the loop and assure you all that, yes, I most definitely am still working away on Sorrow Meets Death. The crossover short story with Liz and Penny is coming along nicely, though slower than planned. I still feel confident that it'll be ready for a June release. Just make sure you're all caught up with Liz (six books) and Penny (one book) before jumping into this upcoming freebie. ;)

Oh, and before I forget, I'm working on the May newsletter, so if you aren't already subscribed jump over to the website and do so. Everyone who opens each newsletter is eligible for the drawing in the next newsletter for an Amazon gift card.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Why I do what I do.

Andre Bergonzzi
I've been writing since I was a small child. As a teenager friends would come to me to make up believable stories they could tell their parents when they wanted to do something completely different (i.e. trouble). I wrote in journals, notebooks, on scraps of paper, and had an avid love affair with all things books. Any money I made babysitting was spent on the newest book of the series I was reading at that time. I also loved (and still do) pens, stationary, blank journals, and bookmarks. The fancier the better!

But, even with all of that love of the written word, I didn't actually start writing until the summer of 2005. My kids were small, one in school and the other two home with me, and I was looking for an online way to make a little money. A lady I knew told me about a website that paid for articles, so I looked into it. I wrote for that company for about a year before I got tired of writing online articles about product reviews and recipes, so I took the leap and moved to the fiction I had always loved.

Fiction is fun. I get to be creative with fiction. There's no right or wrong when it comes to fiction. I enjoy creating my characters and their worlds. I like being able to tell a story about someone who meets, befriends, and even loves monsters. Or, hell, is one herself!

Why do I do what I do?  Simply put... I love it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Catching Up & Writing

I swear I never thought getting a part time job would take up so much of my time. Yes, yes, I knew I'd be actually leaving my house on a regular basis, driving 20 minutes to the next town, and working for a few hours before making the trek back home, but for some reason 24 hours of job time didn't seem like a lot in the scheme of things.

That is, if I actually got 24 hours. Eek! The first week was 28 hours. The second week was 31 hours. This week is scheduled for 34 hours. However, I am the only person in this position... for now. Next week a full timer comes on and I'm supposed to finally get on a regular 24 hour schedule. Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 2:30pm, and every other Saturday (9:30am-3pm) will make me a happy woman.

I'll bring home enough $$$ to make the job worth my while and still be able to pick my youngest daughter up from school every day. Not to mention the few hours every afternoon/evening of writing I'll be able to get in before dealing with dinner and preparing for the next day. Oh, and of course every Friday off to run my errands, pay bills, and buy groceries. And every other week I get a 3-day weekend. Woot, Woot!

Now if I can just get there. I'm off today, but the next two days will be long 9 1/2 hour days. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is for the greater good. I'm doing this for a reason. I do enjoy the job and the people I'm with all day. It will give me a greater sense of people by being out in the middle of all of them. (It's too peopley out there!) And, I've already seen some interesting folk who will be making appearances in future stories.

Overall, it's a good thing, but I'm really looking forward to a more rigid everyday schedule so I can get back to my writing. My goal of 3 books and a short story in 2017 NEEDS a more rigid schedule. The 500 words a week I've gotten over the last 3 weeks is soooooo not gonna get me there.

Okay, I'm off to get more writing done today (since it's my only day off 'til the weekend). I hope all of you are having a great week!

Oh, and Happy 41st Birthday to the love of my life, Tim! I love you, baby!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Working Outside & Inside the Home

This past week has been a new experience for me. I've never had an outside the home job AND children. I was able to leave the public working class when I was six months pregnant with our first child. I worked from home for many, many years... 20 years to be exact. I was able to always been 100% accessible to my entire family, including all the pets we have. Now, for the first time in all these years, I'm not available at all hours of the day. And everyone is having to adjust to that new arrangement.

I've had numerous texts throughout the days I'm at working asking how to do something, if I can talk, where something is, can so-&-so go somewhere, etc. Even my dog has decided to get an upset stomach, out of the blue, during my first week at work. WTH?!

I knew it would be an adjustment, but this is crazy. I still haven't been able to figure out my writing schedule because the new job is still working on getting things in order so there will be two of us working part time instead of me doing full & the other just doing Saturdays. Once that's worked out I'll have more time at home & truly be working part time.

Soooo, keep your fingers crossed that both my family & I will survive this transition without me committing some sort of murder. LOL!

Oh, and BTW, the hubby and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary on Sunday, April 9th. We had a nice day together and I got to enjoy some yummiliciousness at The Cheesecake Factory. Mmmm!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Part time job

Well, it happened. I broke down and got a part time job. It's been 20 years since I held a public job, so this will be a new experience for me. I was 6 months pregnant with our first daughter when I left the public workforce, and she's 20 now! Eek! I've never worked a job with kids at home. I'm grateful that they're so old now, with my youngest being 12. It definitely makes the decision easier on me.

With my husband's job change back in November, and the loss of income because of his pay decrease, I figured it was time to pick up something more reliable than just book royalties (which all authors know are not reliable at all). And this job seemed like something right up my alley. I'll be cashier/shopkeeper of an herbal health shop. They offer all sorts of services like massage, plus the normal vitamins, essential oils, and food additives. I interviewed for it on the 23rd and was asked to come in and get the lay of the land for a couple of hours on the 31st. This week is my first full week of work.

As you're reading this, I'm at work (thank goodness for blog scheduling!) and probably enjoying my new job as I'm learning all about what's sold here. I've always enjoyed the herbal and natural remedies stuff, but there's soooooo much to learn I'm feeling a little overwhelmed... but in a good way. I'll get it and it'll be fun to learn new things. In the meantime, I'll be able to do some people watching and (hopefully) come up with new story lines in the process.

Though I'll be working outside the home, I'm still on schedule for the release of Sorrow Meets Death. It's planned for June and I intend to make the deadline. Unlike previously, when I only worked on week days and took the weekends off, now I'll be doing the majority of my writing on the weekends and weekday evenings. It'll be a massive adjustment. Well, all of this will be a massive adjustment. Every one's schedules will have to change and adjust just to accommodate Mom's new job.

Fingers crossed. Wish me luck. Think happy thoughts. And, finally, thanks for all your support! :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Working toward June & Sorrow Meets Death

Last week I posted my 2017 publishing schedule. This week I'm working toward that first goal of getting the short story with Liz and Penny created. The story is titled Sorrow Meets Death and it begins with Penny entering Liz's bar, Athena's Ambrosia. The two sense one another and realize something interesting is going on here. Then, of course, that's when trouble begins.

This is going to be a short story that will fit between Penny's 1st and 2nd books, as well as Liz's 6th and 7th books. Just like the other Liz short story, this one will be a freebie available for download on my website. If you're a Liz Baker fan and haven't read Death Reflected, book 3.5, pop on over to the website and download it.

I'm really looking forward to this story. I've been wanting to tie the two characters together ever since Penny came to me. I knew there had to be a way to bring them together, even just for a short story, and in Devastating Sorrow I hinted at just that meeting.

I hope you'll enjoy this upcoming read, and be sure to pop by regularly for updates about its progress.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 Book Schedule

As most of you know, my newest book released back on March 7th. So far, Devastating Sorrow has received a warm welcome and I envision a lot of excitement in Penny Montague's future as more books in her series come to me. She will still fight to control her grief from losing her son, but also fight for those around her. There's a lot to come for her, but before all that, I thought I'd share with all of you my plans for the rest of 2017.

Before this release, my last book came out at the end of 2014. *Gasp* Before then, I was release 2-3 books a year. Throw in short stories and articles, and I was a busy bee. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond my control dictated that I work less on my books and more on family relations (my mother's cancer & passing). I'll never regret that, but it did take me away from the work I love.

Therefore, I'm planning to make 2017 my best publishing year yet! Not only did you get Devastating Sorrow, but I'm planning two more books and a short story this year. Woohoo!!

Keep in mind, the actual dates of releases will be posted closer to time, but for now here is the tentative scheduling.....

Sorrow Meets Death
Liz Baker/Penny Montague Crossover Short Story:  
June 2017

Liz Baker Series, Book #7:  
August 2017

Penny Montague Series, Book #2: 
December 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chapter 1 of Devastating Sorrow

My newest book series is all about an immortal named Penelope (Penny) Ann Montague. She's a 150 year old woman who is entirely sick and tired of life. She's tired of living the long, endless days. At night she works as a phone sex operator just to feel some sort of connection to the human race. She certainly doesn't do it for the money. And during her off hours she experiments with her immortality in an attempt to end her long, lonely existence after the death of her only child.

Penny has an annoying younger brother who is also an immortal. Byron Montague is nothing but an annoyance these days. He's a womanizing beast who enjoys the finer things in life: watches, cars, clothes, and other men's wives. If it's pretty and sparkly he wants it.

In their world, Penny and Byron are the results of a birth defect. Born in a time when women lost more children than not, Penny and Byron grew and aged, watching siblings come along, and enjoying their simple life, until one day it wasn't so simple anymore.

Once their immortality was discovered, the two were whisked away to the immortal world. They were raised by an immortal witch who recognizes Penny's affinity for the magic all around us. Penny learned and grew in strength, but Byron--who didn't have a lick of magical talent--was sent away to school.

After years of training, Penny joins the North American Immortal Faction and Byron goes off to college, quickly becoming the party animal he is today. This is where the two are in their stories when Byron shows up on Penny's doorstep, in trouble yet again.

Check out Chapter 1 of Devastating Sorrow to see where that middle of the night knock on the door leads.


     I've never understood the desire to talk to someone on the phone during intimate activities with yourself. Why is it necessary for some men to spend hundreds of dollars in order to hear another voice on the other end of the line while using his own hand to elicit satisfaction? I highly doubt these men are ignorant enough to mistaken the sound of a crude performance for real lust and affection, and yet there are the regulars who call back night after night asking specifically for “Miss Veronica”.
     Of course Miss Veronica is merely my phone sex operator name. I would never give these men my real name. Who knows how dangerous, and possibly embarrassing that would be out in the real world? But then again, after living for one hundred and fifty years there isn't much left that does embarrass me.
     If it wasn't for the freedom and security in the phone sex industry I wouldn't be able to afford the lifestyle I lived. Well, that's not true. I can afford anything I want, what with all the money I had squared away in numerous accounts around the world, but I get bored. Yet, I enjoy the quiet solitude and the ability to stay out of the public eye this job affords me.
     The world has changed so much since I was born that now I don't even have to leave my house for weeks at a time if I so desire. With the internet, cell phones, grocery deliveries, and the ability to pay bills online automatically, I can hide away and wallow in my self-doubt and depression without drawing unwanted attention to myself.
     “Are you still there, Miss Veronica?” the raspy, panting voice on the line asked. He'd finished with a grunt and a moan seconds before, after asking me to say something derogatory about his mother.
     “Oh yes,” I cooed seductively while flipping to the next page in the newest Cosmopolitan edition. Yet another article about how to please your man in bed. With an eye roll, I tossed the magazine to the other side of my brown suede sofa.
     The battery on my phone chirped annoyingly to remind me that it was time to end this call with Charlie Brown. And yes, that's what he said his name was. I had no idea if it were true or not, and I didn't care in the slightest.
     “Oh, Charlie. You're so hot,” I drawled. “You make me so horny. I hope you'll give Miss Veronica a call again real soon.”
     “But, wait. No,” he stammered with a gasp. “Are you sure we can't just talk for a little while longer? I don't mind paying.”
     Sure, I wouldn't mind the extra money, but I was done for the day. Listening to these men grunt and groan and pretend to be my lovers was mentally exhausting to the point of making me want to throw myself off the top of this five story apartment building. Again.
     “Thank you for the offer, honey pie, but after this time with you, Miss Veronica is exhausted. You tire me out, handsome.” I threw in a yawn to get my point across. If he couldn't tell the difference between real sex sounds and fake it was doubtful he could tell a fake yawn when it slapped him in the face.
     “Um. Okay then,” Charlie sighed. “Is it okay if I call you again, tomorrow? At the same time?”
     Covering the phone with my hand and holding it away. I growled loudly toward the ceiling before returning it to my ear. “Sure thing, honey pie. You go ahead and call Miss Veronica whenever you want between the hours of nine and three, Tuesday through Saturday.”
     He said something else, but I didn't make it out before I clicked the phone off and placed it in the charging base on the table beside me.
     I pulled my laptop from the coffee table, crossed my legs and placed it on top of them. After each call session, the company I worked for—Hot Young Women, Inc.—required all of its operators to access a private operators’ log board to share information about our callers, what they liked, what they requested, and how long the calls last. This helps others who may get calls from the same clients stick to what those clients enjoy. It's also a good way to pinpoint the troublemakers who are looking for more than just a few minutes of noise to jerk off to.
     I logged my information about Charlie Brown, noting that this time he had talked a lot more about his mother than usual. I online chatted with a few of the other operators who were calling it a night before logging off and plugging my laptop up to charge next to the phone.
     It was a quarter after three in the morning, but with the hours I keep this was the middle of the day for me. I made a sandwich and grabbed a grape soda from the fridge. I had just placed the can on the table next to my plate when there was a loud, aggressive knock at the door. I jumped at the banging and glanced around the apartment, fully expecting cloaked invaders to crash through the floor-to-ceiling windows on the east facing wall.
     Abandoning the idea of assassins attacking me, I made my way to the door and peered through the tiny peephole. “Shit.” Him again? He was always causing me trouble, no matter how we left things the last time we parted.
     He banged again, harder this time, bouncing the door on its hinges. I pulled away before I was dealing with an eye injury as well as the annoying visitor.
     “Come on, Penny. I know you're in there.” When I didn't respond he added, “I can see your eye.”
     “Shit.” I shook my head and reached for the deadbolts. “Okay. Okay. Give me a minute.” Three deadbolts, one slide bolt, a chain, and a door knob later I stared out at my little brother.
     Without asking, Byron Montague barged through the door, pushed past me, and proceeded to sit his ass at my table and help himself to my sandwich and soda.
“Hey! I was going to eat that.” I grabbed the plate from his hands and threw the bitten sandwich into the kitchen sink.
     With a full mouth, he popped the top of the soda can and gulped greedily. He swiped his mouth with the back of his hand before plopping the can back down on the table and leaning back in the chair. “I was eating that. Ever heard of family generosity? Do you have any beer?” His long, lithe legs stretched out in front of him as he reached his hands toward the ceiling. I heard his back pop and he groaned.
     “Out of shape, little brother?” I scoffed. “You know better than that.” He propped his feet up in the next table chair and I smacked him on the back of the head. “Feet down.” I sat in the chair to his right and turned it to face him with a sigh. “Why are you here?”
     “What?” He tried to look all innocent, but I knew better.
     Byron looked a lot like me. He had the same wavy dark hair, the same complexion, and even a similar jawline, though his was a bit more pronounced than mine. Everyone had thought us twins when we were children, but I'm actually older.
     Up until puberty we aged just like any other person around us, but after that our bodies slowed down drastically. We might age five to ten years in about one hundred years of living. My brother and I looked to be in our twenties, when in actuality we're seven times that.
     The immortal community had men and women who looked to be in their eighties or nineties. No one really knows how old they are though. Most of the time they don't know themselves.
     Byron's flawless skin, blue eyes, and messy black hair might get him whatever he wanted from unsuspecting twenty-somethings, but I knew my brother was a pro at manipulating people. I just wasn't one of those people.
     “Don't give me your bull shit, Byron.” I crossed my arms and narrowed my gaze. “What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into this time? Oh, and did you happen to notice that it's three in the morning? Who bangs on someone’s door like that at three in the morning?”
     “Aww, I knew you'd be awake, Sis.” He glanced at a Rolex wristwatch. I wondered what rich woman he'd slept with to get that little pretty. He leaned in close, placing both hands on my arms. Giving a little squeeze he looked deep in my eyes. “I know all about your little phone job. I knew you'd be up. Besides, we missed getting together for Thanksgiving, and Christmas was a couple weeks ago.”
     I gasped. How did he know? I hadn't seen him in months and I never told him anything about my private life anyway. Byron was trouble with a capital T, and I'd learned over the years not to tell him anything I didn't want the entire immortal population, and half of the human race, to know.
     He released my arms with a chuckle, retreating to the kitchen sink and retrieving the sandwich. “Don't worry, big sis, I haven't told anyone about you masquerading as Miss Veronica.” Returning to the table, he took another big bite from the sandwich and sat again.
     I frowned deeply, watching my brother pig out on my sandwich at three in the morning. The city outside was quiet, but the noises coming from Byron's mouth reminded me of our childhood. Slopping the hogs wasn't much different than my brother's eating habits.
     I took a deep, calming breath, laced my fingers in my lap, and narrowed my gaze at the messy man in front of me. “I'll ask this one more time, little brother, and this time I better get a straight answer.” He looked up from the nearly gone sandwich. Seeing that I was completely serious, he placed what was left back on the plate and sat up a little straighter. “Why are you here?”
     “I'm worried about you, Penny.” Tiny lines formed around his eyes and across his forehead as he frowned.
     “Bull shit.” I knew better than to think my self-centered little brother felt anything closely resembling worry after all these years where I was involved. More likely he was concerned his safe haven would disappear.
     “Not bull shit!” His fist came down hard on my table. “I've heard things. Things about you.”
     Who would be talking about me? I kept to myself and didn't interact with any of the other immortals. The few interactions I had were always with humans who could be easily manipulated and convinced that anything out of the ordinary was, in fact, perfectly normal. All it took was telling them I was a foreigner and had a phobia to crowds. That worked in almost all situations where my youthful appearance and my desire to refrain from socializing came into question. And when that stopped working I moved to a different part of the country.
     “And who has been talking to you about me? One of your little sluts, maybe? Or could it be one of their husbands?” I shook my head and walked away. I settled on the sofa and grabbed the remote control. At this time of the night there wouldn't be anything more than infomercials on, but even that was better than listening to Byron.
     “Not even close,” he said, stomping toward me. “Not only do I know about the job, but I also know about your new obsession with ending your life.” He grabbed at the remote, but I held it up and away. “I know you've been researching and trying out all kinds of different techniques.”
     If he knew even a fraction of what he thought he knew about my suicide attempts he wouldn't be as calm as he was. I thought I'd come close the last time I tried, but I woke up three days later alive and fully healed from the freezer burn. Disappointment wasn't even the right word to describe how I felt that day.
     He grabbed at the remote again, but I shoved it down behind me into the cushions, accidentally pushing buttons along the way. The television switched channels a few times, ending up on CNN. “Don't be a child, Penny! Give me the remote!”
     Byron shoved me over to the next cushion and retrieved the remote from the depths of the sofa. A sticky gum wrapper came along with it, but he pulled it off before stabbing at the Off button. The apartment went silent, again.
     He sat down next to me. He was breathing heavy, which was very unusual. “You really are out of shape, aren't you?” In all the years we've been immortal, Byron and I made sure we were always in tip top shape. In the early years we never knew when someone would notice we didn't age and we'd have to fight or run for our lives. This was out of character.
     “Wanna explain the suicide experiment?”
     “Wanna tell me where you've been in the last few months? Someone keeping you hidden away in their secret love dungeon, or something?”
     He sighed deeply, shaking his head, and sitting back into the cushions. “Not even close to funny, sister.” It was at that moment I really took a good look at my brother.
     The wrinkles around his eyes were new; we didn't have wrinkles, and probably wouldn't for several more centuries. His usual smooth, shiny hair was ragged and dull, longer than he normally kept it. The ends were split and frizzy like he hadn't had a trim in months. He wore a faded Atlanta Braves T-shirt, a little on the big side, and a pair of faded jeans with both knees torn out. They didn't fit quite right either. The most shocking was what he wore on his feet. Flip-flops. Byron didn't wear flip-flops!
     The only Byron-like thing on his body was the Rolex watch on his wrist. He liked the finer things in life: food, wine, clothes, cars, and women. Something was askew here.
I pinched a bundle of denim on the leg of his jeans. “Where did you get these clothes, Byron?”
     Throwing his head back, he scrubbed at his face with both hands. “Ugh! I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you, but maybe if I do you'll tell me what's up with you,” he mumbled from behind his hands.
     “Tell me what? Where have you been the last nine months?” I leaned in close, my nose only inches from his face. “Tell me.”
     He pulled his hands away and slowly returned my gaze. “I've been in the dungeons of Midnight Manor.”
     “Are you joking? 'Cause that's not funny in the least, Byron.”
     He dropped his eyes and didn't even bother to respond to my question. A few seconds later and it finally clicked for me.
     Jumping from my seat, I screamed, “Midnight Manor?” Tears pooled in his eyes, but he'd never let them fall. He blinked to clear his vision and stretched out a hand. “Come sit back down and I'll tell you everything.”
     “I doubt that,” I shouted back. “You never tell me everything!” I picked up a near-by book and aimed for his head. He ducked to one side and the book zoomed past his ear. “Midnight-fucking-Manor!”
     I paced in the area between the dining room table and the living room coffee table. How could he do this? Something like Midnight Manor wasn't just about him. If anyone, and I mean anyone, there knew Byron had a sister they would find me. Trouble with Midnight Manor was a family affair.
     “How could you do this to me, Byron?” Ringing my hands, I paced back and forth, back and forth. “What did I ever do to you to constitute Midnight Manor?” I wasn't a bad sister. Was I?
     I had raised him the best I could once we had to leave our parents and younger sisters behind. Hadn't I? What could I have done differently? Nothing, that's what! We had lived through some really tough times full of disease and poverty. I'd done the best I could until he finally decided it was time to be an adult and go out on his own. His decision had broken my heart, but it was the right thing to do for both of us. He'd gone to college and I joined the guard.
     Byron rose and strode over to me. He grabbed my hands and stopped my pacing. “You did nothing, Penny. You were the best sister and mother you knew how to be. None of this is your fault, and I'm sorry I brought this down on our heads.”
     “Then why did you do it?” I hadn't realized it until a tear rolled down my cheek, but I was sobbing at this point. “Why did you have to do something that bad? Couldn't you have stuck to your normal scams?” Sobbing harder, I slid to the floor and fell into a broken pile of myself. “Why Midnight Manor?”
     He sat on the floor in front of me, rubbing my back and stroking my hair. Over and over he said he was sorry, but all I could think of was how grateful I was our parents and sisters were long gone. I couldn't have stood the thoughts and despair if they had been trapped inside Midnight Manor. Or worse.
     After the heaving sobbing subsided, I lifted my head and swatted his hands away from me. “Tell me, now, what you did. How did this happen, Byron?” I backed up and propped against the nearest wall. I hugged my knees and glared at my brother until he spoke.
     “It all started when I met this woman—”
     I held up my hand. “I'm going to stop you right there. Give me the abridged version.”
     He sighed and shook his head. “Fine. Here it is. I screwed the wrong man's wife and he had power enough to throw me under the manor with enough charges to make immortality a never-ending torment of skinning, burning, drowning, and all sorts of other creative punishments.”
     I flinched at the thought. I'd heard the rumors of the kinds of tortures they were happy to dole out at Midnight Manor, and none of them were even close to as pretty as burning and skinning. And, of course Byron's trouble would be brought on by a woman. He never could keep his dick in his pants, even when his life depends on it.
     I rested my forehead on my knees. How could we get through this? There had to be a way to take care of this without him going back to the manor.
     “Wait a minute.” A thought hit me. “Why are you here?”
     “What do you mean?” His forehead wrinkled. “I'm here for you.”
     I shook my head. “No, you know what I mean.” I pointed at him. “If you were in the dungeons, why are you here now? They wouldn't just let you go.”
     The only way Midnight Manor released a prisoner was if that prisoner could offer them more alive than dead, or incarcerated.
     There was that guilty look. Even as young children I could tell when Byron was lying or felt guilty about something. He had a hard time hiding those feelings from me. And after nearly two centuries he wasn't any better at it.
     “What did you promise them?” I demanded. He stood and stomped to the fridge. He pulled another soda out and popped the top. I watched in disbelief as he took a long pull off the can. “Byron!”
     Slamming the fridge door closed he yelled, “You! Okay? I promised them you!”
     I slowly rose from the floor. “Me? What do you mean you promised them me?”
     He leaned over the sink like he was going to be sick. His voice echoed in the stainless steel as he replied, “I promised you would help retrieve a runner.”
     “Why would you do that? You know I left the business!”
     The anger rose swiftly. I couldn't believe he would do such a thing. And all for a woman, at that!
     When he didn't answer me, the anger boiled over. I charged him, screaming like an Amazonian warrior. He turned just in time for my fist to make direct contact with his jaw. Bones crunched beneath my knuckles and his face moved in slow motion from one side to the other with the force of my strike. I'd caught him so off-guard he didn't have time to strengthen his stance against the blow so his entire body flew to the left. He bounced off the in-wall oven and landed in a pile at my feet.
     A short whimper came from him, but I didn't care. “Get up, you back stabber! Take what you have coming to you!”
     “Penny, stop. Please,” he moaned, holding up his hands in surrender. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth and dripped onto my clean linoleum floor.
     “Get up,” I growled. “You're getting blood on my floor.” I walked away from him toward my bedroom. I cursed loudly as I pulled blankets and a pillow from the top of my closet. Handbags fell to the floor, but I just kicked them to the side and continued stomping back to the living room. “Don't get blood on my couch, you dick!”
     I dropped the bedding on the couch and stomped back to my room, slamming the door and muttering to myself about how irresponsible and untrustworthy my brother had turned out to be on the way to the en suite. “How could I have screwed him up so badly? He was a decent kid at one point,” I questioned the empty bathroom while stripping clothes off and tossing them into the plastic hamper against the wall.
     I showered while thoughts of how I intended to handle this situation ran through my head. One scenario after another played through my mind. None seeming the right fix. Of course I'd have to do whatever Midnight Manor wanted in order to save Byron from an eternity of torture, but I didn't have to be happy, or very cooperative about it.
     Runners were very complicated creatures. The elders of the immortals consider runners to be any immortal who doesn't abide by their rules and desires, and then tries to take off instead of facing judgment. Thus, runners. Runners could vary from one extreme to another depending on the elder immortal who is doling out the judgment at the time. Some are a little more fickle than others.
     The mildest example of insult resulting in time spent at Midnight Manor was back in 1805 when a French immortal decided he didn't want to speak with the Immortal King after a dinner party. The offending Frenchman felt ill after eating tainted shellfish and instead of saying good night to the king he merely left. The next morning he found himself shackled to a dungeon wall at Midnight Manor. As far as I know, he's still there.
     The most severe incident was an immortal woman who severed the head of her neighbor, who just so happened to be sleeping with her husband. It didn't kill the neighbor, but it would take centuries for the woman's head to reattach to her body. And that's if the doctors could keep the body's tissue viable enough for all those years.
     The offending woman was punished by having her own head removed. Her live and talking head was currently in a collection room at Midnight Manor. Or though that's how the story goes. I've never seen it for myself. I stay as far away from Midnight Manor as possible.
     Dressed in my favorite pair of yoga pants and tank top, I crawled into bed. “I'll think of something,” I whispered to the bedside lamp as I flicked the switch.
     I fell asleep with thoughts of our parents. What would they tell me to do? Honestly, they wouldn't know what to say. They were simple people in a simple time. They never expected to have immortal children, much less two of them. It was merely a genetic defect. Unlike other birth defects, their children didn't die as infants. They live forever.      Sometimes I wished I'd died all those years ago. At least then I wouldn't be trying to find a way out now.