Nene Adams's Blog

October 10, 2014

burn all alke cover smallBurn All Alike is the second novel in the Mackenzie Cross Paranormal Mysteries series that started with The Consequence of Murder, published by Bella Books.


A series of mysterious fires lead Mackenzie Cross and her partner, sheriff’s deputy Veronica Birdwell, into an investigation into the past, to a part of local history some people would rather forget. Who is the hauntingly strange Japanese woman present at the fires both present and seventy years ago? If Mackenzie and Veronica don’t figure it out soon, the whole town of Antioch may go up in flames.


Here’s an excerpt from the forthcoming novel:


CHAPTER ONE


Few things frightened Mackenzie Cross. Almost dying of a rattlesnake bite in the recent past had turned her liver white, as Meemaw Cross used to say, but haunted by the ghost of a murdered woman from the Fifties? Not so much. She’d been more annoyed than scared until Annabel Coffin had taken a poisonous revenge against her killer and presumably gone on to whatever reward awaited her on the Other Side.


World without end, amen.


However, sitting in her office and confronting the attorney seated across from her desk turned her heart to a cold, lumpy fist clenched tight in the middle of her chest.


“Well, Ms. Cross, here we are,” Alexander Purvis said primly, every syllable laced with poisoned honey and surrounded by an artificial smile. “Anyone can make a mistake. Oh, good heavens, yes, even I’ve been wrong a time or two.” His expression suggested otherwise. “But my client trusted you to make a fair and informed valuation of his…let me see—”


Mackenzie interrupted. “Reproduction desk,” she said flatly.


“No, no, no,” Purvis said, wagging a finger at her. “A secretary desk in the Chippendale style crafted by Goddard and Townsend, circa 1780, worth an estimated seven point five million dollars. Your negative, and may I say, negligent, ill-advised, and incorrect appraisal of my client’s property caused him to underinsure this valuable antique, which was subsequently destroyed in a warehouse fire last month.”


Mackenzie shook her head. Was this jackass serious? “The piece of furniture I examined was a modern replica worth, on a good day, a couple of hundred dollars.”


“My client strongly disagrees with you.” Purvis extracted a sheaf of papers from his briefcase. “He’s suing for the full value of the piece. However…” He paused.


“What?” Mackenzie snapped.


“If you agree to pay him reasonable compensation of a million dollars plus legal fees and expenses, he’ll agree to drop the suit,” Purvis said, his eyes gleaming. “An out of court settlement will save you a great deal of hassle, not to mention the expense of—”


“Get out,” Mackenzie gritted, clutching the edge of her desk to prevent herself from leaping over the top and knocking the smug bastard over the head with a blunt object.


He had the audacity to pretend surprise. “I beg your pardon?”


“I said, get the hell out of my office, you blackmailing son-of-a-bitch.” She rose from her chair, buoyed on a wave of righteous indignation. “You can tell your client, that goddamn chicken hearted, lily livered, moronic ass clown Turnip Erskine—”


“Turner Erskine,” Purvis corrected.


“There’s a reason we called him Turnip in school,” she went on darkly. “If you’d ever seen the boy without his Underoos, you’d understand.” She let a breath whistle out between her bared teeth. “You tell him he’ll not see one red cent of my money, nor will you, sir. Now get your overpriced butt out of my office before I call the police.”


“I had hoped to avoid unpleasantness.”


“Too late.”


“Very well.” Purvis stood, his dignity intact. He took a moment to smooth his tie. “I will so inform my client. Good day, Ms. Cross. I’ll be in touch with Mr. Erskine’s decision. If you’ll take a piece of advice, free of charge: hire your own attorney. You’ll need one.”


As soon as Purvis left, Mackenzie collapsed in her chair. She knew, with a certainty in the very marrow of her bones, the piece of furniture she’d examined for Turner Erskine two years ago as a favor for his sister, Debbie Lou—her ex-girlfriend and Queen Bitch of the Universe—had been a reproduction, likely no more than a few years old.


“What the hell is Turnip’s game?” she wondered aloud.


The answer was a no-brainer: to extort money from her, of course. Turner had a pretty good chance of getting some kind of payment, too. In a case of his word against hers in court, the judge might rule in his favor.


On the plus side, she had a much better reputation than a jailbird who, at last count, owed support to two ex-wives, a passel of illegitimate children, and lived with a stripper named Twinkle Starr. On the negative side, she had no proof her assessment had been correct in the first place since the secretary desk in question was gone, destroyed in a fire…wait a minute. An incredibly convenient fire.


She halted the train of suspicious thought, reached for her cell phone and called her friend James “Little Jack” Larkin, a reporter at the local newspaper, the Antioch Bee. He answered the call on the first ring, surprising her until she heard a series of rapid-fire beeping tones. “Jack!” she cried loudly. “I’m on the line!”


“Kenzie?” he asked tentatively after a moment. “I didn’t hear my phone ring.”


Mackenzie put a smile in her voice. “Oblivious and busy as usual.”


“Well, actually, now that you mention it, I am in the middle of something.”


“Just a quick question: did the Bee cover a warehouse fire last month? The one in that industrial park over to the soup factory. I think I saw a piece about it on the news.”


Larkin sounded distracted when he muttered, “Soap factory… soap factory…”


“Oh, come on, Jack. Ma Parker’s Pot O’ Soup. You used to swear by the chicken noodle when you had a cold,” Mackenzie reminded him. “Anyhow, a warehouse close by the factory caught fire and burned to the ground about a month ago.”


“And you want to know if we covered the fire? I’m sure we did.”


“Can you help me out with a copy of the story and any follow-ups?”


“Why don’t you come over later this afternoon, Kenzie? I’ll get an intern to help you with the archives. Okay? Right now I’ve got to—damn it, Roy, that’s not what I asked for!” he shouted, making Mackenzie’s ear ring before the call abruptly disconnected.


She sighed and decided she needed a strong dose of caffeine to get through the rest of what promised to be a long and aggravating day. Leaving the office, she headed around the block to her favorite coffee shop, Mighty Jo Young’s—owned and operated by her best friend since high school, Josephine Joanna Young.


As usual, the shop was busy, the lines at the counter long, and Jo-Jo herself worked frenziedly behind the counter pouring, steaming and sprinkling at the monstrous espresso machine. The space had been customized to accommodate her big boned, broad hipped, Amazonian frame and still allow the baristas access to the machine and other supplies.


Somehow, Jo-Jo sensed when Mackenzie came up to the counter. She turned, her lipsticked mouth curving in a big grin. “Hey, Kenzie!” she called. “What’ll it be?”


For a brief moment, Mackenzie allowed herself to admire Jo-Jo’s magnificent bosom, almost an entity unto itself and covered by approximately an acre of pink, polka dotted, frou-frou dress and a lacy apron. Maybe her ogling was sexist or something, but if Jo-Jo minded, the woman hadn’t said a word in all these years.


Her girlfriend, sheriff’s deputy Veronica Birdwell, theorized that Jo-Jo liked the attention. Case in point: when Jo-Jo had worked as a professional female wrestler, her signature move in the ring was called the Snuggle Pup Slam.


“Cappuccino,” Mackenzie ordered, ignoring the filthy looks she received from assorted customers standing in line. She briefly examined the contents of a new baked goods display case. “And a slice of chocolate Swiss roll with blood orange mousse.”


“Bakery Sam’s trying out some new recipes. I tasted a sliver of the Swiss roll this morning. Gooder n’ grits,” Jo-Jo remarked over her shoulder.


A college age barista, her hair dyed an unnatural shade of blue that clashed with her shocking pink uniform top, slapped a slice of cake on a plate and slid it across the counter at the same time Jo-Jo delivered the cappuccino in a thick, white china cup.


Taking her order, Mackenzie surveyed the tables. Occupied to capacity, damn it. She squeezed through the mass of people at the counter, earning more stink-eyes and muttered imprecations, and took a position in the corner where no one could jostle her. She didn’t need to spill hot coffee down the front of her blouse. She might be scrawny, flat-chested and possess no curves to speak of, but a scalding wouldn’t help.


She tasted the cake, finding it as delicious as advertised. A light chocolate cake, not too sweet and slightly bitter, offset by a tangy orange filling coating her mouth with richness. Sam with the unpronounceable last name, who owned the bakery next door to her office, ought to win gold medals with a cake like this, she thought.


Under the soothing influences of chocolate, cream and sugar, she could almost forget Turner’s bullshit lawsuit. She took a sip of cappuccino and licked foam off her upper lip. A loud siren caught her attention. The sound originated outside in the street and grew louder as the source came closer to Jo-Jo’s place. Police? Ambulance?


She stuck the last forkful of cake in her mouth and moved to the big window at the front of the shop in time to see a fire engine go screaming past, emergency lights strobing red and white. An ambulance and a second engine followed.


Somewhere in Antioch, something burned. She blinked the dazzle out of her eyes.


A man in a business suit stumbled inside. “The police station’s on fire!” he shouted.


The plate and cup slipped from her nerveless hands to shatter on the floor.


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Published on October 10, 2014 02:51 • 35 views

burn all alke cover smallChild of Sin is the second novel in the Mackenzie Cross Paranormal Mysteries series that started with The Consequence of Murder, published by Bella Books.


A series of mysterious fires lead Mackenzie Cross and her partner, sheriff’s deputy Veronica Birdwell, into an investigation into the past, to a part of local history some people would rather forget. Who is the hauntingly strange Japanese woman present at the fires both present and seventy years ago? If Mackenzie and Veronica don’t figure it out soon, the whole town of Antioch may go up in flames.


Here’s an excerpt from the forthcoming novel:


CHAPTER ONE


Few things frightened Mackenzie Cross. Almost dying of a rattlesnake bite in the recent past had turned her liver white, as Meemaw Cross used to say, but haunted by the ghost of a murdered woman from the Fifties? Not so much. She’d been more annoyed than scared until Annabel Coffin had taken a poisonous revenge against her killer and presumably gone on to whatever reward awaited her on the Other Side.


World without end, amen.


However, sitting in her office and confronting the attorney seated across from her desk turned her heart to a cold, lumpy fist clenched tight in the middle of her chest.


“Well, Ms. Cross, here we are,” Alexander Purvis said primly, every syllable laced with poisoned honey and surrounded by an artificial smile. “Anyone can make a mistake. Oh, good heavens, yes, even I’ve been wrong a time or two.” His expression suggested otherwise. “But my client trusted you to make a fair and informed valuation of his…let me see—”


Mackenzie interrupted. “Reproduction desk,” she said flatly.


“No, no, no,” Purvis said, wagging a finger at her. “A secretary desk in the Chippendale style crafted by Goddard and Townsend, circa 1780, worth an estimated seven point five million dollars. Your negative, and may I say, negligent, ill-advised, and incorrect appraisal of my client’s property caused him to underinsure this valuable antique, which was subsequently destroyed in a warehouse fire last month.”


Mackenzie shook her head. Was this jackass serious? “The piece of furniture I examined was a modern replica worth, on a good day, a couple of hundred dollars.”


“My client strongly disagrees with you.” Purvis extracted a sheaf of papers from his briefcase. “He’s suing for the full value of the piece. However…” He paused.


“What?” Mackenzie snapped.


“If you agree to pay him reasonable compensation of a million dollars plus legal fees and expenses, he’ll agree to drop the suit,” Purvis said, his eyes gleaming. “An out of court settlement will save you a great deal of hassle, not to mention the expense of—”


“Get out,” Mackenzie gritted, clutching the edge of her desk to prevent herself from leaping over the top and knocking the smug bastard over the head with a blunt object.


He had the audacity to pretend surprise. “I beg your pardon?”


“I said, get the hell out of my office, you blackmailing son-of-a-bitch.” She rose from her chair, buoyed on a wave of righteous indignation. “You can tell your client, that goddamn chicken hearted, lily livered, moronic ass clown Turnip Erskine—”


“Turner Erskine,” Purvis corrected.


“There’s a reason we called him Turnip in school,” she went on darkly. “If you’d ever seen the boy without his Underoos, you’d understand.” She let a breath whistle out between her bared teeth. “You tell him he’ll not see one red cent of my money, nor will you, sir. Now get your overpriced butt out of my office before I call the police.”


“I had hoped to avoid unpleasantness.”


“Too late.”


“Very well.” Purvis stood, his dignity intact. He took a moment to smooth his tie. “I will so inform my client. Good day, Ms. Cross. I’ll be in touch with Mr. Erskine’s decision. If you’ll take a piece of advice, free of charge: hire your own attorney. You’ll need one.”


As soon as Purvis left, Mackenzie collapsed in her chair. She knew, with a certainty in the very marrow of her bones, the piece of furniture she’d examined for Turner Erskine two years ago as a favor for his sister, Debbie Lou—her ex-girlfriend and Queen Bitch of the Universe—had been a reproduction, likely no more than a few years old.


“What the hell is Turnip’s game?” she wondered aloud.


The answer was a no-brainer: to extort money from her, of course. Turner had a pretty good chance of getting some kind of payment, too. In a case of his word against hers in court, the judge might rule in his favor.


On the plus side, she had a much better reputation than a jailbird who, at last count, owed support to two ex-wives, a passel of illegitimate children, and lived with a stripper named Twinkle Starr. On the negative side, she had no proof her assessment had been correct in the first place since the secretary desk in question was gone, destroyed in a fire…wait a minute. An incredibly convenient fire.


She halted the train of suspicious thought, reached for her cell phone and called her friend James “Little Jack” Larkin, a reporter at the local newspaper, the Antioch Bee. He answered the call on the first ring, surprising her until she heard a series of rapid-fire beeping tones. “Jack!” she cried loudly. “I’m on the line!”


“Kenzie?” he asked tentatively after a moment. “I didn’t hear my phone ring.”


Mackenzie put a smile in her voice. “Oblivious and busy as usual.”


“Well, actually, now that you mention it, I am in the middle of something.”


“Just a quick question: did the Bee cover a warehouse fire last month? The one in that industrial park over to the soup factory. I think I saw a piece about it on the news.”


Larkin sounded distracted when he muttered, “Soap factory… soap factory…”


“Oh, come on, Jack. Ma Parker’s Pot O’ Soup. You used to swear by the chicken noodle when you had a cold,” Mackenzie reminded him. “Anyhow, a warehouse close by the factory caught fire and burned to the ground about a month ago.”


“And you want to know if we covered the fire? I’m sure we did.”


“Can you help me out with a copy of the story and any follow-ups?”


“Why don’t you come over later this afternoon, Kenzie? I’ll get an intern to help you with the archives. Okay? Right now I’ve got to—damn it, Roy, that’s not what I asked for!” he shouted, making Mackenzie’s ear ring before the call abruptly disconnected.


She sighed and decided she needed a strong dose of caffeine to get through the rest of what promised to be a long and aggravating day. Leaving the office, she headed around the block to her favorite coffee shop, Mighty Jo Young’s—owned and operated by her best friend since high school, Josephine Joanna Young.


As usual, the shop was busy, the lines at the counter long, and Jo-Jo herself worked frenziedly behind the counter pouring, steaming and sprinkling at the monstrous espresso machine. The space had been customized to accommodate her big boned, broad hipped, Amazonian frame and still allow the baristas access to the machine and other supplies.


Somehow, Jo-Jo sensed when Mackenzie came up to the counter. She turned, her lipsticked mouth curving in a big grin. “Hey, Kenzie!” she called. “What’ll it be?”


For a brief moment, Mackenzie allowed herself to admire Jo-Jo’s magnificent bosom, almost an entity unto itself and covered by approximately an acre of pink, polka dotted, frou-frou dress and a lacy apron. Maybe her ogling was sexist or something, but if Jo-Jo minded, the woman hadn’t said a word in all these years.


Her girlfriend, sheriff’s deputy Veronica Birdwell, theorized that Jo-Jo liked the attention. Case in point: when Jo-Jo had worked as a professional female wrestler, her signature move in the ring was called the Snuggle Pup Slam.


“Cappuccino,” Mackenzie ordered, ignoring the filthy looks she received from assorted customers standing in line. She briefly examined the contents of a new baked goods display case. “And a slice of chocolate Swiss roll with blood orange mousse.”


“Bakery Sam’s trying out some new recipes. I tasted a sliver of the Swiss roll this morning. Gooder n’ grits,” Jo-Jo remarked over her shoulder.


A college age barista, her hair dyed an unnatural shade of blue that clashed with her shocking pink uniform top, slapped a slice of cake on a plate and slid it across the counter at the same time Jo-Jo delivered the cappuccino in a thick, white china cup.


Taking her order, Mackenzie surveyed the tables. Occupied to capacity, damn it. She squeezed through the mass of people at the counter, earning more stink-eyes and muttered imprecations, and took a position in the corner where no one could jostle her. She didn’t need to spill hot coffee down the front of her blouse. She might be scrawny, flat-chested and possess no curves to speak of, but a scalding wouldn’t help.


She tasted the cake, finding it as delicious as advertised. A light chocolate cake, not too sweet and slightly bitter, offset by a tangy orange filling coating her mouth with richness. Sam with the unpronounceable last name, who owned the bakery next door to her office, ought to win gold medals with a cake like this, she thought.


Under the soothing influences of chocolate, cream and sugar, she could almost forget Turner’s bullshit lawsuit. She took a sip of cappuccino and licked foam off her upper lip. A loud siren caught her attention. The sound originated outside in the street and grew louder as the source came closer to Jo-Jo’s place. Police? Ambulance?


She stuck the last forkful of cake in her mouth and moved to the big window at the front of the shop in time to see a fire engine go screaming past, emergency lights strobing red and white. An ambulance and a second engine followed.


Somewhere in Antioch, something burned. She blinked the dazzle out of her eyes.


A man in a business suit stumbled inside. “The police station’s on fire!” he shouted.


The plate and cup slipped from her nerveless hands to shatter on the floor.


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Published on October 10, 2014 02:51 • 62 views

June 29, 2014

I was tagged by a deliciously delightful fellow author and friend, D Jordan Redhawk - thanks for your fulsome introduction :-) to answer a few questions, so here we go:


What Are You Working On?


Well, that’s a more complicated question than you know. I usually have two or three writing projects kicking around at any given time. Here’s the current list:


I’ve completed the sequel to my paranormal romance, The Consequence of Murder. The second novel in the series, titled Burn All Alike, will bring Mackenzie into conflict with the fiery ghost of a Japanese woman who died in an internment camp during WWII. I’m still in the plotting stage for the third novel.


I had a new novel accepted by Bella—titled Taken at the Flood, an exciting romantic adventure featuring a retired Navy captain and an art recovery specialist from Miami to Mexico, Buenos Aires to Hitler’s secret Antarctic base in a race with a mysterious organization to find a lost German U-boat containing looted treasures.


Sweet is a yummy romance novel I just completed a couple of weeks ago. A chocolatier in a seaside Georgia town is given the chance of a lifetime to produce exclusive chocolates for the five-star luxury island hotel just off the coast, but there’s a problem—her best friend, an investigative reporter for the local paper, is missing. Adding to her worries, she finds  herself attracted to two very different women, one of whom may be connected to the crime. I got a vicarious thrill researching chocolates for this novel.


Finally, I’m deep in the midst of writing a commissioned story titled The Stars of Morning Sing involving Spain, the Inquisition, the year 1492, and a relationship between a Christian and a Jewish woman. Since I’m not well versed in the late 15th century, I’ve had to devote a lot of research time and consult a couple of dozen books so far. And no, I’m afraid this work belongs to the client who commissioned it, so it’ll be up to them whether or not the story goes public.


How Does Your Work Differ From Others in the Same Genre?


It doesn’t matter what genre I write—I’ve found there are always aspects to a story, whether it’s historical or contemporary, that require research. I try to keep the details of my fictional worlds as rooted in reality as possible. This is especially important in a work with supernatural elements like The Consequence of Murder. Fiction is basically a pleasing lie and the most successful lies are 99% truth. And when I do research, I don’t just watch a couple of episodes of a TV series and consider my work done. Months can go into a historical novel, while a contemporary novel may take only a few weeks.


Why Do You Write What You Do?


I love telling stories. That’s the best answer I can give. I fell in love with reading while very young and the authors I admire most are skilled at creating fictional worlds and characters that seem real. I try to be the kind of writer and tell the kind of stories I’d like to read.


How Does Your Writing Process Work?


My writing process is pretty simple. I get an idea, do some quick checking to figure out how much research is required, and decide how much time I can devote to the project. At that point, I start writing and I keep writing until I reach the end. I’m not one of those uber-organized types who plot every single aspect out in advance—I tend to create better in a chaotic environment.


And that’s all, folks!


I’m supposed to tag another author, but to be honest, I don’t know who to choose since authors I know and admire have already been tagged. So the only thing left to say is thanks to Redhawk for the shout out!


consequence of murder cover


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Published on June 29, 2014 01:20 • 39 views

April 11, 2014

consequence of murder cover


Over on my Facebook page, giving a like and share to my contest post for a chance to win a copy of my newest release from Bella Books, The Consequence of Murder − #1 in a paranormal mystery series, The Mackenzie Cross Mysteries.


More southern than fried chicken! More thrills than a cough beside you at midnight in a dark room when you know you’re alone in the house!! More romance than you can shake a stick at! :-)


 


The random drawing takes place on Monday, April 14, so don’t delay. Good luck, y’all!


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Published on April 11, 2014 06:27 • 29 views

February 17, 2014

consequence of murder coverNow available at Bella Books in ebook and print! This is the first novel in an ongoing series of the Mackenzie Cross Paranormal Mysteries.


The Consequence of Murder


If you’re in the mood for Southern charm, old sins coming home to roost, vengeful spirits, mystery, and some romantic shenanigans, sit down and discover The Consequence of Murder with Mackenzie Cross.


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Published on February 17, 2014 07:31 • 58 views

February 14, 2014

I’m working hard on a romance novel I’ve whipped up titled Sweet. Take one fiesty, pink haired chocolatier named Ruby Fontaine, add gorgeous but cold  hotel general manager Delilah Kerrigan, and mix n a missing journalist, a very tempting police detective, and a lot of delicious chocolates to get a tasty, tantalizing treat of a romance.


Here’s an excerpt for you to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.


CHAPTER ONE


         Ruby Fontaine nestled a dark and deliciously bitter Venezuelan chocolate ganache and pink salt truffle in each small white box, followed by a vanilla bean and stout burnt caramel bonbon. The lids went on next. Tying shocking pink ribbons into neat bows around the hundred boxes took longer. At last, she finished and stepped back from the workbench to admire her handiwork. Another triumph for the Magic Bean.


She enjoyed putting together pretty wedding favors for brides and this order was no exception. Each box held two confections—a small sample of the handmade, artisanal chocolates helping cement her reputation as a skilled chocolatier. She packed up the boxes and checked her To-Do list. Without a storefront, working out of a rented commercial kitchen meant taking on-line orders only, but one day, she’d own a real shop.


Time to get started on the goat’s milk chocolate fudge.


Moving across the space, Ruby caught her reflection in the steel refrigerator door and paused to poke at her hair. The cotton candy pink had faded and grown out over the last few weeks to show dark blonde roots. Orange next time? Ugh, no. The tint would do no favors for her pale blue eyes, which a former girlfriend had described as the color of anemic cornflowers during their break-up. I’ll stick with pink for now. Better touch up this weekend. She also decided to change the tiny hoop nestled in the curve of her nostril to a stud.


She took what she needed from the refrigerator and busied herself at the stove.


Her cell phone rang. She fished the device out of her apron pocket. “Thank you for calling the Magic Bean, how may I help you?”


“Rosie, thank God … it’s me. Beatrice. Uh, you know. Bee Brooks.”


“I know who you are, Bee.”


“I’ve got a serious emergency on my hands!”


Ruby kept a close eye on the candy thermometer clipped the side of the heavy saucepan holding the simmering fudge mixture. “What’s wrong?” An unwelcome thought struck her. “Is Katie all right?”


“Yes and no.” Beatrice sounded frazzled. “I mean, yes, Kaitlyn’s fine right now. In about two hours, though, my daughter and twenty other kindergarteners will be psychologically scarred for life because it’s her birthday, I was supposed to order cupcakes for the class, and I forgot. How the hell could I forget something so important?”


“Bee, calm down and—”


“You don’t understand! Chloe Parkinson’s mother had a specialty cake made at that fancy bakery, you know the one over on Twelfth Street and Main, and for a solid week, I swear, all Kaitlyn talked about was that damned unicorn carousel cake. So I promised her ballerina princess cupcakes with the frosting and the spun sugar that looks like your hair—”


“Bee, if you’d just let me—”


“Ballerina princesses aren’t exactly in, but it was that or cats farting rainbows, and I forgot, and I’m a very, very, bad mother! The worst. Like, the Attila the Hun of mothers. What am I going to do, Rosie? I screwed up Kaitlyn’s birthday—”


“Will you please shut up for two seconds?” Ruby half shouted into the phone. Silence fell, but Beatrice didn’t hang up in a snit, thank goodness. She checked the thermometer. After rescuing the fudge and setting the pot on a rack to cool, she summoned patience and said, “You’re not a bad mother, Bee. I’m sure you’ve been busy working on that newspaper story you told me about. Katie will forgive you. She’s six years old.”


Beatrice drew a shaky breath. “Yeah. Okay, yeah, you’re right. I panicked. But what am I going to do? Help me, Rosie-Wan, you’re my only hope.”


“Come over to the kitchen,” Ruby said, chuckling. “I’m sure if you show up with anything sugar related, Katie and her friends won’t miss the cupcakes.”


“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Beatrice ended the call.


Sighing, Ruby put her phone away and went to hunt for supplies in her inventory. By the time Beatrice swung through the back door, she’d already started assembling treats in individual clear cellophane gift bags set out on two trays.


“You’re a godsend, honest,” Beatrice said, grinning and tossing her purse on top of the counter. Her sleek brunette bob swung forward to brush her cheeks when she bent over to examine the bags. “I’d look like a real chump in front of the other moms, to say nothing of the teacher, Mrs. Woods. Every time I drag myself to one of her joyless conferences, I swear the woman’s judging me and finding me wanting.”


Ruby pressed her lips together to keep from saying, the situation isn’t about you, it’s about making Katie happy, and continued selecting sweets. She reminded herself that Beatrice was sometimes self-centered and a bit oblivious, but also fiercely devoted to Kaitlyn.


Beatrice waved a hand. “Gluten free, I hope. Kids are delicate these days.”


“No gluten, no nuts,” Rosie replied. “They’re getting a couple of goat’s milk chocolate mini-bars. Real fruit gummy hearts. You’re lucky I made brown rice cereal treats with raspberry marshmallow for a client this morning, so you can have those. I’ll make more.”


“Sounds yummy. Save one for me.”


“You need to stop at the party supplies store on your way to the school. Don’t make that face, Bee. Buy some favors like mini boxes of crayons, stickers, and little coloring books—enough for each bag. Tie the tops closed with these purple ribbons. And be sure you get Katie a tiara and a sparkly wand. Don’t forget.”


“Can’t you do the shopping? I’m useless at that girly stuff,” Beatrice said, snitching a passion fruit gummy heart. “Mmm, these aren’t bad.”


“Pay attention. You need to go the party supplies store. I don’t have time,” Ruby said, thinking about the ruined pot of fudge she’d have to throw out. Maybe she could recycle the mess into an ice cream sauce.


“Fine. Whatever.” Beatrice gave in with bad grace. “Stickers, you said?”


“Age appropriate. And crayons and coloring books. Ask a store employee to help you.” Ruby stuck an orange-pomegranate lollipop in each bag. “Hang on a second.”


She went to a desk crammed in the corner and leaned over to peer at the computer. A few taps on the keyboard brought up a large file. She quickly cut and pasted several blocks of information into a new document and printed out a copy before returning to Beatrice.


“Here’s an ingredients list,” she said, handing the copy to her friend. “Give this to Mrs. Woods. She can make sure none of the students with dietary restrictions have allergies or intolerances to any candy in the goodie bags.”


Beatrice rolled her eyes, but accepted the sheet of paper.


“Anything special planned for the birthday girl?” Ruby asked, smiling at the mental image of her honorary niece. She’d bought Kaitlyn a child friendly digital camera and planned to bring the present over to Beatrice’s house after supper.


“I hadn’t really thought … would you take her tonight? I’m meeting my informant for an interview and I’ll probably run late.” Beatrice lowered her voice although they were alone. “I’m getting close, Rosie. Real close. There’s a lot more going on than anybody knows. When I file my story it’s going to break City Hall wide open.”


Ruby snorted—in her opinion, a morally bankrupt politician wasn’t news—and focused on a more immediate concern. “Did you tell Katie you won’t be home until late?”


Beatrice blushed and averted her gaze. “Would you mind taking her out to eat? Maybe someplace fun?” she asked, evading the question.


“I’ll do my best, but you need to talk to your daughter. I mean what I say, Bee. Don’t leave me holding the bag. Katie needs to hear from you why you won’t be there.”


“Aw, for fuck’s sake, do I really have to be the bad guy?”


“You’re a mother, that’s part of your job. Suck it up and deal.” Ruby pointed at an empty glass jar on a corner of the workbench. A label on the jar read, You say it, you pay it. “You owe me a dollar for the F-bomb.”


Beatrice heaved a put-upon sigh, dug in her purse for a wallet, and shoved a folded bill through the slot in the metal lid. “Still with the swear jar? God—I mean, gosh darn it to heck.” She raised her hands in the air. “Okay, whatever, fine. Party supplies store. Buy stuff to amuse children, put into gift bags, apply ribbons. I think I’ve got it, Rosie. Thanks.”


“Here you go. Give Katie a kiss for me.” Ruby passed over the cardboard box she’d packed the bags in. “Should I pick up Katie from school?”


“I’ll drop her off at your place. Three-thirty work for you?”


“Sure.”


Scooping the box under her arm, Beatrice grabbed her purse and left the kitchen.


Ruby started working on a new batch of goat’s milk fudge. Once she finished the task, she made crispy rice treats, ancho infused ice cream sauce from the fudge ruined earlier, and several flavors of gourmet marshmallows.


New out-of-state orders came in from the website for the Magic Bean’s signature Three Little Pigs brittle: bourbon, pecans, and morsels of fried pancetta, guanciale, and apple wood smoked bacon. She grinned. Looks like a BLT for lunch.


A few hours later, she finished packing and sorting boxes for shipment tomorrow and glanced at her watch. Her stomach sank. Three o’clock already. Good grief! She snatched at her To-Do list and ticked off items, double checking shipping and delivery labels, and ensuring she had everything ready for the following morning.


Satisfied at last, she locked up and left.


The rented kitchen wasn’t far from her apartment building. Pre-rush hour traffic proved mercifully light, but an accident at an intersection had her snarled with other cars moving at a snail’s pace for twenty minutes before she could continue at a normal speed.


Finally, she pulled her old Dodge truck into the tenants-only, below ground garage only to find a lipstick red, sporty MINI Cooper Coupe parked in her assigned space. A space she paid thirty dollars a month to reserve, no less.


She gripped the steering wheel and stared in disbelief at the MINI. Some inconsiderate so-and-so had stolen her spot! She despised bad manners almost as much as swearing.


Checking her watch, she realized she was appallingly late. Beatrice and Kaitlyn must be upstairs waiting for her. No time to make a complaint to the management office. No time to sit there and fume, either. She banked her frustration and drove forward, intending to swing the truck around and try the visitors’ parking lot next door.


When she noticed a well dressed woman coming out of the stairwell at the back, her suspicion flared. She braked and waited to see where the stranger went. Her patience was rewarded when the woman crossed over to the MINI. A-ha!


Now intent on confronting the woman who’d stolen her spot, Ruby got out of her truck, flushing when opening the door caused a loud, grating squeal to reverberate off the concrete walls and ceiling. She’d meant to grease that hinge for weeks. Embarrassment added fuel to her annoyance. “Hey!” she called. “That’s my parking space!”


The woman turned her head. Loose chestnut curls slithered over the shoulders of her navy blue suit jacket. “I’ll be leaving your space in a minute,” she said, her freezing tone and cold gray gaze suggesting she spoke to an idiot.


Ruby’s cheeks heated further at the attractive woman’s disdain. Common sense urged her to return to her truck. Instead, she put her hands on her hips and stayed right where she stood. Someone had to take a stand for civilized behavior, otherwise there’d be chaos. “You shouldn’t take a space reserved for tenants. There’s a visitor’s lot next door.”


“Really?” The woman jerked open the MINI’s door. She paused, her gray eyes flashing dangerously. “Just look at all the fucks I don’t give.” She slid into the driver’s seat, slammed the door shut, and rolled down the window. “By the way, Miss Manners, you can take your little lecture and shove it up your ass,” she ranted before starting the MINI’s engine.


The car backed up and suddenly peeled out of the garage, leaving behind smoke, the stink of scorched rubber, and skid marks on the concrete.


Ruby waved a hand in front of her face, wrinkling her nose at the smell and the woman’s lack of manners. The gesture brought her watch in sight. Her stomach dropped. She pushed the confrontation to the back of her mind, scrambled to park her truck, and hurried to the elevator on the other side of the garage.


Getting off on the third floor, she stumbled to a halt in the empty corridor. Where are Bee and Katie? She walked to her apartment. Beatrice must be running a late too, in which case her own tardiness would go unnoticed.


After another half-hour passed with no word from her friend, she began to fret in earnest. When Beatrice continued to ignore her calls, the concern turned to worry.


At four-fifteen, the school called to let her know no one had collected Kaitlyn yet.


The worry became full blown panic.


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Published on February 14, 2014 02:26 • 8 views

I’m working hard on a romance novel I’ve whipped up titled Complete Meltdown. Take one fiesty, pink haired chocolatier named Ruby Fontaine, add gorgeous but cold  hotel general manager Delilah Kerrigan, and mix n a missing journalist, a very tempting police detective, and a lot of delicious chocolates to get a tasty, tantalizing treat of a romance.


Here’s an excerpt for you to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.


CHAPTER ONE


         Ruby Fontaine nestled a dark and deliciously bitter Venezuelan chocolate ganache and pink salt truffle in each small white box, followed by a vanilla bean and stout burnt caramel bonbon. The lids went on next. Tying shocking pink ribbons into neat bows around the hundred boxes took longer. At last, she finished and stepped back from the workbench to admire her handiwork. Another triumph for the Magic Bean.


She enjoyed putting together pretty wedding favors for brides and this order was no exception. Each box held two confections—a small sample of the handmade, artisanal chocolates helping cement her reputation as a skilled chocolatier. She packed up the boxes and checked her To-Do list. Without a storefront, working out of a rented commercial kitchen meant taking on-line orders only, but one day, she’d own a real shop.


Time to get started on the goat’s milk chocolate fudge.


Moving across the space, Ruby caught her reflection in the steel refrigerator door and paused to poke at her hair. The cotton candy pink had faded and grown out over the last few weeks to show dark blonde roots. Orange next time? Ugh, no. The tint would do no favors for her pale blue eyes, which a former girlfriend had described as the color of anemic cornflowers during their break-up. I’ll stick with pink for now. Better touch up this weekend. She also decided to change the tiny hoop nestled in the curve of her nostril to a stud.


She took what she needed from the refrigerator and busied herself at the stove.


Her cell phone rang. She fished the device out of her apron pocket. “Thank you for calling the Magic Bean, how may I help you?”


“Rosie, thank God … it’s me. Beatrice. Uh, you know. Bee Brooks.”


“I know who you are, Bee.”


“I’ve got a serious emergency on my hands!”


Ruby kept a close eye on the candy thermometer clipped the side of the heavy saucepan holding the simmering fudge mixture. “What’s wrong?” An unwelcome thought struck her. “Is Katie all right?”


“Yes and no.” Beatrice sounded frazzled. “I mean, yes, Kaitlyn’s fine right now. In about two hours, though, my daughter and twenty other kindergarteners will be psychologically scarred for life because it’s her birthday, I was supposed to order cupcakes for the class, and I forgot. How the hell could I forget something so important?”


“Bee, calm down and—”


“You don’t understand! Chloe Parkinson’s mother had a specialty cake made at that fancy bakery, you know the one over on Twelfth Street and Main, and for a solid week, I swear, all Kaitlyn talked about was that damned unicorn carousel cake. So I promised her ballerina princess cupcakes with the frosting and the spun sugar that looks like your hair—”


“Bee, if you’d just let me—”


“Ballerina princesses aren’t exactly in, but it was that or cats farting rainbows, and I forgot, and I’m a very, very, bad mother! The worst. Like, the Attila the Hun of mothers. What am I going to do, Rosie? I screwed up Kaitlyn’s birthday—”


“Will you please shut up for two seconds?” Ruby half shouted into the phone. Silence fell, but Beatrice didn’t hang up in a snit, thank goodness. She checked the thermometer. After rescuing the fudge and setting the pot on a rack to cool, she summoned patience and said, “You’re not a bad mother, Bee. I’m sure you’ve been busy working on that newspaper story you told me about. Katie will forgive you. She’s six years old.”


Beatrice drew a shaky breath. “Yeah. Okay, yeah, you’re right. I panicked. But what am I going to do? Help me, Rosie-Wan, you’re my only hope.”


“Come over to the kitchen,” Ruby said, chuckling. “I’m sure if you show up with anything sugar related, Katie and her friends won’t miss the cupcakes.”


“I’ll be there in ten minutes.” Beatrice ended the call.


Sighing, Ruby put her phone away and went to hunt for supplies in her inventory. By the time Beatrice swung through the back door, she’d already started assembling treats in individual clear cellophane gift bags set out on two trays.


“You’re a godsend, honest,” Beatrice said, grinning and tossing her purse on top of the counter. Her sleek brunette bob swung forward to brush her cheeks when she bent over to examine the bags. “I’d look like a real chump in front of the other moms, to say nothing of the teacher, Mrs. Woods. Every time I drag myself to one of her joyless conferences, I swear the woman’s judging me and finding me wanting.”


Ruby pressed her lips together to keep from saying, the situation isn’t about you, it’s about making Katie happy, and continued selecting sweets. She reminded herself that Beatrice was sometimes self-centered and a bit oblivious, but also fiercely devoted to Kaitlyn.


Beatrice waved a hand. “Gluten free, I hope. Kids are delicate these days.”


“No gluten, no nuts,” Rosie replied. “They’re getting a couple of goat’s milk chocolate mini-bars. Real fruit gummy hearts. You’re lucky I made brown rice cereal treats with raspberry marshmallow for a client this morning, so you can have those. I’ll make more.”


“Sounds yummy. Save one for me.”


“You need to stop at the party supplies store on your way to the school. Don’t make that face, Bee. Buy some favors like mini boxes of crayons, stickers, and little coloring books—enough for each bag. Tie the tops closed with these purple ribbons. And be sure you get Katie a tiara and a sparkly wand. Don’t forget.”


“Can’t you do the shopping? I’m useless at that girly stuff,” Beatrice said, snitching a passion fruit gummy heart. “Mmm, these aren’t bad.”


“Pay attention. You need to go the party supplies store. I don’t have time,” Ruby said, thinking about the ruined pot of fudge she’d have to throw out. Maybe she could recycle the mess into an ice cream sauce.


“Fine. Whatever.” Beatrice gave in with bad grace. “Stickers, you said?”


“Age appropriate. And crayons and coloring books. Ask a store employee to help you.” Ruby stuck an orange-pomegranate lollipop in each bag. “Hang on a second.”


She went to a desk crammed in the corner and leaned over to peer at the computer. A few taps on the keyboard brought up a large file. She quickly cut and pasted several blocks of information into a new document and printed out a copy before returning to Beatrice.


“Here’s an ingredients list,” she said, handing the copy to her friend. “Give this to Mrs. Woods. She can make sure none of the students with dietary restrictions have allergies or intolerances to any candy in the goodie bags.”


Beatrice rolled her eyes, but accepted the sheet of paper.


“Anything special planned for the birthday girl?” Ruby asked, smiling at the mental image of her honorary niece. She’d bought Kaitlyn a child friendly digital camera and planned to bring the present over to Beatrice’s house after supper.


“I hadn’t really thought … would you take her tonight? I’m meeting my informant for an interview and I’ll probably run late.” Beatrice lowered her voice although they were alone. “I’m getting close, Rosie. Real close. There’s a lot more going on than anybody knows. When I file my story it’s going to break City Hall wide open.”


Ruby snorted—in her opinion, a morally bankrupt politician wasn’t news—and focused on a more immediate concern. “Did you tell Katie you won’t be home until late?”


Beatrice blushed and averted her gaze. “Would you mind taking her out to eat? Maybe someplace fun?” she asked, evading the question.


“I’ll do my best, but you need to talk to your daughter. I mean what I say, Bee. Don’t leave me holding the bag. Katie needs to hear from you why you won’t be there.”


“Aw, for fuck’s sake, do I really have to be the bad guy?”


“You’re a mother, that’s part of your job. Suck it up and deal.” Ruby pointed at an empty glass jar on a corner of the workbench. A label on the jar read, You say it, you pay it. “You owe me a dollar for the F-bomb.”


Beatrice heaved a put-upon sigh, dug in her purse for a wallet, and shoved a folded bill through the slot in the metal lid. “Still with the swear jar? God—I mean, gosh darn it to heck.” She raised her hands in the air. “Okay, whatever, fine. Party supplies store. Buy stuff to amuse children, put into gift bags, apply ribbons. I think I’ve got it, Rosie. Thanks.”


“Here you go. Give Katie a kiss for me.” Ruby passed over the cardboard box she’d packed the bags in. “Should I pick up Katie from school?”


“I’ll drop her off at your place. Three-thirty work for you?”


“Sure.”


Scooping the box under her arm, Beatrice grabbed her purse and left the kitchen.


Ruby started working on a new batch of goat’s milk fudge. Once she finished the task, she made crispy rice treats, ancho infused ice cream sauce from the fudge ruined earlier, and several flavors of gourmet marshmallows.


New out-of-state orders came in from the website for the Magic Bean’s signature Three Little Pigs brittle: bourbon, pecans, and morsels of fried pancetta, guanciale, and apple wood smoked bacon. She grinned. Looks like a BLT for lunch.


A few hours later, she finished packing and sorting boxes for shipment tomorrow and glanced at her watch. Her stomach sank. Three o’clock already. Good grief! She snatched at her To-Do list and ticked off items, double checking shipping and delivery labels, and ensuring she had everything ready for the following morning.


Satisfied at last, she locked up and left.


The rented kitchen wasn’t far from her apartment building. Pre-rush hour traffic proved mercifully light, but an accident at an intersection had her snarled with other cars moving at a snail’s pace for twenty minutes before she could continue at a normal speed.


Finally, she pulled her old Dodge truck into the tenants-only, below ground garage only to find a lipstick red, sporty MINI Cooper Coupe parked in her assigned space. A space she paid thirty dollars a month to reserve, no less.


She gripped the steering wheel and stared in disbelief at the MINI. Some inconsiderate so-and-so had stolen her spot! She despised bad manners almost as much as swearing.


Checking her watch, she realized she was appallingly late. Beatrice and Kaitlyn must be upstairs waiting for her. No time to make a complaint to the management office. No time to sit there and fume, either. She banked her frustration and drove forward, intending to swing the truck around and try the visitors’ parking lot next door.


When she noticed a well dressed woman coming out of the stairwell at the back, her suspicion flared. She braked and waited to see where the stranger went. Her patience was rewarded when the woman crossed over to the MINI. A-ha!


Now intent on confronting the woman who’d stolen her spot, Ruby got out of her truck, flushing when opening the door caused a loud, grating squeal to reverberate off the concrete walls and ceiling. She’d meant to grease that hinge for weeks. Embarrassment added fuel to her annoyance. “Hey!” she called. “That’s my parking space!”


The woman turned her head. Loose chestnut curls slithered over the shoulders of her navy blue suit jacket. “I’ll be leaving your space in a minute,” she said, her freezing tone and cold gray gaze suggesting she spoke to an idiot.


Ruby’s cheeks heated further at the attractive woman’s disdain. Common sense urged her to return to her truck. Instead, she put her hands on her hips and stayed right where she stood. Someone had to take a stand for civilized behavior, otherwise there’d be chaos. “You shouldn’t take a space reserved for tenants. There’s a visitor’s lot next door.”


“Really?” The woman jerked open the MINI’s door. She paused, her gray eyes flashing dangerously. “Just look at all the fucks I don’t give.” She slid into the driver’s seat, slammed the door shut, and rolled down the window. “By the way, Miss Manners, you can take your little lecture and shove it up your ass,” she ranted before starting the MINI’s engine.


The car backed up and suddenly peeled out of the garage, leaving behind smoke, the stink of scorched rubber, and skid marks on the concrete.


Ruby waved a hand in front of her face, wrinkling her nose at the smell and the woman’s lack of manners. The gesture brought her watch in sight. Her stomach dropped. She pushed the confrontation to the back of her mind, scrambled to park her truck, and hurried to the elevator on the other side of the garage.


Getting off on the third floor, she stumbled to a halt in the empty corridor. Where are Bee and Katie? She walked to her apartment. Beatrice must be running a late too, in which case her own tardiness would go unnoticed.


After another half-hour passed with no word from her friend, she began to fret in earnest. When Beatrice continued to ignore her calls, the concern turned to worry.


At four-fifteen, the school called to let her know no one had collected Kaitlyn yet.


The worry became full blown panic.


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Published on February 14, 2014 02:26 • 47 views

August 8, 2013

BARKING-AT-THE-MOON - cover smallBella Books has re-issued my award-winning paranormal romance, Barking at the Moon, as an e-book! I’m very pleased and excited to finally be able to offer the first book of the Daredevil County trilogy with a brand new cover and in a format that will please many readers.


Stay tuned for news about the second book in the series, Once in a Blue Moon.


And keep your eyes peeled for the first in the new Mackenzie Cross Paranormal Mystery Series, coming in February 2014 from Bella Books.


Thanks!


 



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Published on August 08, 2013 10:47 • 64 views

June 24, 2013

consequence of murder coverThe first book in my new paranormal mystery series is The Consequence of Murder, and will be published by Bella Books in February. In case you missed out earlier, you can read an excerpt here.


“The gruesome discovery of a mummified corpse wakes up something inside investigator Mackenzie Cross. Seeing and hearing things that just don’t happen in Antioch, Georgia, she finally accepts that the very angry ghost of the dead woman is demanding Mackenzie find out who murdered her.


Under ordinary circumstances, she would turn to her best friend, sheriff’s deputy Veronica Birdwell, but not only is Mackenzie unsure how to bring up a very real ghost, she is uncomfortably attracted to Veronica who is straight and off limits. She also has another case involving a cheerleader, a blackmailing preacher and a rattlesnake—life is already too complicated to risk love.


I’m already hard at work on the second book, which will be titled Burn All Alike.


If you like to read about solving puzzling cases, danger, supernatural goings-on, a little romancin’, and lots of Southern charm, you’ll like the Mackenzie Cross Paranormal Mysteries.



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Published on June 24, 2013 03:29 • 80 views

April 16, 2013

BARKING-AT-THE-MOON - cover small


That’s right, my award winning paranormal romance about werewolves in the Georgia woods will be re-issued by Bella. I don’t have a date yet, or any other details, but I’ll keep you informed.


The sequel, Once in a Blue Moon, will also be published by Bella. The writing’s done, now it’s time for editing and all that other good stuff. And I’m working on the third book in the trilogy, Hanging the Moon.


For now, here’s the new cover for Barking at the Moon. Ain’t it beautiful?


 



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Published on April 16, 2013 01:58 • 61 views

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