Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Ink for the Beloved by RC Barnes--a review

"First in a series" is always a great phrase--a chance to experience a new world or discover a new writer. Ink for the Beloved is the first book in RC Barnes' "The Tattoo Teller" series. It's YA done with flair and imagination. There's a mystery at the heart of it, but the heroine, 16-year-old Bess Wynters is a girl with a little something extra. What her 'superpower is" and how it affects her life and helps her solve the mystery is both original and believable.

Barnes hooks us from the first pages of the book. Something terrible has happened and Bess is sitting in an interrogation room as she's questioned by the cops and a sympathetic ADA about people she knows. Beth is confused, conflicted, guilty and defiant and we're drawn to her and her inability to give a simple answer to the lawyer's question, "When did the trouble start?" For Bess, there has always been trouble growing up in her mercurial mother's household. Her beautiful mother with tattoos all over her body and her bright red hair. She looks like her eautiful mother, although her skin is nut-brown, the legacy of a father named Charles who never met her and doesn't even know she exists.

Bess can't really count on her mother--a legendary tattoo artist whose promiscuity ensures a never-ending parade of possible "daddies" for Bess and her baby sister Echo--but she has two friends who have her back--Rueben and Joanie, whose Jehovah's Witness beliefs are challenged by the whole tattoo thing, but whose steadfast friendship survives things that would have sent a lesser friend away.

Bess is clever and brave and those two qualities almost prove her undoing as she tries to puzzle out what's going on with her mother's shady new beau Todd. She's tender with her little sister--a wonderful character who comes across like a real little girl, and not some imaginary version of what a little kid is like.

There are wonderful moments between the sisters, who share secrets and much, much more.

There are also moments that will break your heart when the meanings behind some tattoos are told. (There's a lot of good info about tattoos and the trends and the menaing. Barnes has included little vignettes along the way, and they enhance the overarching story.)

The book is complete as a stand-alone but there are still some mysteries. What happened to the mural artist who called himself Spiderwand? Will Bess ever meet her father? These characters feel like they have a life beyond the pages here. Treat yourself to the read.

Find Barnes at her website and follow her on Amazon.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Monday Excerpt from The Waking Dream

     The Waking Dream is a "new adult" paranormal romance that I think is a little different from the usual run of PNR.  I have always been fascinated by dreams, and this story grew out of an idea I had while reading about new sleep therapies. It's a quick read--roughly 21K words, which is a novella. Here's the first chapter.   


For in that sleep…what dreams may come?”—William Shakespeare

If you have a sleep disorder and you google “treatment” or “cure,” chances are one of the first links that comes up is the website of the Alviva Sleep Clinic (ASC), the revolutionary medical center run by Dr. Lauren Alviva and her two oldest daughters, Dr. Kitta Alviva-Fujiwara and Mira Alviva, Ph.D. It’s kind of a boring website—a homepage illustrated with stock photos, a contact page, an “about us” page. There are no links to social media, no auto-playing multi-media elements, no newsletter registration forms popping up.

It almost looks like something the doctors put up themselves using a Squarespace template and YouTube tutorials. The copy hasn’t been SEO’d. There’s no attached blog either.
It’s almost as if they’re not trying.

  But having a small digital footprint hasn’t hurt the clinic’s business. On the contrary, like a new restaurant that doesn’t publish its address or a club that opens in a new location every night, people “in the know” always seem to know where to find it.

The clinic’s unorthodox treatments for insomnia, sleep apnea, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, narcolepsy, and sleepwalking are controversial but effective, and there’s a sixteen-month waiting list for the thirty-bed clinic tucked away in a picturesque valley in upstate New York.

The results ASC achieves are noteworthy and consistent. Former patients have left glowing testimonials on the website and rapturous reviews on Yelp. The local papers and lifestyle magazines regularly feature one—or all—of the Alvivas in articles that are as much gushing personality profiles as they are business stories. The various doctors Alviva have been featured in national print media as well, and Lauren’s expertise makes her a sought-after guest on cable and broadcast television. Everybody wishes they could sleep better.

The doctors are all extremely photogenic, all of them tall and Nordic blonde, like a group of Valkyries who decided to come to earth for a spa day and then stayed to open a sleep clinic. So that plays a factor in getting the word out as well, although Lauren Alviva discourages what she calls “the cult of personality” surrounding herself and her daughters and makes every effort to frame the clinic’s narrative as being a team effort.

It’s a big team. The ASC employs a fleet of psychologists and board-certified sleep specialists as well as nutritionists and personal trainers who work together in a holistic fashion, using everything from massage to sleep restriction therapy to tackle deep-seated sleep issues. The clinic offers seminars on stress management—open to the public as well as the in-patients—and provides customized vitamin and supplement regimens to combat insomnia and restless leg syndrome.

Successful as those therapies are, they are not the only source of the clinic’s reputation and the impassioned devotion the doctors Alviva inspire. The most enthusiastic praise for the clinic is a result of the program Lauren calls “Deep Dreaming.”

Thanks to the technologies and techniques she’s developed, Lauren and her oldest daughters can access their patients’ subconsciousness and participate in their dreams. This tandem dreaming makes it possible to access the deeper roots of sleep problems and other psychological factors that might be in play. The procedure is less invasive than it sounds, and often when the patient wakes, he or she has no memory of what happened while they were sleeping.

When the Alviva Clinic first introduced “Deep Dreaming,” it seemed like science fiction. To say the sleep science community was less than enthusiastic was an understatement. Most were deeply suspicious—suspicious to the point of paranoia.

North America’s premiere sleep specialist, Dr. G. Taylor Wells of the University of Toronto, was particularly vociferous in his opposition to the tech-assisted therapy, calling it “downright dangerous” and “criminally irresponsible.”

The patients disagreed. And they kept coming to see one or another of the doctors.
Each of them has a different area of specialization.
Lauren’s area of expertise is sleep-walking, sleep-talking, and night terrors--parasomnias all her daughters suffered in childhood.

Kitta, whose wife Mai Fujiwara was killed while working with Doctors Without Borders, specializes in helping people deal with PTSD and other conditions brought on by trauma. The Deep Dream treatments take a lot out of her and she can’t schedule more than two or three a month without suffering from PTSD by proxy herself.

Mika’s practice is almost entirely limited to those who want to change behaviors, whether it’s an addiction to drugs or overeating. The clinic offers a “money-back” guarantee for patients who relapse and most of them use the money to go through treatment again. The Clinic rarely must refund a client more than once.

If that’s all the clinic did, it would be enough to keep it in business for decades but there’s another treatment option that’s “off the menu,” so to speak, an option you won’t find mentioned on the website or in the brochures or even in the Yelp reviews. The clients seeking this unnamed remedy usually arrive at night, often by helicopter and nearly always in disguise.

They’re not here to be treated by the famous Dr. Lauren Alviva or her equally famous daughters Kitta and Mira.

They’re here to see me.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday Book Fair

Something for everyone. CLICK HERE.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Queens of Wings & Storms: a limited edition fantasy and urban fantasy collection has just published in time for the holidays. I have a story in there, a tale of a girl who dies and comes back with the ability to travel both ways between the gates of life and death. My contribution is called The Gates Between, and the solo cover was done by the great Lou Harper of Cover Affairs.

To celebrate publication, the authors of the stories included are doing a terrific Dragon-themed giveaway.  Check it out:

In celebration of our new release, Queens of Wings and Storms, welcome to the Ultimate Dragon Loot giveaway!

Follow 11 urban fantasy & paranormal romance USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors on Amazon and BookBub for a chance to win an amazing prize pack valued at $360!

You could win a $150 Amazon gift card, a Dragon treasure box full of jewelry and coins (valued at $150), and four best-selling urban fantasy and paranormal romance hard copy books (valued at $60), two signed by Sherrilyn Kenyon! Additionally, several of the participating authors are throwing in their own swag!

Gain points for each entry you follow. The more points you get, the greater your chance at winning! Subscribe to each author's newsletter for even more points!

Whoever has the most points at the end of the giveaway wins. In the case of a tie or multiple participants having the maximum amount of points, the names will be entered into miniwebtool.com/random-picker/ for the winner.

ENTER HERE: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/457e17b02/

Happy New Release of the Queens of Wings and Storms box set!


Prizes come with:

$150 Amazon gift card.

Dragon treasure box includes a dragon box, dragony coins, dangly earrings, 2 necklaces, 3 bracelets, 2 rings. (Note: jewelry and coins are not gold or silver weight, but are lead and nickel free)

Hard copy books include Archangel’s War trade paperback by Nalini Singh, Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews, and 2 signed Sherrilyn Kenyon Deadman’s Cross hardbacks.

The runner up will receive a $20 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway runs November 16th (midnight Eastern Time) - December 2nd (midnight Eastern Time)


The Season Begins

It's Thanksgiving--and I have much to be thankful for this year. Last year at this time, my landlord had just told me he was going to move his mother into the house I'd been renting for four years, and suggested strongly that he would LOVE it, if I  could be out by the first of December. I managed to do that with a LOT of help, and now live in a place that's much more comfortable and half as much. So win/win on that. Christmas this year is going to be a lot more festive but also mellower. I love the season, and have already put up my Christmas trees. Aren't they jolly? I hope this season of winter holidays finds you safe and warm and loved.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

something Urban Fantastic This Way Comes

Urban fantasy is probably my favorite genre--ever since I first stumbled across Laurell K. Hamilton. And I'm really looking forward to the release of Doctor Sleep, which I'd call more urban fantasy than horror. It's always great news when a new UF series debuts, especially when it comes from a writer like Rebecca Hamilton and her co-author Miranda Brock.

The Cursed Key is now available as a pre-order for only 99 cents. Order it now and it'll be a nice surprise when it releases in January. 
Here's the blurb:

A forgotten past, a dark mage, and an unyielding curse.

Another team beat free-spirited archaeologist Olivia Perez to the dig of a lifetime, and now she’s left with the choice to wait for scraps or brave a dangerous, dusty tomb in hopes of finding other priceless artifacts. Her reward? A mysterious key she has no idea is cursed. Soon, Olivia realizes she’s brought home more than just an ancient rarity.

Malevolent visions begin to plague her. Unnerved by what they reveal, she casts away the key…unknowingly placing it into the waiting hands of a dark mage bent on destruction. Only when a shifter agent from the Paranormal Intelligence and Tracking Organization arrives searching for the key does Olivia realize what a huge mistake she’s made.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


This boxed set is one I've been working on since February. My novella, "The Poisoined Cup" is part of the collection.  Right now it's only 99 cents to pre-order. So ACT NOW as they say.
Here's the universal link.