Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, December 20, 2019

An Excerpt from The Gates Between

This is an excerpt from my story in Queens of Wings and Storms, now available. The cover was created by Lou Harper of Cover Affairs. I love her work. She has plenty of premades as well as the custom work she does.

by Kat Parrish

Most people believe the gates separating life from death only open one way. That’s not true. What is true is that once you pass through the gates and then return, you are never the same again. I found this out the hard way. I died on my 17th birthday.
And then I came back.

CHAPTER 1:  You’ll be sorry when I’m gone

I don’t even remember what the argument was about. My stepmother and I fought constantly about everything…everything and nothing. Often our arguments were about me *not* doing something. One day it would be about me not making up my bed.
I kept the door to my bedroom closed, what did she care?
Another day it would be about me not putting gas in the car the last time I used it.
The morning of my birthday, it had been about me not wanting to eat the nutritious breakfast Elle had cooked especially for me, relaxing her ban on eating what she called “flesh” to fry up some turkey bacon. Though why she had even bothered, I don’t know. I usually just grabbed a cup of yogurt on the way out the back door and on the one day—the one day—she decided to do the mom thing and cook up some eggs and bake some refrigerator biscuits, I didn’t want to slow down to bond with her.  It was my birthday and it already sucked.
 I was already missing my real mom worse than usual; the idea of making pre-coffee chit-chat with her flawed replacement was not appealing.
It never occurred to me offering me breakfast might be Elle’s way of trying to make me feel better, to start the day off in a nice way. It never occurred to me to give Elle credit for anything, especially not for doing something nice.
My best friend   Kasi told me I was being a bitch when I complained to her about what a big deal Elle had made of me dissing her breakfast. 
Kasi’s mother’s idea of cooking breakfast was throwing a box of toaster waffles on the table as she left for her office. “You should be grateful she cares enough to cook for you.”
Maybe, but I was sure Elle wasn’t cooking for me because she cared about me. She just wanted to look good for my father. 
Not that he was there. He was hardly ever at home any more, at least not for more than a week at a time before he jetted off to some exotic place to advise his clients on the best way to exploit the natural resources of their or someone else’s country.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Different Kind of Christmas story

Dog’s Dinner

By Katherine Tomlinson

Christmas dinner at our house is always a big deal.
Maura always brings the candied yams. She makes them with pecans and orange juice and marshmallows and crushed cornflakes on top so they’re squashy and crunchy at the same time.
She’s the only one who ever actually eats them; the rest of the family prefers to load up their plates with Helen’s sour-cream garlic mashed potatoes and Sylvia’s cauliflower cheese and Nissa’s cornbread stuffing. Plus there’s always macaroni and cheese and corn pudding and green bean casserole and buttered Brussels sprouts and Aunt Rose’s cherry Jell-O salad.
Theo, the only brother, always brings carrot sticks and celery stalks stuffed with pimento cheese. Nobody eats those at all, but it is a tradition, so he brings them, and Mom always throws them away after she lets me lick the cheese out of the channels in the celery.
Theo’s my boy. When we were both little, I’d sleep on his bed and he’d hug me like a stuffed animal and tell me his secrets. When he got ready to leave for college he hugged me and explained that he was going away but that he loved me and would be back. I licked the tears from his face but didn’t really understand what “going away” meant until I realized I couldn’t smell him in the house any more. That made me frantic until Mom found an old sneaker that had Theo’s scent all over it and let me have it to chew on.
Dad always carved the turkey and he did it the old-fashioned way, with a bone-handled carving set that his father had used and his father before him. Sylvia’s husband Daniel thought that was a very inefficient way to do things and one Christmas, he’d come over to the house with an electric knife in one hand and a big cheesy grin on his face. He’d pushed Dad aside at the head of the table and turned on the knife.

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 for the winner.


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.