Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Christmas Gift to You.

Since Christmas day and New Year's Day both fall on Thursday this time, this will be my last blog entry of the year.

Last year around this time I became part of a project called 'Suppose', thanks to Kathy Steinemann. It's a collection of stories from female Canadian writers, and as the title suggests, it's loaded with short stories that ask--"Suppose..?" It's a great collection with some great voices. It would also make a great gift for Christmas. You can buy it here.

Mine is called 'The Guardian's Angel', and with Kathy's kind permission, I am publishing it here as my gift to you. Merry Christmas, and we'll see you in 2015.

The Guardian’s Angel

     “Oh my God!” The woman rushed Tazminn and the small boy beside him. “There you are! You had me worried sick.”
     “Sorry, Mommy.” The little guy pooched his quivering bottom lip and dropped his gaze to the floor.
     “It’s okay, Johnny. It’s okay. Mommy’s here.”  Johnny’s mother engulfed her son in her arms, her gaze rising to meet Tazminn’s. “Thank you.”
     “You are welcome.” he said, giving her a sincere smile before wandering away.
      Her emotions were that odd mix of relief, anger and guilt he often experienced from the mothers of misplaced offspring. The gratitude in her eyes reminded Tazminn that had the most interesting and satisfying post on this entire planet.
     True, the foliage smelled like plastic, and the golden rays of the sun could only been seen through skylights, but where else could he experience so much of this world in a warm pocket of shelter? Everything he could ever need lay within a stroll’s length.
     He liked the ever-changing clothing stores, especially the ones with pretty lingerie. He could spend hours watching all the lovely women peruse the little bits of lace and satin. He could savor the exotic scents of David’s Tea in Phase Three and the floral and fruit perfumes from The Rocky Mountain Soap Company in Phase One, and everything in between. He took pleasure in the screaming laughter of children as they rode the waterslides in Phase Two or sometimes the sparkling bumper cars in Galaxyland. He enjoyed the multitude of delicious offerings from around the world, all sheltered in kiosks and restaurants and food courts.
     Tazminn rubbed the softening belly he had grown during his years as the West Edmonton Mall guardian. Maybe he enjoyed the fare a little too much. If he still had wings, could they lift the extra two inches of his frame? No matter.
     He did not need wings to mingle amongst the mortals. Earthlings from every walk of life—every race, every age, every color and creed--roamed this tiled ground. And Tazminn loved them all.
     And Christmas. Tazminn loved Christmas. True, he still needed to patrol for shoplifters and lost children, more so than the rest of the year, but the mood always seemed different. . .a little brighter, a little friendlier. It meant less space but he did not mind. He savored the earthy musk of human and the crackle of their frenzied energy.
     “Hi, Tazminn!”
     Tazminn startled, realizing he had stopped in front of his favorite fast food vendor. “Hello, Elaine. How are you?”
     “Same old, same old,” she said. “What can I get you?”
     Tazminn’s stomach responded to the question loudly, and he obeyed the command for food. “Chili dog and a large Strawberry Julius, please.”
     “Right away.” Elaine set up the blender with his drink and dressed his hot dog with a generous spoonful of meaty tomato deliciousness.  She said nothing, but Tazminn could hear her thoughts, and he knew she would ask. She filled his order and punched it up at the register.
     “So Tazminn. . .  ”
     “You may still call me Taz.”
     “Taz.” Elaine gave him a distracted smile. “What are the chances of you coming back to work for me?”
     “I will come back,” He handed her the very currency he had earned at this Orange Julius location. “When I need the money again.”
     Elaine chuckled. Apparently he had said something amusing. He accepted his meal and sought a suitable location to consume his food while he listened to the cacophony of life. So many busy thoughts to sift through.
     And yet, in all the chaos he found her heartbeat, like a beacon, not far from him. A mirrored pillar let him check his hair, and he pushed a stray black curl behind his ear. The reflection of his eyes demonstrated more confidence than he felt.
     He let his senses seek her loneliness, and he followed them across Gourmet World to Freshii. The location did not surprise him. She wanted to eat healthier. Her weight concerned her, despite her tiny waist and slender frame.  Sure as the Energy was Love Incarnate, she sat by herself, picking at a salad and twirling ribbons of black hair around her fingers with the longing misery of someone wishing for Crepeworks. Her thoughts were sad and distracted.
     “Hello, Tina,” Tazminn said. The way her face lit up when she saw him brought a tickle to his stomach. “May I sit with you?”
     “Hi, Taz!” The smile spreading across her face made it impossible not to grin back. So pretty when she smiled. . . He had been drawn to her ever since she began her employment at a well known jewelry kiosk months ago. He could not pass by without soaking up her sweetness like . . . sunshine. “How are you? Ready for Christmas?”
     “Christmas. Ah, yes.” He never knew what to say whenever humans asked him questions like that. Are you ready for Christmas? Are you finished shopping? He discovered the best answer came in two words. “Almost. You?”
     “Almost.”  Tina sipped at her water and Tazminn experienced rare discomfort. He was not the only one avoiding questions with vague answers. Her thoughts were of home, a place hundreds of miles from here that she could not get time off for, nor afford a ticket to fly.  Tazminn wanted to apologize, but he knew Tina would not understand why. And she did not wish to discuss it.
     “You must be on Christmas Break.” Tina said. He nodded in agreement. Everyone believed him to be a foreign exchange student. “Must be nice.” Her giggle sounded as false as her cheer. “Are you going home for the holidays?”
     Tazminn shook his head and swallowed a bite. “No. Home is too far.” He took another spicy mouthful to discourage more questions. He would not leave the Mall. Not even to return to the heavens whence he came. West Edmonton Mall had become home so long ago, he could not remember when he began to think of it in that way.
     “I know how you feel.”  Her mood worsened, and Tazminn switched the subject. It would not do to be so unhappy so close to the holiday. He wanted to cheer, not depress her.
     “I like your necklace,” he said. “Did you purchase that at work?”
     She peered downward, and pressed her hand to her chest. “Oh. This?” She grasped the green stone between her fingers. “Yes. It’s peridot. My birthstone.”
     “August?” He could never be sure with human months. Time did not have the same meaning where he came from. “It is lovely. Like you.”
     Her blush he did not expect. “I like it too,” she said. Her gaze became intense, flirtatious. “It matches your eyes.” His turn to be embarrassed. Why did he experience giddiness in her presence?
     So he said nothing. Instead he glanced away, slurping at his Julius until the buzz of other conversations replaced the strangeness between them.
     Tina stood abruptly. “I have to go,” she said. “Nice seeing you again, Taz.”
     Tazminn struggled to respond around a mouthful of frothy strawberries. “Umph! Moo-ooh!” By the time he had swallowed, he saw nothing but her ebony hair trailing behind her like a comet as she melded with the crowd.
     “You too. . .” he said to no one.
     Days passed, and Tazminn observed as always.  He patrolled posed as a mortal more often than not. He used  invisibility sparingly. Close quarters often led to jostling, and he would rather receive scorned looks than cause fright or aggravation. Humans did not like it when he appeared from nothingness.
     He saw Tina often, and although he made no effort to hide from her, she never noticed him. She stayed busy with customers and her determination to keep her homesickness at bay. Her thoughts were of a city by the ocean, and temperatures not as cold as here. She longed to stroll the coast without heavy clothing.
     Her dreams made Tazminn shudder. He rarely ventured from the mall, never made it farther than the sheltered parkade. He never even ventured to the top parking lot with its endless expanse of sky that reminded him of his insignificance in the vast Realms of Life. Even if he could still fly, he would not, could not, take her home.
     He spent his time as always, rescuing children and returning forgotten purses, intimidating shoplifters and giving directions. He did not join her for lunch again. He could not explain his growing shyness. Sometimes he would view her from afar, unseen as he watched her cash out, and he would trail behind her when she made the deposit. He needed her to be safe. At least until she passed through the exit.
Christmas Eve.
     The oppressive heat of panicking humans made Tazminn sweat. Their musk stank of frustration and impatience. Their frantic rushed thoughts made him dizzy. He perched, invisible to human eyes, from atop the oil-patch workers statue in Phase One, like a shepherd tending his sheep. He found it more peaceful sitting on bronze shoulders rather than squeezing through the throng of people.
     He spied three young men who sauntered past the shops with the unhurried gait of those who are trying, with great effort, to seem casual. If their thoughts of robbery had not alerted Tazminn, their darting eyes would. He climbed from his vantage point, and stalked them.
     He stayed behind, but so close he could smell the cloying scent of their body spray, all three of them coated in the stuff as though they bathed in nothing else. It itched Tazminn’s nose, and caused his eyes to weep. He shadowed them from one end of the mall to the other, slipping into stores where staff judged them with as much suspicion as himself.  After all, wearing matching black hoodies with the hoods pulled up inspired paranoia.
     The young men meandered their way to Phase Three, where Tina worked.
     The Metalsmiths kiosk had some security precautions, with all their merchandise behind glass showcases. Nothing to steal.
     “Hey.” The leader of the trio smiled at Tina. His pale, crooked nose stuck out from his hood.  Tazminn caught sight of his blondish unshaven chin. “How’s it goin’?”
     She saw the false charm in his demeanor, and his friendly mannerisms were met with a tense grimace. “Can I help you?”
     “Maybe,” the man said. “I’m ah, looking for a gift. . .” He gawked at the name tag on her breast with a wide smirk on his face. “Tina.”
     “I see,” she said, not returning the smile. “For your girlfriend?”
     “No, ah. . .”  He cast a quick glance at his friends. His blue eyes narrowed. “For my mom.” His lackeys snickered.
     Tina’s lips tightened. She did not want to serve them, any fool could see the trepidation on her face. Now would be a good time for Tazminn to make his presence known. He willed himself visible, and approached the counter.
     “Everything all right here?” His appearance surprised all. Tina jumped and the men swiveled their heads in his direction so fast that, Tazminn heard at least one neck crackle. His senses were awash in their instant animosity, like cold prickles on his skin. “Is everything okay here?”
     They studied him, eying the bulk beneath the Canadian tuxedo. As though they were of one mind, the group retreated, blending into the human current.
     Tina’s audible relief filled Tazminn’s ears. “You’ve got fantastic timing. Thanks, Taz.”
     “It was my pleasure.” Indeed, his assurance was as profound as hers. “Are you okay? Why are you working alone?” Worry coiled around his heart. “Should I stick around?”
     Tina ducked her head and tucked her palms into her sleeves. “Vicki is on a break. She’ll be back soon.”
     “Oh. Okay.” He blushed. The heat of it encompassed his entire face. “As long as you are alright.”
     “I am.” Her voice sounded soothed. “Thanks so much for your help. I appreciate it.” Another customer approached the Italia charms, and she turned to address her. “I have to go,” she said over her shoulder. “Thanks again.”
     “Bye.” Tazminn nodded to himself. He also had work to do. Someone on the skating rink in Phase Two was about to pass out from heat exhaustion, thanks to a vigorous game of ice tag in a bulky winter coat. The grandfather would require attention, and possibly a defibrillator. Tazminn let Tina slip from his thoughts. For the time being.
     He spent the rest of the afternoon pining for wings again. So many mortals. Despite his talents, he could not be everywhere at once.
     Tazminn loved his humans, he wanted to shield them from themselves and partake of their genuine excitement, but his thoughts always strayed to Tina.
     It certainly could not hurt to check on her from time to time. . . as long as she did not see his interest.
     The hours passed in the usual blur that had become Tazminn’s existence. When one has been alive for millennia, one hardly notices the mere hours mortals endure. Before long the multitude thinned and disappeared but for a few lingering souls.
     Tazminn found himself gravitating toward Phase Three, past Gourmet World.
     Tina. Where was Tina? How was Tina?
     He waited. Closing time had come. This day, as all others, he could not permit her to see him trailing her.
     So he followed, as usual. She made the deposit each night across from the Casino. He always waited until the day’s profits passed from her tiny hands to the armored lockbox of the CIBC bank.
     Tonight felt different. Tazminn disliked the energy. The anger and resentment.
     His stomach churned. Tazminn scanned the corridor, waiting for some enlightenment. Someone, something caused this unease he experienced now. Where did it come from?
     They crept from the corner of the Casino. Had Tina seen them? The three thugs from the afternoon? Her thoughts were preoccupied with a reluctance to return to her empty apartment. She made the deposit and closed the box with a bang.
     “Aw, did we miss the cash?”
     Tina whirled around and Tazminn saw the dread on her face. They blocked her passage out, and were coming closer.
     The leader sneered at her as he shuffled forward, narrowing his icy eyes. “Now what are you going to give us for Christmas?”
     “Maybe she has something in her purse,” his buddy said. “Have you got some goodies in there, Tina?”
     Tina threw her bag at their feet. “Take it.” She began to back away, closer to the escalator. Tazminn prayed to The Energy for her escape.
     The lead thug let the purse drop before his feet. “Is that all?” he asked. “It is Christmas, y’know. Maybe there’s a little something else you can give us? Hey, Tina?” His goons guffawed.
     Tina spun on her heel. She sprinted for the escalator. The men gave chase. 
     Tazminn sprang and tackled, then straddled the man who stooped to grab her purse. Two quick punches to the head made the man go limp, and roll his eyes shut. Tazminn found his footing, and snagged Tina’s purse by the strap. He had lost sight of his quarry, but knew where to find them. Tina’s screams for help reverberated downstairs.
     He sprinted to the top step of the escalator, and slid down the hand rail. Tina headed toward an empty exit, past the Dollarama, with both assailants still pursuing her. Her wails of terror echoed. She ran for the glass doors, the closest way out. Her flat shoes clicked like a distress signal, but laughter drowned it out. One of them howled, like a wolf.
     “Come here, girl!”
     “Why are you running? We just want to fill your stocking!”
     Tazminn raised Tina’s handbag above his head. He whipped it around and around until it reached the desired velocity. He calculated his aim, and let it loose. The second man dropped to the ground like a meteor. Yet his partner gained on Tina. Tazminn hurried to grab the improvised weapon once more. He had to stop him before they left the. . .
     Too late.
     Tina fled into the darkness and driving snow, with her assailant right behind. Tazminn’s heart plummeted. He should not have stopped to retrieve the bag.
     She would not get free after all. The bastard would catch up to her in the frozen concrete expanse of the sheltered parking lot. And he would. . .
     She would scream, but no one would come to save her. No one would hear her cries.
     Except for Tazminn. And he feared the outside.
     Tazminn raced to the mall doors, plastering his face to the glass. Tina darted for a small vehicle in a dim corner of the empty lot, but her stalker had almost caught up. Tazminn could almost taste her terror like blood in his mouth. What could he do?
     His fingernails squealed against the glass. It would not be long now. He had to do something. Or Tina would suffer the consequences of his inaction.
     He opened the door. The winter wind screeched in his ears and moaned through the concrete pillars, lamenting Tina’s plight and Tazminn’s cowardice.
          His breath came in aching gasps and he tried not to see the black and endless sky beyond the reaches of the mall, all the unfamiliar spaces on unknown horizons.
     Tina gave another piteous scream. Tazminn glanced up to see her in the clutches of the last thug. He heard her clothing rip, heard the wicked cackle of her attacker. Tina was out of time.
     Now. Now or never again. Tazminn twisted his terror into action, and let himself become visible as he charged. He would not sacrifice this human, any human, to his fear.
     “Let her go!”  
     “What the f. . .” Tazminn heard the muttered astonishment just before he delivered a kick to the would-be rapist’s torso that launched him straight upward. He grabbed a handful of clothing, and yanked the man away from her.
     A song of groans played in the wind bringing Tazminn satisfaction. He glanced over to check on Tina.
     She huddled into herself, holding her torn blouse closed as tears trickled from her almond eyes.
     “Are you alright, Tina?” He wanted to cradle her in his arms and make this night go away. But he heard his foe rise and his heart rate increased. Sometimes his own violence shamed him, however necessary it seemed.
     But not today. He would fight this creep again. Just for her.
     Tazminn shifted to fix the greasy man with a glare. “Are you certain you wish to pick on someone your own size?”
     The murderous expression had disappeared, to be replaced by a cocky smirk. The creep glanced back and found himself solo. Tazminn lurched toward him with a hiss, faking an attack. The rapist jumped and slipped, landing on his ribs with a loud grunt.  Tazminn observed the crawling retreat with unrepentant enjoyment, until Tina’s shuddering whimpers brought him back.
     He spun to face her, relieved that he could finally comfort her, that she lived so that he could do so.  Tazminn dropped to his knees and covered her body with his. The frigid tweed of her coat scratched his face. He squeezed her carefully, trying to warm her with his body heat although he knew her shivers were not a result of the weather.
     “Shhhh. . .” He stroked her silken hair. “It is over. They will never bother you again, I promise.” He made no false platitudes. If he ever found those monsters, he would finish the task he started.
     “If you hadn’t been here. . .” She could not finish the sentence. Her breath came in hiccups as she hastened to do up her coat.
     “I know,” he said, enfolding her in his embrace. “It will be all right.”
     They huddled until the dank moisture of the parkade soaked through Tazminn’s sleeves to chill his bones, and still he did not want to release her. He never wanted to let her go.
     “Am I still shaking?” Tina asked, “Or is that you? You must be freezing.” She squirmed to study his clothing. He looked down at himself. Small wonder he felt cold. He had stormed out here in nothing but denim.
     He stole an extra squeeze as he helped her to her feet. “You should go home now. It is Christmas after all.”
     “Yes, it is.” She gazed up into his eyes, her ideas flickering fast as Christmas lights. “Do you have someplace to go tonight?”
     “Tonight?” Tazminn had not given it any thought.
     “I was thinking maybe since you and I don’t have family here. . . ” Tina dropped her gaze to her feet . “You saved my life, and it’s Christmas, and I have no one to spend it with, and if you didn’t have any plans, maybe we could. . . ” She paused in her ramble and took a deep breath, lacing her fingers together. “Maybe you and I could celebrate Christmas together. I could make you dinner. To say thank you. It’s the least I could do.”    
     Tazminn’s mind went blank. No one in all his years on this planet had asked him that. No one had ever even invited him to their home. What would it be like to have a homemade supper?
     “You have plans,” Tina said, mistaking his silence for rejection. “I understand.”
     “I do not,” Tazminn said. “have plans. No one has ever invited me to Christmas.”
     “Is that a yes?”
     He glanced back at the metal and glass doors. Sanctuary waited a brief sprint away.  Security and routine beckoned him back to where he could sleep undisturbed in any number of secret nooks and hiding places. Alone. Suddenly the mall did not feel like home anymore.
     “You’re shaking,” Tina said. “You must be frozen.” Tazminn peered into her inviting brown eyes. If she onluy understood his dilemma. Mere cold could not cause him to tremble. Only fear of the unknown could do that.
     Suppose he went with her? Suppose he challenged his phobia and stepped away from those hiding places for the first time since he arrived at this world?
     “Here.” Tina put her arms around him. The gentle gesture was awkward but well meaning as she rubbed his back. “Maybe this will help?” He treasured the trust in her heart, in the embrace, the deep affection she had for him.
     A lonely night in an empty mall, or Christmas with a friend?
     Tazminn made his choice. Time for a change.     
     He was a guardian in service of the Energy, with free will. Perhaps he had forgotten that. If he could brave these outdoors—if he could challenge three men to save the woman he loved--and win, he could do anything.
     “I would be delighted to join you, Tina.” He hugged her back. “Thank you.”
     “Great!” Tazminn felt her tension evaporate, even as she let him go. “Hop in. I have a nice turkey breast roast at home. Glad I don’t have to eat it by myself!”
     Tazminn tucked himself into Tina’s car, and willed his eyes to stay open, to take in a different world.
     Now was not a time to run from new things. Now was a time to try all things new.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Glass is Half Full on a Slant.

When I was a little blonde kid, someone told me the sun was round, like a ball. I didn't believe them. They told me I couldn't see it because the sun was too bright. I tried to look anyway. More than once. Did I mention my blondeness?

Years later, I discovered I did permanent damage to my right retina. I burned it, but I lucky me, I had 18/20 vision. The optometrist told me my eyes were pretty good, but eventually the left eye would eventually feel the strain of having to compensate for it. Probably in my forties. Then she looked at me with a straight face and told me to "Keep an eye on it."

As a writer who spends most of her time staring at a computer, and has family genetics riddled with various eye ailments that include cataracts, glaucoma and complications from diabetes, I decided it was time to go get my eyes checked. I've also decided I must be adopted because my eyes are great. I only have sun damage. (Knocks on my wooden desk.) So now I have glasses to correct that weak right retina.

I also have a REALLY slanted view. As in, everything is leaning down to the right. It's been fun. I'm always stumbling down hill, it seems, and I have to fight the urge to straighten the angle of my desk. The really funny part is how I swear my hearing has improved. My headphones are the same, on the same volume, but now I'm hearing percussion and lyrics I've never heard before. Go figure.

My fellow author, Jay Mims thinks I may be becoming...DAREDEVIL!

Speaking of Mimsey...He has a brand new release called "Racing the Storm." Congratulations buddy!

I got a chance to read the beta version, and I loved it! You should check it out!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Freya is Four

It's been awhile since my last cat post, so I don't see any reason why I can't irritate you all to distraction and talk about writing at the same time.

It was Freya's birthday on Monday. She is four years old and still perfect. She is deeply adored by her human Mommy and Daddy and worshiped by Spartacus Jones, who makes her crazy, with his constant desire to play when she wants to nap.

I was working on Aphrodite's War when we adopted her from the Humane Society. If you've read the book, then you know there is a black Persian kitten named Amir in the story. I'd never owned a pet in my entire life, but I've met a few, right? . My heroine needed a cat.

Amir was supposed to die in a microwave at the hands of Poetry's vicious ex-boyfriend. Long story short, I couldn't do it. It was too heinous an act. I knew the ex was a psycho, but I am not. I couldn't write such an awful event. It was a smart decision that added depth to the book.

My feelings for Amir grew until I longed for a cat of my own. I asked my husband, and he agreed. It had been many years since he had a pet, and he figured having a pet would be good experience for me, since I'd never had one. He's such a sweetie.

We met Freya in the first alcove we entered. The other cats ignored us, but she meowed at Dan's feet until he picked her up. She stuck her face in Dan's beard and armpits, purring the entire time. When Dan introduced me to her, she crawled out of his arms, into mine and repeated the sweet gestures, minus the beard snuggling.

We decided to check other alcoves, just in case. Surely the first cat we met couldn't automatically be 'the one' could it? She was.

I remember Dan saying, "Honey, turn around." Freya sat watching us from a window with the saddest, most forlorn look on her face. He said, "I'm not leaving her here." And I agreed. Good thing too. As we waited for the adoption to be completed, we witnessed first hand why she wanted so badly to leave. The other cats had pushed her into a corner, hissing when she tried to sleep on any cat bed and growling her away from the food. She was smaller and younger than the rest of them. She spent a lot of time under Dan's chair, and he protected her until it was time to go, shooing away any feline who looked at her with narrow-eyed intent.

I named her Freya after the Norse fertility goddess. When my husband agreed to let me have a cat, I'd gone on line, checking for cat-orientated names from as many mythologies as possible. When I saw those beautiful blue eyes paired with pure white fur, I knew what we'd call her. She looked like a baby frost giantess. I would give her a NORSE name, because she seemed to feel powerless, and I wanted her to feel like a goddess. (The Humane Society named her 'Kendall'. We weren't keeping that.)

It was instant love. She explored our house and afterwards parked herself between us on the couch, to purr and groom, and absorb unending cuddling. Nothing got done for three days as a result of our bonding. Good thing hubby was on vacation. She even slept stretched out between us at night, her head on our pillows.  Now she's our brave little huntress.

I think it was her arrival that changed the novel Aphrodite's War. I was able to give Amir more personality, and Freya the deity took on a much larger role instead of a cameo appearance. I even went so far as to change Freya, the goddess, to look like my new cat. And speaking of cameo appearances, I put Freya-kitty in the book along with our next cat, a much missed Siamese cross breed, Sully in the book as well. They show up in the goddess' lair when Aphrodite visits.

Freya-kitty didn't just change my novel. She changed my whole life. I have a subscription to Modern Cat magazine, a room dedicated to feline comfort and demonstrate my devotion like a fanatic. I couldn't be more content with that. Happy fourth birthday to my perfect Freya. Mommy never knew she could love so hard.

Friday, November 28, 2014

She's Got a New Book!! All About Jacinta Maree's New Release

Have you met Jacinta Maree?

She's a friend of mine from Staccato Publishing. She beautiful and talented and has another release. If you haven't checked out "My Demonic Ghost". I would highly recommend it. And maybe you should also check out thes rest of this blog so you can find out who she is, and why she's worth reading. I'd like to thank Mel at for all her help getting this post done <3

Hunters and Creators

My Demonic Ghost # 3
By- Jacinta Maree
Genre- YA

It’s been five years since the phenomenon that shook the world’s belief in the supernatural. It has become a worldwide obsession as crowds flock together in hopes of catching a glimpse of the spirits. That is most… except Rachael Hastings.

Rachael, now at University, lives with a giant blank page in her memory from when she was fifteen years old. Plagued by nightmares of a green-eyed monster, Rachael tries to stay as far away from the paranormal as humanly possible. Despite her efforts, he stalks her through the shadows and appears in her dreams for reasons she can’t understand.

Along with friends from school, Rachael returns to Whitehaven. During her stay she is caught up in the ongoing war between heaven and hell she had unknowingly escaped from years ago. Forced into the care of Gargoyle the Hunter, Rachael attempts to piece together her shattered memory. As emotions grow between them, a familiar green-eyed demon returns to her side, claiming that Rachael is his one true love. With the world falling apart around them, can Rachael remember who she loves and which side is right before it’s too late?

Pretty little Sheila ain't she?
About the Author:
Self confessed chocaholic, Jacinta was born and raised in Melbourne Australia with her loving family of five.
Even as a child Jacinta had an itch to write. Writing was the one constant hobby she clung to, also trying her hand at piano, flute, tennis, horseback riding and drama.

Jacinta works full time in the family business and spends her afternoons either playing basketball, reading, writing or hanging out with friends. She is always happy to try something new; getting her real estate license, practicing ninjitshu, Zumba and parkour to name a few.

For her future, Jacinta sees herself writing. It is a large part of her identity and something she hopes to continue. Aside from her love of stories she loves Japan and its unique and beautiful culture and history. From their delicious sushi dishes right down to their wooden sandals and kimonos. She is also a huge cat person and loves to snuggle up in front of the fire for a good movie or book.
Her favorite genres are paranormal and fantasy but she also loves anything written by thriller
writer, Stephen King. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Year, Another Novel and I'm Still Here.

My desk is rarely this clean. I needed to take a picture.

After two long years, I've finally finished 'Chasing Monsters'. I almost thought I'd never get there, and it still feels like the last day of school.

This one was the hardest. Several things happened, ordinary hardships that hit everyone. One of the people I made a character in this book passed away. Books sales waned, my marriage struggled, I lost my beloved cat Sully, left Edmonton Paranormal and lost friends.

I didn't think it was anything to get depressed about. But it happened anyway. It's hard to write about.

It took me six months to realize I was depressed. It took four more to realize I might need medication for it. Sometimes I wrote because I was feeling better, sometimes I wrote because I felt like I had to. Sometimes I wrote because it felt like that was the only thing I had left. It made for some interesting editing, I can tell you that!

I didn't WANT to be depressed. Surely this is just something I should just 'get over', right? I wanted to be HAPPY, dammit! Who doesn't want to be happy? Who in their right mind wants to be miserable all the time?
Me and Ariel here are fine.

I denied the depression until I found myself crying constantly and actively wishing for death. Not suicide...just praying for a heart attack or a car accident to take me out of here.

Those were some dangerous thoughts. So I went on medication. Medication doesn't really help, at least not for me. It's like chewing a Nicorette for smoking. It takes the edge off, but the gnawing itch doesn't really leave. Not until it's done with you, and you don't know when that will be.

I dropped the pills and went to therapy, where I purged my heart. Much better. Too bad it isn't this easy for everyone. I'm okay and getting better, but I can't help but feel like the universe officially spanked me for every time I ever thought a person should just 'get over it' when they're depressed. I have been educated.

I hid mine as hard as I could, because I didn't feel I deserved to be depressed. I remind myself constantly that my life is Not. That. Hard.The truth is, it can hit anyone, just like any illness. You could be next. Scary, eh?

I think I'm coming out of it, and finishing Chasing Monsters has helped so much. I'm writing new material, and have discovered mediation, something I swore was a stupid waste of time. I'm always looking for new ways to reconnect to humanity and the world. I'm feeling okay these days. Wish me luck. I wish you all the luck in the world and happiness too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hear my Thesaurus ROAR!!

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Of all the tools available to a writer, my favorite is the Thesaurus. It's my best friend for writing like IKEA is close to me for renovations and decor. My favorite, my beloved, my (checks Thesaurus) my treasured. My PRECIOUS!

I'm doing edits on 'Chasing Monsters' and it's getting quite a work out. While I am conscientious about using different words to describe things, (weapon, sword, blade, katana...) every novel I seem to find certain words I gravitate toward. And overuse.

I keep these words in mind in the first edits if I see them too often, and make a list. Then, when it comes to second edits and formatting the master copy, I check them off as I change them, or place an 'X' next to it if I kept it. I'm not finished yet, but here's some embarrassing totals.

Squeezed-19 found. Four kept.

Flutter-11 found. One kept.

Ached-22 found. Three kept.

Warmth-17 found. Four kept. (Hey, it's set in October. Heat is VERY important!)

There's more, but they're not as bad. Other favorite done-to-death words include, chill, blurred, roar, watch, gentle, followed, trepidation  and the tired phrase "Poor so-and-so."

I know there's a program for this, but I'm old-fashioned and I trust this method. I've taken to leaving post-it tabs with the word on it in the pages for easy access, and the binding is breaking. At this rate, I'll be asking for a new synonym dictionary for Christmas. Just in case you didn't know...'synonym dictionary' is what you'll find if you look up the word 'Thesaurus' in a Thesaurus.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NaYes or NaNo?

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It's that time again...National November Writing Month. I've never participated...until now. Sorta.

The older I get, the more I realize I HATE competition. That's why I've never signed up. I couldn't bear the thought of comparing my progress with thousands of other writers who work faster than me. As it is, my feed in inundated by daunting posts from fellow writers, whose impressive dizzying numbers put mine to shame.

So I didn't register. I DID, however set some personal goals. I promised to write 1000 words a day in my new novella set in Egypt.

     It's working! I am so excited! I'm the kind of writer who goes in spurts. Sometimes I can barely squeak out 100 words, sometimes I can write all day. I don't know if it's the excitement of brand new material, or if it's just the sparkling determination that comes with pushing oneself. Either way, I'm enjoying it!

To be honest, I'm bagged. I sleep like a rented donkey and my days are filled with a sense of satisfaction. My mind feels like I'm running a marathon rather than retreating to the couch for a bag of popcorn or a nap. At this rate, the novella will be finished by months end.

Part of me wishes I wasn't announcing that in public, because I worry I can't fulfill that promise. Part of me knows that owning these statements will keep me from slacking off.

Wish me luck. I have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

No More Pity Party

A meme that appeals to me.
I'm back. I'm done feeling down about the loss of my troll's job. I'm looking forward.

I got a bit of an eye-opener, thanks to my Facebook feed. You see, when Alberta booms, everyone wins. Everybody makes money and babies, and buys trucks. When Alberta busts, everyone shakes in their boots and hopes like hell they get to keep their jobs and that enough work rolls in to keep things afloat.

We got off easy. The severance pay is in, and Employment Insurance will kick in after Christmas. My GICs will have matured then. My husband left on super-awesome terms, and will receive a glowing reference and job recommendations.

A friend of ours lost HER job after three months because she 'doesn't fit in', despite her powerful work ethic. (She's a little goth.) There's no severance package for her this time. Another friend was laid off after she rented a house. Another of Dan's former co-workers BOUGHT a new house right before HER layoff. One couple I know of is scraping by so hard, they're selling things to afford rent. Fortunately, girl just got herself a new job, so wish her luck.

I am humbled, and I am ashamed of my poor attitude. It's time to stop being a princess, and suck it up. This could have been so much worse, and I'm being a wimp.

The plan is to buckle down and get stuff done. This is a new beginning in our lives, and I intend to embrace it. You won't hear me whine about this anymore.

Oh, and Happy Halloween! Here's my favorite Halloween meme!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Week Blues

I didn't want to blog today. I would like nothing better than to build a fort out of blankets and pillows and sleep there for a few days.

Two days ago, after 18 years, my husband lost his job. We kind of saw it coming, there wasn't any work, but it's still a shock. He's had that job for as long as we've been together. I remember when he signed on.

He's handling it very well. Better than me. For him, this is breaking the chains of slavery and he's looking forward to doing something new. He's been puttering around the house, getting ready to yank up kitchen tiles. For me, this means fear and worry. Will he find something soon? Will I have to go back to work? Will we have to move? Sell the house? Will we really be okay? Am I being selfish for worrying about money? Is he going to wreck the floor?

Did I mention last week, I backed into the garage door frame and it's going to cost $1300 to replace? Of all the times to make a stupid and costly boo-boo. Who in her right mind backs out of her garage with her truck door open? A writer with blonde roots and no coffee or breakfast burritos in her system.

I retreated yesterday. Tried to be quiet and unaffected by the world around me. I turned the news on later in the day to discover some terrorist shot up my country's parliament and murdered a young soldier standing guard at the memorial there. Years from now, when people ask where I was when I heard of the shooting, I will know I was lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself and pouting.

And today, I find out a friend has brain cancer, which I should have seen coming too. Just another one of those things you know deep in your heart, but refuse to acknowledge until it bonks you on the head and refuses to let you deny it. I know this person from Facebook, but I'm still worried and sad. I feel like I can't do ANYTHING useful to help.

What's my point? I don't have one. I'm just venting. Can I go back to my fort and eat marshmallows now? I have more childishness to partake in. This week is a write-off.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Like Big Words and I Cannot Lie.

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I was inspired to write this blog because of a fellow author's post about how a critique partner's suggested 'dumbing down' words for readers. She was told perhaps she should use smaller words in order to relate better to the reader. She disagrees, and so did many of us in the comment section.

I was always very proud of my vocabulary, and I learned much of it from reading books. If I found a word I didn't know, I either learned from the context, or looked it up in the dictionary. Not difficult, especially when the spelling is GIVEN to you. I always considered it valuable to learn.

I don't even remember what word I was looking to spell when I found the word 'percipaciousness'. It's so rare, I don't have it in my current dictionaries. I had to google it. 

It was for the character of Dr. Stuart Thompson. I think I may have been looking for the word 'persnickety', or something relatively similar. The recent search for this word is close to what I read that day: Having or showing an ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious. 

The original meaning, in a different dictionary said something more like: The uncanny ability to predict the outcome based on extensive knowledge and/or a 'hunch'. This is closer to the one I had, but I digress.

My point is: I learned much of my vocabulary as a reader, even more as a writer, and I know I'm not the only one. I personally believe a writer has a responsibility to write BETTER words, and therefore build the vocabularies of any one who reads us. 

Give the reader some credit. Just the fact that they enjoy reading is a good enough reason to indulge their delight for new things they might just find useful. If you are a reader or a writer, chances are you'd love a new word.

I had a school friend who liked to argue.(Hi Garth) He was MUCH smarter than me, as in Valedictorian smarter. He and I used to get into word wars. He called me out over the word 'notorious'. (I was a Duranie at the time, and that was the name of their current album. I referred to MYSELF as 'notorious' and he corrected me. "In order to be 'notorious' you must be KNOWN for doing something evil."  He actually gave me a backhanded compliment with that.  I guess he figured even beating people with my drumsticks didn't make me terrible,  but it resulted in a war of words until a teacher made us use our vast vocabularies to compliment each other.

I told him he was axiomatic...It means 'Proven existed.' or 'self-evident'. I don't remember what his actual response was, only that he was shouting again! 

I saw him just a couple weekends ago. Our conversation must have sounded infinitely incomprehensible.

I really like big words, and I'd like to think I use them well.  Too bad I'm not smart enough to get this blue highlighter crap off my blog.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Odd Things to be Thankful For.

Thanksgiving isn't a big thing in my family, thus it always catches me by surprise when it shows up. The holiday is coming this next Monday, (Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October) and I'm not quite prepared for this blog. THANKFULLY, I just found my list of odd things to be thankful for. It's a little list of inventions and things I never take for granted. Yes, they're all man-made, but humans and the divine spark within them created these things.

Left-Turn Traffic Signals: Each time I'm at an intersection and I see that green arrow I feel a delighted sense of relief. Turning left against traffic is stressful, and it makes me feel better when I don't have to decide when it's safe to go.

Instant Ichiban and Miso Soup: Comfort food for under a dollar and it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Favorite simple pleasures.

Garage Door Openers and Remote Car Starters: I live in Canada and winter is coming. Enough said.

The Internet and Cell Phones: Every single week I marvel at the technology in my hand. I wonder how many people were able to get un-lost through maps on their phone. Or to tell someone they're running late. How many fights have those two options prevented? How many times a week do I need a fact or a measurement and I just type in a phrase to the  Google Chrome app? I don't need a TV or a newspaper to get a weather report. The world's knowledge sits in the palm of my hand, accessible by touch. I think of that often.

I Could Go On and On: Kindles can hold hundreds of books without you needing to dust them all. Facebook puts you in touch with old friends, new friends, co-workers, potential clients--Everyone. iTunes insures that never again to you buy an album only to discover you spent over $20 and you only like the one song.

Sure is a great time to be alive, isn't it? Gotta be thankful for that!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Too Many Notes.

You know what I discovered last week? There really is such thing as too much detail. I'm not talking about adjectives, although using three or four words to describe a man's hair is a bit much.
"His flowing blonde mane tossed and whipped  in the wind."
I'm not even talking about atmosphere. You know...the kind where the writer waxes on and on AND ON AND ON about the beautiful landscape? From the snow-tipped mountains to most delicate foliage.

Nope. I'm not sure what to call it. Information Overkill? I discovered it during edits.

My character was digging a grave. Simple enough, but I'd made it complicated. He started by talking to himself about the depth of the grave, and methods of body disposal. He faxed philosophical about religion and serial killers, and the paranormal. Then it went on to the method of killing and how people like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy got caught and the bad practice of keeping trophies.

I no longer knew what I was even talking about, and the flow suffered so badly, it didn't make sense anymore. I didn't even know what to do with it because I didn't even understand what I was trying to say.

So I sat on my butt with a scraper and pulled Peel and Stick tiles off my kitchen floor. Renovations are good for a writer's frustration. In the end, I ripped out 14 tiles, plus two and a half paragraphs.

Ahhhh...Much better. I think the moral of this story is: "When in doubt, rip stuff out!"

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Four Years Already?

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Do you people realize that I've been blogging for FOUR YEARS? How about that? My introduction to the blogging world occurred on September 23rd, 2010, as Thoeba.

A lot has happened since then. I even got married that year after 14 years of living in sin.

Thoeba wasn't published yet, and I was still typing away madly at Aphrodite's War while searching for both an agent AND a publisher. The art of writing was, and still is, intimidating. That's why this blog rarely contains expert writing advice. I'm no expert.

This blog became less about Thoeba, and more of a public journal. I only have 90 followers, but that's okay. I'd love more followers, but I don't want to shove these meandering rantings down your throat. I know you're still reading, even when you're not commenting or following regularly. I see my stats (Thank you United States of America, including Alaska, Canada and China!) and often in conversation I'll mention my blog, and I'll hear, "Yeah, I read that post." Thank you <3 That means a lot to me. There are thousands upon thousands of other blogs out there, and you're still reading mine.

Thanks to my regular and semi-regular commenters, Kevin, Mj, jlotus, Colleen, and Kathy. It's always nice to see you.

I'm not running a contest for this anniversary. My smashwords codes have been voided due to piracy issues, but I'll still send signed bookmarks to anyone who asks, either here, or on
My author page:
Google+ Donna Milward
or in person.

If you look back at my old posts, my favorite is still 'Javascript', (Nov. 4/2010) when Thoeba discovers coffee for the first time. Most recently, I loved my semi-sleeping ramble 'Don't Follow the Tomato.'(Jan. 16/2014.)

So...Here's to at least four more years. Cheers! I hope I can still keep you reasonably entertained. :)