Friday, October 31, 2014

Ennara and the Book of Shadows

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Angela will be awarding a the winners choice of one of the following prizes (international giveaway -- All photos used from Etsy shops that she plans to purchase the gifts from. Actual gift will be sourced from winner's country and will likely look different for international winners):

1.  Dragon earcuff. A tiny dragon that wraps around your ear just like Ennara's wraps around her wrist! Ennara would not approve.

2. Potions master decal kit: Trick out your Kitchenaid with this decal kit! Ennara approved.

3. Emergency Potion Necklace: Potion/necklace dependent on winner's location. Ennara approved.

Or the winner may choose something from Ennara Swag (if they live in the US).

When strange accidents start happening around thirteen year-old necromancer Ennara and her friends, she must search for the mysterious stolen artifacts causing the attacks while learning the highest form of magic--the spells that could prevent the fruition of a terrible prophecy.

Now enjoy an excerpt:

Ennara looked at the pansy. Still dead. Then at her teacher, who was staring at her, waiting. The class remained silent. Didn’t he see the plant wasn’t alive at all? His expression remained questioning. Did she want to admit she couldn’t do this, and be separated from the rest to re-learn how to do a blessing?

She took a deep breath. A sideways glance at Kithe showed him smiling at the end of the desk. He shot her a secret thumbs-up under the table. Failure was not an option. Healing spells were a major part of light magic and she had to master the path of light. Fulfilling the good part of the prophecy demanded it.

“No, I can do this.”

The greenish glow filtering through the classroom’s life tree, an ancient, knotted maple, darkened as a cloud passed over the room’s large sun-dome. Outside, the wind picked up. The life tree’s broad leaves shivered. A breeze whistled through the castle corridor on the other side of the heavy wood door.

Ennara focused on the delicate head of purple petals and yellow stamen. She lifted a delicate indigo-stained pine wand lying next to her scribbled notes on healing incantations.

“Mag koil.” Make unharmed.

Nothing happened.

Darsys and her friends at the front of the room giggled. Inunsolus folded his arms, his white beard pulling the creases in his face into several versions of a scowl.

Ennara bit her lip. How was she supposed to rely on holy magic if it didn’t work?

“Mag koil.” She glared at the plant, imagining its stiff little cells burning with potent life force. A brief indigo shimmer fell onto a limp purple petal.

Her teacher inhaled sharply and took a step away from the bench. The pansy, lifeless only moments earlier, slowly curled and relaxed a leaf. Ennara had seen that shimmer once before. Last summer, when she and Kithe traveled aboard the Cissonius to the sunken city of Ililsa. And just before a cabinet of curios, including a severed hand, came to life.

The bloom slowly straightened, its violet color deepening to black. A faint hissing sound tickled Ennara’s ear. She bent toward the little plant, squinting. Suddenly the pansy lunged, revealing a row of crystalline teeth under its bed of stamens.

“Eeep!” Ennara bashed the little flower with the thick end of her wand. Green slime sizzled the end of the stick.

Angela Myron was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1973. She grew up in the piney forests of southern British Columbia, studying tiny blue bells, dodging hidden cacti, and creating fantasy worlds in her back yard. She loved to imagine lands of fairies and goblins, then invite friends over to introduce them.

Angela studied biology and professional writing at university, starting her degree at the University of Victoria in Canada and finishing it at San Francisco State University. She wrote grant proposals for nonprofits, technical manuals for software, and freelance journalism before writing fiction.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writers Working Wednesday!

Author Collette Cameron has a fabulous Five-Line Friday feature in which authors are encouraged to post five lines from any book they've written. She has inspired Book 'Em North Carolina to do the same!

So each Wednesday, we plan Writers Working Wednesday, in which any author can post up to five lines of any book they wish to promote. Here are the guidelines:

1. In a comment, post up to five lines from a work in progress or a published work. You must be the author of that work, and it must be rated PG (we have students who read this blog).

2. Add the title of your work and include a buy link if you'd like.

3. Also feel free to add your website URL.

So let's see what you have for us: start posting your excerpts below!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Memory of Jeremiah Healy

Many authors, attendees, volunteers and sponsors remember meeting Jeremiah Healy at our Inaugural Book 'Em North Carolina in 2012. Not only was he a wonderful and successful author but he was also a very giving human being who was quick to help and support other authors.

Below is a very special tribute to Jerry by Sandra Balzo.

Jerry and Sandy
As many of you know, Jeremiah Healy took his own life on August 14, 2014, at the age of 66, following a long battle with depression.  Our fellow mystery authors, Brendan DuBois, Andi Shechter, SJ Rozan and her sister Deborah have found a way of commemorating Jerry’s work and life that I think he would have absolutely loved.

As Brendan says: “Besides his work as an attorney and an author, Jerry was a U.S. Army vet, and was also a lover of dogs. We have therefore reached out to a service dog organization in Maryland that trains dogs to assist wounded veterans, and they will be thrilled to receive donations in Jerry's name.”

This all started a few weeks back when Brendan asked me the deceptively simple question, “What cause would Jerry want us to donate to?”  My first thoughts were things that were on my mind –  depression,  suicide prevention or maybe literacy. All worthy causes, but not . . . very Jerry.

So I asked myself Brendan’s question again: “What would Jerry want?”

If you knew Jeremiah Healy for any length of time, you might have heard him talk about the military and refer to somebody as “the real thing.” “The Real Things” are men and women who served our country heroically and selflessly, often at the expense of life, limb or emotional health. In fact, the only time I saw Jerry cry was as he recounted an air mission in which the pilots took off knowing that, once the mission was achieved, they didn’t have the fuel to return.

As for the canine component, I can’t tell you how many strolls were doubled in duration because Jerry had to stop every passing dog-walker with the question “Is he (or she) friendly?” and give ‘em a good scratch. Even depressed, it was the one thing that seemed to help him, so I can only imagine what it does for wounded vets.

So HeroDogs, it is! Below is the scoop (no pun intended, though I kind of like it) from Brendan and company. We’d appreciate your sharing the word. 

With thanks for the happiness you gave Jerry,


Besides his work as an attorney and an author, Jeremiah Healy was a U.S. Army vet, and was also a lover of dogs. We have therefore reached out to a service dog organization in Maryland that trains dogs to assist wounded veterans, and they will be thrilled to receive donations in Jerry's name.

The group is called Hero Dogs, and is based in Maryland. Their website is listed below. They are an IRS approved 501(c)(3) organization and operate entirely on donations. You can donate via their website, or by sending a check to Hero Dogs, P.O. 64, Brookeville, MD 20833-0064. But *please* ensure either by writing on the memo section of your check, or using the form on their website, that you're making this donation in Jerry's name.

That way, Hero Dogs can track how many donations come in, so that they can be used in some way to keep Jerry's memory alive in years to come. Please donate what you can, and please share this link. Thanks to all of you who were friends or fans of Jerry's.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Incense and Peppermints

Today's special guest is Carole Bellacera, the author of eight novels of women’s fiction.  Her first novel, "Border Crossings", a hardcover published by Forge Books in May of 1999, was a 2000 RITA Award nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book, a nominee for the 2000 Virginia Literary Award in Fiction. It was also a 2000 finalist in the Golden Quill award and in the Aspen Gold Award and won 1st Place in the Volusia County 2000 Laurel Wreath Award.  Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in magazines such as Woman's World, The Star, Endless Vacation and The Washington Post. In addition, her work has appeared in various anthologies such as Kay Allenbaugh's Chocolate for a Woman's Heart, Chocolate for a Couples' Heart and Chicken Soup for Couples.

Publishing Credits

Border Crossings – Forge Books, May 1999, Reissue December 2011
Spotlight – Forge Books, April 2000, Reissue July 2012
East of the Sun, West of the Moon – Forge Books, July 2001
Understudy – Forge Books, June 2003
Chocolate on a Stick – Baycrest Books, Sept 2005
Tango’s Edge – CreateSpace, September 2011
Lily of the Springs – CreateSpace, March 2012
Incense & Peppermints – CreateSpace, May 2014


On a snowy February day in 2011, 62-year-old Cindy Sweet receives a Facebook message from a dead man—Warrant Officer Ryan Quinlan who supposedly died in Vietnam forty years earlier.  He’d been Cindy’s fiancĂ© before an RPG took out his “dust-off” chopper, killing all aboard.  Cindy, a young combat nurse at the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh, devastated by her loss, but with no other choice, serves out her year in Vietnam—and even finds love again. 

INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS is a novel about patriotism, loyalty, enduring love, unimaginable courage and devastating loss.  It’s the story of one woman’s year in a war zone during the most unpopular war in U.S. history. 

"With intelligent and absorbing writing, Carole Bellacera places a courageous and inspiring young woman at the intense and dangerous center of the Vietnam War. Bellacera's account of the seventies is heartfelt and real, yet her moving story of love, loss and healing is timeless." 
--Diane Chamberlain, best-selling author of Necessary Lies

Carole Bellacera's Incense and Peppermints skillfully transports the readers back to the turbulent seventies, and the heartbreak and passions of war, as seen through the eyes of a nurse serving in Vietnam. I couldn't put down Incense and Peppermints.” -- Cindy Myers, Author of The View From Here.

Guest Blog by Carole Bellacera

I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified and intimidated in my life as I was while I was researching this book.  For two years, I read every book I could find about women in Vietnam—and about the Vietnam War itself (The Vietnam War for Dummies was one of my favorites.)  I watched a documentary about the combat nurses who served so bravely there—Vietnam Nurses with Dana Delany, and I watched every movie I could find about the Vietnam War, including the entire series of Tour of Duty.  The more I read and watched, the more terrified and inadequate I felt.  How could I…a former medical technician in the Air Force, who served during the Vietnam War…but who didn’t know the slightest thing about serving during combat…how could I write this book?  What gave me the right to write this book?  Could I do justice to it, and be able to honor all the women who served there? 

I just knew I had to try. I felt directed to write this novel…God, the Universal Spirit, Mother Goddess…whatever, I knew I had to do it. 

The inspiration first came from a photograph—the one of the marine on the lower left corner of the cover.  This boy had been my pen-pal in high school.  I came across this torn photo of him one day while I was reorganizing my photo albums.  Honestly, I didn’t remember much about him. I knew his name was Danny and he was from Indiana. My best friend, Susie, had given me his address and told me he was going to Vietnam and would I write him?  (I seem to recall he was a cousin or related to her family somehow.)  I was a flighty sixteen-year-old, and madly in love with a senior named Gary Baldauf.  And perhaps the only reason I even agreed to write Danny was because he bore a remarkable resemblance to Gary. Of course, I knew there was a war going on somewhere in southeast Asia.  (I’m not even sure, though, I knew Vietnam was in southeast Asia.)  But the war hadn’t affected me.  Oh, in the back of my mind, I guess I worried that Gary might be drafted and get sent there, but the chance was small.  After all, he was heading off to college at Purdue. 

So that’s how I began writing chatty, scatter-brained letters to this “older man” who looked like my high school crush.  I’m sure my letters were filled with all kinds of gems like how much I loved Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and how cute my new white go-go boots were, and how groovy I looked after drawing Twiggy eyelashes around my eyes and dotting freckles on my cheeks with eyeliner—following the how-to instructions in Teen Magazine. 

Danny replied to my letters, and even sent me the photo of himself taken in Vietnam, but I can’t tell you what he said.  I have absolutely no memory of anything he wrote.  When I think back on it, I believe I received only one or two letters.  When they stopped coming, I didn’t think about it; I doubt if I even noticed or wondered.  After all, I was 16…going to basketball games, and dances, and pep rallies.  It didn’t even occur to me to worry about Danny and what may have happened to him.  It was only after I found his photo a few years ago that it hit me.  What had  happened to him?  And how could I find out?  I didn’t even remember his last name. 

I turned the photo over and saw that half of it had been torn away.  I knew he’d sent it to me like that because there hadn’t been another person in the picture.  Only half of the inscription on the back was visible.

ny Bruce
Nam ‘69

Danny Bruce.  That had to be his name.  So I got online and did a web search. When a page popped up on my screen, my stomach dipped, and I could feel the blood draining from my face.  It was a website about the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and his name was on it. 

While participating in combat on March 1, 1969, Danny was killed in saving the lives of three fellow Marines, and was awarded the Medal of Honor post-humously. He had been in Vietnam for a little over a month before he was killed.  And me?  I was busy partying, having sleepovers, eating burgers at the Dog ‘N Suds, and just going about my happy teenage life.  I know…I was just doing what any teenager would be doing.  But Danny had been a teenager, too.  He was 18 when he died. 

This is why I was driven to write this book—to honor Danny, and the courageous nurses who saved thousands of “Dannys.”  I hope I’ve done them the honor they so deserve. 


Coughing from the thick, black smoke roiling over her, Cindy sat up.  The explosion seemed to have come from beyond the hospital.  Somewhere past the morgue.  A mortar attack?  Her stomach dropped to her toes.  The chemical dump.  Where the Army buried toxic materials.  Jesus!  What am I breathing? 
            Covering her mouth and nose with her shirt, she scrambled to her feet.  Panicked, people were emerging from the buildings.  The post siren moaned out a warning—too late.  Unless there was more coming. That thought sent her heart hammering. 
            Attention, all personnel! Red alert, red alert!” crackled the loudspeaker.  The post is under attack! Take cover immediately!  Condition Red Alert!”
            Keeping her mouth and nose covered, she ran toward Ward 2.  They’d be going crazy in there, trying to get the patients to a place of safety—if there was one.  No way would they be able to get everyone out and into the emergency bunkers. Impossible to evacuate the entire hospital! 
            Just as she reached the door of the ward, a gunshot split the air. Someone in the quadrangle shrieked.  And then more cries of horror and panic.  Cindy whirled around and saw a form clad in fatigues sprawled on the grass.  Even from a distance, Cindy could see the red bloom on the soldier’s shirt.  More shots rang out.  Everyone in the quad ran for cover.  Cindy bolted toward the injured soldier. 
Behind her, she heard the horrified shouts of the staff on Ward 2.  Rosalie, she thought, and one of the corpsmen.  “Cindy!  No!”
She ignored them and ran toward the fallen GI.  More shots rang out.  She flinched but kept going.  Reached him just as another shot rang out followed by whoops of victory.  She glanced up at the water tower in time to see a figure topple off with a scream.  Wincing, she turned back to the soldier on the ground.  The blood on his back had spread to the size of a football.  Her heart dropped as she turned him over.  It wasn’t a he, but a she, a FNG nurse who worked with Jenny on Ward 5.  Cindy had just met her at the O Club only a few days ago.  She’d been shot just inside the covered walkway, probably had been on her way either to or from the nurse’s quarters. 
            “I’m sorry,” Cindy murmured, her eyes blurring with tears.  Gently, she closed the young woman’s staring brown eyes.  The bullet had gone straight through her heart; death had been instantaneous. 
            Cindy stood and looked around for other wounded, but didn’t see any.  Marines ran with cocked weapons toward the water tower.  A bitter taste rose in Cindy’s mouth, and she hoped with all her heart the sniper had died—in agony. 
            Remembering they were still under a red alert, and she would be needed in the ward, she loped back across the quad.  When she burst into the ward, she saw Rosalie and the two on-duty corpsmen wearing flak jackets and helmets, grabbing mattresses from extra beds and covering patients.  The instructions about red alerts clicked into her mind, and she donned her helmet and flak jacket and joined them in dragging mattresses from the few empty beds.  Not enough for all the patients, but like in triage, they’d save the ones who were in the best condition, the most likely to survive.  She hated playing God like this, but what choice did she have?
            Still, without thinking too much about it, she headed straight for Pfc. Patrick Cummings, clumsily dragging the mattress.  She’d be damned if she’d let him die like this, not after all he’d been through.  But just as she started to place the mattress on top of him, the sirens outside stopped abruptly.
            “Attention, all personnel,” rang out the voice on the loudspeaker.  All clear! Red alert is canceled!”
            Cindy froze, watching as Rosalie and the corpsmen matter-of-factly slipped out of their flak jackets and helmets, and then began to remove the mattresses from the patients.  “Just like that?” she said.  “I saw they got the sniper, but what about the explosion?  And how do they know it’s over?”
            One of the corpsmen, Sgt. Randall Stevenson, a short-timer due to ship out the end of the month, shrugged.  “Probably caught the sapper.”
            Rosalie moved past Cindy, tugging a mattress back onto an empty bed.  She seemed calm, composed.  Cindy couldn’t believe it.  “Excuse my ignorance, but what’s a sapper?” she asked. 
            “A VC demolition expert,” Randall explained, helping Rosalie with the mattress. “But in this case, he probably wasn’t an expert.  Sounds like the explosion was a decoy to draw people out onto the quad for the sniper.  It was probably someone who’s worked on post for months.  You’ve heard of Russian ‘sleepers,’ right?  Same thing.”  He shook his head in disgust.  “Some mama-san working in the laundry, vetted by security, finally shows her true colors after months of being a kiss-ass to every American she comes in contact with.  That’s how the VC work.  Fucking bastards.”
            Stunned, Cindy stared at him.  In all the months she’d been working with him, she’d never heard him say more than two sentences at a time.  Out of all the corpsmen on Ward 2, Randall was the one who kept the most distance, never involving himself in small talk or joking around.  He worked competently without obvious emotion.  Until now.
            “The sniper killed one of the new nurses,” Cindy said, slipping out of her flak jacket.  “I think her name was Janice.  Works…worked…on Ward 5.”
            Randall’s eyes met hers.  His jaw tightened.  “Like I said, fucking bastards.” 
            Turned out Randall was right.  The official report came in from the ER a few minutes later.  The sapper had been apprehended—a 14-year-old shoeshine boy who worked at one of the PXs.  After detonating the charge near the chemical dump, he hadn’t been able to get away fast enough, suffering shrapnel wounds on both legs.  Thankfully, no one else had been injured in the explosion.  The sniper, an older boy who’d worked in the motor pool, had died from his wound.  And it had been a stomach wound, so Cindy’s wish for an agonizing death had, no doubt, come true.   
            Cindy wondered about all the other Vietnamese who worked on-post.  How many were actually VC who’d infiltrated the post under the guise of being allies?  She thought of her friendly hairdresser, Mai.   Always so sweet and embarrassingly submissive.  And Papa-san Song who worked as a cashier at the PX, always wearing a big, toothless grin and greeting her with “Hello, Tall Pretty Lady.”   But behind those smiles, how did they really feel?  Hatred for Americans?  Anger that they had come to their country, ostensibly to help the South Vietnamese, but waging war, all the same? 
            Finally off-duty, Cindy prepared to leave the ward after one final check on Patrick Cummings, who appeared to be sleeping comfortably, his vital signs stable. She prayed he’d make it through the night.  He had to.  She didn’t know why she felt so strongly about this particular GI, but somehow he’d touched a chord in her, and she just didn’t know how she’d stand it if he died.  Crazy and unprofessional, she knew.  Rule # 1—never get emotionally attached to a patient.  But too late—she already was.
            “Hope you have a quiet night,” Cindy called out to Cap Bren and the FNG, Lieutenant Mona Young, and headed for the door.  A tiny mama-san mopping the floor looked up as she approached, and gave her a black-toothed smile.  “Goodnight, Nurse Cindy.”  She reeked of “tiger balm,” a foul-smelling oil the Vietnamese used to ward off evil spirits.
            Cindy forced a smile and murmured, “Thank you.” Are you with us, Mama-san?  Or are you just waiting for the right moment to kill us? 


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