8:45 AM

Movie Phrase Friday

“You’re the weak one. And you’ll never know love, or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.”

Name that movie!

8:21 AM

Honey Badger don't give a s**t!

Check out this link on youtube:


11:51 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words

"There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody."

- Flo Kennedy

12:56 PM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest


CONTEST: Dianne will give away a signed copy of Darkness Dawns to one commenter. International commenters are fine too. She'll be using www.random.org to choose the winner at the end of my week. To get in on the contest just answer this simple question in comments: If you could possess any special gift or ability (telepathy, teleportation, healing with your hands, etc.), which one would you want? Good luck!

AL: Hi Dianne! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Dianne: Hi Ann! Thanks for having me! It’s great to be here!

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Dianne: Well, when I’m not writing, I work in the independent film industry. Right now I’m working post-production on a horror feature film, adding special effects and cutting a trailer. On the home front, I’ve been doing some gardening, one of my favorite pastimes, and getting a late start on planting a vegetable garden.

AL: Would you like to tell us about a current or upcoming release?

Dianne: I would love to. Thanks. My debut novel Darkness Dawns was released in February 2011. The first book in my Immortal Guardian paranormal romance series, it was deemed a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews and a Best Book by Long and Short Reviews. In it, Music Theory Professor Sarah Bingham wants nothing more than to relax after a long, stressful spring semester. Instead, when insomnia drives her to spend a little time in her garden at dawn, she finds a wounded man staked to the ground, being tortured by two others. Little does she know when she rescues him that Roland Warbrook is far more than a man. Nearly a millennium old, he is an immortal who has acquired a new formidable foe amongst the vampires he hunts, a foe who has raised an army to defeat him and to destroy the rest of the Immortal Guardians. When Sarah thwarts the vampires by saving Roland, she too becomes targeted by the army and is thrust to the forefront of the conflict, aiding the immortals in their quest to defeat the vampires and losing her heart to the dark enigmatic warrior intent on protecting her.

AL: What other works are you deep into?

Dianne: I just finished the edits for Night Reigns, the second book in the series, which revolves around Marcus Grayden, an immortal who recently lost a woman he loved for eight centuries. Cocky on the outside, grieving on the inside, he skates the edge and takes far too many risks. When Marcus’s increasingly erratic behavior draws unwanted concern from his immortal brethren, the leader of the Immortal Guardians attempts to divert him from this destructive path by assigning Marcus a new Second (human assistant) . . . one who proves to be immensely distracting and turns his world upside down.

I’m also currently delving into the third book in the series, but haven’t yet given it a title.

AL: What was the defining moment when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

Dianne: The first inkling came when I wrote a teen historical romance when I was thirteen or so. But I would say the defining moment came when I majored in journalism in college. Conducting interviews and writing articles just wasn’t making me happy the way I had hoped it would and led me to rethink my chosen course. I loved reading romance novels and had so many ideas for my own swirling around in my head that I just felt I had to follow that path instead, gave it a try and am so thrilled that I did.

AL: When you write do you do a detailed outline before you get started or do you have the idea then just 'fly by the seat of your pants'? :-)

Dianne: I fly by the seat of my pants. I tried the outline route once and spent days constructing a very detailed outline for my first novel. But, once I began writing, the story unexpectedly took off in another direction I liked far more and I ended up abandoning the outline. I felt like I had really wasted a lot of time outlining the book that could’ve instead been spent writing, so I never outlined again. Now I usually have the beginning, middle and end in mind when I sit down to start a new novel and let the rest come as it may.

AL: It’s time to get personal! The Oscars have come and gone – What’s the best movie you've seen recently?

Dianne: Hmmm. I haven’t been terribly thrilled with the movies that have been released in recent years. For drama, I really liked Inception with all of its intricate plotting. That one took a lot of thought to write. I found The Crazies to be a good horror film, also well-written with good directing, acting and scoring. Salt was a surprisingly good action film. Unstoppable was, too. You don’t see many action films today that aren’t green-screened to death, so Unstoppable was a proverbial breath of fresh air. And for romance, I’ve been enjoying the Twilight series.

AL: Sometimes people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. I like to set them straight, so tell us what’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Dianne: Clean the bathrooms. I actually wondered as I did so if seeing their favorite authors scrubbing toilets would be a bit of a let-down for readers. :-)

AL: If you could have any car in the world; would it be a slow rider, or one that the wind has to hurry just to keep up with you?

Dianne: I would definitely want one the wind had to chase. I freely admit to having a lead foot. :-)

AL: Can you share some of your plans for 2011 and beyond?

Dianne: My greatest plans revolve around the release of Night Reigns on December 6th this year. I’ll be planning a big Blog Tour with lots of contests and giveaways to celebrate and promote it. I’m also going to be participating in the Brenda Novak Annual Diabetes Auction in May and hope you’re followers will drop by bid on items. Some other events I’ll be taking part in are the Bookish Haven Summer Vacation and the Sizzling Summer Reads Party at The Romance Reviews.

As for next year and beyond, I intend to continue my Immortal Guardians series and see what develops as the immortals endeavor to discover the truth behind their existence, encounter new beings as powerful as they are themselves and face increasingly complex challenges spawned by an escalating number of formidable foes.

AL: What do you find sexy in a man?

Dianne: Intelligence. Respect for my own intelligence is a close second. That’s one of the things I like about Roland, the hero of Darkness Dawns. While he’s an attractive, intelligent alpha male, he admires Sarah’s intelligence, not just her beauty, and lets her make her own decisions rather than ordering her around and taking those choices away from her in his attempts to protect her.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Dianne: “Beautiful, brave and possessed of violent tendencies. I like her.” ~ Marcus, friend to Roland in Darkness Dawns

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Dianne.

Dianne: Thank you for the opportunity and for the great interview. I enjoyed it.

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Dianne please visit:

Website: http://www.DianneDuvall.com
Blog - The Immortal Realm: http://dianneduvall.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000816605112
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DianneDuvall



Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .

In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible -- when it mean forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.


Roland awoke as the sun was setting, his body wracked with pain. It took several minutes of intense concentration before he was able to distance himself from it enough to open his eyes and take in his surroundings.

The television was on, tuned to a news channel, the volume low.

He was lying on his back on the futon, his left leg bent at the knee and resting against the cushioned back. His right leg was stretched out with his foot hanging off the end. What utterly astonished him and nearly made him forget the pain, however, was Sarah, who was sprawled atop him, peacefully ensconced in slumber.

Her cheek was pillowed by his chest. Emitting a pleasant citrus scent, her hair again clung to his stubbled jaw and fell across his shoulder in curly disarray. One of her small hands loosely clutched his shoulder. The other was tucked into his side. Her full breasts warmed his stomach. Her hips rested against his groin, arousing him despite his discomfort.

Damn, but it felt good.

Giving in to temptation, he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her silky hair.

She stirred, her hand tightening on his shoulder as she snuggled closer, then fell still.

He hadn’t slept with a woman in the literal sense in over nine centuries, refusing to let down his guard enough to experience such intimacy as this. Not even with Mary, who had feigned such devotion. He had obeyed the proprieties when he had courted Mary and, fearing her reaction when she found out what he was, had never left himself so vulnerable.

But Sarah didn’t know what he was and he had no intention of telling her. He didn’t want to see the same loathing in her eyes that had darkened Beatrice’s or the fear that had widened Mary’s.

To Sarah, he was just a man.

His body hardened even more when he remembered the way her heartbeat had sped up at his touch.

Her pulse was slow and steady now, the blood in her veins calling him to come and satiate his hunger. As he listened to the steady thrum of it, his own heart began to pound.

Roland slid one hand up her back, tunneling through soft, thick curls, and rested his fingers upon the satiny skin of her neck just over her pulse.

What would she taste like? Sweet like her smiles? Or spicy like her daring spirit?

Would drinking from her merely dull the pain? Or would it set him aflame?

His body was struggling to heal itself. The need for blood clawed at him.

Roland felt his fangs descend and lengthen.

Just one taste. Sarah is sleeping. She need never know.

REMEMBER: Dianne will give away a signed copy of Darkness Dawns to one commenter. International commenters are fine too. She'll be using www.random.org to choose the winner at the end of my week. To get in on the contest just answer this simple question in comments: If you could possess any special gift or ability (telepathy, teleportation, healing with your hands, etc.), which one would you want? Good luck!

9:07 AM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest

Linda LaRoque

CONTEST: Linda will give away and ecopy of her time travel romance set in 1880s Waco, Texas, My Heart Will Find Yours. Just leave a commet to be entered in the drawing. Good luck! 

AL: Hi Linda! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Linda: Thank you for having me here, Ann, and giving me the opportunity to talk about my newest release.

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Linda: My husband and I just returned from west Texas where I attended a writer’s retreat. While there, a fire erupted west of Marfa where we’d spent Thursday night and by Saturday the blaze, due to high winds, was out of hand. Sunday morning we learned 25 homes in the Ft. Davis area were destroyed. As we left Alpine, we noticed another fire and drove toward home with smoke in our rearview mirror. There are other fires around Texas. We’re so dry here and desperately need rain.

AL: Please share with us about a current or upcoming release.

Linda: A Way Back, my time travel set in 1930s oil fields of Texas, was released in January 2011 by Champagne Books.

AL: What other works are you deep into?

Linda: I just finished a sequel to A Law of her Own, a time travel set in 1888 Prairie in the Texas Panhandle. It’s called A Marshall of Her Own. Investigative reporter Dessa Wade journeys to Fredericksburg, Texas to investigate the disappearance of a young lawyer. Dessa is thrust back in time to 1890 and into the camp of the Faraday gang. This manuscript is being considered by a publisher as we speak.

I’m in the middle of a romantic suspense set along Route 66 in New Mexico. It’s been a new adventure for me and a real learning experience.

AL: What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had?

Linda: A dream about a woman frozen in an iceberg.

AL: Why are Western Romances so close to your heart?

Linda: I love Texas and other areas in the mid-west. From an early age I watched westerns on television and at the movies and often wondered what it would be like to live in that era. What would I be—farmer’s wife or a dance hall girl? Of course, I didn’t have a clue what a dance hall girl really did for a living. I enjoy reliving the old west through my writing.

AL: What do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know?

Linda: Be patient, keep writing, learning, and submitting your work. Don’t give up.

AL: It’s time to get personal! What would people be surprised to know about you?

Linda: Hmm, I don’t know. Oh, I do too. I was dragged from a horse when a teenager and didn’t get on one again for thirty-five years.

AL: If I asked your best friend what type of person you are, what would he or she tell me?

Linda: That I’m loyal and easy going.

AL: What type of music do you relax to?

Linda: Classical.

AL: In your next life, if you came back as a critter, what would it be?

Linda: A horse or dog.

AL: Can you share some of your plans for 2011 and beyond?

Linda: I would love to visit Ireland, Scotland, and England plus several states in the west. As far as writing, I’d like to write another Route 66 romantic suspense and another Prairie, Texas time travel.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Linda: "Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness."

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Linda.

Linda: Thank you, Ann. It’s been a pleasure to be here and share my work.

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Linda please visit:




Amber Mathis, a Wall Street investment banker, returns to her office after burying her mother. Distraught, tired of the rat race, she's determined to make a career change. In the elevator she falls and rises to find herself in a vintage lift. The date is February 25, 1930, and a man stands on the window ledge ready to jump.

Wellman Hathaway, owner and CEO of Hathaway Bank in New York struggles to pay his depositors half their losses. A woman claiming to be from 2009 appears in his office and involves him in a scheme that forces them into marriage. With Amber's knowledge of the financial history of the 1930s, they travel to the oil fields of Texas to recoup Wellman's funds.

Two people from different centuries are thrown together to survive a difficult time. Will they find more than A Way Back to prosperity?


Do it her mind screamed. In one swift move she locked her arms around his waist, pulled, and dropped to the floor. She cringed at the loud crack when his head hit the window sash as he fell back landing on top of her.

They both remained still for a moment. The air knocked out of her, she managed to gasp out, “Could you move? You’re squashing me.”

He rolled and her head bounced on the floor as she changed positions from trying to rise to flat on her back. Long arms held hers above her head and muscled legs kept her body from moving. Striking gray eyes pierced hers, examining every inch of her. Her face flushed at the intrusion and she struggled to get him off. He applied more pressure and she stilled.

A lock of blonde hair fell over his forehead, a patrician nose flared in anger, as his square jaw tightened. He ground out, “Who the hell are you and why’d you try to knock my head off?”

REMEMBER: Linda will give away and ecopy of her time travel romance set in 1880s Waco, Texas, My Heart Will Find Yours. Just leave a commet to be entered in the drawing. Good luck!

9:10 AM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest

Jean Tennant

CONTEST: I’ll be giving an autographed copy of “Red & the Wolf,” as well as a copy of the 2010 Midwest anthology, “Amber Waves of Grain,” to the person who posts (in my opinion) the most interesting question. So try to come up with something a little more creative than “Where do you get your ideas”!


AL: Hi Jean! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Jean: Thank you for having me.

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Jean: Well, my pet population seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. A few years ago my husband and I took in a little Westie mix when his owner moved to a new apartment that didn’t allow pets. We knew Kirby and said we’d take him. He’s been a joy to have and a wonderful addition to our family. Then, a couple of years ago, my husband’s godmother, age 84, went into the nursing home and didn’t know what she was going to do with her dog, a 5-year-old Spitz. So we adopted Dakota. And just a couple of weeks ago my daughter was told by her landlord that she could no longer keep her Yorkie, Bella. We now have three dogs. My husband is a good sport, though sometimes the yapping does send him fleeing to the sanctity of his garage.

I also have a new grandchild, 4-month-old Brynnlee. I won’t mention her full name here, but her initials are BOSS, which might be prophetic.

AL: Please share with us about a current or upcoming release.

Jean: My most recently release is “Red & the Wolfe: a Lake Okoboji Fable,” which is a romance novel. A while back I kept hearing on the radio that old song, “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. It seemed to be everywhere, and each time I heard it the story would grow in my mind, until I finally had to sit down and start writing. “Red & the Wolfe” is a lighthearted story with serious undertones, and was great fun to write. Besides Red (Riley Renee Harrison), there’s the wolf (Aaron Wolfe), Riley’s grandmother, and even the woodsman (who works for the DNR).

AL: What other works are you deep into?

Jean: Well, with my additional duties as publisher and editor, I’m gathering stories for the upcoming Midwest anthology, titled “Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Fourth in the Series of Stories about Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest.”

My publishing company, Shapato Publishing, produced an anthology, “Walking Beans Wasn’t Something You Did with Your Dog: Stories about Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest” in 2008. (That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) It was intended to be a one-time thing, but the book proved to be so popular that we followed it up with a second, titled “Knee High by the Fourth of July: More Stories of Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest” in 2009. After that, it seemed people expected us to put out another, and what else could we do but oblige? “Amber Waves of Grain: Third in the Series of Stories About Growing Up in and Around Small Towns in the Midwest” came out in November of 2010.

Back to the upcoming anthology … the deadline for submitting a story is April 30th. As we get down to the wire the stories typically come flooding in, which is the case this time as well. I’ve already started doing a sort of triage, where I put the submissions in piles labeled “Yes,” “No” and “Maybe.” “Maybe” is always the largest pile. Near the end of the month I’ll start contacting the authors whose stories did not make the cut, and let them know as gently as possible that I won’t have a place for their work in this anthology. Then I’ll make the hard decision of choosing approximately 35 stories from the “Yes” and “Maybe” piles. In some cases, if I liked a story but there simply wasn’t room for it, I’ll contact the author and ask for their permission to hang onto it for possible use next year. Then I’ll contact the authors of the 35 stories chosen and will let them know that a contract will be mailed shortly.

AL: What do you like best about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

Jean: I love creating characters. Fiction is so much fun, because the author has full creative control over the characters as well as the situation they’re in, and this is such a heady feeling. I haven’t written fantasy, but I’ve written horror (my early books, “Descendents,” “Orphans,” “Wild Card” and others were horror novels written under the name Jean Simon) and that truly is creating another world.

My least favorite part of writing is forcing myself to stop editing and to send my work out. Editing can be a never-ending job if you let it, and I’ve learned that I’ll never be completely satisfied. So at some point I just have to say “That’s enough!” and put it in an envelope. Then, as soon as it’s mailed out I’ll take a look at it on my computer and will say, “Oh, I wish I’d used a different word there,” or “I could have phrased that better.” Never fails.

AL: How do you decide upon your settings? What about the names of characters? Do you ever change either mid-stream into a story?

Jean: I’m an outliner and I work out these details in my first rough outlining process. I have to have my main characters named, the setting decided on and the book titled before I can get into writing my first rough draft. If I don’t have those things I just can’t move forward. Sometimes I’ll use a real town or city for my setting, but more often than not I’ll choose to create a fictional town. That way I don’t have to worry about getting the geography right. I can put a street wherever I want, can name a business whatever I want and don’t have to worry about offending anyone.

For the names of characters I refer to my handy “Ideas File.” In there I have all the names that have struck my fancy over the years and that I’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to use. I like offbeat names if the situation and character warrants it, but will use plain names for secondary or walk-on characters, because too many unusual names becomes a distraction.

And I do not change either mid-stream. Probably because I’ve worked all that out in the outlining process, and by the time I’m working on the book itself the characters are pretty well cemented in my mind. They have to be, for me to start working on the book.

AL: Who inspired you to follow your dream of writing?

Jean: That would be my grandmother, who passed away about 12 years ago at the age of 89. She was an avid reader, as was I as a child, and she was the one person I trusted to share my early attempts at writing with. She was always so encouraging. A few years ago I saw Jody Foster on TV, accepting an award, and she thanked her parents because, as she put it, “Every little picture I drew was a Picasso.” That’s how my grandmother was to me. Every story I wrote was a masterpiece, and that wonderful love and acceptance gave me to the courage to keep writing.

AL: It’s time to get personal! You’re snowed in for a week in the Swiss Alps. You’ve enough firewood and food to get you through the blizzard waging outside. What are three things that you would have to have with you?

Jean: Hmm… I’m assuming “snowed in” means no electricity, so my laptop is no good. In that case I’d want a spiral notebook and a few ink pens so I could write. (You see I very sneakily lumped paper and pens in as one thing.) I wrote my first few books in longhand, so that’s no problem for me, I’d just be going back to my roots.

Would my Kindle work in that setting? If so, definitely my Kindle because that would give me enough reading material for a lifetime. If the Kindle wouldn’t work, then I’d want a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. I’ve tried numerous times over the years to get through that 1200- page book and have never managed it. Yet it’s one of those I feel I should read, so maybe it would take a blizzard for me to finally accomplish that task.

The third thing would be my glasses. That may sound strange, but I usually wear contact lenses and if something happened to my contacts – if I lost one or they fogged up and couldn’t be cleaned properly – I’d absolutely have to have my glasses to see. I’m fairly blind, and all the reading and/or writing material in the world would be of no use to me if I couldn’t see. Remember that old Twilight Zone episode where Burgess Meredith was the sole survivor of a nuclear disaster, but he was happy because he was in the library and at last he had all the time in the world to read without interruption – then he dropped his very thick glasses and broke them? That would be me.

AL: What favorite movie; or T.V. show makes you hunker down on the sofa and settle in for the night?

Jean: I love the old movies, the classics. One of my favorites is A Face in the Crowd with Andy Griffith before he was ever Andy Taylor of Mayberry. He plays a sleazy character, very different than what people are accustomed to seeing him play. To Kill a Mockingbird is another one I never get tired of.

As for TV, I admit I’m something of a reality show junky. I’ve been watching Survivor since the very first one and I’m still fascinated by it. You couldn’t make up characters like that! So it’s doubly exciting for me that I’m currently editing Benjamin “Coach” Wade’s book, titled “No Turning Back: The South American Expedition of a Dragon Slayer,” which my company will publish it in June. Coach has been on Survivor twice. About 15 years ago he traveled alone by kayak from southern California to South American, a dangerous six-month journey during which he kept a journal. It was a very spiritual experience for him.

AL: What were you like as a kid?

Jean: I always had my nose in a book. I was a shy kid, introspective and moody, in an unhappy family situation (except for my grandmother) and books were a means of escape.

AL: What are you reading in your spare time?

Jean: Spare time??

Well, I just finished “You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness,” by Julie Klam; nonfiction, learning about love and life through dogs. I’m about halfway through “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back,” about a child’s near death experience. And I just purchased “The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved my Life and How they Can Transform Yours,” by Edward Grinnan, the editor-in-chief of Guideposts magazine.

It sounds like I real only nonfiction, doesn’t it? I am partial to nonfiction, but I read fiction as well. I just finished Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy and it was outstanding.

I do tend to read two and three books at a time, which is why my Kindle is such a wonderful device: I can carry dozens of books with my in one portable little package.

AL: Can you share some of your plans for 2011 and beyond?

Jean: I’ve started a blog on writing, which can be read at: www.spencerdailyreporter.com. Titled “The Mad Author,” I’m using it as a platform to put together a nonfiction how-to book of the same name. I want to finish Coach’s book and get it out on schedule. I’ll also be busy working on the upcoming anthology. And, in keeping up with the changing market, I’m busy formatting all of Shapato Publishing’s books for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Jean: That’s an easy one. “Outside of a book, man’s best friend is a dog. Inside of a book it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx.

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Jean.

Jean: You’re very welcome, and thank you for having me. There’s nothing I enjoy more than talking about writing and books, so this has been a pleasure for me.

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Jean please visit:




Riley Harrison has traveled to her grandmother's house in Lake Okoboji, Iowa, where she plans to visit for a week . . . or so she thinks. All too soon, Riley learns that her grandmother isn't doing well, and can no longer care for the house and guest cabins that make up the Harrison Resort. While trying to straighten out her grandmother's finances, continue her job as a website designer long-distance, and renew old friendships, she meets Aaron Wolfe, a beguiling local restaurant owner and entrepreneur who seems to have his eye on Riley's grandmother's property. Or is his eye on Riley? Can she trust him? Or is he trying to seduce her only so he can get his hands on the Harrison Resort?


They climbed an open stairway to the third level of the house, and there Aaron guided her through a set of sliding glass doors, out onto a balcony. Up this high the wind was sharp and biting. Riley zipped her parka, pulled up the hood and tucked her hands deep into the pockets.

But the view was astonishing, and within moments she hardly felt the cold.

The front side of his house faced the lake, and from the third story balcony they had a clear view of much of the lake in its entire frozen splendor, shimmering with a silent, ghostly radiance. The lights of the amusement park twinkled far to one side, and on the other side she could see a long stretch of curving beach, most of the homes set far enough back on their lots as to be almost hidden among the trees. The moon overhead was a white globe above the treetops, the stars incandescent witness to the scene below.

“Oh, Aaron, this is beautiful,” she breathed. Tears came to her eyes. She tried to tell herself it was from the cold, and not the exquisiteness of the landscape below, but she was nonetheless surprised by her own reaction.

“Beautiful. Yes . . . it is,” Aaron agreed, his eyes only on her. He stepped closer, gripped the hood of her parka on each side of her face, and gently turned her to him.

REMEMBER: I’ll be giving an autographed copy of “Red & the Wolf,” as well as a copy of the 2010 Midwest anthology, “Amber Waves of Grain,” to the person who posts (in my opinion) the most interesting question. So try to come up with something a little more creative than “Where do you get your ideas”!

- Jean

8:49 AM


"Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?"

Name that movie! 

9:00 AM

Wednesday's Witty Words

"If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than our own."

- Charlotte Bronte

9:22 AM

In the Author Spotlight & Contest


CONTEST: T. M. Hunter would like to do a free book giveaway. Three winners of a signed copy of his short story collection Dead or Alive chosen at random from those who leave comments. He will also give a free book code for everyone who stops by, allowing them a free download of his novella Seeker. T. M. will announce the winners at the end of the week. Good luck!

AL: Hi Todd! Welcome back! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

TMH: Great to be here! Thanks for having me back!

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

TMH: Plenty of stuff going on in life and in writing, both. Later this year, I’ll be heading off for a short overseas assignment at work. It’s going to be an interesting time, since I’ve never technically been out of the country (other than Canada, which doesn’t really count). With the day job, sleep, and my writing, there’s not a lot of extra time to do much else. Now, if we can just keep my wife out of the hospital (even if I tend to get a lot of writing done while she’s there)…

AL: Please share with us about a current or upcoming release.

TMH: I just had a pair of recent releases. My first being Seeker, which I mentioned above. The other is my new 11-story Aston West collection Dead or Alive. This feature from ResAliens Press presents new and classic short stories from the Aston West universe. Aston treks across the galaxy and shows off to everyone why he’s so often wanted dead or alive.

AL: What other works are you deep into?

TMH: Deep doesn’t begin to cover it. I have my third Aston “in the series” novel (tentatively entitled Death Brings the Victory) out with my beta readers for their feedback, as well as conceptualizing the fourth, Resurrection. Another of my novels (this one being non-Aston), The Cure, is making the rounds with agents. And between all of those, I keep working up new short stories for magazines. And if all that wasn’t torture enough, I started putting together some screenplays and comic book scripts. The fun never ends…

AL: What is the most difficult part of being a writer and do you write whenever the mood strikes, or do you have a specific routine?

TMH: The most difficult part is convincing yourself that no matter how much rejection you go through, continuing to punish yourself is actually worth it to reach the goal line. As for my routine, I tend to write whenever I have a free moment. I purchased a netbook about a year ago, and it’s been the best investment I’ve ever made. It’s portable enough that I can take it with me and keep my writing moving, whereas the pen-and-paper method I used to employ just ended up with me wasting time in transcribing my work.

AL: Who is the author(s) that inspired you to write?

TMH: If I had to pick, I imagine it was the collective known as Franklin W Dixon (the ghost authors who penned the Hardy Boys tales). Those were some of my favorite stories growing up. But, being the son of an English teacher, it was probably inevitable that I’d end up getting into writing. With my first attempt (loose as it was) being in the third grade, it didn’t take long for the bug to bite. The rest, as they say, is history.

AL: When you write do you do a detailed outline before you get started or do you have the idea then just 'fly by the seat of your pants'?

TMH: Depends on what I’m writing. With my short stories, I generally do a rough plot sketch, with the idea I want to work in and the characters, but calling it an outline would be overkill. With my novels, I tend to go more with an outline, but I only put in as much detail as I need. And of course, sometimes it completely diverges from the “details” I put in the outline.

AL: It’s time to get personal! What's your favorite music?

TMH: I’m a big fan of 80s hair bands and 80s heavy metal (which I’m pretty sure is considered pop-rock now…go figure). There are a few songs and artists that I’ll break that bond for, but they’re few and far between.

AL: If you could have any car in the world; would it be a slow rider, or one that the wind has to hurry just to keep up with you?

TMH: As long as I didn’t have to pay for the gas or the insurance (or the tickets), I’d be up for a Boss 302 Mustang. It’s probably the same mental affliction that drives my musical taste, but I’m a sucker for muscle cars. Aside from this general aversion to spending money…

AL: What’s your favorite comfort food?

TMH: A perfectly baked homemade lasagna…too bad it’s so hard to find. You either get lasagna that’s overcooked/burned, or you end up with lasagna from a box. Ugh…

AL: If your muse were to talk behind your back, what secrets would he/she tell?

TMH: All the juicy ones…but really, she’d probably complain about the fact that with all these other story ideas being fed to me over the years, I still stick with all the Aston tales. I swear, she’ll leave me one of these days over all this disrespect.

AL: What do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to obtain that you have set for yourself?

TMH: I’m hoping that in the next few years, my tales and characters will become more well-known in the general public, and even more, I’d like to start selling some subsidiary rights in the entertainment area. Most of my goals I set are ones I have complete control over, so I generally get them done (not always on schedule, but…). The things I’d like to obtain (an agent, major publishing contract, etc.) are all dependent on other people, unfortunately, so I don’t generally set those up as “goals” as much as I set goals that will lead to those happening.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

TMH: As much bad press as the Bible gets in modern society, it’s full of some really great quotes. My ultimate favorite (that I’ve found to be true each and every time), James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Aston.

TMH: Thanks again for having me! It’s been a blast! And I can’t wait to give away some copies of my books to some lucky commenters!

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Aston please visit:




Space pirate Aston West has been in trouble with the law before, so thinks nothing of a random cargo check. That is, until the authorities reveal their ace-in-the-hole, a woman they call the Seeker. She could unravel every illegal deed he's ever committed, putting him in risk of losing his freedom or even his life.


Passing through the doorway into my living quarters, I tossed the empty bottle into a clothes pile, crinkling my nose at the stench. The entry hatch popped open as the pressures between the two ships equalized. Six automatic blast rifles were pointed directly at my chest, giving me the usual welcome I received in these circumstances.

Knowing the drill by heart, I clasped my fingers atop my head. Troops piled in, yelling jumbles of words at each other and at me. Someone kicked the back of my legs and a rifle barrel was shoved in my face as my kneecaps struck the metal floorboard.

“Don’t move, scum.”

In my youth, I would have taken exception to such treatment. Age and more than my fair share of holding cells had made me wiser. I bided my time quietly, since I had nothing to hide. A pair of troops tore apart my quarters while others ducked off into my aft cargo hold.

Testosterone flooded the compartment, and all of it was wasted. They were going through this exercise and would end up with nothing to show for it. I smiled, knowing I’d have the last laugh.

“Wipe that look off your face, dirtbag.”

I looked up into the fiery green eyes of my captor. His helmet matched the metallic gray body armor he wore. His nose and mouth were covered in black fabric, but nothing muffled him from running his mouth, unfortunately. “Answer me when I speak!”

I frowned at his abusive attitude, just in time for him to club my head with his rifle butt. He jerked the barrel back at my chest, while my skull throbbed.

The only thing preventing me from jumping up and pummeling him was the fact this would be over soon. I forced words through clenched teeth. “Yes, sir.”

It was good my Mark II blaster was hidden in a secret crevice next to the airlock. Had it been holstered under my jacket, I might have been shot dead like a wild animal, instead of just beaten down like a domesticated one.

Those inside my living quarters finally gave up the search just before the other troops came back from my cargo hold. Their dejected facial expressions told me everything I’d already known; there hadn’t been anything they could find to implicate me. A smile almost crept back onto my face, but I refrained. I really wasn’t in the mood to end up with a concussion.

Another man entered through the hatch, absent any sort of body armor. His dark gray shirt bore a pair of silver ornamental bars on each shoulder. He looked down upon me with all the contempt I’d expect out of a ship’s officer. “Take him to the interrogation chamber.”

My heart sank. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. “Why?” I protested, before my captor’s blast rifle tagged me again.

I brought my eyes back into focus while another man’s voice carried through the room. “Lieutenant, this ship’s completely empty. There’s no contraband on-board.”

“We’ll see what else he has to hide. The seeker should get some useful information out of him.”

My two-time attacker yanked me to my feet. “Up, scum!”

Already in a poor mood for this unsubstantiated detainment, I pulled away. “Get your paws off me.”

His eyes went wide. He shoved the barrel against my chest. “Give me an excuse to drop you, punk.”

“Enough!” We both faced the officer, whose stare burned into the armored guard. “You have your orders.”

His eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring as he shoved me. “Move.”

The officer led the way. We ducked into the telescoping airlock tunnel, where I worried the spongy floor might bust through with each step. There weren’t enough words to express how thankful I was when my feet stepped inside the craft’s entry corridor. The rubberized floor panels and metallic hull were definitely welcome.

My senses were assaulted with an overwhelming aroma of honey. The mixture was a rare delicacy out here in the depths of space, something I’d only had a few times in life. I looked off to my left as the lieutenant started off in the opposite direction. A woman faced me, shimmering black dress brushing along the floor, her breasts jutting out against the fabric. A hand-crafted shawl was draped across her shoulders, the same color as her fire-like tresses, making it hard to tell where the garment ended and her hair began. Her eyes were two milky white globes against a face of smooth, pale skin. Her petite frame seemed as though it would break just by looking at her.

And look I did.

It wasn’t often I stood this close to such beauty, let alone caught a woman’s stare. At least I assumed she was looking at me. Those milky globes haunted me, somehow conveying warmth despite their cold, empty appearance. It was a shame she was so out of place standing between her escorts, a pair of tall, armor-clad monsters.

A bright flash blinded me. Quick glimpses, images, random visual fragments bombarded my vision. Two bodies, intertwined, slowly came into focus.

REMEMBER: T. M. Hunter would like to do a free book giveaway. Three winners of a signed copy of his short story collection Dead or Alive chosen at random from those who leave comments. He will also give a free book code for everyone who stops by, allowing them a free download of his novella Seeker. T. M. will announce the winners at the end of the week. Good luck!