Monday, February 24, 2014

Virtual Book Blast Tour: Struck by Clarissa Johal

Welcome to Clarissa Johal's book tour!
Be sure to comment here and at all other sites for her tour - because...

Clarissa will be awarding an ecopy of STRUCK to three (3) randomly drawn commenters during the tour. 

Here is the schedule for her tour. Comment and win!

And now, the plot! 

The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.


A bolt of blue-white lightning snaked from the sky and hit the ground in front of her. The thunderclap that shattered the air was deafening. Gwynneth slammed on her brakes and skidded. It was a slow skid, or it seemed to be. Spinning around and around in a circle, she felt like she was watching herself from afar. Time felt like it was slowing. Oddly enough, she found herself wondering if there would be white or red flowers on Hannah’s casket. Or maybe none at all.

Gwynneth’s face smacked against the steering wheel. Reality hit her along with the pain. She had forgotten to wear her seatbelt. She pressed her fingers lightly to her throbbing temple and winced. “Shit!” Thankfully, she was in one piece. Gwynneth opened the car door. Lightning lit the area and bathed her senses in a flash of blue-white. Icy rain hit her skin. Stupid! You left your jacket back at the funeral home. She ran around the car and checked all the tires. The back one was flat, and on top of that, her car was quite obviously stuck in a ditch. “Great.” She had no spare tire, she knew that for sure. She also had no idea which way led back to the retirement home. Her headlights cast a weak glow through the rain. Soaked to the skin and shivering, Gwynneth peered into the darkness. A muddy road meandered across saturated fields and off into nothingness.

She sloshed back to her car and quickly turned the engine off. She certainly didn’t need a dead battery on top of a flat tire. “Okay, Gwen,” she said aloud, “you need to figure out what to do.” Rain ran in rivulets down her face and her tie-dyed T-shirt stuck to her like a second skin. I’m a soggy, shivering rainbow. She started to walk and cursed the fact that her cell phone wasn’t charged. Seth was always bugging her about that. “Suck it up, Gwen. It rains in Oregon too.” The inky blackness was disconcerting. Lightning intermittently illuminated the area like the flash of a camera. A snapshot of a road to nowhere. Gwynneth hoped that she was at least walking in the right direction. Her teeth were chattering so hard she was in danger of biting her own tongue. Thunder rolled up her spine and along her scalp like probing fingers.

Her thoughts wandered back to Hannah. A diary. I wonder what she wrote about? She wouldn’t read it, of course, it was private. I’m sure she just wants me to throw it away so her children don’t either. A pang of loss sliced through the cold and Gwynneth shook it off. They had spent countless hours chatting and Hannah never mentioned a diary. She bit her lip. If she could only turn back time, Gwynneth would have told her how much their time together had meant. Hannah had always encouraged her to start painting again, but also understood why Gwynneth couldn’t.

A loud ‘crack’ sounded and an iridescent white light surrounded her. Two things registered: a searing pain that ripped down her back and the ground which seemed to be pulled away from her at an alarming speed.

* * * *


Pain shot through the back of Gwynneth’s head as she opened her eyes. Somebody was standing over her. She tried to focus on the face, but it hurt too much. A cool hand slid across her forehead. She opened her eyes again.

Pale, almost white eyes. High cheekbones, aquiline nose, and a well-shaped mouth. Long, white hair. Ageless. Beautiful, like a Michelangelo. All of those details registered with clarity before agony ripped through her body. She arched her back and cried out. The man murmured something into her ear which she couldn’t understand. She could feel the vibration of his voice and his breath on her neck as he gathered her in his arms. She opened her eyes and saw lightning fork to the ground silently behind him. She blacked out again.

Author Info!

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Buy Links for STRUCK



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A visit to the Oregon Coast.

High tide, heavy winds, Haystack Rock.
The Charming Man and I celebrated a day off together by visiting Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Pizza a Fetta

Insomnia Coffee
Our favorite pizzeria, Pizza a Fetta.

The amazing Italian Sausage Pizza.
 Haystack Rock

The Pacific Ocean.
Aztec Mocha at Insomnia Coffee

Herd of elk on the way home!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hafiz Break!

During the winter, keeping a sense of perspective is all important. As such, here is Hafiz, the beloved fourteenth century Persian poet!

This poem was translated and interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky.
How does it feel to be a heart?

Once a young woman asked me,
 "How does it feel to be a man?"
And I replied,

"My dear,
I am not so sure."

Then she said,
"Well, aren't you a man?"

And this time I replied,

"I view gender
as a beautiful animal
That people often take for a walk on a leash
And might enter in some odd contest
To try to win strange prizes.

My dear,
A better question for Hafiz
Would have been,

"How does it feel to be a heart?"

For all I know is Love,
And I find my heart Infinite
And Everywhere."

Friday, February 7, 2014

First kisses

Here is a repost from June 10, 2010. Of the first kiss in my first novel.

I'm in the mood for a first kiss.

From Dracula's Secret - Valerie and Lance's first kiss:

Lance ambled forward, his gaze locked on her lips. He clasped her hand, caressing his thumb over the thin skin of her wrist. Her eyes stayed on him as he wrapped his other hand around her neck and, pulling her to him, touched his lips to hers. Her mouth surprised him. Such a starkly beautiful woman shouldn’t be so soft and plush.

For a few wild seconds, she stared into his eyes, seeming to assess his sincerity.

Then, slowly, deliberately, she closed her eyelids. Her hands wrapped around his back and held on as she opened her mouth and let him in.

He kissed her again and again, learning her mouth. Vampires didn’t taste of old blood or decay. Valerie, at least, tasted resinous and earthy, like rosemary. Like sex outdoors on a blanket under young redwood trees.

Their lips separated just far enough for him to look into her heavy-lidded hazel eyes. The hungry look on her face made his cock swell even harder until he ached to be inside of her.

She scratched at his nipples with her short nails. He hissed as he pressed into her touch. He clasped her chin with one hand. Clasping the other around her waist, he pushed her against a wall. Lance smiled as her eyes widened. He had his own gifts of supernatural-level strength.

Grabbing her ass, he lifted her. She wrapped her legs around his hips and pushed against her hot crotch against his thumping erection. Their teeth clicked in a fierce kiss.

His hands kneaded the firm flesh of her bottom. Even through her pants he felt her muscles flex and quiver. She growled and slid her hands under his leather coat. His next powerful thrust had her raking her nails down his back. Lance offered no quarter. Neither did she. They fought for dominance with kisses.

She couldn’t overpower him. He met her, strength for strength, stroke for stroke, then matched her, and finally controlled her.

They broke apart. As they stared into each other’s eyes, he panted into her mouth. She took the unnecessary air into her lungs.

Vampires didn’t breathe, except to speak or scent. Oxygen, like alcohol in humans, made them euphoric, light-headed, and uninhibited. The undead hated being out of control. Her pupils dilated until the barest ring of hazel held. What would she do?

Valerie dug her hands into his hair. “More.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Blast from the Past: 50 Shades of Grey.

A post from August 5, 2012:

Here we go again; the denegration of women's reading

To be clear; I have not read 50 Shades of Grey yet. I have been too busy getting Dracula Unleashed (Book Three of the Blood Wings series) into some kind of order. But naturally, I have an opinion about the nasty, denigrating comments about books that women like to read.

I have touched on these themes before in my Defense of Twilight posts, (here, here, here, here, here), but they bear repeating.

In no particular order, I want to point out the following things.

1. Women are not stupid.  
 Some critics think that the people who read 50 Shades are going to jump right in and start doing unsafe sexual practices, such as untutored BDSM. There are millions and millions of people tying each other up and spanking like crazy without having been to a single workshop at a leather conference and somehow they survive. Guess what. We do know how to do research.

2. Women are able to separate fantasy from reality.  
 Teenagers who watched the Batman series in the late 1960s did not try climbing up buildings crouched over with a single rope.

3. Women are not illiterate.
50 Shades is considered to be horribly written, with cliches and redundant phrasing. Here's a little rebuttal from Joanna Russ' How to Suppress Women's Writing, pg. 129:

Women always write in the vernacular....

In the vernacular, it is...hard to be "classic", to be smooth, to be perfect. The Sacred Canon of Literature quite often pretends that some works can be not only atemporal and universal (that is, outside of history, a religious claim) but without flaw and without perceptible limitations. It's hard, in the vernacular, to pretend this, to paper over the cracks. It's also hard to read the vernacular as Holy Writ...

Minority art, vernacular art, is marginal art.
4. Women's sexual fantasies and arousal are important.
Portnoy's Complaint is considered Great Literature. Susie Bright gets assassination attempts. Say no more.

5. Ultimately, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS what a woman reads.
Adult men can read comic books, war novels, spy novels - anything they want, really. Because it is none of our business what they read. Same for women.

Will I read 50 Shades of Grey? After I meet my deadline, for sure. I'm sure parts of it will annoy me and others will get my motor runnin'.

Just like any other novel.