On Conversations: #bestselling #author Edie Claire

Please join me in welcoming the USA Today bestselling author Edie Claire to Conversations today! Edie is here to talk about book one of her Pacific Horizons series, Alaskan Dawn and it's on sale for only 99¢! So be sure and check out the cover and blurb below. As an added bonus, Edie has a wonderful blog post to share with us titled Vacation Dreaming with Pacific Horizons. And don't forget to check out her bio too and get to know Edie Claire!

Lisa ~


Haley knew that carrying her twin sister's baby would be a sacrifice.

She just didn't know how great.

Overachieving attorney Haley Olson has always done the responsible thing. So when her twin sister Micah needs a surrogate mother, Haley willingly volunteers. Like most feats the capable workaholic attempts, her pregnancy goes perfectly… until the results of prenatal testing threaten to tear Micah's marriage apart.

Pregnant, overworked, and driven to the end of her rope by the neediness of the sister and widowed mother who depend on her, Haley seeks refuge with a week's vacation on the Alaskan coast. As she soaks up the serenity of the unexpectedly vast and beautiful wilderness, Haley finds something else she doesn't expect -- deep feelings for the wildlife-loving boat captain who reminds her how to laugh.

With her unborn niece or nephew on the way and thousands of miles of ocean between their lives and careers, Haley and Ben settle for a friendship. But back home in California, the emptiness in her heart refuses to heal, and when her pregnancy takes a frightening turn Haley must examine what really matters -- and rediscover the childhood dream she never realized she had lost.

Purchase ALASKAN DAWN for only 99¢ while you can!

Kindle / Nook / Kobo / Google Play / iBooks


Have you ever gone to new place, a new area of the country, and suddenly felt like you were home? Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with a vacation spot that no matter how much dirty laundry you had piling up in your suitcase, when it was time to leave you felt like kicking and screaming? Well, that happened to me in Hawaii. And Alaska. And pretty much anywhere I’ve ever been on the Pacific Coast where the beaches were wild and untamed, the breeze was brisk, and the landscape was awash in soothing blues and greens. Despite the kicking and screaming, I did always have to leave, at least physically. But being a novelist has its perks. And writing books set in the places I want to be, letting my imagination live there for months at a time, is one of the best perks ever!

The idea for this series was born a few summers ago as I rode on a whale-watching boat through the frigid waters of Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska on a relatively warm, sunny day in August. We had just been treated to an amazing show of bald eagles, Steller sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, puffins, orcas, and several humpback whales, and someone asked the naturalist on board if he lived in Alaska year round. “Oh, no,” he answered. “I spend my winters on Maui. I follow the whales.”

Um… friggin’ YEAH! What he said! The whales have it right. I began to imagine such a life – summers in Alaska and winters in Hawaii, and the character of my whale-watching boat captain, Ben Parker, came alive. This video, which is made up almost entirely of my family’s own footage that we shot on vacation with iPhones, was designed to “capture the mood” of the series, particularly the first book, Alaskan Dawn. Each book has its own central characters and can stand alone, but we also get to revisit old friends as the actors move between the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska, with the drama of their lives unfolding against an ever-changing backdrop of natural splendor.

In terms of genre, the Pacific Horizons series is what I call “Romantic Women’s Fiction,” where falling in love is only a part of the heroine’s story. In Alaskan Dawn, we meet a woman struggling with unexpected challenges after she agrees to serve as a surrogate for her twin sister’s baby. In Leaving Lana’i, a woman who was taken away from that tiny island abruptly as a child finally makes her way back – for better or worse. And in Maui Winds, a biracial adoptee from a Soviet orphanage arrives on Maui for a marine biology internship and uncovers a biological link to the islands. All of these women face complex journeys that testify to the healing power of love.

I’m pretty sure the next book will take place back up in Alaska. It’s hot at my desk right now, so the thought of those snow-capped mountains really appeals. (I’d love to write a story set in Australia or New Zealand someday, but that will have to wait until my youngest is in college.) The beauty of the series is… I really don’t know where my characters will turn up in the future. I’ll just close my eyes here in my landlocked middle-American state, imagine a humpback whale silently gliding through the deep blue water… and see where my imagination takes me. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

I have lived in various states in the South and Midwest and have worked at more jobs (paid and unpaid) than I can count, including veterinarian, childbirth educator, medical/technical writer, corporate communications writer, freelance copyeditor, camp counselor, CASA (court-appointed special advocate for abused/neglected children), church administrative council leader, community theater diva, birthparent mentor, hospital volunteer, mother of three, wife, laundress, housekeeper (although I stink at that one), pet collector, coordinator of child sponsorship for a Christian mission in Kenya, choir member (I was pretty marginal at that, too), and last but not least--I once spent an entire summer cleaning toilets at a ranch in New Mexico. I am also pretty much obsessed with professional surfing (See at left. This is bliss. Really.)

When I'm not doing the above, I write novels and plays. And I really hope that you enjoy them!

New Release: Rising Storm Season 2

A new season…a new storm - get caught!
All 8 episodes of Rising Storm Season 2 out NOW!

(Rising Storm Season 2, Book 3 by Lisa Mondello)

Secrets, Sex and Scandals …

Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming.

As Senator Rush’s poll numbers free fall, Marylee tries to drive a wedge between Brittany and Marcus. Across town, Anna Mae and Chase dance toward reconciliation. Ginny longs for Logan, while he fights against Sebastian’s maneuvering. And Hector, newly freed from prison, heads back to Storm… 


Welcome to Storm, Texas…
A town nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, where everything seems like perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade.

Dark and powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. That can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams.

Rising Storm is an ongoing drama. A powerful series conceived by Julie Kenner and Dee Davis, full of scandal, deceit, romance, passion, and secrets.

…get caught in the storm!

Against the Wind (Episode 1) by Rebecca Zanetti

Storm Warning (Episode 2) by Larissa Ione

Brave the Storm (Episode 3) by Lisa Mondello

Lightning Strikes (Episode 4) by Lexi Blake

Fire and Rain (Episode 5) by R.K. Lilley

Quiet Storm (Episode 6) by Julie Kenner

Blinding Rain (Episode 7) by Elisabeth Naughton

Blue Skies (Episode 8) by Dee Davis




I wanted to share a very special promotion with you — a HUGE sale on the Rising Storm: Season One Bundle!!!!

This special limited edition bundle of the entire first season of Rising Storm (over a $23 value!!) is being offered at the reduced price of only 99¢ for a very limited time, so you'll want to grab it fast!

Rising Storm: Season One Bundle

Storm, Texas.

Where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy…

Nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, the bucolic town of Storm, Texas, seems like nothing short of perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade. Dark secrets. Powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. The kind that can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams. All it takes is one little thing to shatter that polish.

This bundle contains episodes 1-8:
TEMPEST RISING by Julie Kenner
CROSSWINDS by Elisabeth Naughton
DANCE IN THE WIND by Jennifer Probst
TAKE THE STORM by Rebecca Zanetti
WEATHER THE STORM by Lisa Mondello

for only 99¢ now!

On Conversations: #AAMBC #author Mona

Please join me in welcoming author Mona to Conversations today! Mona is here to talk about her novel, A Thug and A Gentleman! So be sure and check out the cover, blurb and excerpt below! And don't forget to check out her interview too and get to know Mona.

Lisa ~


Misa's Story

“Sometimes the most dangerous things are the most beautiful.” – Misa

Like the old saying goes: two wrongs don’t make a right. But for Misa, who’s unhappy in her marriage to Jason, two wrongs make for a happy life. Jason works tirelessly to give his wife everything her heart desires, but all she wants is his heart. While engaging in a little retail therapy, she runs across Thomas, an up and coming kingpin with a degree from Georgia Tech. They start a friendship that quickly turns into something more, and Thomas gives Misa everything she misses at home. But when her deception begins to hit too close to home, she takes off to Chicago to clear her head.

Thomas sees women as stallions; the freakier they are in bed, the better. He needs someone who understands his stamina and can go along for the ride as long as she knows her place in his life: temporary. Misa ignited a fire in him that he thought died a long time ago with his daughter’s mother Brielle, who left him and Atlanta with his friend Ricky after dropping their daughter off at his mother’s house.  When Brielle suddenly reappears out of the blue and wants her family back, Thomas has a choice to make between the woman who bore his child and the woman who holds his heart.

Brielle has a few secrets of her own. Once she touches back down in the A, she finds the family she thought she had moved on without her, and Thomas’ time occupied by a mystery woman. Using a little conniving mixed with a lot of feminine tricks, she discovers who stole her family and sets out on a path to destroy her enemy. But will her plan work, or does it backfire on her in the worst way?

Misa meets a stranger in Chicago who consoles her in the most perfect way while reminding her of what’s important. When a few weeks in the Windy City turn into a few months, the perfect affair morphs into the perfect storm. Will Misa weather the storm with her husband, or her side piece? Follow along as she finds out the hard way to love the one you’re with and Misa’s side pieces tell the age old tale of ‘When Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right’.

Excerpt from A Thug and A Gentleman

It all started a year and a half ago when I stopped off at Lenox Mall for a little retail therapy. I’d just left the Louis Vuitton store and was on my way to Nordstrom’s when I collided with a chocolate Adonis. Standing six feet even, he was everything I loved in my husband without being Jason. Broad chest, firm upper arms, perfect lips; not too big, but not too small and the waves in his low Caesar cut would make you seasick. The only difference between him and my husband was that where Jason was bare faced, this man had a goatee that looked like it was painted on. I had to stop myself from reaching up to touch his face and confirm whether or not my suspicions were correct.

“Excuse me miss lady, you aight?” he asked as I steadied myself.

“Yes, yes I’m fine,” I stuttered. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you standing there.”

“You good,” he replied as he licked his lips. “Yea, you real good,” he said as he continued to stare me up and down. Something about the look in his eyes made me want to know more about him. Who was I kidding? I had a great man at home…right? Well, I had a great man that put me in a beautiful home who spoiled me. Whether he was there or not remained to be seen. “You need some help with those bags?” I saw his lips form a question as I found myself caught up in his looks.

“Huh? Oh, no, no I’m fine,” I answered as he gently took my bags from my hands.

“Don’t worry about it miss lady, I got it. My parents raised me right,” he smiled as we walked through the mall together. “By the way, my name is Thomas, but the streets call me Tremor.”

“Tremor? Why would anyone call you Tremor?”

He flashed me a panty-dropping smile, and I almost handed mine over, right in the middle of Lenox Mall. “I’ll tell you about that later. What’s your name, love?”

“Monique,” I replied with no shame.

“Monique, huh. Where we on our way to, Monique?”

“Nordstrom’s. I gotta go grab something for my…” I stopped. Did I want to tell him I was married? I mean, I guess he could’ve figured it out from a glance at the five carats on my right hand.

“Something for your what? Your man?”

I shook my head furiously. “No, something for my mother. Her birthday is tomorrow,” I lied. My mother’s birthday was last month.

He stopped and grinned in my direction. “So you mean to tell me a fine woman such as yourself don’t have a man? I don’t believe that.”

“Well, I just got out of a relationship,” I was starting to not recognize myself with all of these lies. “I moved down here to start fresh, you know?”

“Yea, I know what you mean. My girl, well my ex, seemed to feel the same way. She dropped my daughter off at my momma house and said she needed a fresh start too. That was about three years ago now.”

I was shocked. How could a woman just up and leave her daughter like that? But there are two sides to every story, and I wasn’t exactly the perfect woman. At least she left her baby with her father. “Wow, sorry to hear that,” I replied as we reached Nordstrom’s. “Well, here’s my destination. Thank you Thomas for carrying my things.”

“I’ll shop with you. You definitely need the help, especially since you’re just going to add to your bag count,” he smirked.

“Well, don’t you have your own shopping to do?”

“That can wait, I’m not in any rush. Plus, I hate to see a woman in distress,” he flashed his pearly whites at me again. I gotta get used to this Southern hospitality.

He tagged along as I walked through the store. I picked up a few things for my mom, and stopped to grab some sexy lingerie for what I hoped would be my lucky night with my husband.

“Mmm, not that one,” he said as I picked up a white lace teddy with matching garter belt. “That’s too uppity. Get that one,” he pointed at a silk green bra and panty set. “That’ll look good on you. Brings out your eyes. And I’ll have fun taking it off of you too,” he whispered as his face grazed my ear.

I subconsciously reached for the set he suggested, then stopped. “What makes you think I’m getting this for your viewing pleasure?” I asked coyly.

“Who else would you be getting it for?” he answered my question with a question. The slight demand in his tone secretly made me hot.

“Not you!” I replied playfully. “As a matter of fact, why are you over here telling me what I should and shouldn’t get? Are you in the habit of telling strangers what kind of panties to wear?”

“Not all strangers. Only the ones that I have plans to be my wife,” he replied confidently as he picked up the panties and walked to the cash register. “Go ahead and finish shopping, I’ll grab this for you to have when you ready to stop playing and come home.”

As I watched him walk to the register, I was intrigued by his overall swagger. I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in exchanging contact information with him, Thomas seemed like he would be a lot of fun to have around. I completely ignored the small voice in my head that said this man would be trouble.

Interview with Mona aka Freida

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

My inspiration comes from growing up in the inner city of Chicago. I also get ideas from what is current in the news on any given day.

When did you first start writing?

Honestly, I started writing at the age of seven. My teachers recognized my skill early, and I was always the unanimous choice when it came to picking a student to send to composition competitions at the city level. I saw it as a day out of school with no consequences. I read a lot, and by the age of nine I started writing short stories.

Do you like to create books for adults?

I love writing fiction books! My books are mainly urban fiction, but I’ve also penned an urban erotica read with one in the works.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

Currently I have ten books and co-authored three anthology series published. My eleventh book will be available this month, and I have a few projects that I’m working on with some great authors.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, because most of my main characters are women who are strong in their own right. If I absolutely had to choose, it would be Athena from my Chi Town’s Queen series. Not your typical queen pin from the hood, there were two sides to her: the ruthless queen of the criminal underworld, but she also was very loving and caring when it came to those close to her.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is something different from the typical. We as urban fiction writers are always compared to one another by the readers, so my objective is to give the readers something different. Urban America is more than just kingpins and drug dealers, my stories tell the tales of strong women who do more than club and shop.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Throw away any preconceived notions that you might have about the industry, not every authors reality will necessarily be yours. Develop a thick skin, because readers can be vicious in their reviews. Meditate, pray and meditate some more. Then turn on your laptop and create your best work.

New Release: SHOPPING FOR AN HEIR by Julia Kent

The Inheritance Book 8 is available now!

(The Shopping Series Book 10)

Gerald Wright works for billionaires. He never imagined he’d become one.

The former Navy Seal is a chauffeur by day, artist by night, so when hotter-than-ever ex-fiancĂ©e Suzanne Dayton interrupts his nude model sculpting class to serve him with inheritance paperwork from a man he’s never heard of, he assumes it’s a joke.

Turns out the joke’s on him. There’s just one catch. A big one.

And it might be Suzanne — in more ways than he ever dreamed.

Read an Excerpt


A billionaire’s bequest changes everything…
Billionaire Harold Hopewell traveled the world, encountering people and letting their stories touch him. In death, he is giving back, leaving an unusual will filled with life-altering bequests to the people he met along the way. Read the Inheritance Series, and let their stories touch you.

March 8
A BURNING PASSION (Hidden Cove Firefighters Book 8) by Kathryn Shay
The Inheritance Book 1

March 15
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (The Magic Jukebox Book 6) by Judith Arnold
The Inheritance Book 2

April 19
WHERE LOVE LIVES (Wyoming Wildflowers Book 6) by Patricia McLinn
The Inheritance Book 3

May 17
THE WEDDING DRESS (Texas Hearts Book 7) by Lisa Mondello
The Inheritance Book 4

June 21
TEXAS SWEET (Texas Heroes Book 18) by Jean Brashear
The Inheritance Book 5

July 19
DEADLY LEGACY (Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations Book 7) by Margaret Daley
The Inheritance Book 6

August 16
ABBY'S COWBOY (The Texas Two-Step Series Book 6) by Kathy Carmichael
The Inheritance Book 7

September 20
SHOPPING FOR AN HEIR (Shopping for a Billionaire series) by Julia Kent
The Inheritance Book 8

October 18
BOUND BY BETRAYAL (Bound by Book 4) by Trish McCallan
The Inheritance Book 9

November 15
ENTRUSTED TO THE SEAL (The McRaes Series Book 6) by Teresa Hill
The Inheritance Book 10

December 20
The Inheritance Book 11

On Converstions: #bestselling #author Adele Downs

Please join me in welcoming the award-winning and bestselling author Adele Downs to Conversations today! Adele is here to talk about her new release, Luxury Model Wife. So be sure and check out the cover, blurb, and excerpt below. And don't forget to check out her bio too and get to know Adele Downs!

Lisa ~


Antiques expert Steve Carlson must face the mistakes of his past to discover a treasure he never imagined: the heart of a vulnerable yet determined widow.


Twenty-eight-year-old Victoria Van Orr just lost everything. With the death of her billionaire husband went his mature patience and warm encouragement; and the veneer of acceptance from everyone else. His friends and colleagues now ignore Victoria, and if his son succeeds she just might be forced back to the streets upon which she was raised. But money was never her goal. All she wants is love. Real love.

Antiques expert Steve Carlson knows the value of everything. Pain and betrayal? Those he gave away--and now they're coming back. His worst mistakes were all with one man: an old friend, the son of a father figure, now the stepchild of a beautiful young widow who wants Steve to help her auction off the family estate. To help Victoria, Steve must face his past and become a better man. To find true love, he will discover her surprisingly pure heart, vulnerable yet determined. And beyond price.


Excerpt from with LUXURY MODEL WIFE

Steve tilted his head, his bright blue eyes sizing her up. “Sorry, but I gotta’ ask. Do you always talk like that?”

Victoria felt her cheeks warm. “Whatever do you mean?”

“There.” He studied her again with not-so-subtle curiosity. “You sounded like your late husband James just now. Funny, you don’t seem like the snooty type to me. More like a regular girl.”

His comment touched a nerve like hot wires to stripped cable. Victoria bit back a retort while blood rushed through her ears. She closed her eyes against the sound to clear her head. Twenty-eight was hardly a girl, and she was damn tired of defending her right to be a Van Orr.

For five years she’d tried and failed to fit into the privileged world of her older husband—learning couture, keeping her posture as straight as a modeling school graduate, rounding her O’s when she spoke —apparently fooling no one on either side of the social spectrum in the process.

Defeat swept over her and her shoulders sagged beneath five-thousand dollars’ worth of silk and linen. No matter how hard she tried, she’d forever be exposed as the abandoned kid who’d grown-up in shelters.

Strange though… when she opened her eyes and returned them to Steve Carlson’s handsome face, she sensed his remark was meant as a compliment, and not a reminder that she lacked James’s pedigree. It was like he saw her.

Her. Not James’s luxury-model second wife.

Still, his manners were disgusting. Even store-owner-janitors should know how to behave. Snooty type. Who was he to say that to her? She was a potential client for heaven’s sake.

Victoria stood to leave. She was sick and tired of people voicing their opinions about her and her late husband’s disparate lineage. She’d been bullied and belittled since the day she’d become engaged. “You don’t know me well enough to analyze me, Mr. Carlson.” She kept the annoyance out of her reprimand. The rich had taught her that cool distain wounded more deeply than anger.

Steve grimaced, rubbed his jaw, and then stood to face her, his expression sheepish. He waved her back to her seat. “Please. I’m sorry I offended you. I’m a friend. Really. We’ve gotten off on the wrong foot.”

He ran a hand through his hair and his bicep bulged with the movement. Victoria’s gaze followed the lines and curves of sinew and muscle and took in the military tattoo peeking from the hem of his tee shirt.

She resisted the images that teased her dormant libido, and brought her eyes back to his face. Damn. That didn’t help. Why did this annoying man have to be so good-looking? Her attraction to him only made her feel guilty, like she’d betrayed James’s memory.

Widowhood came with a unique set of baggage.

Adele Downs is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 20 romance titles, including those written under another pen name, and a former journalist with hundreds of articles to her credit. When not writing in her home office in rural Pennsylvania, she can be found reading a book on the nearest beach, taking photographs, or riding in her convertible.

Find books by Adele Downs on Amazon!
Visit Adele Downs on her website adeledowns.com
Subscribe to Adele’s blog adeledowns.wordpress.com
Like Adele Downs on Facebook!
Follow @Adele_Downs on Twitter!

Find Adele Downs on Goodreads

On Converstions: #bestselling #author Margaret Daley

Please join me in welcoming the USA Today bestselling author Margaret Daley to Conversations today! Margaret is here to talk about book 3 in her Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations series, Deadly Holiday. So be sure and check out the cover and blurb below. And it's on sale for a limited time for only 99¢! So grab it at this low, low price while you can! Don't forget to check out her bio too and get to know Margaret Daley.

Lisa ~

Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations
Book 3

Tory Caldwell witnesses a hit-and-run, but when the dead victim disappears from the scene, police doubt a crime has been committed. Tory is threatened when she keeps insisting she saw a man killed and the only one who believes her is her neighbor, Jordan Steele. Together, can they solve the mystery of the disappearing body and stay alive?

Read an excerpt HERE

Purchase DEADLY HOLIDAY for only 99¢ now!

USA Today Bestselling author, Margaret Daley, is multi-published with over 100 titles and 5 million books sold worldwide. She had written for Harlequin, Abingdon, Kensington, Dell, and Simon and Schuster. She has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Carol Award, Holt Medallion and Inspirational Readers' Choice Contest.

She has been married for over forty-five years and is enjoying being a grandma. When she isn't traveling, she's writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at www.margaretdaley.com.

On Conversations: #AAMBC #author Toi Powell

Please join me in welcoming author Toi Powell to Conversations today! Toi is here to talk about her new release, Blood of a Queen! So be sure and check out the cover, blurb and excerpt below! And don't forget to check out her interview and bio too and get to know Toi Powell.

Lisa ~



A secret so deadly, she should have stayed hidden.

A young woman’s newfound independence takes her into the heart of a dangerous city in New York; a place her parents forbade her to return to. Ruby, beautiful, yet, sheltered and naive, unearths a web of deception, betrayal and love triangles. She stumbles upon a family secret so deadly, she makes it her mission to prove the serious accusations against her family untrue.

A forbidden love interest emerges on her quest for truth and Ruby struggles between following her young heart, or remaining loyal to a long lost childhood friend who has recruited her help to solve a crime; a crime that will turn her family’s lives upside down.

With the help of her cousin Sheila, the duo uncovers hidden secrets from not only her past, but those closest to her; resetting the wheels in motion to overthrow a troubled, yet, powerful Kingpin upon her arrival.

Dangerous, thrilling and seductive, the Blood Of A Queen Series is a tale of an insatiable thirst for freedom and hidden truths that will take you on a journey to the deepest darkest places in New York to find it.

Excerpt from Blood of a Queen

Briskly walking along a side street in South Jamaica, Queens, a young man, although alone, still feels the urge to glance over his shoulder. Every so often he checks to see if he’s being followed. His heart beats fast, over-exerted lungs making it hard for him to breathe. He struggles to keep up the fast pace he’s been walking for nearly thirty minutes. As his mind races, he tries to focus on the task at hand, but he’s quickly distracted by a familiar sound blaring in the distance.

Police sirens echo in the background, while beams of red and blue lights shower the streets. They pierce through the darkness as the driver steadies his speed at twenty miles an hour. With searchlights extending from its windows, a cruiser creeps past the abandoned buildings and dark alleyways. A search for suspicious activity is underway.

The young man looks behind him and sees the approaching car. He glances at the road before him. The end of the street is too far ahead, and he knows he will never make it there without being seen. He slips into the shadows of a nearby four-story building, becoming one with the concrete. He inhales the rotten air, holding it in, savoring it as if it were his last dying breath.

The police cruiser arrives, with its occupants steering their searchlights up and down his alley, nearly spotting him. He backs up a few inches along the wall, barely out of view when, mistakenly, he trips over a trash lid, falling backwards onto a tin garbage can.

“Hey, Bill. Hold up, hold up!” One of the officers hears something as they pass by an abandoned four- story. “What was that?”

“I don’t know. You hear something?” his partner replies suspiciously.

“Yeah, it came from that building over there. It sounded like a crash or something.”

“Well let’s go have a look, shall we?” Bill says, grabbing his flashlight and his semi-automatic. Both cops leave the squad car and walk towards the noise, holding their flashlights and guns parallel.

“Hey! Anyone in there? Come out with your hands up!” the leading officer, Victor, says, as he crouches low, staggering towards the alleyway. In the midst of the darkness, the young man’s heart beats wildly within his chest, his breaths irregular. Sweat pours from his face, drenching his collar; forming a small puddle at the base of his throat. The officers come closer, flashing their lights just inches from his face. He digs his nails deep into the brick behind him, narrowly escaping their line of sight.

“Is there anyone in here?” Victor yells again as he scans the garbage littering the ground around them. He is disgusted standing in it—a nasty sliver of real estate between two buildings serving as a graveyard for dirty old mattresses and shopping carts. At that moment, another crash echoes through the tight space. Startled, both cops jump, shining their lights in its direction. The noise came from a darker corner opposite the hiding boy. A black cat jumps out of a garbage can, knocking over three others as he scrambles to run away from whatever startled him.

“Hey Victor,” says Bill. “It’s just a cat. Is that what you heard?”

“I don’t know. I guess,” Victor replies, still unconvinced that a cat could’ve made the noise he’d heard minutes ago. He knew he wasn’t imagining things, but he didn’t dare push the issue. He’d never hear the end of it from his partner – a guy who kept score of every arrest or bust they did. They begin their retreat toward the squad car.

“I think you’re starting to lose your touch man. You got us out here about to shoot a damn cat when we should be lookin’ for these assholes that’s trashin’ our city,” says Bill. “There ain’t no way either of us are going to get a promotion if we don’t get our arrest numbers up.”

“I know,” Victor sighs. “But, you’re the only one that is so adamant about a promotion. I’ve only been on the force for ten months.” He slowly opens his car door, but stops to look behind him, flashing his light down the alley once more. The black cat indulges itself in a freshly caught meal.

“Man, if you don’t get your ass in the car and leave that damn cat alone.” Bill buckles his seatbelt and turns the key in the ignition. “There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, Vic. And don’t act like you don’t want to move up in the ranks. I saw you talking to the Captain the other day. Seems like he likes you,” Bill teases.

“I don’t know about all of that,” replies Victor. “We just talked about my career plan and where I see myself in ten years.”

“Oh yeah,” Bill replies sarcastically, fascinated by his partner’s sudden honesty. “And where is that?”

“As Police Commissioner,” Victor replies confidently.

“Commissioner? In ten years? Ha!” Bill laughs heartily. “That’s pretty damn ambitious, even for you!”

Victor wasn’t amused. In fact, he was quite serious. He would do anything to become Commissioner, even if it meant forming an alliance with one of the city’s deadliest cartels and eliminating their enemy while on the city’s clock. An APB went out to all of the city cartel’s “mercenaries,” as he was called, to be on the lookout for strange activity within a ten-mile radius of an address in this area. It hadn’t been easy to convince Bill to deviate from their orders and drive through an unauthorized territory.

“With hard work, I’m sure it’ll happen,” Victor replies coldly.

“Well, while you’re out here stalking cats and giving motivational speeches,” Bill continues, “there is a territorial gang war going on, and we need to apprehend these bastards before they kill everyone in the whole damn city.”

“Alright, alright. I’m coming. Just don’t add this to my score. I know you’re keeping tally.”

“Okay, okay.” Bill lies. “Even though, every time we draw a gun and don’t arrest anyone, it counts as a negative point against you. You’re already so far in the hole, I doubt it matters. Now, let’s get this baby movin.”

The sirens come alive again as the cops speed down the street and turn a corner, rushing to respond to a hit-and-run. The young man who has been silently keeping himself hidden doesn’t dare move a muscle, until he hears the death sirens disappearing into the distance. He collapses to one knee to catch his breath and without warning, sprints towards the end of the street.

He’s late and has only three minutes to get where he is going, to do what he has come to do. He hopes his partner is on time and is there waiting for him as he rounds the corner. He arrives just in time to see a car pulling up to a beautiful brownstone home, and he watches as a tall man walks to the other side of the car to open the door for his passengers. Two men and a woman step out of the car carrying what looks like groceries. They slowly make their way up the stairs and knock softly on the front door. Another woman greets them warmly before inviting them in.

“Psk. Pssssk!”

A sweaty hand grabs him by the collar and pulls him into the shadows behind an overgrown hedge.

Interview with Toi Powell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a Sagittarius and I actually do love long walks on the beach as cliche as that sounds. I have a creative background in art, writing and music (thanks to a family of musicians) and I work in advertising. My company TOI HOUSE stands for Take On Innovation and I strive to encourage others to do the same.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am launching my 1st novel, BLOOD OF A QUEEN, which is a true labor of love. It took me 9 years to publish and this is the most exciting and fulfilling time of my life. I always imagined I’d be here, but I never imagined how I’d get here!

What made you decide to sit down write a novel? 

It was by accident, actually. In 2007, I started writing BOAQ as a hobby and a way to escape a fading relationship (lol). Eventually, it evolved into a large novel a year later.

Why did it take you so long to publish?

I had no idea what to do with it when it was done. After researching traditional publishing, I got intimidated and scared. So I put it to the side, for 9 years until I decided to self-publish.

What is the book about?

It’s about a girl whose parents have sheltered her all of her life. Upon finding the freedom she so desperately craves, she stumbles across a hidden family secret that puts theirs and her own life in danger.

Where do your ideas come from?

I draw from certain elements in my background, for instance the protagonist, Ruby, is from Queens, NY where I am from. Her family has a background in ministry as do I and she has a natural curiosity, like me.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

The hardest thing had to be the editing process. Since the original draft was so old, I had to update references and my writing style since I’d evolved as a writer.

How are you trying to introduce a new reading experience? 

My background in music and growing expertise in digital advertising has inspired me to combine these elements in my book to expand the readers/user experience. The more digital content available to the reader, the better. I’m always thinking of more innovative ways to enhance what is considered traditional. Reading is no exception.

LaToya Powell, better known as “Toi”, is a lifestyle blogger, writer and motivator. By day she works as a digital producer in an award winning digital advertising agency in New York City.

By night she builds her T.O.I House brand, TheToiHouse.com, where she encourages other creative spirits, like herself, to step out of their comfort zone and Take On Innovation one passion at a time.

By building The T.O.I House, Toi is creating a judgement free social community where inspiration and motivation are at the forefront of creativity. She aims to encourage others to pursue a passion and to push themselves beyond their limits. Toi is releasing her debut fiction novel, Blood of a Queen, in summer 2016, video blogging her social book launch journey episodes along the way.  She resides in Central NJ, never too far from close friends and her loving family.

Connect with Toi Powell:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toistori
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thetoihouse
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thetoihouse
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toistori and https://www.instagram.com/thetoihouse
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheToiHouse
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/toihouse
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