Get your U.S. copy here: Amazon – Jaclyn’s Ghost is available free on Amazon world-wide.
The Trouble with Snowmen is that they never ever last forever …
A Romantic Comedy all about heart-breakers (snowmen), fun shenanigans, fashion, séances, downtown Houston, urban cowgirls, and some of that kissy-kissy stuff.
Snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above. The relationship is great, rolls right along, and builds. Everything seems perfect … until a little heat is introduced. Then they melt, leaving only their hat, their scarf, something to remind their victims of what they’d lost.
Urban cowgirl Haley Monroe is told that the fabulously hot guy who just dumped her was a snowman. Her friend Maximilian convinces her that the only way she’ll ever stop being played by snowmen is to become one. It takes a lot of drinks to work up the nerve, but Haley gets her sexy on and goes on the prowl.
Famous horror author Larry White drops everything to attend a midnight séance at Maximilian’s apartment where he meets Haley. By the way she’s dressed-and just propositioned him-he assumes she’s a hooker. Larry can’t pass up the chance to get inside her head, especially since prostitution is the character’s occupation in his next book.
After spending the weekend together, unexpected sparks surprise both Haley and Larry. The trouble is Haley is dead-set on snowmanning the unkempt “starving artist” she met at the seance, and Larry doesn’t think he could have a real relationship with a woman with a past, so they go their separate ways.
The real fun begins when they meet again and find out neither one of them were who they thought they were. Can they reignite the flame? Or will they have a snowman’s chance in hell?”
Book One of the “Trouble with Men” series (Soul Mate Publishing)
Book Two “The Trouble with Scarecrows” is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Thumbelina + Mermaids =
by Dorlana Vann
I knew what lurked beyond the trees even before I opened the car door: the forbidden, barricaded beach. Even though I lived only a few miles away, I had never stood so close. Leaning against the car, the wind ruffled my hair as nerves tangled my insides.
“Aren’t you coming, Junior?” Pearl, my date, stood in the moonlight, hands on her hips, legs apart, making a perfect triangle with her skirt.
I shrugged my shoulders. “We’re not supposed to be here.”
“There’s no law against it.”
“Let’s go, you two love birds,” Clay said, shining his flashlight on us for a second before moving on.
“Don’t be scared,” Pearl said. “Just don’t step in the water, and you’ll be fine.”
I put my already shaky hands into my pants pockets. “I’m not scared!” It wasn’t that I needed to impress Pearl. I had only agreed to go out with her because no one else had said yes, but I didn’t want a mammoth, cowardly act stamped on my already unimpressive rep. “I just don’t believe it, that’s all. Have you ever seen it happen?”
“No, but my cousin, Fern, said he did. After a dare, one of his friends ran into the water and changed right before Fern’s eyes, and then the sea took him. He never saw him again.”
This reminded me of all the times my mother had warned me to stay away from the beach, to stay away from the wild Merfolk. “They took your father. Shameful, cannibalistic creatures, behaving like animals in that dirty ocean. Immoral and naked. Catching fish with their mouths. It’s shameful. It’s shameful. They took your father you know…”
“Let’s go.” Pearl grabbed my hand, and I allowed her to lead me through the trees. The same salty air I had breathed my entire life now burst with intensity.
After we had caught up with Clay and Iona, we helped each other over the concrete barrier and down into the sand. I heard the soft roar of the dark waves, its movement the only factor separating it from the sky.
I vaguely heard the others talking behind me before Clay shouted, “No hard feelings, Junior. We just want to see if it’s true.”
The kids laughed, and then suddenly I felt their hands on my back, pushing me the short distance toward the sea, until my feet sank into the wet, gushy sand.
“Don’t! Don’t!” I pleaded, and tried to get away, but I already felt the droplets of ocean spraying my face.
And then they gave one hard, final shove.
A wave pulled me with it, soaking my pants up to my waist. Fear pushed my voice to a scream. I screamed for help, screamed for the ocean to let go! Just as the water retreated, I lost my balance and landed on my knees. Sunken sand tracks, where the kids had run away, came into focus.
I scrambled to dry land before the next wave, trying to catch my senses. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the pictures of the hideous beasts that I had been shown since grade school.
Standing up, I examined my legs and put my hands out in front of me, waiting for it to happen. The change. When I touched my mouth, my teeth felt normal, not long and pointed like a monsters.
Relieved and unchanged, except for my belief that I would never be accepted by kids my age, I started to walk toward the road. A new sound in the darkness stopped me. I thought maybe they didn’t leave me but were hiding, waiting to watch me turn into a sea creature.
“I know you guys are there,” I said meekly, becoming increasingly concerned with the alien surroundings. I fought the urge to run. I would not let them win. And then a different, even stronger thought intruded; since I proved the myth untrue, I’ll be like a hero. No one would have to be afraid of the beach again.
I followed the sound to a pile of drifted sand and tangled weeds. The closer I stepped, the more it sounded like a whimper instead of a snicker. My mouth fell open as my breathing picked up pace. I questioned what I perceived camouflaged in the debris. A woman?
Her long hair, wildly strewn out behind her, was mixed with the sand and seaweed. “Hey, are you all right?” When I noticed her bare arms and her bare chest, I turned away. “Immoral and naked.” My heart quickened because it knew I had to look again. I stared at her face, down to her neck, to her chest, and past her stomach.
No legs! A fishtail! A real fishtail!
Stumbling back to standing, I turned towards the sea. “Oh! Ohhhh…” I put my hands up to my head. What do I do? She was a Merfolk, but something was wrong with her. I couldn’t just leave.
I loosened my tie and started unbuttoning my shirt as I thought about how Mother would kill me if she knew. It might not have been against man’s laws to walk the beach, but it sure the hell was against her’s. I turned back around and gently placed my shirt over the mermaid’s shoulders, covering most of her exposed upper body that didn’t look monstrous at all.
She didn’t move, except for her labored breathing. As I stood, wondering what to do next, I noticed a two inch gash in-between her two bottom fins that seemed clogged with sand.
I ran to the water, cupped it in my hands, and ran back. I did this several times, cleaning the wound as much as possible. I pulled my tie over my head and then wrapped it around her fins, bringing the edges of the cut as close together as possible.
When I put a handful of water up to her lips, she gave a quick inhalation, sucking up some of the water. I staggered backwards and then shot to my feet. Running to the water, I shouted, “Hello? She’s alive, and she needs help!” But only the spirited, nocturnal seagulls soared overhead, their replies loud but unclear.
After walking back and forth a couple of times, I dipped into the water once again and took it to her. The mermaid’s eyes shot open, but I didn’t flinch. I let her drink.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I nodded, a little surprised to hear her speak. “Are you all right?”
“I think I just need something to eat.”
“Well, I can run home and make or bring …”
“If you could just help me to the water, I can take care of that myself.”
“Oh,” I said, recalling what Mother had said about them catching live fish in their mouths.
“Please come be my guest so I can thank you for your kindness.”
“In there?” I looked behind me at the ocean, allowing myself to realize how much I admired it. “I can’t, my mother… besides, I’m not like you. It wasn’t true, after all. I was in the water, and I didn’t change.”
“The sea takes no one who doesn’t wish to be there. You must desire the change. See?” She waved her hand over her tail. “I didn’t change into Landfolk just because I sit on dry land. I love the sea, and I want to return.” She held my stare as she said, “You must love the land.”
Or am I just scared? A soft breeze lifted me out of my thoughts, as she lifted her arms to me. I struggled, but managed to carry her until the waves splashed up to my shoulders. She sank and without a word disappeared into the darkness.
“Did you have a good time?” Mother stood in the foyer like she had been waiting there since I left. “I’m glad you finally got out of your—” Her smile distorted into a wide-mouth scream. When she pointed at my feet, my face grew hot. I didn’t have to look down to imagine all of the golden sand that probably clung to my pant legs and shoes.
She sat down on the stairs, blocking my escape to my room. In between gasps she said, “How many times have I told you never to go to that beach? It’s dangerous. Shameful, dirty beasts! Filthy-cannibalistic-naked-immoral-ugly creatures—”
“They’re not ugly,” I whispered.
Her face froze with a mix of horror and shock. “What did you say?”
I avoided her eyes. “I met one. I umm, I helped one. Her.”
“Swear to me right now,” she hissed, “you’ll never set foot on that wicked, wicked beach, again.”
At that moment, I realized how disgusted I was by her snobbish attitude. I also knew I would never be able to stay away from the ocean, away from the beauty of the Merfolk. “Why do you hate them? Because they’re different? You know, they’re not so unlike us. They can talk and are free to do what they want.” At that moment, what really happened to my father became so obvious. “He chose the ocean, didn’t he? Father wasn’t taken!”
Tears of which I didn’t know Mother was capable began to seep from her eyes. “I should have moved us to the compound years ago just like the Worleys.” And then softly she sobbed. “But I had to wait.”
“Wait? For what? Father’s not coming back. Why would he? He’s free.”
“Don’t you dare disrespect me, Junior. You’re too young to understand the world. Merfolk are manipulative and horrific.” With wild eyes she looked around. “I have to protect you. Go pack! Now!” She stood up abruptly and pointed up the stairs. “Pack up your stuff. We’re moving in the morning and never coming back.” She screamed, “They can’t have you!”
I made my way up the stairs to pack for the compound. A compound so far inland I heard the air smelled of pine. A compound I could not leave until I was of age.
Early the next morning, I climbed out of my bedroom window and found my way back to the beach. It had lost all of its darkness and now glistened and pumped silver-blue waves as far as I could see.
“You came back.”
I almost missed the mermaid; her hair blended and moved with the water.
“I wanted to say goodbye. My mother is scared of what she doesn’t understand.”
“But you’re not,” her voice rose over the rumble. “I can see it on your face. You have fallen for the sea.”
“I don’t know.”
She held out her arms to me. “There is only one way to find out. Give yourself fully to the waves.”
I stepped into the water, thinking I would come back later and tell Mother goodbye, but the feeling of freedom already overwhelmed me. The further I swam the further away the mermaid seemed. I watched the tip of her tail go under and held my breath, plunging in after her. Immediately, I felt different. I was changing! My legs felt as one unified object. But when I gave in to the need to inhale, I choked violently. I coughed and gagged until finally I felt accepted.
My eyes had burned feverishly from the saltwater during the ocean’s initiation; now they could focus on the new surroundings. Brilliant and vivid fish that I had never imagined existed swam playfully around me as if they were celebrating my arrival.
To my surprise, a group of Mermen suddenly appeared. My heart thumped wildly. I started scanning their faces, searching for my father. I smiled, and they grinned. Then they opened their mouths, exposing daggered teeth. They came closer, surrounding me, licking me with their shameful, filthy, cannibalistic tongues.
(Inspired by Prince Ariel from, “The Fairy Tales of Madame D’Aulnoy.”)
by Dorlana Vann
Since Jackson couldn’t channel his frustration onto the blank page, he used his fist to pound it into the desk. “Ahhh,” he cried, swooshing his fountain pen and several loose pieces of writing-paper to the floor.
His caged birds squawked with excitement from the sudden movement in the quiet room. Feathers flew. Jackson stood up, his breaths labored and lonely. “I’m sorry ladies. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
He draped a stack of dark sheets over his arm. “Are you ready for your beauty sleep, my Echo?” He covered her and moved on to Valley, giving her several sweet kisses. Continuing his ritual, he covered all twenty birds leaving Isis, his two-foot Scarlet Macaw, as his last goodnight. She blinked her yellow eyes at him.
“Sleep well, Love,” he said and then ran his fingers through his slick hair, noticing how dark and stale the room had become.
He opened the window, lit a lantern, and picked up the paper and his pen, setting them back on his desk. He thought about writing another letter but knew they were only stall tactics. “I’m a novel writer,” he reassured himself. “Now write something novel!”
He felt anxious. There was nothing left for him to do. He had moved to one of the most crime-ridden areas of London to conduct his research. When observations had stopped inspiring his writing, he had taken it to the next level. The first hand accounts had given him dozens of pages: a feel for the weapon in his hands; the reaction on the faces of the women when they knew they were going to die; and the color and temperature of the blood. After each attack, he had sped home and written feverishly, until the words stopped, died on the page—
He conducted more studies, pushing himself to the limits of his own capacities. “Why am I still blank?” he said in a sob. “Why?”
Isis began to squawk in her cage, beneath her cover.
“Shush,” he said off-handedly. “I’m having a difficult enough time as it is.”
“Let me out.”
Jackson turned his head slowly toward the covered cage. He listened. Sure she could talk: “Pretty lady.” “I love you.” But never “Let me out.”
She said it again.
Jackson scooted his chair back and stood abruptly. “Was that you, Isis? Did you learn something new?”
“Open the cage, Jackson. Let me out.”
Jackson shook his head, trying to clear the confusion. Obviously, because he was exhausted and tense, he was now hearing things. That’s all. However, he eased toward the cage. One step—stop. One step—stop until he stood in front of the cage. Swiftly, without thinking, he uncovered Isis.
She sat on her perch, head down, asleep.
“Isis?” he whispered. “Was that you?”
Jackson’s heart thumped when he heard rustling coming from the other cages, the sheet coverings moving.
But then he remembered he had opened the window. After taking the six steps to the window and ignoring the lack of breeze, he closed it.
He turned around and gasped, backing against the window, hands stretched out—palms wide, like he was keeping the walls from closing in on him. All the cages were uncovered.
It seemed like morning: birds bounced, stretched out their wings, walked, and whistled, however, much more so. The cage doors were open, and the birds began to explore. Isis, eyes open now and sitting on her perch in her home, stared at Jackson.
Jackson peeled himself away from the window and cautiously moved toward her. “Love?”
“Come closer, Jackson.”
He felt terrifyingly wonderful. Sweat gathered on his brow and above his lips. “Isis? Do you understand me?”
He tried to steady his blinking; he shut his eyes hard and then reopened them. “Why now? Why not before? I have told you my most intimate secrets and feelings and you never spoke an intelligent word.”
“The time was not right. I am here when you need me most. Let me be your inspiration.”
“Oh, Isis! How I do so need someone to talk to. I have many a troubles. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me now.” He put his arm in her cage, enduring the sharp claws he usually protectively wrapped his arm against. He stroked her red feathers. “My beautiful, Isis, what words do you have for me? Do you know what I must do to finish my story?”
“You have watched, but you have never felt. In order to achieve realism and depth, you will need to experience the pain for yourself.”
“Yes, yes! I see. I see what you mean. But how? How can I achieve this insight?”
“I will be near whilst you sink the edge of your knife into your skin. Not too deep my dear, just enough to feel a twinge.”
“Marvel upon marvel, you are my muse!” He set Isis on the back of his chair and ran to his bedside table and pulled out his knife. Its long thick blade still stained from his latest research project. “Where? Where shall I feel it?” he asked, sitting on the edge of his bed.
“The same as you wrote. The same as you gave.”
The coldness of the blade against his neck caused his heart to quicken with excitement. He stared at Isis as she moved her head to and fro with tiny jerks. “Just this fills my head with ideas, with words.” He sucked in his breath and pressed a little harder, the sting bringing quiet tears to his eyes. “How absolutely stimulating.”
He heard them before he saw them, but only by a second. All of his beauties came towards him, Isis in the mix, their feathers, and beaks, and claws causing his hand to yank deeply inward and then slide to the side. Falling backward, Jackson still imagined how his ghastly and perfect pain would translate onto paper.
As the feathers settled and the squawks calmed to a low murmur, Jackson’s last breath was accompanied by his last vision: five faint ghostly figures dancing above him. He heard the words, “Jack the Ripper, our story ends in revenge,” as his eyes closed.
October 2017 Theme: Spa
Book Club Set Up:
Each member of our group (women ages 24-49) draws a month and a theme. Whosever month it is, gets to choose a book in their category and host the meeting.
The group has approximately 3 weeks to read the book and then we get together for themed food and fun & to discuss the book.
Quick Book Summary (from Amazon): The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper byIn this hauntingly beautiful story of love, loneliness and self-discovery, an endearing widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.
This Month’s Meeting:
The theme was spa and our host told us to show up in our pjs and without make-up or fingernail polish. She provided facemask and Bioré nose strips. We painted our nails and had martinis, fruit infused water, and sangrias. We discussed the book while eating our chips and dips and veggies. It was all very girly.
This review is going to be a little different than previous book club reviews because no one (who was able to make the meeting), except for me, could finish the book. The main reason: it was boring. Truthfully, if I hadn’t been reading it for book club, I probably wouldn’t have finished it myself. However, I ended up enjoying the story overall. The character’s began to grow on me about halfway through. It’s a story of family, and marriage, and if secrets and events from your past should be kept from your partner. I did do a lot of skimming, but I also shed a few sentimental tears. I, personally, would give this book 3.5 martinis out of 5.
Since this book moves at a, well … pace of an older gentleman (perhaps that was the point), I would say picking it up depends on your reading mood and book preferences. There are a lot of positive reviews out there. So I would say, give it a chance.
Next month’s theme: Luau
Love and Laughter,