Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cleaning Out The Old Year

The old year is like a manuscript that I've been working on. There are some bright spots, some frustrating ones, a number of disappointments, a lot of work left undone, moments of sheer wonder, and potential for so much more.

Unlike the manuscript, the old year can't be changed, but I can take lessons learned from both:

1. Nothing is all bad, there is always some good. Even if it's only a moment or a sentence, I will find something awe inspiring.

2. Likewise, nothing is perfect; there is always room for improvement. I just have to be open to making changes.

3. There will always be a gem in the rock pile and I will find it if I search hard enough.

4. Sometimes I have to let go of something--whether it's words, pages, the whole manuscript--or people, ideas, goals--that can't be saved. Moving on, even if a project held promise, a relationship was long, or goal was almost reached, can be the right, if painful, path.

5. I need to stop: wasting time on regrets, being unwilling to adapt, refusing to accept when something isn't working, and allowing others to steer the course of my life.

I wish you all the best of health, the most happiness, and as much success as you can handle.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Very Hades Christmas!

As I was putting the last ornament on the tree, I suddenly knew you-know-who was there. I didn't turn around but fussed over the ornaments, making sure they were perfectly spaced.

"Hades, why are you here at my house?" Luckily my parents were out Christmas shopping. It would be hard to explain Hades' presence.

"Sharisse, mon cherie," came that voice that suggested the whisper of silk sliding off skin (he wished!). "I merely wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and give you a gift of my esteem."

Even though I knew I shouldn't, I turned around to face him. While I was desperately in love with Caz, Hades' nephew, something about this dark god gave me an illicit thrill. His wavy dark hair, his mysterious brown eyes--and that sleek, taut body that invited Bon Apetite! if I listened--were always a temptation. He was kind of like an exquisite, custom-made-to-order pair of shoes from Stuart Weitzman; the fit would be perfect, there would be none exactly like it--and I couldn't ever afford to give into the desire.

But that still didn't stop me from sneaking a peek.

He lounged in the doorway in his favorite pose, one shoulder against the frame, arms and legs crossed, his eyes glittering--and his luscious mouth quirked in a slightly sexy, mostly arrogant grin. Irresistible.

The Beast.

Pull yourself together and focus...

"Huh. Your gifts are too expensive to accept, Hades. Last one almost cost me body and soul. The Trojan Horse was a better deal." I started gathering the empty ornament boxes. He snapped his fingers and everything was tidy--he'd even cleaned the spot on the rug from who knew what spilled--and I think he did the windows, too.

It was hard not to love a man like that.

But I didn't.

And he was no man. He was Hades, Lord of the Underworld, Greek god.

And not to be trusted.

"Thank you," I said politely even if a bit cool.

He frowned. "I don't like your attention elsewhere when you're in my presence."

That's my Hades: it's all about him.

He waved a careless hand and two cups of frothy hot chocolate appeared, with extra marshmallows, the square-cut, homemade kind I looooove so  much.

He knew how to seduce a girl, and sometimes, you just can't refuse no matter how hard you try. I took the cup and lifted it in wary thanks. He held up his left hand.

"I swear there's nothing devious in the drink or my motives."

Were oaths sworn with left hands binding?

"Want to sit?" I asked gesturing toward our couch.

He graciously inclined his head, said "Thank you," and then practically sat in my lap. I had to scooch over a bit. "Unless..." and his eyes sparkled, "You'd like to have lunch in Gstaad? The slopes are perfection. I checked before popping in here."

"How thoughtful," I murmured before sipping my confectionery addiction. Mmmm. Dark, not milk chocolate. Hades knew me well.

And yet, he didn't give up trying to seduce me even though I always refused. I'd think it was just a game he wanted to win (the girl who plays hard to get) but he was so intense--and relentless.

"Thanks, but no,"I said. "What would Caz think? He's already rescued me once from your clutches. Throwing myself into your company might make him think I was playing one against the other." I put the cup down, licking the marshmallow off my top lip.

His eyes followed.

It was time to find out what he really wanted, refuse, and send him on his merry way to torment someone else.  Last thing I needed was for Caz or Persephone to drop in too. That could be awkward.

"Let's be honest for a change, Hades. Just tell me what you want. No games." His cup, along with mine, disintegrated into thin air and he leaned closer. I could barely breathe. Even so, I wasn't going to back away.Once you gave in to him, he owned you: figuratively, literally, physically--and eternally.

"Fine." His gaze held that intensity I so feared. "I want you."

Yeah, I know that. NOT happening.

I started to open my mouth to give the sweetest kiss my gluteous that I could when he stopped me.

"I'll give you ANYTHING. You want the Hope diamond? It becomes the Sharisse Johnson diamond. You want immortality? You won't age even a second. Name it."

Now most people might be tempted. Even considering I was a shopoholic (with limited funds), and yes, I liked pretty, pretty things, I didn't want anything. I had my parents, I had Caz, I had friends, and I was in the school of my choice, the Fashion Institute of Technology. No, there was nothing more I needed.



He slapped his hand over his heart and his fervent look told me he truly wanted the, er, pleasure of my company. "ANYTHING." His voice was almost hoarse.

If there was no limit... should I refuse? What would Caz think? Would Persephone find out? Even if she did, I knew that I'd be under Hades' protection; he was a gentleman that way at least.

I deliberated. One special gift. Only I could ask for it and get it.

I was going to do it. Sometimes, sacrifices had to be made.

Straightening my shoulders and taking a deep breath, I said "Okay."

His eyes widened and I swear I heard his indrawn breath. "Tell me what you want."

"No more war. Ever. Eternal peace on Earth."

He flushed and jumped up, scowling fiercely at me.  "You can't ask that! It has to be for you!"

Standing abruptly with fists on my hips, I glared right back at him. "You said 'anything.' And it's what I want. I have friends and a cousin who are serving in the military. I know people who have lost family due to wars. Children die when nations go to war. No more war. Ever. That's what I want."

Hades ran his fingers through his beautiful mane, more agitated than I have ever seen him. "Can't you ask for something material? Or to be forever youthful? That's what most people ask for."

I eyed him coldly. "I'm not most people. That's why you're so obsessed with me. And besides, it's Christmas. Time to think about and help others." I know some people considered me shallow because I liked to have my nails done, look perfect, and be popular, but I had a conscience and wanted to do good.

He shook his head sadly. "I can't do that. There's a thing called free will. I can't interfere with it. I believe it's the basis of your own faith. Humanity has to decide for itself, like you had to agree to our initial contract."

I felt deflated. Here I was going to put myself on the altar of Hades' lust for a noble cause, and I was turned away.

At least I tried.

"There's nothing else I want, Hades," I said softly, knowing that if he couldn't give me world peace, then he couldn't abolish disease, pain, suffering, and other ills that plagued us insignificant mortals.

With sad, soulful eyes, he whispered, "Not even a new kitty?"

I laughed. True to form, Hades didn't give up. "Tell you what," and I grabbed his hand so we stood under the mistletoe. "Just one, promise?"

Back came his arrogant smile. "Just one."

I narrowed my eyes. "And no whisking me off anywhere, no three hundred year kiss, no telling Caz, no trouble for me, got it? Or I'll tell Persephone." With a resigned sigh, he nodded. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I pulled him in for a very seductive, memorable kiss. When I moved back, he was breathing hard. He nodded, actually speechless.

I heard the key in the door--my parents were home!

But he was gone.

My cat, Chanel, came running into the room, a new pretty silver bell on her collar and a note. I pulled the note off. It read:

          My Darling Sharisse,
          I'm sorry I couldn't give you the gift you wanted, although I'm not surprised you asked for it. And           I know you won't accept anything from me, even if I promise 'no strings' but I can give you this-
          Look out your window.

          Yours eternally,


I moved over to the window; snow fell softly, already a thin sheeting on the grass, trees, street and rooftops. He was giving me a white Christmas.

"Thank you," I whispered.

"The pleasure was all mine," he whispered back.

And so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a healthy and happy 2014, and a dream come true.  To one lucky random person, I'm giving away an audio copy of Sirenz. Just put your name in the comments, tell your friends, family, etc. I will notify the winner before the New Year (you have plenty of time, but why wait? You might forget...) One entry per person.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do You Know This Crazy Woman?

This is what I felt like in November. I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month- 1 novel, 1,667 words a day for 30 days), driving to book signings for Sirenz and doing other PR stuff for Blonde Ops, getting a bathroom renovation done, doing Thanksgiving prep & day, handling kids & school stuff, family issues, and trying to stick to my swimming exercise routine. You get the picture.

It's now December and my house and tree are decorated, most of my shopping/wrapping is done, no more signings, the galleys for Blonde Ops have gotten (I hope) the last proofing, and while still busy, life isn't frantic. I'm going to take some time to enjoy the snow, the holiday season, and some personal time.

(And yes, I did finish NaNo with 50,103 words!)

So, I'm off to a well deserved rest and relax- that only the craziness of Christmas brings.

Bring it on.  :)

Free Christmas Clip Art - Image  7


Monday, December 2, 2013

Here's That "In" You Need to Get Published...

So don't just sit there!

My good friend, Tanya Contois, is an editor at Hallowed Ink Press. And she's looking for writers, manuscripts, graphics...

This is your sign to send your work out (we can't come to your house to motivate you, sorry).

Here's the info you need: (READ IT- don't send silly questions to me or Tanya when the info is below. And if you're truly serious about submitting, you'll be professional and observe the rules of polite society. If I have to tell you what they are, you're not ready.)

Hallowed Ink Press is accepting queries for all YA and New Adult fiction.

We are currently open to all solicited and unsolicited submissions.

What we accept: All Young Adult and New Adult categories.
This includes; series fiction, stand-alone novels, novellas, poetry, short stories and graphic novels.
*We do take on the occasional pet project outside of these genres, but only if the writing is truly exceptional.
Currently Hallowed Ink Press is most interested in:
- Unique concepts that break through the current stereotypes in the market.
- Quality writing with strong character arcs and ‘fresh’ voices.
Be assured we will check all submissions, yet we are very selective. We try our very best to respond to every individual query; however, if you have not heard back from us within four weeks of your original submission, please understand that although we thank you for the chance to read your ideas, we have decided against your material.

Our goal is to build long-standing relationships with our readers and authors, and we are open to e-mails with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have. Submissions@HallowedInkPress.com

Manuscript guidelines:

Please read guidelines below before submitting your work. (All information will be kept confidential)

YA & New Adult Fiction: 
Your query should include the working title, word count, your name, mailing address and phone number. (If pen name is being used, please include that information). We would like to see 1-3 paragraphs regarding your story and a one paragraph biography. Please do not attach a document with your initial query.

If chapters are requested (attachments allowed):
Preferred File Type: .doc, .docx or .rtf
Font Options: Times New Roman or Arial 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Synopsis: 1 page
Subject Line: “Query: Title/Author Name”

Anthology Guidelines 
(attachments allowed): Anthology open calls will be posted here.
Font Options: Times New Roman 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Subject Line: “____ Anthology: Author Name”
Length: We ask that no short stories exceed 15k words.

Novella Guidelines: 
We ask that all novellas either be stand-alone or connected to a series signed with us. Please note, we MAY choose to convert novellas to interactive iBooks as well as normal digital releases. We ask that all novellas be between 5k-35k words.
Font Options: Times New Roman or Arial 12pt.
Formatting: .5 indents to first lines, no tab replacements.
Subject Line: “Novella Query: Title/Author Name”  and queries can be sent to  submissions@hallowedinkpress.com.