Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

One of my favorite things about Halloween are the stories. There's nothing like a great story to send a chill up your spine! Here's a site that has plenty of free reads, for those who dare. Mwahahaha! And the American Folklore site has free stories and podcasts archived from years back. For the little ones, read a classic Halloween tale and ignite their imagination. And maybe share your bed with them for a night. :)

And don't forget! Today's the last day to take part in LASR's Halloween Scavenger Hunt, and the Night Owl Reviews Halloween Web Hunt! You could win a copy of my Halloween tale, One Soul for Sale (an EPIC finalist! Woo hoo!)

What about you? Do you have a favorite Halloween story?

Though these days, most ghost stories portray spirits as malevolent, the holiday of long ago was a celebration of passed loved ones. People set places at their dinner tables to include the spirit, and lit candles to help the spirit find its way back to the spirit world.

Long ago, many a young maid used some of these long-forgotten Halloween rituals to learn the identity of her true love:

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband.

In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

If a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband.

At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

A young woman who wished to see the face of her future husband would put some rosemary into her pillow, and then she’d dream of him that night.

She could also bring a lantern to a fresh spring at midnight and see his face in the reflection.

Halloween is a magical time. Ordinary boundaries disappear, and time has no bearing. Whether you believe the mystical aspect of Halloween or don't, I hope you enjoy it!

Though not technically a Halloween movie, Young Frankenstein is a one of my favorites for this time of year.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween fun with Caroline Clemmons

Cate: Please welcome Caroline Clemmons to my special Halloween celebration. Caroline, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Caroline: Thank you so much for having me, Cate! As long as I can remember, I’ve made up adventures in my mind. In school journalism class I became editor of the school paper. As an adult, working for a newspaper taught me to make deadlines and write on demand. Not until much later did I begin writing fiction and find my niche. In the meantime, I worked as a secretary, bookkeeper, and assistant to a managing editor of a psychology journal. My husband and I live on a small acreage in rural Texas and I write full time.

Bio: Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventure. As long as she can remember, she’s made up adventures—although the early ones featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Read about her at and

Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?
Caroline: I love to see little kids in costume. They’re so excited. I don’t see how anyone could fail to find pleasure watching them. As I said, we live in a rural area and don’t have trick or treaters at our home. Our church has a big Halloween party, though, as do a lot of churches in our town.

Cate: Cool! Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Caroline: Other than costumes for our two children, a fond memory I have is from when I was in high school. The youth from my church collected money for UNICEF. About six or seven of us would pile in a car and go door-to-door. Then we’d go back to the church to turn in our money and there’d be refreshments and a party for all of us who’d participated.

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Caroline: Many! In our family we have clairvoyants, precognizants, empaths, and those who see spirits. I guess it’s the Scot-Irish in us. Some people call it a gift, but my grandmother called it “the curse” because you have to keep it quiet or people think you’re nuts! Oops, now I’ve ratted us out. My sister was a well-known California clairvoyant — though her children say she had the Biblical gift of discernment. They just want to reinforce that she used her gift to help people and never took payment because the ability came from God. I’ve “seen” events that later happened down to the sentences the person used. I’ve also seen spirits, but only conversed with one. Eerie, but I think we all have far greater gifts than we use or develop. The power isn’t evil unless we use the gift for evil.

Cate: Very cool! What frightens you the most?
Caroline: Random acts of violence. That’s why movies like “Psycho” and “The Net” are so scary to me. People were minding their own business, did nothing to attract a villain’s attention other than just existing, yet they were victimized. Being careful and being a good person doesn’t prevent that type victimization. Now that is scary!

Cate: Well said. Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Caroline: My husband and I went on the graveyard tour in New Orleans. When my youngest daughter and I attended a writers conference in San Antonio, we tried to register for the ghost tour and missed it by thirty minutes. Later, my daughter was there on business and started the tour when rain and hail forced cancellation. I don’t think we’re supposed to go on that tour. LOL My family and I have gone to other haunted places, like Winchester House in the San Francisco area. Our family stayed in the Excelsior Hotel in Jefferson TX. We didn’t see a ghost, but the hotel is supposed to be haunted.

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Caroline: How about a nice Halloween punch? Actually, this is a punch I use often and has become a favorite at my church’s functions. It’s golden, so if spilled it doesn’t stain the way red punch does. Also, it tastes yummy! First, I freeze an ice ring in a pretty mold pan. Instead of water, I use pineapple and orange juice in which I place thin slices of lemons and oranges, (and limes if I have them). This looks nice in the punch and keeps it cool without diluting it. If you’re serving over a long time, such as a reception, you might make an extra ice ring.
For kids or at Halloween, you can freeze things such as stunt things like plastic eyeballs, vampire fangs, plastic frogs, rubber fingers—you get the idea—just make sure they are too large to be swallowed accidentally. For a Hawaiian theme party, I froze plastic flowers. Cheesy, I know, but it worked. I tried real flowers but they don’t hold up well when frozen. LOL

12 oz. Can frozen lemonade
12 oz. Can frozen orange juice
1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
1 quart ginger ale (I use a liter)
Mix sugar and water to dissolve sugar. Add lemonade, orance juice, and pineapple juice. Chill until ready to serve. Add ginger ale immediately before serving. Serves 32 punch cups.

Cate: That does sound good. Thanks! Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
Caroline: I have two recent releases, but for your scary blog tour, I’ll tell you about my paranormal time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE. In it, Deirdre Dougherty is a clairvoyant herbal healer in 1845 Ballymish, Ireland. After she plops down in 2010 Texas’ Possum Kingdom Lake, she helps Brendan Hunter solve the mystery of who shot him and killed his partner. Deirdre and Brendan barely escape death. Being here just before All Soul’s Day, also called All Saints Day, is appropriate. Deirdre is a good Catholic girl who was praying to Saint Brendan and Saint Brigid when she leaped from the cliff.

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Caroline: I’d love to share both. Here’s the blurb:
Deirdre Dougherty never cursed at anyone, much less put a curse on the potato crop of her remote Irish village. She’d rather take her chances with the Atlantic lapping at the bottom of the cliff than the mob intent on burning her as they have her cottage. Deirdre leaps . . . and plops down over 160 years later in a Texas lake. She doesn’t understand how she’s ended up with the man from her recent visions or why he has the same name as the saint to whom she prayed. She’s in danger of falling for the handsome policeman who rescued her, in spite of the fact that he thinks she’s lying to him. How can she convince him her story is true when she’s finding it difficult to believe the tale herself?
Police Detective Brendan Hunter wants answers. Who shot him and killed his partner? Why? And why does Deirdre know details of the event? Her story has to be a colossal fabrication or else she’s a beautiful psycho. Either way, he wants her gone before he becomes even more fascinated with her. But he can’t let her out of his sight until she confesses to how she learned details no one but he and his late partner knew.

Here’s an excerpt from when Brendan and his mother, Blossom, take Deirdre to meet Deputy Sheriff Jim Graham at the top of the cliff from which they believe she jumped into the lake. Because she learned the rock formation she landed near is called Hell’s Gate, she thinks she’s in purgatory. Poor girl doesn’t yet know she’s traveled forward in time:
Standing at the cliff’s edge, Deirdre trembled and fought the terror washing through her. Something horrible was wrong. “Everything is different. Are you sure your boat was below here? Mayhap it was another cliff.”
His hands firm and insistent, Brendan pointed. “See those kids playing across there, near that dock? That’s the Boy Scout camp at Johnson Bend. Look to your right on this side of the shore, there’s Mom’s house at that point of land. Do you recognize it and my boat tied up at the dock?”
She took a deep breath and tried to speak. Her heart pounded in her ears. How could everything have changed? Her words, when she found her voice, rasped out in a hoarse whisper, “Yes, I . . . I see . . . the house.”
Merciful heaven, what had happened? Her legs threatened to give way again and she gripped Blossom’s arm for support. “Is the land we’re standing on Hell’s Gate?”
Behind them, Jim answered, “Been called that for over a-hundred-and-fifty years, ever since Comanche Indians caught those two trappers here.”
Talk of Indians and trappers made her head whirl more. She needed to sit down but she turned slowly again and searched for anything familiar. “D-Do you know which way Ballymish is from here?”
The sheriff’s man frowned. “Never heard of it.”
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Caroline: I read that an editor said she would like to see a time travel in which a woman came forward to today. That sounded like something I’d enjoy, so Sandy Crowley and I plotted it. Of course, I took a few side trips along the way and dropped in a few more bodies, but I always came back to that plot map. I need a firm plot plan to make writing go smoothly. OUT OF THE BLUE did and was fun to write.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Caroline: Oh, I always have something to add. LOL My latest release is a western historical, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. I usually write sensual romances, but something different in the works is a sweet contemporary, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. That release date is yet to be announced. A western historical novella, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME, is under consideration. My releases are from The Wild Rose Press in print and download at and at Amazon and other online sources.
Check my website for excerpts, reviews, recipes, and news.
My personal blog is and I invite people to sign up for my newsletter there to receive monthly news of reviews, FREE reads, new releases, and more.
I’m in several group blogs, the newest of which is,
featuring fourteen authors whose books are set under Western skies. We’re very excited about this blog! I’m such a blog slut that I also blog at htttp:// on the 7th of each month, on the 20th of the month, and on the second Thursday at You probably wonder if I write novels, but I do. My current WIP is another time travel tentatively titled TEXAS SHOWDOWN.

Thanks so much for inviting me, Cate. It’s been fun.

Cate: Thanks so much for being my guest, Caroline! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween superstitions

Today the fun moves to Anne Patrick's blog, where I'm sharing some Halloween superstitions. Oh, and an excerpt of One Soul for Sale, my novella set during Halloween, and one of four stories that finaled in the EPIC competition! I just love saying that. :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween fun with Rebecca J. Vickery

Cate: Please welcome Rebecca J. Vickery of Victory Tales Press to my special Halloween celebration. Rebecca, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rebecca: Hi Cate and thanks so much for having us. I am a wife, mother, grandmother and an author and somehow I have stumbled into also becoming a publisher. Laura Shinn, my favorite cover artist, and I began talking about how writing short stories gave me back my excitement and enthusiasm for writing. We decided if it could inspire and help me, then other authors needed a chance to try it and we created Victory Tales Press just for romance anthologies. We now have about twenty authors who are doing stories in our various anthologies which will be available at holidays and various times throughout the year. We have two new anthologies for Halloween; A Halloween Collection Anthology: Sweet and A Halloween Collection Anthology: Stimulating. The Stimulating version is for those readers who like a bit more intimate detail or adult themes in their stories.

Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?
Rebecca: I really love seeing all the kids in their costumes and I like Halloween stories (but not the gory ones-LOL). I also enjoy the feeling of the spirits and the paranormal being just a bit closer to us for that one night of the year. I definitely love to watch old spooky movies and eat candy corn and chocolate snuggled up next to Hubby after everyone else is in bed.

Cate: Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Rebecca: I think that would be from my teen years. A bunch of us went on a hayride through and around the local pumpkin patch. It was cold for Halloween and a special someone (at the time) and I cuddled and smooched. Then we all stopped at a friend's house and I had hot spiced cider for the first time. It's a simple, sweet Halloween memory that sticks with me for some reason.

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Rebecca: My husband took me to Biltmore House and Gardens several years ago to see the castle all decorated for Christmas. The line was terribly long and wound back and forth through the trees alongside the driveway. While waiting, I heard several carriages and horses and people laughing in the driveway. I even asked my husband to step back so I could see them. There was nothing there. Then when we went in, I heard music and laughing in several rooms as if a party was going on, but my husband and no one around us heard it. I was very freaked out.

Cate: So cool! What frightens you the most?
Rebecca: Rats and druggies with large knives. LOL I was bitten on the toe by a rat as a child and have been terrified of them ever since. And just the thought of some drugged out person losing it and coming at me with a knife gives me the creeps.

Cate: Definitely good reason for fear. Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Rebecca: Only virtually and of course with Ghost Hunters on TV. But I would love to. We did go on one of the late evening carriage rides in Charleston SC once and there was a lot of talk of the ghosts who haunt the old section of Rainbow Row. We were riding along and there was a flashing light off to one side. Then the outer rim of one of the carriage wheels came off with an awful noise. The tour guide said we had just witnessed the work of a poltergeist. Definitely gave us all goose-bumps for the rest of the tour.

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Rebecca: I love to make Mummy CupCakes and they are simple.
1 box devil's food cake mix
1 tub white, vanilla, or cream cheese frosting (I like cream cheese the best)
1 pack of small red candies, red M&Ms, or red hots
Make the devil's food cupcakes according to the directions on the box.
Once the cupcakes cool, snip a small corner off a baggie or use a pastry decorating bag and spoon in some of the frosting. Squeeze the frosting bag back and forth across the tops of the cupcakes, crisscrossing some to look like Mummy bandages. Then place two of the red candies for eyes and you have Mummy cupcakes. The grands love them and my Hubby and I eat anything chocolate that doesn't run away.

Cate: Yum, thanks for sharing! Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
Rebecca: Both our releases are Halloween Anthologies. The first is A Halloween Collection Anthology: Sweet and contains five complete stories filled with ghosts and ghoulies, killers, an incubus and a giant tarantula, and missing women plus some sweet romancing. Markee Anderson, Charlotte Raby, Rita Hestand, Christine E. Schulze, and Kate Kindle sent us some excellent stories. Then A Halloween Collection Anthology: Stimulating contains angels and demons, legends, fortune tellers and Native Americans, sensual aliens, and ghosts and witches plus more intimate romances. The authors in this one are Karen Michelle Nutt, Cheryl Pierson, Laura Shinn, and myself. There are only four stories in Stimulating, but they are a bit longer.
The easiest way to find us is at our home website where we have all the buy links in one place.

Cate: Such a great lineup of authors! Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Rebecca: I would love to share our mini-blurbs for both books.
A Halloween Collection Anthology: Sweet
~Stories to Satisfy Your Romantic Cravings~
Go On Without Me by Markee Anderson
Lydia Sanders is spending a lonely Halloween until Ian shows up to make sure she’s not depressed. They go for a drive then the car dies in the middle of nowhere in the rain. They have no cell phone reception. Their only hope is an old house within walking distance and the two eerie people inside. At midnight? On Halloween?

Honor Cafe by Charlotte Raby
Adrianne is satisfied running her cafe for the homeless and believes her life is complete, until she falls in love with a debonair stranger who wants his meals after hours and in the dark. She must find out what he's hiding and if their love is true or cursed.

Halloween Witness by Rita Hestand
When the local town drunk sees a murder committed on Boot Hill on Halloween night, will anyone pay any attention to his story? Sheriff Joe Grubbs, though skeptical, investigates and finds the new grave. Now, he has a job to do and risks losing the love of his life. It's a harrowing Halloween night in Haleyville, Texas.

The Memory Charmer and the Boy Next Door by Christine E. Schulze
Imprisoned in a basement, at the mercies of an oddly powerful incubus, Elissa tries to escape many times. But the giant tarantula guards his master’s toy well. Then a glimmer of hope appears. A boy moves in next door who knows things—secrets from the very heavens. Can he help her escape? Or will the incubus destroy him?

I Love Pie! by Kate Kindle
Tony Gullo, a burnt-out-on-life New Yorker, takes an unexpected trip to the country with a friend. On the side of the road he sees a haunting sight. A beautiful woman stands poised on the roadside, seemingly in a trance. When the men stop to offer assistance, she flees into the woods. How will he ever find this beautiful creature, if she really exists?

A Halloween Collection Anthology: Stimulating
~Stories to Satisfy Your Romantic Cravings~
The Curse of Tempest Gate by Karen Michelle Nutt
Clarity Shaw, a reporter for Unbelievable Finds, seeks answers concerning the curse of Tempest Gate Cemetery, but she finds out more than she bargains for when she sits in the devil’s chair. Two entities need her for their own personal reasons, but only one will demand her heart.

Always and Forever by Cheryl Pierson
At a children’s Halloween carnival, a Gypsy fortuneteller predicts a new love for both Cindy and Gage. When the two meet over a poorly carved pumpkin, love flickers to life and the stars begin to align. After all, Gage has been burned before and Cindy doesn’t believe in fortunes or second chances. Can the star-crossed pair put their faith in the love that was foretold?

Conceived in Darkness by Laura Shinn
Orekon, a desperate Astovian prince, has three days to find a mate, become mated to her, and return to his world. Kathryn Schaffer is from Earth, a mild woman who plays in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The attraction for Orekon is immediate, but Kathryn is kept in the dark, literally. She must trust her instincts and feelings to make the most important decision of her life. Will she trust a complete stranger, even though her heart sings when she’s in his arms?

A Haunting Love by Rebecca J. Vickery
Trudy decides she must have lost her mind by agreeing to house-sit a huge old Victorian during Halloween week. Lights switching on and odd noises lead to her meeting a certain, handsome police officer. The scare is almost worth a chance at love—until the ghost takes over on All Hallow’s Eve.

We have a free sampler of the first chapter from each story at ScribD for anyone who would like to preview these books.
A Halloween Collection Anthology - Sweet Sampler
A Halloween Collection Anthology - Stimulating Sampler

Cate: I'll definitely be checking those out. What inspired you to put together the anthologies?
Rebecca: We had heard of a lot of publishers getting together Christmas or Valentine anthologies and often some will do the odd anthology especially for charity. But we thought it would be fun to do anthologies as a way to showcase short stories for lots of holidays and special projects. The response from the authors involved has been amazing and they come up with some of the most interesting and varied tales. I really think the authors have challenged themselves to improve their writing and to use these anthologies to try something new. Halloween seemed like a great time to share some of these unique stories and I was not disappointed. No two stories are the same, but each deals with Halloween and love in its own way. Don't be surprised to later see full-length novels come from some of the ideas these authors had for our anthologies.

Cate: Great idea. Anything else you’d like to share?
Rebecca: We want to be sure everyone looks for the Victory Tales Press anthologies for Christmas. We will be sharing four books that will be great reads and make wonderful gifts for the readers on everyone's Christmas list. They will be available for the new ereaders and computers and in print. Check at in November and December to find them.
We want to say a big thank you for having us here and to all the readers and supporters who make VTP possible.

Giveaway: We would like to give two separate commenters, randomly selected, their choice of an ebook of either of the Halloween Anthologies. The giveaway will end Nov 1st and the drawing will be held on Nov 2nd. Winners to be notified by email.

Cate: Wonderful! Thanks so much for being my guest Rebecca! Best of luck with all your projects.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween fun with PG Forte

Cate: Please welcome PG Forte to my special Halloween celebration. PG, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
PG: Hi, Cate. Thanks so much for having me here. Hmm. What can say about myself. I grew up in New Jersey, lived in NYC for about eight years and then moved to California—which is home. It’s also where my kids were born. I spent about a year and a half in Florida, a few years ago, but that was only physically. Mentally, I never left California. Can you tell I’m really glad to be back? I always wrote, but I got serious about ten years ago. My first book was published in 2003 and I have 17 books out right now, with another releasing next May. I write mostly paranormal romance (with a few erotic contemporaries thrown in for good measure) everything from angels to vampires to ghosts to faery shape-shifters to fairly ordinary people having not so ordinary experiences!

Cate: Wow, 17 - congrats! So what do you love most about Halloween?
PG: I love everything about this time of year—the weather, the colors, the crispness in the air. It didn’t surprise me at all to learn this was the original New Year’s Eve, because that’s how it’s always felt to me anyway. But what I really love most is Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The idea of celebrating the past, remembering those who’ve passed on—and then moving forward yourself, really resonates with me.

Cate: Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
PG: Taking my kids trick or treating when they were young--the cool, clear nights, the decorations, the kids looking so cute. It was a magical time for me… luckily, they liked it too! LOL!

Cate: I miss those days *sigh* Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
PG: Oh, I’ve had quite a few “unusual” experiences but I can always come up with explanations for everything! But, since we’re discussing the Day of the Dead anyway…my grandmother appeared to me in a dream the night she had her fatal stroke. In the dream, she very insistently pointed out a rainbow to me and told me that when I saw the rainbow, I’d know everything was going to be all right. The next morning I got the call about her and when I arrived at the hospital the very first thing that caught my eye was a huge neon rainbow. Coincidence? Maybe. Nothing more than my writer’s imagination putting two and two together and coming up with five? Perhaps. But it helped me get through the next few weeks, so who’s to say?

Cate: I love that! What frightens you the most?
PG: Pain. I have a fairly high pain threshold, but that just means I have less experience dealing with discomfort. LOL! Also the thought of something happening to one of my kids terrifies me. I know I worry more about them than they worry about themselves (they don’t worry nearly enough, IMO) but I guess that’s how parenting works.

Cate: Yes, sometimes a writer's imagination is a curse!
Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
PG: Sure. I’ve taken a couple of tours—the Queen Mary being one. I even lived for a while in a haunted house—that was an experience! It’s surprising how easy it is to get used to the sight of shadows sliding across the walls when nothing in the room is moving.

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
PG: Well, Halloween’s all about the candy, isn’t it? I used to love making Halloween themed Rice Krispie treats with my daughter and her friends, like these here. Fresh baked bread has always been one of my major culinary weaknesses so I’m always thrilled to find holiday bread recipes like this one for Pan de Muerto which is traditionally served during Dia de los Muertos.

Cate: I agree, it’s why I never bought a bread machine! It would be my downfall.
Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
PG: Visions Before Midnight is the seventh book in my Oberon series. I’d originally envisioned the series as a “trilogy of trilogies” so this book is the start of the last three and sets up what comes after. However, the very first scene of the book was written much, much earlier. I’d originally planned it as the prologue of the first book, but it works much better here as it starts the book off with unfinished business from the past and really pulls the whole series together. On the surface, this is the story of Chay and Erin; two characters who’d been introduced in minor roles in earlier books who are finally getting a love story here. But, to me, the book is about so much more. It’s about family and mortality; it’s about repeating patterns and making mistakes; and, most importantly, it’s about love and connectedness and making every moment count.
You can read about the whole series here.
Visions before Midnight can be purchased at Amazon, B&N, Fictionwise—most online bookstores. But I think the best price is here.

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
PG: Absolutely! Here’s the blurb: When the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, something wicked haunts the hills around Oberon...
Chay Johnson is a traditional man. Educator, flute maker, apprentice shaman, Chay has a lot of traditions to uphold, especially when it comes to choosing a life mate. Erin Allridge is a modern woman, with modern ideas about relationships and a painful personal history she has no intention of repeating. When terror and tragedy strike the small town of Oberon, the pair are forced to put aside their differences and re-think their individual visions for the future...before it’s too late.
In this world of form and spirit it can be hard to find balance and harmony. But, sometimes, particularly when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, love can find a way to bridge any gap.
And here’s a pair of moody little excerpts—just right for this time of year:

The Moon of the Dead
Through all the hills and forests that surrounded Oberon spirits roamed the night. The long dead, the newly dead, those who merely craved death, either for themselves, or for others; the energy in the area seemed to draw them all.
It was the ‘tween of the year. The time when veils grow thin and worlds collide. It was a night made for dark deeds, for desperate measures and dire undertakings. There were rituals to enact, on nights like these, and sacrifices to be made.
It was a good night to pray. A good night to cast spells. And, in a small corner of the local cemetery, it was a good night to party until dawn.
The graves, and all the paths that led to them, had been strewn tonight with marigold petals; to help the spirits of the departed find their way back. Booths, set up along the narrow roads, sold food and toys and flowers. A Mariachi band was playing. People danced and sang. Families made picnics on the grass. Children ran among the markers, laughing and shouting, chasing after each other. And everywhere you looked, it was plain to see that, even in the face of death, life would always go on.
For all those who celebrated the Day of the Dead as a joyous occasion––a family reunion, of sorts––tonight was a social event. A chance to visit with those of their kin who’d moved on, as well as those who were still in body.
* * *
The ‘tween is an endless mystery. A world of secrets and sorcery. A place without time or space. Ordinary rules do not apply here. Anything might happen and, all too often…it does. The gods of the ‘tween pity no one. They favor no one, either. And, anyone foolish enough to think they do, is doomed to disenchantment.
Throughout the long night, vigils were kept. Candles set in pumpkins, in paper lanterns, in little glass jars, all burned slowly down, winking out like the stars, like the night itself, as dawn filled the sky.
The party in the graveyard burned slowly down, as well. Singing gave way to storytelling. Laughter became the soft murmur of voices talking. Children fell into their parents’ arms and were rocked to sleep.
Finally, the sun began to rise. The spell the night had cast upon the world was broken. Another day was ready to begin. And, ordinary life…resumed.

Cate: Lovely. What inspired you to write about the theme?
PG: Really, the whole Oberon series explores the themes of family and friendship, love and redemption. I’m not really certain what inspired me to write about that…I guess it’s mostly because I never tire of reading those kinds of stories.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
PG: I’m running a small contest between now and he end of the month, in honor of Halloween and to celebrate the print release of my vampire story, In the Dark. Details can be found on my blog.

Cate: Thanks for being my guest PG!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween fun with Maria Zannini

Cate: Please welcome Maria Zannini. Maria, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maria: I used to save the world from bad advertising, but now I spend my time wrangling zombie chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, I write novels.

Cate: Sounds hazardous! At least the Chupacabra hasn't stalked you, lol. Tell us about TRUE BELIEVERS and where it's available.
Maria: TRUE BELIEVERS is now out with Carina Press! Here's the quickie blurb:
Mix one cynical immortal and one true believer and throw them into the biggest alien-hunt the world has never known. Rachel Cruz is a Nephilim masquerading as an archeologist and she's stuck with an alien who believes she can lead him to his ancestral gods. Black Ops wants to find these gods too. They want them dead.

Cate: Congrats! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Rachel rattled the bone fragments in the palm of her hand then seeded them back to the ground. Her university would be pleased. She found exactly what they were looking for, but that wasn't the only reason she was here.
The first shard, anonymously mailed to the University of Cairo, was ten thousand years old, and it matched the pieces found here precisely. But it was the rock drawings and dwellings that came as a shock. An ancient people lived here, and their writing spoke of Anu and his sons, progenitors of the Nephilim.
Her people.
She didn't like it when the humans got too close to the truth.

Cate: You hooked me already. How do you develop your plots and characters?
Maria: It starts with a logline and I ask three questions. Who are these people? What's at stake? And how can I make their problems 10 times worse? That and copious amounts of Coke Zero will usually do the trick.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Maria: Only if I drink enough.

Cate: What's next for you?
Maria: I'm glad you asked! Pop over to RT Reviews where you'll find my third novel, MISTRESS OF THE STONE in the throes of a winner-take-all contest. Readers are asked to vote for their favorite excerpt. (That'll be mine, right?)
By the time this post airs, the first round will have been over, but there are five rounds of elimination, so you'll get a chance to vote again next month. (Hopefully, I'll still be in the running.) If I am, stop by RT Reviews web site and cast your ballot for MISTRESS OF THE STONE. I thank you, my chickens thank you, and my dogs thank you. Woof!

Cate: You have my vote. Any other published works?
Maria: My first novel is called Touch Of Fire, a post apocalyptic romance set 1200 years in the future. Look for the sequel, Apocalypse Rising coming next year from Carina Press.

Cate: Very cool. Describe your writing in three words.
Maria: Film at Eleven!

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing?
Maria: I suppose that would have to be the annoying groans of starvation from my husband and two dogs. They know where the kitchen is. And while they're in there I could use a sandwich. Roast beast on wheat—don't forget the pickle.
But do they ever make me lunch? Noooo.
Cate, you can back me up on this. A working writer needs to eat regularly. We're too busy destroying fictional lives and dealing in multi-dollar contracts to do anything as menial as cooking or housework.
Besides, it's not like my guys are doing anything important. The last time I saw them they were scrambling over a mountain of laundry, fighting over the last bag of Doritos.

Cate: Food sometimes takes a back seat to writing, but always wins out in the end.
What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Maria: "Maria! Does your mother know what you do for a living?"

Cate: What frightens you the most?
Maria: The other day I woke up to answer the door and found this hideous woman staring at me with these bloodshot eyes, drool running down her chin, and this rat's nest of wild hair. I rubbed my eyes because I knew I had to be seeing things. But no, there she was, plain as day. It was then I realized I was looking at the bathroom mirror.
I hate when that happens.

Cate: I don't believe it. I think a zombie chicken had you under its spell! Where can you be found on the web?
Maria Zannini's blog
Buy True Believers

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maria: Do you the government is keeping the existence of aliens secret? Or are there no aliens?


Contest time! Every time you leave a comment, tweet or mention "Maria Zannini" anywhere with a link to my blog, your name goes in the hat for a chance to win a Texas sized prize. Go here for more information.

Cate: Sounds exciting! Thanks so much for being my guest Maria.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The legend of the Jack o'Lantern

Today the Halloween fun is split between my blog and Karen Michelle Nutt's, where I pose the eternal question: common household item, or instrument of magic? You may be surprised to learn which everyday items can be dangerous in the wrong hands! Visit Karen's blog to learn more.

But before you go, pull up a pumpkin to hear the sad little tale of the Jack O'Lantern.

I love carving pumpkins at Halloween. These days, it’s become an art form. But its legend goes back to old Ireland, where a man named Jack resisted the Devil when he came to claim his soul one night. Several versions of the story exist, but most include the fact that Jack rivaled the Prince of Darkness in wit, and conned the devil into climbing to the uppermost branches of a tree on a dare. When the devil stood at the top and claimed victory, Jack carved a crucifix into the tree’s bark, and trapped the devil.

So Jack lived till old age finally claimed him, though spent too many nights at the local pub, and too many days as a trickster. When he reached the Pearly Gates, St. Peter turned him away. With only one alternative, Jack went back to the Devil. Satan never forgot the humiliation of that night, and refused to allow Jack into Hell too.
Poor Jack begged the Devil for a candle to light his way. Satan tossed him a burning coal before slamming the gates. Jack was stranded in the netherworld, all alone. He carved out a turnip to carry the coal, in a makeshift lantern.

After that, the Jack O’Lantern became the Irish symbol for a damned soul. People placed carved turnips them in windows with a lit candle to ward off evil spirits. After Irish people immigrated to America, turnips were difficult to find so they used pumpkins instead. Jack O’Lanterns still keep watch every Halloween, a night when spirits both friendly and unfriendly roam freely.

And if you see an autumn leaf fall from a branch on Halloween night, catch it quick – don’t let it fall! If you don’t let it touch the ground, you and your family will have good luck for a year. If it falls from your hand, the leaf loses its magic forever.

If Jack returned today, he might enjoy the ingenious ways people decorate them these days. If you haven't yet carved your pumpkin, here are some ideas ranging from whimsical to strange to humorous.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween fun with Marie Beau

Cate: Please welcome Marie Beau to my special Halloween celebration. Marie, can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marie: Hi Cate, thanks for having me. I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind tour with my first book release, so let me catch my breath here. I’m a native New Englander – spent most of my life in New Hampshire although I have visited a lot of the rest of the country.

Cate: Congrats on your release! What do you love most about Halloween?
Marie: Definitely the weather – fall is my favorite season. The crisp cool air, the colors of the changing leaves – and of course all the frightening ghouls and goblins out to get their fair share of sweets.

Cate: I love autumn too. Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Marie: I have a few of them, but the best is of an especially chilly Halloween night and coming home to a crackling fire in the fireplace where I sat and sorted my candy then feasted of course.

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Marie: Personally I haven’t, unless you want to include the fact that I nearly died in a car accident and I remember seeing my father (dead for many years at that point) and him telling me that it wasn’t my time. I have a number of friends who have seen ghosts and talked with spirits.

Cate: What frightens you the most?
Marie: LOL Things that go bump in the night. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow that. You wake to strange sounds in the house, the heart starts pounding, and you lay still, staring out into the dark where you can’t see a thing. It’s amazing the games our imagination can play on us.

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Marie: Pumpkin bread or zucchini bread are among my favorite treats, but my recipes are nothing special, sorry. Now, my friend makes a pumpkin cheesecake. Mmm Mmm Good. Here you go.

Cate: That does sound good. Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
Marie: Wolf! from Whispers Publishing was released 10/1/10 and can be found at: or, links are also available at my blogsite:

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Marie: Of course, I’d love to.
Lyssa Merrick has no intention of ever being involved with a wolf, but when Wolfe Reardon seeks her wildlife services she realizes choosing a mate is not always a conscious decision.
Lyssa studied the man in front of her. He looked like someone she wouldn’t want to try matching her aikido skills against. It might not be all about size, but when you’re a kitten against a mastiff, it’s not all about skill either. She met his gaze.
He never blinked. He stared back, raising one eyebrow.
A hint of a smile tugged at his lips a moment later, as if he had caught her little joke to herself. He looked away and glanced around the shop. “I’d like to schedule a hike into the Adirondacks and your services come highly recommended…assuming you’re Lyssa Merrick.” He pointed at the plaque on the wall behind her.
His voice, like warm maple syrup, poured over her. A vision flashed across her mind of hiking with him, touching, holding hands. She blinked and did a mental shake. She flipped open her planner. “How long a hike are you planning?”
Wiping her damp palms on her jeans, she tried not to breathe too deeply. His scent had her wanting to step closer and inhale him, to touch him…to lean into his broad chest, dip her tongue into his...whoa. Down girl.

Cate: Loved it. What inspired you to write about the theme?
Marie: I have always loved shape shifter stories, but there aren’t enough of them around for a steady diet. So after reading a really good one last year, and finding a bunch of others that whetted my appetite, I decided to write one of my own. It’s pretty neat to be able to give some gorgeous animal a human intelligence to define their actions.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Marie: Well, I’m looking forward to writing the sequel to this one. I’m hoping it will be out early next year.
Happy reading!

Cate: Thanks for sharing in the Halloween fun, Marie! Best of luck to you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween fun with Russell Kaine

Cate: Please welcome Russell Kaine to my special Halloween celebration. Russell, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Russell: Gladly! I currently live in northern AZ with my wife, several cats (which make great sacrificial items required by demonic entities, by the way) and a Chihuahua (not so much ... I’ve found demons don’t like dogs). I was born and raised, however, in Baltimore, MD. My High School English teacher, Mr. Parrott, is the person I give credit to for first inspiring me to write fiction. Since then, I’ve dabbled not only in writing and journalism, but have also enjoyed wonderful careers as a professional emcee, radio show host, respiratory therapist, occasional local TV personality, lumberjack, and a top-notch toilet paper replacement technician for public restrooms in Belize. “Bumble Bee” (not the tuna!) is my first full-length novel.

Cate: Congrats! What do you love most about Halloween?
Russell: Halloween is almost like Christmas to me in that when you start seeing pumpkins at the store and the obligatory decorations posted on random homes, it invokes a special feeling of fun and anticipation. It’s one of those holidays that takes me back to being a kid again. Back then, my favorite thing about Halloween was, of course, the candy. Nowadays, my fave about All Hallows Eve is good parties, watching great horror flicks and setting up fantastic decorations that frighten all the “Trick-or-Treaters” so that I can gorge on all the unspent candy myself. Oh ... and I still love carving pumpkins!

Cate: Young Frankenstein's a must for us. Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Russell: Some years ago before my wife’s daughter (my stepdaughter) moved out, my wife was ill on Halloween and I had the wonderful responsibility of taking Rebecca out trick-or-treating. It was getting late –– probably around 9 or 9:30. Her friends were all busy or away, so it was just her and me. I suppose we could have just forgotten about it and watched a movie, but since I loved Halloween as a child, I was damned if I was going to let my stepdaughter sit at home with a costume for nothing. Just too depressing, that would be. We hit the streets finding most houses shut or without anymore goodies, but I persisted ... and it’s a good thing I did. The residents of one of the last houses we tried had over-bought on Halloween candy and, for whatever reason, didn’t have very many trick-or-treaters. We walked away with an ENTIRE garbage bag full of sugary sweets. Rebecca was in absolute bliss and I was elated to have been able to provide her with that. Later, she admitted it was one of the best Halloweens she’d ever had. Until we had to go see the dentist, that is!

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Russell: Yes ... marriage!

Cate: Not touching that one! :) What frightens you the most?
Russell: Spiders, zombies, ghosts, that eerie feeling in the dark that something’s right behind you, and let’s not forget ... “Reality Shows” (or, more specifically, the people that watch reality shows ... they scare the crap out of me)!

Cate: I’m not a fan of reality shows, either, unless you count travel shows. Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Russell: I’ve gone on a few ghost tours ... most were quite amateurish and boring. However, I do remember the old “Insomniac Tour” they would conduct in Baltimore. A bus would start taking patrons around at midnight to all of the city’s greatest haunts, including the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. Now THAT was a ghost tour!

Cate: That does sound cool. Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Russell: As a tradition, my mother would take the seeds leftover from pumpkin-carving and bake them with salt. Not gourmet, but always a welcome snack. Aside from that, we never really had any special recipes for Halloween. When it came to that holiday, mom & dad would get pizza and send us kids out trick-or-treating afterwards. Of course, when you live on the East Coast, the pizza is always tremendous!

Cate: Especially in Jersey, but I’m biased. Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
Russell: “Bumble Bee” is a fast-paced, action-packed rollercoaster ride of a horror story with a little bit of everything ... great characters, monsters, psychotic townspeople, true Southwest history, telepathy, supernatural elements, real locations, clairvoyance, creepy flashbacks, terrifying visions, Native American lore, a shade of romance, plenty of blood & guts, and even an appearance by a zombie. Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down!
For a limited time, it is currently being published through and is available right now on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble ( and directly through LuLu. In March 2011, it will be officially released through Damnation Books/Eternal Press LLC. Look for it online or in bookstores!

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
“Ray, what’s wrong? You’ve been out here for two hours!”
“Whu … what? BZZZZ –– two hours? Oh, Linda … it’s wonderful –– BZZZZ! It’s magic!” Ray said, alight with his new found excitement and twitching every time he made the BZZZZ sound. Linda, wondering why he was doing that and aware of the bees that were starting to swarm out of the hives, began to back away, but Fleck grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her toward the boxes. Linda tried to resist, but in the past two hours, Ray had somehow become very strong. “Don’t be afraid! Here –– BZZZZ –– just stand there n’ let ‘em talk to ya … it’s amazing!”
“Ray, you’re hurting me! STOP IT!” Linda shouted at him, but he didn’t flinch. With his new strength, he pushed her down to a kneeling position before the hives. The bees were buzzing more angrily and frantically now and started landing on Linda Dobbins’ face, neck and chest. She kept trying to wrench herself away, but couldn’t. As the bees stung at her, she blasted out a scream that no one else but Ray Fleck heard, then she fell silent in an apparent daze.
After a few minutes, he didn’t need to hold her down. She was swaying lightly and humming something, probably an old childhood song, and totally taken over by the same madness that had overcome Ray Fleck. She got to her feet and smiled at him.
“You were right, Ray. It’s wonderful,” she said while nonchalantly chewing at a few bees that had gotten into her mouth.
Over the next three hours, Ray Fleck and Linda Dobbins gathered a few more select Bumble Bee residents and took them to the hives, one by one. They all screamed once.

Cate: Creepy! In a good way. What inspired you to write about the theme?
Russell: Being an avid fan of the genre, I couldn’t help it. I had been through the ghost town of Bumble Bee, AZ, many times and couldn’t help but think, What a natural setting for something creepy. “Bumble Bee” began as a short story, but as stories often do, it took on a life of its own and became a novel.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?
Russell: Advice for other writers ... Don’t give up! Keep writing!!!

Cate: Excellent advice. You guys can check out Russell's web site here.
Thanks for sharing in the Halloween fun, Russell! Best of luck to you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missing my Dad

Today's a bit of a departure from the typical Halloween fun. Some of you might find it spooky. To me, it's heartwarming. You'll see why.

One year ago today, we lost my Dad, an amazing guy. He was a very spiritual person, and didn't fear death. In fact, in the years since my Mom's death, he often repeated he couldn't wait to see her again. He felt cheated by her death. Since about 2007, Dad had been bedridden, owing to a series of bizarre medical mistreatments that, were I to write about them, people would say, "That couldn't happen!" But that's for another time. Today's about my Dad, Joseph James Masterson.

So many people knew my Dad, that when I'd ride through town with him, everyone, it seemed, would wave. He was a local hero, for sure. Even before he was ordained as a deacon, he always went out of his way to help people. Besides my six brothers and sisters, so many others felt the loss of his death in a personal way.

The number seven seems to be a significant one for our family. Both my Dad and Mom came from families of seven. I was their seventh (and last) child. So seven's more than a lucky number for me, part of the reason I wrote my short story, Seventh Heaven, set in my hometown of Lambertville, NJ/New Hope, Pa (if you know the area, you know it's practically the same town). The trailer contains shots of Lambertville and New Hope I took when visiting home.

After my Dad died last year, my husband and I stayed at my brother's house for the funeral services. At some point, my brother mentioned something unusual about his bathroom tile. I asked to see it. Sure enough, there he was - my dad. In the tile. Every other tile, actually.

If you click on the photo below to enlarge it, you'll see him in the top right corner.

Spooky? Nah. I wish he were in my bathroom tile so I could see him every day. I miss you, Dad. But I'm sure you and Mom are both whooping it up in Seventh Heaven.

Tomorrow, I'll be in Carlisle, Pa., for the Celebrate the Book festival. If you're near the area, hope you can stop by, say hello and maybe buy a book or two. :) It runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

I'll have another special Halloween guest tomorrow here, so be sure to check back.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Love Bites - paranormal romance anthology

Love Bites
Get yours free at Smashwords

Dragon Race by Barbara Elsborg

In this race between lovers, who wins and who loses?

Jacquelyn in the Box by D.L. Jackson
What would you give up for love?

Laying Claim by Cate Masters

A curse for one means salvation for both, Celia finds.

Run by Arlene Webb

A run for charity turns deadly, and two strangers learn they have a lot more to give than blood.

Halloween fun with Karen Michelle Nutt

Cate: Please welcome Karen Michelle Nutt to my special Halloween celebration. Karen, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Karen: My name is Karen Michelle Nutt and I’m an author of paranormal romances, writing for Tease Publishing LLC, The Wild Rose Press, Highland Press and Victory Tales Press.
Time Travels have been a passion of mine. I have always been intrigued with the possibility of being able to reach back in time and change the past. Common sense says influencing the past isn’t impossible, but I can’t help but wonder: What if I can?
Fallen Angels, vampires and shape shifters embrace my darker side where their worlds intertwine with ours.

Cate: Love it, very cool. What do you love most about Halloween?
Karen: I love the decorations. Ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, bats—you name it, I can’t wait to decorate the house. The fall colors are beautiful with those different shades of rich orange, red and yellow.

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Karen: (I’ve shared this story before on another blog, so if it sounds familiar you’ll know why. :) )
I have a quite a few ghost stories. Must be why I love the paranormal so much—it feels like home.
When I still lived at home (yes, that was eons ago) it was late and my mother and I were the only ones still up. (I’m the oldest of five. At the time this happened, my youngest sister wasn’t born yet.) I was working on a report for school in the kitchen and my mother was in the bathroom taking a bath. She kept the door slightly open so we could talk.
Every time there would be a ghostly appearance, I get this prickly feeling on my neck and swear the fine hairs on my arm would stand up. I was having one of those feelings. My mother was running the water in the bathroom and she says to me, “Who’s up with you?”
Of course no one was up. I was in the kitchen alone or so I thought. “No one’s up, mom.”
“I said who’s up with you?” She couldn’t hear me because of the water running.
Now I’m freaked. She sees someone and I don’t. I run into the bathroom. “No one is up with me.” I do believe I did a little dance of fright and my voice became shrill.
“What do you mean? I saw a hand reaching for you.”
My mom thought one of my younger brothers or sister had slipped out of bed.
I believe it was our resident ghost, a young blonde girl who appeared off and on through the years. She still hangs out. She’s the only consistent resident ghost, but we’ve had other over the years. I sometimes wonder if she brings them over, telling them, “Hey they’re a cool family. Come hang out for a while.”

Cate: Glad she's friendly! Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Karen: Love ghost tours. My husband and I try to join in on a ghost tour everywhere we vacation. Two of my good friends also like to go with me on ghost tours. They’ve all been different ranging from revealing the local legends, pure entertainment to a serious ghost hunt with a parapsychologist. A few Ghost Tours I’ve been on: The Queen Mary, Hollywood Cemetery, Hollywood Movie Stars, Gettysburg, St. Augustine the city tour and the lighthouse tour the Ghost Hunters investigated, San Diego, Boston and Salem, Eastern State Penitentiary (Ghost Hunters went there, too.), San Francisco, Ireland. I’m sure I’m missing a few. I posted quite a few of the pictures and information on my blog, KMN Books Blogspot and Author’s Den if anyone’s interested in knowing more about these places.

Cate: You'll have to let me know if you come back to Gettysburg! Tell us about your release, and where readers can find it online.
Karen: A Halloween Collection Anthology-Stimulating
There’s four stimulating stories to satisfy your romantic cravings. My tale is The Curse of Tempest Gate.

Blurb: Clarity Shaw, a reporter for Unbelievable Finds, seeks answers concerning the curse of Tempest Gate Cemetery. Warnings from the Bed and Breakfast’s receptionist and an old man only make her more curious. Determined to get her story, Clarity ventures into the old cemetery.
Even though she is tied to the legends surrounding Tempest Gate through her ancestry, Clarity does not believe in the paranormal. She intends to collect the local versions of the stories, take some photos, and be on her way.
A beautiful sculpture in the cemetery, a stone angel warrior, draws her attention and her admiration. Could this be the Archangel Michael? Then she finds out more than she bargains for when she sits in the devil’s chair on the eve of Halloween. Two entities need her for their own personal reasons, but only one will demand her heart.

Cate: Care to share an excerpt?
Karen: She chewed on her lower lip, debating if she should give the chair a try. “The stories surrounding the chair were meant to scare people,” she reminded herself, trying to forget Hester Higgins ominous warnings about the entity of Samael feeding off a person’s deeds. “Sordid deeds.” Her worse offense was taking extra cream home from the nearby coffee shop to use later at home. She couldn’t imagine Samael getting high off of that. Besides, the legend of the chair was probably invented to scare away vandals.
With a shrug of her shoulders, she plopped down in the chair, facing the Archangel Michael, who appeared to be eyeing her with disdain. “Don’t look at me that way. I had to sit here. I work for a magazine—and I’m talking to a statue.” She shook her head. It must have been the knock to her head. It made her loopy. She lifted her camera, facing the lens toward her. At arm’s length, she snapped a self-portrait of herself sitting in the chair. She looked at the picture on her screen, thinking it looked okay, but something in the corner of the photo caught her attention.
The clouds shifted overhead and the photo became shadowed. She had to magnify the picture, bringing the image closer to the screen. Her heart beat faster in her chest. A shadow in the shape of a man stood behind her off to the left of where she sat. She whipped around in her seat, half expecting to see the figure looming over her, but there was nothing there.
Her body relaxed and she sat back in the seat, studying the image once again. She might have dismissed the figure as a trick of the light if there hadn’t been two glowering red eyes staring back at her. “Now that’s creepy.”
The shadows deepened overhead. With a frown, she glanced up at the storm clouds moving in fast from the other direction to join the ones hovering overhead. She had to go now. Her windbreaker wouldn’t repel a downpour and she’d end up drenched. She flew to her feet, but something whipped around her waist like a vice and yanked her back into the chair. She let out a gasp of surprise as she glanced down at the ivy wrapping around her, binding her as securely as ropes would. She struggled against the plant determined to keep her prisoner, but her fingers were useless against the vine’s strength.
You’re sitting in the devil’s chair. The annoying voice in her head reminded her in a tone of how-stupid-can-you-get.
A scream crawled up her throat in a roar of denial. “Demons are not real! They are not real,” she yelled again.
“Oh, but they are,” a deep voice momentarily broke through her tirade.
Her limbs froze and her heart threatened to stop. The Archangel Michael stepped down from his base, his wings spread wide in a ruffle of feathers that sliced through the air. He no longer was a frozen stone effigy, but flesh and blood. His hair was seven shades of gold and his eyes as blue as the sky. Her mouth dropped open, but no words left her lips.
“I believe you asked for my service.” He bowed before her with a generous display of courtesy.
She let the scream come loose, bellowing like a banshee set free to find its prey.

Cate: Wonderful! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Karen: Have you ever seen a picture or a painting that just speaks to you? That is what happened to me when I saw the photo of a young woman leaning forward to kiss an angel's lips. A story begged to be told. How could I refuse. :)
The Curse of Tempest Gate is a new Halloween legend. The words blazed a trail across my computer screen with the story about a witch's curse, ghosts playing havoc and archangels dueling it out in a cemetery. All this from just one photo.
I guess it's true, a Photo is Worth a Thousand Words or in this case about 19k.

Cate: Gotta love that. :) Anything else you’d like to share?
Karen: I want to thank you for having me here today and letting me share my tale.
If you’re interested in learning more about my time travels and otherworldly tales, please stop by my website at:
Stop by my blog for interviews, contests and a whole lot of fun:
Have a Spooktacular Halloween!!

Cate: Thanks so much for being my guest Michelle!
More spookiness tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Never use your soul as a bargaining tool

Madelyn can tell you what a bad idea it is - especially near Halloween, the night when the veil between the two worlds fades, allowing souls to travel freely between. In my paranormal novella, One Soul for Sale, she posts her soul online at the bidding site UBuy, and all hell breaks loose. Literally.

This month, you have two opportunities to win One Soul for Sale. Join in the Night Owl Reviews Web Hunt all month for a chance to win one of three print copies. Next weekend, join the LASR Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a PDF copy. Or you could buy your own copy now - One Soul for Sale is available digitally from Eternal Press or in print from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Elaine Cantrell

Cate: Please welcome Elaine Cantrell. Elaine, will you please share a short bio with us?
Elaine: Hi, Cate. Thanks for letting me come today. You have a beautiful site. Hmm. About me. Okay, I’m a southern girl born and bred. I live in upstate South Carolina and attended Clemson University where I received a degree in secondary education. I went back later and got a Master’s Degree as well. I’m a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC authors. My first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books. Right now I’m teaching high school social studies. If I ever get any free time I enjoy reading, collecting vintage Christmas ornaments, and playing with my grandchildren.

Cate: Thanks for your kind words, Elaine! Please tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Elaine: My latest release is Return Engagement. It’s available as an ebook or in print. You can read the first chapter of Return Engagement at this link.
Beyond doubt, Return Engagement is my favorite of all my books. I worked on the book for several years before I was content with it, and I was making changes as long as my editor would allow it. I loved my characters so much I wanted to the best possible job for them. LOL. I loved them so much I’ve finished a sequel and am working on the third book in the series. My hero Richard is probably the reason for my obsession. I created him to be my fantasy man so it’s no wonder I fell for him.

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Elaine: Delighted. Here’s a blurb to set the stage, and then I’ll share an excerpt.

Elizabeth Lane has heard the call of the four most seductive words in the entire English language: what might have been. Would you risk everything you hold dear to find out what might have been? That’s the choice which Elizabeth has to make.
Elizabeth is lucky, for she has it all, money, fame, a satisfying career and a devoted fiancĂ©. Her humble beginnings are all but obscured, but she isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard. Senator Lovinggood plans to make Richard the President of the United States; he’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side. Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time it won’t be so easy, for Elizabeth wants to know what might have been. This time she’ll fight back, a struggle which ultimately leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.

This excerpt takes place after Elizabeth, my heroine, receives a note supposedly from Richard. The note invites her to a romantic rendezvous.

This time she found 2341. The numbers flaked from a small sign in front of a run-down, decrepit motel. Elizabeth shivered. She didn’t like this look of this place at all. She’d bet anything the owners had abandoned it. Just look. One of the big plate glass windows in the office had shattered and been boarded up. A few straggly shrubs were all but swallowed by weeds.
She still didn’t understand why Richard wanted to come to such a trashy looking, slightly scary place, but she trusted him. His surprise would undoubtedly make her forget all about her troubles getting here.
She turned into the front parking lot which was empty of cars and saw a faded and dusty closed sign in the office window. Wonder how many years the place had been closed? Okay, she’d try around back.
She drove around to the back side of the motel where she found a late model silver Buick and a black Jaguar parked side by side. Richard must have a Jaguar, too, thought Elizabeth. She wondered who owned the Buick and decided it probably belonged to someone helping him with her surprise.
She parked beside the two cars and looked around. Richard hadn’t mentioned a room number, but all of the doors were closed except room 205 which stood partially open. That must be the one. She hurried across the parking lot and stepped inside Room 205. It smelled musty and seemed dark to her, but the sun shone brightly today. She paused a moment to give her eyes time to adjust.
The room was bigger than she’d expected. Actually, it was a suite, not a single room at all. At one time it had probably looked very lovely, but now it just looked old and battered. Water-stained wallpaper peeled from one corner while the carpet underfoot was littered with some type of black, loamy substance, maybe dirt, maybe mildew. She didn’t see anyone, so she called, “Richard? Where are you?”
No one answered, but she saw an interior door hanging from one hinge near the back of the room and decided to check it out. She took three steps into the quiet darkness before she finally realized something was wrong. Things didn’t feel right in this room. Every nerve in her body screamed danger, and she seemed to have ice water instead of blood in her veins. She was getting out of here!
With a gasp she turned to run, but she had waited too late. A small man stood between her and the front door. He held an ugly, black gun that pointed straight at her.
“Miss Lane, how very good of you to come,” he began, his voice cultured, precise, and quiet. “This gathering would not be complete without your presence.”
“Who are you? Where’s Richard?” Elizabeth shrilly demanded.
“All of your questions will be answered in time, Miss Lane.” He didn’t take the gun off Elizabeth as he backed toward the outer door and shut it. “Please walk in front of me toward the next room. There’s someone in there who’s waiting for you.”
Elizabeth had no choice, so she turned around and entered the next room. Her eyes hurriedly scanned the interior. If Richard had decided to play some kind of joke on her, he was in big trouble.
Her heart almost skittered out of her chest when she saw a gagged man bound to the bed. He turned his face to her, and Elizabeth recognized Senator Lovinggood.
“Senator!” She darted across the room to remove the cloth stuffed into the Senator’s mouth, but the quiet, cultured voice prevented her.
“No, Miss Lane. Don’t remove the gag. I’ve grown weary of listening to the senator. You are, however, standing in the right place. Feel free to sit down beside Senator Lovinggood if you wish. You’ve gone a little pale, and I wouldn’t want you to faint and hurt yourself.”
Elizabeth defiantly faced the small man even though her knees felt like jelly and her arms had pimpled with goose-bumps. “You’d better let us go right now. You have no idea who you’re messing around with.”
The man chuckled. “Of course I do. I’m in no danger from either of you. Please don't bother to threaten me.”
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“Excellent questions, Miss Lane. My name is Kensington Brady, and what I want is justice.”

Cate: Wonderful! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Elaine: Oh, that’s easy. I’m a romantic at heart. My husband and I are still in love after being married for thirty seven years. He’s working out of state right now so every night we Skype each other. If you don’t know, Skype is a program where we can see each other on the computer as we talk. Romance just seemed like the natural place to begin my writing career.

Cate: Very cool. How do you develop your plots and characters?
Elaine: I generally start with the germ of an idea which usually comes to me when I get in the “what if?” mood. From that point I imagine the type of characters that might be conflicted over such an issue. I usually have a starting point, and I know where I want to end up, but the details in between are usually hazy.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Elaine: You’d better believe it! I thought about my characters in Return Engagement for years. Once after I’d spent the evening writing I called my husband Richard the hero of Return Engagement.

Cate: What's next for you?
Elaine: Right now I’m revising the sequel to Return Engagement, and working on book 3 of the Lovinggood series. I also have a book that’s probably coming out early next year from Lachesis Publishing.

Cate: Any other published works?
Elaine: Yes. My first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love contest and was published by Oak Tree Press in 2004. The book is available at
Purple Heart is available at
The Welcome Inn at
The Best Selling Toy Of The Season at
Return Engagement
Grandfather’s Legacy is only available as a PDF because the publisher passed away. Email me at

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Elaine: Smooth, fast-paced, and, exciting.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Elaine: I’m better with dialogue than with description. It’s always a challenge for me to write descriptions. The most rewarding? Creating a scene that I think is practically perfect. Of course, my editors usually don’t agree with me about that. :)

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Elaine: The one that I liked best came from a lady who doesn’t usually read romance. She finished Grandfather’s Legacy and called me to talk about the book. She said, “Why, that could be anybody.” I like that comment because that’s what I want readers to feel. I want them to think that romance can happen to anyone, not just a character in a book.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Elaine: Right now I’m reading an Elizabeth Peters novel The Serpent on the Crown. She’s one of my favorite authors as is Karen White. I recently finished two of her books, The House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Elaine: My web site is
My blog is
My Facebook page is http://www.!/profile.php?id=100000153041486

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Elaine: I’d like to invite them to check out my blog and my Facebook page as well as my web site. I love to meet new people.

Cate: Thanks for being my guest, Elaine! Best of luck to you.