Monday, 17 April 2017

Happy Days!

Hi everyone,

I hope, whether you celebrate Easter or not, you're having a great long weekend. As for me, well, I've just had a week of intense, full-on striving to meet a deadline. The mixture of emotions after pressing the 'Publish Now' button
for Sorcerous Deeds, the second novella in the Adept Solutions Series, includes exhilaration, satisfaction, and, if I'm being honest,  a degree of relief.

JB’s private detective agency is successful, even if he can’t say the same for his love life, but when two elven princes turn up and demand he fulfil a blood bond by finding a missing princess, he has no choice but to take the case.

Heading up an alliance with others provoked by a vindictive sorcerer’s murderous deeds, JB tracks the princess to the blighted Wraithlands. The allies face exploding portals and monstrous shapeshifters, but can they rescue the kidnapped princess in time to prevent her death releasing havoc on an unsuspecting world?"

A big thank you to my editor, Sarah Watts, who offers invaluable feedback as well as reminding me I don’t need to cram everything into one sentence. To everyone else who helped with feedback on the story, the description, and the cover, you're the best!

If you read and enjoyed Hekate’s Chalice, Book One in the series, want to follow the latest  adventures and shenanigans of the gang at Adept Solutions, enjoy gripping mysteries interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then click the link below to enter this imaginatively creative world today!

PS If you're with the Amazon Prime program, you can download the book for free.

My next writing project is finishing up a book I started in 2014. I’ve been working on this science fiction/young adult novel intermittently ever since, mostly when I finished a stage (first draft, second draft etc.,) in whatever novel I was writing.

It has taken time, and it's an interesting exercise to see how my writing has changed, but at last, I’m on the final tweaking stage before sending the manuscript off to my editor. I’m hoping, fingers and toes crossed, the book will be ready for publishing by the end of May. My blog is called ‘writingmynovelnoworkingtitleyet’, and as far as this story goes, this is very true. It’s probably time to give my subconscious some strict instructions in this matter.

So, while I have a very serious debate with myself about whether or not to get that large tub of Baskin and Robbins to reward myself for achieving another step toward my dream of being a writer, I hope you have a brilliant week.

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,

Saturday, 1 April 2017

No April Fool

When a friend asked me if I was interested in taking part in a cross-promotion on April Fool’s Day, I hesitated as all sorts of ridiculous ideas ran through my head. As someone who remembers many a bruise from the ‘pinch, punch, first day of the month’ tradition, I thought, April Fool’s Day? Really? Readers will think this is a practical joke and won’t take it seriously. They’ll wonder what kind of hoax is this? No way would anyone waste their time checking out books advertised on a day famous for trickery. Surely no reputable author would take part in such a prank on the public? Would they?
I hesitated until I saw the title of the promotion—A Fool for Love—and that made me think again because one thing is for sure, love can make fools of us all. In my early teens I used to read my mother’s Woman’s Weekly magazine for the romance stories. I loved those, especially the serials that ran over several weeks. Today, even though I write mostly genre fiction with fast-paced action and mystery, there is always a love story at the heart of my novels.
Relationships are at the center of all fiction books, irrespective of genre, and so April Fool's Day or not, A Fool for Love offers over thirty chances to find a new favorite character and immerse yourself in their heartaches and joys. This promotion gives you the opportunity to discover romance in Contemporary, Chicklit, Fantasy, Historical, Suspense, New Adult, Paranormal and Sci-fi genres.
As I said previously—and I’m positive you’ll hear me say it again—if you want something new, you have to try something different. And believe me, I promise there is no trickery involved in this 99c promotion.
Go ahead and click the A Fool for Love link and enjoy a wonderful romance:

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Path of Least Resistance

Scrolling through screen after screen looking for the next book can be time consuming. When we do make a decision it’s easy to be seduced by an enticing cover, a tantalizing book description, and rave 5 star reviews—only to find that our expectations aren’t met, and we experience that slow, or sometimes quick, descent into disappointment. Often we persevere past the point when we know we should stop reading but keep going in the hope that the original promise will be fulfilled. Sometimes, we do give up. We close the book, turn off our ereaders, and with a frustrated sigh start the hunt again.

I have always read and loved stories—whether as books, audiobooks or film—and to be writing my own novels is a dream come true. I received a prize for a poem I wrote when I was 10 years old, so I blame my teachers, the education system, and whoever decided I had won the competition for planting the idea that I could write in my head.

But having an idea, then planning, drafting (several times!), and editing before publication is only one half of the equation. The other half is finding readers because writers want to share their stories. As a writer, I can tell you when somebody enjoys one of the books I have written, it’s the most rewarding feeling. So finding readers is a serious quest for me.
Here’s what readers have written about Healer’s Magic, Book 1 in the Kala Trilogy.

"Great descriptions and depths of the primary people, a good back story, marvelous romance, and consistent supporting characters." Sierraflowr
"Deep emotion, complex story, a very good read!" TDBRLVR
"Loved it so much bought the next two in the trilogy straight away. Looking forward to starting them tonight." Mrs. L. Dagdeviron

I am grateful and honored by readers like those who posted the above reviews because this is what I strive for. Consequently I have made Healer's Magic, Book One in the Kala Trilogy FREE!

When considering offers like this you may think is this really for me? And studies show this is the most common response because doing nothing—the path of least resistance—is the easiest path

However, this is the path you have already been traveling, and the trouble with staying on that path is you’re most likely to get the same outcome you always get.

On the other hand, if you want to experience something new, something different, sometimes you have to make a new choice…

A powerful healer. A treacherous enemy. A deadly conflict.
Tatya's world slides into chaos when a demon consumed with the desire to control her power attacks those she loves. She refuses the local master vampire’s offer of aid, as he's just turned her best friend into one of the undead. She needs allies, but who can she trust in the battle to destroy this dangerous enemy? 

Click the link, download the book today, and enjoy a thrilling roller coaster read:

And whatever book you're reading, I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes,


Monday, 13 February 2017

February Festival!


By now memories of Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are fading, and where I live in the northern hemisphere, January is gloomy and dark. Thankfully by mid-February the days are getting longer, and waking up to a sky filled with gold and peach fringed clouds, and coming home in daylight instead of a gloom filled twilight always cheers me up. (Am I jealous of those of you who live in the southern hemisphere and are now enjoying summer sunshine? You bet!)

Yet February isn’t lacking in festivals to cheer us up. The most well-known in the English speaking countries are Pancake Day, (my favorite is lemon juice and maple syrup… yum!) Mardi Gras, (on my bucket list in New Orleans) and of course, Valentine’s Day.

However, I'd like to tell you about another festival taking place—and this one is for readers. From  today, February 13th, through to Sunday 19th, there's a fantastic opportunity to download a brilliant selection of free books from the 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Promotion, where a number of authors have joined together to share their work.

I know taste in books is personal, just like food, clothes, and everything else in life about which we make decisions, but you don’t have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy these books. For those of you who don't read either science fiction, fantasy, or any of the many sub-genres, I would ask you to, at least, look through the wide range of books on offer in this freebie promotion, and encourage you to give these authors a chance. A good story is about people and relationships, irrespective of the setting, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Give it a go!

Click the link, choose your book, and enjoy!

Curling up with a good book in a cozy chair is one of life's pleasure, so be sure and let your friends know.

Stay well, keep reading, and best wishes.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Climbing a mountain...

When I took a sabbatical to test out what writing full-time would be like, the image in my mind was one where I sat sedately at my desk tapping out my stories filled with inspiration from my muse. The truth of the situation is that while the writing part has absolutely more than fulfilled my expectations, I had no idea how addictive the process would become or of the challenges I would face. Finding readers has also been a surprising learning curve, and I have acquired a lot of skills I had no idea I would need!
But life is for learning, I’m enjoying the journey, and this week has been a real highlight for me. I published the final book in my urban fantasy, Demon’s Nemesis, and the three books in my first box set, The Kala Trilogy Box Set. I feel like a mountain climber who has reached the top of a mountain. The view is fantastic, and I’m real proud of this achievementone I had only dreamed of a few years ago.
I’d very much like to share my excitement about this success with you, so starting today, and just for the month of February, if you sign up for my newsletter, you can download The Kala Trilogy Box Set for free!
Here's a description of the book:
A healer, a demon, a vampire: an eternal triangle with a difference.
When a powerful demon sets his sights on gaining control of Tatya's power, a series of tragic events ensues. Tatya finds love and friends in unlikely places, but ultimately she must face the demon and fight for her life. 

If you enjoy urban fantasy fused with mysticism, thrilling action, and determined heroines who never give up, then you’ll find this box set a real treat.
Click the link the link and start the journey:

You'll find me popping up on these sites from time to time, so please drop by.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Giveaways

One way authors spread the word about their work is by participating in cross-promotions.  For those of you (like me not so long ago) who don’t know what a cross-promotion is, it’s when a group of writers get together and organize a free giveaway of their books. This is a win-win situation for readers and writers.

This InstaFreebie promotion will appeal to fans of romance – so whether you enjoy contemporary, chicklit, paranormal, or historical romance (and there are many more sub-genres included), this is a bonanza where you can take your pick of over a hundred free books including my time-slip novel, One Summer in Montmartre.

To enjoy these free books, pop over to the Instafreebie website and sign up at:  

Once your membership is confirmed, click on the link below (or paste it into your browser), take a little time and search through the categories, then download the book (or books) you want, including my time-slip novel, One Summer in Montmartre.
And if your friends love a good romance, why not surprise them by letting them share in the giveaway?

Romance InstaFreebie Giveaway link: 



My novella, Hekate’s Chalice, is also on a free promotion from today until the 27th December. If you like gripping mysteries, interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then click on the link below, and enter this imaginatively creative world today!
Here’s the blurb:
A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.
JB runs a private detective agency, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but can they outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not you can still curl up in a cosy chair, and enjoy a great book.

Stay well, keep reading and best wishes until next year!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Writing and Film

Stories begin as visions in the mind where characters and action take place on the screen of our imagination. A writer then crafts their vision into the tangible form of a novel to share that story. A fascinating aspect is that the process is reversed when reading, and the book becomes like a film in the mind of the reader.

Both film and fiction tell stories using scenes. In film, each scene is composed of many shots chosen because they increase the significance and or implication of the action – whether it’s dramatic or static action - and film uses varying distances of shot to increase that impact. Long and medium shots, close-up, and extreme close-up are the basic types of shot used in film, and when one shot ends, it is immediately replaced by the next shot. The result is a stream of images that tell a story.

So, how does this apply to fiction?

Here’s an extract from D. H. Lawrence’s short story, Odour of Chrysanthemums.
          "The small locomotive engine, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full wagons. It appeared round the corner with loud threats of speed, but the colt that it startled from among the gorse, which still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon, outdistanced it at a canter. A woman, walking up the railway-line to Underwood, drew back into the hedge held her basket aside, and watched the footplate of the engine advancing. The trucks thumped heavily past, one by one, with slow inevitable movement, as she stood insignificantly trapped between the jolting black wagons and the hedge." 

Looking at the introductory paragraph, a quick analysis shows how Lawrence introduces the setting with a long shot. Transitioning to medium shots, he cuts to the colt and the woman. The next shot, a close-up, shows the woman holding her basket aside. The description of the trucks moving past the woman is an extreme close-up, and in the phrase ‘thumped heavily past, one by one’ Lawrence traps the reader just as much as the space between the train and the hedge traps the woman.

Lawrence also follows the dramatic arc of rising action. The movement of the approaching train is echoed by the colt running, and creates a climax (and contrast) with the woman forced into stillness by the immense noisy train. Further on the paragraph moves into falling action with transitions through medium shots of the countryside, concluding with a long shot of a building silhouetted against the horizon.

Trying this exercise with your own work is interesting and constructive as you may find you favor one particular shot more than others. If you find most of your scenes are, for example, medium shots, then varying those with longer and shorter shots can give the scene more impact, pace, and drama.
Writing Update
The final book in my Samsara Trilogy is with my editor, and I'm aiming for a Christmas release. Although, life being what it is, it might well be a New Year publication. So, I'm busy, excited and nervous as I prepare for publication. This book completes the trilogy, and will be my first box set - a milestone I wasn't sure I would ever reach. Yeah!

Today's Haiku
are you old and grey
my once and youthful lover –
I dream about you

If you would like to receive a notice of new releases, click on the sign-up tab at the top of the page. Thank you!

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Stay well and best wishes.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Happy Halloween Freebie

The ancient Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain to mark the end of summer and the start of the darker winter season. They also believed the veil between the living and those who had left this world was at its thinnest at this point in the year and honored their ancestors accordingly.

These beliefs changed with the introduction of Christianity, but some customs remained. Dressing up, going door-to-door asking for gifts of food - known in Scotland and Ireland as guising (from disguising) - has been taking place on All Hallows Eve for centuries.
The following verse is from a poem called Halloween published in 1786 by the famous Scottish poet, Robbie Burns.

                              Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
                              Together did convene,
                              To burn their nuts, and pile their shocks of wheat,
                              And have their Halloween
                              Full of fun that night.

Later, the Irish and Scottish immigration to the States resulted in the festival as we currently observe it. Today, children dress up in fancy costumes and go door-to-door trick or treating, we carve lanterns from pumpkins, not turnips, and great feasting still takes place as youngsters consume massive amounts of candy.

An interesting fact to note as I finish this mini history is that Edinburgh’s Royal Mile sees the Samhuinn Fire Festival celebrated on Halloween with drumming, acrobatics, fire-dancing, and a torchlit procession that I’m sure would have impressed those ancient Celts.

I'm fascinated by history and mythology, which brings me to my novella, Hekate’s Chalice, where ordinary (or not so ordinary) characters mix with creatures found in folklore in a way my Celtic ancestors would have thought quite normal.

Here’s the blurb:
A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.
JB runs a private detective agency, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but can they outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires?

Hekate’s Chalice
is published with Amazon’s KDP Select program and predictably, considering the content, I chose to make it free for the five days leading up to and including Halloween.

Please go to the following links and download the book for free from today, Thursday 27th until Monday 31st October.

The novella is a fun short read, great for the holiday weekend, and can be chosen as your free book of the month if you are with Amazon Prime.

If you would like to receive a free copy of Healer's Magic, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Kala, click on the sign-up tab at the top of the page. Thank you!

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Best wishes and Happy Halloween,

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Incubating ideas.

As I'm reading through and fine-tuning my current WIP (the final in my Samsara trilogy), my subconscious keeps throwing ideas at me for my next project - Book Two in the Adept Solutions Series. I have the main plot, but still need one or two sub-plots. So as I continue with my daily routine (moving future storylines to the back burner), and September comes to a close, I've updated a post from 2014, and hope other writers find it relevant.

Incubating Ideas

We notice new ideas when they float to the surface of our consciousness. Sometimes these arrive fully mapped out in the form of a distinct character, a particular conflict or plot. J. K. Rowling said the concept for Harry Potter fell into her head during a train journey.

Some writers formulate their plans as they write but often those seeds need to be nurtured and given space to grow. One practice many novelists use as a catalyst for maturing concepts is to do something unconnected with writing, and often choose a recreational activity. For example, Martin Amis played darts, while Kurt Vonnegut played patience.

Frank Smith in Writing and the Writer said 'Composition is not enhanced by grim determination'. By giving yourself freedom from pressure you allow your subconscious to process important ideas. Scheduling time out, and doing something different doesn't mean your brain has stopped working, and you might choose to catch up on any of the innumerable jobs that pile up while you’re absorbed in your work, but picking something you enjoy works best.

During this period, thoughts may arrive at odd moments, and change, alter or expand your original concept. Write them down and let go of any attachment you have to older plans as they are superseded by newer ones. When the incubation period ends, you’re likely to be flooded with inspiration as the gates to creativity open.

The way this nurturing process operates for me is I tell myself what I want, hand it over to my subconscious, and then get on with life without unduly worrying about it. I call it the sleep-on-it method. How long does it take for an idea to incubate and come to fruition? The Roman poet, Horace, thought writers should wait for nine years—a tad longer than most of us can spare these days. But like everything else in writing fiction, the incubation period varies from one individual to another. And there is no right or wrong, there is only what works.

Today’s Haiku
When you achieve one
target the goal posts reveal
a new horizon

If you would like to receive a free copy of Tatya’s Return, Book One in the epic paranormal trilogy, Samsara, click on the Newsletter Sign up tab. Thank you!

If you're a Wattpad member, I have several short stories posted on the site:

Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A hopeful, exhilarating moment!

Launching a new book, or in this case a novella, is only one of many steps in the process of bringing a book to readers, however, it is one of the most exciting ones. After months (sometimes years) of work, pressing the button that sends your work out into the big wide web, is a hopeful, exhilarating moment.

The other half of the writing equation is reciprocation with readers. When someone lets you know they've enjoyed your story, I know I get a delicious thrill, and these are the moments that keep me going during the leaner times.

I wrote this novella while my WIP (the final book in the Samsara Trilogy) is resting, and crime fiction, albeit in an urban fantasy setting (of course), is a new arena for me. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy reading the first chapter of this tale as I had a lot of fun writing this story. Read on... 

A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.

JB runs a private detective agency for the magickally challenged, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but is it enough to outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires? 

Hekate's Chalice©


Chapter One: Monday: 5.30pm Nov. 1st. All Saints Day

JB lit another stick of incense, as heavy rain drummed a counterpoint on the windowpane to Nikki’s furious typing.
“Don’t lie, Zhanna! I know you’ve cracked my password. And you’ve been sneaking into my files. That makes it the second time today.” Nikki kept her eyes fixed on the screen and her black curls quivered as she shook with suppressed anger.
Zhanna, a six-inch faerie of the Irayisi race, smoothed the sides of her pink and black spiked Mohawk hairdo with her matching striped fingernails. She fluttered her wings, and sparks of iridescent color refracted like stars exploding into the air. “I haven’t been near that antiquated piece of junk you call a–”
“Look at her!” Nikki demanded of her boss. “Was she watching me dress this morning?” Other than the additional pink, and the Mohican hairstyle, their Goth outfits were identical, right down to the brass studded black leather boots.
JB rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders as he placed the incense in its holder on his desk. A thin line of smoke rose, and the scent of sandalwood purified the atmosphere. “Coffee, soda, anyone?” It wasn’t much of an attempt to keep the peace, but it might stave off a full blown hissy fit from either of them. He stood and stretched his tall lean frame. His mixed daemon, elf, and human ancestry gave him a dark brooding quality.
“As if I haven’t got enough on my plate with Juan moving in, and putting his boxes all over the place. And keep those nasty fingers of yours to yourself.” Nikki hissed at Zhanna, revealing her unnervingly pointed canine teeth.
Zhanna’s gold tinted eyes flashed, and pouting, she tossed her sparkly star-topped wand on the desk and flew over to the window. “Nobody here understands me.” She landed on the windowsill and leaned forward, her tiny nose touching the glass. “I don’t deserve to be sentenced to this place. Ebay scams should be classed as misdemeanors. It’s not as if we intended to hurt anyone. And what’s with this wet stuff pouring out of the sky at all times of the day and night?” Her finger followed a raindrop as it ran down the glass. “In Faerie Land–”
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before. In Faerie Land, everything is hunky dory.”
“Oh, come here JB. There’s a little lost child standing outside our door.”
JB crossed the room and peered down at the street. The weather was too miserable for all but the most enthusiastic of shoppers, and as five thirty approached, the sidewalk filled with office workers scurrying along with their collars turned up and diamond raindrops glistening on their umbrellas as they headed home. Mellie’s CafĂ© on the ground floor was closing, and even though it was late afternoon, the low-hanging leaden-bellied rain clouds made it almost as dark as night.
Zhanna perched on JB’s shoulder and stroked his earlobe with a striped fingernail. “Stop that,” he said twitching as he studied the disheveled, rain soaked young girl peering anxiously at the door.
“There are quite a few shades following her. I’ll get rid of them.” Nikki’s gaze raked the darkened doorways on the opposite side of the street.
“Yeah, some always overstay their welcome and take their own sweet time to return to the other side. But what do you expect the day after Halloween?  There’s a bunch over there,” JB pointed to an entrance a short distance away.
“And there. And there,” squeaked Zhanna, grabbing a hold of JB’s hair, and digging her fingernails into his scalp. She stared in horror as more shades gathered.
The girl pressed the buzzer, and JB went over to the intercom and pushed the button. The unexpected caller disappeared inside the building.
Nikki opened a window. “Mind your ears,” she warned as she held the large pale coral pink conch to her pursed mouth. Sucking in a lungful of air, she blew hard and sent a long, deep mournful sound out into the city. Drawing in another breath, she blew the conch two more times.
The shades shredded and melted into the darkness as several windows opened from nearby apartments. Some were more polite than others as they shouted at her to quit making that racket.
“Slaret ua!” Nikki cursed as she banged the window shut. “Stupid ungrateful humans! Would they prefer to live in a shade infested neighborhood? Do they want nightmares or sweet dreams? They should be showering me with gifts in thanks for the service I performed!”
“Shh,” JB said as he opened the top drawer in his desk and deftly laid the sleeping faerie on a pile of silk cushions. He closed the drawer, leaving a gap big enough for her to exit when she woke.
Like all fairies, Zhanna needed regular naps to replenish the high amount of energy she continuously expended. Sodas and other sugary drinks kept her awake for a certain length of time, but only for so long. Then she’d crash anywhere–on the keyboard of her laptop, on top of the microwave, even once in the sink–until someone laid her in her bed.
“Well, more than one good result then,” Nikki smiled as she rinsed and dried the conch before returning it to its place on the shelf, next to a white oak stake, a solid gold crucifix, a pair of silver handcuffs, and several jars of dubious looking substances.
JB and Nikki turned as their visitor knocked timidly on the office door.
The girl was young, around fourteen or fifteen years old. Her pale blonde hair hung in rat’s tails around her shoulders, water dripped down her forehead, and her clothes were soaking wet. Her large brown eyes regarded them with trepidation.
“Come in, come in. Nikki, find a towel and bring our guest a hot drink, will you? Come and sit down.”  JB’s serious, almost grim expression softened as he pulled out a chair for her.
The girl’s shoulders relaxed a fraction at his reassuring words, though she regarded him warily as she sat.
Nikki produced a hand towel and bustled back to the area designated as the kitchen, although it only contained a sink, a hot drinks machine, and a microwave oven.  The aroma of cinnamon and hot chocolate circulated through the room as she placed the steaming cup in front of their unexpected visitor, who’d already dried the worst of the damp out of her hair.
Nikki perched on the edge of JB’s desk, and they waited while their guest sipped her hot drink. “Thank you,” she said. “This is delicious.”
Nikki smiled at the compliment, revealing her sharp incisors. She was only half imp, on her father’s side, so hadn’t inherited the full complement of pointed teeth, which made it possible for her to pass at a quick glance for a human, though any serious consideration of her narrow build, slanted silver-gray eyes, and wild mass of black curls would reveal her heritage.
“So, how may we help you?” JB asked, keeping his voice gentle.
I’m Maya, and my aunt is Hekate, the leader of the Lielit coven. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them–they’re quite famous–anyway, she sent me here. I’m looking for Jean Baptiste?”
“Well, you’ve found one of them. My father, Jean Baptiste Senior, is the other. I’m Jean Baptiste Junior.”
“Aunt Hekate insisted it had to be the older man.” She looked from JB to Nikki and back to JB.
“My father is unavailable, but if you’ll tell us why you’re here, we’ll see what we can do.” He added a little glamour to his voice. They needed the job.
A year ago JB Sr., a lifelong voodoo practitioner held in great esteem by his community had wanted to sell the business and devote himself to his houngan congregation. His son had argued passionately and persuasively to let him take over the agency. After all, hadn’t he been training since he was fourteen with the aim of eventually taking over the family business? He’d only started studying architecture because his father insisted he try something else before committing to a career as a private detective. In the end, they arrived at an understanding. JB Jr. would run the agency for a year, and if after that time the business wasn’t financially solvent, he’d agree to his father selling and return to the architectural course.
When people realized JB Sr. wasn’t available anymore, business slumped, and he let go the few long-term employees who’d remained. On top of which, JB Sr. now lay in the hospital in a coma after a hit-and-run accident, and the police were having no success in locating either the driver or the car that struck him. “I’m as good a detective as my father. Possibly better,” JB said with a smile.
“Okay.” The glamour seemed to have done the trick, and Maya straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath. She spoke rapidly, running all her sentences together as the story flooded out of her. “My aunt has a chalice which she uses for predicting the future, and it’s made the coven powerful because she’s Mayor Bradley’s psychic advisor, and he comes every Sunday after church for a consultation. He listens to her advice about all sorts of things, but the chalice has been stolen, and she won’t be able to help him anymore without it. She wants you to find it by this Saturday.” Having repeated her speech, Maya sank back into the chair. Picking up the cup, she finished her drink.
“Would you like another?” Nikki reached for the empty cup.
“Please.” Maya looked at her gratefully.
“Why didn’t Hekate come herself? Why did she send you?” JB asked. “If you don’t mind me saying, you are quite young.”
“I’m family and she trusts me, though I’m not an actual coven member yet. But I’m in training and I’ll be initiated next year. She hasn’t told anyone because she doesn’t want it to get out the chalice is missing.”
Nikki returned and placed a second cup on the table next to Maya. “Careful it’s hot.”
“Is she suspicious of anyone in the coven?” JB asked.
“She didn’t say.”
“Were there any signs of a break-in?”
“Not that she told me.”
“Okay.” Not much to go on so far, JB thought. “Is Hekate available now?”
Maya shook her head. “She’s giving Tarot card readings at a conference for Tropolis’s business leaders, but she’ll be back early tomorrow morning.”
JB’s forehead furrowed for a moment. “I’ll meet with Hekate tomorrow, say ten o’clock. If any other witches are around, tell Hekate to say I’m a reporter wanting an interview for an article I’m doing on witchcraft. After I speak with her, she can decide if she wants me to take the case. And if she does, I’ll check out the place and see if I’m able to pick up anything. Does that sound good?”
Maya’s face lit up. “Oh, yes, and I’m sure she’ll want you.” She ended the sentence by burying her head in her cup and finishing her drink.
Evidently, Maya hadn’t needed the glamour to be impressed by JB’s dark good looks. “Right, if you’re ready, I’ll give you a lift home. Your aunt won’t be happy if you catch pneumonia.” He shrugged into his black leather jacket, and glanced at the window where runnels of raindrops chased each other down waterfalls. “Nikki, make sure the twins are on time for tomorrow’s morning meeting. I want to start early.”
Nikki nodded. “Sure, I’m on it as soon as you’re away.” They both knew what she meant was she’d deal with it once she’d seen him drive away and checked he wasn’t being followed.
The almost silent buzz of Zhanna’s wings next to her ear startled Nikki, as she stood by the window. “I’m sorry, I upset you,” the faerie said as she settled on Nikki’s shoulder. She stretched and released one of Nikki’s curls.
“Sure, you are,” Nikki muttered, her attention on JB as he climbed into his second hand black Chevrolet and leaned across the front seat clearing it of whatever junk he’d thrown there so Maya had somewhere to sit. “We might actually have a proper serious case,” she told the faerie, now busy winding the thick curl around her waist.
“Perhaps we’ll see some action.”
“Not for you. You know the conditions of your sentence.”
“I can always hope. Look that car’s pulling out too. Do you think he’s following them?”
Nikki lifted her phone and snapped a quick picture as the car passed the building, and a couple more shots before both cars were hidden by the dank curtain of miserable weather. “Maybe. Maybe not.” She swiped the phone screen. “Losing them isn’t a problem for JB, but I’m not taking any chances.” She held a finger up to silence Zhanna while she called JB. “Be careful. You might have a tail.”

If you like gripping mysteries interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then you’re going to love Hekate’s Chalice, the first volume of the Adept Solutions series.
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