About Me

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Born and raised in Southern Indiana, this Hoosier transplanted herself to the Windy City after graduate school. Her passion is teaching, with writing come a close second and gaining momentum. She currently teaches College of DuPage as an adjunct professor in the physical education department and runs a martial arts studio in Naperville, IL. She holds the rank of 3rd Dan in the United States Hapkido Federation.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice and Some Random Thoughs ...

Happy Winter Solstice!

May you be surrounded by loved ones on this longest night of the year.

Now, for some random thoughts:

Just saw the third Hobbit movie (3? Why? It's a 247-page novel!) at the theatre. I didn't see the first two in the theatre, but wanted to hang with friends, so I went. It wasn't worth it to see it in 3-D in my opinion, but with my weird eyesight, 3-D always isn't worth it.

So, it was fun and I did tear up at the end. My fave dwarf (Kili) dies, but he dies in the book, so wasn't truly surprised. Wish though he could have at least had a kiss with Tauriel.

Now my question is, with hobbits wanting to eat six to seven times a day, is this the reason Bilbo was gone for two and a half years? They had to stop every two hours to eat? (I'm joking, but it does beg the question - is the group that awesome of hunters and gatherers that they survived such trials and tribulations for two and a half years? Perhaps yes for hunting, but you gotta stave off scurvy and the like, right?)

But for a serious question - will Peter Jackson go back to the original three movies and replace Ian Holms with Martin Freeman in the 'Bilbo steals the ring' flashback? I hope he doesn't go all George Lucas on us.

And while we're on Middle Earth - am I the only one who wishes Jackson could get the rights to 'The Silmarillion'? I would love to see the elves again. 

Tangent ...

Was watching 'Weird Science' last night. If we could time travel, I'd go back to let RDJ (well, at the time, he was just RD) that he'd be a serious actor AND get to play Iron Man. See if that blows his mind. (BTW - you could definitely see the beginning of the drug use in this film.)

And on that note ...

Do you think some serious actors wished their earliest works would just disappear? You know they do. 

Last random thought for the day ...

I want a Rocket Raccoon plush toy for Christmas.

Well, I REALLY love a Dancing Baby Groot, but he's not out yet. 

Until later. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Guest Author - Layla M. Weir

Hi Sherrie! Thanks so much for having me! I'm blog touring for my new novel Held For Ransom, set during Christmastime in a small town in Illinois.

Today I am also having a release party on Dreamspinner Press's blog (http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/), so please come by and check that out too if you get a chance!

For those of us in the U.S., today is the point when the ramp-up to Christmas begins in earnest -- Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday is here, and most of us are looking forward to the holiday season with some combination of delight and dread. I admit that for me, despite being your basic secular humanist atheist and therefore not involved in the religious aspects of the holiday, the delight tends to overwhelm the dread. Okay, yeah, there are always those terribly awkward family members to shop for, and the usual handful of family Christmases we don't like to talk about when things went dreadfully wrong. But for the most part, the Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. I still have a childish delight in the brightly colored lights, the festive store displays, the Christmas music on the radio and the special holiday episodes of all my favorite TV shows. (Okay, maybe I could do without the same Macy's ad on TV every other commercial break ...)

It's not that I don't understand why some people hate the holiday season and brace themselves for it with despair. It's over-commercialized, the stores bring out the decorations in freakin' August (or at least it seems that way), and the obligation of having to shop for every relative under the sun strips out a lot of the fun of gift-giving ... and I feel for the plight of the non-celebrants at this time of year, who must be trapped in what seems like an inescapable, never-ending holly-filled purgatory.

But, yeah, I'm going to be that person who trots out all my holiday icons and wanders down the craft aisles at Michael's to smell the fake cinnamon potpourri. I know the holiday isn't perfect, but I find myself wallowing even in its less perfect aspects. Yeah, I like the stupid mall Santas and the dopy fake wreaths on the downtown lampposts, and even if I flip the radio channel at the first strains of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer", it's also with a certain wry indulgence (in addition to the cursing).

And so, in some ways, this is what Held For Ransom is all about, I guess. It's my personal paean to the Christmas holiday season -- the good, the bad, and the dreadfully awkward.

Here's an excerpt in which DJ Lanning, one half of the novel's main pairing, contemplates his own Christmas-related problems.


            Typically, three days before the annual Christmas carnival, the ball field would be echoing with the ring of hammers and the cheerful cries of volunteers as they put up the booths. This year no one had given any thought about the carnival—least of all DJ Lanning, until he started getting panicked calls from his mother’s friends a week prior. For the past twenty years, his mother had been organizing the whole thing by herself, and no one knew how anything was done. Vivian Lanning had obtained the necessary permits, called all the vendors, put together the fundraisers, and bought exactly enough of everything from bratwurst to balloons.

            Now with his father on a ’round-the-world, post-midlife crisis, and his sister in Chicago, he was the only member of the Lanning family readily available—and therefore, the one who would save them all.

            I can’t even save myself; how can I save the whole town?

            He rose stiffly, brushed bits of dead grass off his coat, and picked up the manila envelope full of flyers. One of them was clipped to the outside. DJ had hacked them together the night before in Microsoft Word and printed them out on the black-and-white laser printer at home. He should probably call Inga back and let her know that he’d already media blitzed every lamppost in the whole two-block downtown, but he couldn’t deal with her agitated energy on top of his gloomy mood. She probably wanted to ask him some question he didn’t know the answer to—where Vivian’s records were for the fundraising bake sales, who to call at the Tri-City Gazette about running an ad, where the plans for putting together the dismantled booths had gotten off to.

            How his mother had managed to keep this bunch organized was beyond him. Vivian had never seemed like a together kind of person. She was, in fact, the classic absentminded professor, with her flyaway hair and her habit of forgetting everything from her reading glasses to the water boiling away on the stove. Her desk, at home and at her office on campus, had been a disastrous drift of papers. DJ was still finding Post-it notes stuck on random surfaces—his mother’s desperate attempt at stemming her life’s slide into entropy—which he didn’t have the heart to remove. She’d always been on the phone to someone, usually while doing a dozen other things badly.

            And yet somehow she’d made her mad juggling act work. She’d kept all the balls in the air—wife, mother, English professor, member of every committee in Heatherfield County—and only dropped a few. Even during the past year, when she was weak and frail from cancer, she still ran the carnival committee and made it a success.

            But that was half the problem this year. In the last months of her life, his mother had been dropping more balls than she kept up. Drugs, pain, and a never-ending regimen of chemotherapy and doctor’s visits made her forgetful. At times during the lead-up to Christmas last year, she’d been sleeping sixteen hours a day. No one could have managed everything she tried to do. If she’d handed it off to someone when there was still time to explain how everything was done—

            But she couldn’t do that without admitting she was in the final months of her life. And Vivian hadn’t been able to. Neither could her husband and children, and neither could her friends, who included nearly everyone in Osmar. So we all went on pretending Mom was going to get better, and then she crashed. And now she’s gone, and we’re all left picking up the pieces.

            DJ taped a flyer to the light pole before the river bridge, just below the Christmas wreath that the town council had hung, and then crossed to the middle of the bridge. From there he had a panoramic view of the town—what there was of it.

Held For Ransom 
by Layla M. Wier
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel/200 pages
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2014

Two weeks before Christmas, the small town of Osmar is gearing up for its annual winter carnival, but the death of the event’s long-time organizer might mean the end of the festivities. Everyone is turning to her son DJ to save the carnival, but DJ can barely save himself. He's spinning his wheels in Osmar—working part time at the gas station, living in his parents' house, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. DJ is caught in a large, loving web of well-meaning family and friends, but they can't fix his life for him. Into this mess comes Ransom, a handsome mystery man on a motorcycle. Ransom is traveling around the country, making up for his past sins by doing “good deeds.” He and DJ have a one-night stand that neither can forget, but that's just the start, because Ransom has a plan to save the carnival, and DJ has a plan to save Ransom… and possibly himself.

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5679

About Layla: 
Layla M. Wier is a writer and artist who grew up in rural Alaska and now lives on the highway north of Fairbanks, where winters dip to 50 below zero and summers yield 24 hours of daylight. She and her husband, between the two of them, possess a useful array of survival skills for the zombie apocalypse, including gardening, blacksmithing, collecting wild plant foods, and spinning wool into yarn (which led to her first Dreamspinner Press novella, "Homespun"). When not writing, she likes reading, hiking, and spending way too much time on the Internet.

Where to find Layla:
Blog: http://laylawier.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Layla_in_Alaska
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laylamwier
Tumblr: http://laylainalaska.tumblr.com

Stops on the Held for Ransom blog tour (Nov. 12-Dec. 1)

Wednesday, Nov. 12: Anne Barwell - http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

Friday, Nov. 14: RELEASE DAY! Charley Descoteaux - http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/blog/

Monday, Nov. 17: Shae Connor - http://shaeconnorwrites.com/ 

... and ...

**ALL-DAY RELEASE PARTY** on Facebook and Wordpress

http://laylawier.wordpress.com - https://www.facebook.com/laylamwier

Wednesday, Nov. 19: Grace Duncan - http://www.grace-duncan.com

Friday, Nov. 21: Jana DeNardo - http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com

Monday, Nov. 24: Anna Butler - http://annabutlerfiction.com/blog/

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Aidee Ladnier - http://www.aideeladnier.com/

Friday, Nov. 28: Sherrie Henry - http://sherriehenry.blogspot.com/

Monday, Dec. 1: Because Two Men Are Better Than One - http://becausetwomenarebetterthanone.com/

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Don't Give In! Resist the Urge!

Originally published on my Facebook profile:

Please, please don't go shopping on Thanksgiving. If we stopped going out to shop, the stores wouldn't be open and the employees can be at home with their familes (or at least enjoying a day off). We need to wean ourselves from our addiction to cheap Chinese goods and the notion that if we don't get it RIGHT AWAY, we won't get a good deal. Patience is your friend. You can find excellent deals closer to Christmas; sometimes even better than the ones you find on Thanksgiving/Black Friday.

And remember, the retailers are putting out ads for TVs and electronics as SUPER DUPER LOW PRICES, but please, they have MAYBE 10 in stock. But of course, you can get this comparable TV at a discount too (never, ever close to the 'discount' advertized for those 10 TVs that were taken in the first minute). DON'T FALL FOR IT! STAY HOME, PIG OUT, WATCH TV, NAP ON THE COUCH.

After some huge losses some friends of mine have suffered the past few weeks, I wanted to remind people of something:

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family. It's a time to pig out, watch football (or whatever is your traditional movie) and be together, even if all you do is watch the damn DVD.

Think about this: none of us knows how long we have on this earth. This may and probably will be the last Thanksgiving for some of us or will be the last Thanksgiving for a loved one. Do you really want your last Thanksgiving to be at the mall? Do you really want the last memory of your loved one, that you only see once, maybe twice a year, to be of them waving at the door as you back the car out of the driveway and head out to shop?

How about the employee at the store? What if they have loved ones at home that they know they won't see again after this day? Maybe they know this is their last Thanksgiving due to illness and yet, to keep that precious health insurance, they are forced to work rather than be at home with family one ... last ... time. (Let that sink in - some illnesses don't present themselves to the outward appearance. That sales clerk at the checkout stand may only have a few weeks to live and yet here you are, shopping, telling Corporate America they'd better have stores open or else.)

Are you really that selfish, greedy, apathetic? If you are, I feel very sorry for you.
I heard that Maine has blue laws that forbid stores from being open on certain holidays, Thanksgiving included. I wish the remaining 49 would do that. This is one blue law I could get behind. NO ONE should have to sacrifice time with family because they need a job.

If you still feel the need to go shopping on Thanksgiving, do me a favor and unfriend me. I don't want you around and I really don't want to know you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Guest Author - Grace Duncan


In a world that's gone to hell, will you let old fears keep you from the chance at more than just survival?


When Duncan stumbles into a pharmacy in search of something to fix his broken leg, he’s surprised to find someone else there. Like the rest of the post-pandemic world, it appeared empty. Instead, he discovers Mark, a former nurse who walked away from his profession after losing too many patients to the virus. Despite swearing he’d never practice medicine again, Mark patches Duncan up over Duncan's protests. He even finds an abandoned house in the tiny town, and they settle in until Duncan heals enough to look out for himself. Much to the chagrin of both, they find themselves caring for each other.

Duncan welcomes it, thrilled at finding someone he can trust. However, he’s well aware of the shadows in Mark’s eyes and understands Mark’s reticence as he learns the story. But as he’s starting to do things for himself again, Duncan realizes he doesn’t want Mark to leave. He’s not sure if can get Mark to let go of his fears so they can stay together and love. But Duncan’s damned sure going to try.

Buy link: Dreamspinner Press



He should have known better. Under normal circumstances, it was a stupid move, but right here, right now, “stupid” didn’t begin to cover it.

Duncan glared at his leg for another moment, then leaned his head back against the wall. He needed to keep moving. It hurt like hell, but he had to keep going. It wasn’t going to get better on its own. The gash needed to be cleaned and bandaged, and even if the break wasn’t bad, it should at least be braced. And it wasn’t like he could call an ambulance. Or even go into an emergency room.

Well, he supposed he could go into an emergency room, if he was in the city. But like a lot of other people, he avoided the cities whenever possible. And when it wasn’t, he stayed as far on the edge as he could. But even there, it was a dangerous risk. As corrupt as the cities were now, the price of anything was higher than most could pay. He’d heard rumors that, in some of the worst cities, people simply got shot if they couldn’t pay what the thugs in power wanted. It was all rumor, but rumor he wasn’t about to ignore.

So he did his damnedest to stay away.

He’d been stupid to jump off the ledge. Even at only a couple of feet higher than he was tall, the risk hadn’t been worth it. He’d have thought, after nearly three years, he’d learned how to be more careful and not take those kinds of risks. It wasn’t the first time he’d fallen and hurt himself—though, thankfully, the last one hadn’t involved a broken bone. Maybe it should have; he might have learned his lesson then.

“Really fucking stupid, Dun.”

Duncan steeled himself and pulled to his feet, grimacing when the sharp pain shot up his ankle and through his leg. “Fuck,” he muttered, breathing hard through his nose. When he finally focused past the pain, he looked up and noted the position of the sun, the only real indication he had for the time, and figured he had another good hour or two of light. If he was right about where he was, he wouldn’t need all of it. He tucked the stick he’d found under his arm, grimaced when it dug into the soft flesh, but then leaned on it and hobbled along again.

Grace’s Bio:

Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age - many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children - both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Check her social media:
Grace's website
Twitter: @GraceRDuncan


Enter to win an Amazon.com $25 gift card!

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

GRL - Post-Con Thoughts

It's human nature to dwell upon the negative. What's the saying? "For one negative review, there are ten positive reviews that don't get written." Or "every negative review can influence ten people, who will repeat the negative, while the positive is forgotten.' Or some such sayings like that.

Of course, each and every convention can be improved every year they hold one. I'm sure this convention ran much more smoothly than say their first one. So, all that said, let me start with the positive.

The music was da BOMB! Love to dance, even though I'm not good at it and look pretty much like a beached whale writhing on the dance floor, but hell, it's fun. The costume party was the most absolute perfect way to end the convention. Had a great time at the Casino Royale as well - was fun learning how to play roulette.

The panels were fun, but much improvement to be made (see below). Great moderators and the authors were awesome to meet. The featured author signing was fun as well (didn't get to experience the supporting author one as I WAS a supporting author - but great to be asked for my autograph. Heck, maybe some day those will be worth something! LOL). I got to meet people I only knew on-line and it was great to put faces to FB profiles. Felt a little funny going up to some people, as some more than others share their lives with us on-line. To know a little more intimate details about someone you've actually never met face-to-face, then to meet them face-to-face - well, more than once I got tongue-tied and really had no idea what to say (and for those that know me, you will find that hard to believe).

I did find myself feeling a bit out of place, though, especially the first day. There were quite a few 'cliques' going on and a lot of authors had their followings. Not to say that's bad, but it did make this newbie feel like an outsider. What did I have to offer other than the two novels I'd written? Could they even be compared to the prolific works of many of the featured authors? I felt so small at first, but when people actually brought copies of my books for them to sign and also tell me how much the books meant to them ... I felt it was all worth it. By Saturday I felt much more brave and actually introduced myself to people (instead of waiting to be introduced or waiting for them to introduce themselves). I think I needed one more day and I would have sprouted into a real social butterfly. By Saturday evening I felt much more confident. Wonder of the event organizers would consider a full-week convention in the future?

So, what to improve? Well, I'm putting the book selling tax fiasco behind me. I feel bad for the authors and publishers who had to give up a large percentage, but all I could do was offer my help and it wasn't needed. Moving on.

I'm going to briefly mention the hotel, as the hotel and its staff are well beyond the control of concom. The hotel knew we were coming, yet they did not have extra staff on hand and actually were woefully understaffed. Common sense notions (like leaving four towels per room when there were four people in the room) didn't seem to be a concern. So weird for a Hilton to not leave four washcloths, four hand towels and four bathtowels at the very least when the room was made up.

Okay, so the convention. As stated above, I enjoyed listening to the authors and liked how they had Q&As, spotlights and readings. What I was disappointed about was the lack of 'general' panel Q&A topics. For example, why not have a panel on how to deal with trolls (both as an author and reader - trolls are equal-opportunity idiots you know). Or how about one on how to write a good critique or review - not just the 'OMG I love this book! You must read it!' Or one on marketing, or how to use social media, or how to find new authors to read or how to read outside your comfort zone, or ... you get the idea. This convention, to my knowledge, was created to be a readers' convention. It needs to cater to the readers a bit more and not to the authors' egos.

And why did they limit the panels to featured authors only? There was no criteria to differentiate from featured to supporting other than the money paid. I think panels could have started earlier, gone later and more of them to choose from. If the Hilton is the common size for this type of convention and the con attendance was around 500, more panels can be easily held. (I actually had been waiting throughout Aug/Sep to be asked what panels I'd like to be on - sorta like the fan cons I've gone to in the past). I didn't realize it was only featured authors that get to sit on panels.

I was also shocked that every single event was held at the hotel. While there is an expense to driving into Chicago, it has a very vibrant gay community. Why on earth were we stuck at the hotel? I'd think for a nominal fee we all could have went club hopping one evening. Rent a couple of buses so everyone can drink to their hearts' content and go out and get sweaty.

As for newbies, while I do know there was a newbie breakfast thing on Thursday morning, it would be been nice to have one in the evening (or early afternoon) on Thursday to accommodate those that came in late or for those of us who just aren't morning people.

And lastly, the meaning of 'brunch' - a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast or lunch. Thus 'brunch' does NOT start at 8am. Brunch should start around 10a/11a (and I thought I read the on-line app schedule that said brunch started at 11a - the start time unfortunately was in grey and was hard to read on a white screen, while the end time was in blue and popped out.) If you are going to start at 8am, call it breakfast. Was a little pissed about that one as I had planned on going.

All-in-all, I was glad I went. Had an awesome time with a great group of friends at the sushi place - Kabuki in Glendale Heights. It was definitely a dinner and a show all in one.

Next year it's going to be in San Diego. California is extremely expensive and I don't see how plane fare will be much less than $500. Even if I bunk with three others again, probably looking at minimum $200-$300 for hotel and even eating conservatively at maybe $200 for the five days, looking at at least a grand to just get there, get a roof over my head and food to eat. Not to mention registration fees, pet-sitting fees back here at home and hoping I could get the time off work. <sigh> I need to win the lottery. If only I played it. Perhaps a long-lost relative will pass and give me lots of money. Or that Nigerian prince comes through. You never know.

For those on the west coast, yes, go. It is worth it, even with some of the drawbacks. It was such an honor to talk to those that have read my books (and then be asked when the next one was coming out!) 

So now I am rejuvenated. I feel like writing again. Maybe not today as I'm very sleep-deprived and there's not telling what might come out, but this week, definitely. I've got a YA novel started that I'd like to try to finish before NaNoWriMo so I can finish a vampire novel I've been working on for NaNo. (I know you're not supposed to have something started for NaNo, but my goal for the book is around 90k and I've got around 40k done, so the 50k is all new stuff for November LOL.)

For now, I bid everyone a fond adieu as I need a nap. Rocky and I are going to snuggle on the couch while the football game lulls us to sleep.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guest Author - A. Morell

Please welcome guest author A. Morell and her new release 'Puncture Wounds!'

James is at the end of a long crusade for vengeance against the vampire clan that destroyed everything he held dear. He has Ren, the final and most dangerous of them all, cornered at last in London. But victory remains just out of reach when Ren sets a feral vampire on James and makes his escape. With no other leads, James is forced to take in the feral until he can use its connection to its sire to track down Ren. But in caring for the vampire, James sees they might not all be the monsters he thought them to be. Faced with an ugly truth, his quest for revenge becomes a war for retribution, and the discovery of what it truly means to be human. 

Puncture Wounds
by A. Morell

Happy release day! It's been a fun ride getting the story to this point, and at long last it's available to all. Join James on his journey, and help him see it through to the bitter end. Congrats to all my winners, enjoy your free copies! Read on for an excerpt and links to some exclusive sneak peeks into the story: 
James fumbled to regain control, and it took a second to realize that it wasn’t teeth he felt now—it was a soft and damp tongue. The almost constant rumbling from deep in the creature’s chest had morphed at some point, from warning growls to what sounded suspiciously like a purr. James felt his skin crawl and tore himself away, stumbling a bit when he stood too fast. 
He was reeling. Everything from the past twenty-four hours suddenly came crashing down around him at once. In so short a time, he’d had the last of his sworn enemies in the palm of his hand, let him escape, and brought a feral monster into his own house. And he’d fed it. 
James fumbled his way into the kitchen, eying the sink as he felt his stomach threaten to heave. He pushed himself to the fridge, grabbing a nutrition drink and forcing its contents down his throat along with the bile. He reminded himself that he needed it to help his blood recover, and this was all according to plan—take in the feral and get it sane enough to track the one who’d made it. 
He braced himself against the counter with both arms, repeating the plan in his head until the moment passed.
He was too busy to notice at first, but something was wrong—nothing hurt. He looked back down at his arm. 
It had completely healed.
More on Puncture Wounds:

About A. Morell:
A. Morell spent ten years writing silly things for herself, going through work, school, and a failed career path in the culinary arts before deciding it was time to submit to a publisher. She still writes silly things for herself, but now some of them get pretty-looking covers. She has never looked back. 

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, she greatly enjoys food, baseball, shopping, tattoos, karaoke, and old bookstores. She is averse to spiders, zombies, over-used words, tardiness, inclement weather, and the misquotation of movie lines and lyrics. Her dream is to retire to Hawaii immediately. She has one cat. 

For more A. Morell, stop by the blog or twitter, or contact directly at sans.morale@gmail.com.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Author - L. Blankenship

Please welcome Guest Author L. Blankenship!

Disciple is a six-part, gritty fantasy romance -- the fifth part of the series has just hit the electronic bookshelves. Kate Carpenter is a peasant girl determined to serve her homeland as a healer in wartime. She never thought the crown prince and a ne'er-do-well knight would notice her along the way.

Back cover:
Kate faces winter with a broken heart: betrayed by one lover, the other lost to her.

Kiefan will not give up on the alliance his kingdom desperately needs — even though the Caer queen refuses to speak to him.

Anders, alone and despairing, faces the Empress’s seductive offers of power and privilege.

Each of them must carry the ongoing war in their own way, whether cold, alone, or backed into a corner. Each must patch together a broken heart as best they can. Duty will throw them together soon enough and they must be ready.

On sale now!

Read Disciple, Part I for FREE

Disciple, Part VI
ends the series early next year!

Excerpt from Disciple, Part V

She walked to him on delicate feet. He managed to sit up, trembling from the cold, from the pain, from half-remembered terror. That she was a little thing, trailing a braid of black hair thick as his arm, that her lush curves would’ve whetted his appetite anywhere else — that was all a lie, he knew in his bones. She was far more than she appeared.

“Such work to save you from the Shepherd, and you race back to his arms? You judge in haste, Anders.”

“I serve my saints,” he gasped out. “I’m discipled by —”

“You are elect, and bound to the Empress.”

His resolve steadied, in rejecting that. “I am a Blessed knight of Wodenberg. Proven in battle. I belong to Saint Woden.” He had his knight’s crest as proof, loose and straggly from melted snow but proof.

The Empress stood over him, without even gooseflesh from the cold. “And what did he give you, for your service? Blessings? A sword? Your sounding does tell it truly; you were as born to the sword as to the saddle. Woden only gilded a lily, with his claim. What you truly need, la…” She crouched down, looked Anders in the eye. “That is a true shifter, to teach you art.”

His chest ached where he’d been stabbed. Anders shifted away from her, pulse pounding in his throat. “Saint Aleks taught me. He showed me how to work it out myself.”

“Saint Aleksandr,” she said, overly patiently, “was a mere stonecutter with stars in his eyes. He did harvest his shifting charms, or I’m a scullery whore.”

Anders straightened, bristling in Saint Aleks’ defense, but the Empress held up one finger in warning. The bond in his palm tingled. Anders shut his mouth.

“Do not waste my time, sir. I am empress of eight kingdoms. I take few apprentices, and spare not my enemies. But mayhaps there is one man in Wodenberg worth sparing. And what, at home, draws you?”

Kate’s name leaped to his lips, and froze there. Her hands, glowing with kir, catching Kiefan as he fell. Stemming the fountain of his blood. Anders’ eyes closed as the pain in his chest stopped his breath. The sword had hurt, too.

When his eyes opened, they swam with tears. “I have…” Kate had said she loved him. But not even a glance at his mortal wound… had their nights together been a lie? Pity?

“For they left you to die,” the Empress said, voice softer. “And I did mend you, then. Saw your worth and bound you, Elect.”

Left him to die. And now they were finally rid of him. Anders’ heart skipped in cold terror; how happy was Kate, now that he was gone? This vulture had plucked him from the Shepherd’s shadow, done what Kate wouldn’t…

“Stay, and you will master your gifts. Which none understand as your own kind do.”

There’d been none in Wodenberg who could teach him; Saint Qadeem himself had said as much. Since Saint Aleks was killed, Anders had largely been left to his own devices. He met the Empress’ eyes, and she was all the world had left for him to choose. Because without Kate…

With her betrayal tearing a ragged hole in his chest at each breath, Anders nodded.

The Empress touched his shoulder, and his aches melted away. The cold vanished. Kir flooded in, lifting his head with a deep, cleansing breath. She stood, and a small blade spun out from one hand. His knight’s crest, she gathered up in the other. With a slash, it came away and she held the handful of flaxen hair before his face. Then dropped it.

“For you are mine. Come home.”

Monday, September 1, 2014

Love Chipotle? So Do I, Just Not Their High Prices

I absolutely love Chipotle burritos. While still calorie bombs, they are at least a bit more healthy than Mickey D's Big Macs with lower fat and sodium contents - well, based on what you put in them.

When I treat myself, it's the shredded pork burrito with the white cilanto-lime rice, mild garden salsa, sour cream, cheese and yes, I do spend the extra $2 for guac. I realized one day that I could probably make my own burrito for less, much less, so I thought I'd try. I found some recipes on-line, tweaked them over a couple of tries at it and came up with the perfect shredded pork burrio at a cost per burrito that Chipotle can't touch.

First, the grocery list (prices are rounded and based on suburbs of Chicago; your price will probably be less):

3-4 lb pork loin roast - $10
1 lb. basmati rice - $3 (you will only need about 1/4 of the bag per recipe)
12 oz sour cream - $1
12 oz. cheddar-jack shredded cheese - $2
1 pint garden salsa - $2 (I get the pre-made, you can certainly make your own for about the same cost)
1 pkg flour tortillas - $1
1 bottle lime juice - $1
1 bunch cilantro - $1
1 jalapeno - $1
1 red onion - $1 (only need about 1/4 of it)
3 avocados - $3
16 oz. chicken broth - $1
1 gal orange juice - $3 (only need about a cup, but I know I'll drink what's left)

You will also need a variety of spices which if you're a cook, you probably already have on hand. If I had to guess, the spices would add up to about $0.50, so pretty negligble when considering recipe cost:

garlic powder
bay leaves

Total cost - about $30. This recipe makes approximately 10-12 burritos depending on how full you stuff them, so making the burritos at home costs less than $3 a burrito (and you will have rice and OJ left over, so the cost per burrito is even less). One burrito with guac at Chipotle is $9. You do the math.

The recipes are really, really easy and prep time is less than 30 minutes. Cooking time, well, to do it correctly, needs about 9 hours. The pork is slow-cooked, but again, toss everything together in the morning and you have burritos for dinner.

First, the pork:

Combine the spices listed above sans the bay leaves. Coat the pork with the rub. You'll need between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon of each spice, depending on the size of your roast.

Put 2-3 bay leaves at the bottom of a slow cooker and add the rubbed pork. Carefully poor 16 oz. (2 cups) of chicken broth into the slow cooker, trying to not rinse the rub off the pork. Add 1 cup of orange juice. Cook on low for 9 hours, until the pork falls apart.

Be sure to retrieve and discard the bay leaves!

The rice:

At hour 8 of the pork cooking, start the rice. Melt one tablespoon of butter (or use canola oil, but the butter tastes better) in a sauce pan with a lid. Saute on high 1 cup of the rice in the butter for five minutes. Add two cups hot water, stir and cover. Cook on low for 15-20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. Turn off heat, let rice sit with lid on for 30 minutes. Do NOT open the lid.

After 30 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of lime juice and kosher salt (to your taste) and about 1/4-cup chopped cilantro to the rice. Stir well and put lid back on.

The guac:

After the rice is ready, mince about 1/4 of the red onion. Take out the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno and mince. If you're not into jalapenos like me, only use 1/2 of it. Extracate the flesh of the 3 avacados and chop coarsely. Put everything in to a mixing bowl, add salt to taste and if you want, some lemon juice (adds a little more flavor and helps the guac from turning brown) and a little bit of lime juice (again, the salt and lemon/lime juices should be to taste). Mash away. I like mind a little more lumpy than usual, so again, do smash to your liking.

Now you're ready to assemble. Pull out the flour tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheese and garden salsa and have at it. I personally stuff it so full you have to eat it with a fork, but you fill it to your heart's content. You of course can add different salsas, lettuce, beans, but that will add a little to the cost, but still, no where near the $9 you'd spend at Chipotle. It is SO worth it as you can add/subtract ingredients to your own taste. Plus, this being in your own home, enjoy with a margarita!

And believe me, it tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had a day to meld.

If you like this recipe, leave me a comment. If you want more recipes, let me know - I've got quite a few classics with my own touch added.

Beat The Heat Blog Hop - Damn it's hot out there!

Okay, I do live in Chicago and we're used to weird weather (Tornadoes in February? Snow in May? Heat wave in December? Yep, we got it all.) But this year has taken the cake. Polar Vortex (windchills -50 degreee F) this winter, spring didn't come until May, no summer until the last two weeks of August (and counting - seems summer wants to take over September according to the long-range forecast. What's a girl to do in regards to her wardrobe? I never put away the sweaters and long-sleeve shirts, so my closet is overflowing now with all my clothes. I've reached the point that tank tops can be worn for Christmas and sweaters can be worn for Memorial Day. I'm not digging this weather. 

One way to beat the heat or to escape the cold, depending on the day ... hell, depending on the hour ... is to curl up on the couch with a good book. What is that you ask? Do I have any recommendations? Well, of course I do! How about a free read? It's a little short story I wrote years ago and was originally published by XoXo Publishing. Unfortunately they closed their doors, so I'm offering it as a free read and hope you'll come back in a couple of weeks to check out the sequel. 

Without further ado, click here for link to Smashwords for the free read of Twenty-Four Hours, the first story in The Guardians Series. Then be sure to hop on to the next author in the tour for another chance at the raffle and for more book recommendations. Then don't forget, the second story, Michael's Journey, will be available September 9th.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guest Author Spotlight: A. Morell

Please welcome Author A. Morell, announcing her new book release "Half Past Forever."

Half Past Forever: A Glimpse into Eternity
Thank you for hosting me today, Sherrie.

I recently experienced my first foray into the M/M Romance Group's summer writing event on Goodreads, this year titled Love's Landscapes. It was by far the largest fiction-writing event I've ever taken part in, and while challenging at times, it turned out to be a gift for myself as well as for my letter-writer.

(For those who don't know, this writing event works by having group members find photos they like and writing a request letter to serve as a writing prompt. Authors of all experience levels can choose to participate by claiming a prompt.)
This is the image and letter that spoke to me:

Dear Author, 

This man I'm kneeling before isn't someone I know well, matter of a fact we only met three days ago. Yet he tells me something that's hard for me to believe, he tells me he is immortal. That’s not all though he seems to believe I’m the man he has dreamed about for thousands of years, that I’m his mate. The more I think about it the more I believe, well I believe that he isn’t exactly human I’m not so sure about the mate part. Still I can’t imagine what’s supposed to happen now. 

Requests: please; have story taken place in current time period 2014, tell how they met, characters in late twenties early thirties, no instant love but should be a happy ever after.

This hit on so many of my guilty pleasures’immortals, destined mates, and happily ever after. How could I resist’ The men were almost completely in shadow, too. I could make them whatever I wanted.

Knowing that this was just for fun and wouldn't be going to a professional publisher gave me a freedom I didn't expect’the freedom to experiment. Of course one should be willing to experiment with their writing, but it's hard not to get caught up in your own insecurities when you know it's up for professional review. I still don't think I went crazy, but you could say I at least let my hair down and my thoughts wander. Out of it came a character I really want to revisit: Levin, the immortal.

There are a lot of creatures in mythologies and folklore around the world that live forever, most of them through some sort of evil power. I wanted to take one and expand on those potentially dark origins, and thrust this unnatural creature into the world of humans.

By the time the story, Half Past Forever, gets started, Levin is more than a thousand years old. It would have been impossible to tell his entire story in the month and a half I had to write it, and admittedly harder to identify with a man who lives forever. So we follow Callum, the destined mortal, instead, and get the first glimpses of Levin's many years along with him.

The possibilities for those years are endless. Maybe one day we'll know the beginning and middle of Levin's story, but for now, we can have the happy end of it.
It begins with the joining of two separate paths...

It’s not an impulse that pulls him inside. Still he thinks nothing of it - why should he, when he comes to these kinds of places on his own so often? Man, woman, or more, he takes wherever he knows he can.

But the instant he’s through the door he feels it. It’s the pulse of the universe aligning every star just so to center around this one moment, around him. It’s all everything he’s seen and heard and smelled and tasted before, but never felt.

He feels it now.

The floor circles and sprawls around him, wide and deep and drenched in the blue that haunts his dreams. He understands now what it was, what it’s been all this time. A stage rises in front of him. He feels the music beating in his bones and rooting his feet to the ground.

He’s lived forever, and only now does he feel the clock begin to tick.

Blue eyes lined in black pierced through the stage lights to gauge the slow-growing crowd, searching for those who might shell out for a private dance once he got down to the floor. Most were balancing bills and beers in their hands, some more precariously than others as they followed his gyrating and flexing as the light played along the sheen of oil on his muscles. Honestly they all looked the same to him at this point. It was the size of the note he was concerned about.

Every motion of his routine was just muscle memory by now, and as it neared the end he caught sight of a dark figure at the back of the room and right in the middle of the floor. Callum couldn’t make out his features from here but he could tell he was staring, and he thought it odd the way he didn’t move at all.

It wouldn’t be Monday without a creep hanging around, he supposed, and he finished his dance by tossing his tearaway shorts into the crowd. God, those things were awful. He had never expected to be back in them four nights a week, but then he’d never expected that the budget crisis for social workers would result in him losing his job, either. Life was just full of surprises.

A few more groups of people had wandered inside by the time Callum made it down to the floor and his mood improved marginally. Pasting on a flirtatious smile, he headed for the tables to go make some new friends, scouting for the bigger spenders- and then stopped short.

The man doing his best statue impression was right in front of him. He was tall, with light eyes and fair hair that glowed in the blue phosphorescence of the club lights, and a dark coat that hung at a perfectly tailored endpoint at the thigh. He was still here, still staring, still as a ghost. Callum half expected him to disappear if he blinked - he almost wished he would, then maybe those eyes wouldn’t be lancing right through him.

Available now for free download. For an exclusive sneak peek at my upcoming release, Puncture Wounds, check out the Birthday Bash down below.
Twitter | Blog | Dreamspinner | Birthday Bash

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cover Reveal - Two Red Leaves

Cover reveal time! "Two Red Leaves," the sequel to "Last of the Summer Tomatoes" is due out this fall. Release date coming soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Publisher/Editor in Town!

Please help me welcome Cool Beans Publishing and Editing! They offer both publishing and editing services for all authors. (Publshing and editing are not mutually exclusive.)

Click on the company link above to check them out!

Friday, July 25, 2014

If I could turn back time ...

And no, not going to sing the Cher song.

A friend recently asked me if I could go back in time, to what time would I go? I couldn't answer at the time. Would I go back and try to stop the JFK assassination or Lincoln's? Would I try to prevent 9/11? Kill Hitler? Or more close to home, would I go back to stop my uncle from riding his motorcycle to work that awful August morning?

I've thought and thought and I've come to the conclusion ... I would want to go back and experience a Christmas with my grandparents one more time. To enjoy that innocence that has been lost. To not have a care in the world other than being good so Santa would bring presents - and of course hoping Santa could find me as I was at my grandparents' home and not in my own home. To be young again, running around in my grandparents' basement with my cousins, grabbing one of those tiny bottle Coke-Colas they used to make. Or at my other grandparents' place, running up and down the field, from great-grandma's place and back. 

I'd love to have one of grandma's hugs again - either one of them. And I'd ask my grandpa about his experiences from World War I - something I regret I never did. Or ask my other grandpa about how he lost his thumb as a boy and how he dealt with it. I'd actually love to watch Laurence Welk with my grandparents again ... although as a kid back then, I found it very boring.

So I would be selfish; I'd go back for myself. Not to change the world, not to change history, but to have that one, singular feeling of a childhood Christmas, one more time.

So, what would any of you guys do if you could go back in time? Anyone is welcome to post.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Soul Searching

Life has been a bitch, quite literally. I'm no where near I thought I'd be by now. I'm still struggling, just like I was in college. Too many bills, not enough money and no job prospects ... well, at least no jobs that aren't soul-sucking parasites that give you a little money for hours of mind-numbing tasks and offer little reward in return. I did that for ten years and got 'comfortable' with the steady check that never quite paid all the bills but kept the debt collectors away. A job that didn't contribute one iota to retirement or savings, but one that would keep a roof over my head and food on the table. Until one day it was gone, with no warning whatsoever. Not one inkling there was something wrong until I showed up one Monday morning.

Anyway, that is in the past. I thought I could get back on my feet pretty quickly, but that didn't happen. I know my depression is getting worse as time goes on (it's been over 18 months) and that is so not helping with the job hunting. I try to keep a good game face, try to keep positive, but I feel I'm at the bottom of the barrel now. I am finding little pleasure anymore and if it wasn't for Rocky and Maggie, I'm not sure I'd be here right now. Even when they try my patience (Rocky still hasn't gotten the 'going outside to potty' thing 100% down), they are my furbabies.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this today. I know not many people will see it, I guess. When I could afford to talk to a therapist, she said I should write things down, so I am. I'm just tired of the struggle. Tired of facing each day alone. Really tired of wondering if I'll be able to stay in my home.

All I want to do is write and teach, two of my top passions. However, writing takes peace of mind and yeah, I don't have that right now. And teaching, at least in my position, is all about the numbers - will enough students sign up for a class so I can teach it. I'm not guaranteed any teaching position at any time. This summer I only got two credit hours to teach, so yeah, money is so freaking tight I have to plan to buy a $1 cheeseburger. And now ... foreclosure is probably in my future.

I don't like to beg, I've never liked asking for anything. Probably why I'm finding myself in this position now. Now yeah, I'll speak my mind, I'll discuss just about any issue except myself. I don't like myself much anymore. I don't like what I've become and I don't see any way out.

I hate asking, but I could use some help. For those few that read this, I'd appreciate anything.

Help a Starving Artist

I'm hoping in the coming days I can make some money doing some on-line work. I've signed up with one of those 'work at home' business that farm out data entry, web research, article writing, etc. If I can grab a few of those gigs and get a little money coming in, I can feel I can turn a corner. If I can get the bank off my back, renegotiate a payment plan with them and have something left over for a cheeseburger, I'm hoping my peace of mind comes back. I want to write, I want to share my wild and crazy stories with the world. They do no one any good bouncing around in my brain.

I know others have survived depression and I'm hoping to call myself a survivor as well.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Release - Pieces of Me

Johanna Rae and I are pleased to announce the release of 'Pieces of Me,' a book of poetry. Currently available on Amazon, more buy links to be posted soon!

Paperback Version: eBook Version:

Other works by Johanna Rae:

Other works by me:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pieces of Me - Poetry Book Giveaway

Coming April 4th!

Want to win your own paperback copy? Check out our Goodreads giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Pieces of Me by Johanna Rae

Pieces of Me

by Johanna Rae

Giveaway ends April 04, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Or check out our Rafflecopter giveaway - up for grabs are three ebook copies, each with a BONUS book from Johanna Rae and me! Click on the link below:

Johanna Rae and Sherrie Henry have come together in this poetry book to share pieces of their hearts with you. From sorrow and despair to revelation and enlightenment, immerse yourself in this colorful compilation. Follow the journeys of these authors longing to understand their place in life and find out where they belong.

Buy links to be posted soon!