This is a pic from one of my favorite Halloween memories! My family takes their costumes seriously!
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to accompany the kids tonight when they go trick-or-treating. 🙁 I’m fighting a horrible cough that’s making my back and ribs hurt like hell. If you all partake, I hope you have fun! Even if it’s only to rave over the kids’ costumes when they come to your door for candy!
Although it has been decades since I left India, cricket still has a place in my heart. So baseball was a natural transition. I did court football once (the one they play in Europe) but I love baseball. Hence, my hero, Rafael Henley, is a ball player. He had to be a pitcher because the body mechanics involved fascinates me. Karma Deepika Huntington is an independent woman and my books all feature strong female characters.
Invariably, a lot of food is featured in my books. People are always getting together and making a meal. It is such a basic need and necessity. Rafael Henley has everything he has ever wanted. Except for that one thing. He thought he had it but lost it. Karma is not his type at all, fiercely independent and self-sufficient. Opposites do attract, they just have to have the right environment to blossom. My protagonists wear many hats. Just to name a few, Rafael is a father, a baseball pitcher, a chef and an avid reader; Karma is a sports writer, a foodie who likes to make pizza from scratch, a loving daughter and a writer.
I’d just finished another book set in Bollywood and New York and wanted a change, so I set Karma’s Slow Burn in an undefined city on the shores of a lake. There is a river, the St. Lawrence, which is less conspicuous. I see Lake Ontario every day and every day I’m struck by how big it is. How it seems to reflect my moods. Like today, on this mild autumn Halloween day, the sun has decorated it with golden sprinkles, lifting my almost blue mood to a bright red.
Sportswriter Karma Huntington is going to hit Rafael Henley, star pitcher for the Sliders, hard to avenge her husband’s death. Rafael cannot ignore the chemistry between them and decides a one-night stand is in order. Karma agrees. Just to get that itch off. But once they get into each other’s pants, things get complicated. Revenge and guilt take a back seat with sizzling chemistry in control. Rafael likes willowy blondes and women who don’t look to him as their protector. Yet here is, lusting after the complete opposite: petite, raven-haired, Karma with a rose tat running up her neck. Can Rafael overcome the dark secret he hides and give in to what his heart wants? Will Karma finally admit she needs Rafael?
Excerpt Karma’s Slow Burn
When she finished the article, Karma called an Uber, packed her stuff and left the bar to wait for her ride. It was a dark evening, thick and heavy clouds hanging from the sky. Karma could sense a thunderstorm coming. The air was moist, filled with an earthy fragrance. She took a deep sniff. She half-turned when she heard gravel crunching behind her. A hairy arm snaked around her shoulders. Fumes of alcohol hit her nose. Coarse hair rubbed against her cheeks. He was huge. Her back rubbed against his soft belly. God! She hadn’t thought of him at all! Was this the way her beautiful evening was going to end? No fucking way!
Karma let her bag slide from her shoulder and her body went slack. With her head hung forward, she bent her elbows and jackknifed them into the softest part of his belly with all her might. It got a grunt from him and loosened his arm around her shoulder. She flipped around to face him, lifted her knee and jabbed it into his groin while slamming her ringed fingers on his nose.
With a groan, he dropped like a stone even as her legs gave way under her and she flopped to the ground, sharp pricks from the gravel biting into the heel of her palms. She didn’t feel the stones tear through the skin or the burning pain in her knuckles.
“I see you don’t need my help.” From far away, Rafael Henley’s voice drifted toward her in the night.
In the glow of the streetlamp, she saw him pick up her bag and walk toward her, the sound of his soles soft on the gravel. He set her bag on the ground beside her.
“You okay, Karma?” The concern in his voice brought tears to her eyes.
Words refused to pass her lips. He came closer and bent down to her level. He took one of her hands in his. She winced and he frowned. Reaching forward, he put his arms came around her and lifted her to her feet. She stumbled against him then stilled as he brought her to his chest.
“You’re safe now, Karma. You made sure of that.”
She leaned her head on his chest, her hair screening her face and her hands trembling. Her blood pounded so hard in her ears and chest, she swayed on unsteady legs. His arms tightened around her. She wanted to say something but her lips were still locked. All she could do was fold her body into the comfort of his embrace and breathe in his clean smell, trying to erase all memory of the stink of the other man.
He was a solid wall against her wobbly legs. Her shaking body had him bend down and hook an arm around her knees. Not a word of protest crossed her lips. He carried her to his SUV and opened the door. He settled her in the seat, buckling her in.
“Wait, no. Have an Uber.” She managed to croak the words out.
“What kind of car?”
“I see him coming around the corner. I’ll let him know you don’t need the ride. I’ll take you home.”
Karma did not utter a peep of protest. For once, she let someone decide for her. When he got in the driver’s seat, he paused.
“Let me see your hands.” He switched the interior lights on. She refused to comply. He leaned over, grabbed them and turned them over. She sucked in a breath. “A few scratches and some bruising on the knuckles. Rewards of a warrior.” He nudged her chin up with a finger and looked into her eyes. She slapped his finger away. “And we’re back.”
She hated to show him her vulnerable side. She did not need a knight in shining armor. But she had needed his embrace. And that was it. Nothing more.
Fireflies in the Night
Literary Fiction, winner of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award; Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews; Starred Kirkus Review; Finalist Foreword Reviews Indie Fiction Award. A historical, coming-of-age novel.
Nalini Warriar dreamed of being a writer then forgot the dream for a bit as she went on to garner a Ph.D in Molecular Biology. While in her lab, the dream came back and hit her on the head and she’s never looked back writing through her years as a scientist. After more than a decade in cancer research, Nalini returned to the creative part of her soul and now devotes her time to dreaming up the perfect alpha male and feisty woman to appear in her books. Her novel, Fireflies in the Night, was a Foreword Reviews Fab Award finalist and won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in 2017. Kirkus Reviews awarded Fireflies in the Night a starred review and named it Best Books of 2016. Karma’s Slow Burn, a contemporary romance will be released in February 2020. She’s working on her next romance, a Crenshaw Brothers book, to be released in 2020. She lives in Ontario, Canada.
Do you love Halloween? I do, I do, I do. In the UK, where I live, a lot of people complain about it. “What is this American invention that has crossed the Atlantic and is spreading its commercialized tentacles everywhere, etc.” What those good folk don’t realize is that it’s all our fault. Yes, we British actually invented Halloween. Possibly in cooperation with the Irish.
It started with the pagans (doesn’t it always?). In Ireland, and possibly in parts of Britain, too, Halloween was called Samhain. In my mother’s homeland, Wales, it was Nos Calan Gaf, Winter’s Eve. And the Saxons called it Blood Monat, the month of blood. It was a festival that marked the arrival of winter. A time of magic and danger, when the barrier between this world and the Otherworld became so thin that gods and monsters could cross into our universe and walk among humans. On that night, people who had been enchanted and turned into animals could regain their human form, until dawn.
Later, the Catholic Church adopted the feast and made it into a festival of the dead. 1 November was the day of All Hallows, All Souls. So the day before became All Hallows’ Eve — Halloween. Still a time of danger and magic. Poor people went round to the houses of rich people and offered to pray for their souls in return for food. Rich people would bake special cakes to give out, called “soul cakes”. The practice was called “souling”. Irish immigrants took it to the US where it became trick o’treating.
So the monsters are still with us, though usually in the form of little kids wandering the streets in costume. Normal rules are still suspended — it’s the only night in the year when we positively encourage our children to accept sweets from strangers.
It’s also a perfect time to read ghost stories and paranormal tales. I would like to suggest two of them, which have been inspired by Halloween and the old Celtic myths that accompanied it.
MYSTIC DESIRE is a collection of brand new paranormal romance stories by talented BVS authors. Buy link:https://books2read.com/u/4j1AD2
It includes stories about hot warlocks, Native American dream catchers, mystical jewelry, lustful vampires, a grumpy leprechaun, a ghostly terrier, a zombie apocalypse and things that go bump and ooh! in the night. There is something for everyone in this anthology!
MUSIC FOR A MERMAN, on pre-order at the special promo price of $0.99 until the release date of 1 November, is Book 2 in the Sea of Love series, a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by Welsh folk tales. Buy link:https://books2read.com/u/mdG7Bw
Rob Regor knew that humans were trouble. All the shape shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands knew it. And human women were double trouble… especially when they were lying on the road in front of a digger.
Can Rob, merman and rookie cop, fight his attraction to the sexy eco-warrior Charlie? Can Charlie open up her heart to Rob, when a secret buried in her past surfaces and changes her completely?
Read below an extract from The Sweetest Magic of All, my story in the Mystic Desire anthology…
Saffy knelt on the grass and opened the book of spells. Book was a strong word for the worn diary in which Auntie May had recorded her enchantments, but all witches had books of spells. So she’d call it a book, just as she called herself a witch.
Though she was only an apprentice. A chill crept over her skin, as if a shadow had blotted out the summer sun. She stared hard at the spidery handwriting, but all she could see was the thin body of her aunt, almost swallowed up by the tubes and machines that were keeping her alive. Only one thing could help her now, the magical amulet that she’d once worn around her neck. The amulet had vanished a week ago, on the day she’d had a stroke, and they’d rushed her to the hospital in Swansea. No one had been able to find it since.
Cold enveloped Saffy and seeped into her limbs. The amulet was her aunt’s last hope. She had to find it. Now.
She took a deep breath. The familiar smells of the seaside meadow streamed into her nose, pushing back the icy fear that dug its claws into her flesh. Salt on the wind. Wildflowers. Good, rich earth, softened by the morning dew. “I can do this,” she said.
She placed the book on the grass and waved her hands above it, the way her aunt had shown her. Auntie May had made magic look so easy. Saffy had never managed to cast a spell on her own, but today she had to try, and succeed. She kept breathing, in and out, to keep herself calm. The spell to find lost objects was supposed to be easy. And this meadow was a special place, where the ancient magic of the world flowed fast and strong. Surely the spell would succeed here.
Saffy laid her hands in the grass, on either side of the yellowed pages. A ladybird landed on her index finger and walked down onto the book, as if to encourage her. She concentrated. All her life seemed to pour into the breath she was taking… into her tongue as it formed the words.
“Bound and binding
See the sight
Hear the sound
What was lost
Now is found.”
She closed her eyes and waited for the vision that would show her where the lost amulet was. All she saw was the red light of the sun, shining through her lids. She opened her eyes. There was only the meadow, frothy with oxeye daisies, and the turquoise dome of the sky. A perfect midsummer day, mocking her and her pathetic attempts at magic. Bitter dismay surged, burning her throat and the back of her eyes. She let out a strangled cry. “Fuck and triple fuck!”
“What have you lost?”
The male voice, behind her, made her jump. She turned. A man, wrapped in a black coat, was staring at her, just a few feet away. A warm tide of embarrassment rose from her neck to her cheeks. He must have heard her say the spell. He’d think she was nuts.
Busy Bee, here! You know, when I was in first grade, the summer reading program at the air base’s library was called the Busy Bees… Don’t know why that popped into my head. I was very competitive and read a ton of books. Think my favorite was about a Siamese cat named Ping…
Anyways, here’s a puzzle. It’s a huge hint about what’s coming your way next week! Love shapeshifters, witches, and things that go bump in the night? Yeah, this is a sexy one, y’all!
Here I am on a Saturday, and it’s crunch time. I have a story to finish in less than a week and two books to edit for another author—also by the end of next week. I feel like a weight is pressing on my shoulders, and my head’s feeling muzzy today, so I’m wondering if I’m about to come down with whatever bug my dd’s family has been fighting. Not good feelings. But I have to push forward. I have DEADLINES!
I also feel the pressure for the upcoming holidays. I have lots planned to do for people, and I’m only getting started. I want to make a ton of things, and you should see the big yarn and cotton loops stash I’ve accumulated, as well as the pile of beads and pretty string sitting on my craft table.
I’m taking a deep breath. One day at a time. One project at a time. Or incremental steps in each, every day from here on out.
So, that’s what I’m facing. For a chance to win a book of your choice from my backlist, tell me what’s weighing you down and giving you stress!
Like most things, the holidays have changed quite a bit from when I was a kid. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, people’s idea of decorating for Halloween involved sticking cardboard cut-outs of witches, pumpkins, skeletons and ghosts on the windows and doors. That was pretty much it. Many people didn’t decorate at all. It just wasn’t a thing back then. Now, people transform their entire lawns and homes with elaborate and spooky scenes.
The costumes have also changed dramatically. Now, there are pop-up stores that cater to all things Halloween, including intricate costumes, accessories, and makeup. The only people I knew who had actual costumes when I was growing up were the kids next door—their mother sewed them. The rest of us made do with plastic masks secured with elastic strings that frequently burst and had to be stapled back on. Those masks were hot and uncomfortable, but we loved them. Usually, a cheap reflective poncho was included, which your mother would make you wear over your jacket. I had a princess mask that I wore several years in a row. I loved it. And if you had siblings, you often swapped masks from year to year. You didn’t get a new costume every year.
Trick or treating was carried out using a plastic pumpkin. No need for larger tote bags or the ever popular pillowcase. There were no chips or mini bars given out when I was a kid. It was all candy—suckers, bubblegum (individual, not full packs), hard candy, caramels, bags of homemade popcorn, chicklets (gum, two pieces in a mini box), rockets (they’re a Canadian thing and my personal favorites), and molasses candy, which most people I know hated, myself included. I’d even get an apple from the next door neighbors. They were not popular with us kids.
One thing that hasn’t changed? Kids still love to get dressed up and run from house to house, collecting a stash of candy to be dumped out later at home and sorted through with glee.
For the adults, there are theme parties and scary movies. If you prefer to stay home on Halloween night, help yourself to any remaining treats after the kids have all gone and curl up with a good book. And if vampires are your thing, you might want to check out the Dalakis Passion vampire Series.
DALAKIS PASSION VAMPIRE SERIES
The Dalakis brothers are unlike most men. They are vampires. Each one has searched through the long years for that one woman who can complete him. As the centuries pass, hope dwindles but doesn’t die. Finally the time comes for each brother to claim his woman. But danger is everywhere and there are enemies who wish to destroy them. Protecting a modern woman isn’t easy, but there is nothing these brothers won’t do to keep their chosen one safe.
Dalakis men love forever—deep, dark and eternal. The search for love is their curse, but it is also their salvation.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.