Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Slave for Two by Morticia Knight

What is destined cannot be changed.

Chris has had a monumentally bad month. First, an aggressive band of aliens invaded the Earth, conquered the world, and now he’s fighting for survival in the mountains with his family and the neighborhood bigot. Just because he’s barely out of his teens and a bit on the scrawny side doesn’t mean he can’t watch out for his mom, sisters and younger cousin. Chris keeps searching for the brighter side of things, but his humor is wearing thin. Fear can do that to a guy.

Lasar and Nary are a soul matched pair of warriors from Alashar. Lasar is Nary’s Ahna, the one who dominates him, and Nary is the Nasha, or submissive, to Lasar. Every Alasharian, regardless of orientation, needs the balance of the power exchange to exist peacefully within their lifelong soul match bond. When Lasar is awarded a war prize, he sends Nary to look over the recent arrivals.

Chris and his cousin Morgan are captured and sent to the slave cages where they discover from the other imprisoned young men that they are destined to be sex toys for alien pairs. When one of those aliens saves Chris and his cousin from being abused by the slave master, Chris hopes that the seemingly kind alien won’t be too horrible an owner.

Lasar and Nary are finally alone together with their new sex slave, ready to enjoy their reward. However, in the middle of their playtime a shocking event occurs that not only disrupts Chris’ world even more than it already has been, but also challenges everything that Lasar and Nary have always held dear. As Lasar searches for answers, he begins to question the reasons behind the Earth invasion and where his loyalties should really lie. As their Ahna, he must be the one who decides whether they will all be safer together, or apart.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes involving sounding.

Chris gasped as he jerked awake from what had already been a fitful slumber. He quickly sat up, the dusty, torn sleeping bag that was barely enough to keep him warm tossed aside, his body on alert in case he had to bolt to safety. His jumbled mind was on overload from too many hours of lost sleep, too much in the way of constant fear draining his emotional and psychological reserves. Darkness enveloped him like a creeping void consuming his light within. The nightmare was almost the same as it’d been every night since the last time he’d slept in his own bed.

“Dad, why are you going to the shop? Who’s gonna bring their car in for an oil change at a time like this?”

“I’m helping our neighbors, friends. Everyone wants to make sure their vehicles are in perfect condition in case the worst happens and we all have to flee.”

“Then I’ll go in with you. If I help, it’ll get done faster.”

“No, Chris. I need you to stay here with your mother and sisters.”

Stay. Chris swiped the tears from his eyes. He struggled to adjust his vision, the sliver of a moon and blanket of stars barely enough for him to ascertain where his family slept around him on the rocky dirt.

He shivered, pulling to his chin the nylon bag he’d once used when he’d gone camping with his father. The early autumn breeze was not only chilly at the top of the San Jacinto mountain range, but very brisk. Below him lay the desert they’d escaped from, the place that had once been his home. He’d never lived anywhere other than Desert Hot Springs his whole life and it was all he knew. But not anymore. Nothing was the same. It wasn’t just Southern California or the seemingly untouchable wealthy residents of nearby Palm Springs who’d forever had their lives torn from them, but the whole world. At least, that’d been the rumor before all outside communication had finally been cut off.

Chris brushed his long, sandy blond hair back from his eyes, then pushed up from the ground. He winced from the pain of the sunburn that made his flesh feel as if it’d been stretched too tightly across his forehead. As they’d been running for their lives he hadn’t thought to grab any sunscreen for his damn pale skin. And the shit in my camping pack was all dried up. He didn’t even have a fucking hat. When he’d been helping his dad get the gear ready in case they had to leave suddenly, he’d seen the bottle left over from their last trip together, but hadn’t checked inside.

Idiot. He sighed. Feeling sorry for himself wouldn’t help anything or anybody. Be thankful you’re still here. So are Mom and the girls. Even Morgan made it out.

As he tiptoed past everyone sleeping, searching for someplace to take a piss, he swallowed past a lump in his throat. The luxury of mourning for his father and Morgan’s parents—his aunt and uncle—was pointless. Focusing on protecting what remained of his family was all that mattered.

He rounded what could’ve been a Jeffrey pine, sugar pine, or maybe even a ponderosa, although he doubted it. Whatever grouping of trees he’d designated as his outhouse seemed too small to be a ponderosa. He shook his head as he relieved himself. What would end up being significant in the future, if there even was one? If all of humanity was wiped out by the alien invaders, then who gave a fuck what the name of the pine tree was that he was pissing on?

Chris yelped. The shock of a bright light in his eyes had also made him let go of his dick, which then dribbled out more pee on the front of his only pair of jeans.

“Goddamnit, Paul.” Chris made a low grumbling noise as he angled his body away from his neighbor’s oldest son, then tucked himself back in. Or more accurately, only surviving son. “Why’d you do that? Now my pants are all gross.” He’d tried to keep his voice low so as not to disturb the others, but he wasn’t sure it mattered all that much after he’d yelled out so loudly.

“Sorry, dude. I thought you were one of them. I was gonna get the drop on it before it attacked everyone.”

Chris wiped his filthy hands across his jeans. There didn’t seem to be much point in trying to protect their cleanliness anymore. It was all a lost cause. He shuddered. Drawing an analogy between the state of his clothing and their chances of making it through their current predicament was too scary, so he chose not to.

He turned to Paul. “Are you nuts? I’m not even close to being the size of one of those things. Not only that, but you can’t fight them. Those are the only people they kill.”

A small consolation.

With his flashlight directed at the ground, the ambient light cast weird shadows across Paul’s features. “I’d rather die. I’m not gonna be controlled by them, or tortured or whatever.”

Chris could swear he was trying not to cry. Paul might have been five years older than Chris’s nineteen, but he seemed like such a kid at times. Paul’s mom had always doted over all of them. All of them. Only Paul and his dad were left. No mom, none of Paul’s three brothers.

But Graham, the one near my age, he wasn’t killed. The aliens had taken him the way he’d seen them take others of similar stature. Chris, Morgan and Graham were smaller, slighter of build. Both men and women of that size would be captured, thrown into bag-like nets then thrown aboard the small hovercrafts the aliens used to zip around in. The rest of the humans who weren’t killed had been herded together in large buildings, malls and warehouses. At least that was what’d been shared in town by a few residents who’d been in L.A. when the aliens had attacked. They’d somehow managed to get away and had shared more useful information than any of the newscasters before all Internet, radio and television had gone out.

Chris tried not to think about what had happened to the ones like him who’d been taken in the nets. He’d never heard from anyone who knew anything regarding the kidnappings, only the other rumors, like everything else since the invasion. Were those stolen men and women the ones who were actually tortured, maybe experimented on for some reason? Why were only smaller people like him taken? Did the aliens eat them like some rare delicacy? His gut clenched. He definitely didn’t want to think about that.

“Hey. Paul. Are you okay?”

“Sorry. I just…” A tear carved a path down Paul’s dirt-encrusted cheek.

It’s too damn dusty up here. The wind is making me crazy. If only the wind was all they had to worry about.

“Just what?” Chris sighed, feeling sorry for the guy. Even if Paul was a spoiled wimp, he should try and comfort him somehow. “You have to pull yourself together. We all do. I know everything sucks. Like, really, really sucks. But we’ve got a pretty sweet situation here. At least there’re the pines and big rocks to help hide us, and there’re rabbits, a fuckton of gray squirrels…” He wasn’t sure where he was going with his rambles. Even he didn’t buy it.

“But it’s so fucking cold up here and it’s not even winter yet. Shouldn’t we go lower? My dad thinks that’s what we oughta do. He says that’s what the Cahuilla Indians used to do too. They’d be up here in the summer when the heat in the desert was killer, then they’d go down to the desert for the winter to stay warmer.”

“Yeah? Good for them. But the Cahuilla Indians didn’t have aliens trying to kill or capture them now, did they? If we go too low, we’ll be marching right back to where they were. Right into their arms.” The thought really did make him want to barf up his granola bar dinner from earlier. “Anyway, it’s still too hot down there and we’ve got some clear water streams up here.”

Paul glared at him, his expression disturbing as hell because of the way his face was lit up in the dark. “You don’t know everything. My dad runs a successful insurance company and he knows how to be in charge, to manage situations. You’re barely an adult who does oil changes on the cars at your dad’s auto shop. That hardly qualifies you to tell us what to do.”

“Ran an auto shop.” Chris didn’t need to work at keeping his voice low. He’d barely had enough breath to get out the words.

Paul frowned at him. “Yeah, that’s what I said. Are you all right?”

“Not especially. Look, I get that your dad holds male seniority here, but this is not only my life, but the remaining members of my family’s lives. My dad’s been taking me hiking and camping up here since I can remember. I know my way around. And anyway, in my opinion, and I could be totally wrong, working together as a team is better than splitting up. I also think that holing up in an uninhabited area that provides natural spots for hiding makes more sense than going back to the wide open landscape where we just ran from a giant roaming band of aliens. Just sayin’.”

“You know what? No one likes your sarcasm, Chris. You think you’re funny, but you really aren’t.”

“Duly noted. In the meantime, I think a few of us should try to sneak into Idyllwild or Pine Cove tomorrow and get supplies. We’ll have to be selective on what we take to avoid detection, though. We’ll need to be able to travel fast and light on the trek back.”

Paul crossed his arms in a huff, which then sent the beam from the flashlight across the expanse of rocks, highlighting the entire area. A thread of nervousness surged through him.

“Hey, we should shut that off.”

Paul glared at him again. “Why, Mr. High and Mighty?”

“It should be for emergencies only. Not only the batteries…” Chris’ gaze flitted across the expanse of the sky, searching. “But there are no other lights on the mountain. It could draw them to us.”

Chris was plunged into complete darkness.

“Shit.” Paul’s voice held a tremor of fear. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

Many, many sarcastic retorts came to mind, but Chris bit them back. He could still think Paul was a complete idiot while also acknowledging that his own snarky tone could be dialed back a few notches.

Chris’ eyes had gradually adjusted again to the loss of the brighter light, and he thought he could safely make his way over the uneven ground back to his makeshift bed. A broken ankle, even a sprained one, would likely spell his doom. There was no way he’d expect anyone to stay behind with him if it was time to run again.

“Let’s get some rest and we can figure it out tomorrow, all right?”

Paul wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Yeah. Sure.”

By the time he’d made it back to where his family was clustered against one of the larger rocks as protection against the wind, he wasn’t too surprised to see his mom awake. Jenna and Aurora were sound asleep, no doubt exhausted from the long trek into Saddle Junction just below Mount San Jacinto, but he thought Morgan might be faking it. Morgan was shy, withdrawn. He’d always been more likely to watch and listen off to the side before speaking up or offering his opinion on anything. Except with me. Being so close growing up together had stripped Morgan’s reserves to the point where Chris sometimes wished Morgan would hold back with him.

“Is everything all right, sweetheart?”

It was too dark to make out his mom’s expression, but he had no doubt it was one of concern. She’d been remarkably brave about his dad, but he’d heard her crying softly once the girls had fallen asleep the first night after they’d escaped. He hated that she had to hold it all in for the sake of his sisters. Probably for me too.

“Yeah. Paul just caught me off guard when he turned the flashlight on in my eyes. I had to, you know, pee.”

“Should he be doing that? I mean…We could be seen.”

“Don’t worry. I warned him.”

“Okay, good.”

The rustle of the plastic shopping bags she had wrapped around her feet could be heard as she adjusted her position. When the alien horde had advanced on their town from the I-10, the hovercrafts had moved in swarms as they’d swept the area. If it hadn’t been for the Gonzalez brothers—two of his dad’s employees—racing over to their house from the shop to warn them, it was likely they wouldn’t have made it. Unfortunately, they’d also been the ones to give them the news that his dad had been killed by the invaders.

“We warned him not to get out his shotgun, but he did anyway. I’m sorry, Señora Lansing.”

There hadn’t been time for emotion or detailed explanations. At that point, the aliens had only been a few miles away, the sun glinting off the pale yellow metal of their small ships spurring everyone into action. Their street had been filled with chaos, people screaming, cars and trucks screeching out of driveways as the neighbors attempted to escape. Up until that moment, the invasions had appeared to be confined to major cities.

“Sweetheart, why don’t you lie down, try to get some sleep?”

His mom had whispered it, but her words had seemed bizarrely loud in the silent darkness. He crawled under the nylon cover of his bag, but propped himself up on one elbow, facing her. He made sure to keep his voice to a whisper as well.

“I just realized. My birthday was exactly a month ago. The day before they first attacked.”

“Don’t. Don’t think about it.”

“I can’t help it, Mom. On my birthday, everything was totally normal. You made that chicken teriyaki I love so much, and the cake with the layer of strawberry crème in it.” He blinked back the tears forming. “I wish I’d known. Wish I’d paid attention to every single moment of that day.”

She sighed, the sound clutching his heart. “No. It’s good that you didn’t. You never would’ve enjoyed it the way you did. Instead, you can hold onto the memory untainted by everything that’s happened since then.”

Chris pondered her words as he worried a stray thread at the seam of his sleeping bag. “I tried to go with him to the shop that day. I should’ve been there.”

“Stop…” His mom’s voice cracked.

“Maybe I could’ve done something. Maybe he wouldn’t have tried to fight them if I’d been there. Maybe he would’ve just run.”

She shot out her hand and grabbed onto his, her small frame barely contained under the throw they’d once had laid out on the couch back. He’d snatched it from the sofa as he’d rushed by, then stuffed it into one of the backpacks he’d grabbed from the garage as they’d fled. The plastic bags currently around his mom’s and sister’s feet had already been in there, probably leftover from some camping trip or another. They’d proven to be useful at containing heat.

“I’m grateful that you weren’t there. So very grateful.”

They held hands, no more words exchanged. At last he laid his head down on his arm. Anything soft enough to put his head on was either being worn or wrapped around them as a blanket. His youngest sister, Aurora, was only six years old, and she’d rested her head on her eight-year-old sister’s tummy.

His thoughts drifted to his cousin, Morgan. They’d barely gotten to him in time. Right as they’d pulled up to the home where he lived with his parents, Chris’ Uncle Rick and Aunt Sara, they’d pushed Morgan from their car. Everyone in his family had watched in horror as Morgan’s parents had gunned their vehicle straight toward an alien hovercraft. It’d been just enough of a diversion for them all to get away.

He couldn’t stop replaying everything over in his mind. They’d made it to the bottom of the San Jacintos on the Banning side, abandoning his dad’s pickup right where Highway 243 snaked its way up the mountain. By that time, the hovercrafts had been everywhere and they knew they’d be too easy to spot in the bright blue vehicle. They’d remained hidden until the aliens had quit flying overhead. It didn’t mean they’d necessarily left the area, probably only that they were done hunting for the day.

And five days later, here we are. Saddle Junction.

Camping with his dad had always been fun. Never could he have imagined that he’d need to use the skills he’d subtly learned over the years to help himself and his family survive. The muffled sounds of Paul and his father whispering to each other drifted to his ears. Would his neighbors split off from them? They’d run into each other once he and his family had reached Pine Cove.

By some sort of twist of fate, his neighbors had been up in the mountains that day, and had ended up taking cover in the small market where the tiny mountain town’s one gas pump was also located. For whatever reason, most of the residents of the hamlet had decided to stick it out in their own homes. Chris could understand to some degree. They had shelter and the snows would arrive soon. Why tough it outside when they already had somewhere on the mountain where they could stay indoors?

Not that anyone was offering us any shelter.

Chris didn’t mind, though. It would’ve been too tempting to accept such an offer, and deep down inside, Chris knew they’d only be staving off the inevitable capture or death by making that decision. Even if he didn’t know the motives of the beings who’d stormed onto their planet uninvited, their thorough sweeping of his remote desert hometown of less than twenty thousand inhabitants didn’t bode well for the aliens leaving any residences, especially ones so close by, untouched.

His mother’s hand had relaxed and Chris was relieved that she seemed to have fallen back to sleep. At dawn, Chris planned to make a foray into town. Better food would be a comfort, maybe some candy for the girls, but his main concern was warmer clothing. Gloves, socks, winter caps, and if he was lucky, he might even find some emergency blankets or hand and foot warmer packs. When the snows came, they could survive on jerky and the odd rabbit or squirrel. But the cold? That was something they couldn’t take any chances with.

Campfires had to be few and far between and for short periods of time only. Whenever they lit one, they’d have to move their location right afterward to avoid detection. Smoke during the day and the glow at night would be a red flag guiding the aliens right to them. He’d had plenty of hours to consider all the angles of their survival. Melancholy at the futility of it all ate at him, but he fought it off the same way he had ever since the initial reports of the invaders’ arrival.

He had to keep it together for his family, even if he’d already given up on hope for himself.

Author Bio:
M/M Erotic Romance author Morticia Knight enjoys hot stories of men loving men forever after. They can be men in uniform, Doms and subs, rock stars or bikers - but they're all searching for the one (or two!) who was meant only for them.

When not indulging in her passion for books, she loves the outdoors, film and music. Once upon a time she was the singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She is currently working on more installments of Sin City Uniforms and The Hampton Road Club, as well as the follow-up to Bryan and Aubrey's story from Rockin' the Alternative.



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: The Variant Conspiracy featuring Terra Nova #3 by Christine Hart

Title: Terra Nova
Author: Christine Hart
Series: The Variant Conspiracy Trilogy #3
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction
Expected Release Date: September 28, 2016
Editor & Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Terra Nova #3
The end of humanity and an unrecognizable future Earth are now days away. After their first glimpse of the Terra Nova virus, Irina and her variant friends know their former employer’s plans are almost at hand. Their failed attempt to publicize Ivan and Innoviro Industries’ horrific activities has left them utterly reliant on their own wits and weapons.

After surviving a catastrophic earthquake in San Francisco and destroying a secret viral testing facility, Irina’s crew has traveled by a variant portal to London. On the other side of the world, they begin tracking when and where Terra Nova will be unleashed on the world. They know stopping Terra Nova is only the beginning of unraveling Ivan’s plans to reinvent the planet, but if they can’t stop this virus, there will be no one left to save.

In Irina's Cards #1
In Irina’s Cards is the story of 19-year-old Irina Proffer who discovers a world of fringe genetic science and supernatural mystery. Following visions inspired by a strange deck of tarot cards, Irina learns of an amazing variation in her genetic code. She has the ability to see the past, present and future, in her life and the lives around her.

Irina sets out from her northern home for BC's coastal capital to get answers. She is drawn in by a powerful first love and a compelling, yet dangerous mystery. Working at Innoviro Industries and meeting other 'variants' brings Irina closer and closer to the dark truth about her origins. She finds herself at the heart of two overlapping love triangles as she scrambles to escape her employer's grip. At the close of the novel, Irina realizes she has merely scratched the surface of a frightening conspiracy on a global scale.

The Compendium #2
Irina and her renegade variant friends are scrambling to pick up the trail of their former employer, Ivan, and his globally catastrophic scheme. After strategically sharing their story with the media, the group heads south from Vancouver to Seattle hoping to recruit more experienced—and lethal—variants to their cause.

Their attention develops a laser focus on an engineered disaster mere days ahead of them. Ivan is using what staff and resources remain of Innoviro Industries to set off a violent earthquake in San Francisco. While they fight to stop the earthquake, Irina pushes the love of her life Jonah as far away as she can, trying to keep his unstable genetic degradation in check.

Irina’s friends think they’ve seen the worst that Innoviro could bring forth by the time they reach a secret facility in the Mojave Desert. As they near the property, the group uncovers a horror none of them had ever imagined.

Terra Nova #3
Faith returned with four glowing green drinks in a cup holder tray. Clear plastic cups, lids, and straws let the liquid inside glow through. It smacked of something that would spawn ninja turtles. “These are the Incinerator’s own toxic spills. They’re just vodka and sprite with a capful of that crap they put in glow sticks. Did you know you can drink that shit?”

Jonah reluctantly took a plastic cup. “Are you sure we should drink it?”

“It’s not going to kill us. No more so than the alcohol.” Ilya picked up a cup and took a long generous pull on his straw.

I took an experimental sip. It tasted like vodka and sprite. There was a mildly synthetic aftertaste, but nothing toxic. I took another, much larger sip. Aha – the warmth I’d been craving since my shower. I might stand a chance of sleeping tonight after all.

Jonah followed my lead and took a slurp on his straw, pausing to let the liquid do its work. He leered at me with a devilish grin and grabbed my hand, pulling me off to the dance floor. His touch radiated energy into me, right through my skin waking up every cell in my body.

He leaned down and kissed me, running his hands through my hair. His powerful grip felt restrained, as though his mind fought to control his body. The intensity surpassed our first night together. After we had spent so long mocked by his unstable mutation, first hurting me and then nearly killing him, we were both finally stronger than ever.

“I can’t help myself. I need to touch you. I don’t ever want to let you go. We’re going to make up for some lost time tonight.” His lips brushed my ear as he spoke. His fingers traced the line of my neck and it sent shivers down my spine. So much for sleep!

In Irina's Cards #1
“You know what they say about the people here in Victoria, right?” said Jonah, as he watched me watch everyone else.

“No, I can’t say that I do. More money than they know what to do with?”

“True, but not as bad as Vancouver. Ever heard of the saying ‘newlyweds and nearly deads’ or as my mom says, ‘God’s waiting room.’”

“Kind of a dark way to look at things, isn’t it?”

“My mom’s a dark lady, but hilarious. I hope you don’t mind, but I also invited Cole and his sister. You’ll love this little restaurant. It’s got awesome food and live music, but not too hipster-ish,” said Jonah.

Something dropped in my chest. If Cole brought his sister, we were just a group of friends going for dinner. I felt silly for having thought that we were going on a date. We turned another corner and Jonah pulled the car over next to a brick building with a 50’s style neon sign that read ‘Cymbals’ next to a caricature of a drum set. I followed Jonah through the wrought iron gate and looked up at the oak tree on the lawn next to the patio. Tiny fresh leaves and new buds covered the gnarled old tree. It was also home to dozens and dozens of sneakers, canvas shoes, skate shoes, oxfords – basically any kind of shoe with laces to tie together.

The air felt warm enough to linger, so I walked over to the tree and looked upward. I smiled. I reached up to one of the lower branches and touched one of the shoes. The yard and the tree melted away. I saw the face of a girl with faintly bluish skin and platinum hair. She turned and I saw two leather-like wings flex and relax. Her shirt had been cut to make room for her wings which stretched out past the frayed edges of the fabric. She was standing in a sewer or catacomb.

Faces milled around the winged girl. It wasn’t quite like a party, maybe more like a camp. An older lady standing next to the winged girl reached down to the ground. She pinched the concrete and plucked something, maybe a stone, off the surface. The stone wriggled. It was a camouflaged beetle, exactly like the one I’d seen on my first day in the city. She lifted the beetle to her mouth and I reeled back.

The yard outside Cymbals surrounded me again in a blink. Jonah stared at me. I noticed my arm had stayed raised beneath the shoes and withdrew it.

“Are you all right?”

The Compendium #2
I awoke standing on an orange cliff under a purple sky. An unfamiliar canyon wound under the horizon on either side. I looked down to see a river of metallic sludge oozing along the canyon floor. Chunks of debris floated in the sludge. Steam intermittently bubbled here and there. The sky darkened as I watched the river. Lights streaked across the sky, red and white, blinking. Black pellets fell from the lights, exploding in the distance as they hit the ground.

A figure walked through the smoke left by an explosion on the cliff directly opposite from me. While the smoke cleared, Ivan reached the edge of the cliff. His face distorted with a ripple. He reached up with both arms, burying his hands in his hair. His fingertips pulled on his scalp. Ivan’s expression melted. He peeled off his face in a downward motion taking the rest of his body with it. In Ivan’s place stood a red-eyed humanoid reptile with giant curling horns, identical to what I’d seen reflected in the window of Ivan’s apartment.

The horned figure let out a ferocious roar. The ground shook. The landscape shivered until the canyon transformed into a green valley below dry sage-covered hills. Ivan seemed himself again, smiling and tapping his wristwatch, strolling toward me. I shuddered, shaking my head. The green grass floor trembled and a crack opened horizontally between us. Trembling turned to shaking. The crack ripped into the ground in both directions until a canyon separated us.

A hand brushed my cheek. I whirled to find the source of the touch. I found myself lying in bed back in the guest bedroom in Josh’s farm house. I shouted and sat up.

Author Bio:
Located on BC’s beautiful West Coast, I write from my suburban Burnaby home staring at North Vancouver’s iconic Coast Mountains. I love writing about places and spaces with rich history and visually fascinating elements as a backdrop for the surreal and spectacular.

In addition to my undergraduate degree in writing and literature, my background also includes corporate communications and design. I am a current member of the Federation of BC Writers and SF Canada.

When not writing, I have a habit of breaking stuff and making stuff – in that order – under the guise of my Etsy alter-ego Sleepless Storyteller. I share my eclectic home and lifestyle with my husband, baby daughter and preschool son.


Terra Nova #3

In Irina's Cards #1

The Compendium #2

Brought to you by: 

Family Illusions by Bess George

Title: Family Illusions
Author: Bess George
Series: Hidden Dangers #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Cover Design: Killion Group
Her life was a lie.

Charlie Gomez always fantasized about a better life or at least a job that didn’t involve scrubbing other people’s toilets. The death of her mother reveals a past that’s based on lies and an unexpected inheritance gives her the opportunity to become a private investigator—the perfect chance to learn a skill for the future while she figures out the past. There’s only one negative in this new gig and that’s her antagonistic sexy new boss.

He has nothing left but a company on the brink of bankruptcy.

Jaxon Roberts was a street orphan who survived and thrived thanks to the kindness of a generous benefactor. But when his adopted father passes away, he’s left with the daunting task of saving McKenzie Investigations and a major surprise: his father left a biological heir, and she’s the key to his company’s survival.

As tension and rivalry give way to love, dark shadows of the past put their future—and their lives—in grave danger. When Charlie disappears, Jaxon is faced with a choice…walk away and preserve the world he knows, or fight for a future with the one woman who can truly teach him what family is all about.

Jaxon parked, and they walked down the wooden path to the docks. The sound of her footsteps A woman’s voice sounded to the left of her hidden nook. “What do you mean you’re running late? I need to get this stuff out of here now while there’s no one here. Okay, it’ll be in the usual spot.”

Intrigued by the conversation, Charlie remained motionless as the sound of shoes clicked away toward a back door that led to an alley. The door closed with a bang and she crept forward. The Sahara Desert held more moisture than her mouth at the moment. Where the heck was Tony? If she took the time to go find him, she might lose the chance to see if this was the thieving employee.

One foot eased forward and then Charlie rocked back on her heels in doubt. This is your job. Do it. She scurried over to ease the back door open a crack. There was no sign of anyone so she slipped through the opening. A movement to the right caused her to pull back into the recessed door frame. From where she hid, all she saw was a white trash bag as it sailed into the dumpster. Heart pounding, she ducked inside and busied herself at the dishwasher in case the woman returned the same way.

The kitchen door slammed back against the wall when someone entered. Footsteps came closer and then stopped directly behind where she worked to empty a rack full of clean glasses. After a moment, the woman continued on into the dining area.

Charlie hurried back outside and over to the trash dumpster. Even with her height, she couldn’t see into the dark depths. Looking around, she spotted an old plastic crate on the ground. She pulled it over and gingerly stepped up. The stench of rotting meat and soured cheeses made her eyes water and with one hand holding her nose, she leaned in as far as possible.

A lone pale lump glowed brightly in the left back corner among the other dark green mounds. She stretched one arm out as far as it would go. Almost. She stood on her tiptoes to gain another few inches. Her thrust forward caused the crate to slip from under her feet. A precarious balance on the metal rim of the dumpster, she struggled to keep from sliding down into the disgusting mess.

More in than out, gravity worked against her, and she landed face first in the soft piles. Disoriented, her surprise turned to horror as the more she moved, the more she sank. Had something alive brushed her leg?

Charlie was still shrieking when Tony’s surprised face appeared over the side. Between his laughter and her flopping about, it took them several attempts to get her out of the large container. While Tony retrieved the bag, she stared down at her clothes and sighed. She needed to go back and reread the chapter on dumpster diving. The book made it sound so easy.

Author Bio:
Bess George lives in Texas with her hubby and kids. Even though Bess crunches numbers for a living, she’s managed to work in some unusual places over the years. The oil business, a gun range, and a golf course are a few jobs where she met all types of characters. She loves to hear stories about people finding the unexpected hero inside each of us.


Brought to you by:

Cowboys and Calico Box Set

Title: Cowboys and Calico
Authors: Kirsten Osbourne, Amelia C Adams
Cassie Hayes, Kristen Holt, Margery Scott
Genre: Sweet Western Romance
Release Date: July 28, 2016

***Currently 99cents***
Five bestselling Western romance authors come together to bring you one collection of all-new stories that will sweep you off your feet!

Stories Included: 
Mail Order Midwife by Kirsten Osbourne
Widowed midwife Patsy Lawrence spent too much time working and not enough with her young daughter. She knew Emily's childhood would be over before she realized it, so she responded to an ad for a mail-order bride, hoping for a better future for them both.

Dr. Wesley Hardy needed a wife to complete him, so he sent a letter to a mail-order bride agency back East. When he received a letter from a widow with a young daughter, he was thrilled with everything but her profession. Could he live with the fact that his new bride was a midwife? Or would they be destined to live without love for the rest of their days?

A Broken Wing by Amelia C. Adams
Bored beyond all reason while riding a train from Missouri to Colorado, Trinity Scott amuses herself by imagining things about the passengers around her, including the handsome man sitting across the aisle. With his dark curly hair and warm brown eyes, he’s certainly intriguing, and the fact that his arm is in a sling makes him all the more a curiosity.

But when three dangerous men board the train, her desire for adventure and excitement takes a sinister turn, and she must call on her inner strength to do what’s needed to survive.

The Marshal's Rebellious Bride by Cassie Hayes
U.S. Marshal Curtis ‘Griff’ Griffith is on the trail of a wanted man. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by the newest resident of the Dalton Brothers Ranch. So why does he keep returning? It’s certainly not to see the beautiful-but-bullheaded Catherine James.

Catherine has no interest in men or marriage, but there aren’t many choices for single ladies to earn a living on a remote Texas ranch. When she discovers that she holds the key to capturing the outlaw — and collecting some of the reward — she doesn’t hesitate to force Griff’s hand.

Will they kill each other before they find the murderer, or will they risk their damaged hearts for a shot at a new life?

Courting Miss Cartwright by Kristin Holt
Courtship, by the book, is supposed to be easy…

As the daughter of an unwed mother, Felicity Percival is accustomed to rejection. Her mother was her only family ... until she is summoned to the reading of her father's will. To learn he was a married preacher with a second daughter horrifies her. The stipulations attached to her inheritance infuriate her. The last thing she expects is the emergence of truths that destroy her life-long beliefs. The last thing she wants is to feel the blush of first love for a man she can't have.

The road to Happily Ever After should not be rocky, especially for level-headed, rule-following Rocky Gideon. His courtship of the minister’s daughter is successful and on track, surviving everything life throws at them … except the appearance of the preacher’s other daughter. Felicity asks too many questions, forces him to evaluate his carefully constructed plan, and somehow steals his heart.

Rocky desperately needs a solid marriage that will go the distance … so why does he yearn for the wrong sister?

Wanted: The Perfect Husband by Margery Scott
Sybil Franklin needs a husband—fast! In order to keep her ranch, she must be married within thirteen days. Devin McGregor meets all her requirements and comes highly recommended, but he has no interest in marriage.

Devin McGregor had a ranch once, a fiancée, a future. He made a mistake, and it cost him everything. Now, even though he’d love to own his own land again, he’s afraid to risk failure. 

Sybil decides to post an advertisement for the perfect husband. As Devin tries to protect her from being taken advantage of, his feelings for her grow, but his fear of failing her won’t let him accept her proposal.

Both Sybil and Devin have choices, but making the right choice means they could both lose everything.

Author Bios:
Kirsten Osbourne
USA Today bestselling author Kirsten Osbourne knows how to write romance. Each book is an experience that transplants the reader, indulging them in decadence, intense emotion and sweeping love.

Hailing from the state of Wisconsin, she has lived in Texas for over thirty years as a mother, writer, and wife. Married to the love of her life for more than fifteen years, she knows that true love exists and shares that vision with the world.

She writes contemporary and historical romance as well and also ventures into the realm of paranormal romance. She invites you to join her in her world of fantasy, love, and make believe, no matter the location, where there is always a happily ever after at the end.

Amelia C Adams
Amelia C. Adams is a wife, a mother, and a novelist. She spends her days dreaming up stories and her nights writing them down. Her biggest hero is her husband, and you might just see bits and pieces of him as you read her novels.

She loves all things historical and enjoys learning about days gone by, but she's glad she was born more recently (she won't say how recently or not recently) because the Internet is awesome, and she's glad she doesn't have to wash her clothes by hand in a galvanized tub. She has hit Amazon bestseller status twice, once for A Clean Slate and once for A Clear Hope, and currently has eighteen books available.

Cassie Hayes
Bestselling author Cassie Hayes grew up pretending she was Laura Ingalls (before that pesky Almanzo arrived on the scene) in the middle of Oregon farm country. She writes sweet stories about love and adventure in the Old West and lives with her husband and cat on the Pacific Ocean.

Kristen Holt
Kristin HoltUSA Today Bestselling Author writes Sweet Victorian Romance set in the American West. She writes frequent articles about the nineteenth century American west--every subject of possible interest to readers and amateur historians. She contributes monthly to Sweet Americana Sweethearts (first Friday of each month) and Romancing the Genres (third Tuesday of each month).

Margery Scott
Margery Scott is the author of more than twenty romance novels, novellas and short stories. She lives on a lake in Canada with her husband, and spends as much time as possible travelling in search of the perfect setting for her next book. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her wielding a pair of knitting needles or a pool cue. She loves to hear from readers.

Kirsten Osbourne

Amelia C  Adams

Cassie Hayes

Kristin Holt

Margery Scott

***Currently 99cents***

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday's Film Adaption: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary Wolf

“Who’d want to kill a dumb cartoon bunny?”

That’s what Eddie Valiant wants to know. He’s the toughest private eye in Los Angeles, and he’ll handle anything – if you’re human. If you’re a Toon, that’s another story.

Eddie doesn’t like Toons – those cartoon characters who live side-by-side with humans. Not the way they look, and especially not the way they talk: word-filled balloons come out of their mouths and then disintegrate, leaving dust all over his rug.

Eddie will work for a Toon if his cash supply is low enough. So he reluctantly agrees when Roger Rabbit, a Toon who plays straight man (or should that be straight rabbit) in the Baby Herman cartoon series, asks him to find out who’s been trying – unsuccessfully – to buy his contract from the DeGreasy Brothers syndicate.

Then Rocco DeGreasy is murdered – and Roger is the prime suspect! The rabbit is also, as Eddie soon discovers, very, very dead.

Who censored Roger Rabbit? And who shot Rocco DeGreasy? Was it Roger, or was it Rocco’s hot-cha-cha girlfriend, Jessica Rabbit? Why had Jessica – a pretty steamy number for a Toon – ever married a dopey bunny in the first place? And why does everybody want Roger’s battered old teakettle?

As Eddie combs L.A. from the executive suites of the DeGreasy Brothers to Sid Sleaze’s porno comic studio, he uncovers art thefts, blackmail plots... and the cagiest killer he’s ever faced.

In Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, author Gary K. Wolf has created a wonderfully skewed – and totally believable – world compounded of equal parts Raymond Chandler, Lewis Carroll, and Warner Brothers. This riotously surreal spoof of the hard-boiled detective novel is packed with action and laughs. From first page to last, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? is shear delight.

Celebrated author Gary K. Wolf’s cult classic and highly praised novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? is the basis for the blockbuster Walt Disney/Steven Spielberg Academy Award winning film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Chapter 1
I found the bungalow and rang the bell.

My client answered the door.

He was almost my height, close to six feet, but only if you counted his eighteen-inch ears. He wore only a baggy pair of shorts, held up by brightly colored suspenders. His shoulders stooped so badly, he had to secure his suspender tops in place with crossed pieces of cellophane tape. For eyes, he had twin black dots, floating in the center of two oblong white saucers. His white stomach, nose, toes, and palms on a light brown body made him resemble someone who had just walked face first into a freshly painted wall.

"I'm Eddie Valiant, private eye. You the one who called?"

"Yes, I am," he said, extending a fuzzy white paw. "I'm Roger Rabbit." His words came out encased in a balloon that floated over his head.

The rabbit ushered me into his living room. The angular furniture reminded me of the upward-reaching spires in caves. That, combined with an extremely low ceiling and stale air, gave the room the closed-in nature of an underground burrow. Perfect interior design for a rabbit.

The bunny opened a liquor cabinet and brought out an earthenware jug emblazoned with three X's. "Drink?" he asked.

Since Toons could not legally buy human-manufactured liquor, most drank the moonshine produced by their country cousins in Dogpatch and Hootin' Holler. Potent stuff. Few humans could handle it.

Although no stranger to strong drink, I knew my limitations well enough to pass.

"Mind if I do?" the rabbit asked. "Fine with me," I said.

The rabbit cradled the jug in his elbow and guzzled down a healthy swig. Almost instantly, twin puffs of smoke shot out of his ears, drifted lazily upward, and bounced gently against the ceiling.

Quite nonchalantly, the rabbit pulled a large butterfly net out from behind the sofa, snared the bobbling whiffets, and shook them free through an open window. They joined forces, floated merrily skyward, and expanded into a soft, billowy cloud.

"Cumulonimbus," the rabbit remarked, as he watched the evidence of his indulgence drift away.

The rabbit closed the window and drew the drapes to protect his frail parchment skin from the drying effects of the early morning sun. He hippity-hopped across the room to his desk, returned, and handed me a check. "A retainer. I hope it's large enough."

It certainly was! At my regular rates, the check would buy my services for nearly a week.

"Maybe I'd better outline my problem," said the rabbit. "I know all the cash in the world wouldn't persuade a private eye to take on an unjust cause."

I nodded. If the rabbit only knew. I had undertaken numerous unjust causes in the course of my career, and for a lot less than all the cash in the world. A lot less.

The rabbit picked a walnut-inlaid cigar box off a mushroom-shaped coffee table. "Carrot?" he asked.

I looked inside. Sure enough, carrots, carefully selected for uniformity of color, size, and shape, and alternated big end to little end so that the maximum number of them could be squeezed inside. Each bore a narrow, gold and red paper band proclaiming it a product of mid-state Illinois, generally acknowledged as the world's finest source of the orange nibblers.

I declined.

The rabbit selected a chunky specimen for himself and gnawed at it noisily, freckling his chin with tiny orange chips that flaked off in the gap between his front incisors. "About a year ago, the DeGreasy brothers, the cartoon syndicate, told me that if I signed with them they would give me my own strip." He laid his half-eaten carrot on an end table beside a display of framed and autographed photos, some human, some Toon. They included Snoopy, Joe Namath, Beetle Bailey, John F. Kennedy, and, in a group shot, Dick Tracy, Secret Agent X-9, and J. Edgar Hoover. "Instead they made me a second banana to a dopey, obese, thumb sucking sniveler named Baby Herman."

"So find yourself another syndicate."

"I can't." The rabbit's face collapsed. "My contract binds me to the DeGreasys for another twenty years. When I asked them to release me so I could look for work elsewhere, they refused."

"They give you any reason?"

"None. Being somewhat an amateur private eye myself, I did some legwork." He displayed a hind limb that would have looked exceptionally good dangling from the end of a key-chain. "I nosed around the industry and uncovered a rumor that someone wants to buy out my contract and give me a starring. role, but the DeGreasys refuse to sell. I want you to find out what's going on. If the DeGreasys won't star me, why won't they deal me away?"

Sounded horribly boring, but one more look at his check convinced me to at least go through the motions. I hauled out my notebook and pen.

Normally I would have asked some questions about his background and personal life but, since I only intended to give this case a lick and a promise anyway, why bother? I asked for the DeGreasys' address, and he rattled it off.

"I'll stay in touch," I promised on my way out.

"See you in the funny papers," joked the rabbit.

I didn't smile.

Chapter 2
I stopped off at a newsstand and bought a candy bar for lunch and a paper to read while I ate it, making sure to get a receipt for my expense report.

I turned to the comic section and found the Baby Herman strip.

The rabbit appeared in one panel out of the four, barely visible behind the smoke and flame of an exploding cigar given him by Baby Herman.

I folded the paper shut. Hardly an earthshaking caper, this one. A fast buck and not much more. But what did I expect? Hobnobbing with a rabbit only gets you to Wonderland in fairy tales.

I met the DeGreasy brothers, Rocco and Dominick, in their offices high atop one of L.A.'s most prestigious skyscrapers.

The two were human, although almost comical in their marked resemblance to one another. Their ridged foreheads formed a wobble of demarcation between bowl-shaped haircuts and frizzy eyebrows. Their noses would have looked perfect behind a chrome horn bolted to the handlebars of a bicycle. Smudgy moustaches curtained their circular porthole mouths. Their biceps looked to be half the size of their forearms. And they had feet large enough to cut fifteen seconds off any duck's time in the hundred-meter freestyle.

Had the DeGreasy boys been discovered frozen beneath some Arctic tundra, a good case would probably have been made for them being the long-sought missing link between humans and Toons.

But, as funny as they looked, when I checked them out, they had come up professional and efficient, the most astute guys in the comic strip business. I gave my card to Rocco, the eldest, who passed it across his handsome antique desk to his brother Dominick.

Not wanting to spend a minute longer than necessary on this case, I came straight to the point. I told them Roger Rabbit had hired me to find out why they refused to honor their contractual obligation to star him in a strip of his own.

Rocco chuckled, then scowled, the way a father might when he sees his youngster do something irritating but cute. "Let me explain our position with regard to Roger Rabbit," he said, without the slightest trace of rancor. His precise manner of speech and his six-bit vocabulary gave me quite a surprise. From his looks, I expected Goofy, but got Owen Cantrell, Wall Street lawyer, instead. "My brother Dominick and I signed Roger specifically because we felt he would play well as a foil for Baby Herman. We never made any mention of a solo strip then or since."

Rocco leaned toward me, displaying in the process an impressive array of his stars' merchandising tie-ins–a Superman tie bar, Bullwinkle Moose cufflinks, and a Mickey Mouse wristwatch. "Roger frequently concocts absurd stories such as this one. We tolerate his delusions because of his great popularity with his audience. Roger makes a perfect fall guy, and his fans love him for it. However, he does not have the charisma to carry a strip of his own. We never even considered giving him one. Right, Dominick?"

Dominick's head bounced up and down with the vigor of a spring-necked plastic dog.

Rocco got up, opened a file drawer, and pulled out a sheaf of papers, which he handed to me. "Roger's contract. Read it through. You'll find no mention of a solo strip. And it stipulates a very generous salary, I might add." He closed the drawer and returned to his chair. "We have treated Roger fairly and ethically. He has no reason whatsoever to complain."

I flipped through the contract. It seemed to be in order. "What about the rumor going around that somebody wants to buy out Roger's contract and make him a star?"

Rocco and Dominick exchanged quizzical glances and shrugged more or less in unison. "News to us," said Rocco. "If someone did approach us with an offer for Roger, if it made financial sense, and if Roger wanted to go, we would gladly sell him off. We're not ones to stand in the way of our employees' advancement, and there's certainly no shortage of rabbits to replace him."

He stood and ushered me to the door. "Mister Valiant, I suggest you consider this case closed, and next time get yourself a more mentally stable client."

Sounded reasonable to me.

Chapter 3
I took a few random jogs. The trench coat, broad-brimmed hat, and large sunglasses matched me move for move. A tail.

I picked up my pace, turned a corner, and ducked into a doorway.

Seconds later my tail came around the corner after me.

I let him get three paces past, then jumped him, grabbing his arm. I twisted it behind his back and slammed him against the nearest wall.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" I hissed, applying some persuasive pressure.

"I was only curious about how a real detective operates," read my tail's balloon. "I just thought I'd tag along. Kind of observe from a distance. I'm sorry if I fouled up your modus operandi."

I released my grip, and snatched away the broad-brimmed hat, exposing a set of carefully accordioned eighteen-inch ears.

"Look," I told the rabbit, honing the hat against his concave chest, "when I have something worthwhile to report, I get in touch. Otherwise you stay away from me. Clear?"

The rabbit smoothed out his ears. However, the left one sprang back into a tight clump giving his head the lopsided appearance of a half-straightened paper clip. "Yes, I understand." He fiddled with his ear, fiddled with his sunglasses, fiddled with the buttons on his trench coat, until finally he ran out of externals and began to fiddle with his soul. "My entire life I've wanted to be a detective."

Sure. Him and ten million others. Toon mystery strips suckered them into believing that knights-errant always won. Yeah, maybe Rip Kirby bats a thousand. But I consider it great if I go one for ten. "Forget it," I said. "Besides, I'm not so sure how much longer I'm going to stay on this case." I reported my conversation with the DeGreasys, adding that they'd suggested him as poster boy for the Failing Mental Health Society.

He took it in stride. "I never said they put in writing that bit about me getting my own strip," he countered. "They made the offer verbally, and Rocco repeated it several times since."

"Anybody besides you ever hear him?"

"Sure. He said it once at a photo session in front of Baby Herman and Carol Masters, my photographer. Just ask them. They'll remember. As for my being crazy, yes, I see a psychiatrist, but so do half the Toons in the business. That hardly qualifies me as a full-blown looney."

"I don't know," I said, figuring to cut it off here. "The whole mess sounds like a job for a lawyer."

"Please," the rabbit begged. "Stick with it. I'll double your fee."

Such persuasive words. "All right. You double my fee, and I stay on your case." I turned and walked away. The rabbit plopped his hat into the chasm between his ears and bounded after me, hopping so fast that his word balloons whipped across the top of his head, snapped loose with sharp pings at the base of his neck, and bounced off across the sidewalk. "Let me help you," he said when he caught up with me. "It would mean a great deal to me. Please."

"No way," I stated flatly. "I work alone. Always have, always will." Call me rude, but I say what I mean. If people want sympathy, let them see a priest.

At least he got the message. He did an abrupt about face and shambled away.

Chapter 4
Apparently the strip business paid babies a whole lot better than rabbits.

Baby Herman lived in an honest-to-God, balconied, marble-pillared, stone-lions-at-the-front-gate mansion tucked neatly away in the kind of neighborhood where middle-class rubbernecks ride bicycles on Sunday afternoons.

His place covered nearly enough land to qualify for statehood. The house proper sat far back on the property. A jumbo herd of bib-overalled Toon goat gardeners puttered about the grounds, nibbling back the grass and shrubs.

The ultimate Toon status symbol, a human servant, in this case a butler in full regalia, opened the door. He ushered me through to a den furnished in sophisticated playpen.

A Barcelona chair rested beside a rocking horse. Abstract metal sculptures straddled wobbly towers of alphabet blocks. A fine, post-impressionistic painting hung just above a wooden peg supporting a tatty security blanket, one end well chewed.

Baby Herman, two feet high, wearing only a diaper, and bald save for one dark hair sprouting from the precise center of his crown, sat in a highchair in front of the TV. A good portion of his lunch–strained peas, pureed beef, and applesauce–still clung to his chin and to the tray in front of him.

He was watching his own show, giggling happily every time one of his Toon foils took a clout to the chops.

The butler announced me as Eddie Valiant, private investigator representing Roger Rabbit, then left me and Baby Herman alone.

I had no idea how to proceed. I didn't have much of a way with kids. They generally react to me as they would to the man who shot Bambi's mother.

On the TV screen, a tuxedoed raccoon struggled vainly to extricate himself from the inside of a trombone. Baby Herman laughed uproariously and pounded his tray with a silver spoon, splattering the front of my coat with a fine layer of goo. I steeled myself for a long, hard afternoon.

Just then the butler returned bearing a cigar box, full of robust Havanas. I helped myself. And so, to my surprise, did Baby Herman.

"Kind of young for that stuff, aren't you?" I asked.

"Hah, hah," appeared over Baby Herman's head in the lettering style found on a preschooler's handmade valentine. He lit up and exhaled a cloud that would have done credit to a locomotive. "That's rich. Just how old do you think I am?" When he turned his head so I could examine his profile, he also twisted his word balloon around one hundred and eighty degrees, thus flopping his words into mirror images of themselves.

"I never play guessing games."

"Come on. Just this once. Try."


"OK, then I'll tell you anyway." Baby Herman unsnapped his tray and climbed to the floor where he stood, puffing his cigar, one chubby hand on each hip. "I'm thirty-six. Don't look it, do l?"

I admitted that he didn't.

"Most people guess me between two and four. Of course, most people don't know enough about Toons to realize that some age and some don't."

"And you're one of the lucky ones?"

Baby Herman plopped down on his hind end and zigzagged his fingers across the rug. "Depends on your point of view. Eternal youth isn't everything it's cracked up to be. Imagine going through life eating mush, wearing diapers, and sucking on plastic doodads." He displayed the teething ring hung on a gold chain around his neck. "And women. Need I even mention women? Here I sit with a thirty-six-year-old lust, and a three-year-old dinky."

He climbed aboard his rocking horse and began a bouncy journey to nowhere. "Why does the funny bunny need a detective? He decided to file for divorce? That what you do? Bust into motel rooms and shoot quickie photos of cheating wives?"

An obscene musing encased in a fluffy, cherubic balloon floated above the kid's head. It bobbled around playfully awhile before impaling itself on his single wiry hair, and bursting in a shower of dust that layered his shoulders with the fine powder unknowledgeable humans mistook for dandruff. He immediately conjured up a second image even worse.

"Roger Rabbit has a wife?"

"He did until she left him."

Baby Herman dismounted his rocking horse and waddled out from under his pornographic fantasy. "Jessica Rabbit." His second vision turned to sand and dirtied the carpet behind him. "Gorgeous creature. Does a lot of commercials. Wouldn't mind taking her for a hop myself."

"How long they been split up?"

"I guess two, maybe three, weeks."

"What caused the breakup?"

"How should I know? What do I look like, Mary Worth? I mind my business, let other people mind theirs."

He crawled to the wall and pulled his blanket off its peg. He bundled it around his legs, torso, and head, enveloping himself so completely that only the end of his cigar remained uncovered.

"Confidentially," he whispered from out of the snuggly depths of his blanket, "I hear she left Roger for Rocco DeGreasy."

Rocco DeGreasy and a female Toon rabbit? Sounded ridiculous, but I'd heard of guys with stranger tastes in women. "Actually, I'm not really interested in Roger's wife. I'm investigating Roger's treatment by the DeGreasy syndicate. I understand you heard Rocco promise Roger his own strip."

The blanket bobbed up and down. "Sure. Day before yesterday at a photo session, but only because the bunny was threatening to hit him over the head with his lunch box. It was the first time they'd met since Roger's marital breakup. Roger accused Rocco of putting pressure on Jessica to leave him. Rocco denied it, and Roger went for him. Carol Masters, our photographer, jumped in between them and kept them apart. Rocco came up with that bit about giving Roger his own strip mainly to cool him off, but it didn't work. I never saw Roger so riled. He kept threatening to kill Rocco. Can you imagine that coming from a pussycat like Roger Rabbit? After Carol finally got Roger calmed down, Rocco offered to drive him home. He suggested they could sit down there and discuss their differences rationally until they had them all worked out. A fair and classy guy, that Rocco. Anybody else would have canned Roger on the spot."

"Did Roger and Rocco leave together?"

"No, Roger stormed out of the studio in a huff. Darned inconsiderate of him. We still had half a day's shooting left that we had to cancel. Threw my feeding and naptime schedule into a complete tizzy."

"So Rocco wasn't serious when he offered Roger his own strip."

"Nope. Rocco was scared, plain and simple. When Roger threatened to kill him, I believe he meant it, and Rocco believed it, too."

The butler entered and gave the lumpy blanket a' courtly bow. "Don't forget your two-o'clock photo session, sir."

"Right." Baby Herman unwrapped himself and stood. "I'm doing some baby food spots." He ground his cigar out on the rug. "I sold eight million jars of that junk last year. My wholesome image."

He extended his pudgy arms to Eddie. "Carry me to my limousine?"

Outside, I set him into an infant seat strapped in the right front bucket of a white Mercedes. "Hey, detective," said Baby Herman as I shut the door. "I like you. You come back sometime, and we'll have us a party. I'll supply the funny hats, the cake, and the noisemakers. You supply the broads. Just make sure they go for younger men."

Baby Herman waved bye-bye, and his Mercedes pulled away.

A tough detective tries to clear a cartoon character charged with murder.

Release Date: June 22, 1988
Release Time: 104 minutes

Bob Hoskins - Eddie Valiant
Christopher Lloyd - Judge Doom
Joanna Cassidy - Dolores
Charles Fleischer - Roger Rabbit / Benny The Cab / Greasy / Psycho (voice)
Stubby Kaye - Marvin Acme
Alan Tilvern - R.K. Maroon
Richard LeParmentier - Lt. Santino (as Richard Le Parmentier)
Lou Hirsch - Baby Herman (voice)
Betsy Brantley - Jessica's Performance Model
Joel Silver - Raoul
Paul Springer - Augie
Richard Ridings - Angelo
Edwin Craig - Arthritic Cowboy
Lindsay Holiday - Soldier
Mike Edmonds - Stretch
Morgan Deare - Editor / Gorilla
Danny Capri - Kid #1
Christopher Hollosy - Kid #2
John-Paul Sipla - Kid #3
Laura Frances - Blonde Starlet
Joel Cutrara - Forensic #1
Billy J. Mitchell - Forensic #2
Eric B. Sindon - Mailman
Ed Herlihy - Newscaster
James O'Connell - Conductor
Eugene Gutierrez - Teddy Valiant (as Eugene Guirterrez)
April Winchell - Mrs. Herman (voice)
Mae Questel - Betty Boop (voice)
Mel Blanc - Daffy Duck / Tweety Bird / Bugs Bunny / Sylvester / Porky Pig (voice)
Tony Anselmo - Donald Duck (voice)
Mary T. Radford - Hippo (voice)
Joe Alaskey - Yosemite Sam / Foghorn Leghorn (voice)
David L. Lander - Smart Ass (voice) (as David Lander)
Fred Newman - Stupid (voice)
June Foray - Wheezy / Lena Hyena (voice)
Russi Taylor - Birds / Minnie Mouse (voice)
Les Perkins - Toad (voice)
Richard Williams - Droopy (voice)
Wayne Allwine - Mickey Mouse (voice)
Pat Buttram - Bullet #1 (voice)
Jim Cummings - Bullet #2 (voice)
Jim Gallant - Bullet #3 (voice)
Frank Sinatra - Singing Sword (voice) (archive sound)
Tony Pope - Goofy / Wolf (voice)
Peter Westy - Pinocchio (voice)
Cherry Davis - Woody Woodpecker (voice)

Author Bio:
I wrote my first short story when I was in the third grade. Our teacher told us to write about our summer vacation. I wrote about my trip to the moon! I always did have an over active imagination.

I've gone back to the moon many times since. Also to places in the galaxy far, far beyond that.

I've written many short stories and ten novels.

I'm well known for two kinds of writing. My science fiction novels include Killerbowl, A Generation Removed, The Resurrectionist, Space Vulture an old-school, throwback, pulp science fiction novel which I co-wrote with my childhood friend Catholic Archbishop John J. Myers,, and my newest Typical Day. Hollywood seems to especially enjoy my work. Both Killerbowl and The Resurrectionist are currently in production as major motion pictures.

My other kind of writing isn't as easily categorized. I call it fantasy fiction. I was told early on by a marketing executive at a major publishing house that this kind of writing wouldn't sell. Because there was no place for it on the bookstore shelves. It's not a regular novel, not crime, not science fiction, not romance. I asked him what he would do if he got Gulliver's Travels, The Wizard of Oz, or Alice In Wonderland? He thought for a moment and told me he couldn't sell those either.

Well, he was wrong. My fantasy novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? did indeed get published. It went through sixteen printings. It became a visual reality in Disney/Spielberg's $950 million blockbuster film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film won four Academy Awards and the Hugo Award. Walt Disney Pictures has also purchased film rights to my sequel novel Who P-p-p-plugged Roger Rabbit?

I currently live in Boston but regularly travel around the world.



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