Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Risky Dance by Monika Summerville


Series: Risky Dance
Author: Monika Summerville
Genre: Adult Romance, Mild BDSM
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Cover Design: Christine Kirchoff

A Risky Dance #1
Summary:
Riley Frost is an attorney. He played in the BDSM community as a Dom and liked to be in control. He'd never found a woman with a sense of adventure and passion, until one night when he walked into a bar and...

Sophie Pantagen is the vice-president of her father's company, Pantagen Industries. For the past ten years she's spent a couple evenings a month having one-offs with men whose names she never new. That was until one night in a bar when Riley and Sophie find each other at a time when both are looking for something. They're not sure what it is they want, but think they may have found it.

Sophie's father is a cut-throat business man and when he thinks Sophie tells company secrets he comes after her with vengeance. Pantagen Industries begins to fall apart. Sophie is fired from her position and threatened by her father with an Edgar Allen Poe nightmare result.

A Lost Dance #2
Summary:
Turner Black works for a group in Seattle that helps find people who were separated from loved ones for one reason or another. He’s hired to find the half-sister of a man, Stewart Tarver. Their shared father has passed away and left the half-sister part of a large inheritance.

Turner finds Rae Smith. She works as a stripper at a dance club in Tracy, California. She always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but the death of her mother took that dream away and Rae started to strip when she turned eighteen years of age. From one club to another, she is happy to just survive.

Turner and Rae are drawn to each other and, although the sex is great, she isn’t big on commitments and doesn’t want to deal with the inheritance game. And someone tries to kill her and then kidnaps her for sale to a slave trader in Hong Kong. Will she be able to trust Turner?







A Flame Dance #3
Summary:
Jarrah Hejazi is an ex-Marine, who defended his country and now owns a security company. He’s worked, but forgot to live. On a visit with friends at Safe Haven, he meets Grace McKay and a boy named Jonah. Haven is a place where street kids get help and feel safe. Little does Hejazi know that within a couple of months his life will change one-hundred percent.

Grace McKay, an ex-marine, works at Haven. She’d heard the owners talk about their friend Hejazi and when they meet, there’s more she wants to know.

Hejazi and Grace surrender to their attraction and work to find the brother of Jonah. The brother was taken by Feathertop, who gives street kids a safe place to live and then trains them to pick pockets, rob cars and homes.


Dealing with a team member off the grid, and being chased by people who want them dead, Hejazi and Grace have to figure a way to keep it together.


A Risky Dance #1
Riley Frost walked through the front door at Fellow’s Bar and Grill and, Ben, the bartender, waved. He nodded and sat down on a barstool at the end. The room wasn’t overly crowed and there were enough women in the place that he thought he’d come out on top. He hoped to find a nice curvy woman to curl up with for the night. The noise and laughter helped bring his tension down a notch. 

Ben walked to his end and set a glass of Loch Lomand single-malt-whiskey in front of him. It was Riley’s favorite and the bar kept it stocked for him.

“My headache thanks you, Ben.” He accepted the glass.

“Steven should be back from a break shortly, Mr. Frost. Care for a game of chess?” the bartender asked. “It would give me a chance to win back some of my losses from last month.”

“Perhaps. I’m a little on the prowl tonight. Is it too late to get a pulled pork sandwich or something?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Riley nodded, picked up his glass and a newspaper off the end of the bar, and walked over to an empty table. 

Ben came out from behind the bar. “We can do the sandwich. Chef wants to know if you want coleslaw, chips, or fries?”

“Chips are fine. There’s no need to heat up the fryer.”

“Good.” Ben smiled and went back to the kitchen.

Riley read through the headlines on the front page of the paper and then heard the front door open. A woman about five-foot-ten walked in and went straight to the bar. He did a double take and found it hard to take his eyes off of her.

She wore an emerald green, mini-tank dress that had lace in all the right places. It hugged her hips tightly and when she turned to the bar, he saw it had no back. The sides were cut low under her arms and the curve of her breasts showed just enough. Her long, brown hair would slide side to side when she moved and he thought he saw a scar on the middle of her back. Her legs alone caused Riley’s cock to stir and he thought he may have found his catch for the night.

An older man with dark-graying hair walked up to her. Riley almost started to crack up laughing. The guy wore his hair in a fluffy 80s style cut and had a walrus mustache. The woman smiled and spoke with him. The man put his hand on her arm and she peeled it off and shook her head.

“Woo...turn down, dude. Things are looking very good,” Riley said to himself, and took a sip of his whiskey.

Ben brought his sandwich over and set the plate down on the table. Riley stopped him from leaving.

“The woman at the bar, dead center, with the green dress and brown hair, what can you tell me?”

The bartender looked over his shoulder and nodded. “She is gorgeous, but I think she may be a professional.”

“Really?” Riley felt a bit surprised. She looked too classy to be a hooker. 

“I don’t know it for a fact, but she comes in here every other week or so and never leaves alone.”

“Good, her drink’s on me, Ben.” He’d never seen her before and he spent a lot of time at Fellow’s.

“I’ll see to it. She’s a single-malt woman. May I give her some of the Lomand?”

“Very good idea.” Riley nodded and started to eat his food.

He saw Ben walk behind the bar and prepare the drink. The woman still spoke to the 80s throw back. The bartender put the drink in front of her and pointed toward Riley. She looked over her shoulder just as he slid a potato chip into his mouth. Her eyebrow arched and she turned back to Ben and pushed the glass back at him. They exchanged a few words and the woman picked up the drink and walked toward Riley.

She set the glass down and leaned over with her hand on the table. Riley had a perfect view of the tops of her breasts and he almost lost his breath.

“I don’t accept drinks from strangers, but thank you.” She straightened up.

“Why don’t you have a seat? I’m Riley Frost, now we’re not strangers anymore.”

She stared at him for a moment with Caramel colored eyes and then turned back to the bar. He admired her rear and his cock became hard as a rock, it wanted her so much. She is mine, he thought. 

As she slid onto a stool, she motioned for Ben to bring another drink.

The other man sat next to her and continued to make his moves. He tried to put his hand on her thigh and she moved it.

Riley stood, finished his drink, and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. He took a bill out and picked up the full glass of whiskey she’d left on his table. On her left side, he moved between her and Mr. Walrus Mustache, to crowd the guy away from her. Riley put the cold glass against her bare back.

She sat up, leaned into his hand, and looked at him over her shoulder. Riley didn’t look back, but flagged Ben. He handed the bartender a one-hundred dollar bill and then leaned toward the woman.

He moved his lips to a millimeter from hers and whispered, “The Loch Lomand is a thousand times better than that swill you’ve got. Have a lovely evening.” He brushed his lips over hers and let his hand slide over her breast as he set the drink in front of her. Her nipple felt hard as a bullet. He smiled and started toward the door.

Oh yeah, I give her less than five minutes. She’s mine, he thought. He went out the door, turned left and stood at the corner of the building.

A Lucky Dance #2
Turner found her performance one of the best he’d seen and this trip turned out to be worth it. She definitely could be the Rae he’d searched for. He could see the little girl who held the stuffed rabbit from the old picture. 

He showed his investigators badge to the bartender and explained that he needed to speak to her. The owner came out and asked him why. All Turner told the man was that her brother looked for her due to a death in the family.

After about a half hour, she came out from behind the stage. Her hair was tied up in a Scrunchy and she wore tight jeans with a pale blue cable knit sweater. Instead of the three inch spiked heels she had on a pair of flat tennis-shoes. 

She walked up to the bar alone and sat on a stool two down from him. “Jake told me why you’re here. I think you may have me confused with someone else. I don’t have a brother.”

“My name is Turner Black and I’ve been hired by your half-brother, Stewart Tarver, to find you, Miss Sibley.” He looked at her as she leaned over the counter and snagged a bottle of vodka and a shot glass. She really was gorgeous and he admired her ass as she moved back down to the stool. Her eyes were a light carmel color and she had a little sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose.

“The name is Smith, not whatever you just said.” She took a sip from the shot glass.

Turner took the old picture out of his pocket. She looked at it. He watched her and saw her eyes squint. It was a dead giveaway and he’d learned how to read people over the years.

When she sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, he knew she remembered that photo.

“According to your half-brother, this picture was one of the few times you met him and your father.” He knew by the look in her eyes it was familiar.

She pushed it back at him. “I’m sorry, Mr. Black. It’s not ringing any bells.”

This goddamn woman is stubborn, Turner thought. 
*****
When Rae looked at the picture she saw a little girl with a stuffed rabbit in one hand and an older boy stood next to her and held her other hand. That stupid rabbit was the only thing she had left of her mother and would never give it away.

“I think it does ring bells, Miss Sibley.”

“Smith, as I said. I’m Rae Smith.”

“Your father passed away about a year ago and your half-brother’s looked for you since.”

“Mr. Black, I never met my father or any brother. I’m an only child. My mother died when I was twelve. I’ve been on my own ever since. She never said anything to me about a brother.” She swallowed the vodka and put the lid back onto the bottle.

“Miss Smith, I know your history.”

“You know nothing about me.” She slid off the stool and started back to the dressing room. Grabbing her jacket and bag, she walked out the back door of the building, rounded a corner and there stood Mr. Black by a dark grey Toyota Prius. Good gas mileage, she thought, arched her eyebrow and started to walk past him.

“Miss Smith, could I give you a ride home?”

“No thanks,” she said and kept moving down the sidewalk.

The engine started in the car and she realized he followed her. When she got to the corner, she stopped and looked at him.

“So, you’re a stalker and all that other story was bullshit?” She bent at the waist and looked at him through the window.

“No, I’m not a stalker. Can I buy you some coffee? There is more to explain.”

She started across the street and as he motored through, she turned left and headed another direction. Her apartment was only a few blocks away, but if she cut through the alley, she could go in the back way. He wouldn’t be able to follow her.

She saw a light flash in the corner of her eye and looked over her shoulder. Her pace picked up and the alley turned about one-hundred feet away.

“Look, what do you have to lose? You’d be able to finally open that dance school you always wanted,” he shouted from the car window.

Rae stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him. There wasn’t any way possible he could know what she wanted.

A Flame Dance #3
“How did you fair, Jarrah?” Rae asked.

“The kid beat me twenty out of thirty games.” He looked over his shoulder. “I have some information.”

Grace followed them out of the room and down a hallway toward the offices. He stopped and lowered his voice. “His name is Jonah Sullivan and he’s eleven years old. He has a brother named Jacob who’s fourteen. They were dumped at a park and ride in Reno by their mother and after they lived on the street for a few days met some guy named Feathertop who brought them to Sacramento.”

“Unbelievable, the kids been with us for six weeks and all we knew was his nickname.” Rae shook her head.

“This guy Feathertop gives them the nicknames and insists they use them always.”

“I’ve heard of that guy. He’s sort of like Fagin in Oliver Twist. He promises them food, safety and in exchange they’re taught to pick pockets, steel purses and I’ve even heard they’ve robbed some houses,” Grace said.

“I was over in Sacramento this morning and think I may have seen his crew. We were protecting the singer Veronda and I don’t know how many worked the crowd, but they were good.”

“Let me see what I can find out about Jonah Sullivan.” Rae looked toward her office.

“It’s sad. I mean, to be dumped by your mom and then his brother brought him here and told him to wait until he came back. Poor kid.” Hejazi shook his head. 

Grace now found she admired this man’s heart. He felt for Kit.

“Turner will be here to pick me up around five-thirty, oh and Grace will be joining us.” Rae grinned.

She wanted to crawl into the carpet and hide. When she looked at Hejazi, he smiled.

“Great, I won’t be a third wheel,” he said.

Grace stared at his dark eyes and realized she couldn’t determine what color they were. They were either black or dark brown, but they mesmerized her and when she became aware that he stared back, she blushed.

“Rae, could I ride with you and Mr. Black?” she asked.

“You could ride with me. I don’t know my way around here and you can direct me,” Hejazi said before Rae could answer.

Grace smiled. “Sounds good.”

“I should go find a place to stay the night. How about I meet you out front at five o’clock?”
“That’s fine.”
*****
Hejazi found a Holiday Inn and booked the room for the next five days. He wanted to spend some more time with that kid, Jonah, and see if he could find out more about Feathertop. He also wanted to get to know Grace McKay.

With his connections to the military and feds he could easily find out about her, but decided he’d rather get the low down direct from the source.

It was over fifteen years since he’d been with his last girlfriend. On his first tour of duty, when he’d gone home to Chicago for two weeks leave, his girl, Marissa, acted strange when they met back up. After a couple of days, she’d told him that she’d fallen in love with an insurance salesman. The news kicked him in the balls and he’d decided to put his time and energy into the Marine Corps’ and starting his security group. He never wanted to feel his heart tear in half again.

Fifteen years passed with a blink of an eye and this coming October he’d turn forty years old. He’d gotten to a point where he could monitor the business from wherever he decided to live. The men in his group could handle the job professionally and didn’t need him to be present all the time.

Grace McKay was a beautiful woman and ex-military which gave them something in common. Her height caught his attention, too. His six-foot-five build made it difficult to date smaller women, not that he dated. The fleeting thought that he wouldn’t have to bend at the waist to kiss Grace made him smile while he shaved. Their bodies might even fit together nice and snug, too.

He looked at himself in the mirror. “You’re putting your cart way before your horse, asshole. She’s probably married,” he said to his reflection. “Or she’s involved with someone and you won’t have a chance. You have work to do in a month and don’t need the aggravation.”

Author Bio:
Monika Summerville is an avid reader, loves good tense movies, and works hard on her writing. She lives in Western Washington State with her four cats, Agamemnon, Tazmania, Jasper and Jericho. 

She has written A Risky Dance and A Lost Dance for Siren BookStrand. The third book - A Flame Dance - will be out spring 2016.


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A Risky Dance #1

A Lucky Dance #2

A Flame Dance #3

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In Irina's Cards by Christine Hart

Title: In Irina's Cards
Author: Christine Hart
Series: The Variant Conspiracy Trilogy #1
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction
Release Date: May 4, 2016
Editor & Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Cover Design: Covers by Ramona
Summary:
Irina Proffer leaves mundane small-town life behind when she experiences visions inspired by a strange deck of tarot cards. To get answers, she travels from her northern British Columbia home to the province’s coastal capital. She quickly discovers a world of fringe genetic science and supernatural mystery.

Working for Innoviro Industries, Irina is drawn in by a powerful first love and compelling, yet dangerous questions about the nature of the company’s business. 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.

Before she leaves the city, Irina realizes she has merely scratched the surface of a frightening conspiracy on a global scale.


I’d like to set up this excerpt if I can. This section is taken from Chapter 4. Title character Irina is still coming to terms with the fact that ‘variant’ really means mutant with a noticeable gift or ability. We get a chance to see Irina having a vision. And we get a first glimpse at the aquakinetic, pyrokinetic, and impossibly strong variations in three other core characters.

*****

We reached the end of the Harbour and the coastline opened up around the corner. I saw a sign for ferries to the US in front of a giant concrete breakwater and a pub decorated with a helm wheel and a mural with starfish and orcas. The hazy soft blues of the ocean and sky were broken by the jagged edges of American snow-capped mountains on the horizon. The seaside sidewalk had a mix of young families, dog-walkers, and spry seniors in trendy windbreakers.

“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?”

I heard fear in his voice.

“Rubin mentioned that you were psychic, but I never knew what it actually looked like. I mean, I’ve never witnessed anyone ‘see’ something if that makes sense.”

“Oh, I … what does it look like? It’s still pretty new for me. I’ve always been alone when that happens, but I hadn’t even wondered what somebody watching me gets to see.”

“You looked sort of, gone. And then your eyes rolled back for a moment. I thought you were having a seizure.”

I looked around the yard and fortunately we were alone. Still, I didn’t want to keep talking about this stuff where we could be overheard. More importantly, what was Rubin doing sharing my personal information while giving me his best poker face?

“Let’s go inside. I’m hungry.” I didn’t much feel like sitting down to a social night anymore.

 Cole waved from a table on the other side of the building. Sitting next to him, a girl with purple dreadlocks looked up from her purse and smiled.

The restaurant was full and the combined conversations created a loud chatter. Dim candlelight, a few glass chandeliers, and an antique-looking piano in the corner set a romantic atmosphere that sparked another twinge of embarrassment. On the other hand, the abstract and industrial mixed media wall d├ęcor had me looking around for art and film students. Aside from a few biker bars, the edgiest hangout I knew of in Prince George was an indie coffee shop – and it had only been open for a few years when I left.

We made our way around and between tables. Everyone in the restaurant looked like an artist or an intellectual. I felt like an ugly duckling in my plain, boring clothes, but I was glad for the first time since starting my new job that not all of the blue dye had gone from my hair. Jonah reached the table and pulled out a chair for me. We sat down and Cole scowled.

“Dude, what’s up with the timeline fail? We’ve been here for like, half an hour,” said Cole.

“Ignore his attitude. I’m Faith,” the girl said as she extended her hand to me and grinned happily. The flickering light glinted off a stud in her nose and a ring in her eyebrow. She wore dark makeup on her eyes and mouth. She had the same coffee brown eyes as Cole. I couldn’t tell if it was her features or the eyeliner and lipstick, but she looked striking in a bold, exotic way. As we shook hands, her gaze shifted over to Jonah.

We looked at our menus in awkward silence, waiting for a server, sipping our water. I sighed and put down my menu. I could feel Cole’s eyes on me as I watched Faith stare at Jonah, the only person still looking at his menu. I gave in and glanced back at Cole briefly with a small smile. This was all heading in the wrong direction. The time for tact expired along with my patience.

“So I take it we’re all mutants here,” I said casually.

Jonah sprayed water onto his menu and coughed. Cole looked at me urgently. Faith’s mouth made a small ‘O’ under her confused frown.

“Seriously, I came here, to Victoria, because I started having visions of this place and I wanted answers. All I’ve gotten is cryptic nonsense. Other than meeting you people, I’ve learned next to nothing. Rubin is all vague double-talk. It’s getting old. I want to know what you all know.”

Jonah looked at me and took a breath as if to say something. He decided against it and looked around our corner of the restaurant. Nobody paid any attention to us. He placed his hand over the droplets of water on his laminated menu. The water coalesced into puddles under his palm. As he concentrated on the small pool, it lifted off the menu and spread into a donut shape. The circle broke and the stream became a spiral, getting thinner and thinner until it evaporated into steam, absorbed into Jonah’s hand.

Faith’s frown turned into a smile as she looked at Jonah. She picked up one of the unlit candles on our table and pinched the wick between her thumb and forefinger. As she released it a flame sprang to life.

“Well, I’m not breaking this table, that’s for damn sure,” said Cole.

“That’s okay. I saw your street-fight with that bouncer when I first got to town,” I said.

Cole rolled his eyes, but I couldn’t worry about his temper. I wanted to keep talking about Innoviro and Ivan. “So, now that we’re making progress, albeit moving into some surreal comic book world, tell me what’s the deal with Innoviro. What the hell does this company really do?” I felt my adrenaline rise.

“I’m not risking my job so you can get a head start on whatever Ivan has in mind for you. You’re acting like there’s something bad going on here. He helps people like us.” Cole looked over at Jonah. “For some of us, being different is actually a health risk.”

“Dude, leave it alone!” said Jonah.

Faith frowned again. “You’ve met Rubin. He’s like a recruiter. He told you that much at least, didn’t he? He works with Ivan to find people like us and help, if they need it.”

“And what if I don’t need help?” I said.

“You may help others. We’re not all different in the same way. Some of us were born this way and some of us were … made,” said Faith.

“Ivan will talk to you about all of this soon enough. We’re really not allowed to and I think the reasons for that will start to be obvious. It’s not the kind of research the government likes. You can’t put this kind of stuff in a job posting and you definitely can’t chat about it at parties.” Jonah looked around the room again.

“So they’re doing tests on people.” I felt the unease in my gut churning faster. “On us.”

“It’s not like that. We are doing research and development work, but it varies. Sometimes we’re looking at mutation in other animals or plants. We look at weather and geography to understand how a person’s gifts are advantageous or dangerous, depending on where and how they live. Imagine me living in a desert, for example. And we’re not catastrophically testing on people. Sometimes we’ll take a small tissue or fluid sample from a person, but nothing barbaric,” said Jonah. “We’ve also got to make money. Innoviro takes research contracts from public and private firms doing anything from environmental research to mining and industrial development. Ivan keeps a low profile under the guise of confidentiality for his legitimate clients.”

“Are you guys even qualified for this? Or are you all older and more educated than you look?”

“Hey, we’re not screwing around here! Jonah and I were recruited directly from our graduate programs. I was working on a master’s in geology and Jonah had nearly finished his thesis in microbiology. Don’t you think research like this is best conducted by someone who understands it first hand? Could you imagine trying to convince a serious scientist to take this on, in lieu of a real career? You’d have to divulge every secret Innoviro has just to get them to believe the work can be done, let alone get a commitment.” The table crunched under Cole’s grip.

“And how about you?” I nodded at Faith, “Are you some kind of brain surgeon?”

“I’m an IT technician. I specialize in network administration and hardware integration.”

“Wow. I feel like a complete dunce.” I had nothing unique or meaningful to contribute to Innoviro. Nothing but a tissue sample.

“Don’t be intimidated. Remember that you were recruited for a reason. You probably won’t get to know everything the company does. We don’t discuss the details of our work with anyone but our supervisors,” said Faith.

“Lots of projects are shared on a need-to-know basis. But it’s not bad,” said Jonah. “You’ll understand more when Ivan gives you a full tour. Let it happen on his schedule.”

“I can go along for the ride here, but you’ve got to see how this looks from my point of view, getting drawn to a strange city by visions – which are an entirely new phenomenon to me. Have I mentioned yet that I got jumped the other night?”

“What?” said Cole and Jonah in unison.

“And you know why I didn’t get a look at him?” I said.

The boys had quizzical looks on their faces, but Faith looked anxious.

“Because there was nothing to look at,” I said. “Some enormous thing picked me up off the ground and threatened me.”

“You need to tell Rubin. Or Ivan, but not everyone in this restaurant.” Faith scanned the room tensely.

“No kidding.” I lowered my voice. “But since I don’t have a way to get a hold of Rubin, I have to keep my fingers crossed that he’s keeping tabs on me.”

“I’m sure he is. It’s his job to keep us safe,” said Jonah.

Tell us a bit about In Irina’s Cards and The Variant Conspiracy trilogy.
I’d definitely classify this NA trilogy as a cross-genre story. They’re a racy blend of paranormal and sci-fi with a strong romantic sub-plot. The story follows a group of renegade mutants tracking an evil corporate conspiracy from the West Coast of North America into the Mojave Desert and hopping to London, Greece, Egypt, and Kenya. But why don’t I just share the blurb?
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.
How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve been a writer most of my adult life, but I didn’t set out to be. I went to university with law school in mind, but my first year English teacher encouraged me to be a writer. I didn’t embrace the change right away, but I took a few writing courses. I was 18 when I published my first story in the student newspaper. When I saw my byline in print, I was hooked!

I changed gears into a BA degree with an English major and Professional Writing minor, the latter of which was intended to prepare students for working at newspapers and magazines, as well as corporate communications departments and public relations firms. I figured out pretty quickly that journalism wasn’t my thing. I focused on communications instead. I didn’t switch to fiction until my mid-twenties, experimenting with children’s picture books and short stories before I hit my stride writing young adult. When I realized some of the themes and plots I wanted to explore were more mature than most young adult publishers would tackle, I started considering the new adult market. In Canada, new adult is still being incorporated into the publishing landscape, so the opportunities up here are slim. Fortunately I found an amazing home for The Variant Conspiracy at NY-based Soul Mate Publishing.

Is there anything you’d like your readers to know about you?
First of all I’d like my readers to know how grateful I am that they found me and gave me a chance. With a dizzying array of choices in contemporary fiction, I value every single reader who chooses to spend time with my stories and characters.

Second, I’d like everyone to know that my story ideas come from the heart. I want to entertain and inspire, but I also want my readers to think deeply about human nature, modern society, and the future of our world. It sounds heavy for NA fiction. Hopefully my work is fun at the same time!

What do you think makes a good story?
Above all, I think a story needs a rollercoaster plot. From there, relatable and likeable characters are critical. When I shape my story ideas – both novels and shorts – I think about the stories and characters from my favourite authors that really stuck with me over the years. Who are those favourite authors? To name just a few, I’ll start with contemporary authors like Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King. Going back a bit farther, I love John Wyndham, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, and H.P. Lovecraft. Although my personal list of amazing writers is miles longer, those are the really recognizable names that top my picks for master story-crafters.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing fiction?
I used to work in the corporate world, specifically marketing and communications. I did mostly business writing – from copywriting, blogging, and press releases to huge policy documents, instruction manuals, and contracts. These days I’m a mom to two toddlers, ages 4 and 1 at the moment.

I also have a bizarre habit of breaking stuff and making stuff for my Etsy shop Sleepless Storyteller. I take apart watches, computers, electronics, and vintage jewellery to create new wearable art. It sounds odd and it is, but turning trash into treasure is too much fun to stop at my own jewellery box. I had to start selling online to make room for new creations.

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.


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