Guest Post: "Do You Believe?": Dianne Hartsock, Author of "Alex"

Today we have Dianne Hartsock, the author of “Alex” visiting with us! Welcome, Dianne!

Do You Believe?
            ALEX is the story of a reluctant psychic. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and wanted to create a character who, by his very nature, could suspend disbelief for the duration of a novel.
            It’s not that I don’t believe a person can be psychic. I’ve had a few unexplainable happenings in my life. There was a time several years back when I was out shopping with my sister. Right in the middle of the mall we stopped and looked at each other. For some inexplicable reason we were suddenly worried about our brother. A few days later we learned that he had been in a hospital in Mexico, deadly ill, and had returned home to convalesce.
With ALEX, I wondered what extreme circumstances could lead to his ‘gift’. I decided it would have to start with his childhood. Alone and isolated, living with the anguish of abuse, perhaps a person’s mind would expand, seeking escape from the sadness and loneliness of life.
            I believed his isolation would also make him hypersensitive to the people around him. He’d be empathetic to the point where he could sense and sometimes see the emotions of others. Their thoughts would leap to him in a wave of a sympathetic connection.
            Here’s one example:
            “Doctor Beckett’s here. Will you let him take a look at you?”
He widened his eyes in alarm. “What?”
“It’ll be okay, I promise. Will you do this for me? I called him because I’ve been worried about you.”
He looked closely at her. She seemed tired and stressed. “Okay. But will you stay with me?” He regretted sounding like a child. “Forget I said that.”
She nodded and called the doctor. When Beckett entered the room, Alex stared unwittingly at the angry swirls of purple and blue radiating from him. His thoughts became entangled in a web of the doctor’s own. He saw the images of a tiny girl with enormous blue eyes and a bleeding heart. “Megan,” he whispered, tears in his eyes for the little girl on the cold table.
Beckett gave him a piercing look but said nothing.
And again:
A knock on the front door disrupted their kiss. They both looked up and Jane reluctantly stepped from his arms. “Come in.”
The screen door creaked open and Ben joined them. There was strain around his eyes. He ran a hand through his hair, not meeting anyone’s eyes. Alex began to ask a question but fell silent when Ben glanced up. The man’s eyes were dark with emotion and his thoughts leaped to Alex in a wave of anguish.
“No,” Alex said.
Ben’s shoulders sagged. “Sally had a stroke this morning.”
“Oh, no,” Jane murmured.
“She doesn’t remember me.” He made a visible effort for self-control, folding his arms across his chest.
Alex cleared his throat. “Can we see her?”
“She’s in the ICU.” His armor cracked. “I can’t talk about her right now.”
“But …”
Ben cut him off with a sharp gesture, his voice bitter. “I don’t want to know what you see.”
Alex has many such experiences throughout the book. Can a person truly be psychic? I hope that with ALEX I’ve shown one way it could be possible.
Alex is twenty and confused.  He always is.  The world presses on him with its horrors and pain, with scintillating auras that pierce his eyes and drive the migraines deeper. He hears the cries of children, the screaming women. He sees the brutal images of the tortured victims. He feels out of control and his mind slips…
 Severely abused as a child, he is left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer. When he can, he helps the police; yet some detectives suspect he’s the cause of the problem, not the solution. Often, Alex finds himself alone and afraid in a world he doesn’t always comprehend. 
Dianne Hartsock

Six Sentence Sunday

Here’s another six from FORESHADOW, book one of The Shadow Imperium! How would you like to have Rae’s crazy nightmares?

The fog thickened around me and began to coalesce. I could hear laughter echoing from within the fog. It was horrifying. I couldn’t get past whatever was forming behind me. I threw my hands over my head in a futile attempt to protect myself and crouched down, sobbing hysterically. I was expecting the worst, but praying for a miracle . . .

© Brea Essex 2011 ~ No part of this site (written or artwork) may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Brea Essex.

Why I love Wednesdays . . . Why I Love Phoenix "Nix" Birmingham

When I first saw today’s “Book Crush” topic, my mind immediately went to Kellin from The Chronicles of the Cheysuli. Since I already discussed him in a previous, non-WILW post (HERE) I thought I would tell you all about my most recent book crush: Phoenix “Nix” Birmingham from Pandora’s Box by Gracen Miller.

This is Gracen’s rendition of Nix (Chris Evans with different hair and tattoos added).

Nix can only be described as a badass–he’s a demon hunter, along with the rest of his family. They call themselves Sherlocks (yes, as in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock). He arrives on the scene to help the damsel in distress, only to discover that she doesn’t really want his help and that what he needs to help her with is above and beyond anything he and his family have ever dealt with before. He’s cocky (you know how I always go for the self-assured ones), stubborn and way hot.
Without giving too much away, I’ll say that he tries to help said damsel (named Madison) whether she wants it or not. He would–and does–do anything for her.
So there you go: a guy that kicks butt (demon butt) and would literally brave the hoards of Hell. I’ll leave you with the lovely cover of Pandora’s Box, which houses the beginning of Nix’s story: 

Oh, and Nix IS on Facebook, if you want to friend request him: Phoenix “Nix” Birmingham  He does answer back!

Guest Post: "Inspiring Ideas": Grace Elliot, Author of A Dead Man’s Debt

Today we have a guest on the blog: Grace Elliot, author of A Dead Man’s Debt. She’s sharing where she gets her inspiration. Don’t forget to comment on this post for a chance to win a PDF copy of A Dead Man’s Debt!


Ask a writer what question they are most frequently asked – and most will answer, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Now, I’m a veterinarian by day and an author by night, and so it might seem odd that my thoughts turn to writing historical romance…but that’s why I love it…because it uses a different part of my brain. Dealing with the science of medicine and surgery in my working day, it’s a relief…a de-stress if you like, to let the creative side take over, and inspiration comes in many forms and some strange places.
It may sound bizarre but the idea behind ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ sprang from seeing a portrait of Emma Hart (who became Lady Hamilton and then Nelson’s mistress.)  The painting by George Romney shows an innocent yet lush young woman, scantily clad with a hint of bosom, brazenly staring out of the canvas with an allure that is quite hypnotic. It struck me as sensational for an 18th century work, that the sitter was not prim, proper, straight backed and starchy. It must have been utterly scandalous at the time! But who would be bold enough to commission such a portrait? (As it happened Emma Hart was ahead of her time and loved to flout convention…but that’s another story.)
What a delicious idea for a story! What if the woman in the painting wanted to shock? What if, years later, this rebellious streak threatened to disgrace her family? What if only the son she despises can save her reputation… but at the price of his secret love? 
So, if you want to forget your worries for a little while, why not read ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ (just $2.99)

‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ by Grace Elliot
Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.
After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…
Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer seeks to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….
Here’s an excerpt from “A Dead Man’s Debt”:
So be it. Ranulf gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed. It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving. A lamb was difficult enough, how much more so a calf? Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank. Concentrating on the calf, he barked.
“Dont just stand there. Get down here!”
“I beg your pardon!” A womans voice answered.
With a flash of annoyance Ranulf glanced upward.
A wide eyed young woman in a straw bonnet peered down. “I say, is everything all right?”
“Does it look all right?” Muttering under his breath, all he needed was some sensitive Miss fainting on him. “Go! Fetch help from the house.”
He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip. “But you need help now.”
A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow’s tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.
In a flurry of muslin and lace the Miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.
“Ouch.” She rubbed her ankle. Ranulf glared back, dark eyes flashing.
“You should have gone to the house.” Damn it all, she could make herself useful then. “Hold the tail aside.”
Pulling a face she limped over. Ranulf’s eye lingered for she merited a second glance. Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick witted and bright eyed. Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves throwing them onto a bramble bush. Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail. Practical, Ranulf thought, silently impressed.
“Why didn’t you go for help?”
“There wasn’t time.” Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid’s bow. The sort of face an artist could lose himself in, all shades of the sea to be found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.
Ranulf tightened his grasp and pushed. Sweat beading his brow. The calf retreated an inch.
“What are you doing?” Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman. Ranulf guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion. Her eyes were on him – deep green eyes, lively and entrancing. Suddenly he remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he was gripped by the idea of those lily white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin. He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.
All innocence and interest she watched, blushing faintly in a charming way and yet, he realized, no wilting flower. He shook his head. The woman had asked a question, damn it. He would answer.
“The calf is breech.” He grunted, “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her…” He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was. She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.
“Ah!” Her gaze met his.
“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway. To turn it around you push it back into the stable yard…”
“What can I do to help?”
“Nothing.” He growled.
Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled round to the beast’s head. After a moment
s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow’s head stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.
“She’s relaxing.” Ranulf’s arm was numb from the contractions. He fell forward, as the first leg finally slid back into the womb. “That helps.” His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders. He glanced at the Miss. She was leaning forward, her bosom straining against a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts. He swallowed hard. She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching none the less. Her face showed character, determination…and her complexion too healthy to be fashionable, rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles which with a hint of sunlight burst into a profusion.
The Miss was glaring at him now, her skin glowing bright pink. Had he been staring? His heart raced as he returned to the calving.


Here’s what reviewers have said:
“Historical romance at its best.” Once Upon A Chapter  5/5
“Totally engrossing…sensual and evocative writing.” Fiction Books. 5/5
“Breathtaking sensuality…page turning drama…a wonderful talent.” The Romance Reviews. 5/5
To find out more please visit: (my blog is updated twice a week and is a blend of historical trivia, romance and cats!)
“A Dead Man’s Debt” is available from:
Solstice publishing.
About the Author:
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats, acting as housekeeping staff to five mischievous moggies.
Grace believes intelligent people need romantic fiction in their lives as an antidote to the modern world and as an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work. Her debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is a story of blackmail, duty and unexpected love.
Now available from most eBook stores including Amazon, price $2.99.
To find out more visit

Six Sentence Sunday

I probably should have chosen something from FORESHADOW to post today, but I’m just having way too much fun writing OUROBOROS! It was so hard to choose. Here’s six sentences from OUROBOROS, book one of The Zayin Chronicles. I just wrote this earlier this week, so please keep in mind that it’s unedited.

           “Is it getting hot in here?”
            Zac coughed. “I think I smell smoke.”
            Glancing around, I noticed a light in one corner of the library that hadn’t been there a moment ago. As we watched in horror, an entire bookcase burst into flames. One by one, the fire began to encroach on the other bookcases—and it was heading for us.
© Brea Essex 2011 ~ No part of this site (written or artwork) may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Brea Essex.

Short Story Saturday: "Bemused" Part Ten

            Lorelei’s head was spinning. Calliope wanted to name her as her successor? But she had just met her!
            She wasn’t even sure she wanted to remain at the Temple of the Muse once her training was complete. While it would be great to become the next Calliope and train other young Muses in the art of epic poetry, it wasn’t her real dream. No, she wanted to become the Muse to a poet, an author . . . or maybe even a playwright. Anything that had to do with writing, she loved. She wanted to be someone’s inspiration, help spur creativity—not hang out in a Temple for the rest of her life.
            There was a knock on the door. She placed her hairbrush on her vanity table and wandered over to answer the door.
            Darien stood in the hall. She flushed as she realized that she was dressed only in her pajamas—a satin tank and shorts set.
            He eyed her appraisingly. “Is my sister here?”
            “No,” Lorelei said, disappointed. She had been half-hoping he was there to see her, but of course it made sense that he would be looking for his twin.
            “Good.” He took one step forward and pulled her into his arms. She looked up at him, startled. His mouth came down on hers. She froze, unsure what was happening. She gradually relaxed in his embrace and began to kiss him back.
            His lips were firm and unyielding. She felt a surge of excitement. She reached up to wind her arms around his neck, longing to run her hands through the dark hair that curled at his neck.
            He pulled away entirely too soon. “I’m sorry, I’ve been dying to do that since I saw you,” he breathed.
Not caught up on “Bemused”? Click the links below!
© Brea Essex 2011 ~ No part of this site (written or artwork) may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Brea Essex.

Links to Short Story Saturday Posts

Hi all! I just wanted to put up a list of links to all of my Short Story Saturday posts. For those of you not familiar with my Short Story Saturday posts, I am currently writing a short story called “Bemused” which follows my Muse Lorelei through her training.
Beginning tomorrow with Part Ten, I’ll start including the links to all the previous posts at the end of the story. Please click on the number of the part (Part One, Part Two, etc) to go to that number post. The link is embedded in the text.

“Bemused” Links:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine

Something Random I Wrote Today

Today we were discussing the lost colony of Roanoke in my English class. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, there were some settlers on Roanoke Island before the pilgrims settled at Jamestown, Virginia. My professor gave us three minutes to free-write about what we thought might have happened to the settlers that vanished. I didn’t end up deciding what I thought happened, but I thought I would share with you what I did write:

“Ellen! Grab James–they’re coming!”

Ellen glanced at the terrified face of her husband John. “But what of our belongings?”

“There’s no time. Leave everything.”

She grabbed her two-year-old son from the floor where he sat playing. He screamed his outrage at being disturbed. “Keep him quiet,” John ordered.

Picking up James’ favorite toy, she handed it to him and the child quieted. They ran for the door and opened it to find devastation.

So, what do you think? Should I continue this? Any theories as to what happened to the lost colony?

© Brea Essex 2011 ~ No part of this site (written or artwork) may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Brea Essex.