Sunday, August 2, 2015

Meet Jane and Tore from Clean Sweep!

Another week closer to release day! I thought it would be neat to let you meet the leading lady and gent of Clean Sweep today. Let's get to know Coach Jane Bratkowski and Tore Ahlberg a little better.

Coach Jane is the only child of retired New York State police officer Jonathon Clinton Bratkowski. Her mother passed away when Jane was quite young. Being raised by her gruff but loving father, Jane has become tough, outspoken, and not one to suffer fools well. She won gold on the USA women`s Olympic team and turned to coaching afterwards. During college she met and married Wildcat player, Tore Ahlberg. They divorced after a family tragedy. She never remarried. Jane is in her early forties.

Tore grew up playing hockey in Sweden. After coming to the States to study history he continued to play hockey. While in school he met and fell in love with fiery redhead, Jane Bratkowski. Jane and he married and then divorced. Tore played for fifteen years in Philly then retired from the game to become the Wildcats Head of European Scouting. Tore has never remarried.

Here's a snippet starring Jane and Tore--

          "Look at this view." I stepped out on the patio to stand beside my ex. The light from the moon was just beginning to tint the night sky. Stars were now out by the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. "Pretty romantic."
            "Yes it is." I placed my hands on the smooth wooden railing then breathed deeply. "Do you think they see the Northern Lights up here?" I asked, my sight moving over the stars winking above.
            "I think I read somewhere that there is a town in Manitoba called Churchill that is supposed to be the premiere place to view the Aurora Borealis. Seems to my memory that the lights are seen later in the year, like end of January on through May. Back home we see them earlier, from September to March in Lapland."
            I had to look at the man. He had this wistful sort of homesick cast to his voice. I should have kept my sight on the cosmos. The soft glow of the moon made his hair lighter. His mouth was tremendously kissable. I took a step back from the rail and faced him. Tore continued to study the constellations.
            "We call it Norrsken."
            "Call what what?" I asked, wondering if he still kissed in the same slow, dancing, maddening way he had before. Tore chuckled.
            "The Northern Lights. We Swedes call then Norrsken. You never did have luck with our language, did you?"
            "No, no luck with the Swedish. Or Swedes, I suppose." A sharp image of our last fight appeared unbidden in my mind. I was standing at the top of the stairs watching him walk out the front door, bags in hand, never to return to my life. The fucked up part was that I been the one to lay the dynamite around the base of our marriage. Me and me alone. Jane set the explosives then pushed the plunger. Repeatedly. Until the man could do nothing to make me happy except leave the burning bridge behind.
            Tore looked at me. It was too dark to read what was cooking behind those baby blues of his. The call of his arms and the succor that they would offer was nearly as loud as the bellow from Kate Fovea about stew on the table. He reached for my face. I closed my eyes as the back of his fingers slid over my cheek.
            "Maybe if you opened all your closed doors a Swede could step in out of the cold."          
            My lashes floated upward when I heard him walking away. He dropped my overnight bag onto the bed. Tore paused at the door as if there were something more he wanted to say. If there was, he kept it to himself. He made a sharp left and disappeared from sight. I stood on the patio, lake air chilling me to the marrow, until our hostess called us again. A shaky breath fluttered over my lips. The fists my fingers had been in relaxed.

            "Well shit balls." 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Author/Book Spotlight- Melinde De Ross' Coriola Series

Please welcome a new friend to our little corner of the interweb! Melinda De Ross is here to share some information about her wonderful looking books, Mirage Beyond Flames and Dante's Amulet.

Italian businessman Giovanni Coriola and English target-shooting trainer Sonia Galsworthy have only two things in common—a sizzling chemistry and no desire for commitment. When they meet in London, the world starts spinning faster and they quickly become addicted to each other. The incendiary passion between them skyrockets into smoldering, once-in-a-lifetime love.
Just as they thought they had things settled, a strange discovery triggers a mysterious spiral of events that puts their lives in danger more than once, with no apparent reason.
What connection could there be between an ancient amulet, a secret society and the long-dead poet Dante Alighieri? A sinister, complicated conspiracy that gradually catches up with the characters. And of course, one last twist before the ending.
*Dante’s Amulet is a follow-up of Mirage Beyond Flames.

 Gerard Leon and Linda Coriola fight for the same cause. The attractive, noble, dedicated French doctor and the beautiful, sensitive Italian sculptress both donate their time and money to Hope – a clinic for children’s cancer research and treatment.
From the moment they meet, even the air between them crackles with intense attraction. But her past makes it difficult for Gerard to understand her scars and battle with her demons.
In search of a cure for cancer and armed with an innovative treatment themselves, they leave for Transylvania, that enigmatic land hidden in the heart of the Carpathians.
There they get lost and have a bizarre  experience in the Hoia-Baciu forest, nicknamed The Romanian Bermuda Triangle due to all the inexplicable paranormal phenomena happening in its depths.
But no one believes them, because they don’t have any proof of said experience. Or do they?...
*Mirage Beyond Flames is the sister-story of Dante’s Amulet.

Melinda De Ross (real name Anca-Melinda Coliolu) is an international author of Romanian origin. She writes in two languages, and her books combine the elegance specific to the European style with the modern appeal of the American culture. Her favorite genre to read and write in is Romance, and anytime she prefers to watch a classic movie instead of going to a noisy club.
She loves to hear from her readers, and you can find her at:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday Tune

It was time for some silly music, and no one was sillier than Ray Stevens back in the day!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tuesday Tales - Bloom

Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales.

Today we have another chapter for Wind in White Birch and our word prompt is "Bloom".
Don`t forget to visit the other talented Tuesday Tales authors. Thanks for stopping by!

I inhaled a good gallon of icy lake when I first felt the cold water rushing up under my coat. The shock was incredible, making my brain freak out momentarily. I splashed and kicked instinctively, my head breaking the surface. Peter had tugged me upward. Now it was my turn to help him. I tossed my hair from my eyes, gathered the shivering young man to my side, and pushed through the chunks of ice floating atop the blue-green water. It was extremely slow going with only one arm to use, but Peter was now shuddering so violently he couldn`t speak let alone swim.
I had to pause about three feet from the shoreline to pound on a fault-line with a fist. My fingers were so cold I couldn`t feel them and I had only been submersed for a couple of minutes. Pete must be dangerously close to hypothermia. I hammered with all I had, flogging wildly between hits to keep the two of us afloat. I could just feel the deep sloping side of the lake with the tips of my toes. If I were a foot taller I`d be able to stand and keep our heads out of the water. I went under quickly, came back up coughing and sputtering, and then wailed on the large block of ice barring our path. Pete was burrowed into my side listlessly. I shook the boy. He mumbled something vague. I grew even more panicked and slammed the side of my fist downward. That one I felt. The pain was astronomical. Black dots swam in front of my eyes.
 Peter slipped from my grasp. I pulled his face out of the water. Shouts echoed off the frozen lake and through the trees. I couldn`t tell which direction the cries were coming from. Peter`s head rolled to my neck. Jonah and Julia appeared to my left. I waved and slid under the water momentarily, pushing like a madwoman on Peter`s limp form. I had to keep his head above water . . .
Someone`s hand tightened around the back of my jacket. I came out of the lake gasping wildly and shouting for Peter. Jonah gathered me into his arms and waded back to shore, each step out of the water making me tremble with increased vigor.
“W-W-W-W-Where`s P-P-P-Peter?” I asked as those long, powerful legs of Jonah`s pushed us from the floating chunks of ice.
“With his mom,” Jonah informed me. I was thrilled to hear it. I tried to lift my head to see if I could find the sounds of mother and sons, but Jonah`s neck was too warm. “I swear I can`t let you out of my sight for ten minutes,” the man carrying me said. It was supposed to be funny but his trembling voice told me he was just as scared as I was.
“G-G-G-Guess you b-b-b-better keep m-m-m-me close by t-t-then."
“I plan on it.”


An hour later Peter and I were both sipping our third mugs of hot chocolate in front of a fire so enormous I feared the massive stone fireplace might not be able to contain it. Jonah was seated behind me, pulling his fingers through my damp hair and muttering in his native tongue. Peter`s mother was dabbing inside the lads ears with the corner of a blanket the boy was wrapped in, she too grummoxing in Seneca. Pete and I kept giving each other sideways glances.
“Thanks for saving me,” Jonah`s nephew said into his mug. His cheeks were blooming pink with heat and embarrassment.
“You`re welcome,” I smiled, eying a tiny marshmallow floating in my cup. “I didn`t do too good of a job though. If not for your uncle simply plowing through the ice to reach us . . .”
“If not for you he would have never made it,” Julia cut in sharply.
“Jules is right. I just hauled you in a couple feet. You must have swum with him for twenty feet, Dana.”
“It wasn`t that far,” I argued.
“Yeah, it was,” Jonah argued, pulling me back to rest against his chest. I went willingly, scooting my ass across the glossy hardwood flooring. “Distance is deceiving on water. Trust me. I saw where knucklehead here was when he went in. What the hell possessed you anyway? Didn`t I tell you not to step foot on the ice this time of year?”
“Yeah, but there was this humongous shape under the ice,” Peter sighed. His brothers were sitting silently on either side of our little clump, nibbling muffins and drinking cocoa. “I tried it, you know, and it felt strong. I was just going out a little bit,” the boy said, shrugging a shoulder that made his blanket slide down over his arm. Julia quickly covered him back up, tucking the blanket under his chin just as I do for Rhett.
“Maybe next time you`ll listen to Jonah when he tells you something,” Julia huffed, rustling the boys ebony hair with a towel. “Sometimes he knows what he`s talking about,” she said, catching me looking at her. “Thank you," she mouthed. A mother-to-mother thing passed between us.
“You`re more than welcome,” I smiled. She swallowed that down then returned to clucking over her oldest child. Jonah wrapped his arms around me. I felt the sofa creep an inch when we both leaned back into it.
“You and me, we got some serious talking to do,” he whispered beside my ear as his sister chided her sons repeatedly. With Jonah`s arms around me and dry clothes, I was warming up very nicely indeed. Whatever he wished to discuss would have to wait though, because suddenly a nap sounded like the best thing since sliced bread.

Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey


Click on the link below to return to the Tuesday Tales main blog for more great reads from the Tuesday Tales authors.

See you next week!

Monday Author/Book Spotlight - M.S. Spencer's The Penhallow Train Incident

Today the talented M.S. Spencer is visiting us  again! This time she has some info on her new release, The Penhallow Train Incident. She also is sharing a wonderful recipe with us!

Thanks for having me, Vicki. I hope your readers enjoy the excerpt and my little extra gift, a recipe!

Today I’d like to look at our hero, Griffin Tate. When not pursuing Rachel Tinker or a mysterious map to the tomb of the Queen of Sheba, he is expounding on his theory of recipe migration in the Middle East.

It is generally accepted that the similarity among many dishes found from the Horn of Africa to Kazakhstan is due to the influence of the Ottoman Turks. Turkish food, some would argue, represents the epitome of Middle Eastern cuisine. However, Griffin, hero of the Penhallow Train Incident has a different theory, worth considering for those of you interested in how recipes travel. A retired Middle Eastern history professor, he hypothesizes that dishes such as çaçik (yogurt cucumber salad) or tabbouleh (bulgur and tomato salad) actually came from the south and west and not from the north and east. In other words, perhaps they arrived with the cooks in the Queen of Sheba’s train when she visited King Solomon.

Here is my recipe for tabbouleh, stolen (and modified) from a Palestinian friend many years ago:

1 cup fine bulgur
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup scallions, minced
1 large bunch parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup lemon juice
4-6 tablespoons olive oil (preferably Greek)

Soak bulgur in ½ cup water, ½ cup lemon juice for 15 minutes until soft.
Add all ingredients and toss. Serve immediately.

However, as the excerpt below shows. Griffin does not limit his palate to Middle Eastern dishes.

M. S. Spencer
79,450 words (260 pp.)
Sweet Cravings Publishing (June 23, 2015)
Romantic Suspense/Mystery, M/F, 2 flames


In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a  stranger dies on a train, drawing Rachel Tinker, director of the Penhallow Historical Society, and Griffin Tate,  curmudgeonly retired professor, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. The victim’s rival confesses that they were both after a map to the Queen of Sheba’s tomb, and with his help they set out to find it. Their plans are stymied, however, when a tug of war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man—one for murder and one for bank robbery. It falls to Rachel to solve both crimes…and two more murders, if she is to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.


EXCERPT (PG): Salmonello’s

He sat back. “Okay, turn left here. Now right on Union Street. There it is—Salmonello’s.” He chuckled. “Not what you’d call a felicitous choice for a restaurant name.”
They walked into what a native Mainer might envision a traditional Italian trattoria to be. That is, if a traditional trattoria consisted of a room filled with Formica tables and farm implements, a salad bar, and a wall of pinball machines. “Doesn’t look like lobster roll is on the menu. Too bad,” Griffin said jocularly.
The place was empty except for a group of women at the bar talking in loud voices. A girl of about sixteen with a long braid and braces skipped over to them. “Anywhere.”
Rachel knew that Griffin was biting his tongue to keep the retort at bay and loved him for it. “Thanks.”
They found a table as far away from the din as possible, which wasn’t. Griffin ordered a carafe of their house wine—”please, God, at least make it Italian”—and they perused the menu. Without looking up, Griffin asked, “So, how did George strike you?”
“He only hit the furniture.”
“No, I mean, do you think he’s telling the truth?”
“About what?”
“Really Rachel, I’d hate to think you’re being deliberately obtuse. His story of Masri’s perfidy.”
“I don’t have any idea. You’re the Middle East expert. Does it make sense?”
“There are lots of stories out there of fanatical academics pursuing the elusive tomb or artifact. It’s not impossible. I have a call in to a friend at Harvard.”
“Harvard? Oh, right, about George.”
“And one to a friend at Cairo University about Masri.”
The waitress plunked a basket of bread and a glass carafe on the table. Drawing two plastic wine glasses from her pockets, she inserted the bowls into the bases and set them down. And left. Griffin poured a smidgen of wine into his glass. With an affected simper, he rotated it, then sipped, holding the wine on the tip of his tongue before swallowing it. His eyes opened wide. “Whaddya know? It’s excellent. How refreshing.”
Rachel sipped hers. “You’re right. Go figure.”
He called the waitress over. “My dear child, can you tell me the name of this delightful beverage?”
“Huh? Oh, the wine? I’ll go ask Dad.” She shuffled back a minute later and read from the back of her hand. “Tig…Tin…Tignanello, he says.” She read further. “Two thousand nine vintage. Dad gets it from his cousin in Tuscany. He says it’s ready to drink now.” She smiled perkily, the fluorescent light pinging off her braces.
“Tell Dad he’s right. Thanks…”
“Sally. You want some more time?”
“No, we’re ready. Rachel?”
“I’ll have the tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese.”
“The spaghetti in meat sauce. Gotcha. You?”
“How’s the veal?”
“My brother just brought it in from Kenworthy Farm. You know, the place that raises all those weird breeds? Calf got its leg caught in a fence and they had to put her down. Butchered her yesterday. That’s why it’s on special.”
With a slightly green face, Griffin handed her the menu. “I’ll have that.”
Rachel laughed. “For a tough guy you can be pretty squeamish.”
He produced a rueful grin. “I suppose if I’m going to eat it I should be able to hear how it made its way to my plate.”
Sally returned and slid tiny simulated wood bowls of wilted lettuce drenched in what looked like tomato soup under their noses. “Your salads.”
Rachel took a gulp of wine to fortify herself and said with determination, “I’m going in.”
Griffin watched her take a forkful, chew slowly, and push the bowl away. “I hope the wine and not the salad is a portent of things to come.”
They took a moment to gaze into each other’s eyes before waking up to the fact that they were gazing into each other’s eyes. In the lull, while both desperately sought something to say, a raspy female voice rang out.
“I tell you, Jackie, that sheriff was way outta line. He as much as told me I’m a liar!” They both turned to see a woman of about fifty with a staggering cascade of pumpkin-colored hair. Her red lipstick was a little smeared and her lashes, thick with mascara, blinked rapidly.
Rachel nudged Griffin. “I think that’s Noreen Fowler, Stan Holiday’s girlfriend,” she whispered. “At least she looks like the woman Edna Mae Quimby described.”
Confirming Rachel’s guess, a tiny woman with a nose that could follow a cold scent twittered, “Well, Noreen, you gotta admit your story sounded pretty flimsy. I mean, there were witnesses who saw John on the train.”
“Witnesses? A bunch’a tourists who were busy watching that moronic cowboy show. Probably didn’t give him a second glance. John’s not exactly a standout in the looks department. I love him for his personality.”
“Personality? Or money?” The klatch broke out in snickers.
“Laugh all you want, Ellen. I’ll swear he was with me that day.”
Someone in the back of the pack cried out, “And what day was that, Noreen?”
She hesitated. “Last week. I forget the day exactly.”
Jackie piped up. “It was last Saturday.”
“Wait a minute.” A tall, gaunt woman in jeans spoke slowly. “Wasn’t Stan Holiday up here with you last Saturday? I thought I saw you two on the sidewalk by the cafe.”
Noreen gulped down her beer. “That was earlier, Betty Jo. John came by later.”
Betty Jo seemed to mull this over, then stubbed out her cigarette. “But I ran into Maude Jewett in the Penhallow co-op last week and she told me Stan was supposed to drive the train.” She wagged her chin. “That he missed it because he was with you, Noreen.”
The voices rose and intertwined in a cacophony of anger and insults and the women spilled out the door.


Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five continents, the last 30 years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. She has two fabulous grown children, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.



Amazon Author Page:


Romantic suspense and mystery, they are available in ebook and print from Secret Cravings Publishing and all fine on-line book stores. For more information, visit

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Exclusive Clean Sweep Excerpt!

In just over three weeks the first Venom book will be released! To say that I'm excited about the women of my fictional team hitting the ice would be an understatement. I am thrilled to be able to share these wonderful ladies with my readers. I hope that you enjoy each book. I know I ran a full range of emotions with Clean Sweep as I wrote it. Laughter and tears were my constant companions as Jane and Tore's book flowed onto the paper. 

In this blog exclusive excerpt Coach Jane takes a ride over the river  to check out her new team with Tore Ahlberg, her ex-husband. Make sure to add Clean Sweep to your Goodreads Want-To-Read shelf! I hope you enjoy the snippet.

Clean Sweep on Goodreads


         A door attendant doffed his cap at us as we stepped out under the porte-cochѐre. Tore left me with the doorman, a jovial black man by the name of David Colby Jr., to fetch his car. When the silver Jeep Cherokee pulled up five minutes later, I jumped inside, wishing I had brought a thicker coat.
            "Have a good day now, Jane," David said then closed my door soundly.
            "He calls you Jane? After five minutes?" Tore asked his tone a wee bit possessive. I peeked through my lashes at the man as I buckled my seatbelt.
            "I happen to be a people person, unlike you, who are happy to lounge in a corner sipping Aqua Velva, or whatever that stuff was you pulled out every Christmas."
            "Akvavit." He gently corrected as he pulled out into morning traffic. "I could never keep up with your outgoing personality that much is true."
            "No, you couldn`t." I turned my head to try to drink in the city that I would be calling home. It was all a big blur though. None of it sank in. My mind was spinning in reverse, taking me to a holiday season umpteen years in the past. One that involved Tore and I making love in front of a live fir covered with lights, bows, and little gingerbread men he and I had baked while we sipped akvavit from tulip-shaped glasses. When next I peeked at him, we were on I-95 headed for Trenton. He was intent on the road ahead of him, his shoulders tense, his jaw set, like a pilot trying to avoid a barrage of surface-to-air missiles. I felt a need to break the ice. But how?
            "You don`t need to worry. I won't forget to stop to get you some new clothes. Those smell like wet dog."
            Well there was a conversational opening if ever I heard one.
            "Thanks." He threw me a fast look then returned to navigating the interstate. And there went that conversational opening. Shit balls. I cleared my throat. Let it never be said that a Bratkowski could not find something to converse about. "So you ever get remarried?"
            Our eyes met over the console. The Jeep swerved a bit. Someone hit his or her horn. Tore turned his attention back to traffic.
            "No. No, never."
            "Once bitten, twice shy?" I asked with humor. The jest zoomed over his pale head.
            "I thought about it once. She was a nice woman who dated me for over a year. Pretty and a decent cook. No zip though," he said with a toss of a shoulder into the air.
            "What had no zip? Her food?" I asked, keenly interested to discuss the nice woman who had almost won over Tore.
            "She had no zip. She was flat, lifeless…fireless."
            "Oh." I looked straight ahead, suddenly acutely aware of myself, the slight stink of dog rising off me, and the slow creep of heat slithering up under the freckles on my cheeks. I chewed on my tongue, and several other things, until Tore took a right off I-95. We pulled into a chain store with lights just blinking to fluorescent life. I exited the Jeep like a thief. The store manager gave me a dour look as she unlocked the front doors. The entire five minutes it took me to pick out a skirt, blouse, and ugly old lady shoes, I thought about what Tore had said about the fireless nice woman. It took all the fortitude I possessed to walk across that empty parking lot after paying for my clothes. Bolstering my flagging courage, I yanked the door open. Tore was sipping on a hot beverage. One awaited me in the console. The interior of the Cherokee smelled like a Starbucks.
            "Black, one heaping sugar." He nodded at my coffee. I tossed the bag into the back, closed the door, and then took a long sweet sip of starter fluid.
            "Perfect." I sighed, my lashes fluttering with pleasure. He smiled. The dimple appeared. The coffee in my stomach gurgled. We found an exit then merged back into traffic. After emptying half my jumbo cup, I unsnapped my belt then climbed over the console into the back.
            "What are you doing?" Tore asked over the pinging of the seatbelt alarm and the soft rock radio station.
            "Getting changed," I said as I wiggled around. I glanced up to see his eyes in the rearview. "Pay attention to the road, Ahlberg."
            "You're so prim of a sudden." He chuckled then looked from me to the cars in front of him. I kicked off my still damp sneakers, peeled off my shirt, then wriggled out of my jeans.
            "God, who picked this shit out?" I muttered as I looked over the frumpy brown skirt and vivid yellow blouse. What the hell had I been thinking? I avoided yellow, red, and orange like the plague normally. See, this is what mooning over a man does for you. It makes you pick out gruesome clothes at a chain store. When I returned to the front, Tore gave me a fast once-over. Wisely, he clamped his mouth shut. "I know I look like something a cat regurgitated on the carpet. Thank you for not pointing it out."
            "You're the prettiest cat puke I ever saw."
            "You Swedes sure know how to sweet talk a lady." I smiled into my coffee. The rest of the trip to Jersey felt a trifle less constrictive. Maybe it was Seals & Croft playing on the radio. Or maybe it was the soft humming of the big man seated on my left? Hell, maybe it was the superlative coffee. It sure as hell wasn't this damned hideous blouse. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday Tune

Boy howdy, was Del Shannon dreamy! I bet the girls were all sorts of googly-eyed over him back when he was singing and strumming away. Sadly another talent lost too soon.