Writing Challenge

Twitter Prompt

Once upon a time (about a month and a half ago), I saw a tweet. This tweet, actually. And then I said, “I’m so writing that.” And then Mreauow joined in, and it turned into a writing challenge, and then the tweeter — @Making_Pots, said she wanted to see these flash pieces that we were writing off this impromptu prompt. Just as a quick caveat — I’m not impressed with mine. Give me a minute and I’ll tell you the struggles.

  1. I’m a procrastinator. I didn’t even start until a few days ago.
  2. Sure. Give them backstory. Oh, look. It’s not a flash piece anymore. It’s not even a short story anymore. In fact…
  4. This new pairing… I didn’t give them backstory, but, okay, see, I apparently can’t do a flash or short to save my life anymore. *sigh*
  5. I actually really hate the end of this, and I want to take the time to make this right, but right now isn’t it because it’s due… um… kinda right now.
  6. I now have now one, but two, new “longer than flash, probably longer than short stories” books to write because this and the “backstory” both need to be expanded on.

Anyway: The story is below. If you like it and/or want to see more fun stuff like this from Becca and I, feel free to contact us on our blogs through the “contact” screen, or on Twitter — @AuthorMilliGib & @Mreauow!


Finna tucked a lock of raven hair into the blonde wig, straightened the diamond choker around her neck, and pulled the little peacock mask down.

“You look great, Finna,” her brother’s voice scratched in her ear.

“I always do,” she said with a smile.

“Let’s do this.” Brian muttered something else, but Finna didn’t catch what.

Finna nodded, then stepped out of the bathroom. Her jewel-toned gown sparkled in the twinkle lights twisted around the indoor trellises. Heads turned as she worked through the crowd toward the wall display. Too many had come just to see the Genesis Scroll.scroll

The heist would have to come later. She’d hoped there would be enough people around that no-one would notice her slipping the scroll from the display, but there were simply too many eyes on it. In the meantime, it was worth it to gather all the intel she could on the arboretum. Sure, she’d studied the blueprints and security schematics, but that didn’t mean she knew the best way through the building.

She stood at the edge of the crowd gathered around it.

“Beautiful,” someone whispered.

She glanced at the man standing next to her. He had a nice profile — sharp cheekbones accented by the edges of his Phantom of the Opera mask. Damn it, if she weren’t there on a job… “Are you a collector?” she asked.

“No. But I still appreciate beauty in all its forms.” He turned his gaze on her. “Including women.”

Finna turned to face him. He was standing so close she stepped back and still had to tip her head back to meet his gaze. “I’m short—I get it—but my eyes are still not that low.” His eyes snapped up to hers and she smiled.

“As I said—I appreciate beauty in all its forms.” He held his hand out. “I’m Jackson.”

She placed her hand in his. “Neela.”

He brought her knuckles to his lips. “Beautiful name.” He glanced at the scroll. “What do you know about it?”

“I like it. Mom picked a good name when she named me.”

“I meant the scroll.”

“Of course you did.” She smiled again. “And I know plenty.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Nah.” She turned away and headed for the table of drinks and hors d’oeuvres. He followed her. “I wasn’t aware that coming to a party meant being stalked as soon as I stepped foot inside.”

“Oh, come now. How else is a man supposed to get to know a woman?”

“Give a woman your credit card and see what she buys with it.”

Jackson laughed a deep belly laugh. Finna walked away again, this time with a glass of champagne.


She ignored him. If she didn’t, she’d end up finding a corner to fuck him in. The richness of his voice paired with the lean, lanky build beneath the tux had her needing something she hadn’t even wanted in more than a year.

Finna disappeared into the crowd, just like her mother had taught her to do, and wandered around the arboretum, learning which halls were monitored and how, what her quickest escape would be once she had the scroll.


Jackson watched her disappear into the crowd. The height was right, but her hair was a beautiful honey blonde. And with the damn masks, it was hard to tell. He sighed. No-one would be stupid enough to try stealing the damn thing anyway — it was just a crusty piece of paper that miraculously hadn’t fallen into a pile of dust yet.

People mingled in clusters around the arboretum. The little peacock slipped through one of the main doors and out into the night. He sighed and turned and nearly plowed Tiffany over. “Excuse me,” he said.

“Toby.” Tiffany looked him up and down, licking her lips and smiling.

He tried not to cringe. Whether he was successful, he wasn’t sure. A moment later, he had her in his arms and they were dancing. “I can’t—”

“It’s a beautiful night, and I’m sure I could find a quiet spot for me to get you out of this outfit. What are you supposed to be, anyway?”

He sighed. How the hell had she gotten out of sixth grade, let alone graduated college? “You gave your college professors a lot of lap dances, didn’t you?”

She slapped him and he couldn’t have been happier for it. He barely held back the laugh. Maybe she’d finally get the hint that he wasn’t interested in stupid little girls with no ambition beyond spending all of Daddy’s money.

They bumped into each other again at the scroll.

“Four thousand years old. She bought it for thirty-two-point-seven million two months ago.”

Impressed that she knew even that much, Jackson said, “You’ve done your research.”

“How else do you learn about things than to research them?”

Jackson chuckled. “I’m a… a bit more of a hands-on learner.”


There was a rigidity to the way he stood, an efficiency to the way he moved; there were no wasted movements with him. He was also showing more interest in her than every other man at the ball. It was time to find out why, to find out if he was a spy, if he was sent to stop her from stealing the Genesis Scroll, if he was wired. There was only one way to find out. And that was to get him naked.

“Mm. Hands…” She turned to face him and took his hands in hers, studying them. They were rough, a working-man’s hands.  “On.” She stepped in and placed one of his hands on her back, just above her ass, the other on her shoulder.


“Jackson, was it?” She waited for him to confirm. “I think it’s time we danced.”

“Dance, huh?” He snugged her in nice and tight against his body. He was clearly a man who kept in shape.

“Finna, you need to get out of there.”

“Mhm. It’s another way to get to know a person.”

“Fin, this is bad. Get out. Get the Scroll some other time.”

She ignored Brian. She could take care of herself — she’d been in the industry for years, and she wouldn’t still be alive today if she couldn’t take care of herself.

“He’s Tiff’s top hitter.”


Somehow, they ended up naked on the couch in the office.

“So how’d you get an invite?” Jackson asked, adjusting her over him.

Finna traced a line over his chest as she listened to his heart-rate slow. “She’s my sister.”


“How’d you get an invite?”

Jackson laughed. “I’m supposed to kill you if you show up.”

“I fucking told you to cut out.”

“Oh.” Oh shit, oh shit, oh fuck, oh shit, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!

“Cut me in on the sale, and I never saw you.”

What? “What’s your price?”

“Freedom from Tiffany and five percent,” Jackson said.

“Only five?” That didn’t sound high enough.

“Freedom from Tiffany is more than enough. She’s a royal bitch.” That was true.

“Bad idea, Finna.”

Finna thought on it a moment. “It’s a deal.”

“God fucking damn it, Fin! No! GET OUT OF THERE!”

“But it may only be five percent of my cut.”

“You can explain it to Dad if you get dead.”

“My main goal is freedom from Tiffany,” he affirmed.

“What’s the plan?” Finna asked.

He laughed again. “It’s a fake.”

“Where’s the real scroll?”

“In the vault.”

“Brian, send Mom in.”


“Send Mom in. I need a distraction.”

“You’re already distracted.”

They went back and forth for several minutes before she had Brian convinced, but eventually, she had him on her side.

An hour later, the four of them were sitting around the kitchen table, staring in awe at the Genesis Scroll.



Tuesday Tease: Nerdgasm (Now Available!)

Woohoo!! Nerdgasm is finally available for purcahse on Amazon! (And as soon as I’ve reviewed the proof of the print and made sure it’s all good, that’ll be available, too!)

Nerdgasm FPhD student and part-time waitress Judy loves all things nerdy. Especially that Sherlock Doppelganger who keeps coming into the restaurant she works at. How do you keep it together when someone as sexy as him him calls you ‘darling?’ Still tormented by her abusive ex, Judy isn’t sure she’s built for romance. Is Max’s easy-going and forgiving nature enough to convince Judy to give love another chance

Video game coder and part-time recluse Max promised his family he was getting out and meeting people after his move from London. That pretty waitress is ‘people,’ right? Alone in Ashville after a bad breakup, Max isn’t sure the college town is the right place to be. Are Judy’s bad jokes and geeky passion enough to convince him his heart is in Illinois?

One steamy night together might not be enough.

Welcome to the Hearth and Forge, a farm-to-table restaurant on the edge of Ashville, Illinois. Brigid, Norse goddess of hearth and forge, runs the restaurant. Her husband, Bress, god of harvest and husbandry, runs the farm. They give aid to any who ask for it. Just be careful what you ask for—it may not be what you want. But it will be what you need. With two gods in residence, the Hearth and Forge is a beacon to gods, fairies, demons and other magical creatures as well as humans. It’s a place for good food, great company, and a bit of adventure.

Judy worked her way through the throngs of customers with a grin. Halloween. Costumes. Candy. No holiday compared. Not even Christmas.

She wished she were at home where she could have worn the full Batman costume for all the kids that would knock on the door; it wasn’t right without the cape. Plus, she wouldn’t have to watch Cora stick her butt out in her French maid get-up.

As if on cue, Cora leaned over a table to show off what little cleavage her push-up bra gave her, and stuck her butt out into the aisle right as a group of men in their early twenties neared.

Judy shook her head as she checked on her diners and surveyed the restaurant. Antony was having a grand old time flirting with all the women who came in wearing costumes; the retired Army Colonel enjoyed a good flirt as much as Gabe. Gabe was busy flirting with the table full of old ladies who came in to gossip under the guise of a book club meeting.

With a smile, she turned her attention back to her customers.

She got to the first table and was surprised to see Max. Why do I remember his name? She took a deep breath and put a smile on, hoping it was a friendly smile, and not flirty. Judy Lindholm doesn’t do flirty.

The smile spread to a grin when she saw the mismatched plaid he wore in every layer; yellow plaid dress coat with green-and-red plaid pants, a red-and-black plaid bowtie, and a black and white plaid shirt.

“I see you’ve gone plaid,” she told him with a laugh. “I’m glad you didn’t over-shoot us by a week.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, darling.” He winked up at her and smiled as he set his hat on the seat next to him. “You’re the first to get the joke. Nice job on the Batman costume.”

Judy’s heart hammered in her chest and her cheeks got hot. “Thank you.”

“But no cape?”

She shook her head. “It gets in the way. Looks like I’ll be your waitress again tonight.” She listed the specials, grateful to get it done with no slips of the tongue like the first time he’d come in. “Can I get you anything right away?”

“Seems like a good day for the mutton stew. What do you think?”

“Sounds perfect. What would you like to drink?”

“Just water for now, thank you.”

She stared down at the tablet and tapped in his order. “Sure thing. I’ll have that to you in a minute.”

Judy returned with his water a moment later and set it down. “Your stew should be up in a bit.”

She wanted his stew to take its time being ready, but unfortunately, it was always ready. She felt like she could talk to him for hours on end. That morning, she’d caught herself fantasizing about him. And it hadn’t been a daydream she’d ever share with her mother.

He nodded. As she turned to go back to another table, her knuckles rapped on the glass and knocked it over.

“Whoops.” Max slid to the far end of the bench before the water ran off the edge of the table and righted the glass.

“Oh, crap! I’m so sorry!” Judy tugged the rag free from her belt and got to work trying to stop the flow. Water seeped past her and dripped onto the seat anyway, and Max grabbed a napkin to help soak it up.

“Just a bit of water. No worry.”

Judy glanced around to see who was closest and caught Gabe’s attention. The Latino made his way over and glanced at the table.

“You know, the agua goes in your mouth, not all over the table, right?” he asked with a laugh as he pulled out his own rag. He helped wipe it up, then reached for the glass. “I’ll get a fresh glass for you.”

“Thanks, Gabe.” Judy turned her attention back to Max and chewed on her lip, her brows drawn together. “I’m really sorry.”

“Water dries.” Max smiled, though Judy figured he’d never be back after her fumble.

She sighed. “I’m still sorry.”

They stared at each other for a long moment until Judy felt her cheeks heating up again. Judy ducked her head and turned back to the other table, took their orders, then sought refuge in the break room for a few minutes to re-center herself.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Cam, the bartender said, letting the door shut behind him. “Why do you think you’re stupid?”

“The cute guy at table ten—the one who looks like you-know-who? I—”

“Did he insult you? I’ll—”

“No, he didn’t insult me.” Judy made a face. “I knocked his water all over the table.”

“Well, I guess it’s official, then.”

“What is?”

“He’s a Hearth and Forge regular.” Cam shrugged. “Look at the bright side—it wasn’t his food.”

“Yeah, but then we kind of just stared at each other and it was awkward, and I liked it and I hated it, and—”

“Wait, did you say he’s cute?”

Judy stared at the blond. “No?”

“No, no… you did.” The smile spread slowly across Cam’s face. “You think he’s sexy, don’t you? You have a crush on him.”

“No, I don’t.” But she denied it too quickly.

“Yes, you do. You think the guy dressed all weird is cute.”

“He’s not dressed weird, he’s gone plaid.”

Cam stared at her.

“Honestly, haven’t you ever seen Spaceballs?” She shook her head as she continued. “And you have a job to do. Drinks to—I have a job. We have jobs to do. We should do them.”

Cam laughed and gestured to the door. “You go right ahead. I need a smoke break. Go get ‘im, Batgirl!”

Judy rushed past him and back out into the kitchen to check on orders. “Crap,” she muttered when Cam was out of earshot. “I do have a crush.”

Update: Nerdgasm


Nerdgasm F


I’m on the final read-through, and then it’s off to formatting for both digital and print copies! Woohoo! Right now, I’m looking at a January 15th release. I’m hoping for a preorder period as well, but I’m not holding my breath on it. (Formatting a novel for the first time, so… we’ll see how it goes?)

Anyway, just thought I’d keep you posted on what’s what! I hope you’re all as excited about this as I am!

Updates: On Everything

So I’ve been pretty much silent for over a month on here now, and apparently, I shouldn’t have trusted things to happen the way they were supposed to. There was supposed to be a Tuesday Tease post out on Halloween, but that apparently failed, and I don’t see it anywhere, so… I’ll have to get that up yet.

Nerdgasm: As Soon As Possible

October sucked, and I stressed out again because things that I needed to happen in order to get Nerdgasm out on Black Friday weren’t happening. So Nerdgasm being available for purchase on Black Friday didn’t happen. It’s taking longer than I thought it would after I got it back from my beta reader, who isn’t the same beta I had in October. Part of my issue now is that I just can’t brain anymore, and part is because I can’t seem to switch to edit brain like I need to do.

That being said, I’m busting my butt anyway, just to get it done, because I WANT TO GET IT DONE. Also, if I don’t get it done, I have 2 completed drafts that I won’t be able to use, and I might as well just stop writing the one I’m writing right now (which would be novel #4 in the series for me).

Unleashed: Fall 2018

Well… formerly titled Unleashed. That doesn’t fit the story anymore. Now it’s Finders, Keepers. The story changed a fair amount from what I’d originally thought it would be, and now it’s more about Cam and his soul than it was before, as well as his relationship with Cora. I have a complete draft sitting in my big Hearth and Forge folder that needs some major revisions before I can even think about sharing it with my beta readers. But I need to get through getting Nerdgasm out before I worry about this.

Trouble Makers: Summer 2019

The guys are still hanging out, but I need to get Finders, Keepers done first. This also needs some a lot of revisions.

Balancing Act: Fall 2020

That’s the Shaylie/Loki book in this series. I don’t have a draft for this yet, but I do have ideas. At this point, the first draft isn’t mission critical because it’s not coming out for another 3 years. I’m just not worried about it right now.

Heart and Soul: Spring/Summer 2021

Cora and Cam have heart and soul, and both deserve a little love. Just not with each other. They wish everyone else could get that through their thick skulls, but they act too much like a couple. Their cats even have sleep-overs on occasion. But they don’t love each other like that. So this story is about them finding their loves.

  1. Zaniel Tate is a social worker who lost his pregnant wife and their unborn daughter to tragedy (I’m still trying to figure that bit out) and is now single dad to a 5yo boy named Noah. He’s done a few panels and guest lectures at Ashville University, and Cora’s got a crush on him.
  2. Nurse Vikaras (I’m still not sure if this is her first name or her last name…) is a bit more tight-lipped about herself, and I’ve been writing all the scenes with her in them… twice. Once from her point of view and once from Cam’s, just so I can get to know her a little bit better. She’s hard to read, and I don’t know her angle just yet, only that she’s a great-great-granddaughter of Zeus. (Seriously, the god can’t keep it in his toga.) She thinks her dad is nuts for believing they’re descendants of some kind of mystic people. She also kinda believes him. And Cam gives her some serious creepy vibes. Theirs is a bit more tumultuous a relationship than Cora and Zani’s (pronounce zaney, doesn’t rhyme with Danny…) is.

November Was Crazy:

  1. November was NaNoWriMo, and I hit… what did I hit… Oh. Right. 76,041. Most of that was for what I’d titled Unleashed, and some of that was notes for Unleashed, and some of that was the start of The Thing I’m working on right now, tentatively called Heart and Soul.
  2. Yes. I finished the draft of an urban fantasy novel, then started a romance novel. They’re both for the Hearth and Forge series.
  3. I’ll be making some pretty major revisions to that starting as soon as I get through final edits on Nerdgasm and get that out there for you because Finders, Keepers is a 2018 novel. Then in 2019, we’ll have Trouble Makers, 2020 is the Shaylie and Loki romance, and then 2021 is the WIP I’m drafting… sort of now?
  4. Yes. I’ve been busy.
  5. I’ve also been dealing with a 7yo who doesn’t want to do his homework (but is still doing just fine) and a 5yo who may not have been as ready for Kindergarten as we thought (and also just made her way through the first migraine of the winter last week and is now on the tail end of — yay!¿ — an ear infection).
  6. AlsoIhatethistimeofyearitstressesmeoutlikecrazyandIhateithateithateitandcanitbeovernow?
  7. Here, have a tired puppers putting himself to sleep.


WIP Updates: Trouble Makers

That thing I was writing about the actor and the single dad? Yeah. I made it through the first draft of that. I did that last week. And then I started trying to figure out exactly what Unleshed was about, aside from Cam and saving the planet. (It’s still about Cam saving the planet from a black worm, just for the record.) But I’ve got some scene ideas now, and I know a bit more about how the magic works in his world, so… I’ve got some great ideas in a file of notes for next month when NaNo starts. Woohoo!

That being said, Trouble Makers (the thing about the actor and the single dad) first draft came to about 52,000 words. In case you’re wondering, that’s 122 single-spaced pages where each scene starts on a new page. There are 31 scenes. That’s roughly half of what Nerdgasm came out to, and about 10K fewer words if comparing first drafts. I did have to add in two scenes that I’d previously missed in Trouble Makers though.

And… I can’t remember what I’ve said about Trouble Makers and Unleashed. Originally, Trouble Makers was going to be my next contribution to the Hearth and Forge series, but some things came up in Cam’s timeline, and now he’s next in Unleashed. Just for the record, Unleashed is not a love story. It’s a redemption arc, an anti-hero arc, a save-the-world arc. There is no romance in this book. Cam will have to wait a bit for that. (But that’s the thing that came up in his timeline that I needed to move this part up for — his romance needs to be timed with a couple other things going on, and that’s happening sooner than I’d originally timed Unleashed for.)

So now I have Unleashed tentatively scheduled for early fall 2018, and Trouble Makers scheduled for summer of 2019.

I’m glad I’ve finished drafting Trouble Makers before NaNoWrimo begins in a couple weeks. I didn’t want to leave that hanging while I wrote Unleashed for NaNo. The good news is: I’d spent enough time thinking about Trouble Makers and whether I even wanted to write it, that I had a pretty good idea about the story before I even began writing it. And thanks to lots of brainstorming sessions with bestie Misty Carlisle, I’ve managed to get a really good feel for Unleashed as well, so hopefully, that’ll go even faster.

Other than that, I’ve got about a thousand other things writing related to do. Like book covers and blurbs and more drafting on solo stuff and collaborative stuff and everything in between.

So here I leave you! I’ll keep you posted with all things writerly! And sometimes stuff that’s not so writerly.


Nerdgasm News: And Other Updates

Nerdgasm is off with a beta reader as we speak. I’ll go one more round of developmental fixes, and then from there, I’m going to get it to the editor, formatted for ebook, print, get that cover done for the print copy, and then I get to hit that publish button! WOOT!! Well… for preorder, anyway. 🙂

In other news, the Oliver and Parker story is taking on a life of it’s own. If I hold steady with my norm (which, really, I have Nerdgasm as a norm, here, lets be honest), then I’m about 2/3 through this draft. Until it goes a round of alpha readers. It can wait a little, though. It’s not going to be out until 2019. I still don’t know what I’m calling this one. Leaning toward Little Kea, but at the same time, that implies the story is fully about Coby, when it’s Parker’s story. It’s currently just shy of 41,000 words long.

I am going to tell Cam’s story, though, and hopefully, I can crank that out in November for NaNoWriMo. I’m calling that one Unleashed.

This is not a romance novel. A love story, yes; it is his love for the land and this new family he’s found at the Hearth and Forge, and remembering Gran-gran for all she’d given him. But more, it’s a redemption story, a sort of “coming of age” story. And a little bit of a revenge story too, while we’re at it.

Long story short, Cam is a destroyer demon on a redemption arc that saves the world and gives him closure in regards to Gram-gram’s death.

The Big Reveal: Nerdgasm Style

Ya know? There’s something both cathartic and panic-inducing when it comes to finishing the cover of a book. Oh, my god! I’m getting so close to being done with this beast! Wait… I’m not done with this beast… oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.

Anyway, Release is still officially November 24th, and I’m still super excited about this book! Judy and Max have undergone some major changes over the past couple years, and they’ve been for the best. So here’s to them, and just for you…

The big reveal!

Nerdgasm F

Thursday Thoughts: Nerdgasm (and more) News

So there’s this book I’m writing, called Nerdgasm. I may have mentioned it once or twice. Anyway. Judy and Max are almost through the first round of revisions. Meaning I’ve gone through all but the last 3… 4? scenes and have transcribed them into a Google Doc, at which point, I let a buddy read them and make a couple comments, and then transcribe — again — into a Word document.

This seems to be working for me. Right now. I still need to post all these refreshed scenes/chapters to Scribophile for further critique from my pals there to really nail this thing down. But I’m SO CLOSE! I’ll still have this baby available in ebook and print on Black Friday.

When I can’t concentrate enough on Judy and Max, I have this other thing that popped up. I said, “I just want to get the idea down.”

Right. Uh-huh. At the moment, I’m calling it Cameo. But I hate the title.

Hiddles Kiddo Hug.gifPrompted by this gif (seriously, I could watch it all day), I’ve had the idea in my head for a while to have a well-known celebrity (made up, of course) who is acosted by a preschool-aged fan who takes off on Mom when she’s not looking so they can go meet the celeb.

Celeb then has to go find the panicking parent. And… there’s chemistry, and sparks fly, and in the end, they’re together.

Now… I love Tom Hiddleston, don’t get me wrong. But I didn’t want to base my actor on him. And when I started writing, it came out that the parent with a missing kid was actually a man. My brain defaults to het couples. But then the kid showed up, tugging on “Misser Low-kissed’s” shirt. Oh. Okay. I guess we’re writing gay romance this time. Cool beans. (My characters do their own thing.)MMC1 & MMC2.JPG

And then we got around to the bit where the kid is actually his niece. Okay, so why does he have his niece? He’s going to a business lunch… Oh, the sitter is out sick, and his other options are out of town. Okay, so why does he have custody of the kid? Oh… Mom & Dad are no longer with us. Which of the parents was his sibling? Mom? Okay — OH! She’s his twin sister? Oh crap. It was a Christmas morning home invasion gone horribly, horribly, horribly wrong. How long ago was that? Was that this past Christmas? Or the one before? This kid is only four. Scratch that — she’s three. Yes, this is pretty much my thought process. But then…

Okay, so those are my character inspirations for Oliver and Parker. Here’s Coby, without whom these two might not ever have found each other…FMC


Tuesday Tease: The Prussian Dispatch

51wjGcKvEQL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_David Nielson may not write romance, but he does weave the threads of mystery and crime seamlessly into his Sophie Rathenau series! Here’s a sample of the first in the historical crime series, The Prussian Dispatch.


With nothing in her purse, Sophie Rathenau can’t refuse work, even from a down-at-heel pimp. But tracing the woman who’s gone off with his document is a chancy business. A gang of Prussian maniacs are hunting for it too, as well as thugs from the shadowy Versailles Club, and a Polish countess desperate to preserve her country. Caught up in an international conspiracy, Sophie’s only weapons are her sardonic tongue and an old cavalry pistol. But it’ll take more than those to find the dispatch, keep a vengeful Chancellor at bay, and deal with a past that threatens to engulf her. “The Prussian Dispatch” is the first in a series of novels from the era of Mozart and Maria Theresia.

Sophie Rathenau remembers the evening before her wedding in 1760s Dresden, just after the Seven Years’ War.
Late sunlight glistens on the dome of Our Lady’s. Sapphire with azure spots, my dirndl is thin, but my blouse is puffed at the shoulders, blue stitching at the neck and sleeves.
We don’t have much of anything. Half the world is ruined. But the war is over.
I lounge in the glow, a silk wrap tight at my elbows. The stone bench has soaked up warmth all day. It tingles through the grit under my soles. I want to sit here forever. I want to watch the river flow, count the arches of the Augustus Bridge.
“Good of them to call it after you,” I murmur.
His head shifts near mine. I lean against his shoulder, my eyes half closed, fixed on two joined dragonflies.
“Madame,” he says, “your nose is in my ear.” There’s a scroll of gold embroidery at his burgundy collar, a modest ruff at his neck. After the uniform, he doesn’t care for a patterned jacket.
“By dose is itchy.” I rub it from side to side. That ear’s a bit deaf since he came back. I settle my chin beside it, my cheek on his hay-coloured stubble.
His fingers slip into my hair, easing strand from strand. “I had a retriever who laid her head on my shoulder like that.” His voice is as warm as the stone, but I don’t hear the Salzburg hinterland the way I used to. He’s been gone a while.
I growl. “And you’re supposed to be a diplomat.” His ear is neat, tucked-in. I run the tip of my tongue around its rim.
“Daun’s the diplomat. All I do is keep quiet and look fierce.”
I press my ribs against his, thinking I smell pine needles. I always do with him. “Stick to what you’re good at.” I know that Daun values his opinion on the clauses.
His lower lip juts out. Its fullness would seem petulant on another man, his chin fleshy. I think they round out a square and solid face. “You have a bodyguard, too, Fräulein Süssmayr. She’ll be wild.”
I grin. It was easy to lose Aurelia at the Holy Cross. By the time she missed me in the ruins, the shard of its tower stood between us. I walked in the Zwinger and to the Residence, till he came out with Daun and the others.
“I’ll make it up to her.”
My hands, one atop the other, don’t look large on my apron. My naked fingers, shades of sand in the evening sun, tug the knot at the centre of my waist. After tomorrow, I’ll tie it on the right.
The hairs at the tips of his eyebrows are light and fine, hatching into the crinkles around his eyes. “You don’t still want Saint Sophia?”
I smile. “That would be nice. But there’s only one Catholic church in Dresden. If we’re getting married, it has to be in there. And Saint Sophia doesn’t look like that.”
The Court Church is a cutter in full sail, docked on the river. Its tower soars like a mast. He takes hold of my shoulders and eases me around. “Nor that.”
The slim grey bell of Our Lady’s, ringed by four cupolas, rises over the gallery behind us. He shakes his head as he stares up. Behind his hazel eyes there’s a web of scaffolding, hoists, and blocks fitting high above. He loves knowing how things work. I feel, sometimes, he sees me the same way.
I rest my chin on my fists. “Do you ever think that one day people could stand here, gaze up, and not see that? That something so big, so graceful, could disappear?”
It’s a miracle the church is still standing. A lot of the city is rubble. The Prussians weren’t good for it.
He stretches his legs. Gravel scatters, and the sun gleams on the buttons at his knee.
“We’ll be long gone, if that happens.” His hands inch around my waist.
I caress his shoulder. “Careful with that arm.”
“You’ll be Sophie Rathenau.” He squeezes my ribs gently. “Tomorrow.”
The sun slips over the Bastion Sol. I link my wrists at his neck, drawing him to me, saying his name. A last glint laps under the bridge.
Ex-lecturer and educational marketer David Neilson lives on the Rhine growing runner beans, courgettes, and kohlrabi, and writing Sophie Rathenau stories: a historical crime series based in eighteenth-century Vienna.
A personal tour of Sophie’s world, with images of many of the locations, historical characters, and objects in the novels, is available on Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2g2sasi

Tuesday Tease: RedDress Two Wives


Welcome back to Tuesday Tease! This week, I feature Native American contemporary romance author RA Winter’s book RedDress Two Wives.


Sarah’s beau left her. She didn’t excite him.
To reinvent herself, she travels to New York, where she meets John. A sexy voice on the phone.
What could go wrong?
Get caught with a vibrating purple…? Check.
Entertaining a threesome with a blow-up doll? Yep.
Geez, and let’s not forget the manure. Esh.

John enjoyed the color splashes, and the dining room table looked fit for a royal dinner. He could see himself here… nope. Don’t go there Johnny boy, she’ll leave soon. For now, it’s all fun for me.

John walked towards the bedroom, his mind on Sarah. She was always a good distraction from work.

Naay. Giddy up there li’l doggie. Ha!

Shut up! Damn.

He rounded the corner and stopped. Sarah sat on the stairs with a whip in hand, vibrator dancing and a…

Blow up doll?

“Ahh, zmy human toy hast arrived,” she said in a funky accent, her voice low and sensual. “Ursula und I zare here to conquer zhe human race and demand ze blood. Zerr blood.” She flicked her whip and jumped up, then marched around him. Her fingers raked down his arm, she grabbed her dangly and turned it on, grinning as it came to life. She unbuttoned her corset and flung it aside. “I’ve been told zzthat a human male can only last zso long before losing control.” Sarah ran her whip over John’s body. She stopped at his maleness and rub it against her. “Ursula is my second in command. She will join us to see who vill zlast zlonger.”

John snickered. He had no idea where this was going, but it sure was different, he’d give her that. Maybe she didn’t mind his stupidity.

She undid his pants, yanking them down toward his knees. Her lips followed her actions as she kissed his skin. His blood pressure skyrocketed and flew through John, pulsating his penis to life. She licked his thigh, stroking his penis as her eyes stared up at him. The dildo buzzed, filling the air with electricity.

“Argh!” A shrill scream ripped through the house, obliterating all fun and amusement.

“Mom, what are they doing?” A sweet girl’s voice asked, her innocence shattered. John turned, horrified to find a family glaring at him. Sarah paused with her mouth open, so close to the throbbing manhood, and gaped at the family. Her lips widened as her eyes darted between the family and John’s erection. Stunned, she balanced on her heels, frozen with horror.

The vibrator buzzed.

A young boy stood with hands on his hips, wearing a sailor t-shirt. His eyes grew as he stared at Sarah and bit his lips. A young girl, a little older stood beside him, her eyes roamed over John. Her brow furrowed. The dad grinned, then caught himself as his wife inhaled. The lady turned red, then purple as veins exploded on her skin.

The little boy inhaled and whispered to his mother, “Will mine turn purple when I’m older, Mommie?”

“Can I play with your dolly when you’re done?” The girl pointed to Ursula.

Sarah’s eyes moved back and forth. Penis, family, penis, family.

“Ahh, but Sissy,” The boy said, “It’s got a big hole in its mouth.”

“It’s a purple people eater,” the girl whispered. Her mother inhaled. “It’s got a one eye and one horn, like the song.” The mom grabbed both children then placed her hands over their eyes. She kicked her husband as he continued to stare at the naked pair.

Sarah inhaled.

The vibrator buzzed.

John grabbed his pants and hurried to pull them on. Prodded into action, Sarah clasped Ursula in front of her nakedness. Crouched low, she waddled towards the stairs, Ersula’s legs in front of her. John slid on the leg and fell headfirst into Sarah’s dildo. Sarah clung to Ursula, and down she went, the heel in an unconventional sandwich.

The husband’s eyes went dreamy. The boy jumped away from his mother and laughed.

“I want to see too,” his sister said. The mother clasped her tighter and dragged her toward her brother. She reached but he evaded her grasp, eyes wide with wonder.

“Wait, let me explain,” John yelled as he squashed Ursula. Her head ballooned under the pressure, her eyes expanded as her mouth widened into an O. John crawled off the ‘girls’, dragging Ursula with him.

The husband stared.


The mother yelled, grabbed her children and pushed them towards the door. “I’m suing! My children will need therapy for life!”

The boy turned around, “Why does she have a purple pee-pee, isn’t she a girl?”

His mother screamed at him and ushered them towards the door.

The girl yelled, “But, Mommy, I want a dolly too!”

“Paul,” she snapped. She turned and glared at her husband. “Paul!”

“Oh, yes dear,” he said. He took one last, lingering look at Sarah’s body and her buzzing vibrator.

Sarah crouched lower and moaned. She reached for the dildo and fumbled with the switch. The motion increased and so did the sound. Sarah’s eyes widened as she stared at the family.


“Just getting the details for the lawsuit. Don’t want to leave anything out, now do we?”

“Stop, don’t leave until I explain!” John pleaded to the retreating family.


“Wait till everybody at school hears about this. A real live purple people eater!”


RA Winter, began her writing career under her married name, writing genealogy books. However, her love for reading romance novels intruded in on her daily activities. She started writing “Little Sparrow” and fell in love with her characters and is writing many more books in the Romantic Western series, “Kiowa in Love”. Each one of Grandfather’s grandchildren will have their story told, as will Grandfather himself. RA spent many years traveling the world and has lived in many different countries. Turkey, Egypt, Germany, and Jordan, have all been called “home” at one time or another. Now you can find her quietly living in Pittsburgh, Pa