Archive for December, 2013

You know that the holidays have gotten completely out of your control when you don’t even remember to do your once-a-week post on your blog.

Seriously, I woke up this morning and thought… “Oops.”

So my final installment of Layla’s Lost Scroll adventure will be NEXT Sunday.  Meanwhile, I hope y’all have a wonderful Christmas and belated Winter Solstice and Hanukah and whatever else you celebrate.  Stay healthy, safe, warm and happy.

I love you all.  Take care.

The Scroll

on December 15, 2013 in Misc 20 Comments »

And the Winners Are…

Thanks to everyone who participated in Milo James Fowler’s ‘Tis More Blessed Book Giveaway on Friday the 13th.  Lots of people stopped by here for one of three chances on a free copy of The Compass Master.  I tossed all the names into a hat (literally) and have the winners.  They are…

Kristy F. Gillespie
Melissa B
TB Markinson

Congratulations!  This is a thrill of a lifetime for you, isn’t it?  I hope you enjoy my novel.

And now for our regularly scheduled programming…

For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective.  She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister…

“Yes, we set you up,” the stranger admitted. “The stolen scroll is priceless, and my superiors were willing to do anything to retrieve it.”

“Like risk my life!” I shot back at him.

“You seem alive and unharmed.”

If he didn’t have such a perfect, gorgeous face I would have slammed my fist into it.  Instead I raised my knife and stepped closer to him.  He stepped away.

Behind me, Annie seemed to stumble and gasp.  I glanced back for only a second and saw the snoring rottweiler man rolling over in the grass and Annie tumbling down onto him and her purse landing next to his chest.

In the next second the stranger lunged at me.

I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I threw myself to the right.  Before I hit the ground my flying legs hit him hard in the gut.  He groaned and landed on top of my legs.  For a frantic moment I was pinned down and before I could stop myself my hand with the knife was instinctively swinging up and down toward his back—

But in the last second another instinct made hesitate and miss him.

The blade cut through his open blazer (an expensive designer one, likely a Tom Ford, the fashion-conscious part of my brain thought) and into the ground and pinned him instead.  As he struggled to free himself I scrambled out from under him.

“Let’s go!” Annie cried.

I was getting to my feet and saw that she was zipping shut her purse and slinging it over her arm.  “Hurry!” she demanded.  “The police are coming!”

Sure enough, sirens were screaming out on the boulevard and beyond the bushes I could see people pointing in our direction.

Already the stranger had freed himself and was lightly tossing the knife—handle first—in my direction.  As I caught it he said, “You don’t want the police to find this.”

“What I want is the police to find you with him!” I pointed at the rottweiler man.

Annie was rushing away and I was close behind her when I heard the stranger laugh and say, “Diplomatic immunity!”

For several blocks, we sprinted as fast as we could.  Finally Annie sank exhausted onto a solitary park bench.  As I joined her I felt defeated and frustrated and kept swearing under my breath.  What should I do now—go back and trail the mysterious stranger?  Contact a friend in the Egyptian Antiquities and ask him what the hell was going on?

“I think maybe I got the scroll!” Annie wheezed.

I looked at her in disbelief.  “What did you say?”

She unzipped her purse and pulled out a metal tube.  “When that man rolled over I saw something fall out of an inside pocket.  I pretended to fall on top of him so I could grab it.”

For a moment I stared at the slim tube in her hand.  Then I carefully took it from her and studied the steel cap at one end.  I twisted it off.  Looked inside.

“Oh my God,” I murmured.  “I think it’s the scroll!”

TO BE CONTINUED… (The final installment is next week.)

If you’ve just hopped over from Milo James Fowler’s website, welcome!  As you can see, I’m participating in his ‘Tis More Blessed book giveaway.

I know that most of Milo’s readers are fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal fans, but I like to think that my thriller The Compass Master has something for everyone.  There are  medieval codes, ancient secrets, a dangerous hunt, cool stuff like sacred geometry, and of course suspense.  Maybe a hint of romance.

I’ll be giving three winners copies of my book, your choice of an e-copy or paperback, from Amazon.  To enter, just leave a comment.

If you win, I hope you enjoy my book!

And if you’d like to subscribe to Milo’s blog (he’s a superb writer and a sweetheart of a blogger), here’s his link: Subscribe me to Milo’s Blog!

You’ll also want to check out his list of other writers who are giving away their books today.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and thanks for stopping by.

The Confrontation

on December 9, 2013 in Misc 4 Comments »

For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective.  She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister…

An unconscious man lay at my feet.  The far-too-handsome stranger seemed far too pleased with this fact.  And I was whipping a knife out from beneath my sleave.

“I figured you were a part of this rendezvous,” I said while pointing the blade at him.

“I am,” he said calmly.  “Is he dead?”

“No.  Disappointed?”

“Relieved.  I need to make him tell me where he’s hidden the scroll.”

“Then you’re not his partner.”

“He’s my target.  I’m an investigator with the Egyptian Department of Antiquities.”

The stranger pulled out and held up an official-looking ID.  It was in Arabic, which I could read, and the name beside his picture was Ahmed Salem. Damn, I thought—I never looked that good in photos.

I twisted the knife around as if anxious to use it.  “When I was in high school I could make a fake ID better than that one.”

“No doubt.  That was the convent school Kylemore Abby in Ireland, and the nuns were often frustrated by your bad girl proclivities, which for them didn’t mesh with your scholarly genius.”

“Mess?” Annie asked behind me.

Mesh,” I emphasized.  Good thing she no longer had the poisoned hatpin.  I kept my gaze on the stranger.  “So you know a few facts about my life—is that supposed to scare me?”

Amusement stole into his brown eyes.  His hypnotizing, beautiful brown eyes.

“No, what should make you nervous is that we’re in a public park with people nearby, and at any moment our ugly little scene could be discovered.  And in truth I know a great deal about you, Layla Daltry.  You’re an antiquities hunter.  You have important contacts within our department.  You have been very thoroughly… investigated by us and by Egyptian intelligence.”

“Not thoroughly enough.  Your officials have accused me of stealing a Gnostic scroll, circa Third Century, C.E., and smuggling it out of Egypt.  To save myself I’ve had to chase down some dangerous leads while my professor friend here in Chicago arranged for the rendezvous with this guy.”  With my foot, I poked at the rottweiler man.  “And if he’s the one who has the scroll, then I’m assuming he’s the real thief.”

“His name is Hisham Helal, and my superiors will be most grateful to you for succeeding where they failed.  You located him, drew him into a rendezvous, and…”  He glanced down at the now-snoring man, “Disabled him.  Very good, Miss Daltry, and shokron.  But your services are no longer needed.”

At first his words confused me, but as pieces of a puzzle fell into place I felt blindsided.

“You set me up!” I whispered.  My tightening throat was squeezing off my voice.  “Your superiors set me up. You made me do your dirty work…”


The Chase

on December 1, 2013 in Misc 12 Comments »

For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective.  She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister…

By the time I reached the museum doors, Annie had caught up with me.

“What’s going on?” she asked, panic in her voice.

“That man!” I said. “We’ve got to find him!”

I ran outside and toward one of the stone blocks that bordered the front steps, and did a really cool parkour leap up onto it and then onto its massive stone flower planter.  From there I peered in all directions.

The rottweiler man was just to the north and running into Millennium Park.

I leaped off the planter before a museum guard could grab me and dashed toward the park. Annie’s steps pounded behind me.  The mysterious stranger wasn’t with her or anywhere.

“That way!” I cried to her, my arm pointing the way.  She was fast and caught up with me near a wall and clusters of trees and bushes, where I paused and looked frantically about.  If I lost the rottweiler then I’d lose the scroll, my reputation… Everything.

Annie didn’t slow down. She ran into a cluster of trees and bushes while crying, “He’s in here!”

I sprinted after her—and stumbled to a stop.

The rottweiler man was cornered between high bushes and a wall. And Annie was within inches of him.  As he turned and glared at me he reached into his jacket. Only now did I see suspicious bulge beneath it.  Was that a gun? A hunting knife?

Suddenly he pivoted away from me and toward Annie, but as he moved his foot caught on a tree root and he almost fell but steadied himself by flinging out his free hand and grabbing Annie’s arm.

Annie screamed in shock. Instinctively I jumped toward her – and smack into a big wet pile of dog turds.  Before I knew it I was sliding sideways but somehow stayed upright while inanely exclaiming,“Oh, crap! Stinky mess!”

Annie gaped at me and suddenly whipped the poisoned hatpin out of her pocket and stabbed it into the rottweiler’s neck.

“No!” I cried

The man shouted in shock and pain.  He let go of Annie and reached up to the hatpin that was jutting out of him like a dainty, rather fetching version of Frankenstein’s neck bolt.  But his fingers already seemed to be numb and they only brushed his ear, and his eyes rolled up in his head.

For a heavy man, he fell quietly.  He also fell in the wrong direction and onto the hatpin, which shoved it further into his flesh.

“Ewww!” Annie groaned.

“I didn’t mean for you to use that thing!” I told her.

She stared at me in horror.  “Then why did you say ‘mess? It’s one of our signal words!”

I shrugged.  “My bad.”

“Is he dead?”  Her voice was shaking.

“He shouldn’t be.  The chemicals on that pin should only knock him out and make him sick.”

I crouched beside the man, rolled him over, pulled out the hatpin, and with a tissue wiped the blood off it before slipping them both into my pocket. “Can’t leave any evidence,” I mumbled.

I heard a movement behind me.

The mysterious stranger was walking toward us.  He paused to look down at the rottweiler, and then at me, and he smiled…