Meet Perish Blackburn: Bounty hunter, time traveler & all around bad-a**

Meet her in the Acts of Wars sneak peek (©2017 Roslyn Hardy Holcomb and Lisa G. Riley) below. You’re  going to love her!

ofwarspromopic-2“What was it you came over to tell me?” Perish made her way back over to the table and looked at her late grandmother’s friends, Father Mike Clements and Cash Hayes, in turn. “And please, just tell me. I’d like to know before one or both of you gets murdered.”

Again, they both burst into laughter, but Perish didn’t smile as she sat across from them.

“All right, lass. You win, though you could let a couple of old men enjoy the warmth of your hearth and the pleasure of your company for a little bit,” said Father Clements.

Perish squashed the guilt that flared. “Are you going to tell me?”

“How much do you know about your parents?”

Perish frowned. “Only what Grandmother said in the letter she left for me when she died –that my parents shouldn’t have been together and that I should look for any clues about them in Sector One in Massachusetts or New York.”

Mr. Hayes shook his head. “There’s so much more to it than that. For years we tried to persuade Abigail to tell you what she knew, but she was such a stubborn thing, and she was concerned that the truth would damage you in some way.”

“Yes, soft-hearted and stubborn, that’s a perfect description of your grandmother,” began Father Clements. He drank from his cup, slurping up the last of his tea. “Anyway, she’d told you about how your mother showed up on her doorstep one day with you in tow. You were a wee bit of a thing, and your mother? Well she was outrageously beautiful. Her loveliness could almost stun the eyes. I wish we had thought to preserve that image with just one photo, but we were so busy trying to protect, that trifles like pictures were the furthest things from our minds. Danger surrounded her and anyone in contact with her. We had to be very careful. No one was safe.”

This was the first time Perish was hearing anything so specific about either one of her parents and she sat up straighter. “In danger? Protect her? Protect her from whom?”

Perish would have had to be blind to miss the quick worried look the two men passed between one another, and the silence that followed was deafening and pregnant with tension. “Tell me,” she demanded.

It was Cash Hayes who said quietly, gently, “Your mother wasn’t the one in danger, child; everyone else was. Especially you. She tried to kill you.”

Perish fell back in her chair. “Well.” She looked down at the table and tried to gather her thoughts. As a child she’d conjured up images of what her parents would be like. Never once had she imagined child murderers. Aware that the men were watching her and worrying about her, she looked up and met their eyes. She shrugged. “I wasn’t expecting champagne and roses, but I damn well wasn’t expecting that. Go on,” she demanded and made sure she kept eye contact. “Continue.” She said this to Father Clements because she knew he’d be her best shot at getting the entire story. Mr. Hayes would wimp out.

 

Mike Clements wanted to look away from Perish’s stare, but couldn’t. This conversation had been coming for a long time, and was due. She’d been owed it since she was old enough to understand, but he knew why Abigail had never told her. She hadn’t had the courage, and he didn’t blame her. Looking at Perish now, he had his own reservations. He sighed. At least the worst was over…mostly.

He reached for Perish’s hands, tightening his grip when she would have pulled away. “It’s all right, lass,” he told her soothingly and allowed himself a grin when her eyes narrowed suspiciously at his tone. “No, I’m not up to anything, Perish. This kind of thing calls for human contact and gentleness. Now, relax. I’m gonna tell you a story.

“It will be thirty years next April. It seems so long ago, that day does. I was visiting your grandmother. She’d invited me over for lunch and cards. Having just finished lunch, we were on the front porch of your old house trying to catch a breeze.”

Father Clements closed his eyes in remembrance and his voice turned reflective as memories, so bright and clear he felt he could almost touch them, assailed him. “I remember everything in fine detail because what happened that day was so momentous. It was hot, terribly so — about a thousand degrees in the shade. Abby was querulous — didn’t usually take much to make her that way, but this time she had a legitimate excuse. The heat was murderous. I was tempted to take off my collar to combat the heat, but had only taken off my jacket and was sitting around in short sleeves. Abby was trying to keep cool by waving this worthless paper fan back and forth, while also trying to convince me to play poker instead of the crazy eights that I’d agreed to…”

 

“No, Abby, I’m not going to play poker with you. I don’t like the avarice I see shining in your eyes.”

Abigail smirked. “Christ, Mike. That’s not avarice; that’s what we in the know call good old-fashioned confidence. Now what I see on you,” she began before taking a sip of the tall glass of lemonade that he was sure was rapidly warming, “is just pure cowardice.”

“Now none of your trash talking, Abigail Blackburn. You’re not gonna get me to play by insulting me or by being blasphemous. I will not play poker with you.”

Abigail snorted, but didn’t deny it. “Chicken,” she muttered and began to deal the cards. “Heard anything from Gibson lately? I haven’t even seen him at Mass.”

“That’s because he hasn’t been.” He studied his hand before placing a nine of spades on the discard pile. “He’s traveling.”

“Ah. I suppose he’s on another one of his secret missions,” Abigail commented and tossed an eight on the pile.

“I wouldn’t know. It’s secret.”

“Ha Ha. You’re a funny man… ”

When she said nothing else, Father Clements looked over at her, but she was staring out at the street. He followed her gaze and stiffened. The woman who stood at the end of the lane was bedraggled, but her beauty stood out, almost defiantly. He met her dark unflinching gaze, and couldn’t have felt more vulnerable if he’d just been pushed naked and wailing from his mother’s womb. Without thinking about it, he made the sign of the cross. Humor briefly flared in her gaze, becoming a twin to the unholy light that had been there from the beginning. He crossed himself again, this time with deliberation. She seemed to take that as a challenge, and as if his gesture had made her decision easier, she started to make her way up the lane.

“Stop right where you are.” It appeared Abigail had found her voice. It came out weak at first, but was at full strength before the third word was uttered. She’d said the command just as the woman was half way up the path. Father Clements was almost surprised when the woman stopped. No one brooked Abigail when she used that particular tone, though from the narrowing of her eyes and the tightening around the younger woman’s mouth, he could tell that she was sorely tempted to.

“What do you want?”

When the other woman spoke, her voice was so melodious that it was close to being bewitching and Father Clements had to resist the urge to cover his ears in a weak effort to protect himself. “I was told at the Trayvon Martin Justice Center that you may be willing to offer your assistance.”

“My assistance with what?”

“I do not feel comfortable with the holy man here. I would like to speak to you alone.”

“You just said what to me?” Abigail asked incredulously. “And then you expect me to be in your company alone? Willingly? Surely you jest.”

“If I were at my full power, old woman, I could make you.”

Abigail snorted. “Yeah, so guess what? The case for ‘no’ is only getting stronger.”

His body nothing but six feet of tension now, Father Clements waited for the young woman to answer.

Abigail didn’t give her an opportunity. “What do you want young lady? We haven’t got all day. Why would the Center direct you to me? They know enough about me to know that I don’t cotton to anybody up to no good.”

Small white perfectly straight teeth were bared in a brief, but recognizably cruel, smile. “Perhaps you don’t, but I am sure you will cotton to what I’m sure you would consider an innocent.” She half-turned so that part of her back was to them. She looked over her shoulder and over the top of the head of a dark-haired baby sleeping peacefully in a heretofore unseen carrier, and with a crafty look in her eyes now said succinctly, “Will you not?”

Acts of Wars sneak peek © 2017 by Lisa G. Riley and Roslyn Hardy Holcomb.

The book drops on January 27, but it’s available for pre-order: Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks. The book will be  available at Barnes & Noble on January 27th.

January 27, 2017: Mark Your Calendars

aowproofAt long last, Acts of Wars, the sequel to Rumors of Wars is now available for pre-order and will go live on January 27th. Perish Blackburn, kick-ass bounty hunter, is back, baby! Read the summary below and then go pre-order it, now, now, now!

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

The year is 2075 and in a world where governments have collapsed, societies are crumbling and the number of paranormal beings is close to overtaking that of humans, bounty hunter extraordinaire (and paranormal super beyotch) Perish Blackburn never has a shortage of jobs to fulfill. Her last one, however, was a doozy. No bounty hunter who knows her worth would want to travel back in time to Nazi-era Germany on behalf of a wizard for what amounts to really just a pittance in the grand scheme of things. But Perish takes on the job, and per usual, she does it with her own brand of panache. So what if she pisses off a wizard, a fairy and a couple of werewolves in the process?

She’s got bigger issues to think about. To wit:

  • She learns some seriously disturbing information about the parents she’d never known and she has no idea what to do with it.
  • Her werewolf neighbors want her to help them take down one of the most powerful wizards in the world.
  • She may have a brand spanking new power lying dormant within her; all she has to do is convince it to show itself.
  • The werewolf who’s been her best friend since childhood is flipping the script on her.
  • His wild-eyed younger sister has decided to come out of pack-enforced exile, only to decide that the best place for her to stay is at Perish’s house… with her deathly ill revolutionary girlfriend and a dead-eyed assassin who wants to hang out in the basement.
  • The revolution is definitely heating up, and though it won’t be televised, it apparently was going to be strategized in her house, whether she liked it or not.

Amazon, iBooks, Kobo

To all Barnes and Noble shoppers, Acts of Wars will go live there on January 27th.

A Hitch in the Stride

Please don’t purchase any of my books from ARe (All Romance e-books). I’ve just learned that the site is shuttering as of midnight on December 31, and I’m taking a page from fellow writer, Roslyn Holcomb’s book and advising readers to not purchase any more of my books from the site. Also, if you haven’t backed up any purchases you’ve made there in the past, please do that as well, as you’ll lose access to any past purchases once the site has closed down. Thank you for being readers, and please know that my books will still be available at Amazon, B&N and at Apple iTunes.

Friends & Lovers Series

AtLastCoverMed_2Caroline Singleton is a talented, successful artist who was raised in the lap of luxury in her affluent Chicago neighborhood. On her way to a promising second interview with an integrated marketing firm, she bumps into a man who takes her breath away, both literally and figuratively.

Brian Keenan is a former cop from a middle-class background who is shocked by the immediate strong feelings Caroline invokes in him when they first meet. Unbeknownst to either of them, she is interviewing with his firm, a firm in which he is a senior partner.

Caroline is confused and terrified of the immediate strong connection she feels to this total stranger. It is not until after she accepts the job with his firm that she learns who Brian is. Because of impropriety, she refuses to have a relationship with him. Brian, on the other hand, doesn’t agree with her and wants to move full speed ahead with a relationship. He feels the same connection Caroline does and doesn’t want to give up so easily on something so rare and beautiful.

Caroline soon encounters a bigger problem than her confusing and terrifying feelings for Brian, however. She is suddenly being stalked and she doesn’t know by whom, nor does she know why. Being an ex-cop, Brian wants to help and protect the woman he already views as his soul mate and partner. Can Caroline let go of her misgivings long enough to trust him to help her and perhaps save her life? (To be re-issued in 2017 with new material).

Caught Up in the Rapture

CURTracy Adamson has had a passionate one-night stand in Paris with a Frenchman named Jacques. Mortified by her behavior, she flies home to Chicago. American by blood, Jacques is a federal agent and is only in Paris to track down an American fugitive, but finds himself irresistibly drawn to Tracy. Tracy, dealing with personal issues from her past, is reluctant to become involved with Jacques. Jacques must not only pursue the beautiful Tracy, but must also struggle to discover the whereabouts of Alexander Brickman, the criminal mastermind from At Last.

You are Mine

YAM_150X220Caroline and Brian have been in love with one another almost from the second they met two years ago. Their life together is wonderful: they know without a doubt that they belong together; her career as an artist has taken off dramatically; his as the Chief Technology Officer and founder of an integrated marketing firm can only get better, and together they are ready to build a family.

Their life would be as close to perfect as one can get if not for Alexander Brickman. Drug lord, arms merchant, and international fugitive, Brickman has been in their lives so long that he’d practically gone on their first date with them. He wants Caroline, and has from the first moment he saw her. Accustomed to getting what he wants, he will stop at nothing to have her. He believes he’s finally come up with the perfect solution to accomplish his goal and is ready to put that plan into action.

Caroline and Brian are not so willing to go down that easy, however, and they’ve got plans of their own to not only finally catch the madman who has striven to make their lives hell, but also to make sure he never bothers them, or anyone else, again. Who will win this high stakes battle — one that touches the tranquil and tropical shores of Procida Island, Italy and the hot beaches of Sonora, Mexico, only to be decided in the trenches on the beautiful American Mackinac Island? Will Brickman meet his Waterloo, or will Caroline and Brian get the nearly perfect life they so desperately crave?

A Mighty Good Man

MGM 150X225Tracy Adamson loves Jack Winthrop. There’s no doubt about that. The words should be carved into a tree, or written in wet cement. She hadn’t loved him from the moment she’d met him, no, but she’d felt an undeniable attraction that had her sleeping with him only three days after meeting him in a Paris cafe. Now, here they are two years later and they’re engaged to be married. She’s proposed to him, moved in with him, and spends almost every waking moment thinking about him. YET, she cannot set a date to marry the man. The man that everyone in her life knows is a good man, heck, a great man.

It’s the usual problem: issues. Tracy has issues, and she fears that these issues will make the one man she’s sure she’s supposed to spend the rest of her life with walk right out the door. Damn. Life would be so good if she could just get out of her own way.

Jack is engaged to a competitive, neurotic woman and he knows it. He’d known what he was getting into when she’d proposed, but he’d said yes because of his love for her. He hadn’t been able to imagine his future without her. But he’s afraid of losing her, and is starting to wonder if love is enough, if he is enough to help Tracy fight off the demons from her childhood that prevent her from moving forward. He certainly wants to be, but realizes that this is something Tracy has to figure out and want to figure out alone. He hopes she does, because something Has. Got. To. Give. Or else both of their worst fears could be realized.

Buy the books:  Kobo, amazon, ARe, Barnes & Noble, iBooks

Home, Single TitlesChristmas at the Meadowlark Series, Of Wars Series & Eshu Chronicles, Sheffield Chatham Cozies

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a beautiful, peaceful city and I had a lovely time. Stayed just a few blocks from downtown in a quaint B&B.

The restaurants are amazing, as is the beach. Loved the courthouse and the museum. Downtown was so clean and spacious and the city is extremely walk-able. The week I spent there was just what I needed to recharge my batteries. I had a lovely time on the “American Riviera.”

Not all of the pics are  from Santa Barbara. The very first one (black, beautiful and mysterious) is an image from Cimarron, NM and the picture that looks like land baked so long that it cracked is in Sherlock, KS. I took those pictures from the plane.

Branding and the Independent Creative

branddevelopment
Infographic courtesy of Tom McCall.

I recently attended a panel discussion designed to help the independent creative — musician, writer, performance artist, artist, photographer, etc. — learn how to brand herself. It wasn’t meant to be just about branding, but also about distinguishing one’s self above all the other artists who are also on their independent grind and who are all flooding social media platforms with their brilliance, and drowning would-be consumers with choices. A herculean task, no?

Though the panelists, all in marketing or PR, could not drill down and give specific solutions for each and every industry and certainly not specific individuals, they did offer professional suggestions that could be applied by anyone and that struck a chord:

  • Find your tribe, or as one panelist put it “who are your people?” Connect with those who like your work and with those who are in your same industry.
  • Do the groundwork. Figure out who your audience is and the best way to reach them.
  • Have a plan. Have a team.
  • Remember that social media platforms are not the only platforms that reach people; use every resource.
  • Get out and connect. Go to events specific to your industry and network, as human contact is still the best resource.

What I took away from the discussion is that there’s nothing new, there’s no magic trick to it. There is some luck involved along with the hard work, and that the traditional/old school methods are still quite viable.

 

Today at the Lakefront

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In recent years I’ve mostly used Chicago’s lakefront for utilitarian purposes: running or walking. I’ve rarely gone to just hang out and enjoy the day. I’m always too busy. In years past, especially when one niece in particular lived in the city, we’d go there almost weekly to sit on the rock croppings to talk, be quiet or just enjoy nature as we watched the waves crash or the sail boats glide by. Even when she was a tiny thing, she’d always ask for a trip to the rocks, even occasionally — very occasionally — foregoing a trip to the nearby playground for quiet contemplation in front of the water.

Today I decided to just go hang out and it felt so very good. I was out for about four hours and I loved it. Granted; a significant chunk of that was spent on a phone call with one of my sisters, but still. It was such a pleasure and I realized that I’m going to need more of that — more contemplative time where I just sit and be quiet. It doesn’t always have to be at the lakefront, but I will have to be more deliberate about taking the time.

OLD LAKEFRONT:

NEW LAKEFRONT:

YUMMY MEXICAN FRUIT SALAD (I could only finish half):

dayatlakefront2

Above are pictures from today and days’ past. Due to erosion, the lakefront has changed drastically just in the past 18 months. The new look is definitely a lot blander, but I understand about conservation and they have re-purposed the old rocks so that we’re still able to enjoy them. I’ve also included a photo of the awesome Mexican fruit salad I was able to buy from a pushcart — something new this year I think. My mouth watered as I impatiently watched the vendor cut up the fresh fruit (pineapple, jicama, melon, watermelon, etc.) and then season it with fresh lime juice and cayenne pepper. The result was 16 oz of heaven.