Saturday, July 19, 2008

Meet Sebastiano Diadema....

© Vincenzo Chiofalo

Well, my newest novel is going to take me back to the night and its special magic. This is a brief passage from the opening of the new book, A Perfect Beauty. There will be a longer excerpt available on my website soon, and more details. But, for the moment.... meet my latest extraordinary hero....

The heavy darkness in the sky had been threatening rain all day, now, late in the evening, the promise remained unfulfilled. But it was there. Like so many other threats looming within the shadows. As she watched, the storm-grey above her deepened, and a gust of wind tore chunks of white cloud to shreds and tossed them carelessly into the emerging blackness, until they lost their airborne wildness and settled over the ground in a shroud of fog. Amid the swirl of night-cooling, rain-laden air, she stood, waiting and watching.

It had been a night much like this, less than a month past, when her life had been altered in the most terrifying of ways. A stranger had come to her; a man unlike any she had ever known before, and she’d loved him. With desperate and all-consuming passion. She had given herself to his desires, and his madness. And, she had learned the folly of her misguided trust all too quickly when she’d awakened alone—and Changed.

The Hunger had been a compulsion different from anything she’d ever before experienced, as senseless and savage as the need she’d felt while in his arms. Now, the nights were a misery she struggled through, and the days a torment of agony that destroyed her over and over again. Yet, she survived. In spite of her longing for an end, she still ran when the light of the sun’s rays grew too intense, sought the sanctuary she instinctively knew would be found in the sheltering darkness.

This was another eternal night to endure. And the ache inside her was as much a mental torture as a physical wanting. She turned away from the turbulent beauty of the restless Bay of Naples, and began to walk, her footsteps taking her deep into the city. Before long, she was standing in front of a nightclub, and the gathered motorcycles outside it stirred a twinge of apprehension and undeniable curiosity. She hugged herself tightly then sighed and continued her interrupted journey, wondering as she did if there was something inside L’asilo that would make her feel safe, as the name implied.

Music was the first assault on her hyper-active senses, and she winced as she entered the main room of the trendy club. Her eyes wandered over the crowded space, and the pulsating rhythms of countless heartbeats began to pound in earnest, keeping time with the excited, fearful tempo of her own breaths. On some distant level, she already understood she had no need to breathe as she once had, yet the habit, instinctual and familiar, hadn’t yet been broken. She walked deeper into the swarm of life, and was overwhelmed.

* * *

“She’s one of us,” Gino Scala noted as they watched the newcomer drifting through the gathered throng of people assembled in the club’s main room.

Beside him, Liliana Medici shook her head, thoughtful.

“No, she’s not,” she disagreed softly. “She’s one of us. But different. She doesn’t have the same presence.”

Gino looked again, curiosity and faint disbelief colouring his handsome features. Then, he too sensed the ‘difference’ in the stranger’s manner. She was terrified, as well as alien to them, and he knew that fear would only grow, then, perhaps, make her reckless. She might present a very real threat to their anonymity if she wasn’t made aware of it.

“Do you know her?” he asked his beautiful companion, smiling as he looked into her perfect, glittering eyes.

“No,” she countered softly, thoughtfully. There was something about this woman that made her feel as though she knew the stranger. “I think I’ve seen her, but I can’t be sure.”

The response wasn’t the one Gino had been hoping for, and he turned again to watch the woman who roamed the busy nightclub.

* * *

In the main room of the club, the stranger wandered aimlessly, looking closely at some patrons, ignoring most. She was taking mental inventory of those who felt alien and different from the rest, sensing them to be like herself. The thought that there could be so many was terrifying and she wondered why she had never before thought that such creatures could in fact be real.

“Do I know you?”

She whirled, startled beyond reason by the presence at her side. When she turned to look closer at the woman a warning went off inside her head, followed almost instantly by fear. This woman was beautiful, tall, slender, regal, and unerringly shrewd. The last came as pure instinct, and it frightened her more than the fact that she hadn’t heard the newcomer arrive so close to her.

“I don’t think so,” she answered softly.

“I haven’t seen you here before,” Lilli noted with a smile. She could almost taste the terror in the other woman’s heart. “But I do know that I’ve seen you before.”

She smiled at the assessment and the genuine note of curiosity in Lilli’s voice.

“My name is Isabella DuVeaux, and I run an art gallery. Perhaps you’ve been to one of the shows or openings?” She smiled and waited, this time the curiosity hers.

“Ahhh,” Lilli mused softly, “I think that may be it. You’ve showcased some truly original artists,” she added as the memory solidified at last.

Isabella laughed and nodded. “As well as some bizarre ones, correct?”

Lilli’s smile was genuinely delighted by the other woman’s directness and she gestured that they move to her personal table. After only a breath of hesitation, Isabella shrugged and followed the mysterious, alluring nightclub owner.

“If you’ll forgive me my bad manners, Signorina....?” she paused, and Lilli supplied her name into the brief silence, then Isabella continued, “Medici, why are you taking such an interest in my presence in L’asilo?”

“I like to know the more intriguing people who pass through my club,” she offered with an amused quirk of one delicate eyebrow.

Isabella shook her head, feigning regret as she replied, “Then I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.”

To Lilli’s considerable surprise, she rose and walked away.

* * *

The dreams came, as they always did now, terrifying and horrific in equal measure. Isabella twisted away from the latest obscenity to invade her mind, but the nightmare followed her with relentless, ruthless delight. His face flooded into focus and she shuddered, dimly aware that some part of her wondered how she had ever found him exotic and beautiful. Pale, silvery hair shone in the artificial sun created by the gallery’s floodlights, and eyes darker than midnight skies smiled down into hers. She was captivated the moment he spoke, his soft, resonant voice throbbing life into her veins in pulsing waves of excitement beyond her ability, or desire, to control. She surrendered to him, and revelled in the madness that he wove into her being. Passion swelled and became a rushing tide that carried her to the very edges of unbearable ecstasy, then swept over her and drowned the last, faint morality that might have objected to his domination.

Pain replaced the exquisite pleasures of moments before, and she writhed in new agony, suddenly desperate to extricate herself from the embrace that was draining her of life, and forever stealing her soul. But it was long past the time that her pleas would grant her immunity, and she screamed her terror, in loud, keening cries--a mourning dirge that erupted from the deepest recesses of her heart…

The scream lingered as her loft apartment above her gallery business came into focus with painful abruptness. The taste of blood haunted her, as it had for several days; this time it didn’t revolt her. To her considerable disgust, it lured and appealed to her starved body; she hadn’t been able to eat since the night she’d met him, the compelling and devastating presence who called himself Luciano Calendri.

Calendri had come into her gallery, drawn, he said, by the name of the place and the theme of the latest showing. She understood now that the bloodshed and mayhem would have been appallingly familiar to him, and she shuddered. She thought she’d fallen in love that night, the enchantment had lasted for less than a month, then they’d made love and her life had become a nightmare. She hated him now as passionately as she’d adored him in those short yet eternal weeks.

Angered and afraid, Isabella rose and walked the shadowy rooms of her once beloved home. This was her sanctuary, she told herself firmly. Her place of refuge and creativity. A macabre and bitter laughter echoed distantly in her mind, and she cried softly as she came to the window and stared outward, dimly aware of the setting sun and the tingling that was stirring the mutated blood in her veins. Her perceptions sharpened and she shivered as a rush of strength came into her limbs and chased away the pain and frustration of minutes earlier.

She turned from the window and went to dress. Instead of another night of misery and terror, she would work tonight. The gallery was already open. Funny how she could hear the voices of the patrons below her, and smell the myriad scents of perfume, cologne, and all the other heady fragrances that were unique to the human race. Her studio was secluded, located in the rear of the gallery. Few people even knew it was part of the building.

* * *

“What have you found out about her?” Gino asked when Lilli strolled into the library of the mansion they had shared for decades.

“Only what I told you two nights ago,” she admitted with a pretty smile. She perched on the arm of the chair he was seated in, and kissed his forehead when he smiled up at her. She rose again and went to the door, gesturing for one of the servants to bring in a large box. The silent worker disappeared in seconds and she turned to look at Gino, who was waiting with patient amusement.

“A gift, Lilli?” he mused, “I’m touched.”

“I think you’ll find this interesting,” she remarked softly. She had the painting slid free of its protective wrappings in minutes and placed the medium-sized canvas where Gino could study it.
The tilt of the painting gave him an excellent view of it, and a quiver of uneasiness created an unconscious frown between his brows. The background of the canvas was a swirl of crimson fury, shades of scarlet and raging fire flowing into a whirlwind; at the centre of the maelstrom, the glory of vampire hunger, bared fangs, luminescent eyes, and ecstatic prey embraced in eternal bliss.

Gino felt a shudder ripple through his being, part cold dread, part excitement. He forced his gaze from the painting and looked up, some sixth sense aware of another presence in the room. He met the impassive blue eyes of Sebastiano Diadema across the room, and he gestured for the ancient Prince to join them.

Regal in bearing, ageless in manner, Sebastiano radiated power and mystery. He was an enigma even among their kind, and had the respect of all, though in many cases it was matched with fear. Lilli took a step closer to Gino, and he smiled. Like so many women, she was in awe of the eternal Prince, drawn and afraid at the same time. For just a moment, Gino allowed his thoughts to mingle with hers, seeing Sebastiano through her eyes. What she saw was complex, but compelling. He was over six feet tall, thick brown hair the colour of earth, while his eyes were the morning sky their kind so seldom dared to look at. He was dressed as he always was, in shades of the night, black and deep grey. The imprint of power was in every slight motion he made, and there was a sensuality embedded in his being that stirred hearts long dead, as well as those still beating. Contained passion and fury, tempered with the wisdom of a man who had seen everything of life, and death.

He shook off the almost cloying sense of being drawn into Sebastiano’s being by Lilli’s desire to touch the ancient Prince.

“What do you think of this, Sebastiano?” he asked in a soft murmur when his friend was at his side and able to view the painting properly.

For several moments, Sebastiano stared in silent contemplation of the work, his mind and heart searching past the obvious for the subtle layers of mood and thought that lay beneath the brilliant, vivid colour on the canvas. The backlash of rage, and fear, and pain made him suck in an unnecessary breath as he fought the urge to slump into the nearest chair.

“She’s in great pain,” he finally spoke, his low, rich voice soft and more alive with compassion than anything else. “She’s vampire,” he went on quietly, “but not in the same way as our Tribe. This was not done to her by her choice, Gino,” he stated with certainty, his eyes meeting the steady gaze of his old friend.

Gino nodded, expression somber. He looked at Lilli, who’d been watching the exchange with real interest.

“Has she returned to the club?”

Sebastiano was surprised. “You know who painted this?” he asked, gaze moving from Gino to Lilli, then back.

“Yes,” Scala answered honestly. “Her name is Isabella DuVeaux. She runs an art gallery called-”

La galleria d'Arte dell'angelo nero,” Sebastiano supplied, his eyes distant with thought. “I know it.”

“Really?” This time it was Gino’s expression that filled with startled speculation.

“She’s showcased a number of promising artists in recent years,” Sebastiano replied, meeting the slight smile in Gino’s eyes with his own. “She’s not afraid of controversial material,” he added, a fleeting tilt of his head indicating her own painting.

“Could she endanger the Illusion?” Gino posed the question carefully, sensing that it would not be a welcome doubt to the Prince who was again staring at the evocative painting with something akin to enchantment in his pale, expressive features. Despite his almost death-like outward appearance, Gino knew that Sebastiano was probably a great deal more human than the rest of them. While very capable of blood-chilling violence and ruthlessness, Sebastiano also possessed a capacity for gentleness that frequently humbled Gino and others of their kind.

Sebastiano smiled slightly at the query, and the care with which it was voiced.

“She doesn’t even know what she is, Gino,” he said softly. “How could she endanger us?”

“She could go on a killing frenzy without understanding why she was doing it,” Lilli pointed out, her beautiful features colder than ice.

Sebastiano merely gazed at her, his look unflinching. She turned away from his direct scrutiny in less than a minute, and he transferred his attention back to Gino.

“What do you want me to do, my friend? Advise you, or destroy her?”

There was a note of inflection in the rich, velvety voice of the reclusive Prince, something Gino couldn’t readily identify, and he was silent for several moments, considering Lilli’s assertion against what he instinctively felt would be objectionable to Sebastiano.

“We do nothing for the moment,” he decided quietly. “We’ll watch her, but not interfere until it becomes necessary.”

Sebastiano inclined his head in acceptance then peered a moment longer at the young man who ran his business interests.

“You assume it will be necessary to approach her,” he noted in a murmur.

“She’s family to us, at least in some fashion,” Gino nodded. “If she doesn’t understand what she is, she’ll have to be told. Otherwise, she’s a danger to us.”

Sebastiano considered the words, then nodded a small bow before leaving the luxurious decor of the Scala mansion’s sitting room.

“He won’t let you order her death,” Lilli said, voice low and soft with disbelief as she considered the possibility.

“Sebastiano is a survivor, Lilli, he’ll make sure I do whatever is necessary to ensure we all remain living,” Gino snapped, irritated that she was speaking aloud the sense of foreboding that had settled into his heart the instant he’d seen the painting, and his friend’s response to it...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guest Blogger: EMMA KEATLEY

Welcome to a fabulous poet from the UK - I am thrilled to have Emma with us....

Firstly a huge Thank You to Denyse for allowing me to blog here today.

A wee bit about me, I am from a big ole Irish family and that's probably why I love the sound of laughter! I love to read and am always making up stories, maybe one day i will actually try and write my own short Love Story, with a twist of course! I enjoying cooking ( but I'm not real good at it!), I love a good mystery, one of my fave films of all time is Ten Little Indians made back in the 40's. Going to the Theatre is another big thing for me, and as i live in London, I am lucky enough to be able to indulge myself. I also make sure I go to our local Theatre, sometimes we see plays here first before they go into the West End. I absolutely love old B&W comedy films of Laurel & hardy and my all time fave The Marx Brothers. I like to have friends over and I like to entertain, but I am just as happy reading one of my many thousands of books, with some sexy jazz playing in the background. Music is an absolute must for me and I always have a radio or c.d playing.

As i have gotten older I now enjoy listening to classical music, but jazz and soul will always come first with me. Way back when i was lucky enough to see Marvin Gaye, that man sure new how to sing. So now I'm writing poetry and I can not tell you how surprised and dumbfounded I am that I have actually been published!

This time last year I "met" an author by the name of Kate Hofman on a chat day and she asked me if i was writer, I very cheekily wrote back saying I was a poet. Kate asked me to send her some of my poetry, which I did. Long story short, she liked them and sent them on to her publisher Rose. Kate asked me if I would do some poetry for her book, where her lead character was a poet, so i did and that's how I first got published.

So you never can tell what's right around the corner can you?

Poetry is something I really enjoy writing and I think I have really only just started to explore what it is i can do.

Seasons and Colours of Love 24th June 2008

And to tempt you.... a couple of selections from Emma....

A Garden for Every Season
by Emma May 2008

If you are free today come and join me and lets walk thru my garden

Do you have any flowers, shrubs or trees in your garden
Do they have fabulous names
Are the colourful
Do they bloom
And have they any scent at all
If i can help you choose to plant some
Here are a few of my suggestions

I'd like to start with Buddleia ( Butterfly Bush)
Comes in several varieties
Some wonderful colours like purple & white
Has fragrant flowers too
Then i think Callicarpa ( Beauty Berry)
An Autumn visitor
Leaves of red or violet
The berries stay on the bush until Christmas
Oh lets go wild and add some
Viburnum and Witch -Hazel
These have such heady aromas
Are you starting to get the idea now?

Flowers are such personal things
But i have many favourites
Here are a few
For the Spring
The Daffodil i really have to mention these as they are my Mother's favourite flower, with long stems and colours of
Yellow , white and double flowering ones
The Ajuga with dark purple flowers
The Anemone with dark pink flowers
The Aquilegia with red and creamy coloured petals
The Camassia with purple star shaped flowers
Already so much colour and that's only the season of spring

Lets go for summer
The Fuchsia whether trailing for a hanging basket
or a mighty bush in your garden
Pink and purple in colour
A real delight to the eye
The Gazania a bit like a giant daisy
Yellow and sometimes with orange streaks
The Gypsophila a really delicate looking plant
Long stems and tiny wee flowers
A pale pink or white in colour
The Lavatera with pink trumpet shaped like flowers
The Nerine always reminds me of a spider with pink curling petals
The Salpiglossis with such a long name you won't be surprised when i tell you she has the most gloriously large red petals interspersed with orange, a big showy flower

Autumn is next to follow
The Salvia a blaze of red almost the colour of flames
The Schizostylis with such a wonderful name her colours range from red to orange and lets not forget pink as well
The Amaranthus - now there's a name to be proud of
Various types of these have dangling flowers and others are upright and graceful
A pinky red in colour
The Aster now these to me and daisies but with great colours
Pinks and purples and reds, blues and whites
With little yellow centres
The Dahlia with big showy flowers
Spectacular colours
Orange, yellow, red, white, pink

The Viola with colours a plenty
They always make me smile
If you look at these from a distance some of these look like butterflies
The Bergenia with long red stalks and amazing tiny bell shaped flowers
Pink, red, white in colour
The Crocus not just a Spring bloomer
With tiny delicate flowers
Dark purples, and a hint of white
The Galanthus ( The Snowdrop)
Bell shaped blooms and so gorgeous
White in colour and pleasing to the eye
The Helleborous
I think they look like the shape of a bowl
White and very pale pink

While walking thru your garden do you see any Butterflies or Bees
Are the birds nesting in the trees
Are squirrels living in the hollows of the trees
Are there lots of worms
Are spiders spinning their webs
Do you have foxes, badgers or hedgehogs
Is there dew upon the dawn
Does the sun shine brightly in the morning
Is there a gentle rolling mist in the evening
Does the moon and the stars light up the night sky

Your garden is a thing of beauty
Nature at her best

"Pink- The Colour of Passion"
A Colour for All Seasons
By Emma May 2008

The darker the colour
The better i like it
Pink is no longer a girlie colour
It's sexy
Pleasure unrivalled

When i think of the colour pink i smile
A slow secret smile
My eyes light up
Memories of pure bliss explode upon consciousness
Hot images assail me
My pulse speeds up
My heartbeat increases rapidly
Butterflies invade my belly
A swirl of longing so intense abounds

The colour pink is like chocolate
One bit is never enough
The more you eat
the more you want
Well i don't intend to limit my myself
But i build up the longing
Oh so slowly
I lie upon my dark pink satin sheets
And let the tension mount

Once I let myself go
I embrace each and everything I touch
& smell
My senses are alive
So acute to each and every feeling
So totally beautiful
So exquisite
So mindbogglingly unique
So very pink

I love dark pink flowers
Their scent
Their pleasing appearance

I love pink clothing
A little sexy
A little naughty
A scrap of lace
A hint of silk
The feel of satin

Well what can i say, except pink really does it for me..................

Visit Emma's page to see ALL of her wonderful titles! CLICK HERE


Emma has very generously offered the gift of a copy of her wonderful book to one of the commenters today, so do leave her a message or a question, okay? You're entered for her draw automatically then.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

FREE eBooks!

Double Trouble Hits the Streets,
Walls and Computers Near You!

Our very own Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine start their road to galactic stardom today (or, at least a little bit of fandom :))

Available for your reading pleasure, we offer up two complete PDF Ebooks! F*R*E*E! OF C*H*A*R*G*E!

A Billibub Baddings Mystery: The Case of the Pitcher's Pendant, by Tee Morris - The second Billibub Baddings Mystery (the first was The Case of the Singing Sword)

Digital Magic, by Philippa Ballantine (a follow up to Chasing the Bard)

Please download a copy of the PDF's, but more importantly, we ask that you TALK about them, and link to them from our server location, and give them away on your blog, your podcasts, your newsgroups, your social networking pages... anything you can think of. If you're especially creative about it, tell me about it on my Facebook page... random winners will win print copies of the book.

Our goal is to spread the word, and make a few author dreams come true on 08-08-08 - where we ask that if you enjoy the books, or, well, really, even if you don't, you'll pick up a copy or six, or twenty... or you get the idea!... from (the links to order are in the ebooks). We'd like to have Tee and Pip hit the bestseller list, and we're asking for your help. But please! DON'T order your copy until 08-08-08. Thank you for your help... we appreciate it!

For updates, please feel free to subscribe to my blog.

Yours truly,
Gwen, Dragon Moon Press

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

NEW from the amazing Lucy Monroe

I'm reading this new book at the moment, and it's wonderful - like ALL of Lucy's books. This lady has a gift for drawing you into new worlds, introducing you to people who are real and accessible, and who take up residence in your heart and never leave it. I've read so many of her fabulous books, and she never misses the mark. It is my privilege and honour to count her among my most special friends, too. Check this one out, you won't be disappointed.

Also, you might want to drop by the terrific Harlequin Presents Blog, too, where Lucy's chatting about this book, and the intriguing topic of books that are part of a series, and why so many people love them. And don't forget to check out more of Lucy's titles, there are so many excellents ones to choose from.
Lucy's Blog

Need more temptation? Check this out: