Friday 27 September 2013

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review - The Woman he Loved Before, Dorothy Koomson

Hello book lovers!

It's time for the monthly Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review in which we choose our best read for the month and write a review. Thanks to the Armchair Squid for starting this meme. Go here for more book reviews.

My favourite book this month is a re-read. I loved this book SO much I dusted it off and got lost in the story again. I first read it last year, lent it to someone, then couldn't resist another read. Definitely the best book I've read this month, so here we go...

Before you read my review, I warn you, if you pick this book up, you won't want to put it down until you finish it, so clear your slate. 

She is out of his life, but is she out of his heart?

I read in the back of the book (I'm someone who has to read Prefaces and Acknowledgements etc) that the author wanted to explore the position of the second wife, with all the variables in the relationship. Dorothea Koomson grabs you by the throat on the first page, and keeps hold of you all the way through, and shakes you at times. 

Koomson is master of dribbling in the backstory in the most salient of places. The re-read helped me to make more sense of the inter-twined storylines. At times the POV is not easily decipherable as the author doesn't use names at the top. I admit I got a little annoyed when I had to really concentrate on what was happening to get the POV.

The main character, Libby, has a cosy life as a beautician, with a gorgeous husband Jack and a big home by the sea in Brighton, England. (The author paints the setting with gentle brushstrokes, which I love. Settings should be characters IMHO). But over time Libby is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever really loved her and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife. 

When fate intervenes in their relationship in the form of a car crash, Libby has to convalesce. Jack has a secret which Libby slowly remembers during her convalescence, so she decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve, the woman Jack had loved before, and obviously hasn't let go. 

The ugly interview with the police after her injuries makes Libby question everything about her husband. There is a clever scene where Detective Sergeant Morgan is interviewing Libby after the accident where Jack describes his inquisitor: 'She is not ugly to look at, she is simply ugly to be around. They say beauty is only skin deep; ugliness, when it comes to this woman, begins at the core, slimes its way through every artery and vein, fills every organ then spills out to show the world who she really is.' 

Libby brushes aside all questions regarding Jack's intention to kill her, despite that near the beginning of the book she says: 'He wasn't my type when I first met him. But look at us now; him with one dead wife and another on the way.' 

Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve, (which will probably shock you as it did me! Not something you read about everyday!) and is soon unearthing more and more devastating family secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved--dead. Has she married a murderer?

Tense and alarming, yet moving, The Woman He Loved Before explores if the love you want is always the love you need or deserve.

I'm thrilled that Dorothy Koomson has written several novels. I've just embarked on a mission to read them all. I find it hard to categorise her -- women's fiction, contemporary fiction, thriller, chick lit? A bit of everything which fits together perfectly.


A word from the author: Writing my seventh novel has reminded me AGAIN why I love being an author. It pushes me, it stretches me, it challenges me. The Woman He Loved Before did all of that and more. I found myself in the pits of despair sometimes with the subjects I was writing about, and also questioning everything I’ve ever thought about beauty and looks. I probably wasn’t a whole lot of fun to live with while I was living the lives of Libby, Jack and Eve but as always I’m very proud of the results and hope that anyone who picks it up enjoys what they read.

Note from Denise: 
Sometimes I contact the author when I've loved a book a lot. I tweeted @DorothyKoomson and was thrilled when she replied. Okay, it may have been her PR person, but at least she acknowledged the tweet. 
And her website is great. She offers a free e-book. Always good. Visit her here.

Now I can't leave without announcing WEP's great October blogfest, HAUNTING! I hope you'll find your scary place and join in! There is a $10 Amazon Gift Card for Denise's favourite entry! Sign up at Write...Edit...Publish or in my right-hand sidebar. Thanks, scary ones...

Friday 20 September 2013

Write...Edit...Publish Blogfest - MOVING ON - to Paris!

Hello everyone!

It's time for the second Write...Edit...Publish blogfest, the prompt, MOVING ON. The only rule is that stories remain around/under 1,000 words. The monthly blogfest is open to all, so watch the prompts and sign up. You're most welcome! OCTOBER is HAUNTING! 

In August I began a story with the premise that a young girl has arrived in Paris to look for her mother who has run away from home. (A little twist, yeah?) Willow meets a young French man, Jacques, whose intention is to help Willow solve the mystery. Today my entry is from the mother's point of view.

If you need me, I’ll be in Paris. Y

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Cecelia woke with the corny quote swirling round in her head like some bizarre jingle once heard, never forgotten. She opened one eye just a slit—the other was swollen shut. But she could see enough to know she was alone in her bed. Her tormentor had left.

He’d tormented her one last time.

She reached for the clock on her bedside table. “Owwee!” She screamed as pain burned like a lightning bolt. Tears ran down her face as she focused on the dial, but the digits wobbled in her vision, a distorted mirror image. No matter. It was nearly light. It was probably the closing door that had woken her. Thank God he had drawn early shift at the factory today.

Did you ever lay in the dark and sing? Someone had once asked her that question. No, I can’t imagine doing that, she’d replied at an time when she had no hope.

But as she lay in the semi-darkness, arm throbbing, eye throbbing, heart sobbing, she started to sing away the pain. The notes reverberated around the room like one of her father's cracked ’78 records, but as the words welled up from her heart and passed her lips to the outside world, her spirit strengthened. The tense space of the bedroom filled with positive tones; the darkness receded.

Battered and bruised, but not beaten, Cecelia rose from her bed to meet the new day. Her knees cracked, her calves ached from the vicious kicks. She fell back onto the bed and nearly screamed with the pain of it. She reached for the photo frame with her favourite picture of the Eiffel Tower. She found comfort in its strong, sleek lines. She sat awhile until the pain lessened. How tempting to fall back onto the pillows and lay there all day! No! Up she got again. And again. Until finally, she stood strong on legs like steel springs.

The first day of the rest of her life could now begin.

Everything was ready. She’d been planning her escape for years. Her luggage in the basement, hidden in the old fire recess, her travel documents squirreled away in her make up case. She was pretty sure it was safe there. Ewan hated makeup. “A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint, makes a girl look what she ain’t”, he always sniped when she made the effort to hide the bruises, to hide the evidence of his brutality and her weakness from the world.

But her most important stash of all was hidden in plain sight—her precious books stacked on her bedside table would take but a moment to pack. She couldn’t leave them behind after the years spent building her collection. They would give her a kick start in her new life. She ran her tongue over her mouth, remembering the smacks when Ewan saw she’d added another book to her pile. “Spending all our bloody money on books! What good did books ever do for you?”

“Mum? You all right?” 

Darling Willow at the door. How could she leave her behind? What kind of mother was she? But the time had come. She couldn’t take her daughter with her. Not yet. Willow needed to finish her schooling. Ewan adored his daughter. She’d be safe.

“Mum?” The old wooden door creaked open. Willow tiptoed across the space between door and bed.

“Mum? Why are you standing there?” She snapped on the bedside light. An eerie glow seeped into the pre-dawn shadows. 

Cecelia shivered. The floating white curtains had always reminded her of a shroud. She took deep breaths. She couldn't afford a panic attack now. 

Mother and daughter stared at each other, wrapped in light and fear. “Mum…your face. Dad said you fell in the bathroom. He’s hit you again, hasn’t he?”

Willow’s voice was raw with pain…and something else…realization? Her saintly father a sinner after all.

Cecelia couldn’t find words.

“I heard you singing just now, Mum. You sounded happy.”

Cecelia touched her eye, wiping away a tear. “Give me a hug, darling girl. I am so happy right now, you can’t imagine. I have the sweetest daughter in the world. I love you so much.”

“It’s going to be all right, isn’t it Mum?” Willow’s embrace tightened. Cecelia winced at the sharp stab in her ribs. “I have an early class, but don’t worry about dinner. I’ll cook. Dad ordered steak and potatoes, but said he won’t be home till late. Overtime.” She frowned at Cecelia, studied her face. Did Willow sense the change in her mother…a fresh determination after all these years?

Willow held her close. “Another hug, Mum? I love you.”

Cecilia wanted to stay in her daughter’s embrace, but she had a busy day ahead. If she didn't make the break now, she doubted she'd ever gather courage again.

When her daughter read her note tonight, she wouldn’t understand, not at first, but Cecelia knew her Willow. She would struggle with her loyalty to her father, she would struggle with the decision her mother had made. But then she’d recall the yelling, the blows, the brokenness of it all. She’d remember her mother with love and acceptance…eventually.

But Cecelia had to take that first step to a new life. She'd leave the picture of the Eiffel Tower behind. She'd have the real thing instead.

Paris. Here I come! 


I am happy for a full critique. All constructive criticism welcome. Just play nice.

Click on the names below the WEP image in the sidebar to read more stories. Thank you!

LINKY WILL GO UP EARLY OCTOBER AT WRITE...EDIT...PUBLISH Start dreaming up something scary, wicked or just plain fun for Halloween!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

CassaStorm hits the shelves! Alex J Cavanaugh launches his latest novel in the Cassa series!

Hello everyone!

Here we go with Alex J Cavanaugh's newest release, CassaStorm. The blog world will be taken by storm. When the dust settles, Alex will be giving away something special-- a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag! to a lucky, random commenter on his blog this week.

Those who know me well, know science fiction isn't my first love, but I read widely, so the occasional sci-fi title falls into my hands. But as Alex knows, I think he's a little short on romance and female characters, so when he asked for a question to accompany this blog post, of course my question was:
Alex, you know I thought CassaStar was short on female roles. Is there romance in CassaStorm?                                                                                            
 Denise, there was a romance in CassaFire, which is when fans were introduced to Athee. She’s still present in CassaStorm, but the story focuses more on the parent-to-child relationship.

So there you go...

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“Cavanaugh has created wonderfully moving moments of great poignancy… CassaStorm could have been a dark story full of hardship and angst, but instead it's a cleverly balanced story about hope and triumph.” 

- Lynda R. Young, author of Make Believe

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…”

- Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

Find CassaStorm:

Amazon -
$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife. 

Goodreads -

Book trailer -

Thank you for swinging by...

  • Have you read any of Alex's former books? Have you read CassaStorm? What do you think?

  • The second Write...Edit...Publish blogfest with the theme, MOVING ON, is due on Friday 20th. Not too late to get an entry ready. Sign up in the right sidebar...please!! 

Monday 16 September 2013

Murder, Madness and Love Blog Tour - Yolanda Renee - BOOK REVIEW

Hi everyone!

I'm sure you've seen Yolanda Renee doing the rounds for her murder/mystery novel, Murder, Madness and Love. Today is my turn to host Yolanda. I asked to do a book review. 

Yolanda's novel is a suspenseful/romantic trilogy set in Anchorage, Alaska and Washington State. It's a love story with lots of twists! It features a detective, native Alaskan Steven Quaid, who not only loves his job; he is determined to have the white picket fence—wife and kids. The only problem is that he keeps falling for the wrong woman, and when he meets the right one, the protagonist Sarah Palmer, she's accused of murder. Steve believes Sarah is guilty of the murder of her husband and the title, The Black Widow, much deserved. What happens to change Steven's mind?


After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, rumor and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.
Click here to buy Kindle version


Sunlight blazes on an empty canvas.
Arctic winds gather snowflakes on a frosty window ledge as a statuesque form appears. She moves past a table littered with papers. Headlines splash news of murder, but it's the photo of another young woman with features mirroring her own that draws her attention.
A different headline peeks from underneath the Anchorage Times.
Wealthy Businessman Dies in Car Crash ... BLACK WIDOW SUSPECTED!
Graphic images swirl through her head and a tear rolls down her cheek. She drifts toward an easel and a trembling hand dips a sable brush into a palette of paint.
The Westminster doorbell chimes. The brush slips and blood-red paint stains the floor.
Detective Steven Quaid waits. His Tlingit, Indian features carved from granite, mask his Irish passion ...
Will he arrest her this time?
All fingers point to her guilt.
But, is she guilty of this cunning plot? Or, just a victim of circumstantial evidence?
The door opens ...
His eyes lock on hers ...
His heart races ...
Hers skips a beat.

Now to my review...

The novel starts with a murder of a beautiful woman in the snowy streets of Anchorage, the same night Steven Quaid and Sarah Palmer first spot each other across the distance. In a rare light moment, in an attempt to "vanquish the blackness of winter to another time", Sarah has rushed into the fresh snow to make snow angels. Despite his initial annoyance at a woman alone on the streets at midnight, Steven henceforth regards Sarah as his "snow angel".  

The chase is on to find the murderer of the first victim, Debra, and it continues relentlessly as other women die. Who is committing these murders? Steven knows they are irrevocably linked to the death of Michael Palmer and his 'black' widow, Sarah Palmer. Each of the women's murder scenes is accompanied by a note - From Your Dead Valentine. The detectives know the notes are aimed at Sarah Palmer. Each of the dead women look just like her.

The murderer leads the investigative team on a merry chase, with many red herrings along the way. The murders are occurring on the 14th of each month, so the rush is on to track down the murderer before February 14th, which is calculated as the date Sarah Palmer will die -- her wedding anniversary with Michael Palmer.

Sarah Palmer is in a predicament right from the start. She is being stalked by a murderer with a penchant for knifing victims and scaring her half to death with heavy-breathing phone calls and night visits to her bedroom, yet the press and some of the police hired to protect her believe she is the murderer of Michael Palmer. As Detective Terry O'Conner says: "...while the case has gone cold, secrets never stay secrets forever." "Black widows devour husbands and Terry feared she would strike again."

Anchorage is indeed in for "another bloody winter" as bodies are found and the detectives always seem to be a step behind. Even Steven "Hawk" Quaid is flummoxed at the identity of the murderer once he convinces himself that Sarah is innocent and he means to make her his wife when the mysteries are solved. 

I especially love novels where the settings are a character as they're so well wrought, but Yolanda pours her passion into her characters not her settings. The story is character driven from go to woah. I think the novel would have been much richer with more attention to detail -- Anchorage, Seattle, a Cliff House, Idaho -- so many amazing settings. 

Another minus was that at times the characters didn't react as real-life people would react in similar situations, and the dialogue didn't ring true all the time -- but there is a lot of dialogue between characters, so Yolanda can be forgiven a few blips.

Overall, a great debut novel. The best thing about this murder mystery is that I never worked out 'whodunnit'. If you read it, you'll know why. I can't wait for more.

Yolanda Renee is an author to watch.

Have a great week, everyone!

  • Have you read Murder, Madness and Love? What did you think?
4 days to go to MOVING ON entries! Sign up now!!


Thursday 12 September 2013


Hi there!

I have sometimes commented in passing about the face-to-face Writing Group I attend, but I've thought more and more about an online writing group as well, where the focus would be firmly on critiquing each other's manuscripts. At times my Writing Group isn't much more than a social occasion. I've joined a couple of online groups, but I've been mulling over starting my own online writing group, doing my research, and this is what I've learned so far. I thought I'd share with you, as perhaps you'd like to be part of a personalised online writing group.


  1. A GROUP NEEDS A LEADER. This can be problematic in a face-to-face writing group, as sometimes who is actually the leader is unclear. But like any other organisation, if no one is in charge the group will eventually dissolve. Once a group is up and running, there shouldn't be much work for the leader to do, but the leader needs to:  keep the current list of email addresses, pass out the group's guidelines to new members, help resolve conflicts when/if they arise. The leader should be the chief motivator by setting group goals such as challenging members to enter contests or use writing prompts as they become available. Seeing projects through to completion would be another job for the leader.
  2. A GOOD WRITING GROUP KEEPS IT SIMPLE. Guidelines should be straightforward and easy to remember. Rules shouldn't be so involved that members spend more time critiquing than working on their own writing projects.
  3. A GOOD WRITING GROUP STAYS FLEXIBLE. Allow the rules to change and evolve as the group develops. Don't make rules such as 'members must submit a ms once a month'. Find out what members feel is reasonable and come to an agreement.
  4. A GOOD WRITING GROUP AVOIDS THE RED PENCIL SYNDROME. Members should be encouraged to focus on big picture critiquing -- plot, character, setting, pace, page-turning-quality etc -- rather than typos or spelling and grammar errors. A good writer will eventually correct those. (However, if technical English is a problem and a member requests attention to these details, give the member what he/she wants.)
  5. A GOOD WRITING GROUP DECIDES WHEN IT IS MOST PRODUCTIVE TO READ WORKS. Make clear guidelines about when a ms should be added to the pool. (To save everyone's precious time, the ms should be the best the writer can produce.) Also, should you read someone else's critique of a ms before you write your own critique of the work? Perhaps first-time critiquers will find it helpful to read someone else's comments first -- but encourage members to never critique the critique! The focus is on the ms. Comments are fresher when critiquers critique before reading other's comments. Often the same weak spot will be discovered.
  6. WRITING GROUP MEMBERS SHOULD RE-READ BEFORE HITTING THE 'SEND' BUTTON. Sometimes jokes can be misconstrued across cultures and may be offensive to someone. Check your email before you send it off, making sure there is nothing to offend anyone.
  7. A GOOD WRITING GROUP SHARES SUCCESSES, REJECTIONS AND MARKET INFORMATION. This is the way to build group trust and support. Members look out for each other.
  8. MEMBERS MUST DEVELOP A THICK SKIN. Whether online or in the flesh, don't take criticism personally. Your job isn't to defend your work -- it's to improve it. Use the suggestions you like and ignore the rest. If several members make the same suggestion or point out the same problem, maybe consider taking their opinions seriously.
  9. A GOOD WRITING GROUP KEEPS THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN. If for any reason you need a break from writing or critiquing, let the group members know. It's bad form if someone sends out a ms then doesn't hear back from several members of the group.
  10. WRITING GROUP MEMBERS NEED TO EMBRACE BEING ONLINE. This sounds obvious -- if you've chosen to join an online writing group, it suggests that you like/prefer the online experience. But some people have email accounts which they never check. Whatever way a writing group decides to communicate - via a facebook closed group, emails, a dedicated blog...this needs to be checked constantly. By joining an online writing group, you are committing to reading and responding to mss.
'Writers aren't exactly people...they're a whole lot of people trying to be one person.' F Scott Fitzgerald.

Thanks to The Writing Group Book, edited by Lisa Rosenthal, for some of the ideas in this post.

  • Are you in an online writing group? Share your experience...
  • If you joined an online writing group, what would be your expectations?
  • Can you add anything to my list of tips?

Monday 9 September 2013

More Than Just a Kiss blogfest with prizes. Short, wet kisses from Fijian Princess, my first completed manuscript.

“A kiss, when all is said, what is it? 'Tis a secret told to the mouth instead of to the ear.” ~ Edmond Rostand 

The wonderful Cecilia Robert and Christine Rains would like to invite you to the MORE THAN JUST A KISS blogfest!

Sweet, sizzling, fiery, awkward, mind-blowing. They want to read your kissing scenes.

The rules are simple:
1. Sign up on the linky list and post the badge on your blog.
2. On one of the days of the week of September 9th, post a kissing scene on your blog. It can be either fiction or non-fiction.
3. Please do not exceed 250 words.
4. This is a blogfest, so visit the other participants and have fun!
But wait! This is more than a blogfest.
They're offering prizes!
The scenes will be judged by these amazing romance authors: Cecilia Robert,Laurelin PaigeKyra Lennon, and Christine Rains.  They will choose three posts to win these awesome prizes.
Prize 1 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding ten pages). Critiques will be done by Cecilia RobertKyra Lennon, and Christine Rains.

Prize 2 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding five pages). This critique will be done by Laurelin Paige and Christine.

Prize 3 - A critique of a kissing/intimate scene from your WIP (not exceeding one page). This critique will be done by Cecilia and Christine.

Cecilia, Kyra, Laurelin, and Christine will each choose one of our favorites to give out some fantastic ebooks.
Laurelin - FIXED ON YOU 
Christine – All six volumes of the 13th Floor series.

Sign up here!

I'm from Australia, so we're halfway through the 9th already and I have a lot happening the rest of the week. By posting early, I hope I can inspire you to post a 'kiss' entry, fiction or non-fiction. 

For my entry I will share a watery kiss between my hero and heroine in my first completed manuscript, tah dah!! the romance, Fijian Princess. Early in the story they are diving together in the Pacific Ocean off a Fijian island where Bosco's sister is getting married. The extract is from Adi's POV.

Bosco touched her shoulder. His thumb jerked upwards. Then Adi saw it, a black and white banded sea snake, highly venomous.

The slithering creature gave her the creeps. Breathe, Bosco signalled, breathe. She willed her heart into a steady rhythm, then hand in hand, they slowly kicked to the surface.

The sunlight blinded her as they broke through the water together. She flailed around, slapping Bosco’s hands. She tore off her mouthpiece and babbled: “I’m fine...too long since I’ve dived...don’t worry…sorry…”

Bosco removed his mouthpiece. “Adi, you panicked big time. It stole your oxygen. That sea snake was probably harmless, but I couldn’t risk it.”

“I know. Thank you for being there for me.”

He touched her cheek. “I always want to be there for you.”

How she longed to recapture the joy she’d felt under water. On a whim, she kissed him on the cheek. She looked over her shoulder as she bobbled away, just in time to see him touch where her lips had been.

He was beside her in a few strong strokes.  “Come here,” he growled. His arms wrapped around her shoulders, lifted her out of the water. She tried to wiggle away, but he held firm. “That wasn’t a kiss.” Then he kissed her—a watery kiss—a kiss full of promise, punctuated by the loud banging of their dive gear.

She wanted to stay in his arms forever.



  • I hope you enjoyed my extract and got a feel for my two charming characters, Bosco and Adi.
  • And please do consider signing up for Write...Edit...Publish's September blogfest, theme MOVING ON.

Friday 6 September 2013

Hart Johnson's THE WORLD ENDS HOW? Blogfest. Release of A Flock of Ill Omens: Part 1.

It's D-Day for the release of Hart  (Confessions of a Watery Tart) Johnson's serialised A Flock of Ill Omens, the first in her A Shot in the Light serial..The book is now UP FOR SALE!

Deadliest virus in a century, or a social experiment gone awry?

Every year they warned about the flu and more often than not, it amounted to nothing. Sidney Knight, a young freelance reporter had certainly never written on it. But a trip to Lincoln City, Oregon cut short by a beach full of dead seagulls and a panicked warning from her brother, the scientist, catch her attention. This batch is different. Deadlier. And the vaccine doesn't seem to be helping. It almost looks like it's making it worse...

A Flock of Ill Omens: Part I is the first episode of A Shot in the Light, an Apocalypse Conspiracy Tale about what happens when people play God for fun and profit. There will be approximately ten episodes, each the equivalent of about 100 pages.

Good Reads has a sneak peek posted. You can find the purchase link and more information about the book here. And if you want it FOR FREE, I will be offering it free on the release dates of at least the next two in the serial: September 19 and October 10.

And if you want to BUY it, it is HERE. (actually has the whole first chapter, too)

Hart Johnson writes books from here bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, though be warned. She is likely to lead you into shenanigans.

To celebrate with a bit of hoopla!, Hart is hosting a blogfest which began on September 5. For once, the timezones worked in my favour -- it's already midday September 6 in Australia, but I know Hart won't mind if I'm late to the party.

Hart has asked people to:

Write 50-250 words about how YOU think the world will end (all in fun): is it nuclear war? Aliens? Zombies? Asteroid? [Is it clear yet I think way too much about this?] Giant Spaghetti Monster? Attack of the Interrobang!? Or are you on board with my flu scenario?

To sweeten the deal, Hart is offering a Prize!!
She will randomly choose one entry for:

A SUBSCRIPTION (the full serial, as it comes out) and a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
How sweet is that.

NOW FOR MY ENTRY--GEEK, I USUALLY LIKE A MONTH TO THINK ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THIS BUT I HAVE TO DO IT STRAIGHT AWAY. I know Hart said it was all in fun, but heck, this is what came out of my typing fingers. If it upsets you, shut your eyes! It ended up being 500 words, but I chopped it down to 308. Still over the limit, but you can stop reading any time. If I keep chopping it won't make a lot of sense.


Matilde entered the facility unnoticed, undetected and unwisely. What passed for her heart thumped--I'm in!

The first foot-thick impregnated steel door, no problem--nor the second, the third. She stood in the central hub. How cold and sterile the space appeared--monocrome colours, except for the bright shirts of the staff hunched over their stations. She could reach out and touch the electrical pulse of their tension.

Her plan?  She'd stormed the facility thinking she could save the world. Could she?

Matilde stared at the gigantic flickering screen that wrapped around the upper room. The solemn eyes of her beloved President pierced hers. Edward stood staunchly behind his boss, eyes cold, empty. He’d taken her death hard. He would be beating himself up for not saving her from that Middle Eastern bomb blast. It wasn't your fault! she screamed, but her world remained silent.

Getting war stories was her job. She lived for the danger, the excitement...and she'd died for it. The intelligence she’d gathered was now being unleashed to disastrous effect. Ohhh nooooo!

Don't! she silently begged, as the determination on the men’s faces grew. The military commanders moved closer to the President and Edward, solidarity at this dreadful, final hour. She read Edward's lips: “This is for you, Matilde!”  Was the End of Days here? Was it all her fault?

She moved to the centre of the room where the codes were being entered. She tugged at fingers busy at the task. The man shivered and shook his head. Matilde felt a frisson of hope! He’d felt her. Get it wrong! She smacked his face, his hands; she poked her fingers into the machine...but nothing, nothing…

She was helpless.

She jittered with horror. The gigantic screen exploded with dreadful images—thick, choking dust, steely clouds and whooshing cities flashed before her, a macabre dance.