Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Learning: How to sell a ton of books in 5 simple steps

SkipJack Publishing is an award-winning, best-selling independent publishing company, sharing their secrets and guiding you step-by-step to propel yourself—and your books—to publishing success.

No matter where you are in the writing process – struggling to breathe life into a treasured plot bunny or a seasoned author with the scars to prove it – the SkipJack School has the class for you.  Our bundles contain classes on the topics of writing, publishing and marketing.

Check out our all-inclusive bundle with every class in the SkipJack School. Or start with our FREE class, How to sell a ton of books in 5 simple steps.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.

You can connect with Pamela via her website http://pamelafaganhutchins.com or e-mail pamela@pamelafaganhutchins.com.



How to Sell a Ton of Books in 5 Simple Steps:

So you’ve written a book. It’s for sale on Amazon, your own little Field of Dreams. You’ve strong-armed everyone you know, and they’ve all promised to buy it. To read it. To review it. Only they haven’t, and it’s not selling.
Meanwhile, your mother’s told everyone and their three-legged dog about her son the author. Her daughter the next Steven King. Her little pookie who’s going to be rich and famous any day now. People ask you when you’re quitting your day job (and to borrow money).
Your life has become a secret hell that you cover up with a swagger and a smile. You tell yourself that it’s about the achievement. About getting it out there. About the art. The truth is, though, you want readers. You want fan letters and a movie deal. You want to make MONEY at this, but you have no idea how.

Pamela does. She went from attorney/investigator to full-time author in three years, with 1.5 million downloads and six-figure royalties. And she wants to help you. 

FOR FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on in with Pamela, and get to work on learning how to sell more books.

Click on the links below to access the courses:


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Books: Interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Mjke Wood


Today on the blog we have the pleasure to introduce writer Mjke Wood. Read on to find out more about his fascinating books.

Where are you from and what's your background?

I was born on the Isle of Man but I’ve lived most of my life on the Wirral, in the UK. I worked as a Finance Manager for a large public transport company, but last year I took an early retirement deal to concentrate on writing full time. I’m also a musician, playing alto sax and clarinet in bands around the North West. I love playing in pit orchestras for amateur shows, too. It’s a great way to see lots of hit musicals without having to pay to get in.

What a great way to attend shows! When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I’ve always loved reading, and about thirty years ago, after a bad commuting experience, I wrote to the local newspaper. It was a full on rant, but I injected humor into it, and when it was published as the star letter, and I began to receive feedback, it got me thinking. I decided to try writing humor pieces and sending them to magazines. They were rejected of course. They were bad. But it didn’t stop me because I’d fallen in love with the whole process of writing.

That’s great that you didn’t give up after being rejected. What genre do you write and what's your target audience?

It’s strange that while I was sending these random humor pieces out to magazines, I’d never thought to try writing science fiction. I read a lot of science fiction, and have done since I was eight or nine years old. My dad used to bring home stacks of short story anthologies from the library, and I read these because they were way better than the stuff I could get from the children’s library. So I took a break from the humor stuff and started writing science fiction short stories. I sent them to magazines, and when these rejections came back, they were different. They were rejections from America, from magazines like Analog and Asimov’s, and the editors were names that I knew, and they were writing letters to me, and sometimes they even included comments that made me realize they’d actually read some them. I’d found the thing I wanted to write. There was still humor in a lot of the stories, but also some serious stuff was coming through. So for the most part, my target audience was these editors. I wrote for them. If ever I were to sell a story it would be because I’d written something that appealed to a particular editor.

It’s quite an interesting take on your audience. And how many books have you published so
far? Were you ever accepted to be published in any other publications or journals?

My focus stayed on short fiction for many years. I wrote occasional novels and sent them out to agents and publishers, but always my passion was for writing short fiction, and I’d begun to sell some of it. In 2007 I won the Jim Baen Memorial contest with a short story, and then a year later I won Writers of the Future, and that was cool because part of the prize was a week-long paid-for trip to Los Angeles for a workshop and for the award ceremony. I’d never been to America. I’d never even flown, and that’s a whole other story in itself. Okay, I’ve strayed from the question, so I’ll try and get back on track. Before writing any novels I had maybe two dozen short stories published in sci-fi magazines and anthologies. I put together a collection of my own short stories, called ‘Power for Two Minutes and Other Unrealities’, and indy published it on Amazon, and I have now, at last, published a novel-length science fiction story, ‘Deep Space Accountant’, which is the first of a series. Book two will be out later this year. In the meantime I followed a parallel thread, writing a humorous travel memoir called ‘Travelling in a Box’. It’s very niche, very UK focused, so I’ve been surprised at how well it’s done.

You have a lot of interesting adventures to tell, that’s for sure. And congrats on your winnings. What is your favorite quote and who wrote it?

I don’t have a quote, so much as a set of rules, coined in 1947 by the sci-fi writer, Robert Heinlein. They’re designed for short fiction writing but you can make them work for long form, too.
1                    You must write
2                    You must finish what you start
3                    You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4                    You must put it on the market.
5                    You must keep it on the market until sold.

Rule three seems a little strange but what it means is don’t keep going back over something you’ve finished, polished and edited. Concentrate on the next thing. So I also like to include a sixth rule that was added much later, by Robert J Sawyer:
6          Start working on something else.

This is important. It’s too easy to sit back after one story or book and decide that your work is done. It isn’t done, you have the next book to do, and then the next.

Indeed, the job of a writer is never done… Do you have a favorite author? Who? Has this author or his book(s) influenced your writing in any way?

As a sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke is perhaps my biggest early influence. I think I’ve read every novel he wrote, and most of his short fiction, too. Clarke’s ‘A Fall of Moondust’ was the first Sci-Fi novel I ever read. The memory of reading that book, waiting for the rain to stop while on a camping holiday near Minehead in Somerset, is still vivid in my mind. I was eleven or twelve years old. ‘A Fall of Moondust’ just blew me away. If Arthur C Clarke was my gateway drug to sci-fi, then Stephen King hooked me with the full-on addiction for writing. Around about the time when I was sending off those daft little pieces to newspapers and magazines, I read Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, and then ‘It’. I felt rocked back on my heels. I’d encountered real magic. How could a few squiggles on a page transport me, mind body and soul, into another world? I wanted more and I wanted to be able to perform that magic.

I can see why they can influence any writer! If you could be a character from any book who would you like to be, and why?

This is hard because most of the characters from my favorite books are put through hell and back. It’s something writers do, they create characters you love and then they do horrible things to them. But if I may return to Arthur C Clarke, and his 1974 Hugo-winning ‘Rendezvous with Rama’, then Jimmy Pak is my choice. He’s a crew member of the exploratory mission to Rama, a massive rotating cylindrical starship that enters our solar system en route to an unknown destination. Jimmy Pak gets to skybike along the axis of Rama, and he sees the whole of this artificial world rotating around him. Ever since reading that book I’ve been fascinated by the whole concept of generation starships built as giant cylinders with artificial gravity. What a fabulous thing to explore one and see it from such a vantage point. And Jimmy Pak gets through the whole book without getting maimed or mutilated or anything else of a discouraging nature.

Wow, that’s true. Hard to find a character that doesn’t go through a horrible experience, but the adventures are worth it! What are you working on now?

I have a first draft for the second Sphere of Influence novel all ready to start knocking into shape. It’s called ‘The Lollipop of Influence’. I envy those writers who can get a first draft that’s more or less good to go. My first drafts need a lot of work to iron out all the bugs and plot holes and clunky writing, and I have to make sure it’s consistent with the first book. I’ll only send a ‘final’ draft to my editor when I’m sure it’s clean. And then, for sure, it will come back marked up with another month’s work for me fix all the things I missed. I’ve also written a follow-up to my travel book, called ‘Two in a Box’, which is sitting in the queue waiting its turn to go through the second-draft factory. Beyond that I there’s a third travel book to come, provisionally titled ‘Flying in a Box’, and at least one more book in the Sphere of Influence series. And I’m still doing short stories at the rate of about one per month, just for the fun of it.

You’re keeping very busy, and that’s great. Where can we find out more about you and your writing?

My website is www.mjkewood.com and I have a separate website for my travel books, www.travellinginabox.com.

You can find me on Twitter as @MjkeW and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/mjkewood/

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?


Well, just to mention that one of my short stories has been optioned for a movie. The story is ‘The Last Days of Dogger City’ which first appeared in the April 2015 edition of Analog. Right now it’s being turned into a script by the producers, First Enterprise Productions. This is a turn of events that I most definitely wouldn’t have predicted a few years ago. As I say, it was only a short story so the movie will need more plot material than in the original, so I’m dying to see what comes out of it.

That’s about it, only to say, thanks, Andrea, for the interview. I’ve very much enjoyed doing it, and I wish you every success with your own writing endeavors.

Congratulations, Mjke! That’s absolutely fantastic and I hope to be watching the movie based on your story soon. Good luck and thank you so much for your time telling us about you and your books! 

To puchase Mjke's books, visit his page on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Mjke-Wood/e/B00IA4HJCA


Friday, February 3, 2017

Books: Interview with author Michael Fattorosi



Today, we're introducing Michael Fattorosi, an accidental writer. To find out how he started writing and his interesting background, read on!

Hello, Michael, please tell us a little about you.

I grew up in New Jersey in a little town called Port Reading and have lived in Washington, DC, Virginia, Los Angeles and now I reside in Las Vegas. I am an attorney and have been for the past nineteen years. I specialize in adult entertainment law, in other words, I represent porn stars and studios that make movies for adults. I have also represented more familiar names such as Fox Studios, the Dodgers, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers but for the past thirteen years I have specialized in more risque clients.

What an interesting specialization. I’m sure you have a lot of interesting tales to tell. When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I would not call myself a writer. I think a writer is someone who does it professionally and can earn a living from it. I am a mere storyteller. If you include legal writing, I started writing twenty-two years ago, if not, then just in the last year. I self-published my first novel in November 2016. I actually never wanted to be a writer. My entry into writing was accidental. I have spent twelve years researching a very interesting and lengthy family history, which is the basis for my series. My family has a one-thousand year history in Southern Italy. I would often tell people what I discovered and it usually ended with them telling me that it would make for a fascinating book.
I was in the process of negotiating a literary agent contract for one of my adult clients when I summoned the nerve to give my elevator pitch to the agent. Surprisingly, he liked it so I decided to write it.

A happy accident, you should say. So what genre do you write and what’s your target audience?

My genre is historical fiction, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. I don’t know if I have a target audience. I was fortunate to have eighteen beta-readers assist me with my writing and they ranged in age from 16 to 70, male and female and from wide economic backgrounds - professionals, homemakers, students and even two librarians. I try to appeal to the broadest base possible. I suppose, if you were a fan of Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” you would really enjoy my novel.

How many books have you published so far? Have you been published in any other publications or journals?


Just one book published so far, though it is part of a six book series. The second novel is planned for a late May 2017 release date. I plan on releasing a new title every six months. 

It’s a robust plan to release a novel every six months, go for it! Congratulations on the upcoming release. What is your favorite quote and who wrote it?

I prefer an Italian proverb - “In vino veritas” which means “In wine there is truth.” 

Ha, that’s a good one! Do you have a favorite author? Who? Has this author or his book(s) influenced your writing in any way?

I don’t know if I can choose just one favorite author. As a lawyer, Grisham has always been easy to read. Dan Brown is another. Michael Crichton is a third. I like books that are easy to read. Having to constantly perform legal research makes you want something easy when you aren’t working. Ken Follet is a bit more complex but also enjoyable. And for historical non-fiction, I really like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s work.
I cannot say that I have been influenced by anyone’s writing. I am more influenced by my beta-readers and their feedback. I write for others, not myself, so if my beta-readers don’t like something in my manuscript it gets tossed. I try to keep my stories fast paced, moving forward with short chapters. I don’t want my readers getting caught up in unnecessary minutia. I’m not trying to write literature, just something enjoyable. 

If you could be a character from any book, who would you like to be, and why?

I don’t know if there is a character from a book I would choose to be. I think if I could choose to be anyone other than myself, it would someone that has devoted their life to helping animals. All of the proceeds of the pre-sales of all my novels have been and will be donated to various charities that assist in making animal’s lives better. I have a 150lb Rottweiler that is more my son than dog. My wife and I got him when I first started my cancer treatments so he has been there for me through some very tough times. The unconditional love you receive from a dog is inspiring.

That’s very sweet. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on my second novel of the “Scrolls” series, yet to be named. I am still outlining it. I should have the outline finished in a few weeks and then the writing begins. I want to release it Memorial Day Weekend before the start of the summer reading season.

And where can we find out more about you and your writing?

You can find me on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/pornlaw and of course at my website http://www.ResurrectionoftheScrolls.com or you can email me directly at Michael@fattlegal.com

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If you read it, leave a review. If you liked it, tell a friend. If you loved it, tell two friends!
Indie authors need readers’ support to keep doing what they are doing. Writing is the easy part, marketing is the tough part. As an author, any exposure a reader can give me is so very appreciated. There is nothing better than a personal recommendation.
I understand that every time someone buys my novel they are giving me 6-8 hours of their life. I am honored by that and I feel truly blessed for each and every sale.
Thank you for this opportunity as well. 

Thank you for stopping by, and we're wishing you success with your upcoming release and your writing career! 

To buy Michael's book, click here:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Release: I Will Follow: To Eternity And Beyond by Ju Ephraime @JuEphraime

I Will Follow: To Eternity And Beyond 
is a heady and sensual romance about a love that transcends time and place.
written by Ju Ephraime




Catherine is living a dream life, rescued from an orphanage and married to her best friend. Life couldn’t get any better, and she is the envy of everyone in the little town where she lives. But it turns into a nightmare the day she is given the news that will change her life forever… Her fairy tale life becomes a living hell on earth. 


For two years she exists, barely acknowledging one day from the next. Suddenly, without any warning, a stranger walks into her life, and everything is about to change. Is Catherine ready for the change, or is she still only living to die?

Titus is only visiting the home of his brother-in-law’s distant cousin. He isn’t looking for a relationship; neither is he searching for love. Yet, they both find him, with no advanced warning. Titus is not one to succumb without a fight, and boy does he fight, but it seems the harder he fights, the more the force pushing him into Catherine’s waiting arms fights back.

You can find this book at your favorite online store, just follow this link: books2read.com/I-will-Follow

"Ju Ephraime's historical romance, I Will Follow: To Eternity And Beyond, is a heady and sensual romance about a love that transcends time and place. Catherine and Cameron are marvelous characters. She's the guiding star that he's inescapably drawn to, and he's the knight in shining armor who snatches her from the clutches of an unscrupulous nun who means her nothing but harm. This novel is set in the pre-WWI years, and the author does a beautiful job of setting the scene, especially in the care she takes with the descriptions of the landed gentility and the growing in roads the automobile makes into the British countryside. While there are a number of scenes involving love-making and sensuality, they are well-written and appropriate for an adult audience. The paranormal aspect of this novel is also enticing and adds a touch of mystery to the plot. I Will Follow: To Eternity And Beyond is most highly recommended."Jack Magnus - Readers' Favorite 


Enjoy A Sample from Chapter 21
     Catherine continued on her way to her greenhouse, grateful she’d not run into Titus. She liked to think of him as Titus, not Lord Braithwaite, which somehow seemed too formal. He made her feel things. Things she hadn’t felt in years, and she resented him for it. She wanted him gone from Chatterwoods and her life back to being the way it was before the dinner party.

     She spent a very satisfying morning taking care of her plants and working on a new scent she was trying to create. It was almost there, but something was missing. She had to go through the oils she had in her small apothecary to see if there was anything there she could use to enhance the scent.

     Exhausted from the events of the previous night and everything that had taken place, including Titus entering her room, Catherine left the greenhouse and proceeded to go to her room. A long soak in her tub was what she needed. Catherine found it both a pleasure and a torture to soak in the tub. It reminded her so much of Cameron. He used to love to bathe her or use the bath water after her. She missed all these things about him. Everything about life excited him, and he had infected her with that excitement. It was like a contagion. Now that he was gone, she missed that excitement. 


     It was almost time for supper, so she got dressed, left her room, and was making her way to Suzan’s room to check up on her when she came face to face with Lord Braithwaite, walking out of Cameron’s room. Two things hit her at the same time. She could have sworn she saw Cameron walking out of his room. Rubbing her eyes, she looked again, but it was only Titus Braithwaite. He didn’t look like Cameron, except in their well-developed musculature, so how could she have mistaken the two? But all this aside, why was Lord Braithwaite still at Chatterwoods?
Ju Ephraime writes steamy high heat romances, packed with emotions and strong alpha characters and always a wonderful, happy ever after. She has won several awards for her writing, and had even seconded in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, with her White Magic Woman. When not writing romance novels, Ju could be found writing children’s books, which includes her, Too-Clever series, a collection of ten children stories. Ju writes her children's stories under, Dr. Julia E. Antoine. These days she stays busy helping in the community and donating her services to a not-for-profit organization, which she helped establish. Presently, she resides in CT where she has lived with her family for the past thirty years. She still misses her time on the sunny Caribbean islands, but takes pleasure in using them as backdrops to some of her stories.

See what else author Ju Ephraime has to offer; follow her on social media & go to her website by clicking the links below! You can also see her on Goodreads!
Facebook
Twitter
Website (Where you can sign up for e-mail updates and other goodies.)
What others are saying about Ju's books:

"...steamy, provocative and fresh..." ~Midwest Book review
"a new level of heat!" ~Readers’ Favorite
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Books: Interview with Canadian Writer H.M. Shander



Today we're excited to introduce you to H.M. Shander, a Canadian writer. Read on to find out more about her and her awesome books! 

It’s a pleasure to host you today. Tell us where you are from and your background.

I am from the Great White North, where it feels like we get winter from October until May. Summer is so freaking short. Seriously, though, I'm from Edmonton, Alberta. Home of the world's largest indoor triple loop roller coaster.

That sounds terrifying and it must give you ideas to write horror stories! Talking about writing, when did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I've been writing since I was 14, but it was only after a NaNoWriMo 'win' in 2012 that jumpstarted the desire to work towards publication. I still have those original, (handwritten on loose-leaf, bound together with yarn, decorated with cut outs from Teen Magazine) tucked away. They are good for a solid laugh into the mindset of a naive 14-year-old. ;)

How fun! Those are precious memories. What genre do you write and what's your target audience?

I write Contemporary Romance, with some novels in the New Adult age category. My target audience is typically ladies from 15 - 40, although I know many men who have read my book, and many more above age 40.

Romance is ageless, right? How many books have you published? Do you have a favorite?


I've published three novels (well, four if you count the one coming out Feb 28th). My favourite so far has to be Duly Noted, because it's the most fun. It features a sport I quite enjoy, so it was a lot of fun gathering up 'research' on it and watching it all play out.

What is your favorite quote, and who wrote it?

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - I have no idea who wrote it though. It seems to have several credits.

It’s a quite inspirational quote, though! Do you have a favorite author? Who? What's your favorite book? Has this author or book influenced your writing in any way?

I have too many favourite authors and books to list as my absolute favourites. They influenced me because they never gave up on their dreams. In that regard, I will never give up on mine. I will tell the story that needs to be told, regardless of what is considered mainstream.

That’s the way to do it. And if you could be a character from any book, who would you like to be and why?

I'd like to be Hermione Granger - she's brilliant, loyal and beautiful. She's tough and never gives up.

Great choice. A real heroine. What are you working on now?

Right now I am halfway through the sequel to Duly Noted & That Summer. It is untitled for now, but I'm optimistic for a late 2017 release date. There are lots of twists and turns and the main characters have to face some really difficult decisions about their future and future relationships.

Sounds exciting. So where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can visit my website (www.hmshander.com), follow me on Twitter (@HM_Shander) or facebook (www.facebook.com/hmshander). I share lots of tidbits and teasers on my blog (hmshander.blogspot.ca) and share info on my books current and upcoming. 

Awesome! Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Yes - thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter and chat with me. I'm exceptionally responsive. :) Thanks for taking a chance on an indie author and if you read my books, I hope you fall in love with the main characters. (PS. Andrew is super sweet, and Nate is totally swoon-worthy!)
If you go to this blog post, it has the newest release, as well as all the other book links. Much easier than posting them all. :)


Thank you so much for stopping by and telling us a little about you and your books. Good luck with the new launch and keep writing!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blog Tour: Release Day Blitz! The Case of The Dead Dowager by @JudithLucci! #RPBP #ASMSG #Thriller


Retired homicide detective Michaela McPherson and the aging Countess Dorothy Borghase team up again—this time to match wits with two serial killers stalking children, women and the elderly.
When Dottie Borghase's friend Camilla Rothrock collapses at a lunch gathering of old friends, the countess's only concern is to dial 911 for help. But Camilla's subsequent death has authorities buzzing about international safety and retaliation, because her son is decorated U.S. Army General Stuart Rothrock.

As other restaurant patrons in Richmond meet similar fates, Michaela and Dottie join forces with the Richmond Police and the FBI to track down the pair of heinous murderers. But in order to catch the killers, they will put their own lives and the lives of others in in serious jeopardy.What Price Must a City Pay to Keep its Citizen's Safe?

Book link: http://bit.ly/GetCaseofDowager


How about an excerpt:
Dottie turned off the main highway and headed south to Blackstone Virginia. Madame Toulescent lived just outside of Blackstone and that's where she conducted her psychic readings. She wished away the butterflies that cramped her stomach. She had a sense that what she was going to hear wasn’t good. She wished she didn't believe in the value of psychics or the unknown but she did, and that was that. She’d seen psychic readings and prophecies come true time after time during her life. Mic wasn’t a believer at all but had grudgingly admitted psychics had helped them in a case about ten years ago.

The speedometer on her car registered over sixty miles an hour on a forty-five mile limit stretch of highway. I'd better slow down. The last thing I need is a Virginia state trooper on my tail. She braked and her car skidded but she handled it skillfully. The Cadillac was a big, monster car but she really liked it. Since Dottie had lived in the US, she had always preferred German-made cars and previously owned multiple Mercedes Benz. Of course, when Count Borghase had been alive, they’d always driven Italian cars, mainly Ferraris. But now she was pretty much American and she loved her Caddy. There was something about the Cadillac that was so plush and so American that she bought a new one every couple of years.

She saw an old gray mule in the pasture out of the corner of her eye and saw the fence that was lying on the side. Dottie didn’t know what she’d do if they ever repaired that fence. She’d been looking at that fence on the ground for years and it was her landmark just before she turned onto Madame’s private road. She knew her turn was just up ahead. She slowed for a farmer carrying a load of hay in an old truck. He was hogging the entire road. Now where in the hell am I supposed to go? She steered her big car to the side of the road as far as she could without falling into the ditch. She cursed and held her breath as the farmer passed her. She swore the farmer missed her by less than an inch. The old codger hadn't even looked her way. She shook her head and cursed again softly. She threw her white Caddy into first gear and roared out of the ditch spewing gravel, dirt, and mud all over the road. She saw three rabbits running for their life and hoped she hadn’t interrupted their nest. Dottie drove a little further and made her left turn. She turned right on the first road and started the difficult trip along the horrible, rutted road to Madame Toulescent’s tiny home. The road was almost a mile long. Dottie's tall, thin frame bounced all over her plush leather seat and her hair fell out of her neatly arranged bun. I'm going to have to take a pain pill. All this jumping around is killing my hips. Secretly Dottie new she needed to have her hips replaced but there was no way she was willing to do that, at least not while she could walk. I wouldn't be able to help Michaela. And then, what would she do?

Madame Toulescent waved at Dottie from her front porch filled with flowers and beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and begonias. Her small white cottage was immaculate. Madame Toulescent watched her painstakingly steer her huge Cadillac down her battered road. Dottie brought the iron beast to a stop, looked in her rearview mirror and re-pinned a piece of white hair that had worked its way out of her perfect updo. Even though the Madame lived in a house that was little better than a house trailer, Dottie had been trained from birth to always look perfect when visiting. This task had become monumental at age 82. She reached for her purse and checked to make sure her Glock was nestled in its special pocket. She checked her lipstick in the mirror, pinched her lips together, cursed the fine lines around her mouth and got out of the car.

"Hello Madame Toulescent. Thank you for seeing me today on short notice." Dorothy smiled her gracious smile at the psychic, showing her beautiful white veneers, once available for a large price from the famous, dentist-to-the-stars Dr. Michael Smirkowitz.

"You are so welcome, Countess Borghase." Madame Toulescent looked around the empty fields and through the trees and gestured with her arm. "As you can see, there is no waiting line. Please come in. I've made us some tea." She paused for a moment and said, "Watch the steps. They're in need of repair," she cautioned.

In need of repair, my butt, they need to be rebuilt Dottie climbed the rickety steps dodging rusty nails and wood splinters. She grasped the loose railing and posts that held up the old front porch. The last thing she wanted to do was fall and break something. She followed Madame Toulescent into her small but neat and cozy home. There was a wonderful scent in the air and Dottie’s mouth watered.

"Please have a seat in the easy chair," the Madame offered. "I'll bring us some tea and sweet bread."

Dottie nodded and smiled her thanks as she carefully studied Madame Toulescent. She wasn't sure of her nationality. She thought she was Eastern European but she seemed very much like the French and her house had several amazing pieces of French country furniture. In years past, she had asked the Madame about her former life, but the psychic seemed unwilling to share her past. Her voice had a strange accent Dottie couldn't identify which frustrated her. Dottie had traveled the world and she knew the languages and dialects of most ethnic populations. But she couldn't figure out Madame Toulescent’s origins. That puzzled her.

Madame handed Dottie a cup of herb tea. The aroma alerted her senses and she immediately felt more awake and inspired. The tea had given her energy and awareness. She took a sip. It was delicious.

"Oh my, Madame Toulescent. Whatever is in this tea? I feel a million times better just from smelling it. You’ve got to tell me where you got it because I know Cookie would love it too," Dottie gushed as she sipped her tea.

Madame Toulescent smiled and said. "I made the tea. It's a blend of ginger, mint, lemon verbena and a few other things I grow in my herb garden. I'll send some home with you. It's sweetened with honey I collected from my bees yesterday." She smiled briefly, and her lips stretched over teeth that could benefit from a cosmetic dentist. "That's probably what you love so much."

Dottie nodded and studied the Madame. The years hadn't treated her so well. Dottie didn't know her age but her face was a mass of wrinkles that blended one into the other. Dottie guessed each wrinkle had its own story. Her skin appeared soft but deeply creased. Her jet black hair was streaked with gray and hung freely past her shoulders. She wore a simple blue shift with a silver belt and wore tennis shoes and socks. She smelled of lemon and freesia.

Dottie, as usual, smelled of Chanel #5. "It's so lovely out here, Madame. Do you ever come to town?"

Madame Toulescent shook her head. "Very rarely. My neighbor collects my groceries for me when I need them and as you know, I have a huge vegetable garden and I can and freeze most everything I need. I like it here and I like to stay with my animals - my dogs, cats, cow, mules and horses. It's quiet here and my love is nature."

Dottie nodded. She couldn't imagine staying in these four walls every single day. She supposed she didn't have the patience and gentleness of spirit that the Madame had. But that was okay. Dottie was very happy in her own way.

The two women shared a comfortable silence and continued to sip their tea until the Madame asked, "How can I help you today, Countess?" She smiled at her and said, "I can tell you have some significant things on your mind and that you are troubled."

Dottie put her teacup down and said, "Yes, I do. Have you been watching the news?" Dottie saw the woman pale under her sun-darkened skin.

Madame Toulescent nodded. "You’re here about the poisonings, aren't you?"

Dottie held Madame’s dark eyes with her own and said, "Yes, I am. Camilla Rothrock was one of my dearest friends and I need to know who poisoned her."

Madame shifted her gaze to the floor and said, "Countess Borghase, this is a very bad business that is happening. I've had some visions and they are upsetting. It reminds me of the evil work of Hitler in Germany."

This time it was Dottie who paled, her heart beating so hard she could hardly breathe. "Oh my God, Madame. We both remember his devastation in Europe and the millions of people he murdered."

Madame Toulescent rubbed her hands together, her face grim. "Indeed we do. A sad and sorry time. Let's move into the back where I work and see what we can see."

Dottie stood and followed Madame to the room in the far back of her modest home. It was a glass room with beautiful views into the forest. She left her teacup on the coffee table. Her heart thumped dangerously in her chest and she was short of breath. She was so terrified she almost lost her balance. She gripped her purse and cell phone in her hand. She was scared and just the idea of having the Glock made her feel safer. Could the evil be so strong it permeated her soul?

“Countess, why are you so upset? What can I do to help you?” Madame Toulescent looked at Dottie with concern.

Dottie stared at her but her eyes said it all.

“Let me get you something to calm you down so we can have a good reading. Please stay in the chair and I’ll be right back,” Madame Toulescent said as she left Dottie and walked to her kitchen.

Want To Read More? Read Chapter 35 here!