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Guest Post My List of Guilty Pleasures by Traci Wooden-Carlisle

mybeautyforyourashes_bytraciwoodencarlisleI wanted to talk about my guilty pleasures to remind myself of the fun I have when I’m not at a job or working on a long assignment. I love writing and almost all that it entails, but some of the aspects of book selling are a far cry from what I would call a guilty pleasure.

I am of a mind that if I go to work and am productive for at least 8 hours a day and receive a monetary wage for my time, I should be able to buy whatever I want to eat. It sounds right, but it is not always the case and thus this guilty pleasure it born. I love Starbucks coffee, and not just a black coffee. It has to have all of the bells and whistles. A former co-worker called my coffee a froufrou drink in disguise. I shrugged and continued to sip my Venti Carmel Macchiato with 2 Equals with pure delight and I still do unless it is the Christmas Season and I get to have my Grande Eggnog Latte with 2 Equals.
Next would be my welcoming in the rare cold spells during the winter months in San Diego, CA with flannel pajamas. These aren’t just any flannel pajamas, they are the in-your-face, oversized frogs, flowers, or candies stamped across a pair of feet-in flannel pajamas. I feel ten years old again when I wear them and the only guilt I feel comes because I put them on right when I come home so if someone has to go back out to get something for dinner or run any other type of errand, it won’t be me.

With sheer excitement and pleasure I wait with baited breath for the next techy device to update or make my phone, television or computer more ‘efficient’. I love electronic toys and apps that will make my life and my husband’s life better. This is why my husband christened me the Technocrat of the family. I don’t know how guilty I feel about this, but sometimes it gets in the way of writing so that would be the qualifying factor.

My biggest guilty pleasure is reading. I use reading and listening to books as an escape. If I am looking at the beginning of a tedious process, in go the earbuds. If I finish a writing assignment, out comes the kindle. If I have a morning to myself or an evening, for that matter, you will find me behind a book. This is not always a guilty pleasure, but there are definitely times when I know I could be getting ahead when I sigh deeply and just wait for the feeling to pass as I turn the page.

I’m sure I could think of a few more if I try really hard, but why incriminate myself any further. Just do me a favor and send up a prayer that I will overcome the guilt.


Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at Humboldt State University she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She received a great deal of her answers through a Tuesday night Bible Study. As she continued to attend classes, the Bible became real to her and the scriptures were more than just words on a page. They came to life and she was able to identify with the teachings. She was filled with the Holy Spirit one November evening in 1995 and soon found that when she wrote to God, the Holy Spirit would respond; at times in the form of poetry and other times in conversation. She was amazed, awestruck, and humbled to know that He had not only been listening, but also wished to have a more intimate relationship with her. As she continued to write she joined a smaller church closer to her home in the San Fernando Valley and became an intercessory prayer, volunteered at the juvenile hall in the area, participated in door-to-door evangelism and shared her first love of dance by creating a praise dance team. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.

Today, Mrs. Wooden Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. She serves as a church Office Manager, teaches fitness classes, continues to praise the Lord through dance, and is currently writing her third book in this Christian-fiction series.

About The Author

Nicole Murray is a creative writer by passion, training, and profession. She is a Columbia College graduate with a degree in Fiction Writing and Marketing. Nicole’s dual Gemini personality helps her pursue creative writing as a personal profession. Nicole explores the creative landscape of the mind to craft fiction out of real emotion. She currently writes short stories, novels, poems, and screen plays. Autumn’s Child is her first novel.

About Autumn’s Child:

“I am hurting. Fractured in places stitches can’t heal.” Autumn’s Child tells the desperate story of Layla, as a young and naive twelve year-old girl. Over ten critical years, her life quickly changes like the colors of the trees in autumn. The accidental death of her parents forces her to abandon her religious, middle-class lifestyle. She moves to the inner city of Chicago with her grandmother and aunt, her only living relatives. Layla tries to approach her new life with optimism, but the perfections of her past life haunt her tormented journey. After coming to grips with the reality over the years that her only aunt despises her, Layla soon discovers that she may secretly hold the keys to helping her aunt’s diminishing health in her hands. Layla’s faith and sanity are continuously tested as she matures throughout each season of her life. She stumbles through her new found reality while learning how to play the distinct set of cards she’s been dealt. Layla’s neighbor and best friend, Shay, helps guide her from adolescence into adulthood. Autumn’s Child chronicles a life on the opposite side of the coin; where friendships grow out of tragedy, and the pressure of a marginalized life weighs heavily on pure souls. Layla must make many compromising decisions, all while perpetually asking the reader, what would you do?

BookCoverAutumn’s Child Book Excerpt

For fourteen days I wept like Jesus wept, but he wasn’t there to console me. All I had were memories of the life I once had, of parents once mine and now gone. I stayed at the MacNair’s house for fourteen days and abided by their rules. Conversation was minimal with only occasional spastic outbursts.

My family and the people from the church spoke in the native language called “tongues.” My parents taught me that when you really want to talk to God and bear it all, you speak to him from your soul in a language that only you two can understand; those words are true to you and you can’t deny them. They say that God speaks to you in silence, nothing moving No one breathing, just the universe speaking in the tone of “Ommm.” I wanted answers, so I spent half of my days battling it out with God in our secret code language and the other half listening and sleeping. Ms. MacNair wanted me to talk to a shrink when she heard me praying and talking in tongues. Sara badgered me about sleeping so much.

Truthfully, I didn’t just like sleep, I loved it because sometimes I got lucky and my parents waited for me there. But I told them that I was just fine and that me and my God would figure this whole thing out. I waited day in and day out, but God never got back to me as to why my parents had to leave me and go to Him. What I really needed was a tangible voice. I waited for the words to creep into my ears at night, the voice of God, the way he talked to Moses with the burning bush, but all I heard was my own voice, the echoes of a scared girl too afraid to verbalize her pain. But the pain was there, like a long welt running down my spine, it was there.

The first few days, I started hating everything, hating my life. I hated Ms. MacNair for throwing a birthday party, Sara for still having a mom, and my parents for leaving. I felt everyone were against me and had planned this whole thing out.
One day I heard Sara’s mom telling her to keep my mind off of things and that she was lucky to still have a mom. I still wasn’t talkative, but knowing that, when I wanted to get out of my shell, I wasn’t alone was enough to keep me above water at the time.

Within the fungus colored walls of the room I shared with Sara, we learned to coexist. I wasn’t ready to step into that world of feelings and talking about them. But Sara, she was there for me, not saying much, just around. When I started getting bored with solitude I tried to peek out of my cocoon to let her know that it wasn’t really her that I was pissed at. She understood my cries. She even cried with me sometimes, upset because I was upset.

After quite some time, I learned the art of suppression and what a wonderful feeling it was. Not Disney Land wonderful, but mature contentment like living on an isolated island that I needed a steamboat and diving gear to get to. I pushed whatever I felt down below and made it better. It wasn’t a good strategy, but it helped more than all the crying did. And that suppression is what helps me to cope with all this bullshit even now.

Nearing the twelfth day of my stay there, I started to notice a change. Ms. MacNair became distant, avoiding me at all costs, and ordered us to stay in our room when she had company over. Sara spent a night over at her grandparents’ house the next Saturday and left me behind, “mom’s orders.” I couldn’t come out of her room or make a sound when they came to pick her up. Sara wanted to stay at home with me, but I understood. Ms. MacNair cordially offered me dinner and treats for doing things around their house. There was an ice wall that was being built between us, as if I was responsible for my parents or a stepchild of some sort. I didn’t know how to melt it. I tried not to notice. After all, I wasn’t her child and she would just have to get use to me. I knew it might take some time, so I tried to be on my best behavior. I held my tears back as best I could and tried not to mope. I had to have faith, “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.” Faith was my closest friend; I needed to walk in the faith, so everything would just get easier.

Sara came home the next day. She walked straight to her walk-in closet and put away her new things so I wouldn’t see them. We talked and she was the same old Sara. We shared her twin bed, played on the swings whenever we could, and I sang to her when I felt the urge. It was a kind of unfortunate sisterhood.

I remember one night, we lay in bed after watching a movie and Sara fell right to sleep. My stomach groaned and complained of being hungry. I poked my head out the door and all the lights were off, so I tiptoed to the kitchen to grab a handful of Cheerios or a sandwich. As I walked softly past the den, I heard Ms. MacNair on the phone. Her voice was harsh, ruff like jagged edges. I crept closer without her noticing as she had her back to the door. “I have to figure out what to do with her. Don’t get me wrong, I feel really bad, I mean really bad, about her parents. When I had to tell her my heart just tore in half. That’s something that no one should go through, but just because she was at my house when all of this shit happened means I have to keep her? The answer is no. I simply cannot.” Someone spoke loudly on her phone. She replied, “You understand. It’s one thing for the girls to be friends, but this is just too much. I did not give birth to her and I am not, I cannot take her in. What would my family think? Really, I’m not running a charity case over here, Salvation Army or the Goodwill, I have a life of my own, my own child to raise.”

A voice talked back to her bluntly, the way that I wanted God to talk to me. “That is exactly why she can not stay here. Charles hasn’t come to see me in a week. He says it’s too crowded here. Now I’m not racist. I’m really not prejudiced or anything, but what if her little afro habits rub off on my little princess? All she does is sing those old Negro spiritual church songs and Sara singing along with her now.”

I started biting my nails. I didn’t understand then. I wasn’t a bad person. I lived in Pleasanton, our house was bigger than theirs, and I have a mom and dad, well I had a mom and dad. She continued, “I talked to her aunt yesterday on the phone. She was hesitant when I first spoke with her, but I told her how she could get a little extra if she took her off my hands. She’s her niece anyway and their family’s responsibility, not mine.”

I walked away feeling empty, not just in my stomach. I abandoned my previous cravings for food, like Ms. MacNair had abandoned me, passing me along the assembly line. When she sat down to talk to me later the next day, I knew what was coming. There was no reason to get upset. I wasn’t her child, but I wasn’t a welfare case either. “Charity,” “Negro spiritual,” “too crowded.” She didn’t really care for me. She consciously chose to string me along with her little lies: saying how sorry she was and for me, to talk to her whenever I needed, and that I could ask her for anything because she was there for me. That lying witch.

Sara went hysterical when her mom told her. She ran to me and cursed her mom. I tried to comfort her because she didn’t know her mom like I did. She didn’t know that I was a Negro spiritual charity case in her mom’s eyes.
The day finally came for me to leave. Judgment day. My emotions had no outlet after what I heard. They were shaken up as if they were flakes in a snow globe that had finally settled just to be shaken up again in the same confinement, but never released. I sat there in the den as Ms. MacNair spoke my fate to me. I waited like a pet at the Humane Society. I sat there and listened to her bounce around bright images of my future and how much fun it would be there.

I talked to my newfound aunt on the phone and she seemed nice enough. She didn’t talk about much, just said they would be happy to have me. I remember meeting my grandmother once, a long time ago, when she came to visit us for Christmas. I spoke with her on the phone as well. Her voice was soft and sweet like cotton candy. She seemed so pleasant and I didn’t understand why I hadn’t talk to her more before. I remember her being a small lady with a loud laugh. I was only six or seven the last time she came to visit. I had almost forgotten. When she first saw me then she came over and tried to pick me up, but settled for knelling down and kissing me on the cheek. She pinched both my cheeks so hard. My mom kept her busy for most of the time, so I didn’t get to talk to her much. Not that we would have had a plethora of topics for conversation at the age of six, but it would have been nice to have really gotten to know her.

Ms. MacNair, Sara, and I boarded the plane and flew four long hours to Chicago’s Midway airport. After gathering our bags from baggage claim, we started over to the car rental to get a car. The air was hot, wet and, breezy. My hair frizzed up as soon as we stepped on the street. Sara clung to me. In the car she gave me a bag full of the things that were now mine. I looked inside and there was the matching pink outfit that we had worn that day at Chuck E. Cheese, better known as the day my life ended. There were UNO cards and her tape recorder that she wanted for me to have so that I could record my songs and send them to her. The last things were two friendship journals, one for me and one for her. We promised to write each other every week. We would be pen pals now.

I gazed out of the window for a moment, looking away from the life I was leaving behind. We both hugged and sang in the back seat. I didn’t want to let her go. It would be okay if only she could come with me. I needed her like Chicago’s Cicero Avenue needed to be cleaned. Her mom swerved from lane to lane not knowing which way to go. We stopped at a gas station close to the Dan Ryan freeway to ask for directions. As soon as she stepped out the car there were two or three men dingy and dusty rushing towards her. She hopped back in the car fast and cracked the window.

“Ma’am, you need some help?”
“No,” Ms. MacNair said.
“You look lost. You sure?” the dingy man asked.
“Well, I am trying to find my way to freeway Eisenhower 290,” she said as she shuffled through the road maps on her lap.
He inched toward the window, “You mean the expressway? Ain’t nothing free ‘round here ma’am but ya gonna need to go straight on down this street, and you’ll run right to it.”

He pointed down the street we were already on, “Thank you.”
The scruffy man put his hands on the window, “You can help me out a little bit? I’m just tryin’ to get some food for my family.”

She dug in her pocketbook and handed him a few dollars with a smug look.

He took it and looked at her, “God bless you, ma’am. Right down that street there.” He then pointed us in the same direction.
His voice resonated in my ears “God bless you.” God doesn’t need to bless her. He needs to bless me. If there is a God. My vengeful thoughts startled even me at the time. That reaction was so natural, but felt so wrong. Blasphemy, I thought. That was the first time I questioned His spiritual existence. It felt so right, but my conditioning made it seem wrong. Among all of my newfound emotions, that feeling was the one most prominent at the time. The closest thing I could connect to any answer, the denial of the creator.

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Available for pre-order on December 14, 2014

Publisher: Samhain Publishing


Business and pleasure don’t mix…until emotion enters the scene.

Charlotte Richards didn’t get to be one of Hollywood’s top talent managers by dating her clients. When it comes to her career, her heart is not part of the contract—no matter how enticing the star.

From the moment she steps into Sean Maxwell’s fabulous home, though, the cool, professional persona she’s worked so hard to build threatens to melt in desire hotter than Sean’s sexy R&B lyrics.

Sean’s attraction to Charlotte is nothing new, at least not to him. He fell for her the moment he spotted her at a celebrity gala years ago. Now, with his old manager kicked to the curb, it’s the perfect time to bring her into his life.

The sparks between them blow Sean’s plan to take things slow right off the charts. And his determination to win her runs into overtime when the ghosts of his past threaten to destroy their one chance at love.

More information to come:

17 Nov 2014
November 17, 2014

Romance Books Coming Soon

Books 0 Comment

flamesofpassionFlames of Passion by Kayla Perrin

Their spark is burning hot…

Betrayed by love in the past, Nya Lowe has vowed to steer clear of future heartbreak. But when she sees her deceitful ex at a party, she does something totally out of character and puts the moves on sexy San Diego firefighter Tyler Johansen. Her payback plan backfires when her counterfeit “boyfriend” starts breaking down her defenses…kiss by sizzling kiss.

Tyler risks his life every day, but he isn’t ready to gamble with his heart again. Yet ever since the sultry photographer kissed him, all he wants is to keep Nya in his arms. As they stoke the flames of a dangerous desire, a suspicious fire and near-fatal collision raise the stakes for them. Will they both be burned again? Or can they trust each other enough to turn their pretend romance into a forever love?

thewayyouloveThe Way You Love Me by Donna Hill

Making a case for love…

Struggling law student Bailey Sinclair is working two jobs to make ends meet on the night a charismatic stranger walks into her bar. The attraction between them is instantaneous—and explosive. Until Bailey discovers that her anonymous hunk is none other than Justin Lawson, one of the richest, most hotly pursued bachelors in all of Baton Rouge.

Justin is thrilled to discover that the woman managing the bar at his family’s celebration at the Lawson mansion is the intriguing beauty he hasn’t been able to forget. Now all he wants is to lavish Bailey with gifts and his passionate attention. But she’s too proud and independent to accept his help—and determined to make it on her own. They may come from different worlds, but doesn’t Bailey realize there are no obstacles to love…if she’s willing to trust him with her heart?

There’s nothing like a mixture of romance and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seats.

thebetrayedThe Betrayed by Heather Graham

Sleepy Hollow isn’t so sleepy anymore…

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream—an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there.

Maureen—Mo—Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard…or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected…if they live long enough to enjoy it!


Bind by Katie Porter

Ropes, passion, danger, diamonds…mission accomplished.

Command Force Alpha, Book 3

Widower Nicholas “Nicky” Stafford, leader of Command Force Alpha, has known love, loss and high-stakes danger. Recent run-ins with a Russian conglomerate codenamed Firebird have been the most challenging of his career.

He trusts his professional judgment, but cannot trust his desires when a colleague insists the only way to trace Firebird’s dirty money is to pose as besotted lovers at a fetish conference. Nicky hasn’t touched shibari rope since his beloved wife’s death.

Astrid Holm has lost everything. Twice. Her father bankrupted her family, then she became notorious after blowing the whistle at a Fortune 500. With her career in ruins, she found herself sitting opposite steely-eyed Colonel Stafford…who made her CFA’s top accountant.

As they explore the conference’s dangerous delights, Nicky discovers that Astrid’s sweet eccentricities revitalize his soul. When bound by his skilled hands, Astrid finds the safety she craves. That safety is short-lived. Before passion can become love, they must evade traps more elaborate than the knots that bind them.

cyber-illusionsCyber Illusions by Nikki Duncan

Torn between promises and passion, duty and desire…

Sensory Ops, Book 6

Taryn Bellamy has shamelessly used the art of illusion to build a name for herself in the entertainment industry. But it hasn’t magically made it easier to raise the twins left in her care by her past best friend.

After one of the twins runs away, Taryn chases the girl all the way to Miami, where she comes to face to face with the kids’ father. He’s an FBI agent—and he sparks a dangerous heat in her veins. Heat that could send the heart and soul of her closely guarded life up in a puff of magical smoke.

When tech genius Tyler Greer traces a hacker’s cyber trail to a private runway at a Miami airport, he’s surprised to find Taryn, whom he suspects was involved in a series of high-profile art thefts years ago. A crime he could never quite make stick to the slippery, sensual illusionist.

Then he discovers the kids in her care are his. The truth rocks Tyler’s world…and leaves Taryn fearing the greatest crime will be against her heart.

Are you looking for romance books with a Christmas or Holiday theme? If so, you can’t go wrong by getting any one of the following titles:

hotchristmasnightsHot Christmas Nights (Tuscan Nights\Christmas Tango\Tied Up in Tinsel) by Farrah Rochon, Terra Little, Velvet Carter

Baby it’s cold outside, so stay warm with three sexy and sizzling-hot holiday stories…

Tuscan Nights by Farrah Rochon

It’s not the breathtaking scenery that brings Aiden Williams to Italy for Christmas—it’s gorgeous pastry chef Nyla Thompson. Five years ago Aiden’s older brother was fool enough to let Nyla go. Now a mature and sexy Aiden is determined to turn their Italian fling into everlasting amore….

Vegas Affair by Terra Little

Professional dancer Wendy Kincaid thinks she knows her best friend, Frazier Abernathy, inside out. But he’s got a season of surprises in store for the woman he’s always desired, leading to a Las Vegas rendezvous, where he’ll raise the stakes in an all-out merry seduction….

Tied Up In Tinsel by Velvet Carter

Entertainment agent Landis Keates is stunned to learn that his old college classmate is now an international singing sensation! Back then, he was too clueless to notice Brooke Lynn Samuels. Now a friend’s winter wedding in picturesque Bridgehampton is the perfect backdrop to a very intimate Yuletide reunion….

twelvedaysofpleasureTwelve Days of Pleasure by Deborah Fletcher Mello

Twelve days isn’t nearly long enough…

Vanessa Harrison’s holiday spirit goes from humdrum to armed and dangerous when the filmmaker becomes an eyewitness to a crime. Spirited away to a Caribbean hideout for her safety, she isn’t prepared for her instant attraction to gorgeous, take-no-prisoners FBI agent Kendrick Boudreaux. On Pleasure Island—where every sensual fantasy is fulfilled—her vow to never trust another man melts in the heat of Kendrick’s sizzling embrace.

Kendrick must keep Vanessa safe. But in his protective arms, desire ignites, and soon they’re giving in to their deepest passions. Now he’s determined to turn their days of pleasure into a lifetime of bliss. Until a shocking revelation threatens their future together, forcing Kendrick to choose between his career and the woman he has come to cherish….

lisamarieperryJust for Christmas Night by Lisa Marie Perry

A red-hot holiday

Pro football publicist Martha Blue has something to prove. To protect the image of the Las Vegas Slayers—and stay employed—she has to shed her party-girl reputation. Fast! So no more mistakes. No further scandals. And absolutely no falling for the one man who can give her everything she wants…and nothing of what she needs.

Danger and desire never mixed well for undefeated prizefighter Joaquin Ryder. A friend of the Blue family, he’s a man who knows his boundaries…boundaries he has secretly crossed only once before. Now that he’s back in Sin City to train for the biggest fight of his career, he can’t afford to let a sexy distraction like Martha put him against the ropes. Revisiting their sizzling past is something he isn’t willing to risk—until a steamy Yuletide encounter, where for just one night, they’ll surrender completely….

maccabeebookcover For Kids of All Ages:
The Maccabee on the Mantel Book and Plush Toy unique combination makes a great gift for boys and girls. The colorful book can be used as a teaching tool about Hanukkah.

makecomicslike Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente is a must have for any aspiring comic writer’s personal library. The book discusses the comic creation process. Readers will learn things that will help them in the development and implementation of their own comic project. One of the things that the writers share is that the comic creator must know their “premise.” What I liked about the book is that in addition to instructions, the writers gave good examples and also included additional resources that will increase the comic book creators knowledge.

This book is highly recommended for those considering writing comics or it makes a great gift for those you know who are interested in comic book writing.

14 Nov 2014
November 14, 2014

The Fright Night Files

Movies, Television 0 Comment

I know I’m a little late posting about  TV ONE’s The Fright Night Files but I finally got a chance to watch the shows and enjoyed them all. A little birdie told me that this may be something new to watch weekly, so let’s hope that it’s true.  Below is a little more about each one. The Fright Night Files is a series of original short films.

For the Love of Lockwood Clip HERE

Starring Eva MarcilleSean Blakemore and Lynn Whitfield

An overzealous bride-to-be, Marla (Marcille) drives her groom, Lockwood (Blakemore) to call off the wedding just days before the ceremony. An accidental overdose of a special love potion creates a catastrophic turn of events, causing Lockwood to take his ‘till death do us part’ vow to a terrifying new level.

Mirror Mirror Clip HERE

Starring Victoria RowellHarry LennixDavetta Sherwood and Karrueche Tran

A scorned ex-girlfriend, Jessica (Sherwood) begins to experiment with black magic to punish the man who broke her heart, Ronald (Lennix) and the new woman in his life Alexa (Rowell).

Pillow Talk Channel 187

Starring Elise Neal and Bokeem Woodbine

A seductive evening DJ, Coffee Black (Neal), has a voice that lures men into her twisted spell, where they can’t help but gravitate to her. However this DJ’s world gets turned upside down when past lovers begin to call her station to haunt her, while breaking down the walls of her sanity in the process.