Review of Comes a Specter, Ghostland Book II, by Keta Diablo A Thrill Ride Wrapped Around a Sweet Romance 5 Stars

Anya Fleming is a woman haunted by a spirit that raps, howls, screams, gnashes, growls and moves objects. She believes the incredibly powerful entity is the ghost of her abusive husband, Lewis, who hung himself six months previously. However, she is also haunted by other things: her son hasn’t spoken a word since Lewis died, and she hasn’t recovered from the mistake she made ten years ago when she married the man at her father’s insistence.

When her son falls dreadfully ill, Anya knows only one man can help him: Sutter Sky, or Yellow Smoke, as he has called himself since she betrayed him and the white eyes massacred his family. As a half-breed, he was never fully accepted by the white community. After his tragic losses, he has retreated to an isolated cabin and earned his reputation as the best shaman in the territory.

Anya’s desperate need for Sutter’s help, coupled with the decade old secret she has kept from him, combine to make this story a page turner. It’s easy to empathize with this young woman who thought she was doing the right thing when she refused to name the father of her baby and married the man her father picked out for her. Anya is not perfect. She didn’t have the courage to defy society’s conventions when she was younger, and she is terrified of what Sutter will do when he realizes the truth. Yet she loves her son enough to do what she couldn’t for herself—reach out to the man she still loves, but knows will probably reject her.

Sutter is also a well-drawn, three dimensional character, who must deal with his own bitterness and do what is right, even if it hurts.

The ghost has plans of its own. The reality behind the haunting and the atrocities the Zeuzeu commits, are shocking and horrifying.

Comes a Specter is a thrill ride from beginning to end, wrapped around a sweet story of love and redemption that fulfills the promise of the story.

 

 

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Review of Comes an Outlaw by Keta Diablo: A Captivating Paranormal, Western Romance

Comes an Outlaw by Keta Diablo is a captivating paranormal romance set in 1885 Arizona. The old west is a perfect place for this tale of a widow’s struggle to survive against great odds, with love and help from beyond.

Jesse Santos lives with her twelve-year-old son on her late husband’s ranch, which has been in the family for generations. Since Cain’s death, she has worked the land as best she can, despite drought, cattle rustlers and the fear she is losing her mind. Although she misses her husband, she wishes his spirit would stop talking to her. Cain worked for a psychic investigation company and deeply believed in ghosts. He promised her he would come back to help her after his death, if she needed him. However, she can’t quite believe it’s really him and not hallucinations from a brain addled by too much stress. When Cain tells her that help is coming on a piebald horse, she doesn’t know what to think. Then, Cain’s younger brother Coy arrives out of the blue. He could be a big help, but he doesn’t intend to stick around. Not knowing his parents and brother had died, he only planned to stop in for a short visit before continuing to Utah, but the beautiful widow and her courageous son won’t make it without him.

The hardscrabble existence of life in those days, the engaging characters, and the fascinating look at Yaqui Indian culture, carries the reader into a simpler time when it was easier to believe in spirits and their ability to communicate beyond the grave. This story was an entertaining read that kept me spellbound to the end. Coy says one thing to Jesse that truly encompasses the essence of the story: At last he turned and faced her. “A man loving you from beyond the grave, I’d take that as the highest compliment one can give a woman.” That statement just shreds my heart.

If you enjoy Romance, Paranormal stories, or Westerns, read Comes an Outlaw. You will love it.

Review of A Ghost to Die for by Keta Diablo

Halloween may be over this year, but this paranormal romance is a great read any time. A Ghost to Die for begins with a fascinating seance conducted by the famous Fontaine sisters at La Bonne Chance Casino in Victory, New York. The twist is that although her sister sees and hears ghosts, Rooney doesn’t. She feels guilty about faking it, but they desperately need the money for treatments for their younger sister. After the seance, Rooney finally sees a ghost for the first time—in her hotel room. He tells her his name is Stuart Granger and his apparent suicide was a murder set up by a fracking company over a lawsuit he filed against them. He begs her to warn his younger brother, Stephan, that he’s in danger too. For many good reasons, she doesn’t want to get involved: she isn’t sure she should trust the persistent spirit, needs to concentrate on earning money to pay for her little sister’s medical care, thinks she may be losing her mind, etc. However, eventually she realizes she’s the only one who can help, and she feels compelled to try. When Rooney and Stephan meet, the attraction between them is electric, but the hunky, Afghanistan and Iraq veteran doesn’t believe her until Stuart gives her information no one else would know.

Rooney and Stephan, with ghostly Stuart along for the ride, run for their lives from hit men hired by the company, Catskill Resources. Thrown together in mortal danger, they soon learn to trust and rely on one another.

A Ghost to Die for has a tight, fast-paced plot and I couldn’t put it down. I instantly liked Rooney and empathized with her plight. Imagine always being the practical sister who doesn’t believe in the paranormal, only to be pulled into a life or death situation where you’re the one trying to convince a tough ex-sniper that his dead brother is communicating with you. Stephan is To Die For sexy and a realistically portrayed veteran. I enjoyed the chemistry between Rooney and Stephan and the believable way it developed due to the danger they faced and their need to watch each other’s backs. Their clever, snappy banter lightened the suspense of the danger just the right amount. Stuart is also a great character, well-developed, with strong goals of his own. I really wanted things to go well for him, even though he was already dead. The end is satisfying and fully resolved. If you’re in the mood for an absorbing romance, this is it.

You’ll Be Mes-Mer-ized! Review of Siren’s Secret by Debbie Herbert: 5 Stars

In the small coastal Alabama town of Bayou La Sirena, Shelly Connors lives with her cousins, Lily and Jet Bosarge. She works as a swimming instructor at the local YMCA, where she patiently coaches the autistic Eddie and flirts with his sexy brother, Sheriff Tillman Angier.

Shelly hasn’t had a date in years. While she is beautiful and compassionate, she believes no man would want her if he found out her secret: she’s half mermaid. She watched her parents’ marriage deteriorate over the years as her mother yearned for the sea and her father became frustrated because his love wasn’t enough.

After her parents died in a car accident, Shelly moved to Bayou La Sirena to live with Lily and Jet, who were the only family she had left. Shelly adores her cousins, who treat her as a sister. However, they are full-blooded mermaids and don’t understand what it is like to be rejected by mermaid society as an abomination.

Tillman Angier returned to Bayou La Sirena after his father, the town sheriff, passed away from a heart attack. Despite his successful career in law enforcement in Mobile and a semi-serious relationship, he believed it was his responsibility to go home. He was the only one left to care for his brother and mother, whose drinking problem haunted the family from the time Tillman was a child. Tillman is afraid that his family baggage will prevent him from ever finding anyone to share his life. So, he has dedicated himself to protecting the town, as his father did before him.

The suspense begins when Shelly, in mermaid form, sees a body being dumped from a boat and the murderer catches a glimpse of her as she dives. He throws a stiletto at Shelly, lodging it in her tail, but she gets away and keeps the knife. She and her cousins develop a strategy to identify the killer and make sure the police find evidence to convict him, even if they have to plant it.

At the same time, Melkie tries to find the one who saw him dump the body. The serial rapist and killer cuts out and keeps his victim’s eyes as souvenirs before he gets rid of the body. In his twisted mind, destroying vulnerable women is the only way to vent the rage he feels toward the prostitute mother who abused and molested him. Since she is dead, he can’t torture her, so he substitutes hookers. He is repulsed by the idea that mermaids are real and worried that the creature will give him away to the authorities. Paying for his crimes isn’t part of his plan.

While she and her cousins attempt to outwit Melkie, Shelly falls hard for Tillman, who finds her irresistible. But his sharp eyes and on point instincts tell him she’s keeping secrets and he’s too principled to look the other way.

Tillman is determined to find the perpetrator and put him behind bars, although it may implicate Shelly. Her lack of transparency and the odd things he observes about her and her cousins, paired with clues from the crime scenes, set off his suspicions. He wants to believe she is innocent, but he senses something is wrong.

The dynamic conclusion to this contemporary mermaid story will keep you mes-mer-ized. I loved this book and the sequels, Siren’s Treasure and Siren’s Call, which feature Jet and Lily and tell their stories. Don’t miss this great trilogy!

Beat the Block

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Do you have Writer’s Block? You know, the feeling that stops you from sitting down to write? It prevents you from starting a new story or blog. It halts your work in progress like a naughty pony skidding to a stop in front of a jump (usually tossing her rider over her head to a crash landing on hard ground). It sends you into the kitchen or bathroom to clean until the house shines, or out on a shopping spree, anything to avoid the blank screen or page. Yeah, that’s the feeling.

Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot about Writer’s Block. Lots of people write about it and propose solutions or ways to deal with it. Force yourself to write. Give yourself a break from writing. Sit down and write anything that comes into your mind, even if it isn’t related to your work. Journal. And more. All are good ideas, and I’m sure they help some people. However, I’ve never heard of anyone approaching the problem the way I do.

I’d like to propose an experiment. The next time you get this feeling, stop and sit with it for a minute. Don’t try to force yourself to write. Don’t beat yourself up for not writing. Don’t get busy so you can avoid the feeling, telling yourself you’ll get back to writing later. Don’t try to psychoanalyze yourself into revealing the deep-seated fears that prevent you from working.

Sit. Breathe. Feel. Wait.

Now, change how you think. Instead of labeling your feeling, Writer’s Block, call it something else. Call it Resistance. Say out loud to yourself, “I’m resisting writing at this moment.”

How is this different? If something blocks you, you’re stuck. You might envision yourself stopped by a giant, brick wall, or some other obstacle that is much too difficult to break through. You’re passive. There’s nothing you can do about it.

However, if you are resistant, you have the power to change. You’re in charge and you’re only holding yourself back.

Now sit with the idea of resistance rather than block for a minute. Notice the resistance with curiosity instead of judgement. Oh, I’m resistant to writing today. I wonder why that is?  See how different that is from, I have Writer’s Block. What’s wrong with me?

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone feels resistant to doing things sometimes. It’s easy to understand when you’re resisting doing something you truly don’t want to do, like going to the dentist. It’s harder to understand when you’re resisting doing something you love, like writing.

In addition to writing, I also ride horses. (You might have figured that out from the pony reference above.) I love horses and riding. But some days, I don’t want to go to the farm and take my lesson. I’m resistant to it. If I sit and let myself feel my resistance with curiosity, sometimes I realize it’s because I’m tired, or fighting a cold, or scared of falling off and getting hurt. Maybe my body just wants to be comfortable and staying inside in the air conditioning is a lot more comfortable than putting on long pants, boots and a helmet and then exerting myself in 90+ degrees. Maybe I’m worried I won’t perform well. Riding lessons involve getting yelled at a lot. Whatever the reason, some days, I feel resistance. After I notice resistance is the little voice whispering in my mind, Cancel that lesson. Stay home. You know, you really need to clean the house, I know I can either decide to take the lesson or skip it, but it’s my decision, not something outside myself preventing me from doing it.

Writing is the same way. Once you realize that the little voice is your own, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. The awful feeling is not so strong because you have interpreted the situation differently. Maybe you’ll decide to skip writing that day. Or maybe you’ll decide to sit down and write just a few words. Before you know it, you may have written a lot.

In counseling, we call this technique reframing. It works because most of the time our emotions result from the messages we give ourselves about a situation, rather than the actual situation itself. For example, if you’re driving and someone speeds by you at 100 mph, you might think: That reckless person is going to cause an accident! That’s terrible. You get mad. Adrenaline spikes in your bloodstream and you’re ready to fight, or at least give the person a piece of your mind.

But what if the person speeding by you is driving an ambulance, with lights flashing and siren blaring? That’s different. You might think: There’s an emergency and they’re on their way to help someone. You don’t get mad. Your main concern is to get out of the way, so they can reach their destination.

Reframing works just as well when we do it for ourselves as when a counselor does it for us. Try it when you’re feeling resistance to writing. Say to yourself, “Well, I notice I’m resisting writing today.” How does that feel? Is it less debilitating than thinking, “I have Writer’s Block”?

I’d love to hear from you. Did this experiment help you? Or not? Do you think this is a completely crazy idea that can’t possibly work? That’s okay. There’s no universal cure for much of anything. Maybe you have a better idea, or something that worked better for you. I’d love comments.

Interested in reading more of my blogs? Check out my website: www.katherinesmits.com

I write paranormal romance. If you would like a sample of my writing, sign up for my newsletter. I only send out a few each year, and I’ll give you a free short story just for signing up, plus I always include contests, freebies and fun in every  newsletter.

 

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Water Dreams  Loves’ Siren Song, Book One is the story of Nik, a young woman of Greek heritage, who lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is terrified of water. She meets a shape-shifter merman who wants her help. When they fall in love against the laws of his people, they are forced to find a way to save themselves and Nik must overcome her phobia. Published by Foundations, LLC, it is available from Amazon, Foundations https://www.foundationsbooks.net/ and other major online retail sites.

 

 

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The Sea Witch and the Mage is a novelette (10,000 words) set in the same world as Water Dreams. It is free on KU or $.99 on Kindle. Athenia must avenge the death of her twin sister and save herself from the same fate, but she can only do it by betraying her magical lover. Trigger warning: This book briefly references rape and has explicit sex and violence.

Guest Blog for Delilah Devlin

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Guest Blog for Delilah Devlin 2.16.17

Mermaids

I grew up in a magical realm where winter never comes, we find dollars on the beaches, stars in the water and mermaids in warm springs. Yes, of course, that place is Florida. The dollars are made of sand, the stars are fish and the mermaids are in Weeki Wachee. A state park that started out as a privately-owned tourist attraction in the 1940’s, it features natural springs that remain 74 degrees all year long.

I learned to swim at the park. Every morning for an enchanted two weeks in the summer, I waited beside Highway 19 for the repurposed school bus that picked me up almost at my front door and transported me an hour away to Weeki Wachee. I wore my bathing suit underneath my shorts and carried my beach towel and a little cash for a snack.

When we arrived at the Springs, we entered the section roped off for swimmers and set our bags and towels down on the white sand beach. Shivering, we waded into the water an inch at a time. I will never forget the first day when I put my face in the water and blew bubbles, then learned to float. By the end of the week, I was dog-paddling and within a summer or two, jumping off the high dive.

Along with my swimming ability, I developed a fascination with mermaids. I watched the mermaids perform their show countless times over the years and never lost my admiration for their athletic ability and graceful swimming. As a teen, I wanted desperately to become a Weeki Wachee mermaid when I was older. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

Although I practically lived in the water all summer, I also developed a healthy respect for it. Many times, when we swam in the Atlantic at New Smyrna or Daytona Beach, powerful waves caught me and rolled me over and over until they spit me out on the beach, gasping and sputtering salt water. Every year swimmers drowned, pulled out to sea by the undertow or rip currents. Water has power and it can be marvelous or terrifying, or both.

When I decided to write my debut novel, Water Dreams, I chose mermaids for the primary paranormal feature. I wanted a different take on the myth and so I created the Nerei, a race of shapeshifting mermaids and mermen, whose form on land is indistinguishable from humans. They want one thing above all else: freedom from water. Although they can exist on land, they must return to the water frequently to sustain themselves.

The heroine of my story is Nik, a young woman from Tarpon Springs, Florida, who is terrified of water. She doesn’t know how or why she fears it so much, but she won’t have anything to do with it. She never learned to swim and she won’t go near a beach or swimming pool.

The Nerei contact Nik and tell her they believe she holds the solution to their problem because she shares their DNA and can stay away from water. She doesn’t believe them and refuses to have anything to do with them.

Bas is a young Nerei male tasked with obtaining Nik’s cooperation. He doesn’t like humans much but he is fascinated with Nik. He can’t give up on convincing her to help them and he wants to keep seeing her. However, Nerei forbid relationships with humans and breaking the law is punishable by death.

Water Dreams is the story of how Nik and Bas bridge the gulf between them and their people. It is also the story of how Nik overcomes her water phobia. She experiences dreams about water throughout the book. The dreams start as paralyzing nightmares and progress during the story, becoming less frightening as she grows stronger, giving her hints and clues about how to work out her problems. Eventually, she gains control of the dreams, as she conquers her fear of water and overcomes the dilemmas presented by the Nerei.

 Excerpt from Water Dreams:

She waded in, appreciating the satiny water on her skin, enveloping her naked body from her waist down, a velvety embrace. She looked at the stars glowing above her, and the full moon lighting the sky, making a shining path on the cenote. She listened to the tree branches soughing in the breeze, the Whippoorwills calling. There was a sense of timelessness about the moment that made her feel like a twig in a river. She created a tiny ripple in the stream as it passed along. The cenote and the woods were there long before she arrived, and would endure long after she was gone.

Nik dove into the water, gasping at the cold. She swam several hard strokes until the blood sang in her veins, warming her inside out, then turned over onto her back and floated.

When she heard splashing behind her, Nik gasped, imagining an eerie creature shared the depths of this pond with her. However, Nik saw a familiar shape and realized Bas was swimming with her. He was in his Nerei form. His massive tail slapped the water, arcing radiant drops over Nik’s head and into her face. She spluttered, going under for a minute before surfacing behind him. She didn’t have a tail to splash Bas, but she surprised him, and dashed him with a handful of water to the face. They played for a little while, chasing one another and laughing.

Bas had a huge advantage. Because he swam so much faster, she couldn’t get away from him. Bas caught her, held her close to him, and looked into her eyes. In the moonlight, Nik could see Bas well. He smiled at her. He circled her waist with one arm. He used his other hand to stroke Nik’s hair. Bas’ chest pinned Nik’s naked torso against him and she wrapped her legs around his waist. Both hot and cold swept over her at the same instant, a tsunami of sensations she had never imagined, much less experienced. She feared she might pass out. Bas didn’t say a word, but he lowered his mouth to Nik’s and kissed her, first softly and then hard. Nik kissed him back, her head spinning.

Bio

Katherine started writing stories in grade school and always intended to write novels someday but she put off writing fiction while she raised her family and worked as a clinical social worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country. Although devastated to learn that her first career choice—mermaid, was not realistic, Katherine found helping veterans and their families fulfilling. She lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. Water Dreams, Katherine’s debut novel, is a paranormal romance set in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is the first book in the Love’s Siren Song series. It is available in print or e-book from Foundations, LLC, Amazon, and other on-line retail sites.

Please visit me at:

Website: http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherineSmits

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katherinesmits

 

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