Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with Tony-Paul de Vissage Author of The Shadow Lord

Today I'm interviewing Tony-Paul de Vissage. Please tell us about yourself?

Tony-Paul: My people came from France; some were Huguenot and fled to Great Britain where they anglicized their family name before coming to the colonies. The others were from Alsace-Lorraine when it was part of France. Eventually, both sections of mon famille settled in the South, so I’m a Southerner on both sides. I was born in Georgia but I consider myself a Creole and New Orleans my spiritual home.

I graduated from a private denominational college and have a degree in English, Art, and Drama. When I was in college, I was active in drama and always got the “outrĂ©” roles, such as “Death” in The Thracian Horses and assorted dead bodies and such which were important to the script but didn’t have any lines. I once spent an entire act on stage pretending to be in a coma!

Janice: Too bad about the death and comma scenes, but I guess someone had to play them? 
So do you feel close to your French roots?

Tony-Paul: Oui.

Janice: When did you start writing?

Tony-Paul: When I was in college, I handled the “theatre beat” for the campus paper, and contributed to the literary magazine. Once I got an opportunity to get a look at a novel one of the professors was working on. I thought to myself, “I can write better than that,” so I gave it a try. Immodest as it may sound, I think I was right!

Janice: Good for you.

Please tell us who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Tony-Paul: I had two college professors who made literature so exciting, I loved going to class! One taught Shakespeare and Chaucer and he made us think about what they wrote. He was always assigning me to research things, such as how to tell male devils from female devils in Dante’s Inferno and whether or not the Wife of Bath was really a black widow serial killer. Oh, want to know how to tell the devils apart? Male devils have horns and tails and females have hooves. Does that make Satan a hermaphrodite?

Janice: Lol, I guess it does.

Tony-Paul: I also had a cousin who liked to read my manuscripts. I’m now estranged from mon famille but I’ve often wondered if she sees my stories listed and thinks, “I remember reading that one.”

Janice: That's too bad, but I bet anything your cousin does wonder and I bet he/she is happy for you.

How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Tony-Paul: Mon Dieu, for an auteur, I have the terrible handwriting. I marvel at how beautiful people used to write when they used quills but even with a gel pen, my scribble is tantamount to a poulet scratching in the dirt looking for something to eat. After it gets cold, even I can’t read it. So I go straight to the keyboard, pound away for as long as it takes, save it, then come back later and edit, edit, edit!!!

Janice: Ah, yes I do that too.  And there is no writing without editing.

What influences you in your writing? Music, movies, reading, or straight research?

Tony-Paul: Since I write horror, I’ve been influenced very much by horror flicks, novels, and lately, TV series. I do like a good horror movie…not necessarily slash/dice/blood/gore but one with a non-run of the mill storyline, a neat twist, a couple of memorable characters. I like to take an old story and make it different somehow. As for research, I usually get the story and then do the research on it. I’m a stickler for accuracy and try to have all my facts verified if possible because I have this fear that there’s some nit-picker out there who’s just going to be looking for a mistake.

Janice: That's great, and all that attention to detail will make your writing stand out, too.

When do you write morning or evening? Or are you a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Tony-Paul: I've always been of the opinion that the hours from 6 AM to Noon should be outlawed (and many of my characters espouse this same belief), so I’m definitely an afternoon and evening person. I’m lucky if I’m conscious before 11 AM!

Janice: Ah, a writer after my own heart, lol.

Who's in charge you or your muse?

Tony-Paul: Moi! I’m the boss! La Muse and I arm-wrestled for the title and I won. The winner and still champion. Of course, when you consider that a Muse is a delicate and temperamental little creature, that may not seem like such a victory but I have it on good authority, those little mademoiselles can be fickle if you don’t show them who’s boss upfront!

Janice: Good for you. I had to lock mine in a bird cage because she ran off so much.

Use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Tony-Paul: That’s easy: Que fait reflechir. Sorry, I mean thought-provoking. (Are hyphens allowed?)

Janice: For you I'll make the exception.

What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Tony-Paul: My new book hasn’t been released yet but it’s one I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Have you ever heard of PMLE or XP? Those are two genetic diseases in which a person’s DNA can’t repair the damage to the skin done by ultraviolet light. There’s no cure for it and the afflicted can never go out in the daytime unless they’re covered from head-to-toe in many protective layers.

There was a recent episode of CSI: Miami in which the killer had PMLE and couldn’t go out in sunlight. They lured him to headquarters and the next day, he looked as if he was cooked and that was how they caught him.

 My mother had PMLE and would get second –degree burns if she was touched by the sun. I remember once, she stepped out on our back porch at 6 PM with the sun on the far side of the house and was burned by the heat radiating off the sidewalk. 

She used to joke that she was a vampire and that got me to thinking: What if the vampire legend was started back in the superstitious, ignorant past when someone suffering from PMLE or XP, someone who couldn’t walk in daylight and had to hide away, was believed to be an evil spirit cursed by God? In a minute, my imagination was up and running, and the Second Species was born.

I made my “vampires” have human characteristics. They eat food, drink wine—none of that “I neffer drink…vine” business for them—live, love, suffer jealousy, fear, and want revenge. They have a government and a religion just like everyone else but they hide themselves away because they fear the First Species—Mankind. Those who live among humans have to do it in disguise; always afraid they’ll be discovered and killed. They do have some of the characteristic of vampires and they have extended lifespans but they never make anyone like themselves because that is against their Laws and anyone who breaks the Law pays the price.
The premise behind The Shadow Lord, the first volume in the series, is that the Prince’s assassin—the one sent to punish those who break the Law—is murdered and his children kidnapped. His eldest son seeks revenge, leaving Transylvania to track the killer across 18th-century Europe.

Janice: That is too bad about your mother. But I find it interesting that you took her condition and turned it into an idea for a book. Good for you.

Okay, now that Tony-Paul has peaked your interest let's have a peek at The Shadow Lord. By the when I read this excerpt it made me shudder. *shudder*

Though the sun had been down for many hours, Elsabeta Suvoi was still abed. Her lover liked it that way, wanting his woman where she was convenient whenever his lust seized him.

Elsabeta was slavishly in love with Mircea Ravagiu; he was violent and insatiable, as cruel in bed as out of it, but she worshipped him. It had been so from the moment they'd met. With the greatest reluctance, her father had invited him to a banchet and she'd taken one look at the darkly handsome, black-eyed warrior, saw the lustful gleam in his eyes, and left with him that night against her parents' wishes, sullying the Suvoi name to become his iubita.

He never spoke aloud that he loved her, though often he praised her body for the satisfaction it gave him, said straightaway she should never expect marriage or offspring, but Elsabeta was from a family of women who were mere chattels to their males so she accepted his domination without argument. Running away with Mircea had been her one independent act.

At first horrified by the bloody orgies and attacks upon the deomi--the humans who lived on the edges of his estate--she now ignored his rapaciousness, letting his prowess in bed and his brutal little games distract her. When her lover and his soldati returned from one of their hunts, she would lock herself in her bedchamber to drown out the screams coming from below.

It was the cries of the children which cut most into her soul, and at those times, she thanked the Oracle that Ravagiu had sworn he'd never get her with child, for it came into her mind that--had it happened--her own infant might become one of those shrieking out its life in the castel banquet chamber.

To Elsabeta, Mircea Ravagiu was like one of the dreadful Ancient Gods who ate its own offspring, and she believed he wouldn't hesitate to rip out his own child's throat and drink its blood should the thought come to him, and yet--with that perversity Nature renders some--she loved the man and never thought to leave him.

She was jerked from her semi-slumber by the chamber door being kicked open, sat up to stare at the figure in the doorway...Mircea, upper body bare, wings hovering around him. They were still quivering, evidence he'd flown rapidly and had just landed. From where she sat, she could hear his harsh panting.

He held something in his arms.

"Get dressed." No words of greeting or love. Just an order.

"Why? What's the matter?" A crash of sound came through the doorway, voices crying. "What's that noise?"

"My men are disposing of the vanjosi." He answered as calmly as if he were merely announcing that the moon had risen. "Strigoi's freak is on his way here and we have to go."

"You should've expected this." She dared to remind him of what he'd done, though she knew it might jeopardize her own life. "Did you think you could slaughter his family and he wouldn't retaliate?"

She's been horrified when he returned from his brother's castel announcing they'd been executed by the Prince's Taietor, didn't believe it when he said he planned to kill the Shadow Lord and his family. She hadn't thought he could succeed and waited to be told he was dead--resigned to losing him and living the rest of her days as an outcast for the choice she'd made...and then, he'd returned, bloodily triumphant...and Janos Strigoi and his wife were dead and their children carried away, to be tortured before their blood nourished their father's enemy.

"I never thought that book-bound scholastic would have balls enough to take a sword in his hands!" He stalked into the room. The sounds from below got louder, women screaming, men shouting, voices abruptly cut off to be replaced by others just as terrified. "Get up or you'll join my servants!"

Sliding from the bed, she hastened to obey but as she reached for her chemise and overskirt, he said, "We're flying. Make certain your wings are unhampered," and the bundle he held suddenly moved.

It began to squirm, kicking itself out of the swathing blanket--a plump little leg, an arm...

...a baby, a little girl-child.

She looked so tiny and out of place in Mircea's deadly embrace.

"Dear one!" Elsabeta stopped with the garment in her hands. "W-who's that?"

A sick dread twisted inside her.

"My daughter." His answer was as short as if he'd bitten the word. "Now."

Daughter? How could he have a child? Hadn't he told her he wished no brats, that the only thing he wanted from them was their sweet, immortality-laden blood?

Shrugging her wings out of their concealing pouches, she peered at the infant who turned her head and held out her hands with a little whimper. The child was blonde and blue-eyed, not quite a year old.

This is Janos Strigoi's child.

Elsabeta's heart felt as if it had been wrung dry.

"What are you going to do with her?" Even as she asked the question, she knew she had to prevent it. If she had to risk her own life and finally brave Mircea's wrath, she couldn't let him harm this child.

"'Twill be fitting, don't you think?" His laugh was harsh. "Raising the Shadow Lord's brat as my own, teaching her how to be a Ravagiu and some day...letting the survivors know--"

"No! Please--" A woman's scream floated up to them, dying away to a bloody wail.

"Are you ready?" He thrust the child into her arms. Elsabeta cuddled it against her naked breast, holding the little body tightly. All she could think was that she was going to do her utmost to protect this baby.
If it kills me.

He held out his hand.

She placed her own in it, asking, "Where are we going?" as he led her toward the window.

"I'm fortunate my brother saw fit to have holdings in other countries and I've traveled to them." One fist struck the shutters, sending them flying. He stepped upon the sill. "We're going to Budapest. Hold tight to the brat. If you drop her, I'll kill you!"

He flung himself through the window into the air and Elsabeta followed, clutching the child.
Releasing her hand, Mircea circled and rose swiftly upward, his body completing a graceful curve as he aimed himself over the trees, Elsabeta trailing after him.

Below them, the killings continued for another hour.

(The Shadow Lord will be released by Red Rose Publishing. Date to be announced.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brenda Weaver's Second book in the Empowered Spirit Series

The long awaited book 2 is now available!
you can buy it now at
Also check out and

Brenda J Weaver
Romance Novelist
Dragon Lord of Kells: Book 1 The Empowered Spirits Series available at
Ancestors of Fire: Book 2 The Empowered Spirits Series available March 2010
The Guardian: Book 3 The Empowered Spirits Series TBA

Ancestors Of Fire (paperback)
by Brenda J Weaver

Retail Price: $13.99

The Empowered Spirits, Book 2
Given to a stranger who was suppose to be her enemy by her father as he lay dying, the beautiful Lady Aeryn retreats to her home to heal her wounds and broken heart. To what purpose did her father do such a thing? It did not matter for she had vowed to protect her heart from the evil wiles of men. Though she would be bound forever to the stranger she would never let him become her true husband.

Angus had been just as shocked as the lovely Lady Aeryn had been when her dying father bound them together for life. She had angrily declared they would never be together then disappeared into thin air. As the new lord of Glendaugh Castle and all its lands, Angus was starting to come into his own powers that had been in hiding, lying dormant just beneath the surface. As much as he hated to get involved with Aeyrn, he needed her to complete the quest that was thrust upon him.

Will they over come the wall that had been built up around them and find a lasting love to surmount all time or will the Ancestors of Fire be their down fall forever?

(Pages 248) Spicy


As Angus touched her lips to silence her protest, his body went up in flames.
The last time he kissed her he did not truly let himself taste her. This time was different. Her lips were soft and moist, pliant against his, burning a path to his soul that would never be the same. Once he felt her resistance dissipate, he leisurely explored their depths, drinking in the essence of her.

Angus ran his tongue along the sweet edge of her lips then dipped it into the cavern of her mouth, drinking her, devouring her with his boldness. He wanted their bodies connected in more ways than his smoke hazed mind could comprehend, yet he took his time. Even though it was growing harder for him to keep his rampant body in check. He had to keep reminding himself that she was still weak and wounded, with scars that had not healed from within.

His mouth wandered from her lips and caressed the smooth contours of her neck, leaving tiny kisses down her throat to the top of her breasts. His right hand caressed her flat stomach, bringing her closer to him.

Aeryn was lost in a maze of feelings she hadn’t known she possessed. A fire started in the pit of her belly, sending liquid fire burning deep within. How could she want this when every fiber of her being rebelled against it? She shouldn’t be enjoying this, not after the terrible things Harper had inflicted.

“Angus—no—please,” Aeryn whispered as his lips came dangerously close to a nipple. She shuddered with anticipation but knew she must make him stop before it was too late.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Savvy Authors Boot Camp Class

\\*****Permission to Forward Granted and Encouraged*****//
Dialogue with Devon Ellington
FREE for ALL Members!  $10 for NON-Members
 Remember - Every registration completed by April 9th earns an entry in our prize raffle.  We’re giving away 40 different prizes including books on craft, software, workshops and plotting tools.

Good dialogue is one of the foundations of good writing.  This week-long workshop consists of exercises and homework teaching techniques to provoke sparkling dialogue that will reveal and build character, move along plot, reveal backstory, and enhance setting.  There will be exercises and homework, each developing a different use of dialogue in overall story.  Participants will post short scenes for constructive comments from both the instructor and fellow students.   This is a participatory workshop, not a lecture.  Participants are required to create fresh material for the class, not post something out of a current or old WIP. 

Assignment #1:  Cadence

Assignment #2:  Information Dispersal/Backstory

Assignment #3:  Motion/Sense of Place

Assignment #4:  Conflicting Agendas

Assignment #5:  Multi-Tasking

Assignment #6:  Ensemble Scene

Prerequisites:  Foundation in grammar, spelling, structure, especially paragraph structure.   Positive attitude.  Willingness to take risks, work hard and stretch yourself required. 


WHEN:     Mar 22 - Apr 5
COST:     FREE for ALL Members!  $10 for NON-Members

WHO:  Devon Ellington publishes under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction.  Her plays are produced in New York, London, Edinburgh, and Australia.  Her work appears in publications as varied as NEW MYTHS, BOOKS FOR MONSTERS, THE ROSE AND THORN, TOASTED CHEESE, THE RANFURLY REVIEW, FEMME FAN, EMERGING WOMEN WRITERS, THE SAVVY GAL, BLESSED GARDENS, THE CRAFTY TRAVELER, THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE, and ELLE. 

She writes the urban fantasy Jain Lazarus Adventures, the YA horse racing mystery DIXIE DUST RUMORS as Jenny Storm, and, under the Cerridwen Iris Shea name, the pirate fantasies involving the crew of “The Merry’s Dalliance.” Work appears in anthologies including PERFECTLY PLUM, SIMPLE PLEASURES OF THE KITCHEN, GHOST STORIES OF THE MOGOLLON RIM, FULL CIRCLE, and ARDEUR. 

She writes “The Literary Athlete” for THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW.  She teaches in-person and online workshops all over the world, including at The Muse Online Conference, the Catholic Writers Conference Online, adult education centers, YWCAs, community colleges, and private writers’ groups. 

Visit her blog on the writing life, Ink in My Coffee:, and her websites,, and

******************** - Writers Helping Writers

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Toni V. Sweeney, Author of The Serpent's Tooth

Hi, I would like to introduce my first interviewee, Toni V. Sweeney. Author of The Serpent's Tooth.

Hi Toni, Welcome. Please tell us about yourself. 

Toni: I’m a Southerner but I’ve lived on both coasts and in the Great Plains, specifically in the Buffalo Commons portion of Nebraska. I like to joke that I’ve survived hurricanes in the South, tornadoes and blizzards in the Midwest, and mudslides, earthquakes, and forest fires in California. I graduated from a well-known private college in Georgia with a Bachelors in Fine Art and also have a diploma in Graphic Art. I have a son and two grandchildren, ages 16 and 8.

Janice: My goodness you have seen a lot of natural disasters, and I'm impressed with your education, WTG. 

And when did you start writing?

Toni: ’Way back when I was in grade school, the third grade, I think, I used to write “novels” and illustrate them. I had these huge sheets of paper a med-tech friend of my mother’s gave me. They were about 18” x 24” and were used to separate the plates used in x-rays. They were tossed as each plate was used so she thought I could draw on them. I made storyboards on each sheet just like in graphic novels. In high school, I was on the school newspaper and in college, I contributed to the college literary magazine The Plucked Dulcimer, so—a long answer to a short question—I started writing shortly after I learned how to put pen to paper.

Janice: That's alright. I loved hearing about your storyboards and being on the school paper. The college magazine must have been interesting, too.

Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

Toni: Three people: My seventh-grade teacher, Lucille Comer, who encouraged her students to write and would make time in the teaching week to have us read our stories; my college professors, Wilson C. Snipes and May F. McMillan. I kept up a correspondence with them after graduation and dedicated Bloodseek, the first book in my series The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic to them. Unfortunately, Dr. Snipes didn’t live to see that, although “Dr. Mac” did. I really enjoyed their classes. Dr. Mc Millan is also a “Nessie” fan, as I am, and she spends part of each year in Scotland at Loch Ness.

Janice: How wonderful to have such inspirational teachers. Nessie is awesome. I wouldn't mind going to Loch Ness myself someday.

How do you go about your writing? Do your prefer pencils to pens or is it all straight computer work?

Toni: I used to write everything out in longhand on lined tablets,--with a ballpoint or inkgel pen--then transcribe it by typewriter. Then I’d print it out and put it in a notebook. I sure killed a lot of trees in those days. But my writing preferences have right along with ways to write: manual typewriter to electric to electronic to computer. After I got my first computer, I stopped transcribing and went straight to keyboarding. Now I keep everything in a “Safe Storage” unit.

Janice: Keeping your writing safe is the smart thing to do. I've lost some of my original manuscripts when the computer messed up and it was a hard lesson to learn.

What influences you in your writing? Music, movies, reading, or straight research?

Toni: Anything can be an influence. A memorable scene such as birds flying overhead with the sun shining through their wings, something someone says, a pun, the fact that I didn’t like the ending to a movie I’ve seen and write my own, the lyrics of a song to make a story…even a dream. Serpent’s Tooth came directly from a fragment of a dream I had. It could even be an occupation. I used to be disposal coordinator for an asbestos removal company and had to arrange waste disposal with state, local, county, and Federal agencies. That led to the idea of the Toxic Zone, a gigantic waste dump covering most of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, and Wyoming, which became the site of a Federation prison in the Sinbad series.

Janice: Wow, so interesting. I'm impressed you took your experience with your job and turned into a book.

When do you write morning or evening? Or are you like me, a late into the wee hours of the morning person?

Toni: When I was working, I would write from the time I got home from work to about 11 PM. Now that I’m “retired” (that’s a euphemism for being unemployed), I start writing around 11 AM and do that until about 5 PM. Then I do mundane things such as cook dinner and wash dishes.

Janice: Who's in charge you or your muse?

Toni: I like to think it’s a 50/50 proposition but I think secretly the Muse is in charge. For example, I was doing just fine on my new book. Then, I wanted to change direction. Apparently the Muse didn’t for the next day, I struggled through two chapters, then deleted them because they were so awful I couldn’t stand them. Pure drivel! I went to bed really discouraged, thinking maybe I should just set the book while for a few months. Apparently, the Muse had decided I needed a little lesson and took a coffee-break --or whatever it is muses do when they aren’t being helpful--and quickly took pity on me because the next morning, the chapters were there in my head and I could hardly type fast enough.

Janice: Lucky you, your muse took pity on you, lol. 

Okay, here is a hard question; use only one word to describe your writing style? Or at least what you want your readers to take away from your writing.

Toni: Me use only one word? Can’t be done! Well, I guess…imaginative…entertaining… Wait, that’s two words. Either of the above.

Janice: Imaginative. I like that. 

What influenced your recent book, the one you are promoting here today?

Toni: That dream I was talking about. I don’t remember a thing about it, except that it involved an actor, Arthur Franz, from the 50s. He starred in a lot of TV SF dramas. I woke up with the name “Hildebrandt” in my head. Two day later, I saw an old black-and-white SF movie and Franz was in it, and there was another actor playing an admiral named Hildebrandt. BOINGGG! Shook me a little. I took that as a sign that these two events meant something, and a few days later, the story Serpent’s Tooth (under the working title The Inheritor) started forming. I began telling the story of a rock star’s climb to fame and his eventual fall. What I ended up with was a modern-day re-telling of Faust, set in Hollywood and the wilderness of the Great Plains.

Janice: That's great, seeing the movie the next day. It would shaken me up a bit too. *shudder*

Okay, now that Toni has whetted your appetite here's a tid-bit of the Serpents tooth.

Publisher’s link:


At first, it seemed like the screenplay of a romance. A famous rock star disappears…twenty-five years later, a former fan discovers he’s still alive. They fall in love and marry and he takes her to the ranch where he’s hidden for a quarter of a century but there the love story degenerates into a tale of horror. Hildebrand was famous; Travis Brandt wants anonymity and Melissa Powers’ love. What they get is something else. It’s a story of a youngster from Nebraska who became the idol of millions but wanted more; of a young man who bartered his soul in return for fame.

Hildebrand wanted it all and got it but now Travis, Melissa, and their child must pay for his sins.


(Melissa Powers, vacationing above a cruise ship, finds she has a stalker. Confronting him, she discovers Travis Brandt to be rock star Hildebrand, who has been missing for a quarter of a century. They are attracted to each other and, with some reservations, Melissa invites Travis back to her stateroom for a nightcap. She waits, he doesn’t show, she decides to go to bed. Then, there’s a knock at the door…)

Travis was leaning against the doorframe, the gray jacket thrown over one shoulder, one pocket bulging alarmingly. In his right hand, he held two tulip-shaped champagne flutes.

She had seen that pose before. One of his movies. Chico, the young gigolo in Crossfire.

“You forgot to give me your cabin number.” Only mildly accusing, not inconvenienced at all. “I had to bribe a steward.”

“Sorry.“ Secretly, she wasn’t. He actually searched for me?

He leaned forward and kissed her on the neck, just below her ear, inhaling softly.

“I shouldn’t have bothered the steward. I should've just followed the scent of your perfume. What’s it called?”

“Nuit de Paris. It was my mother’s.”

“I like it. It’s subtle. Doesn’t knock you off your feet like some of that stuff women wear,”
She stepped back to let him enter the cabin. He draped the jacket over the back of a chair and set the glasses on the table.

“Do you like champagne?”

“Not really." As usual, she told the truth. "I think it tastes flat, and sour. Does that mean I have a peasant’s palate?”

“Not a bit! I don’t like it, either--that’s why I decided to stick with that good old American favorite-- ” He fished into the jacket pocket and produced a red and white can, “--Coca-Cola!” presenting it for her inspection as if it were a bottle of fine wine. “Does Madame approve?”

He's doing it again!

It was a parody of the beginning of the seduction scene from Dark Lover.

She took the can from him, read the label, said, “I’ve never tried Vanilla Coke,” and handed it back to him.

“You’ll like it.” He popped the top without a bit of spray, expertly poured both flutes exactly half full, and handed one to her. “It’s deep and dark with an aftertaste of mellow sweetness.”

"Like you?" Melissa took a sip and lowered her glass.

That made him laugh. “There’s nothing sweet about me, kiddo!” He raised his own glass, then looked over at her. “Like your peignoir.”

“Oh! I-I was j-just finishing my bath, and--” Oh, Lord, he probably thinks I put this on especially for him! “Y-you see, I thought you weren’t--”

“You thought I was going to stand you up?” He fixed her with a pitying hazel stare. “Miss Powers! O ye of little faith!”

She didn’t answer, just stood there shaking her head.

“You look very exotic with that turban on. Like a maharani.”

Melissa put one hand to her head. She’d forgotten about the towel. Guiltily, she pulled it off, folding it. Concentrating on the blue rectangle, she was very aware of how her tousled hair must look.

He took a step toward her, one hand reaching out to touch a lock resting on her shoulder.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. It looks just like I thought it would.” He released the curl and touched his glass to hers. It made a high-pitched, tinkling sound. “To a very beautiful lady, the first real Southern belle I’ve ever met.”

“Thank you, Mr. Brandt.“



“Travis. If we’re going to stand here, with me in my shirtsleeves and you wearing nothing but that sexy robe--
You aren’t wearing anything else, are you?”

Melissa’s hand went to the neck of the peignoir while the other brushed down the front making certain it was closed.

“--We’d better be on a first-name basis.”

She could see the amusement in his eyes again, making lights dance there. She ran a hand down the front of her robe, making certain it was closed.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t seen anything. Yet.”


Serpent’s Tooth is an interesting mix of romance and horror. The slow and steady build-up to the terrifying conclusion of the book is a daring experiment and quite typical of Toni V. Sweeney. She’s an author who doesn’t seem afraid of anything… This is an author who is learning and developing at a speedy rate. Try Serpent’s Tooth. It’s unique and, I think, worth reading: it will surely make romance enthusiasts uncomfortable, and it will show horror fans that slice and dice just doesn’t stand up to understated and/or realistic horror.

--Clayton Bye, Horror critic for The Deepening.