Fortunes Bought and Sold

For mystery and paranormal fans alike…

Calypso “Caly” Mendelsohn expected a normal day reading Tarot Cards for the tourists in Salem. She definitely didn’t expect her former partner Sandro to show up and demand Caly return the little book she stole. She also didn’t expect her life as a reformed con-artist to get turned upside down. Everything Caly has worked so hard to build is threatened by Sandro’s visit – but before Caly can run from the danger, her next client slides into her booth and things get even more complicated.

Dan Saint James has inherited a shipping company from his grandfather, but he’s made his own mistakes and needs help to make sure the past stays hidden. There are particular skills required to deal with a collection of stolen artwork, and Dan needs Caly’s help to keep the secret stash from being discovered by the wrong people.

Caly’s entire past has sauntered through the front door of the Psychic Parlor and forced her to decide if she really is committed to helping her clients in the most ethical and honest way possible – or if she’s just a con-artist waiting for the perfect scam. Dan’s problem could be profitable to Caly and that might just be more temptation than her black little soul can resist. In order to help Dan, Caly must use her less than savory skills to outwit others who would love to use her past – and Dan’s past – against them.

When there’s a fortune at stake, it’s not always easy to get a second chance.

The Story Behind Fortunes Bought and Sold
The first time I visited Salem, Massachusetts, I fell in love with the way the city embraced its heritage and the way it managed to profit from a terrible past. Salem took a chilling event and turned it into a way to teach tolerance and acceptance while refusing to forget the horrors of the witch trials – and it has a lot of fun doing it. During a tour on the Salem Trolley, I thought about twisting the idea into a story about someone with a past they were not proud of. How could that person move on and put a positive spin on something that was awful? It was on that tour when Calypso Mendelsohn was conceived, and it’s been an interesting experience watching her grow!

So many people go through life trying to keep a tight lock on their less savory attributes, only to discover that those hidden things bubble up at the worst times. Think of the man who cheats on his diet while lauding his willpower, or the woman who consoles a friend while secretly cheering that their perfect life isn’t so wonderful after all. These are not bad people, but their inability to acknowledge their faults leaves them on a slippery slope where guilt and deceit lurk in the periphery and threaten their good intentions.

Most of us delude ourselves to some extent, but I didn’t want Caly to suffer the same fate. There’s something admirable to me when people own their faults and I wanted Caly to have a bit of that honesty. She is not blind to her own faults; if anything, she is well aware of her “black little soul” and “larcenous heart” and struggles to acknowledge her benevolent motives – she would laugh if you called her altruistic. Her ability to embrace her faults and repent her dishonesties is one of her greatest strengths, but it isn’t until another desperate and guilt ridden person needs help that she realizes her own jaded past makes her uniquely qualified to help someone else untangle a sordid past and get a second chance – and that is something Caly believes in.

Caly is the honest con artist who risks her own comfort to help someone else start over. In order to do that, she must rely on the very skills she finds so distasteful – those less than charming talents are exactly what Caly needs to employ in order to set things right. She walks the fine line between doing wrong for the right reasons; she’s good at being bad.

That brings me back to the story of the city of Salem where Fortunes Bought & Sold takes place. While the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials remains a prominent part of the town’s past, it has also become a lesson for the future. The town has embraced the tale and used it to educate and further the understanding of how hysteria is spread and how the whisperings of malicious people can cause real destruction. The legacy of the Witch Trials is tolerance, and the message contributes to the positive vibe of the city despite its sordid past.

The tragedy in Salem was brought about, in part, by vicious rumors and an inability to stand against the crowd. Sure, there was a belief in wickedness and evil, but the more familiar sins of greed and jealousy played no small part. We are so familiar with those emotions that we tend to ignore their power. Those two emotions play an important role in Caly’s story.

She encounters these unpleasant feelings in her journey and must deal with them because unless they are brought out in the open, they can erode the very foundation of Caly’s plan. The lesson for Caly is the same as the one Salem so brilliantly learned: Embrace and acknowledge the bad, then forgive yourself and do everything in your power to make sure it never happens again – and don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it!


Author Blog-In The End of the World Sucks by Sharon Trembly


Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Blog-In: End of the World Sucks (mine)

Oh no, she’s posted this before!
Yes, I’m participating in Kate’s September blog-in also.  More authors and more books:

The End of the World Sucks by Sharon Trembley
This is a genre blender book that might be compared to Lord of the Flies meets Let the Right One In in a post-zombie apocalyptic world. Don’t worry though, it’s about the people even though there are elements of horror.

Zombies, a Vampire, or her fellow Man – Which is most likely to kill Vanna Ames? Who can she trust?
After surviving a whole month past the End of the World by hiding and staying quiet, recent college graduate and fashion retail employee, Vanna, luckily finds others who have gathered together as a community for their mutual survival on a college campus.
Although claiming to be a democratic society, tempers become frayed, decisions defy logic, and rules are broken. Further emboldened by the lack of society and law, some even gain a sense of entitlement because they are self-labeled heroes.
Now that all the rules have changed, a vampire arrives with a deal – his help for blood. An equally beneficial offer or a Faustian bargain? As the community’s flaws grow, Vanna must decide whether to stick with her own kind in relative safety, or reject their community service nightmare, risk her life, and appeal to a vampire who claims his only interest is human blood. And for the Author Blog In, here’s an excerpt to give a better idea of Vanna’s character because she is a character.  This occurs after Vanna hears gun shots early in the book and goes for a walk to find out what happened –      When she reached a point where two rolls of chain-link were joined together with some twisted wire, Vanna saw her. If she had seen that dress before, she would have remembered.      Muumuus were made for a woman of this size. Displaying a cheery, floral print provided no slimming effects, but proudly declared big and beautiful. Along with the turquoise, orange, and pink poly-blend tent, she also wore a pair of nude knee highs, and filthy, pink terry scuff slippers, and large, turquoise-colored plastic earrings with a matching chunky bracelet.       The woman had fallen on her side facing the fence, and like most of the corpses, her eyes remained forever open. Vanna thought the zombies didn’t blink, so that might be why their eyes turned that spotty white color.      Even with a visible gunshot wound to her face, Vanna could see the trivial details that further defined who this used to be. The woman’s short, not-so-natural blond hair was arranged into a crown of curlsframing her face. She also had heavy blue eye shadow still caked all the way up to her plucked, then redrawn with brown pencil, eyebrows.      Her lower face was grimy, Vanna couldn’t confirm her expectation of coordinating lipstick to match her screaming pink nail polish, brightly visible on the tips of her dirt-caked fingers from a distance. Vanna’sconstant fearful imagination made the gunk smeared on the zombie’s lips still appear fresh, wet and red, when she knew it had been there for weeks.              

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Destructive Magic – Author Blog-In

The struggle for power has begun. The United Coven and Alliance is rumored to be crumbling from the inside. Magical practitioners who operate outside the powerful organization are being tracked down. The Dominion, a powerful Afro-Caribbean relic has been stolen and four people are missing. Coyote, the mythical trickster spirit, believes Dr. Arienne Cerasola is the right person to hunt down the missing artifact and restore the balance. Maybe Arienne, an unemployed archaeologist and inexperienced witch, is the person destined to save the magical world…or maybe Coyote’s belief that she has a seventy-percent chance of success is a grave miscalculation.
A cast of characters, including a crazy voudoun priestess, a scattered former archaeology professor, and the always unpredictable Coyote join Arienne on this adventure to recover a relic that poses a threat to humanity as well as the magical world.  Areinne can either sit on the sidelines and help from a distance or she can jump into the fray and live with the consequences of her decision.
Read on for the first chapter of the book!

Chapter 1


I walked through the fields and admired the sunlight slanting through the trees.  My new home was in such a peaceful and serene setting that it always made me happy.  The mailbox was installed at the end of the dirt path that I called a driveway.  I loved the morning trek to the mailbox more than I ever thought possible.

I pulled open the metal door to the mailbox and peered inside.  The package I’d been waiting for had arrived and excitement surged through me.  I pulled the small package out and jogged back to the barn where Basir and I lived.  He would still be sleeping, having given in to his nocturnal nature since our move to the new home.

At the kitchen table, I tossed the bills to the side and grabbed a pair of scissors from the metal bucket I used to hold my office supplies.  I slit the packing tape and opened the box, letting myself feel the rush of anticipation – the box contained a whole new identity for me.

The small cards were brightly colored with flowers and garden tools.  Garden Magic Landscaping Service –  Make your garden magical.  Arienne Cerasola – proprietor.  The new business cards were exactly what I had wanted.

It was a fresh start.  No more job interviews that ended in “we’ll be making our decision in a few days” (translation, “you’re not getting the job”).  I would be self-employed; no more worrying about getting fired (again).  No more finding magical items or meeting magical beings that tried to trick me.  No more worries about killing someone who was trying to kill me.  The last thought sent a shiver of remorse down my spine.

I focused on the cards again – I needed to break the habit of dwelling on the past.  My future was printed in front of me and while it wasn’t exactly a dream job, I hoped I’d be able to use my earth elemental magic to make a living that wasn’t quite as dangerous as the other magical occupation I had tried.  I might as well find some use for my witch side.  Preferably a use that wasn’t quite as risky as my last foray into the magical world.

I stuck one of the cards to the refrigerator with a magnet.  Basir would see it when he woke up.  I looked around at the unfinished space inside the barn I was trying to convert to a home and decided I could spend some time gathering wild herbs on the property.  I loved wandering through the fields and I pulled my canvas tote off the rack by the door and headed outside.

The tiny Berkshire Mountain town we had decided to settle in suited us.  It was close to the major cities, but remote enough to offer us the relaxed and private lifestyle we wanted.  Basir was thrilled with it, and I felt more comfortable than I had in a long time.  There was no need to worry about where we were going to end up next.  No more fear about the United Coven and Alliance tracking us down.  Since I wasn’t exactly practicing magic, they were ignoring me.  I wanted to keep it that way.

If they were ignoring me, then they didn’t know that I had killed one of their warlocks in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  There was an up-side of being considered completely inept – the Alliance would never think I was powerful enough to have done that.

I ran my hand through my copper colored hair and tilted my face toward the morning sun.  A few more freckles didn’t really matter to me.  I was about to become a landscaper, so I’d have an outdoorsy glow to me from now on.  I’d tan to a very pale, freckled honey shade, like I’d been when I worked as a field archaeologist – back before my magical talents started leaking out and creating disaster for me.  Jeez, I released one little demon (okay, it was a nasty demon) but I managed to contain it (by collapsing a ruin, but still – it was contained), and yet nobody wanted to hire me as a field archaeologist.  Go figure.  My Ph.D. was totally useless and I had to accept that.

I decided the past was the past and I bent to pick a few shoots of wild onions.  I would focus on the present and the future, no more lamenting things!  When my fingers closed around the onions, a whisper of magic came through the ground.  The hair stood up on my arms, and a shiver traveled the length of my spine.  I looked around at the meadow and squinted into the woods.  It had been a few months since I’d felt anything magical…and I didn’t like the sudden reappearance of it.

I bent and took a few more onions, crouching to hide my face.  I took another look around and I didn’t see anything threatening, but my senses remained on edge.  I tucked the onions into my canvas bag and walked toward the barn, keeping my stance relaxed despite the panicked little warning alarm in my head.

I bent again at a clump of clover, and pretended to pick the white flowers off the stalks.  I laid my other palm on the ground as if to steady myself and tuned into the waves of energy around me.

I felt it more clearly that time.  Something very powerful was nearby.  The hair on the back of my neck tingled, and a cold fear knotted my stomach.  If I concentrated, I could almost feel something watching me.  I gathered what energy I could from the ground and readied myself.  I would need power to put up any sort of fight.

I walked on, meandering toward the barn and concentrating on looking calm.  I bent every few steps as if to pluck a bloom, and laid my palm against the earth.  I could feel the magic coming through the ground, and I carefully sipped from the currents so as not to tip off whatever lurked in the woods.  If I drew in a large amount of power, it would be obvious that I was preparing for an attack.  I needed the element of surprise.

I had worked for days on a concealment spell to shield my property from view and memory.  I had woven the energy around the perimeter into a sort of magical fence that would give serious unwelcoming vibes to anyone who crossed it.  It wasn’t called an offensive/defensive barrier for nothing.

Yet something was lurking in the woods.  Something that shouldn’t have been able to cross the barrier.

I walked a little faster.

The prickling sensation on the back of my neck intensified and I quickly reviewed all of the spells I knew I had some chance of performing should I be attacked.  It was a depressingly short list.

I cast a protective bubble around myself, drawing the currents of energy out of the earth and knitting them around my body.  I channeled a little energy into the amulet I wore around my neck, just for good measure.  I wondered if there was an expiration date on amulets or if I should have recharged it somehow.

This magic thing really wasn’t working out too well, considering that I had an intruder on my magically protected property and I didn’t know if my amulet would work.  It wasn’t exactly a good time to be thinking about those details, and I made a promise to myself to try to plan better.  Yeah, right.

I could feel whatever was in the woods still watched
me.  I looked down at my arm and saw the translucent hairs on my forearms standing straight up.

I looked at my wrist, pretending to check the time.  My watch was on the kitchen table in the house.  As if remembering I had someplace to be, I hoisted the canvas bag onto my shoulder and set off back toward the barn.  My pace was a little quicker, fueled by the rising panic in my chest.

Something rustled the leaves behind me.

I didn’t turn, but I quickened my pace to a jog.  A wash of magic brushed against my skin.  Whatever followed me was way more powerful than I was.  I ran faster, spurred by the adrenaline and the prickles of fear on my skin.

Leaves crunched behind me and I felt my pursuer gaining on me.  The sounds of panting echoed in my ears, magnified by magic or fear.  The air was suddenly charged with electricity and I tried to grab it, to add it to my own reserves.  I ran even faster, pulling on the currents of energy desperately to fuel my body as well as my magic.

A scream was trapped in my throat.  I was too far from the barn.  I could only just see the roof over the next rise.  I didn’t realize I had walked that far!  I ran full out, throwing the canvas bag down and pumping my arms, trying to draw oxygen in over the knot of dread in my chest.

My own feet crunched through the tall grass, and I heard and felt something gaining on me.  The thrashing sounds behind me grew louder as if clamoring to be heard over my own ragged breathing.  I could see the siding on the barn, and make out the furniture on the patio.  I pushed my tired limbs faster.

Almost there.  Come on, Arienne!  Move it!

The sounds behind me suddenly ceased and a choked sob escaped from my throat one second before something crashed into the center of my back.

I fell, arms outstretched and slammed onto the ground.  I tumbled into a summersault and reached for the power in the earth.  I grabbed frantically at it, trying to channel it into the amulet I wore.  I rolled onto my back, eyes wide with terror and looked directly at the sharp teeth of my attacker.  Its jaws were opened as if to tear out my throat, and a scream exploded out of me.

Also available in paperback from

Author Blog-In: Elementary Magic by R. Leonia Shea

Available as an e-book from the following retailers –


Barnes & Noble:





Short Description:

A girl releases one demon and all of a sudden her Ph.D. is useless. As the only black listed archaeologist on the planet, Dr. Arienne Cerasola needs a job. When a family friend hires her to find a magical tree, it seems like a good idea. The problem is Arienne isn’t that talented as a witch. If she were, she would have been recruited by the United Coven and Alliance, not discouraged from ever practicing the craft. Looking for a new life, Arienne sets out on a quest to find the tree.  With a Shaman and the trickster spirit, Coyote, to (maybe) help her – she hopes to prove to herself that she can do something useful with her meager talents. After all, with magic comes fantastic possibilities….and terrible consequences.

Reviews (from

“…thoroughly enjoyable…” 

“…a wonderfully written amusing tale…”

“I am really looking forward to reading more about Dr. Arienne Cerasola the heroine in the book Elementary Magic so here’s hoping the author is writing a lot more. And yes, I have noted there is one more book involving this character. (pout… there should be lots more!) “


I slid my eyes toward the plant in the corner of the room again.  It looked worse every time I glanced at it.  The giant plant with thick leaves seemed as if it were melting in the cool office of the museum.  Every time I looked, another spike seemed to droop.

I pulled my eyes away from it and answered the next question the interviewer asked.

“Yes, I am very impressed with your conservation department, and I think my experience would be an asset.”  My voice was strong, and I tried my hardest to make good eye contact.  The now completely flat plant caught my attention.  I saw a flicker of something behind the pot, by the radiator.  I blinked and the flicker disappeared.  The tension of yet another job interview was making me see things.

The committee nodded collectively as I described my experiences as a field archaeologist and I glanced around the table trying to make eye contact with every person.  The flicker at the corner of my vision grew into a glow and I glanced back at the plant.  My eyes widened in surprise as flames licked at the now melted plastic pot and steadily climbed the wall.  I looked back at the table and five pairs of eyes were staring in horror at the inferno that consumed the corner of the office.

Without thinking, I grabbed the pitcher of water off the table and threw it onto the blazing plant.  Under my breath, I murmured “deincendio” with flick of my hand I willed the flames to subside.  The fire hissed, but obeyed.

Unfortunately, I had doused the flames a second too late, because the alarm started to blare and the sprinklers engaged sending cool water over the office, the interview committee, and my four hundred dollar power suit.

Dr. Birk, the head of the Albany Museum of Natural History, ushered me out of the office.  Her low heeled shoes clicked on the tiled floor as she brought me outside to the hum of the city.

“We are so sorry, Dr. Cerasola.  I believe we have taken enough of your time today, and I’m afraid I must go meet with the head of security.”  She ushered me to the curb and hastily shook my wet hand.  Water dripped from her grey hair and her speckled eyeglasses must have been impossible to see out of.  She swiped at them impatiently and hurried off to meet with a man in a blue uniform.  They scurried back toward the museum and the sound of fire trucks could be heard blaring their warning from a few blocks away.

The other members of the interview committee were nowhere to be seen, and I stood alone on the street, drenched and confused.  “And thus concludes your interview…don’t call us, we’ll let you know when the arson investigator wants to speak to you…” I mumbled like a crazy person as I headed back to my car.

I pulled a towel out of the trunk of my car and laid it gently on the seat before climbing in.  I took a moment to rest my head on the steering wheel, fighting the tears that burned behind my eyes.

“Who does that?”  I asked the empty car.  “Who sets the office on fire during an interview?  What the hell is wrong with me?”  I mentally kicked myself before pulling into traffic and pointing my car in the direction of the Corning Preserve.  I had to pick up my partner, Basir.

I parked far from the other cars and opened the sunroof.  I waited a few moments, letting the early summer sunshine warm my lightly freckled face.  An owl hooted from the trees above and I looked around to make sure nobody was watching.

The owl landed on the roof of my car and hopped in through the opening.  Basir blinked his large yellow eyes at me and hooted again in greeting.

I dissolved into a tearful mess.

“Fire.  This time it was goddamned fire, Bah!  What is going on?”  Basir hooted softly and nuzzled his feathered head against my arm.  When I’d finished cursing and berating myself, I swiped at my runny nose and sniffled before pounding my fist on the steering wheel in frustration.

I’d had three job interviews since being fired from the last archaeological dig I was in.  They had to fire me after I’d collapsed a 16th century cathedral in Ireland.  I had to collapse it after I’d accidentally released a three thousand year old demon, but I couldn’t tell the University that part of the story.  So I was now an unemployed, homeless archaeologist who had blown three job interviews by causing minor disasters.

Magic has a way of getting ahead of me…

A special thanks to Kate Policani for organizing the Author Blog-In…Check back and I’ll have re-blogged about some great books from other authors!