Welcome to my blog!

I'm so excited that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author has come true. If you'd like to go straight to excerpts, descriptions, and buy links for my books, click on the covers below on the right.

I love to hear from my readers! If you have a comment for me or if you'd like to submit a character for published character interview or unpublished character analysis, please use the form below or email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com.

If you're not getting enough randomness from me here, please feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or like my Facebook page. I've also taken the Pinterest plunge. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter for news on books, sleep tips, and wine notes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: The Agency -- Bert's Bowl and Raven's Song

The Agency: Bert's Bowl and Raven's Song

Thomas glanced over his shoulder at the new bartender, who rearranged the glass liquor bottles.

"I'd put those in classic bartending order," Thomas said.

Bert didn't turn around. "Yeah, and I'm putting them in Royal Bar order."

Thomas shook his head, then jumped when he saw that the plastic takeout container that had formerly housed the catfish was whole again.

"What the…?" he said and leaned over it. It was filled with murky water, and Thomas couldn't see the bottom.

"Don't touch it." Bert still hadn't turned. "That's personal property."

"It's unsanitary to have on the bar, and I didn't think fish could have personal property."

"Yeah, well don't mess with it."

Thomas mopped up around it. "Fine! I don't care what you do with it, but it's got to move! What if the health inspector comes?"

With a sigh, the big fish-man grabbed it and placed it under the counter. Thomas would have commented further, but Mr. Raven appeared from his office. He'd obviously been thinking hard – his hair stood up in spikes where he'd run his hands through it.

"Are you okay, Boss?" asked Thomas.

"I've been trying to solve our dragon problem. They're not going to give up. Now that we've foiled the direct approach, we can count on harassment." He shook his head. "They'll have us closed in a week, I'm sure of it."

"Can't we approach the Organized Crime Division?" asked Thomas. "When I was at the staffing agency, I'd call when I thought something was fishy about a new client. No offense, Bert."

Bert rolled his large, black eyes.

"That's a great idea, Thomas, but that's what they'll expect us to do. I had something different in mind." Raven smiled, but it looked painful. "I'm going to visit Elmadora."

"Who?" asked Thomas.

"Former head of the OCD." Bert frowned. "She's her own law now. Are you sure that's wise?"

Raven spread his hands, and Thomas could see he'd been chewing on his black-painted fingernails. "What choice do I have? There hasn't been a crime yet, and harassment will be difficult to prove."

Lady Elmadora's landscape design and architecture best fit in the "Leave Me Alone" school. Her dark stone mansion could've been photographed and placed beside the word "ominous" in the Gothic dictionary Raven had at the Edgar Allen Poe Academy for Mopey Boys. The long gravel drive, the color of bleached bones and edged with stones that looked like they had come from a grab-bag of gravestones, said anything but, "Welcome." He encouraged his black stallion onward and handed him off to a black-liveried groom at the front door. Elmadora's butler answered his ring.

"Orenimous Raven here to see Madame Elmadora," he said.

"The Lady is asleep, sir, but she mentioned your visit. She said you may wake her with a song."

Raven sighed. "I thought having an appointment meant I wouldn't have to sing the song."

"The Lady was most insistent."

"Fine." He took a deep breath and sang in a rich baritone:

Elmadora, my innamorata,
My love for you is like mad for a hatter!
Like the color black for a case of gangrene,
The dark of the stones beneath a deadly rushing stream!
Elmadora, you make my heart swell
Like the stomach of a man who's not feeling so well

He saw a dark shadow appear at the top of the grand staircase and put his heart into the final line:

Elmadora, won't you hear my plea?
Give me your treats, and I'll have no trick for thee!

"Bravo, Orenimous!" Elbow-length satin gloves muffled her claps, but she applauded as she came down the stairs, her long, layered skirts trailing behind her.

Raven caught his breath and forgot resent at her use of his given, rather than preferred, name. Her face, magically frozen at twenty-five when she'd been at the height of her looks but only the beginning of her career, held little expression except her violet eyes. Her long ash blond hair had been piled on top of her head, and the corset beneath her black satin gown accentuated her tiny waist.

She held out her hand out, and he helped her down the last few stairs.

"You look gorgeous, as always, my dear." He crooked an elbow, and she took it.

She looked up and sideways at him from beneath her lashes. "You're a flatterer, Orenimous. But for a song, I am willing to listen."

Even her voice had been preserved, one of the benefits of retirement from the OCD. In truth, she was older than he, and he didn't mind her gentle pressure that brought them to the lounge and the large ruby-colored chaise in front of the fireplace.

"Put your arm around me, Orenimous," she said. "These preservation spells hinder circulation, and I find myself to be perpetually chilly."

"Yes, Milady." In truth, he was glad to comply, for she was shorter than he, and it gave him the perfect view of her breasts, which her corset plumped like two white doves snuggled in ebony satin.

"So tell me," she said, "what is it you need?"

The front of his trousers was telling him what he needed, and he hoped she didn’t notice. For a moment, he forgot what he had come for. He tore his gaze away from her and looked at the fire.

"I've opened a pub…"

"I've heard."

He filled her in on the lizard's visit.

"The dragons don't give up easily," she said. "I am willing to help you in exchange for one thing."

"What?" he asked.

"I want you to bring Bert the Catfish to me. I need to speak with him, but he has refused my invitation."

"Is that all?" he asked. "Bert and I are friends, so that should be easy."

"Well, maybe not all." She turned pulled his face to hers so only a breath separated their lips. "I would like for you to warm me up."

Onesimus Raven was most happy to comply.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Serial Fiction: Monument Minders, Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven
Search for a Soul

Thurston heard the bed springs squeak and footsteps before Debtra opened the door.

"What's going on in there?" Thurston looked past his student to see a red-faced and suspiciously rumpled Thom standing in the room.

"Absolutely nothing." With a cool glance behind her, Debtra stepped into the hall and crossed her arms. "What's going on with you?"

The question brought Thurston back from his shock at seeing his student in a potentially compromising situation. It could have been nothing, but the dried tears on her cheeks and the detective's abashed expression told him otherwise.

"I'll tell you as we walk," he said. "I went to see an old friend, and he had been attacked for the device I was afraid had been used this morning."

"When was he attacked?" asked Thom.

"Early this morning."

"Did he call the police?"

Thurston glanced sideways at the detective to watch his reaction to, "No, when I got to his office, he was in pieces. Literally."

Thom stumbled over his own feet. "What?"

"He's an Old Soul, and a manifestation like me and Debtra. Ordinary trauma won't kill him, but it's a testament to his age that he wasn't more badly hurt. He seemed to mend pretty quickly after I put him back together."

"So why are we going to the Lancaster house?" Thom asked.

"Because I went to the morgue after I left Forsyth." He told them how he had snuck in through a side door and had found the body on a slab. He didn't mention how he had managed to get the door unlocked using psychokinetic energy or had befuddled the night tech and guard into leaving the room to order a pizza. Those were things that Old Souls couldn't do.

"Did you figure out the cause of death?" Thom looked straight ahead, but Thurston could see the tension in his jaw.

"Soul merge."

Debtra gasped. "How?"

"Remember how I told you the statue-prisons were made? When Maximilian, the prisoner, was released from the statue, his spirit absorbed into the closest sentient thing he could find, which was Lancaster. He passed through the body and took Lancaster's soul with him because he was still in an unbalanced energy state, like oxygen picks up free hydrogen to become water, but on a much smaller, subatomic energy level."

"What's that going to do to Lancaster?" asked Thom. "Can you un-merge him?"

"I don't know," said Thurston, "but I'm going to try. The sooner we can find him, the easier it will be."

The lights in the house were off, and the full moon reflected like a blank stare in the windows. Thurston would have been able to tell that death had visited the house even if he hadn't already known. Grief had physical and metaphysical energy, and the darkness hung closer to the building, dampening the loving aura of the couple who had lived there and making it harder to detect the merged soul, should it be there.

Of course, the newly-born energy of unrequited lust that thrummed through the car also obscured Thurston's Otherworldly sight. Sure, he noted the whimper of hurt at the back of his mind – had it only been that morning that he'd been excited by Debtra's body pressed close to his? – but his logical self asserted it was for the best that she find someone else. No matter how old one was, or how respected, it just wasn't a good idea to mess around with one's students.

Thom shut off the engine and looked at the dark house. "I don't see anything out of the ordinary."

"It's Debtra's talents that I need right now," Thurston said more curtly than he'd intended.

"Yes, Professor?" The tone of her voice told him that she was upset. Time to distract her.

"Look for an extra element to the darkness. If the marriage was as loving as the widow claimed, the spirit will be drawn to its home. A confused soul will try to return to what it loves most when freed from its body, and I suspect Lancaster is stronger than Max at this point, although that may change."

Thom added, "But what then? I can't arrest a soul!"

Thurston smirked at the mental image. "I'll try to separate it. Hopefully the two essences aren't truly fused, but merely tangled, like two balls of yarn that have been shaken together in a bag, as the Splitter was set to release the spirit, but not to rejoin it to anything."

Thom opened the windows, and they watched. A warm breeze carried the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle from nearby. Debtra tilted her head, her eyes wide. Thurston caught himself looking at the pale curve of her throat framed by her dark, satiny hair, and he noted that if he'd been the blood-sucking type, she'd be in trouble. He pressed his lips together. She was his student, he reminded himself. An ethics student! And Savedra was missing. The pain that came with that thought chased his attention from Debtra's neck.

After an hour, Debtra whispered, "I can't sense anything beyond the grief that covers the house, Professor."

"Likewise," Thurston said. He ran his left thumbnail under his fingernails. "Perhaps we should check the place where he died in case Max prompted him to go back there, and the statue was of his great-uncle."

The park was likewise empty of loose souls. The trio's only company the wind and a stray dog who paid no attention to them once it figured out that they had no interest in the discarded bagel it gnawed on.

"What now?" Thom asked after twenty minutes.

Debtra looked at Thurston, who felt the need to come up with a brilliant idea. Damnit, he was oldest, he should be wisest as well!

"I'm at a loss," he admitted.

Thom kicked at a loose pebble. "What kind of criminal was in that monument, Professor?"

Thurston looked at the handheld device. "His name was Maximilian Sharp, a petty thief with one impulse murder during his last crime. The judge decided that his behavior had become unpredictable and dangerous enough for this kind of incarceration, particularly considering he had broken parole numerous times."

"What was the crime?" asked Thom. "Maybe he had unfinished business related to it and is driving the combo soul."

"He stole some jewels and killed a security guard. He claimed he was innocent of the murder, but the evidence was compelling."

Thom held up a finger. "Let's get back to the theft. What kind of jewels?"


Thom nodded. "I think I know where they are!"

Thurston followed Thom to the car, Debtra close behind. "What do you mean?"

"Lancaster's business was a huge jewelry store chain! He specialized in sapphires. He bragged on his commercials how he would go to Thailand to find the best ones."

Debtra clapped her hands. "Thom, that's brilliant! It's something that both souls would be drawn to."

Thurston cleared his throat. "Yes, good work. Take us to the first store, or the biggest, wherever you think Lancaster's spirit would go." He looked away from Debtra's proud smile. He really shouldn't care that he hadn't figured it out even though they had mentioned the sapphire detail that morning, but it stung that he'd been out-thought by a human, likely a new soul only a fraction of his age. He should've guessed that Gurney had assigned Thom to him for more than just chauffeuring.

"I think it'll be the flagship store downtown." Thom started the car. "It's only about a mile from here."

"While we drive, you can ponder the next question, assuming you're right about the first."

"Which is…?" asked Debtra. "We know how Maximilian was freed, and now where he's gone. Don't we just need to find and capture him?"

"Ah, but there's the question of motive, as the good Detective here could tell you if he'd thought of it."

"Right," said Thom. He scratched the back of his neck. "I hadn't really. I figured he'd gotten someone to let him out."

"With a very dangerous device that hadn't been used in over a hundred years and that was acquired at great risk to someone. Forsyth had that safe triple-spelled and seated in an orthogonal dimension. But why was a petty thief with only one serious crime the one to be released? That is the question, and I hope he has the answer."

Author's note: Hubby and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary last Saturday. On Sunday, we treated ourselves to an anniversary lunch at Le Vigne, the restaurant at Montaluce Vineyards. Dessert was chocolate cake with marshmallow creme and a glass of Dolce:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Serial Fiction: Monument Minders, Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten
A Breath Away

Thom looked at Debtra. "Really? A girl as beautiful as you never lost her virginity in five lifetimes?"

She shrugged. "It's hard to lose when you die young, I guess. A couple of times, I was just a kid."

"You have an incredible story." He still stroked her hair. It soothed her, and she closed her eyes and leaned back into his touch. He sat on the arm of her chair and put his arm across her chest, his hand on her shoulder, holding her close. She liked the feeling of resting against him, how she felt safe and loved.

She remembered that she'd had love, but they had died, too, or had become lost before they could consummate their relationship. She'd been engaged when her first life as a Celtic princess had ended at the tusk of a boar. She and her fiancé had been hunting it when it surprised her and gored her in the leg, hitting the femoral artery. She had bled out in her love Eric's arms before he could truly become her lover. Now, when she looked at Thom, she could see Eric's face. They had the same jaw structure and nose. Thom's brow was a little less strong, and his hair definitely shorter, but he held her just like Eric had.

Instead of leading to a romantic moment, the revelation made her cry harder.

"Maybe I should go?" Thom asked, but he rested his chin on the top of her head.

"No," she sniffled. "I was just remembering someone."

"Someone you loved?"

"Yes." She told him about Eric and the boar, and then about the rest of her lives. Number two had been short – she'd died of the plague in Medieval Europe, only a peasant girl. Number three, not much longer. She'd been burned as a witch in the Colonies after her empathic talents led her to know more than she should about some of the town elders. During her fourth life, she'd sacrificed personal happiness for the noble cause of rescuing people from the French Revolution, helping to smuggle them across the Channel to safety in England. Madame Guillotine had put an end to that. And then the fifth life as a suffragette.

"You're just trouble."

She and Thom had moved to the bed, and they lay there with their shoes off. He still held her, but she didn't mind.

"I hate to see injustice. That's why monumenting is so horrendous! It's a death penalty without having to step up and admit it's that. And those poor souls… Did you know that Thurston – Professor Homily – can hear them?"

She rolled over, and they lay with a mere inch between their bodies. She could feel his physical and emotional warmth, and it drew her in.

"But that's another subject for another time," she said. "You know all about me. Tell me about you."

"I definitely can't top your story," he said. "Not that I'd want to."

"And you believe it?" she asked, leaning in so that their noses almost touched.

"Every word. No one could make that sort of thing up!"

And that's when she kissed him. It was a simple thing, closing the space of a breath to touch her lips to his, and yet she was not prepared for how it would feel. Her body pressed against his almost of its own accord, and she wrapped her arms around him. Her tongue explored his mouth – he had all his teeth! – and his gentle teasing of hers made her dig her nails into his back to bring him closer even though he was as close as he'd get with clothes on.

"Debtra," he said after a few minutes of "making out," as the books called it. Or had it been "snogging?" She didn't care.

"Hmmm?" She didn't want to open her eyes, just to feel him there.

"Is this really what you want?"

"I can tell it's what you want." She pressed her pelvis into his.

He traced the line of her jaw with his thumb. "Of course it is. I'm a guy. You're a very attractive woman, and I've never met anyone like you. But this is your virginity! You've never lost it in five lifetimes. How can I possibly take that from you after knowing you for less than a day?"

He moved away from her, and she opened her eyes. He'd propped himself up on his elbow and watched her with a half-smile.

She stuck her lower lip out. "I'm not worried about going to hell, if that's what you mean."

He shook his head. "It's not. I just want to make sure that this is really what you want, that you weren't wanting this to be with anyone else."

Debtra took a deep breath and remembered the sparks that had flown between her and the Professor earlier that day. But he was so much older than she, both in manifested and real lifetime! Did she love him? No, she realized, she didn't. She just had a crush on him. As for Thom… Damnit, why did he have to be so honorable? He had potential, but she realized she was also expecting him to be Eric, whom she hadn't thought about in, well, she didn't want to think about how long it had been.

"I don't, but you're probably right. I barely know you." She scooted back and leaned against the pillows.

"I should go." He took her hand and kissed her palm.

"Bye, Thom. I guess I'll try to find some porn or something."

He raised his eyebrows. "What did they teach you in those classes?"

Before she could answer, someone pounded on her door.

"Debtra! It's Thurston. Come on, we have to call Thom – he needs to drive us to the widow's house now!"

Author's Note: The first week of seeing patients in my new office went well. I'm now interviewing adminions because I need all the help I can get. In case you hadn't realized by now, I'm not the most organized person in the world.

Thom and Debtra's encounter feels like it needs a sweet ending, so how about some banana pudding with coconut vanilla wafers?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Serial Fiction: Monument Minders, Chapter Nine

Monument Minders
Chapter Nine
A girl is just a girl...five times over

Debtra looked out the window of her hotel room and watched the cars that crawled through Malfunction Junction. An accident further on, she guessed, because one side of the interstate moved smoothly, the other hardly at all. She wondered about the life or lives that had been changed, someone's day going from fine or bad to terrible in a moment of carelessness. She had never been killed in a car accident. Sure, her deaths hadn't been pleasant – boar attack, plague, beheading, choking during forced feeding as a suffragette – and she guessed that it would be closest to being burned as a witch, which she had been, but quicker. Hopefully.

She shook her head and wondered what Professor Homily was doing, where he was, why she couldn't go with him… But he had only told her to stay put. She could only answer the door for room service should she get hungry, and Thom. She smiled when she thought of the young detective. She had been able to see his dreams. When she had been a child, she had similar ones. And now, to know the truth… She wanted to share it all with him, but he was probably still reeling from the revelations of that afternoon.

A knock on the door startled her out of her reverie, and she glanced at the clock. She had ordered room service, but only a few minutes before. When she checked the peephole as Thurston had showed her, it wasn't food, but rather Thom.

"I'm sorry for bothering you," he said. He'd changed into casual attire, jeans and a cotton shirt, and with his wind-blown hair, looked young and vulnerable. Or maybe that's how she felt.

"You're not. I was just wondering how I should spend the rest of the evening."

"Where's the Professor?"

"Out." She closed the door. "He didn't tell me where he was going, only that he needed to go see an old friend."

Thom nodded. "Well, I just came by to see if you needed anything." He looked at his shoes. "And to see if you wanted to grab something to eat. I know you need to, uh, feed your manifestation every so often."

Debtra couldn't help but laugh, he sounded so awkward! "I've just ordered dinner, but you may join me. I think I may have gotten too much – it's hard to tell how much I need right now. Have a seat." She gestured to the desk chair and sat in the heavier chair with matching ottoman.

They both started a sentence simultaneously. Thom shook his head and motioned for her to speak first.

"I was just wondering if you had any questions. We hit you with a lot of new information today. It can be kind of overwhelming if you weren't expecting it. Even if you were."

"It wasn't that bad," Thom said, and she could sense his genuineness. "I had these dreams as a kid with spinning vortexes and layers of reality. When the Professor described the dimensions, it's like it all clicked into place, like I had known it all along."

She looked at him more closely – could he be an Old Soul like her and Thurston? Normally she could sense others like herself. In her lifetimes it had been an affinity toward kindred spirits. But Thom didn't have that kind of vibe, like someone ancient looked out from behind his eyes.

"What?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I'm trying to figure out who you are."

He laughed. "Good luck. I've been working at it for thirty-four years!"

A knock at the door heralded dinner. They split the pizza she had ordered, and she ate the salad.

"So do you know what everything in here is?" Thom asked.

Debtra nodded. "I had a class in Twentieth Century culture. I know about television, and I'm looking forward to a hot shower." She grinned. "That's something I never got in a previous life. It was only during the last one that I had indoor plumbing."

"Wow." Thom sat back and put his feet on the ottoman near hers. "What were your past lives?"

She blushed. "I've only had five. For a soul my age, that's not many, but I've been told that the way I've died might have had something to do with it."

"Like you were a ghost." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah, they called me the Gray Lady at the prison where they'd killed me."

"How?" He curled his left hand into a fist.

"I was a suffragette working for voting rights. They'd put us in prison, and we'd go on hunger strikes. They'd force feed us, and sometimes we died from choking." She sighed. "I haunted some of those guards into exhaustion. Then, after about fifty years, a Minder came." She could still picture him vividly. He'd looked like an angel from the Bible her last grandmother had made her read with white robes and long, flowing blond hair.

"That's one of those angel things."

She nodded. "He told me that I was too good at getting myself killed prematurely and violently, and that I needed a good education before I could come back. So that's when I started at the University of Inabsolute Truth in the Fourth."

"That would explain why you look like you're in your early twenties."

"It's about the life experience I've got. I never made it past twenty-three." She ticked off on her fingers what she hadn't done. "I've never had children, never got married, never grew old with anyone…" The lump in her throat surprised her, and she curled up, her head on her knees, and hoped he wouldn't see her cry. "Hell, those prison guards had more experience than I did. They'd go home to wives and kids and lives, and I was stuck there!"

She felt Thom's soft touch on her hair, stroking it, and it made her feel even more like crying. There must have been a boy who had done that at some point, but she couldn't remember. The details of each life blurred into the next in her memory.

"You know, what, Thom?" She looked up and found her face to be mere inches from hers. The cool, wet sensation on her cheeks must have been tears, but she didn't care anymore.


"I've never even lost my virginity!"

So that vacation-like week I had taken off to get my new office set up? Not a break at all. Hubby and I were there until 9:00 last Monday, and then I had evening obligations every night last week until Friday, when we were at the office until -- I kid you not -- midnight. The good news is that I now have a kickass place to write. I'll post pictures of the office soon. The next step? Minions...

Yeah, I did some stress eating last week. It culminated in sliders and this lovely Irish brownie sundae at The Marlay on Saturday: