As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Voodoo Dreams - Alana Lorens celebrates at the Madi Gras

Early evening, the hostesses of the AR&T gather on Bourbon Street with their guest, author Alana Lorens, to celebrate Mardi Gras. Revelers flood the area but the women gather in a tight knit circle, consternation upon their lovely faces

"Ladies, we have an emergency," Melissa says, aiming a deadly stare at AJ. "Could everyone please put away their iPhones and pay attention?"

"She means you!" Lyn elbows AJ, jostling her so that her attention is forced from the screen. Grumbling, AJ puts away the device.

New Orleans Hurricane Recipe"What's wrong?" Mac asks. Only the upper half of her face is visible above the rim of her cocktail glass, which contains a swirl of multicolored rums, little umbrellas and pineapple spears.

"The Voodoo Priest from Alana's VOODOO DREAMS hexed Mary,"Lilly supplies with a tearful sniffle. "She ran off offering to trade her bra for a handful of beads."

"Can I have one of those?" AJ chases after Oliver as he walks past, carrying a tray of Hurricane cocktails.

"Doesn't sound like an emergency to me," Mac mutters. "More like par for the course." 

Before we send out a search party for Mary, and settle down to scoff the food and drink, let's welcome Alana Lorens and hear more about her latest novel - Voodoo Dreams:


When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can't wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious--but handsome--lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.
 Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He'd much rather devote himself to her--especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.
Strangely compelled to follow the riddle's clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

EXCERPT:   Set in a scene where Evan and Brianna have been lured into the swamp by the voodoo priest...
He held the boat steady while she climbed in, shadows deep from the trees overhead. Something splashed in the water behind him just as he was about to step into the boat, and he missed his step. He fell headlong into the bayou.

Brianna laughed weakly. “Come on, I don’t want to ride with you all—”

Something swished past his legs underwater. Something big. “Shhh,” he said, jerking himself upright. “There’s something in the water.”

“What?” She leaned forward, scrambling in her pack for a flashlight, which she waved from side to side around the boat, scanning the water for danger. “What is it? An alligator?” she cried. As if she’d summoned it, the animal’s ridged back snaked past the boat, rocking it by the force of its passing. The damned thing was huge. She shrieked and grabbed on to the sides of the boat.

He had to get her out of the water, now. “Come on, Brianna, throw the rope. You’re safer on shore here.”

“Brianna, now!”To his dismay, she only fumbled with it, staring at the water where trouble now waited. The creature made several more passes, surfacing just enough for him to see it was a monster, maybe twelve feet long and thick as a submarine. It bumped the boat, jarring it violently.

She clung to the sides of the boat, ignoring him, her eyes focused on the alligator.

He debated the efficacy of jumping in the water and physically manhandling her onto dry land, but that ‘gator seemed determined now.  “The rope, Brianna?”

Finally, she seemed to grasp his words. Still not taking her regard off the reptile, she tossed the rope toward the shore. It fell short, but it was something. He lunged into the shallow water for the rope and grabbed it. With one strong yank, he pulled the boat half onto shore while the alligator swam away, perhaps startled by the movement.

“Give me your hand, Bri. I think it’s gone,” he said, relieved.  “Come on, let me help you over here.”
       “Are you sure?”

Hell, no, I’m not sure. “Of course I am. Hurry now.”

She shivered and took a deep breath, still studying the water. When nothing happened, she stood up, a little shaky, and held out her hand.  He seized it and pulled her ashore just as he caught movement in his peripheral vision. Across the inlet, the alligator’s huge tail smacked the water in challenge, and it charged straight for the boat.

“Look out!” Brianna yelled. She snatched up the wooden oar Evan had dropped on the ground.  She barreled for the water before Evan could stop her. The alligator launched itself into the now-abandoned boat, its mouth open, hissing horribly, and inches-long teeth snapped at her.

Brianna swung the oar toward the open mouth of the creature. The impact of its jaws clamping down on it nearly shook it loose from her hands, and they played tug of war for several long seconds during which Evan actually thought the alligator might win.

Idiot woman. What’s she thinking? I’ve got to do something before she gets eaten.

A distraction, that’s what was needed. He launched himself into the swamp downstream from the monster. “Hey!” he shouted. “Hey, over here!” He smacked the water, trying to get the alligator’s attention.

“Evan, what are you doing?” Brianna gasped, yanking the oar back in a final win.

“Come on, you big jerk, come and get me!” He continued to splash, only then wondering if there might be more alligators in the water. Certain he felt nips at his legs and ankles, he tried to be logical. Surely with an old daddy this big, no one else dares come in his territory, right? We should be fine.

Should be.

            He waited until the gator slid back over the edge of the boat into the dark water, its claws scraping down the wood, an awful sound, as it shoved off. That’s my cue…
Purchase from AMAZON

I’m a single mom of seven children, three of them on the autism spectrum, four of them grown, who works part time as a family law attorney and the rest of the time as a multi-published author. I write under the names of Alana Lorens for my romance and suspense
titles, and Lyndi Alexander for my sci-fi, fantasy and young adult titles. I published my first article at 18, my first story at 25 and my first novel twenty years later. The detailed story of my writing career is available in a series at Novelspot, beginning with A Dead Rabbit and the Letter. I’m addicted to good coffee, beautiful scarves and Firefly, and I grow some pretty tasty tomatoes each summer.

To win a copy of Alan's first book, in the series
CONVICTION OF THE HEART all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.
(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)


  1. Good morning all! A lovely day in old N'awlins--ready to catch some beads? No, no leave your shirts on. It's not THAT kind of parade. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you win!

  2. Hi Alana, and welcome to your Roast!

    What an exciting excerpt, really nail biting and one that makes me want to add your book to my ever growing pile of Wanna-Reads! :)

  3. LOL! That's a pile I think we all have waiting for us to invent more time in each day--thanks so much for having me!

  4. Wouldn't it be nice to have some extra hours in the day! :)

  5. With the weather we're having in PA, I think I wouldn't mind a stroll down Bourbon Street, beads or not! Who's living somewhere warm? Tell us about it so we can be jealous!!

  6. I visited PA in September, and it was glorious! I know it's much colder there now though. It's chilly but dry here in the UK, which is a nice change from the incessant rain. A stroll down Bourbon Street sounds good. I hope Mary's OK, I wonder if the others have gone to search for her!

    1. September and October are my favorite months here, for sure.

  7. Wow, this is crazy but really cool. Roast & Toasts are the funniest. I've never read this book, but after reading this, maybe I will. I absolutely love mystery books and movies so this is probably right up my ally.
    Kat Brennan | http://www.patmarclean.us/services.html

  8. Hi Cat, thanks so much for stopping by (we had to repost your comment as it was posted on the wrong page but not to worry) So glad you enjoyed the post.

  9. I finally found someone who would give me a set of beads. He looked about 89 years old. But, what the hey. Oh look, it's 82 degrees in West Palm Beach, AC weather. Could we bring some of this PA weather down to where I live? My don't we all look lovely, especially you Alana! WOOHOO! Party!

  10. You'd think with the size of my girls, someone woulda given me beads besides a half blind ole man!! I've lost my touch!!! AHH!

  11. Mary, stop flashing those hunks over there. You have a set of beads. Who cares if he was an old geezer? That dude can party! Ha! I think he's over there getting some tips from Oliver. Wow! Just look at the architecture here. I love it. And I'm loving my first trip to New Orleans. Love the excerpt too!

  12. I've never envisioned myself as a Southern belle, but I could get to like it. Mary! So glad you're safe...if it's not the voodoo folks, it's the dirty old men. Nice...beads. :)

  13. Thanks for the pictures. I left Louisiana twenty years ago and I still miss Mardi Gras!

    1. It's really a special experience--I got to go in 1998, and I'll never forget it! Especially the police officer that gave my teenaged daughter a package with an item of edible clothing...

  14. Here--I just got a plate of beignets from Cafe du Monde... watch you don't get too much powdered sugar on your pretty dresses! http://www.cafedumonde.com/beignets

  15. Hi Debbie *waves* and thanks for the beignets, Alana, Mmmmmm - I've never tasted them before but they're delicious!

  16. O, what memories this post brings! My husband and I traveled to New Orleans on our 25th wedding anniversary. We had just gotten a Ford Van and my husband wouldn't park the van so he drove thrugh the Madi Gras with the windows down, so many beads were received through the windows. Alana, Voodoo Dreams sounds like a great read that would bring back memories
    Hi, Roast and Toast authors! Missed you!
    rbooth43 at yahoo dot com

    1. Becky, I have not heard THAT story about you and Jack. You know I'm gonna want details. lol! So glad you made it. let's go see what Oliver has to drink on that tray!

  17. Hi Alana! *Air kisses to our guest and the other lovely hostesses* I'm so glad you're visiting with us today! I absolutely LOVE the cover for Voodoo Dreams. Like HUGE LOVE! It's fabulous! I've never been to New Orleans but it's on my bucket list. In the meantime, I'll definitely have a beignet! Mmmm, they look delish! Hi Rebecca! xo

  18. I went to New Orleans in October for one of Heather Grahams conferences. It was one of the weekends a small hurricane came through. So we missed a lot, no parades or beads, guess I'll have to settle for these. Hey, they aren't regular beans, they are magic. Wonder if I plant them what will grow??? Dare me anyone?

    1. No! I don't dare you, Mary because I know you'll do it and with your luck, there is no telling what will sprout up. lol!

  19. It's so nice to be here with you all! I definitely need a drink. *fans self*

  20. I dare you Mary - only our Mary would sell her (much needed) bra for Madi Gras beads and end up with magic beans!

    I'll join you for that drink Alana, I've just spotted some hunky guys over there and all of a sudden I feel a little warm! :) Oh I do agre about your cover too - absolutely stunning!

    1. Hi AJ - waves to sister hostess - and Rebecca - I nearly didn't see you behind that mound of beautiful beads! :)

  21. Mary, there are a few hunky guys over there that look *perfect* for helping us..er...you dig a hole for your beans! Now, where'd I leave my phone. Something tells me I'm going to need to snap a few pictures!!!

  22. What happens in NOLA stays in NOLA, that's what I say. :)

  23. Okay, hole dug, covered and watered. Now let's see what grows!! There it's starting, some kind of vine, woo, it's growin' fast!!!!

  24. *eyes the vine* I don't know, Mary. I'm not sure tourists are allowed to just create vegetation. What if it gets out of control? What if... *gasp* what if it finds some leftover voodoo curse and....?

  25. I agree with Alana, Mary. Look it's grown over the houses already - and what's that, it's growing purple, gold and green beads, and they're spreading, they're creeping down the vine and covering everything - aaargh!

  26. Well the cops are busy chasing after nude people and folks using the sidewalk as a toilet. So we are pretty sure not to get arrested. At least.

  27. Has it gone that far??? The vine it's...it's... OH NO it's grabbing hot looking men as it crawls through the French Quarter, and people are screaming!!! Women are chasing it!
    No wait, that was just my imagination. Wonder what it really is??

  28. Arrested naw, what happens here stays here, besides virtually I can have you released any time I want to, never fear!!!

  29. This party is off the chain! Wow! Seems like a good time for another excerpt. What ya got for us, Alana?

  30. Off what chain?? And yes, please another excerpt!! Great idea. While I wait I'm looking for Brianna, she'll know how to where to get the best beignets!!! I want one!!

  31. here's where Brianna and Evan meet:

    Footsteps bounded down the stairs. Hank ducked aside, stepping in front of Brianna in case the runner fell. “Slow down there, son,” he said. “No need to trample the other guests.”
    “Negligence is not my style, buddy. Not to worry.”
    Brianna peered around Hank’s arm, that voice sounding familiar. Sure enough, it was the John Grisham reader from the plane. He was show-stopping in a very loud Hawaiian-style shirt in blues and a tight pair of black jeans. But what really grabbed her attention was the brilliant red derby with alien antennae on it.
    When he saw her, he broke into a smile. “Hello! You again? Must be fate.”
    A little overwhelmed by his sudden appearance, she could only shrug. “Must be. I’m Brianna Ward.” She gave him a firm handshake, noticing his eyes were just the color of summer asters. Since he wore glasses, they weren’t contacts—they were natural.
    “Evan Farrell,” he replied. “No need to be formal. Call me Evan.”
    Terri beamed like she’d just won the lottery. “I hoped you two would hit it off.”
    “Could be.” Evan winked at Brianna, openly appraising her.
    She, in turn, found herself admiring his casual attitude and the hint of mischief in his outlandish outfit. Maybe she’d underestimated him on the plane. That kind of slightly delirious distraction was just what she needed. Something completely different. No lawyers, no papers, no filings. Just fun.
    Terri went on in a flood of introductions, gesturing at several people in the kitchen congregating under the shiny foil ornament hanging over the table, which was decorated with purple, green and gold candles. She finished with, “Both of you are from Pittsburgh, too. Isn’t that a hoot?”
    Interesting. Pittsburgh was a hub for several airlines—he could have been from anywhere. Or even coming home to New Orleans. She looked him over again, her heartbeat quickening. Evan could be more than a casual holiday acquaintance. The thought gave her a little thrill of anticipation. She didn’t really need any complications, but when she imagined him for a moment on the cover of a magazine, dressed in an expensive suit, instead of this weird get-up, she imagined him delicious.
    “A hoot,” Evan agreed, his initial enthusiasm fading under the group’s attention.
    Terri went bubbling on. “What a coincidence. Both of you from Pittsburgh, both of you lawyers...” She trailed off as they both reacted to her revelation.
    Brianna froze, sure the expression of horror on Evan’s face mirrored her own. A lawyer? The last person she’d wanted to meet! So much for that warm glow.
    Evan stared over the top of his glasses, his relaxed posture stiffening. “A Pittsburgh attorney. Certainly is a coincidence.”
    Her initial disappointment seemed magnified in his tone. She could tell he disliked her, and fidgeted with her suitcase strap. The Worleys hovered, Terri’s chagrin that her matchmaking plans had gone awry clear on her face.
    “What firm?” Evan persisted.
    She blurted out, “Brannigan and Strauss.”
    “Givens, Dellenbach and Spicer,” he said, words clipped short.
    Brianna was so shocked she actually shuddered. This man worked for that pig Frank Dellenbach? She’d barely escaped from her humiliating Artotech defeat, just to find a member of the enemy camp at her lodgings? Unreal. A nightmare, even.

  32. Wonderful! NOW, you got me, love those excerpts. A snippet to grab me!Thanks!

  33. Wow, is that the sun coming up? Girls, I think we partied all night. And where's my shoe? *stretches* The nice thing about Mardi Gras season is that it goes on for weeks...we just have to look around and find another party today. Maybe those nice young men over there know where we can find one. :)

  34. Morning! Now, let's see what kind of trouble we can get into today. ;-) Great excerpt, BTW, Alana. Yet another new book to add to my TBR list!

  35. Might be time for another excerpt... while I drink some more chicory-laced coffee and get my eyes open.

    A buzz of excitement moved up the street, heralded by the brass and drum of a marching band. A sea of waving arms rippled through the crowd, closer and closer to where Brianna stood, and voices called out, “Throw me something, mister!”
    The first float came into view, a vision of tropical color. Black men balancing long metal poles topped with flaming coffee cans walked before the float, moving in a jerky, rhythmic dance, bending gracefully to pick up silver money tossed by the crowd. These were “flambeaux,” traditionally carriers of lights by which spectators could see the parade after dark. Even though modern street lights provided enough illumination, the reminder of the old tradition put the
    event in context and allowed her to imagine what it might have been like many years before.
    Twenty to thirty people rode on the decorated float base, about the size of a semi-truck bed. The masked riders, costumed in white satin, sequins and feathers, held brightly-colored prizes, displaying them to the almost deafening roar of the crowd. More daring crowd members approached the float with a personal plea, receiving LED-lit strings of beads and even artificial red roses directly from the gloved hands. Beads flew at the crowd, whirling spots of color, snatched in mid-air. In their enthusiasm, some Krewe members threw necklaces too high for the masses, and the trinkets lodged themselves in trees along the street, suddenly revealing an explanation for those she’d seen from the streetcar along St. Charles Street that morning.
    The noise level grew, people jostled her in their excitement, and she became aware of the sheer size of the crowd around her, everyone a total stranger in a city she didn’t know. Despite her own enthusiasm and determination to be independent, she’d brought herself to a place she was very much alone in the midst of thousands.
    Had she made a mistake?

  36. Oh another fantastic excerpt, thank you so much, Alana, I just got sucked into the story by them. And this last one was so descriptive and colourful - a great way to experience the Madi Gras for someone who's never seen one! Sorry not to have been around for so long - I tried to climb up the beanstalk and fell asleep and dreamt about Jack - and he sort got confused with Evan, who, by the way is a real hunk! :)

  37. It's quite a spectacle. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've had such a lovely time here with y'all...

  38. It's been a real pleasure for us having you here, Alana! Wishing you many sales and much success.


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