Buzzing Book: Extracted by Tyler H Jolley and Sherry D Ficklin #Giveaway

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About the Book

Extracted

Title: Extracted

Series: The Lost Imperials, Book 1

Authors: Tyler H. Jolley and Sherry D. Ficklin

Published: August 15th, 2016

Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Genre: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure, Science Fiction / Steampunk, Science Fiction / Time Travel

Synopsis

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

*This special edition contains expanded content and bonus material not found in the first release.

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About the Authors

Tyler_and_Sherry

Tyler H. Jolley was born in the era of the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones sagas. He has been enamored with science fiction and adventure stories ever since. In order to support his hobby of writing he decided to pursue dentistry. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine in 2002. He then completed a four year orthodontic and periodontic residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In June 2006, he opened a private practice, Jolley Smiles, in Grand Junction, Colorado.Snowboarding, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, bird hunting, camping, hiking, and backpacking are the things he enjoys doing with his family. He also enjoys lecturing internationally on temporary orthodontic implants. Some of his journal articles have also been published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. However, his true passion has always been fiction writing.When life gets stressful he escapes to unseen worlds to find relaxation. His career has been the vehicle to let him write without worry. He finds inspiration from most of his adolescent patients. He continues to dream up fun and thrilling books to this day.

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Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs. She is the author of several YA novels ranging from contemporary romance to science fiction. In her spare time she co-hosts the Pop Lit Divas radio show and is constantly trying to take over the world.

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Excerpt

My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.

“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.

“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.

“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”

“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”

I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.

“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”

Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.

I smirk. Busted.

Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.

“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”

Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”

“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.

As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”

Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.

Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.

But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.

“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.

Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.

Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.

“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.

“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”

The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.

Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”

I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.

“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”

Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.

I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…

Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.

It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.

I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.

“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”

I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”

I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”

Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

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Buzzing Tour: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles by Ronald E. Yates #Interview #Giveaway

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About the Book

The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles

Title: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles

Series: Finding Billy Battles, Book 2

Author: Ronald E. Yates

Published: June 2016

Publisher: Xlibris

Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical Fiction

Synopsis

Billy Battles is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens Billy is far from his Kansas roots—and his improbable journeys are just beginning. He is aboard an ocean liner sailing to the Mysterious East (Hong Kong, French Indochina, and the Philippines), among other places.

The year is 1894 and aboard the S S China Billy meets a mysterious, dazzling, and possibly dangerous German Baroness, locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government, and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea. Later, he is inadvertently embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam.

Later, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are just beginning. As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries and an assortment of malevolent and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present?

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Book Trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njxdwc2ngww

About the Author

Ron Yates 1

Ronald E. Yates is a former award-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.

He is the author of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy the first in a series of novels. The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, published in May 2016, is the second book in the series. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill.

Other books include Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.

Yates lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America where he covered several major stories including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy in Beijing, and revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador an Guatemala.

His work as a foreign correspondent resulted in three Pulitzer Prize nominations and several other awards, including the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; The Inter-American Press Association Award for coverage of South America; and three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting.

Yates is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He lives in Murrieta, California.

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Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

My relationship with any book begins with character development. Almost anybody can write action scenes, spill lots of blood, describe car chases, gun battles, and explosions, etc. But developing a character that readers care about, empathize with, like or even hate requires a lot of insight and practice. Too many people today (including some experienced editors) demand that a book begin with heart-stopping action. They believe that today’s reading audiences have very short attention spans and therefore require a constant dose of high-octane conflict along with clichéd cardboard characters. I disagree. Tension is not created just by the external forces a character must deal with. It comes from inside us. I want to see and feel how a character reacts (or fails to react) to events. Having said that, the first two books in my Finding Billy Battles trilogy contact significant action and conflict, but NOT at the expense of character development.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I began writing when I was in the sixth grade. By the time I was in the seventh grade I was writing short stories that I hasten to add were imminently forgettable. However, that was the kind of practice I needed. Later, I worked for my high school newspaper and learned how to write concisely and to describe things accurately. So I would say the first thing I wrote that I was proud of was a column in that high school newspaper. Later, after graduating college and going directly to the Chicago Tribune (unheard of today—and even then it was highly unusual), I was immensely proud of writing the main story for the front page of the paper after I was at the paper just a couple of months.

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

As a journalist I am used to meeting deadlines. I met them unfailingly for the 25 years that I worked as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Now that I am essentially writing for myself, I still set deadlines. My goal is to turn out 3,000 to 5,000 words on the days that I write—which is about five days a week. I usually reach that goal unless I get hung up doing research, which the first two books in the Finding Billy Battles trilogy required and which book 3 is also necessitating. I consider research VERY IMPORTANT, especially for those who write historical fiction. I pride myself on making sure my characters use no modern vernacular and act in ways that are out of place in the era my books are set. I also set deadlines for when I want to complete a book. For example, I am currently working on Book 3 in the trilogy and my goal is to finish that last book in April-May 2017. Check back with me to see if I meet that deadline!

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

When I was a working journalist for the Chicago Tribune and then a Dean and Professor of journalism at the University of Illinois, I could never find large enough blocks of time to write consistently. Writing requires HUGE amounts of time and long periods of seclusion–things most of us don’t have. Therefore, time to write was always my greatest challenge. Now that I am no longer administering a college, teaching or working full-time as a journalist I am blessed to have a lot more time to write than I ever thought I would have. Having said that, writing is an intensely solitary pursuit. I takes you away from family and friends and can turn you into a recluse if you are not careful. Take breaks often and get out and smell the flowers.

5) Why did you write this book?

I grew up in Kansas and I was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still quite wild. At the same time, I spent a lot of time in the Far East as a foreign correspondent and I was equally intrigued by what life must have been like in the 19th Century colonial period in places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Then one day I got the idea to blend the two using a character from 19th Century Kansas who goes to the Far East in search of himself.

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I draw a lot from my experiences covering war, revolution and mayhem during my career as a foreign correspondent. I witnessed horrendous suffering up close and I saw what war can do to people—especially the innocents such as children. There is nothing pleasant about violence and the suffering and death it often brings. I guess what I learned is that no matter where you are, no matter what people you are observing and writing about, there is a tangible human connection when it comes to violence and war. I have seen both the crass depravity of the human soul and its decency and kindness. I am convinced that humans were never meant to hate one another and yet, that emotion remains a powerful force in the world.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

I want to finish book #3 in the trilogy. Then I want to move on to my memoirs focusing on my quarter century career as a foreign correspondent. My plan is to write a book that looks at the “stories behind the story.”

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

Hmmm. I always liked a line from the journalist A. J. Liebling: “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”

I guess that’s about as good a lie as I can tell.

Excerpt

Introduction

William F. R. Battles

Kansas City, Missouri, 1949

 

I spent most of my life as a newspaper scribbler, what they call a journalist today. So I appreciate how important it is to seize your readers early on so they will keep reading. However, there are some things that I need to explain before I get to this next, very turbulent time in my life.

As I am writing this it is early 1949 and even though I consider myself blessed to have so far avoided my second childhood, the filaments of my ripe old brain sometimes get about as limp as worn out fiddle strings when I exercise them too much. Nevertheless, I have recorded to the best of my memory and ability the incidents that transpired as I made my way to French Indochina aboard the S. S. China in 1894.

Readers may conclude that my reasons for leaving the United States for the Orient were self-centered and vague. If you read the initial installment of my tale then you know the first thirty-three years of my life were fraught with tragedy of one kind or another–some of it of my own making, but much of it the result of what others did. As I said in that first book, I need to acknowledge the corn about some pretty terrible things I did during my life.

I have killed people. And people have tried to kill me. I never wanted such a life, but it was thrust on me and I had to make the best of it.

Even though most of those violent altercations occurred early in my life, their repercussions were relentless and unwelcome companions as I grew older. They still are, even now at my advanced age. I wanted to let you know all of that so you can make up your mind right now if you want to read further.

I had my share of tragedy and misfortune too. If you read the first part of my story then you know I lost my wife to a cruel disease after only eight years of marriage. You will also recall that my response to that tragedy was to fog it out of the country. In doing so, I left everybody I loved behind. Those included my five-year-old daughter Anna Marie, my mother Hannelore Battles, my in-laws Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius McNab, my cousin Charlie Higgins and a lot of other people who I considered good friends.

Some folks may think my flight to the Orient a craven act–one that any man worth his salt would never contemplate, let alone carry out. I cannot disagree with that condemnation. I felt that way often as the S S China made its way to the Far East. Even later on, after I had settled in places like Manila and Saigon, I would reproach myself for what I had done.

Had I been indicted and put on trial for my actions and were I the judge and jury, I certainly would have found myself guilty of appalling judgment, capriciousness, and even child abandonment. As it was, there was no trial and no conviction, but I was a guilty prisoner of my impropriety nevertheless. Never a day went by when I didn’t regret leaving my little daughter behind in Denver for others to rear. As my mother pointed out to me more than once when she attempted to dissuade me from my journey to the Orient, I was raised without a father. Now my daughter was about to suffer the same fate. It was a brutally compelling argument, but I was not to be deterred.

And so, here I was aboard the S. S. China en route from San Francisco to our first port of call, Honolulu, the Republic of Hawaii. Back then, Hawaii was an independent republic, not the annexed territory it is today. As I would learn Americans in 1894 were considered unwelcome interlopers by many native Hawaiians. They were seen as greedy exploiters who were interested only in manipulating and profiting from the sugar and pineapple industries.

The first day aboard the S S China had been eventful, to say the least. I had been questioned by a surly Pinkerton detective who was trying to locate Nate Bledsoe–the man I had killed five years earlier in a gun fight at Battles Gap, my family’s homestead in Western Kansas.

Ten years before that I had killed Nate Bledsoe’s mother, a malevolent woman who had imprisoned Horace Hawes, the owner of the Dodge City Union, Ben Minot, a printer and me in a barn at the same place. Her death was an accident. Her sons, Nate and Matthew, began shooting at me and my two companions as we were escaping. As I returned fire with my Winchester rifle, a single bullet hit Mrs. Bledsoe in the throat just as she stepped out of the house and onto the porch where her sons were shooting at us. She died instantly.

Later in this scrap, Matthew Bledsoe was killed by Ben Minot, a friend and co-worker of the Dodge City Union. The Bledsoe clan was influential in Kansas in those days and had considerable pull in Topeka, the state capital. They were not about to let the shooting deaths of two of their kin go unpunished even if this particular branch was known to live outside the law. For the next several years, they hunted me down and on two occasions, came damned close to killing me.

Now, five years after I and several members of a wildcat U.S. Marshal’s posse had shot it out with Bledsoe and eight of his companions at Battles Gap, I was under investigation by the Pinkerton Detective Agency. It had been hired to determine if Nate Bledsoe was dead or alive and if the former was the case, where his bones were buried. Of course, I knew exactly where Nate Bledsoe was–or what remained of him and I sensed that the Pinkerton man knew that I knew. But I would be damned if I were going to admit it. Let’s just say I was “economical with the truth,” as my cousin Charley Higgins used to say.

My ongoing trouble with the Bledsoe clan could have been another reason for my voyage to the Orient had I wished to rationalize it that way. But, of course, I was not running away from the Bledsoe clan or the ghosts of the two Bledsoe’s I had eradicated or even the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

I was running away from myself though at the time I didn’t know it. Nor did I realize what I was moving toward and how my travels and trials would transform me in ways I could not have imagined. Of course, those thoughts were furthest from my mind that first evening aboard the S S China. I had, after all, been invited to have dinner at the Captain’s table in the First Class Dining Saloon with a few other passengers, among them, the mysterious and stunning widow Schreiber.

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Buzzing Book: Beyond All Recognition by Kenneth Eade #Interview #Giveaway

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About the Book

Beyond All Recognition

Title: Beyond All Recognition

Series: Brent Marks Legal Thrillers

Author: Kenneth Eade

Published: July 15, 2016

Publisher: Times Square Publishing

Genre: Legal Thriller/courtroom drama

Recommended Age: 18+

Synopsis

Experience the suspense and mystery of the latest in the best selling legal thriller series from the author critics hail as:”One of the strongest thriller writers on the scene.”

This fast-paced and action packed legal and military thriller introduces us to 26-year-old Captain Ryan Bennington, in command of a company during the Iraq War and fighting a faceless enemy in the global war on terror where a split-second decision could mean the difference between killing an innocent civilian or losing an entire platoon to a suicide bomber. Ryan survives the war and comes home to conquer PTSD and chronic unemployment, only to be arrested for following the orders of his Commander to kill suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists in a small Iraqi village, who turn out, after the raid, to be civilians.

Lawyer Brent Marks takes on Ryan’s defense in his court-martial trial, which will reveal the deepest, darkest secrets of the military industrial complex. In their search for a scapegoat, have the powers-that-be gone too far this time?

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About the Author

Author Kenneth Eade

Described by critics as “one of our strongest thriller writers on the scene,” author Kenneth Eade, best known for his legal and political thrillers, practiced law for 30 years before publishing his first novel, “An Involuntary Spy.” Eade, an up-and-coming author in the legal thriller and courtroom drama genre, has been described by critics as “One of our strongest thriller writers on the scene and the fact that he draws his stories from the contemporary philosophical landscape is very much to his credit.” He is the author of the “Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series”, the fifth installment of which, Killer.com, won best legal thriller in the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Awards, and the “Involuntary Spy Espionage Series”.

Said Eade of the comparisons, “Readers compare me in style to John Grisham and, there are some similarities, because John also likes to craft a story around real topics and we are both lawyers. However, all of my novels are rooted in reality, not fantasy. I use fictional characters and situations to express factual and conceptual issues. Some use the term ‘faction’ to describe this style, and it is present in all my fictional works.”

Eade has written twelve novels, which are now in the process of being translated into six languages. He is known to keep in touch with his readers, and offers a free Kindle book to all those who sign up at his website, www.kennetheade.com.

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Interview

Describe your relationship with a good book.

A good book for me is good company.  It is a source of inspiration as well as a distraction from the problems of everyday life.  Most importantly, it provides the stimulation for thought.

When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I have been writing since I was a little kid.  I used to make a “newspaper” for the adults when I was about 8 years old.  I took creative fiction writing in college.  But my path went on to law, which actually provided me a wealth of information for stories and characters.  But the first thing I wrote that I was the most proud of was “Bless the Bees”: a non-fiction book about the importance of pollinators to humans, the threats they face from our environmentally unfriendly actions, and how to save them.

Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I haven’t really developed that yet.  As a lawyer, I had enough self-discipline to sit down and work for hours on a project.  As an author, I have not been able to balance distraction, family life and inspiration.  I will learn, though.

Why did you write this book?

I’ve been writing a series of legal thrillers called, “Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series” since 2014 and have developed a following of loyal readers who enjoy the books.  One of my readers is a retired First Class Sergeant with the U.S. Army who suggested the premise of the book, which is a young officer who is prosecuted for following orders to kill all military age males in four houses in an Iraqi village who were suspected al Qaeda operatives, as a scapegoat for the “higher-ups” in the government who handed down the orders.  When I started to do the research on the book, I discovered that these types of orders had, in fact, been given, and that military subordinates had been court-martialed for following these orders, instead of their superior officers.  My reader wanted me to express to all my readers what it was like to be a soldier in a foreign war.  It is a pro-soldier, anti-war novel.

What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I practiced law for 35 years.  During that time, you could probably say that I have seen it all: The hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, the fears and the goals of the men and women who have touched my life.  Besides my professional experiences, personal experiences have also contributed to my “inspiration bank”.  I have been a world traveler since the age of 10, when my family moved to Greece for three years.  Everything I have committed to memory eventually comes to the inspirational surface.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

I hope to be successful in raising a family again.  I also hope to be at the top of the author’s spectrum in terms of popularity and sales.  It is very important that the messages of my novel are imparted to the world.

Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

If I told you that, it probably wouldn’t be a lie, but you may think that it is.  Moreover, since you already know it would be a lie, there’s no fun in telling it.  I like people to see the truth in my stories.

Excerpt

“You get numb to it. That’s all I can say. Numb to death, killing. You get numb to the things that happen in war, but you can never forget them. They come back in your dreams after you finally get back home and they never leave.”

Slap!

Pull!

Observe!

Release!

Tap!

Squeeze!

“’SPORTS’ – It’s called the immediate action drill. Helps remind you what to do if your rifle malfunctions. It’s drilled into your head in training. You’re breaking that rifle down and putting it together two hundred times a day and by the time you get over there, you’re doing it like a machine on autopilot. All the war planning in the world goes out the window when the first shot’s fired in combat. That adrenaline kicks in, lights you up like a firebomb. But you remember SPORTS because it comes to you automatically, and that rifle’s the most important possession you’ve got. You’re only alive as long as it’s in your hands.”

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Buzzing Series: The Detective Madison Night Series by Carolyn Arnold #Interview #Giveaway

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About the Series

Detective Madison Knight Books

Title: Detective Madison Knight Series

Author: Carolyn Arnold

Books in Series as of 2016: 8 (Standalone)

Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.

Genre: Police Crime, Mystery

Synopsis

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice.

Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind (FREE), Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).

About the Author

Carolyn Arnold

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

A good book has my nose buried in its pages, whether they be paper or electronic, and I think about it even when I’m not reading, and I’m back to it as soon as I can be.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I first started writing when I was a teenager and I remember being proud of everything I wrote. I’d demand that my family listen to me read what I had written.

As an adult, however, a proud moment came for me when I finished writing my first full-length novel.

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I have always viewed writing as something very important. Even before I made a dime with my writing, it was never a hobby. Once I decided to self-publish, I’ve always approached the industry with the respect and professionalism it deserves, and I have emulated the traditionally published market. Some authors will drink while they write or edit, but you would never catch me doing that!

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

I have goals and deadlines, but on a daily basis, I go with the flow of life. If I’m stressed or get feeling overwhelmed, I’ll step back and see what needs to be adjusted in my schedule. Walking my beagle Max or taking him to the dog park, or visiting a beach (during the summer) helps me to step away and clear my mind as well. And, of course, I always make time to catch up with friends.

5) Why did you write the Detective Madison Knight series?

I love to watch crime dramas and read mysteries, but I was getting tired of always seeing a man being in the lead while his female partner stood timidly by his side. I wanted a strong-willed woman who would even say things that would make people gasp and who was married to finding justice for murder victims. Detective Madison Knight was born.

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I can’t say that I draw repeatedly from past experience. Aspects from real life does, however, find a way of worming into stories.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your personal life?

As an author, I intend to be a New York Times bestselling author many times over and I’d love to see my books (at least one of them) made into a movie or the rights for that sold. I also think it would be amazing to have a television series based on my characters.

As for my personal life, I intend a bright and beautiful lake house estate with a swimming pool. I want it to be somewhere I’m proud to entertain friends and where I can hold charity fundraisers.

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

A storyteller and a liar are two different things, and I’m going blank. LOL

 

Line of Duty

A hero has fallen, and hard-edged detective Madison Knight will stop at nothing short of finding justice—even if it means risking her own life.

Releasing 9.26.16

For more information, visit http://carolynarnold.net/in-the-line-of-duty/

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Buzzing Book: 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop #Interview #Giveaway

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About the Book

2 Broads Abroad Cover

Title: 2 Broads Abroad: Moms Fly the Coop

Authors: Deborah Serra & Nancy Serra Greene

Published: November 6th, 2015

Publisher: Library Tales Publishing

Genre: Humor, Travel, Motherhood

Synopsis

When sisters, Deborah & Nancy, discovered that motherhood was a temp job they decided to run away from home. After packing up that last kid for college, and facing the sad stillness of their suddenly quiet homes, they decided to leave the country. 2 BROADS ABROAD: MOMS FLY THE COOP is a funny, irreverent, occasionally poignant travel tale of their impulsive road trip around Ireland.

In this witty warm-hearted adventure, they experienced some of Ireland’s quirkier history while sharing universally relatable stories of maniacal school coaches, neurotic neighbors, and tiger moms. Having kicked that empty nest into their rearview mirror, the sisters took off careening down the wrong side of the road, making questionable choices, getting trapped in a medieval tower, sneaking Chinese take-out into a famous cooking school, drinking way too much, and gaining a changed perspective on their lives ahead.

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About the Author

Deborah Serra Nancy Greene

Deborah Serra has been a sought-after screenwriter for twenty-five years having written for NBC, CBS, Sony, Lifetime, Fox, and others. She was a recipient of the 2012 Hawthornden Literary Fellowship. Her first novel was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.

Nancy is a graduate of San Diego State University. She worked in medical sales before stepping away to raise her two children, at which point she became: Team Mom, Snack Mom, PTA member, Assistance League Volunteer, and the list is never-ending. Nancy was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Hills Echo newsletter with a circulation of 1400. She also designed and managed her community website.

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Interview

1) Describe your relationship with a good book.

Relationship is an apt description. We do form a relationship with the books that touch us: sometimes with a particular character, sometimes with a story, and sometimes with the author. I’ve felt a bond with so many characters over my reading life. And if I really love a book that relationship makes it hard to say good-bye; consequently, I find myself slowing down as I near the end. I recently re-read The Prisoner of Heaven by the brilliant Carlos Luis Zafon and I flew through it until I saw only a few pages remaining…then, I dragged my feet, not reading for a day or two, picking it up, putting it down, not wanting it to end, not ready to say good-bye.

2) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I’ve been a writer all my life. This book 2 BROADS ABROAD: Moms Fly the Coop I co-authored with my sister. While I’ve been proud of many things I’ve written over the years, none was more fun than this book. Laughing our way around Ireland on this badly planned road trip was a joy, and then writing that story together, allowed us to experience it twice!

3) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I am a full-time professional writer. I get up. I make coffee. I write for six hours, which can mean staring into space for periods of time, but I do not give up – then, I go about the rest of my life.

4) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

Writing 2 BROADS ABROAD was a significantly different experience than my other writing assignments. I’ve never worked with a co-author. It certainly lightened the load since we were passing pages back and forth and so there were nice breaks. For my other writing endeavors, I simply worked the entire time my kids were in school.  That’s a solid block of time five days a week. What that means is a lot of the things mother’s generally do during that time I had to fit in later: marketing on the way back from carpool, cleaning and laundry at night. It can be done. It is one of the few jobs in the world where you can be a full-time mother and have a full-time career (if you’re energetic and committed).

5) Why did you write this book?

When my sister and I realized our last child would be departing for college the same week we admitted to each other how incredibly sad we were to see motherhood slip away. All our kids were out of the house – the home was quiet and lonely. We decided to run away, told our husbands we were taking a sister’s road trip around Ireland, and left the country. Along the way, we shared funny stories about raising our kids, and about our own childhood together, and in the end, we realized that our trip was an adventure worth sharing – the antidote to empty nest: get outta town!

6) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

For 2 BROADS ABROAD so much of the inspiration came from the traveling itself. There is nothing as inspirational as being in a new country with your best friend and Ireland was a hoot: fairytale castles, gregarious locals, ghosts, and lots of great pubs, but as we were told with stern determination by the Visitors Bureau, absolutely no leprechauns. We laughed our way out of serious situations and seriously laughed at everything else.

7) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

My sister and I have been talking about taking another trip. We would like to write 2 BROADS ABROAD: Moms on the Run, Part II. We both love to travel – the trouble is our idea of a good time is very different: I want to be tested in a foreign/perhaps slightly dangerous world, and she wants a foot massage on the beach. I want three shots of tequila and she wants your best chardonnay.  Ah, but that’s what makes coming along with us so much fun.

8) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

Last night, I was walking to my car from the bookstore. It was late because there had been an author reading event and I’d bought six books so my arms were full. As I approached my car in the parking lot, I could feel someone was following me. You know, that creeping up your spine sensation when you know someone’s there. I couldn’t decide what to do. I tried surreptitiously to glance back, but I didn’t want to be obvious. I definitely saw a figure tracking me. I started to panic, because you know in your gut when something’s not right, you can feel it all the way to the bone. I looked around left and right and did not see another person anywhere. I didn’t want to stop and open my car door because I was afraid he would jump in with me. By this time, my brain was racing for a safe exit. What? What is my best option? That’s when I realized I was holding all those books. I spun around and started hurling them at him!…  yeah, or none of that happened.

Excerpt

“Your youngest is leaving for college? Aw, empty nest?” Then, sappy eyes followed by a plaintive grin and, “What will you do?”

Before my sister and I decided to run away from home we were bothered by that question. There was something minimizing about it, minimizing and not completely untrue. Motherhood had been so deceptive, the greatest paradox in life: every single bleary-eyed day felt a month long, and the years went by in an instant. They flashed by like lightning and left a desiccated scorch mark wearing my clothes. It was disagreeable to imagine what life would be like childless: there would be the family tree, and there would be the mom who’s the center of the family tree, standing leafless, bare (and it has been a while since I looked good bare). There was some solace as I glanced around me to see my younger sister, Nancy, would be standing there bare as well. We were embarking on this progeny-shedding calamity simultaneously as both of our youngest daughters, Nicole and Olivia, were leaving for college the same week.

I knew that Nancy hadn’t really focused on it yet. And then, we met at Fashion Island in Newport Beach near her home to get a birthday gift for our mom. We ran into two of Nancy’s neighbors, Vicki and Susan.

“Nancy,” Vicki asked, “doesn’t Nicole graduate from Corona Del Mar High School this June?”

“Yes,” Nancy said. “She’s going to the University of Washington.”

“Oh,” Susan lifted her eyebrows, “you must be devastated.”

“What?” Nancy looked confused. “No, actually I was happy for her. She worked really hard. It was her first choice school.”

“But so far away!” Susan added in that annoying singsong tone.

Nancy shifted her feet, a move I knew well as her sister. It was something she always did when she was being told something she did not like to hear.

“It’s not that far.” Nancy said.

“It’s a plane ride. You need an airplane to see your daughter.” Susan said loudly.

“Yeah.” Nancy turned to me in an effort to change the subject. “You remember my sister, Deborah?”

“Of course.” Vicki smiled. And we exchanged hellos. Vicki seemed normal, but I had an inkling that I might have to slap Susan.

Susan continued on with her one thought. “With your son gone already, and soon Nicole, well, Nancy, I guess you’re all alone now.”

Nancy shifted her feet again. “I’m still married, Susan.”

“Sure. Sure. Right. So that’s better than nothing, huh?”

Nancy and I both froze. Did she just say that?

“You know,” Vicki tried to cut off Susan, “when Terrie’s youngest left she bought a Chihuahua puppy. Cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And the Walkers gave a room to an exchange student from Sweden,” she explained happily.

Nancy nodded. “That sounds like a good plan.”

Susan opened her mouth to speak again and I wasn’t sure whether I should just smack her now and be done with it, or let her continue. I made the wrong choice.

“Remember Pam Winthrop?” Susan leaned in. “When her son left she started eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every day until she put on 60 pounds. Sad, really, tragic. Even her kneecaps were fat.” Then Susan turned to me, “So, Deborah, isn’t your youngest graduating, too?”

“I’m leaving the country,” I said.

Susan cocked her head. “What?”

“I’m leaving the country,” I repeated matter-of-factly.

“So am I,” Nancy said. I looked at her. I saw the decision in her eyes. “I’m going with Deborah. We’re taking a long trip together – a sisters trip.”

“You are?” Susan sounded a little thwarted, which Nancy found gratifying.

“Yup, in the planning stages.” Nancy smiled at Susan who was clearly disappointed that we were not miserable as anticipated. “Nice to see you though, Susan, Vicki. Got to go. In the middle of booking flights and stuff. So much to do!”

We turned away and strode with purpose toward the door.

I whispered, “Susan’s a real gem.”

“She did me a favor.”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve been so busy I just wasn’t thinking about it.”

“And I haven’t been able to think about anything else,” I said. “When I’m awake in the middle of the night it runs over and over in my mind.”

Nancy said, “When I heard that crap Susan was dealing, all of a sudden I realized, there’s no way am I plodding into that sunset with fat kneecaps carrying a Chihuahua.”

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Buzzing Book: In Black & White by Catherine Lavender #Excerpt

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About the Book

In Black and White

Title: In Black & White

Author: Catherine Lavender

Published: June 7th, 2016

Publisher: Chamomile Books LLC

Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Micah Winters always knew that she was different. It was the pigment of her skin and the texture of her hair that revealed that she was a woman from biracial parents. For five decades, Micah’s African American mother has remained silent about Micah’s estranged father (Sidney Irving). It is not until after Sidney Irving’s death that Micah learns that she is the daughter of the legendary novelist and screenwriter. Now with her mother’s memory fading away from Alzheimer’s disease, Micah can only rely on a novel that was written from her father years ago to understand her parents past during the time of segregation in the United States. Micah’s once simple life is not so simple anymore as she tries to make sense of an unfamiliar world as she inherits her father’s wealth and private past. With an abandoned heart, Micah must forgive the past in order to discover who she really is.

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About the Author

Catherine Lavender

Catherine Lavender is from Baltimore, Maryland but now resides in Tampa, Florida with her miniature schnauzer name Ripken. She is an animal activist, as well as a supporter of the organization First Book which helps supply literature for underprivileged children. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys reading classic literature and playing the acoustic guitar.

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Excerpt

Sidney Irving knew that his time had come. At the age of eighty-four, the prospect of imminent death didn’t frighten him. In truth, death was a welcome reprieve from the loneliness that had plagued him for the past few decades.

As a well-known and respected author, Sidney achieved much success in his youthful, productive years. He was certain that people would continue to read his novels and watch movies based on his screenplays long after he was gone. He had won many awards, given interviews, and shared his work on public platforms. For a long time, his work satisfied and fulfilled him in a way that his life was not able to. But then, old age caught up. He couldn’t write as well or as quickly as he used to, and eventually, even the personal delight in finding the right word, and the perfect sentence began to elude him.

Sidney knew that like most men, he had committed a number of mistakes during his years of living. Unfortunately, many of them came back to haunt him on his death bed. Chief among them was a relentless guilt that ravaged his already worn-out body.

However, he had already done all that he could do to set things right after his death. There was nothing else that could be done. Perhaps in time, he would be forgiven. It pained him that he did not take that step forward while he still had the energy to do so. It was cowardice; he knew. Although, it was hard to make amends with the distressing fear of facing rejection and humiliation.

When he died, things would be set right – as they should have been fifty years ago.

A sudden cough escaped his lips. Years of habit brought him to cover his mouth with his hand, which was now leathery, spotted, and dry. Once, he had been a robust man, with an almost insatiable lust for life, but age had stripped him of all energy.

His nurse, a staid, matronly woman of middle-age, walked into the room. “You have a visitor, Mr. Irving. It is Nathan. Should I bring him in?”

“Yes, let Nathan come in,” he wheezed.

Nathan came to Havre de Grace seven years ago. An ex-Navy SEAL, who had been fighting his own personal demons after taking an early retirement from the military, with hopes to begin a new life, Nathan started working at the Irving Estate as a handyman. As the years went by, he slowly opened up to Sidney.

Nathan walked in. For a moment, he stood staring at Sidney. “And here I thought you would be up for a round of golf, but you are still lounging in the bed.”

The laughter that escaped Sidney’s lips turned to a cough. After helping Sidney sit up against the plush pillows that neatly lined the headboard of the bed, Nathan made him drink some water. “You…” Words seemed to escape him as he tried to catch his breath.

Sidney leaned back and rested his head against one of the pillows. “Don’t worry, Nate. I’ve made my peace. My time has come.”

“Don’t say that.” Nathan dragged the nurse’s chair closer to the bed and sat down. “It’s my turn to beat you in a game of chess.”

Sidney smiled. He would miss his time with Nathan. Over the years, they had formed a friendship of mutual trust and respect, and the two men bonded over games of chess and broken shingles on the roof. If he could have told someone about the entire truth of his sad, old tale, he would have chosen to share it with Nathan. Even now, he wished he could bear his soul – but it would not assuage the guilt or undo the harm he already inflicted. “You’ve been a good friend, Nathan. Thank you,” he whispered in a voice that was as dry as rice paper.

“I’ll always be here for you, Sidney.”

“Promise me that if she decides to…”

Sidney didn’t have to finish the thought. Nathan already knew his friend’s wishes, and he wanted to put his mind at ease. “I’ll be here, Sidney. I’ll see it through. However, that’s not going to be for a long time. You still have some life left in you.”

Sidney turned his head to the side to look upon his friend, ignoring the twinges of pain that had already begun to stab him in his chest. “Nathan, we both know my time is short. Just promise me you’ll stick around.”

“This is home, Sidney,” Nathan said simply. “Where else am I going to go?”

It would have to do. He trusted Nathan to make the right choices.

The nurse came back into the bedroom, looking a little flustered. “Your lawyer is here, Mr. Irving? I told him that you already had a visitor, but he insists on seeing you and…”

“It’s alright. I’ll leave.” Nathan put his hand on top of Sidney’s, squeezed once, and while looking down at the floor to gather his emotions, he let go. “I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Nathan was a good man. Perhaps tomorrow Sidney would tell him more about things that had happened all those years… no, decades ago, but now was not the time. He watched his lawyer; Kris Angles come in. A handsome man, the streaks of silver in his hair only added to the distinguished image he cultivated with care. As Nathan left the room, the two men exchanged a look as they passed each other.

Kris took the seat Nathan had vacated. “I was in town for some work, and thought I would pay my respects to you, Sidney. It’s been a long time.”

With great effort, Sidney suppressed a cough. “Thank you for coming. For a minute, I thought there may be a problem with some paperwork.”

Kris put his briefcase on the floor. “No, everything is already arranged. Unless, of course, you have changed your mind as I advised…”

A sharp pain seared his chest and traveled down to his belly. “I haven’t, no.”

Kris smiled. “Then your wishes will be carried out as you’ve stated, Sidney. There will be sixty-five days before a decision has to be made. Are you sure you just don’t want to make it sixty days as per industry standard in the-”

Sidney cut him off with as much force and determination he could muster in his deteriorated condition. “Sixty-five days, Kris!”

“Okay, I’ll see that it gets done.”

“I know, Kris. I trust you.”

Finally, a long drawn-out cough brought the nurse back in. Her severe look was enough to make Kris stand.

He picked up his briefcase. “I don’t want to overtax you, my friend. I’ll come back soon.”

After Kris departed, the nurse checked Sidney’s temperature. “Would you like your pain medication now, Mr. Irving?”

He considered the option. The round, white pill would make the pain bearable, but it would also dull his memories and cloud his brain. And today of all days, he wanted to remember each tiny detail, examine every facet of his life, and relive every experience that once made his youth exciting.

“Not now,” he said, knowing he would have to take it soon enough if he wanted to sleep. The deadly combination of pain and a high fever made it impossible for him to rest for long, unless he was drugged with sleeping tablets and pain medication. For now, he didn’t want anything to disrupt his trip down memory lane.

“I’ll be right outside your room. Call me if you need anything.”

He watched his nurse depart, with his eyes tracing her path across the dark Persian carpet that adorned his room. Twin cherry and walnut chairs flanked a wishbone chest on top of which were placed bottles of his medications, and a striped brown and white curtain hung across the window that overlooked the estate garden. At this time of the year, the flowers would be in full bloom. He longed to take a look at the delicate daisies and the elegant roses that were the crowning jewel of his flower beds. Beyond the garden was the gleaming wooden dock where his sailboat would be anchored. Maybe one day he could walk down that way again, stand at the dock, and observe the blue herons that walk upon the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

It was a pipe dream, of course. He would never be able to do the simple things he had taken for granted only months ago. Nevertheless, the biggest regret in his life was what he had done to Micah, his daughter, who was born from an African-American woman. Micah’s mother, Loretta was a dignified woman whose only crime had been falling in love with a white man. In the sixties, such an indiscretion was not permissible. Still, perhaps, they could have gotten away with it had they kept it quiet and discreet. Even so, when she fell pregnant, they had no choice but to separate. He missed Loretta, but what he missed most was the years of fatherhood that he threw away simply because his daughter did not share his pristine white coloring.

He had not been man enough to change his circumstances – and now, fifty years later; he regretted that decision more than anything. For a while after Loretta left, his life had been wonderful; friends, experiences, and his work were enough to sustain him. However, as the years blended into decades, his work lost the excitement he had once harbored for it, his friends moved away or got busy with families, and no experience was enough to relieve him of the utter tedium of his mundane existence. Perhaps, it would have been all so much better if he had not thrown aside the chance to be a father.

He never once talked to the child whom he abandoned, never picked her up, carried her in his arms or witnessed her smile as she found joy in small things. If she had shared his life, she would have grown up in this estate, run through the massive gardens, plucked his prized flowers and stood with him at the wooden dock as they enjoyed the cool breeze that filtered in through the bay. Perhaps, she would have sat by his side while he took his last breath.

Her company might have given him the solace he so desperately sought in the efficient but impersonal concern of the nurses who attended him, and the occasional kindness of his friends who dropped in once in a while.

He cast his thoughts back to the last time he saw her. She had not known he was there, but he had tracked her whereabouts to Baltimore, the city where she lived. Three years ago, or four; he could not quite remember. Nevertheless, he would never forget the soft, black curls that framed a face that was hauntingly beautiful with its bronze skin and delicate features. Even from afar, he had seen that she had his eyes; the same shade of hazel. His mother’s eyes passed on through him to his only child.

He had never been able to forget her. It was evident that he had missed his chance to have a stab at real happiness. And he had no one to blame for it but himself. It was his dream to make amends after death. Perhaps, then, he would be able to rest in peace.

Sidney’s eyes rested on the thin rays of sunlight that sneaked in through the chink in the curtains. It was the last thing he saw before his eyes closed – forever.

 

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Buzzing Book: Changing Moon by June Stevens #Excerpt #Giveaway

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About the Book

Changing Moon

Title: Changing Moon

Series: Paranorm World #3

Author: June Stevens

Published: June 30th, 2016

Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre: NA mature Paranormal Romance

Content Warning: Contains adult and sexual content

Age Recommendation: 17+

Synopsis

A brutal attack has left Anya’s body and life forever changed.

The man she loved is gone, her relationship with her family is in tatters, and her future is dead. With the woman who attacked her still at large, her growing friendship with Luca is the one comfort keeping her sane.

Determined to take control of her life and her body, she finds her purpose to move forward… getting revenge.

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About the Author

June Stevens

JUNE STEVENS WESTERFIELD writes romantic fiction with strong, confident heroines. Her non-fiction work includes collections of real life stories that help give other women a voice. In addition to writing, she runs two small businesses designing greeting cards and websites. When not working she can be found reading, making jewelry, or snuggling on the sofa with her husband and six furbabies binge watching Netflix.

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Excerpt

As the fog in my brain lifted and I climbed towards consciousness, it was as if I could feel every cell in my body, and they were all throbbing. There wasn’t any real pain; it was more like every nerve ending in my body was on high alert. I tried lifting my eyelids and was surprised to find they were working properly. The room was dim, yet I could see everything clearly—not that there was much to see other than a darkly painted ceiling. When I turned my head, a sharp pain stabbed through my brain.
“Ouch,” I said, my voice coming out in a loud croak.
“You’re awake,” a familiar voice said. Pinky’s face hovered over mine. “Welcome back, darling girl.”
His voice was breathy as if he were whispering, yet it was so loud I couldn’t help but wince. Pain and worry etched his face, and he looked tired in a way I’d never seen before.
“What happened? Where am I?” My voice sounded dry, cracked, and a little panicky. I couldn’t help it. Fear was starting to bubble up inside my stomach, churning it. I felt so odd. So much of my body hurt, and then there was the pain that wasn’t pain, but more of an odd sensation. Where was I and why was Pinky staring down at me as if I’d just come back from the dead?
“Shh, it’s okay,” Pinky said, trying to soothe me.
He laid his hand on my arm, but it hurt and I flinched away. “Ouch,” I said, tears filling my voice. “Pinky, what’s going on? Why does it hurt?”
“Shh, don’t talk. I need to get you some tea to soothe your throat. Lie there and rest.”
Too weak to argue, I did as he bade, closing my eyes as I waited. I didn’t drift back off to sleep, though. I was painfully aware of Pinky moving around the room. It was as if every sound was amplified, and every shift in the air blew across my skin. From the sounds, I’d guessed there was a teapot and crystal warming plate in the room. The scent of herbs and something else I couldn’t name burst into the room as he slid the lids off glass containers. The odor grew stronger before softening as he combined them and poured hot water over the mixture.
Within a few minutes, Pinky was back by my side, though he had never actually left the room.
“Are you ready to try to sit up?” he asked, placing a mug on a table near my head.
“I think so,” I said, opening my eyes and gazing up at his concerned face. I wasn’t completely sure I was telling the truth, but curiosity was gnawing at me. I wanted to know what had happened, but I knew Pinky wouldn’t tell me anything unless he thought I was doing better. Though better than what, I had no idea.
Several minutes later, I was cursing my curiosity and wishing I’d just told Pinky I wasn’t ready to sit up yet. But I hadn’t, and I was sitting up. If you could call propped against six pillows that forced me into a sitting position ‘sitting up’. I wasn’t even sure propped was the correct word because the moment Pinky let go of me after putting the last pillow into place, I’d collapsed back onto them, heaving from the pain and effort of getting into the position. Even with Pinky’s help, it had been excruciating and exhausting.
“Here, this will help,” Pinky said, holding the mug of warm liquid to my lips.
I sipped it, the strong flavor exploding in my mouth. “What is that?” I asked after swallowing several mouthfuls.
“An herbal tea from River’s garden. Chamomile, I think. There’s some medicine to help your pain mixed in,” he answered, setting the empty mug down. “Are you feeling any better?”
The medicine must be why it tasted so strong, but I was feeling a little better. “My throat doesn’t hurt as much.”
He smiled. “Good.”
“Pinky, what happened? How did I get sick? What’s wrong with me?” As I asked the questions, I watched my father’s face grow serious, dread filling his eyes.
“I’m not sure right now is the best time. I think you need more rest.”
“No,” I said. It took every bit of energy I had, but I pushed his hand away as he tried to pull the blanket up around me. “I don’t want to rest. Please, what happened? Why does everything hurt? Why are you the one taking care of me? Where’s River and Fiona?”
With every question, my voice got more and more shrill. As I asked about my sisters, I realized just how strange, how wrong, it was for them not to be in the room. Were they sick too? Had something happened to them?
“Shh, Anya, calm down, baby. Fiona and River are okay,” Pinky crooned as he gripped my hands between his. I realized I had been screaming out the thoughts in my head and that I was sobbing. “If you’ll drink another mug of tea, I’ll tell you, okay?”
I nodded, the motion making my head ache. “Okay,” I said, trying to stop crying now that I realized I was doing it.
Pinky prepared another mug of tea, and we sat in silence as I drank it. The drink soothed me, sending a warming calm throughout my body. I suspected Pinky had put some sort of sedative in it that would knock me out soon, but I wasn’t about to be deterred.
I held the mug out. “It’s all gone. Now tell me what’s wrong with me. I don’t want to wake up again feeling so confused and scared.”
The moment I spoke the words, I could see the determination to keep me in the dark fade from Pinky’s demeanor. “Okay. I suppose knowing will be better than the fear of not knowing. What do you remember?”
I shook my head, grateful that the last cup of tea had taken away the stabbing pain behind my eyes. “I don’t know. What do you mean?”
“Before you woke up here, what is the very last thing you remember doing?”
I thought hard, trying to focus. An image of Farrah and River formed in my mind. They were laughing. “I was at the market with Farrah and River. We were having lunch.”
“You don’t remember anything else? Do you know what you did after you left the market?”
I tried to think. I remembered telling River goodbye and walking towards the bridge with Farrah, but as we neared the bridge, everything got fuzzy, and then it was black. I couldn’t remember. As I concentrated, another sharp throbbing started behind my left eye. I rubbed at my temple.
“I don’t know, Pinky. I can’t remember.” My voice was nearing hysteria.
“Shh, it’s okay,” Pinky said, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling me into his arms. “I’m going to tell you what happened, but I need you to promise to try to stay calm. You are safe and loved, and no matter what, you will be okay. Promise to remember that?”
I nestled my head against his chest, much as I did when I was a child. The comfort of his arms was accompanied by the feeling of dozens of tiny bees stinging my skin at every point where we touched, but I ignored it. A sense of dread was slipping over me, but I needed to know. “I promise.”
As my adoptive father cradled me in his arms and rocked me like a baby, my entire world was pulled out from under my feet. He told me Farrah and I had been attacked, and that Farrah was fine, but I’d been kidnapped. He didn’t have any other details except that Jarrett and Fiona tried to get me back, but the kidnapper, some woman named Cora, had cut my throat. I’d been dying and the only chance they’d had to save me was to infect me with the N-V virus.
The only way to save my life had been to change it forever. To change me forever. I was now a vampire.

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Buzzing Book: Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure by Andrew Joyce #Sale

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About the Book

Resolution Huck Finn

Title: Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure

Author: Andrew Joyce

Published: April 13th, 2016

Publisher: William Birch & Assoc.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure

Synopsis

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

They cannot stop or turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

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About the Author

Andrew Joyce

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.

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Excerpt

Huck, tiring of the conversation, picked up the bottle and filled his and Molly’s glasses. Jass’ was still full. “Alright, Mister Knight, how do you plan on doing it? Take us out back and shoot us?”

“I must say you are taking this like a gentleman. No crying or begging for mercy?”

“Would I get any?”

“Any what?”

“Mercy.”

“Most likely not.”

Huck looked at Molly and nodded.

She stood with such force that she knocked her chair backwards and it started to fall. She had her gun out and in her hand before the chair hit the floor. The scraping noise of the chair as Molly stood turned the men’s attention from the gold to the table. It was the last act of their lives. Molly had a bullet into each one of them before they knew they were dead.

 

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Buzzing Book: STORM by Skye Knizley #Interview #Giveaway @Skye_Knizley

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About the Book

Storm

Title: STORM

Series: Storm Chronicles Book 6

Author: Skye Knizley

Published: April 21st, 2016

Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing

Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy

Content Warning: Contains violence and horror elements

Age Recommendation: 17+

Synopsis

On a rainy night in 1971 the cruise ship Crescent Star vanished in the North Atlantic without a trace. No crew, no lifeboats and no wreckage was ever found, in spite of a three-week search.

Two days ago, she crashed through and sank a pleasure yacht off the coast of New York, leaving five people dead. The ship has answered no hails and no one appears to be aboard. Agent Raven Storm and a forensic team lead by Aspen Kincaid have been tasked to investigate and bring the ship in, if possible.

What happened to 720 crew and passengers and where has the ship been for 44 years?

Clue by macabre clue, Raven uncovers the truth of the Crescent Star and faces a villain from beyond the grave.

But how can she stop something she can’t see, can’t touch, and that won’t hesitate to use the ones she loves against her?

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About the Author

Skye Kinzley

Skye Knizley is the #1 bestselling author of the Storm Chronicles series, an urban fantasy tale that mixes mystery, magic and horror and the Shadowlands series of modern espionage thrillers. All of her books feature strong female leads who can hold their own with the men and then some, witticisms and of course Skye’s trademark snark.

Skye, who holds degrees in forensic science and psychology, lives in the middle of nowhere in a tiny little town of about 700 people. The small town life appeals to her and she finds it conducive to writing. When she isn’t setting quill to parchment (okay she actually uses a laptop, but quills are cool) Skye can be found practicing Muay Thai, camping, motorcycling and hiking with her psychotic Siberian husky, Piper. Once a year she participates in an uncontrolled “float trip.” Whether she wants to or not. It’s a camping thing.

Skye is also a proud gamer girl and an avid fan of role-playing games. She currently participates in a weekly Shadowrun game held at a local gaming store (stop in and say ‘hi!’) and is the writer and game-master of a private Fantasy Flight game held once a month.

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Interview

Describe your relationship with a good book.

A good book is hard to find, but I am always open to starting new relationships.  My favorite is when our eyes meet across a crowded coffee shop.  Once I have the book’s attention, I will smile shyly and hide behind my sunglasses, pretending not to look.

But the book knows.  It knows I’m looking, aching to know what is between its sexy covers.

I might spend the next few days coming back and looking, but never touching, never touching.  Until the book is ready to take me home and have its way with me.

I’m sorry, the rest of this is censored…

When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I started writing very young.  I wrote my first song when I was nine and my first game character around the same time.  The first thing I would say I am proud of was a short story I wrote when I was thirteen or fourteen.  It was given several English awards and submitted to a junior literary magazine by my English teacher.  The story was based on a game night with friends and family and told the story from the perspective of a pink twenty-sided die.

Please describe your work ethic as an author.

I am a full time author, this is what I do for a living.  I get up every day, go to the gym for two hours, come home and plant myself in front of my laptop until I hit my writing goal for the day.

Writing is a job, like any other.  Yes, I love what I do and I am thankful every day that I get to spend my time writing and churning out stories for my readers, but it is still a job.  I have a goal of putting out no fewer than four books per year and thus far I have hit and exceeded that goal every year.  2016 will likely have six books from me by Christmas, with the shortest being a 50000 word Dreadpunk novella.

How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

It is all about scheduling.  I have a routine I follow every day, and the routine is set so that there is time to have a life.  My word count is set at something I can achieve without difficulty so if I decide to go do something else on a Tuesday I can make up the word count the next day.  I try hard not to say no to my friends, but everyone understands this is a job, just like theirs, and I have a schedule to keep.

Keeping that schedule allows me to have a weekly game night, go to the gym, go to concerts, enjoy movie nights and do pretty much everything I want to without compromising my work.

Why did you write this book?

The basic answer is because it is the sixth book in the series, without which there is no book seven.

I’m not the kind of author who writes books with intentional messages or agendas, they are more the literary equivalent of an action movie.  With that said, this was a necessary story in the saga of Raven and her friends/family.  Each novel is a stand alone mystery with a satisfactory ending.  Nobody has to read more than one novel or read the ones before this to enjoy this story, but each book also continues Raven’s ongoing plotline and this one is no different.  Questions brought up in book five are answered in this, and more questions are raised for future books.

What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

I have degrees in Forensic Science and Psychology, and that experience plays a part in my novels, particularly the Storm Chronicles.  Raven is a Federal Agent and her familiar, Aspen is a crime scene technician.  I draw on my experience in that field to add some realism to the crime scenes and horror of the novels.  I admit, I take shortcuts, these are not police procedurals (which I hate) but the science is grounded in reality and in my own experience investigating crime scenes.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

In five years I truly hope my agent will have gotten off his ass and made the Shadowlands series a TV show and the Storm Chronicles into a movie.  I hope to be married and living somewhere not where I am, preferably someplace with sandy beaches and more stable weather.

I also hope to have solved some of the cold cases sitting on my desk and helped bring closure to some families.  When I can I investigate the unsolved murders of trans-women, of which there are far too many.

Excerpt

Raven Storm sat up in bed, a scream fighting behind her lips. It had happened again; her father in the shadows, the boom of her pistol, and his body dropping. She’d had the nightmare every night since coming home. Her psyche eval was so bad she’d been dropped from field duty and was investigating UFO sightings in Montana. Not her best job ever.

She slid out of bed and padded toward the stairs. Around her was the loft bedroom she shared with her fiancé, Aspen. The walls were painted a soft lavender that was almost grey and matched the carpet. Their king-size bed was covered with a blue flowered bedspread and the nightstands were antiques sent by Valentina from Chicago.

Raven ran a hand over the Maltese Falcon poster in the stairwell and turned out of habit to the kitchen, where two scoops of coffee and some hot water soon produced a brew that would be guaranteed to keep her up the rest of the night. She was just sitting down to savor a cup when Aspen’s cell started chirping from its charging plate on the counter.

Who the hell is calling her at this hour? Raven wondered.

She picked it up and slid her finger over the screen. “Storm.”

There was a pause and then, “Agent Storm? Is Aspen Kincaid there?”

“She’s sleeping, like normal people, who is this?”

“This is Kane, I’m with Agent in Charge King’s office. Please get her, its important,” Kane said.

“Who is it?”

Raven looked up to see Aspen leaning over the upstairs railing, her purple hair trailing around her face.

“King’s office,” Raven replied.

Aspen wiped sleep from her eyes. “They have a case for you?”

Raven shrugged. “It’s for you, probably a crime scene.”

Aspen hurried down the steps and took the phone.

“This is Aspen.”

She listened for a moment, and turned to Raven, eyes wide. She pressed the speaker button and held the phone out. “Mr. Kane, can you say that again?”

“We have a code thirteen emergency. The cruise ship Crescent Star is carrying an unknown preternatural threat and heading toward New York City. I need you to lead a team onboard and stop it before it reaches the one mile marker. You’ll be briefed enroute.”

“Kane, this is Storm. Aspen isn’t a field agent, who gave the order?” Raven asked.

“King, Agent Storm.”

Aspen shook her head. “He knows I’m not an agent, Kane. I’m a lab-rat, I only go with Raven on certain cases, he can’t—”

“You have basic field training and he handpicked you, Kincaid. You’re on a chopper in twenty minutes, a car is on the way.”

“I want to talk to King,” Raven said.

“He didn’t ask for you, Storm,” Kane said.

“I don’t give a shit, Mr. Kane,” Raven said. “Code thirteen is the catastrophe code, you’re not sending Aspen—”

“This conversation is over, Agent Storm. Agent Kincaid, be ready,” Kane said.

The line went dead. Raven stared at the phone, then looked at Aspen.

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Buzzing Book: Eerie by C.M. McCoy #Interview #Giveaway @eerie_o

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About the Book

Eerie

Title: Eerie

Author: C.M. McCoy

Published: December 15th, 2015

Publisher: Omnific/Simon & Schuster

Genre: YAm paranormal adventure with romance

Age Recommendation: 16+

Synopsis

*** As featured in PEOPLE Magazine ***

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid.

When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds the only thing keeping her safe from a murderous 3,000-year-old beast is an equally terrifying creature who has fallen “madly” in love with her. Competing to win her affection, the Dream Creature, Asher, lures her to the one place that offers safety–a ParaScience university in Alaska he calls home. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her ParaScience classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil immortal doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

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About the Author

CM McCoy

C.M. McCoy is an Irish dancer and former military officer living in the Great White North. Though B.S.’d in chemical engineering and German from Penn State University, she’s far happier writing stories involving monsters and Alaska (with an awkward kiss in the mix.) While working 911 dispatch for Alaska State Troopers, she learned to speak in 10-codes, which she still does…but only to annoy her family.

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Interview

1) When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?

I feel like I’ve always been writing. It started with a journal I’d made from school tablet paper I’d stapled together when I was in second grade. Then I started writing short stories somewhere around the fifth grade, which is the first story I remember feeling proud of. It was called Hamster Houdini, which was a comedy about an uncanny albino hamster with a habit of breaking out of his cage.

2) Please describe your work ethic as an author.

Up at 3am to write while the house is quiet, always have a notebook and pen within reach, and before bed, type up all those notebook ideas.

3) How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?

Not well. I tend to get a little obsessed with writing when my characters are chattering in my head. Luckily, I have a husband who knows he can tear me away with an ATV ride/camping trip/fishing expedition/other Alaska fun.

4) Why did you write this book?

Hailey’s story had to be told—her adventure in moving from normal Pittsburgh to supernatural Alaska to study at a ParaScience University was too fantastic to keep to myself 🙂

5) What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?

Bullying is an underlying theme in EERIE, and I find myself drawing on my own insecurities and experiences when developing my characters.

6) What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?

I truly hope to make EERIE a 5-book series, and I’ve got a few other books in work, one of which is a YA Thriller I’m editing now. That will hopefully be out next year.

7) Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.

I really was an astronaut (and if you read tabloid media, you might just believe that.)

Excerpt

A Guarded Girl

“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”

Bertrand Russell

 

Hailey stared at the empty can on her tray, silently willing the caffeine to kick in. The last thing she needed was to fall asleep, dream of monsters, and have an “episode” in front of her 200 closest non-friends.

No way she’d let that happen.

Now if only her droopy eyelids would cooperate, because the hard plastic chair under her butt sure wasn’t. The dang thing was teasing her and feeling mighty comfy, like a puffy armchair, and she was sinking fast. Thankfully, though, just as her head bobbed, the bell rang, jolting her into a wide-eyed, full-body spasm.

Great. Real smooth, she thought, rubbing her face with both hands as a few gigglers shuffled past.

She groaned, rising with all the enthusiasm of a mushroom, not at all looking forward to another two hours inside the social torture chamber, or as everyone else referred to it, South Side High School.

She was so intent on avoiding the students there for the rest of her senior year that she rarely looked up from her books anymore, and those last two hours dragged. When three o’clock finally rolled around, she bolted outside, took the first open seat on the bus, rested her head against the window, and let it bounce there. She was just about to make it through another day of school very happily unnoticed, when Tage Adams smacked her on the back of the head.

“Ah!” she yelled, startled from sleep.

The bus was waiting at their stop, like normal, and Tage was waiting for her in the aisle, politely—not normal.

Tucking a wayward strand behind her ear, she hurried off the bus.

Tage followed.

“What’s up with you today?” he said nonchalantly, adjusting his pace to walk next to her.

He’d never done that before.

“Nothing,” Hailey said, surprised Tage was talking to her. They’d been catching the bus at the same stop for four years, and he’d never so much as looked at her.

“You’re usually not like that, that’s all.”

“Like what?”

“Nodding off in class, falling asleep on the bus…you know, slacking off. It’s just, you know, you usually have your nose in a book.”

He watches me?

“Oh,” she said, unsure.

“Guess you were working late last night…St. Paddy’s Day…”

“Yeah.” Of course she was working late. Her family owned the most popular Irish pub in Pittsburgh. Hailey pressed her lips together. Small talk was not her thing. Especially not with him.

Her mind went blank.

Searching the pavement for a thought, she chewed her lip as too many seconds stretched the silence. Finally, the pressure forced her good sense aside and she opened her mouth to say…anything.

“What’s—”

“Well, see ya ‘round, Dancing Queen.”

She snapped her mouth shut and waved as he peeled off and trotted down Bridge Street. She tried to form the word, “bye,” but all that came out was “buh—”. Standing dumbfounded, she stared after him. She hadn’t realized Tage knew she existed, let alone the fact that she waitressed. And danced.

Stunned, Hailey walked, then jogged, then stopped dead to puzzle over what had just happened. Then she jogged again until she finally reached the pub.

Nobody at that school “chatted” with Hailey. Not since the fourth grade, not since the day a particularly mean girl concocted a particularly ugly rumor—that Hailey had started the fire that killed her parents. The whispers and sideways glances lasted close to a year, and in trying to defend herself, Hailey only made things worse. By the time she figured out that nobody else believed in pyromaniac-nightmare-monsters, it was too late. She’d already earned the label, “weirdo,” which, unfortunately, stuck.

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