Posted in coming of age, Giveaway, romance on June 8, 2017

Book Title: Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series)
Author: Lucy Appadoo
Category: Adult Fiction, 274 pages
Genre: Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Release date: March 24, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)


Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves? ~ ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Other online stores

About the Author

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

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Posted in coming of age, Spotlight, women on May 21, 2017


A Coming of Age Story for Adults




  Genre: Contemporary / Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age

Date of Publication: April 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

Ana Petrescu (aka Miss Vulpe) is a troubled teenager determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ double suicide. Escaping the scrutiny of her legal guardian and the unwanted interference of several therapists, she starts looking up people from her mother’s past. Her sleuthing requires her to lie about her identity, her age, and her lack of experience with men. While impersonating Miss Vulpe is more fun than going to school, there’s bound to be trouble and heartache when her web of lies unravels.


Maria Elena Sandovici lives in Houston with her dog. She travels to Bucharest often and also to Spain, but her favorite trip remains 45 South to Galveston. She has an art studio at Hardy and Nance in the Warehouse District, open the third Saturday of every month, blogs daily at, and writes poetry in the voice of her dog. She is also the author of three previous novels about women who are struggling with finding their place in the world.

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Posted in Book Release, coming of age, Music on March 27, 2017


An ensemble sets off on a dark comedy of errors and uncertain conclusions, featuring original music throughout the story.

Theo and Judah, two childhood friends, are trying desperately to find an audience for their hard-edged, “grunge” music as they move past their twenties and feel the need to establish careers. Together, they enroll in an unusual college, called The University of Jazz and Music Technology.

Attracted at first by the means within the school to professionally record their own original music, the two friends embark on what could be a lifelong journey.  But the endeavor has an alternate effect, as Theo begins to question his musical efforts with Judah.

Entanglements with co-eds quickly complicate matters. Theo and Judah hit as many rough spots as any amateur band may find along the way, including a disastrous mini-tour of the northwest during spring break. Little do they know, the misfortunes have just begun…

The book will be free on Amazon April 1st – 4th – so snag your free copy in a few days!

Q & A with Barnaby

Misfortunes of T-Funk really is all about the music. What inspired the story?

My past, really. I knew this story was brewing in me for years now. The different jobs I’ve worked and stories I’ve lived through in the name of keeping music my priority has been just outrageous, so it seemed natural to craft these stories about fictional characters informed by my own “misfortunes” and frustrations in what almost seems like a former life to me now.

There has to be a little of your own real life peppered in, right?

Yes. I made up these characters and put them through some stories that are made up, and

some that I have actually experienced, though I will keep those details close to my chest. My favorite part of having a ‘work of fiction’ disclaimer is that I can borrow them from my own life with no intention of ever returning to them. I like to say that maybe I’ll even forget those parts of the stories really happened. I’m getting older… it could happen.

I love the idea of incorporating music directly into your story, especially with your background. It’s such a unique idea! How did you come up with it?

I started thinking about where Theo, my main character, was headed musically right away –

meaning back around the year 2000, though I didn’t have a name for him then – but, I didn’t have much in mind for the vehicle to get him there.

I felt like I needed a different plan of some sort.  I don’t really remember the moment I thought to use recordings, but it seemed an unnecessarily difficult task to describe Theo’s experience with nothing but words.  It was when I decided to use these recordings that my second character, Judah, materialized. He sings each track from my own songwriting past throughout the book.

Which genres and artists from your own life influence the music in Misfortunes of T-Funk?

I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and other classic rock. I also went through a punk phase, along with another stretch where I was listening to rap and writing hooks for some of those rappers in a studio in Northern California.  Jazz was a favorite later on in life, which explains why I eventually obtained an MA in Jazz Composition. I think all of these various influences will be pretty apparent to readers/listeners of the book, though I’m sure some are more obvious than others.

And what can readers/listeners expect of the embedded music in each of the Misfortune books?

I’m hoping for 12-15 tracks incorporated across the entire series – which is suspiciously the length of a CD or full-length playlist. It’s something that’s ever-developing with the story itself, so I’m looking forward to seeing just how the entire thing plays out.

About the Author

Barnaby Hazen is an author, editor and musician. Driven strongly by collaboration, it seems natural his first venture into writing began with a friend. Seven Eleven Stories periodical took shape in 2014 and just one year later, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories  debuted with a full-length collection featuring nine strange tales on convenience store fiction.

In 2017, Misfortunes of T-Funk, the first in a series, pulls directly from Hazen’s own life in music. Having been a lifelong, dedicated listener, teacher and performer, his latest novel incorporates his self-recorded and produced musical tracks directly into the chapters of his new novel. Hazen’s music illuminates his main characters and further elaborates on the story, creating a unique and personal soundtrack for readers of the book.

Having spent years as an educator, Barnaby’s time as an elementary school music teacher particularly inspired him to become involved with The Bud Hawthorne Revue.  He writes and edits the publication, along with Mr. Hawthorne himself, and is eager to continue offering contributions to literary culture given his unique perspective on writing.

Hazen lives in Taos, New Mexico with his wife Sarah and their adorably troublesome pets.

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Posted in coming of age, excerpt, Literary, Spotlight on March 17, 2017


All families have secrets. Most go untold…

In the summer of  ‘96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of 18, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies.

Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a tender tale of heartache and displacement told through a wry and courageous voice. Set in Ireland, it’s a timely reminder that the world hasn’t moved on just as fast as we fancy. Now, in this emotionally charged story, Gerald M. O’Connor explores conditioned guilt and its consequences in a country still hiding from the sins of its past.


Life was lived in the quiet moments; all the rest was pure bluster. I was paraphrasing of course. I hadn’t the foggiest who’d said those words, or whether they were ever uttered out of the mouth of anyone at all, and if by happenstance they had it probably was more succinct. But the thought cropped up in my head then, watching my dad visibly stutter less than the width of a jab away from me.

“There’s no way in hell I’m adopted,” I said.

“You are a bit.”

“You can’t be a bit adopted.”

Dad seemed to consider this for a moment, before shrugging and smiling wanly. “No…I suppose you can’t.”

“This is a pile of unadulterated nonsense. You’re both having a laugh, right? Some twisted revenge for me not applying to college?”

Dad reached inside his shirt pocket, pulled out a manila envelope and laid it on the table. “This,” he said, tapping it twice with his index finger, “contains your adoption certificate. We decided to keep calling you by your birth name, Benjamin. Seemed the correct thing to do at the time.”

“Did it?”

He held up his hand to hush me. “It’s the original document we received the day Father Brogan brought you here and made it all official.” He slid it over to me. “It’s yours now.”

I picked up the envelope and tore it open, unfurling the paper inside and laying it flat on the table. My eyes skimmed over the document, flitting from word to word—adoption, adoptees, dates, signatures and the official diocesan insignia on the envelope. They were all there, all the bureaucratic paraphernalia of the state and church.

I held his stare, neither of us flinching. “Am I really adopted?”


My throat turned to dust. Call it the formality of the letter, or the way the word cut short on his breath. I thought of Mam’s delicate frame and barley-blonde hair. We looked nothing alike. But Dad? He was meant to be the exception. We both towered over her. We both had lanky frames. Hell, we even shared that same terrible torture of walking on long, flat feet that no shoe, no matter the cut or cobbler, could fit comfortably.

Reams of memories of years gone by played on a loop in my head. “Sure, isn’t Benjamin the spit of his old man,” they’d said. “Dug from the same field, no doubt about it. Oh, he’s a Hackett all right, this fella.” And my parents had lapped it up. Like the time in Hay Street, in the bustle of market day, when they nodded in tacit agreement at some hunched-over old coot as she tousled my hair and told them how my curls were the carbon copy of Dad’s.

“But we look alike?” I said.

“Do we?”

“You know we do.”

He leaned in closer, dropped his voice to a whisper. “Truth is, we’ve been secretly dying your hair since you arrived. You’re actually ginger.”

I shoved the table into him and threw my hands up. “Jokes? You think now is the time for messing about? For having a bit of a laugh?”

“Sorry, sorry,” he said, showing his palms in surrender. “It just snuck out…but seriously, you’re not going to make a big deal of this, are you?”

“And why shouldn’t I?”

“Because it’s not what Hackett men do.”

“Well, I’m clearly not one of them, now am I?”

My comment flushed crimson high in his cheeks. He balled his hands twice and relaxed them flat on the table. “You’ve been long enough on the farm,” he said, quieter now. “Long enough to know that animals of all sorts adopt strays and nurture them as their own. And there’s not a blind bit of difference in them when they mature. Attitude is more in the rearing than the genes. You’re my son and a Hackett. Adopted or not.”

“So you’re calling me a stray animal now? Christ, Dad, you’re some piece of work.”

Copyright © 2017 by Gerald M. O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission of Down & Out Books.

About the Author

GERALD M. O’CONNOR is a native Corkonian, currently living in Dublin with his long-term partner, Rosemarie, along with their three children. He writes character-driven novels of various genres by night and is a dentist by day. When he isn’t glued to the keyboard, he enjoys sci-fi films, spending time with his family and being anywhere in sight of the sea. He is currently working on his second novel, The Tanist.


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Posted in coming of age, Fantasy, Magic, Middle Grade on February 22, 2017

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Published by: Wondertale, California
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
ISBN: 1-945353-11-2
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.
Length: 85,000 words / 290 pages

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Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Print Length: 273 pages
Publisher: Wondertale
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
ASIN: B01N988TW7
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.

Amazon * Goodreads

Return to the world of The Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.

About the Authors

Christopher Hansen

The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.



J.R. Fehr
When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.


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Posted in 3 paws, coming of age, fiction, Giveaway, Review on December 12, 2016


by M.M. Wolthoff

  Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age

Publisher: River Grove Books

Date of Publication: February 29, 2015

Number of Pages: 220

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west-tx-pilgrimageHunter’s friend Ty survived war in the Middle East only to succumb to cancer at home. On a quest with his college buddies and Ty’s father, Hunter journeys from South Texas into the mountains and desert of West Texas to bury his close friend. During this trek, they’ll drink, hunt, party, and encounter unexpected people and enthralling landscapes as Hunter deals with his grief, compounded by his struggle with depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder. 

The West Texas Pilgrimage is a love letter to West Texas and the wild culture that defines it. Author M. M. Wolthoff vividly depicts the regional landscape, exploring intriguing stops along the way and the authentic context of music, food, and language integral to this generation of Texans, while frankly and thoughtfully addressing relationships, mourning, and mental illness, with characters as unforgettable as the region itself.


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I laughed. I cried. This is a book that is real, honest and reminds all of us that life is filled with ups and downs. The only way to keep moving forward is to get real with ourselves about whom we are and accept our beauty and our pain. This young author has amazing wisdom that is so articulately shared with readers of all ages.  — 5 Stars, Amazon Verified Purchase

The West Texas Pilgrimage was insightful into the mind of a privileged, pre-adult male who tries to self-medicate his OCD condition with alcohol. While reading, I felt the main character’s vulnerabilities as he struggled with his feelings regarding his career choice, the loss of a good friend to cancer, and the complications of his search for the right female life mate. The book was a quick read…only because I could not put it down! There were several “ah-ha” moments when I thought: oh my, that’s really how a pre-adult male thinks??!? I never knew!! — 5 Stars Donna J Millon

I read the first half of the book in one night; it draws you in with believable characters and real challenges they face. Could have been written about people you know or have met. It covers some tough topics but is an enjoyable read. — 5 Stars Peter Day

Really nice read. Very detailed description of so many things made me feel like I was right there with them. 2 nights to read for a non reader like me makes for a really easy and entertaining time. Thumbs up.  — 5 Stars Nunya

The book brought me right back to the border towns of my youth. Step outside any bar and be hit with the smell of fajita and sewer. Glorious!  — 5 Stars Amazon Verified Purchase


I have mixed feelings on this book. If you can get past the amount of alcohol that the characters are drinking and that they are driving while drinking, the underlying story is actually a good one.

The story centers around 4 friends getting together to put a 5th friend, Ty, to rest that lost a battle to cancer. Most of them knew each other growing up, but a few were added during college. So after Ty was cremated, his father gathers the friends and they make a journey to West Texas and Big Bend National Park to say their final farewells to Ty and remember the man he was to each of them.

But in getting to that part of the story (which is about 75% of the way into the book), there is a personal journey for Hunter. He is dealing with depression, and like most people, feels like he cannot discuss it with any of his friends and walks a fine line between drinking a lot or taking a pill to help him sleep. He is hiding a pain that goes deep for him, and perhaps he felt some shame in his diagnosis. He finally talks to his buddy Cinco, but not until Cinco practically drags it out of him near the end of the book. Until that point he just drinks a lot to keep his buzz going.  I think many people could relate to Hunter and what he was going through in his life.

I thought the author did a good job describing West Texas and the small towns and what you might expect to see if you visit those areas. It is a part of Texas my husband and I want to visit, so I liked getting a view into what I could expect to find when we visit that part of the state.

Overall the book is somewhat depressing and I was surprised no one else died behind the wheel or from the excessive drinking. It could easily have happened considering how much each person drank in the few days this story spans. The only sane person was the father, Dr Sanderson, but I chalk that up to age. But at the same time, the reason for the gathering was touching and my favorite part of the book is when they were on a summit at San Isabel Peak saying goodbye to Ty and they each brought a memento that reminded them of their time with him or what represented his life. I actually had tears in my eyes reading song lyrics one friend wrote. The words were very touching and I could see it being made into a song.

We give it 3 paws up and worth reading!


about the author

author-pic-wolthoffMatthew Martin Wolthoff lives in McAllen, Texas, with his wife, Lucy Ann, and three children, Hunter Ann, McCoy Martin, and Kerr Dunkin. He grew up in a military family, living all over the world until finding home in South Texas, where he went to high school in San Antonio. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His parents instilled a passion for reading and writing in him early in life that grows stronger every day. An avid outdoorsman, he finds his inspiration—and peace of mind—in the shallow waters of the Lower Laguna Madre and the wilderness of the South Texas brush country. His first West Texas pilgrimage was in 2010. It was a life-changing event.

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12/5 Guest Post Reading By Moonlight
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Posted in coming of age, Giveaway, Spotlight, women on August 26, 2015

Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age
Date Published: June 21, 2015
When 23-year-old Claire Soublet arrives in New York City to begin her new life, she has no idea that after only four days a situation will arise forcing her to return to New Orleans. Growing up mired in years of hardship and being abandoned by family through death and disinterest, she manages to scratch and claw her way out of that life. And in the process, get a college education. Back in New Orleans and not ready to succumb to her old life, she enlists the help of her high school friend. They devise a plan to, once again, get Claire out of her hometown. With their new-found relationship, they return to New York together.

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Chapter One
The 1878 yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans claimed my mother Cecile when she was
only twenty-five leaving behind four children – my older sister Aurelia was nine, I was five, Philomene was three, and my brother Augustin wasn’t yet two – and if the two babies born between Aurelia and I had lived, there would have been six of us left motherless.
Sanité, my father’s mother, took care of us until she died three years later. My grandmother was a very kind and gentle person. She was a Choctaw Indian who never sat in a chair or slept in a bed. She spent most of her time sitting, squatting, or sleeping on the floor. The only time I saw her standing was when she was cooking, cleaning, or leaving the house to go to the market.
Even after the “Tignon Law” was abolished in 1843, Sanité still wore the madras kerchief to cover her head. She taught our mother how to wrap it to cover her hair and told her how the law came about as Aurelia and I watched and listened. The law was passed in 1786, she told us, and it forced free women of color to cover their heads with the same type of kerchiefs the slave women wore. The Governor was determined to tighten control over the non-Whites in the city to please the White women who felt threatened by the beautiful, free women of color who had relationships with White men.
Before the undertaker came to pick up my grandmother’s body, my father removed the tignon; her waist-length, coal black hair came tumbling out. He wept as he tied a shoestring at the top of her long thick plait. He cut it off, touched it to his lips, then wrapped it with the kerchief in a pillowcase and tucked it away in a drawer. “There,” he said as he pulled her now shoulder-length hair from behind her ears and gently combed through it with his fingers, “you will not be buried with your head covered.” My father threw his body across his mother’s and sobbed without shame. Aurelia, Philomene and I fell on top of him and cried just as hard.
I could not fully understand why my father showed how much he cared about his mother in death when he’d never treated her kindly when she was alive; I was left confused. I’d heard him tell her how ashamed he was of her – of her being Choctaw. He hated having inherited her tan skin and shiny black hair. His blue eyes came from his French father, Etienne Menard.
I think only Aurelia was old enough to appreciate that our grandmother was finally free from the hardship and prejudice she’d had to endure. She told me even though my father was crying because his mother was dead, he was also happy she was finally at peace. I, too, came to understand this many years later when I looked back on it.
My grandfather, a hunter and a trapper, spent most of his time in the swamps and the bayous. He often traded with the Indian tribes who lived where he hunted. He found Sanité among the Choctaw and brought her to New Orleans to live with him. She was already twenty-four and none of the men of her tribe wanted her for a wife. She was shunned and considered taboo by the men and the women because she had been born with a dime-size black mole in the center of her forehead. Only the children and the very old treated her with kindness.
New Orleans laws forbade Etienne to legally marry Sanité, but Father Guillard secretly heard their vows in the rectory at St. Louis Cathedral.
Etienne bought a small house in the Tremé section and had two children with Sanité. When Pauline was thirteen and my father Christophe ten, Etienne disappeared. Sanité and her children didn’t know if he’d been killed or if he’d returned to France without telling them. Without a legal marriage, who could Sanité go to for help? For years they waited for him to come home, but they never heard from him again.
Etienne Menard did two decent things before he vanished. He legally left the house to his children and he taught them, as well as Sanité, to sew. He was a tailor in France before coming to America. He taught them how to make a man’s suit from the collar to the hem of the pant legs. And this skill was their saving grace.
Pauline, who was blond and blue-eyed, became a passablanc. She was tall for her age and looked much older than her fifteen years. It took several weeks of walking around uptown in the business section of the city to find a place that was willing to trust her with piecework she could do at home. Stern Brothers, a men’s store on Dryades Street, though reluctant, gave her a few trial pieces. When she returned the half dozen sets of coat sleeves, Mr. Stern was so impressed with the quality of the sewing that he gave her steady work. Pauline brought the pieces home and Sanité and Christophe helped her sew them together. At first they worked on only suit coats, then suit trousers, and eventually they were making whole suits. They survived more than four years on what they made from the piecework and from what Sanité made at the French Market selling the herbs she grew in her garden.

About the Author

Claudette Carrida Jeffrey, a native New Orleanian, is a retired teacher who lives in Northern California. The Color of Life is her second book of four in the Claire Soublet Series. A Brown Paper Bag and A Fine Tooth Comb (2012) begins the coming of age story of Claire Soublet, a young Creole of Color, growing up in 1940s and 50s New Orleans.




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Posted in coming of age, paranormal, Spotlight, Thriller, Young Adult on August 15, 2015

barking madness



“I found you,” whispered into my ear.

“My life is crumbling away before my eyes while I do nothing to prevent it.  I have visited too many funerals, for too many friends who haunt my dreams.  Everybody dies eventually, right?  No, everybody dies young when they befriend me.  Was I born to die young? I don’t think so.  I’m the only one here with the nerve to stay alive.  I can’t be left alone.  Not with that hollow man, the one who hides his face.  That’s what he wants, me to be alone, because once I’m alone, he’s going to kill me!”

Seventeen-year-old Rosetta Harper is plagued by nightmares of a masked man. With her father’s new career move, her family has just relocated from Florida to the small New England town of Ashwood.   A quiet town and close-knit community where you know your neighbors, and trouble is a word unspoken. But soon after her arrival, her world and the worlds of her classmates come crashing down.

Michael hates his family and feels alone and unloved. He only finds comfort when he’s with his friends, but even they get on his nerves. Everything about Ashwood and his life bores him, until Rosetta Harper moves into town. With her as a new classmate, Michael finally gets the excitement he was looking for, but it may be at too high a cost.


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The smell hit me first.  Wet and reeking of dirt, my body twitched from the pointed grass blades stabbing at my skin. Hesitantly, my eyes opened with several tiny blinks to assure myself I was where I appeared to be.  Placing my cut palms on either side of me, I lifted myself off the ground to get a better look at my surroundings. Birds chirped their merry jingle overhead while trees danced in the swift breeze.  Turning every way before concluding I was lost or in the middle of nowhere, I slowly got to my shaky feet. The forest surrounded me and had no end in any direction. “Hello.  Hello!”  Nobody answered, so I was totally lost . . . and suddenly cold.  I wrapped my arms around my chest to keep warm and found, to my surprise, I was still naked.  Covering my privates, I worried about the situation.  Where was I, and how did I get here? I tried to swallow my fear but only tasted blood in return.  In reaction to the metallic taste, I spat any saliva I currently had in my mouth onto the ground. It was red. So, I wiped my face with the back of my hand and pulled it away to see it was covered in blood.  Whimpering, I used my other hand—blood—so I used the palms of my hands—more blood. As I stared in horror at my painted appendages, I realized something terrible must have occurred at the party last night. What had happened? I had taken those stupid drugs from Chloe, swam a bit, had nearly been raped by Tommy, and almost shot by Zach (which had to have been the drugs).  There’s no way Tommy was there, and I doubt Zach would ever shoot me.  But then I remembered the bathroom.  What was that about?

“Rose!  You’re alright, thank God,” somebody said behind me.  I made sure my privates were covered before turning around. Who was it?  “Tommy!” I screamed, removing my hands. Quickly, he looked away and said, “Shit!  Sorry, I didn’t mean to see you there.”  I screamed again at the mutilated corpse and ran in the opposite direction.  “Rose, wait!  Come back!” It’s the drugs!  They haven’t worn off yet, that’s all!  Just keep running, and he won’t catch up. Just keep running . . . I screeched to a halt and shrieked.  Zach was blocking my path, and he was covered in blood.

His neck was torn out to the spine, and flesh dangled from where his left arm used to be.  “Missed me, you bitch?” He sprinted at me with fiery eyes, so I turned and ran back in the direction I had come.  “Where you going, Rose?  I thought you wanted to screw me?” He yelled. I cut myself on a few sticks, and the occasional rock hurt my foot, but nothing would stop me from avoiding the furious zombie behind me. Unless Tommy showed up again! My dead ex emerged from thin air in front of me, so I quickly tried to stop but instead fell forward.  He tried to catch me, but his eyes were closed, and I fell through him anyways. Sliding in the dirt and leaves below stung the entire front side of my body.

“Sorry, Rose.  I tried to catch you, but being a ghost and all doesn’t really allow me to interact with the real world.” I scrambled up to my feet, faced him, and backed up into a tree. “Just stay back, okay?” His eyes were still shut and his hands were raised in defense. “Okay, whatever you want.  Listen, I don’t mean to scare you or cause any harm.  I’m here to help.” I was staring at his dangling intestines when Zach ran out of the brush behind him. Tommy quickly tripped him, and we watched him fall into the dirt, same as me.  Zach grumbled on the ground before struggling to get up with his one arm.  “What the hell, man?” “What do you mean, ‘what the hell?’  Stop freaking her out!” “Oh yeah, like you haven’t.  Just look at her.”  Zach gestured towards me. “No, dick, she hasn’t got any clothes on.” “That’s not stopping me.” “Well, you’re a pervert.” “I’m dead, so let me do whatever the f* I want without lecture, please.”  I stared Zach down head to toe.  He wore a pair of bloodstained jeans, nothing else.  Soon, he noticed what I was doing and got real pissed.  “What are you looking at?”

I pressed as tightly against the tree as possible. “Nothing, nothing.” “Good.” Tommy slapped the back of his head.  “Cut it out.” “This is her fault.  I’ll do whatever I want.” Tommy opened his eyes and peered into Zach’s. “No, you won’t.  Because if you keep freaking her out, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.” Zach scoffed. “Go ahead and try. My body expelled all my excrement hours ago.” Tommy giggled. “That’s actually kind of funny. Morbid, but funny.” “F* you, man, and stop laughing.” “Or what, you going to beat me up with one arm tied behind your back?” He laughed again, and Zach dove for him.  They roughed around on the ground for a while until Tommy pulled Zach’s head back far enough for it to get stuck upside down. At that point, Tommy got up from the fight and turned to make sure I was still there. Once he glimpsed me, he looked away and said sorry again. Zach squirmed in the leaves until, finally, he gave up trying to fix his head and resorted to begging Tommy for help. “Not until you promise you’ll leave Rose alone.” He moaned. “That’s unfair. I have every right to haunt her, and torment her, and make her life a living hell.”  Tommy kicked his arm nub, and Zach screamed in pain.  “Fine,” he sobbed, “fine, but this isn’t fair!” “Death’s not fair, so get over it.  Do you promise to leave Rose alone?” “Sure, but why should I?” “I need her.” “Oh, your needs overpower mine.  I see what’s going on.” “No, I just overpower you in general, so you have to listen to me or your head stays on backwards, got it?” “Got it.”

“Good.”  Tommy picked Zach off the ground and helped him stabilize his footing before pulling his head back into the right position. “Better?” Zach cracked his neck twice. “Whatever.” He glanced at me and soaked in the image of me naked. “For someone so beautiful, you are so evil.” I was breathless. What did he mean?  Tommy pitched in.  “Hey, it isn’t exactly her fault.” “The hell it isn’t! She tore out my neck!  She swallowed my arm!  She killed me!  It is completely her fault!” “Fine, I agree, but can you blame her?  You were pointing a gun at her earlier.” “Because she hit me and kicked me in the nuts. Plus, I was insanely wasted and on a little coke.  You can’t really blame me either.” “Yes, you can.  You were in control of your actions; she wasn’t.”  Tommy pointed at me. “How do you know that? Maybe she was and just wanted to kill me. Did you ever ask her that?” “No, but—” “Exactly, you can’t know.” “Then ask her yourself if she meant to kill you, if you want to know.” “Fine.”  Zach faced me again, but I couldn’t speak or even comprehend what was going on.  He sucked in a deep breath. “Did you mean to kill me?” I was dead silent staring between the two ghouls, and it took me about twenty seconds of Zach waiting patiently and Tommy looking away to actually speak. “What?” Zach seemed about to cry and kicked at the ground a bit before coming closer. “Did you mean to kill me, Rose?”  His eyes were watering, and he was shaking his head.  “I have to know.  Did you intend on killing me?”

I was dumbfounded, so I looked to Tommy for help, but he didn’t want in on the conversation at all. “Zach, I . . . I have no idea.” “Please, Rose, please, you can tell me.  I’m already dead for Christ’s sake.  Did you mean to eat me?” I stood in front of the weeping ghost, heartbroken.  “No, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.  I don’t even know why you’re here, or why I’m here.  I just woke up in the woods, and now this is happening.” Tommy pitched in. “Wait, Rose, what do you mean you don’t know what happened?  Are you just saying that because it happened so fast or—?” “No, I have no idea what you freaks are even talking about.” Zach, red-eyed, lifted his arm and pointed at me.  “Don’t you dare call me a freak!  The only reason I’m even here is because you’re a f*ing monster!”  Tommy shouted at him to shut up, but he didn’t.  “No, listen, Tommy!  She knew about her condition and refused to accept it!  Now, because of her, I’m here rotting away with wonder boy and hell spawn!”  Zach was crying his eyes out now.  “I just want to be home with my family.  I just want to be home.”  He sat on the dying leaves. “Is that so much to ask?  Apparently, it is for you, Tommy.” Tommy rubbed his eyelids.  “I’m sorry, Zach, but your death is not Rosetta’s fault.  You were at that party, you got drunk, and you lost your cool.  Now you’re dead, and it is only your fault, so stop getting mad at Rose.” “Now you’re on her side again?  Great.” He wiped his snot with his only arm. I tried to absorb what they were saying. “Wait, Zach, what do you mean by my ‘condition’?  And why are you even here?” Zach laughed bitterly. “What do you mean ‘condition’?  It’s such garbage.” He looked up at me and saw I was unquestionably confused. “Rose, you know what we’re talking about, right?” I looked between the two of them and shook my head. “My God, I’m dealing with a complete idiot.”

Tommy turned around with his eyes still shut.  “I tried telling her over and over, but she would never hear me.  Every day, I bugged her, but she never noticed.  Not until you two were in bed, that is.” I was getting annoyed. “You tried to tell me what?  What was it?” Zach raised his arm and got up. “Oh, it all makes sense now.”  He faced Tommy angrily.   “When I was getting in bed with her, she saw you, so she hit me, and I hit her, and now I’m dead.” Tommy rolled his eyes under their lids. “You’d be dead anyways for being stupid.” “Thanks.  Thanks a bunch.  You know you are such a piss poor friend, Tommy.  Here I am dead just trying to get a little angry with the woman who murdered me, and you’re defending her and insulting me at the same time. Real nice.” I intervened before Tommy could argue back.  “What do you mean I murdered you?  And what do you mean I ate your arm?  You said that earlier, and that’s impossible.  I don’t remember doing it, and I sure as hell have no idea why I would.  And this condition you mentioned, what’s that?  Plus, Tommy, what do you mean you tried to tell me?  Tell me now!  I’m listening!” The two ghouls exchanged looks.  “Zach, you want to tell her? You’d be better at breaking the bad news.” Zach scoffed. “What news? She should have known when she was bit. Doesn’t anybody watch movies anymore?” I yelled.  “No, I do not watch movies! Are you happy?  Please tell me what the f* is going on and why I’m talking to two dead people!” “Well, my description of you would be Satan. Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.” I turned to Tommy. He would answer my questions. “Tommy? Please, Zach is no help.” Tommy inhaled and swallowed.  I could see his exposed Adam’s apple move up and down.  “Well, Rose, it started when you and I were attacked in the woods after Brad’s party a month ago.  You see, I died, so I’m cursed to walk the Earth in limbo until your curse is broken.

It’s kind of stupid and doesn’t really make sense, but we have to roll with it because we don’t have another option so—” “Tommy, please, I’m begging you, get to the point.  Why did I murder Zach?” “I’m getting there; it’s just hard to say and sounds pretty dumb, so give me a second, alright?” Zach pitched in. “Dumb? I’m dead because of this so-called dumb curse.” I was really annoyed. “What curse?  What are you talking about?” “Er,” Tommy started, “You see, there isn’t any way to put this logically, so I’ll just tell you.”  He inhaled. “You’re a lycanthrope, Rosetta.” “What the heck is lionthrope?” Zach slapped his hand against his forehead.  “You’re such a moron it’s unbelievable.” Tommy shushed Zach. “Rose, it’s an, um, it’s a werewolf.”  He gave me a crooked smile. I stared at his closed eyes in disbelief for a second and chuckled. “I really am going insane.” I began walking into the woods. What I needed was a therapist. There must be some repressed memories causing me to be delusional; otherwise, I wouldn’t be seeing my dead lovers. “Rose,” he called after me, “I know what it sounds like, but you have to believe me. I’m dead for crying out loud. So is Zach.  Please listen to me.” I stopped walking and turned around. “Listen to you, Tommy, the dead ex-boyfriend slash football player. And who else? Oh yeah, the guy who tried to rape me while I was on drugs. No thanks, I’ll pass on this one.  You’re just in my head, so leave me alone!” I turned to run off, but Zach blocked my path. “I am dead! I am f*ing dead because of you! And you want to blow it off? No way am I letting that happen.” “A werewolf, though? Really?”  I crossed my arms.  “If you wanted me to believe I killed you, you should have said I reacted crazily because of the drugs in my system or something. That’s the condition I thought you were talking about. Not turning into a f*ing monster that howls at the moon once a month.”

About the Author

Ryan Hill is a YA fiction writer. Born in Connecticut, Ryan now lives in Massachusetts with his family and is a student at UMass Amherst where he is pursuing a degree in English. When not in front of his computer writing something creative or studying, Ryan can be found playing Xbox with friends, watching movies (he’s a huge movie buff), or working out.

Ryan’s knack for writing fiction emerged at an early age, when he wrote stories for his own enjoyment. He decided to put his hand to writing a book at 17, when he came up with the concept for the dark, witty, and dynamic psychological-thriller, Barking Madness. His novel appeals to young adult readers and people of any age who are looking for a good suspenseful story. He enjoyed creating the different layers of characters and relationships in his story, and like any debut author, found it difficult to stop. Science fiction, horror, and thrillers are his favorite genres.

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Posted in coming of age, Spotlight on July 21, 2015
Other Side of Beautiful
Title: Other Side of Beautiful
Author: Sarah Zolton Arthur
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Two years ago, Elle Dinninger left home for college and never looked back.

A secret nervous breakdown and an awful family were all the incentive she needed to distance herself from her past. Despite her mother’s relentless efforts to drag her down, Elle has a set career path and wonderful friends, including the sexy serial dater, Benton Hayes.
Ben Hayes longs for the one thing he fears most…
Aware of his reputation, which he cultivates to avoid serious relationships, he’s seen how destructive—and even deadly—love can be. But he’s been friends with Elle since freshman year, and wants more from the beautiful, curvy co-ed, if he can find the courage to tell her how he feels.
Elle’s tormented history won’t lie quietly.
She tries to move forward, but others pursue their own agendas at her expense, leaving Elle vulnerable and unable to trust anyone…even Ben, so she falls back into destructive habits.
Ben fights to help Elle overcome her fears and insecurities, but when one of her darkest secrets is revealed, he seems to pull away.
Elle is shattered and decides the only thing left to do is to disappear…
Lost in her own negative self-image and the reopening of old wounds, she can only be saved by Ben’s unconditional love.
Can Ben get past his jaded views in time to make Elle see how beautiful she truly is?
Or are the star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy?

About The Author

Sarah lives in Michigan with her two sons, one IS a teenager and one ACTS like one, where she spends her days daydreaming about living somewhere that stays warm year round (when she’s not BUSY writing or reading).

In Sarah’s world all books have kissing and end in some form of HEA.






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Amnesty by Jo Noelle

Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days. Her assignment is to change the eternal destination of a girl in Albuquerque to earn admittance into heaven.

No sweat.

But when Cassie returns to earth during her three-week, mostly-mortal assignment, her old habits get in the way, (apparently habits don’t die when you do), the partners assigned to help her are anything but helpful, and it turns out the girl she is supposed to help is the only enemy she made on her first day of school.

Oh, I’m so going to hell.

Things aren’t all bad—it helps to have a hot angel on your side. Mmm-Marc. Even though he’s all about heavenly business, Cassie would like to make it personal.

Assignment with benefits.

This young adult novel is a coming of age story with a clean romance, packed with action and suspense.


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Moments blink like snapshots flashing on a screen. Bright lights strain against the passenger windows that crumble away as my vision blurs—like a 3-D movie without glasses. A hazy glow radiates around my hands, fingers strangling the steering wheel. Before my head snaps back against the headrest, I look up at the mirror and catch a glimpse of Korbin in the back seat, a pale light glows around him—an aura? His soul releases and whispers away.

“No,” screams through my mind, but the word dies behind my lips.

Momentum—the car down rolling down the riverbank, crushing the roof, blasting glass shards against my cheek, neck, shoulder, and chest—lays the VW to rest in the stream. That’s when Reece’s soul leaves, easing out as she hangs limply toward me from her seat belt. Someone stop this. She can’t die. My heart races. Someone save her. With my mind thick and syrupy, struggling to reopen my eyes, I blink slowly. Reece’s blood swirls through the water, puddling in the roof. Let her live. Take me. The keys in the ignition rock back and forth, tapping against the steering column and each other. Click, click. Then nothing. The smell of hot tires and gasoline rides along my shallow breath, leaving an oily taste in the back of my throat. I try to swallow, but can’t.

Mom and Dad sit close to the broken window beside me, unaffected by the icy water flowing around them. Some part of me wants to cry and crawl into their arms, and another part wants them to leave, not to see me this way, but somehow they know I need them. Are they really here? Maybe if I could touch their faces or feel their fingers wrap around mine—my hand reaches for their wavering ghostly images, then falls helplessly toward the door.

“Cassie.” Mom’s head sags and her shoulders shake, her hands covering her face. She was never much of a crier, even watching movies, while Dad and I turned our faces and stealthily swiped away the tears before they could run down our cheeks. But now she isn’t strong and Dad’s arms circle her, pulling her gently away and holding her up as she reaches toward me. “I would take you with me if I could, baby.”

Though Dad whispers in her ear, I hear his voice pierce my mind. “We can’t interfere.” Then his attention turns to me. “We’re here. It’s what we can do. Everything’s okay, Cassie.” Does he mean okay, I’ll live, or okay, I’ll die? Dying is not okay.

My soul hovers, still tacked to a faint pulse, looking down at my body as if I’m separate from myself. Blonde curls fall in tangles and cling to the bloody gash in my forehead. Wind blows through the broken windows, freezing my skin and eyes, drying the blood on my face and arms. A burning sensation, like coals deep within my bones, shoots out to my muscles and runs along my skin.

It’s disorienting to watch myself, bleeding and bent, like watching someone else. I’m dead. That thought solidifies as the terrifying prospect becomes more real. The airbag lies limply between me and the steering wheel pressing into my chest. A bone in my left leg has pierced my jeans. I continue to survey myself, and the damage is staggering.

Time gasps, and in the next moment red, blue, and white lights skitter against the rocky canyon wall and slide across the ice and snow around us as police and EMTs arrive, their faces grim. They want to save us.

Too late.

The car lurches. My soul crushes back into my body. Tight. Confined. Reanimating each cell. Frigid air burns my lungs, then rushes out in a howl as life scorches through me, enlivening each fracture and wound.

Jo NoelleAbout the Author

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—

Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

They began writing separately several years ago but found the process much more fun when they started collaborating. They are debut authors, with Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life as their first completed work. Other titles include Newbie and Damnation.

Deanna attended college before marrying and starting her family.

Canda received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialist endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Her day job focuses on teaching teachers and children about literacy.

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