Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, romance, Spotlight on August 18, 2014
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Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy
by Jodi Linton
Series: Deputy Laney Briggs, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Publisher: Entangled: Ignite
Release Date: August 18, 2014


On Wednesday, August 20th from 8:00pm – 11:00pm EST I am hosting a Facebook Party to help celebrate the release of Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy. There will be special guests, lots of fun & prizes, and tons of cowboys!

Click here to join the party!


Some cowboys are worth getting dirty for.

In her latest adventure, sassy Deputy Laney Briggs discovers the local high school football coach passed out under the stadium bleachers wearing nothing but a smile…and his wife’s lingerie.

Things really start to get wild when she runs into the smoking hot Federal Marshal, Colt Larsen, snooping around the Granger’s house. Quicker than a cold snap comes and goes in Texas, Laney finds herself up to her eyeballs in a case involving a ruthless motorcycle gang, a Mexican drug cartel, a kidnapping, and a shoot-out to rival the O.K. Corral.

In over their heads, Laney calls in the big guns—her very own Texas Ranger, Gunner Wilson, who’s ready to fulfill every last one of her desires. But as things heat up between them, the stakes get higher than ever, and Gunner’s help may not be enough for Laney to get out alive…



I plopped into my chair, tossed my hat on top of the desk, then did the same with my legs. Leaning back, I shifted my weight to get comfortable and opened my mouth  to begin telling him everything that had gone down since we’d parted ways at the stadium. “The gentleman I was speaking with is—”

“What the pretty lady was about to say,” a voice said, cutting me off in mid-sentence, “was that I’m the federal marshal she met at the Grangers’ place.”

I peeked past Elroy and wanted to die on the spot.

There, hunkered down in the back corner of the station, a hip resting against the wall, and a muscular arm tossed over the Igloo water cooler, was Colt Larsen. “How the hell…?”

He moved away from the wall and stood in the middle of the room, straight and tall. “More precisely, I’m Federal Marshal Colt Larsen from Tarpon Pass.” The smug asshole extended his hand toward Elroy.

“Tarpon Pass,” Elroy said, shaking his hand. “Now where might that be?”

“It’s down on the coast. Not too far south of Rockport,” Colt answered.

“Never heard of the place,” Elroy said.

“It’s a nice town,” Colt replied, then fixing his eyes on me, he added, “We’d love to have you come out and visit. We welcome folks of all kinds in our town.”

Elroy wiped his mouth. “My, my, a federal marshal.” He shot a look my way. “I bet Gunner’s going to lose it when he finds out you’ve tagged yourself another cowboy.”

Colt let out a short cough. “Do you mean Gunner Wilson?”

“Yeah. Who else would I be talking about?”

“I’ll be damned.” He smiled. “You’re the Laney Briggs.”

I shrugged. “And your point is?”

“It just all makes perfect sense why you shot at me tonight, that’s all.” He smiled some more, crossing by the desk and making a turn down the corridor leading to the single jail cell.

I got up and stalked after him. “Colt Larsen,” I shouted at his distancing back, “I’m warning you. If you take another step, I’ll…”

He spun around. “You’ll what? Shoot me?”

“Maybe.” I fisted my hands at my side. “Are you always a pain in the ass?”

He pulled off his hat and scratched his head. “Yes, ma’am. Well, that’s what my ex-wife used to always tell me.”

That silenced me for a minute. Before I could cough up a reply, Colt took it upon himself to help me out.

“I can’t believe it. The infamous Laney Briggs is speechless,” he taunted, winking. “Is it that you don’t see me as the marrying type?”

I narrowed my eyes and called, “Elroy, get the keys to the cell. We’re about to have ourselves a little chat with Mr. Granger.”





Jodi Linton lives and works in Texas, with her husband and two kids. She can be found cozied up to the computer escaping into a quirky world of tall tales, sexy, tight jean wearing cowboys, and a protagonist with a sharp-tongue quick enough to hang any man out to dry.  She is currently at work on her next Deputy Laney Briggs book.


Have you met Laney Briggs and want to help promote and support the Deputy Laney Briggs novels and all things Jodi Linton? I am always looking for active members to join my Facebook Street Team, the Pink Pistol Readers. If you are interested, click here to request to join the group!




Jodi is also offering a giveaway for anyone who leaves a review for


Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy!



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Posted in Adventure, Blog tour, excerpt, Science Fiction, Spotlight on August 14, 2014

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Double Blind


Title: Double Blind
Author: Tiffany Pitts
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 280
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Delilah Pelham’s brother, Paul, is missing. She should probably be worried about that but honestly, he’s been in trouble since the day he learned the words “trust me.” In fact, if it weren’t for his roommate, Carl, she would gladly leave him to his fate.

Carl is a good guy, even if he’s a bit of a dork. Okay, a large slice of a dork. Possibly the entire cake.

But he wants to help, as do his gamer friends, which is how Deli finds herself in the middle of Hong Kong with the King of the Dorks, running from creepy guys with slicked-back hair and shiny black guns.

Back at home, Carl’s friends aren’t faring nearly as well. All they had to do was monitor the situation and feed Deli’s cat while she was gone. How could that possibly end in bloodshed?

There is an answer, of course, but no one ever thinks to ask the cat.



Deli’s Living Room

Later That Evening

Because of his size, most people assumed that Toesy was more dog-like. To some extent, that was true. He liked to go for walks. He liked chasing cats. He even played a very specialized game of fetch, which could be very rewarding—provided, of course, you were in need of a dead bird or half a rat.

But in some important ways, Toesy was very feline indeed. For instance, the second Jake’s breathing slowed from the syncopated wheeze of someone doing too many things at once to the drawn-out rhythm of sleep, he pounced.

No, pounced is too harsh a word. He crept, as well as any thirty-two pound cat can creep, from the far side of the couch to the man’s lap. It wasn’t easy. The man had minimal lap to start with and it currently held many electronic whatsits. However, Toesy’s ability to squish all thirty-two pounds of himself into tight spaces was quite remarkable, and soon he was cozied up between the man, his gadgetry, and the back of the couch.

After a while, the man woke up enough to move the whatsits from his lap to the coffee table. He discovered Toesy tucked in by his side and took the opportunity to reclaim the other half of the couch by propping his feet up on it. Toesy allowed the man to get comfortable before stretching out again. Delighted at this turn of events, he began to purr.

“You’re not such a huge monster, are you?” The man mumbled more contented laziness at him and scratched behind his left ear. A small drop of saliva gathered on Toesy’s lips.

The man must have been very tired because he soon returned to snoring. Toesy took advantage of the situation by climbing up to sleep on his chest.

Toesy considered his mistress a near-perfect human. She was easy to live with, generous with the catnip, and willing to stay in bed until noon on Sunday mornings if it was raining outside. Yet for all her fine qualities, Delilah Pelham had one major flaw. She was too small for him to sleep on.

Usually, as soon as he achieved the prime comfort position, she complained that he was too fat or that she could not breathe. Sometimes her arms fell asleep. Toesy loved Deli endlessly, but occasionally he suspected that she might be a bit of a wimp.

This man, who knew to feed him the Seafood Flavor without any prompting, would not complain about Toesy’s extra girth, for he had extra girth himself. Toesy suspected he might be a holy man. Certainly, no regular human he ever met had been so awe-inspiring.

He kneaded the lumps of stuff in the man’s shirt pocket into an arrangement conducive to long-term napping. Perfection attained, he tucked his nose into his furry belly and purred himself into a trance.

Or at least that’s what he intended to do.

A few moments into his joyous nap, Toesy heard a faint tick-tick sound and opened his left eye halfway. Normally, he didn’t allow tick-tick noises, on the principle that they always precluded some sort of funny business, like a bird or a squirrel. Then he would have to go kill something, eat it, and spend the rest of the day fighting off vermin-induced heartburn. But thanks to this great man, he wasn’t hungry just now. He refused to allow one tick-tick to ruin his repose. He closed his tawny eye.

Another tick-tick ticked. Both of Toesy’s eyes shot open.

One tick-tick was understandable, but two tick-ticks? He would not stand for it. Toesy was a sweet creature as far as sharp-fanged, mildly feral cats go, but there was a streak of murder in him that would not stand for a good nap to be ruined by ticking jackassery.

He lifted his head to look at the nearest window. If that crow was back again, he intended to kill it completely this time. But the kitchen window was empty.

More ticking ticked, this time followed by faint scritchy-scratchy noises, which confused his senses. Toesy closed his eyes and focused his ears on the unusual sound. It came not from the window, but somewhere close.

He flicked his ears twice, once in recognition and once in disbelief. The ticks were coming from the man’s trouser pocket!

Toesy searched until he found the fold of the man’s pocket and cautiously stuck his nose inside. The smell of cheese overpowered him for a moment, so he lay still and waited for his brain to adjust. After a moment, he was able to pick out more subtle scents. The tangy brine of coins, oily keys, and the cold, blank smell of glass—all surrounded by a diffuse aroma that Toesy could not place. It smelled awake.


The glass jumped toward him, hitting him in the nose. Toesy backed away, affronted.

Surely this man does not want all this tick-ticking in his pocket, he thought. I must put a stop to this nonsense.

He reached in through the folds of cloth with a giant furry paw. The glass surface was round like a tube, with a little fluff stuck in one end. As Toesy rummaged, the tube slid free from the man’s pocket and started to roll away toward the floor. He flashed a claw and caught it by the fluff.

Inside the tube, small bugs hopped and popped. Normally, Toesy wouldn’t bother with bugs of this size, as he preferred something juicier. However, these particular bugs had just punched him in the nose and obviously needed a short, sharp lesson in consequences.

The wad of fluff at the end of the tube squeaked along his claws as Toesy dug deeper. He got a good grip and shook hard, loosening the cotton until suddenly it jerked free. This caused the glass tube to shoot across the room, where it hit the television with a tink and dropped to the floor.

Toesy did not want the bugs to escape before he could inspect (and possibly eat) them, so he power-jumped across the room.

When using all the muscles in its hind legs, the average house cat can jump six to seven feet from a resting position. Toesy, however, was not an average house cat. He was more like two or three average house cats shoved into the body of one. The force exerted by all thirty-two pounds of Toesy, power-jumping off the man’s sleeping abdomen, was approximately equal to being sucker punched by a gorilla.

That’s why the man woke up gasping for air and clutching his gut. He tried to roar, but without any breath, it came out a thin squeak.

“What the…” Wheeze. “…hell…” Gasp. “…are you doing?” Cough, cough.

Toesy had no attention to spare. He landed within inches of the glass tube, all thoughts laser-focused on the floor.

Now that he was better able to see them, the bugs didn’t look like bugs at all. They looked like shiny, hopping beans. He sniffed them. They smelled like shiny, hopping, metal beans. He reached out with a tentative paw and batted at them. One of the beans popped up, half an inch into the air. Toesy quickly clamped his paw down on it.

“What have you got there, Toesy?” the man asked after he went back to breathing right.

Toesy flicked his tail in deference to the man but did not turn around. He was trying to figure out how to let go of the shiny bean and eat it at the same time.

“Let me see, boy.”

The man was on his knees now, shuffling around on the floor next to Toesy.

“What’s this?” he said, holding up the cracked glass tube. “That’s not… No, it can’t be. What have you got?” His voice grew alarming and insistent.

No! No, no, no, no, no! What have you done?”

Toesy admired his volume as the man yelled and scooped two of the beans back into the cracked tube.

“What are you doing with the Elevators? You can’t have those! They don’t even work! Carl is gonna kill me!”

Another bean popped into the air. Toesy clamped a free paw down on it while his eyes dilated all the way up to crazy. He loved everything about this day.

“What the—?”

The man sat back on his haunches and examined the two beans he captured earlier. They sat at the bottom of the tube, vibrating back and forth gently.

“That…has not happened before,” he said. Then he looked at Toesy and added, “Do you see this?”

Toesy, still splay-legged with trapped beans, rejoiced at this turn of events. The man was getting in on the game, too! They would eat the beans together! He broke into spontaneous purring. The beans under his feet began to wiggle around, and he dug his claws into the carpet wildly.

The beans in the man’s hand vibrated faster. He peered at them, then he peered at Toesy. He brought the beans closer to Toesy. They began to pop inside their tube. He drew the beans away from Toesy. They quieted down.

“Holy shit,” the man said. “Cat, do you realize what this means? I could kiss you!”

But he did not kiss him. Instead, the man leaned over, lifted Toesy’s right paw and extracted the bean from underneath. Then he tousled Toesy’s shredded ears. Toesy dug the claws of his other paw deeper into the carpet. He did not want the man to take away his last bean.

“You,” he said, pointing to Toesy and smiling huge. “Are the most awesome cat in the universe! I gotta tell Carl.”

He stood up, grabbed something from the table, and walked to the kitchen. He was making little boop-boop noises on the electronic whatsit when he stopped suddenly.

“Shit, he’s still on a damn plane.” He turned to Toesy and continued talking. “I’ll have to email him about how awesome you are, Toesy.”

At the mention of his name, Toesy purred louder. The bean struggled beneath his paw.

“Now, where does Deli keep your cat treats?”

The Great Man continued to talk at him as he combed through the kitchen, but Toesy had stopped listening after cat treats.

There was no doubt in his mind now that this was indeed a holy man. Toesy loved him, whisker and claw. Deli was gone for now, but she would return. When she did, could he convince her to let this man stay? The thought of him sleeping on the couch forever made Toesy purr even louder.

The bean beneath his paw struggled again. Cautiously, in case it escaped, Toesy lifted his foot. The bean popped up but fell back down in the same spot, seemingly resigned to its fate. Toesy sniffed it twice, then ate it.

It tasted of metal and victory.

About the Author

Tiffany PittsTiffany Pitts grew up in the Seattle area in a time when the Super Sonics were huge and Starbucks was just a store at the end of the Market. Tragedy struck early in her life as her family moved to New Jersey mere months before Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album hit record stores. It took nearly a decade to wean herself off the hairspray. But Seattle called her back, so she went; eventually earning a degree in Botany (pronounced “Bar tending”) at the University of Washington.

She made one more valiant attempt to leave the PNW after college by travelling around the country doing not much of value and making very stupid decisions. She is thankful every day that the internet was not a huge deal in those years. Then Seattle called again so she picked up and moved home where she spent many years being a scientist of middling talent in several labs that she absolutely did not blow up—except for that one time and everyone agreed not to talk about that any more.

Now she divides her time between writing fiction and raising two kids who are wonderful but, for some reason, will not stop licking things.

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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, nonfiction on August 2, 2014

Shannon's Gift photo ShannonsGiftBanner_zps59fcba92.jpg
Shannon's Gift photo 22378016_zpse53cb3df.jpg
Title:Shannon’s Gift: A Story of Love, Loss, and Recovery
Author: Nate Bennett
Genre: Grieving, loss, love story
Publish Date: June 1, 2014
Publisher: Booklogix
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.

~ Book Synopsis ~


In this raw, emotional memoir, Nate Bennett shares the blog he maintained to work through his grief over the sudden loss of his wife Shannon. He is surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts—alternately poignant and of dry wit—eventually attracted tens of thousands of hits and a following from readers who hadn’t known the couple. This unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grieving experience in real time. What comes through in virtually every post is his love for Shannon as he weaves in vignettes from their life together, chronicling their love story and his efforts to recover. And in the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again.


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What is Mitochondrial Disease?


November 10

Today I am thinking about the best age to become a widower. The question came to mind because I found myself thinking that from where I stood, the grass was greener in every direction. I hate the self-pity—I really do. So I was trying to work my way through it to get past it.

If I was younger, I might not have Spencer and Reid. Or I might be in a severe struggle to try to raise them right. Or I would have lots of mobility restrictions. But if I was younger I would feel like there was still enough runway ahead to use to launch something great. If I was older, I might not feel as frightened about spending the time I have left alone. I might be able to just work myself to death. I like my work—so that isn’t as bad as it sounds. But 30 years of working myself to death is too long.

I think I am a widower at the worst age. I am a ‘tweener widower. Too old for round two, too young to throw in the towel. So much for working through the self-pity!

Changing the sheets today. The thought passed that I could wash the sheets half as often if I slept for a week on my side and then a week on Shannon’s side. Think of all the water I would save the planet. I could be an eco-hero. I quickly realized that I am careful when I go to bed, when I wake up, when I walk around the bedroom, to NOT look at Shannon’s side of the bed. I have her side of the bed covered with pillows. I think part of me is trying to “hide” her side of the bed from the rest of me. So I don’t think I’ll be sleeping over there any time soon.

The final deep thought for the day was that my bad moments come in two different flavors. I am not sure I understood them this way before. One is when I am overcome by loneliness from missing Shannon. I get very, very sad. That is a curl up in a ball and wait for it to pass thing. The other is when I am overcome with fright about being alone. That is a get up and do stuff to be distracted thing.

So today was a frightened about being alone day. Boy, was I busy. Bank, carwash, tailor (she said “it’s good to see you,” not “how are you?”), Reid’s bank, FedEx shop, lunch, grocery store, liquor store (for party Sunday).

Came out to the car, turned on the car. Song playing on the radio is “Miss You” by the Rolling

Stones. Really? Not fair.

Question to the Author

What lessons did you soul learn from your experiences in dealing with Shannon’s illness?

Shannon’s illness has become relevant only because it led to her death.  While she lived, we felt we had no choice but to ignore it.  That strategy worked for the first 20 years of our relationship.  For the last years, we learned to work around it.  So in the end – and not to parse words – I am not sure either my soul or I learned anything from dealing with Shannon’s illness.

Her death – that’s another matter entirely.  Though again, as I reflect on it the lessons really came not from her death but from trying to get better.

  1. I learned that Bob Marley was right, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”  I think that really requires no further explanation.
  2. People are capable of incredible kindness.  It’s hard to let them be kind to you because it reminds you of what happened, but you must.
  3. I was reading a novel and a character had a line to the effect that “there is no past, if there was we wouldn’t need sorrow” or something similar.  It’s a good line.  Losing Shannon will never be in the past.
  4. Never leave the house without kissing and hugging.  While the odds are in your favor, the chance you take a pass on could be the last chance you get.  I nearly took a pass on my last kiss with Shannon.  If I had, that would hurt so badly now.
  5. It would be great if there were a way for people to gain the perspective on “what matters” that losing Shannon gave me.  How much time and energy we waste fretting over people’s words and actions that just don’t matter.  Don’t ask if the pain of the loss was worth the gain of perspective.

Book Trailer

About the Author

Nate Bennett photo nateheadshot_zpsf7f33147.jpg
In the fall of 2011, Nate lost his wife of 26 years in a shocking turn of events. She’d just had an outpatient procedure on her shoulder and the doctor sent Nate to get the car to bring her home. In the next few minutes, things went terribly wrong. Shannon collapsed, never to recover. After more than a week in a critical care unit in pursuit of a cure, Nate honored Shannon’s wishes and had her life support discontinued and she died shortly later. Nate’s book, Shannon’s Gift, is the result of the blog Nate kept during Shannon’s hospitalization and after her death. Initially, the purpose of the blog was to keep friends and family informed of Shannon’s condition. Quickly, though, the blog became Nate’s catharsis and a way to stay connected to a web of supporters.

After the sudden loss of his wife, Nate was surprised and comforted to discover a vast virtual community of support. His blog posts – alternately expressing poignancy and dry wit – eventually attracted tens of thousands of readers and a following from people around the world that didn’t even know Nate or his wife. The unique book gives the reader a window into the starkness of a widower’s grief in real time and a look at how social media has changed grieving in today’s world. In the end, with the support of his virtual community and the strength he was able to draw from remembering Shannon’s wishes for him, he finds love again.

While Nate is new to the personal memoir genre, he is co-author of two management books, “Riding Shotgun: The Role of the COO” and “Your Career Game: How Game Theory Can Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals.” Both are books published by Stanford University Press. Additionally, his research has been published in respected scholarly journals such as the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, Psychological Bulletin, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has also published in many widely read resources for managers including the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and

Nate Bennett is a professor of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in the summer of 2012. From 1999 to 2012, he was on the faculty of the business school at Georgia Tech, where he most recently held the position of the Catherine W. and Edwin A. Wahlen Professor of Management. From 1999 until 2010, he served as associate dean and then as senior associate dean. Prior to Georgia Tech, he served on the faculty at Louisiana State University. While at LSU, he served at times as the management department’s Ph.D. program coordinator, department chair, MBA program director, and associate dean.

Nate holds a BA in sociology, as well as a MA in Social Research from Tulane University. He earned his Ph.D. in Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He resides in Atlanta, GA.


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Posted in Adventure, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on August 1, 2014

noise book cover



The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.

Lily is the only person Leon ever loved. When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.

Or did she?

A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City. What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.

A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh. The police—some corrupt, some merely compromised—are of little help. They don’t like Leon’s methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.

Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled. He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria. He misses nothing. He feels no remorse. The only direction he’s ever known is forward.

He will not stop until he knows.

Where is Lily?




The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air. The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear. The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor. The beautifully crude threats.

My own hideous voice.

I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor. When I reenter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it’s sunk deep, through the tendons. Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.

I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes. I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings. His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain. He screams, but I cannot hear.

The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.

The sound of the hammer into The Bear. The pain in his eyes. I have never seen so much hatred. It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new history. It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue. The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains. His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair. His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison. We will all die.

I know it now; I am a broken man. I always was. I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all. As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother. But she didn’t survive. The world was not as we had imagined, not even close. The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer. Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers. The groan of my sister as The Bear cums inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed. The Bear screams and shits himself inside the dark freezer. Lily’s wailing and cursing and crying. I scream at The Bear with all my mighty, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone. Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.

Lily is dead. I am dead. It will never be enough.

I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I’d printed at the Internet café a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear. I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.

The Bear offers me anything I want. An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately. The Bear both is and is not an animal. I lack hearing, so the Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it. His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his. I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.

His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know. Five photos.

In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist f*ing pig. I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again. It’s a sound I can feel.

Anything, The Bear mouths. He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer. Crying. Bleeding.

In my pad, I write: I want my sister back. I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there. His body shakes and twitches.

I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk. You are number four. There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom. He knows what I know.

I turn over the last photo for him. I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him. Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to f* him and they f*ed my sister instead.

I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap. I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully. He doesn’t try to blow it out. He doesn’t beg me to stop. He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it onto his lap.

The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike. I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:

“Wait for me.”



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Praise for Noise

“A staggering, compelling work of fiction…mind-blowingly perfect. It has everything. Exquisite details, world-weary voice, and people worth knowing. It is truly amazing!” – MaryAnne Kolton, Author and Editor of This Literary Magazine

“Strong, compelling, raw and human in the best sense. Beautifully written.” – Susan Tepper, Author of Deer and Other Stories

“Perfect, compact and explosive, closing with the gentlest word.” – James Lloyd Davis, Author of Knitting the Unraveled Sleeves

“Wow. Beautiful and wonderful and sad and real.” – Sally Houtman, Author of To Grandma’s House, We . . . Stay

“Frighteningly good.” – Meg Pokrass, Author of Bird Envy

“Superbly explosive. The rage escalates and careens out of control. Amazing.” – Ajay Nair, Author of Desi Rap


About the Author

brett garcia roseBrett Garcia Rose is a writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer. He is the author of two books, Noise and Losing Found Things, and his work has been published in Sunday Newsday MagazineThe Barcelona ReviewOpiumRose and ThornThe Battered SuitcaseFiction AtticParaphilia and other literary magazines and anthologies. His short stories have won the Fiction Attic’s Short Memoir Award (Second Place), Opium’s Bookmark Competition, The Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction, and have been nominated for the Million Writer’s AwardBest of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. Rose travels extensively, but calls New York City home.


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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, fiction, women on July 29, 2014

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Meet Me in Barcelona 2


Title: Meet Me in Barcelona
Author: Mary Carter
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Genre:Mainstream fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audo, Unabridged


A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer’s current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn’t just Grace’s foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend—until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she’s kept from Jake—and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it.

Mary Carter’s intriguing novel delves into the complexities of childhood bonds, the corrosive weight of guilt and blame, and all the ways we try—and often fail—to truly know the ones we love.


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Carrie Ann. The words felt like two gunshots to the chest. Just hearing that name come out of her mother’s mouth made Grace’s heart start tripping. She almost shot out of her chair. “I’m Grace,” she said. “Gracie Ann.” Her voice cracked. “Dad?” she said.

“She’s confused, honey. The past and the present, it’s just one big, ugly glob.” Pinpricks of shame began forming at the base of Grace’s spine.

“I’m not confused,” Jody said. “Carrie Ann came to visit me.”

“My God,” Grace said. This time she did shoot out of her chair. Carrie Ann was the only girl foster child the Sawyers had ever taken in. At first she had been like a sister to Grace.

“Who is she married to now?” Jody said. “I can’t remember.”

“Pay no attention to her, Gracie,” Jim said.

“Why can’t I remember?” Jody pressed on her temples with her index fingers, as if she could squeeze the memory out of her head.

Grace took a step toward her mother. “When did she come and visit you, Mom?”
“Grace, I told you she didn’t,” Jim said. “Don’t egg your mother on.”

“I’m not egging her on, Dad, but if Carrie Ann was here, I want to know about it.”

Her father whacked his newspaper on the side of his chair. “I told you she wasn’t! And I should know. I’ve been sitting right here!”

“She’s still such a pretty girl,” Jody said. “She asked about you, Grace. She asked me all sorts of questions about you.”

Jim got up and threw up his arms. “She’s out of her mind!” He began to pace.

“Dad,” Grace said. “Hush.” Her mother suddenly became very still, which meant she was listening. Grace took her father by his arm and led him back to his chair.

“I’m sorry. She won’t remember me saying it.”

“That’s not the point.”

“I can’t help it. Carrie Ann this – Carrie Ann that. I thought we’d put that nuisance behind us for once and for all. Is this what it comes to? Reliving your worst nightmare?”

“I’ve never heard you speak so harshly about Carrie Ann,” Grace said. Her mom was the one who used to say the worst things about Carrie Ann. She said Carrie Ann was evil. She said Carrie Ann was a curse that would follow all of them to their graves. Once she even said there wasn’t enough Lysol in the world to get rid of that stain. And each insult cut into Grace like her mother was saying it about her. Her sister. Of sorts. Her own Dickens-like drama.  Carrie Ann was the best thing that had ever happened to Grace, and she was the worst. She’d been out of their lives for nearly fifteen years. And Grace had spent every one of them trying, and failing, to put the past behind her. She turned to her father.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“That Mom’s been talking about her.”

“Because I don’t want to dredge up all that nonsense. It’s her damn medication. I keep telling the doctor it’s making her worse, and he won’t listen to me.” Her father slammed his fist on the arm of the chair. “These people think just because we’re old that we’re stupid. She wouldn’t be so forgetful if she cut down on some of those pills. How do I know that? Because she’s my wife.  Because I’ve been married to this woman for forty-four years. You know what he said to me?”


“That snot-nosed doctor, that’s who!”

“What did he say?”

“Put me in my place. In front of my wife. ‘You’re a psychotherapist, correct? Not a psychiatrist? You don’t prescribe medication?’ That’s what the snot-nosed so-called doctor actually said to me. Can you believe that? Some twenty-year-old who just started wiping his own ass. I’m telling you she’s on too many pills! Makes her soupy. He won’t listen to me!”

“It’s okay, Dad. Calm down. It’s okay.”

“I can’t bear hearing her talk about Carrie Ann.  Your mother’s the one who told us never to mention Carrie Anne’s name again.”

Forbid us. Forbid us to ever mention her name again. “I know, Dad. I’ll talk to the doctor. Calm down.”

“I always wanted to go to Spain,” Jody said. She turned off the television and patted the side of the bed. So she’d heard and understood the conversation. God, the brain was a mysterious thing.

Grace went over and sat down. “You never told me that.”

“I would hardly share that with a stranger.”

I’m your daughter! She wanted to shout. But her mother couldn’t help it.

“Just keep talking,” her father said. “At least she’s not dredging up ghosts, or drooling over naked stud muffins.”

And now  Grace couldn’t believe her father had just said “naked stud muffins.” Maybe getting away for a bit wasn’t such a bad idea. Grace turned back to her mother. “Why did you always want to go to Spain?”

“My mother went to Spain. All by herself. When she was in her seventies.”

“I know,” Grace said. It had been just after Grace’s grandfather had died. Her grandparents were supposed to take the trip together. Everyone thought Annette Jennings would cancel the trip. Instead, she buried her husband and packed her bags. Little Annette who had never been outside of her home state. Grace had had many conversations with her grandmother about that trip. She was proud of her too.

“It was really something,” Jim said. “Because in those days seventy wasn’t the new fifty or whatever the kids say today. Seventy was seventy.”

“Tell me about it,” Grace said.

Jody Sawyer straightened up, and her eyes seemed to take in more light. “Well, it’s not like it is now. Women didn’t travel alone back then. Wasn’t that brave? My mother sent me a postcard from Madrid of a beautiful tango dancer in a red dress. The dress was made of actual material—beautiful red silk right on the postcard. I’ll never forget it. She’d only written one sentence on the back. ‘Robert would’ve loved the landing.’ My father was very picking with landings and always impressed when the pilot pulled off a smooth one. Anyway. As soon as I got that postcard I knew my mother was going to be all right. ‘Robert would have loved the landing.’After she died I spent hours just touching that silky red dress with the tips of my fingers and imagining my mother dancing in the streets of Spain.”

Jody Sawyer looked up and swayed her upper body slightly as if watching her faraway self dance. Then she looked down at her hands, twisting the bed sheet. “Look how ugly and wrinkled I am now.”

“You’re not ugly and wrinkled, Mom. You’re beautiful.”

“I wish I had that postcard now.” Her mother looked up into space. “I lost it.”

Grace hesitated. Did she, or didn’t she?  Grace opened the bedside drawer and took out the postcard. Her mother was right. The dress was silky. Grace handed it to her mother and watched her eyes light up. Next her mother gently outlined the edge of the dancer’s dress with the trembling tip of her right index finger. Her fingernail was misshapen, the peach paint flaking. Grace would have to see if they could bring in a manicurist.

Jody looked at Grace, her eyes clear and bright. “Gracie Ann you have to go. Film everything. I’m dying to see Barcelona through you.” Grace must have looked stricken, for her mother laughed and then put her hand over her heart. “Sorry, no pun intended.” Like antennas being manipulated for a clearer signal, sometimes her mother tuned in perfectly. Jody Sawyer laughed again, and Grace couldn’t help but laugh with her.


“Make me feel like I’m there,” Jody said, closing her eyes. “Help me shut out this hospice. Let me see beautiful Barcelona.” She took Grace’s hand and held it. “Do it for me. I’ll feel like I’m with you. Bring a camera. And your guitar,” she added. “You never know.” When Grace still didn’t answer, her mother opened her eyes, and lifted Grace’s chin up with her hand like she used to do when Grace was a child. “Be brave, Gracie Ann. Just like my mother.”

“Like my mother too,” Grace whispered back.

About the Author

Mary CarterMary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. Meet Me in Barcelona is her eighth novel. Her other works include: Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthology, Summer Days, A Southern Christmas in the upcoming 2014 anthology Our First Christmas, A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary currently lives in Chicago, IL with a demanding labradoodle. She wishes she could thank her gorgeous husband, but she doesn’t have one. In addition to writing she leads writing workshops.

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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, fiction, Review, Thriller on July 28, 2014

Crashers Button 500 x 375




It may not be armed robbery, but the illegal business of fraudulent car accidents is a multi-million dollar racket, involving unscrupulous medical providers, personal injury attorneys, and the cooperating passengers involved in the accidents and who also receive a portion of the illegal proceeds.

What makes good people turn to crime—any type of crime? Newly engaged, Nathan and Shari are blissfully happy—but their joy is tempered by the dark cloud of mounting debt. They know it’s just a matter of time until an avalanche of bills buries them—and their future along with it.

A chance encounter with a stranger in whom Shari confides her troubles, proves fortuitous: he tells her of a get-rich-quick scheme that will put her and her fiancé on easy street. Seduced by the chance to move from hard times to good times in no time, she takes the carrot offered her, and finds herself acting as a “stuffed passenger”—the “victim” in a staged auto accident. The act goes according to plan and Shari gets her payday. She goes back for more—again and again, eventually becoming trapped in a dark and dangerous underworld, dragging her fiancé with her. Getting out and breaking free will take nothing short of a miracle.

A modern day cautionary tale, Crashers is a fascinating study in the derailing of a young couple’s moral compass.


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Chapter 1

For KXXX TV and KXXX AM Radio News, this is Katie Carlson with your mid-morning eye-in-the-sky traffic report, and it’s an easy one: It’s messed up EVERYWHERE! So far, the 405 South is backed up all the way to the 101. So, if you are going into Hollywood this morning, you are going to be late for that audition. Also, there is an injury crash on the Eastbound 10. So, if you are heading into downtown LA, you might want to bring a magazine or get some knitting done. If you are going to LAX, forget it, call mom back east and tell her you will be driving out instead. Just Kidding! Any way, this is Katie Carlson with the Los Angeles mid-morning traffic report. Enjoy your commute everybody, NOT!

* * *

As the blare of the clock radio on the night table jolted her awake, Shari  Barnes rubbed her eyes, blew her long brown hair out of her face, and snuggled into Nathan Townsend’s chest. She curled her body around his middle and took a deep whiff of his salty, masculine neck.

But she couldn’t ignore the voice on the radio.

“Monday morning traffic,” she sighed.

Nathan matched the sigh and put his arms around her. “At least you don’t have to drive over the hill.”

“Yeah, I would just die if I had to drive into Beverly Hills every day to work in a beautiful office.” Shari giggled and disappeared under their thick blue comforter for a few more moments of sleepy-headed bliss. She felt Nathan stretch up, and a moment later the radio shut off. Then he slid down next to her in the single bed they shared in their Studio City apartment, a few blocks north of Ventura Boulevard. The constant drone and rumble of another L.A. morning came clearly through the open window: cars honking, rock music blaring, the frantic scurrying sounds of the film shoot a few blocks away. Shari ran her bare feet up the inside of Nathan’s thigh.

He jumped. “Shit, your feet are cold.” He pushed her legs off of him.

“What time is it?” she murmured between kisses.

“Um, seven.” He nuzzled her neck and she felt him becoming erect against her.

“No time for that!” She threw off the covers. “Gotta be at work on time for once; gotta get my asp out of bed.”

“There’s a snake in the bed?” Nathan grabbed her with both hands and gave her belly gentle nips.

“Yeah, of the one-eyed variety.” Shari leaped to the floor and padded naked into the bathroom. She turned the hot water in the shower to high and stepped in, filling the small bathroom with steam.

She had just poured a green drop of shampoo into her palm and was running her hands together when the flimsy yellow and white shower curtain flew back and Nathan grinned in at her. She smiled back, surprised by neither his arrival nor the partial hard-on that preceded him.

“Mind if we join you?” he asked.

“There’s enough shampoo for everybody,” Shari said as she rubbed her hands across her scalp.

He stepped into the stall, pulled the curtain closed and began to lather her hair for her. She put her hands on his back, feeling the taut muscles and the water streaming there, but did not reach down between them. It took him about five seconds to realize it and hold her away.

“You okay?”


“Don’t lie; I can always tell when you have something on your mind.”

“You know me better than I know me,” she said.

“You know it.” He pushed her wet hair over her shoulders. “Come on, give.”

“I was thinking maybe I should get a second job.”

“You’re worrying about money again?”

“Well, I have to shoot my student thesis film this year or I won’t graduate. But where am I going to get the money I need?”

“How much do you need?”

“At least five figures.”



Insurance fraud is real but can also be a dangerous pursuit as Bryce, Shari and Nathan come to find out in this book. Shari may not have had an easy life but it wasn’t bad…until she is fired as a waitress for being 5 minutes late (amongst other things) and involved in an accident. Her boyfriend, Nathan, is also a rising star in the investment firm he works for until a slimeball coworker changes everything.

This story looks at what life is like for those living on the edge of the law and how the thought of quick cash can turn a person from a sane normal person to one that is out of control. The author does a great job of bringing the character to life and it had me on the edge of my seat wondering how certain events were going to turn out.

There were just a few too many F bombs for my taste but I tried to ignore them because the book was really good and enlightening.

We give the book 4 paws


About the Author

Lindy S. Hudis is a graduate of New York University, where she studied drama at Tisch School of the Arts.

She is the author of several titles, including her romance suspense novel, “Weekends”, her “Hollywood” story City of Toys, and her crime novel, Crashers. She is also the author of an erotic short story series, “The S&M Club” and “The Mile High Club”.

Her short film “The Lesson” was screened at the Seattle Underground Film Festival and Cine-Nights in 2000.

She is also an actress, having appeared in the television daytime drama “Sunset Beach”. She and her husband, Hollywood stuntman Stephen Hudis, have formed their own production company called Impact Motion Pictures, and have several projects and screenplays in development.

She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Review, romance, women on July 28, 2014

Husband Maker Tour

The Husband Maker Blog Tour Schedule

The Husband Maker by Karey White

The Husband Maker by Karey White

Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she’s dated since high school has become his next girlfriend’s husband. Not hers. Not three girlfriends down the road. The next.

Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed?

When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she’s not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle’s wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

Get your copy of The Husband Maker for just $3.99!

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Everything Karey has written I have truly enjoyed and this book is no exception. I THOUGHT I knew how the book was going to end…but boy was I wrong! In fact, there is a cliffhanger so it is good that there is going to be a book to follow this called The Match Maker. I would have been so upset if there was no follow up book to explain this ending…although now that I think about it I think I know the person in question.

I also like that these are clean books – the biggest thing is heavy kissing, and then even not much of that. It is nice to see an author that can write a story and not rely on sex scenes to make the book.

We give this book 5 paws



My apartment intercom buzzed. “Yes?” I answered.
“It’s Kyle Aldsworth.” He had a deep, rich voice in spite of the static that accompanied it.
“Great. I’ll be right down.” I ran to the window that overlooked the sidewalk in front of my apartment. I didn’t have a great angle. The door to our building was narrow and sat behind a wrought iron gate between Cuddy’s Clip Shop and Grandpa Guo’s Shoe Repair. Cuddy’s was two floors below us, and if guests were standing too close to the door, they were blocked from view by the barber pole attached to the side of the building.
Kyle stood a few feet from the door, allowing me a birds-eye view of dark, thick hair and a navy suit. If he looked up, I’d be able to see his face, which Jayne had compared to a clean-shaven Jake Gyllenhaal. Of course, if he looked up, he’d probably see I was spying out my window instead of coming to the door. I took one last look at my gray and white striped dress, grabbed my yellow cardigan, and headed down.
“You must be Charlotte,” he said when I opened the door. I smiled and looked up—yes up—at one of the most incredible faces I’d ever gone on a date with. Jayne had been wrong. He wasn’t a beardless Jake Gyllenhaal. He was Jake plus Cary Grant plus Captain VonTrapp, with a little of Jonny Lee Miller’s Mr. Knightley thrown in for good measure. Perhaps that sounds ridiculous, but you weren’t looking at him.
All intelligent thought abandoned me, leaving me unable to remember for sure what my name was.
What kind of game was Jayne playing with me? Kyle was much too beautiful for me. He’d have probably been too beautiful for Grace Kelly.
“You are Charlotte Emerson, right?”
How long had I been standing there gawping at him?
“Yes. I’m Charlotte.”
“Whew! You had me worried for a second. I’m Kyle. It’s good to meet you.” He extended his hand and shook mine. His hand was perfect—good size, warm and dry, nice grip without too much enthusiasm. He was a hand-shaking artist. Great. He’d stopped shaking my hand and I hadn’t relinquished my grip. I quickly withdrew mine and turned to lock the iron gate. My face burned, and I fidgeted with the key for a few extra seconds to give my cheeks a chance to return to their normally fair complexion.
Kyle was smiling when I turned back around. “My car’s around the corner.”


Karey WhiteAuthor Karey White

Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.


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Coming Fall 2014 – Charlotte’s Story continues in The Match Maker

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Ends 8/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Spotlight on July 22, 2014

native book cover


A Native’s Tongue is about a young man trying to find his way in the world. He struggles to keep the woman he loves while entangled in the sex, drugs, and tragedy of Los Angeles. It was inspired by real events,” says Dennis.

Love and tragedy collide in Dennis’s poignant new novel, A Native’s Tongue.

Charlie Winters has never been an overachiever. He is used to just getting by while living with his single mother and working a dead-end job at a cheesesteak stand. Meanwhile, he’s constantly grappling with the voice of his sister, who died in a tragic car accident years earlier, echoing in his head.

So when Violet, an older woman, sets her sights on Charlie and refuses to let go, he follows along. He soon finds himself immersed in a destructive relationship that still fails to fill the void within him.

But then he meets Jennifer, a mystical young woman whose energy and life convinces Charlie to pursue her, even through the darkest corners of Los Angeles, and sets their lives upon a path that can’t be stopped.

Escaping to the California coast, Charlie and Jennifer finally find what they’ve always needed. But a sudden illness quickly pulls them both back to LA. It is there, amid the sex, drugs, and split-second decisions that pulse through the city, that tragedy strikes—threatening to tear Charlie and Jennifer apart forever.


A Native’s Tongue is available for sale on Amazon in ebook and paperback.



Jennifer Bannister’s footsteps echoed down the hall. The uniforms of the inmates dampened the sound. Her ears tried to follow the faint sound, if only to affirm that she was still moving forward. There wasn’t anyone to hold her hand. She just trusted that each sign would guide her in the right direction.

I’ll get there at some point, Jennifer thought, trying to convince herself that she was doing the right thing. You can’t get lost in here; they don’t let you go off course. Her words slipped away. She felt the cold air settle over her skin. She glanced at a placard marked Visitors Only.

In the cool air, her skin tightened. Jennifer shivered and wished she were somewhere warmer. Seeing Violet for the first time was going to be hard enough. She was going to look the woman she hated most in the world in the eye. She didn’t want to be shaking from the cold and covered in goose bumps.

Jennifer peered through the bulletproof glass at Violet. There were markings embedded in the glass, swirls that made it harder to look directly into Violet’s eyes. Jennifer picked up the phone and listened. Violet grabbed it and began to speak, “It was never you that he loved. You know that right?” Violet’s voice was raspy.

Her expressions and mannerisms changed from static to fully engaged. She stood up and waved her hands maniacally at Jennifer, and then she slammed her fist against the glass.

Jennifer hung up the phone. Her blonde hair got caught in between her hand and the receiver as she placed it back on the black hook. Turning, she slid out of the red plastic chair and down the corridor, guided by the exit sign’s green light. In the stale air of the prison, she searched for a pack of cigarettes, unsheathed a Parliament, lit it, and smoked nervously.

Two overweight guards carrying guns in nylon hip holsters directed her to the parking lot, where they offered her matching robotic waves good-bye. The midnight blue 2005 Jaguar xk8, which her parents loaned her for this visit, was the only vehicle in the parking lot row. Her parents thought she would feel safer in their car rather than her own bright red Honda.

In either case, she seemed to fit this car, or the car fit her a lot more. Her lean physique matched the lines on the Jag, and it made her feel more mature. She was constantly trying to act older than she was. Jennifer went around to the passenger side of the car and opened the rear door. She set her oversized black leather purse on the back seat and took out a translucent orange bottle filled with tiny white pills. She slung her head back, popped two, shut the door and walked around to the driver’s seat.

The heat had melted the surface of the Jaguar’s leather seats, reducing the fabric to a buttery texture. Jennifer’s blonde hair clung to the sides of her shoulders, heavy with sweat. She retrieved her car key from the passenger seat, pressed the key into the slot, and burst into tears, suddenly unable to move.

Jennifer hadn’t eaten all day. The heavy dose of Xanax caused her to feel excessively nauseous. She blacked out and fell forward, hitting her forehead on the steering wheel. The car increased in temperature with the late afternoon heat. Her powder-white skin grew red.

“Miss. Are you alright? Miss?” A young guard, Bill Marsh, had spotted the car, and decided to go in for a closer look.

When Jennifer didn’t move, he took out his club and smashed the window. She woke up from her temporary coma and lashed out.

“You Fuck!” Her voice was barely audible, even with the window smashed. Her energy was gone.

“Miss–I, I’m sorry you didn’t look okay.”

“I am! What business do you have involving yourself in my business? Do you know what you did? You just fucked up my car, you moron.”

“Look, I just saw you from my station.”

To Bill, her face looked familiar, though he couldn’t place where he had seen her before.

“You have no idea. Sitting in your stupid box, behind that intercom.

“I’m sorry, I know we’ll pay for the window. Hell, if the prison won’t, I personally will.” Bill said.


About the Author

michael dennisMichael D. Dennis is an author and playwright who earned a degree in English literature from Loyola Marymount University. Winner of a LMU Playwriting Award for his play Death of a Watchdog, Michael also had his play, Hen in the Field, produced at the Whitefire Theatre in 2012. His highly anticipated debut novel, A Native’s Tongue, will be released in June 2014. Michael currently lives in Santa Monica, California with his girlfriend and two dogs, Jack and Aurora.

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, mystery, Spotlight on July 21, 2014

Retarded Girl cover copy

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen by Lauren Leigh is a spellbinding murder mystery that offers a sympathetic look at the struggles faced by individuals with disabilities.

Publication Date: March 15, 2014
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group


Baby is every adoptive parent’s nightmare—blind, paralyzed from the waist down, unable to speak, and diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities. For the first 10 years of her life she is raised outside in a dog pen by a cruel adoptive father, a Mississippi deputy sheriff who values his bird dogs more than his daughter.

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen is the story of Baby’s placement in a Mississippi mental institution for individuals with profound retardation after the brutal murder of her father and the arrest of her mother, and her desperate attempt to escape the institution.

Once the mother is convicted of murder and sentenced to death, the story takes a bizarre twist as mental health professions discover that Baby is capable of communication, despite being trapped inside a grotesque body that holds her prisoner.

How much does Baby know? Can she prove her mother’s innocence?

As the mother sits on death row, the clock ticking, a brilliant psychologist has the shock of her life when she discovers that Baby is not who she seems. The question is will the psychologist be able to solve the mystery in time to save the mother’s life?

Similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the manner in which it reveals the inner workings of a mental institution, it is, in the end, about the triumph of intellect and passion over indifference and cruelty. It is written in the tradition of The Sound and the Fury and To Kill a Mockingbird, two novels that address the complex issue of intellectual disabilities.


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When Thad Vanderbilt arrived at the county jail, he was eating a hamburger that he’d picked up at the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant. He took bites of the burger and sips from a cup filled with iced tea as he walked into the building and asked to meet with Rivers in a private conference room.

As she walked in the door, he was in the process of wadding up the paper wrapping around the burger. He tossed it into a nearby trash can and then took a sip from the cup, gurgling the last few drops from the bottom of the cup before discarding it. Left behind was a touch of mayo that stuck about an inch from the corner of his mouth. Rivers noticed it, but said nothing, not really caring whether her lawyer looked foolish or not.

Thad stood and extended his hand as she approached the table and sat in a folding chair. His fingers felt damp from the soft drink cup, and she wiped her hand against her jumpsuit.

“I’m Thad Vanderbilt,” he said. “I’ve seen you around town, but I don’t think we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

“I’ve seen you in your convertible.”

Thad laughed. “Yes, and it will be paid for in another three years, just in time to trade it in for a new one.”

Rivers didn’t think that was funny and she did not respond with a laugh of her own.

Thad looked at a legal pad, reading over his scribbled notes.

“I see your husband was a deputy.”

Rivers nodded.

“And you have a little girl named Baby. Is that correct?”

“Yes. Have you seen her?”

“No, I haven’t. I understand she was taken away and placed at Silverstone Retardation Center.”

“That’s what the sheriff told me.”

“She’ll be well taken care of there.”

“I hope so. She’s not used to strangers.”

“They are used to people like her.”

“What do you mean, people like her?”

“You know, retarded.”


“How do you want to plead on this?”

“What do you mean?”

“Guilty or not guilty.”


Rivers didn’t answer, sort of drifted away, lost in thought.

“Did you hear me?”


“Guilty or not guilty?”

“What’s the difference?”

“If you plead guilty, there is no trial and the judge decides your sentence. If you plead not guilty, you go to trial and listen to people say a lot of bad things about you, and then the jury decides if you are guilty or not guilty, and then, if you are guilty, they pass sentence.”

“And if the jury decides I am not guilty?”

“Then they send you home.”

“In that case, who goes to prison?”

“The prosecutor will decide if there is someone else he wants to prosecute. If there is, then he will go after them and try to get a conviction.


“So what do you want to do?”

“Did the sheriff give you any information about Angus?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Did the sheriff give you any details about what happened to him?”


“Would you mind telling me what you know?”

“No problem.” He looked over his notes. “OK. They found his body yesterday, buried along the tree line of your property, about fifty yards from the dog pen.”

“Did he look upset?”

“Excuse me?”

“Did it look like he was upset over being dead?”

Thad paused again, this time to collect his thoughts. “Ma’am, when you’re dead I don’t think you necessarily look upset or not upset.”

“I see.” She lowered her eyes, looking down at her lap, where her fingers were intertwined in a knot. “Does it say anything about how he died?”

“Yes, ma’am, it says he was struck in the chest with an ax.”

“That all?”

“No, it says he was hacked on a little bit.”

“Do they have the ax?”

“Apparently, it was buried with him.”

Rivers sat quietly for a while. Then she put her hand on her chest, feeling her thumping heart. “Would you mind seeing after the burial?”

“That’s not really what I do.”

“Baby and I are the only family he’s got. If not you, then who?”

“Ma’am, you’ve put me on the spot.”

“I know that.”

Thad doodled on his legal pad as he struggled with her request. He had moved to Murphy County from Memphis, where lawyers played by a different set of rules. In Memphis, her request would have been laughed at, but not in a rural community where everyone knows everyone else, or if they don’t, they know of them or have heard stories about them.

“That’s not something I usually do,” he said. “But I’ll make an exception in your case.”

“Thank you.”

“But you still haven’t answered me.”

“About what?”

“About your plea.”

“Can I decide what goes on the tombstone?”

“I don’t know for sure, but assume that would not be a problem. You are his wife.”

“Will there be flowers?”

“Yes—if I have to send them myself.”

“That’s nice.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, ma’am, but I need to know your plea.”

Rivers looked up, as if searching for the answer on the ceiling. Inexplicably, a serene look appeared on her face. “What will happen to me if I plead guilty?”

“It is a capital offense to kill a police officer, so the penalty would be death by injection.”

“I see.”

“Is that what you would like to do?”

“Yes, I believe it is.”

About the Author

Lauren Leigh is a mental health professional who has devoted her life to working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. This is her first novel.



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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Horror, Spotlight on July 20, 2014

zombie attack


Xander MacNamara’s adventure continues when he is placed in charge of a civilian colony outside Barstow. He and his young wife, Felicity Jane, are forced to deal with the daily grind of reconstruction, the constant menace of zombies, and an equally hungry cannibal tribe known as the Alphas.
Things heat up fast when Sonya, a mysterious stranger sent by a secretive benefactor, frees him from enemy captors. Once again, Xander and Felicity find themselves fleeing for their lives from a never-ending series of new threats as well as old ones. A hidden enemy within the military is hell bent on creating a secret weapon: genetically engineered super zombies! Friends and soldiers are pitted against each other, as one side races to spread the cure while the other battles to gain ultimate control over the fate of mankind.
‘Zombie Attack! Army of the Dead’ is filled with pulse-pounding undead action from the very first chapter until the bitter sweet end. Child celebrities, reality television stars, nightmarish zombie clowns, bikers, ninjas, warlords, and more — this book has it all! The story takes off like a bullet and doesn’t slow down until the last sentence. You won’t be able to put it down!

Buy the Book

Amazon * Smashwords * Barnes & Noble * Permuted Press * Kobo


At one point in their journey back to Port Hueneme our heroes come across a circus tent with music playing in the middle of nowhere. Inside is a grisly scene featuring the remains of several children. Xander overpowers the lone biker left behind, a supposed prospect named Skeeter who promises to take them to his truck with a full tank of gas if they let him live.


 “That one came in last night,” Skeeter offered, trying to be helpful. “The other tribe brought her. She jumped the line and got put on right away.”

“What do you mean, she jumped the line?”

The words were out of Felicity’s mouth before I could speak but I was thinking the exact same thing. I knew the answer would only make it harder to keep my promise not to kill Skeeter but I had to hear him say it.

“They bring the cattle in order of capture usually,” he said.


“That’s what they call ‘em,” he spit on the ground. “Some of the guys call ‘em the entertainment but most call ‘em cattle.”

“And how do they get these cattle?”

“Generally the same way they got me,” he said. “They ride into an unprotected area and kill anyone who fights back. Then they divide up the women and children into categories for sale as food or slaves or entertainment. We get sent the cattle, mostly kids. Every now and then traitors or enemies show up and get put to the front of the line.”

“I thought you said last night was your first night,” I reminded him, exposing his glaring, baldfaced lie.

“It was,” Skeeter protested, shaking his hands for emphasis, “but that don’t mean I never heard anyone else talk about it. They kept me in a small prison cell and beat me for information. I used to be a local cop. Plenty of times they told me how I would end up here when they were done with me. Said it was better than watching me dig my own grave. Eventually they broke me with the threat of killing my family. I’m not proud of what I’ve done, but I’d do it again for my wife and son. I just hope they’re still in one place wherever they are.”

Sonya, Felicity, and I all exchanged looks once more. I wasn’t sure I believed him but I also knew we didn’t have much of a choice at this point. We needed his help to get out of there but first I had to see for my own eyes that we weren’t leaving any kids behind to these monsters.

“Where do you keep them? The prisoners.”

“The kids you mean? Out back in the pens. That’s why they call ‘em cattle. They got them locked up until they’re ready to perform.”

“How many are back there?”

“Pens can hold up to a hundred kids but usually they don’t keep more than a week’s worth of cattle at a time,” he said with a shrug. “They’re too hard to feed and care for. Alphas aren’t known for being motherly types if you know what I mean. We ran out of live bait early because of the big emergency. Last thing the boss man did before he left was let all of them loose at once. It was a slaughter as you can see. After that everyone just took off.”

“Take me to the pens,” I said, the bile rising back up in me. “Now!”

“It’s your world boss man,” Skeeter said, turning and walking slowly out in front of us. We followed him back through a series of flaps to a large gated area that cut the circus tents off from a walled in community of trailers sitting idly by and animal cages. He fumbled nervously with the padlock. Sonya slapped him up side his head right where on his fresh bruise and he let out a fresh cry of pain.

“Quit stalling,” she said.

He snapped the lock apart and pulled the squeaky gate open. Casting cautious glances he made a beeline past empty iron cages filled with dead animal corpses riddle with bite marks. There were the remains of lions and bears and zebra, all now covered in thick moving blankets of flies. One last cage had an angry looking elephant that paced back and forth knocking against the bars of its cage. It let out a loud roar when it saw us.

“What the hell is going on?” Felicity asked.

“Looks like they’ve been using the circus animals they found as part of the act,” Sonya said with disgust. “And when they’re done they just feed them to the giants.”

“Close,” Skeeter said, a strange look crossing his face as he smiled. “but no cigar.”

“Where are the kids kept?” I demanded.

“Here are the pens,” Skeeter said, his smile growing as he pointed to a series of wooden boxes sitting in the grass behind him. I moved forward to see they had tiny scratches covering the outside. They reeked of piss and fear but were otherwise empty. Glancing down I saw that there were no locks on the boxes. It didn’t make any sense.

“There’s no locks on the pens,” I pointed out. “How exactly did you keep the cattle from escaping?”

“We didn’t have to,” he giggled, looking like the tables had turned for him. “They did it for us.”

Before I could ask who he meant Skeeter threw back his head and let out a long, high pitched whistle. The question died on my lips as I heard the sound of low moaning coming from all sides of us in stereo. I turned to see an impossible sight and my mind reeled in sheer terror. Rows of blood splattered zombie clowns were closing in on us from every side.

“Xander,” Felicity called out. “What are we gonna do?”

Before I could answer Skeeter turned and bolted, sliding under one of the trailers and scurrying out the other side. A moment later I heard the sound of his bike being fired up, the loud rumbling only drawing more of the nightmarish monster clowns in our direction.

“See you suckers in hell,” Skeeter cried out as he pulled back on his throttle and ripped off into the early dawn.

I raced to Felicity’s side along with Sonya, who had begun to turn in wide circles, her lips moving like she was trying to count them all.

“This doesn’t look good,” Felicity cried.

“Don’t worry,” I said, holding her tight as we backed towards the animal cages. “I’ll think of something.”

“You better do it fast,” Sonya said. “We’re running out of time.”

“I hate clowns,” Felicity said, turning her scared face into my neck and shoulders and burrowing in. “Please Xander make them go away! I can’t die like this.”

“I’m working on it,” I promised, holding my sword up and trying to come up with a plan. My mind raced but try as I might all I could do was focus on the gnashing teeth of the zombie clown horde descending on us like a dinner bell had just been rung. There was easily a hundred of them, maybe more. I wouldn’t be able to cut them down before they reached us. There were just too many of them to take on at once!

Think! There has to be a way out of this! It was no use. My mind was stuck on the terrible streaked faces, torn with gashes, leaking pus and oozing black gunk, hungrily making their way towards us.

The elephant behind us roared once more making Felicity shriek in fear. I could feel the air move we were so close and my ears were ringing. It stomped hard and rattled the bars of its cage for good measure, the padlock on the iron cage rattling against the rusty metal. Suddenly everything became clear.

“I’ve got it,” I said, “but you’re not going to like it.”

“What is it?” Felicity’s eyes brimmed with fear like I’d never seen before.

“Just stay right by my side no matter what happens. When I move you move, you got that?”

“I got it,” Felicity said, her lips trembling. “Xander please don’t let me die. Please don’t let these clowns eat me!”

“None of us are going to die,” I promised, turning to Sonya who seemed to understand my plan without me having to tell her. “On three, got it?”

“Got it,” Sonya said, picking up a metal pipe out of the grass near her feet.

“One, two…”

Please let this work, I silently prayed.


Author Bio

dave zombieDevan Sagliani was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from UCLA. He is the author of the Zombie Attack! series, The Rising Dead, A Thirst For Fire, and the UNDEAD L.A. series. Devan also wrote the original screenplay for the movie HVZ: Humans Versus Zombies. He writes a bimonthly horror column for Escapist Magazine called Dark Dreams.
Devan’s fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Million Writers Award. In 2012 his debut novel Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde won Best Zombie/Horror E-book on Goodreads. He is also an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association.
He currently lives in Venice Beach, California with his wife.

Website * Goodreads * Amazon * Twitter * Permuted Press * Zombie Attack Facebook * Dark Dreams Column on The Escapist Magazine

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