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An Absence of Light

Meradeth Houston

Paranormal/Suspense/Romance

Evernight Teen/80,000 words

 

Synopsis

Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.

She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.

When Leah stumbles across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

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Excerpt

A creeping tingle of coldness wound around my ankles. Something lived in there––the same things that took away my family and had stalked me for most of my life.

I didn’t have a name for them. In my head, I called them the Shadows: inky, black creatures that avoided the light, like I avoided the dark. They did things. Things that made monsters like Hitler look warm and fuzzy—or at least, less homicidal.

How they did it confounded me, but they had the ability to influence the darkness in people, to make them do terrible things. The Shadows got something from it, as if they fed from humanity’s malevolence. I’d tried to learn more about them since I realized no one else could see them, but they didn’t exist in any book, Web page, or library.

The only thing I could conclude was that they were otherworldly evil, pure and simple.

It didn’t help that lately the Shadows had been more focused on me. I’d seen more in the last few months than I had in my whole life, and they had been acting stranger than normal. They were up to something.

Plotting how to kill me, and everyone I love. I’d been so stupid not to figure that out.

As if hearing my thoughts, the Shadow sensed my presence. It crept forward to the mouth of the alleyway, a darker blotch of oily blackness that moved of its own volition. A fine tendril rose from its black mass, reminding me of a periscope on a submarine, searching.

“Crap.” I glanced around for the best way to escape. No way I could outrun the thing.

The Shadow moved into the open. Skirting the light, coming ever closer. Picking up speed. I had to get away. Now.

My heart began beating double-time and my feet froze to the ground.

A part of me wanted to step on it, like a giant slug, but it wouldn’t do anything. They couldn’t be killed that way.

I would give anything to know if I could get rid of them, to wipe them from the face of the earth. But they didn’t die. Didn’t disappear. Didn’t leave me alone.

There was nowhere to hide. They’d kill me. Just like they did my family.

Glancing at the car in front of me, my panicked laugh caught me by surprise.

Another entry for my rap sheet.

Careful to keep in the light, I hurried around to the driver’s side. Scooping up the keys, I threw myself behind the wheel. My fingers trembled as I shoved the key into the ignition.

The Shadow lurked near my door. I spared it one glance before the engine caught with a merciful roar and I slammed my foot on the gas.

The tires squealed and a trail of smoke hid the Shadow. The snaking chill, as I always felt from them, gave way and I knew I had left it behind.

There would be more, though. There were always more.

 

About the Author

MeradethHoustonI’ve never been a big fan of talking about myself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about me:

~I’m a California girl. This generally means I talk too fast and use “like” a lot.

~I have my doctorate in molecular anthropology. Translation: I sequence dead people’s DNA and spend a whole lot of time in a lab, which I love.

~I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old. It’s my hobby, my passion, and I’m so happy to get to share my work!

~My other passion is teaching. There’s nothing more fun than getting a classroom of college kids fired up about anthropology!

~If I could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because I’m terrified of heights.

 

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, mystery on November 4, 2014

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A Dead End in Vegas 2

 

Synopsis

As Dave Sloan is leaving for the Denver airport to pick up his wife, Tricia, the phone rings. It’s the cops in Las Vegas. His wife is dead. Her nude body was found that morning in a hotel room at the Bellagio.

Dave is stunned and devastated. He thought she was in Phoenix at a week-long teachers’ conference. A lie, of course, concocted by Tricia, who flew to Phoenix, then drove to Vegas to meet her Internet lover, the handsome, charming, and very much married Joe Daggett of Chicago.

When Joe can’t join her, Tricia’s a mess. He calls a close friend, Al Posey, who lives in Vegas, and asks him to take her to dinner. Al and Tricia hit it off and wind up in bed. On Saturday morning, he walks out of her hotel room at nine. Three hours later, her lifeless body is found by a maid.

A DEAD END IN VEGAS is a searing exploration of how Tricia Sloan’s tragic, mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of her family and friends.

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Excerpt

Seven o’clock came and went. No phone call, and the snow continued to fall.   Dave was becoming more and more desperate. Our old friend and neighbor was losing it now, marching in small circles around the kitchen, occasionally halting to pound the butchers’ block with a tightly clenched fist. Outside, darkness had descended as the wind howled and the storm tightened its grip. Lehigh Street was empty and forlorn, a frozen tableau where nothing moved and an occasional flickering porch light was the only sign of life.

Shortly before 10, I glanced out the picture window, now nearly shrouded with ice, and made out what appeared to be a pair of headlights inching ever so cautiously through the drifts. I looked again and couldn’t believe my eyes. A boxy, high-riding vehicle, like a Jeep, had just turned and was heading down Dave’s driveway toward us. Before we knew it, we heard car doors slam and then the heavy thumping of boots on the porch steps. Two sets of them. And then the harsh, grating sound of the doorbell. Two long, sharp buzzes, like a dentist’s drill. The shrill buzzing cut through the house and brought us all to attention. In this weather, at this hour, who could it be?

 

About the Author

Irene Woodbury’s second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief. Immersing herself in drama and dysfunction for months on end was a challenge for this upbeat author, whose first book, the humor novel A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published by SynergEbooks in 2011. At first glance, the two novels seem quite different, but both deal with midlife confusion and chaos, and the complexities and unpredictable nature of the human heart. And both, of course, are partially set in Las Vegas, a city Irene got to know well during her years as a travel writer. Between 2000 and 2005, her stories appeared in major newspapers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Irene, who graduated from the University of Houston in 1993, lives in Denver with her husband, Richard, a retired correspondent for Time Magazine who edited both of her novels. The couple miss traveling, but, after two novels, Irene insists there’s no greater journey than the one into your own heart and mind.

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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, mystery on November 1, 2014

 

Native Lands by P.C. Zick

 

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read. Christoph Fischer, Author

Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St. Augustine.

Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present

Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.

By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight a conglomerate of international interests.

It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.

P.C. Zick is the author of several contemporary novels. Native Lands is the third book in her Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand. She may be contacted through her website at www.pczick.com.

 

 

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

 
 

 

 


P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.

She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick and Living Lightly. She has published three nonfiction books and six novels.

Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

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Works by P.C. Zick

Florida Fiction Series

Tortoise Stew (Florida Fiction Series, Book 1) – Politics, murder, and chaos in rural Florida reign supreme in a story where love triumphs over it all.

Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series, Book 2) – Family secrets, an oil spill, and redemption create a roller coaster ride for journalist Caroline Carlisle.

Native Lands (Florida Fiction Series, Book 3) – A novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage.

Other Fiction:

A Lethal Legacy (Psychological Suspense) – A fascinating study of human expectations, failings, and redemption filled with lust and forbidden lovers.

Live from the Road (Fiction  takes the reader on an often humorous, yet harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.

Behind the Altar (Romance – Behind the Love Trilogy, Book 1) – All seems perfect in Leah’s life until tattoo artist Dean rides his Harley into her heart in this story of forbidden love.

 

Nonfiction

From Seed to Table (Blog posts) Gardening techniques, organic gardening, canning vegetables, and recipes galore

Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Memoir nonfiction) – My great grandfather’s journal from his days as a soldier. It’s a personal account of war and all its sundry causes and effects from the eyes of a man who fought it.

Odyssey to Myself (Essays nonfiction): The people of Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

 

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, Review, Romantic Comedy on October 29, 2014

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Her Ghost Wears Kilts 2

 

Title: Her Ghost Wears Kilts
Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Pages: 240
Genre: Romantic Comedy Paranormal
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 

Synopsis

Something’s not right at Baillie’s popular used bookstore in rain-soaked western Washington and frigid, heart-stopping air is her first clue. When the cat refuses to enter the shop and Baillie hears faint bagpipes in the travel book section, her nerves are rubbed raw.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the heir of a local castle falls to a suspicious death. An evil banker claims ownership of the castle, leaving the staff to ponder their fate.

How are these events connected? The answer lies in a Ghost and Mrs. Muir tale 21st century style that flips the table with a ghostly twenty-seven-year-old hunk, Lord Kai, and fifty-something bachelorette Baillie. Her gay best friend Gillian Nation and his girls dash to Scotland to Baillie’s rescue when the combination of alcohol, villainous banker, DNA, and good old-fashioned jealousy throw Baillie into the fight of her life. Will she choose to reclaim her normal Northwest existence or grab onto an unorthodox love that makes life magical and breath-taking?

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Excerpt

The cat flattened itself to the carpet near the front bookcase, ears lost against its orange-striped head, frozen in fear. A terrified hiss leaked through his open mouth and, slinking backward, the cat spun and ran toward the back of the store.

Catching a brief flash of orange out of the corner of her eye, Baillie shook her head. “Now what’s gotten into Sebastian? Must be a mouse.” She fanned her painted fingernails along the spines of books stacked on the shelf beside her. Listening to the hushed clicking sounds of her nails against the bindings as she walked down the aisle, she inhaled the intoxicating aroma of paper and leather around her. She loved opening her bookshop every morning, where antique classics, used and new volumes of various sizes filled the shelves around her. Framed paintings by local artists dotted the walls between the bookcases.

“Morning,” Baillie called to the previously owned hardbacks without the slightest apprehension of appearing insane. She talked to inanimate objects all the time—great audience, no heckling. Besides, I’m alone in here unless you count the cat, and you can’t count on that spoiled feline for anything. Where did he dash off to just now in such a hurry?

A thin volume of poems lay exposed on a shelf. “You don’t belong here,” Baillie said, sweeping it up to reshelve. She hesitated; the book cover felt cold in her hand, the worn leather chilling her fingers, sucking the warmth from her fingertips in seconds. She quickly shook her head to keep her thoughts from running amok. Of course the book was cold; in the Northwest, things always seemed cold.

“I swear someone helps themselves around here at night. The least they could do is put the books back where they belong when they’re done.” She turned and pushed a ceramic bookend aside and placed the wayward book next to the others as a quick chill shivered down her spine.

“Hey, Einstein, ol’ buddy.” Baillie grabbed an ornate feather duster from a brass umbrella stand nearby and took a few housekeeping swipes against the framed lithograph hanging on the wall. “Dang, I’m looking more like you every day.” She checked her reflection in the glass. “Tell me, did you see who moved Robert Burns’ book of poems last night? Maybe I need to borrow your glasses—going blind in my old age and missed putting it away after closing.”

Baillie turned, whistling the theme song from Fame, at the end of the aisle. She missed seeing the slow, deliberate movement as the same book silently shifted out from the shelf. The dark brown edition slid away from the other poetry books, hanging suspended for a moment, then lay back on the empty surface of the shelf. The ceramic bookend moved, closing the empty gap.

The front door of the shop opened with a tinkling of metal chimes. “It’s just me,” yelled a female voice as she came in.

“I’m in the north quarter, Sally. Would you turn on the computer?” Baillie responded from somewhere behind the walls of books. “Time to open up, I guess.”

“No problem, boss.” Sally dropped her purse under the counter.

Baillie knew her assistant’s routine by heart: She’d click the black toggle switch on the power strip with the toe of her shoe, sending juice to all the electronics at the same time. Baillie heard the calculator, printer and credit card unit each create its own hum as Sally pressed the power button.

“How are the hot flashes this morning?” Sally asked.

“Midlife under control, thank you very much young whiner.” Baillie dusted another shelf with a few fast swishes. “You can kick the personal heater on for a while.”

“Just a little damp for June this year, you know. Some of us don’t have the benefit of hormonal heaters,” she taunted.

“I heard that!” Baillie continued up and down the aisles, swishing the duster back and forth. Suddenly, a bitter cold swept around her, sending a blinding chill through her body. She gasped from the icy shock. Baillie couldn’t catch her breath as the splash of numbing cold flowed into her heart and out again, pounding inside her chest. The reddish blond hairs on the back of her exposed neck stood on end. Her teeth chattered against the chill, like Lucy Ricardo locked in the meat freezer.

“What the …?” She leaned against the shelving for support. “Whoa.” Baillie blinked rapidly and focused on her right hand, more specifically the beige metal shelf under her crimson-painted fingernails. The metal felt warm, warmer than her soul at the moment. Goose bumps traveled up her bare arms and under her short-sleeved blouse. Titles describing Scotland and its clans stood in military straight rows in front of her.

As quickly as it had struck, the air around her trembling body returned to normal temperatures. She took a shaky breath, mentally searching for some logical explanation for the bone-chilling cold. “Who turned the air conditioner on?” she whispered to herself with mock confidence. Looking around the cramped quarters of bookshelves as she moved away, the store seemed peaceful. She dropped the feather duster into a stand with a soft thud.

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Review

This is an interesting twist of genres – romance, comedy, paranormal and even a little bit of mystery.

Baillie is being haunted by a ghost from Scotland but doesn’t know why or that it is even a ghost until she goes to a renaissance faire and meets a fortune teller. Who knew that it would turn out to be an ancestor?!

I don’t want to give away too much but this was a fun book to read and you never knew exactly where the story was going…you might thing down one path and then the author would make that sharp left and you were going down another path in the story. It kept me intrigued throughout and there were even a few heart stopping moments for me near the end.

The cast of characters was interesting since it included several drag queens (that impersonated Beyawncee and Jaello) and Baillie’s good friend Gillian who is gay but a whiz at all things electronic.

Other reviewers pointed out that there were some errors when describing some aspects of London and Scotland.  Since I don’t live in England or Scotland I wouldn’t have necessarily caught the errors and therefore didn’t detract from the story.

This was a fun read and will be checking out what other books this author has written.

We give this 4 paws up!

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About the Author

Kathleen Shaputis, author/ghostwriter, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, and a variety of four-footed loves. Curling up with an icy Diet Coke, writing romantic comedies is her ultimate paradise when not at her day job or invaded by grandchildren.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on October 23, 2014

RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS

A Next Door Category Romance ~ Drake Springs, Book One

Cheryl Norman

Lance George debates his decision to return to his hometown, but the price is right on the abandoned veterinary hospital he hopes to buy. He’s saved his money to open his practice by living frugally and purchasing wisely. There’s no room in his life for wasteful spending. His alcoholic mother squandered everything she had when he was growing up, leaving him with an obsessive motivation to achieve financial security.

Iris Porter is unaware that she broke Lance’s heart in high school. She’s too busy trying to earn a living in a tough economy. She hopes to reclaim her old job as a veterinary assistant when Lance reopens the town’s only animal clinic. Popular and friendly, Iris is known to be generous to a fault. When a friend’s baby is stricken with leukemia, she organizes fundraisers and enlists Lance’s help.

Lance’s feelings for Iris rekindle when he realizes how much she’s changed. The high school snob is at odds with the caring, sensitive woman who wants to help a family in need. But can he reconcile Iris’s generous spirit with his overpowering need for penny pinching?

 

 

Excerpt

Lance George cruised into town in a fog of black insects and misgivings. He’d had good reason to leave home years ago. Was returning a mistake? He’d debated during the entire threehour drive from Tallahassee and still questioned his decision. But he was here now. The moving company had his packed belongings ready to deliver. Inhaling a breath for courage, he slowed at the Welcome to Drake Springs sign.

Searching familiar landmarks, he recognized the Hurricane Lantern, a rustic restaurant located on Highway 471. To his left stood the stately Wilson home, vacant and for sale. Five blocks past the city limits sign, Highway 471 became Main Street. He passed the First Foster Bank and Boyd’s Diner, both still in business. A left turn here would take him to the high school, but he’d skip that detour down badmemory lane.

The stoplight at Main Street turned red and he applied his brakes. A flash of purple grabbed his attention. Was that—? No, it couldn’t be. What were the odds he’d return to Drake Springs and immediately see the girl of his adolescent dreams? In the flesh—and what beautiful flesh—Iris Porter stepped into the crosswalk walking a bicycle to the opposite side of Main Street. It may have been nine years since he’d seen her, but with her blond curls sticking out the edges of a bicycle helmet, she looked as adorable as ever.

She turned her head and met his gaze but kept walking. She wouldn’t recognize him, and even if she did, why would she acknowledge him? She had deemed herself too good for him. He’d been a bookworm. A nerd. His limited circle of friends didn’t include babes and jocks. No reason to hope her opinion had changed.

She continued toward the courthouse. She hadn’t lost that subtle but alluring sway of hip that drew the attention of every male student standing in the halls at Foster County High—especially him. Instead of mounting her bicycle and riding, she chainlocked it to an oak tree.

“What’s your story, dear Iris?” He eased forward with the morning traffic while keeping her purple shorts and Tshirt in his peripheral vision. She still had her cheerleader’s legs and slender shape. If anything, she was thinner now. She disappeared inside the Foster County Courthouse. “Doing a title search? Paying your taxes? Filing for divorce?”

Iris’s rejection in high school had driven him to succeed and improve himself, so maybe he should thank her for stomping all over his heart. He continued his drive through town, leaving behind Iris Porter and all conjecture about her.

When he reached Ortega Street, he turned left and pulled into the parking lot of his destination. A business property that once housed Hodges Animal Clinic faced Main. Behind sat a modular home included with the business property. The lot looked weedy, abandoned, and neglected. No wonder it had such an attractive price tag. The realtor must have taken the online photos in winter, before the spring foliage filled in the blackjack oaks. Now shade cast most of the lot in darkness, forming a thick barrier against the hot Florida sun.

A middleaged, heavyset woman stood in the gravel parking lot. He parked his Transit Connect beside her late model Buick. He’d recently purchased the economical business van in preparation for his new practice. It was small enough to serve as his personal vehicle, too. Unlike his mother, Lance did his research and made practical choices. Impulse buying got people in trouble.

“Doctor George?” The woman approached him with outstretched hand even before he’d fully exited his van. “I’m Barbara Sinclair.”

“Thank you for meeting me.” He shook her delicate manicured hand.

Everything about the woman looked professional, from her perfectly groomed, chestnut hair to her business attire. A few years and a few pounds ago, she was probably a real babe.

“I feel as if we’ve already met, from your emails. I believe this property will suit your needs.”

“It looks less cheerful than in the online photos.”

She winced. “Weeds grow quickly in Florida. The reduced price should more than make up for the little TLC the place needs.”

“Right.” He’d reserve judgment until he inspected the buildings. He locked his van, an action that earned him a bemused smile from Ms. Sinclair. She probably thought it overkill for a small town like Drake Springs, but she refrained from commenting. “Could you show me the office first? If it doesn’t suit, there’s no need to tour the house.”

“Exactly my thought. Follow me.”

He fell in step beside her. “What happened to Otis Gibbons? I thought he was the listing agent.”

“You know Otis?”

“I’m originally from Drake Springs, hence my interest in opening a practice here.”

She opened the door, stepped aside, and motioned him in. The faint odor of antiseptic mingled with the woman’s cologne as she moved past him. She’d been a bit generous with her atomizer. “Otis sold me the business when he was elected county commissioner. He didn’t want any question of conflict of interest.”

“Right.” He shut the door against a swarm of love bugs. Those inescapable black insects that frustrated Floridians every May and September seemed especially thick this spring.

“It may be a bit warm. I turned up the air conditioning about thirty minutes ago when I opened the building.”

“Feels comfortable.”

“The air conditioner is fairly new. Four years old, I’d say.”

The office was a converted Florida Cracker style house, with porches and a breezeway. The reception area was in the former living room. A passthrough with added counter separated the public area from the office. A few animal carriers sat along one wall of the former dining room. “How many exam rooms?”

“Three. The hall gives access both from the reception area and the operating room. There’s also a bathroom.”

“Hmm.” The equipment was gone, probably sold by Doctor Hodges’s estate after her death. Stainless steel tables, gleaming as if recently polished, dominated each examination room. “How long did you say this had been vacant?”

“About three years, but Otis has kept the power connected. He also hired a cleaning service to make regular visits.”

Too bad Otis hadn’t arranged for lawn service as well. “That’s been costly for Otis.”

“Frankly, he expected the property to sell quickly. It’s an attractive location, and Drake Springs is growing. But even Florida wasn’t immune to an economic recession.”

She led him around to the operating room, at one time the house’s kitchen. A door led back to the dining room/office, where the receptionist’s desk and file cabinets now stood. The rear of the house had a utility room, still equipped with a clothes washer and dryer. One wall held stacked cages. A breezeway led to fenced pens outside. He would have preferred more kennel room, but this could work.

“Well, Doctor George, what do you think?” She closed the back door and walked down the steps. “Want to see the residence?”

“Yes, I do.” He followed her past the fenced pens to the back door of the doublewide mobile home. “Where do people take their animals for medical care since this clinic closed?”

“Right now they’re driving twentyfive or thirty miles, to Lake City or up to Georgia. Trust me, this town will welcome you with open arms.”

He was counting on it. He’d saved a tidy sum of money and had qualified for a loan, but he needed equipment, supplies, and utility deposits. He wanted to make this property work, because it’s all he could afford.

The blue painted metal roofing on the home matched the roofing on the clinic. He’d guess the modular home to be less than ten years old, although the roof made it look newer.

“Is the roof new?”

“About four years old.” She unlocked the back door of the residence and led him inside. “Doc Hodges made several improvements before opening her practice.”

Not a fan of modular housing, he examined each room with skepticism. The floor plan was surprisingly open and pleasant, with vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. A large great room separated two bedrooms and a bath from the owner’s suite and kitchen. The walls were painted or paneled, rather than the patterned wallboard he’d seen on older mobile homes. “Doctor Hodges lived here?”

“Yes. It was convenient, especially for emergencies with animals staying overnight.” She opened the blinds, revealing two windows overlooking the front porch and the front yard’s large crepe myrtle tree, just beginning to bloom. “Her mother sold all the furniture but not the appliances. Of course, if you prefer to live elsewhere, you could rent it out.”

He gave a noncommittal murmur, but he’d be nuts to live anywhere else. Living near the clinic made economic sense. He wouldn’t spend more than he needed to. The bedrooms were roomy enough, especially the owner’s suite with its own bathroom and walkin closet.

“Cable and highspeed internet are available here, too.”

“Good.” He didn’t need television, but internet was vital to his business. “Immediate possession?” The sooner, the better, because he had no home. His mother had lost their house years ago, and Pops had no room to spare.

“Yes. Considering the amount of your down payment, you’ll have no trouble qualifying for the loan assumption. As soon as we can schedule the closing, you can hang out your openforbusiness sign.”

“Well.” He chuckled. “It’s not that simple. I need equipment, for starters. And staff. You know any experienced veterinarian assistants?”

She led him into the kitchen. The appliances looked new. Doctor Hodges hadn’t been one to cook as far as he could tell. But Doc George enjoyed cooking. And he could make the most of this spacious, wellappointed kitchen.

“I know of one. She worked for Doc Hodges but lost her job, of course, when her boss died. She might welcome the opportunity to interview with you.”

“Thanks. First, let’s write the contract.” He followed her outside to the long front porch, additional construction to the original modular home, probably one of Doc Hodges’s improvements. It faced Ortega, a residential street with tidy, modest homes and mature shade trees. Empty except for a wooden swing, the porch could be a cozy retreat at the end of the day, assuming he wasn’t too busy to stop and relax.

Ms. Sinclair removed a ballpoint pen and business card from her purse. She wrote on the blank side of the card. “Here’s the name of the vet assistant when you get ready to hire your staff. You can probably find her at Miller’s IGA Market on Desoto, where she’s been working part time.”

He stuffed the card in his shirt pocket. “Thanks.”

They walked around to the front of the business via the sidewalk, which returned them to the gravel parking lot. “Let me get my brief case and I’ll meet you inside.”

Jittery with nerves, he went inside the building and paced the reception area. This was it. He was about to gamble—no, not gamble—invest his savings into his own practice. He’d have to start out conservatively, at least until he knew how many patients he’d have. One experienced assistant would be a good idea. He could hire more staff as his practice grew. He fished the business card from his pocket and flipped it over to read the name. His hand trembled. The card flew from his fingers.

He stooped to pick it up and read the name again. And smiled.

Iris Porter.

****

Cheryl Norman grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and earned a BA in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After a career in the telecommunications industry, she turned to fiction writing and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.  Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher’s Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch. Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing “Mindful of Linda Howard.” She currently writes the Drake Springs series romance novels for Turquoise Morning Press.

Her passion for cooking and healthful eating led her to write four cookbooks and an award-winning blog, The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen (hastytastymeals.com). She also offers writers grammar help via her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops.

In addition to writing fiction and cookbooks, Cheryl works with other breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease.

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Books by Cheryl Norman (Amazon)

RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS (Book 1: Drake Springs Next Door series from Turquoise Morning Press)

RUNNING OUT OF TIME (Turquoise Morning Press)

REBUILD MY WORLD (Turquoise Morning Press)

RECLAIM MY LIFE (Medallion Press)

RESTORE MY HEART (Medallion Press)

RUNNING SCARED (Medallion Press)

ROMANCE ON ROUTE 66 Anthology (Highland Press)

 

Short fiction by Cheryl Norman

Coming soon: Hometown Blessings (Highland Press’s Christmas Blessings anthology)

The Christmas Prayer (Highland Press’s The Heart of Christmas anthology)
Veiled Threat (Turquoise Morning Press’s The Wedding Day Collection)

Twilight Time (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)

Bad Moon Rising (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)

Giveaway
signed copies of the original Drake Springs novels, RECLAIM MY LIFE and REBUILD MY WORLD.
US only.

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Posted in Book Blast, e-books, excerpt, romance, Spotlight on October 21, 2014

The Art of Love by Michele Shriver

Published on October 21, 2014

 

Chelsea Matthews has a simple dream—travel the country on the art fair circuit selling her hand-crafted jewelry. When her disapproving father refuses to release her trust fund money to support her ambitions, she takes a part-time job in a campus gallery. While counting the days until she can be free of its stuffy confines, an unexpected temptation comes in the form of a sensitive painter.
For Hayden Shaw, having his paintings displayed in the finest galleries is the true measure of an artist’s success. When the pursuit of his goal puts him in contact with the free-spirited Chelsea, his world is turned upside down.
Can two seemingly opposite artists find middle ground and discover the art of love, or will a gallery curator with an agenda of her own undermine both their dreams?
Hayden Shaw stopped and took a deep breath. Whittier Gallery. The name was etched on the door, and underneath that, in smaller letters, Marissa Kincaid, Curator. Was she the woman who would change his life?
A chime sounded as Hayden pulled the door open and walked inside, a portfolio of his work tucked under his arm. He had a pitch prepared as to why this particular gallery should feature his art. That
same pitch hadn’t gone over well at the last gallery he visited, but he was undeterred.
A woman sat behind the desk talking on the phone and she gestured in his direction that she was almost finished. Not wanting to eavesdrop, Hayden nodded and wandered in the direction of one of the
displays. It featured oil painted scenes of the Boston Harbor, and he couldn’t deny the skill of the artist. Did Hayden’s own work belong here? Was he good enough?
No negative thoughts, Shaw, he chastised himself. Hayden remembered the pep talk his roommate had given him before he left. He had to be bold and confident.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Can I help you?”
Hayden turned around to face the woman as she stepped out from behind the desk. “I hope so. Are you Ms. Kincaid?” As he studied her face, though, Hayden doubted it. The woman facing him didn’t appear
much older than his own twenty years. He doubted she was old enough to be in charge of a prestigious art gallery.
She shook her head and tucked a wayward strand of light brown hair behind her ear. “No. I’m Chelsea Matthews. I just work here.”
“Hayden Shaw.” He extended his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m a student here at MassArt,” Hayden said. “I understand you display student work, and I have a portfolio with some pictures of my paintings—”
“Pictures?” Chelsea interrupted, “or paintings?”
Hadn’t he made that clear? Hayden tried again. “I’m painter and I’m interested in having my paintings displayed here. I do photorealism, so they’re paintings based on photographs. I didn’t want to
lug the originals all the way across campus, so I brought pictures of them.”
“So, pictures of paintings of pictures is what you’re saying.” Chelsea’s face carried an amused expression, and Hayden wasn’t sure how to take it. Was she making fun of him, or rather his style? Not
everyone understood or appreciated photorealism. Maybe this gallery wasn’t the right place after all. Or was she simply trying to joke around? He didn’t always get people with quirky senses of humor.
“I guess you could say that.” He set the portfolio on the desk. “Would you like to see them?”
“I could look at them, but it’s not up to me whether the gallery will showcase your work,” Chelsea said. “Can you leave this so I can show Marissa?”
“Sure. I can do that.”
“Good. She should be back in a little later,” she said. “Can I ask you something, though?”
Hayden nodded. “Fire away.”
“Why here?”
He had the speech prepared as to why he felt this gallery was a good fit, but truthfully it wasn’t much different than the one he gave at the previous gallery. Besides, he didn’t think that was what
she wanted to hear. “I’m not sure what you mean?”
“I mean what’s the appeal here? What’s so special about galleries?”
Was she serious? She worked in a gallery, and she wanted him to tell her what was special about them? “I want people to see my work.”
“Then why not display it around campus? In the classroom buildings, stairwells, wherever. People do.”
He knew that. It was impossible to walk anywhere on the MassArt campus without seeing student artwork on display. While it made for an interesting environment, seeing paintings in stairwells,
sculptures on the grass and metal works hanging from a tree, Hayden didn’t quite understand why it was such a popular thing to do. “I want people to be able to appreciate my work.”
“Who’s to say that the folks walking down Huntington Avenue can’t appreciate it?”
She had a point, and Hayden was left unsure how to respond. “It’s not the same.”
“You mean you want someone to appreciate it by buying it.” Her lips curled up in a smile. “Am I right, Hayden Shaw?”
She was, and Hayden hated how materialistic she made him sound. He stuck his hands in the back pockets of his jeans and averted his gaze to the floor.
“Oh please, don’t be embarrassed.” Chelsea laughed. “Making money is a noble goal. I certainly want to make money from my art.”
“You’re an artist too?” Hayden regarded her with curiosity. “What kind? Are you a student here?”
“Yes. Jewelry and metalsmithing major.” She reached up and touched the necklace she wore, holding it out for him to see. “I made this.”
For the first time, Hayden examined it. It looked to be made out of Scrabble tiles, spelling out the letters F-R-E-E. Art was definitely in the eye of the beholder, but he found the necklace oddly
appealing, much like the woman who wore it. “It’s very unique,” he said. “Are you? Free, that is?”
Mischief danced in her hazel eyes. Pretty eyes, he decided. Not unlike the rest of her. “It depends on the context in which you’re asking.”
“A woman of mystery. I like that,” Hayden said, then wished he could take the words back. The conversation had veered dangerously close to flirting, which probably wasn’t wise given that he hoped
to have a business relationship with this gallery. “Is your work on display here?” His eyes scanned the gallery showroom for any cases that might house
jewelry.
She shook her head. “No. Galleries aren’t my thing, and my work’s not Marissa’s thing.” She shrugged. “I’m hoping to go on the art fair circuit this summer, after graduation.”
“Art fairs?” Hayden frowned.
“Yeah. You know, like Ann Arbor. Des Moines. Kansas City.”
Why would anyone pass on a prestigious gallery in Boston in favor of the capital of Iowa or a city most famous for barbecue? “Are you from the Midwest?” Hayden asked.
“No. New Hampshire.”
“Then I don’t see a connection,” Hayden said.
“The cities I just mentioned host some of the best art fairs in the country,” Chelsea said. “Surely you’ve heard of them.” She said it as if she expected everyone had.
Hayden shook his head. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no. Art fairs aren’t really my thing.” He didn’t get the appeal of traveling to cities in the middle of nowhere, peddling art on the street. “No offense, but have you considered aiming a little higher?” Okay, so the Scrabble necklace was kind of strange. Some people liked strange.
The amusement that once reflected in her eyes faded, and Hayden knew at once that his words had offended her. “No offense, but have you?” She retorted before turning away from him. “I’ll show
Marissa your pictures when she gets back.”
 

Buy it for 99 cents!!!

 

Michele Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. In her free time, Michele enjoys football, hockey and reading a good book written by someone else.

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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Review, women on October 20, 2014

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Palmetto Moon 2

 

Title: Palmetto Moon
Author: Kim Boykin
Publisher: Berkely Trade
Pages: 320
Genre: Southern Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Synopsis

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

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Excerpt

Charleston, SC

June 20, 1947

“Murrah?” Rosa Lee’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head at me like I’ve forgotten the rules, but I haven’t. Since before I was born, my parents forbade the servants to speak their native tongue in our house. Offenders were given one warning; a second offense brought immediate dismissal. I say the Gullah word again, drawing it out softly. “Why are you crying?” The hands that helped bring me into the world motion for me to lower my voice.

Rosa Lee’s husband, Desmond, told me my first word was murrah. It was what I called Rosa Lee, until Mother made me call her by name. “My own murrah.” The forbidden words bring more tears. I press my face into the soft curve of her neck and breathe in the Ivory soap Mother insists all the servants use, mingled with Rosa Lee’s own scent—vanilla and lemongrass.

She holds me at arm’s length, trembling, and I know I’ve done it again.

“You got to tell them,” she pleads. “Make them see you can’t go through with this.”

I point to the door that leads to the elegant dining room where my parents are eating their breakfast. “I have told them. Mother refuses to listen, and I’ve begged Father. He says I have to do this.” She looks away. Her body rocks, sobbing violently on the inside. “Rosa Lee, please don’t cry. I can’t bear it.” She shakes her head and swipes at the tears that stain the sleeve of her freshly pressed uniform. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“When you’re asleep, your heart takes over. You got no control, and it’s gonna kill you.”

She’s right. Since I graduated and moved home from college two weeks ago, I’ve been sleepwalking like I did when I was a child, but these outings don’t land me snuggled up in the servant’s quarters, between Desmond and Rosa Lee. Most of the time, I wake up and return to bed without incident, but last week Desmond found me trying to leave the house. He said I was babbling about sleeping in the bay, which might not have been so disturbing if I hadn’t been wearing five layers of heavy clothing. I knew what he thought I was trying to do to myself and told him not to worry.

Since then, Rosa Lee has insisted on sleeping on the stiff brocade chaise in my bedroom. Of course, my parents don’t know she’s there or that she’s so afraid I’ll walk to the bay or step off the balcony in my sleep, she’s tethered my ankle to the bedpost with three yards of satin rope she begged from Mrs. O’Doul.

“Maybe it will be different after the wedding.” I love her enough to lie to her. “Father says I’m a Hadley and once it’s over with, I’ll fall in line the way I was born to.”

“But what if Desmond hadn’t caught you?” She threads her fingers in mine and kisses the back of my hand. A part of me wishes her intuition hadn’t sent Desmond to check on me, that he hadn’t found me. “And what are you gonna do when we’re not there?”

“Don’t say that.” My knees buckle, and I melt into a puddle at her feet. Justin has made it clear he’s happy with his staff and has no plans to add “two ancient servants.” But living under his roof and not having Rosa Lee and Desmond with me is unthinkable, another high price of being the last Hadley descendant.

“You think it’s not going to get worse after you’re married? Who do you think’s gonna be there to save you? Mr. Justin?” She hisses the last word. “You think long and hard before the sun comes up tomorrow, because I’m afraid down to my bones that you won’t be alive to see it.”

She collects herself and heads into the dining room to check on my parents. They won’t look into her beautiful brown face and see she’s been crying any more than they see this wedding is killing me, or at least the idea of being yoked to Justin McLeod is. Not because he’s eight years older than me and, other than our station in life, we have nothing in common, and not because of his good qualities, although no one can find more than two: He is a heart-stoppingly beautiful man and the sole heir of the largest fortune in Charleston.

For over a hundred years, Justin’s family and mine have built ships. And while two world wars made us rich, a prolonged peace threatens to weaken our family fortunes considerably. Somewhere in all that, my father convinced Justin a Hadley-McLeod union would position them to take over the world, at least the shipping world. And Father is certain nothing short of a blood union will keep Justin in the partnership.

Rosa Lee pushes through the swinging door and pours the coffee down the drain, her signal that breakfast is over and my parents are no longer close by. I smile, trying to reassure her I’m okay, that I’m going to be okay. She shakes her head and starts to wash one of the breakfast plates in slow motion, barely breathing. I hate those things, and after tomorrow, I’ll own twenty-four place settings of them, part of my dowry. I don’t give a damn about thousand-dollar plates, but I do care for Rosa Lee.

“I can do this.” I say from behind her. My voice sounds sure, steady. “I will do this.”

 

Review

Looking at the cover I’m not sure I would have guessed that the book is set in 1947.  Vada has decided that she can’t bear to be forced into a marriage with Justin and with the help of Rosa Lee & Desmond (the household help) she leaves Charleston for a town just 50 miles away.  Now in today’s world that would be nothing, but back then that was probably far enough away to hide.  After all there was no internet, easy ways to track people, etc.

I enjoyed the story but wish it dove a bit deeper into the different characters and their history.  I don’t know if we got the full story on all of the characters, at least the main ones.  There was some surprising revelations on some of the minor characters, or at least to me!  I didn’t quite understand what Vada saw in Frank Darling, perhaps because he was so different than what she knew?  I don’t know his age, but I guessed him to be older than her.  I think Vada was probably mid-twenties and my impression of Frank (by some of the background) is that perhaps he was in his mid-thirties.

I loved some of the characters and disliked others.  I think an author’s goal should be to have a good balance of character to love or hate and Kim did a good job here.

Overall I give it 4 paws up, a great story about the south and a time that I can only imagine.

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About the Author

Kim BoykinKim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Giveaway, New Adult on October 16, 2014

The Intern

COVER_THE INTERNTitle: The Intern

Author: Gabrielle Tozer

Genre: New Adult

Publish Date: 10/1/14

Publisher: Harper 360

Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.

 

~ Book Synopsis ~

Seventeen-year-old Josie is studying journalism and ends up at Sash magazine to do an internship. Josie has little enthusiasm for fashion and wants to be a serious journalist. But she has little choice. It’s Sash or the local cat fancier’s magazine.

Once at Sash, Josie comes to grips with the fact that the fashion industry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Plus she has to contend with her fellow interns and the editor, Rae, who is in charge and arbitrary – one day Josie’s her hot new favorite, the next, who knows?

Country girl Josie also has to get used to living in the city, and sharing a small flat with her cousin Tim, and his hotter-than-hot roommate James, is an education. Things come to a head at Sash when Josie manages to connect with Billy, a troubled rock star. But a disastrous episode at a nightclub and the fallout on social media causes Josie to wake up and see the real person behind his glamorous front.

Josie starts to wonder if she’ll ever get the journalistic break she longs for …

 

Excerpt

Most girls I knew, like Kat, spent their allowances or pay on make-up, jewellery, fashion, music, phone credit and magazines.  For me, magazines were a sparkly fantasy filled with smiling, shiny people who looked too happy all the time.

That didn’t stop me from leafing through Kat’s magazines when she was out, but instead of checking out the fashion I was reading the feature stories, scoping out who wrote them and looking for spelling mistakes.

I’d studied hard at high school for six years because I was destined to be a news journalist at a newspaper or radio station. So it had come as a huge shock to everyone, including me, to discover I would be interning at a magazine as part of my uni degree’s second semester.  And not just any magazine. I’d been signed up to (translation: pushed into) a one-day-a-week internship at one of the hottest women’s magazines in the country, Sash.

When I told Kat my news, she was thirteen per cent excited for me and eighty-seven per cent envious. In her world, my inability to use a curling iron meant I didn’t deserve the intern position. Her warning of ‘Don’t say anything stupid to the Sash girls and ruin my chances of working there one day’ hadn’t filled me with confidence.

Unless I underwent the world’s first personality transplant between here and the city, I knew I’d find a way to put my high-heeled foot in it.

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One Finished Copy of The Intern

 

Author Photo_GABRIELLE TOZERAbout the Author

Gabrielle Tozer is a senior features writer who has edited, sub-edited and written for several magazines, newspapers and anthologies throughout the past decade. In addition to Gabrielle’s work on Dolly, Cosmopolitan, DisneyGiRL, Mamamia and FamilyFun, she has also written for creative journals such as GOfish and Take It As Red. Born and bred in regional New South Wales, Gabrielle now works at Pacific Magazines and lives in the heart of Sydney.

 

 

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Fantasy, Young Adult on October 15, 2014

Jack Templar 4

Jack Templar and the Lord of the Werewolves

Fresh from confronting the Lord of the Vampires in the limestone catacombs beneath Paris, Jack Templar faces his toughest challenge yet as he searches for the next Jerusalem Stone, this one being held by the Lord of the Werewolves.

But the narrow escape from the vampire lair came at a great cost and Eva battles to survive the new vampire blood in her veins. The only chance to help Eva is to continue their quest and find the Jerusalem Stones. Reuniting the Stones will not only stop Ren Lucre’s coming war against mankind, but also transform Eva back into her human self.

From the ruins of ancient Delhi to the depths of the Black Forest in Germany, Jack and his friends face monsters, bewildering riddles and treachery from the most unlikely of places. Through it all, they are plagued by the Oracle’s prediction that at least one of their group with not make it through the adventure alive. Worse yet, they know that Kaeden, the Lord of the Werewolves, will do his best to make sure none of them do.

But they are monster hunters of the Black Guard… and they will do their duty, come what may.

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Excerpt

The stench hung heavy in the air. There was no other smell in the world quite like it. First came the stink of grease fires from the wall torches, the heavy black smoke that roiled through the air like a foul fog. Then a moldering, musty base layer came to the senses. It reeked of decay and seeping moisture that grew black mold on every surface. The mold clung on the rough-cut rocks lining the dungeon tunnels. It covered the thick iron bars holding the prisoners in place. It even grew on the tattered rags covering the miserable creatures in the cells and likely on their skin as well. That final smell overlay the symphony of stink.

The Creach prisoners.

Werewolves, harpies, blind mad-worms, blinderwursts, fangpiercers, even some demons held with the special pure iron chains required to keep them in place. Many of these creatures were pungent under the best circumstances, but locked in the deepest dungeon underground, sometimes for decades, they took on an odor so ripe, so awful, that visitors to the dungeon often had to hold their breath to enter. Even then, the smell would make their eyes sting and well with tears.

Immediately after leaving the dungeon, visitors were allowed a bath or a shower in the castle. As they washed the stench from their bodies, they would feel an overwhelming sense of thanks that they were not a prisoner wallowing in the horrifying conditions they’d just witnessed.

No one, human or Creach, wanted to be a prisoner in the dungeons of Ren Lucre.

Far away, at the end of one of the long, twisting corridors, came the creak of a massive door opening. The prisoners stirred at the sound. Their reactions mirrored how long they had been in their cells.

The newer arrivals looked up with expectation, still hopeful their punishment was going to be short and that someone was coming to tell them their nightmare was over.

Those who had been there longer knew that hope was useless in this dark place. They simply cowered farther into whatever dark corner they could find in their cell, desperate not to be noticed by the Master.

Then there were those who had been there the longest. They simply looked up with mild interest, knowing that nothing they did made any difference. Their spirits were broken. Worse, they knew this to be the dark truth, and they simply didn’t care.

One single prisoner reacted in none of these ways. He simply stood, and the rags that had once been his clothes hung on his bony frame. Unbroken by years of starvation and torture, he still squared his shoulders in the direction of the sound and raised his chin, his eyes glistening in the torchlight with defiance. What he saw would have brought a normal man to his knees, but this man was no more normal than the monster approaching.

Ren Lucre, the five hundred year old vampire, filled the hallway as he strode through it, his cloak billowing behind him as he rushed past the stinking cells. His pale, narrow face looked pinched and concerned. His blood-red lip pursed in a straight line, and his eyes glowered like embers in a fire that might at any time combust into new flame.

He came to the thick set of bars that held the proud man, stopped, and stared him down.

“Well, if it isn’t the Lord of the Creach,” the man said. Even though his voice was course and weak, he still managed an edge of bitter sarcasm. “You look like you’re having a bad day.” The man spat on the floor. “Good.”

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jeffAuthor Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel.

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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, Christian, excerpt, Review, romance on October 14, 2014

Daddy Warbucks

Title: Finding Daddy Warbucks
Author: David Hwa
Publisher: Wellworth, LLC
Pages: 180
Genre: Christian Fiction
Format: Ebook

Synopsis

We never know how God may lead us. The twists and turns of life often leave us confused and deflated. For 10-year-old Haley, the unexpected loss of her father was such a twist. When all is lost, a little light in the darkness can make all the difference. The world is a big place for a little girl. For that matter, it’s a pretty big place for anyone who has lost their way.

Hayley finds her solution in a modern day prince, but she can’t pull off this miracle by herself. Nick, an attorney struggling to save his job, wouldn’t seem to be much help to a little girl trying to create a miracle. But life has a way of bringing us the people we need most, at just the right time. Still, there is so much that could go wrong, especially when her headstrong mother doesn’t fall for the prince. But there’s something Hayley doesn’t see coming, something she can’t see. Something she doesn’t want to see, something that hides in the dark where she can’t go, something unspeakable.

Follow Haley’s journey into the light and see how redemption is there for anyone, even the condemned. And see how love can find you-even through the darkness.

Excerpt

Hayley steps out of the 7-Eleven into the morning sun. Dressed in her National Academy tartan uniform, her giraffe backpack, Stanley, dangling off her shoulder she looks very much like a lost prep-school munchkin. Stanley looks a little tired today, but that’s normal for him. He has a short neck, very un-giraffe- like, but that doesn’t bother Hayley. She fell in love with him the first moment she saw him. She circles around the store to the side parking lot where a group of high school boys mill around with their skateboards smoking and laughing. She approaches the tallest one whose hair looks especially chaotic.

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Review

This is a fun fast read. What happens when 3 kids go looking for a husband for their mom? Craziness, that’s what! Hayley is the ring leader and is in the 5th grade. She has a younger brother and sister who go along with things but she is the one that finds Nick and “Daddy Warbucks” who is actually Sir John, a wealthy business man. Hayley things that Sir John is the answer to the problem, but is he really? and is he ready to take on 3 kids?

there were some very funny/cute parts in this book and while it is labeled as Christian, I only recall a few paragraphs near the end where it references the Bible and a few verses. This is a sweet and clean story that will have you shaking your head at some of the kid’s antics and even the adults!

We give this 4 paws up!

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About the Author

David HwaDavid Hwa makes his literary debut with Finding Daddy Warbucks (2014) a tale of a little girl’s journey through loss, love and redemption.

David grew up in Kansas. He graduated with a music degree from the University of Colorado and went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration from Denver University, a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law, and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.

He practiced securities law for many years in Los Angeles, California with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. He later moved to Washington, DC where continued his securities practice with the Commission and later in private practice with the law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP. Following the financial crisis of 2008, David moved back to Colorado and opened his own securities law practice.

David is single and lives in Aurora, Colorado with his two leopard geckos Gordon and Carlos. He spends his days writing, skiing, and occasionally dispensing legal advice, sometimes while on the ski slopes.

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Tour Schedule


October 6

Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping

October 8

Book featured at Review From Here

October 9

Guest blogging at Bent Over Bookwords

October 10

Book featured at Queen of All She Reads

October 13

Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess

October 14

Book reviewed at Storeybook Reviews

October 16

Guest blogging at I’m Shelf-ish

October 20

Book featured at Melina’s Book Blog

October 21

Book featured at Book Nook Nuts

October 22

Guest blogging at The Revolving Bookshelf

October 23

Book reviewed at My Life. One Story at a Time

October 24

Book featured at The Literary Nook

October 27

Guest blogging at Literal Exposure

October 28

Book featured at Confessions of a Reader

October 29

Guest blogging at The Zen Reader

October 30

Book reviewed at Sincerely Stacie

October 31

Book featured at The Dark Phantom