Book tour & giveaway – Running Wild Anthology of Stories: Volume 1 by Various Authors

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Running Wild Anthology of Stories: Volume 1

By Various Authors:  Sarah Smith Ducksworth, Elaine Crauder, Luanne Smith, Keith R. Fentonmiller, Lisa Montagne, Ann Stolinsky, A.J. O’Connell, Aimee LaBrie, Kristan Campbell, Jack Hillman, Bill Scruggs, Joshua Hedges and Gary Zenker

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GENRE: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry (narrative)

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BLURB:

This gripping collection of stories – fiction, nonfiction, and narrative poem – will make your imagination run wild! Featuring stories by Sarah Smith Ducksworth, Elaine Crauder, Luanne Smith, Keith R. Fentonmiller, Lisa Montagne, Ann Stolinsky, A.J. O’Connell, Aimee LaBrie, Kristan Campbell, Jack Hillman, Bill Scruggs, Joshua Hedges, Gary Zenker. You will travel alternative planets, run away away like teens in search of adventure, solve a murderous mystery, come to grips with your fears, and much more.

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EXCERPT:

“Susan winks at me as she says to her mother, “We’re going to the playground. We’ll be back in a couple of hours.” “Don’t be too late. It looks like rain. Come home at the first sign of drops, OK my girls?” Her mother gathers us in an embrace. Her mother is tall and massive. I’ve heard people call her “zaftig.” Her many folds of skin almost choke me as she puts her fat over my face. I kiss her face as soon as I can breathe again. I look at Susan, her blue eyes shine, her mouth pursed in a conspiratorial smile. Her copper red hair bounces as she shakes her head, and puts her finger to her lips. She cocks her head into her mother’s plump side as she mouths, “don’t tell.” Susan’s my friend, my best friend. I know she’s lying to her mother, yet I say nothing. I believe we’re going to the playground like I believe I’ll be 6’ 5” when I grow up. At 12 years old and 4’10”, with parents who barely top 5’1”, the answer is the same, fat chance.”

From Ann Stolinsky’s “Don’t Tell”

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SPECIAL EXCERPT from Exodus by Keith R. Fentonmiller

Amparo

You feel so cool on my fingertips this afternoon, Papacito. Do not fret. The sky is clear, and the sun has risen high. You will be warm soon. The carrots are nearly in. Another week, I think. The beans look good, too. But I must ask you about the okra. They are pale and small. Are you not tending them? Have you grown tired? Have you lost hope? Do not despair. I am still here. Soledad is still here. She has grown so much since you left. Even from this distance, you can see how big she’s gotten. She rides that old Kelvinator box like a toboggan. She has her mamacita’s smile, her papacito’s curly hair. Oh mi. She should slow down. There is so much twisted metal and splintered wood at the bottom of the hill, ever since the bulldozers trampled the soft sage and the chapparal that we used to run through barefoot. Out of my way, Ferdinando. I cannot see Soledad. Cabra estúpida! Oh Ferdinando, you are skin and bones. Why am I surprised? The bulldozers have trampled the grasses too. Forgive me, stupid goat. Come. I’ll dig out a carrot. It is not yet ripe, but what do you care? Good. Eat. One less vegetable for Papacito to tend. Now go away.

Who is that on the dirt road between Soledad and the junk pile? A man. He does not see her, and she cannot control her cardboard sled. He carries a briefcase. He wears a suit. His skin is white, whiter than mine. I know, Papacito. This is still a sore subject for you, but can you not let it go? You are a hero. You gave yourself to that faraway place with the strange name—Guadalcanal. No matter they didn’t let you lie in Arlington because your skin was too dark, your name too Mexican. So your ashes rest here in the dirt, feeding the earth that feeds me. I often wish you had not been so much a hero. If you had been a little more of a coward, you might be here, really be here, with me. You would call me me pocha and güera, teasing me about my fair skin and perfect English. I cannot deny these things. That is how my father wanted it, and his father before him: marry the lightest person who’ll have you; learn to speak like Abraham Lincoln, not Emiliano Zapata. But you know all this, Papacito. My forefathers were shallow, shallower than the LA River in mid-summer. I just thank Jesus my Spanish was good enough to talk to the handsome chico pruning the hedges at the Armory. You were skin and bones then, having just arrived from the other side. No, Ferdinando. I am not talking to you. Go away before I swat you with my cane. You were skinny, Papacito, but not everywhere. Your forearms were strong and thick. Shoulders wide, face full of kindness. I would marry this man, I told myself. Father said that marrying a moreno was marrying down. To hell with my father.

You gave me Rafael and Romeo. I was happy. I thought you were happy too, but you itched for more. I heard what my father told you. “A real man doesn’t trim the Navy’s hedges. He fights in the Navy.” His words stuck in your belly like a grain of sand in a clam shell. For years, they poked and prodded and tickled at your insides. They spilled out in your dreams, anguished mumbles soaking into your pillow. While awake, you tried singing over those words, drowning them out with our lovemaking. But the words did not quiet. You mulled them over and over in your gut, until they filled you, until they came to define you as the pearl defines the clam. You put down the hedge trimmers and enlisted. How handsome you and your dark skin were in the white uniform. You promised to come back, and you did, but transformed. Of little use, except in the garden. No, say nothing, Papacito. I am not crying. Please. Just tend to the okra.

Look! Soledad has collided with the yankee. He has fallen into the dirt, and Soledad falls on top of him. They do not move. Are they dead? No. She rises, then he. He dusts the knees and elbows of his dark suit. He pulls a piece of sagebrush from her hair. He picks up his briefcase. He is saying something to Soledad. She points in my direction. The yankee nods a thank you. He is coming our way. I must get to my feet. Where is my cane? Did that stupid goat walk off with it? Ah, here. Help me up, cane.

What does the yankee want with us? The city men stopped coming long ago. I wouldn’t sell, not for any price. They made me sell anyway. But I didn’t sign anything, like you told me, Papacito. The sheriff says it doesn’t matter that I didn’t sign. Eminent domain, he called it, when he delivered the eviction papers. They’ll have drag me out of the house in handcuffs, I told him. Do not worry, Papacito. It will not be today. This yankee is no sheriff or deputy. He is wearing a baseball cap. You heard me right. A baseball cap with a suit. He is lost, that one. What, Papacito? No, it is not too early for a smoke. Do not worry. My head will stay clear, clear enough to dispense with this lost yankee. You certainly have become a nag in your old age. The okra is calling. Leave me be. He is here.

The yankee says hello. I say nothing. He asks if I am Amparo Puga. Si. He says his name. Howard Lederman. Lederman. Why does that name sound familiar? How could it? He is a Hebrew. I am a Mexican. He hands me a business card. He is a lawyer. He works for Señor O’Malley, the yankee who steals our land for his baseball team. I slip up and call Señor Howard a yankee. Maybe the smoke has clouded my head a bit. Señor Howard smiles and says he is not a yankee but a “Dodger.” He points to the “B” on his baseball cap and laughs. I do not understand his joke. My bones ache. I must sit. I invite Señor Howard inside for tea and piloncillo bread. He takes my elbow and opens the door for me. While the poleo tea steeps, he notices the garlic hanging over the kitchen sink. He asks if it’s Rocambole. I say it’s whatever we’ve grown here for a hundred years. It is not like anything he could buy in a store because it grows only in our soil, fed by the flesh and ashes of our people. He asks about the poppy pods dangling next to the garlic. He asks if it is Elephant Garlic and if it would taste in a good in a brisket. What is a brisket? Something his grandmother used to make. I remind him of her, he says. I have the same walk. “Maybe we’re related,” I joke. He doesn’t laugh. I shrug and tell him to sit at the marble table. I relight my pipe and join him with the cups of tea and the basket of bread.

Señor Howard places a paper next to my tea cup. Señor O’Malley is offering me $15,000. This is twice what the city paid. I tell him the house is already sold, but he knows this. He misspoke, he says. The $15,000 is for “moving expenses,” as long as I leave Chavez Ravine on my own. After that, the sheriff will return and arrest me for trespassing. My face will be splashed across the newspapers, and I will get nothing. Señor Howard says it is better for everyone if I sign the paper and take the money. I do not sign. I offer him the bread, but he declines. It is Passover, he says. I ask him to explain. His enslaved Hebrew ancestors left Egypt so quickly, there wasn’t time to let the bread rise. I say I’d happily give up bread forever to stay in my home. He says nothing. I tell him that my ancestors were the first to settle Chavez Ravine. Their children and their children’s children were all born here. Their umbilical cords are buried in the garden that grows the garlic and the herbs that he is drinking. Señor Howard coughs and then sets down his cup. I tell him my husband died in the Pacific Ocean and my Rafael died in Korea defending the soil in that garden. The “Elephant Garlic” pipe smoke drifts into his face. He coughs again. I tell him he, a member of the Hebrew tribe, should understand our connection to land, that the only price for a true home is blood and sweat. Tierra y Lybertad! He is thinking of something, or someone.

I look at the business card. I am certain I know that name. Lederman. He has been in this home before. We have shared tea. Many times. But it is not possible. Ah, my head has gotten so cloudy. Si, si, Papacito. Your warned me. There. I’ve set the spent pipe on the marble table top. Are you happy? Ah, the pipe made a loud clinking sound. That sound is trying to tell us something. Señor Howard says he’s from New York. He is very sad about the Dodgers moving off their land in Brooklyn. But, in a way, the situation has brought Señor Howard home. His ancestor, Joseph Lederman, was a leather worker in Germany. He settled somewhere in Los Angeles. He raised cows and made belts and chaps for the rancheros while his children went to school and became professionals. One child, Señor Howard’s great-grandfather, took the railroad east.

That is it! We know Joseph Lederman. Shush. My head is clear on this point. Joseph Lederman has been at this very table. Ah, you made me spill my tea. It is soaking into the tablecloth. I’ll have to fetch a fresh one. There he is! Joseph Lederman. The etched letters are faded and worn, but “Jo…Leder…” is still readable. I remember now, Papacito. You found the stone buried under the hedge at the Armory. You brought it home, thinking it was an old boundary marker. You said it would make a fine table. For years, we took our tea and drank our tequila from this gravestone. No wonder Jesus took you and Rafael so soon. No wonder the yankees take our land. You brought death into this house.

Señor Howard traces the letters with his fingertips. I tell him that his very people once lived and died on this land. He touches the proof. But he says it is a coincidence, that the stone spells a different name—John Lederson, maybe—or even if it is Joseph Lederman, it belonged to a different person with the same name. But I think he knows otherwise. I think he feels the chill of death. His family lives in the soil, just like you, Papacito. He knows that he cannot evict these spirits any more than he can evict himself, not even for $15,000 in moving expenses. He excuses himself. He stands and looks out the window. He looks at his wristwatch. I have seen that look before, Papacito. In my own face, reflected back at me on the night that the Navy men were walking toward our house. The look that said, “I thought I’d have more time.”

Señor Howard takes off his ball cap and scratches his head. He must go. He is not feeling well. I go to the kitchen and pull down four bulbs. I tell him to dump the seeds and grind the skins up good and then smoke them or infuse them into a tea. That will make him feel better. It will make him feel at home. He says he didn’t know you could smoke Elephant Garlic. This Elephant Garlic, you can, I say. I laugh a little. He laughs a little. Finally, we both find the same thing funny. He puts the bulbs in his pocket and heads out the door. He walks up the snaking road leading out of the ravine. He tosses his ball cap on the junk heap. Ferdinando sniffs the hat and then makes a feast of it.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

https://www.facebook.com/runningwildpress/

Elaine Crauder’s fiction is also in Cooweescoowee, The Boston Literary Magazine, The Eastern Iowa Review , and Penumbra. Another story received the Westmoreland Short Story Award. Eleven of her short stories have been finalists or semi-finalists in contests, including finalists in the Tobias Wolff and Mark Twain House contests. ”The Price Of A Pony,” under the title”Christmas the Hard Way,” was a semi-finalist for both Ruminate Magazine’s  short story prize and for the Salem College Center for Women Writers Reynolds Price short fiction award.

Richard D. “Ky” Owen is a lawyer with Goodwin & Goodwin, LLP, in Charleston, West Virginia. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University in 1981 and a J.D. from Hamline University in 1984. Coming from a family of writers, he considers himself a “writer by birth.” He is the author of

None Call Me Dad and he blogs about parenting and Michigan State sports on his website, http://www.nonecallmedad.com.

Keith R. Fentonmiller is a consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. Before graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, he toured with a professional comedy troupe, writing and performing sketch comedy at colleges in the Mid-Atlantic States. His Pushcart-nominated short story was recently published in the Stonecoast Review. His debut novel, Kasper Mützenmacher’s Cursed Hat, will be published March 20, 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press.

Based in Southern California, Dr. Lisa Montagne currently divides her time between writing poetry and prose, teaching writing to (mostly) willing college students, and overseeing educational technology projects and support at Fullerton College. She is also a Swing, Blues, and Argentine Tango dancer, host, DJ, and instructor. She likes to drink Champagne in as many places as she can, including Europe; to read poetry aloud to anybody who will listen; to cook for anybody who is willing to sit down long enough to enjoy her food; to dabble in drawing, painting, and photography; and to read anything plopped in front of her, ranging from D.H. Lawrence to Vogue magazine. She also likes to watch television and movies, and to imagine how much better she would have produced them herself. She lived in Las Vegas at one time, so she likes to tell people that she was a stripper there. She was really just a graduate student and high school teacher, but it’s more fun to let people wonder. Although rumored to be a direct descendent of Oompa Loompas, Lisa is actually the offspring of a college professor and a circus dwarf. You can find some more of her writing at archive405.com and lisamontagne.com, and see evidence of her adventures @lisamlore on Instagram.

Ann Stolinsky is a Pennsylvania-based word and game expert. She is the founder and owner of Gontza Games, an independent board and card game company, and three of her games are currently in the marketplace:

“MINDFIELD, The Game of United States Military Trivia”; “Pass the Grogger!”; and “Christmas Cards.”

Check out her website at http://www.gontzagames.com. She is also a partner in Gemini Wordsmiths, a full-service copyediting and content creating company. Visit http://www.geminiwordsmiths.com for more information and testimonials. Ann reviews books for Amazing Stories Magazine, an online sci-fi magazine which can be found at http://www.amazingstoriesmag.com, and is an Assistant Editor for Red Sun Magazine, http://www.redsunmagazine.com. Her most recent publishing credit is a poem in the Fall 2015 issue of Space and Time Magazine. She is a graduate of the Bram Stoker award-winning author Jonathan Maberry’s short story writing class.

Lisa Diane Kastner is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery. She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award. Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey she migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously engage in little sparks of anarchy.

Aimee LaBrie works as a communications director at Rutgers University. She earned her MFA in fiction from Penn State, and her MLA from University of Pennsylvania. Her short story collection, Wonderful Girl, was awarded the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction and published by the University of North Texas Press in 2007. Her second collection of stories, A Good Thing, placed as a finalist in the BOA Short Fiction Contest. Her short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Pleiades, Minnesota Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Permafrost, and other literary journals. In 2012, she won first place in Zoetrope’s All-Story Fiction contest. You can read her blog at http://www.butcallmebetsy.blogspot.com.

Kristan Campbell is a short story writer born in Washington, D.C. but has only visited her grandmother there during some of the summers of her childhood. She’s more familiar with Philadelphia, New York City, and Paris than her native city and aims to weave her experiences in those places into tales based on places and people that are out of the ordinary. She studied Journalism at Temple University (what seemed like a practical approach to writing at the time) and Comparative Literature at Hunter College (which seemed like a fun idea at the time) before accepting that she should have been an English major all along. Kristan completed her B.A. in English at Temple University in 2010 and an MFA in Fiction at Fairfield

University in 2016. She’s currently attempting to eke out a living doing freelance editing with the help of her cat, Fishy, who manages her desktop printer with enthusiasm.

Bill Ed Scruggs spent his younger years meeting the Southern mountain countryside and exploring the people, taking time out as needed for work in various occupations. He lives (temporarily) in Connecticut and has one child, a psychiatrist. Presently he is reconstructing his memories and imaginings in a series of novels and short stories (Facebook page Foothills Fiction – Bill Ed Scruggs) Warrensburg is a fictional photo of a country village in the illumination of fireflies.

Joshua Hedges is a debut Science Fiction writer from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Computer Science. When he’s not writing stories or code, he ventures outdoors with his wife and three-year-old son to hunt dragons in the forest.

Gary Zenker is a marketing professional whose days are filled with creating business and marketing plans, and writing ad copy and media content. By night, he applies his imagination to flash fiction tales that cross genre and focus on revealing various facets of human nature. He is the author of Meetup Leader, a book on running successful groups; is editor and publisher of 19 books in the rock & roll Archives series; and co-author of Says Seth, a humorous collection written with his then six-year-old son. His work has earned a dozen marketing awards and placed in four writers’ contests, including a first place recognition from Oxford University Press. He founded and continues to lead two writers groups in southeastern PA, assisting others to develop their skills and achieve their writing goals. http://www.zenkermarketing.com

ONLY THE E-BOOK IS $0.99 DURING THE TOUR

Amazon eBook

Amazon-print 

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GIVEAWAY

The authors will be awarding three individual prizes, a $10, a $25 and a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to three randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $50, $25, or $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book tour & giveaway – Behind the Mask by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others

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Behind the Mask

by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others

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GENRE:

Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

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BLURB:

Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

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EXCERPT from “The Fall of the Jade Sword” by Stephanie Lai

The eucalyptus is old, and it takes her weight with ease. Mok-Seung crosses into its branches, and after carefully closing her window and peering through the branches onto the street below, she scales its trunk to the top and onto the roof, disappearing into the dark.

Clad in loose ku, her traditional pants, with a green band across her brow, she runs over the rooftops lining Little Bourke; she stretches herself to leap out over Exhibition Street and keeps running. Mok-Seung nearly misses a couple of jumps, but she’s getting better, and she makes it across town without too many mishaps.

From atop the roof, she sights one of the new augmented bikes leaning against a terraced house. She jumps down to the road and drops to the ground inside the house’s high front gate. The generators beside the house are working overtime, pressing steam into the sky, so the house is still awake. She hopes they won’t notice that she longs for this contraption, sleeker than the new steam carriages with their gears and the constant need for fire, ceaseless in comparison with horses, which plod and clop through the streets. This one has red and white streamers tied to the handlebars and around the pipes. She wonders if, perhaps, that’s less than wise, but she wraps the streamers around her hand and admires them all the same.

Mok-Seung sits on the bike, imagines cycling it through Little Bourke, imagines its potential when coupled with the airship technology.

She blinks, suddenly awash in bright light. “Get off!” she hears. “Jeremy, there’s a Chinese on your bike!” She looks up in confusion, and the woman at the door screams. Mok-Seung reaches for the fence, balances on its pointiest peak as she reaches for the balcony of the townhouse, and then pulls herself onto the roof. She feels a scratch against her ankle, but doesn’t pause as she starts to run.

She sprints across the roofs, hears a clatter as she jumps onto the English-style tiles. She curses them for their difference and keeps running, her footsteps not as light as she might hope. She sees the curve of an airship rising to her left and turns suddenly, making a leap like the photo captured by the local newspapers.

The skin of the balloon is too smooth beneath her hand, and she loses her grip. She scrabbles for purchase but it’s to no avail—she loses her hold and starts to free fall off the side of the airship, bounces on its edge, and brushes past the edge of another roof. Mok-Seung continues to plummet and panics, looking for anything to break her fall, when she is stopped, suddenly, a hand grasped fast around her wrist. She looks up and meets bright brown eyes and an unrelenting stare under a green band. The real Jade Sword!

“Pay attention,” says the familiar voice, not unkindly. “You need to know where to throw your weight.” She flicks her wrist and the figure releases her, letting her drop painfully the final few feet to the ground. Mok-Seung pauses, her hand resting on an augmented bicycle; she lets herself breathe for a moment, the shame of being caught out curling in her gut. She admires the lean build and smooth pipes of the bicycle. One day she’ll have one.

A shout behind her spurs her back into action. Ahead, “Yong’s Chinese Laundry” is monogrammed in red above a brick building. She speeds up, darts through the red door, past the uncle at the counter and into the steam of the pressing room. The auntie emits a yell, “Out, out!” as another clasps her heart. “Jade Sword!” the second auntie yells, in what Mok-Seung hopes is awe and pride, even though she’s not who they think she is.

“Sorry,” she says as she trips over a steamer. “Sorry, sorry.” She bows to each auntie as she passes them and heads straight for the back window she knows opens onto a narrow laneway. At the last auntie, she pauses. “Lou Yap,” she says. “Your pau at festival last week was the greatest I have ever eaten.”

As she climbs through the back window, there is silence in the usually chatty laundry, broken only by the hiss of the press. She peers back through as the front door clangs open. Suddenly, the laundry swings back into action, and a number of large trolleys are completely accidentally wheeled into position between the door and the window. Lou Yap waves cheerily, and Mok-Seung ducks out of sight, running down the alley.

She leaps up onto a roof, delightfully low placed. She puts some distance between herself and her pursuers, until all she can hear is the city settling down.

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Guest Blog

Stephanie Lai: Why I write what I write

I love being Chinese-Australian, but it’s so frustrating to spend all this time looking at myself, what it means to be Chinese and Australian and from Malaysia, to be first generation in a country, and to know that all the media I have access to doesn’t look at that. So much western SFF takes our cultural trappings and uses them to signify the other. There’s lanterns and chopsticks and random Chinese swearing to indicate so many far flung futures, but there’s no Chinese people. There’s robot geishas and no Japanese people.

It’s this fun challenge to interact with science fiction and fantasy tropes and apply my own cultural background and history to it, especially because it gives me a chance to complain about science fiction and fantasy. A large part of the reason I enjoy steampunk is because it’s fun to reimagine our past with steamships and airships, but steampunk is so often rooted in colonialism and Victoriana and the precedence of Western things. That’s not what my steampunk past would have looked like.

As a first generation Chinese-Australian migrant, it’d look a little bit more like this: the use of wuxia, itself often a signifier of the fantastical in Western fantasy (think about the use of wuxia in the Matrix), when in Chinese texts it’s just another day to day thing, never the most fantastical element at all; Chinese communities; being ignored by the Australian press except when it suits them; and laundries, of course. You can’t escape it for a reason. It might involve less steam: being Australia, the ease with which water is accessed and turned into steam might be radically different; but then, being so colonial and so heavily obsessed with Mother England, Australia might have thrown itself into steam-power and said to hell with the upriver areas.

In my story, The Fall of the Jade Sword, I’ve chosen to look at the day to day life of a superhero who isn’t quite a superhero. Mok-Seung is still working out where she fits, and what best suits her, and how to navigate the racism and complexities of being Chinese-Australian in Melbourne. She’s looking at how to fit her culture into the injustices she sees around herself, and how to fit herself into her culture. She’s coveting a steam-powered bike, because I would want one, too. (Several of my protagonists ride bikes; it’s the transport of our oncoming climate change dystopia.)

My stories explore three main themes: climate change; being Chinese-Australian, specifically from Malaysia; and the tension between the emphasis on the individual which is so prominent in Australia with the need to look after community and kin. Most of my stories feature Chinese-Australian protagonists: I’m not yet so well-published that it’s oppressive or overt, and though I imagine each story fitting into a world spanning generations, no protagonist is yet repeated.

And I love what I write. Writing feels like an extension of my day job (climate change adaptation) which feels like an extension of my activism (environmental justice) which feels like an extension of my interest in SFF (where we go to from here). And it’s fun!

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Featured author bio:

 Stephanie LaiStephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she’s helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at stephanielai.net, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at no-award.net.

All other author bios:

Kelly Link is the author of four short story collections: Get in Trouble, a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners, and Stranger Things Happen. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Seanan McGuire lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, in a large, creaky house with a questionable past.  She shares her home with two enormous blue cats, a querulous calico, the world’s most hostile iguana, and an assortment of other oddities, including more horror movies than any one person has any business owning.  It is her life goal to write for the X-Men, and she gets a little closer every day.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye and InCryptid urban fantasy series, both from DAW Books, and the Newsflesh and Parasitology trilogies, both from Orbit (published under the name “Mira Grant”).  She writes a distressing amount of short fiction, and has released three collections set in her superhero universe, starring Velma “Velveteen” Martinez and her allies.  Seanan usually needs a nap.  Keep up with her at http://www.seananmcguire.com, or on Twitter at @seananmcguire.

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She’s written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at www.carrievaughn.com.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see http://www.kittywumpus.net

Lavie Tidhar is the author of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize winning and Premio Roma nominee A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), the World Fantasy Award winning Osama (2011) and of the critically-acclaimed The Violent Century (2013). His latest novel is Central Station (2016). He is the author of many other novels, novellas and short stories

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at katemarshallwrites.com.

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He’s a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says ‘G’day mate!’ to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel’s body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @suffelstuart

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at AdamRShannon.com.

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse.

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Baen.com, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.

Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette “Our Lady of the Open Road.” Her novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker.

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.

Ziggy Schutz is a young queer writer living on the west coast of Canada. She’s been a fan of superheroes almost as long as she’s been writing, so she’s very excited this is the form her first published work took. When not writing, she can often be found stage managing local musicals and mouthing the words to all the songs. Ziggy can be found at @ziggytschutz, where she’s probably ranting about representation in fiction.

Matt Mikalatos is the author of four novels, the most recent of which is Capeville: Death of the Black Vulture, a YA superhero novel. You can connect with him online at Capeville.net or Facebook.com/mikalatosbooks.

Patrick Flanagan – For security reasons, Patrick Flanagan writes from one of several undisclosed locations; either—

1) A Top Secret-classified government laboratory which studies genetic aberrations and unexplained phenomena;

2) A sophisticated compound hidden in plain sight behind an electromagnetic cloaking shield;

3) A decaying Victorian mansion, long plagued by reports of terrifying paranormal activity; or

4) The subterranean ruins of a once-proud empire which ruled the Earth before recorded history, and whose inbred descendants linger on in clans of cannibalistic rabble

— all of which are conveniently accessible from exits 106 or 108 of the Garden State Parkway. Our intelligence reports that his paranoid ravings have been previously documented by Grand Mal Press, Evil Jester Press, and Sam’s Dot Publishing. In our assessment he should be taken seriously, but not literally. (Note: Do NOT make any sudden movements within a 50′ radius.)

Keith Rosson is the author of the novels THE MERCY OF THE TIDE (2017, Meerkat) and SMOKE CITY (2018, Meerkat). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at keithrosson.com.

LINKS:

Book Page: http://meerkatpress.com/books/behind-the-mask-a-superhero-anthology/#mbt-book-purchase-anchor

Publisher: http://www.meerkatpress.com

BUY LINKS:

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble 

Powell’s 

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NOTE:

THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop).  Thanks!

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GIVEAWAY:

The authors will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

goddess

Blog Tour & Giveaway – Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza

 

Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!

To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.

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The Mac Faraday Mystery Series:

 

   

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.

In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.

Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.

The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?

With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book
 

Question: what do you get the man with everything?

Answer: when that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him a cold case to solve.

In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a collector of stolen art. But this isn’t just any stolen work of art – it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece, she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio, and her painting is nowhere to be found.

Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.

A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect – a convicted serial killer.

The favor: solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.

Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, victim number four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!

 

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

In this fourth mystery on Deep Creek Lake, Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs in mobsters and federal agents.

After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars – Archie Monday!

Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.

Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!

Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!

In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.

What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

 

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

 

Fame comes at a price. Some pay with their privacy. Others pay with their pride. Khloe Everest paid with her life.

Determined to get her pretty face in front of the cameras, Khloe Everest fakes an abduction only to make a grand entrance in the midst of a press conference held by Spencer’s Police Chief David O’Callaghan.

Three years later, after failing to catapult her notoriety into a long-lasting celebrity, Khloe Everest returns to Spencer upon her mother’s sudden death and seemingly finds another weapon to propel herself into the spotlight. Unfortunately, someone kills her before she can make this entrance.

In Lauren Carr’s sixth Mac Faraday Mystery, Mac and his friends come up against reality stars, politicians, has-beens, and wannabes. Mac also finds himself face-to-face with an old foe from his past who had managed to escape arrest during their last encounter. Now, Mac sees that his adversary has only become more powerful, and dangerous, with the passage of time.

Intent to not let this killer escape again, Mac and his friends need to put all of their talents together to put a stop to a cold-blooded lady killer.

 

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book

Two people are brutally murdered in their summer place on Deep Creek Lake. Suspected of the murders, former child star and one-time teenybopper idol Lenny Frost takes innocent bystanders hostage in a local pub and demands that Mac Faraday find the killer. Can Mac save the hostages and himself from the wrath of the enraged has-been by piecing together the clues in less than twelve hours, or will it be a fatal last call at the stroke of midnight?
 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


With three days left to the year, Deep Creek Lake is hopping with holiday vacationers and wedding guests pouring into the Spencer Inn for Mac Faraday and Archie Monday’s huge wedding ceremony which is being touted as the social event of the year.

But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac’s and Archie’s problems when a professional hit squad hits Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, Archie’s mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.

With time running out before the big day, Mac Faraday and Spencer’s small police force have to sort through the clues to figure out not only who has been targeted for assassination, but also who is determined to stop everything…forever!

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


Spring is in the air. In Deep Creek Lake, the burst of blossoms on the trees has the effect of a starting pistol in the race to get the resort area ready in time for the seasonal residents return to Spencer, Maryland.

This year, the Spencer Inn, Mac Faraday’s five-star resort, has the added duty of preparing for the Diablo Ball, an annual benefit event that used to kick off Deep Creek Lake’s summer season. The exclusive gala has drawn in A-listers from across the country, including suspects and witnesses connected to Ashton Piedmont, a young woman who had disappeared while skinny dipping in Deep Creek Lake five years earlier, days after the last Diablo Ball.

Intrigued by a mysterious phone call from a young woman claiming to be Ashton, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday can’t resist diving head first into the cold case. But he’s not the only one. Someone behind the scenes has gone to a lot of trouble to bring Ashton Piedmont’s friends and enemies to the Diablo Ball, which promises to be a gala event to die for!

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle – divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail-biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend – and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

 

The Lovers in Crime Mystery Series:

 
 
Buy the Audiobook Book


 
Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too – because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost 20 years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.) has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, in order to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, the one-time leader of a rock band who is twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has a deep dark secret.

The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface – not the least of which being J.J.’s inexplicable dislike for his stepmother Cameron. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences with Joshua’s son aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross-hairs of a murderer.

 

The Thorny Rose Mystery Series:

 

 

Buy the Audiobook ~ Book


Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

 

 

Buy the Audiobook Book


After 10 months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect…except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

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Content Rating

All of Lauren Carr’s books are rated PG-13 because they are murder mysteries and will contains murder scenes. Some of the books contain violence associated with military assignments. There are some books that contain sex scenes which are not explicit. There is little profanity, no f-words.

 

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Guest Blog

My Mother Isn’t a Psychopath. She’s a Mystery Writer

By Lauren Carr

Okay, let’s take a moment out for some Mommy Bragging Rights: My son, Tristan has joined the ranks of published writers! Last month, a national magazine published an article he had written (No, it was not about murder, but rather the economy) and they paid him for it! I’ve been strutting around like a proud momma hen ever since!

Now that we’re both in the same line of work and we’re both writers, maybe I’ll finally get some respect.

Years ago, Tristan was a sophomore in high school when he had been selected to give tours to new incoming freshmen. Apparently, some parents were present. During the orientation, a mother came up to him and asked, “Is it true you’re Lauren Carr’s son? I love her mysteries! Give Gnarly a hug for me.” Notice she didn’t tell him to hug me.

Being a teenaged boy, he was horrified by the attention. However, I couldn’t miss the little smile on his face when he told me about it.

I knew before having children that I would not be your average mother. At the last Pampered Chef party I attended, the sales rep was left speechless when I pointed out how, with simply a slight adjustment to the measurements of the ingredients to her salad dressing recipe, we could make a neat little Molotov cocktail.

I haven’t been invited to another sales party since. I’m still waiting to get mad about it.

It isn’t like I ever expected to be a normal parent. What type of mother sits around all day thinking about ways to kill people? Tristan should consider himself lucky. If I wasn’t a mystery writer, I’d be a psychopath. What kind of mother is that? At least he doesn’t have to sleep with his eyes open.

It’s bad enough that his English teachers in high school all knew that his mother is an author. One year, his English teacher turned out to be a fan. Thankfully, she didn’t ask me to come speak to his class. Heaven forbid I enter the school building while my teenaged son is there!

Tristan claims the most embarrassing moments for him is when I insisted on doing research in his presence. The last time I took him to the dentist—and I mean the last time—I had the nerve to ask the dentist which tool on his tray would make the most unusual murder weapon.

Laying back in the dentist chair, with the suction hose in his mouth, Tristan widened his eyes in horror while the dentist on one side, and me on the other, examined the various tools on the tray directly above him.

Now that I think about it, the dentist had no problem explaining how each one could be used to kill someone. I wonder if that says something about him … or his patients.

“A scalpel is so cliché,” I told our dentist. “I’m looking for one that when the police see it, they will have no idea that it was a murder weapon until Mac points it out in the end.”

“I have just the thing for you,” the dentist said, “But I don’t have it here. Give me your address and I’ll mail it to you.” A few days later, the weapon arrived at our home in a padded envelope with a note, “Here’s your murder weapon. Enjoy!”

Now, Tristan insists that my husband take him to the dentist. That’s something else that I’m still waiting to get mad about.

But, no matter how hard my son tries, he can’t completely ignore me and my chosen profession. Sometimes, he is going to be out in public with me and an opportunity is going to present itself for me to gather ideas for my latest mystery.

Like the last time I drove him home from school—a few years ago. I was on my way to pick Tristan up when I came upon a police road block. With cars backed up on the road, the police were stopping everyone to search their car. I practically jumped up and down in my seat with anticipation about being pulled over by the police and getting patted down and having my car searched. Think of the material I would have to use! So, you can imagine my dismay when they waved me through!  They searched the guy in front of me and behind me—but they completely ignored me! ME!

Obviously, I didn’t look suspicious enough to warrant a search.

So, when I picked up Tristan, I told him, “Okay, we’re going to be coming to a road block. The police are searching cars. Look suspicious.”

Tristan scrunched down in his seat.

“Sit up. They won’t be able to see you. And try to look sneaky.”

By the time we came back to the road block, I had my eyebrows knitted together and my mouth screwed up into what I hoped to be an evil snarl, while Tristan was hiding in the back seat where hopefully no one would see him and know he was with me.

Again, the police stopped the car in front of me, and the one behind me, while waving me through. Couldn’t they see the body hiding in my back seat? That should have looked suspicious, don’t you think? I knew when they waved me on that I should have reached back and pinched Tristan to make him scream out for help.

Now, Tristan won’t allow me to pick him up from anyplace anymore. It’s been years and I’m still not mad about that, either.

Now that Tristan has joined the ranks of professional writers, I can dish it back. I’m already practicing my eye rolls for when he asks someone about what weapon they think is best to use on tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
 

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Meet the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
 

Connect with Lauren

 


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Meet the Narrators

 

Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.

In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.

In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer. Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.

 

 

C.J. McAllister is an Audible Approved Producer — “Audible Approved producers are the best audiobook producers in the business.” Only a small number are awarded this honor.

C.J. has produced best-selling audiobooks in multiple genres/styles, TV commercials/promo teasers, animation projects, interviews (TV and radio), corporate presentations.

 

 

Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.

Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.

James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, “The Last Outlaws”. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

 

A broadcast veteran of over 30 years, Mike Alger is best known as the award-winning Chief Meteorologist for KTVN-TV in Reno, NV. He is also a successful author, having penned the Mystery-Thriller novel “Snow Storm,” and is the narrator of the audiobook of the same name.

 

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Enter the Giveaway!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally)
Ends July 22

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Book tour & giveaway – Just one touch by Maya Banks

VT-JustOneTouch-MBanks_FINAL.jpg

A suspenseful and sizzling story of a young woman who 
escapes a terrifying past… into a more uncertain future.

 

JustOneTouch Cover.JPG

 

JUST ONE TOUCH

Slow Burn #5

Maya Banks

Released May 9, 2017

Avon Books

 

Multiple #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks continues her Slow Burn series with a suspenseful and sizzling story of a young woman who escapes a terrifying past… into a more uncertain future.

 

BLURB 

 

Raised in a strict religious cult since she was a young girl, Jenna has no connection to the outside world beyond vague flashes of memory that seem to be from another life. Memories she clings to when the cult leaders discover her extraordinary ability to heal-and punish her. Years held captive and forced to do the cult’s bidding have turned Jenna into a meek, timid woman…or so they think. In truth, she is merely biding her time, waiting for the perfect moment to escape.

When a terrified young woman tries to steal the SUV of Devereaux Security’s toughest recruit, Isaac’s anger quickly turns into a strange sort of protectiveness for the beautiful, bruised stranger. But when they are caught in a firestorm of bullets and Isaac is hit, he’s sure the end is near, until Jenna touches him and closes his wounds. As he tries to bring Jenna to safety, she refuses to tell him what danger haunts her or how she healed him, but Isaac vows to do whatever it takes to gain her trust…and her heart. Because with just one touch, Isaac knows he wants Jenna to be his–forever.

 

 

 

EXCERPT

Isaac lay quietly in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, his thoughts consumed by the blue-eyed angel in the next room.

Would she be able to sleep? And if she was, did nightmares plague her dreams?

What was it about her that called to a part of his heart and soul that had never been breached before? He could come up with plenty of reasonable explanations, like the fact that she’d saved his life. Or that he’d made it his life’s work to protect the innocent. Or the fact that she was lost in a world of which she had little understanding or knowledge. Or the fact that she needed him.

But the simple truth was that he needed her every bit as much as she needed him, and he couldn’t come up with a reason that made any sense to him.

He’d come across plenty of victimized women who’d desperately needed help, his protection, DSS’s protection, but never had he been even remotely possessive of them. He’d done his job, and it never failed to enrage him and rile his protective instincts.

It was who and what he was; he’d never be a man to stand idly by while a woman was in danger or being abused.

But his angel wasn’t just any victim. She wasn’t just any woman in trouble and in need of protecting. And he had no idea what to do with that realization. He couldn’t even call it a realization, as if he’d just been struck by an epiphany as he lay there with no hope of sleeping. He’d known it from the moment she’d touched him, laid her hands on him, and he’d felt her in the very depths of his soul.

It wasn’t sexual—wholly—because he’d be a damn liar if he didn’t want her with every breath in his body. It was spiritual, and he felt like some hokey fool mooning over things like destiny and fate, but how could he call it anything else when from the moment she’d touched him he’d felt a connection that transcended any physical want or need?          

And he was consumed with guilt for having sexual thoughts, lustful, needful thoughts, about a woman child whom he didn’t even know whether she was of an age for him to be having such thoughts about her. She had the innocence of a girl with the body of a desirable woman. Hell, it was obvious that no matter how many years she’d lived in this world, she’d spent the majority of them sheltered, sequestered from the real world. She was either enraptured with or terrified of things that he and others took for granted.

She’d been conditioned.

He frowned. It appeared that at a very early age she’d been indoctrinated. Brainwashed. Taught an alternate reality that was twisted to fit the agenda of the people who’d kept her under lock and key, and they’d proven they would go to extreme measures to retrieve her. She was a valuable asset to them. Irreplaceable.

He wondered when her powers had manifested themselves and as he pondered that question, he wondered if it was what had saved her from a far worse fate. Even the dumbest fucks would realize the enormity of what they possessed in Jenna.

He rolled over to retrieve his cell and punched in Eliza’s number, knowing it was late and that Sterling likely wouldn’t be pleased, but Eliza of all people would understand his suspicions. He needed to bounce some ideas off her.

“This better be damn good,” Eliza growled into the phone.

“Because I was about to be the recipient of the mother of all orgasms, and Wade is just pissed enough to throw my phone in the pool and withhold sex for a week.”

Isaac burst out laughing when he heard Sterling in the background.

“Jesus fuck, woman, can we keep our sex life and your goddamn job separate?”

 

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Tasty Q&A with Maya Banks

Describe yourself in five words or less.

Unorganized, melt-down prone, laid back, despise drama & conflict!

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

My Give A Damn is Broken

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

A cup of crushed ice

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I’m a complete homebody & enjoy hanging out at home with my family every chance I get. It’s rare for me to leave my house!

What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?

I love revealing information about various characters personalities and the closeness between them through dialogue. I also always  look forward to writing the dark moment as I love me some angst!

What are your favorite types of stories to read?

I love stories that don’t feature a couple who spend the entire book apart or that focus on internal conflict. I much prefer to see the hero and heroine together on the page and to see them working together to overcome external conflict.

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

I absolutely love following up with characters from a previous story whether it’s including them as secondary characters in a newer book or writing a short novella that revisits them so readers can see them after the HEA

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I absolutely credit my readers with my success and my career. They, not me, are why I’ve been able to write close to 80 stories in the 11 years I’ve been writing

 

 

Maya Banks is a multiple #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the Surrender Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels. She lives in Southeast Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Prize winner will receive a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card; First Runner-Up will receive a print set of the Slow Burn series by Maya Banks

 

  

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Release blitz & giveaway – MAMI, BASED ON A TRUE STORY by J.C. Valentine

MAMI, based on a true story

by J.C. Valentine
PAPI #2

Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Genres: Adult, Erotic, Short Story, Novella, Contemporary, Romance

BUY:

 

 

SYNOPSIS:

Readers asked for it, and JC Valentine has delivered!

Life has thrown me a few curveballs…
But nothing as sexy or devastating as Alejandro.
I never thought I’d see him again, but fate has seen fit to give us another chance.
Maybe this time we’ll get it right. Maybe this time he’ll stay.
Or perhaps my heart is about to be irrevocably shattered.
One way or another, our lives are about to change.
Only time will tell if it’s for better or worse, but one thing is certain…
Alejandro is a force to be reckoned with…maybe even best to be avoided.
But when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes there’s no reasoning.
Sometimes…it’s pure instinct.

Taking a chance on him is like playing Russian roulette—it’s dangerous…foolish…and likely to kill me.
But what’s life without a little risk?

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EXCERPT

He sends me a picture. He’s smiling, shirtless, and holding a beer. Good Lord, could he get any hotter? Biting my lower lip, I hold my camera overhead and snap one of myself. I’m going for the sultry look. I’m not entirely sure I pulled it off though. I send it then follow it up with a couple rows of smiley faces with hearts for eyes.

A: Cute cute cute

Me: The gods were in my favor today

A: You’re funny

Me: Glad you think so

A: What you do today

Me: Wrote a little and took the kids to dinner

A: Did you have fun

Me: Yep I did

Me: I miss your face

A: Send me another pic

This time I take a minute to change into a pair of skimpy pajamas, feeling all sorts of naughty, and then I take a picture of just my bare legs with only the lacy edge of my shorts showing at the top of my thighs.

Me: You mean like this?

A: Mmmm very nice

A: What color panties are you wearing?

Me: White

Me: Because I’m so sweet and innocent

I’m aware that I’m biting my bottom lip again. The anticipation of his response is almost too much, the thrill nearly as powerful as when we’re occupying the same space.

A: I do not think you are that innocent Mami

Me: *gasp*

A: Mami

A: Move those panties over

A: Show me what’s mine

Okay, so now I’m nervous. I’m not an old pro at sexting, and Alejandro being Alejandro, he’s gone from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. I hesitate, then say:

Me: I’m a good girl remember

A: Mami…

Me: What

A: Show me my pussy

Oh my Lord. I want to say no…but I also don’t. I’m experiencing a bit of a dilemma. So used to behaving “right” it feels all kinds of wrong to do anything else, but that’s also part of the allure. The bad girl inside of me wants to come out and play, and she’s warring with the good girl who is struggling to hold onto some of her reserve.

Me: I’ll think about it

A: How long do you need to think

Me: Hmmm…I’ll let you know

A: Mami

A: Please

Me: I think you should come here and take one yourself

Goose bumps form on my skin when I think of him, buried inside me, with his phone in-hand. The very idea makes me blush, but I find the fantasy to be more than a little appealing.

A: I need to see you

Me: Baby me too

A: Are you done thinking yet

Me: lol nope

A slew of crying emojis quickly follow, then:

A: Okay Mami

He’s quiet for longer than I’d like and a wave of insecurity sets in, so like a psycho I ask:

Me: Are you mad?

A: I could never be mad at you

ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

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Release blitz – Somebody Else’s Sky by Jessica Hawkins

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Title: Somebody Else’s Sky
Series: Something in the Way #2
Author: Jessica Hawkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 22, 2017

 

 

Blurb

 

If I closed my eyes, I could still see them—all blonde sunshine, ocean-blue eyes, and long limbs. The glint of Lake’s gold bracelet. Pink cotton candy on Tiffany’s tongue. My scenery may have changed from heaven to hell, but some things never would: my struggle to do right by both sisters. To let Lake soar. To lift Tiffany up. The sacrifices I made for them, I made willingly.
 
A better man would’ve walked away by now, but I never claimed to be any good. I only promised myself I’d keep enough distance. If I’d learned one thing from my past, it was that love came in different forms. You could love passionately, hurt deep, die young. Or you could provide the kind of firm, steady support someone else could lean on.
 
Lake was everything I wanted, and nothing I could ever have. I was nobody before I knew her and a criminal after. The way to love her was to let her shine—even if it would be for somebody else.
 
 
Book two in the Something in the Way series, an epic, 3-book saga of forbidden love…

 

Purchase Links

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

 

Also Available

 
 

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Coming Soon

 

 

Pre-order now for October 23, 2017

 

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Author Bio
 

Jessica Hawkins grew up between the purple mountains and under the endless sun of Palm Springs, California. She studied international business at Arizona State University and has also lived in Costa Rica and New York City. To her, the most intriguing fiction is forbidden, and that’s what you’ll find in her stories. Currently, she resides wherever her head lands, which is often the unexpected (but warm) keyboard of her trusty MacBook.

 

Author Links

 

 

DON’T MISS OUT ON ANYTHING JESSICA HAWKINS!

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Release blitz – The Rebellion by S.L. Scott

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Title: The Rebellion

Series: Hard to Resist #5

Author: S.L. Scott

Genre: STANDALONE Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 18, 2017
 

 

Blurb

 

I met my muse at fifteen. I’d just gotten busted for smoking behind the school gymnasium. She inspired me with her laugh and nonjudgmental attitude and, before I knew it, we were inseparable. Then I left to pursue my rock star dreams—dreams she encouraged.

I got over Jaymes Grenier no problem. I never think about that little bow at the top of her pink lips, or the way her green eyes admired mine. Nope, I barely recall the way she fit so perfectly in my arms when I held her at night. The sweet way she would whisper she loved me has long faded from memory.

These are the lies I regularly tell myself in hopes of believing them one day. Yeah, I was told I’d get over my first love.

I didn’t. 

Derrick Masters marked me the moment we met back in ninth grade. He called me over—all bravado and bad boy mystery wrapped in a James Dean-esque package. Dark hair and blue eyes with a rebel without a cause charisma. He was everything I was warned about, but I couldn’t resist. I was his from that moment on.

His career took off almost as soon as he did. I knew it would. I just thought I would be beside him as his partner in crime, best friend, and lover. That’s what we had always been … before he left me behind to fend for myself.
Fend? Fight is more like it.

I’ve been fighting ever since.

Fighting for survival.

Fighting for a better life in a world determined to keep me down.

I don’t have the luxury of letting my head live in the lure of La La Land. His dreams may have come true, but mine were extinguished. These days I fight for something bigger than me, bigger than we were ever meant to be.

When his dreams come crashing back into my reality, is this a second chance at that fairy tale ending or another heartbreak in the making?

 

 

 

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited
 

Trailer

Excerpt

On the front porch, leaning against the wood column in all his newfound glory, stands the most breathtaking man I’ve ever seen. As a teenager, I thought he was the best-looking boy I’d ever seen, and based on how I’m struggling to breathe just from looking at him now, I think he still holds the title. But now he’s a man.

Ace is talking about what some kid named Shiloh got in trouble for today at school, but I’m still staring at Derrick Masters.

Derrick Masters.

My very own Perseus, though right now I’m thinking he was more my Achilles heel in the grand scheme of things.

Derrick Masters is standing on my mother’s front porch like he belongs there. A smile that shines like the star he’s become appears and he waves. Not sure if it was the grin on his face or the wave that sends me tripping flat on my face into the grassy lawn, but I’m cursing the curb when I lift up and look right into the dark blue eyes I’ve tried to despise.

“Are you okay?” he asks, trying to help me up. His voice is deep, the timbre the same one that always made my heart beat a little faster. It’s not that thought that runs through my mind. It’s his hands on me, grappling to help me to my feet.

He’s touching me.

Derrick Masters is touching me and I consider lying there longer just to savor the feel of his calloused fingers again. Ace tugs at my ankle like that will help me up. “Mommy, you fell.”

Mommy.

Mommy.

Derrick knows I’m a mommy.

Oh my God. What does he think?

Does he hate me? Disappointed in me? Happy for me? Or not care at all?

I would care if I found out he has kids.

Maybe he already knew . . .

Maybe I’ll just lie here as long as I can until he goes away.

Ace lies down next to me and rests his face on my hand. Looking at me with wide eyes, he asks, “Are we playing a game? This is fun.”

“Yes, I quite like it here.”

I hear Derrick chuckling just above me, enough to feel his warmth covering my body like sunshine as I lie in the cool grass. I might be mistaken but it sounds like he’s behind me now. On the ground with me.

Ace’s eyes look over my head. “My friend is here too.” He giggles. “See? Right there.”

Lying like a dead fish, I smile at my cute son not quite ready to face Derrick Masters. “What’s your new friend’s name?”

“Derrick. He plays a guitar like you, Mommy.”

After a tap on the back, Ace’s new friend speaks, “Hi.”

I miss Derrick’s hands on me, even if it was just helping me up. Ace is a ball of laughter and gets up. I watch until he runs behind me. “I’m here now. We’re all here. This is fun. Oh look, the moon.”

I can’t avoid him forever and the grass is grounding, literally, and settles my anxiety over just this kind of thing happening. I’ve embarrassed myself and he’s found out I’m a mother in the course of one sexy smile and a wave. I shake my head and close my eyes annoyed with myself for acting so foolishly in front of him. He was once my everything. When I roll onto my back, the top of our hands meet in an innocent touch that neither of us bothers to retreat. Finally building enough nerve, I turn my head and look straight into his eyes again. “Hi,” I whisper.

That devastatingly charming smile reappears, and he says, “It’s good to see you, Jaymes.”

 

 

Also Available
 

 
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited
 

Author Bio

 

 

Living in the capital of Texas with her family, Scott loves traveling and avocados, beaches, and cooking with her kids. She’s obsessed with epic romances and loves a good plot twist. Her favorite color is blue, but she likens it more toward the sky than the emotion. Her home is filled with the welcoming symbol of the pineapple and finds surfing a challenge though she likes to think she’s a pro.

 

Author Links

 

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Book blitz & giveaway – Rook by J.C. Andrijeski

Rook
J.C. Andrijeski
(Bridge & Sword: Awakenings #1)
Publication date: April 22nd 2017
Genres: Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction

From USA TODAY bestselling author, a psychic warfare alternative history set in a gritty version of Earth. Contains strong romantic elements – a book in the Bridge & Sword World. Apocalyptic. Psychic Romance.

“You are the Bridge…”

Allie Taylor lives in a world populated by seers, a second race discovered on Earth at the beginning of the 20th Century. Psychic, hyper-sexual and enslaved by governments, corporations and wealthy humans, seers are an exotic fascination to Allie, but one she knows she’ll likely never encounter, given how rich you have to be to get near one.

Then a strange man shows up at her work –– then another –– and pretty soon Allie finds herself on the run from the law, labeled a terrorist and in the middle of a race war she didn’t even know existed. Yanked out of her life by the mysterious and uncommunicative Revik, Allie discovers her blood may not be as “human” as she always thought, and the world of seers might not be quite as distant as she always imagined.

When Revik tells her she’s the Bridge, a mystical being meant to usher in the evolution of humanity––or possibly its extinction––Allie must choose between the race that raised her and the one where she might truly belong.

Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

“Revi’, darling. Did we wake you?”

His answer was low, but his deep voice made me jump, almost cringe.

“It’s fine,” he said.

“Are you hungry?”

“Yes.”

I took a breath, turned––and found his eyes locked on me. The look in them was narrow, cold, with a veiled hostility that took me aback.

The hostility was unmistakably aimed at me.

Ullysa didn’t seem to notice. “Of course you are.” She smiled. “And congratulations, Revi’. I am touched. Very touched. Good hunting, friend.”

Seeing that Ullysa was close to tears above her smile, I glanced again at Revik, feeling my nerves turn into actual fear when I saw his face. His skin had darkened; it was clear he knew exactly what Ullysa was talking about and didn’t appreciate the comment at all.

He averted his gaze when it caught mine, folding his arms across his chest.

I couldn’t take my eyes off his face.

Was he blushing?

He bowed slightly to Ullysa. “Thank you.”

Wiping her cheek, the woman smiled, then turned to go.

I found I couldn’t follow her out fast enough. Before I made it through the door, however, Ullysa turned, looking at me in surprise.

“Alyson. Where are you going?”

I froze. “Passport. Eggs. Shower…”

“Why don’t you stay here?” she suggested. “We will bring food for you both. It is too early for passports… and the shower can wait.”

I felt cornered. I glanced at Revik. His eyes were trained out the window, as gray as the sky. I looked back to Ullysa.

“No, actually, it can’t wait. The shower, I mean. Besides, I have to go to the bathroom. And I thought I might talk to you, and maybe some of the others.”

Ullysa’s eyes grew puzzled. “About what? We told you all of the news we knew last night. Nothing has changed since then.”

My jaw tightened. “Well, about the Bridge thing, then. Maybe you can explain what that means to you seers. You know, before I accidentally kill everyone on the planet.”

“I can talk to you about that,” Revik spoke up.

Startled, I glanced at him.

He continued to train his eyes out the window. Mine fell involuntarily to his bare upper body, taking in the leanness of his long frame and the banded muscle of his arms, a pale lattice of scars that crept up over one shoulder. He had an armband tattoo just above one bicep, I noticed, something I’d glimpsed when he started taking off his shirt in that park, without really seeing it. It looked like some kind of writing in black and gold lettering.

I saw the edge of what might have been another tattoo on the shoulder of the same side. He also had the standard barcode tat on his right arm, along with the “H” mark he’d shown me in the car, designating his race-cat.

His body without clothes looked somehow older than the rest of him.

That definitely wasn’t a bad thing, from my perspective.

I saw his fingers tighten on his upper arm, and looked away.

“Stay, if you want.” His voice remained flat, formally polite. “Shower, then come back.”

“No,” I said. “You should rest. I can annoy someone else with my questions for a while.” Seeing him about to answer, I said, “It’s fine, Revik. And I know your friends will want to see you.” I glanced down again. “Especially when you’re not wearing a shirt.”

His eyes seemed to flinch.

Staring at his long countenance, I found myself briefly lost there.

His eyes were still angry on the surface, but I could almost see the openness beneath, a vulnerability so much the opposite of his usual expression that I couldn’t help but stare. Remembering him pulling on me moments before, the softness of his face as he held me in sleep, I blinked at the two images superimposed over one another.

I tried to reconcile them, couldn’t.

My eyes shifted first, meeting Ullysa’s in my attempt to escape his.

Her returning smile held amusement. She folded her thin arms, quirking a pencil-darkened eyebrow at Revik.

Turning, I walked wordlessly out the door. I saw Ullysa’s eyes widen in surprise, just before she moved out of my way.

I didn’t stop walking. I didn’t even slow down enough to realize I didn’t know where I was going until I’d passed another three doors. Then I stopped dead, standing in the darkened corridor. By then, I was having trouble breathing.

Anxiety clenched my chest.

I held the wall, tried to turn it into anger, like he had.

The pull to go back to him was nearly physical in its intensity.

My mind fought to sift through details of the night before.

We definitely hadn’t had sex. Anyway, hadn’t those other seers said Revik was a prostitute? So was Ullysa, for that matter––so were all of the seers here. Sex wouldn’t faze them; it certainly wouldn’t have elicited such glee from Ullysa. Remembering what Kat said about Revik in that regard, what she’d shown me with her light, I fought with a hot flood of… God, something… that briefly took over my mind.

It grew intense enough to scare me, past any semblance of rational thought.

A memory flashed inside my mind––of seeing Jaden in that bar, of finding myself suddenly holding a bottle decorated with a strange woman’s blood.

Christ. Was it jealousy?

The stories I’d grown up hearing about seers started to come back, every feed broadcast I’d ever seen or heard about them and their sexuality. Yet most of those made no sense to me now. According to everything I’d heard, seers were incapable of relationships. They were sexually insatiable, and they didn’t discriminate. Remembering those flashes of Revik and his wife, Elise, I found myself thinking those stories couldn’t possibly be less compatible with what I’d seen.

In those memories, Revik felt intense love for his wife. He’d loved her to the point of insanity; he’d nearly killed himself over her.

The feeds also claimed seers were predatory with sex.

They said seers seduced humans by hooking into their victims’ fantasies and delusions until they lost themselves entirely inside the seer’s mind. Those stories always made it sound deliberate, though, and whatever happened between me and Revik the night before, it didn’t feel like Revik had done it intentionally.

In fact, he seemed to blame me for whatever occurred.

As the thought sunk in, I remember more about the night before.

I remembered asking him for something.

I remembered a promise.

It was vague, though. I remembered a lot of light, Revik crying.

Was he angry at me for that? Had I broken some kind of seer etiquette, asking him for something he didn’t want to give, something he didn’t feel he could refuse, because of who I was? He hadn’t seemed angry, though. Not last night.

He’d kissed me, hadn’t he? Or had I imagined that, too?

It definitely didn’t feel like we’d had sex. No matter how battered my body was, I was still like 98% certain I would have noticed. Besides, I wanted sex. I could tell Revik did, too. Even in his anger, I could feel that wanting on him. I might even have been waiting for him to wake up for that very reason.

The admission made me feel a little queasy.

Images rose from the night before, confusing me more.

Whatever that had been, it hadn’t felt like a dream. My attempts to convince myself I’d imagined it rang hollow, too. No, they were definitely memories. He’d been a Nazi… a married Nazi with a death sentence for murdering his commanding officer for screwing his wife.

That guy Terian had been there.

The pain in my stomach worsened. I knew some of it was that seer pain I’d felt before, but now it was mixing with the stress of not knowing how to process any of this.

I stared at a nearby ajar door breaking the dark walls of the corridor.

For a long moment, I only stared, without really seeing it––then my eyes clicked back into focus. I realized I was looking at a pink tile wall.

It was a bathroom.

Pushing off the wall, I made my way over to it, limping as my body’s battered state grew more noticeable. I closed the door behind me, only to stand there indecisively, my back pressed to the wood. Finally, I turned around and sat on the toilet.

It wasn’t until I’d relieved myself that it occurred to me that through that whole exchange with Ullysa and Revik, I hadn’t been wearing pants.

Clasping my hands between my bare knees, I let out a strangled laugh.

I sat there for what felt like a long time. My body was unbelievably sore. Not sex sore—just run of the mill falling down a hill after being handcuffed to a car then driving off a bridge and smacking my skull sore.

The nausea worsened as soon as my bladder wasn’t full enough to distract me. I gripped the edge of the pedestal sink, afraid I’d throw up if I tried to stand. It felt like some part of me had been broken and smashed, then reassembled with pieces missing––or maybe with new ones woven in with the old.

I still sat there, paralyzed, when Ullysa knocked.

After the second knock, she tried the handle. Opening the door cautiously, she handed through clean clothes and a basket with soap and shampoo. I felt her concern, and once she’d placed everything on the tile, I felt her hesitate, about to speak. Preempting whatever attempt she might make to communicate, I reached over with one foot to push the door shut.

Even through the door and intervening corridor, I could feel him.

His anger was still there, pulsing at me, but so was the other, unmistakable now, until the two wove together, impossible to separate as distinct feelings.

He wanted me to come back, I realized with a dim sort of confusion.

He was having the same reaction I was, and on more than one level.

For a moment I doubted what I felt, then a sliver of his pain hit me, weaving into some part of me I couldn’t see. My body’s reaction was immediate, and violent. My stomach hurt, but it wasn’t just that. I felt my face flush, my chest and thighs warm. I felt myself start to respond, to reach back in his direction, and I panicked, pulling that part of me back.

His pain worsened, turning liquid.

It was unmistakably sexual.

I was still sitting there when he dropped the pretense, asking me openly to return to the room. When I didn’t respond, he pulled on me harder, letting me feel the want behind it, until I clutched the edge of the sink.

Stop, I thought at him, gasping. Please, stop.

After the barest pause, his presence receded.

Somehow I remained lost in his light. My skin flushed as I realized the flavor of his thoughts. He was having trouble not fantasizing. He wanted me to come back. He wanted it so badly he wasn’t thinking rationally anymore. He wanted to fuck. The word hit at me; the desire behind it stole my breath, making me clutch the sink harder.

On the surface, he asked me again. Politely, that time.

When I let out a short laugh, his mind retreated. But not entirely.

I felt him thinking again. Then he started to open his light. I felt emotion expand off him; that vulnerability I’d glimpsed in the room mixed with his desire, enveloping me. It grew stronger as it intensified his pain, as it slid deeper into my light––

I panicked, pushing him back.

That time, he withdrew until I barely felt him.

Still flushed, I staggered to my feet, buying myself time by examining the bruises that ran all along my legs and arms. Limping to the tub, I bent to twist the porcelain shower knobs all the way to hot. I tugged the shirt over my head, dropping it on the floor. As water heated in the ancient pipes, I stood in the basin, shivering.

I tried to ignore the waiting I felt behind his silence.

Allie, he sent softly. please.

The pull behind it cut my breath.

Gaosplease. Please

Pain flickered around the spaces between us, and for an instant, I hesitated, staring at that void, feeling it with him. The lost feeling worsened.

Then I stepped under the hot water.

I let my mind go blank as the smell of steaming hot lake water rose off my hair, sliding off my body like a second skin. I lowered my head as the water beat at it, sending brown, brackish water down the sides of the tub and into the drain.

I felt him watch me as I continued to stand there.

His light flickered around mine, silent, waiting.

For a long time, it didn’t move away.

Author Bio:

JC Andrijeski is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes paranormal mysteries and apocalyptic fiction, often with a sexy, romantic and metaphysical bent. JC has a background in journalism, history and politics, and loves martial arts, yoga, meditation, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, painting… and of course reading and writing. She grew up in the Bay Area of California, but travels extensively and has lived abroad in Europe, Australia and Asia, and from coast to coast in the continental United States. She currently lives and writes full-time in Bangkok, Thailand.

To learn more about JC and her writing, please visit jcandrijeski.com.

If you want an email when JC’s next book is released, as well as special giveaways, offers to read books early and other prizes, join her newsletter, THE REBEL ARMY, at: http://hyperurl.co/JCA-Newsletter

JOIN NOW and you’ll get a FREE BOOK!

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Release blitz – PLUS ONE BY ALEATHA ROMIG

PLUS ONE
By Aleatha Romig
Release Day: May 16th

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A fun, sexy new stand-alone from New York Times bestselling author Aleatha Romig.

SYNOPSIS

He’s sexy and confident, the kind of man every woman notices. You know, the one with the to-die-for body and panty-melting smirk. And then there’s the way his designer suits drape over his broad shoulders and big…well, we’ve all heard the rumors, the ones that say he’s up for any challenge.

But I can’t see him that way. He’s my boss—technically one of the owners of the company where I work—and definitely not in my league. Men like him don’t notice women like me, and they don’t date them.

And I don’t date men like him.

Until that one time that I catch him in a compromising position when I’m also in need of a last-minute date for a wedding…and then it’s not real. It’s blackmail.

For one weekend, he’s my plus-one.

Beautiful and unobtainable.

From the moment she walked into my office with those stunning blue eyes and crazy sensual curves, she’s been on my mind. Three years and never once has she acted interested in me. Usually I flash a million-dollar smile and women fall to their knees, some literally.

Not her.

Then on the occasion that I agree to let another woman do that—fall to her knees—guess who happens to catch us?

It may not be the most conventional way to get on her radar, but I didn’t get this far in business without knowing when to seize an opportunity. If this sexy little firecracker with perfectly kissable lips thinks she can blackmail me into attending her cousin’s wedding, I’m going to jump at the chance to be her plus-one.

You love her darker side. Now it’s time to meet Leatha, the lighter side of Aleatha, as she trades her renowned twists and turns for laughs and love with this sexy new stand-alone romance, PLUS ONE.

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PRE-ORDER NOW

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EXCERPT

I’m in an alternate universe and it’s every fantasy I never knew I had.

What CEO of a billion-dollar company dreams of enjoying a farm in the middle of nowhere? Who imagines waking in a small bedroom, complete with a canopy bed and sunshine streaming through pink curtains, as birds sing? What owner of a 7,000-square-foot penthouse with a to-die-for view of the Empire State Building enjoys the hominess of a hundred-year-old, 3,000-square-foot farmhouse with a wraparound porch, creaky floors, and a view of cornfields?

Sitting with a cup of steaming black coffee, I listen as Kimbra and her brother Kevin bicker back and forth while helping their mother in the large eat-in kitchen. The warm spring air is filled with the sizzle of frying as the aroma of coffee, eggs, and bacon reminds me of some of the best diners in New York.

Although Kimbra’s dad, Oscar, is talking, I can’t concentrate on anything but Kimbra—Kimberly Ann. That’s what everyone here calls her.

“Because of you, I’m out ten bucks.” Kevin says, not doing a good job of whispering.

“Me?” Kimbra asks. “What did I do?”

Kevin tilts his head my way. “You brought a real guy here. I put money on him being made up.”

Kimbra reaches out and punches his shoulder.

He lifts his hands in surrender. “No. Listen. I was sure it was a good bet. When Mom said your boyfriend’s name wasn’t Timothy, but Duncan, and you didn’t want him in the wedding, Susan and I figured he wasn’t real. I bet Jimmy ten bucks this fake Duncan guy would be a no-show. Susan and I were sure that before last night, you’d have some reason why at the last minute he couldn’t attend. You know, like you’d make up some accident or something.”

Her brother is about as good at speaking softly as he is at being nice to his sister.

“Shut up!” Kimbra whispers back. “Obviously he’s real.”

Kevin’s head falls back in laughter. “He’s real, all right. Last night I thought your old bed was going to collapse.”

Kimbra’s eyes flash to me. And though I look down at my coffee and pray her dad isn’t listening, the gleam in her expression makes my cock twitch with the memories of the night before.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she’s not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha’s twisted style with an increase in heat.

In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.

Aleatha is a “Published Author’s Network” member of the Romance Writers of America and a member of PEN America. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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Book blast & giveaway – THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT by Bill A. Brier

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THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT

by Bill A. Brier

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GENRE: Mystery/Thriller

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BLURB:

A tax attorney with integrity…a powerful mobster determined to bend his will…

Grayson Bolt isn’t about to compromise his integrity to help a notorious crime boss escape the cross-hairs of the IRS. But there’s a steep price to pay for defying The Man–Grayson’s beloved wife and older son.

There’s only one way for Grayson to prevent his younger son, Jim, an innocent golf prodigy, from also being taken out: play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And what will Jim be forced to do when the woman he loves gets ensnarled in a web of betrayal and deceit?

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EXCERPT:

“I’m afraid you’re going to get it hard, Mr. Bolt.” Costanzo had that fatherly tone of this will hurt me more than you. “Did you ever stop to think that there’s only one way of being dead, but many ways of dying?”

Grayson felt something cold touch his spine, all the way down. “I don’t follow.”

“Take your man Stockard. He killed two of your beloved family members, wife and eldest son. Isn’t that right?”

A strangling tightness gripped Grayson’s throat. “That— that’s right.”

“Wouldn’t you say a part of you died too?”

“What’s your point?” Grayson’s voice erupted in suppressed panic.

“You don’t have to die to feel dead. I’m going to kill your other son. That’ll be your punishment.”

The blood drained from Grayson’s face. Just like that. Most people held the basic principle that no man should be punished for the deed of another. Costanzo was not one of them. Grayson would be cut right to the bone, and his son would be the sharpest knife Costanzo could use. Costanzo had spelled out the thought in invisible brushstrokes. It was there and Grayson had tried not to see it.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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Bill grew up in California and went to Hollywood High School, then served in the Air Force as a combat cameraman.

After hiring on at Disney Studios as a film loader, he soon advanced and moved on to other film studios.

He earned a master’s degree in psychology. A big help when working with Trumpish Hollywood producers. You’re fired!

During his more than twenty-five years in the movie business as a cameraman, film editor, and general manager, Bill worked on everything from the hilarious, The Love Bug, to the creepy, The Exorcist, to the far out, Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica.

Eight years ago, Bill switched from reading scripts to writing thriller/mysteries and driving racecars. After completing three award-winning novels, he signed with Black Opal Books. His first novel, The Devil Orders Takeout, is about a devoted father and husband who makes a deal with a real-life devil to protect his golf-prodigy son after his wife and older son are killed in a mysterious accident — and pays hell for it.

Bill’s second mystery, The Killer Who Hated Soup, is Book One in the 1950s The Killer Who series, and it launches this Summer. The Internet? Never heard of it. Smart phones? Who you kiddin’?

Energetic and eager to make his mark on what Time magazine called the next great boom town, Bucky Ontario leaves his daddy and little sister in Louisiana and rides a bus to Defiance, Oklahoma, a town not particularly adverse to murders, just the embarrassment of them when committed by high officials.

Book Two, The Killer who Wasn’t There, will be on bookshelves this fall.

Bill writes every day and golfs infrequently (that damn right knee!). His five children and eight grandchildren keep him busy going to birthday parties, and he never misses a one!

The Brier Patch is Bill’s wildly entertaining blog about his shameless early days in Hollywood. It’s on his website, billbrier.com, along with a contest linked to The Devil Orders Takeout, which will award the grand prizewinner $1,000.

Bill is a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Bill’s USA Today revealing interview

Bill’s website with blog

Goodreads

Facebook 

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GIVEAWAY

The author is awarding a randomly drawn commenter a $25 Amazon/BN GC:

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