In the Mood by MW Arnold – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. M W Arnold will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

During a hectic couple of weeks in February 1944, the girls of the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club must face devastating personal loss amongst their number. A member of an illegal faction blackmails Betty, whilst a mystery at Mary’s ancestral home threatens to cause more trouble than anyone thought possible. In the midst of what should be the happiest of times, the portents seem to be catching up and little is what it seems to be. Can the girls find the strength to battle forces both internal and external, yet still maintain their dignity and friendship?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Jane slumped back into her seat, tore the headset off, and threw it onto the desk next to the radio she’d been about to attack. “I suppose you’re right. It only makes sense if she can’t receive what we’re sending. If I didn’t know her voice so well, I’d think someone was playing a trick on me.”

“Plus,” Betty added, “it’s on our frequency.”

Jane nodded in agreement. “Still, remind me to tear her off a stripe when she gets back…calling Hamble. This is Aston.” She ended with a nervous chuckle.

Betty joined in, eventually saying, “Still, you’ll have to give her points for originality, if nothing else.”

“I’ll give her something, all right,” Jane replied. “I’ll give her…”

“Mayday! Mayday! This is First Officer Aston. Am under attack by two Me109s!”

Jane and Betty stared at each other with open mouths, as the shocking statement blared out of the radio’s tiny speaker in Thelma’s unmistakable voice. When she’d simply been trying to get through earlier it had been in her normal, albeit frustrated, tone. Now unmistakable panic coursed through it.

The radio came to life again, only the first thing they heard this time was the chilling staccato chatter of gunfire! “I repeat, this is First Officer Aston of the ATA! I’m under attack. Rudder control is gone! My port engine’s on fire! Am going down, roughly northeast of Oxford…”

White as a ghost, Jane automatically made a grab for the microphone, “Thelma! This is Jane Howell. Do you receive? Over.”

After a few seconds, a voice came out of the speaker, barely audible, yet clearly that of their desperate friend, “Jane? Is that…”

And then, deathly silence…

About the Author:

M W Arnold lives near Northampton, UK and is known to his family and friends as, Mick. He was in the Royal Air Force for 16 years, visiting many different countries and very much enjoying himself. If he ever meets the Queen, he will have to thank her. He began writing as these characters needed their own voices. For a few years now, he’s been a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, a wonderful group of writers who’ve welcomed this bloke into their fold with open arms.

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The Lost and Found of Green Tree by Bobbie Candas – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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Both heart-warming and gut-wrenching, the merging stories of Mariah and Nanette reveal their grit and determination as they attempt to carve out a better life for themselves during one the twentieth century’s most arduous decades.

Growing up in the rural village of Green Tree, Nanette is convinced she’s meant for a bigger life, perhaps in the spotlight of Hollywood. But selling popcorn in a Minnesota movie theater is a far cry from the glamor she dreams of; nevertheless, Nanette is undaunted by challenges.

Mariah, living just outside of Green Tree, yearns to move off the family farm and take on a modern job in a bustling city, but she’s sidetracked by love. By eighteen, she finds herself married to her high school sweetheart, giving birth to twin daughters, and living only a few miles from the home she grew up in.

As the economy worsens during the Great Depression, Nanette’s and Mariah’s lofty goals are forced to change as early tragedies confront both women. Brought together by a mutual friend, Nanette extends a generous offer to Mariah, but in time she exacts a frightening price.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I had no idea how long I laid in bed, but the pain was so severe, sleep was impossible. Something had to be wrong. I had drenched both sheets with my sweat. I eventually grabbed a shoe by the bed and began flailing it against the floor.

Clarice came quickly up the stairs and turned on my bedroom lamp, asking, “What is it?” She reached over to touch my head. “God, Nanette, you’re still on fire. Something’s wrong. I’ve never seen anybody this sick or feverish. I think we should consider a doctor.”

“What about your mother?” I asked breathlessly.

“I don’t think her stuff would fix this. We need the real thing and we need to hurry. You may have an infection. We need to get you to the hospital.” I stared blankly as Clarice paced back and forth, running her hands through her hair, genuinely concerned.

She stopped pacing, looked at her watch, and announced. “My neighbor has a car, but it’s four in the morning. I don’t think I can ask her. Besides, she hates me. The kids are always running through her garden.”

I whispered, “Does she have a telephone?”

“I think so.”

As she headed to the door, I called out, ““Wait—tell her it’s an emergency. Call the police. Ask for Officer Olsen; I know him.”

About the Author: I’m a Texas girl: grew up in San Antonio, went to school at UT in Austin where I earned my degree in journalism, and settled in Dallas where I raised a husband, two kids and a few cats. My husband, Mehmet, and the cats will probably disagree on who raised who, but I’m a sucker for a robust discussion.

For years I was involved in retail management, but have more recently focused on my writing, taking deep dives into the lives of my characters. When you can pry my fingers off the keyboard, I enjoy entertaining, sharing food and drink with friends and family. I enjoy shopping, usually on the hunt for apparel, with a special weakness for shoes, and will frequently jump at the opportunity of an unexpected trip to a far-away place.

And I always make time for reading. I keep a stack of novels ready and waiting on my night stand, with a few tapping their toe in my Kindle. I bounce around genres, and I’m always ready for a good recommendation.

Novels by Bobbie Candas:
The Lost and Found of Green Tree
Imperfect Timing
Luck, Love and a Lifeline

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18 Notes on Writing from a High School English Teacher Turned Award-winning Author by Jay Armstrong – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jay Armstrong will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

18 notes on writing from a high school English teacher turned award-winning author:

1. There are two types of writing: private and public. Private writing is for your eyes only like journals, diaries, and memos on your phone. Public writing is meant to be read by a reader. It includes blogs, emails, novels, or an angry letter to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The point of public writing is to connect to the reader. A public writer must be selfless. A public writer must attempt to identify, visualize, and connect to their private reader.

2. The first draft is always for the writer. Every other draft after is for the reader.

3. Good writing is vulnerable writing. Let your reader hear the things they’re reluctant to say out loud.

4. Young writers often think long sentences mark good writing. Silly. Short sentences show poise and control. They are easily digestible and appreciated by the reader.

5. However, long sentences are sometimes needed to vary the rhythm of a piece, convey a complicated feeling or to show action. The 142-word first sentence in Tim O’Brien’s “The Man I Killed” taught me more about writing than four years of college.

6. Get comfortable with contradictions. Humans are contradictory creatures. We value privacy yet we post our lives on the internet. We want to know other people’s secrets yet fear being exposed. We want to hold on but we yearn to let go. The point is, contradictions are the hub of human conflict. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you want to develop characters who—like you and I—are struggling with their own contradictions.

7. Include natural imagery in your writing. As you or your characters live life, gravity pulls, the world turns. Juxtaposing human strife with the grand yet indifferent natural world will stir your reader’s imagination and offer them comfort. Because while they are reading your writing, nature is outside their window doing its thing.

8. Include sensory imagery in your writing. Readers want their senses tickled. Describing how something smells, tastes, feels, or sounds helps the reader further appreciate and experience your writing.

9. When you doubt yourself as a writer, take a deep breath, and repeat, “I am a writer” as many times as you need to drive self-doubt away. Also, know that self-doubt never goes away. You can only hope to exile self-doubt to the time-out corner for a brief period. A good rule is one minute of time-out for every year of the writer. For example, a forty-year-old writer should hope to keep self-doubt in time-out for forty minutes.

10. Young writers often measure their writing ability by scores or teacher evaluations. This is a trap, especially if you earn high marks. A good writer knows writing will never be completely mastered.

11.Do not capitalize, concern yourself with punctuation, grammar, or consider proper writing etiquette when writing a first draft. Save this tedium for the second and third drafts.

12. Have enough confidence to write a poor first draft and enough guts to write a second.

13. Write with humor. Remind your reader laughter is essential for survival.

14. The pursuit of perfection leads to procrastination. You or your writing won’t be perfect. Get used to it.

15. Start walking. This will help clear your mind and allow for writing breakthroughs you can’t achieve while sitting at a computer. Also, walking is a fine metaphor for writing. Go at your own pace, breathe, be patient, and take one step at a time.

16. When you’re ready—buy, read, and study the following four books on writing: Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Once you finish reading, go write. Reading about writing is helpful, but only the act of writing will make you a better writer.

17. A story is only as interesting as its conflict.

18. 95% of writing is overcoming these four words, “I can’t do this.” Heck, 95% of life is overcoming those four words. You may wonder what the remaining 5 % is. I don’t know. I think it’s for us to figure out on our own.

Diagnosed with a progressive brain disease, a young father is determined to teach his children the importance of pursuing their dreams.

A cell phone’s ring interrupts the silence as Jay Armstrong sits in his high school classroom preparing for the year ahead. Something about the ring makes his stomach drop. It’s his doctor.

The words, “diffuse cerebellar atrophy, a rare, degenerative brain disease” float through the speaker. All of Jay’s youthful dreams of being a writer rush back, flooding the twenty years he has spent teaching students how to appreciate novels, memoirs, and poetry. The care he put into teaching them how to write with clarity, insight, and humor, and how to dance at the prom. The bedtime stories he never told his children spin in his imagination. It will all die when he dies.

Jay chooses to experience his condition as an inspiration here to teach him to appreciate the time he still has. He writes letters and stories to his three children about his failing voice, his impaired motor skills, and falling down on Christmas morning. Writing helps him cope with the illness and its symptoms. And so, he accepts the mission of writing more stories for them: the difference his father’s wink made at a critical moment of a baseball game, why they should take walks even in cruddy weather, and how he avoided having to explain what semen is for.

As his condition worsens, Jay’s faith in the power of storytelling deepens. His daily life is wildly different than he foresaw, and possibly shorter, but he can leave his children a legacy more valuable than any financial inheritance. He writes “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, an episodic memoir to show his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery and grace.

Enjoy an Excerpt

There is something you should know. In the history of my ordinary suburban life, I’ve never told any of my three children a bedtime story. Not telling your child a bedtime story seems like a major dad offense. Like forgetting them at Target or wearing a clown costume to “Back-to-School Night” or letting them swim twenty-six minutes after lunch.

Do I love my children?

On most days I do.

On most days, like you, they’re decent people. So why didn’t I tell them bedtime stories?

Selfishly, I don’t like the pressure. The nightlight. The slow swirl of the ceiling fan blades. Their big eyes staring up at me, expecting me to entertain them, to stir their imagination. Who do they think I am? Bruce Springsteen? No. I’m a dad who gets his sushi from a supermarket. I wear sneakers with khaki pants. I once taught high school English in New Jersey. I mean, to be creative and tell a story on demand is down-right stressful. Who needs that kind of stress after 9 pm?

My parents were better parents. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would tuck me into bed and tell me stories about my grandfathers and grandmothers, about how Mom and Dad met, or about playing stickball in narrow Philadelphia streets. Bedtime stories were history. They brought my little universe into focus, shaped my identity, and instilled a love of storytelling.

As good suburban boys do, I fell in love, got married, and had three kids. Just when things were going as planned, in 2013, I was diagnosed with a progressive brain disease called diffuse cerebellar atrophy. The disease degenerates my motor skills, balance, coordination, eyesight, and speech. A fall can lead to a head injury and weakening esophageal muscles to choking and asphyxiation, and so on—a veritable smorgasbord of potentially fatal complications. Two years later, sarcoidosis, a complicated autoimmune disorder that attacks every major body organ, was added to my list of health issues.

It was only when the prospect of death became real that I began writing.

In 2015, I created Write On Fight On (writeonfighton.org), and for the next five years I wrote and posted bedtime stories I never told my kids. By writing these stories, I began to reexamine who I once was, who I am now, and the man and father I hoped to one day grow up to be. Writing made me realize, in the face of our inevitable death, our time to tell our story is painfully brief. And that we should make like Springsteen and do what we can to achieve our dreams.

As I wrote this book, time passed. The kids grew up. My diseases progressed. People I love died. And one spring morning, standing in the driveway with my hands in my pockets, time’s yellow chariot turned the corner. The air brakes exhaled, “Bye Dad” was said, and as the bus, my children, and a swirl of exhaust smoke disappeared down the street, I realized the irony of my effort. I was trying to preserve time while it was passing like a school bus in the morning. We can’t stop time. We can only slow time by doing what we love. Doing the things that make us feel alive. And I have never been more alive than when telling a story.

This is a book of bedtime stories for the living. Stories that, if I did my job well, slow time, and make you and me glad to be alive. These stories are real. Or as real as memory allows them to be. As I discovered, life is both a funny and a heartbreaking experience. These stories are the moments I want to share with you because I believe, deep in my dad heart, we all have stories worth sharing.

I came across an article about how, in the mid 1990’s, Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush of Emory University developed and conducted a twenty question survey of children entitled, “Do You Know” which asked them about their families. The results showed that the more stories, both positive and negative, the children knew about their family’s history, the more resilient the children tended to be. As the study concluded, knowing family stories was “the single best predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.” For better or worse, our family stories help us navigate our own troubles. Stories gift us courage when we’re afraid, offer direction when we’re lost, or comfort when we’re lonely.

Dear reader, please know that I’m humbled you are reading this book. Thank you. I hope my stories help you, give you permission to dream, and maybe give you the strength to tell your own stories. I hope you paid full price for this book because college for three ain’t free.

But if this book doesn’t offer my children financial prosperity, more than anything, this book is a gift for them. It’s a family history, an instruction manual, an honest reflection about a fleeting moment, a smile, a glance, and the goodnight kiss I often failed to give them.

Maybe one day, when they’re lost or confused or angry or sad or daydreaming about the prom queen, they will open this book and read a story or one of the letters I’ve written to them. Maybe my words will let them hear my voice again. Feel my lips pressed against their ears. And maybe they’ll know they’re not alone. That Dad is here. With them. Helping them through life forever.

Be well,
Jay

About the Author:In 2013, Jay Armstrong was diagnosed with diffuse cerebellar atrophy. A condition that causes dysfunctional motor skills, speech and vision impairments, and balance deficiencies. At the time of diagnosis, he was establishing himself as an endeared high school English teacher, a varsity soccer coach, and an above average dancer. However, the progressive disorder forced Jay to reevaluate his life.

Supported by his high school sweetheart turned wife (Cindy) and their three children (Haley, Chase, Dylan), Jay retired from teaching in 2021 to pursue his dream of becoming an author.

Jay believes in the power of storytelling. He also believes in dad jokes, laughter, and the unrelenting pursuit of dreams. Jay’s debut book, Bedtime Stories for the Living, is an episodic memoir in which Jay shows his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery, humor, and grace.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jay is passionate about Philly sports, soft pretzels, and Rocky Balboa.

Write On Fight On website | Author website | Facebook | Twitter

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Advice for Writers by Diane Hatz – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Diane Hatz will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Advice for writers

I self-published Rock Gods of Acht in 2008 because I couldn’t find an agent or publisher. I had incredibly low self-esteem around my writing and took all the rejections personally. It was so painful!

Last spring, a friend reconnected after many years. She shared that she quit her office job immediately after finishing my book. She also said I had the novel all wrong. Rock Gods is set in a record company, but it’s about the search for self and understanding that our dreams can sometimes be delusions. And we are the only ones that can do something about it.

It took a little (okay, a lot) of encouragement from her, but I decided to update the book and re-release it as Rock Gods & Messy Monsters. I indie published the work under my new publishing imprint Whole Healthy Group LLC.

I’ve learned so much that my next book will be on indie publishing. Writing it will be worth it if I can help one person avoid the drama and difficulties I experienced with Rock Gods.

Some quick tips I can give any aspiring or new writers include:

● Write. I read many years ago that writing is rewriting. That is so true. If you’re writing a novel, the first draft is usually a brain dump. Just get your thoughts out. Don’t stop to edit; don’t stop at all. Just write, write, write. That will give you a manuscript to mold and edit into a novel.

● Be consistent. I write every day. It might not always be a book I’m working on, but I’ll journal or write an article for my Substack Next Draft with Diane Hatz. Writing is like any form of exercise. You get out of shape if you stop doing it for a while. Develop a routine – even if it’s ten minutes a day. Write.

● Rewrite and edit. You’ll have to cut parts of the manuscript you love. If the scenes or characters don’t move your story forward, you must cut them. I cut out the words, but I save the writing in another folder to possibly use later. You’re not getting rid of the work; you’re keeping it for another time.

● Join writing groups. You must find people to support you. I had such low self-esteem with writing because I didn’t have enough supportive people in my life. There are writing groups everywhere. Start one if you can’t find one. And make it a requirement that any critiques are positive.

● Ignore the negative. I know this is hard, but you’ll face rejection with your work at some point. I recently did my first tabling event at a comic con in Las Vegas. I went in all bright-eyed, with visions of the masses buying all my books. That didn’t happen. But I ended up having a great time because I shifted my attitude about being there. It became a weekend of market research and meeting other indie writers. And how many people get Batman and Robin to take a photo with their book? Because I could shift my expectations, I made the most of my time there. And I enjoyed it.

My final advice is to take your writing career one step at a time. If you’re still writing your book, focus on that. Worry about publishing when you feel it’s at least ninety-five percent done.

If you’re ready to publish, go indie. Indie books now make up 43% of the market, which is only increasing. You keep total control, and you get a much, much larger royalty on each book sold.

I hope to be reading your book in the not-too-distant future.

Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is one woman’s search for herself among the blood-soaked walls, dangling body parts, and alien-hatched explosions inside Acht Records.

It’s the 1990s. Alex arrives to work at Acht, her improbable blonde hair streaked stress magenta and anger black. Her first duty is to wipe blood off her boss’s walls, to clean up his blood vessel explosion. It goes downhill from there.

On the surface, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a story about life inside an entertainment company. A cast of comedic characters exemplifies the inner workings of Acht, where power and greed mask incompetence.

A series of escapades involve Alex, a hard-working, lower-level employee desperately trying to get promoted. When she does, she realizes her dream is a nightmare. Corporate executives are busy working with aliens to manufacture a half-human, half-robot superstar. At the same time, one of the doubly-named Senior Senior Executive Presidents attempts to overthrow the Deity in charge.

Underneath and between the lines of exploding body parts and brain extractions, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a cautionary tale. It reminds us that our dreams can be illusions, and learning who we really are takes courage and a commitment to self-love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The blood didn’t bother Alex but cleaning it up made her angry.

“Damn it,” she cursed aloud as she surveyed the red stained walls and coagulated mounds of Langley ooze around her boss’ corner office.

Alex returned to her desk, her wildly improbable blonde hair already streaked stress magenta and anger black. It was coming to an end; Alex had to get out of her job. But with the worldwide recession and lines of job applicants she saw every day on her way into the building, she was lucky to have a job, especially in a major record company.

Alex put her backpack on the floor and unzipped the side of her head. She reached in and pulled out her brain, placing the throbbing gray matter in the customized, faux crystal cerebrum urn Acht Records had supplied her with her first day at the company. She had fought the procedure at first, refused to sign the Cerebrum Extraction Release form, but with times being as hard as they were, and with the knowledge that she had spent over six months unemployed before being offered this job, Alex knew she had no choice.

And after wandering through the homogenous maze of Acht, up and down forty floors of identical gray hallways and glaring fluorescent lights, she had realized she would be better off if she removed all traces of thought and intelligence before commencing employment at the company.

About the Author Diane Hatz worked at major and indie record companies, managed a band, and freelanced as a music publicist. She is co-founder of The Relay, a fanzine on The Who, which is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s attended thousands of concerts.

Diane has a Masters in Creative Writing and is currently focused on writing fiction. Her book Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is currently available from most online retailers. Her substack “Next Draft with Diane Hatz” is a newsletter for creatives looking inward. And some writing stuff.

During her sometimes-surreal career, Diane founded the nonprofit Change Food, worked to shut down factory farms, organized & spoke at major TED/TEDx events, and executive produced The Meatrix, a Webby Award winner. She has studied with many spiritual teachers, including The Dalai Lama.

In late 2020, after 30 years living in downtown Manhattan and the East Village, Diane moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When not at her computer creating, you can find her hiking, road tripping, or breathing in all the beauty the Southwest has to offer.

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Research by Paul Briggs – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Research

Whatever sort of fiction you’re writing, chances are you’re going to need to do some research.
The good news is that Wikipedia has gotten better over the years — more accurate, more informative, and so on. The bad news is, it’s still not good enough. This is especially true if you’re looking for not just raw information, but an understanding of the subject. The best source of information, of course, is somebody you know who has some experience in whatever it is, but what if you don’t happen to know anybody like that, or they don’t have time for an interview?

When researching Locksmith’s Journeys, I basically had to learn how airplanes stay up, as well what sort of controls even the simplest airplane must have (elevator, rudder, ailerons) and how to use them. I had to learn these things, because Lachlan Smith was learning these things. This meant not just visiting Web sites, but also taking the old-fashioned approach of walking to the nearest public library and checking out some relevant books.

Another good source of information on almost any subject is instructional videos on YouTube. These videos are invaluable for giving you a sense of what it’s like to, say, fly a plane or fire a gun.
(Researching guns could almost be another blog post itself. Not only do firearms enthusiasts have a reputation for taking it personally if you write about a given make or model of gun and get the details wrong, but knowing those details can suggest lots of ideas for action. For example — also while researching Locksmith’s Journeys — I found that the particular handgun I had in mind for a particular scene has multiple safety mechanisms, which means it’s not likely to go off if you drop it on the ground. But all those safeties are built into the trigger, so if you pull that trigger, those safeties won’t save you from doing anything irreversible. Whether you’re writing a novel or handling a Glock, that’s good to know.)

If you’re really looking for the motherlode of detailed and accurate historical data, I recommend JSTOR. This massive digital library of academic articles starts where Wikipedia ends. It used to be only available to professional scholars, but during the pandemic they changed their policy to give everyone free access to a certain number of articles a month.

Finally, many experts have written reference books for writers. One which I consulted while writing Locksmith’s War was 10 B.S. Medical Tropes that Need to Die Today and What to Do Instead by Samantha Keel. This book confirmed my decision that a character who’d taken a nasty blow to the head should not be up and about a couple days later without at least some form of impairment. (Really he should have been dead or comatose, but there are limits to my commitment to realism where an interesting character is concerned.)

For Lachlan Smith, learning the secret of the apocalypse was the easy part.

Ever since Locksmith found the portal to the future, he has been wondering who or what was responsible for the empty, uninhabited world he found.

Now he knows—and now he has to fight them.

He thought he had fifteen years in which to prevent the extinction of the human species.

Now, he has only hours.

When the portal is stolen by a cabal of dangerous fanatics, his mother and many of his friends are trapped on the other side. Now the enemy is after him, and the only way to thwart their genocidal plan is to retake the portal and hold it—at both ends.

With very little time left, a handful of allies who don’t trust each other, almost no chance of success and the survival of humanity itself at stake… Locksmith is going to war.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Rikki’s first plan of escape

Rikki’s first plan of escape was simple — wait for somebody to open the door, then pounce on them, beat them up and start running. She couldn’t act on this plan until the drug wore off.

She was still feeling jittery from the drug when the lights went out, leaving her in something very close to pitch darkness. The tags on her ears glowed in the dark. The lights stayed off for a fair stretch of time — it might have been an hour. Before long, even with the drug out of her system her pupils had dilated to the point where the light that leaked in under the doorway looked like a line of yellow-white fire, dimly illuminating the room.

Then she heard the footsteps out the in the hall. Someone was headed this way. Rikki pointed herself at the doorway and got herself into a sprinter’s crouch like she’d seen Lock do.

The footsteps stopped in front of the door to her cell. She could see the shadows of somebody’s feet. Just one person. Good. Heavier than average, from the sound of the footsteps, but still better than trying to tackle two or more people at once. Her leg muscles were ready to launch her at the enemy. She got her fists into position. A few good blows to the solar plexus and kidneys…

About the Author:In addition to writing books, Paul Briggs has worked as a newspaper editor, court reporter’s assistant, and audio transcriber. In his spare time (when he has any) he sometimes performs in community theater, most recently taking on the roles of Bottom, Petruchio, Macbeth, Rosalind, and Richard III in a Shakespeare compilation. An Eastern Shore native who grew up in Chestertown, Maryland, Paul earned a BA in English from Washington College and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland – College Park.

He is the author of several short plays, including the award-winning The Worst Super Power Ever and The Picture of Health. He is also writing the sequel to his 2018 science fiction novel Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise, which vividly imagines the dislocations that follow when the Arctic Sea ice finally melts and the Chesapeake Bay is drowned by the effects of climate change.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Deviant Art | Amazon Author Page

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Lessons Katie MacLeod Taught Me by Frank Zafiro – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Frank Zafiro will be awarding Winner #1 a box set of River City series 1-3 (Kindle version) AND Winner #2 a surprise package of out-of-print versions of Zafiro titles (paperbacks) – US Only. International readers may substitute digital version of any title in the author’s back catalog to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons Katie MacLeod Taught Me

Katie MacLeod is the core character in my River City series of police procedurals. I’ve learned a few things from her that I’d like to share, but fair warning—I can’t completely avoid spoilers. If that’s something you want to be careful about, stop here. Bookmark this post, get the first River City novel, Under a Raging Moon, and come back when you’re finished with the newest one, The Worst Kind of Truth (#11).

Still here? Let’s go, then.

Life Doesn’t Always Go The Way You Plan

When I wrote Under a Raging Moon in 1995, I envisioned a four-book arc featuring Stefan Kopriva. Kopriva was a brash, young patrol officer who could handle anything thrown his way, whether it came from criminals or his own bosses. Looking back, I can see now that he was my unintentional avatar, an idealized version of who I thought I wanted to be.

Kopriva as hero was the plan I started with, but by the time Under a Raging Moon was published in 2006, things had changed. There were still four books and Kopriva was still the hero. But Katie MacLeod had become a strong secondary character. I didn’t plan that. Originally, her storyline was shared by two separate women. But I realized neither one was fully developed and so I combined them into one. Quite honestly, that might have been the smartest thing—albeit, unplanned—I ever did with this series.

When the second book rolled around, Katie’s role expanded beyond plans. Her first “big” event happened as a counterpoint to Kopriva’s. I thought they’d both overcome their challenges. But that didn’t happen. Katie prevailed; Kopriva failed.

And left the department.

I didn’t plan that.

I also didn’t plan that the books would continue beyond four, or that Katie would become the core of the series. But you know what? Those unplanned outcomes has been a good thing.

It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable

From the beginning, Katie has been willing to admit her own fears and doubts, at least to herself. Unlike the brash Kopriva, she recognized when she was afraid or when she was unsure of herself. When I first wrote those aspects of her character, I was twenty-seven years old. Now I’m fifty-four. I don’t remember but I have no doubt that back then, I saw those traits as okay to write into a female character precisely because they were feminine.

Only they aren’t.

They’re human.

It didn’t take long for me to recognize this. Maybe I wasn’t quite as willing as Katie to admit it, or as open about it with others, but I still learned from her that it was okay to feel those fears and doubts. They don’t make you weak.

They make you human.

Courage Is Doing It Anyway

One of Katie’s traits I’ve often heralded in interviews about River City is her grit. She’s tough, I’d say. But her courage doesn’t come from not being afraid. Her courage—which I would argue is true courage—comes from being afraid and doing what must be done anyway.

Katie does this, time and again. She doesn’t overcome her fears so much as she strides forward in spite of them. And she gets results. Isn’t that something we can all aspire to?

Sometimes You Have To Change Things Up… Because Things Change

This is akin to the first point about plans, except that it is more of a conscious decision and/or recognition. When the River City series begins in 1994, Katie is a three-year officer on graveyard patrol who loves her job. Her aspirations are simple—catch bad guys every night. She idolizes, and is mentored by, the veteran Thomas Chisolm. If you were to ask her during those first few books, Katie would tell you that she had every intent to be a career patrol officer, working “graveyard to graveyard”—in other words, staying on graveyard shift until retirement.

But police work has a grinding nature to it. As time passes, Katie realizes that she needs a change. First she goes to day shift, where one of her former platoon mates is now a sergeant. Then she promotes to detective, all in an effort to do what is best for her psyche.

Along the way, Chisolm retires. This, and other changes, help her recognize that not only is she making changes, things are changing all by themselves. By the time we get to The Worst Kind of Truth, the world she inhabits is a very different place. To punctuate this, a new recruit named Hattie Mayer idolizes Katie in much the same way she admired Chisolm.

And all of this is okay. That things are different today doesn’t change how good (or bad) it used to be. Things change. That’s just life.

People Matter

Katie MacLeod is an idealist. She is also a realist and, at times, borders on cynicism. But one constant throughout her career (fourteen years in-universe for her, twenty-seven for me in real time) has been that she cares for people. This includes the cops at her side and the people she serves in her job. Understanding that people matter is a fundamental aspect to being good at policing, and it is a baseline belief that drives every interaction and decision you make. Katie gets that. She is always there for her partners, and she does her absolute best to serve the civilians she meets.

Okay, truth time—I already knew this one. I saw it on display around me every day while I was on the job, and I believed in it myself, too. I strove to live up the standard every moment I wore the uniform. I wasn’t perfect (who is?) but I can say without reservation that I did my best, and I cared.

So it’s possible that I taught this one to Katie instead of the other way around.

Maybe. But she is still teaching me how true it is.

 

Detective Katie MacLeod has her hands full.

It has been four years since her promotion to detective, and after paying her dues in property crimes investigations, she has made it to the Major Crimes unit. This is where the highest profile cases land—homicides, robberies, serious assaults, and sexual assaults.

Katie catches two rape cases almost back-to-back. One victim is a prostitute with an unknown suspect… who Katie fears may be gearing up for more assaults. The other victim is a college student who has accused her boyfriend, a popular baseball player, of raping her at a party.

Both cases have their own set of perils. Katie juggles her time investigating each one, encountering many obstacles—a lack of evidence in one, and wondering how to parse conflicting statements in the other.

As she battles past these difficulties, Katie faces another fact… that both cases hit home with her in very different ways. Solving them becomes more than just a job for her, but something deep-seated and personal… something that may exorcise some of her own demons from the past.

Or will they consume her?

 

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Thanks,” Nicole said.

Katie looked at her. “This wasn’t your fault, Nicole. I wish I could change that it happened to you but I can’t. But I am going to do my best to catch the man that did this to you.”

“You’ll catch him,” Nicole said.

“I’ll do my best,” Katie repeated. She knew better than to make promises to victims, no matter how tempting it was.

“You’ll catch him,” Nicole repeated. “I know it. You’ve done it before.”

Katie cocked her head. “What do you mean?”

Nicole looked at her intensely. “I know who you are. I recognized your name as soon as you came in.”

That didn’t surprise Katie. She’d been involved in a number of high-profile incidents during her career. The media coverage wasn’t always favorable, either. But Nicole’s stare didn’t have the anger or blame that came with that sort of attitude. Instead, it resonated with belief.

“This happened to my mom,” Nicole said. She looked away to pluck more tissues and wipe her eyes. “A long time ago. I was fifteen at the time.”

Katie did some quick math. That meant her mother was assaulted in 1996 or 1997. And ninety-six was the year of—

“What’s your mother’s name?” Katie asked. Her heart-rate quickened as she waited for the response. Her mind flashed back to that case, back when she was a patrol officer. She ran through the names of the victims of that man, all of them indelibly imprinted upon her memory… and then she knew what Nicole would say.

“Maureen Hite,” said Nicole, just as Katie expected. “She was attacked by him. The Rainy Day Rapist.”

“I remember,” Katie said, quietly. Images of her and Thomas Chisolm searching a parking lot on the north side flashed through her mind. Of her finding Maureen Hite huddled near the front wheel well of a Chevy Blazer. She could still see the stark blue and white stripes of the quarter-panel and the door beside the woman. Maureen’s baffled expression, lost and fearful. “How is she now?”

Nicole shook her head. “She died six years ago. Pills.”

“I’m… I’m sorry.”

“She never really got over it,” Nicole said.

Katie nodded. “I don’t think it’s something you get over. It’s not a cold. You just learn to live with it.”

“Yeah, well, she didn’t really learn how. Or only for a while.”

“I’m sorry, Nicole.”

“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault. You caught him. You caught him and you killed him.” Nicole’s jaw was set and her eyes burned brightly. “I know you’ll do the same for me.”

Katie Macleod stared back at her, unable to answer.

About the Author:

Frank Zafiro writes gritty crime fiction from both sides of the badge. He was a police officer from 1993 to 2013, holding many different positions and ranks. He retired as a captain.

Frank is the award-winning author of over three dozen novels, most of them crime fiction. These include his River City series of police procedurals, Stefan Kopriva mysteries (PI), SpoCompton series (hardboiled), Jack McCrae mysteries (PI), and Sandy Banks thrillers. He has also co-authored multiple series with other authors, including the Charlie-316 series (procedurals with Colin Conway), Bricks and Cam Jobs (action, dark comedy with Eric Beetner), and the Ania series (hardboiled with Jim Wilsky).

In addition to writing, Frank hosted the crime fiction podcast Wrong Place, Write Crime. He has written a textbook on police report writing and taught police leadership all over the US and Canada. He is an avid hockey fan and a tortured guitarist. He currently lives in the high desert of Redmond, Oregon.

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The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven by Jennifer Ivy Walker – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jennifer Ivy Walker will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In this dark fairy tale adaptation of a medieval French legend, Issylte must flee the wicked queen, finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the forest. Fate leads her to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her life as a healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom. Tristan of Lyonesse is a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his king or lose everything. When he becomes a warrior of the Tribe of Dana, a gift of Druidic magic might hold the key he seeks. Haunted and hunted. Entwined by fate. Can their passion and power prevail?




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“I don’t know if she even exists, Lancelot, but I want a woman who makes me feel alive! I want her kisses to arouse my passion, her heart to sing to mine. I want a muse to inspire my song, a lady to whom I would pledge my sword—and my life.” Tristan shook his head and sighed. “Is such a love even possible?”

The First Knight of Camelot responded with a sad smile. “It is indeed possible, Tristan.” Lancelot turned his pensive gaze to the vast expanse of sea. “In French, we call such a love l’amour fou—a passion so intense… it can drive you mad.”

Lancelot glanced back at Tristan, a forlorn smile reaching his intense blue eyes. “When you find such a woman, Tristan, the love she gives you fills every empty hollow in your soul. She completes you; she invigorates you; she thrills you. And, when you consummate such a love, the exquisite blend of the spiritual and physical realm will satisfy you more than the finest wine or the greatest victory in battle. The love she gives you with her body will transport you to the stars, and you will never experience a greater joy.”


About the Author:

Enthralled with legends of medieval knights and ladies, dark fairy tales and fantasies about Druids, wizards and magic, Jennifer Ivy Walker always dreamed of becoming a writer. She fell in love with French in junior high school, continuing her study of the language throughout college, eventually becoming a high school teacher and college professor of French.

As a high school teacher, she took her students every year to the annual French competition, where they performed a play she had written, “Yseult la Belle et Tristan la Bête”–an imaginative blend of the medieval French legend of “Tristan et Yseult” and the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”, enhanced with fantasy elements of a Celtic fairy and a wicked witch.

Her debut novel, “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven”–the first of a trilogy– is a blend of her love for medieval legends, the romantic French language, and paranormal fantasy. It is a retelling of the medieval French romance of “Tristan et Yseult”, interwoven with Arthurian myth, dark fairy tales from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, and otherworldy elements such as Avalonian Elves, Druids, forest fairies and magic.

Explore her realm of Medieval French Fantasy. She hopes her novels will enchant you.

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A Magical’s Gift by Maya Tyler


A Magical’s Gift by Maya Tyler
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Rose

The feud between fairies and wizards is an ancient threat in the magical world. Yet peace is possible. The child of a fairy and a wizard could reunite the factions of The Annunaki and end the unrest.

Niall Warde had been a carefree soul trapped in the rigid, ordered life of a wizard apprentice when he discovered the girl of his dreams was a fairy. He would never know if their forbidden love could survive because she disappeared without a trace. Unable to find her, Niall blamed his father for Amelie’s disappearance and left home without looking back.

Amelie Ricard knew she had to protect the baby she and Niall created. The fairies don’t want peace and her mother, their leader, would stop at nothing to prevent armistice, including killing her own grandchild. So, she must leave her son Kurtis with his father to be raised as a wizard. She left the infant on the steps of his father’s cottage then disappeared, also leaving behind the only man she’s ever loved.

Thirty years later, Niall is called home for his father’s funeral where he reunites with Amelie. When Kurtis’ life is put into danger, Niall and Amelie must face the demons of the past to protect him.

Neither can bring back the past, but can they have a future together? Will their son unite their people in peace?

Technically this book can be read as a standalone – the story is complete in itself. I have not read the other books in the series, and I was never lost. Saying that, however, I believe this series should still be read in order, as there are undercurrents in the book that I think I would have understood better had I read the earlier books.

With that, I quite enjoyed this story of Niall and Amelie. They certainly fall hard and fast. I would have preferred a bit more set up in the development of their romance, but that’s just a personal preference.

The background concept itself is intriguing – fairies and wizards at odds with one another. It was interesting to see this take of that, and I’m interested in getting the earlier books in the series and then re-reading this one…. I would love to see more information about what happens during the years Niall and Amelie are apart, and I feel like those earlier books will help fill that time in.

Looking forward to reading more from this author.

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10 Lessons Learned About Friendship from the Characters in Celestial Bodies by Patricia Leavy – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

10 Lessons Learned About Friendship from the Characters in Celestial Bodies

1. Laughter is everything.
2. Hug well. Long and tight. Hold on for dear life.
3. Mockery is a two-person sport.
4. Tossing pretzels at each other makes everything fun.
5. We must love our bestie’s partner. Learn to share.
6. Hindsight really is 20/20.
7. Be there when they need you. Just be there.
8. Sing and dance together. Every chance you get.
9. Storytelling is a way of remembering shared experiences.
10. When you look back on your life, the kind of car, the location of the trip, the designer of the outfit, won’t matter a lick. The laughs and hugs with your nearest and dearest are what you’ll cherish, and those moments usually happen in the least “remarkable” of circumstances.

Heart-warming and wonderfully romantic, written with the sharp wit of Candace Bushnell and the sensitivity of Meg Donahue, comes best-selling author Patricia Leavy’s tour de force about learning to balance darkness and light in our lives.

Celestial Bodies is a series of six novels that follow the epic romance of Tess and Jack: Shooting Stars, Twinkle, Constellations, Supernova, North Star, and Stardust. An exploration of the power of love, each novel focuses on love at the intersection of another topic: healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith. While external threats occur in each book, this is ultimately a story about internal threats—the audio playing in our own heads.

Tess Lee is a world-famous novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find happiness in her personal life. Jack Miller is a federal agent who specializes in counterterrorism. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on a beautiful love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby and Gina, Jack’s younger friends who never fail to lighten the mood. Along the way, others join their journey: the female president of the United States, with whom Tess bakes cookies and talks politics; the Millers, Jack’s childhood family; and many others. Celestial Bodies is about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, learning to live in color, and the ways in which love—from lovers, friends, or the art we experience—can heal us. Written as unfolding action, this collection moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read for pleasure or selected for book clubs.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Tess clung to Jack as they sped along the cliffside road on their Harley, winding around the last curve as they approached their house. When they arrived home, Jack carefully took off Tess’s helmet, kissed her, and grabbed the bag of fruit they’d bought at the farmers’ market. She pulled the scrunchie out of her hair, releasing dirty blonde locks down to her waist. They headed inside. “You thirsty, baby?” he asked.

She nodded.

He quickly tapped a coconut, stuck a paper straw in, and handed it to her.

“You’ve gotten so good at that,” she said, taking a sip.

“Yeah, just in time to go back to DC. I can’t believe we have to leave our Hawaiian paradise tomorrow morning. We’re crazy to leave Maui this time of year.”

“I know, baby. But we’ll be back in less than three months to throw Omar and Clay the tropical Valentine’s Day wedding of their dreams. Besides, it’ll be fun to see our friends.”

He smiled and kissed her forehead.

“Here, have some,” she said, handing him the coconut. “Let’s leave the pineapple out. We can grill it tonight for our Thanksgiving feast while we sit on the lanai and watch the sunset.” She kicked her shoes off, slipped her T-shirt over her head, and shimmied out of her shorts, revealing a hot pink string bikini. “Bet I can beat you to the ocean,” she teased, darting off.

Soon, they were splashing around in the warm water, the sun beating down on them. Jack wrapped his tanned arms around Tess and kissed her. They stared at each other, the energy between them electric.

“I could get lost in your big, brown eyes,” he said.

She smiled and said, “Come on, let’s dry off.” They walked to their pool and lay together on a chaise lounge.

“Jack?” Tess whispered.

“Yeah, baby.”

“I know you hold back sometimes, but you don’t need to.”

“Tess…”

“Baby, I know you do. There’s nothing that could ever happen between us that I wouldn’t want.”

He caressed the side of her face. “You’re so beautiful and delicate. I just want you to feel safe and loved.”

“I do and I always will.”

“You’ve been through so much. It wasn’t that long ago that Ray was stalking you; I know that brought up memories of your childhood abuse. I don’t ever want to be the cause of your pain or remind you of the ways you have suffered.”

“You couldn’t. You only push those thoughts further away. I trust you, Jack. Nothing could ever change that. I want to share everything with you. I’ve never felt as close to another human being as I do to you.” She ran her fingers through his wet, salty hair and said, “I still remember the first time we came here, before we owned this place. You took me in the shower and we were so free.”

He grazed his fingers along her cheek.

“I’m gonna rinse off,” she said. She untied her bikini top, let it fall to the floor, and headed for the outdoor shower.

Jack hustled out of his swim trunks and followed her. She flipped the water on, turned toward him, and smiled. He cupped her face in his hands, kissed her softly, and with one swift movement, swung her around and pulled her bathing suit bottom down. “Don’t let me hurt you,” he whispered. He pushed her against the wall and they made love passionately.

With his quivering body pressed tightly against hers, Jack kissed Tess’s neck and nibbled on her ear. Finally satiated, he turned the shower off and wrapped towels around each of them. He picked her up and cradled her in his arms as he carried her to a lounge chair. They resumed their tender kisses, Jack caressing the side of her face. He looked at her with unadulterated adoration.

“I love you so much,” he said.

“I love you too. More than anything.”

About the Author: Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., is a bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology and Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over thirty-five books, earning commercial and critical success in both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has been translated into many languages. Patricia has received dozens of accolades for her books. Recently, her novel Shooting Stars won the 2021 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorite Contemporary Novel, her novel Film won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction, the 2021 NYC Big Book Award for Chick-Lit, and the 2021 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorite Chick-Lit, her 3-novel set Candy Floss Collection won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Anthologies and the 2021 NYC Big Book Award for Anthology, and her novel Spark won the 2019 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction, the 2019 Living Now Book Award for Adventure Fiction, and the 2021 National Indie Excellence Award for New Adult Fiction. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2016 Mogul, a global women’s empowerment network, named her an “Influencer.” In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” She lives in Maine with her husband, daughter (when she’s not away at college), and her dog. Patricia loves writing, reading, watching films, and traveling.

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Forever Askole by Gail Koger – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gail Koger will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My name is Ella McAllister, I’m a psychic witch and a healer. My life is kinda nuts. Not only do I have the Coletti hunters chasing me, but now I also have a very determined Askole High Commander after me. Why? I shot his ship down and it crash landed, and it blew up. Yep, itty-bitty pieces everywhere. My bad, but his ship was a dead ringer for a Rodan Marauder, and it was my civic duty to blow the enemy spacecraft out of the sky. Wasn’t it? Any hoo, I healed his owies and boogied.

I thought that was the end of it, but oh no. For some unknown reason, Sariel, the Askole High Commander, decided I would make him the perfect mate. As if. I think the blow to his head made him completely bonkers.

Sariel informed me the mating dance had begun and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The idiot had obviously never dealt with a witch before. I didn’t have the time to play games with him, so I did a little abracadabra alakazam and ran.

Sigh. The persistent Askole found me. Now I have a decision to make. Keep running or surrender to the High Commander. He is a damn good kisser.

Would the mating dance bring two lonely souls together? Who knew?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The pilot let out a furious roar.

Huh? He had been playing possum. “Relax, you aren’t paralyzed. I just restrained you,” I explained in Galactic Basic.

The pilot growled menacingly.

I patted his chest. “Very intimidating. Add in that horned helmet of yours, and I bet you scare the crap out of most folks. Once I heal you, you can go back to terrorizing the galaxy.” I stared at his armor. “But first I need to figure out how to get your armor off.”

The word belt formed in my mind.

I blinked in surprise. He was cooperating. “Thanks.” Sure enough there was a red crystal in the center of his belt. I pushed it.

Snikt. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Within seconds his armor retracted, revealing something out of a horror movie. Holy shit! I shivered as goosebumps erupted over my body and for a moment, I was tempted to run for my life. The only Askole warriors I had seen were on the news vids and they always wore their armor. Now I knew why. Tentacles squirmed about his snakelike features. His yellow eyes were clouded with pain. Instead of skin, he had black armor-plated scales. Whoa! Big Bad’s torso was sculpted perfection. Thick muscles corded his arms and legs. Who knew black scales could be so appealing and even sexy? My eyes bugged. Oh my God! He had the biggest penis I had ever seen. Their women must have gigantic vaginas.

About the Author:

I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Glendale Police Department and to keep from going totally bonkers – I mean people have no idea what a real emergency is. Take this for example: I answered, “9-1-1 emergency, what’s your emergency?” And this hysterical woman yelled, “My bird is in a tree.” Sometimes I really couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Birds have a tendency to do that, ma’am.” The woman screeched, “No! You don’t understand. My pet parakeet is in the tree. I’ve just got to get him down.” Like I said, not a clue. “I’m sorry ma’am but we don’t get birds out of trees.” The woman then cried, “But… What about my husband? He’s up there, too.” See what I had to deal with? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone I took up writing.

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