Once Upon a Christmas Castle by Virginia Barlow – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Virginia Barlow will be awarding a free copy of Gamble of Hearts to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lady Rosalind Chatham journeys with her family to Weston Castle to wed an ancient earl on Christmas day. Yearning for true love, she falls for the duke, her stepfather’s cousin, while preparing for her nuptials.

Lady Rosalind entrances the Duke of Weston. Concerned for her future with the tempestuous earl, he can’t afford to get involved. The fines and scandal will be too great for a man of his wealth and power.

When the truth comes to light, and he almost loses her forever, he finds he cannot afford to give less than his whole heart.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Careful not to make a sound, she sat on the window ledge and slipped her feet out the window. Turning to face the interior of the room, she inched her hips over the window ledge. She slipped on the ice, frozen to the brick outside the window, and slid down faster than she intended, cringing when the silk of her day gown ripped.

Panic gripped her like a cinched corset. She did not fear falling. No. The fine sheen of terror covering her brow appeared out of fear she might wake the earl.

Catching the edge of the brick where she lay against it halfway between her bosom and her waist, she sucked in a deep breath, conscious she must present a sight with her skirts bunched up and wedged between her and the window ledge. Her white pantalets and silk-stockinged legs dangled as she maneuvered her hands so she could drop to the ground. Thank the gods no one wandered the flower gardens beneath her to see her unladylike display.

Her prayer of gratitude stopped dead, and she received the shock of her life when a large pair of hands caught her about the waist!

She froze in terror, not daring to breathe.

“Lady Rosalind, how unexpected of you to drop by like this.” The duke’s deep voice laughed at her as he held her still.

She swallowed her cry of surprise and choked. God, what Cousin Lucius must be thinking about her right now.

About the Author:I have always loved reading romance novels. I used to sneak into my mom’s room as a young girl and read them while she was gone. As I grew older, my reading and tastes expanded to sci-fi, dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy.

I considered becoming an author in my late twenties but as a busy mother with toddlers, I didn’t have the time nor the energy.

Later, in my fifties, I decided to give it a try and have enjoyed every moment of it since. I recently signed my fourteenth contract and am doing my happy dance as I type this. My husband of forty-one years is my greatest support as are all my kids. Most of them are grown and carving out lives for themselves. They are the beat of my heart and with every grandchild, the rhythm gets stronger. I enjoy every moment of my life.

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Carrie Can Fly Too by Ashley and Breanna Bolliger – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ashley and Breanna Bolliger 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.

Carrie Can Fly Too is an optimistic and inspiring rhyme for the entire family. It affirms that being different shall never prevent us from achieving our lifelong dreams. All we need is a little confidence and our imagination can suddenly become a remarkable reality.

About the Authors

Ashley and Breanna Bolliger are identical twin sisters born and raised in Canada. Growing up, they have always cherished creating new projects together. Their passion for writing flourished when they launched a wellness blog called Twinlife. Through the creation, they hoped their personal wellness experiences would propose positive change, motivating young adults to develop their own wellness routines to support personal mental health needs.

Ashley and Breanna created “Carrie Can Fly Too” to continually raise mental health awareness, targeting younger audiences. Self-confidence is an attribute that is often not taught, yet it is a motivating factor which drives many towards achieving personal goals. Self-confidence is also fostered when the world is a more accepting place, and everyone has the opportunity to embrace their unique differences. This is Ashley and Breanna’s first children’s book publication, and they wish to continue writing and illustrating books in the future.

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Dragon Song by Shirley McCoy – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a randomly drawn winner a $10 Amazon/BN GC.Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Dragons rule the world. Princess Morgan Talbot of Esterhaven knows one rules her. Rownar, the most powerful dragon of all, forced a magical bond with her at a tender age. He intends to corrupt her soul, then consume her body. Now of age, Morgan knows she must take back her life and defeat Rownar, and all his kind. Connor O’Malley is the greatest dragon slayer alive. He spends one memorable night with Morgan, never thinking to see her again. Until he does. He is deeply shaken to learn the woman he fell for is a princess and determined to conquer Rownar herself. When Connor offers to train her, Morgan reluctantly accepts. Now an epic battle will begin, for a princess’s life, her soul, her kingdom, and the world.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As they cautiously navigated through the hoard, Morgan detected a slight glow in her peripheral vision. It flared up, then subsided. As they stepped forward, she discerned it again, and this time she whipped around quickly enough to see a small magical symbol etched in the floor behind them light up, then dim.

“Oh no,” she murmured.

“What’s wrong?” Connor demanded in a sharp tone.

She paced further and showed him. “I think if Meglos doesn’t already know we are here, he will soon.”

As if on cue, deep within the cave, the sound of an almighty clang of metal meeting metal filled their ears. Then came a roar, the kind which could only be made by a dragon.

Morgan knew her eyes must be wide as saucers, but she couldn’t seem to help it or move at all, in fact. Horror rooted her to the spot, unable even to speak, much less move.

Connor was not so afflicted. “Run!”

When she didn’t twitch so much as an eyelash, he yelled, “Run, Morgan!”

The volume of his words, his manner, and most of all, the use of her name, snapped her out of her panicked shock at last. She went from utter stillness to moving faster than she ever had in her life.

The dragon, shrieking and breathing fire all the while, flew after them.

About the Author:Shirley McCoy grew up in Baton Rouge, LA and started writing at an early age. Always talkative, when she was eleven she began to put her thoughts on paper, writing stories inspired by some of her favorite writers, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Madeline L’Engle. As she grew older, she developed a love of romance and in 2009 she decided to try her hand at paranormal romance. The result was The Smoke and the Flame and its sequel, The Wind and the Fire. The Smoke and the Flame is the first novel she has ever completed, although she has written several unpublished screenplays.

Shirley graduated from Nicholls State University where she majored in History and minored in English. Since graduating (she doesn’t like to think about how long ago that was) she has worked at some of the best libraries in the Baton Rouge area. She makes her home there and enjoys spending time with family members that live in town as well as with those that live out of town. She also loves seeing movies, reading, and going to the park with her niece in her free time.

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Outsider by Monica Buchanan – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Monica Buchanan 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.

Monica Buchanan grew up in Jamaica. She revisits her lived experiences of abuse and neglect in early childhood and her younger adult years. Buchanan takes the reader on a palatable path that allows for reflection on one’s own life. She writes about her survival journey, while looking through descriptive lens, she carefully details how exposure to early childhood abuse and neglect within her family helped form patterns, influenced choices, and shaped decisions in her adulthood.

By chronicling familial stories, the roles of parents, siblings, and community, she employs a story-telling and meaning-making approach, that is both painful and entertaining. Even though as a young child I was told I was the problem, I knew intuitively that I did not cause all my problems. I now know that what happened to me within the context of familial (and other) relationships had a name–emotional abuse and neglect.

Growing up I wished there were more people and resources that could help me make sense of my life as I struggled with low self-esteem, insecurities, felt lost, craved attention, and an overall sense of not belonging–I felt like an outsider and desperately wanted to be on the inside.

Buchanan reaffirms that: childhood experiences of abuse and neglect does not mean one has a commutable life sentence of pain and suffering. It does not matter where you are on your healing journey, you can set that stuff aside and reclaim your life. This book is for anyone who grew up in a toxic, abusive, and unhealthy home environment where they felt like they did not belong within the family unit. It is also a book about making changes, forgiveness, and letting go.


Enjoy an Excerpt

Emotional Abuse and Neglect
Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring
weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional
discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the
individual and unique history of our childhood.
Alice Miller


Impact of Early Childhood Emotional Abuse and Neglect

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. I do not know when or where I first heard this saying, but these days my life is lemons. Not the ripe, luscious, bright yellow lemons we often notice in the grocery store from afar, but sour, bitter, bad tasting ones—a whole lot of them—and there is no sugar to sweeten the lemonade I am making, so I just must swallow the bad tasting, intolerable concoction. I took the childhood garbage I ingested into adulthood. When and where did I learn to swallow this stuff and keep it down? I did not learn it as an adult; I learnt this behavior as a small, innocent, and unsuspecting child.

For many of us, the traumas and dramas of our early childhood experiences have turned us into survivors. MerriamWebster says a survivor is “A person who continues to live after an accident, illness, war, etc.” A more specific definition is “Someone who can keep living or succeeding despite a lot of problems.” The second definition certainly applies to me (and most other survivors of childhood abuse and neglect). Those earlier events have altered our psychological and emotional state in adulthood. We grow up to be adult-children who are not fully “alive” but rather, we endure an existence where we appear to be living a full life but are just getting by; we are surviving.

About the Author:

MONICA BUCHANAN has a PhD in psychology, as well as a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies. Buchanan is semi-retired, after a long and rewarding career in counseling, psychotherapy, and coaching, she now follows her passion and live a purposeful lifestyle. She continues to be enthusiastic and committed to development of strength-based community resources for adults and youths from marginalized and under-served communities, thus she remains an active volunteer. She focuses on mindfulness and relaxation and loves to read, write, garden, and take long meditative walks.

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Writing the First Chapter by Emma Dakin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Emma Dakin will be awarding a $20 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.

Writing the First Chapter

It’s hard to entice the reader into the book without overloading them with information. I have so much information: back stories, clues that are important, a description of the setting that can set the mood. It all seems important, and it is. But if I unload that information as if I’m giving directions to the reader, they will close the book. Occasionally, I’m lucky and think of a way to start my story that begins with action and weaves setting, character and clues into that action. Usually, I write out all the information before the action starts. Pages of “information”. Then, I cut and paste those preliminary pages into a different file, and start over at the point where the action begins and proceed from there.

The first line needs to engage the reader. I’m fond of Dick Francis’s first lines: “You are a spoilt bad-tempered bastard,” my sister said, and jolted me into a course I nearly died of. (Flying Finish) and “I stood on the outside of disaster, looking in.” (In the Frame.)

I enjoy those first lines and even enjoy my own first lines: “I had expected my hostess at the tea party to be boring. I hadn’t expected her to be dead.” (Hazards in Hampshire).

A line like that puts you into the center of action immediately. It also tells you a little about the setting. While Claire is observing the body and considering what she should do, she can reveal to the reader who she is, where she is, and what problems she has at the moment. This is more effective and more interesting that telling the reader that Claire has just moved to this English village and doesn’t know the villagers well, that she is in her forties, has inherited money, but works as a tour guide. The readers will learn all that as they follow her immediate problems with a dead body.

Every first chapter doesn’t have to start with a body, although that will certainly grab the reader’s attention. If the story starts more quietly with only a minor problem, you need to move quickly into a major one, or at least, one that is major to your protagonist.

Crime in Cornwall starts: “The walls were shaking again. The noise level from the neighbor’s back garden rose like the roar of a football crowd and had reached that stage of raucous shouts mixed with wild music that made sleep impossible.”

The first paragraph establishes where the protagonist lives and her personal circumstances. It places her in an English village and highlights the problem with her neighbors. The body appears at the top of the third page.

While it is important to know the back story of your characters and the clues that the reader needs, it is not necessary to put them all into the first page. Trust yourself to sprinkle them in as you go. Readers are intelligent. They will pick up what they need to know.

Claire Barclay and her band of tourists are full of enthusiasm for her trip to Sussex and Kent, the beautiful southeastern part of England. A tragic death of a young man the son of the guest house manager sends Claire into comforting mode and makes it more difficult for her provide a bright and care-free holiday. Laura was not surprised at her son’s death as he had been a drug user and she expected he had taken contaminated drugs, a common fate. But the police lab said otherwise. He was murdered. Claire’s fiancé, Detective Inspector Mark Evans, investigates, so Claire is involved and privy to much information. Too much. In spite of her busy life with demanding guests, she discovers the motive for the murder and finds herself in danger.

A fun tour of Sussex with the extra treat for mystery lovers as Emma Dakin ties places to favorite books. —Rhys Bowen (NYT bestselling author of the
Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series

If you are looking for a cozy crime novel that evokes a wonderful sense of place – look no further. Emma Dakin skilfully weaves a new mystery into a fascinating and informative tour of Southern England featuring heroine and literary tour guide, Claire Barclay, and a host of interesting characters.
—Julie Wassmer, Author of The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries

This engaging story will appeal to traditional mystery-lovers who like their murders set against the authentic backdrop of quaint English villages.
—Clara Benson, USA Today bestselling author of the Angela Marchmont Mysteries

Enjoy an Excerpt

Approaching the small town of Rye, I marked the route to Canterbury and the road to Hastings where I’d take my guests later in the week, I didn’t know this area well but had done two quick reconnaissance trips earlier. Jacqueline Winspear set her books near here in the war years. Her descriptions had given me a sense of familiarity with the green land around me, but the miles of delta before the sea surprised me. Rother Manor, our guest hotel, was large, but not, I was sure, large enough to have ever been a manor house. The name was probably applied to the house recently to attract tourists. The common meaning of ‘manor’ was a large house on a huge estate, but sometimes it just meant a large house. Mark told me that his colleagues sometimes called their police district their manor. I ruminated on the application of the word. I tended to do that. I’d not brought guests here before, but it looked ideal, sufficiently old to satisfy the North American appetite for a romantic setting but not so old it was decrepit. Laura Wright, the manager, had seemed organized and experienced.

I loved trying out new guest hotels and the whole experience of taking a tour to the sites of mystery novels. The tourists shared my itch for mysteries and were usually interested in what I offered. I’d had a career as a teacher of English to executives in many parts of the world. I enjoyed it as I was fascinated by linguistics and the way people use language. Now at forty-eight, I had achieved stability with a reliable partner, my own house and tour business and a legacy from my much-missed step-father. I should be able to feel comfortable, not always expecting a disaster. I admonished myself. This time the tour will go smoothly. This is a beautiful house; you will enjoy it here.

Rother Manor House was a three-storey rambling Victorian and was as close to a gracious house as was possible at the edge of Rye. The grounds were beautiful. Laura’s son, Reece Martin, looked after them she’d told me. He was in his late twenties and committed to creating beauty. The owners of the guest house were glad to hire him, Laura had told me, as staff was hard to find. It was unusual to see so much land around a house of this age in a town but it made a picturesque setting for my visitors. Across the street and well below it lay the cricket grounds, still green in the July heat. Beyond the grounds, the salt marsh stretched to the sea. The tourists would love this view.

I pulled my eyes away from the vista and turned into the car park, a graveled area to the left of the entrance. After unloading my small suitcase, knapsack and briefcase from the van, I climbed a few steps to the front door. It was unlocked. I entered into a long hallway and saw a side table with an open guest book and a prominent bell. I called for Laura but there was no answer. I hit the bell. No one came. I hadn’t told her the exact time I’d be here. She was likely nearby. I wandered into the lounge which was off the hallway. A small table held two cups and saucers, sugar and a milk jug and a plate of cake. My guests weren’t arriving until tomorrow. She could have others guests tonight, but I hoped that cake was for me. I dropped my luggage on a chair in the lounge and walked down the hallway to the rear of the house. There was no one in the kitchen. I pushed through the back door and stepped into the garden. The minute I opened the door I heard the keening of a woman in distress, a soft, desperate cry that rose in the air and hung there. There was anguish in every tone. The hairs on my forearms rose and I stood frozen for a moment.

The wail receded, then rose again. It came from the area at the back of the property. I walked towards a shed. I moved cautiously to the open door and peered in.

Laura was sitting on the floor beside a young man who lay still. His skin on his arms was pale, deadly pale. His head was turned so I just saw his dark hair. He was muscular, wearing a black T-shirt, denim jeans, black trainers. At first, I thought he’d fallen or had a seizure of some sort. Then I saw the Prenoxade kit open and the syringe on the floor nearby. Prenoxade, naloxone, the life-saving remedy for drug poisoning. Tour guides carried it; police carried it; teachers had it handy and, apparently, so did mothers.

About the Author: Emma Dakin writes a series of mysteries set in Britain. Her protagonist is a tour guide who takes different characters in each book to the sites of mystery novels in the countryside. She appreciates the elegant, people and humor of each area. But in that idyllic country, Claire stumbles on murder. Author Emma Dakin has five books so far in this series with the latest release September 12th 2023. An historical mystery set in Vancouver in 1886 is due out soon. She won a prestigious 2022 Lieutenant Governor’s Community History Award for her non-fiction account of life in the 60s.

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If I’d Never Heard of Me, Would I Read My Book? by Robyn Singer – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess fish Promotions. Robyn Singer will be awarding a $10 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.

If I’d Never Heard of Me, Would I Read My Book?

A question like this is a tough one, especially as I don’t read nearly as many novels nowadays as I did when I was younger. I’m sure many of us in our 20s and 30s can recall speeding through a book in a day or two when we were kids, but now needing a week or month to finish one. Let’s say that I’m a passionate reader with no professional connection to my publisher, Cinnabar Moth, and The Order of the Banshee happened to come across my dash as a

Based on the gorgeous cover, my attention would immediately be drawn. I almost exclusively read books with female protagonists, the framing makes it seem like there’s a deep emotional connection between the two women on the cover, the shattered sword between them is a dynamic visual, and the women’s contrasting red and bluish-black hair, combined with their depressed facial expressions, would make me think of my favorite tv show in recent years,
Arcane. Looking at the description of the book, my attention would be further captured. The tagline hinting at this being a story set after “Happily Ever After” would sound right up my alley.

The first paragraph of the summary establishing that the women on the cover are married and that this is a space opera with found family, and a thief as the main protagonist would almost certainly seal the deal for me, but it would also make me question if this book was a sequel.

Sure enough, after a quick Google search and most likely a cup of coffee, I’d find that The Order of the Banshee is a sequel to last year’s, The Sunrisers. I might ask the person who put the book on my dash if The Order of the Banshee could be read on its own, but even when they said, “Yes”, I’d still probably want to read The Sunrisers first, so I could see how the series
leads, “professional thief and amateur noodle critic” Yael Pavnick and former military captain, Molina Langstone, first got together. Lesbian childhood friends to enemies to lovers would be impossible for me to pass up.

I wrote these books to be everything I want in stories, with the series protagonist, Yael, being specifically designed to be everything little me would have wanted in a hero. Yes, I would absolutely read both The Order of the Banshee and its predecessor, The Sunrisers, even if I’d never heard of me. I suppose it wasn’t such a difficult question after all.

It’s been five years since Yael and Molina reunited. Yael is one of the richest and most infamous thieves in the universe and a member of the Order of the Banshee. She is rising through the ranks of the elite organization with her wife and her ride-or-die best friends, Aarif and P’Ken, at her side, and she’s even running her own school for thieves. Molina, former captain in the universe’s premiere peacekeeping organization, the Sunrisers, is happily married to Yael and tells herself that’s enough.

Their seemingly perfect lives are interrupted when they receive news of the death of Molina’s father. When Molina returns home for his funeral, she reunites with her former friend and now enemy: Kaybell, the emperor of the Cykebian Empire. Kaybell, eager to mend the relationship, informs Molina that her father was murdered and offers to help Molina find those responsible and bring them to justice.

While Molina and Kaybell hunt the people responsible for her father’s death, Yael is hunted by an invincible assassin – one with a terrible secret. These two seemingly unrelated events are more connected than Yael or Molina could possibly imagine.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Yael was never peaceful in her sleep. Sometimes it was adorable, as she’d blurt out lines from her ridiculous dreams and punch and kick the air. Other times it was annoying as Hell, as she’d sleepwalk, go to the fridge, and stuff food in my mouth. And usually it was weird food she and Aarif liked that I wouldn’t normally touch. But sometimes, it wasn’t adorable or annoying. Sometimes it was scary.

“Ahh!” Yael shrieked, shaking her knees. “Ahhh!”

“Yael, baby, wake up,” I said, getting on top of her and resting my hands on her face. “Wake up!”

Yael’s eyes jolted open and she tried to throw me off her. That had happened a few times before, but I’d learned how to grab onto her so I stayed in place. As Yael panted, she wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed me like one of the stuffed animals she’d had as a kid.

“It’s okay,” I whispered. “It’s okay. You’re home. You aren’t back there.”

Yael’s warm breath continued to blow against my ear. “It hurts. It shouldn’t, but it does. Every other week…I’m on the Noriker. And every time I close my eyes, I see that bitch.” Yael roared, slamming her fists down on the bed, shaking the entire room. “I could have killed her. Instead, she’s the fucking emperor.”

About the Author: Robyn Singer is a lifelong New Yorker, and since she was a kid playing with her action figures, all she’s wanted to do is tell stories. She went to SUNY Purchase to get a degree in Playwriting & Screenwriting with a minor in Film and has produced several comic books, but she’s always had her eye on becoming a published novelist.

As an Autistic, bisexual trans woman, diversity and inclusion in stories are vitally important to her, and she seeks to represent as many groups as possible in her work. While she wants to show characters of marginalized groups experiencing joy, she also draws inspiration from real-world problems which bother her.

The Sunrisers (Cinnabar Moth Publishing, November 2022) is her debut novel. Order of the Banshee is book in the The Ricochet Trilogy. Robyn was the author in residence for quester 1 of 20222 for Cinnabar Moth Literary Collections. She writes novels and short stories of all genres and for all ages, and she continues to produce comic books. Her ongoing series, Final Gamble, began publication by Band of Bards in 2022.

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Background of the Book by Suzan Zoe Bella – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Susan Zoe Bella 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.

Background of the Book

High Point is set in rural Pennsylvania for the first half then Los Angeles California for the second half. The story is fact-based and revolves around a group of characters who start out in their early twenties. Mia is a shy country girl who had a rough life. She’s between jobs when the story begins and suffering from an anxiety disorder. Mackie is a coworker and friend to Mia, but the relationship goes south quickly when Mackie’s obsession with Mia turns toxic.

Jett is a rock star with dreams to become a professional Motocross rider but without family support, he must find a way to fund his true dream. He is introduced to Mia backstage and instant chemistry leaps off the page. Jett is a sweetheart. He’s also gorgeous and loaded with charisma, generous, and everything a girl could want in a guy. I like to make my heroes almost perfect. Jett does have a vulnerable side, which is portrayed in the story, which makes him even more endearing.

Mackie is a lunatic and was a fun character to play with. Her antics come back to bite her, and her one-liners are memorable. High Point is a second-chance romance. Many of the events were pulled from real-life experiences that I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. The romance is inspired by the only man I ever loved, and the ups and downs of Mia and Jett are portrayed realistically. No fantasy here! Mackie’s character was also real, which makes this story truly unique and perhaps not likable to some as Mackie is a lesbian woman. There is no LGBTQ romance in this book, though. Mackie’s desire for Mia is one-sided. Kat is Jett’s sister and she’s quite a witch. So we have the awkward, socially challenged heroine, the hottie sweetheart rockstar, the lesbian villain and the nasty interfering sister. The second half of the story brings in new characters to round out the plot and add even more dimension. I incorporated my love for Motocross into the plot. One thing readers should know, the fact that Mackie is a villain and a lesbian in no way reflects my views on LGBTQ society. I chose to write the story as it really happened. There was no other way to write Mackie’s character than how she really was. Of course, I heavily fictionalized everything and embellished the plot. But the characters’ personalities stayed pretty true to who they were. My goal in writing High Point was to rewrite history and give this story the ending I wanted it to have. I chose to really step out of the box here and write a book that could be offensive to some but is overall a fabulous read that scored four stars from InD’tale Magazine on the first published edition. After the review, I considered the reviewer’s trigger warnings and rewrote the book again to remove them and soften anything potentially disturbing. Even so, you can’t please everyone. I had to be happy with this book. If I’m not happy with it, I won’t publish it.

It’s only rock and roll but I hate it. Groupies, parties, a cheating ex, and a dark night spawned a wake-up call. I’d shifted my focus to work and avoiding social media. Singing lead for a famous band had become nothing more than a steppingstone to my true dream of racing Pro Motocross. I hadn’t dated in years. Then ‘she’ showed up and everything in me longed to be with her. I was stoked she’d agreed to join me at High Point Raceway for the weekend, even if it meant putting up with Mack. Better still, Mia wasn’t a groupie, not even close. She wasn’t even a fan of our music. If love at first sight had a name, it would be Mia Fringe and I had to make her mine. ~ Jett

I’d seen him in passing over the years. He was the neighbor of my best friend. But we’d never officially been introduced until the night Mackie badgered me into meeting him after attending his band’s concert. I tried not to look awestruck, stunned that someone this gorgeous had been within my scope for years but had not caught my attention. He had success written all over him. Girls like me didn’t end up with guys like him. Recently unemployed, still living on the family farm, and recovering from a nervous breakdown, I was a mess. But Jett saw something in me that nobody else ever had…worth. ~ Mia

Action, drama, and chaos kick off right from the start at High Point Raceway when Mackie has second thoughts about playing matchmaker between Mia and Jett. However, when the week of bliss comes to an end, Mia is heartbroken and confused as to why Jett doesn’t keep his promise. She accepts a job as a reporter three thousand miles away to escape the pain.

Ten years later, Mia and Jett cross paths in the most startling way. She’s about to discover the truth of what really happened so long ago. Will she be able to trust Jett again when he pleads for a second chance? Can love and forgiveness conquer a decade of hurt? It all goes down in the dirt during the last race of the season.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A shadow of disappointment prowled through my mind. He’d slammed on the brakes. I could’ve taken it as rejection. But he was no fool. He was bound to uncover the truth before giving too much of himself.

“We forgot to bring lunch,” I pointed out as we entered the cave.

“Oh yeah. I had other things on my mind. Maybe we’ll find some berries.”

“In May?” I giggled. “For that matter, why not root around in logs for honeycombs.”

He laughed. “We could do that.” Then he dipped his brows in a comical expression and said in a deep voice, “I’ll fight off the bears for you, my love.”

Love? He dropped the L-word? I stared at him. Was it a slip? Or a mere casual expression? After all, Europeans used it very casually. My thoughts went into overdrive. I hated when that happened.

“Let’s explore. Maybe the natives left behind some jerky,” he teased with a grin.

“The eternal optimist,” I countered. “I love it.”

We wandered deeper into the cave between moss-covered slate walls. Water trickled down the sides. The cave smelled musty. Something skittered across the rocky floor. I screamed and leaped sideways.

“There are creepy crawlies in here!”

“I saw that,” he said. “No worries. They’re more afraid of us than we are of them.”

“Uh…speak for yourself.” I shrieked again. “Jett!” I had jumped onto a ledge a foot above ground and clung to the wall. “I’m not this much country. Can we go please?”

“Okay, doll.” He smiled apologetically. “There’s nothing to see in here anyway. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

Something sticky brushed my face. I swatted frantically but seemingly had entangled myself in a web. The more panicked I became the worse things got. My flailing arms gathered more webbing. I slipped off the ledge in all my thrashing about and tumbled to the ground, scraping my arms and legs on the way down.

“Mia!” He caught my arms. “Stop. Baby, stop moving!”

“Oh no…” I whimpered. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” he replied calmly but apprehension snuck into his voice. “Just stay very, very still, doll.”

“Omigosh,” I cried.

He snapped a twig from a branch sticking out of the wall and in my peripheral vision his arm moved painstakingly slowly. I held my breath and didn’t dare twitch. A couple of agonizing minutes later, he tossed the stick aside then swept me into his arms.

“We should get the hell out of here,” he muttered.

I clung to him. “What was it?”

“You don’t wanna know.”

“Ew. Ew. Did it bite me? Am I okay?”

“Sshh, you’re safe now. It never touched your skin. It saw all that beautiful blonde hair and thought, hm, a perfect place to spell out the word radiant.”

“Omigosh. It was one of those…I can’t even say it. Ew. Ew. Get me out of here.”

He broke into a run with me in his arms. I didn’t take a full breath until we exited the cave.

“I need another bath.” I continued frenetically brushing my arms and head, still in panic mode.

We made our way back to the waterhole and I didn’t hesitate to strip down and dive in. I submerged myself, scrubbing my face and hair furiously. He dove in with me. When I finally calmed down, convinced I’d rid myself of anything that’d hitched a ride, I relaxed and casually swam around.

“Seems I’ve discovered your one fear,” he said upon swimming over to me. “You don’t like bugs.”

“No. I don’t. Especially the kind that makes webs.” I shivered at the thought.

“I’m really sorry.” He began to laugh. “I had no idea. I don’t mean to laugh. Honest. I’m not mocking you. But you were a sight back there.”

“Ha-ha.” I scowled. “Why’d you sound so urgent when telling me to stop moving?”

“I didn’t want it to bite you. Those things typically aren’t aggressive unless they feel threatened. And you, my dear, were definitely in a frenzy.”

“Now I’m cold, hungry, and freaked out. I’m never going into a cave again.”

About the Author: “I am a fan of happily ever after. My novels are too!”

Susan Zoe enjoys creating contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and romantic suspense stories with a gritty flair. Her stories are her own, and she typically writes outside the box. She’s always been a leader not a follower. Writing is her mental filter and how she processes the world around her, a fictional place where she can control the outcome at her comfort level with justice and happy endings. Her imagination is her greatest strength as it carries her away from daily stress.

As a survivor of hardship and chronic disease, she takes one day at a time and treasures the simple things in life. Susan Zoe is a Christian, loves animals, and practices being kind and generous every day. When not immersed in new stories, she enjoys watching movies, Motocross and Supercross, playing Yahtzee with her fiancé, and hanging out with her loyal 24/7 companion and trained service dog. She’s not a fan of sitcoms as they don’t offer enough mental stimulation. Losing herself in an intense story gives her brain the workout it needs to manage OCD, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Her achievements thus far include The Golden Wings Award for her debut novel The Satellite, the UK Nobel Pin and Editor’s Choice Award for her poem The Lonely Man, numerous 5 Star Reviews from Fallen Angels Reviews, Coffee Time Romance, InD’tale Magazine, Goodreads and more for current and retired novels. She was also a RONE Awards Finalist in 2017.

She loves to hear from readers and chat!

In her words, “Writing is the only time I’m truly free.” She’s happiest when her intriguing characters come to life and steal her away into their worlds where anything is possible.

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An Author’s Thoughts on Writing Groups by Kelly Byrd – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kelly Byrd will be awarding a $25 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.

An Author’s Thoughts on Writing Groups

Writing groups can feel like drinking from a fire hydrant if you’re not careful. I did my first group in early college, and it was incredibly overwhelming. When I was just starting out and terrified of anyone seeing anything I wrote, hearing opinions about it felt like walking naked down Front Street with no bush or shrub to duck behind for cover. To be frank, putting my work out there still feels that way in some aspects, but it has gotten easier the more groups I’ve done.

Writing groups are invaluable for getting multiple opinions and insights into your work all at once. This feedback is often extremely helpful in identifying issues and common places for improvement in your story, especially if you start to notice pain points brought up by everyone in the group. If you’ve been with the same writing group for a long time, and they know your specific voice and style, a writing group can be a great place for edits at any stage. And, as all writers know, edits are honestly the most important part of the process.

In my personal experience, it’s been important to find a writing group that understands my specific genre. I workshopped my first book, City of Lights, in a general group with all kinds of voices and styles. A common note I received was, “I don’t read fantasy.” Sometimes, receiving feedback like this is helpful because you can experience how people who don’t normally interact with your genre perceive your work. This can lead to a deeper understanding of structural issues. On the other hand, everyone’s audience is different, and you don’t want to fully alter what’s great about storytelling—your perspective—to satisfy one or two people. To get the best feedback, seek out a group that is open to your specific genre of work.

Writers are (generally) introverts who spend the majority of their time in dark rooms, pouring out their insides. We are a competitive and sometimes angry bunch. It’s always important to remember that not every single opinion is the right opinion about your work. This was a lesson I had to learn over years of practice. Just because Sally Joe in the group doesn’t like your pages doesn’t mean that they’re bad. They’re just not for Sally Joe.

As I’ve progressed in my work, I now tend to lean on individuals more than I do groups. I think groups are best for new ideas and workshopping something that you’re not sure about. Groups are a great way to get fledging ideas out of the nest and give them some structure. If you’ve completed a work and are moving into hard editing, I find that working with a few trusted advisors one-on-one is often the safest bet.

But, also remember: Writing is an art form. There’s no right or wrong way to go about getting the words on the page. The most important thing is to tell a story. So, find a group. Start getting yourself in front of people. Push that baby bird out of the nest. You won’t regret it.

Book Two of the Far from Home Trilogy

Catch up with Mary Jingo as she trains with her friends in the Great Big Ocean Sky-side city of Festdelm. She may have survived the danger in Luminos, the City of Lights, but new challenges await as she, Teeny, Van Clare, Corb, Mikeala, and WindRunner continue their fight to save the Everything. When a new Shadowlander comes to LeeChee, will Mary be able to trust him—even if he is one of her closest friends?

Join Mary Jingo and her motley crew as they travel to the far ends of the world on their quest to save the Everything.

As more of LeeChee falls under Thrall, Mary must choose wisely. Whom will she trust? What bonds will endure? And… how did a Yorkshire Terrier end up as a part of this crazy experience?

The answers, dear reader, await inside as we set sail on the Great Big Ocean Sky.

Enjoy an Excerpt

WindRunner shot into the air, following the great ‘Dragon through the sky. Peregrina’s wake was strong and fast, and WindRunner put himself in the center of her air stream. Mary looked around, sensing for the other Thoughtdragons that had attacked the Garnet Revenge, but did not feel them.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t nearby, WindRunner said.


Do not become overconfident with this power, Mary Jingo. The Thoughtdragons are dangerous. Older even than my Kin. While I face the same temptation as you—I am drawn to her great power—remember that Peregrina wanted to be found. Otherwise, we would not have been able to follow her.

That couldn’t be possible, Mary puzzled to herself. She had known where Peregrina was. Mary had made this decision to follow Peregrina, hadn’t she? A stab of doubt hit Mary in the chest. Had they walked into a trap?

Peace, Warrior, WindRunner said soothingly. Peregrina wanted us to follow her. I don’t think she will harm you. I think she wishes to speak with you. Or, that is what Mikeala said to me before we left the boat.

You had a private Mindspan with Mikeala?

Yes. She told me I should take you if you wished to go.

Private Mindspans are rude when they are about someone else. The Father says so.

WindRunner laughed in her mind.

Suddenly, Peregrina stopped in midair and whipped around. WindRunner dove to keep from running straight into her serpentine length, ending their conversation. Peregrina beat her wings softly to stay stationary, and WindRunner flew around until he was face to face with the great Thoughtdragon.

Mary’s stomach sank. The last time she had been face to face in the air with someone like this, it had been the evil Mellie. She had won that battle, but only barely. She was not certain she could win a battle like that again. Peregrina was even more terrifying than Mellie. Her head was twice the size of WindRunner. The Thoughtdragon only needed to barely open her mouth to swallow them both whole.

WindRunner sent courage through their bond, but Mary felt his unease. He was being strong for her, just like she wanted to be strong for him. Peregrina spoke then to them both, her voice rich, gravelly, and musical, like a bass note dropped beneath a perfect melody.

“Well, you followed me out here, Shadowlander. What is it that you want?” She slithered her great head to the side as she said this, and Mary felt and smelled the Thoughtdragon’s untamed power. It blotted out her fear.

“I need your scales. Three of them. We need them in LeeChee. The Everything is shrinking, and I am fighting with the Resistors. We are trying to save it,” Mary said, breathing deeply. She spoke clearly and with confidence. “Please help us, great Peregrina.”

The ‘dragon shook her head and laughed.

“Save it? Save the Everything with my scales? Child, in your tiny mind, I might as well be the Everything. You cannot save the Everything with the Everything. And that world, that island, has been pitiful and beyond saving for many annuals now. Your Keeper is the size of a child. Don’t you see? It is lost. Go home to your dark, dark world and leave us in peace. Your People are causing the problem anyway.”

“My People?” Mary responded, trying to hide the hurt in her voice.

“Yes—you Shadowlanders. The Everything is created in the Shadowlands. It cycles up and up to places like LeeChee to be kept safe. Over time, it drifts back down to the Shadowlands and the cycle continues, with the ebb and flow of time. Do they not teach you anything in school down there?” Peregrina paused and turned her livid golden eyes to WindRunner.

“And you, the Lumon’s son. Bound by oath to protect a girl from the Shadowlands. Why have you done this?”

“She can save us,” WindRunner blasted back.

“Can she?” Peregrina replied with a grin on her giant mouth. “How? It is the greed of her People that has caused the blight in your lands. They don’t go outside anymore. They are trapped in their own heads, in their own tribes. They don’t listen to each other. They hardly interact with anyone who doesn’t think exactly how they do. How does one child heal rifts and tears that are hundreds of years old? This is why the Everything shrinks. Do you not know, WindRunner, son of Spearwing? Or are you all much too blind to see it?”

“Mellie is to blame for the Void. Mellie has been warping the Everything to her own purposes,” Mary said, yelling across the distance.

“Fool! Mellie was once like your precious Mikeala. As tall as a mountain and charged with keeping the Everything and the flow of the Cycles safe. She could no more turn the Everything into the Void than I can. It is against her nature. But to regain her former strength and form, she may have been tempted to help someone corrupt the Everything. The Void is powerful, even if it is unnatural. She may be helping the flow of the Void, but no, no. She did not create it.”

“Her scars,” Mary said to herself and WindRunner, thinking of the marks that marred the woman’s face. “Her scars are from the Void.”

“Yes,” Peregrina said. Her hearing must be excellent to perceive Mary over such a distance. “Yes. She has paid dearly in service to the Void.”

“You must help us,” Mary cried desperately. “Mikeala said you brought me out here to talk to me. Help me. I know you can.”

The giant Thoughtdragon swirled her body in the air in front of Mary. Small flames burst from her mouth when she laughed. Mary could feel their heat as they crackled in the air.

“Why would I help you? As I said, the greed of your people is what is causing LeeChee to die. It will grow dark and cold and fade, and me and my kind will visit it no more. And your land will suffer, Mary Jingo. As we have all suffered.”

“Please—you cannot let this happen.”

“How dare you!” Peregrina boomed. Her jaws opened wide. “How dare you accuse me of letting anything happen. It breaks my very being to know that LeeChee will fall into darkness and the Void, but I cannot intervene. Your People, you Shadowlanders, with your pride and your lack of imagination, your desperation for profit. You will kill LeeChee. I allowed you to follow me here because I wanted to see your face before I send you back to that darkened world of the Shadowlands. You don’t belong in LeeChee, Mary Jingo. You will only make things worse.”

Peregrina dove towards Mary and WindRunner, spinning her long body in the air and flapping her wings hard. WindRunner, always ready for attack, spun out of the way, as Mary gripped the handholds. She cast for Peregrina’s power, but found herself blocked from it.

WindRunner. She has shielded me. I cannot channel or control.

Sensing Mary’s fear, WindRunner burst through the air, the giant ‘dragon following swiftly behind. Peregrina was bigger, which WindRunner used to his advantage, banking and turning quickly through the air, making it hard for the Thoughtdragon to follow. Mary found herself dizzy and out of sorts, casting about for ideas. WindRunner blasted a mighty caw at the Thoughtdragon and watched as a jet of light shot from his beak and hit Peregrina squarely between the eyes. She roared angrily, then continued her wild pursuit.

About the Author:Stories have crept around the halls of Kelly Byrd’s mind since she was a little girl. Not even the combined will of her two loyal pups, her devoted husband, and all her house plants could keep her from putting this story into the world. You’ll find this happy crew in Nashville. Tennessee.

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The Witch Wars by Gail Roughton – Spotlight and Giveaway

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Ariel Anson thinks she has her life in order. She’s young, smart, and beautiful, even if she doesn’t believe the beautiful part. She’s a paralegal with a great career and a fiancé who’s a CPA. You just can’t get any steadier than that.

Then she meets private investigator, bounty hunter, process server Chad Garrett. What does War-N-Wit, Inc. stand for anyway? Warlock and Witch? For real? Oh, yes! For real. Now every day is full of strange powers, secret societies, clandestine agencies, and out-of-this-world adventure. Her life as she knows it is over!

Enjoy an Excerpt

No lightning bolt streaked from the sky the day my life as I knew it began to end. There was no warning at all. Nothing. There I was, sitting at my desk, minding my own business, doing my job. My official job title is “legal assistant.” The more exotic sounding title is paralegal. In the old days when folks called jobs what they actually were, the title was “legal secretary.” Me? I answer to any of the above. Or just to Ariel. That’s my name. Ariel Anson.

Now, I know the general public thinks a law office is an exciting place, full of fascinating cases and esoteric points of law highlighted with flashes of legal genius, something different every day. Not. Trust me on this. You seen one accident case, you seen ‘em all. And corporate law? Business law? Wills and estates? Oh, man, you don’t even want to go there. Domestic law? Right. The only thing worse than a divorce case is an estate fight. At least folks involved in a divorce are supposed to hate each other whereas a fight over Daddy’s will? Oh. My. God.

Anyway, that’s what I was doing. Just minding my own business in the course of my humdrum day and doing my job at the century-old, prestigious central Georgia law firm of Baker, Lawson, Abercrombie & Hunter, where the partners walk around in blissful ignorance of the fact the firm is referred to in legal circles as BLAH. All us legal assistants think that’s a hoot.

I was the only legal gal who worked for three partners. Some of the girls had just one, most had two. Sort of gave me a certain mystique of extreme competence, you know? In all honesty, most of the time the three attorneys I had were cakewalks, though I wasn’t about to announce such to the powers-that-be lest I end up with four attorneys to babysit. It all depended on who the three partners were. And mine were hand-picked, a luxury I had because I was good, good enough after eleven years in the business to pick and choose the attorneys I worked for. Diplomatically, of course. So diplomatically that nobody knew that but me. And my little sister.

About the Author:Gail Roughton is a native of small town Georgia whose Deep South heritage features prominently in most of her work. She’s a paralegal who’s lived in a law office for over forty years, during which time she’s raised three children and quite a few attorneys. She’s tried retirement but it didn’t take. Through it all, she’s kept herself sane by writing novels and tossing them into her closet. Thanks to BWL Publishing, Inc., most of those novels have now emerged in published form. A cross-genre writer, her books range from humor to romance to thriller to horror and she’s never quite sure what to expect when she sits down at the keyboard. She usually has a project or two on the backburner but doesn’t discuss them for fear of jinxing herself. Given her affinity for the supernatural, this should come as no surprise to any reader.

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Character Creation by Chad Hunter – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Character creation is the foundation of any story. I have found that if you know your protagonist, antagonist or even supporting characters well, they will almost write the story for you. These are my essential steps for moving the people in my imagination to paper (or screen!)

1. Knowing the background that the audience knows (and doesn’t) – It is important that I know everything about the character that the audience does and does not. When you know their backstory, you know what drives them and what they fear. When you know a secret about the character, it can help influence their actions in a “show don’t tell” fashion. It is also very important that you never mention their secret or tell it in a story. It doesn’t have to be big but it has to be something untold. I find that this creates a unique bond between you and your creation.

2. Using my senses – What do they look like is an obvious start but what do they sound like? Do they speak loudly and with confidence or do they speak in a soft tone with hints of insecurity? Do they smell like they wear perfume or cologne? When you shake their hand or touch their skin, are they warm or cold? I find that using my senses to fully embrace a character’s traits greatly fleshes them out and makes it easy to give these descriptions to the reader. It also gives me insight into who they are and what they stand for. A character who speaks meekly may have trauma in their backstory. Someone who stomps with every step may be intimidating or overcompensating. A villain with a warm smile may believe he or she is in the right and still be a good person doing terrible things, etc.

3. Having coffee – Lastly, in my imagination, I have coffee with the characters. Regardless if they are a zombie from the future, an alien space captain or a college student hacker, I imagine sitting and having coffee with them. It gives me more input into their nuisances and three dimensionality. How do they interact with not only me but the environment? Do they order a complicated drink or go for something simple? Are they relaxed or impatient about their time and why? Coffee is one of those great equalizers that allows us a chance to lower our guards and connect. This is true for the real and the imaginary and if they’re in your head, who is to say that they’re not kind of real already?

Get creating.

Without warning, the demonic computing device rose up. Red arcs of crackling electricity snapped out from the server and struck the men and women in the chest. Involuntarily, they each screamed out in dying shrieks. Each worshiper hovered off the floor, transfixed and held for feeding.

DedKode moved forward but James knew it was too late. He placed his hand out and stayed the young, undead hacker.

The worshipers continued to undulate and now fluids ran from their orifices; heavy thick drops collected in puddles beneath each of them.

Faces sunk in.

Eyes rolled back.

Limbs twisted and cracked.

After what seemed like hours, but was only minutes, of watching these men and women sucked dry of their lives, the bodies collapsed to the flooring. Several landed in the pools of their bodily fluids – that which the server did not demand.

The server hovered still, humming like a thousand computer room fans and the singing of a damned chorus. The crimson energy that had drawn life from the worshipers crackled and snapped in oscillating arcs around the device.

The room was still empty as DedKode’s hacks were still running and fooling the security systems.

“What’s the plan now, Devon?” James asked, keeping his eyes on the demonic equipment hovering either obliviously or without care at his presence. “Do we still try to shut this thing down and take it back or—”

Suddenly DedKode held his hooded skeletal head. Palladino’s attention shifted to his teammate.

“What is it?”

There was a feeling that stirred up from a buzzing between where DedKode’s ears once were to a deafening roar he could not ignore. It was an energy, a swelling that circled the room, and DedKode could feel it in part. “Shit, King James, look —”

He pointed a gloved bony finger towards the now pulsating vibration only he could feel. The zombie hacker directed Palladino’s gaze to the dead, robed corpses.

They were rising to their feet.

Their hoods fell away and it was clear that they were once alive and were now resurrected dead. Jaws were sunken in, eyes pulled back into black sockets completely void of life. Mouths hung in slow, smacking moans and patches of hair fell with each step, covering the floor along with tears of desiccate flesh.

Arms lifted up and bony hands reached out in trembling grasps.

A hoarse cry rumbled from within breathless, shrunken lungs.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The street was once Lake Shore Drive.

It had been considered one of the most beautiful stretches of road ever constructed. From nearly any point on the arterial Chicago road, one could stop and see the lake, Museum Campus, and other aspects of sheer magnificence.

Testaments to humanity’s architecture, designs, and vision literally reached up to the sky. Willis Tower was legendary. Floors and floors of beautiful windows that once caught the rising sun were now almost completely shattered. Unimaginable amounts of flesh-cutting shards of shining triangles littered the streets.

The Cloud Gate, lovingly referred to as “The Bean,” was a mind-boggling, visually-stunning stainless-steel sculpture that had once captured the imagination of both locals and visitors. Its mirror-like surface played tricks with reality, reflecting the city’s vibrant life in mesmerizing ways.

Now, the Bean was covered in scarred marks and awash in dark splotches of foul-smelling liquids. Instead of laughing faces and optically-twisted visitors, what reflected in the artistically crafted curves was now a sea of countless reddish white deathly stares of layers and layers of skulls laying under the landmark.

The air was layered with gut-churning rancidity not unlike the reek of meat left exposed atop rank garbage in offensive summer heat.

Even on a chill-bitten fall night, the gore was overpowering to all aspects of human interaction.

Nearby, the Crown Fountain had once captured onlookers with its interactive art, projecting the faces of Chicagoans on towering screens, spouting water from their mouths into the reflecting pool below. Tonight, the fountain did not spray immaculate pristine waters but instead bubbled from time to time, as would a swamp. The fluid within was greenish in color and reeked of acidic bile and vomit. Flies had made the site a place of egg laying and maggot rearing.

The Adler Planetarium once world-renowned for its celestial studies was a broken half-dome. Immense cracks ran atop the once majestic structure that had brought countless visitors from across the globe.

The Field Museum had been a cauldron of the past and the present with future aspirations and wonder. It was once the place where history was held in honored perpetuity. Now, whatever remained of mankind’s history had violated and pulled from the museum’s halls.

Glass cases had been shattered.

Exhibits had been torn out and thrown asunder.

Red, pink and white littered the stairs as intestines, blood and bone made a carpet atop the museum’s walkway.

Chicago was a city known for its sides – its South Side, North Side and West Side. Each was unique from its ethnic communities to its dominant food vendors and carts to its well-known struggles of parking. Yet now, there were no sides anymore.

Now all that was gone. Sides were identical – each area of the city, like each area of other metropolitan sprawls across the globe – were miles and miles of death.

About the Author: Chad Hunter was born in East Chicago, Indiana. Raised by a single mother in the city’s Harbor section, he is the youngest of four. Growing up in the Midwest and a proudly self-proclaimed “Region Rat,” Hunter has written and published several books and novels. He has written for magazines and newspapers throughout North America and has been published in several languages. His writings have been called sophisticated yet humorous, sharp witted and unrelenting.

Most often, Hunter’s writings have been considered so wide and diverse that they span a scale that would include multiple writers with multiple forms. If anything binds his varied styles, it is Hunter’s theme of the human condition, humor and family closeness – all to the backdrop of romantic love, vibrant remembrance and even monsters themselves.

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