The Kings of Charleston (Vol. 1) - Kat H. Clayton

I stopped at the second floor and walked across a well-worn oriental rug on the landing. I made my way down the dark, narrow hallway, and peeked into the bedroom at the end of the hall. The walls were minty green with light pink silk drapes. I cringed and moved on. The next bedroom wasn’t much better, with busy red and white wallpaper that looked like something Grandmother Livingston would pick out for a china pattern.

I walked back down the hallway and entered the bedroom closest to the stairs that continued to wind up to the third floor. It had delicate pale gold wallpaper, and drapes that were done in a soft blue. The bedding on the king-size bed was a soft blue that matched the drapes. A plasma television hung above the fireplace. The room felt like an ethereal and calming piece of sky. I instantly felt a sense of peace I hadn’t felt since I found out about the move.

I dropped my backpack on the floor and walked into the attached bathroom. The floor and the walls were done in a soft cream tile, and matching blue bath mats were on the floor. They were just like the ones I had had in my bathroom. I seriously thought about hiding them under the bed to keep Mother from taking them away.

There was a large picture window over the Jacuzzi tub, which let in lots of light. I stepped into the tub with my shoes on and stared out into the very green, but disappointingly small, yard. It reminded me of a tiny English garden. There were several large oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, which looked like they were guarding the tiny yard with their skeletal limbs.

I drifted back into the bedroom, picked up my backpack, and pulled out a silver picture frame. I placed the framed picture of me with Wendy, my face nuzzled against her long mane of hair, on the white marble fireplace. My chest became tight as I stared at the photo and realized I wouldn’t be able to see any of the horses any time I wanted.

I heard the front door downstairs creak open and some chatter, then the stomping of feet up the stairs. I exited the bedroom to see Mother coming toward me, her necklaces jingling against her chest.

“Come downstairs, Casper, Mr. Roman and his family are here to meet us,” she said, batting her eyes at me.

Ah, I thought, Mr. Roman must have a wife, which is the reason for my mother’s sudden buzz of excitement. It must be someone she could build social circles with and use to start her party life all over. Great, I was now the only loner in the family.

We descended down the spiral of stairs. She clutched my hand, giving it a squeeze as the front foyer came into view. A man and a woman were chatting with Dad. As we walked closer, I noticed another individual standing in the shadows behind them. He was tall, handsome, and my age.

As we approached, Dad waved his hand out toward me. “Tyson, this is my daughter, Casper.”

“Hello,” I responded, and extended my hand to the debonair man.

He took my hand into his warm, dry grip and shook it like a well-trained politician. He would have definitely fit into the category of hot older men, along with Brad Pitt and George Clooney. I was immediately drawn to the sharp jaw line of his square face. He was very tan, which was only made more apparent by his white dress shirt. His eyes were a piercing light blue and his hair was a nice shade of dirty blonde.

“Hello, Casper,” he said in a commanding voice. He had a thick Southern drawl that reminded me of Bill Compton, the vampire from True Blood, but a little more elegant and genteel. He let go of my hand and waved toward the woman beside him. “This is my wife, Jillian.”

The elegant woman stepped forward. She was a tall, slender woman, who was a good two inches taller than me and my mother. She was wearing a linen suit that complimented her olive skin. Her face was shaped like a heart, with long black hair billowing around her elegant neck. I couldn’t help but stare at her Angelina Jolie lips and violet Elizabeth Taylor eyes. She took my hand and shook it once before letting it go. She didn’t say a word, but smiled, revealing her perfect white teeth.

Finally, the boy standing off to the side came up to me and I let out a heavy breath. He had definitely inherited his parents’ glamorous, beautiful genes.

“Hey, I’m Cal,” he said in a husky Southern accent.

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Genre – YA / Mystery / Suspense

Rating – PG13 (No sex scenes, some violence)

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Ruined by Rachel Hanna @RachelHannaBook


Ruined is a New Adult novel full of romance, angst and tons of emotion!

Willow Blake has a secret. A big one. And when she and her mother move cross country to protect that secret, her guard is up to protect her heart.

When she meets handsome Reed Miller, she feels her walls start tumbling down and the fear is overwhelming. If he finds out her secret, will he hate her forever?

Just when she thinks things are settling down, a new house guest makes her second guess everything she knows to be true about who she is and what she wants.

Caught between her past life and her new one – and two sexy men – will choose to be alone or fight for her own happiness?

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Genre - New  Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Constantinopolis by James Shipman @jshipman_author

His father! Mehmet stewed when he thought of him. His father had never shown him any real affection or spent significant time with him. He was not, after all, originally the heir to the Sultanate. He was a second son and only became heir when his older brother died. Mehmet had been forced from then on to endure a frantic and often harsh tutoring process. He was just beginning to grasp his responsibilities when at the age of 12 his father had retired and named him Sultan. He had done the best he could to govern, but in short order Grand Vizier Halil had called his father back to take over the throne. The Sultan felt Halil should have helped him, should have supported him. Instead he had watched and reported Mehmet’s shortcomings to his father, betraying him and leading to his humiliation.

From then on Mehmet had bided his time. He had learned to keep his thoughts and emotions to himself, to trust no one. He had studied everything: military art, languages, administration, and the arts. He had worked tirelessly so that when he next ruled he would not only equal his father but also exceed him. He would be the greatest Sultan in the history of his people, Allah willing.

His chance came when Murad finally died only two years before, as Mehmet turned 19. Mehmet quickly took power, ordering his baby half brother strangled to assure there would be no succession disputes, and set to organizing his empire. He had learned to be cautious and measured, leaving his father’s counselors and even Halil in power to assist him. From there he had slowly built up a group of supporters. They were young and exclusively Christian converts to Islam. These followers, many of whom now held council positions, were not nearly as powerful as the old guard, but they were gaining ground. They were the future, if Halil did not interfere.

Halil. His father’s Grand Vizier and now his own. He had always treated Mehmet with condescending politeness. He was powerful, so powerful that Mehmet could not easily remove him. So powerful it was possible he could remove Mehmet in favor of a cousin or other relative. Mehmet hated him above all people in the world, but he could not simply replace him. He needed Halil, at least for now, and Halil knew it.

This dilemma was the primary reason for Mehmet’s nighttime wanderings. He needed time away from the palace. Time to think and work out a solution to the problem. How could he free himself from Halil without losing power in the process? He could simply order Halil executed, but would the order be followed or would it be his own head sitting on a pole? The elders and religious leaders all respected and listened to Halil. Only the young renegades, the Christian converts who owed their positions to Mehmet were loyal to him. If Halil was able to rally the old guard to him, Mehmet had no doubt that the result would be a life or death dispute.

Mehmet needed to find a cause that could rally the people to him. The conversations he had heard night after night told him this same thing. The people felt that his father was a great leader, and that he was not. If he could gain the people’s confidence, then he would not need Halil, and the other elders would follow his lead.

Mehmet knew the solution. He knew exactly what would bring the people to his side, and what would indeed make him the greatest Sultan in the history of the Ottoman people.

The solution however was a great gamble. His father and father’s fathers had conquered huge tracts of territory in Anatolia and then in Europe, primarily at the expense of the Greeks. Mehmet intended to propose something even more audacious, to conquer the one place that his ancestors had failed to take. If he succeeded he would win the adoration of his people and would be able to deal with Halil and any others who might oppose him. If he failed . . .

The Sultan eventually made his way back near the palace, to the home of his closest friend, Zaganos Pasha. Zaganos, the youngest brother of Mehmet’s father in law, had converted to Islam at age 13, and was Mehmet’s trusted general and friend. He was the most prominent member of the upstart Christian converts that made up the Sultan’s support base.

Zaganos was up, even at this late hour, and embraced his friend, showing him in and ordering apple tea from his servants. Zaganos was shorter and stockier than Mehmet, a powerful middle-aged man in the prime of his life. He had receding dark brown hair. A long scar cut across his forehead and down over his left eye. He looked on Mehmet with smiling eyes extending in to crow’s feet. He smiled like a proud uncle or father.


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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG

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Nobody Has to Know by Frank Nappi @FrankNappi

Nobody Has To Know, Frank Nappi’s dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. NHTK is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies, and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.

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Genre - Thriller

Rating – PG-13

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In Love With My Best Friend by Sheena Binkley



How did my life get so complicated? One minute, I, Camille Anderson, was living a pretty normal life in which nothing ever happened to me, and the next I'm practically being hauled away from the premier wedding venue in Houston, The Corinthian, by security because of my sudden outburst to the groom.

I should have known I was setting myself up for disaster, but I had to do it. I had to tell my best friend that I'd been in love with him since I was thirteen.

I really didn't expect the scene to unfold the way it did, especially while Trevor was getting married, but I couldn't hold my feelings in much longer. I felt he was making a terrible mistake, because he was marrying the wrong woman. He should have been marrying me.

I guess I should backtrack to when Trevor and I first met. It was seventeen years ago, when the Williams family first moved into the house next to ours. I was outside waiting for my friend Tia Simmons to come by when I first noticed Trevor. He was absolutely gorgeous as he stepped out of his family's SUV. He had that "boy next door" look, with wavy black hair and smooth ivory skin. He looked over at me and gave me a huge grin, which I greatly returned.

After that day, not only did we become friends, but our parents became great friends as well. We always went by each other's homes for dinner or for game night (until we were too old to appreciate hanging out with our parents on a Friday night).

We were practically inseparable during our high school years, and many of our friends thought we would eventually get married and have lots of kids. When anyone mentioned that to Trevor, he would shrug it off and say, "We're just friends, and it will stay that way until the day we die." Usually those words would tug at my heartstrings, but being the shy person I am, I never let my feelings show.

As we went to college, Trevor and I went into the same major, public relations. That was when he met Chelsea Parker, who was also my roommate. At first I liked Chelsea because she was basically a sweet person, but when she set her sights on Trevor, I quickly disliked her. Not because she took Trevor away from me, but because she became a different person.

If only I could go back to four weeks ago, or even seventeen years ago, I would be with the man I loved...


Four weeks ago....

"I don't know why you dragged me to this," I said as I looked at my friend Tia. The two of us were inside the Aventine Ballroom of Hotel Icon waiting for our friend Trevor and his fiancée, Chelsea, to arrive for their engagement and welcome home party. The two had announced their engagement to everyone a while back when Trevor was visiting his parents before going back to Dallas. Not only did he announce his engagement, but he also said that he had accepted a new position at a prestigious PR firm and was moving back to Houston. Although I was happy that my best friend was moving back, I was not thrilled that he was getting married.

"For once, why can't you be happy for Tre? He and Chelsea are finally getting married."

I gave Tia an evil stare as I looked toward the revolving door to the ballroom.

"You know how I feel about Trevor and Chelsea getting married."

"Oh please, Cam, when are you going to get past the fact that Trevor found someone? I told you to admit your feelings to him, but being the person you are, you decided not to."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You felt you would have been rejected if you told Trevor your true feelings."

"If I remember correctly, in high school when Charles asked him why we never hooked up, he said, and I quote, 'We're just friends.'"

Tia rolled her eyes at me and started to stare at the door as well. This was not the first time we'd had this conversation about my feelings for Trevor, so I'm pretty sure Tia was tired of hearing it.

Tia was my other best friend and the complete opposite of me. While I was quiet and reserved, Tia was wild and carefree. She always did what she wanted and didn't care about the consequences. People always thought we were sisters, with our caramel-colored complexion and long, dark-brown hair. But that was where the similarities ended. I looked down at my black sequin dress that went above my knees, wondering if I was dressed appropriately for the occasion; but as I looked at the hot-pink dress Tia was sporting, I figured my outfit was perfect.

"So how are things between you and Eric?"

"Finished; I broke up with him a couple of days ago."

"I'm assuming because he's not Trevor? Cam, you have got to move on."

I sighed as I noticed two figures coming through the door. I started to breathe slowly as I watched my friend walk in with his fiancée. Trevor always was attractive, but tonight he looked really handsome in a dark blue suit, white shirt, and blue and white striped tie. His black, wavy hair was cut short, bringing out his beautiful brown eyes. He walked hand in hand with Chelsea, the woman I wish I'd never met, who was positively glowing in an ivory-colored empire dress. Her reddish brown hair was pulled into a tight ponytail and her makeup was flaw- less. Although I was completely jealous of Chelsea, I had to admit the two made a stunning couple.

Tia gave me a frown.

"You OK?"

"I'm cool. Let's just get this over with."

While the crowd of family and friends were clapping and whistling for the happy couple, all I could do was just stand in my place, looking at Trevor as if he was the only person in the room. He gave me a smile that showed the deep dimples on each of his cheeks. As he went to greet a couple of his family members, I took a deep breath to control any tears from flowing.

I shouldn't have come tonight.



"Why did we plan a huge engagement party? Everyone knows we're engaged," I asked my fiancée, Chelsea, as we were walking hand in hand down the corridor inside Hotel Icon.

"Sweetie, I just wanted everyone to celebrate in our happiness and what better way than a huge party?"

I sighed as I continued to walk, not realizing how frustrated I was becoming.

Chelsea was the love of my life. I instantly knew I wanted to marry her when I first laid eyes on her in Camille's dorm room. The two were roommates their junior year at University of Houston, which was great for me, considering I was able to see my best friend and my girlfriend at the same time. Although Camille and I were really good friends, I got the sense that something had been bothering her since I'd been dating Chelsea. Call me crazy, but it seemed as if Camille was jealous of our relationship. I hope not, because Chelsea loves Camille and considers her a good friend.

As we walked into the ballroom, everyone from our family and our friends were clapping and cheering for our arrival. We started to wave at everyone as we entered. Once I turned my head toward the center of the room, I had to stop and admire the person staring straight at me. My heart jolted several beats at the beauty who was giving me a dazzling smile. Camille Anderson had always been a beautiful woman, from her caramel-colored skin to her deep chocolate eyes; she definitely stood out in a crowd.

Just looking at her long hair flowing around her face and the black dress that hugged her curves in all the right places made me feel sort of embarrassed, because I shouldn't have been looking at her in that way. I always considered her my best friend and nothing more, so why was I looking at her differently now?

Chelsea turned her attention to me, wondering what was wrong.

"Is everything OK?"

I suddenly realized I was staring a little too long as I turned to Chelsea.

"I'm fine," I said as I squeezed her hand.

I gave Camille a huge grin as I walked over to talk to a nearby guest. I snuck another peek at her; she was talking to our friend Tia near the bar. I don't know what was going on with me, but hopefully this feeling I was having about my best friend would go away soon.

That's if I want it to.

In Love With My Best Friend

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Genre - Contemporary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Author Interview – Ava Zavora @avazavora

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

Most positive comments seem to fall into two areas. Readers are drawn to my lyrical writing style and/or they remark about my unexpected endings.

How did you come up with the title?

Since I knew the novel was going to be in a semi-epistolary format utilizing e-mails (as well as chats and texts), Dear Adam came to me very early. I love the title for its simplicity and symbolism.

Can you tell us about your main character?

The titular character of Adam is a mysterious Englishman with a shadowy past. He’s a man’s man who likes Hemingway, whiskey, cigarettes, and Frank Sinatra. Lured by Adam’s enigma and seduced by his sexy voice, my heroine, Eden falls in love with him sight unseen.

How much of the book is realistic?

Since many people are living their lives on social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) the events in my book can happen to anyone. Even if one is not part of an online dating website, forming a deep online connection is easier to do more than ever, and I suspect, more commonplace than people realize.

Have you started another book yet?

I am deep in a fantasy manuscript about a historian who becomes ensnared in centuries-long quest to unearth Alexander the Great’s deadliest secret, one that will release untold evil into the world.


"You're the more real to me than any man I've ever known ... "

To book blogger Eden, Adam is the embodiment of every literary fantasy she's ever had. Intelligent, wickedly funny, sexy, and attentive - he and his fascinating life seem right out of a novel. Their whirlwind relationship is so intense and all consuming that soon she can't imagine being with anyone else.

But there's one little thing that's keeping Adam and Eden from their happily ever after.

They've never met. She doesn't even know what he looks like.

Despite how hard she's fallen for him and how he makes her feel, Eden's doubts begin to threaten their passionate love affair. Why is he so mysterious? Why does he seem reluctant to meet her? What is Adam hiding?

Afraid that she's being made a fool of, Eden is forced to choose between her heart and her head. Is Adam too good to be true, as her common sense is telling her, or is the truth more startling than fiction?

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Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Otto’s mind takes him back to finding his mother at the Serbsky Institute.

Inmates had jittered and made signs at him as he made his way through the corridors. “Please help me,” he heard from some and, “They have me here because of my political beliefs,” from others. They’d reached out to him as he passed, and his insides had quaked. With the stench of piss and shit everywhere, revulsion filled him. But he’d felt no compassion for these people. He hadn’t given a fuck about them. Only his mother mattered.

“This way,” the nurse had said. “She’s through here.”

He found her in a large open room. She sat on the only piece of furniture in it. The chair was pushed back against the wall and she rocked slightly, staring blankly into nothingness. Spittle leaked from her mouth and she was barely recognizable as the woman he loved. Her long, luxurious, oily-black hair had been shaven to the skin. Her teeth had somehow been removed and her formerly full face had caved in because of it. Like a corpse, she was yellowed and sunken. Only 47 years old and she looked twice that. He’d wished he hadn’t found her and cried bitterly – in front of those sadistic bastards that called themselves nurses.

More like prison guards. And in reality, that’s what they were. Soviet dissidents ended up in places like Serbsky, out of harm’s way. In mental hospitals where they could be abused and broken. Somewhere to extinguish credibility. He’d seen those inmates beaten, teeth punched or kicked from their faces. And if they still didn’t bow to the might of the people, enforced lobotomy wasn’t unheard of as a final step.

With desperation, he’d hoped his mother hadn’t suffered such cruelty.


And now, somehow, she’d made it through to 60. Why, oh why had she lasted this long? All those years, and still she rocked on that old wooden chair and stared at nothing. How could life be this cruel?

He remembered the first time he’d visited the asylum in full Spetsnaz uniform. After calling several of the nurses together, he said, “I know you all have military connections. On that basis, I won’t explain this uniform. Each of you has some sort of responsibility to my mother. The good news is you’re about to receive an extra income. The bad news: if you don’t look after my mother properly and see she gets the kind of care and nourishment she needs, I may have to call on my KGB colleagues. I hope we all understand what that could mean.”

Memories dissolved as he entered the large open room. On his instructions, her hair had been left to grow. But now it was too long and no one had shown it a comb. Still she rocked, gazing into nothingness with the expression of a lunatic on her face.

The burly warder turned to leave but Otto grabbed his arm. “We have an agreement. Next time I come here, I expect my mother to be presentable. Look at her, her hair hasn’t had attention for who knows how long. She needs a bath and a change of clothes. She looks like she’s just puked down them.”

“I err…,” the nurse spluttered with a voice too high for his size.

“Fuck you and your errs. Why do I pay you people so much? I’ll say this once. If I’m not satisfied with the way she looks next time I come, I’ll personally see to it that you have teeth to match hers. And each time after that, I’ll take you a step further down that road. Clear enough?”

“Yes, Captain. I’ll see to it myself.”

The nurse left and Otto looked at his mother. His heart brimmed. The only woman he’d ever loved – could ever love. He got down on his honkers, and took her hand. No sign of recognition, but at least she didn’t pull away.

“Hello, Mother, how are you today?”

Birth of an Assassin

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Genre – Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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The Color Pink by Parker Paige


Can wearing the color pink attract true love?

That is the question Summer Jones intends to answer.

In her early thirties, Summer Jones thought that she had found the perfect man, the man she planned to marry until she learned that he still had feelings for his first love. Now, at age thirty-five, Summer is ready to fall in love again. After she hears that wearing the color pink can attract true love, she sets out to do just that–and finds more than just true love.

Follow Summer as she journeys into the world of color magic and find out how she uses that magic to help her choose between one man from her past and another man who is destined to become her future.

This romantic drama serves up something fun and sexy, proving that the road to love can be paved with many painful lessons and memorable moments. It’s a story about paying attention to your past so that you don’t always have to repeat it.

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Genre - Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

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Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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The Photo Traveler (The Photo Traveler Series) by Arthur J. Gonzalez


I can’t ask for a better day to be out shooting. Man, what a view. Something about how the sun’s rays press against the faint distant outline of the mountains. Sick! If it can seem so dominating from all the way over here, I can only imagine what it must feel like up close. I don’t know. It just always kind of does something to me.

I know, I know. Lame, right? But trust me, if you lived in the hellhole I live in, anytime alone is sacred. You start to appreciate all these little not-so-particular things. Yeah—even the outline of the mountains.

Carefully, I focus the lens on my Canon 7D to capture the effect of the clouds drifting across the peaks of Mt. Rose and get my shot. A few seconds later, the sunlight dims. I hadn’t realized it was so late. I glance at my watch, wondering what’s taking Melinda so long. She promised to pick me up by five, even though I knew that would mean five-thirty. It’s five-forty-five.

I call her on my cell. It rings four times, then goes to voicemail. “Come on, Mel!” I mutter. “It’s getting late!”

I’ve had a good day so far, probably because I’ve been alone for most of it, and I really don’t want another confrontation with Jet. I can still taste the faint copper tinge of blood at the corner of my mouth where he split my lip the last time around. Two days ago.

I hit redial. Straight to voicemail. “Dammit, Mel!”

I tell myself to breathe, but my anxiety is really starting to kick in. Sweat is beading on my forehead and my heart is jolting in my chest. Why does she always have to be so impossible? I don’t get it.

The moment I hear the loud thrum of an engine roaring up the dirt road, I jump up from the boulder I’ve been perched on. It’s about damn time!

She screeches up to me in her new, cherry-red Mini Cooper and slams on the brakes. I dodge around to the passenger side. Grab the door handle. It’s locked.

“Mel!” I shout. “Open up!”

But she’s sitting behind the wheel pretending not to hear me. Eyes glued to her phone, purple nails tapping out a text message. With a tiny smirk on her glossed-up lips.

I hit the window with my fist. “Stop messing around! Jet’s gonna be pissed!”

She finishes her text, sends it … and adjusts the rearview mirror so she can check out the jet-black curls at her temples. She still hasn’t given me one look. Is she really serious right now?

I pound at the window again, as hard as I can. “Open up, dammit!” My anxiety is turning into rage. And rage is something Jet’s modeled for me only too well over the years, ever since he and his first wife, Leyla, took me in as a foster kid. Mel was just six at the time, but “my sister,” which she became after they finally adopted me, was a full-fledged brat from Day One, and she’s only gotten worse.

My fist hurts. I’m afraid of what Jet will do when we get back, since he ordered me to be home by six so I can start dinner.

But as far as Mel’s concerned, I might as well not be there. I can’t control it any longer. I take a step back, lift my knee, and kick the passenger door with all my strength. The hollow metal frame vibrates against the sole of my shoe. Mel’s prized car now has a six-inch dent right in the middle of the passenger door.

I guess that got her attention. Her mouth is hanging open. For a moment, she’s so astonished that she can’t speak. She swings her door open and charges around to the passenger side.

“MY CAR!” she screams, staring at the dent. “Are you crazy?!”

“Why couldn’t you just open up?” I yell back.

“Gavin, you’re an asshole! I was just messing with you! You’re never gonna learn to use your head, are you?”

“Go to hell!”

She goes still, then raises her eyebrows with an “Oh, really?” expression. Then she hauls off and slams her fist into the right side of my face. All I can feel is the large stone of her ring jabbing into my cheek. She stalks back to the driver’s side with a wicked smirk creasing her lips and snaps, “You can walk home!”

She slides behind the wheel, slams the door, and peels off so hard and fast that the car kicks up a stinging cloud of gravel and asphalt dust all over me.

She can’t be serious. But as the Mini disappears around the first bend in the road, I realize that she is.

* * *

Photo Traveler

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Genre - Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating – PG

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Michel Sauret – The Unfair Criticism of Self-Published Authors @onewaystpro

The unfair criticism of self-published authors
by Michel Sauret
I typically hate when people use the word “unfair” in their argument. It has a childish tone, that of someone who isn’t able to deal with reality and resorts to complaining about it instead.
But when it comes to books, self-published authors really do get some unfair treatment.
Immediately, book-reviewers, journalists, editors, libraries and even some readers will jump to the conclusion that unless a book was pulbished through the traditional route, it must suck.
What other artists get that sort of treatment just because they’re unrepresented?
I try to compare self-publishing to things that I know… About three years ago, my wife, Heather, and I started our own photography business. We called it One Way Street Production because of our faith in Christ. We invested our own money (we didn’t go into any debt or borrow money from anyone) to buy camera equipment, computers and editing software, which totaled thousands of dollars. We launched a website that we control and update ourselves directly.
We were a self-started business. Our company name was our own. We worked directly for the clients who hired us, not some third-party representative whose existence validated our work.
Families and brides who wanted to hire a photographer came to our website and judged our work based on its own merit, not based on who represented us. We didn’t need anyone’s permission to take photos. We simply had to produce quality work and make sure our clients were happy.
And yet, in book publishing, most people still believe you must earn someone else’s permission to publish your book. They say, “You have to go through the gate keepers, otherwise you’re no good.”
A few months ago, my sister, Marta, who is also my publicist, helped me set up a workshop on self-publishing at a local college. The professor who helped her organize the event was generous, understanding and very supportive. Marta and that professor posted flyers around the college campus in the weeks and days leading up to the workshop.
The night of the workshop, Marta was setting up the room about an hour ahead of schedule. I wasn’t there yet, but she told me how another professor from that college had come to the room to tell her how much he disagreed with this workshop.
He called self-publishing illegitimate. He called it a crock. He called it no good.
That professor was a coward. That’s what I call him.
He went to my sister to complain about my workshop instead of coming to me directly. After the workshop, I left him a note with my email and phone number inviting him to talk to me, and I still haven’t heard from him.
Not only was that professor a coward, but he was wrong about all of his accusations.
The reality is that self-published authors are gaining ground in the book industry. More and more indie authors are gaining the attention of publishers who originally rejected their books. There have even been self-published authors who hit the New York Times, Amazon & USA Today beste-seller lists!
Up until recent years, the world of book publishing did hold a different standard. There were gate-keepers in the book publishing world more so than in other artistic pathways.
In order to be published, you had to first go through an agent (no publishing house with any sort of reputation would dare to accept a manuscript directly from an author!), then the agent had to go through the publisher, then the publisher had to go through their accountants (in other words, it wasn’t enough for a book to be good, it had to sell!), and then finally the book reached the public!
A whole slew of independent publishing houses (small presses) bypassed that formula and often accept submissions directly from the author, but self-publishing has defied even that principle!
Self-publishing allows authors to skip the agent, the publisher, the editor, even their accountants and go straight to the public.
Self-publishing took the door ram straight through the gate and rushed into the castle uninivited. For that, this form of publishing has left a bad taste in many people’s mouths.
And because we’ve barged into the party uninvited, some have resorted to cowardly name-calling and unfair criticism.
My take, read first, judge second.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Short Stories / Literary Fiction
Rating – PG13
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#Free - Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer @cramer_scott


Abby, 13, is looking forward to watching the moon turn purple, unaware that deadly bacteria from a passing comet will soon kill off older teens and adults. She must help her brother and baby sister survive in this new world, but all the while she has a ticking time bomb inside of her--adolescence.

"Cramer creates a picture of our world that's both frightening and inspiring in this heartfelt story that both young adults and adults can enjoy.A heartwarming but not overly sentimental story of survival." KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Outrageous and completely 'out of the box'."
"Three words: Gripping. Palpable. Well-developed." WORD SPELUNKING review blog

Buy Now @ Amazon & B&N & iBooks & Kobo

Genre - Science fiction

Rating – PG-13

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Colony East (The Toucan Trilogy #2) by Scott Cramer @cramer_scott

Colony East
When the bacteria that killed most of world’s adults undergo a deadly mutation, 15-year-old Abby must make the dangerous journey to Colony East, an enclave of scientists and Navy personnel who are caring for a small group of children. Abby fears that time is running short for the victims, but she’s soon to learn that time is running out for everyone outside Colony East. (Parental discretion advised for readers 13 and under)
Colony East will be specially priced at $2.99, 60 percent off the regular price.
Night of the Purple Moon (Book 1 of the Toucan Trilogy) is free.
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Genre - Science fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Author Interview – Julie Farley @JulieFarley1

How much of the book is realistic? Tripped Up Love is very realistic.  It takes place in a suburban middle class neighborhood.  Moms all over will be able to identify with the plight of Heather even if they are not a single mom.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? After my friends have read my book they have said it feels like they spent a lot of time with me.  They feel me in this book.  I have taken what I know and what I have experienced and mixed it all up.  If you know me well, you might recognize a few things in the book.  But, it is fiction and just because something happened to the main character’s best friend doesn’t mean it happened to mine.  That’s something people seem to forget!

What are your current writing projects now? I am working on the sequel to Tripped Up Love.  It’s titled The New Ever After. I am also finishing up a book about a magician and a mapmaker that I started two and a half years ago.

Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why? Last summer I read a book by Jessica Park.  I was fascinated by it because it seemed so different than anything I have ever read.  Her book opened me up to a world of books I didn’t know existed.  I found so many self published books that I devoured.  I stayed up till one and two in the morning each night reading another book.  I really didn’t know books existed outside of Barnes and Noble until last summer.  Figuring that out changed my life.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? I love Scrivener.  It helps me organize my thoughts and move them around when necessary. I cannot imagine writing a book without using Scrivener.  It’s a powerful writing tool. But I also love the little yellow notepad on my phone and iPad.  I jot down ideas on it all the time.

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Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG13

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#AmReading – Whill of Agora by Michael Ploof @WhillofAgora

Whill of Agora by Michael Ploof


Influenced by the works of Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, R. A.Salvator and Tolkien, Whill of Agora is a classic coming of age fantasy tale of magic, mayhem, friendship and war. Set in the realm of Agora during the Draggard Wars, five centuries after the fall of the elven lands, Whill of Agora brings readers on a heart pounding epic adventure with a colorful cast of characters that are sure to become fan favorites.
Every so often, an epic adventure emerges that makes the blood surge, the spine tingle, and the heart smile page after exhilarating page. Such is Whill of Agora, Michael James Ploof’s action-packed fantasy that visits strange new lands as it unveils how one exceptional young man named Whill makes full use of fierce wits, superior skills, and relentless will to help defend the land of Agora from the monstrous Draggard. With plenty of drama and action packed battle scenes, Whill of Agora will enthrall anyone on the quest for great adventure, good times, and an infectiously optimistic outlook on even the darkest and most dangerous of days.
It is the year 5170 in the land Agora, where humans, dwarves, and elves have existed in peace for centuries. Now, however, the human King Addakon has invaded and waged war on neighboring Isladon. The once peaceful Kingdoms of Agora are on the brink of continental war. The Dark Elf Eadon, Addakon's master, and his army of Dragon-Elf crossbreeds, the Draggard, threaten to conquer all kingdoms. The final hour has arrived.
Enter young Whill, a nineteen-year-old ranger with battle savvy and untapped abilities. Having spent years roaming Agora and training with his mentor Abram, Whill has become a bright intellectual and a master of combat. What he seeks most, however, is the identity of his birth parents. Instead, he finds a tumultuous terrain and a prophecy placing him in the center of the struggle.
Along the way, Whill encounters an equally inspired group of companions that are matched in skill and mission. These include Rhunis the Dragon Slayer, the young Tarren, the fearless Dwarf Roakore, the beguiling warrior Elf Avriel, and the powerful Zerafin. As Whill joins forces, he forges bonds far mightier than their escalating travails. With high adventure and fierce friendship, Whill of Agora will capture your imagination and grip your heart during every super-charged escapade that Agora’s bold and grinning brotherhood embraces.
What fantasy adventure would be complete without a decent map, worn at the edges of course. Whill of Agora features a complete map of Agora so that you can easily manuever through the wilds and bustling cities alike. Click the "Look inside" feature to view map.
If you enjoy a good story told well, with interesting and often times hilarious characters, you will enloy Whill of Agora. With its rich history, 'page turner' pacing, unique magic system and majestic lands, the first book in the Whill of Agora series immerses the reader in a beautiful and believable world wrought with danger, war, manipulation, and mayhem.

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend by Cheryl Carpinello

Chapter 1

The Hunt

Guinevere stared into the shadows along the edge of the forest. She could hear Cedwyn shifting from foot to foot beside her, unable to stand still. She sighed, the bow made of sturdy pine in her hand growing heavier like her heart. Her thirteenth Birth Day was in a few days, but she wasn’t excited. Birth Days were supposed to be fun, but not this year. Not for her, not for a princess.

She frowned as Cedwyn adjusted the leather quiver of arrows on his back again. Sometimes, like today, her patience with the seven-year-old was short.



“But ...”


She stamped her boot on the ground, her displeasure clearly showing.

“Cedwyn,” she snapped. “What is so important that you can’t be quiet?”

“I’m hungry, and the bottoms of my trousers are wet. Can’t we go back to the castle?” His face showed his confusion at her tone.

Guinevere realized that she shouldn’t have directed her anger at Cedwyn. It wasn’t his fault. Glancing down at her own clothes, she saw the bottom of her green ankle-length tunic wet with the morning dew. Her stomach chose that moment to begin grumbling. It started as a low vibration but grew louder as if it hadn’t been fed in days. Cedwyn heard it and started giggling. He tried to smother the sound by covering his mouth with his small hand, but he was too late.

Trying to keep from laughing also, Guinevere shook her head. “How are we ever going to shoot a rabbit with all this noise?” She reached down and tousled his blond hair to let him know that she was not serious and to apologize for her crossness. “Let’s try for just ten minutes longer. Then if we find nothing, we’ll go back. Is that all right?”

Cedwyn shook his head, not wanting to make any further noise. She let her eyes move across the blue sky. The English summer sun had barely reached above the far hills when they had first arrived at the forest. Now, it was well on its way in its climb toward the dinner hour, and they hadn’t even had a proper breakfast yet. Cedwyn’s mum was sure to be upset that they had been gone so long.

“Come on,” he whispered. “The only creatures we’ve seen moving have been badgers and Cornish hens. We could of had five bloody hens by now.”

“I told you, it’s good luck to bag a rabbit on the eve of your thirteenth Birth Day,” Guinevere informed him.

Cedwyn studied her face, unsure if she was telling the truth or not. Then his blue eyes widened, and he grabbed her arm as she turned to continue hunting. “Wait a minute! You promised to help me bag a rabbit on the eve of my tenth Birth Day. You said that was lucky!”

She turned to him, her balled fists on her slim hips. “You need to listen closer when I talk to you. I explained the difference be- tween boys and girls. Boys have to seek luck on the eve of their tenth and fifteenth Birth Days. Since girls are naturally luckier than boys, they only have to seek luck once, on the eve of their thirteenth Birth Day.”

Cedwyn eyed her suspiciously, and then his eyes lit up.

“But I thought that the eve was the night before. Your Birth Day isn’t until the day after tomorrow.”

“That’s true, but the eve of something can also be anytime close to the day.”

“Are you sure?”


Buy Now @ Amazon @ Smashwords

Genre - Arthurian Legend

Rating – G

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#Free–My Babylon by James L. Wilber @jameslwilber

My Babylon by James L. Wilber


My Story
An obsessed magician will do anything it takes to satisfy his perverse needs.
My Myth
He turns to forbidden arts to manifest his will.
My Revelation
In doing so, he will bring about the end of everything.
My Babylon
A serial novel about the paranormal and dark desires. The story of a cursed young man who has an intimate view of the Apocalypse. My Babylon weaves elements of urban fantasy, erotic horror, and real-world occult practices to form a unique personal tale that thrills, terrifies, and even enlightens.

Jack Canon’s American Destiny by Greg Sandora @gregsandora


I’ll never forget the look on my dad's face. We were stopped at a checkpoint by dangerous looking men in military uniforms. Soldiers hollering back and forth waiving weapons, searching through our things, taking anything they wanted. One guerilla was approached by an emaciated little boy with skin so thin it strained to cover his veins. Crying out, eyes bulging from hollow sockets, the child’s spindly arms grasped for the soldier’s leg. The helpless act was answered with the butt end of a rifle, sending the child violently to the ground. Semi convulsing, blood gushing from his head, the boy curled up in a tiny brown ball and went to sleep. At least that's what my mom told me.

That scene played over and over in my head growing up. It made me sad, but mostly furious, that life could be so unfair. Our family missionary trip to Africa meant to teach us love, compassion and understanding had burned a fire in my belly so intense it stayed with me throughout my life. Even at the tender age of ten, I knew someday I’d change this cruel and unjust world. That was forty years ago.

A long recession has brought desperate times. Many in the working middle class are unemployed or have fallen below the poverty line, millions have lost their homes. People lucky enough to have jobs are doing triple the load, working every day with a lump in their throat, feeling disposable, fearing they’re next. In a sick twist, Big Business and Big Banks got bailed out, but the government screwed the people. Honest Americans are feeling anxiety, shame and hopelessness as suicides, domestic violence, and homicides are climbing to an all time high.

Oh yeah, there are still plenty of guys buying Ferrari's, but the disparity between rich and poor has become obscene. The wealthy have become fatter, picking off the laboring carcass of a foreclosed middle class. The underlying greed is unconscionable.

I’m the Senior Democratic Senator from Kentucky. My name is John Canon; people call me Jack. Though my once brown hair has turned a little gray, I can’t complain, having served nearly three terms in the most powerful city on earth. I’ve gotten a bit softer around the middle, but I’ve learned good clothes can hide it. The biggest eye opener of my political career so far: an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency. It was a major shock to find out--what it’s really going to take--to fulfill my destiny:

To someday have the power, to dedicate the highest office in the land, to make things right. This time I’m all in.

Sandy Collins, my assistant, sticks her head in, peeking around the door, "Morning Jack, how you doing?”

“I’m alright, just working on some lines for my stump speech.” Sandy’s my right hand and more importantly my best friend. It only makes sense though, even at eight years old my best friend was a little girl, I just loved holding her hand.

Men are hard-wired to want women like Sandy. She’s a drop-dead knockout. She likes her high heels, which put her about five-nine, and wears her blonde hair straight, pulling it into a ponytail at least part of the day. Her only negative, she’s a bit naïve for someone turning thirty-seven.

“Jack, did you want me to do all your Christmas shopping again this year?” Sandy had great taste in gifts. She put a lot of thought into her choices, usually hitting a home run with my family, especially the kids. It’s like she was tuned in to what my girls would want.

Ignoring her question, “Listen to this,” speaking my notes as I’m writing, “this country is being run by elitists who could care less about ordinary Americans.”

I’d actually written, couldn’t give one sweet shit, but adjusted it for a broader audience.

“The system is badly broken, the wealthiest Americans have profited unfairly, taking advantage of an increasingly helpless public.”

Bud, my campaign manager, chief of staff, and close friend for the past 15 years, enters the office listening, mid-sentence.

“Devastated by the economy, the rich have gamed the system, bought everything up on the cheap. Greed threatens our way of life.”

Sandy commented, “It sounds so bleak Jack.”

“Jack, I’ve arranged for the transfers.”

Bud was being careful with Sandy in the room. He’d gotten me elected to the senate, but despite several tries going all the way back to McGovern he’d never won a presidential campaign.

“Bud, just say it straight, if we can’t trust Sandy we’re done already.”

“Alright Jack.” Bud turned to Sandy, “We got our asses handed to us the first time around cause Jack here didn’t want to break the law. This time I’m funneling huge donations into Super Pac’s that we’ll control. ”

“Bud, Sandy’s in the thick of this with us. Honey, you know we aren’t supposed to be getting the money for them. Let alone this crazy kind of money. If anyone finds out we’re all going to jail.”

Sandy said, “Give me some credit boys, I get it. Besides you’re only doing what everybody else does already.”

Bud cautioned, "Never before to this degree. When the Republicans are coming after us we’re gonna need every dime to fight off the attack.”

Politics is a tricky game and, lucky for me, Bud was an expert player. I’m excited to have a guy like him with only one thing left to prove. This was to be Bud’s last time out of the gate. His doctors told him his heart wasn’t up to handling the stress of another major campaign. He was willing to put it all on the line, because he believed in me, but deep down in my heart I knew that more than life itself, Bud Singer wanted to go out with the win.

Bud spent a lot of time on the cocktail circuit and at charity events rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, lining up contributions. He looked in Sandy’s direction, trying to engage her directly, “The Country my father knew was built on cheap energy. Families of the fifties could live well on one income. We took weekend joy rides in the country - in big heavy gas guzzlers, just for the fun of it.” He looked over at me then back to Sandy.

“Remember the station wagons Jack? People moved to the suburbs in droves. Our factories were busy making all kinds of products – Made in America was the sign of Quality. We were a nation of producers, not just consumers. That’s all changed now. This country is going to the dogs.”

Sandy wasn’t even faking interest in Bud today, she told me once he reminded her of a sinister figure, a shorter version of Orson Wells in a suit. Even when Bud worked at it, he never seemed to hold her attention for very long.

“Jack, I was serious before, do you want me to get started on your presents? I was in Macy’s the other day listening to Christmas music; it’s getting to be that time of year again.”

Sandy was making every effort to get my undivided attention; she stood right in front of me, bent over my laptop and looked chin out straight into my eyes, “Jack the store’s been decorated since Halloween.”

“We’ve still got over a month” – then I thought for a second.

“Yeah, maybe you could pick up a couple of gifts for the kids and help me with a few ideas for Kathy’s and I’ll go get those, myself.”

“Great Jack, I’ll put together a tentative list and we’ll go over it when you can focus.”

Sandy turned and did an exaggerated one-foot-crossing-the-other walk, accentuating her hip movements as she left the room. If she wasn’t getting my attention in the room, she was determined to get it going out.

Bud shook his head, “She’s a tease.”

“She’s right Bud, you don’t give her much credit, remember she graduated cum laude from Boston.”

“In journalism, for Pete’s sakes Jack, get real.”

“You just don’t like reporters.”

“No really, don’t you think it’s odd that in all the years you’ve known Sandy she’s never had a boyfriend. Hell, I don’t ever remember her having a date.”

“What are you getting at?”

“She’s a beautiful woman Jack, where I come from there’s a line around the block for a girl like that.”

“Well for one thing she never stops working, you know sometimes she’s texting me late into the evening.”

“She should put herself out there, get married.”

“I’ve begged her to take some time off but she never does.”

“What a waste.”

Bud was right, Sandy didn’t have much of a personal life; it was my fault, I had her managing both the Campaign Administrative Staff and the Senate Office.

“I never thought I’d say this, but we may be working the girl too hard, Jack.”

“I’ve taken her out a couple of times after work for Martinis.”

“Does she ever mention her personal life?"

“Not really, we talk mostly about work and me being president. She really wants it for me.”

Sandy usually accompanies me on business trips to help me stay organized. She’s a kindred spirit and knows first hand the difficulties of being a Senator.

“Jack, running for president can rip you apart if you are not ready. I just hope she understands that we’re in a dogfight, any misstep in this arena and they’ll eat us alive. You know how I worry.”

“Relax she knows we’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

“But can she keep it to herself?”

“Yeah, Bud, she’ll never betray my trust. Listen to this,” my reading glasses were hanging on my nose, “our mission is to take America back for the people.” I continued reading aloud.

“Big oil is causing the American Dream to fade away. Regular, hard-working, middle class families have lost their homes. The Government bailed out the banks but didn’t do a damn thing to help the people. We have become a nation of service providers, importing nearly everything we use. America is like a locomotive, once powerful, that has left the tracks, on a collision course with economic disaster.”

Bud said, “I like that line; it’s got powerful imagery. You didn’t really answer me though. Do you think she really gets it?”

“Bud, I think that little walk shook you up.”

“Why, do I seem fixated?”

“You can’t stop talking about her! Listen, we had a heart to heart a long time ago and I told her the game is rigged. To make a difference in this world, we’ve got to get our hands dirty, really dirty. Bud, I promise you she’s with us all the way to the White House.”

“Okay, I hope you’re right. I don’t want to see her on 60 minutes some night spilling her guts out about you.”

I wedged my feet on top of the desk, leaned back in my chair, and continued typing notes and reading them aloud; the thoughts were coming. “Recession President Gillard Barker, third year in office with nothing, no, scratch that… with little going right.”

Bud said, “Barker still thinks he can be re-elected. The power of the Presidency has to be intoxicating; it’s blinding him to reality.”

Barker said in an interview, ‘The Democrats’ dismal four years left such a bad taste with voters, it would take two Republican terms to wash it out.’

As Bud was walking toward the door, he chided, “I still think he’s a cocky bastard.”

I answered, “It happens, Bud. Look at Carter.”

Neither of us wanted to admit it, but many leaders in our own Party were afraid the president was right.

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Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Keeper of Reign (Reign Fantasy) by Emma Right


THE LAST THING Jules Blaze thought of before he closed his eyes was how he, how anyone, could undo the curse his people were under. He was in the middle of a dream, a nightmare as far as he was concerned, begging Grandpa Leroy and Grandma Bonnie not to leave, when someone banged on their front door, shaking their entire tree house.

Who’d be crazy enough to disturb them at this hour? He sat up on his bed and cocked his head. His mother’s soft tread tap-tapped on the wood floor.

“Who’s there?” her muffled voice asked, harsh and whispery from sleep.

The banging stopped.

“Erin, open up.” Saul’s voice, gruff and loud, jolted the last fog of sleepiness from Jules. He peered over at his brother sleeping noiselessly in the bunk below him, and quietly slipped down the ladder. On tiptoe he sneaked to the trapdoor opening that led down to the living room where Saul stood dripping from the rain.

“Is everything okay?” Erin said.

“Would I visit now if it were?” Saul said. Then in a gentler voice he added, “I’m sorry. Please, let’s take a seat, Erin.” He nodded at Jules who’d slipped down the pull-down ladder to join them. “Jules.” Jules thought about his father at the war front and swallowed a lump in his throat. Was this why Dad hadn’t sent any word to them for the last months? Because he couldn’t?

Saul held Erin by the arm. He led her to the dining room chairs behind the sofa covered with knitted shawls and afghan throws.

Jules trudged to the window and peered at the branches outside. The arm of the oak tree grew so thick they could easily live in it, although getting up there could be a problem, especially since he was afraid of heights. These days they didn’t even live in stone houses, or even wooden ones, unless living under a tree counted as a wooden home. Elfies lived in trees, or burrowed under rocks, in the forest of Reign.

“Take a seat, Jules.” Saul locked eyes on him for an instant. “I just received word from the riverfront patrol—Leroy and Bonnie’s boat capsized in the storm. They’re searching for the bodies, but it doesn’t look good.”

Erin let out a gasp and brought a fist to her mouth. “No!”

“Boat? How can they be sure it was them?” Jules leaned forward in his chair.

“Some of their belongings floated to shore, and I identified the wreck—the pieces drifted to the bank.”

Erin looked at him blankly.

Saul said, again, “The boat…was a wreck.”

“Boat?” Erin said.

“I’d loaned it to them.”


Saul looked at the ceiling. “They’d wanted to get across to Handover.”

“Handover? That’s preposterous. After telling us never to cross the river and saying how dangerous Handover is?” Erin’s voice sounded angry amidst her sobs.

Saul pushed his chair back and stood. He reached into the cloak of his pocket, brought out a few items and laid them on the dining table. “Some things to remember your folks by.” And with that he turned and stalked back out into the dripping night.

Jules stared at his grandpa’s pocket watch, the green felt hat the old man always wore, especially on damp days, and his grandma’s silk scarf she donned when the wind ruffled her snowy white hair. Erin sobbed more violently, and Jules stood behind his mother’s back, leaned over and hugged her trembling shoulders.

Keeper of Reign

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Genre - Young Adult Adventure Fantasy  

Rating – G

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#Free Alert – Stars Rain Down (Biotech Legacy) by Chris J. Randolph @Spectre_7

Stars Rain Down by Chris J. Randolph


Our world was destroyed before anyone even realized we were under attack...
Marcus Donovan is an astronomer and day dreamer who's notorious for his skill at fixing wayward projects. Something is missing in his life, though, and when he discovers a mysterious object hidden in the asteroid belt, everything will change forever.
While he hurtles off to investigate his discovery, the Earth comes under attack by seven vessels the size of cities. The invaders lay siege to the planet and reduce human civilization to a pile of ashes and rubble.
But there are survivors. On the ground is Jack Hernandez, a search & rescue specialist who's a real, everyday hero. After crashing in the wastes of China, he soon joins the scattered resistance and begins to fight back.
Neither Jack nor Marcus would ever have dreamed it, but humanity's future now depends on their choices. One will be bonded to an ancient warship and asked to lead, while the other is imprisoned, tortured, and forced to submit. They'll each face challenges beyond imagination in a savage war as old as time.
When the stars rain down from the sky, who will rise up to meet them?
Follow progress on the sequel—Biotech Legacy: Long Fall—at the Oktopod Blog!

Alice Will by Ashley Chappell @AshleyNChappell


With her leaky powers and premature smiting problem, fourteen year-old Trotter was still just trying to get the hang of the demi-godding business when the apocalypse began. In a world where the gods have withdrawn from humanity, leaving mortals bitter toward magic, she finds herself torn between the human and the goddess in her as the world begins to fade away and she becomes the prime suspect. When her search to determine the cause and prove her innocence ends up revolving around a mysterious little girl named Alice, she discovers that not all of the gods had been as distant as they seemed… Now, with everyone against her and the gods fighting amongst themselves, Trotter is on her own to save her world and stop a spiteful god from using Alice to destroy everything.

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Genre – YA Fantasy

Rating – PG

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An Honest Man (the Donkey and the Wall) @J_L_Lawson


It's an Art

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” 

--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Are you getting all this?” asked the stranger after the lingering pause and he straightened his legs. The cat leapt down and padded off after her own business.

“Yes, thank you,” answered the young man promptly, glad that the silence was broken at last and anxious to shift the topic a bit. “So the beginning was when George and Belle had Harry?” the host ventured, still scribbling.

“You missed it by a bit. This story began when Wang Fu Kong, George, committed himself to the journey to a new world, then the trek into the wilderness, and when he finally surrendered to the harsh beauty and rewarding wonder of the natural world in which he found himself.”

“Wait. Are you saying little Harry and his son, or daughter, or whatever, all the way down to Fred Livingson, whenever he lived, is all the same story? So, no one person had an individual beginning or end? That doesn't sound quite fair or right somehow.”

The guest stood up and walked to the door. He looked out into haze of the growing Texas day and the harvested hay fields across the pond, then he thought aloud, “You know, that's an interesting point... like 'What is the tree to the forest?' or, 'Is the story of the river in the melting ice and snow of the mountain?' or...”

“Well, yeah, or 'the chicken and the egg',” added the young man, “But how can you say: 'It begins here!' and not here, or here, or here?” Then he groaned in exasperation at his infirm grasp of what the stranger was getting at.

“The simplest way to answer that is to remind you that humans have the unique capacity to dream and to choose, which stands them in contrast to the rest of the life on this planet. Yet even with that great birthright, so few people develop the ability or make the attempt to swerve even a bit from the whims of the winds of fate or of cause and effect.” He paused, assessed the effect of this last on the young man and continued. “So when on that rare occasion someone commits to a decision made of his own understanding and aspiration, acts on that commitment, and affects the lives of others in a positive way which would not have occurred otherwise... That is a beginning.”

“And it doesn't seem to be ending...” muttered the host not so silently while sharpening his pencil for another round.

“It ends; its life however is mapped, not measured,” offered the guest, “Shall we proceed with your map?” The stranger sat down, and picked up the tale again with a conversation between George and White Feathers.

An Honest Man

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Genre - Metaphysical/Fantasy/Action Adventure

Rating – G

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Evan Burl & the Falling by Justin Blaney



1:05 pm

I was a wicked boy. And my loving uncle was going to cure me of wickedness. That's what he told me after we left Henri—right before Yesler took a whip to my back. It's worse when Yesler gives them. Three lashes feel like thirty.

But I didn't make a sound.

And I knew the lashes weren't for stealing food. They were for climbing the tower with Pike five years ago. Every punishment went back to that. I often went back to that moment. He hit the ground first; me, a fraction of a second later. I often thought back to that moment; all the thousands of little things that caused us to fall just the way we did. Marcus taught me about science. Physics. How little changes can add up to the difference between life and death.

A soft breeze. The turning of the earth. The way our bodies moved and how we changed our paths through the air without even knowing it. The result was a 4 foot distance between where we landed.

I hit a thick straw roof and went straight through into a shed filled with hay, breaking 12 bones. My leg never healed properly.

Pike wasn't so lucky.

He hit the cobblestone pavement just outside the hut I landed on. Marcus said that a body could bounce up to six feet into the air after a fall like that. He also said it's a painless way to die. I don't know if that's true, but I do know it's not painless for the ones who survive. Especially when I know that it was me who killed Pike. Even if I could forget that, my uncle Mazol was going to remind me.

That's what the lashes were really for.

Yesler wanted to leave me in the hall where they whipped me, make me walk back to the caldroen myself. But Ballard must have known I wouldn't make it. With one arm around me, he helped me limp through the castle. Ballard was like that. He might hold you down under Yesler's whip in the morning and sneak you a sip of stolen beer in the afternoon.

Under his other arm, Ballard carried one of the small chests that the roslings were found in. I don’t know where the stuff inside those chests came from or where it went when we were done. We might have been producing reams of cheap linen, doilies of spun gold or refined cow dung for all I knew. No one really cared. If, on the other hand, we discovered the clankers turned out cherry tarts, fresh bread—even moldy bread—now that would be something. 

I imaged Ballard carrying a chest of cherry tarts as we walked, smiling at the absurdity of it. My ragged shirt, tucked in my pants, lapped against my bad leg with every step; it would be a while before I could put it on again. I could hear the blood dripping off my back onto the stone floor as we walked.

We were moving too slow for my uncle and Yesler, so they went ahead to keep an eye on the roslings. Not long after they were out of sight, Ballard gestured to a bench. He seemed to sense how badly I needed to sit down, which was ironic given his role in my suffering.

"Don't run off," he said with a crooked smile and a growl, then set the chest down next to me and disappeared around a corner. I wasn't sure if he was trying to be funny or not, but when you have blood running down your back and your best friend is being punished for something you did, it's difficult to find anything funny.

I sat on the bench, careful not to touch my back to the wall. For a moment, I thought about trying to open the chest next to me, just to see what was inside. But it was impossible to open without the key. Instead, I stared blankly through a huge window into the courtyard. 

Daemanhur sat on a cliff's edge, high above the Leschi sea, which filled the northern horizon. A 40 foot wall circled the courtyard, running close to the castle by the tower on the uphill side and stretching for nearly a mile down the slopes toward the harbor where a small trade-town was built a few more miles down the road.

A creek ran under the wall on the uphill side of the courtyard and kept a large lake full year round. There were fish in the lake, but most were to bony and small to eat, not that bones stopped us from trying when we had the time to fish. Another larger river joined the creek just above the town and ran into a harbor where ships docked from time to time.

I sometimes watched the ships come into the harbor while I was working the clankers, just to give me something to think about besides work. Men from the town  traded with the ships, and sold some of the goods to Mazol. Those who dared to travel through the jungle only did during the daylight and always with armored carriages and trained guards. They also kept moving no matter what. They didn't stop for anything, not even if one of their passengers fell out of the carriage.

I heard once that traveling guards, runners they were called, the kind who protected deliveries through the jungle earned more money than the town's mayor. Even for that much money, I wouldn't take the job. Runners usually didn't live past thirty. To be a good runner you had to be strong, ruthless and talented with a spear. Intelligence, on the other hand, was not required.

When the warts ordered goods, the runners would come to the gates on the uphill side of the courtyard just outside the window I was looking through. There was a fortified sort of room that was open to the outside where the delivery men could wait in relative safety for someone to come open the gates. The runners would pull a chain which ran over the courtyard and was connected to a bronze bell in the caldroen; the bell was in the caldroen because that's where the roslings worked and someone would always hear it in there. 

Evan Burl

My father abandoned me when I was an infant.
My friends have turned against me.
My uncle beats me.
The most powerful men in the world want me dead.
They all have one thing in common.
They think I’m turning into a monster.

I’m starting to worry they’re right.

Genre - Young Adult

Rating – PG

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#Free Alert - What Lies Inside @BloodBoundJLM

What Lies Inside – J.L. Myers
Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK
Genre – YA, Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG13
4.5 (8 reviews)
Free until 10 October 2013
Amelia Lamont never asked to unleash her inner vampire
Amelia’s normal teen world is shattered when a terrifying nightmare awakens the monster inside her. A newfound, insatiable thirst for blood that leads her to drain the school quarterback is only the beginning; she’s horrified to discover that her family and best friend Kendrick have been harboring the secret all along. And is the strangely alluring boy who seems hell-bent on curbing her murderous, blood-filled desires a friend, or foe?
To escape detection Amelia and her twin brother Dorian are forced to move to a new town, and the challenge of a new, exclusive high school where nearly every classmate smells like prey. Including the irresistible Ty, who seems hauntingly familiar, yet darkly menacing …
Amelia’s disturbing dreams and entanglement in a web of forbidden romance render her increasingly powerless against the chilling lies and secrets of vampire power struggles. And, as she soon discovers, vampire politics mixed with outlawed love can be a lethal cocktail.
Falling in love may just cost Amelia everything: her friends, her family...even her life

A 3rd Time to Die by George A Bernstein


Ashley Easton rescues a badly abused horse, deciding to return to show jumping, the passion of her youth. The animal gives unquestioned love, something lacking from her husband, Keith. But when Ashley begins to compete, she is terrified as the show course seemingly changes into an old forest and the jumps appear as real walls, fences and trees. Her thoughts spill through her head in elegant French. As she attacks the fences with an unfamiliar, fearless abandon, she begins winning every competition.

Craig Thornton, an avid horseman, happens upon Ashley’s first competition, entranced as he watches her jump her horse, Injun. Mystically drawn toward each other, it’s as if they knew the other…but from where? After several missed opportunities, they finally meet, becoming fast friends, their love of jumping horses a mutual bond.

Ashley seeks therapy to address a strange terror swamping her whenever she’s intimate. During hypnotic regression, she’s stunned to find herself in two apparent past lives, first in the 17th Century, on a fox hunt as the fearless French horsewoman who fills her head while jumping, and again, 150 years later in Philadelphia, a shipping tycoons daughter. Both times she is fulfilled by glorious romance, followed by the terror of their brutal murder while making fervid love in a forested glade!

The doctor says these are figments of her subconscious, but he’s shaken, knowing the truth. He realizes those were real past lives, and their killer may be lurking again, nearby.

Ashley and Craig soon discover more than friendship. As these two newly rediscovered lovers struggle to free themselves from broken marriages, others plan to fulfill a 300 year-old legacy of death.

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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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