#BookReview- The Stones: Astral Conspiracy Book 2 by @STACITROILO writing as D. L. Cross #SciFiSuspense


He’s running from Astrals. Running with Black Ops. And running toward the end of the world.

Landon Thorne belongs to an elite group: he’s one of the few people who have ever accessed the Akashic Record. He discovers a weapon that could defend the Earth.

The Astrals want to stop him. The government wants to control him. Even his allies are hiding something.

Through it all, he has one purpose. One compulsion. He’s drawn to the Georgia Guidestones.

His journey is fraught with danger – bandits, cannibals, and ancient booby traps — but when Landon finally reaches the Stones, even he is surprised by what he finds. If he can decipher the code, he can save the world.

If he can’t? His discovery may destroy him – along with the rest of the human race.

Biography

D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

Photo by Alex Conchillos on Pexels.com

My Review for The Stones by D. L. Cross

What a thrill-ride!

Aliens have landed, and they aren’t friendly. The race is on to save humankind before there is utter destruction.

Landon Thorne-the man everyone ridiculed for his outlandish ideas-now seems to be the key to stopping an alien invasion. He’s doing his best to assimilate all that’s happening, but the professor isn’t prepared for the high-stakes race he’s been pushed into. After a startling vision, Landon knows his next step is to reach the Georgia Guidestones- if he can escape a crazed madwoman determined to take over the world, travel across a country gone mad, and avoid giant bug-like creatures who want him for lunch.

Part of a rebellion force, Reverie Sterling is as tough as they come. Tasked with the assignment to find people in need and bring them back to the tunnels she calls home, she takes her trusted team and heads into a chaotic new world. She doesn’t expect to find new, annoying, friends or to bear witness to the ultimate sacrifice. It messes with her head and makes her doubt her ability to protect her team. But there’s no time to dwell on painful memories. Time is ticking. The world is changing. Survival is all they have left- or do they?

Favorite Line:

Silence so thick, it oozed down her throat. She damn near gagged on the bitterness. Knew something was off. Felt it in her bones, wore it like a prickly shroud.

Cross, D.L. . The Stones: An Invasion Universe Novel (Astral Conspiracy Book 2) . Sterling and Stone. Kindle Edition.

This is a fast-paced page-turner with so many twists and turns you’ll be running to catch up! I love the interactions between Reverie and Ford- they literally strike sparks off each other. Then there’s the priest who’s forming an army to do God’s calling, the uber-crazy AATIP Agent, Nadia Adler, an alien in a bunker, and so much more!

You can read The Stones as a standalone, but I recommend starting with book 1 in the Astral Conspiracy series- The Gate (you can read my review here: https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/05/20/the-gate-an-invasion-universe-novel-astral-conspiracy-book-1-by-stacitroilo-writing-as-d-l-cross-scifi-bookreview/ ) to get a better sense of the incredible storyline and a cast of amazing characters.

The Stones is a 5* + read!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

#BookReview- I Wouldn’t be Surprised by @DLFinnAuthor #Fantasy #Suspense


Do you ever wish you could take back your words? Janice and Dale Hart sat around the dinner table laughing at silly “I wouldn’t be surprised” jokes that included UFOs, Bigfoot, hand-delivered food, and serial killers. A week later, an innocent plate of food is left on Dale’s truck in the middle of the night. That’s only the beginning, and the presents go from harmless to life-threatening. Will the Harts find help in time to survive an evil bearer of “gifts”? Find out in this paranormal thriller.

Biography

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

This short story packs a punch!

Janice and Dale live in their dream home on a piece of land deep in the woods. They enjoy the privacy, or at least they did, until strange things begin to happen. A plate of food left without a note, power outages, a strange hole in the yard, all are eerie and unexplainable.

When the danger escalates, Janice and Dale must fight an frightening assailant before he kills them, and receive help from an unexpected source.

This is a quick read- possibly because my fingers flew over the pages- but contains all the elements for a good thriller. The author does a superb job building suspense and the touch of paranormal adds just the right amount of mystique to turn this into a must-read!

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 
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#CoverReveal- Hiding Cracked Glass by @JamesCudney4 #Suspense @Shalini_G26


HIDING CRACKED GLASS BY JAMES J. CUDNEY

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass

Book #1 Name: Watching Glass Shatter

Book #2 Name: Hiding Cracked Glass (cover reveal for this one)

Publication for Book #2:

Next Chapter, October 8th, 2020

PreSale / Amazon Link:

Pending from Publisher

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54399989-hiding-cracked-glass

About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved. 

 

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

·       Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

·       Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

·       Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

·       Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

·       Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

·       Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

Summer Thrills Fireworks Party- High-Tech Crime Solvers- #mystery #suspense #Reads


Join us: Summer Thrills Fireworks!

My author friends have joined forces to bring you a new series: High-Tech Crime Solvers

BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Join our killer party as a GOING guest for a chance to win books!

Summer Thrills Fireworks!

Saturday Satisfaction #amwriting #gardening


I Finished the Damn Book!

May was such a messed up month for me, I was getting seriously worried whether I could finish the book I had up on pre-order in time to fulfill my obligations.

It came down to the wire, but I got it done and feel good about the outcome 🙂

Now I can breathe again, and with views like these in my backyard- relax.

Virtually Gone Releases JUne 12 on all your favorite retail sites!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

Exclusive Excerpt

Matt sat next to a middle-aged university security guard and stared at the video playing out on a desktop computer screen. It was brain-numbing work, but he held onto the hope one of these recordings carried a usable ID of their suspect. Investigators had gone over footage taken from the general area of Gina’s attack, but at the time, they hadn’t realized they were dealing with a serial offender. With the new information received, he and Connor were going back over the evidence with a fine-tooth comb.

The timestamp on the top right of the screen said it was eight pm, shortly before Gina’s final class for the night had ended. She’d told them her routine was to take a path cutting across campus in order to arrive in time to catch the transit bus she needed to get home. There were safer routes, such as the bus lane outside the security building, but at that time of the evening she would need to make several transfers, which made her nervous. It was sadly ironic her careful choices ended up placing her in the crosshairs of a criminal.

After her shock today, Connor had offered to drive Gina home and wait until someone could come over and be with her, so she wasn’t alone. Every time Matt thought about the photo and frightening message she’d received; it made his blood boil.

The cops can’t save you, sweet Gina. See you soon.

No wonder the girl was scared; the bastard was stalking her.

While Connor had interviewed each of the individuals outside on the grassy rotunda with them, he’d snapped pictures to go over later. Their tech guy, Bob, had come up empty at tracing the number to where the photo originated, but they’d expected that. The perp hadn’t made many mistakes to this point, he wasn’t going to hand himself over on a silver platter. But he’d given them another clue—Bob had explained even burner phones came with a unique serial number, and given time, he could find out whether their suspect had used the phone to browse the web, make calls, or even if he carried another ‘regular’ phone with him. Phones constantly communicate with cell phone towers, whether in use or not, and therefore left a digital footprint that could be traced back to the distributor.

“Wait. What’s that?” Matt straightened and strained to see the grainy figure moving in and out of the shadows on the video. “Back it up a bit, will you?”

The guard paused the footage and rolled it back a few seconds before hitting play again. This time, they focused their attention on the hunched form in dark clothing, head covered by the hood of his jacket.

“Does it seem as if he’s waiting for someone to you?”

The guard shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a buddy.”

Or maybe he was waiting for Gina.


Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

Father Figure by James. J. Cudney #Suspense #Sale @jamescudney4


Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves!

Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out

This was my introduction into James J. Cudney’s work, and can I just say, wow! Here’s a link to my review- https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/07/11/father-figure-by-jamescudney4-suspense-bookreview/

Father Figure’s plotline is nothing short of brilliant, with a surprise ending you won’t guess is coming!

Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week

Overview of Father Figure

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.    

Father Figure was officially launched for sale on Amazon on April 2, 2018 as both an e-book and a physical book. Reviews have been extremely positive between Goodreads and Amazon since the 5-day free download and 5-day book blitz.

  • Book Blitz: For 5 days, (4/30 thru 5/4) we posted promotions, hints, and feedback
  • Blog Tour: For 5 days (6/4 thru 6/8) we posted reviews, interviews and a giveaway

Reviews

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”

***

Book Excerpt

Chapter One – Amalia, August 1984

“I didn’t raise no harlot, Amalia. When you’re done with softball practice today, you will go directly to the hardware store and help your father manage that cash register.” The stagnant air, sealed tightly like an old glass jar of long-forgotten jelly, refused to dissipate in the Graeme family home—even it was afraid of Janet’s wrath.

“But Momma, I’ll be home to cook dinner before sunset.” The strains in Amalia’s voice weakened with each of her mother’s refusals to let her live the normal life of a teenager.

“Didn’t you hear me the first time, child? Only little whores go to the lake.” Janet’s stern voice emptied through thin lips stained from devouring a blueberry cobbler before they’d started cooking breakfast. “Are you a little whore, Amalia?”

Retribution for daring to break any of her mother’s rules was always swift and fierce. Amalia had obeyed every word since her mother locked her in the storm cellar for ten hours when she was a toddler —punishment for spilling juice on an antique lace tablecloth. “No, I’m sorry. I thought you might let me celebrate just this once…”

The plea had barely escaped Amalia’s hesitant lips before the clammy grip of Janet’s bony hands shoved her down the hallway. “Stop your sass talk, girl. We can take another trip downstairs if you don’t care to mind me.”

Amalia’s left arm grazed the wall when stumbling from the kitchen into the dark mudroom. Dingy white paint chips rained to the floor and clung to her favorite new red blouse while passing through the dilapidated archway. She cradled her elbow, flicked off the last few flakes of her mother’s venom, and firmly held her ground. “It’s not fair. You let Greg hang out with his friends all the time.”

“Leave your brother out of this conversation. Your responsibility belongs first to this family and then to the hardware store. Who said anything about friends? Now get yourself off to practice.” Janet’s one good eye stubbornly left behind after diabetes stole the vision in her other glared while Amalia reluctantly marched toward the back door. “You’re a spiteful little child.”

“I’m taking out the trash, Momma.” Her voice carried the defeat of a soul unable to find the words or summon the strength to defend herself anymore. As she leaned over, the scoop neck on Amalia’s blouse revealed the slightest hint of cleavage between her ample breasts.

“Stop right now. What are you wearing?” Janet’s tone lingered thick over such insubordination. A special brand of disdain had been developed by watching her daddy preach to his Southern Baptist congregation for nearly forty years before he anxiously married her off to Amalia’s father.

“It’s just a pretty shirt I found at a yard sale. I’m not showing too much skin.” Amalia dropped the trash bag on the mudroom’s gray linoleum and recalled the similar, previous lectures. She refused to turn around to face the woman. “I’m not a child anymore, Momma.”

Janet stampeded through the kitchen and kicked the garbage into the far corner. Though the vinyl flooring had peeled away from the walls as the house settled, it was still not one of the more noticeable improvements desperately needed in their home. “It’s lesson time, girl.”

Amalia yelped and dashed to safety after a cast iron frying pan full of hot grease collided with bare skin on the back of her arm. “No, Momma, please…” She dropped to her knees, scooted across the mudroom floor, and cowered behind the pantry door to protect herself from any further blows. An acrid burnt plastic odor from a fiery singe on the linoleum beneath her wafted through the air as she shuddered in pain. The nerves in her forearm and elbow convulsed when the wound began to blister from the impact of her mother’s lesson.

“Someday you’ll learn how to behave yourself.” Janet grudgingly placed the frying pan on the washing machine and lifted Amalia by the curls of her hair. She tightly squeezed her daughter’s breasts while trying to raise the blouse over Amalia’s head. “I don’t know where you got these girls from. You’re hoping to entice all the boys to put their dirty little hands where they don’t belong.”

Amalia pushed away her mother’s sticky fingers willing to risk more punishment if she kept them off her trembling body. The putrid smell of Janet’s three-day-old sweat and decaying teeth littered the air between their lips. “Leave it. I’ve got a bra on underneath to keep them strapped down. I know the rules.”

Amalia’s breasts had begun to develop when she turned eleven years old. By thirteen, a custom-size bra was bought to contain them. Dresses were never allowed given the attention they’d drawn to her body’s hourglass shape. Though Janet’s words were enough of a rebuke, reduction surgery was still threatened should Amalia’s breasts grow any larger.

“I pray every night for them to stop getting bigger and for God to teach you some morals. It’s like you’re rubbing my great Aunt Tilly’s rose garden’s Miracle Grow on those dirty pillows. Tramps like you get themselves into some mighty trouble when they don’t protect their bodies.” Janet stomped back to the kitchen with the now-emptied frying pan and quickly snapped her fingers. “Cover yourself up or forget about going away to college this summer.”

“Yes, Momma.” Amalia heaved herself from the floor with the help of the door handle and collected the remains of her veiled dignity.

“And put out the trash already. It smells like a sewer in here,” snickered Janet.

Fighting back the tears brimming on the surface of her weary eyes, Amalia sighed with relief upon noticing the frying oil hadn’t ruined her blouse. In a rush to tend to her wounds while running through the living room and up the flight of stairs, Amalia crashed into her father, Peter. At sixty, he’d begun to settle into a grandfatherly presence contented by a quiet and ordinary life. He’d aged quickly in the Graeme household. Everyone did.

“Daddy, I’m so sorry. I was…” Amalia hugged her father, rested her head against his narrow chest, and listened to his enfeebled lungs wheeze with exertion.

Peter fell toward the wall and knocked over the family portrait they’d photographed during Greg’s high school graduation. “Oh, my pet, what’s wrong?” He pulled Amalia closer with one hand and adjusted the brass picture frame with the other. A thin layer of ashen skin on his face failed to cover years of misery being married to Janet. He’d long-accepted divorce would never be permitted by the daughter of a Baptist preacher and that his life would be fraught with reproach. “Did you have another squabble with your mother?”

Amalia sniffled and concealed her burns, desperate to splash cold water on the pain. “She hates me, Daddy. Momma never loved me the way she loves Greg.”

“That’s not true, honey. She’s tougher because you’re leaving later this month.” Peter brushed away a few loose curls from Amalia’s face and smiled with a fatherly love that hadn’t receded over the years. “What happened this time?”

A cherubic expression brightened her pale face with the hope he would understand but disappeared once she remembered begging had never helped before. “I asked if I could go to the lake today with the rest of the softball team for Brant’s town fair, but Momma says I have to work at the store like I do every other day.”

The population of their hometown, Brant, Mississippi, founded in 1784, hovered around five hundred inhabitants, the majority born and raised in the surrounding isolation. The Graeme family, still considered outsiders, had arrived in the mid-1800s settling about a half mile from Lake Newton—the livelihood once used to transport goods to the neighboring settlements. Over the years, as the county paved new roads to share crops more efficiently among all the nearby villages, the lake became a gathering place for the local families and visitors to enjoy each summer. Store owners had organized a bicentennial celebration for the upcoming weekend where all the citizens would barbecue ribs, hold square dancing lessons, and play various outdoor games. Amalia looked forward to it every year believing she always had the chance to find a new friend who might make the rough days pass by a little easier.

“Your momma knows best, honey. We need to be available for our customers.” Every penny was important to Janet Graeme, especially with two kids attending college—they could never close the store early. Janet often reminded them how pitching in around the house or store was impossible on account of her many illnesses. Peter nudged Amalia away and kissed her cheek. “You can leave work early to meet your teammates at tomorrow’s picnic. Will that make you happy?”

“It helps, but I’ll be the only one not going tonight.” Amalia buried her flushed cheeks into the crook of his left arm. He always smelled of Old Spice. She’d bought him the same cologne for Father’s Day every year since shopping on her own.

If Peter noticed the stinging red color or the slight favor of her left arm, he either ignored it or thought she’d injured herself in a recent softball game. He adhered to an insulated belief that his wife’s normal way of parenting didn’t include hurting or abusing their daughter. It wasn’t the first time he’d misjudged a situation. Peter once took Amalia to a movie theatre as an early birthday present telling Janet they’d stayed behind at the store to count inventory and order stock, but she found a few popcorn kernels on the floor of the family Dodge the next morning while driving to church. Janet waited until Amalia arrived home from school later that week to teach her daughter a lesson about lying. Though Amalia had only been trying to catch a schoolboy’s attention by lightening the color of her hair with lemon juice, it was a vengeful wrath she’d unexpectedly invited as Janet took a pair of shearing scissors to her daughter’s golden mane. The emotional scars from an abusive homelife were profound, but Amalia never regretted sneaking off to watch the movie. She was proud of being a daddy’s girl. He was her hero, the father she’d always treasure, the man who made it easier being the daughter of the wicked Janet Graeme.

Peter patted Amalia’s back offering any chance to ease her disillusion. “I know, but tomorrow when you go to the lake, everything will be back on track. Bring some clothes to change into so that you don’t have to come back home in between. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I can’t wait. I love you, Daddy.” She hugged him again and raced up the stairs to change her shirt before her mother had another outburst. Amalia applied cream to her wounds, then chose a long-sleeve button-down sweater she fastened two inches above the dip in her neck. After checking the mirror and wishing a bit of foundation could hide the uneven colors, she splashed water on her face to erase the evidence of her pain. One of Janet’s more ridiculous judgments echoed among Amalia’s numbed thoughts. ‘Only the vile women in this town wear makeup!’

Amalia flew back down the stairs and searched for the trash bag she’d left behind, realizing it would mean another lashing if her mother had stumbled upon it first. As she rushed into the living room, her father handed her a banana and elbowed her out the front door. “I already put it in the outside bin. Get to softball practice, my pet.” His voice barely audible, his expression as loud as a parade.

Amalia smiled and released an uncontrollable giggle as her countenance relaxed for the first time that morning. Although the tense nerves in her neck retreated into partial hiding, her body remained hypervigilant and always waited for the next blistery strike from her mother. She left the house flickering with excitement for the town’s festivities over the weekend but frightened at what her teammates would say about her missing the lake party. No one ever declined their much sought-after invitations without hazardous repercussions.

Although she’d graduated high school two months earlier, Amalia continued playing in the county’s summer tournaments to keep her pitching skills primed for college games. Risking a loss of the unexpectedly received scholarship—as it was the only reason she could afford to go away to school—was not an option. After practice, where she conveniently forgot to tell her teammates about missing the upcoming lake party, Amalia worked side-by-side with her father for a few hours and avoided any further trouble with her mother at home. Once Amalia climbed into bed that evening exhausted from an emotionally and physically grueling afternoon, she drifted asleep clutching her pillow and wished things would somehow improve the next day.

****

The following morning, Janet took the family’s only car to the First Baptist’s services leaving Amalia and Peter to trudge the two-mile distance to the center of town. Graeme Hardware Store was part of the town’s original train depot when first built in the mid-nineteenth century. Shortly before World War I, the train line was re-routed to a larger city a few miles away. This prompted Brant’s town council to vote in favor of converting the train depot into a lunch café and expanding the footprints of local shops hoping it would draw more income from surrounding villages. The loss of the train station left Graeme Hardware Store with far fewer customers managing barely enough to keep afloat during a good year.

Peter unlocked the store and began his morning routine to review the previous day’s sales and prepare the inventory. While he dragged a rolling stand filled with buckets of nails and screws to the exterior porch of the store, Amalia brewed a fresh pot of strong coffee. She retrieved a starter till from the safe under the desk and counted a hundred dollars in small bills and coins, then placed it in the cash register atop the laminate countertop. She grabbed a few dollars to buy breakfast from the local café and strolled to the front of the store. The sharp clank of the bell loosely hung by a nylon cord on the door bounced off all the metal tools and reverberated throughout the building. Amalia held the outer screen door to prevent it from slamming shut and made a mental note to convince her father to repair the hinge that afternoon. Customers didn’t appreciate buying tools from a hardware store with a broken front door.

“I’ll be right back, Daddy.” Amalia bounded down three short steps and traveled the building’s main wooden pathway. Frustrated by the inability to meet the girls from the softball team the prior night, Amalia recoiled at how much of an encumbrance Brant had become to her over the years. She often daydreamed of leaving it all behind but remembered no one had ever escaped. She scoffed at her emotions, slid her fingers across the pathway’s splintered handrails, and ignored the desire to run deep into the woods.

Father Figure Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FatherFigure

Paperback: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurepb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurelp

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

#TeaserTuesday- Virtually Gone #WIP @amwriting


Teaser Tuesday

I’m hard at work on my next novel, a police procedural suspense, coming out the beginning of June.

This is an eight book collection of high tech novels, each one releasing two weeks apart, with characters from our books making guest appearances in other stories within the series.

It’s fun and interesting, but definitely poses challenges as well. We have to be careful to maintain characteristics and fit varied careers and locations (even if by phone) into our plotlines.

Here is a short excerpt from my book, Virtually Gone, with Edward Dasso’s character, Wes Watley, mentioned within the passage.

Excerpt

Julie paced her bedroom like a twitchy cat, stopping to stare out the window at the empty street, then across to her silent cellphone on the dresser. Connor had been gone for hours without word—it was driving her mad.

The house was too quiet without her boys. Usually, she’d hear Dustin tossing and turning, and Freddy’s light snores, but tonight there was only silence. It unnerved her. Ever since she’d been kidnapped by the ABC Killer, the smallest things made her jumpy. She used her job as a journalist to combat the fear, to do what she could to protect victims like her. And yet, another rapist was loose in their city.

She shivered and left her room to double-check the locks.

There’d been two rapes near the university a couple of months ago. The women had escaped with their lives but were brutally beaten and robbed at knifepoint. Then there was the young girl last week, barely old enough to drive, killed just minutes from her home. The police were assuring the public they had no reason to be alarmed, whereas Julie disagreed. Maybe if those targets had been warned of the danger, they would have stood a better chance of avoiding his trap. If there was one takeaway she’d learned from her own experience, it was that psychopaths were in it for the thrill of the chase. They got off on terrifying their victims. The only answer was to take away their power.

Which was why she was up pacing instead of getting some much-needed sleep. Connor was keeping things from her and she didn’t like it. Either there was trust in their relationship, or it couldn’t continue. She didn’t expect him to divulge details of the investigation, but at the same time, she wasn’t just any reporter, either. He knew how personal cases like this were for her—she’d defied death and now it had become her calling to help others going through the same thing. Beating back the monsters one story at a time.

She turned from the locked front door and stopped in front of Mike’s photo hanging in the hall. Her husband’s green eyes stared at her with a perpetual smile. He was the light in their relationship, able to drag a laugh out of her even in her grumpiest days. He’d been a wonderful father to the boys—their daughter would have loved him, too, if not for the accident that took their lives. Julie liked to think they were together now, watching over their family. He’d certainly been there for her when that madman had chased her through the woods. He’d given her the strength to hold on until help could arrive.

“I miss you so much,” she murmured, her finger tracing the glass. “I think you’d like Connor… he’s a good man.” Warmth filled her chest and Mike’s eyes seemed to glow with tenderness and a sad acceptance. He would always be her first love, the gangly teen who’d stolen her heart and given her two beautiful sons, but he was gone and life moved on. She hadn’t expected to fall for another man. For a long time, she’d put her growing feelings down to loneliness, but Connor had impacted her life too much to be ignored. He could be arrogant at times, and overprotective, but he was also sweet and incredibly patient with Dustin and Freddy. She was happy for perhaps the first time since the accident that took her husband and unborn daughter. Was it wrong to wonder when the other shoe would drop?

The phone rang in the bedroom and she hurried down the hall, expecting it to be Connor. Instead, Taylor’s number showed up on the display.

“Hi, what are you doing still awake?” Julie asked, sitting on the edge of her bed and tucking bare toes into a plush throw rug she’d grabbed from a bargain bin.

“Sorry to call so late,” Taylor said in her no-nonsense voice. “I managed to book you onto a seaplane to Vancouver tomorrow morning. Can you make it?”

Julie blinked. What…? Oh, yeah, the private security consultant she was supposed to meet. With everything else that happened tonight, it had slipped her mind.

“Tomorrow is fine. The kids come home this weekend, so I’d just as soon get it over with. What was his name, again?”

“Watley. Wes Watley. Ex-FBI and Army CID Officer. He knows his stuff. Hopefully, you can bounce ideas off each other and come up with a solid lead. You never know, maybe he can even suggest something to catch our rapist.”

Privately, Julie was more cynical on that score. She’d met FBI types before and found them to be close-mouthed, but maybe this would be different. A little quid pro quo. “Where do we meet?” she asked, turning as the front door opened and closed.

“He’s coming into YVR at nine. By the time he gets through customs you should be able to catch him near the baggage claims.” Taylor paused. “Laurie is a mess over this. Anything you can do to help…”

Julie wandered to the dim hallway in time to catch Connor rubbing a tired hand over his neck, the streetlight from outside turning his hair to burnished copper. He stopped when he noticed her and raised his brow. Her pulse scattered.

“Of course,” she murmured. “Can you send me a recent photo of Mr. Watley, so I know who I’m looking for?” If not, she planned to do an online search for his company, his bio should be there.

“You’ll have it by morning,” Taylor assured her. “It shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. An introduction to your contacts with the VPD should set him on the right track. Thanks, Julie.”

“No problem. See you when I get back.” Julie ended the call and strode into Connor’s welcoming embrace. His chest was warm and comforting, the arms around her waist strong, yet gentle. He nuzzled the top of her head and she leaned back to look at his face. “Hi,” she said softly, concerned by the dullness in his normally expressive eyes. “Long night?”

“You could say that,” he agreed, bending to steal a kiss. “I thought I was dreaming when I walked in. That shirt never looked half as good on me.”


Some might recognize Julie and Connor from my Mended Souls series. While this book has the same characters, it is focused more on detective work than the paranormal element highlighted in the other books. I might add a bit of guardian angel influence, but it’s not the main element of this new sub-series I think I’m starting 🙂

I’m curious whether you think readers will accept the new direction. Any ideas for a series title that will tie into Mended Souls?

Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6)

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

From USA Today Bestselling Author, Jacquie Biggar, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how..

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.

When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for- the question is, how?

★★★★★ “This author is an auto-buy for me. Each of her novels including this one is a perfect mix of angst, suspense, humor, and steaminess.”

High-Tech Crime Solvers Presents Virtually Gone by @Jacqbiggar #Suspense #Read


Virtually Gone: in the crosshairs of a serial killer

I’m thrilled to present the new multi-author series High-Tech Crime Solvers and my novel, Virtually Gone…

From USA Today Bestselling Author, Jacquie Biggar, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how..

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for-the question is, how?

★★★★★ “This author is an auto-buy for me. Each of her novels including this one is a perfect mix of angst, suspense, humor, and steaminess.”

Virtually Gone

(Volume II of High-Tech Crime Solvers)

Preorder now… Be the first to read it!
When Detective Matthew Roy and reporter Julie Crenshaw are called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, they don’t expect Julie to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

Excerpt

“Hey, Detective, got a minute?”

Matt closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. He liked and admired his partner’s girlfriend, but the last thing he felt like doing was playing nice for the press right now.

“Can’t, Jules, I’m busy.” He didn’t have to turn his head to see her disapproval, it bore a hole through his shoulders.

“C’mon, Roy. The public have a right to know what’s going on. They need to be notified.”

That did it. He rose and swiveled on his feet to stomp over and get in her face, heedless of the camera crew waiting in the wings. “What in the h-e-double-l do you think we’ve been doing?” he roared. Connor had warned him about taking cases like these personally, but dammit, it was personal. This young woman had a family somewhere, maybe even a husband and children who would never get to see her or tell her how much they loved her again.

Damn right, it was personal.

Julie gazed at him with worried eyes before turning to her crew and slicing a hand across her throat. “Give us a minute, guys. I’ll call you when I’m ready.” They looked at each other, shrugged and gathered their gear, moving to stand beside the VIBS News van. When she returned her attention to Ray, determination overrode the concern. “You want to tell me what has you so riled up?” She raised her hand. “And yes, it’s off the record.”

No, he did not want to tell the pretty reporter the story of his life, thank you very much. He trusted Julie as much as he did most of the individuals in his life, with the exception of Connor—which was to say, with a bag of salt. He’d found people tended to say what they thought you wanted to hear, not what they actually meant. In his line of work, there was a stark contrast between the two. Which meant he kept to himself, safer that way.

On the other hand, this was Jules and she’d been through some tough times of her own, so he made an effort to tone down his frustration. “I don’t like when I can’t keep my city safe,” he admitted. He angled sideways so he could keep an eye on the techs. “This guy, it’s like he’s always one step ahead of us, you know?”

She leaned over the yellow ribbon and patted his too-tense arm. “You’ll get him, Matt. I know you will.” Then she straightened and donned her investigative reporter face. “Can VIBS get a short statement from you? It doesn’t have to give away anything, just let the public know you’re working on it, okay?”

Matt sighed. She was like a Pitbull with a piece of meat.

From a power team of bestselling authors comes a gripping series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

#BookReview- Lawless by @TM_Frazier #MCRomance


Ruined. BROKEN. LOST.

Thia’s lost it all. With no options left she turns to the biker she met as a kid to cash in the favor he swore to return all those years ago.

Bear’s best friend is dead. His old man wants to put him to ground.
He has bigger things on his mind than the pink-haired girl from the
gas station he never thought he’d see again.

Until her battered body is tossed onto his doorstep.

Keeping his promise to Thia means Bear has to be willing to risk everything, including his life…and what’s left of his heart.

Thia’s bruised and battered.
Bear’s leather and lawless.
It will never work between them.
It’s a lie they ALMOST believe

LAWLESS is book THREE in the King Series and meant to be read after KING & TYRANT.

Biography

T.M. Frazier lives in sunny Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. She dreamed of being a writer since the day she learned how to read. After spending many years working in real estate she decided could no longer ignore that dream.

She published her first book, The Dark Light of Day, in 2013 and has since become a USA Today bestselling author several times over. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and published all around the world.

T.M. enjoys writing what she calls ‘wrong side of the tracks romance’ with morally corrupt anti-heroes and ballsy heroines.

Her books have been described as raw, dark and gritty. Basically, what that means, is while some authors are great at describing a flower as it blooms, T.M. is better at describing it in the final stages of decay.

She loves meeting her readers, but if you see her at an event please don’t pinch her because she’s not ready to wake up from this amazing dream.

Join T.M. in Frazierland! http://www.facebook.com/groups/tmfrazierland

Photo by Denner Nunes on Pexels.com

My Review

When young Thea is given a promise ring in exchange for silence, she doesn’t expect to use it as protection many years later.

Thea returns home one day to her worst nightmare. Her mother has shot her father and intends to turn the gun on both of them, so they can all go to Heaven to be with Thea’s brother. Problem is, Thea’s not ready to die. Left with no choice, she shoots and kills her mother. Panic-stricken, she turns to the only help she can think of- the tall, handsome biker who’d given her a ring to cash in if she ever needed anything in exchange for silence in a botched robbery by one of his brothers-at-arms.

Unfortunately, Bear isn’t part of the MC gang anymore, but his father is happy to leave him a message at Thea’s expense. Hurt and abused, she is rescued from rape by an unlikely source and ends up in Bear’s hands, but he’s not the kind, funny man she remembered.

Bear lives one day at a time. He’s seen, and done, horrible things in his life and now his only goal is revenge against the man who raised him and subsequently turned on him- his father- leader of the MC.

That becomes more complicated when a beautiful young woman turns up on his doorstep, frightened and beaten by his dear old dad, spouting a tale of him owing her a favor from years ago. He’d only given her his ring at the time to keep her quiet, and was surprised she’d taken him seriously. He should get rid of her, but the broken look in her eyes and the undeniable chemistry between them keeps him from letting her go.

Driven by a need to protect Ti at all costs, Bear soon finds himself fighting the MC, the law, and Thea herself while battling feelings he’s never had before- love and tenderness for someone he doesn’t deserve.

This is a raw, emotional story of biker life and an unlikely hero who will engrave himself on your heart.

Favorite Lines:

Silence. Scarier than any gun blast or cannon fire. Louder than thunder and ten times more terrifying.

Lawless- T.M. Frazier

He cupped his hands around my face and kissed me like he was screaming at me, punishing me for disobeying him, for being in his life, for not being in his life.

Lawless- T.M. Frazier

I give Lawless 4 lovely kisses- Heart-wrenching!

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I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

#BookReview- Viral Blues by C.S. Boyack #Suspense @Virgilante


Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

Biography

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Pexels.com

My Review

When an underground organization tampers with the world’s vaccine supply, endangering thousands of lives, Lizzie and The Hat are brought in to help a group with supernatural abilities to find, and stop, whoever is behind the scheme.

Using their band as a way to infiltrate local hangouts in a search for the culprits, Lizzie is joined by a robotic covergirl, a guy who can turn himself into fog, a take-no-prisoners thug who likes to break knees and ask questions later, along with a few more interesting characters.

They are faced with zombies, mobsters, and a demon intent on annihilating the world.

The pacing is fast in this highly inventive story of the battle between good and evil. The author added a number of twists and turns that kept this reader guessing what would happen next!

If you like supernatural suspense thrillers, Viral Blues is a must-have addition to your #readinglist!

I give Viral Blues 5 lovely kisses- Imaginative storyline!

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I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

New Release News- The Player by Jacquie Biggar #RomCom #SportsRomance


I have a new release and it’s a Rom-com!

When I started writing the second book in the Men of WarHawks series I had in mind a suspense novel with a female antagonist because I’d read somewhere that something like one in ten women are criminals. Enter Olivia Brandt- psycho stalker.

Excerpt from Villain’s POV

Unable to help herself, Olivia lifted the spyglasses just as Roy got out of the car and went around to open the door for the chunky woman who climbed out and stared up at the rather impressive log cabin in front of them. What did he even see in her? She had no style sense—seriously, bubble coats when you’re plump is like adding wrapping paper to a watermelon, there is no hiding those curves—and what was with those glasses and hairstyle? Did she dream of becoming the next Marilyn Monroe?

Roy put a hand to the woman’s elbow and solicitously helped her over the icy gravel drive and up the stairs to the wraparound porch. They paused for a moment while he unlocked the door, then ushered her inside. Olivia’s blood boiled. She threw the binoculars onto the seat—where they promptly bounced to the floor—and smacked a gloved hand on the steering wheel.

“She’s going to pay for getting in my way,” she vowed.

“You’re going to jail, is what’s going to happen,” Mike retorted. “C’mon, sis, you already have a restraining order against you thanks to this guy, isn’t that enough?”

Heat rose up her chest and coated her cheeks. “I told you, it’s a misunderstanding. Once I get a chance to speak to Roy, he’ll clear it up. That’s why I need you.”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re making excuses. He doesn’t want anything more to do with you. He’s moved on, why can’t you?”

Rage rose in a tidal wave. Before she knew what she was doing, Olivia reached down, grabbed the binoculars, and rammed them into her brother’s face.

“Ow, you bitch,” he yelled, putting both hands up to protect his bleeding nose. “What the hell was that for?”

The anger ebbed, the monster in her head silent for now. She started the truck and backed down the drive until they were out of sight of the house. A couple of maneuvers later, the four-by-four was turned around. Olivia glanced at Mike and frowned. She threw a roll of paper towel from under the seat in his direction. “Clean yourself up, we have a date with a rental agency.”

“You’re fricking crazy,” he mumbled.

She laughed, exhilarated now that the time was near. Soon we will be together, darling. And no one was going to stand in her way.


As you can see, Olivia has a few issues. But, as well as her character came together, I couldn’t tame my protagonists into having the proper respect and solemn attitudes given the seriousness of the situation.

Roy Donaldson is an attitude-ridden hockey player, frustrated with his general manager’s request demand to take time away from the game to get his personal life in order, and Patience Kennedy is the unfortunate PA hired to help him. Roy figures he can boss the PA into leaving so he can get back on the ice, but Patience isn’t the pushover he expects.

Short Excerpt between Roy and Patience

Roy stripped down in the empty locker room and stepped into the shower, sighing as the warm water massaged his back. He’d paid a hefty price to get the arena to himself, but it was worth the fee to escape the merciless eyes of the press. If he wasn’t under contract… hell, who was he kidding? His career was all he had left, he wasn’t going anywhere. His cell phone jingled, wrecking the quiet. He tipped his head back, letting the water roll off his face. Olivia. Again. He had nothing to say to her. She’d made a fool out of him in front of his entire team—unforgivable.

He rubbed his face and blinked unseeingly at the tiled wall. Two months. He and Olivia had been happy together—well, content. God. If he hadn’t come home early that day and found her ensconced in his bed…

They’d agreed to take things slow, enjoy the natural growth of their relationship. Instead, she’d stolen his keys, inserting herself into every part of his life. Calling his mother, arranging a dinner with his teammates, adding her name—in a relationship—to his Facebook profile. He pounded the wall, then bowed his head, failure ringing in his ears.

He rinsed off and left the shower stall, hands squeezing the water from his over-long hair—he needed a cut. A startled screech stopped him in his tracks. A curvy brunette sat half-turned on the bench. She’d covered her eyes and held out his towel, reminding him of a pinup from the fifties with her flouncy dress, short sweater and colorful knotted headscarf.

“Who the hell are you?” he snarled, making a grab for the towel to cover his privates—though it was probably too late for modesty. So much for having this place to himself.

“Umm, P… Patience Kennedy.” She peeked at him from an oversized pair of mint green glasses that made her brown eyes look huge.

Great, they were sending ingénues for reporters now. Didn’t matter, he wasn’t buying into it. “Well, Patience Kennedy, this is the men’s locker room. You aren’t supposed to be in here. Tell whatever rag you’re working for the whole sex kitten thing is wasted on me.” There, that should send her running in…

One.

Two.

The young woman erupted off her seat in the most interesting flurry of bounces and wriggles. Hands on hips, she glared at him in all her bifocaled glory. “That is a horrible, sexist thing to say.” Her eyes lowered to his bare chest and the towel tucked haphazardly around his hips. She jerked her gaze up, cheeks flushing a becoming pink. “This is a misunderstanding. My boss suggested I come down and introduce myself after your practice. I wasn’t expecting…” Her hands flapped in front of her like a frightened peacock attempting to take flight.

Unexpectedly, he grinned. “Never see a naked man before, Patience Kennedy?” He double-checked the towel and chuckled when she sealed her eyes shut. “Don’t worry, your virtue is safe with me.” The smile faded. “I learn from my mistakes.” He looked around for his clothes, realized he’d left them in his locker and Kennedy stood in his path.

“I wish I could say this has been fun, but…” He waited until she reopened her eyes, then jerked his chin in the direction of the other room.

She tipped her head and a heavy sweep of chestnut hair slipped over her shoulder to cover the plump fullness of her breast—not that he was looking. “Sorry?”

He saw the moment the lightbulb went on. Her eyes widened and her mouth made an oh that hooked his attention. She had a beauty mark. “My clothes are behind you—unless you plan on holding me hostage until you get your story?” And why the hell did that not sound like a bad idea?

She jumped out of his way and promptly twisted an ankle on the wet bricks. “Ouch,” she cried, leaning over to cradle the injury.

That damn sweater was too small, her breasts were hanging out of the top, jiggling with every pained breath she took. He was such a pervert. He crouched to get a closer look at the injury, tucking the towel between his legs. Yep, she’d sprained it. Who came into a locker room in three-inch heels anyway?

“You’d better sit down. You can’t walk on it like that.” He rose and took her elbow, frowning when she jerked away.

“Don’t tell me what I can or can’t do. It’s fi… fine,” she groaned as she put her weight on the foot in question. Her face paled and she reached behind her for the bench, easing her rump down. “Dammit, what else can go wrong?”


If you’d like to find out how these two survive themselves and the crazy Olivia, check out The Player releasing Feb 28th!

The Player: Men of WarHawks- Book 2

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083CZVVLG

International: https://books2read.com/ThePlayer

TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50439233-the-player

Recommend on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-player-men-of-warhawks-book-2-by-jacquie-biggar

Sometimes, love happens when we least expect it…

NHL defenseman Roy Donaldson lives for the game. When an ex-girlfriend/stalker causes trouble for the team, Roy gets benched.

And the only way he can return to the rotation…? Accept help from sassy, sexy PA Patience Kennedy.

Patience is one step away from a junior partnership– all she needs to do is restore a sullen, annoying, attractive hockey player’s image.

Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Early Reviews

Oh this one took a surprising turn and I couldn’t put it down. I won’t give any spoilers but it is a doozy! It is well written and a nice blend of sports player, strong woman, romance,a touch of humor, twists, family and yes, suspense!

Bookbub reviewer- The Player

I love sports stories (especially hockey ones) and Jacquie gives us Roy who gets sidelined from NHL thanks to his stalker ex so he ends up needing some little help from a PA Patience … so you can imagine the good laughs and antics and aww moments she mixed up for us and to be frank, I think the story would have deserved to be longer! I for sure will keep my eyes open for more by Jacquie!

Bookbub Reviewer- Irresistible Valentine Anthology

#BookReview- Simple by Anita Dawes #Suspense @jaydawes2


SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS…
Simple’s life is a painful nightmare.
He is one huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child. He suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.
Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.
Will they ever discover the joy of freedom?

Photo by Connor Danylenko on Pexels.com

My Review

Life in the backwoods of Eastern USA is not easy. The hardscrabble country folk live by their own set of tough rules and there is a price to pay for breaking them.

Leanne’s family are as much a part of the woods as the trees and carnivores of the forest. They are rough, cruel, and frightening except for Simple, a big brute of a man with a soft heart and the mind of a child. Leanne would have run away long ago, but she was too scared of what her Uncle Jimmy would do to Simple to leave him behind.

When trouble comes to the mountain, Leanne is forced to make decisions for her and Simple or die.

This is a gripping suspense with intense scenes and complex characters who practically leap off the page. Uncle Jimmy, Jack, Granny are all people I would NOT want to meet in a dark alley!

Favorite Lines

When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.

Simple- Anita Dawes

Putting on a face, Gran always said, don’t mean you can hide what you are.

Simple- Anita Dawes

I fell asleep, listening to the rain and Simple’s mind spilling out on to the dry leafy floor.

Simple- Anita Dawes

This book is the haunting story of one young girl’s journey to a new life. It is the story of survival.

I give Simple 5 lovely kisses- Unpredictable!

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Book Review- Red Eyes in The Darkness by D. L. Finn #Suspense #amreading @DLFinnAuthor


What happens when you’re living the good life after retirement and your world suddenly turns upside down? Will and Cass Henderson learn the truth after a family member is murdered, but no one believes them because they’re the prime suspects. The Hendersons have a red-eyed killer in the family, and they’re next on its kill list.

Biography

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Photo by Joonas kääriäinen on Pexels.com

My Review

When Cass Henderson’s sister is murdered, she and her husband are confronted by the killer- Cass’s husband- and he admits to the crime. Unfortunately, no one else hears him and the police don’t believe the Henderson’s story.

It, as Cass thinks of him, created an airtight alibi for himself while leaving supposed clues that make Cass and Will the chief suspects. Family and friends turn their backs on the couple, leaving them alone and vulnerable to a murderer’s master plan.

But, he wasn’t prepared for Cass.

This is a fast-moving story with all the right elements of suspense and a touch of paranormal thrown in to create a book you won’t be able to set aside!

I give Red Eyes in The Darkness 5 lovely kisses- Scary good!

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#BookReview- Do I Know You by Edwin Dasso #Suspense @DassoEdwin


Jack Bass, MD: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher meets Marcus Welby

Sound confusing? Wait till you see inside Jack’s head!

Jack was shot while rescuing homeless veterans from from an isolated slave camp. He was left clinically dead but was revived by a team of trauma surgeons. When he awakens he has significant, but spotty, amnesia. His friends and family take him abroad in an effort to help him recover but, true to form, Jack unwittingly stumbles into the middle of, and thwarts, a terrorist bombing plot. The terrorists are hell-bent on revenge! Jack fights to survive and protect his family, all while he struggles to even remember who he is.

Biography

Edwin Dasso, MD, a USA Today and Amazon International #1 Best-Selling medical thriller author, writes works of fiction that leverage many of his “stranger than fiction” experiences from years of practice at major medical centers and community hospitals.

“You might be shocked at some of the events in the books that are based on an actual experience.”

Member of the International Thriller Writers.

His “Jack Bass Black Cloud Chronicles” series has been developed into a TV series, “Jack Bass, MD,” (https://www.facebook.com/jackbassmd/?ref=bookmarks) which is actively being discussed around Hollywood. Network feedback has been very positive.

Fiction writing is reviving a lost love from earlier periods in his life where he enjoyed writing short stories. In addition to a number of years as a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care specialist, he has published articles in national healthcare journals, written many “Ask the Doctor” columns and has spoken frequently at national healthcare forums. He has also been instrumental in designing and deploying population health programs to help people deal with depression related to poor health.

Ed can be contacted at jackblackcloud2@hotmail.com or reach him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackCloudChronicles/).

My Review

Jack Bass is my kind of hero!

Jack is injured and on the road to a rocky recovery in the start of this military suspense story. His doctor, friends and daughter decide a trip away might help him recover his memory, but instead it only exasperates the PTSD he’s suffered since a botched rescue of kidnapped vets in a previous book.

Soon, the group stumble upon a terrorist organization and stop an attempted bombing, but not without consequences.

This was an enjoyable read, though a bit confusing at first. I would recommend reading the series in order to get the full context of the story.

I give Do I Know You? 4 lovely kisses

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#BookReview- Through the Nethergate by @RobertaEaton17 #Suspense


Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

Biography

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. Robbie has three short stories in the murder mystery short story anthology, Death Among Us, edited by author Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Robbie has also published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

The fight between good and evil is brought to life in this spellbinding novel!

At the sudden death of her parents, teenager Margaret travels to Bungay to live with her aging grandfather in a mysterious old inn.

Before long, Margaret begins to see spirits of people who died horrible deaths and are somehow tied to the inn and the nearby castle of Hugh Bigod. The spirits, some kind and others malicious, tell the stories of the last moments of their lives and the part a large black dog with glowing eyes took in tying them to the netherworld.

They believe Margaret is the key to their escape, but dangerous forces are out to stop her at all costs, and soon Margaret is drawn into the fight of her life.

This book is filled with historical tidbits told through the spirits point of view that I found completely fascinating. The author seamlessly integrates religious beliefs and historical data with immersive storytelling.

I give Through the Nethergate 5 lovely kisses- a fascinating read!

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#BookReview- Cross Her Heart by @MelindaLeigh1 #Suspense


A homicide detective’s violent family history repeats itself in #1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s novel of murder, secrets, and retribution.

For more than twenty-five years, Philadelphia homicide detective Bree Taggert has tucked away the nightmarish childhood memories of her parents’ murder-suicide…Until her younger sister, Erin, is killed in a crime that echoes that tragic night: innocent witnesses and a stormy marriage that ended in gunfire. There’s just one chilling difference. Erin’s husband, Justin, has vanished.

Bree knows how explosive the line between love and hate can be, yet the evidence against her troubled brother-in-law isn’t adding up. Teaming up with Justin’s old friend, former sheriff’s investigator and K-9 handler Matt Flynn, Bree vows to uncover the secrets of her sister’s life and death, as she promised Erin’s children. But as her investigation unfolds, the danger hits close to home. Once again, Bree’s family is caught in a death grip. And this time, it could be fatal for her.

Biography

#1 Amazon Charts and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh has sold over 8 million books. As a fully recovered banker and a life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Melinda’s debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was an International Thriller Award finalist. Since then, she has garnered numerous writing accolades, including two RITA® Award nominations and an induction into the NJ Romance Writers Hall of Fame.

Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate. She’s dabbled in Arnis stick fighting, studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and taught women’s self-defense. She lives near the beach with her family and two spoiled rescue dogs. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination. Find out more about Melinda by visiting http://www.melindaleigh.com.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

My Review

Past and present collide!

When homicide detective Bree Taggert receives a distressing phone call from her sister, she rushes back to a hometown filled with nightmarish memories, only to find her sister was murdered.

Bree is overcome by grief, and guilt that she hadn’t been there when Erin needed her- especially when she learns the main suspect is Erin’s husband.

Was the past repeating itself?

Several years ago, Bree witnessed her father’s murderous rage against her mother. She grabbed her younger brother and sister, and hid until the police came. By then, both of her parents were dead in an apparent murder-suicide. It changed the sibling’s lives forever.

When the evidence doesn’t seem to add up, Bree teams up with her brother-in-law’s best friend, former officer and K-9 handler Matt Flynn.

As facts come to light, danger awaits and a murderer stalks the detective.

This is a riveting story of betrayal, mystery, suspense and a budding attraction.

I give Cross Her Heart 4.5 lovely kisses- A Must-read!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

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Let Me Go by @MadamWillowRose #Suspense #amreading @SDSXXTours


Let Me Go

Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 5

by Willow Rose

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: BUOY MEDIA

Publication Date: November 30, 2019

The #1 Bestselling Mystery Series on Amazon continues!
What if a stranger told you that she believed your child is about to be killed? What if that woman was an ex-FBI profiler with a disputable reputation?
Would you believe her?
Eva Rae Thomas is chasing down a vicious killer, but no one will believe he even exists. If there are no unexplained dead bodies or missing persons, then how can there be a killer on the loose?
What they don’t understand is that the perfect murder is the one that doesn’t look like murder.
Can Eva Rae convince local law enforcement to help her with this case before the killer strikes once more? Or will she have to take matters into her own hands – again?
LET ME GO is the fifth book in the Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Series and can be read as a standalone.
teaser 1[1]
The Queen of Scream aka Willow Rose is a #1 Amazon Best-selling Author and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 60 novels.
She writes Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy.
Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting pageturners with twists you won’t see coming. Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 10 of ALL books in the US, UK, and Canada. She has sold more than three million books.
Willow lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
$50 Amazon
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

 

Death Among Us #Suspense #Reading @StephenBentley8 @Shalini_G26


Who knew death could be so eclectic?

Relish this mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up of short stories.

Murder and mystery have been the staple of literature and films for years. This anthology of short stories will thrill and entertain you. Some will also make you laugh out loud. Others will stop and make you think.

Think of this murder mystery short story anthology as a book version of appetisers or starters, hors d’oeuvre, meze, or antipasti. It can be read as fillers between books or, as is the case in some countries, as a bookish meze – in its own right.

There’s murder mystery styles and locations to suit all tastes: detective fiction, serial killers, scifi, histfic, England, Los Angeles, San Francisco, The Great Lakes, Las Vegas, the Nevada desert, Mexico and more in an exquisite exposition of the art of short story telling.

These stories come from an international cast of authors; some with bestselling books, others are emerging or new talents. Their roots, cultures, and life experiences are as diverse as their writing styles.

But one thing binds them together: they know how to tell a story.

The ten authors who have contributed to the anthology are:

Stephen Bentley

Greg Alldredge

Kelly Artieri

Robbie Cheadle

Michael Spinelli

L. Lee Kane

Kay Castaneda

Aly Locatelli

Justin Bauer

Posthumously by ‘G’

The stories include the 2019 SIA Award-Winning Murder Mystery Short Story ‘The Rose Slayer’ by Stephen Bentley.

Each author introduces his or her stories and the theme that lays behind them. By the time you finish the book, you will agree the result is a mesmerising murder mystery mash-up.

Book links

Amazon Universal Link to Kindle http://mybook.to/DeathAmongUsAnthology

Amazon Paperback http://getbook.at/PaperbackDeathAmongUs

eBook Link to all other bookstores https://books2read.com/b/deathamongus

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45013377-death-among-us

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/books/death-among-us-an-anthology-of-murder-mystery-short-stories-by-stephen-bentley-and-justin-bauer

Ten outstanding authors have contributed three short stories to this anthology creating a wide assortment of murder mysteries to chill your blood. Check out my review here: https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/08/15/death-among-us-an-anthology-of-murder-mystery-short-stories-bookreview-mystery/

As there are over 20 stories, I will add two excerpts from two stories below:

From Justice is Never Served by Robbie Cheadle

The baby in the crib started to moan and thrash about as the temperature in the room dropped dramatically. The narrow lips of the dark shape at the newly opened door twisted into something that passed as a smile, an action which transformed her ugly face into a picture of pure evil and malevolence. 

From The Neighbours by Aly Locatelli

She found herself filled with bitterness and remorse as the door opened and two detectives filed in. One was tall and thin, the other short and stocky. Such a cliché it almost made her laugh. She bit her tongue, reached for her coffee, and said nothing. The two detectives introduced themselves as Detectives Spinner and Boyd, but the names were soon forgotten.

Author/authors bio

Stephen Bentley is a former UK Detective Sergeant, barrister, and author of a bestselling undercover cop memoir. He also writes crime fiction.

https://www.instagram.com/author_stephen_bentley/

Greg Alldredge

Greg Alldredge grew up in the United States reading all the excellent Science Fiction and Fantasy of the past decades. He hopes to add his voice, in a small way, to the giants of the genres. He wants to write stories he himself would want to read and hopes to be successful as a storyteller first.

https://www.instagram.com/greg.alldredge/

Kelly Artieri is a professional illustrator and award-winning author of a personal memoir ‘A Spot in My Heart.’ Living in the Buffalo, New York area, Kelly is a passionate storyteller about real life. Now she is using her creative voice at story telling murder mystery style.

https://www.instagram.com/kellyellenart/

Robbie, short for Roberta, Cheadle is a South African author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children. She has also authored the Silly Willy series and a fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II.

https://www.instagram.com/cheadlerobbie/

Michael Spinelli is married with two children, a transplant from New York to Florida. Mike enjoys family time, reading, watching movies and of course, writing things that increase your heart rate.

L. Lee Kane, M.A., known as Linda, is the author of several adult fiction books, and children’s books. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and seven horses in the Central Valley of California.

https://www.instagram.com/lindakane8955/

Kay Castaneda is retired from a career as a college writing instructor and special education tutor. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in English at Indiana University. Her publications include poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction in literary journals plus articles about education for scholarly reference books.

Aly Locatelli is a 25-year-old book blogger and reviewer from the UK. She has been doing that for over five years and now started freelancing as a beta-reader, editor and proof-reader. Aly also aspires to be a writer. This is the first time any of her work has been published.

https://www.instagram.com/alysbookishwonderland/

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Justin Bauer studied English Literature at the Ohio State University, graduating in 2016. He is the author of three books.

https://www.instagram.com/bauerj1138/

Posthumously by ‘G’

‘G’ or Gerry died in 2017. He used the name ‘G’ when writing short stories. This is how he described himself not long before his untimely death: G is a 69 yo Hippie, world traveler, straight talker/writer, with no regrets. He’s been writing since he found a sharp crayon and empty wall space.

The audiobook of the anthology will be available very soon.
A link to the retail sample on Soundcloud which is here http://bit.ly/2W7mFgI

Girl Gone Home by Kathleen O’Donnell #Suspense #Reading @SDSXXTours @authorkodonnell


Girl Gone Home

Twisted Crime Book 3

by Kathleen O’ Donnell

Genre: Psychological Thriller

The Best Book I’ve Read This Year!
I just finished it and I loved it! It has more twists and turns than a
roller coaster.
This book would make an amazing movie, but
the book will always be better. I can’t wait to see what she writes
next! – Rena, five-star review on Amazon.
From two-time Book of the Year finalist and Thriller of the Year Award
winner Kathleen O’Donnell comes a gripping psychological thriller
filled with quirky, unexpected twists.
A girl in serious trouble
Delilah Diamond had it all, the popular cooking show, a dream house, and a
great romance with her producer, until the producer’s wife gets
wind of it all. Delilah loses her show, her job, and her house. She’s
forced to go back to her hometown where everyone has skeletons in
their closet—or worse.
A home not like any other
She arrives just in time for the unfortunate death of her high school
crush, but senses something’s wrong with the story of his demise.
Before she realizes it, she’s knee-deep in a past that almost crushed
her years before, and could very well crush her now, for good.
A mother who keeps sordid secrets
Local law enforcement is a homegrown drunk, and useless, so someone higher
up the food chain sends a big city detective who starts sniffing
around her classmate’s suspicious death and her mother’s past.
Delilah’s protective hackles are raised. She knows her mother has
shameful secrets, but the more she learns, the more she realizes she
doesn’t know the whole story.
A hometown that comes together, even in crime
In small towns, you protect your family and your neighbors come what
may, but will Delilah be able to protect her mother without exposing
her own sins? The ones she worked so hard to cover up? Will she be
able to deter the detective away from the truth?
You can’t go home again. Or can you? Should you?
How safe is home when you know where the bodies are buried?
Girl Gone Home is
ultimately a story about love, family, loyalty and circling the
wagons no matter what terrible crime’s been committed. It’s quirky,
heartfelt, and reminiscent of Dolores Claiborne and the works of Kate
Atkinson, Jane Hamilton, and Janet Evanovich.

Goodreads * Amazon

 

elegant-1769669_640

CHAPTER ONE

 

“Willy Wally came to a bad end,” Fran said. “Just like I predicted.”

“Only you’d gloat over the dead at a funeral.” I’d just walked in, looked at my watch. My mother irritated me in less than sixty seconds. A record.

“We don’t do funerals, Delilah. The stiff puts a real damper on the festivities.”

“Right. Memorials after the fact only.”

“Who even knows where the nearest funeral home is?” Fran said, unimpeded by the Marlboro in her mouth, long ash miraculously still intact. “Okay, I know where it is, but who gives a highfalutin crap? Potluck and booze give whoever croaked a fine send off—this is a bar for Chrissake. You’re back on the Highway. Better forget those fancy city ways.”

From my spot bellied up to the bar I watched the sea of cowboy hats attached to heads full of rampage and Coors from the tap. They went whole hog at these things. The only commercial enterprise for as far as the crow flies, Vi’s Place teemed with quasi-mourners spilling through both front and back doors to the overflow outside. The middle of nowhere meant good business for anyone with stuff to sell.

“No idea why I let you drag me to this thing,” I said. “I’m still knee-deep in unpacked boxes.”

“Still? You move in geologic time. It’s the food. That’s why you came. You’ve always been a sucker for the highway potlucks. Besides, won’t kill you to show some respect for a guy you went to school with. Dead just like that.” She’d have snapped her fingers if they weren’t already occupied with the whole cigarette/ashtray/coffee cup situation.

“Nothing says respect like eating beanie-weenies while drunks heckle the bereaved,” I said. “Good times.”

“Good turnout.”

“I should hope so. Willy Wally wasn’t even forty.” I stopped when I noticed Fran paid a lot of attention to my words. “Never mind.”

She flicked her ash into the ashtray. “Doc Bates won’t show. Accident or no, tough to look your daughter in the eye after you shoot her husband.”

“Isn’t Doc in jail?”

“You know he’s not. Investigation’s still on. Doubt it’ll turn up anything criminal. Shit happens out here.”

“Like there’s gonna be a real investigation.” I rearranged my butt on the hard stool, scooted it closer to hear Fran over the hootin’-and-a-hollerin’. “Unbelievable. What a fiasco. Whole thing’s terrible.”

“What do you care? You didn’t even want to come.”

“I don’t and I didn’t. Well, that’s not altogether true. Of course, I care. It’s sad isn’t it? A young man killed?”

“Culling out the herd. You see Wally’s widow, Wanda? Jesus, Mary and Joseph try to say that three times fast.”

“I don’t know. Probably wouldn’t know her if I did.”

Fran slipped her cigarette into the slot on the ashtray on the bar. “You’d know her all right—still two-bagger ugly. Wanda and Willy Wally Watkins. Why on earth poor Willy Wally didn’t strangle himself with his own umbilical cord, I’ll never know, with that dumbass name.”

Nothing sordid happened that Fran didn’t know about in great detail. Whatever the backstory, and there was always a backstory, she knew it and loved to tell me about the whole mess. I got zippo this time. Fishy.

“What do you know about this, Fran? You know something. I can tell.”

“You obviously can’t, since I know zilch, other than Willy Wally and Doc went hunting like always. Doc accidentally shot him. Makes sense to me. Willy Wally’s schnoz made him look like a moose or some such.”

“You’re talking a mile a minute. Like you do when you’re dancing around the truth.”

“Shit happens around here.”

“I’m aware. Fran, you—”

 

“Dee, aren’t you a sight.” Vi amputated my interrogation with a voice that sounded like someone dragged a cheese grater over her vocal cords. Her familiar shortening of my name gave me a warm fuzzy. “Been trying to get over to this end to say hey, but this crowd, no patience.”

“Not much changes on the Fifty-Three,” I said.

Including Vi who still looked like a jack-o-lantern left too long on the porch.

“If it did, I’d know it. Been behind this bar fifty years if you can believe that. But look at you. You’re fresh as peach pie. Damn shame your TV show got cancelled,” Vi said.

“Yeah, well thanks. TV shows come and go.”

“She can still cook like the dickens though. What with that cooking class.”

“Cordon Bleu is hardly a cooking class, Fran. I—”

“Now you’re back home where you belong.” Vi wiped down the bar with a snake-tattooed hand, pulled a frothy topped beer. “Where in Jesus’s name are those good-for-nothin’ bums I hired to help me out today? Goddamn-lazy-bastard-shit-for-brains . . . ” She carried the mug to the other end, insults trailing.

“Is she wearing the necklace I gave you for your birthday?” I said.

Fran brushed crumbs off the front of her “Smooth Move Ex-Lax” t-shirt.

“Oh, that little bauble? Well, yes. Vi went on and on about how much she wanted it. I didn’t—”

“Do you know how much that little bauble cost?”

Fran gave zero fucks about the cost.

“Never mind.” I put a sock in it.

“Lord a mercy, Delilah.” Margene Cox made a beeline, heaped plate in hand. “I liked to fell out when I heard you’d come home. Wondered when we’d finally lay eyes on you.”

“Only been back a couple weeks,” I said. “Still settling in.”

Margene draped the silk sweater around her shoulders that I’d bought Fran last Christmas.

“Nice sweater,” I said.

The sharp stab of Fran’s elbow to my ribs shut my mouth.

“Fran give it to me. She’s generous as always. Only fits if I don’t wear it. So hot out here the devil up and left, but still cools down like the dickens at night.” Margene stuffed a whole jalapeno popper into her mouth. I felt mildly surprised most of her teeth looked intact. “You out at the old Winston pig farm?”

“Mm hmm. No pigs anymore.”

“You missed Jefferson Davis.” Margene licked her greasy fingers. “Dadgum it. He’s dyin’ to bend your ear about that farm.”

“My loss.”

“You know Willy Wally passing the way he did near tore my heart in two.” Margene wiped a nonexistent tear. “You dated him didn’t you, Dee?”

“Mercy no,” Fran said.

“Well, I swanee,” Margene said. “Dee nursed a crush on Willy Wally ya’ll could see from space back in the day.”

“Emily dated Willy Wally,” Fran said.

For once I didn’t mind Fran’s poking in.

“Oh, right. Emily. Land’s sake.” Margene pushed her plastic fork through the turkey tetrazzini on her paper plate.

“Where’s Arthur?” I looked around for Margene’s husband.

“Oh, honey, had his memorial right here a couple years back.”

“Lots of memorials the last few years,” Fran said. “I told you about Arthur’s.”

She probably did but I hadn’t been listening.

“Not the same without Blanche and Edith, is it?” Margene squeezed in closer, set her plate on the bar. “Blanche dyin’ of the cirrhosis after Earl died in that car wreck, drunk. Too many memories. And Edith with the Alzheimer’s over to her sister’s in Portland.”

Before she could run on any more, Willy Wally’s father hushed the gathered to thank everyone for coming. I wandered away from my lunch, Fran, and Margene’s census update. A drunk blocking the exit got a free swat from me. Heat plus the pissy sour outhouse smells slapped me hard. Came as no revelation Vi still resisted indoor plumbing.

“You look just like you do on TV,” a man said two seconds after I got out.

“Huh?”

The sun glittering off the rows of cars lined up on both sides of the highway made me squinty. I got closer. Strange man held out a too elegant hand, flashed a badge with the other.

“I’m Billy Dale,” he said. “You’re Delilah Diamond from Fork in the Road. Am I right?”

“Billy Dale what?”

Name like that usually preceded a Jim Bob or Buck Dee.

“Just Billy Dale.”

“You’re not from around here then,” I said.

“Nope.” He withdrew his unshaken hand.

Billy Dale’s kick-my-ass-why-don’t-you ensemble cheered me somewhat. His slicked-backed hair, GQ chin stubble, casual Friday Brooks Brothers khakis and pink polo made me want to open the bar door, throw him in to see how he fared. The small crowd milling around outside to avoid the teary farewells inside dispersed as if they smelled an unfamiliar no good cop. Nothing like stranger danger to speed folks along their way. Billy Dale peered over the top of his sunglasses, looked past me at the open vista, dirt, and sagebrush.

“Jesus,” he said. “You could seriously get off the grid out here.”

“What do you want?”

“Just making inquiries about the shooting incident.”

“At a memorial? Willy Wally’s barely cold.”

“When I drove up didn’t realize this, whatever this is, was going on.” He gestured toward the food covered picnic tables.

I kicked up a puff of dirt with the toe of my Converse, shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Billy Dale studied the fly-infested open jar of mayo on a nearby table, waiting, silent, doing that let-them-talk-to-see-what-spills cop thing. He flicked an imaginary something off his shirtsleeve. His blank face and open-too-wide eyes gave him a real dimwitted appearance—the kind of guy who moved his lips when he read.

“Where’s Rusty?” I said. “He’s been the law out here forever.”

“On a bender probably.”

“No doubt.”

“Mind if I do some asking now?” he said.

I let that hang like a corpse from a noose.

“You know,” I finally said after the silence got too awkward even for me. “I just came back here. Moved away eons ago.”

“So I heard.” Billy Dale leaned against a clean sedan that must’ve been his. “Some say they’re surprised to see you back.”

“None more than me.”

“You came back for the—this—potluck thingy?”

“No. Coincidence.”

“Coincidences give me cramps,” Billy Dale said serious as all get out.

Like I cared about his bowels.

“Willy Wally your old high school boyfriend?” He went on.

“Christ, no. He dated my friend. Emily. She—”

“You all right?” Billy Dale said.

I’d swayed to one side. The beer I’d chased lunch with gurgled its way up the back of my throat. I beat it back, steadied myself.

“I’m fine. This heat, outhouse smell, I’m not used to it anymore.” I pulled away from the hand he’d gripped my arm with, snooty-like. He probably did it to help, but too bad so sad.

“Right. Well, Jefferson Davis told me you—”

“Oh you’re already on a first name basis? Jefferson Davis and I haven’t so much as cast shadows near each other in twenty years.” Droplets popped up above my top lip.

“Right. Well, speaking of names. You call your mother by her first name?”

“Always have,” I said halfway lying. “Fran is her name.”

I’d replaced Mom with Fran when we moved to the highway, when she went full wacko, to distance myself from her in the only way I could then, to get under her skin. Joke was on me since her skin proved unyielding, but it stuck.

“Fran knows Doctor Bates well?” Billy Dale said.

“Everybody here knows everyone else well.”

“Willy Wally too?”

“Yes, but they didn’t exactly run in the same circles since Fran’s old enough to be his mother.”

We stared each other down. I wondered if he could see me sweat.

He blinked first. “Can you think of any reason Fran would’ve called Willy Wally the day before he got shot and the day of?”

“Who knows? It is a small town,” I said. “Why don’t you ask Fran?”

“Did. Said she doesn’t recall.”

“She’s no spring chicken. Memory’s going.” I twirled one finger near my ear.

“Fran called Willy Wally four times the day before he died, twice the next.”

“She’s a talker,” I said.

There it was.

Fran did know more than she’d admitted. I crossed my arms over my chest, shoved both hands under my dripping armpits, worked hard to keep my face from going funky.

“Not to mention six calls to Doctor Bates.” He’d taken out a notepad, which I guess meant business.

“I’m sure for harmless reasons.”

I turned on my heel. Eat my dust sucker.

Billy Dale hollered at my back, “I’m sure I’ll find out.”

Kathleen O’Donnell is a wife, mom, grandmother and a recovering blogger.
She currently lives in Nevada with her husband. She is a two time
Book of the Year finalist for her debut novel The Last Day for Rob
Rhino. You can find short stories and blog posts on her website.
Follow the tour HERE
for special excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray #Historical #Fiction @WordDreams


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Virtual Book Launch for The Quest for Home

 

Thank you, Jacquie, so much for offering to help me with my book launch.

 

Book information:

 

Title and author: The Quest for Home

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

 

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Short Summary:

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life. 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

 

Jacqui answers an interesting question (especially since I’m a lefty :))

What does ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ side mean?

 

Based on artifacts from 850,000 years ago (or longer), paleoscientists speculate that early man had a preference for right-handedness. That would make their right hand stronger than the left (though they didn’t identify ‘right’ and ‘left’ at that time). Because of this, my characters call their right the ‘strong side’ and left the ‘weak side’.

 

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

 

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound.

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

 

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

 It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

 

jacqui

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

 

Social Media contacts:

 

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