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Posts Categorized: Spotlight

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spotlight + Contest: Reawaken by Christina Lee

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight0 Comments

Reawaken RDB Banner

REAWAKEN

UNDER MY SKIN SERIES, BOOK 2

CHRISTINA LEE

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 11.02.17

Reawaken_DIGITAL_HighRes

Cover Designer: KANAXA

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2gtg143

BLURB

Losing his adoring husband shattered Tristan Rogers world. For the past few years, he’s been going through the motions, running their dog grooming business while hiding the loneliness he feels down to his bones. When he witnesses an ugly breakup between a pretentious customer and his boyfriend, Tristan can’t help but intervene. Something about the unassuming younger man calls to him, and he can’t help wondering if he’s experienced some heartache of his own.

Life took a tragic turn for Jonas “West” Hollis as a teen, and he’s felt indebted to his overbearing lover ever since. Tristan’s kindness draws him from the start, but with his dreams finally in reach, West can’t risk getting close to someone else. Not now that he can live his life and stand on his own merit.

From innocent texts to companionable rides on Tristan’s boat, what starts as an unexpected friendship between the men sparks into undeniable attraction. Neither are ready for anything deeper than a couple of passionate nights wrapped in each other’s arms but their connection becomes too intense for either to ignore. If Tristan and West want to heal their broken hearts, they’ll need a considerable amount of trust and courage—not only in themselves but also each other.

Reawaken Teaser 2

EXCERPT

“Take yourself out so I can see you,” West suggested with a devilish gleam, and I did a double-take, marveling at the contradiction. Gone was the moody, unsure kid, only to be replaced by the liberated, playful man filled with hope and mischievousness.

“What—right now?” I looked along the shoreline, and outside of a couple of faraway boats, we were virtually alone. Still, I shook my head. “I can’t—”

“Sure you can,” he replied with a smirk. “You look so impressive manning this boat. Distinguished, even. It would be hot to see you holding your cock while your other hand grips the wheel.”

“Goddamn, West,” I ground out as our eyes met briefly. “Haven’t you come into your own… What happened to my quiet and shy companion?”

He laughed and then shrugged. “Guess he finally went after what he needed. And who he wanted.”

When he curved his eyebrow in challenge, I shivered. My gaze panning the shoreline, I already knew I planned on doing precisely what he asked. Fuck, he knew exactly how to light me up and appeal to my whims—all of which seemed to include him in one fashion or another.

I jerked the throttle and reduced to a slower speed before my hand drifted to my shorts. I tugged them just far enough down that the head of my cock was exposed above the waistband as I gripped my shaft.

“Nice,” he murmured in appreciation as he gazed fixedly at my dick. He stood, sidled next to me, and dragged his fingers along my shoulder blades, making the hairs on my neck stand up. Thankfully there was a glass partition that extended along the sides of the steering wheel, so unless you had a direct view, you wouldn’t realize that I held my cock in my fist.

West’s fingers slid beneath the waistband and into my crease.

“So hot,” he whispered in my ear.

“Fuck,” I groaned, arching my back.

Christina Lee Logo

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son–her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip balm, coffee, and kissing. Because everything is better with kissing.

She writes MM Contemporary as well as Adult and New Adult Romance. She believes in happily-ever-afters for all, so reading and writing romance for everybody under the rainbow helps quench her soul.

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http://www.write-brained.com/

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https://www.faceook.com/AuthorChristinaLee/

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/594101567395032/

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Spotlight: Regret by Christina Lee

Posted by Irish in Excerpt, Spotlight0 Comments

Regret RDB Banner

REGRET

CHRISTINA LEE

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 06.26.17

Regret Cover

COVER DESIGN: KANAXA

BLURB

When Brian “Brin” Schubert’s condo floods, he takes his co-worker up on the offer to stay on his crappy futon for a while. The last thing he expects is for his friend’s roommate to be the one guy he despises the most. The same guy who stomped on his heart senior year of high school. And by the looks of the girl on his arm, the same man who’s still deep inside the closet.

Nicholas Dell never predicted that eleven years later, one of his greatest regrets would show up on his doorstep down on his luck. Nick has made some terrible mistakes—story of his life—and he’s been paying for them ever since. And if the guilt and shame aren’t enough, his first crush had to turn into one of the sexiest men he’s ever laid eyes on.

Nick and Brin have weeks to steer clear of each other. Weeks to avoid strangling each other. But when stubbornness leads to skyrocketing sexual tension, hate-sex doesn’t seem like such an awful way to work through their frustration. Except hate is a powerful emotion, especially when it’s turned inward. And in Nick’s case he’s been drowning in a sea of self-loathing for so long, he can’t see his way out.

As Brin reconnects with Nick, his perception of what really happened in their past begins to change. He’s finally ready to forgive him and take a second chance on the one guy who stirs him like no other. But Nick’s demons are complicated, heart-wrenching…demanding. So devastating, he might never allow himself true happiness—even with the one man who’s always owned his heart.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2rjELhF

Regret Teaser 1 3 Regret Teaser

EXCERPT

Tally pawed at the pillow for a few seconds before finally sinking down, apparently resigned to her position. I straightened to back out of the room, only then allowing my gaze to slide over Brin’s sleeping form. My pulse spiked when I noticed his eyes on me.

“Not sure Tally will want to sleep without you,” he rasped out. The words were like a thunderbolt to my chest. As if he was referring to more than the dog finding her way to my bed.

“Not sure I’ll want to sleep without her,” I replied in a hoarse voice, attempting to get my emotions under control.

Without you. Because you’ve taken up residence inside my heart once again. But maybe you’ve always been there, winding inside my rib cage, coiling around my lungs. Making it impossible to breathe, to think, to stop wanting.

As I turned to leave, his warm fingers curled around my wrist, searing into my skin. My breath caught in my throat. It was the first time he made the first move and my heart bloomed into an impossibly large bouquet of hope and aching desire inside my chest.

Our gazes snagged and held as his other hand slowly reached for the edge of the blanket and pulled it aside.

CL Pic

Mother, wife, reader, dreamer. Christina lives in the Midwest with her husband and son–her two favorite guys. She’s addicted to lip balm, coffee, and kissing. Because everything is better with kissing.

She writes MM Contemporary as well as Adult and New Adult Romance. She believes in happily-ever-afters for all, so reading and writing romance for everybody under the rainbow helps quench her soul.

WEBSITE

FB FAN GROUP: THE SWOON ROOM

INSTAGRAM

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Guest Post, Spotlight0 Comments

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels

VirginandtheViscountCOVER

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About THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

In the next sparkling romance in debut author Charis Michael’s Bachelor Lords of London series, a proper viscount meets his match in a beguiling virgin who can’t help but break all the rules.

The Virgin
Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes has a painful secret. At the innocent age of fifteen, she was abducted by highwaymen and sold to a brothel. After two days, a young lord discovers her and enacts a brave rescue to get her out. Now she’s a grown woman, working to save other girls from the horror she saw that night and never forgetting the young man who rescued her.

The Viscount
Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh has overcome an abusive boyhood, neglectful parents, and a bankrupt title to be one of the wealthiest noblemen in Britain. He works tirelessly to be upright and forthright and proper to a fault. Now he requires only one thing: A proper, forthright, proper wife.

The Unraveling
When a charity event puts Lord Bryson and Lady Elisabeth face-to-face, Bryson has no memory of the wounded girl of long ago. All he can see is a perfect candidate to be his future wife. Elisabeth has never forgotten him, but she worries that the brave boy who saved her so long ago has become a rich man with an unfulfilled life.

As a whirlwind courtship reveals the truth, Bryson must accept that Elisabeth is actually a shadow from his dark past, while Elisabeth must show that love is the noblest virtue of all.

 

Guest Post

 

Crafting a Book Title with a Title:  How The Virgin and the Viscount Got Its Name

The Virgin and the Viscount was the very first romance manuscript I ever wrote, way back in 2004, twelve years before it would reach the hands of readers.

Back then, it had a working title of, A Proper Scandal.

Back then, it was not connected to another book like it is now.

Back then it was double the word count.

            After I finished the first draft, it languished with its old title and original length until I was able to revise it into my Bachelor Lords of London series.  To my delight, the revisions came easily, almost as if it belonged in the series from conception. Characters were combined.  Chapters were cut. My writing became more succinct.

What did not come as easily was giving the book a new title.

            When an author names a work of commercial fiction like romance, she has the challenge of making quite a lot of people happy.  Herself (obviously), her editor, the editors above her editor, the marketing and publicity teams, her readers, and simply the trending Zeitgeist.

But before I could please everyone, I had to think series, I had to think “Bachelor Lords,” I had to make this book fit with the book before it, The Earl Next Door.

Since Book I in the series contains the aristocratic title “Earl,” we felt second book should hit on the hero in general and mention his rank particular.

Ha! Easier said than done….Here, I share with you a very few of my many, many rejected false starts:

The Stone-Cold Viscount, The Viscount’s Vow, The Viscount’s Vice, The Viscount’s Only Vice, The Viscount Takes a Vice, Unraveling the Viscount or The Viscount Unraveled.

When these were all rejected and I was pulling my hair, I sent up:

Stand and Viscount-ed,  Down for the Viscount (personal favorite worst of the worst), Where the Viscount Ends, or Viscount on the Verge.

And finally (pathetically):  Don’t Viscount the Chickens Before They Hatch, which is what I felt I had done by writing this book into the series without deciding on a viable name at the onset.

Alas, we all know a title emerged and the book is called The Virgin and the Viscount.  To arrive at this, I finally caught on to what my publisher seemed to want, the perfect balance of little bit sexy + a little bit catchy.

I began to search words that began with “V” (for the catchy) that might also be provocative (for the sexy).  When I stumbled on “Virgin,” I thought, fingers crossed, I might I might have a winner—and I was right.  I got the thumbs-up from my publisher, my writing buddies, and I even felt like my characters would approve.

Now, ahem, if I can only convince my mother.

Excerpt

 

Prologue

 

On April 12, 1809, Franklin “Frankie” Courtland, 6th Viscount Rainsleigh, tripped on a root in the bottom of a riverbed and drowned.  He was drunk at the time, picnicking with friends on the banks of the River Wylye.  According an account later given to the magistrate, his lordship simply fell over, bumped into a fallen log, and sank.

It was there he remained—“enjoying the cool,” or so his friends believed—until he became too heavy, too slippery, and, alas, too dead to revive.  But they did dislodge him; and after that, they claimed he floated to the surface, bobbed several times, and then gently glided downstream.  He was later found just before sunset, face down and bloated (in life, as also in death), beached on a pebble shoal near Codford.

At the time the elder Courtland was sinking to the bottom of the river, his son and heir, Bryson was hunched over a desk in the offices of his fledgling shipping company, waiting for the very moment his father would die.  It had been an exceedingly long, progressively humiliating wait.  Years long—nay, decades.

Luckily for Bryson, for his ships and his future, he was capable of doing more things at once than wait, and while his father drank and debauched his way through all respectability and life, Bryson worked.

It was an unthinkable thing for a young heir and nobleman—to “work”—but Bryson was given little choice, considering the impoverished state of the Rainsleigh crest.  He was scarcely eleven years of age when he made first foray into labor, and not so many years after, into private enterprise.  His life in work had not ceased since.  On the rare occasion that he didn’t work, he studied.

With his meager earnings (he began by punting boats on the very river in which his father later drowned), he made meager investments.  These investments reaped small gains—first in shares in the punting station; later in property along the water; later still, in other industry up and down the river.

Bryon lived modestly, worked ceaselessly, and spared only enough to pay his way through Cambridge, bring up his brother, and see him educated him, as well.   Every guinea earned was reinvested.  He repeated the process again and again, a little less meagerly each time ‘round.

By the time the elder viscount’s self-destructive lifestyle wrought his river- and drink-soaked end, Bryson had managed to accrue a small fortune, launch a company that built and sailed ships, and construct an elaborate plan for what he would do when his father finally cocked up his toes and died.

When at last that day came, Bryson had but one complaint: it took fifty-two hours for the constable to find him.  He was a viscount for two days before anyone, including himself, even knew it.

But two days was a trifle compared to a lifetime of waiting.  And on the day he learned of his inheritance—nay, the very hour—he launched his long awaited plan.

By three o’clock on the fourth day, he’d razed the rotting, reeking east wing of the family estate in Wiltshire to the ground.

Within the week, he’d extracted his mother from the west wing and shipped her and a contingent of discreet caregivers to a villa in Spain.

Within the month, he’d sold every stick of furniture, every remaining fork and dish, every sweat-soaked toga and opium-tinged gown.  He burned the drapes, burned the rugs, burned the tapestries.  He delivered the half-starved horses and the fighting dogs to an agricultural college and pensioned off the remaining staff.

By the six-week mark, he’d unloaded the London townhome—sold at auction to the highest bidder—and with it, the broken-down carriage, his father’s dusty arsenal, what was left of the wine stores, and all the lurid art.

It was a whirlwind evacuation, a gutting, really, and no one among polite society had ever witnessed a son or heir take such absolute control and haul away so much family or property quite so fast.

But no one among polite society was acquainted with Bryson Anders Courtland, the new Viscount Rainsleigh.

And no one understood that it was not so much an ending as it was an entirely fresh start.  Once the tearing down ceased, the rebuilding could begin. New viscountsy, new money, new respect, new life.

It was an enterprise into which Bryson threw himself like no other. Unlike all others, however, he could only do so much, one man, alone. For this, he would require another.  A partner.   Someone with whom he could work together towards a common goal.  A collaborator who emulated his precise, immaculate manner. A matriarch, discreet and pure. A paragon of propriety.  A viscountess.  A proper, perfect wife.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About CHARIS MICHAELS

 Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.

 

Where to buy THE VIRGIN AND THE VISCOUNT

Avon

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Excerpt + Contest: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight1 Comment

Praise for Defending Taylor

 

“I can’t quite put my finger on what is so enthralling about Kenneally’s newest novel, but it totally sucked me in. I loved that Kenneally didn’t go with an easy, traditional happy-go-lucky ending. I also enjoyed the flawed nature of the characters, which made them feel more relatable. This is a great summer read and my favorite novel by Kenneally so far!” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

 Defending Taylor

Summary:

 

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

 

Goodreads // Amazon //  Apple // Barnes&Noble //  BooksAMillion // !ndigo // Indiebound

 

Excerpt 

Excerpt from Defending Taylor:

I now understand culture shock: it’s me experiencing Hundred Oaks High for the first time.

A lot of kids go here. Five hundred? A thousand? There are so many I can’t tell. At St. Andrew’s, there were only forty kids in my entire class. We lived on a calm, sprawling, green campus. Walking down the halls of Hundred Oaks feels like last-­minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall.

Two guys wearing football jerseys are throwing a ball back and forth. It whizzes by my ear. A suspender-­clad male teacher is hanging a poster for the science fair, while a couple is making out against the wall next to the fire alarm. If they move another inch, they’ll set off the sprinklers. At St. Andrew’s, kissing in the hall was an über no-­no. We snuck under the staircase or went out into the woods. Ben and I did that all the time.

Thinking of him makes me stop moving. I shut my eyes. Dating Ben was stupid. Going into the woods with him was stupid. Thinking about what happened makes me so mad, I want to rip that newly hung science fair poster off the wall and tear it apart.

A boy shoves past me, slamming my arm with his backpack. That’s what I get for loitering in the middle of the hallway with my eyes closed. He looks me up and down. “You coming to Rutledge Falls this afternoon?”

“What?”

“Paul Simmons challenged Nolan Chase to a fight. Rutledge Falls. Three o’clock. Don’t tell the cops.”

A fight? Where the hell am I? Westeros?

A girl bumps into my side. “Watch it!” Flashing me a dirty look, she disappears into a classroom with a group of friends, chattering away.

Seeing those girls together reminds me of my best friends, Steph and Madison. Right now, they’re probably gossiping before trig starts. I miss Steph’s cool British accent and Madison’s cheerful laugh.

I take a deep, rattled breath. And then another. I feel trapped, like the time I got locked in my grandpa’s garage and no one found me for an hour and I banged on the windows until my fists turned purple from bruises.

I can’t believe I had to leave my school. My home.

All because I made one stupid decision.

I check my schedule. My first class is calculus 1, the most advanced math course Hundred Oaks offers. Just a week ago, I was taking an advanced calculus quiz at the University of the South. St. Andrew’s is one of the best prep schools in the country, and they offer seniors the opportunity to take courses at the university, which is up the road. Even though I was still in high school, the professors treated me just like a college kid. I was only in the course for two weeks, but still. It was insanely difficult. The truth is, unlike everybody else in my family, I hate math. I have to work at it harder than anything else in my life.

But if I didn’t take college calc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school. I need to go to a top-tier school because that’s what people in my family do. My father attended Yale, and my sister Jenna is there now. According to Dad, my brother Oliver—­Jenna’s twin—­is a traitor for going to Princeton, but I think Dad respects him for having the balls to make his own decision.

Me?

When Dad called me into his home office last night, he barely looked at me as he pored over my new schedule. The silence was killing me.

“I don’t know how Yale will still consider me if I’m not taking all AP courses,” I said. “Hundred Oaks only offers AP chemistry.”

Dad sighed, took off his glasses, and set down my schedule. “I’m incredibly disappointed in you, Taylor.”

I looked him straight in the eyes. His quiet restraint worried me. I’d never seen him so upset.

But I was upset too. He rarely had time to call me when I was away at school, but he could spare a few minutes to comment on my one screwup? After how hard I’ve always worked?

Over the years, I’ve done hours of homework every night. I had a 4.2 GPA at St. Andrew’s. A 1520 SAT score. I was on track to be valedictorian. I was captain of the soccer team and on the debate team. I did everything I could to show Yale that I worked hard. That I am a unique individual. Because that’s what Yale wants.

But my one misstep has muddied my glowing record.

Dad ended our conversation with a death knell.

“Tee, I gave you all the tools you needed to succeed,” he said. “I’ve paid for your private school education since first grade, and you squandered it by getting kicked out.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, my face burning. “I’m going to keep working hard at Hundred Oaks though.”

“You’re damn right you will.”

My father had me so flustered, I wasn’t thinking straight when I said, “Maybe Yale will still take me because of who I am.”

“You mean because of who I am.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I’ve always taught you kids the importance of integrity, and the minute you got into trouble, instead of owning it, you called me to bail you out. And now you’re doing it again. Using my name to try to get ahead.”

I hung my head. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“I love you more than anything, but you have to take responsibility for what you did. You’ll have to figure college out on your own.”

“What does that mean?” I asked slowly.

“It means I’m not lifting a finger. I won’t be calling the alumni association or the school president to put in a good word for you.”

“But didn’t you do that for Jenna and Oliver?” I blurted.

He put his glasses back on. “You need to own up, Tee.”

So here I am, glancing around the unfamiliar halls of Hundred Oaks. The school is neat and orderly, but it doesn’t look completely clean, like no matter how hard you scrub, it still looks old. At least it’s not juvie.

I step into my math class, which is already filled with kids. I choose an empty seat at a wobbly wooden desk and stare out the window at the sunny, seventy-­degree September day. I bet at St. Andrew’s, my world politics teacher is telling my friends, “Gather your books. It’s a beautiful day out. Let’s have class in one of the gardens.”

I check out the problem set on the whiteboard. I could do this level of math years ago…

My former guidance counselor told me that colleges look for trends in our GPA and activities over four years of high school. So that means when colleges see my application, they will see:

      I’m taking easier classes;

      I’m no longer doing debate;

      I’ve lost my soccer captainship this year; and

      I was expelled.

I have never simply given up when calculus got a lot tougher or an opponent ran faster than me on the soccer field. So I refuse to believe my entire future is over because of one mistake.

I just need to figure out how to move forward.

Defending Taylor Quote

About the Author:

Growing up in Tennessee, MIRANDA KENNEALLY dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit mirandakenneally.com

 

Social Media Links:

Website: http://mirandakenneally.com/

Twitter: @MirandaKennealy

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

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spotlight: Excerpt for My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight0 Comments

Spotlight: Excerpt for My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

My Kind of Crazy

Book Info:

Title: My Kind of Crazy
Author: Robin Reul
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Praise for My Kind of Crazy

“I had so much fun reading this book that it made want to accidentally set things on fire. Great characters you instantly care for, and a lot of heart.” — Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let’s Get Lost

“MY KIND OF CRAZY is for everyone who felt they never fit in and weren’t sure that they wanted to.” –Eileen Cook, author of Remember and What Would Emma Do?

“Hank Kirby will steal your heart, Peyton Breedlove will set it on fire, and then together they’ll mend the pieces.” –Shaun Hutchinson, author of FML and Violent Ends

“MY KIND OF CRAZY is my kind of read, and Reul, the best kind of writer.” –Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity

“Funny, authentic, and, at turns, heartbreaking.” — Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know By Heart

“A sensitive look at two teens with complicated histories learning to build a future together.” –Kirkus

MyKindOfCrazy-Social3

Summary:

A promposal that (literally) goes up in flames sparks a friendship that might be just crazy enough to work

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // BooksAMillion // !ndigo // Indiebound

Robin Reul

About the Author:

Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. Find her at robinreul.com

Website // My Kind of Crazy Landing Page // Twitter // Facebook

Excerpt

Excerpt for My Kind of Crazy:

So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red Cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.

I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.

I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and–boom!

Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.
I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.

Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.

From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.
With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.

So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack – which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes – over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.

I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.

The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.
I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Excerpt + Contest from You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Posted by Irish in Contest, Excerpt, Spotlight1 Comment

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Title: You Were Here

Author: Cori McCarthy

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

 

Praise for You Were Here

 

“The mix of forms as well as the insights each character gleans through their urban explorations render this book both readable and teachable on multiple levels.” –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED Review

“Readers who appreciate stories of searching for personal truths will be happy to join this meaningful quest for identity and independence.” –Booklist

“You Were Here  is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us–and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.” –Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“Through razor-sharp wit, no-holds-barred momentum, and heart-wrenching twists, Cori McCarthy dares you to climb through the broken, abandoned wreckage of the past, stand on the edge of the world, and face something even scarier: the truth.” –K.A. Barson, author of 45 Pounds (More or Less and Charlotte Cuts it Out

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them–and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” —Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

 

Summary:

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable—reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson.  From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

 

Goodreads //  Amazon // iTunes // Barnes & Noble // BooksAMillion // !ndigo // IndieBound 

 

About the Author:

Cori McCarthy studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr 

Excerpt

Excerpt from You Were Here:

“What do I see?” I asked, turning back to the halo effect created by Margaret’s splayed hair. “It was a game. She died because she was playing a game.”

“Just like Jake,” Natalie said.

“Right,” I quipped, trying to mask not only my annoyance at Natalie’s psychoanalyst tone but also a flare of grief. My chest grew tight. Why wouldn’t it go away? Why did all this still buckle me to the ground? Tears burned my eyes, and I took my hair out of my ponytail. This never happened when I came here with Mik. Mik didn’t talk or prod. Mik let me be while we walked around Jake’s old haunt, wondering if he was actually haunting it.

“My dad said that OU will raze the TB ward.” Bishop pointed out the window toward the building on the very top of the hill, by far the spookiest and most unkempt in The Ridges compound. “It’s the only fully abandoned building.”

“Raze?” I asked, suddenly angry. “When?”

“End of the summer, I think. My dad said it was going to cost a ton but that leaving the old building there while it was falling in is just asking for lawsuits.”

“Jake loved the TB ward,” I said. “They haven’t stripped it down like this building.”

“TB?” Zach asked.

“Tuberculosis,” Natalie said.

Bishop squinted at his friend. “TB has been one of the leading terminal diseases in society since the dawn of civilization, Zach.”

“But it doesn’t exist anymore,” Zach said. “Like leprosy.”

“It totally exists,” Natalie said. “And so does leprosy. Where do you learn these things?”

“TB is still the leading cause of death for all people with HIV,” Bishop said. “But don’t worry, Zach. You won’t get it.”

I was surprised to find Zach looking at me. “What kind of things are in there?”

I shrugged. “I’ve never been, but I know it’s more dangerous. All the windows and doors are boarded up to keep drunk undergrads out.”

“So there’s no way in?” Bishop asked.

I shook my head. “Didn’t say that. Every building in The Ridges compound is connected by basement tunnels. If we get into the basement, we can get into any building.”

We all shuffled to our feet and stood around the last portrait of Margaret Schilling.

“I’m in,” Bishop said, and I nodded. Bishop was cool; we’d been partners for two semesters straight in woodshop. He said odd, grandiose things sometimes, but I liked him for it. Plus there was a pretty good chance that Mik would show himself with only Bishop around.

“I’ll take you two to the exit,” I told Natalie and Zach.

“Well, hey,” Zach said. “What if I want to come?”

Natalie looked at him, stunned. “You want to go? What about Kolenski’s three kegs?”

“Kolenski gets kegs every couple of weeks.” Zach shoved his hands in his pockets. He had sobered up since they’d entered The Ridges, and now he just looked worn down. Even his hair had flattened. I’d written him off years ago, but the way he’d helped me find Jake’s footprint and waylaid Natalie…maybe he wasn’t such a garden-variety “dude.”

“Who else can say that they did this the night after graduation?” he added with a shrug.

“So Natalie’s the loose end?” I said. “Big surprise.”

“Wait a second. It was my idea to follow you in the first place. And I…I want to see it.”

“Really?” Zach asked her. “Even if it’s dangerous?”

“I’m going to minor in history. It’ll be like walking around inside of history.”

I knew Natalie well enough to know that she was deluding herself, but when I opened my mouth to point it out, I saw something instead. Bishop did too.

“Apple.” He pointed to the ground. “Guys. There’s an apple.”

A shiny, green Granny Smith apple sat in the doorway. I picked it up.

“Where the hell did that come from?” Zach asked, fear trilling his voice. “Is someone else here? That wasn’t there a few minutes ago, right? Right?”

They all looked up and down the hall. Nothing.

“Maybe Jake’s ghost put it there. Or Margaret’s,” I said. A thump of what could only be described as happiness resounded through my chest. It was foreign and weird, and yet welcome.

“You’re smiling,” Natalie said. “Why are you smiling? You never smile.”

I rubbed the apple on my shirt and took a huge crunching bite. Natalie looked like she was going to pass out. I winked. “This way to the basement.”

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Spotlight: Listen to Me by Kristen Proby

Posted by Irish in Spotlight0 Comments

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Kristen Proby is known for writing heartfelt characters with deep connections and sizzling passion. This April, she will seduce readers’ senses with a brand new series, Fusion, from William Morrow Paperbacks, in which five best friends open a hot new restaurant together. Today, we are thrilled to bring you a song written exclusively for LISTEN TO ME, the first book in the Fusion Series releasing April 12, 2016. LISTEN TO ME finds a hot former rock star looking for a steady gig at the restaurant, but he’ll have to convince the prickly front-of-house manager to take a chance on him—with her business and her heart. Don’t miss what Kristen has to say about the beautiful ballad, If I Had Never Met You, and then grab your copy of the song and preorder the novel today!

 

Listen to Me - song banner

 

A Message from Kristen about If I Had Never Met You:

From the minute song writer Jake Keller lays eyes on Addison Wade, a tune sets up residence in his head. As he gets to know her, the tune becomes a song. Their song. Addie’s song. The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for him when he finally sings it to her, but will it be enough to keep her?

I can’t thank Brad Yunek and Dan Keseloff enough for writing this beautiful song to accompany Jake and Addie’s story. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Kristen Proby - signature

 

 

 

Listen to a sample of If I Had Never Met You here!

 

If I Had Never Met You is now available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon for just $.99!

 

 

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About LISTEN TO ME:

In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new series, five best friends open a hot new restaurant, but one of them gets much more than she bargained for when a sexy former rock star walks through the doors—and into her heart.

Seduction is quickly becoming the hottest new restaurant in Portland, and Addison Wade is proud to claim 1/5 of the credit. She’s determined to make it a success and can’t think of a better way to bring in new customers than live music. But when former rock star Jake Keller swaggers through the doors to apply for the weekend gig, she knows she’s in trouble. Addie instantly recognizes him—his posters were plastered all over her bedroom walls in high school—he’s all bad boy…exactly her type and exactly what she doesn’t need.

Jake Keller walked away from the limelight five years ago and yearns to return to what’s always driven him: the music. If he gets to work for a smart-mouthed, funny-as-hell bombshell, all the better. But talking Addie into giving him the job is far easier than persuading her that he wants more than a romp in her bed. Just when she begins to drop her walls, Jake’s past finally catches up with him.

Will Addie be torn apart once again or will Jake be able to convince her to drown out her doubts and listen to her heart?

 

 

Author Pic - Kristen ProbyAbout Kristen Proby:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps. Visit her at KristenProby.com.

 

 

 

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Spotlight: THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z – #MOREATOZ

Posted by Irish in Spotlight2 Comments

Distance From A to Z

WE WANT MORE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z!

Natalie Blitt’s debut book, The Distance from A to Z, has hit the shelves and the reviews are in. The consensus? Readers want more! They want more of the two main characters they fell in love with. Well fans you are in luck.

Natalie Blitt is going to give us all exactly what we want but we have to give her something in return. What is that something? A review on Amazon (you are welcome to review anywhere else as well, but for the number to count towards the goal it much be posted on Amazon).

Here’s the extras options:

If The Distance from A to Z gets 30 reviews on Amazon Natalie will release a deleted scene on her website*

*level 1 has already been reached! You can read a deleted scene HERE

If The Distance from A to Z gets 50 reviews on Amazon Natalie will write a short scene that takes place within six months of the last scene of A to Z and post it on her website.

* level 2 has been reached and you can read the bonus end scene HERE

If The Distance from A to Z gets 100 reviews on Amazon Natalie will write a real epilogue that… doesn’t take place in the United States.

I don’t know about you, but seems really doable to get more of this fantastic story.Help us spread the word and share this on social media with the hashtag#MoreAtoZ! And post those reviews!

About the Book:

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Excerpt: Dirt on the Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Excerpt, Spotlight2 Comments

Excerpt: Dirt on the Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

Dirt on the Ninth Grave

In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she’s more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her-even from her new and trusted friends-the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn’t help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she’s lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.

Excerpt

 

Remember, it’s never too late to give LSD a shot.

—T-SHIRT

I stood beside the booth and poured coffee into a beige cup that had the words FIRELIGHT GRILL written across it, wondering if I should tell my customer, Mr. Pettigrew, about the dead stripper sitting next to him. It wasn’t every day a dead stripper accosted one of my regulars, but telling Mr. P about her might not be a good idea. He could react the way I did the first time I saw a walking corpse a little over a month ago. I screamed like a twelve-year-old girl and locked myself in the bathroom.

For seven hours.

I admired the rascally old man, a decorated war veteran and retired NYPD detective. He’d seen more action than most. And with it, more atrocity. More depravity and desperation and degradation. He was a tough-as-nails, real-life superhero, and I couldn’t picture any situation in which Mr. P would scream like a twelve-year-old girl and lock himself in a bathroom.

For seven hours.

In my own defense, the first dead guy I saw had fallen to his death at a construction site in Kalamazoo. Thanks to a hundred-foot drop and an unfortunate placement of rebar, I had another image to add to my things-I-can-never-unsee collection. Silver linings, baby.

I pulled three creamers out of my apron pocket where I stashed them, mostly because keeping creamers in my jeans pocket never ended well. I placed them on the table beside him.

“Thanks, Janey.” He gave me a saucy wink and doctored his coffee, an elixir I’d grown to love more than air. And French fries. And hygiene, but only when I woke up late and was faced with the heart-wrenching decision of either making a cup of the key to life itself or taking a shower. Strangely enough, coffee won. Every. Single. Time.

Mr. P was a regular, and I liked regulars. Whenever one walked into the café I felt a little less lost, a little less broken, as though family had come to visit. As fucked up as it sounded, they were all I had.

A little over a month ago, I woke up in an alley, soaked to the marrow of my bones with freezing rain pelting my face and no memory of who I was. Or where I was. Or when I was. I had nothing but the clothes on my back, a honking big diamond on my ring finger, and a blinding headache. The headache disappeared fairly quickly. Thankfully the clothes and the wedding ring did not. But if I were married, where was my husband? Why had he not come for me?

I’d been waiting since that first day. Day One, I’d called it. I’d been waiting for four weeks, three days, seventeen hours, and twelve minutes. Waiting for him to find me. For anyone to find me.

Surely I had family. I mean, everyone has family, right? Or, at the very least, friends. It would seem, however, that I had neither. No one in Sleepy Hollow—or the entire state of New York—knew who I was.

But that didn’t stop me from digging in my raggedly bitten nails and clinging to the knowledge that almost everyone on the planet had someone, and my someone was out there. Somewhere. Searching for me. Scouring the galaxy night and day.

That was my hope, anyway. To be found. To be known. The spiderweb cracks in the shell holding me together were splintering, bleeding into one another, creeping and crackling along the fragile surface. I didn’t know how much longer it would hold. How much longer until the pressure inside me exploded. Until it shattered and catapulted the pieces of my psyche into space; to the farthest reaches of the universe. Until I vanished.

It could happen.

The doctors told me I had amnesia.

Right?

Apparently that shit’s real. Who knew?

While waiting for Mr. P to scan the menu he knew by heart, I looked out the plate-glass windows of the café at the two worlds before me. I’d realized very soon after waking up that I could see things others couldn’t. Dead people, for one thing, but also their realm. Their dimension. And their dimension defined the word cray-cray.

Most people saw only the tangible world. The world in which the wind didn’t pass through them but bombarded them, its icy grip only metaphorically slicing through to their bones, because their physical bodies would only let it penetrate so far.

But there was another world all around us. An intangible one where the winds did not go around us but passed through us like searing smoke through air made visible only by a ray of light.

On this particular day, the tangible forecast was partly cloudy with an 80 percent chance of precipitation. The intangible forecast, however, was angry, billowing clouds with a 100 percent chance of thunderous lightning storms and fiery tornadoes swirling in an endless dance over the landscape.

And the colors. The colors were stunning. Oranges and reds and purples, the likes of which were not found in the tangible world, glistened around me, whirled and melded together with each reaction of the capricious weather, as though battling for dominance. Shadows were not gray there but blue and lavender with hints of copper and gold. Water was not blue but variegated shades of orchid and violet and emerald and turquoise.

The clouds parted a few blocks away, and a brilliant light shot down to welcome another soul, to embrace the fortunate spirit that had reached the expiration date of its corporeal form.

That happened fairly often, even in a town the size of Sleepy Hollow. What happened less often, thank goodness, was the opposite. When the ground cracked and parted to reveal a cavernous chasm, to deliver a less fortunate soul—a less deserving one—into darkness.

But not just any darkness. An endless, blinding void a thousand times blacker than the darkest night and a million times deeper.

And the doctors swear there is nothing wrong with me. They can’t see what I see. Feel what I feel. Even in my state of absolute amnesia, I knew the world before me was unreal. Unearthly. Unnatural. And I knew to keep it to myself. Self-preservation was a powerful motive.

Either I had some kind of extrasensory perception or I’d done a lot of LSD in my youth.

“He’s a doll,” the stripper said, her sultry voice dragging me away from the fierce world that raged around me.

She leaned her voluptuous body into him. I wanted to point out the fact that he was old enough to be her father. I could only hope he wasn’t.

“His name is Bernard,” she said, running a finger down the side of his face, a spaghetti strap slipping down a scraped-up shoulder.

I actually had no idea what she’d done for a living, but from the looks of it, she was either a stripper or a prostitute. She’d caked on enough blue eye shadow to paint the Chrysler Building, and her little black dress revealed more curves than a Slinky. I was only leaning toward stripper because the front of her dress was being held together with Velcro.

I had a thing for Velcro.

Sadly, I couldn’t talk to her in front of Mr. P, which was unfortunate. I wanted to know who’d killed her.

I knew how she’d died. She’d been strangled. Black and purple splotches circled her neckline, and the capillaries in her eyes had burst, turning the whites bright red. Not her best look. But I was curious about the situation. How it had evolved. If she’d seen the assailant. If she’d known him. Clearly I had a morbid streak, but I felt this tug at my insides to help her.

Then again, she was dead. As a doornail. In winter. What could I do?

My motto since Day One was to keep my head down and my nose clean. It was none of my business. I didn’t want to know how they died. Who they left behind. How lonely they felt. For the most part the departed were like wasps. I didn’t bother them. They didn’t bother me. And that was how I liked it.

But sometimes I felt a tug, a knee-jerk reaction, when I saw a departed. A visceral desire to do what I could for them. It was instinctual and deep-seated and horridly annoying, so I crawled into a cup of coffee and looked the other way.

“Bernard,” she repeated. “Isn’t that the cutest name?” Her gaze landed on me in question.

I gave her the barest hint of a nod as Mr. P said, “I guess I’ll have the usual, Janey.”

He always had the usual for breakfast. Two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and whole-wheat toast.

“You got it, hon.” I took the menu from him and walked back to the server’s station, where I punched in Mr. P’s order even though Sumi, the line cook, was about five feet from me, standing on the other side of the pass-out window, looking slightly annoyed that I didn’t just tell her the order since she was about five feet from me, standing on the other side of the pass-out window, looking slightly annoyed.

But there was a protocol in place. A strict set of guidelines I had to follow. My boss, a sassy redhead named Dixie, was only slightly less procedural than a brigadier general.

The stripper giggled at something Mr. P read on his phone. I finished up the order so I could move on to other vexations.

Vexations like LSD, Slinkys, and capillaries. How was it I could remember words like capillaries and brigadierand, hell, vexations and not remember my own name? It made no sense. I’d been going through the alphabet, wracking my brain for a candidate, but I was running out of letters. After S, I had only seven left.

I sought out my coffee cup and picked up where I left off.

Sheila? No.

Shelby? Nope.

Sherry? Not even close.

Nothing felt right. Nothing fit. I just knew if I heard my name, my real name, I’d recognize it instantly and all of my memories would come flooding back in a shimmering tidal wave of recollection. So far the only tidal wave in my life resided in my stomach. It did flip-flops every time a certain regular walked in. A tall, dark regular with jet black hair and an aura to match.

The sound of my coworker’s voice brought me back to the present.

“Lost in thought again, sweetie?” She walked up to stand beside me and gave my hip a little nudge. She did that.

Cookie had started working at the café two days after I did. She’d taken the morning shift with me. Started at 7:00 a.m. By 7:02, we were friends. Mostly because we had a lot in common. We were both recent transplants. Both friendless. Both new to the restaurant business and unaccustomed to having people yell at us because their food was too hot or their coffee was too cold.

Okay, cold coffee I understood.

I glanced around my section to make sure I hadn’t abandoned any of my customers in their time of need. All two of said customers—three if I included the dead ones—seemed pretty content. Especially the stripper. We were smack dab in the middle of the midmorning lull. It wouldn’t last long, however. The lunch crowd would be arriving soon.

“Sorry,” I said, busying myself with wiping down the counter.

“What did you say?” She glowered playfully before stuffing a bottle of ketchup into her apron and grabbing two plates off the pass-out window. Her thick black hair had been teased and tugged into a spiky masterpiece that only feigned disorder, but her clothes were another matter altogether. Unless she liked colors bright enough to blind her customers. There was no way to tell, really.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” she said in her stern mommy voice. Which made sense. She was a mother, though I had yet to meet her daughter. She was staying with Cookie’s ex while Cookie and her new husband, Robert, got settled into their new digs. “We talked about this, remember? The whole apology thing?”

“Right. Sor—” I stopped mid-sorry, catching myself before I could complete the thought and incur her wrath.

Her scowl turned semi-serious, anyway. One more “sorry” out of me and she’d turn downright nettled.

She bumped a generous hip against mine again and took her customers their lunch. Like me, she had two living customers and one dead one, since the departed man in the corner booth was technically in her section.

It would do him little good. Cookie couldn’t see dead people like I could. From what I’d gathered over the recent weeks, no one could see dead people like I could. Seemed like that was my superpower. Seeing dead people and the strange world they lived in. As far as superpowers went, if a vengeful madman hopped up on 24-Hour Sudafed and wielding a broadsword named Thor’s Morning Wood ever attacked us, we were screwed. Six ways to Sunday.

I took Mr. P his order while watching Cookie refill her customers’ water glasses. They must’ve been new to the world of Cookie Kowalski-Davidson. She wasn’t the most graceful server. That fact became exceedingly evident when the woman reached over Cookie’s arm to grab a French fry off her beau’s plate. Big mistake. The movement surprised Cookie, and a second later a wall of cold water splashed out of the pitcher and onto the guy’s lap.

When the icy liquid landed, he bolted upright and shot out of the booth. “Holy shit,” he said, his voice cracking, the sudden chill to his twigs and berries taking his breath away.

The horrified look on Cookie’s face was worth the price of admission. “I’m so sorry,” she said, trying to right the situation by blotting the large wet spot at his crotch.

She repeated her apologies, frantic as she poured all of her energy into drying the man’s nether regions. Either that or she was serving off the menu.

The woman opposite him began to giggle, hiding behind a napkin shyly at first, then more openly when she saw her boyfriend’s shocked expression. Her giggles turned into deep belly laughs. She fell across the seat of the booth, her shoulders shaking as she watched Cookie see to her boyfriend’s needs.

Yep, they were definitely new. Most of our customers learned early on not to make any quick movements around Cookie. Of course, most wouldn’t laugh when a waitress tried to service their lunch date either. I liked her.

After several painfully entertaining moments in which my guileless friend changed her technique from dabbing to outright scrubbing, Cookie finally realized she was polishing her customer’s erector set.

She stilled, her face hovering inches from the man’s vitals before she straightened, offered the couple a final apology, and returned to the prep area, her back two-by-four straight, her face Heinz-ketchup red.

I used all my energy to hold back the laughter threatening to burst from my chest like a baby alien, but inside I lay in a fetal position, teary and aching from the spasms racking my body. I sobered when she got close. Cleared my throat. Offered her my condolences.

“You know, if you have to keep buying your customers’ meals, you’re going to end up paying the café to work here instead of vice versa.”

She offered a smile made of steel wool. “I am well aware of that, thank you.” To suffer her mortification alone, she called out to Sumi, letting her know she was taking a break, then headed to the back.

I adored that woman. She was fun and open and absolutely genuine. And, for some unfathomable reason, she cared for me. Deeply.

My one female customer, a shabby-chic blonde with a bag big enough to sleep in, paid out and left. About two minutes later, Mr. P wandered to the register, ticket in hand, his face infused with a soft pink, his eyes watering with humor. Cookie had entertained the whole place. The stripper followed him. He thumbed through some bills, shaking his head, still amused with Cookie’s antics. The stripper took advantage of the moment to explain.

“He saved my life,” she said from beside him. She’d wrapped her arm in his, but every time he moved, her incorporeal limb slipped through. She linked her arm again and continued. “About a year ago. I’d … had a rough night.” She brushed her fingertips over her right cheek, giving me the impression her rough night involved at least one punch to her face.

My emotions did a one-eighty. My chest tightened. I fought the concern edging to the surface. Tamped it down. Ignored it the best that I could.

“I’d been roughed up pretty bad,” she said, oblivious to my disinterest. “He came to the hospital to take my statement. A detective. A detective had come to see me. To ask me questions. I figured I’d be lucky to get a patrol officer, considering … considering my lifestyle.”

“Here you go, hon,” Mr. P said, passing me a twenty. He folded up the rest of his bills and pocketed them as I punched a few buttons on the cash register, then began pulling out his change.

“It was the way he talked to me. Like I was somebody. Like I mattered, you know?”

I closed my eyes and swallowed. I did know. I had become acutely aware of the nuances of human behavior and the effect it had on those around them. The smallest act of kindness went a long way in my world. And there I was. Ignoring her.

“I cleaned up after that. Got a real job.”

She’d probably been ignored her whole life.

She laughed to herself softly. “Not a real job like yours. I started stripping. The place was a dive, but it got me off the streets, and the tips were pretty good. I could finally put my son in a private school. A cheap private school, but a private school nonetheless. This man just—” She stopped and gazed at him with that loving expression she’d had since she’d popped in. “He just treated me real nice.”

My breath hitched, and I swallowed again. When I tried to hand Mr. P his change, he shook his head.

“You keep it, hon.”

I blinked back to him. “You had coffee and ate two bites of your breakfast,” I said, surprised.

“Best cup I’ve had all morning. And they were big bites.”

“You gave me a twenty.”

“Smallest bill I had,” he said defensively, lying through his teeth.

I pressed my mouth together. “I saw several singles in that stash of yours.”

“I can’t give you those. I’m hitting the strip club later.” When I laughed, he leaned in and asked, “Want to join me? You’d make a killing.”

“Oh, honey, he’s right,” the stripper said, nodding in complete seriousness.

I let a smile sneak across my face. “I think I’ll stick to waiting tables.”

“Suit yourself,” he said, his grin infectious.

“See you tomorrow?”

“Yes, you will. If not sooner.”

He started toward the exit, but the stripper stayed behind. “See what I mean?”

Since no one was paying attention, I finally talked to her. Or, well, whispered. “I do.”

“My son is with his grandma now, but guess where he’s going to school.”

“Where?” I asked, intrigued.

“That private school, thanks to Detective Bernard Pettigrew.”

My jaw dropped a little. “He’s paying for your son to go to school?”

She nodded, gratitude shimmering in her eyes. “Nobody knows. My mama doesn’t even know. But he’s paying for my son’s schooling.”

The tightness around my heart increased threefold as she wiggled her fingers and hurried after him, her high heels eerily silent on the tile floor.

I watched her go, giving Mr. P one last glance before he turned the corner, wondering for the thousandth time if I should tell him about the demon coiled inside his chest.

Copyright © 2015 by Darynda Jones

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Science Geek Appreciation Week – Day 3

Posted by Irish in Blog Tour, Guest Post, Spotlight0 Comments

Well we’re mid week now–half way through Science Geek Appreciation Week–and it’s time to get up close and personal with the author of the Science Squad series, Kelly Oram.

If you missed any of the previous posts about The Avery Shaw Experiment or The Libby Garrett Intervention, be sure to stop by the Facebook event. Along with the posts, there’s all kinds of extra bonus material, games and giveaways going on. Lots of chances to win signed books and swag, talk to the author and just have fun with other science geek loving friends. There’s a new giveaway every day. CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE PARTY!

So, what should you know about Kelly Oram?

      

The Obvious:
I love to write.
&
I’m a ginger.

The Basics:
I wrote my first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about my favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which my family and friends still tease me. I’m obsessed with reading, talk way too much, and like to eat frosting by the spoonful. I live outside of Phoenix, Arizona with my husband, four children, and my cat, Mr. Darcy. And we named his litter box Pemberly because it’s where he makes ten thousand (poops) a year! 

Connect with Kelly:
Newsletter * Amazon * Facebook * Twitter   



The Fun Stuff:

1. I love to sing and went to college as a voice performance major.
2. I once competed in the Miss Michigan Teen USA pageant. (I did not win LOL.)
3. I’m a baseball fanatic. (Go D-backs!)
4. I broke my head as a kid and had to wear a hockey helmet to school as my cast.
5. I own my own 10-sided dice for role-playing that no one but me is allowed to role.
6. I’m left handed.
7. I am credited as associate producer for the independent film Amber Alert.
8. I live for road trips. Best vacation I ever took was a three-week coast-to-coast-and-back drive with my father.
9. The Backstreet Boys were my 1D in high school, and I was a total fangirl. I still have a whole collection of fan paraphernalia.
10. I took both golf and bowling classes in college to fulfill my PE credits. (I still suck at both.)
The Bookish Stuff:

How did you come up with the idea for The Avery Shaw Experiment?
I remember the day I came up with the idea, but not exactly how the concept popped into my head. I went for a run. (Okay, it was more of a walk-run during one of my on-again times where I was dedicated to working out. The off-again times are way more frequent.)
Anyway, I’d ton for a run and it was one of those precious moments where I was by myself, no distractions, no kids–just me and my thoughts. The concept for a girl getting over a broken heart using the seven stages of grief popped into my head, and before that half an hour (yes, that’s all I can run before I want to die) was over, I had most of the book plotted.
I was in the middle of another manuscript at the time, but I went home and wrote Avery’s prologue right away. Five weeks later I had a finished book. The Avery Shaw Experiment had been my easiest book to write so far. It just flowed so naturally, and honestly, I blame that on Avery and Grayson’s natural chemistry. (Hehe science pun totally intended!)
Are you a science geek yourself?
I am a geek of many colors. Music, fantasy, sic-fi, choir, books… But no, I was never a science geek. I was actually a very mediocre-to-horrible student. I never liked the academic stuff, and I struggled with a lot of it. (I spent too much time in my own
imagination!) But, that said, I can see the fun in doing science experiments, and I find the occasional documentary about science stuff interesting. Most of my science geek inspiration was drawn from my mother. (She is a HUGE science nerd!) The woman love bugs and dissection and all things dealing with the human body. She worked in a chemistry lab when I was younger and now works with a team of rocket scientists putting rockets in space and sending supplies to the space stations and things like that. It’s a dream come true for her every time she travels to Virginia to launch one of her rockets. She’s a hard-core nerd and I love her dearly for it, which is way I had to dedicate The Avery Shaw Experiment to her. (Love you Mom!)
How did you come up with the idea for The Libby Garrett Intervention?
Libby was a little different. The idea didn’t come as easy. It took a lot more planning. I loved Libby’s character and really wanted to write her a story, but it took me a long time to commit to it. As much as everyone asked for a Libby and Owen story, I really felt like Owen wasn’t the right one for her. The idea for the Libby Garrett Intervention sparked from me imagining what a relationship between Owen and Libby would be like based on there characters from The Avery Shaw Experiment. I just couldn’t imagine Owen ever being a Grayson, and falling for Libby the way she deserved. That’s where the idea of Libby’s “addiction” to Owen came in and it was a short leap from there to the Twelve Step program. I loved the idea of the steps because it fit perfectly with the stages of grief I used in the first book. It was the perfect companion story. And suddenly, volia! I had the next book.
Will there be more Science Squad books in the future?
There will be at least one more. I have a story already plotted out for one of the other science squad geeks, though my writing schedule is so packed that it will probably take me a couple years to get to it. After that, I don’t know. I’d love to end the series with Aiden’s story, but I’d have to actually come up with a story for him first. I’ve pit the idea in my head though, and am letting it simmer, so we’ll see what happens.
What’s your favorite part of the story, and your favorite quote from The Avery Shaw Experiment?
Oh, goodness, that’s award one. I know most people probably love the shower scene (it’s not what you think!) in the beginning, or the dancing scene, or basically all the more romantic scenes between Avery and Grayson, but my favorite scenes are actually the science/school. stuff. (Maybe I’m a bit of a science geek after all. My mother would be proud!) I love the scene where the science squad takes Grayson to the bowling alley for a lesson in applied physics and explain Newton’s laws. Like I said, I struggled a lot in high school, because, like Grayson, I have a different style of learning than most people. I need things to be interactive and fun, and I need things explained to me in ways that are applicable to my daily life. I had a lot of fun finding a way to make science fun and creative.
My other favorite scene is between Grayson and Mr. Walden at the end. As much as I loved Grayson and Avery, I had a special place in my heart for the relationship between Grayson and his Physics teacher. I’ve been where Grayson was, and I had a couple of cool teachers that, despite my grades and struggles, really understood me. Those were the teachers that made a difference in my education, and I really wish there were more great teachers out there. So, yeah, developing the relationship between those two was a lot of fun for me, and in the end when they’ve completed character arc, it still makes me smile every time I read that scene.
As for my favorite quotes? I have a million, but I’ll narrow it down to two for you. I already have them in convenient photo teasers for you to pass around the internet, should you feel so inclined. 😉


So, that’s me in a nutshell. Hopefully you’ve recognized my brilliance by now (and my sarcasm) and I’ve convinced you to check out the books. I think they’re a lot of fun and I’m so excited to share Libby with the world!
 
The Avery Shaw Experiment is on sale this week only for just $0.99. 
I promise, it’s worth the dollar! 
Amazon * iBooks * B&N * Kobo

And The Libby Garrett Intervention is now available for the special preorder price of $2.99. 
(Regular listing price $4.99 after it goes on sale, so order now and save yourself some money!)
Amazon * BN * Kobo

If you’d like to see more, there are more teasers, excerpts, character interviews, games and giveaways happening on the Science Geek Appreciation Week Facebook event. Make sure you stop by the party and enter to win some of the giveaways. Signed books and swag! FACEBOOK EVENT


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