Friday Free-for-All

Free-for-All Fridays: NEW RELEASE! Striker’s Apprentice by Andrea Buginsky

Friday Free-for-All

Not long ago, I featured the cover reveal for Andrea’s Buginsky’s new book, STRIKER’S APPRENTICE. Now, I’m excited to announce it is available for purchase.

Congrats, Andrea. This looks like a fabulous book, and I hope everyone who sees this post checks it out for themselves! 🙂

Now Available!


As a young hunter seeks a trainer, The Chosen prepare for an unforgettable adventure.
With Nature and Phantasma back in order, Halli and Silvor have settled into their new life in Drumple. During a visit from Striker, Kaidyla and Lumina, a request from an old friend of Halli’s family sparks a new challenge when she asks Striker if he’ll train their young son, Dylan. Working with Dylan gives Striker a chance to be a mentor once again, as he had been in his past.
This brings The Chosen to an area of Phantasma Halli has never seen before. What new dangers might be lurking in the forest? Will Halli have a reason to use her powers?
But Halli and Silvor are facing a new journey of their own, one that will change their lives forever. What is in store for The Chosen’s future? Will this latest escapade prepare them for what is yet to come?

Excerpt

With another week of teaching behind them, Halli and Silvor enjoyed a quiet, leisurely breakfast at the tavern, catching up with their neighbors.

As he was telling her about a new student, Silvor saw a look of surprise and joy come across Halli’s face. Turning to see what she was looking at, he saw a pretty dwarf about his mother-in-law’s age walking towards Halli, smiling at her.

“Do you know her?” As he asked, the woman walked over to their table.

“Halli! Your mother told me I might find you here.”

“Cynthia! It’s so good to see you again.”

Hugging Cynthia, she turned to Silvor, making the introductions. “Silvor, this is Cynthia, Mom’s best friend. She moved away from Drumple years ago with her husband.”

She turned back to Cynthia. “I’m surprised Mom didn’t tell me you were back in Drumple.”

Knowing his wife would be involved in a lengthy conversation, Silvor made his way to the bar and began talking to the tavern keeper.

“We only returned about a week ago, and we’ve been busy settling in,” Cynthia responded to Halli’s comment. “It’s wonderful to see you, Halli. My, how you’ve grown! We’re so proud of everything you’ve done for Phantasma. I can’t believe you’re the same shy girl who used to sit quietly with your mother and me and read all day. Now look at you: married, and a Holy Paladin! Where have the years gone?”

“Mom wonders the same thing sometimes. And you? I hear you have a son. You’ve been gone from Drumple for so long, I don’t think I’ve even met him.”

“Oh, I’m sure you haven’t. He wasn’t born until after his father and I moved away from Drumple. But that was 15 years ago already!”

“What does he do? Is he a student at the school now? I don’t remember meeting anyone new lately…”

“No, he finished his studies a year ago, when he decided to take up hunting. Now he’s looking for a trainer. Which is what brings me to you. I was hoping you could talk to one of the hunters in your group about taking him on as an apprentice. Do you think they would be willing to do that?”

“Oh, I’m sure Striker and Kaidyla would love that! They’ll be here for a visit this weekend. Perhaps I can introduce you all then. Is your son here now? I’d love to meet him.”

“He’s right over there.” Turning to the young dwarf playing at the game table, Cynthia called, “Dylan! Come here. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

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My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer with a BA in Mass Communication-Journalism from the University of South Florida. She has always wanted to be a published writer, and decided to try to write fantasy books for teens. The Chosen is her first book, and was released on December 14, 2010, to her delight.

Andrea has written five more books since:
  • My Open Heart, an autobiography of growing up with heart disease.
  • Nature’s Unbalance: The Chosen, Book 2
  • Striker’s Apprentice: The Chosen, Book 3
  • Destiny: New Avalon, book 1, a YA fantasy
  • Fate: New Avalon, book 2, a YA fantasy
She is currently writing the fourth book in The Chosen series.
Andrea lives in Kansas with her family, which includes her two precious puppies.

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Author Susie Caron as featured on Mishael Austin Witty's Blue Brown Books blog.
General Book Stuff

Word Wednesday: Twee’

All right, so you’re probably wondering why the “word of the day” is no word at all. Well, I’ll tell you. “Twee'” is the name of the main character in a delightful children’s fiction series by author (and my new friend) Susie E. Caron.

As Susie mentions on her web site, “Twee’ means you and me”. She is a beautiful young pine tree who learns some valuable lessons about growing up and learning to live at peace with herself and others.

Twee’ is (most certainly) a play on the word “tree” and how a very young child might say it. Young children will definitely identify with this little tree’s emotions. This would be a lovely story for parents to read to their children to help them understand that they’re not supposed to accomplish all the same things (at the same levels) as their peers, and they don’t need to have all the same skills or interests.

Our differences are what make us special – and uniquely human.

I AM TWEE’ is the second book in Susie’s “Between You and Me” series. Here’s the official description of the book:

Parents:
Do your children complain about the things they don’t have?
Do they believe they are not as smart, athletic, talented, or ‘cool’ as other kids?
                                         

Twee’ does!
Do you ever wish your children understood how being different makes them unique and special, with their own gifts to share?

Twee’ Does!
Read Twee’ together and share the discovery!

Summary

Twee’ is a bit older now, but is she wiser?  In this second picture book-allegory from Susie’s “Between You And Me Series,” this young pine tree feels useless because she has nothing to share. Twee’ notices the apple trees in the valley, offer many gifts, which draw children and adults to visit them. However, the people don’t even see Twee’, and she begins to wish she were an apple tree. After many seasons, Twee’ is ready to give up, when an unusual event changes her mind. Join Twee’ as she journeys to discover that by being herself and different she has something special to contribute.

I AM TWEE’ will be available for purchase at Amazon (paperback and Kindle) on Thursday, October 10, 2013. Just click the image below to visit the book’s Amazon page.

I Am Twee' by Susie Caron is featured on Mishael Austin Witty's Blue Brown Books site.

The paperback version will also be available at Barnes and Noble

You can also get the first book in the series, simply titled TWEE’ at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

TWEE' is the first book in Susie Caron's Between You and Me series being featured on Mishael Austin Witty's blog.


Susie E. Caron is a psychologist, speaker, and author of two books in the ‘Between You and Me’ series. Susie draws from her years of experience to write allegory picture books for children and adults. This series illustrates how our thoughts and feelings change and impact our relationships. Susie enjoys reading with children, and as a speaker she presents #Keys to Connect with Kids to #Adults Who Care!

Her unique gifts include her authentic presence, an ability to connect at the deepest levels of need and want and wisdom to share. In every endeavor, Susie helps kids and  adults to enjoy each other by connecting with less frustration and with more personal freedom and fun!

Author Susie Caron as featured on Mishael Austin Witty's Blue Brown Books blog.

Author Interviews, Editing, Writing

Author Interview: Fran Veal

A few months ago, when I got involved with the Share An Excerpt Saturday Group, run by author Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I had the honor of meeting a lot of great folks, but one person, in particular, stood out from the crowd, Fran Veal.

Fran and I quickly learned that we are, in fact, what Anne Shirley called “kindred spirits” in Anne of Green Gables. And, much to my delight she even referenced that connection in one of our online conversations.

I also read and reviewed her first book, FINDING MY ESCAPE, during this period, and LOVED it! So, when I found out that Fran was looking for people to host her to help promote the long-awaited sequel, FINDING MY WAY BACK, I readily agreed.

Here’s a look at the book, as told from the main character, Hannah Jordan’s, perspective.

Three weeks ago, I walked in while my parents were being murdered.  I escaped, but I need to put my life back together again. There’s just one problem – I don’t know where to begin.

 

My parents weren’t who I thought they were.
My best friend isn’t who I thought he was.
The killer isn’t who I thought he was.
And scariest of all, I’m not who I thought I was.

FINDING MY WAY BACK is a Young Adult tale of adventure, self-discovery and romance, with a twist of the paranormal. It’s the sequel to the Kindle bestseller FINDING MY ESCAPE.

Here’s my chat with author Fran Veal about her new book, Finding My Way Back:

1. How would you describe Finding My Way Back to someone who has not yet read it?

Finding My Way Back is very much a coming of age story.  It’s the sequel to Finding My Escape, where Hannah Jordan walks in to find her parents being murdered.  In the first book, she’s dealing with the after-effects of loss.  (I strongly recommend reading the first book since this is a trilogy.)  In the second book, everything in her world is shaken when she learns that her parents had been keeping a very important secret from her.  She realizes virtually nothing in her life – her parents, her best friend, the killer, and even herself – is what it appears to be.

2. Is there a specific message in Finding My Way Back that you want your readers to grasp?

That’s a tough one.  I guess if there’s a specific message, it would be to trust your instincts.  There are people in your life you know you can trust.  You just know it.  There are also people you want to trust, but you have that nagging feeling that there’s something more there.  Don’t trust blindly.  If you have that nagging feeling, listen to it and get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

3. If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?

Whoa!  Me on Oprah.  “Thank you, Ms. Winfrey, for having me on your show.  Please excuse me while I faint from stage fright.”  Sorry, I was digressing a little.

Hmmm, if I were on Oprah, I think the theme of the show would be either dealing with grief, or empowering young women to stand on their own.

4. How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?

That is an interesting question.  Because this book is the second in a trilogy, I’ll address the series as a whole.  When I was writing Finding My Escape, I lost my father, so Hannah’s grief at losing her parents was very much mine.  There’s a lot of me in Aunt Laura (except for the red hair).  Hannah is a combination of several teens I know.

5. How did you get the idea for the series?

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams, and I had a very vivid dream one night that got me thinking about how dreams occur, and the magical worlds our dreams create.  I wanted to write about another world that could be accessed through our dreams – a world as real as our own.

6. Which came first, the title or the novel?

I was probably halfway through the first book in the series before I had the name, but it just clicked.  I had the title for Finding My Way Back before I started it.

7. What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?

There’s a scene where Hannah blows up at another character who has been consistently keeping things from her and sending her mixed messages.  The story had been building to this for several chapters, but ironically, one of my betas pointed out I’d never written the big blow up scene.  So my favorite scene was actually a bit of an afterthought!

I’m pretty tickled with the end, too, but I won’t even hint at what that is here.  I’ll just say that it will have people chomping at the bit for the third book, which I plan to have finished early in 2014.

8. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about Finding My Way Back?

I really don’t think I would change anything.  I love the way the story flows and sets everything up for the final resolution in the third book.

9. What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always wanted to write, but I was at the pool with a group of moms and our kids one day, and I was talking about the quality and subject matter of some of the stories that my daughter was bringing home to read.  Some of the stories that were touted as Young Adult seemed more adult in subject matter.  (I believe the fairly recent book category, New Adult, solves a lot of this.)  One of my friends suggested I write YA novels.  I put it off for a couple of years, but finally, after some nagging by a couple of people I know, I took the plunge.

10. Thinking back to the very beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

How much time and space do you have?  I really feel like I stumbled onto most of what I’ve learned accidentally.  I did some research on writing, got involved with a writing forum that was geared primarily to traditional publishing, and knew nothing about marketing.  I guess if I’ve learned anything, it’s to write from your heart, listen to others, but don’t let them change the heart of what you’re trying to say.  Focus on the writing first, develop strong relationships with other writers, and try not to stress over sales.

11.  Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?

I love seeing it finished on the shelf, but I love the writing process too.

I also hate the writing process.  I learned the hard way (maybe I should have added this to question 10) that I need to really have a strong outline from start to finish to avoid writer’s block.  I love sitting down and plotting with my white board, outlining characters and scenes.  I despise writer’s block.

I’m not crazy about editing – which is why I have you.  I’m always a little nervous when the first betas get the book.  I despise formatting, but it’s a necessary evil!

What was the question again?

12.  What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?

I really enjoy YA, but I think I might like to try fantasy.  I have my cousin, Ken Ward, to thank for that.  Ken was several years older than me, but he always treated me more like an equal, rather than just a kid.  We talked about books and music, he taught me to play chess.  When I was about eleven, he gave me The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and I was hooked!  Ken is gone now, but every time I see a fantasy novel, I think of him.

13.  What book are you reading right now?

I just finished an ARC of JJ DiBenedetto’s Waking Dream.  It’s book five of his Dream series.  Excellent book and series.

14.  What’s up next for you?

Selling a million books and moving to Hawaii.

Okay, seriously.  I’m working on Finding My Way Home, the final book in the Finding My Escape Series.  I’m also collaborating on a comedy with Bryden Lloyd entitled Five Strikes about a single dad with five daughters.  The dad is trying to date, but the girls are finding ways to thwart his efforts.  I’m also starting a series based on the actual Grimm Fairy Tales.  The stories we read as kids were pretty watered down.

15.  Do you have any advice for other writers?

First, write from your heart and don’t try to write to fit the trends in the market.  For one thing, by the time you finish your story, the trends may be very different.  For another, trend stories are a dime a dozen.

Second, please, please, please make sure the story you are writing is top notch in every way.  Be sure it is well-plotted, be very careful of your grammar, have it edited by someone other than yourself, and make sure your cover can compete with any traditional book on the market.  As an indie author, I hate to say this, but way too much work that is put out there is sub-par and rushed.  The grammar is poor, there are too many typos, and the books are poorly formatted.

Finally, treat your writing as a business.  Always be professional when you are online.  Have a professional, well-thought-out platform.  Learn to brand yourself.  Find online groups in Facebook and Goodreads to join and learn from seasoned authors.  Learn to manage your time.  Very few authors are able to make writing their full-time job until they have several books out there, and juggling job, family, writing, and marketing can be difficult, but it can be done with careful planning.

16.  Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just want to thank everyone who has purchased a copy of Finding My Escape and Finding My Way Back.  I appreciate all your feedback and support.  You are all a blessing to me.  I love interacting with fans and readers.  You can connect with me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/franvealauthor, on my website http://franveal, on Twitter @franveal, or on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/franveal/boards/

 Thank you!

Bestselling author Fran Veal

 

General Book Stuff, Writing

New Release: CAMPANULA

Available NOW on Amazon – eBook or paperback!

I had never considered writing a zombie fairy tale before in my entire life. Why would I? It’s not a genre that comes up very often, and so it definitely doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

Except, one day last year, I was looking at Entangled Publishing’s open submission calls, and one of their upcoming books was going to be a collection of zombie fairy tale novellas. Even though this was completely out of the norm for me, the idea sounding intriguing, so I thought I’d take a stab at it.

A couple of months later, I finished the book and sent it to the publisher. They rejected it, saying that the writing was good, but the tone of the story just didn’t fit the rest of the books in the collection. Okay.

I tried again…submitting it to another publisher, who also rejected it, saying that the story didn’t seem to start in the right place for a romance novella. So, a bit dejected, a put the story aside for a time until I figured out what to do with it.

By now, I’m no stranger to self-publishing, so it was only natural for me to take this book and publish it myself. As I’ve done with my previous books, I edited it and designed the cover and everything – all by myself. This is the final result, and I’m pretty proud of it.

To capitalize further on its new release status, this book is being featured as one of the giveaway books for this Saturday’s Virtual Ebook Fair. So I’m offering the first chapter here in this blog post. But first, please enjoy this brief video trailer I created on my own (with a little help from Animoto).

ONE

Louisville, KY                                                  Halloween, 1984

“The only way to stop these zombies is to get that bellflower from the witch’s garden and make oil from the dried leaves. I’ve run out of all the supply I had,” Zed told his pregnant wife one evening while he gazed out the window toward the garden that contained his zombie-killing treasure.

“Zed, I don’t want you to do this. I’m scared,” his wife said, an audible tremor in her voice.

Zed looked back at her. “Of course you’re scared, honey. Those zombies want to eat your brain, but I’m not going to let them. I’m going to go over there and get some of that bellflower. It has to be tonight. We can’t wait any longer. Their forces are getting stronger, and the poison will take at least two days to make.”

“But what if the witch sees you? She’ll turn you into a frog or something.”

Zed laughed. “Honey, she’s not that kind of witch.”

Zed’s wife frowned at him and reached for the can of Tab sitting on the end table next to her.  She took a quick sip. “I still don’t like this. I’m due any day now. What if something were to happen to you? Who would help me take care of the baby?”

Zed’s mouth quirked at the self-centered comment, and his hazel eyes twinkled. He chocked it up to pregnant hormones, even though he knew better, and chose to ignore it. “Everything will be fine. I promise. Don’t you know by now that you married the world’s best zombie killer and herb thief? I’ll be back before you know it.”

Zed’s wife opened her mouth to protest, but the look on his face stopped any further comment from her. She watched quietly as he gathered his flashlight and his black leather jacket. He crossed the room to kiss the top of her head before walking out the door into the chilly, dark night.

#####

Gert stood in her darkened living room, staring out at the street in front of her house. Children of all sizes passed by, dressed in full nightmarish regalia, although some of the younger children were dressed in cute Disney character costumes–Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, etc.–with a few Strawberry Shortcakes and Care Bears thrown in among them. And some of the more daring girls had donned their Wonder Woman and She-Ra costumes to complement the boys’ G.I. Joes and He-Mans.

A familiar pang pierced her heart. She’d always wanted a child of her own. That, of course, had never happened. No man would even look at Gert, with her missing teeth, misshapen nose, and asymmetrical eyes. Not to mention her impossibly stringy hair. No. Having children the old-fashioned way was certainly out of the question for Gert.

That was why she created the zombies. They were her children–mindless souls in need of  guidance and protection. True, the original zombies had been created by that happy radiation accident, but she had learned the trick. She had harnessed the power for herself, and she’d discovered the one herbal remedy, angel’s trumpet flower, that could simulate the radioactive effect, just as there was only one herb, campanula, that could serve as the deadly antidote to the spell.

And, Gert thought with wry amusement, there was plenty of campanula in her garden, as well as the angel’s trumpet flower. She’d originally planted it in a desperate attempt to increase her attractiveness. She’d heard that, by drinking tea made by boiling the bell-shaped flowers in water,  her appearance would naturally be improved. All the old folk medicine books talked about how bellflower tea would soften, smooth, and beautify the complexion.

By the time Gert realized that no special tea was going to do anything to enhance her looks, it was already too late. The plants had overtaken their portion of the garden at an alarming rate. She couldn’t keep up with tending them. And she couldn’t even get rid of the plants, even though she knew they posed a grave danger to her zombie creations.

The prospective zombies were easy enough to find. Louisville’s homeless population was a large one—and growing every year—and most of the men who fit into this category congregated in the same spots. The hobo camps. Gert learned the locations of all the city’s hobo camps. She’d wait until the camp was nearly empty, and then she’d offer one or two of the desperate men some of her fermented angel’s trumpet flower tea and seedpod cakes.

Very rarely did anyone ever refuse these gifts. And, once the men were under Gert’s spell, it was easy to get them back to her home. She’d established a bunkhouse, of sorts, for them in the huge two-story shed out back. The city had zoning laws against keeping cows in the backyard, but the law books said nothing about housing zombies. Fifteen men, in all, had joined her family more or less willingly. No one questioned what had happened to these men—not even the other hobos in the camp. Death and disappearance were everyday occurrences for them. No one batted an eyelash if a hobo went missing.

So far, no one else had discovered that the campanula that was so plentiful in her own garden could destroy the zombies she’d worked so hard to create. Gert smiled. Her secret, and her children, were safe. It was unfortunate that her zombies had such a craving for human brains, just like the radioactively created zombies. This, of course, struck fear in the hearts of all the adults in the city, so no one came to visit her anymore.

Those trick-or-treating children–young and innocent as they were–weren’t afraid of the zombies, although they were afraid of her. Gert knew there would be no child brave enough to come knocking on her door for trick or treat that night–or any night in the future, for that matter. She’d heard the hushed whispers as she walked through the aisles of Winn-Dixie, and as she filled up her Ford LTD at the Exxon gas station. To the childish imagination, a witch was much scarier than any brain-eating zombie, thanks to the nightly fairy tales the children heard before falling asleep. Bedtime stories featured witches. Not zombies.

Gert sighed and turned her back on the frolicking youngsters. She would keep her zombies inside tonight, even though it was Halloween. She wanted to let the children have their fun, free from any danger. She knew, though, that the people of Louisville would pay dearly for the temporary confinement. Her children would be especially hungry after twenty-four hours of not being able to roam. There would be mass slaughter in the overnight hours of All Saints Day.

A nice cup of chamomile will take away the stress, Gert said to herself as she walked into her kitchen. She gazed out the double window over the sink as she pulled out a small old teacup from the stained oak cabinet above. She gasped. There was a light flashing in the

“What…?” she asked. “Who could that be at this hour?” And what do they want with my garden? Gert set the cup down with a clatter on the Formica and lunged toward the back door.

When she saw Zed, she instantly knew who he was. He was a threat–her main enemy. He wanted to destroy all her children. “Stop right there!” she commanded.     

The moonlight shone down on the intruder in her garden, and Gert saw his whole body tense. The flashlight quit moving.

“I won’t bother asking who you are because I know the answer to that already. What I don’t know is what you’re doing here.”

Zed fumbled with the flashlight in his hand, making a move to turn it off. “I…I…uh, that is…My wife…”

Gert turned her head slightly to the left and narrowed her eyes. “Your wife what?”

“My wife…is pregnant.”

Gert huffed. “I know that! You don’t think I do? I know every pregnant woman in this city. I watch them all through my crystal. I know every single labor pain–every single water break. I watch it all. In fact, I think there’s another baby about to be born in a few minutes. You’re interrupting my evening entertainment.”

Gert watched the fear and uncertainty cloud the brave man’s face. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

Gert laughed. “You’re sorry? Oh, now, isn’t that just rich? I catch you burgling in my garden at night, and you say you’re sorry for interrupting my baby-watching?” She took a step forward and pointed her right index finger just inches away from his nose. “What is it you want?”

Zed took one deep breath before he spoke. Gert watched his eyes. They shifted slightly down and to the right. “My wife has a terrible craving for a salad, but our car broke down. It’s too far to walk to the nearest grocery, and I knew your garden was right here…so I thought I would just pick some greens and take them back to her.”

Gert frowned. “I don’t have any spinach or lettuce.”

Zed shook his head. His permed brown hair didn’t move. “No, but you have campanula. The leaves make a deliciously healthy salad. They’ve been eaten that way for centuries.”

Gert’s frown deepened. Zed the zombie killer wants my bellflower? He can’t know, can he? She rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. Of course he could. Gert nodded once. “All right. Say I let you have some of my campanula. What will you give me in return?”

Zed blinked. “In return?”

“Yes. A fair trade. My campanula for something of yours…”

“But what do I have that you could possibly want?”

The witch smiled. Her mud brown eyes stared straight into his hazel ones. “Your wife, as you say, is pregnant. She should be due soon, yes? In another couple of months?”

Zed took a step back, staring at the witch and shaking his head. “You can’t mean…?”

The witch began to laugh. “How much is it worth to you, zombie killer?”

Zed dropped to his knees. “I can’t. My child?

“Your child for my children. A fair trade.”

Gert watched as Zed weighed the options in his head. He wrung his hands. “A fair trade? All right. Take me instead of my little girl. Please.”

Girl. The word filled Gert with a fresh new longing. Her zombie children were all male. She’d been lonely for feminine company for a very long time. A little girl was just what she was missing. Gert smiled. “Ah, so you know it’s going to be a girl? Good. I’ve always wanted a little girl.” She laughed. “I would treat her as if she was my own–my own living, breathing, flesh-and-blood little girl.”

Zed stared at her for a long time, his mouth agape. She had a good idea of what he was thinking. Killing zombies was his profession. It was how he made his living. If he didn’t get this bellflower now, he would have nothing to make the zombie-killing potion. He would be out of a job, and his family would be homeless and would, most likely, starve to death. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of innocent people would die as a result of his failure. Her zombies might even take his precious wife and child. Yes, he would lose his child as part of this deal, but he might lose his child, anyway, if he didn’t get the campanula.

“I could pay you…My wife and I have a decent sized nest egg saved up. You can have it all…in return for your trouble,” he offered wearily, but Gert could read on his face that he didn’t think she would accept his offer. And she was sure that she wouldn’t.

Again, she laughed in his face. “Money! What would I do with money? I have all I need right now…except a daughter. Your little girl. Your child for my children. That’s my price, zombie killer. Take it, or else get out of my garden.”

Zed stared into her eyes for a few minutes, gauging how serious she was. She watched as he chewed on his bottom lip. He flicked the flashlight in his hand off and on. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Finally, he nodded. “All right.” He gulped and swallowed. “A fair trade. But I would appreciate it if you said nothing of this to my wife just yet.”

The witch chuckled. It was a low, rasping, gravelly sound. “No, dear. Of course not. We wouldn’t want to cause her any undue distress that might harm the child inside her. Your secret is safe with me. My lips are sealed. Now, pick your bellflower and go. I’ll be in touch soon enough.”

#####

When Zed returned home that night, his wife was already in bed asleep. For once, he was grateful that the pregnancy hormones made her so exhausted. He needed to be alone to formulate his plan–and to start on the potion. There wasn’t much time.

 

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General Book Stuff, Writing

Special Book Spotlight: Melissa Foster’s Have No Shame

The fabulous Melissa Foster has written and released yet another book. This one is called HAVE NO SHAME, and it is unlike any of her other books. Check out the promotional details below:

HAVE NO SHAME

When civil rights and forbidden love collide

“This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett’s, THE HELP, Julie Kibler’s, CALLING ME HOME, John Grisham’s, A TIME TO KILL, Sue Monk Kidd’s, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, and Kathleen Grissom’s, THE KITCHEN HOUSE.”

Buy it Now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/16TaOSZ

Buy it Now on B&N: http://bit.ly/12WGCYD

Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 – hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night’ and `Easy Rider’; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you.” Author Roderick Craig Low

SUMMARY

Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother’s Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.

****

“A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society.” Hagerstown Magazine

“Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.” Midwest Book Review

“A historical novel of love and its triumph, told with a unique and compelling voice.” Bestselling Author Kathleen Shoop

“Have No Shame is a delightful eye opener and a rather poignant book that everyone everywhere should put on their must-read list.” Readers’ Favorite

“A dynamic and heartwarming tale of young love, giving testament to those who struggled so we can live in an integrated society.” Author Rachelle Ayala

“[HAVE NO SHAME] Perfectly catches the South at the dawning of the Civil Rights Movement. Melissa Foster takes us on an adventure that twists and turns unpredictably to a tense climax that renders this novel a true page-turner. This is undoubtedly the best novel I have read in a long time.” Roderick Craig Low, Author of ‘Promises of Love and Good Behaviour’

“This book is not just a story; it’s an experience.” Author G.E. Johnson

Buy HAVE NO SHAME on Amazon: http://amzn.to/16TaOSZ

Buy HAVE NO SHAME on B&N: http://bit.ly/12WGCYD

 

 

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on The Women’s Nest, Fostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Awards

Megan’s Way

2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)

2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women’s Fiction)

2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)

2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spirituality)

Chasing Amanda

2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women’s Fiction, Mystery)

2011 Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)

Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink

Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running

Indie Reader’s Bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks)

Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda
Come Back To Me

2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist,

2012 Readers Favorite Awards, Finalist

2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist

2011 Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards, Finalist

Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, IndieReader

Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce

IndieReader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post

Website: http://www.MelissaFoster.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Melissa-Foster/240064542695303

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Melissa_Foster

The Women’s Nest, women’s social network: http://www.TheWomensNest.com

World Literary Café: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com

Fostering Success: htto://www.fostering-success.com

Facebook Melissa Foster: http://www.facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor (Fanpage)

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3023973.Melissa_Foster

Writing

Share An Excerpt Saturday: Believe in Me (2)

I logged onto Facebook last Saturday to find that I’d been invited to an event hosted by the lovely Tammie Clarke Gibbs called Share An Excerpt Saturday. I jumped at the chance to be a part of that week‘s celebration, and I thought I would continue on for as long as I possibly could.

It is, after all, a fabulously easy way to introduce my current readers (and future readers) to my books that have been published and those that have yet to be released.

Last week I started with my contemporary romance which is available right now for Kindle, Believe in Me. I am, however, currently reworking this book in the hopes that it will be better (and longer) when it’s done, and the projected release date of the new version (with a new and improved cover) will be May 1, 2013.

**UPDATE** The book is available now. Click on any of the book cover pictures below to buy!****

I might actually release the new version sooner, if I can get it done faster than I think I can. That would be nice, anyway. 🙂 In my experience, though, things usually take much longer than I think they will to get done.

But I’ve already started stepping things up a bit when it comes to this little novella. I’ve at least uploaded the new cover. You’ll see it on Amazon now, if you click on the link above, or if you click on this picture.

It looks so much better than the old cover did (see this photo link for the currently out-of-print paperback version):

But this isn’t a post about book covers. I’ll need to write another post for that. This is a post about a book excerpt.

This excerpt is taken straight from pages 75 and 76 (about the middle of the story). This is just after the turning point, but I don’t want to give too much away. Oh, and if you’re looking for this scene in the older version of the story, you will be disappointed. This is one of the scenes I added during the revision process. I think it’s a good one, and I hope you will too. 🙂

————————–

6.

Trina heard a knock on her bedroom door some time later. She thought it might have been Kurt trying again for his one night of passion, but then she heard Mim’s muffled voice call through the door.

“Trini? It’s me, dear. Please open up.”

Trina groaned and rolled out of bed. She hadn’t been asleep. She’d been too keyed up. True, this emotional chaos was exhausting, but it was also bothersome to the point where Trina couldn’t shut off her brain long enough to get any rest.

Mim wasn’t really one of the people she wanted to see right now. In fact, there wasn’t really anyone she wanted to see right now. She felt both betrayed and used by pretty much everyone with whom she’d come in contact for the past few hours.

Still, it was Mim’s house…

She crossed to the door and opened it slowly, peering around the edge as she did so to make sure Mim was alone. She was.

“Why did you tell him I was here?” Trina asked before she realized what a stupid question that really was.

Mim brought a hand up and opened the door wider, pushing her way inside. Her facial expression told Trina just how insane and irrational she thought the accusation was. “I didn’t. You did, remember?”

Trina nodded and sank down on the bed. “I know. I’m sorry. I…I’m just so confused right now.”

“Confused about what?”

“All this—you, Mom, Dad, Walt…Kurt.”

“I’d leave all thoughts of Kurt out of this, if I was you.”

Trina ran her right hand over her forehead, rubbing her eyes as she lowered it. “Why?”

“Because he’s bad news.”

Trina laughed lightly. “’Bad news’? What do you mean?”

Mim took a few steps closer to the bed and reached out her left hand to clasp Trina’s shoulder. “I mean you really shouldn’t trust him.”

Trina blinked. “Why not?”

“He lied to you. That’s why not. He isn’t divorced. He’s still married.”

“What? Why would he lie about a thing like that?”

Mim shrugged. “Why do you think? He was looking to get some.”

The somewhat crude phrase coming out of the older woman’s lips shocked Trina. “How do you know?”

“Because I know his wife. She owns the flower shop on Main Street. He doesn’t live in Chicago. He lives right here. In town. In his father’s house, which he told you he’s trying to sell. That was another lie. He lives rent free in his father’s house, and he sponges off of his father-in-law’s money and his wife’s earnings from her shop. He’s no good, Trina. Leave him alone. Give Walt another chance.”

Trina shook her head to try to clear it. She was more confused than ever. “Why didn’t you mention all this before…when he was downstairs chatting me up?”

Mim shrugged and shook her head sadly. “I didn’t think it was my place.”

Trina bristled. “Oh, but you did think it was your place to tell me that I need to get back together with my ex-husband who cheated on me?”

“You were about to cheat on him with Kurt,” Mim said gently.

“That’s different! We’re separated!”

“But you’re not divorced. The marriage vows haven’t been completely dissolved.”

“The marriage vows were broken when he kissed my sister!”

“Trina…”

Trina was tired of hearing it. Really tired. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was escape. And the best way she could think of to escape right now was to get out of this room. To go to the one person who could offer a few minutes’ pleasure with no strings attached.

Kurt said he wasn’t married. Mim said he was. Neither one of them had ever lied to her before, to Trina’s knowledge. She wasn’t sure who to believe. Who had the most to gain by lying to her? All Kurt would gain was a one night stand. How much dishonesty was that really worth? Mim stood to gain a whole lot more…

For some reason, Mim had joined in this little conspiracy against her with her mother and her soon-to-be-ex-husband. She had a much better reason to lie than Kurt did. Trina nodded her head.

“Mim, I think you should leave now.” Trina said it as calmly and neutrally as she could.

Mim cocked her head and frowned. Trina knew she was trying to gauge the abrupt emotional shift.

“I’m not so sure I want to. I’m not even sure I have to. This is my house, after all.”

Trina’s ire spiked once more. “Well, then, don’t. I’ll leave.”

Before Mim could say another word to try to talk her out of it, Trina was out the door, walking in the direction of Kurt’s bedroom. She wasn’t sure if he’d be there. He could have left for a night out on the town, since Trina had told him he wouldn’t be able to get anything from her tonight. But she had to at least try.

Mim didn’t try to follow her, and Trina was instantly grateful for that. She wasn’t exactly proud of what she was doing. She wasn’t even quite sure why she was doing it. All she knew was that she hurt. She still hurt from the fact that Walt had kissed her sister a year ago. An eye for an eye. Adultery for an act of adultery? She knew it didn’t make sense, and she knew that it wouldn’t actually fix anything. But, in this moment–in her anger and doubt and fear—it just felt right.

Trina took one deep breath and knocked on Kurt’s bedroom door. Within minutes, he was standing there in the open doorway. He was still wearing his jeans, but his shirt was off. Trina inhaled sharply.


BELIEVE IN ME

A contemporary sweet romance novella

$2.99 on Amazon.

Available Now!

Writing

Share An Excerpt Saturday: Believe in Me

I logged onto Facebook this afternoon to find that I’d been invited to an event hosted by the lovely Tammie Clarke Gibbs called Share An Excerpt Saturday. I’m always looking for ways to promote myself and my writing, so I think this was a great opportunity.

Plus, I thought it would be one easy way to introduce my readers (and new readers) to my books that have been published and those that have yet to be released.

I’m starting with my contemporary romance which is available right now for Kindle, Believe in Me. I am, however, currently reworking this book in the hopes that it will be better (and longer) when it’s done, and the projected release date of the new version (with a new and improved cover) will be May 1, 2013.

For now, enjoy this brief excerpt. Buy the book in its current form, if you’re so inclined. But please do check out the new and improved version coming up in just a little over a month. I’m hoping it will be well worth the wait!

Oh, and be sure to check back here every Saturday to see what new excerpts I’m offering. I’ve got several books in the works right now, and I’m trying to get all of them whipped into shape before May 1. Wish me luck! I know it’ll be a bumpy ride, but I’ll feel pretty confident that I can do it. I think I kind of have to, or else I’ll just never get them all done!

————-

Trina exhaled a sigh of relief and hugged the older woman tighter. “It’s good to see you, Mom.”

Her mother didn’t raise her head. “Uh, Trina?”

Something in her mother’s voice alerted Trina to a possible storm brewing. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Walt’s here.”

“What?” Trina’s heart exploded inside her chest. Her arm dropped from her mother’s waist. The dam of tears broke free and ran in silent rivers down her round cheeks. She looked back toward the safety of her Geo Metro. Yes, it was old and cheap and didn’t fit in well at all with her new life, but it was the one thing in this world she’d been able to count on since college. She couldn’t even count on her mother.

Her mother raised her head and squared her shoulders. “Now, Trina, baby. Listen.”

“What?” Trina said again in a harsh whisper that took all her energy to muster. “What could I possibly need to listen to after that announcement?”

“Trina. You’ve been separated for nearly a year. …”

Trina flashed an angry look in her mother’s direction. There was a very good reason for that! How could her mother take his side? Why would she even let him come here? Trina willed herself to not to get too emotional. Her jaw line went rigid. “Right. And do you know that the average grieving process takes at least two years to go through?”

“Oh, Trina. They say that when somebody dies…,” her mother started.

“Somebody did die, Mom. Me! Mrs. Walt Melton. And my dreams of a happy life and a future with the man I loved.”

Her mother huffed. “Well, now you’re just being melodramatic. Walt is in there, and he’s looking forward to seeing you. He’s really sorry for the way things happened, and he’s changed so. You wouldn’t recognize him now at all.”

Trina snorted. “Oh, I doubt that.”

Her mother’s eyes narrowed. Trina almost shivered at the sight. “There’s no reason to take that tone with me, young lady.”

Trina’s mouth dropped open in disbelief, her fear of her mother washing away. “Are you kidding? Aren’t you the one who invited him to be here?”

Her mother shifted slightly, and her authoritative tone lost its edge. “Well, now…No, I didn’t invite him. …Not really.”

“What does that mean?”

“I just happened to mention that you might possibly be here, and that he might want to drop by.”

“You happened to mention this? When did you see him?”

Her mother looked down again, pouting like a toddler caught drawing crayon pictures on the wall. “Oh, I ran into him the other day at the grocery store. Do you know, he’s bought the old Weatherby place just outside of town? He says it’s a good place to write. He’s doing very well for himself now—sold one of his books to a major publisher. It’ll be released in the fall, I think he said? Anyway, naturally, we started talking about the holidays coming up, and about you….”

“Naturally,” Trina muttered, realizing that she’d tuned out most of her mother’s “Walt is great” speech. She really wasn’t in the mood to hear it. “Mom, I really don’t care about any of this. I don’t want to hear it. It’s over. I’m trying to get over Walt, and you might at least try to be a little supportive of me instead of trying to sabotage my attempts at healing.”

Her mother frowned and firmly placed her hands on her hips. “Well, you’re not going to be able to heal until you listen to what Walt has to say to you.”

Trina couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Are you serious? Mom…”

 

Reconciliations can occur. Broken hearts can be mended. If you believe…

Trina Gray leaves a stack of paperwork on her desk and heads home for the holidays only to find that her mother has invited her soon-to-be ex-husband, Walt, to spend Christmas with them.

Walt’s presence sends Trina running to a friend’s house, where she runs into another ex—her old high school boyfriend, Kurt. The two high school sweethearts soon pick up where they left off.

Will Trina and Kurt rekindle their young romance? Or will she repair her relationship with Walt? Find out who Trina decides she can believe in on May 1, 2013.