"Otherwise Unharmed: Evan Arden Trilogy #3" by Shay Savage

NOTE: This book is suitable for adults only.
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Otherwise Unharmed:
Evan Arden Trilogy #3
by Shay Savage
Otherwise Unharmed is the final book in the Evan Arden Trilogy. Also available: Otherwise Alone, Otherwise Occupied, and Uncockblockable.

  

Otherwise Unharmed is currently on tour with MaE Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win books Shay Savage books. Please visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
After Evan Arden was imprisoned by the enemy for a year and a half, he returned from the desert as a military hero. He’d suffered some minor injuries during his captivity, was discharged from the Marines with a touch of shellshock, but was considered otherwise unharmed. Now he wonders how he ended up where he is – incarcerated in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center for using his sharpshooting expertise to take out the neighborhood park with a high-powered sniper rifle and multiple rounds of ammunition.
Lia Antonio, the woman he rescued from the desert heat the previous year, is the only person who can bring him out of his sleep-deprived psychosis and mounting PTSD. When she does, Evan knows he can’t just let her go again. He’s never considered leaving the business before – who retires from the mafia? – but he’s determined to get both Lia and himself out of harm’s way.
Evan faces overwhelming forces from multiple directions as a deal to get him out of jail turns more dangerous than he imagined. With a mob war on the horizon and the feds holding evidence over his head, Evan has no choice but to throw himself into the middle of another warzone.
In his efforts to make things right, Evan crosses the wrong man and finds himself on the business end of the crosshairs. With his acute perception and intelligence, he tries to stay a step ahead of his former co-workers, but this time, it isn’t just his own life on the line – he’s got to protect Lia from the man who once called him son.
Excerpt
I resisted the urge to pull out the Beretta and shove it in his face.
“I assume I have you to thank for all of this,” I muttered back.  “What the fuck do you want?”
“Just wanted to make sure you weren’t packing up to leave town or anything stupid like that,” Trent replied.  “I also wanted to make sure you realize I know exactly where you are and what you’re doing—at all times.”
I watched him closely.  He crossed his arms as he leaned casually against the door – too casually.  He was making a point of looking nonchalant, which meant he didn’t completely feel that way.  My eyes searched for other clues about him, but he was practiced in the art of being a complete and total asshole, which was throwing me off my game.
In an attempt to gain some ground, I snapped my fingers and pointed to Odin’s bed.  He quickly moved from my side and went to his place but continued to growl low at the federal agent.
“I told you I would take care of it all,” I reminded him.  “Fuck off and let me do it.”
“You’re quite the conversationalist,” he said with a snide laugh.
“I don’t converse with feds,” I snapped back.  I was immediately pissed off at myself for letting him get to me.
“Just don’t forget to take your dick out of your slut long enough to get your job done.”
I clenched my teeth and glared, trying to keep myself from just walking over and beating the living shit out of him.  I had no doubt that Johnson was nearby, and assaulting a fed in my apartment while I was out on bail wasn’t the very best idea.
“Are you going to spend a lot of time keeping me from getting shit done?” I asked through my teeth.
“I’m going to spend a lot of time making sure you are getting shit done,” Trent retorted.  “If I feel like you’re stalling, I’m going to take it out on her.  What do you think of that?”
“I think that’s an invitation to an underground party.”
We locked stares for a long moment.  Trent eventually cracked half of an insincere smile and then nodded.
“I’ll be seeing you around.”  He turned and walked out the door.
I dropped my ass on the couch and rubbed my temples.  Odin assumed he was free to leave his bed because he came up and leaned his fuzzy mug on my knee.  I rubbed at his head and tried to calm myself down a bit.
None of this was going to work.
Book Trailer
Review
I just finished reading it. It’s one of those stories that really submerges you in its plot. It made me feel everything with its characters. I laughed, cried, it made me so angry at times and then happy again. It was a real roller-coaster and that’s what makes a good story, in my opinion. It’s a hard story to read at some points, but if you have read Savage’s stories before, you know that’s just how she rolls. I’m not a person that is easily surprised, yet she manages to do it with every single one of her stories. This story has action, love, sexy times, distrust, revenge; pair it with Evan’s psychological distress and this story blows up. If you read the other two books, you MUST read this one.
I couldn’t be happier with the conclusion of this series. It does feel final. The story comes to a full circle, but there is hope for Evan and Lia. I liked that given the circumstances, they manage and move forward. Evan even gets a treat at the end 😉
About the Author
Shay Savage lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, two children, and a variety of household pets. She is an accomplished public speaker, and holds the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster from Toastmasters International. When not writing, she enjoys science fiction movies, and loves soccer in any and all forms. During the fall, she coaches her daughter’s soccer team. Though she currently works in the technology field, her school background is in psychology, and she brings a lot of that knowledge into the characters within her stories.
Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win Shay Savage books.
Links

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"Black Swan Collected Tales (Volume 1, Books 1-6)" by Victoria Danann

GIVEAWAY
Black Swan Collected Tales
(Volume 1, Books 1-6)
by Victoria Danann
The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga including My Familiar Stranger (FREE), The Witch’s Dream, A Summoner’s Tale, Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf, Gathering Storm, and the never-before-released Book 6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
Description
Once upon a time a girl lost everything familiar. She escaped death by being forced into an experiment that left her in another world where modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and fae became her allies, friends and family. She discovered a place where adventure intersects fairytales, where honor is more than an ideal, and she learned that love can find you in the strangest places, when you’re least expecting it, even when you’re far, far from home. This is the story of Elora Laiken’s strange and wonderful journey. It is also the story of those whose lives she touches along the way.
If you love romance, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, this series is right for you. 17+
Review
This series is just too good not to share! There is something for everyone in these books. Don’t think for a minute that they are just PNR there is mystery, action, adventure … yes there is romance but not any romance EPIC romance (oh and some steamy stuff too). There are knights and vampires and demons and fae and witches … all packed into these volumes that I bet you won’t be able to read just once! And when you do reread you will pick up on things you might have missed the first time through! Amazing series! Just keeps getting better and better!
From the Author
If you’re looking for something new and different in paranormal romance, you’ve come to the right place.
I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of sci-fi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.
I have authored and illustrated Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners for fifteen years and teach magickal arts for Seasons in Avalon. I live in The Woodlands, Texas which is why I sometimes joke about being the witch in the woods.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $100 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. 
Links

"The Keeper" by R. L. Mosz

The Keeper
by R. L. Mosz
Description
The Keeper is a thought-provoking, clean, and contemporary women’s drama that explores the mysterious power of friendship and love. Initially, powerhouse surgeon Dr. Chris Seacrest finds little of interest to him in the young, post-stroke patient Caitlin Rosenberry. But a brief encounter in an exam room sets a series of cataclysmic events into motion from which there is no turning back. In the midst of it all, Dr. Seacrest finds himself in love with Caitlin, yet she never wants to see him again.
Excerpt
“Can you believe it’s this hot already and it’s only May?” Clarisse lamented, positioning their heads of lettuce more firmly against the ice in the coolers. “This stuff is beginning to look awful.”
Caitlin tripped over Bandolero a little in her long, second-hand dress as she stepped in Clarisse’s direction to check on the lettuce. To her horror, it was shriveling along the outer leaves. Sighing to herself, she wondered how much money they weren’t going to make that day. The profits didn’t go far when you were splitting them three ways. She didn’t want to have to start working six days a week at the restaurant.
“If Denver had been on time for once, we might have gotten a place in the shade,” Clarisse griped, down on Denver for the third day straight. “Where is he anyway?” Denver had sauntered off as soon as they’d arrived, several hours earlier.
“Who knows?” Caitlin muttered sardonically, reaching down to rub Bandolero’s leg apologetically.
“Hi.”
Glancing up, Clarisse and Caitlin discovered Chris Seacrest standing next to their display, appearing almost as downcast as they were feeling.
“Hello.” Clarisse smiled prettily, pushing her wavy blond hair back from her face as she studied the handsome stranger with undisguised admiration.
Caitlin nodded hello, busying herself with tying off bunches of exotic radishes.
“Can we interest you in any organic produce this afternoon?” Clarisse asked hopefully, observing the classy ring and watch.
“No, actually I’m looking for a pot.”
“Did you say you’re looking for some pot?” Denver inquired, appearing from behind the decorative shrubbery where he had taken an unlawful shortcut to bypass the multitudes.
Narrowing his eyes slightly, Chris ignored the question. He immediately recognized the voice as the same person who had answered the phone when he’d called her place Saturday morning.
“Caitlin knows a guy who throws the best pots anywhere,” Clarisse declared dramatically, sipping her wheatgrass smoothie as she curiously surveyed the attractive doctor’s ring finger on his left hand. Surprisingly enough, he wore no wedding band.
“I thought you grew medicinal herbs?” Chris inquired of Caitlin, studying her pointedly. Obviously she was not going to talk unless forced.
“We do,” Denver replied for her, planting himself next to Caitlin as if to shield her from something.
“We sideline too,” Clarisse chimed in, adjusting her head scarf.
Caitlin hid her grubby hands beneath their table, feeling ill at ease. She hadn’t had time to wash them after unloading all their stock.
“What kind of pot are you looking for?” she managed at last, at a loss for anything else to say. After squinting up at him momentarily, he removed his sunglasses and his dark blue eyes searched hers. She looked away again.
“I’m looking for something unique.”
“Oh, you mean like for someone who already has everything?” Denver asked with a grin, noting Buffy approaching in her white silk skirt and Golden South Sea Pearl Necklace.
“Have you found anything yet?” Buffy asked, placing her arm around his waist. She didn’t like the way Clarisse was smiling at Chris.
“You have to go see this friend of Caitlin’s. He’s a genius,” Clarisse insisted, disappointed by the newcomer but still faintly hopeful.
Chris sighed, glancing around languidly. “Well, is he around here someplace?”
“That’d be the day,” Denver commented, reaching for his own smoothie in the ice chest under the table. Uncapping the bottle, he took a long swig to refresh himself.
“Does he have his own shop?” Buffy asked hopefully, quickly tiring of the scruffy threesome. Denver, in particular, looked like something the cat dragged in.
“Oh, no way. He’s a recluse,” Clarisse informed them, nudging Caitlin.  “Tell them.”
Caitlin attempted to pull herself together. It was beginning to trouble her that she found the good-looking, affluent doctor even faintly alluring. The emotion was so pathetically cliché, especially considering the ludicrous circumstances.
“Well,” she began, trying to appear somewhat indifferent, “he lives out on the wharf close by here in a warehouse.”
“A warehouse?” Chris appeared skeptical.
“He’s not too crazy about people,” Denver chimed in. “Just pots.”
“What’s his name?” Buffy asked amusedly, tossing back her bouncy hair over one shoulder.
“Yuri,” Caitlin replied.
“That means ‘earth worker’,” added Clarisse. Denver chuckled.
“What’s his number?” Chris reached for his cell.
Denver laughed. “He hasn’t got one.”
“He won’t talk on a phone,” Clarisse disclosed.
“I can draw you a map,” Caitlin offered, tearing a receipt from the booklet and scribbling on the reverse side. “But he might not answer the door.”
“If he’s in one of his moods or doesn’t like the look of you, he won’t answer,” Clarisse warned. “He’s a little strange that way.”
“He’s eccentric all right,” Denver commented, studying the dirt under his fingernails with interest. “You can never predict who he’ll let in or who he’ll kick out. He’s…”
“This is crazy,” Chris finally objected, not about to waste his time. The idea of tracking down some lunatic artist holed up in a warehouse someplace and then hoping he’d actually answer his door was outrageous. “Thanks anyway.” Waving them off, he and Buffy departed, shaking their heads as they walked away.
Caitlin frowned to herself, holding the map she’d drawn and trying not to glance back at them again.
“Do you actually know that sap?” Clarisse asked, beginning to lose interest in the newcomer.
“Sort of,” was Caitlin’s downcast reply.
“Well, he sure looks like he’s loaded but as usual didn’t shell out any dough. Boy, we really went bust today,” Clarisse lamented, scanning their produce. “There were just too many other people here selling stuff.”
“No problem, I already sold it all,” Denver suddenly exclaimed, all smiles.  “It’s history. Just start packing it back up in the boxes.”
Clarisse gaped at her partner in astonishment. “You’re joking.”
“Did you really sell all this stuff?” Caitlin asked hopefully. She’d be able to make a payment on Dr. Seacrest’s bill.
Denver nodded his bushy head happily, beginning to load the vegetables into their crates. “Yep, sure did. I was having a beer down on the dock earlier and cut a deal with a restaurant owner who happened to be sitting next to me.”
Their mood was jubilant as they busied themselves, relieved that their enterprise was actually beginning to take off. Caitlin worked hard, packing the heavy crates into the restaurateur’s van and an hour later collapsed back in the chair again behind the now empty table. Clarisse and Denver had already left and people were packing up, the marketplace closing down for the day. They’d been up at the crack of dawn out in the fields harvesting and the exhausting day had finally caught up with her.
“Come on, Bandolero.” She nudged him tiredly with her foot under the table and he stretched and yawned, his afternoon nap over. Wagging his tail, he suddenly seemed to come back to life.
“Hi.”
Looking up, she was startled to discover Chris Seacrest again, this time alone.
“I’m glad you’re still here; I’ve changed my mind. Do you still have that map?”
Nodding, Caitlin extracted it from her pocket and handed it to him.
“Thanks.” With a quick, obligatory smile, he disappeared into the departing crowd.
Book Trailer
Review
By Romy
I enjoyed this book from start to finish for several reasons. First, the writing style was refreshing and the storyline was easy to follow. The characters reminded me of people I’ve known in my life, with their unique and amusing quirks. I especially liked reading about Caitlin’s organic gardening lifestyle and her friends, very believable! I think the author approached the subject of the book with sensitivity and care. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the psychological healing process and who just enjoys a good read. It has the added bonus of being appropriate for young folks.
About the Author
R. L. Mosz keeps busy working 12-hour days with special-needs children and residents of a rehabilitation center. When time allows, her interests include: feeding the birds, writing, cooking, recycling, walking, and reading. She particularly enjoys trees, hedges of all kinds, birds, and creeks (see book trailer), but is grateful for all the gifts of nature.
She lives each day thankful for all blessings and mindful of a quote from her favorite book, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Following is a poem she wrote about her novel, The Keeper:
The Keeper
Decades long performance;
life shed along the way.
Suffused in great perfection
the truth inside him lay.
Though not his fault he wanders,
his heart up on the shelf,
she’s sent as a reminder
destruction of himself.
Links

"Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not Book 1" by D. S. McKnight

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Of Dreams and Shadow:
Forget Me Not Book 1
by D. S. McKnight
Of Dreams and Shadow is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card. Be sure to visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
We live. We die. Is there anything more?
Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson’s Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.
With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.
Excerpt
         The day was almost over and not a moment too soon.  A brisk wind moved through the treetops as Jenna strolled to the large stone at the back of her yard.  Sitting down, she leaned against the boulder and closed her eyes.  The oyster roast would have been nice, if not for Chase.  It seemed as though the shadow of his disapproval loomed over her entire day.  Not for the first time, she wished she could go back home.  Charlotte was familiar and safe.  She didn’t have to worry about why an angry neighbor didn’t like her.
         Jenna looked back at her house.  Her mom was inside going over reports.  It wasn’t like she could talk to her about Chase anyway.  Karen was one of those people who took the bull by the horns.  She would be knocking on the Williams’ door wanting to talk about “the problem” between their children.
         Chase.  She didn’t understand him and wasn’t sure she wanted to.  But time and again, she found herself thinking about him, wondering why they didn’t get along.  She tried to put him out of her mind but he was always there – at school, with her friends, even at home.  Part of her wished she had never met him, but the other part of her was intrigued.  She would never admit tin, not to anyone, but she found herself comparing Chase to Ethan.  Ethan, with his dark hair and blue eyes made her laugh.  Chase, whose light brown hair looked as though it had been kissed by the sun, more often than not made her want to cry.
         The sun had set in the western sky and as the shadows of the eventide crept close, bringing with it the frosty night air, Jenna’s solitary vigil came to an end.  It was as though her thoughts had conjured him.
         “Got it, Mom,” Chase called as he walked out the back door carrying a garbage bag.  He rounded the corner of the house and dropped the bag into the trash can.  Jenna debated on whether to run to her house or to stay hidden in the darkness.  Instead, she forced herself to walk.  She refused to act as though she had done something wrong.
         “Good night,” Jenna said as Chase secured the gate.
         Chase whirled around.  “What are you doing out here?”
         “Nothing illegal.”  Jenna shrugged.  “Forget I said anything.”
         “Wait.”  Chase walked to the fence that separated their yards.  “That didn’t come out right.  I just meant to say you should be careful.”
         “Right – because we know how rampant crime is in Parson’s Cove.”  Jenna rolled her eyes.  “Tell you what, why don’t you come up with a schedule of when I can be outside and then you won’t have to see me.”
         “How about this, why don’t you go back to Charlotte?  That should take care of the problem,” Chase snarled.
         “You’re a real jerk.”  Jenna walked the last few steps to her house, refusing to give into the urge to scream.  She had to admit it.  Chase was right.  Moving back to Charlotte would take care of the problem.  She’d never have to see his face again.
Book Trailer
Review
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I usually do not have much interest in fiction, but I found this book different. The characters are awesome, and once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. I hope the author continues this story, and I would seriously love to see this as a movie as well. I have recommended this book to a few family members and friends. So far, those who have read it have found it very entertaining. For me this was a great find at a good price.
Interview With the Author
Hi Deb (D. S. McKnight), thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I think Robert Cormier had quite an influence. His novel Tenderness really struck a chord with me. It dealt with very broken people and I think it liberated my writing – I felt like I could tell my story without worrying that it was too dark. 
What age group do you recommend your book for? 
It’s classified as Young Adult – I don’t think anyone under 14 should read it. When I wrote the book, I had older teens and adults in mind.
What sparked the idea for this book?
When I was little, my mother found me in a state of panic – I was upset because I thought my shadow was going to get me … I had to ask myself “What if it had been trying to get me?” And Of Dreams and Shadow was born.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
For me, the idea for the novel comes first and then the characters start showing up.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
There’s a scene when Liza finds out the truth about her missing child. That scene was really difficult to write. I had to go to places emotionally that I didn’t want to visit.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Obviously, I hope the readers enjoy the story. If I have done my job than the readers will be looking over their shoulder making sure nothing is after them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about three years – but I had very limited writing time during that period.
What is your writing routine?
I wish I was one of those people who can write after work. Unfortunately, my brain won’t shut off if I’m writing at night. This leads to insomnia – not a good thing when I have a full-time job. So, I write on the weekends.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Hire an editor. You only get one chance to make an impression. Most people will be forgiving of an error or two but too many and you’re toast.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I enjoy going to the beach in search of sea glass, taking pictures, and hanging with my family.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive but I know if I’ve been locked away too long – they start finding excuses to interrupt me. 
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in a very small town. When I think back, I was really lucky. I played in the woods, floated on inner tubes in the river, and worked at a fish house “heading” shrimp. 
Did you enjoy school?
I enjoyed school with the exception of math. I hated classes like algebra and geometry.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading. 
What was your favorite book as a child?
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Hardison, would read to us each day. She introduced me to my favorite story – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? 
S. E. Hinton (The Outsiders), Jim Kjelgaard (Big Red), William H. Armstrong (Sounder)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a reporter.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think so – probably in more ways than I am aware. 
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I tend to hear more from people who are familiar with the North Carolina coast. They identify with Parson’s Cove.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on the sequel – as yet unnamed. I’m really excited about it. When I initially wrote Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not, I intentionally left it with an ending that a reader wouldn’t see coming. I hadn’t decided whether or not, I wanted to continue the story. But – there was a character that just kept popping into my thoughts … I can’t wait to get finished telling her part of the story because I have another brewing in the back of my mind.
Thanks so much for stopping by today, Deb.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog and for participating with my tour! 
From the Author

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of my shadow – seriously afraid – running and screaming afraid. Perhaps I’ve always been a victim of an over-active imagination and maybe that explains the monsters hiding under my bed, the ghosts lurking in my closet, and the Shadow that inspired my first novel –  Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not.  I have always loved to write.  While in school, I dreamed of being a reporter, parachuting into war-torn places and getting “the story.”  In reality I’m afraid of heights and would never jump out of a perfectly good flying machine. I have been fortunate enough to have had a varied career – from working as a DJ for a small radio station to serving as the president and part owner of a marina. I am married, have three sons and live in coastal North Carolina.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or a $10 Starbucks gift card.
Links

"After the Ending: The Ending Series Book One" by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

ON SALE for $0.99
After the Ending:
The Ending Series Book One
by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue
After the Ending is the first book in the emotionally charged post-apocalyptic series, The Ending. It is currently ON SALE for only $0.99 to celebrate the release of the sequel, Into the Fire.
This book blitz is brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours. Be sure to visit all of the other participating blogs as well.
Description
The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.
When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family … they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them – with the rest of the world – but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams … all that is me. I’m someone else now – broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, I’m twenty-six-years-old, and I survived The Ending.
We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing – we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong … we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.
And more than anything, we have to find each other.
Excerpt
Eventually, sporting fresh pajamas and damp hair, I was again settled in the living room but on an unfamiliar couch.
“This isn’t my couch,” I said to no one in particular. I watched Jack as he stared forlornly at the clean kitchen floor. Someone had swept up the mountain of kibble and locked it away.
“Yes, well, yours was … unsuitable. We swapped it with one from an apartment down the hall. It’s not like they’ll be needing it anymore,” Chris explained, setting a glass of orange juice and a generous plate of breakfasty goodness on the coffee table in front of me.
I stared at the food but didn’t touch it, even though my stomach grumbled in need. Cam usually made me breakfast. “What d’you mean? Why won’t they need it?”
Chris halted her efforts to arrange a fuzzy blanket around my legs and looked at me with sharp, sky-blue eyes. Her expression melted into sympathy before she spoke. “Because they’re dead, hon. Most people are. I thought you knew.”
“I …,” I tried to speak, but my throat caught after the first sound. I shook my head.
Satisfied that I was covered and warm, Chris moved to the other side of the coffee table to sit in a large recliner – another item from the furniture shopping spree in my neighbor’s apartment.
“It was that damn Virus…we all had it … weeks ago,” Chris said, gesturing around the room even though it was empty of anyone but us. “Several days back, everyone in the world seemed to be infected. Now everyone’s pretty much dead. The rest are like you and me – Survivors. But as far as we can tell, we’re in the extreme minority.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, confusion creasing my brow. “This is impossible.”
“Not impossible. Just improbable … and really, really awful.”
Review
And just like that … I’m hooked on another series.
Quite exasperating, the way that happens so often! But this series … These characters …
After the Ending is quite unlike many of the other post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read recently. Yes, there is a virus, and yes, most of humanity perishes, and yes, there are small bands of survivors traveling the country in search of… well, something. Where this series trails off from the norm though, is in the fact that there are no zombies shambling around in your old backyard. There are survivors who have gone mad and are quite violent and scary, but they are also very much alive still, and able to be killed as any human would, very much unlike a zombie.
Fantastic story-telling, very likeable characters, great ideas! Looking forward to the next book in the series!!
About the Authors
Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book – as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she’s not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats. You can visit Lindsey’s blog.
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her – whether she’s traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next storyline or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey’s wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man. You can visit Lindsey’s website.
Links

"Black Swan Collected Tales (Volume 1, Books 1-6)" by Victoria Danann

SALE and GIVEAWAY
Black Swan Collected Tales
(Volume 1, Books 1-6)
by Victoria Danann
The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga including My Familiar Stranger, The Witch’s Dream, A Summoner’s Tale, Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf, Gathering Storm, and the never-before-released Book 6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
The entire box set is ON SALE for only $0.99 to 15 December (regular price $18.99).
Join the Facebook online release party for your chance to win some great prizes. You can also enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of My Familiar Stranger along with a keychain (US only).
Victoria Danann’s assistants, Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey, join me today for a guest post. Please return to this blog on 13 December for a book tour stop.
Description
Once upon a time a girl lost everything familiar. She escaped death by being forced into an experiment that left her in another world where modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and fae became her allies, friends and family. She discovered a place where adventure intersects fairytales, where honor is more than an ideal, and she learned that love can find you in the strangest places, when you’re least expecting it, even when you’re far, far from home. This is the story of Elora Laiken’s strange and wonderful journey. It is also the story of those whose lives she touches along the way.
If you love romance, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, this series is right for you. 17+
Guest post by Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey
Confessions of an Author’s Assistant
Being an author’s assistant is a job like no other: Exciting, fulfilling, and, at times, crazy! We work for an Indie author, Victoria Danann, which adds another level of challenge to the mix. Without a big publisher behind us, we work on her behalf to get the word out about her amazing books.
Here’s our first confession: Neither of us has worked as an author’s assistant before! We were both fans first, as well as being members of her street team. She mentioned one day that she was looking for a new assistant, and both of us replied. Being a smart woman, Victoria realized how amazing we both are. So, instead of choosing one, she hired us both! Now the three of us are blazing our own trail in the wild world of Indie publishing.
Our most important functions are managing Victoria’s social media and the street team, which is a group of some of the most devoted Victoria fans around. The street team is one of our most important keys to getting the word out about the Black Swan serial saga. We also work with Bloggers and Facebookers to feature or promote Victoria’s books, keep track of her calendar, and organize events such as giveaways. There are a lot of moving parts that require a tremendous amount of organization and detail supervision. Through a semi-complicated structure of file sharing and online chat, the three of us are able to work as a team so that each of us always knows what the other is doing.
Once people find out about and read Victoria’s first book, My Familiar Stranger, which is free everywhere, they usually join the rest of us in being fans of her work. We really love that her books are a mix of paranormal romance and fantasy, genres that we both really enjoy reading. It’s so fun working for someone you admire – Any task that helps her out is something we’re glad to do.
We’re commonly asked the following questions:
How’d you get the job?
Sarah: I had been on her Street Team for about a month when the opportunity came up that she needed an assistant. I sent her an email about all the things I had done in the past, reasons why I would be a great assistant. I was SO nervous waiting for the response! But, as you can see, I am here!
Judy: One day, on the street team page, Victoria mentioned that she needed an assistant. I contacted her to offer to help her out in the meantime, but it turns out I was in the right place at the right time, and started working for her! The learning curve has been pretty steep – there is so much about the author world that is so very different from the experience of a reader. I love this job! I get to utilize every skill I’ve learned over the years and apply them in unique and creative ways.
Sarah: You’re right, it is crazy different as far as how it measures up to any other job I have, but I would never trade it!
Judy: I’m constantly amazed that I get to do what I do. I learn so much every day. I didn’t realize how bored I was before. Seriously.
How did you know that the street team idea would even work?
Judy: The idea of a street team isn’t really new. It started in the music industry with a literal street team handing out fliers about a new music group. The concept has evolved now into street teams for all kinds of things. Feedback I get from members of Victoria’s street team is that this is one of the most active groups for an author. Our team has regular blogs that they work with to help spread the word. Having a hangout on Facebook with a private page for our group has been really great for building our team identity.
Sarah: Victoria had the Street Team before I became her assistant. I think it’s a great idea for many different reasons. Her biggest fans get time to chat with her whenever they like, they know her better than her other readers do. They also get the opportunity to get her new books about 2 weeks before everyone else. This helps both them and Victoria as she gets feedback before the release date. It is also a great advertising tool as we have wonderful Street Team members that will help get the word out about anything!
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author’s assistant?
Sarah: This one is hard to explain. Being Victoria’s assistant is a reward in itself. I get to talk to her daily, manage a fantastic Street Team, and meet some really incredible people. All the while knowing that I am helping a writing genius get the time to do what she does best!
Judy: The most rewarding thing about this job is that I get to help an author I truly admire. It just feels so good knowing that my work in the background enables her to have time to write her amazing books.
Sarah; She’s right; I know Victoria is writing fantastic things and that makes me extremely happy!
Judy: I love it every time Sarah says, “She’s right,” when she’s talking about me! It happens a lot.
How many hours a week/day do you spend on this job?
Sarah: A lot. But in no way can I complain. Most of the Street Team says they see me online, all the time, no matter what time it is. Well, I LOVE what I do. And a lot of my part of the job includes Facebook, so I’m on there for my stuff and book stuff all the time. Plus keeping track of what 50 people do takes up some time!!
Judy: It’s really impossible to calculate. I know I work the equivalent of office hours daily, and then check in again at night. I try to avoid working on the weekends, but when stuff is happening, I’m on whenever I need to be. This job for me is a blend of fan/ employee – it’s definitely more a labor of love … but it is nice to get paid!
Sarah:  Wait… You get paid??
Judy:  Oops.
So, what’s the dirt? Any scoops you can share?
Judy: Wow! Way to put us on the spot. Part of being an assistant is protecting the person you work for. My boss probably won’t fire me for saying that she put a photo of herself on Facebook once – she was swimming – I noticed no clothing in the picture, and asked her about if – to which she replied, “haha”. Yep. That’s the kind of crazy I’m lucky enough to work with every day. I love her.
Sarah: She’s got a wicked crazy sense of humor … and she and I get one another’s jokes, while Judy is often left scratching her head!
Judy: Hey! I get some of the jokes … sometimes.
Blazing a new trail in the world of Indy book publishing is exciting and fun. There is some seriously hard work involved, but it’s hard to really take note of that when we’re having such a good time! Being coworkers that truly enjoy and admire, not only our boss, but one another, makes every workday fun and entertaining. We both like meeting new people, learning new things, and we’re pretty good at sharing the load. We don’t know how Victoria got along without us!
About the Author
If you’re looking for something new and different in paranormal romance, you’ve come to the right place.
I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of sci-fi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.
I have authored and illustrated Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners for fifteen years and teach magickal arts for Seasons in Avalon. I live in The Woodlands, Texas which is why I sometimes joke about being the witch in the woods.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a signed paperback copy of My Familiar Stranger along with a keychain (US only).
Links

Barbara Bretton Christmas Special

Barbara Bretton Christmas Special
Today we have a special feature on Barbara Bretton, introducing two of her Christmas books, The Year the Cat Saved Christmas and Mrs. Scrooge. Barbara joins us for a guest post on books and Christmas. There are also two giveaways to enter: enter the tour-wide Rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, or leave a question or comment for Barbara below for a chance to win an audiobook (2 per tour stop). This book tour is brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours. Please visit all the other tour stops as well.
The Year the Cat Saved Christmas
by Barbara Bretton
Description
Christmas used to be the happiest time of the year in the big house on the hill. But this year when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, it will all be over. Can Sebastian, a wily Maine Coon cat, find a way to bring his people back home or will this holiday be their last?
Excerpt
As a rule, Sebastian endured Christmas with the good grace for which the best cats were known. He never indulged in merrymaking. His self-defined role as elder statesman precluded such a loss of dignity. Instead he held himself aloof and watched with great indulgence as his humans did the strangest things.
Once a year, around the first snowstorm, they opened the front doors wide and dragged in a big pine tree from outside. The same people who scolded him when he came in with muddy paws ignored bugs and dirt and sap and set the tree right smack in the middle of the living room carpet. They hung round, shiny objects from the branches and strung twinkling lights from top to bottom. Then, when that was all done, they placed boxes tied up with bows underneath the lowest branches.
Everyone who came to visit gathered around the tree to sing songs and drink something called eggnog and to give each other presents that weren’t half as much fun as catnip or a ball of yarn. All things considered, it was a most puzzling time of the year.
At Christmastime a cat had to learn how to cope or he’d find himself with a Santa Claus hat on his head and a ribbon around his neck, posing for some stupid holiday card picture that would embarrass him for the rest of his days. The dog and the parrot were perfectly happy to make fools of themselves and wear all manner of ridiculous outfits to make their humans laugh, but not Sebastian. The first person who tried to make him wear snow boots or a bow around his neck would find himself picking kitty litter out of his teeth for a year.
Sebastian did not suffer fools gladly. Christmas was not his favorite time of year. He preferred Thanksgiving, thank you very much, with that big juicy roasted bird on the table and lots of leftovers. When Christmas got too loud and confusing, he retreated to his hiding place in the Girl’s room where a cat in his golden years could sleep in peace and quiet until things got back to normal again.
This year, however, something was wrong. There was no tree, no beribboned packages, no friends and relatives gathered around singing songs to torment the ears of innocent cats. The Boy and Girl moped around in their rooms and not even talk of Santa Claus could make them smile. And what worried Sebastian most was that their parents weren’t smiling either.
When it all began, the Man slept downstairs on the sofa while she had the big bed all to herself. Sebastian, with the sensibilities of a diplomat, had tried to divide his attentions between the two of them but his twelve-year-old legs weren’t what they used to be. The stairs took their toll on his rickety knees and made him wheeze like a bulldog, so most of the time he slept on the landing so he could be near them both.
Finally the time came when he didn’t have to do that any longer, because the Man packed his bags and moved to something called a hotel.
The dog refused to believe anything was wrong. The parrot thought Sebastian was making a mountain out of a molehill, but Sebastian knew in his ancient bones that change was in the wind. He had been around since the beginning and he knew how it used to be when they were happy. There had been so much laughter in the little cottage that he couldn’t hear himself purr. Now he couldn’t remember the last time he’d even seen them smile.
He found himself dreaming about the little cottage where he’d first lived with them and how happy they’d been. It was as if the cottage itself were somehow calling him back home. The Woman used to sing while she cooked dinner and sometimes the Man came into the kitchen and drew her into his arms and they danced around the floor. Sebastian would even get into the act. He’d wind his way between their ankles until, laughing, they would bend down and stroke his fur just the way he liked it. Ah, those were the days …
He’d been young then and fast. A better mouser never lived than Sebastian in his prime. He’d bring his treasures home proudly and place them on the front porch but she never seemed to appreciate them the way Sebastian thought she should. As far as Sebastian was concerned, it didn’t get much better than dead mouse.
Sebastian didn’t do much mousing anymore and his birding days were a thing of the past. He hadn’t gone exploring in longer than he could remember, content instead to stay close to home in case he was needed. Sometimes he thought he caught the mourning doves laughing at him as he lay on the back steps and sunned himself. He pretended he didn’t notice them waddling by, but he did. It was a sad day when a proud cat like Sebastian couldn’t catch a mourning dove but time marched on and, like it or not, there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
Not long ago a sign appeared in the front yard and every day strange people marched through the house. Sebastian refused to acknowledge their presence as they peeked in closets and peered under the beds. He didn’t know exactly what was going on but he knew enough to understand his life was about to change.
He hadn’t seen his people together in a long time. The Man hadn’t been around much since the sign appeared. The other day Sebastian had heard his voice through the answering machine and he’d winced as the dog danced about with delight. Poor Charlie just didn’t understand the difference between a machine and the real thing. For a minute Sebastian had wished he didn’t either. He wanted to believe that his people would be together again and things would be the way they used to, but he was starting to suspect it never would.
When the big long truck pulled into the driveway that morning, Sebastian knew it was all over. He sat in the foyer and watched with growing dismay as the televisions vanished into the truck, along with the piano and dishes and even the paintings on the walls.
A snowy boot nudged his flank. “Move, fatso.”
Sebastian aimed a malevolent look in the human’s direction but he didn’t budge an inch. It was his house. Let old Snow Boots move.
“Hey, tubs.” The brown boot nudged a little harder. “I got a twelve foot couch to move. Get your furry ass out of my way.”
Sebastian considered turning the human’s pants into confetti but thought better of it. Instead he leaped onto the sofa with a surprising display of agility and curled up in the corner as if he hadn’t a care in the world. He was having trouble catching his breath but he refused to let on.
“Hey, lady!” the human bellowed. “Do something about this cat, will you?”
“Sebastian!” She appeared in the doorway. “Scat! Stay out of the moving man’s way.”
Sebastian arched his back and hissed. Scat? Since when did she tell him to scat? She’d never embarrassed him in front of strangers before and he didn’t like it one bit.
“Bad cat!” Her voice shook as if she’d been crying. “Don’t you ever do anything right?”
Her words cut him to the quick. He jumped down from the sofa, landing hard on his paws. Pain shot up his legs and along his back. He was getting too old for gymnastics. He waited for her to come see if he’d hurt himself but she turned away as if she’d forgotten he was even there. That hurt most of all.
“You gonna stand there all day, fatso?” the human asked, aiming that boot in Sebastian’s direction one more time. “You heard what the lady said. Now scat!”
Sebastian couldn’t help himself. There was only so much a cat could take before he defended his honor. With one graceful swing of his paw, he turned the moron’s right pants leg into a windsock and then he marched out the front door, tail held high. Maybe next time the human would think twice before insulting an innocent feline who was just minding his own business.
He strutted out onto the porch and surveyed his domain.
Snow was everywhere he looked: on the porch, the driveway, all over the yard. Sebastian’s whiskers quivered with distaste. He hated snow. It was cold and wet and reminded him of baths and other indignities. Maybe if he looked pathetic enough, she would come out and rescue him. An apology would be nice but he wouldn’t insist.
He waited patiently, watching as tables and chairs and beds and tables disappeared into the big truck parked in the driveway. It seemed a very strange thing to do and he was pondering the mystery when he suddenly remembered the last time something just like this had happened to him.
The Boy and Girl had been babies then, too little to do anything but sleep and eat and cry. Sebastian would have suggested they leave the babies behind but his people had a strange fondness for the little roundheads, a fondness Sebastian learned to share only after they were out of diapers. In his opinion, litter boxes made a great deal more sense.
He remembered that summer as if it were yesterday. All of their furniture had disappeared into a truck that time, too, only back then there hadn’t been quite as much of it, and most of what they had boasted claw marks.
“Don’t look so sad, Sebastian,” the Woman had said, chucking him under the chin. “You’ll love the new house!”
“Wait until you see the backyard, old boy,” the Man had said with a laugh. “Slower birds and plumper mice and lots of shady places to take a nap.”
Was that the last time they’d all been happy? The Man worked harder than ever and was home less and less. She worked harder too, sitting alone at the computer late at night while the Boy and Girl slept. Sebastian never saw them curled up side by side on the sofa or dancing in the kitchen or heard them laughing together in their room late at night.
The moving men bellowed something behind him. Sebastian scampered down the icy stairs and darted under the porch, just in time to avoid being flattened by work boots and the big couch from the den. Snow brushed against his belly and made him shiver. He hated the cold almost as much as he hated the three-cans-for-a-dollar cat food his people sometimes foisted on him. At his age he should be curled up in front of a roaring fireplace with a platter of sliced veal and gravy, claiming his rightful place in the family.
Wasn’t it bad enough that the Man didn’t live with them anymore or that sometimes she cried herself to sleep when she thought no one could hear her? Now they wouldn’t even have a home and everyone knew you couldn’t be a family if you didn’t have a place where you could be together.
The cottage on Burnt Sugar Hill.
For days Sebastian had felt the pull of the old place until the need to see that old house again was almost irresistible. And now he finally thought he knew why: the secret to being a family was hidden within its four walls and somehow Sebastian had to lead his people back home before it was too late.
Book Links
Mrs. Scrooge:
Rocky Hill Romance Book 1
by Barbara Bretton
Description
Single mother Samantha Dean doesn’t have time for Christmas. Or romance, for that matter. She is weeks away from opening her own catering business, the most important part of her plan to provide her certified genius daughter Patty with all the wonderful things she deserves.
Except Patty doesn’t want to go to a fancy boarding school. She wants a father and when she meets bartender Murphy O’Rourke at her fourth grade Career Day presentation, she knows she’s met the man of her mother’s dreams!
But can she convince her Mrs. Scrooge of a mom that it was time to give Christmas – and love – a second chance?
Excerpt
Patricia Mary Elizabeth Dean knew all about biology and how marriage and babies didn’t always go hand-in-hand the way they did in old movies and television sitcoms. She’d heard stories about the days when a young girl had to leave home if she became pregnant out of wedlock but those days were long gone by the time it happened to her mother Samantha.
Sam had stayed right where she was, safe and secure in her parents’ house in Rocky Hill, New Jersey. She finished her senior year of high school and, nine months pregnant with Patty, she marched up to get her diploma then marched back out of the auditorium and headed for the hospital in Princeton. Five hours later Patty was born, and it seemed that from her very first breath she had been looking for a man to be her father.
Her best friend Susan couldn’t understand it at all. “My dad is always telling me I can’t stay up to watch Letterman,” Susan had complained just last week. “He won’t let me wear nail polish or get a tattoo or even think about going to the movies with Bobby Andretti until I’m twenty-one. You’re really a whole lot better off with just your mom.”
Patty knew her mom was pretty special. Sam was independent and ambitious and she had always managed to keep a roof over their heads and good food on the table, even while she juggled school and work and taking care of Patty. But there was one thing Sam wasn’t very good at and that was romance.
Her mom said she didn’t have time for boyfriends and dating and maybe that was true but it seemed to Patty that it wouldn’t be long before she ran out of time. Patty had heard women her mother’s age talking about their biological clocks and how all the good men had been snapped up while they were busy building careers and she hated to think her mom would end up old and lonely with a dozen cats.
Not that Patty didn’t like cats but … 
And so it was that she decided to take over the quest.
There had been a few good prospects but nobody she could imagine becoming part of her family until the day Murphy O’Rourke walked into the classroom to give his career-day presentation, and she knew her search was over.
Murphy O’Rourke wasn’t handsome, although his sandy brown hair was shiny and his hazel eyes held a friendly twinkle. He wore a brown polo shirt with a corduroy sport coat that was frayed at the elbows—and Patty couldn’t imagine him sewing on those wimpy patches Susan’s dad had on his corduroy sport coat. He didn’t have a fistful of gold rings or ugly puffs of chest hair sticking out of his shirt, and his voice didn’t go all oily when he talked to women. When Mrs. Venturella introduced him to the class he didn’t try to be funny or cool or any of the thousand other things that would have been the kiss of death as far as Patty was concerned.
He smiled at them as if they were real live people and said, “Good morning. I’m Murphy O’Rourke,” and something inside Patty’s heart popped like a birthday balloon.
“That’s the one!” she whispered to Susan. “He’s perfect.”
Susan’s round gray eyes widened. “Him?” The girl looked down at the fact sheet in front of her. “He hasn’t even been to college.”
“I don’t care. He’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
Susan wrinkled her nose. “He’s old.”
“So is my mother. That’s what makes him so perfect.”
“I liked the fireman,” said Susan. “Did you see those muscles!” The girl sighed deeply and fluttered her eyelashes, and Patty could barely keep from hitting her best friend over the head with her math notebook.
“The fireman was stupid,” said Patty. “He didn’t even understand the theory behind water-pressure problems encountered fighting high-rise fires.”
“Patty, nobody understands things like that except you.”
“The nuclear physicist from M.I.T. understood.”
“Then why don’t you think he’s the right man?”
“Because he called me ‘little lady’ when he answered my question on the feasibility of nuclear power near major urban centers.”
“But he was cute,” said Susan. “He had the most darling red suspenders and bow tie.”
“I hate bow ties.”
Susan made a face. “Oh, you hate everything, Patty Dean. I think you’re about the snobbiest girl I’ve ever -“
“Patricia! Susan!” Mrs. Venturella rapped her knuckles sharply against the chalkboard at the front of the room. “If your conversation is so fascinating, perhaps you’d be willing to share it with the rest of the class.”
Susan’s cheeks turned a bright red and she slumped down in her chair. “Sorry, Mrs. Venturella,” she mumbled.
Patty found herself staring up at the twinkling hazel eyes of Murphy O’Rourke and suddenly unable to speak.
“Patricia,” warned Mrs. Venturella. “Do you have something to say?”
Murphy O’Rourke winked at her and before she knew it, the words came tumbling out. “Are you married?”
All around her the class was laughing but Patty didn’t care. This was important.
O’Rourke looked her straight in the eye. “No, I’m not.”
“Do you have any kids?”
“No kids.”
“Do you -“
“That’s enough, Patricia.” Mrs. Venturella turned to O’Rourke and gave him one of those cute little “I’m sorry” shrugs Patty had seen the woman give Mr. MacMahon, the phys ed teacher with the hairy chest. “I apologize, Mr. O’Rourke. Patricia is one of our advanced students and she has an active curiosity.”
“I make my living being curious,” he said, then crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against Mrs. Venturella’s desk. He looked straight at Patty. “Go ahead. Ask me anything you want.”
“On the newspaper business,” said Mrs. Venturella, with a stern look for Patty, who still couldn’t speak.
“Do you make a lot of money?” Craig Haley, class treasurer, asked.
“Enough to pay my rent,” said O’Rourke.
“Did you ever go to China?” asked Sasha D’Amato.
“Twice.” He grinned. “And I was thrown out once.”
Danielle Meyer held up a copy of the New York Telegram. “How come I don’t see your name anywhere?”
“Because I quit.”
Patty was extremely impressed: he didn’t so much as bat an eye when Mrs. Venturella gasped in horror. “What do you do now?” Patty asked.
“I’m a bartender.”
The only sound in the classroom was the pop of Susan’s bubble gum.
“Look,” he said, dragging his hand through his sandy brown hair, “I didn’t mean to misrepresent anything. When you guys called and asked me to speak at the school, I was still a reporter for the Telegram. This is a pretty new development.”
“Why’d you quit?” Patty asked. If there was anything her mom hated, it was a quitter. She hoped Murphy O’Rourke had a good reason for giving up a glamorous job as a New York City reporter and becoming a run-of-the-mill bartender, or it was all over.
“Artistic freedom,” said Murphy O’Rourke.
“Bingo!” said Patty.
She’d finally found her man.
Book Links
Guest Post by Barbara Bretton
Do you remember the moment when you first learned to read? That magical moment when the random letters on the page suddenly came together into words, words that triggered images and told stories that would linger in your mind forever?
To be honest, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t read.  I seemed to have slipped seamlessly from staring at the pictures in my Little Golden Books to devouring the words on the pages as fast as my tiny fingers could turn the pages. My parents said I made that magical transition when I was around three and a half which means reading has been a major part of my life for three score years.
The first book that imprinted itself on my child’s brain was Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nick. We lived around the block from the house where Moore lived and each year on a night in early December, the students of St. Bartholomew’s gathered at the park that now stood there and celebrated the lighting of the town Christmas tree. One year I was the lucky student chosen to read the poem to the crowd gathered for the ceremony and I can still remember the wonderful ripple of excitement I felt as I uttered the final words, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Words I’d first learned from the pages of a book I cherish still.
For me, Christmas is all about books. And when the book in question is a holiday story – well, it just doesn’t get any better than that for me.
I hope you’ll enjoy my selection of holiday stories. May the season be merry and bright for you, now and always.
About the Author
Oh, how I hate bios! All of that deadly dull information about name (Barbara Bretton) and date of birth (June 25) and geographical data (born in New York City; lives near Princeton, NJ), marital status (many years married), and hobbies (who has time??). How do you gather up all of those dull, dry facts and turn them into something interesting?
No wonder I tell lies for a living.
I considered weaving a story for you about life on a houseboat on the French Riviera. Or maybe my years as a concubine, hidden away in a golden pleasure palace in the shimmering desert. Then I decided to do the unthinkable and tell you the truth.
When I sold my first book and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, “We want to buy your book.” How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I’d sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.
I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true — and came with a $6000 advance!
He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn’t have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.
A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I’ve learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I’ve also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks.
I fell madly in love with Skye O’Malley in early 1982 and wrote an unabashedly gushy fan letter to our beloved Bertrice Small. By the time Sunny answered, I had joined the ranks of the published and Sunny became friend and mentor, guide and confidant. She has held my hand through broken dreams, disappointments, family illnesses, and accepted my bizarre need to go underground from time to time with great affection and understanding. Over the years I’ve come to understand the difference between the writer and her work, that loving the book doesn’t guarantee that I will love the author. But what a joy it is when you discover that the author of a beloved favorite is even more wonderful and witty and wise than the characters she creates.
So this bio is for you, Sunny, for being the best of friends during the worst of times and – even more wonderful – during the good times as well.
And now for the statistics:
Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.
Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.
er awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.
Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.
Author Links
Giveaways
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win one of two Kindle Paperwhites.
Barbara is also giving away two audiobooks (digital downloads – winner’s choice) per tour stop. You can see the available audiobooks at Audible. For your chance to enter, please leave a question or comment for Barbara below.