Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Blast: "The Curly Wolf," by Michael Kayser

curlywolfbookblast

cover
The settlers in the Redbud Valley are peaceable, God-fearing folk who try to follow the golden rule, but they've been pushed too far by the mayor of Blue Stone, who wants their land and seemingly has the law on his side. Just as the nesters are banding together to resist the land grab, Blue Stone's newest deputy rides through their valley. Before they realize the sleepy-eyed youngster called Arizona is a veteran gunfighter hired to bulldoze them off their claims, he has already broken bread with them, danced with their daughters…and stolen the heart of one.

Young Theresa Gutierrez believes Arizona is more than a curly wolf with quick trigger fingers and a stone-cold heart, but her parents and neighbors have good reason to believe otherwise. What everyone agrees upon is that, in the brewing range war, the Arizona Kid is liable to be right smack in the midst of the killing.

Buy on Amazon


About the Author
M.R. Kayser grew up in the West -- first in the frontier-like wilds of Alaska, then the rugged deserts of New Mexico, where western culture and folklore made an impression that lasts to this day. He's been a soldier, a filmmaker, a hot-rodder and an all-around social misfit, but has always had stories to tell -- whether of the old West; the present day; or of distant galaxies and alien dimensions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Perfect Gift for a Book Lover: A Book of the Month Gift Subscription!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
I love to give books as gifts, but I always have a hard time choosing just the right one. What if my recipient has already read the book I give her? What if she doesn’t like the book as much as I did? Picking out a great book is often a very personal choice, and I don’t want to pick one out that my recipient won’t love! That’s why a gift subscription to Book of the Month (BOTM) is the perfect gift!

Why give the gift of BOTM?

With a Book of the Month gift subscription, your recipient will get to choose the books that are right for him or her -- every month! Whether you give a 3-, 6- or 12-month subscription, this gift of literary goodness lasts well beyond the holidays. What could be better than a gift that gives cheer for months? Your recipient will think of you every time a new book comes in the mail.

And these beautiful hardcover books are surprisingly affordable. Check out the following gift options:

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Click on the banner below to head over to Book of the Month and order a subscription for all of the big readers in your life!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Spotlight on "Forgotten Trails," by Bonnie R. Paulson

forgottentrails
forgotten_trails_ebook_jpg
When a Native American Salish woman seeks out her past, she must challenge her beliefs in herself and her family or lose her chance at love.

Rachiah has always prided herself in her heritage in the Salish community in northwestern Montana. When she finds out her dad isn’t her biological father, Rachiah determines it’s time to find out the truth everyone has kept hidden.

Damon has hurt a girl like Rachiah in the past. His need to make it up to her and assuage his guilt overwhelms him, forcing him to pursue a friendship with Rachiah when her aloofness would normally discourage him from trying further.

Will Damon’s need to fix his guilty past mess with Rachiah’s need to find herself? Or will they both diminish into the forgotten world of what-ifs and ranches?

Grab the next installment of the Montana Trails series and get roped into a family saga worth risking your heart for.

Buy on Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Kobo / iBooks


Start the series for FREE - Broken Trails - Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Barnes and Noble

Bonnie
Real people, real loss, real love. Bonnie focuses on the emotional thrill of the romance, the discovery of self and the dynamic forces at play to both pull and push love growth. With 6 children and her own eternal romance at home, Bonnie lives her own dream every day. She's spoiled with blessings and wants to share the joy of ever-after possibilities with others. Whether it's a happy-ever-after or a happy-for-now, the emotions will leave you story drunk for days, if not years. You'll be able to say where you were when you closed the book. Surviving all things real and coming out better on the other side.

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Facebook / Website/ Twitter / Goodreads / Newsletter/ Literary Addicts / Amazon

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Guardian of the Way Book Blast: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

guardian-of-the-way
Guardian of the Way by Diane Moat

It’s been two centuries since someone murdered the last Guardian of the Way, closing off this world from the many realms of magic and fae.

Cassiopeia “Cass” Wilson is an eighteen-year-old living on her own for the first time. The only magic she’s interested in is the kind that will help her pay the bills on time. Little does she know that a trip to the hospital after a fainting spell will change her life forever.

Cass soon learns she may be fae, and everything points to her being the next Guardian of the Way. There’s just one problem: whoever—or whatever—killed the last Guardian wants Cass dead too.

Cass quickly runs into problems, and an attack by djinn is just the first. But Cass joins forces with a wrath daemon, were-creatures, and fae on a quest to reach the Lighthouse—the site of the Way.

Cass soon learns about wizards desperate to keep the Way closed to serve their dark purposes, and she comes to a crossroads: will she take the test to become the new Guardian and leave her normal life behind? Or will the Way remain closed to all who need it?

amazon

Praise for Guardian of the Way

"Cass Wilson takes us right along with her in this journey, revealing a world she never knew existed, with a diverse new tribe of companions, protectors, and friends. A must read for anyone who wonders what else is out there beyond what we can see."~C.S.

"A strong story, full of surprises. Getting there is half the fun, but is she meant for this challenging job between many worlds? Quite worth a read."~M. Hayden

add to goodreads

Excerpt

A massive lighthouse sits off the coast of Maine near the town of Cutler. The building has stood empty for over two-hundred years. Those who can make out the edifice view a tower of stone and paned glass unlike any other lighthouse they have ever seen. The specific dimensions are hard to determine as this structure, unlike most lighthouses, is not a single tower. Instead, it has a broader base than usual, with what appear to be turrets at the top. The construction may even consist of two buildings connected at the middle. But not many people question this odd lighthouse, or even wonder why it remains vacant.

This is because most Humans can’t actually see the Lighthouse. A few who have a drop of Fey, Were or “Other” blood may perceive an ordinary lighthouse. And some instinct guides these souls to avoid the building, though they wouldn’t be able to voice why if they were asked. True Fey, Were, Vampires, and other supernatural beings can certainly identify the building known to them as the Lighthouse, but none of them dare try to enter. Those genuine descendants know the Way is blocked, and has been for the two-hundred years the Lighthouse has stood dark.

The place has sat empty since the most recent Lighthouse Guardian died one horrible night at thepinnacle. The Guardian had only been Guardian for four-hundred years and was killed well before his time. Inside the Lighthouse lies the only permanent causeway (the “Way”) between the worlds of magic and the world of the mundane. Fey, Were, Vampires and other non-Humans, despite the barrier to journeying across from inside the Lighthouse, could still travel between these two worlds using costly magic spells—but such a trip is difficult and dangerous. The entrance to the Way closed at the time of the Guardian’s death, and neither magic nor mundane had been able to open it since.

On one late evening in particular, a large man sat under a tree just outside of Cutler, eating the stew his mate had made earlier and placed in a storage dish. The season was early fall, but already the nights had a bite to them. The man was on his third shift of watch duty in a row. He had pulled this job ten months previously and was glad the rotations were only a year long. He would be back home in Louisiana before the truly bitter winter was well underway.

The man was suddenly blinded by a light coming from the very top of the Lighthouse. The man’s reflexes were frighteningly quick, but even so he dropped his stew. Flabbergasted, he stared directly at the light for a full twenty seconds, until he no longer cared about the meal. He turned away from the brightness, and shedding his clothes, he found his legs shortening and his arms lengthening. In less than a minute, a large dark-grey Wolf shook himself once, then again. Glancing back for a final look at the Lighthouse, the Wolf began running toward the town.

He wouldn’t stop running until he was at his pack leader’s house. From there, word would spread like a virus. Everything was different now. For somewhere in this ordinary domain, two minutes before, a brand-new Guardian had been born.

diane
Author Diane Moat
When not creating fantastical worlds of young adult fiction, Diane Moat spends her time in Tennessee as an animal rescuer and nurse. Her various rescue dogs often assist her in the creative process.


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Friday, November 18, 2016

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: "Soulmated," by Shaila Patel (3 Winners!)


Today, Shaila Patel and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SOULMATED, which releases January 24, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

A quick note from the author:

When people find out that I've written a book, invariably the first question is, "Where did you get the idea for the story?" If I had a quick and easy answer like, "I checked www.BookIdeas.com," my phone calls with the family would be so much shorter! Anyway, the truth is a bit more complicated—much like my family's recipe for the perfect cup of chai.

After years of writing literary short stories, I thought I'd try my hand at a paranormal romance. Perfectly normal leap of logic, right? (I have Twilight to thank for that!) For whatever reason, I'd been thinking of how emotionally perceptive my mom was and that if there were such a thing as an EQ test (where the E stands for emotional intelligence), my mom would score through the roof. She just always had this uncanny ability to read my feelings. I'd never seen a story about empaths—people who could read emotions like psychics could read thoughts—but the idea grabbed on and wouldn't let go. And that, my friends, was the beginning. Soulmated is finally ready to be released, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I had fun writing it!

On to the reveal! 


Title: SOULMATED (Joining of Souls #1)
Author: Shaila Patel
Pub. Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Two souls. One Fate. 

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family's standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother's ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage. 

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart. 

Liam's father isn't convinced Laxshmi is "The One," and Laxshmi's mother won't even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one's own fate too great a price for the soulmated?



Excerpt




CHAPTER 1 – LIAM




They're calling this a test?




Not even a ping grazed my mind as the five Elders tried to slip past my mental blocks and into my emotions. A sheen of sweat over William's lip proved he wasn't faring as well. Of all the cousins now come of age, William and I were the last to be sitting before the Elders. I'd have felt guilty for his not doing so well had he ever shown an interest in leading the family. But, we all knew he'd rather have his head in a library. Now his heart was with his wife Colleen. He at least seemed to have a choice about his fate.




I sighed. Not so for me.




"Are we boring you, Prince Liam?"




I snapped my eyes up to Elder Adebayo. He wore his trademark bow tie with a traditional fila atop his head. In the fraction of a second it took me to untangle the meaning from his heavy Nigerian accent, I'd blanked my expression and sat upright. The Elders sat along one side of an antique conference table, facing William and myself. The manor staff had rearranged the study to hold both the testing and signing-over ceremonies. Gone were the leather club chairs and stained glass lamps normally dotting the large space, giving it the air of a posh library. Now it seemed more an election-night headquarters, like the sort you saw on the telly, with bright lights and a gathering of family strewn about, waiting for the results. A photographer hung out in one corner, camera in hand. Not far from him stood a team of solicitors guarding rolling briefcases that were no doubt stuffed with legal documents for the victor to sign.




My throat-clearing echoed in the now silent room, and my cheeks warmed. "No, sir, not at all. Although, uh … I'd like to know when it is you'll begin with me." I pasted on an oh-so-innocent smirk and watched William shake his head and smother a grin. I shrugged at him, hoping to lighten the mood.




Four of the Elders cocked an eyebrow—all except for Elder Claire Brennan, our lone Irish representative. She leaned ever so slightly forward from where she sat at the center of the group.




So much for having a bit of craic.




The familiar knocking on my brain—like the distant sound of drums—told me someone had got past my first line of defenses with their probe. The rest of my mental blocks held up though. The corner of Brennan's lip stretched upward. Toying with me, was she? I leaned back with a matching smile and loosened my tie. Mum and I were the only ones in the family who'd mastered the skill of probing and manipulation. A handy skill that, especially when the burden of the entire clan's financial success might well be resting on my shoulders.




As if sensing the end of the ritual, Mum whispered to the house staff and pointed toward the main doors, directing them to begin preparations, most likely. She turned and nearly ran into a Mediterranean-looking man with a grotesque mole on his left cheek. He wasn't a relation or a solicitor, so I assumed he was a council minister. Their stances were stiff, and despite being too far for me to hear, I sensed Mum's replies seemed short and clipped. He moved around her, and on his way out, his eyes met mine. He lifted his lips in a smirk.




Arse.




My attention darted to Mum. She was smoothing out the front of her dress, and her shoulders heaved a time or two before she turned back to face the room. I mentally sent her my curiosity, but she ignored me with a smile. She did at least send me her love before she weaved herself into the crowd.




Within a few minutes, Elder Brennan squared her shoulders and opened the portfolio in front of her. The rest of the Elders relaxed back in their seats and passed her folded slips of paper.




Jaysus Christ. Thank you. This bleedin' muck-up was about done.




After tallying the results, she stood with the help of a finely carved cane. Rumors about her age had always been entertaining—the last one I'd heard was that Claire Brennan was well over 140 years old. Apparently, documents as to her history had disappeared. Her regal manner and piercing blue eyes—the sort that'd make a gutless gobshite piss his pants—set her apart from the rest of the Elders. She now set those sights on me.




"Prince Liam, please stand. It is our unanimous decision that the Royal Empath House of O'Connor will now be led by you, Prince Liam Joseph O'Connor-Whelan, on this day, the





sixth of June, in the year 2015." Flashes from the camera punctuated every other word, and spots began to form in front of my eyes. "You have proven your worth to lead your clan by exhibiting the strength of your empath skills to the satisfaction of the presiding group and by extension, the Council of Ministers."




Brennan rattled on about allegiances and legal mandates, all of which bore down on me like the weight of history, dry and inescapable, yet … a bit liberating. Now we could stop our search and stay in Ireland—better of two evils and all that. I could make that happen now.




An explosion of clapping hands, and thumps on my back from a relieved-looking William, forced me to plaster a smile on my face.




Mum hurried over with open arms. "Darling! We're so happy for you." Da and my older brother Ciarán, a non-empath, followed, both decked out in a suit and tie. After her hug and kiss and Da's pat on my back, they congratulated William on his effort and made room for the Elders to come around with their well-wishing. Ciarán smirked and punched my shoulder. The strobe-light effect of the flashes had me squinting.




Elder Santiago from Spain shook my hand. He sported a thick mustache and proudly wore his Catalonian flag pin on his lapel. He'd been wooing our clan for support in Catalonia's bid for secession from Spain. Ciarán had thought it a good cause to be getting behind—especially if we beat another royal clan from doing so first. We had several holdings in Barcelona, after all. Now that it was my call to be making, a hasty decision didn't seem wise. Santiago always had the look about him of a tapas dish drowning in olive oil.




He sidled closer. "Your strength is most impressive. And at the age of eighteen too. It is not hard to believe you will be the next soulmated empath, in truth. Some have doubts though, eh?"




He wants to discuss this now?




Da pointed to his own temple, stabbing at an unruly black curl. "No need for doubts. If I've seen it, it's as good as true."




I resisted rolling my eyes. Admitting I had my own doubts about Da's visions wouldn't be wise. "Time will tell, yeah?" No point kissing Elder arse.




The other Elders came one by one, congratulating me and posing for photos. Brennan was last. The crowd dispersed enough to give us a bubble of privacy. She tipped her head back and studied my face.




Without being able to read her blocked emotions, her body language was all I had to go on. A smile like before tugged at her lips.




I leaned in. "So were you toying with me earlier?" My bold question would either be living up to the liberties given to the heads of the four remaining Irish royal houses, or it'd be taken as the yipping of a whelp learning to growl. I hoped for the former and straightened up just in case.




"The test need only be as strong as the weakest candidate." She curved her gloved hand around the crook of my elbow and turned me to face the patio. "Come now. Walk me outside."




Leading an Elder outside for a private conversation wasn't as nerve-racking as I'd thought. With her hand resting on my arm, she exuded an unexpected grandmotherly warmth. The stone patio ran the length of the building on this side of our manor home. It overlooked the meadows of our property—now mine—and with the cloudless days we'd had of late, the scent of heated earth surrounded us. I inhaled deeply. Definitely better here than returning to the States.




The few who lingered outside turned and meandered back to the study once they spotted us. Elder Brennan patted my arm, then released it, flattening her palms upon the balustrade, her ever-present white gloves in sharp contrast to the weathered stone.




Her gaze floated over the view. "It seems you are to have a very interesting future ahead of you."




"Possibly."




Her features relaxed with another one of her enigmatic smiles. "When will you be returning to America?"




"I'm thinking to stay here," I said.




A disapproving frown appeared, and she tapped a sole finger on the stone.




How the hell was this any of her bloody business? I forced my expression to remain neutral and unclenched the hands I'd not realized I'd fisted. If only Da had kept his mouth shut over the years.




"Choices are a funny thing, Prince Liam. We often treat them as black and white, but rarely are they."




I pocketed my hands. What was I meant to say? Yes, Zen Master Brennan.




A breeze picked up and coaxed a few strands of her silver hair across her cheek. She tilted her face into the wind and closed her eyes. "You should return to your search." She turned and pinned me with a stare.




"What? Why? Are you trying to boot me from Ireland? Away from the estate? Is something happening you're hiding from me?"




She held up her hand. "The demesne will be in capable hands. Go now. Enjoy your celebration. Congratulations and happy eighteenth birthday." With a nod, she summoned two of her gendarmes, who came to her side and escorted her down the patio.




Mum must have been watching because she rushed outside. "What did she want?" Her concerned gaze scanned my face as if to get a read on my emotions, but as usual, I had them blocked.




I rolled my shoulders and took a breath. "She wants us to go back to the States."




Her mouth opened and closed.




I knew that look. "Just say it, Mum."




"Your father had another vision during the night."




I snorted. "Where now? Alaska?"




"Liam, you used to believe—"




"Do you think we'll be seeing some actual igloos? We could even go to the North Pole and watch the ice cap melt—"




"What harm could one more year—?"




"Have you tried whale blubber, Mum? I hear it's a right treat."




An elderly couple came out onto the patio. With a huff, Mum crossed her arms and broadcast her emotions as clearly as any mother's scowl would convey. Waves of her irritation registered in my mind like seaweed washing in and wrapping around my toes. I moved a few steps away and leaned over the balustrade, resting my forearms on the sunbaked stone. A good fifty yards out, a hare popped up to scan its surroundings and then chased a second one into the shrubbery.




After a few moments, Mum joined me. "We know this isn't easy, Liam, but we're doing it for you. We've sacrificed so much. Please understand."




I ground my back teeth and straightened. So much for making it happen my way. "Fine. One more year."




I stormed back into the study so the signing could begin, passing by several girls in long glittering dresses, tittering behind their fingers. No doubt my pain-in-the-arse brother had arranged for them to be here.




If the Elders knew about our search, so did the rest of the empath community. Speculation would be flowing like whiskey tonight, but it didn't change the fact we'd not be finding our target in Ireland.

Want to read more? Shaila has chapter 2 on her website




As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever- after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, and teas, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online at: www.shailapatelauthor.com

Find Shaila:


Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive an eGalley of SOULMATED. International.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Unfading Lands Trilogy Book Blast: Giveaway for a $20 Amazon Gift Card


The Unfading Lands ​
Unfading Lands Series Book 1
By Katharine E. Hamilton 

Genre: Fantasy

A selfish betrayal. Goodness long forgotten. A land with terrifying power. Something sinister is at work in the Land of Unfading Beauty, a land that promises eternal youth and splendor. Something evil. Under the façade of charismatic leader, Lancer, an enemy stalks -- taking life and power in the most devious of ways. 

Prince Edward, the heir to the Northern Kingdom, abandons his family in pursuit of a beautiful woman by venturing into the Land of Unfading Beauty, never to return home. Has Prince Edward been swept away by love, or was it part of a strategic plan? 

Lancer has high ambitions of destroying the Northern Kingdom and will stop at nothing to acquire its power and strength. A desperate attempt to save the Realm forces Edward's father, King Granton, to call upon the rulers from neighboring kingdoms for help. As the kings and their children unite, relationships are strengthened and loyalties tested, and Edward's younger sister, Elizabeth, rises as a force to be reckoned with. Headstrong, yet pure of heart, this young princess breaks the barriers of her role in order to fight for the safety of her Kingdom. Fierce battles emerge between good and evil and unexpected heroes arise. But it will take courage, unity, and strength to overcome the temptation of darkness. 

A darkness, invisible to the eye, threatens the safety of them all. 

Can it be overcome? 

Can Edward be trusted? 

Who is the real enemy? 

What Elizabeth discovers within herself, her kingdom, and her brother, will change the course for the entire Realm and leave one question: 

Where does your allegiance lie?




Darkness Divided 
Unfading Lands Series Book 2

Katharine E. Hamilton continues the incredible adventure of allied kingdoms fighting a common enemy in her sensational The Unfading Lands trilogy.

A darkness is now divided.

A new threat is on the horizon,and a queen is on the throne.

Princess Alayna rises to position as queen of the entire Realm. A role she was never meant to possess. She is faced with the daunting task of protecting her Realm of four kingdoms from the Land of Unfading Beauty’s increasing strength as well as a new threat emerging from a once friendly neighbor, the Realm of King Abner.

As they face Lancer, their shared enemy, and consider the threat of Abner, the beloved allies come together in unprecedented unity. From the ashes of hard-fought battles, romance blooms and friendships deepen within the roster of cherished princes and princesses. New leaders will appear, bold and true, and deeply committed to the virtue of the Realm.

An ally has infiltrated the Land of Unfading Beauty at great cost -- absorbing the very darkness that runs through Lancer. Can this useful collaborator help save them all from Lancer’s mysterious power? Can he withstand the temptations of evil coursing through his veins?

With multiple enemies threatening the very foundation of the Realm, Alayna must decide whom she can trust. She must decide who the real enemy is. And all the leaders must fight. Can Alayna, the newly crowned queen, lead the Realm to victory?

While treacherous secrets frustrate strategies and an imposing army appears on the horizon, the most important question remains:

Where does your allegiance lie?




Redemption Rising 
Unfading Lands Series Book 3

A vengeful queen,

A darkened soul,

And an insurmountable enemy.

In the final book of her sensational The Unfading Lands trilogy, Katharine E. Hamilton masterfully concludes the epic tale of allied kingdoms fighting a supernaturally unstoppable enemy.

The Realm of Queen Alayna survived the brutal attack by King Abner, but their plan to overcome The Land of Unfading Beauty was thwarted by a vile betrayal. A betrayal that leaves the Realm vulnerable. Devastated by the loss of her kinsman, Queen Alayna seeks total destruction of the Unfading Lands, and her heart is set on revenge for those she loves. 

The royal band of unlikely friends must come together once again. They must each learn to rule their baser instincts, commiserate with one another, and empower one another if they hope to defeat the overpowering darkness hovering over the Lands. 

As the battle against the darkness rises in The Land of Unfading Beauty, a battle within the soul wages within Edward. His allegiance is tested, and his character is questioned. Can he overcome the darkness and aid his former Realm to victory? Can the Realm face down Lancer? Can they overcome their greatest threat: the darkness? Or will the Realm of Queen Alayna fall into the hands of evil?

What will it take to thwart the seduction of the darkness while fighting in its midst?

As the Realm faces their biggest battle ever, the question remains: 

Where does your allegiance lie?




I am Katharine E. Hamilton ... author, writer, ranch wife, little sister, friend, new mom, and did I mention, writer? :)

My journey as an author started in 2008 with a simple gift to my niece, Taylor. Creating her a story all her own for a Christmas present and seeing her reaction to a unique story made me start thinking about diving into the writing world. How simple a spark that would then lead to my first published work, The Adventurous Life of Laura Bell. Each story has a story all its own, based on people I love and special memories I share with them.

Laura Bell hit the shelves in 2009, and I quickly began work on my next book, Susie at Your Service. While working on this one, though, I had several minor setbacks. Computers failing, an apartment flood that soaked my illustrations ... you name it, it happened. So what I thought would take a few months ended up taking me a year and a half to rewrite and redraw the illustrations and another year to push the publication forward. While working on Susie, I also had an idea for another book, Sissy and Kat. Let's just say the year of 2012 was a busy year. Two books, changing jobs, moving to three different cities, and planning a wedding ... really add up! :) But perseverance paid off, and Susie hit the shelves, officially, in January of 2013 followed by Sissy and Kat in March 2013. 

As of April 3, 2015, my first fantasy fiction novel, The Unfading Lands, released on Amazon. Within its first four days, The Unfading Lands hit the Hot 100 New Releases, and has not slowed down from there. Part Two in The Unfading Land Series, Darkness Divided, released in October 2015 with a wonderful kickoff and reached #20 on the Amazon Hot 100 list. Redemption Rising, Part Three in The Unfading Lands, released May 2016, and it did not disappoint either. The entire series has been nominated for the Summer Indie Book Awards of 2016, and The Unfading Lands, Book 1, has been nominated for the Best Indie Book Award for 2016. 

As well as continuing the adventure in The Unfading Lands, I have also contributed a short story, "If the Shoe Fits," to an indie author anthology, by Ian D. Moore and Friends in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. All proceeds of sales of the anthology go straight to the charity. The anthology released in July 2015. 

It has been quite a journey thus far, and I am looking forward to several more chapters to come. I aim to keep you all informed on new releases, potential submissions, and all things new in the realm of Katharine E. Hamilton books. I also want to share this journey with my readers. As I continue paving my path in the book world, I hope that you would join me!









Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: "A Heart Most Certain," by Melissa Jagears


About the book:
Lydia King knows what it's like to be in need, so she joins the Teaville Moral Society hoping to help the town's poor. But with her father's debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poorhouse herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn't hurt that his mother is the moral society's president. Lydia's first task as a moral society member -- to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town -- seems easy ... until the man flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresees the harrowing complications that will arise from working together, and when town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs -- and hearts -- truly align.

My thoughts:
A Heart Most Certain is a lot more complex than the description makes it sound. It delves into the rise of prostitution in frontier towns in the early 20th century, and efforts by the churches and governments to control it. Double standards caused people to turn the other cheek when men frequented the red-light district, but the women -- who had often fallen on hard times -- were considered the lowest of the low. Were they to be shunned or run out of town? Or could their lives be turned around through compassion and a helping hand? This moral dilemma permeates the story in this book when Nicholas and the Teaville Moral Society have very different views on how to handle the problem, and Lydia becomes conflicted as to which approach is most pleasing to God.

About the author:
Melissa Jagears is a Carol Award-winning author, a homeschooling mother to three, and an extreme night owl. Find her online at www.melissajagears.com.



Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher to facilitate my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through this link.

The Crush Saga Book Blast: Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

The Crush Saga Box Set by Chrissy Peebles

I was born to die... But to defy fate is to control your own destiny.

Moving to Big Bear Lake was supposed to be a fresh start, but when Taylor Sparks is thrown into a supernatural world, her reality comes crashing down around her when she finds out she’s a KEY player in a dangerous game created 1,000 years ago that will give the witches and werewolves the upper hand against the vampires. Blood will be spilled and secrets will be revealed in this action-packed thrill ride and paranormal romance.

Will Taylor dive into a paranormal world she knows nothing about to be with the one her heart can’t live without?

Or will her life spiral out of control when she learns her blood is needed, just the serum necessary to lift an ancient curse from a group of supernatural beings and give the witches back their magic?

Werewolves will serve as her guardians and protect her until the first full moon of the new year, the night of her sacrifice…

Will she accept her destiny?

Or will she refuse to let evil swallow her up?

Purchase on Amazon

Excerpt

Grabbing my purse, I hurried out of the car and locked the doors. Just as I started to walk up the driveway, I felt the cold steel of a muzzle against my neck. My heart hammered against my ribs.

“One sound, and you’re dead,” a harsh, male voice said.

I froze in panic as somebody slipped a black blindfold over my eyes, then gagged me. A man duct-taped my mouth, while another tied my ankles, legs, and wrists with rope. He hoisted me over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and horror ripped through me. Help! I’m being kidnapped! my brain yelled, but I dare not cry out for fear of what they would do to me. I did try to fight back, at least to some degree, but I was tied and gagged and could do little about being manhandled.

“Put her in the trunk!” a man yelled.

As I fought, I was thrown, neck-first, into the trunk of a car, and my mind began to race. This can’t be happening! I tried to call out for my parents. If only they could hear me. If only I could scream, maybe Max would bark, and Mom or Dad would come to the door. If only…

Tires screeched, and the vehicle took off down the street. The smell of gasoline made me gag. I tried to kick and scream, but it was tight quarters, and I was still all tied up. I cringed at their muffled voices, wondering what they wanted from me.

“I’m tellin’ ya,” one of the guys said, “we oughtta just kill her now.”

My skin crawled at his nonchalance.

“He’s right,” the other said. “Just do it, right here, right now. We’ve outsmarted her protectors, but for how long? We need to do it swiftly and quickly, before they return.”

“You know the rules,” a low voice hissed. “If we just kill her, they’ll have the legal right to choose another, and we’ll be right back at square one again. We’ve gotta do this by the book.”

“I agree,” a woman said. “We need to stop the Millennium ceremony from happening.”

“I don’t want to kill her,” another woman said. “She’s just…an innocent victim in all this. It isn’t right.”

“If we don’t kill her, they’ll win,” another said. “They’ll gain the upper hand when she gives them what they need.”

“Our enemy will stop at nothing to destroy us,” another said tensely. “Killing her will keep them from becoming more powerful than they already are.”

“It will bring them to their knees!” another shouted.

Great, I thought. A case of mistaken identity is the last thing I need. By their talk, I assumed that killing me was some way to get back at their rivals, though I had no idea who those rivals were. The mafia? Some kind of…street gang? I had absolutely no idea, but I desperately wanted to tell them who I really was, to let them know they obviously had me confused me with somebody else. Maybe if I explain that, they’ll let me go. After all, I hadn’t seen their faces, so I wasn’t a threat. Then it dawned on me: Jesse had just revealed his identity to me. Maybe his clan wants to kill me because I know too much. I wanted to scream at them and tell them, to assure them that I’d never reveal Jesse’s identity, that I’d take his deep, dark secret to the grave with me. Jesse meant everything to me, and I would never betray his trust like that; unfortunately, my captors didn’t give me a chance to explain that to them. I wasn’t completely sure if it was vampires that had me. But they had heard me messing with my ropes and that took Immortal hearing. No human could hear that over the sound of the engine, the radio, and voices talking.

We drove down the lonely stretch of road, and I didn’t hear one car pass by. I considered trying to pop the trunk open so I could jump for freedom. I figured the car was going about eighty, but I figured it’d be easier to heal from a broken neck than a bullet to the head. The rope bindings cut into my skin and began to sting and burn. I wiggled my numbing hands, trying to find some relief, when a man yelled back at me.

“Stop it!” he said. “Or else I’ll kill you right here.”

I shivered at his voice, then obeyed his commands. There was no way he could have seen me no way he could have heard me picking at the ropes. I contemplated how they were going to kill me. It had to be a contract hit, but I wondered why there were so many of them there just to take out a defenseless woman. I also wondered how they could be so heartless.

The vehicle stopped, and my stomach dropped when I heard the doors swing open. This is it, I thought. My time has come. When footsteps approached, I held my breath. The trunk popped open, and strong arms lifted me out and set me down on a hard surface, maybe concrete or asphalt. My legs were wobbly, but one of the men steadied me and untied my ankles. Jerk, I sarcastically seethed. The cold night air hit and my hair blew around. I tried to see through the blindfold, but all I could see was darkness.

A man shoved me forward. “Walk!”

I let out a trembling breath and stumbled to the edge of the hard surface, then felt my shoes sink in grass and damp earth. As I carefully walked forward, a towering fern brushed softly across my face. I took tiny steps because my imagination was in overdrive; I couldn’t help picturing all those pirate films I’d seen of people walking off the plank, and I knew there were a lot of cliffs around. The man behind me kept pushing and shoving, making me go faster than my hesitant feet wanted to carry me, forcing me to trip over what I assumed to be a very long log. Twigs snapped and crunched underfoot. An owl hooted, and crickets chirped. The smell of wet moss, damp dirt, and decaying leaves mingled with the scent of pines, wafting up my nostrils; any other time, the aroma would have been beautiful. My heart lurched. I was sure they were leading me to some isolated location for my execution, a place where no one would ever find me, and that thought sent droplets of nervous perspiration rolling down my face, perhaps mingled with tears.

I refused, however, to go quietly. I couldn’t do much to fight them off, but I wanted to make it harder on them. They’ll have to carry my corpse, because I’m not gonna walk out to the middle of nowhere and shovel my own grave. I’m not doing their dirty work for them! I took a huge step to the left, and then bolted.

Strong arms caught me within seconds, and I flailed and thrashed like a gazelle in a lion’s grasp.

“If we don’t keep movin’, we’re not gonna make it to the designated spot on time,” a man said.

“Maybe I oughtta just snap her like a twig, right here, right now,” said a deep-voiced man.

I screamed through my gag at the thought that the guy wanted to rush my demise.

“No!” another said. “She must be sacrificed at midnight.”

Sacrificed?

Trembling with fear, I thrashed even harder in the guy’s grasp. I suddenly realized that my abduction had nothing to do with a mafia hit, vampires, or a street gang initiation; rather, I was in the hands of some strange cult. I could barely breath, terrorized by fear.

“How much farther?” a man asked.

“We’re here,” another answered.

At that point, I was gasping for breath at the thought of being sacrificed in some weird ritual. I recalled what Fred had said about witches and realized it wasn’t so farfetched of a theory. My heart had never raced so hard. The man held me tight in his grasp, and I tried to fight, but he was so strong, and I was no match for him. My feet suddenly left the ground as he picked me up and carried me. I turned and twisted in his grasp, to no avail. He gently set me down on a cold slab of concrete and forced me to lie down, and I’d never been so terrified in my entire life.

Fingers gripped my ankles and wrists as the rope was tightened around me, securing me to a cold slab. It didn’t make sense to me that they left my blindfold on and my gag in, since they were clearly going to kill me anyway. For all I knew, maybe they thought it was more humane to kill me that way. Perhaps they want to spare me the misery of watching the dagger pierce my heart. I listened intently as they shuffled around, and then I struggled in my bindings.

Get the entire boxed set for just 99 cents this week! Ends 11/19/16


Praise for the Series

This was a fantastic box set with magic, action, mystery, twists and turns, vampires, werewolves, witches, and gargoyles. Each book gets better and better and takes you deeper into the mystery!

Book 1 is about Taylor moving to Big Bear Lake and learning it's a supernatural place and that her crush is something more. Book 2 gets deep! And this is when all hell breaks loose! Taylor is tossed into the supernatural world. She thought she was observing it from the outside, but little does she know that she's a major player! And she didn't even know it!

She comes from an ancient line of witches and is supposed to be sacrificed in The Millennium Ceremony. She's stubborn and fights her supernatural enemy with everything she has. I loved how tough she becomes. There's a paranormal battle raging and I loved every page. This is one of my favorite paranormal romances ever!



Author Chrissy Peebles
Chrissy Peebles has always loved reading and writing fantasy from the earliest age she can remember. She lives in a busy city with her husband, two children, and one cat (Shadow) and three dogs (Sparkles, Rosie, and Jack). Chrissy also loves to snap photos as her favorite hobby.



$100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash Giveaway
Ends 12/2/16

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through this link.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: "Damaged Goods," by Jennifer Bardsley


Today, Jennifer Bardsley and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for DAMAGED GOODS, the sequel to GENESIS GIRL, which releases January 17, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!

A quick note from the author:
Do you have a friend who has such a messed-up home life that you wonder if they will ever grow up to be normal? That’s how I feel about Blanca, the main character from my series “Blank Slate.” In Genesis Girl, readers found out why Blanca’s childhood was so different. Blanca was a Vestal who grew up at Tabula Rasa School, shielded from the Internet and brainwashed into doing whatever she was told. In the sequel, Damaged Goods, we find out what happens to Blanca once she escapes from her Vestal bonds. Blanca doesn’t wear her platinum cuff anymore, but does that mean she is free?

Writing Damaged Goods was a blast. I hope readers enjoy all the twists and turns in the plot and root for Blanca as she figures out the difference between fact, fiction, enemy, and friend.

On to the reveal! 


Title: DAMAGED GOODS
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub. Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Blanca has everything she ever wanted: a hot boyfriend named Seth and the loving support of her foster father, Cal. She’s finally escaped the abusive control of her birth father, Barbelo Nemo, and her tortured childhood at Tabula Rasa School.

But the scars of Blanca’s Vestal upbringing run deep, especially when the FBI start asking questions. Blanca feels abandoned by Seth, who is hunting for Lilith, Blanca’s only blood relative. The Defectos, a support group of Vestal-Rejects, offer Blanca comfort instead.

While the Vestal order crumbles, Chinese rivals called the Guardians rise to power and wrest control of important Tabula Rasa contacts. Now Blanca’s life is in peril once more, and this time, Blanca struggles to recognize friend from foe.



Excerpt




Chapter One




All I smell is leather. Seth’s arms are around my back, his hands tangled in my long brown hair. My lips devour his, hungry for contact. Beyond us a seagull cries and soars above the waves of Santa Cruz beach.




If I kiss Seth hard enough, my scars fade way into oblivion. Barbelo Nemo and his mind control tricks. My childhood spent in seclusion at Tabula Rasa, hidden from the Internet. I slide my fingers underneath Seth’s jacket against the stickiness of his shirt. I begin to undo a button.




“Whoa, Blanca.” Seth pulls my hands away. “We’re not the only people in the parking lot.”




I scan to the left and right of the rest stop. Strangers are everywhere. “Since when did you care about what other people think?”




“Since I started dating a Vestal.”




I pull back and look out at the cliffs. “I’m not a Vestal anymore. You know that.” I feel the antique chip-watch on my wrist. Seth’s dad, Cal, gave it to me as a present after my platinum cuff was removed. Once a Vestal is de-cuffed, they are expelled from the Brethren.




“So those tourists snapping our picture don’t bother you?” Seth motions to a small crowd a few cars over.




I look to where he points, and the flash of thumb-cameras blinds me. Vestals must never have their pictures taken by random people. That privilege belongs to the companies that purchase them and market a Vestal’s privacy one advertisement at a time. I reach my arms out by instinct, to protect my face from the public. “I’m fine with it,” I lie, pulling my hands down. “But we better leave now or we’ll be late to the restaurant.”




“My dad can wait a few minutes.” Seth scoops me in his arms.




“Blanca!” one of the spectators calls. “And Veritas Rex! Is that really you?”




Seth holds up his hand and wiggles his finger-chips. “The one and only!” Then he dips me back for a kiss.




I stiffen like cardboard. “Stop it,” I mumble, trying not to squirm. All I can think about is the cameras, my face flashed worldwide and weirdoes slobbering over my private moment with Seth. “We’ve got to go or we’ll be late.”




Seth kisses my nose. “I didn’t know you were so punctual.”




“Yes.” I pull myself out of his grasp. “Cal’s waiting.” The sooner I put my helmet on and get back on my motorcycle, the better.




“Blanca,” a man calls as we ride away. “I love you! I’ve watched you all year!”




Underneath my jacket, I shiver. The fame that surrounds me is chilling.




A few miles of pavement put me in a better mood. The day is radiant, perfect for riding our bikes from Silicon Valley over to the coast and back. It’s our favorite weekend ritual. Seth cruises next to me on his motorcycle with the lion-headed cobra painted on the side, and I zoom along beside him in head-to-toe white.




The speed rushing over me tastes of freedom. When we shift into high gear I can forget—for a moment—that three months ago I was a captive at the Plemora compound in Nevada. The memory of my mother’s face exploding gets sucked away.




But not for long.




***




The restaurant Cal picked is smothered in shadows. Candles in glass jars at each table are the only source of a hazy glow. As I walk by, other patrons stare up at me.




Their whispers don’t surprise me. Seeing a Vestal in public is unheard of, and I’m the most famous Vestal in history, with the exception of Barbelo, my birth father.




But father isn’t a word I use to describe my tormentor. I don’t think of Ms. Lydia as my mother either, not usually. The closest thing I have to a real parent is Cal McNeal, who paid thirty-two million dollars to purchase me from Tabula Rasa, the school Barbelo founded fifty-one years ago, in 2012, with the ostensible purpose of shielding students from the Internet. Barbelo’s real objective was to create a network of Vestals in key positions. Spies all over the world who were devoted to him.




Cal waits for us at the table, a smile on his tanned face. His hair is long around the ears. I need to remind him to trim it. Cal wears his usual tweed jacket with soft brown patches on the elbows. He stands up when we reach the table and hugs us both. “Enjoy your ride, you two?”




“From the mountains to the beach.” Seth slides into the booth. He pulls off his jacket and exposes forearms covered with ink. Seth also has tattoos on his face, the most noticeable of which is the lion-headed cobra. That snake was the first thing about Seth I noticed. A year ago he snuck into Tabula Rasa, took my picture days before graduation, and posted it on Veritas Rex. Seth is a viral blogger who does anything to break a story even if involves breaking the law.




My own skin is pure white. I’ve been a consummate rule follower my entire life, with a few notable exceptions. Remaining unmarred by ink or technology tops the Vestal code. It’s a hard habit to break.




Cal passes me the bread basket. “So Blanca, I heard from my friend at Stanford today, and I’ve got good news.”




“Yes?” I take a deep whiff of the yeasty aroma and push the basket over to Seth without taking a piece.




Cal butters his slice with a thick slab of butter. “I told the dean about your special circumstance. That you’ve been out of school for a year, but graduated top of your class.”




Seth chokes on his water. “Top of her class? You mean she was auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Vestal Harvest.”




“Exactly,” Cal says. “Blanca, you’re Tabula Rasa’s version of a valedictorian. I told the dean that you had a classical education from a different era and that you were being tutored in science and technology so that you’d catch up in STEM by matriculation.”




Eagerness glides over me. Six months ago when Cal suggested college I thought he was joking. I dismissed the idea without consideration. But since I returned from Nevada I’ve made attending college one of my primary goals.




It’s not that I don’t love being the face of McNeal Solar. Every time I see an advertisement featuring me on a billboard, I get tingles. But representing McNeal Solar and actually understanding how solar power works are two different things. I don’t want to be a token bobble head. I want to be a real engineer who designs power systems and imagines new inventions.




Cal wants to help me achieve that dream. Seth is so committed to Veritas Rex that there’s no way he’ll work for his dad’s company. But maybe someday I’ll join the McNeal Solar board of directors and people will respect my opinion. It’ll be another way I can be Cal’s daughter. I’ll become his intellectual heir.




“What did the dean say?” My knees shake with excitement until I tense my muscles.




Cal puts down his butter knife. “He knows who you are, of course. He watched the news story unfold along with the rest of the world when you were kidnapped.”




“And?” I toy with my napkin.




Cal smiles. “Given the special circumstances, he agreed to let you take a private entrance exam with a panel of professors ten weeks from now.”




“Yay!” I lean across the booth and hug Cal tight, my face brushing the scratchy fabric of his blazer.




“Awesome, Dad,” says Seth. “How the hell did you pull that off? I’ve never heard of Stanford admitting a student like that before.”




“Well that’s because they’ve never had a Vestal apply. Plus, it helps that a dorm is named after your mother, Seth. Being a large donor has its perks.”




Cal’s wife, Sophia, was an anthropology professor at Stanford until she died of the Brain Cancer Epidemic when Seth was seventeen. It was decades before the world realized cell phones caused cancer. Sophia was one of many victims. Before she died her life work had been researching Barbelo Nemo and the Vestal order he created.




“Mom would have been thrilled to have you as a student,” Seth tells me. “She’d probably follow you around and take notes on your well-being.”




“To your mother, then!” I lift up my water glass.




“To Mom,” Seth answers.




Cal holds up his glass of wine. “To Sophia, a three-way toast.”




“Smile, McNeals.” A guy with greasy black hair and an ugly smirk holds up finger-chips in our faces. “What a touching moment.” The flash pops.




I drop my glass and water drowns the tablecloth.




“Veritas Rex and his Vestal girlfriend. Gotcha!” Another loser creeps up too. The fact that they’re both frantically typing their fingers into the air makes me assume they’re viral paparazzi, uploading us straight to the net.




“Get out of here,” Seth growls, chucking bread at their faces.




A rounded man with a balding head rushes over. “Is there a problem?” He turns to the paparazzi. “I am the maître d’ of this establishment and I will notify the police unless you leave this instant.”




Seth pelts them with more bread. The one with greasy hair catches a piece and crams some in his mouth. “Thanks, Rex,” he mumbles through crumbs, “see you around.”




Several waiters rush over to pick up bread and clear off our wet tablecloth. “I sincerely apologize, Ms. Blanca. I don’t know how those Viruses got in.” The maître d’ uses the derogatory term for viral bloggers, the one that Headmaster Russell taught me at Tabula Rasa.




“It’s not your fault. Viruses are hard to shake.” I slide my foot underneath the table and brush my leg against Seth’s.




“They must have seen your white outfit.” The maître d’ tugs his collar.




“It’s okay.” I nod. “I’m used to it.” I wave off his offer of a meal on the house, but he insists.




Later, over cheeseburgers, Cal brings up my wardrobe again. “You know, Blanca. You don’t need to wear white anymore, unless you enjoy the attention.”




“Of course I don’t want the attention!”




“Then why not change things up a bit?” Cal says. “Shop for new clothes. Try to blend in.”




I look at Seth for support, but he nods in agreement with his father.




“Fatima wears colors now,” Seth adds, “and she’s still a Vestal.”




I picture my best friend Fatima. The last time I saw her she wore a silky green dress from her fashion house and looked like a snake that had swallowed a watermelon. Six months pregnant, her figure still says “Babe alert!” Tomorrow night is Fatima’s engagement party with Beau.




I, on the other hand, am the proverbial girl-next-door. Brown hair, green eyes, and clear skin. Back at Tabula Rasa they said I had a face that could sell soap.




“I don’t want to be a Vestal. I’m a McNeal now. But wearing color seems wrong.”




“It’s not just the clothes.” Seth’s finger-chips buzz and he flicks them off. “The only time you leave the house is with me or Dad.”




“That’s not true!” I insist. “I went to the soundstage last week to shoot a McNeal Solar add.”




“True,” Cal admits. “But it’s what a Vestal would do.”




“What’s that supposed to mean? Don’t you want me as the face of McNeal Solar?” My stomach feels bubbly, like I ate too many French fries.




“Of course I do, sweetheart. I love your campaign for my company.” Cal reaches out and pats my hand. “We’re concerned about you though. We want you to get out there and make new friends.”




I turn and glare at Seth. “This is about the other night, isn’t it? You’re still mad because I wouldn’t go to that club with you, so you got your dad to take your side.”




Seth stares at me hard. “It’s not just the other night. It’s all the time. Your world is so tiny that it’s unhealthy.”




“College is a big step,” Cal says, “in terms of academics, forming new friendships, and learning to mingle.”




“I meet lots of people! I’ve made a ton of friends online. Every time I write a new post for The Lighthouse I get thousands of comments.”




Seth looks at me with piercing brown eyes. “Blanca, you’re new at this, but online friends are easier than people you meet face to face. It’s a different type of interaction.”




At that moment a flash makes me jump. But it’s not a Virus snatching my picture this time. It’s a family in the corner taking a photograph of their kid. “Face to face can be scary,” I say.




“Sometimes,” Cal nods, “but not normally.”




“Normal for me is different.”




“Exactly our point,” says Seth.




Cal leans forward in his seat. “We think it would be helpful if you could chat with someone, to help you process all you’ve been through.”




“You mean like a psychiatrist? You think I’m crazy?” I twist my chip-watch around and around my wrist where the cuff used to be.




Seth scoots closer and lowers his voice. “We don’t think you’re crazy. But some really shitty things have happened to you.”




“You lost your mother,” says Cal.




“Ms. Lydia wasn’t my mother! I mean, she gave birth to me. That’s it. What do I care what happened to her?”




“You must feel something,” Cal says.




“I feel nothing.”




“Then why are you talking so loud?” Seth asks.




I take a quick glance of the room and notice stares.




Our waiter rushes over. “Are you ready for dessert now?” he asks.




“Yes,” Cal answers. “Please bring the menu.”




“No, thank you.” I squeeze my fists together, stress coursing through my body like lightening.




When the waiter leaves, Seth touches my elbow. “We’ve made an appointment for you.”




“What?”




“With Dr. Meredith,” Cal says. “A therapist.”




“You want me to tell my private secrets to a total stranger?” I speak with a steadied calm while a storm builds up inside me.




“She’s not a stranger, Blanca. Seth and I started seeing Dr. Meredith when you were kidnapped.”




My heartbeat is ragged. “You told her about me? You shared my private life with an outsider?”




“Of course not.” Seth’s dark hair sticks up in wild tuffs on his head. “Dad and I had our own stuff to work out. You know I spent five years mistakenly thinking Dad cheated on my mom.”




Cal flinches. “And you have your issues too, Blanca.”




I swallow hard. I reach over and stroke my white leather jacket. Maybe I should get up and go. Ride back to McNeal Manor on my motorcycle. But that would mean going someplace by myself. The last time I rode off into the night, my good friend Ethan was killed and Ms. Lydia kidnapped me.




“Sometimes being an adult means doing things you don’t want to do,” says Cal.




“I’ll drive you to your appointment next week, if that helps,” Seth offers.




“No way,” I say. “I don’t need that type of care.”




I can do this if I try hard enough.




I stand up and pick up my jacket. “Thank you for dinner,” I snarl.




But as I turn to go I walk smack into dark suits. The man is six foot three, every inch of him as sharp as his buzz-cut hair. The woman is my height, about five foot five, with silver stud earrings.




“Blanca Nemo?” The woman has a steady voice. Both of them hold up their palms to flash electronic badges. “Agents Carter and Marlow with the FBI. We need to bring you in for questioning.”




“What the hell?” Seth leaps to his feet.




“Blanca?” Cal springs up. “What’s this about?”




“I don’t know.” I shoot him a frightened look the agents can’t see.




“Don’t say anything without a lawyer. Okay, sweetheart?” Cal types at his chip-watch. “Hold tight until Nancy gets there.”




“Come on, Ms. Nemo.” The male agent grabs my arm, “Our car is outside.”




“Ouch! Not so tight!”




“Her name’s not ‘Nemo’,” Seth shouts. “It’s Blanca McNeal.” He and Cal hurry after us out of the restaurant into the night where a black sedan is waiting.




I turn to look at the McNeals one more time. Seth towers over Cal whose face is twisted with worry.




I smile wanly as the agents shove me into the backseat of the car.




The irony kills. I’m going someplace without them after all.





Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for the Sunday edition of The Everett Daily Herald. She also blogs at Teaching My Baby to Read with the mission of sparking a national debate on the important role parents play in education. Jennifer is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of SCBWI. She lives with her husband and two children in Edmonds, WA.

GENESIS GIRL will release in 2016 and is about an 18-year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder, the sequel will come out in 2017. Jennifer is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Literary Agency LLC.

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3 winners will receive an eBook of GENESIS GIRL & an eGalley of DAMAGED GOODS. International. 

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Title: GENESIS GIRL
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Pub. Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 280

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable. 

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.