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Saturday, July 30, 2016

PROMO Blitz: The Dragon in the Garden by Erika Gardner #excerpt


Fantasy
Date Published:  February 2016

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On Sale $.99 until the end of July 

There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours.

It’s time to find out why she has this power.

Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.


EXCERPT

Chapter One

The memory has haunted me for years.
In the middle of a bright California summer, dark days came. My mother and grandparents spoke in hushed, serious voice, arguing about my absent father. Was it my fault he left? A soft whimper escaped my throat and my eyes burned. I needed a hug, but no one paid any attention to me that day.  So I ran away to the refuge of my grandparents’ garden where I could hide among its statues and flowers.
My eyes lingered over the familiar garden ornaments. I passed the old birdbath, the statues of gnomes, and a cheerful squirrel. I ran one hand over the stone deer. Its brown paint had faded from years under the sun. Walking with quick steps down the gravel path, I made my way to the center of the garden, my special spot where my favorite statue waited. 
       A gnarled apricot tree grew there.  Right now it was covered with tiny green apricots. Later in the summer the sweet fruit I loved would ripen. I would get to pick them with my parents, no, just with my mother. My lip trembled. My father wouldn’t be here. 
The bright-green dragon lay curled at the foot of the apricot tree, partially covered by vines. My mother called the color jade green—the same shade as my eyes. As a child she talked to all the statues, but I only spoke to the dragon. I named her Daisy. Sitting down next to her now, the tears welled up at last, spilling over my cheeks. I wrapped my arms around my legs, making myself into a little ball of five year old misery.
“Child, why are you sad?” said a woman’s voice.
“Who said that?” I asked, wiping my cheek.
 “I did.”
“Where are you?” I stood and peered at the plants and statues around me.
“Right here.”
“Are not,” I retorted.
A soft laugh filled the air and the woman spoke again. “Perhaps you are right. Easy enough to fix, I suppose.”
The breeze picked up. The space beneath the apricot tree shimmered. Ripples warped the air like the heat over the barbecue when my father cooked. The sweet notes of wind chimes filled the yard. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have any wind chimes. I whirled around to find the noise. 
Under the branches appeared an enormous green dragon’s head. My mouth opened in a silent O and I held my breath.
 “Now child,” said the woman. “I won’t hurt you.” Her voice came from the dragon’s mouth.
I opened my lips to scream, but no noise came. Backing away, I bumped into the hammock and froze.
“I don’t eat little girls.” The dragon’s huge golden eyes twinkled.
“How did you know what I was thinking?” I whispered.
“I am a good guesser. Besides, I know I must be very big to you.” The voice sounded kind, like my teacher’s.
“As big as Daddy’s car,” I said.
“Oh, I am much bigger than that,” the dragon said, smiling. Her teeth shone white and enormous. “I’m only showing you a bit of me right now.”
“Where is the rest of you?”
“All around us.”
“Why aren’t you smooshing everything?” I gestured around the garden.
The dragon chuckled. “You are a smart little thing.” The jeweled head tilted to one side. “You would be Siobhan, yes?”
“You said it right. Sha-vauhn.” Everyone messed up my name. I wished on every first star, each night, for a different name— a normal name.
“In the old country Siobhan means ‘God is gracious.’”
“Yep, that’s what Mommy says, too,” I said glumly. “What’s your name?”
“Gwyrdd ferch Heulen ferch Caden ap Haydn.”
“Gwyer-eth?” My mouth struggled with the unfamiliar name.
“Not bad,” said the dragon. “I like the name you gave me—Daisy.”
“It’s easier to say,” I said.
“I am not smooshing the garden because I am not quite here. Only part of me is here. What year is it?”
“It’s 1993, Daisy.”
The dragon stirred. “It’s too early, child. The prophecy says I should not be here yet.”
“What’s a prophecy?” My tongue stumbled on the unfamiliar word.
“It’s a prediction of what might happen in the future.”
“You mean like the weather? My daddy says the guys on TV mess up all the time,” I said.
Daisy chuckled, a low rumble deep in her throat. “Your father is not wrong.”
“What does it say will happen?” 
“I am supposed to meet someone, but our appointment is for later,” said Daisy.
“Can’t you stay here until the appointment? I won’t let you be late,” I said.
Daisy frowned. “It’s a secret appointment. There are some people I don’t want to know about the person I’m supposed to meet.”
“Bad people?” I asked. “Is that why you hide and pretend to be a statue?”
 “Have you ever had a friend,” asked Daisy, “a friend who misbehaved and needed a break?”
 I knew all about that. “Sure, Danny hit Carter. They’re friends, but they both wanted the bike, and wouldn’t take turns. Miss Sarah told them to go sit down and have a time out.”
“Miss Sarah must be very smart,” said the dragon. “As it happens, friends and I have been fighting over something and we needed a time out.”
“Are there more dragons?” I asked.
“Yes, many more.”
“Are there dragons hiding in any other statues?”
The jeweled head moved slowly back and forth. “No, just me. The others cannot pass between worlds.”
“Why just you?”
“I have a job to do,” said Daisy. Her voice sounded sad.
 “Are the dragons good guys?” I asked, scooting closer to Daisy and laying a hand on her warm nose. I didn’t want her to be sad. 
Daisy snorted, tickling my hand so I giggled. “Yes, dear one, I think we are good.”
“But, if you come back now it would be bad?” My laughter faded.
“It would be very bad indeed, but later, when it is right, I can return.” Daisy sighed.
“I always knew you were real.” I straightened my shoulders. I had found a dragon in hiding.
“Really?” Daisy asked.
“You’re the only statue I named,” I answered. “Nobody fools me.”
The breeze picked up again. Daisy sniffed the wind. “Siobhan, I’m afraid it’s time for me to leave or the bad things will happen. Will you be all right?”
“My daddy’s not coming back, is he?” My worries returned.
Her scales sparkled in the bright sunshine. “No, he is not coming back to your mother although he will visit you and your brother.”
I sighed. “Daisy, will I ever see you again?”
The golden eyes twinkled. “Yes, I believe you will.”
The air warped again. I tried to watch, but a bird warbled close by, and I turned my head. When I glanced back at the apricot tree, the air shimmered and the small, dragon statue lay where Daisy’s head had been. “But, Daisy, who were you fighting with?”
A whisper floated on the breeze. I bent closer to the statue to listen. “That can’t be right,” I said to the empty garden.
On that day everything changed, especially me.
My name is Siobhan Isabella Orsini. It would be twenty years before I saw my dragon again.



About the Author

Erika is a sixth generation San Franciscan of Irish descent. She attended the University of California at Davis and completed degrees in Medieval History and Biological Sciences. A lifelong lover of books and a scribbler of many tales from a young age (her first story was completed at age five) she turned to writing full-time in 2011.

On a personal level she loves spicy food, twilight, dark chocolate (with sea salt-yum!) and nickel slots at Vegas. Erika lives for time with friends, a nice glass of red wine, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” & “Doctor Who” and good conversation. Her favorite things to do are running, cooking, reading, needlework, gardening… and of course, writing. Erika's music of choice is heavy metal. To pick her out in a lineup you should know that she is very short, fairly loud, and has dark eyebrows. The rest, as her hero Anne McCaffrey once said in her bio, “is subject to change without notice”.

Erika resides in Northern California with her incredibly hot husband, their three amazing kids, and their chocolate Labrador named Selkie. To reach Erika regarding her books, wine recommendations, or to debate which Iron Maiden album is the best (clearly, it’s Brave New World), you can find her online at www.erikagardner.com.


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Friday, July 29, 2016

PROMO Blitz: If I Loved You by @maryjwilliams05 #excerpt


Contemporary Romance
Date Published: March 2016
Publisher: Brook Publications

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On Sale $.99 until the end of July 

If You Only Wanted One Night Would You Take A Chance On a Man Who Wanted Forever? 

Rose O'Brian wants to spice up her love life and Jack Winston seems like the answer. Sexy, funny and a killer smile, Jack is every woman's fantasy. All she wants is one night of passion, nothing more. But Jack has a secret that stops him from taking her up on her offer, stops him from having the one thing he wants more than his next breath--beautiful Rose O'Brian. Rose has her own secrets. Emotionally scared, she's never believed in happily ever afters. But for the first time she's met a man who makes her want to open her heart, to dream of love. When Rose's past rears its ugly head can she finally let go and overcome the hurt? Can Jack convince her to take a chance and embrace a future with him? Can he show her that love is there if she will only reach out and take it?.

Other books in the Harper Falls Romance Series:


Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: May 2015


Welcome back to Harper Falls, WA, a place where love is in the air, but danger is just around the corner. Dani Wilde had already met the love of her life and lost him. Two weeks of passion and romance five years ago. Then he had walked away. Dani thought she had moved on, She dated, enjoyed the company of other men, even thought that she was keeping her heart open to the possibility of another love. But when Alex Fleming rode his motorcycle into Harper Falls, she knew she had been kidding herself. Her heart was still his. Alex Fleming knew what was waiting for him in Harper Falls. His sister, his best friend, a good job, and the woman he'd spent the last five years dreaming about--trying to forget. At the time, walking away had seemed like the only way. Now he has a second chance, but it isn't just his personal demons keeping him from Dani, his past is about to put the only woman he's ever loved in danger. He has a choice, walk away again or stay and fight. Love has a way of catching up with you. Dani and Alex are getting a second chance at their happily ever after. Now they just have to be strong enough to take it.



Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: August 2015

Tyler and Drew’s Story
He broke her heart. Now, ten years later he’s finally going to tell her why.

Tyler Jones and Drew Harper.
They came from different worlds.
They weren’t supposed to fall in love.

Teenagers on the brink of adulthood they gave into an uncontrollable attraction, sharing their hopes, fears, and their bodies. The plans they made in secret kept them going until they could leave the small town of Harper Falls and pursue their dreams.

Drew wanted to break free from his family’s wealth and influence, he wanted to make it on his own. Tyler was an artist. People in her hometown laughed at the idea of a girl with her background making anything of herself. Together they planned on conquering the world.

Without warning Drew pulled away. He left town without an explanation, crushing Tyler’s heart.

Now they’re both back where it all started and Drew can finally tell Tyler what really drove them apart. They have a second chance at love. But there are some people who will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Not even murder.

Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: October 2015

Lila Fleming.
Good sister. Good friend. Good girl.
Lila spends her life walking a straight line. No swerves. No excitement. Her future seems mapped out. A very boring future. One where her secret dreams will never see the light of day.
Then one snow-filled day, she meets a man who will shake up her routine, capture her heart, and help make all her dreams come true.

Welcome to a Harper Falls Christmas. Filled with laughs, old friends, and a happily ever after. Oh, and Cooper. A dog who will steal your heart.



About the Author

Mary J. Williams is an author from Washington State who went to school in a small town on the Columbia River. She loves writing, reading, and football.  She always wanted to write a novel and she always knew it would be a romance novel. But it wasn’t until her favorite football team lost the Super Bowl on the last play with an interception, that this dream began to come to fruition. She was so depressed that she tuned out all the media. Without television, internet, or newspapers, she had nothing else to do, so she sat down and started writing. Her first romance series, Harper Falls contains four books. Mary has released two new series in 2016, Hollywood Legends and One Pass Away (which combines her love of football with her love of romance).


Contact Links


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Thursday, July 28, 2016

PROMO Blitz: Breaking Promises by @sbrioneslim #excerpt #giveaway


New Adult / Sports Fiction / Romance
Date Published: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

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After a devastating accident, Aurora Crane's collegiate gymnastics career comes to an abrupt end…

Fighting to piece her life back together, Aurora packs up and transfers to California State to start anew. When she arrives, her focus is on schoolwork and choosing a new career. But to her surprise, destiny has other plans…

Sucked into the world of competitive breakdancing, Aurora comes toe-to-toe with the hottest B-Boy of them all…

An arrogant hothead, Mitch Adachi—or B-Boy Kickwit as he is more commonly known—has life all figured out. He breakdances all day, practicing for upcoming competitions that are sure to challenge his skills—which means he has no time for distractions.

When the new girl steps into the scene, he sees an opportunity he can’t pass up…
Besides finding Aurora devastatingly attractive, he can’t help but notice her skills. He quickly develops high hopes for the ex-gymnast, seeing her as the perfect potential crewmember for the impending high stakes Battle of the Crews competition. All she needs is some fine-tuning.

When the two commit to a business relationship, a different kind of passion kicks into high gear. There’s no denying they groove well together, but there’s a chance mixing high-stakes competition with a fierce romance might lead to…

Breaking Promises.





EXCERPT

“Are you stalking me now? I’m seriously not in the mood,” she hissed as soon as I reached her table. She looked up at me through hooded eyes and, as if to make a point, took her fork and stabbed a cherry tomato with it until its juices bled all over her plastic plate. 
My bottom lip twitched with amusement. “Not stalking actually, just a coincidence I saw you here.” 
“So staring at me earlier wasn’t enough? You have to bother me now too?” 
Yikes! This girl seemed like a grade A level bitch. Usually, I would have shot her some deuces and left her alone, but for some reason I found the whole encounter humorous. 
“I saw you earlier during our cypher. You looked like you smelled a skunk or something,” I commented nonchalantly. 
Blood rushed up her face, causing her cheeks to turn a soft shade of pink. Something about the sight caused my dick to twitch as if it were trying to wave hello to her. God, had it really been two months since I last got laid? 
The girl sighed and rolled her eyes before dropping her gaze back down at her gross looking salad. “You know what? I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with this. Not today.” 
“What do you mean?” With a smirk on my lips, I sat down on the empty chair across from her. Her eyes immediately lifted, blazing furiously. 
“Did I invite you to sit down?” 
“We’re having a conversation. A bit rude for me to stay standing up only to talk down at you, eh?” 
“You—” She shut her eyes and took a few deep breaths, rolling her neck to the side. A horrible sounding POP soon followed, leaving me to wonder how her head was still attached to the rest of her body. After a few silent moments, which really seemed as if she were plotting my death, she spoke again. “I had a rough day. My roommate is batshit crazy and I don’t even want to go to this school to begin with. Please leave me alone so I can sulk in peace.” 
I reached out and grabbed the smashed tomato from her plate, popping it into my mouth. “Funny, I don’t want to be here either. Guess we have that in common.” 
“Are you always this annoying?” she snapped. 
“Are you always this hospitable?” I shot back with a wink. 
Placing her elbows on the table, she rested her head in her hands, rubbing at her temples. “What do you want, dude? Like I said, I’m not in the mood for this, so either speak your piece or leave. Better yet, why don’t you just leave?” 
“Why did you look like you hated what you saw?” 
She raised her head in surprise, taking her time to eye me from head to toe. I smirked knowingly as her eyes traveled from my biceps to my defined pecs. 
She stammered. “I-I have no idea what you’re even talking about.” 
Yup, she was definitely checking me out.




About the Author


Thanks to her Mom’s unwavering devotion to read a childhood bedtime story to her every single night, S. BRIONES LIM’s love for books began before she could even speak.

Raised in Southern California, Lim initially dreamt of becoming an artist. After a Psychology Degree (Summa cum Laude), a stint in Art School, and a career in Advertising/Media she is finally diving back into her first love – books. As a self-renowned bookworm, Lim’s love for reading has inspired her to pen her own novels and hopes her readers will fall in love with her stories as much as she enjoys writing them.

Her obsessions include time with family, Cherry Coke, popcorn with jalapeños, watching movies and her dogs, Tobi and Roscoe. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband.


Contact Links
Twitter: @sbrioneslim
Pinterest: @sbrioneslim


Purchase Links


Giveaway

1 ebook copy each of Books 1-3 of the Caught Inside Series



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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

PROMO Blitz: After the Fire by @maryjwilliams05 #excerpt


Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 22, 2016

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A STAND-ALONE NOVEL

In his lifetime, Gaige Benson has dreamed of only two things. Playing football and Violet Reed.

WELCOME TO THE NFL

The Seattle Knights have the hottest players in the game. On and off the field.

Second Chances. First Love.

Gaige Benson is the NFL's golden boy. He's done it all. Won every award. Except that elusive Super Bowl ring. This year he is hanging up his cleats and he plans on going out a winner.

Even a golden boy has secrets. Will Gaige's past be the one thing that derails his future?

Violet Reed almost lost it all. Her sight, her dreams of becoming a doctor, and the only man she ever loved. A miracle saved the first two. Sixteen years later she is getting her second chance at love.

Secrets kept them apart. Will the truth separate them forever?

Get your copy of the stand-alone sports romance readers are calling an emotional, page-turning thrill-ride.




Each book in the series is a stand alone novel. Other books in this series are:


After the Rain

After All These Years
EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

SHE HAD ONCE asked him if he believed in a higher power.
God? Buddha? Fairies dancing around a blazing fire late at night? Something. Anything bigger than us.
Gaige Benson hadn't known what to say. Not then. But as he stood in the empty open-air stadium—the stars lighting the evening sky—he knew the answer.
Football was his religion. The field he played on and the building surrounding it, his cathedral. If a higher power had a hand in it, then his answer was yes.
He believed.
Walking to the center of the field, Gaige took it all in. He found football at the age of thirteen. A boy who saw his future mapped out. Working in a factory. Drinking away his salary. Divorce. Doling out child support without maintaining a relationship with his children. A weekend father, who half the time didn't bother to show up.
The first time Gaige picked up a football, he felt a connection. The first time he threw it, it wobbled with the grace of a drunk leaving his favorite watering hole on a Saturday night. But it didn't matter. He threw the ball again. And again. Until he taught himself to make it spin in a perfect spiral.
At the time, Gaige didn't know his talent could be useful. Where he came from, Brooklyn kids didn't dream of bigger or better. Most of them didn't dream at all. Gaige was no different.
One day he was passing a playground when a football landed at his feet. The boys on the field yelled for him to toss it back. Without thinking, Gaige sent it sailing, a perfect strike. Then kept walking. He was wary of the man who ran after him. Strangers were the enemy—according to his father. They either wanted money or accused you of something you hadn't done.
Gaige took everything his father said with a big grain of salt. Don Benson didn't have a dime to his name. Why would anyone expect to get money from him? And if a man accused his father of something, chances were he was guilty.
But Gaige was a cautious boy. He fought when necessary and ran when he had no choice. The man trying to get his attention was big. His dark complexion didn't worry Gaige. In his experience, a man was either good or bad. The color of his skin had nothing to do with it.
It turned out that this man wasn't simply good. He was the best thing that ever happened to Gaige.
Terrance Aldridge coached the local Pop Warner football team. A boy with an arm like Gaige's shouldn't let his talent go to waste. Gaige listened. Play football? On a field? With other boys? Was such a thing possible? He didn't know if it were a scam—nor did he care. If there were the slightest chance, he would take it.
The only obstacle was getting a parent's permission. Terrance gave him the papers to be signed, telling Gaige to have his folks call him if they had any questions. Gaige didn't laugh aloud, but he wanted to. His mother never asked questions. Unless they were directed at his father. Wynona Benson hadn't made a move in fifteen years unless she received permission first.
His father was another matter. His word was law. Don Benson could do no wrong. If he drank too much and staggered home two days late, it was his right. If he backhanded his wife—just because—whose business was it? He earned the money. He made the rules. End of discussion.
Gaige hadn't asked his father because he knew what the answer would be. No! Not because he thought there was anything wrong with football. He watched it every Sunday—after laying down a bet that he never won. No, he wouldn't let Gaige play because he was a mean bastard who wanted everyone to be as miserable as he was.
Gaige got around it easily enough. He forged his father's signature. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. There was no reason to think anyone would find out. His parents didn't care how he spent his days as long as the police didn't come knocking on the door.
He could steal. Lie. Cheat. Hell, his father wouldn't bat an eye at murder. Do what you want as long as you don't get caught. The mantra at the Benson house. 
Gaige had no intention of his father finding out. He tried out for the team and made it. The money for equipment was another matter. Gaige didn't steal. Or cheat. Lying was a necessary evil. He would have done almost anything to play but it looked like his first and only dream would die before it had a chance.
Luckily, Terrance was able to dip into a discretionary fund to help boys like Gaige. It rankled to take charity. Especially when the other boys on the team had families to pay their way.
"Don't let it stop you, Gaige," Terrance told him. "Remember. And one day, when you have the means, pay it forward, son."
Twenty-five years later, Gaige hadn't forgotten that kindness and generosity. When he saw someone in need, he did something about it. Over the years, the Gaige Benson Foundation paid out millions of dollars to charities and individuals. He had filled the board with people he trusted and could count on to distribute the funds judiciously and without prejudice. The first man he had recruited was the man to whom Gaige owed everything—Terrance Aldridge. Friend. Father figure. Teacher.
"Hey, Gaige." Logan Price called out from high in the stands. "You coming? The guys are waiting to go to dinner."
"Five minutes."
Closing his eyes, Gaige breathed in the air. February in Texas. Tomorrow he would play in his first—and last Super Bowl. Win or lose, he was hanging up his cleats. He was thirty-eight years old. He had more money than he would ever need. He had won every award from Rookie of the Year to league MVP—four times.
This season he put everything on the line to get here—including the possibility that he had lost the only woman he had ever loved.
Gaige Benson was known for his razor-sharp focus. Any distractions off the field were left there as soon as the first whistle blew. It wouldn't be any different tomorrow. Nothing would get in the way.
His gaze drifted to the section where she would be sitting. If she showed up. Gaige planned on going out a winner. But what about the day after? Or the day after that? His future stretched out in front of him. He had plans in place. There were hundreds of options for him to consider.
Do you believe in a higher power?
Her voice and that question had haunted Gaige for almost sixteen years. If there were a God, he prayed the woman he loved would find it in her heart to forgive him. He had a lot of years left. He didn't want to spend them alone.
In his lifetime, Gaige Benson had dreamt of only two things. Playing football. And loving Violet Reed.



Mary J. Williams is an author from Washington State who went to school in a small town on the Columbia River. She loves writing, reading, and football.  She always wanted to write a novel and she always knew it would be a romance novel. But it wasn’t until her favorite football team lost the Super Bowl on the last play with an interception, that this dream began to come to fruition. She was so depressed that she tuned out all the media. Without television, internet, or newspapers, she had nothing else to do, so she sat down and started writing. Her first romance series, Harper Falls contains four books. Mary has released two new series in 2016, Hollywood Legends and One Pass Away (which combines her love of football with her love of romance).

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On Sale for just $0.99 through the end of July!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PROMO Blitz: Scared Witchless by Amy Boyles #excerpt

Mystery, Cozy Mystery 
Date Published:  June 28, 2016

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A witch. A murder. A wedding dress?

Dylan Apel is having one heck of a summer. She knows her hand-made clothing is special, but magical? Discovering that she's a witch is bad enough, but when Dylan realizes there are folks who’ll kill to possess her witchy powers— that’s enough to make a girl want to hide out in the back of her boutique. Only problem is, Queen Witch is in town, itchin’ to make sure Dylan learns to cast spells, and this witch won’t take no for an answer.

Dylan must learn fast—someone just killed her best client with a poisoned gown meant for Dylan. Was it the tall, mysterious hottie in black, who's suddenly everywhere she goes? After all, the first thing Roman Bane says is he doesn't like witches. Is he here to save her, or kill her?

Dylan is barely getting a handle on her new powers when she finds herself surrounded by witches bossing her this way and that, local police nosing about, and wary clients—death by clothing is not good for business. And the solstice is coming … a time when witch powers are at their peak. Can Dylan survive the chaos long enough to figure out her new life?




EXCERPT


CHAPTER ONE

"If that ain't the other side of stupid, I don't know what is."
Reagan Eckhart, all platinum-blonde ninety-eight pounds of her, shoved a newspaper in my face. I winced, barely avoiding a massive paper cut to the nose.
"Those idiots put you in Arts and Leisure. You should have been on the front page of the Birmingham News." She tapped the newspaper with a single red fingernail. "With as much business as you do, Dylan Apel, you should have been the main story of the day."
"Don't you think technically they should have put me in the business section?" I said.
Reagan fluffed the foot of hair teased up at her crown. At least it looked like a foot. Okay, it wasn't a foot—only six inches. But those were a tall six inches. Big enough to practically be their own person. "Whatever," she mumbled.
The debutante was in rare form today. Reagan was dressed to the nines in a black halter top and pants that resembled Spandex. Personally, I was waiting for her to break out into the chorus of “You're the One That I Want,” à la Olivia Newton-John. Harry Shaw, her fiancé—a smallish, bald financial advisor—definitely wouldn't join her if she did. His idea of playing John Travolta probably resembled hot-and-heavy talk about how gross grease and lightning were and why would you want to put the two together?
I grabbed the paper and scrutinized the picture of me and my sisters, Seraphina and Reid. Bright, beaming smiles on our faces, we stood in front of our side-by-side stores—Perfect Fit and Sinless Confections. Seraphina, tall and slender, her hair shimmering like glass in the sunlight, looked absolutely perfect. Even Reid, my eighteen-year-old baby sis, looked cherubic and innocent, her doe eyes and cheeky smile radiating youthful exuberance.
Then there was me. I sighed. It had taken two hours to smooth my hair, and it had still frizzed on the edges. I wasn't as tall or slender as Seraphina. But what I lacked in athletic build, I made up for in curves. Good for me. I might not look statuesque and perfect, but I could put on a slutty dress and have enough T and A to get noticed.
Was that a zit on my cheek?
"When I realized you had this store, Dylan," Reagan said, "and I saw how beautiful the dresses were, I told Harry—I said, 'Harry, that's who's going to design my wedding dress.' Didn't I, hon?"
Harry, nose-deep in the business section, remained silent.
Reagan kicked him.
"Ow!" Harry rubbed his ankle. "What'd you do that for?"
"Didn't I, Harry? Didn't I say that?"
Harry shrank a little, his bald pate looking even balder under the fluorescents. "Yes, of course you did, dear."
Poor guy. He probably wouldn't last a year in the marriage. He'd be whipped, beaten down and likely castrated after two months. 
Did I say that out loud?
"Anyway," Reagan continued, flitting about the room. "I told Harry, Dylan Apel and I were best friends in high school—"
"Mortal enemies," I corrected.
"—and of course she's going to be the one to design my dress." Girlfriend didn't miss one beat. I don't think Reagan listened to what people said. Did she even hear them when they talked?
From the corner my assistant, Carrie Dogwood, snickered. I shot her a look of warning. She turned a deep shade of red and pretended to straighten a rack of sequined gowns.
"Reagan, do you want to see your dress again?" I asked.
"Of course," she squealed. "I can't get enough of it."
Carrie crossed to me. She leaned over, kept her voice low. "Wonder what she'll complain about this time."
I turned away from Reagan. "Hopefully nothing," I whispered. "Can you grab the dress?"
"Sure thing."
An unfinished blue gown caught my attention. The color of a robin's egg, the dress would be the envy of the Silver Springs solstice banquet, what with its deep vee neckline and overlay of chiffon. I needed to finish it before the dance, which was barely two weeks away.
I sighed. I'd been working a lot lately, thanks to Reagan's never-ending changes to her gown. There was less than a week until the wedding, and after that I'd have plenty of time to work on my own dress. That is, if I survived Reagan for a few more days.
I stared vacantly at the gown until a bodiless hand thrust the newspaper into my face once more. Reagan popped up in front of me and wiggled the now crumpled article. "But this reporter nails it. She absolutely gets it right. I could have gone anywhere for my dress, but there's just something about your gowns and your sister's food. It's like I'm transported to another place. I don't know how to describe it."
I had heard the same mantra over and over from clients. There's something about your clothes that I can't put my finger on. It's almost like they're magical.
Yeah. Right. Not that I didn't appreciate the compliment. Believe me, I did. So did Sera. If it weren't for the folks in our lakeside community of Silver Springs, Alabama, we'd be beggars. Hoboes maybe. Vagabonds most likely. And not the good kind. Not the sexy kind you see on the covers of romance novels.
Wait. There weren't hoboes on those. Well, anyway, we'd be dirty, covered in rags that smelled of oil and sweat, with grit under our fingernails that not even the best manicure technician could lift.
"Here's the dress," Carrie said.
Reagan's smile vanished. "Oh."
My dreams, my hopes, my wishes for a beautiful future crashed and exploded like a car careening off a cliff in a 1970s B movie. What could possibly be wrong this time—the hundredth time? I swear, every occasion this girl saw her dress, she found something to criticize. It was a wonder I hadn't strangled her before now.
I smoothed the lines of frustration that were forming on my forehead. "What's the problem?"
Reagan wrinkled her nose. "It's just…well…that's a lot of sequins."
I took a deep, cleansing breath and thought happy thoughts. "Last week you wanted more sequins. You said it didn't have enough bling."
Carrie bit back a giggle.
I flashed her a seething look. I mean, seriously. I knew it was funny, but it was only good service not to laugh at the customer while she's standing right in front of you. At least wait until the door hits her backside as she's leaving.
"Well," Reagan said, "last week there weren't any sequins. What were there? Like five on the whole thing?"
I steepled my fingers beneath my chin. "There were two hundred."
"Oh. How many are there now?"
"Five hundred."
"It's too many. Listen, Dylan, just because we were best friends in high school—"
"Mortal enemies," I said.
"—doesn't mean you can take advantage of me. If this dress isn't to perfection by Saturday, then I'm getting it for free. Right?"
Whoa, Nelly. "I'm sorry?"
Reagan batted her fake eyelashes. "That's just plain old good business. The customer is always right. I mean, we go way back. Too far back to let a little disagreement over some sequins ruin what we had."
I poked the air with my index finger. "Once again, we were mortal enemies. Reagan, you have brain damage when it comes to what high school was like."
A tittering laugh escaped her throat. It sounded like a thousand butterflies taking flight. That was right before I lifted my imaginary rocket launcher, aimed high and fired, sending the beauties crashing to the ground in a blazing explosion.
"You're so melodramatic, Dylan. We had a little disagreement about prom; that was all." 
I crossed my arms. "Reagan, let me remind you of exactly what happened in high school."
"Why don't you do that, since you're so convinced we had nothing to do with each other." Reagan pulled one of her eyelashes. Ouch. Didn't that hurt?
I shook my head and said, "You had Colten Blacklock ask me to prom for the sole purpose of standing me up the night of." I pointed to her and then to me. "You and I—we were never friends, and I'm not giving you this dress for free. We've done a dozen fittings, and you've found something wrong with each and every one. You can either take it or leave it."
Reagan's mouth fell. She swung to Harry. "Are you going to let her talk to me like that?"
Harry squashed the grin on his face and cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well. You have tried the dress on a lot, and Miss Apel has been more than accommodating."
Reagan stomped her foot. "You," she said, wagging a finger at him. "You wait until we get home."
Oh no. I didn't want Harry to be in the dog house because of me. I reached out and rubbed Reagan's arm, trying to soothe the savage bridezilla. "Reagan, I'll lose some of the sequins. Stop by tomorrow and see what you think."
She flashed a tight, bitter smile. "What you have better be good, or I'm taking my business elsewhere. And that means your sister won't be doing the catering, either." She squared her shoulders, swiveled on her heel and stormed out of the shop. Harry gave me an apologetic smile and followed. The little bell above the door tinkled as they left.
"Do you think she'll back out?" Carrie asked.
I shook my head. "Of course not. Not unless she wants a dress off the rack and a cake from Walmart."
Carrie laughed. "She's something else, isn't she?"
"She's certainly something.” I rubbed my neck. Tension latched to the cords of muscle. I'd have a headache pretty soon if I didn't take an ibuprofen. Extending my palm, I gestured for Carrie to hand me the wedding gown. "I guess I'll alter her dress."
Carrie stuffed the layers of silk in my hands and nodded to the blue cross-necked dress. "But when are you going to finish that one?"
I peeked out from behind the mass. "I don't know. We have, what? Two weeks until the summer solstice? I'll work on it soon."
The bell above the door tinkled. Seraphina crashed in, a whirlwind of flour following her. Her blue eyes sparkled with delight. How I envied those eyes. Mine were poo brown. Some said chocolate, but I knew better. Those folks were just being Southern polite.
"Oh my God! Did y'all see the article?" She waved the paper like a flag of surrender.
"I did!"
"It's incredible. The reporter went so far as to say our work is, and I quote…" She scanned the article. "Where is it? Where did that passage go? Oh, here it is." She jabbed it. "She said our work is 'inspired by the gods themselves.' Ha! You couldn't pay for better advertising."
"You probably could," I said.
Carrie flipped the ends of her chestnut hair. "Listen, y'all, I just got this new gel manicure machine in the mail. Do you mind if I go freshen up these bad boys?" She wiggled her perfect coral nails. To my eyes, they needed no refreshing. But hey, every girl has some sort of vice. Carrie's happened to be that she was ADD about her nails. In the three years she'd worked for me, I'd never seen one chip. Ever. Mine, on the other hand, looked like Godzilla had tried to paint them—there were broken wedges of color that Carrie would have deemed unforgivable.
"Go ahead. We'll be here," I said. She picked up a shipping box and exited to the back.
I hung Reagan's wedding dress on a rack and brushed my hands of any rogue sequins that hadn't been sewn on properly, which was actually impossible since I'd done the work myself. But my grandmother had always taught me to be humble, so that was my attempt.
Sera chewed her bottom lip. "The reporter says, 'Dylan Apel's dresses will transport you to another time and place. A claim I can attest to personally, for I experienced this peculiar phenomenon first-hand when I tried on one of her gowns. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, for a split second I was taken back to the cotillion ball where I met my husband thirty years ago. If that wasn’t enough to put a spring in my step, one bite of Seraphina's baked treats and I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen as she created confections on the stove. Truly a magical experience.'" Sera paused, looked up at me. "Seriously. That's some good stuff."
"Yeah, it’s good,” I said. But the reporter’s description about trying on my clothes bothered me. I shrugged off the uncomfortable feeling and smiled. "Though I have been accused on occasion of drugging my clothes."
Sera frowned. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
The bell tinkled. I stepped forward, my most welcoming smile on my face.
My sister glanced at me. "You look like a piranha. Tone it down."
I settled into a half smile. "Good morning! Welcome to Perfect Fit."
A towering redhead sauntered into the store. Bangles covered both her arms, clinking pleasantly as she walked. Emerald-green eyes fixed on me and Sera. I squirmed. Couldn't help it. At five-five I wasn't short. Not by any means. But this was a tall woman. Five-ten easy. And all that hair. A cloud of silky crimson and honey curls cascaded down her back. I don't even think she had any product in it. It was a totally natural head of hair.
I hated her.
Kidding. But envy did surface.
She smiled brightly. My envy turned into instant like. "Mornin'. I wanted to try on some clothes," she said in a throaty voice, the kind that drove men mad. I'd never seen her before, and Silver Springs was a minuscule town. From the look of interest on Sera's face, I guess she hadn't seen this woman before, either.
I stepped forward. "Absolutely. What are you looking for?"
"Just some regular day-wear stuff."
My time had arrived. I had a knack, a sixth sense really, about clothes and people. In one try I could create an entire body-fitting wardrobe and not even know the size of the person. What can I say? It came naturally to me.
"Are you looking for sportswear or business?"
"Both."
Cha-ching! "Let me pull a few items and see what you think."
"I'm gonna head back," Sera said. "I'm sure there's something I need to make."
I waved. "Bye."
She waved back and left, leaving me to focus on my client. Five minutes later I had two armfuls of pants, jackets, and blouses. "Let me get you in a dressing room. After you're done, come out and see what you think in the three-way mirror."
None of my dressing rooms had mirrors. People thought it weird, but I wanted to be around when my clients saw themselves in my clothing for the first time.
The woman disappeared behind the door, a roomful of clothes at the ready. Two minutes later she reappeared in a pair of jeans and a loose blouse.
"Take a look."
She stepped forward. The air contracted as if the very atmosphere had been sucked away. The mirror shimmered, and the woman's image bowed and straightened. It happened fast, so fast no one ever noticed. No one except for me.
So, this is where I tell you what that's all about. I would if I could. The easiest explanation is that my clothes make people feel great. From what Sera's told me, putting on one of my garments reminds you of an amazing time in your life. For instance—you're a fifty-year-old woman buying a dress for your daughter's wedding. You try something on and poof, you're transported back to the wondrous feeling you experienced at senior prom. Of course, that would be you, not me. My prom stank thanks to Reagan Eckhart.
At least, that’s what I’d always thought. It’s also why the reporter’s story bothered me. She saw her younger self in that mirror. That had never happened before—at least not that I knew of. My clothes blanketed clients in a wondrous feeling. They didn't make anyone see visions.  
Sera's baked goods do something similar. Every time I eat something she's made, I feel amazing, like I could take on the world. One bite of a buttery croissant and I'm totally superwoman. Minus the red cape. And the tights. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.
But why are we like that? We're gifted; that's what our grandmother always called it. We have a gift.
"What do you think?" I asked.
She stared at her image. After a long moment her lips curlicued into a smile. She licked the bottom one, her eyes shining.
"Your clothes are breathtaking."
Thirty minutes and three hundred dollars later, I placed the last package in the redhead's hands.
"How'd you hear about us?" I asked.
"I saw the article in the paper."
I clicked my tongue. "Wow. News travels fast." Sweet. Today might be a crazy, busy day.
She smiled, her eyes glittering. "You don't even know the half of it."
"Oh?"
She pinched her brows together, giving her a dark, ominous expression. "In one week I guarantee you won't recognize your life."
An awkward laugh escaped my lips. "Oh. Ha-ha. I hope it's all good."
She shook her head. "That little article that came out about you? The one that was supposed to help your business? Well, you just did the opposite. You stirred up a bed of fire ants." She leaned forward and gave me a stern look. "And in case you need remindin', the sting from a fire ant lasts a long time. Take this as your warnin'."
I was so confused. "What do you mean, a warning?"
"Watch your back."
With that she left, her cloud of hair billowing behind her. I stood stone still. Numb shock tingled over my body, filtering down into my fingers and toes.
What the heck just happened?





After living in Chicago, Louisville and New York, Amy Boyles finally settled in North Alabama with her husband.

Along with writing, she has a passion for cooking ridiculously fattening food and complaining about weight gain. She loves to connect with readers.


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Monday, July 25, 2016

Tour Kick Off: Body of the Crime by @JChaseNovelist




Crime / Thriller
Date Published: 5/20/2016
Publisher: JEC Press

From the multiple award-winning author of the Emily Stone Series, comes a new kind of forensic hero: 

Three grisly murders linked to five old cold cases, dubbed the Flower Girl Murders, pushes detectives to their limit to find a clever and extremely brutal serial killer, leaving a California town demanding justice. The District Attorney’s Serial Special Task Force retains the help of the reclusive Dr. Chip Palmer, a forensic expert and criminal profiler, to steer them in the right direction. 

Palmer is known for his astute academic interpretations of serial and predatory crimes, along with his unconventional tactics that goes against general police procedures. He is partnered with the tough and beautiful D.A. Inspector Kate Rawlins, a homicide detective transplanted from Phoenix, and the chemistry ignites between the team—passionate and deadly. 

The Flower Girl Murders leaves three homicides, five cold cases, two seasoned detectives, three suspects, and one serial killer calling all the shots. The investigation must rely on one eccentric forensic scientist to unravel the clues to solve the case. But at what cost?





Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist.  She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master's degree in criminology.  These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

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July 25 - Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours - Kick Off
July 26 - Mama Knows Books
July 27 - Natural Bri
July 30 - Book Junkie Mom
August 1 - Texas Book Nook
August 2 - Books Are Love
August 3 - The Indie Express
August 4 - On a Reading Bender
August 5 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up


Tour Kick Off: Hello Again by @stanschatt #giveaway




Paranormal Mystery
Date Published: May 22, 2016


Hello Again is a psychological mystery, a roller coaster of emotions that incorporates elements of the paranormal and the techno-thriller. Bill Eisner meets the most beautiful woman he has ever seen; waiters stop in mid-sentence when Amber Love passes them. Is Bill’s bond with her so close that it extends beyond life? What can he do when he begins to receive text messages from her after her death? A detective who believes only in science and a reporter with psychic abilities that frighten him team up to try to unravel the mystery before a shadowy figure claims another victim.




Stan Schatt, author of forty books, is a futurist, a technologist, a novelist, and a person curious about many things. His novels range from paranormal mysteries that include the Frankie and Josh series to science fiction and young adult mysteries. His non-fiction books include studies of writers Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Connelly, and Daniel Silva. 



Twitter:@stanschatt



July 25 - Authors That Rock 
July 28 - Texas Book Nook
July 29 - The Indie Express
August 1 - Yellow Brick Living
August 3 - Natural Bri
August 4 - Wicked Babes Book Blog 
August 5 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up


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