Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cover Reveal : Only For You (Boys of the South, #2) by Marquita Valentine



Title: Only For You (Boys of the South, #2)

Author: Marquita Valentine

Expected release: September 2, 2013

Genre: Contemporary

Age Group: New Adult

Cover designed by: Marquita Valentine

Loose ends left loose for too long tend to strangle.

Cole and Violet knew it wouldn’t be easy. They knew their relationship would take work. But when the press finds out about Violet Lynn’s newest boyfriend, they start digging. And when his past come to light, exposing all of his family’s secrets, their relationship begins to fray.

Country Music’s Golden Boy, Jaxon Hunter, has it all, except the girl that got away. What she saw, she really didn’t. What she thought happened, he allowed her to believe for reasons so insane that no one would ever have believed him if he had confessed. But now that everything’s out in the open, he’s going to do his damndest to convince her that he’s the only one for her.

Now Violet must choose between Jaxon— her first love and the guy she thought had cheated on her—and Cole—the guy who helped her heal and love again.

Or will one of them make the decision for her?
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About the Author

New York Times Bestselling Author, Marquita Valentine, writes sexy heroes that make you swoon and sassy heroines that make you laugh. She’s the author of the bestselling contemporary romance series, Holland Springs, and the new adult romance series, Boys of the South.

Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man—and if that doesn't work, they can console themselves with cheesy tatertots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.

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Cover Reveal/#Giveaway : Exception by Patty Maximini


Title: Exception

Author: Patty Maximini

Expected release: October 24, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Age Group: Adult

Cover designed by: Okay Creations


With her life packed in boxes in the back of a U-Haul truck and a promise to her sister, Charlotte, that she’d find a way to let go and be happy, Emily crossed the country to escape the haunting memories of her past.

As she settles into her new life, Emily holds true to her promise and begins to open her walls to those around her and overtime, she selectively begins to trust again. However, some wounds are too great to overcome, and between her recurring nightmares and her fear of even the slightest physical contact, she wonders if she will ever heal completely.

In walks Taylor, a handsome out of towner, with his own past to overcome. Against all odds, an undeniable special friendship forms almost instantly between the two. Not minding his company or touch, Emily is jolted into realization that he is her healing, her strength, her protection and her escape from her daunting past.

He is her exception.
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About the Author

I’m Patty, and words have always been a passion of mine. I’ve always loved to read them, write them and learn them in other languages. Last year, I’ve decided to take that passion and turn it into a book, the result was Exception, my very first novel due this October.

Whenever I’m not sitting behind my computer, I’m either enjoying the company of my dear hubby, Alex, and our four four-legged babies or reading. I’m a firm believer in long hand written letters, love of any kind and good stories.

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Release Day Blitz : A Time of Dying by Hailey Edwards

A Time of Dying
Araneae Nation, Book Three
Hailey Edwards

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Date of Publication: July 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61921-660-0

Number of pages: 249
Word Count: 75k

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Amazon http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-time-of-dying-hailey-edwards/1114852561?ean=9781619216600 Samhain

Book Description:

They just might survive…if they don’t kill each other first.

Once the future Segestriidae maven, Kaidi lived a privileged life. Now she spends her nights haunting cities ravaged by the plague. Spade in hand, she stalks rows of freshly dug graves for corpses…and then she takes their heads.

Her new life is caked in blood and spattered with gore, but it’s hers. At least until—to her fury—she’s caught napping.

A plague survivor by the skin of his teeth, Murdoch risks his neck to solve the mysteries left in its wake. Bodies have gone missing. Guards have left their posts and never returned home.

When he rouses a female dozing among the dead, he’s unprepared for the violence of her response. Or his. Beneath the grime, she’s lovely. Too bad the blood under her fingernails belongs to his clansmen.

He has no choice but to follow this alluring creature deeper into her world of winged beasts and flesh-eating monsters. She holds the knowledge he craves, but the price is high—and they may both pay for it with their lives.

Warnings: This book contains one heroine in desperate need of a bath and one hero willing to wash away her sins. Expect threats, swears and general cursing. Love is a slippery slope, and these two are sliding.

About the Author :

Born in the Deep South, Hailey is a lifelong resident of Alabama. Her husband works for the local sheriff’s department and her daughter is counting down the days until she’s old enough to audition for American Idol. Their dachshund, Poochie, helps Hailey write by snoozing on his dog bed in her office.

Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing. Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.

She loves to hear from readers. Drop her a line here.

You can also swing by her blog or subscribe to her newsletter for all her latest news.

You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Website: http://haileyedwards.net/

Blog: http://www.tumblr.haileyedwards.net/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HaileyEdwards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorhaileyedwards

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3345773.Hailey_Edwards

Cover Reveal: A Perfect Mess by Zoe Dawson


Title: A Perfect Mess (A Perfect Secret, #1)

Author: Zoe Dawson

Expected release: June 17, 2013

Genre: Mystery

Age Group: New Adult/Adult

Cover designed by: Okay Creations


I know what you did last summer.

Aubree Walker, the perfect girl most likely to succeed, is sure there’s only one person who knows what she did.

Booker Outlaw, one of the three Outlaw brothers—all identical, all gorgeous, all from the wrong side of the tracks, and all pure bad boys. He was always the unpredictable one, the one who would be brash enough to make it big self-publishing horror novels on the internet. He promised never to tell, but everyone knows you can never trust an Outlaw.

Then a year later, in the middle of the night, she receives a phone call at Tulane. Her aunt, who took her in after her mother’s death, has passed away under suspicious circumstances. Now she has to face that one person who knows all about what she did that summer—sexy Booker.

Returning to Hope Parish to lay her beloved aunt to rest, stirs up all those ugly memories. When Aubree starts getting threats, she can’t help but wonder if what she did last summer was tied to her aunt’s death. Afraid, she turns to the only person who knows the truth and Booker doesn’t hesitate to offer his broad shoulder for her to lean on. But Booker has a secret of his own that could crush their fledgling relationship.

As the hot, sultry summer days move on, she finds that even a perfectly smart girl can lose her heart to a perfectly bad boy. What is she going to do when someone starts asking questions Aubree doesn’t want to answer? She’s knee deep into a terribly dangerous, wholly life changing, who-can-she-really-depend-on perfect mess.

A Perfect Secret Series: Three perfect girls, three perfect secrets, one unholy trinity.
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About the Author

Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic comedy/mystery, new adult, and urban fantasy. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.


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Release Day Blitz: Scent of Salvation by Annie Nicholas

Scent of Salvation
Chronicles of Eorthe Book 1
Annie Nicholas

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Date of Publication: July 30th, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61921-748-5
Word Count: 98,000

Cover Artist: Kanax

Amazon BN Apple

Book Description:

Love blooms across species, culture, and time.

Chronicles of Eorthe, Book 1

Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.

An illness is killing Sorin’s pack. As alpha it’s his responsibility to save them, but it’s a battle this warrior doesn’t know how to fight. Then a blue light in the sky brings a creature he’s never seen. She calls herself human, but to him she smells like hope.

Sorin offers Susan a safe haven in return for a cure, but she’s not that kind of a doctor. She’s a doctor of physics, not a physician. Yet as they search for a cure to save a dying people, they find something special—each other.

But even with Sorin’s protection, Susan can’t help but wonder how long she can survive in a world without humans…


Before Susan could explain anything about dimensions and gateways, the door to Kele’s chamber crashed open, and Susan jumped to the balls of her feet, prepared—to what, fight? Was she nuts?

A female blocked the entrance, her muscular physique hinting at enough strength to twist Susan into a pretzel without breaking a sweat. The newcomer flung her black hair over her shoulder.

Rising with grace, Kele straightened her dress before addressing the intruder. “Mother.”

“Daughter, I heard you’ve brought home a stray along with the Apisi alpha.” The female’s stare drilled into Susan, her sneer far from welcoming.

Susan’s breath caught in her throat. Black, soulless eyes ate her gaze. Her fingers clutched the lapels of her jacket as she pulled it closed. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants and offered her hand. “I’m Dr. Susan Barlow.”

The female shifter narrowed her eyes, nostrils flaring.

Susan withdrew her untouched hand, then hid it behind her back and glanced at Kele. Maybe she should have sniffed her mother instead? She wished someone would give her the Dummies Guide to Shifter Society and a little time to study it.

Kele’s mother crossed the room in two great strides and swung her arm.

Susan did her best impression of a statue. She didn’t budge as the impact of the slap swerved her head to the side and dragged her gaze from mother to daughter. Both of them were flushed with emotion yet at opposite poles of the color spectrum—one dark as an oncoming storm and the other pale as the moonlight.

The back of Susan’s heel caught the edge of the cushion and she landed hard on her back.

The bitter flavor of blood swept over her taste buds. “What the hell?” She rubbed her jaw and glared daggers at the crazy woman looming over her. Just as quickly, she schooled her expression to something less threatening before she insulted the bigger shifter further. With the tip of her tongue, Susan explored her mouth. She didn’t encounter any big gaps, so no lost tooth. A small blessing.

Kele’s crazy mother hovered over Susan’s face and bared her teeth. In beast form, her expression would have appeared fierce, but in human form it seemed terrifying. With an easy grace, she flipped Susan onto her stomach. A bony knee pressed between her shoulder blades, making her kiss the floor. Pain shot across Susan’s upper back and neck.

“How dare you come into my den and not submit to me.”

“She’s not a shifter!” Kele shouted. “You can’t expect her to know how to be polite.”

Something ran over Susan’s hair, and the sound of sniffing followed. She tried to take a deep breath but the weight on her back made it difficult.

The nutjob exhaled in disgust. “What is she?”

“A human.” Kele peered at Susan’s throbbing face as she stroked her hair. “Please, I wanted to teach her how to behave before meeting you and father.”

“Your father.” The bitch snorted. “It’s bad enough he’s entertaining a vampire and dealing with trespassing alphas. We don’t need any more vermin within the den.”

Susan was jerked from the ground by her hair and dragged across the floor. Pain shot into her scalp while she scrambled to support her weight with her legs.

“Let go. Let go.” The shifter world was more brutal than anything she’d ever experienced. Susan slapped at the crazy woman’s hands tangled in her hair.

“My daughter took too many liberties in offering you shelter. You’ll need to find another den to take you in.”

At a loss, Susan yanked and squirmed but only made the pain worse. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kele leap.

The petite blonde used her wiry strength to jump across the room and land on her mother’s back. The collision knocked them both to the ground in a knot of arms and legs.

Untangling her limbs from the struggling shifters, Susan could finally elbow the bitch in the face. The impact made a satisfying crunch. She pulled back her arm for a second shot, but Kele grabbed her and half carried, half dragged her out of the chamber.

“Hurry, we need to reach my father before she beats you into cinders.”

Not needing any further incentive, Susan ran after her new friend. “Your people are crazy.”

About the Author:

Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon’s ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.

Annie writes for Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and Lyrical Press.

Website: www.annienicholas.com

Blog: www.annienicholas.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Annie-Nicholas#!/pages/Annie-Nicholas/162716537103705

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annienicholas

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3132972.Annie_Nicholas

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/annienicholas/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/yt8Kv

Book Blitz: Starfire by Michele N. Zugnoni

Chronicles of Shadow Mist
Book One
Michele N. Zugnoni

Genre: new adult paranormal romance

Publisher: Forbidden Press
Date of Publication: July 30

ISBN 978-0-9895690-0-2
ASIN: Not assigned yet

Number of pages: 400
Word Count: 110,000

Cover Artist: Michele N. Zugnoni


Book Description:

From an ancient battle comes a forbidden love … and the chance to hope again.

Destined to destroy vampires, or refuse and be executed, seventeen-year-old Julia Kirkwood finds herself drawn to two things: a life of partying and rebelling against the law, and Clay Blackwell. The trouble is, Clay happens to be the son of the Lumince high priestess, the leader of a race of peace-loving vampires, and Julia’s father’s unspoken enemy. For Julia isn’t just a Reaver, she’s the daughter of the Reaver Chief. And Julia’s father is furious to discover she’s secretly dating and falling in love with a Lumince, particularly after an attempt at peace crumbles in bloodshed.

When her father intensifies his attack against the Luminces, endangering the lives of Clay’s people, Julia’s forced to take a stand. She must choose to accept her destiny as a Reaver, or claim her heart and find the inward strength to declare war against her own flesh and blood. Interwoven with her fate are the ramifications of a love story as forbidden and passionate as her own: the ancient romance that sparked the creation of Reavers and Luminces, igniting this centuries-old feud. Will Julia’s feelings for Clay be enough to transcend centuries of love-turned-hate? Or will their final hope for peace be incinerated in a fiery war?

Book Trailer : http://youtu.be/ZuqcFliSRr4

An excerpt from chapter 2, Clay’s POV…

“D’you ever wonder,” Julia’s fingers glided along her cat’s back, blazing a path into its fur, “if there’s a place so far away, it just has to be perfect? That –” she sighed, “that maybe if we traveled far enough, we could – I don’t know, we could maybe cut around the bull shit and the lies and just live the life we’re supposed to live? Free of everything but the truth and ourselves?”
Clay tilted his face toward the stars. “Maybe. If there’s a place far enough away.”
“Sometimes I feel like there has to be.” She pulled her gown around her legs, letting the material drift against her skin. “Otherwise, what the hell else is there?”
“Mrow,” agreed the cat, nuzzling its cheek against Clay’s hand.
“Nice cat.” Falling onto the deck, Clay scratched behind the creature’s ears. “What’s its name?”
“Pandora.” Julia pushed herself to her elbows, causing the feline to fall onto her lap with a startled mrow. She smoothed her apologies against its fur. “Named her after a story my mom told me once. When I was a little girl.”
His heart sprinted as he stared into her eyes: stained with starlight and sparking with secrets, they grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. “A story?”
“Hmm.” She nodded. “About a girl who just couldn’t take no for an answer. She opened this box she wasn’t even supposed to touch, and let out all the dark, evil things of the world. Anger. Jealousy. Spite. Malevolence. Everything bad. Until she got smart and slammed the lid shut, trapping just one thing inside. You know what that was?”
“Tell me.”
Julia tilted her face to the heavens. “Hope,” she murmured, her answer mingling with Clay’s whispered: “Hope.”
A crease formed between her brows, and she lowered her gaze to skewer Clay with her fiery stare. “Thought you hadn’t heard the story, Lumince?”
Clay shrugged. “I’ve heard it. I just wanted to hear you tell it.”
The starlight faded from Julia’s eyes and she reached for her bottle of champagne. “Aren’t you breaking the rules? Coming out here to talk to me?”
Clay smothered a grimace. “Rules?”
“Yeah, you know.” Curling her hand around the bottle’s neck, she lifted it to her mouth in a fluid yank. Her throat spasmed around the rush of alcohol; plunking the bottle onto the deck, she moistened her lips and leveled him with her stare. “Should any vampire be caught keeping company with a human,” she air-quoted the law with her fingertips, “that creature will suffer no less than two years in a Reaver-run penitentiary and –”
“And no less than thirty lashes of a pinewood whip.” Clay tugged his fingers through his curls, swallowing a sigh as Pandora curled onto his lap. “I know the law.”
“Then why are you out here talking to me?”
There was a dare in her eyes, in the way she pushed her fingertips against his hand; capturing one between his fingers, he held it in his grasp. “Last I checked, Reavers didn’t exactly qualify as human. Or have the laws changed again?”
Julia arched a brow. “Nice,” she drawled, twisting her fingertip from his hand. It fell against his arm, where it burned her touch into his skin. “Do you talk like this to all the girls, or am I just special?”
Clay met her gaze and took a breath. “I’m still trying to figure that one out.”
She blinked. “Well, let me know when you do. ‘Cause I’m just dyin’ to find out.”
She tilted her head for another drink, and Clay watched as the neckline of her dress fell open, revealing the Reaver mark etched into the skin below her collarbone. Unbidden, his fingers drifted to the design: a jagged “R” seared within a circle, smooth against his touch. “Did that hurt?”
He thought he heard her breath catch; he knew he saw her eyes widen as her gaze drifted to his hand. “Enjoying the feel?”
“Sorry.” Clay yanked his hand away, his cheeks burning against the warm September breeze. “I just…I’ve never seen one this close before.”
“You mean my cattle brand?” She skimmed the mark with her hand. Her forehead creased and her mouth puckered as she stared at the fingers he’d touched her with seconds before. “It’s okay, I guess. It’s just – I’ve never had anyone touch it before. It’s . . . kinda weird.” Her hand brushed against his arm, causing his breath to catch. “But it didn’t hurt. Or, it did for a minute, when I first got the flash.”
“The flash?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “It’s like…a moment, when you know you were chosen. A searing pain, and then you get the mark. It happened when I was thirteen. A full year before any of my other friends were chosen, which really kinda sucked.” A sip from the bottle, washed down with a tuck of her mouth. She smacked her lips together. “But it’s okay. I’ve gotten over it.”
“Wow.” Clay raised his brows.
“Yeah. I guess.” Shivering, Julia swigged another long drink. He took the opportunity to caress her hand with his thumb, sliding it beneath his palm.
She shifted until she was sitting, her gaze drifting to his mouth. “I wonder…”
“What do you wonder, Jewels?”
Her eyelids fluttered at the endearment, a spark of surprise sizzling through her gaze. “I – I wonder if …” Julia’s free hand glided into the air, and she skimmed her fingertips against his lips. “Do you mind?”
Clay swallowed and leaned forward as her touch seared itself into his skin. “D-do I – Oh.” He blinked. “Oh, yeah. Um, okay. Sure.” He slid open his mouth to reveal a pair of gleaming white fangs.
She smoothed her fingers over their tips, wincing as they pricked her skin. “They’re sharp.”
“It’s okay.” Flipping his hand, he captured her fingers between his own. “I don’t bite, and I never hurt.”
He was caught within her stare, pulled within the molten fire flashing through her eyes. His heart dipped as she yanked her hand from his touch, a guarded mask slipping over her features. A second later, and the bottle was at her lips, the rush of liquid flooding her throat. He caught the bottom with his hand, causing her to lower it until it hovered between them both. “Why do you drink so much?”
“Why do you care?”
“Actually,” he lowered his hand and she plunked the bottle onto the deck, “I guess I’m trying to figure out why you pretend so hard like you don’t.”
“Maybe it’s easier that way.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Clay scratched behind Pandora’s ears, making the creature purr. “Or maybe you’re just too scared to try it any other.” Her eyes flashed fire, but he caught her hand before she could flail him with her words, flipping it to run his fingertips along the lines of her palm. “I told you. You don’t have to be afraid of me. I don’t hurt, and I never bite.”
“No.” She ripped her hand away. “You only touch.”

About the Author:

Michele is a recovering demon (AKA attorney) who left the legal field to follow her dreams of writing and teaching college-level English. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling as far as her credit card will take her, reading an assortment of fantasy and paranormal, and playing with her frisky animals (two black cats and two loud-mouthed cockatiels).

She’s loved vampires since she was four, when her BFF confided that her older sister was a vamp who enjoyed drinking blood. Like any four-year old, Michele thought this was the most awesome thing ever. Michele currently lives in Modesto, California, but will move to Santa Barbara to begin a Ph.D. program in education and literacy this fall.




Starfire is coming out July 30, and to celebrate, we're lookin' to give away some loot. To enter
this rockin' contest, simply follow the actions below, and you'll receive the corresponding
number of entries!!!

*Comment on any tour or Facebook post (see www.starfireseries.com for tour dates and info)
*Like Michele's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MicheleNZugnoni)
*Share Michele's Facebook page on your own Facebook or blog
*Like Michele's Twitter account (www.twitter.com/Michele_ZZZ)

*Purchase Starfire and comment on Michele's Facebook page "I just purchased this fiery new
paranormal romance! Can't wait to read."

*Review Starfire at Goodreads, Amazon, on your blog, or anywhere else on the web (but be
sure to let us know on Michele's facebook page).
*Host Michele on any virtual tour stop (interview, review, spotlight, etc.)

*1 Starfire shot glass
* 3 Starfire mugs (2 Julia/Clay, 1 Mia/Brennan)
*5 autographed copies of Goddess Kissed, the Starfire short-story prequel coming out Sept. 1
*10 red or black velvet bookmarks (with assorted charms)
*2 $25 gift cards to Amazon.com
*1 $50 gift card to Amazon.com!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Promo : Never Gone by Laurel Garver

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 14, 2012)

***Special thanks to Laurel Garver for sending me a review copy.***


 Laurel Garver holds degrees in English and journalism and earns a living as a magazine editor. She enjoys quirky independent films, word games, British television, Celtic music, and mentoring teens at her church. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Visit the author's website.


Days after her father’s death, fifteen-year-old Dani Deane begins seeing him all around New York—wading through discarded sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, socializing at his post-funeral reception. Is grief making her crazy? Or could her dad really be lingering between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani desperately longs for his help. Without him keeping the peace, Dani’s relationship with her mother is deteriorating fast. Soon Mum ships her off to rural England with Dad’s relatives for a visit that Dani fears will become a permanent stay. But she won’t let her arty, urban life slip away without a fight, especially when daily phone calls with her lab partner Theo become her lifeline.

To find her way home, Dani must somehow reconnect with Mum. But as she seeks advice from relatives and insights from old letters, she uncovers family secrets that shake her to the core. Convinced that Dad’s ghost alone can help her, she sets out on a dangerous journey to contact him one last time.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.89

Paperback: 236 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 14, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1479205079

ISBN-13: 978-1479205073


My dad and I have this game we play on elevators. One of us comes up with three related things and the other has to guess the category. If I say “Frick, Cloisters, Guggenheim,” Dad will know they’re museums — and our favorite Saturday haunts here in the city. He usually stumps me with weird British slang from his childhood or random facts about my mother. I have a way harder time stumping him. Even when I try classmates’ names, art terms, indie bands or obscure Harry Potter characters, he almost always gets it right.

As the floors blip by, I at last have the perfect clue: Self, Us, People.

Identity groups? he’d guess. Circles of moral responsibility? Subjects of your latest drawing?  Blimey, is it the multiple points of view in Renoir’s group paintings?

Nope, he’d never get it. He never saw those coffee-ringed magazine covers in the ICU waiting room. He was the patient. And even though he died two days ago, I can’t stop playing Three Things on elevators.

By the time I reach the seventh floor, I have a strep-like ache in my throat. I shuffle into the hall, hugging a packet of Dad’s memorial service bulletins to my chest. I won’t lose it. I won’t. The minute I let one toe stray into that quicksand, it will suck me right under.

As I trudge toward our apartment, every muscle fiber screams, “No! Run!” like I’m the ditzy chick in some horror movie about to go explore the haunted attic alone.

The moment I slide my key in the lock, my mother yanks open the door. She stands there in her cashmere suit, fists on hips, dry-eyed and smelling of Tresor perfume, like she’d spent the afternoon in client meetings rather than a crematorium in Greenwich Village. I bet she’d let her long-lost Central Pennsylvania accent slip out before she’d ever shed a tear.

“Dani! Where have you been? I’ve been sick with worry. Your grandfather’s cab got back ages ago, and he said you were right behind him.”

“You didn’t get my message?”

She sags a little. “Do you have any idea how many people have left messages today?”

“Sorry, really. I, uh, stayed late to help with this.” I hand her the packet of bulletins, still warm from the copier. “The secretary let me do the layout. And a special cover.”

“So all this time you’ve been at church?”

I nod and follow her into the dining room, where the table is set for six. She tosses the packet onto the sideboard, then turns, frowning, to inspect my ink-stained fingers. “What on earth? You had a nail appointment.”

If she’d look in the packet, she might have a clue where the hours went and how I got so inky. But as usual, she can’t be bothered with anything tainted by stained glass and steeples.

I glance at Dad’s chair, wishing he were here to run interference. He’d compliment my skillful hands, explain how I can’t draw wearing those thick acrylic tips. But his chair is empty, and no matter how hard I wish it, I’ll never hear his voice again.

“Sorry. I just…ran out of time.”

“This simply won’t do, darling.” Mum prods my ragged cuticles. “You can’t stand in a receiving line and shake a hundred hands looking like this. Go wash up, and I’ll give you a manicure after dinner.”

Nice. Deviate from Mum’s precious plan and I’m dismissed like a coffee-spilling, Xerox-breaking temp. I doubt anyone will give a hoot about my stupid nails tomorrow.

I open my mouth to argue, then clamp it shut. If Dad were here, he’d say it was “jolly nice of your mum to offer” and make the sign language motion for “honor.” My cue to remember the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.” To remember our long talks about Mum and God and how being a sullen jerk when she pushes my buttons only makes my faith a joke to her. Hypocrisy. A lie.

I sigh. “Okay, Mum.”

When I look toward Dad’s chair again, he nods and mouths, Well done.


He runs a hand through his thick, ginger-blond hair and smiles. His blue eyes crinkle in the corners. I want to run to him and kiss those crinkles, kiss his hawk nose and big ears. Hang on and never let go. But I can’t move, can scarcely breathe. There’s no sign that his face was a crazy quilt of stitches, purple welts and crusted bandages. That machines kept his lungs working.

Mum waves a napkin in my face. “Dani? Hello? You all right?”

I peer around her. Dad’s chair is empty again, but the placemat at his space is askew. No way did Madame Perfect do that.

“Danielle?” Mum touches my arm and I jerk to attention.

“Sorry. I was just remembering —” I rifle through my coat pockets. “Here’s the receipts and change from the taxi. And I’m not hungry. But…I’ll take care of my nails. Now. On my own. But thanks for offering. I guess I’ll go now. To my room. So, um, bye.”

I stumble down the hall and pull my bedroom door closed behind me. For a dizzy moment, I grip the knob and gulp in air. I’m all right. It was nothing. A flash. A brain burp. After spending hours drawing his portrait from an old photo, I must have his face burned onto my retinas like an afterimage.

Except he moved. Gestured. Communicated. Bumped a placemat. I don’t think that’s usual for a grief hallucination.

Conflicting feelings scamper inside me like crazed squirrels. All around me is nothing but more chaos. Deep drifts of crumpled Kleenex, unfinished sketches, textbooks, and lotion tubes litter the floor. My bed’s lost under heaps of laundry. In one corner, my half-packed suitcase lays open beside an unopened stack of Christmas gifts. When Mum gets a spare moment to see this place, she’s going to flip.

“Dani?” Aunt Cecily calls outside my door. “Back, are you?”

I turn from the mess and open my door. Dad’s older sister shifts nervously in her tweed overcoat and tugs on a lock of her bobbed, sandy hair. She hands me a white garment bag from Macy’s. “Your mother asked me to find you something dark and dressy to wear tomorrow. None of your skirts or dresses is quite right for the occasion, she said.”

“Probably not.” I rip away the plastic. Something black and blandly shapeless emerges. Lord have mercy. What fashion travesty has Aunt Cardigan-Khaki-Loafers decided to inflict on me? She must’ve fallen into the clutches of Macy’s most sadistic sales clerk, or the most clueless — someone who assumes every Brit takes fashion tips from the queen.

Cecily’s forehead puckers with worry. “Is it all right, dearest?”

“It’s…nice,” I say, trying to not cringe as I rub the scratchy fabric between my fingers.

“You hate it.” She blushes, two red splotches spreading across her milky English skin.

Dad looked just like that whenever I asked him to pick up tampons at the store. I wince and turn away.

“We can take it back,” Cecily blurts, misreading me. She frantically digs through her pockets, finds the receipt, and jabs it at me. “Here, I still have the bill of sale. We can go now. Or after dinner. They’re open till ten at least.” She grabs up the shredded garment bag, noisily rustling plastic as she tries to rewrap the dress. “I don’t know why your mother asked me to shop for you. She knows I haven’t her capacity for glamour.”

It’s one thing for Mum to boss and bully me, but there’s no way she can do this to Cecily.

“Please stop fluttering. It’s fine.” I take the dress again and hang it on a peg, letting the plastic fall. There has to be some way to fix this, to spare my style-challenged aunt from embarrassment or having to fight the city crowds, which terrify her. Come on, brain.

“Oh, Dani,” she says. “Don’t settle on my account.”

“It’s just very…grown up, which is kind of startling. Like you see me as so, well, mature.”

“Of course you are, so brave through such a difficult time.” As tears pool in her eyes, she briskly pats my arm and ducks away from my room.

The scent of beef bourguignon wafts through the door as she goes. For a split-second I’m tempted to follow her. But Dad’s counting on me to “honor” Mum, which for now means doing what I say I will — skip dinner to fix my raggedy nails.

I kick a path to my dresser and rifle through my toiletries for an emery board. As I dig deeper, something cool oozes onto my fingers. Oh, no. Hand sanitizer. One whiff and I’m back in Dad’s ICU room with powered-down machines, a gray stone man in a bed. So cold. So silent. So gone. I hurl the leaky bottle across the room, and it lands just short of the trash can, by Dad’s shoe.

Dad’s shoe?

I stare at the scuffed, brown oxford, size 12. My gaze drifts up to jeans legs, a corduroy blazer. It’s Dad, leaning on my desk like he used to every night.

He tilts his head and knits his pale eyebrows. “Rough day, my love?”

My love. His Rosebud. Dance-pants. Doodlebug.

Tears sting my eyes. My heart tugs me to go hug him and pour out all my troubles, while my brain screams Flatline! Corpse! Crematorium!

I wobble and sink onto my bed.

“Oh, Dad,” I croak. “What am I supposed to do without you? Mum and I…it’s hopeless. I can’t do anything right in her eyes. To her, I’m just a pathetic slob.”

“Not so, not so. Grace brags endlessly about your talent to anyone who’ll listen. She just frets about you, you know, developing a proper artist’s eye for composition, symmetry and all that. A bit of order does help, right?”

“I guess.”

He smiles. “Very well, then, let’s get to it. Crank some tunes and we’ll have this place spiffed up in no time. Come on. It’ll be fun. I’ll do my Bowie impression.”

I snort at the thought of Dad waving his long, wiry arms to glam rock while shelving books and dusting. He always is happy to be an epic doofus if it makes boring chores entertaining.

Not is. Was. Shame flushes through me.

“This can’t be real.” I turn my hot face away and peel off my coat. Why am I talking to this hallucination or ghost or whatever it is? How could I possibly believe that Dad can go on having fun and playing peacemaker? It’s wishful thinking in the extreme.

When I turn back, he’s gone. Instead of a sweet breeze of relief, the loss hits like a fist.


I squeeze my eyes shut and try to conjure him. The lilt of his northern British accent. The sharp scent of darkroom chemicals clinging to his clothes. But it’s no good.

“I’m sorry I doubted you, Dad. Please come back. I promise I’ll listen.”

* * *

My breath fogs the cold glass as I perch on my bedroom windowsill and frantically dial Heather. Stories below me, yellow cabs race down Columbus toward midtown.

At Heather’s end, the Mexican Hat Dance is probably jangling in a pocket of that heinous gold lamé knapsack she loves so much. I hope she can hear it. Chances are her Georgia relatives dragged her to a monster truck rally or line dance or whatever it is they do for holiday family fun. She headed south for winter break with her big, noisy family the day we were all so sure Dad would pull through. He did wake up for a while. And Christmas was coming.

But real life isn’t a cheesy holiday flick with miracles that arrive right on time. Dad didn’t pull through, and now my best friend is far, far away when I need her most.

The line clicks. “Hey,” Heather says. “I thought we were gonna chat online at nine. You okay?”

“No, I — It’s…something really, really weird has happened. I saw…um —”

“Becca!” she suddenly shouts at her toddler sister, “get your grubby paws off my pastels and go back to bed! Hang on a sec, Dani, I need to move my art stuff before Becca scrawls a tornado in Times Square.” The phone crackles on fabric and I hear Heather calling for backup.

I sigh with relief. Bless you, Becca, you sticky-handed terror. That was a close one. What was I thinking, trying to tell Heather I saw Dad? She’ll think I’ve gone off the deep end. Or worse, she’ll let something slip to our youth pastor or even my mother.

I grab my sketch pad and attack it with a charcoal stick while I wait. My jagged strokes form Dad and me on the steps of the Metropolitan. It sucks not being able to talk about his ghost or spirit or whatever it is, but what can I do? Who could I possibly trust with something this bizarre?

The phone clanks again. “Sorry ‘bout that. It’s too doggone noisy for Becca to sleep well here, with my redneck relatives hollering all the time. I keep hoping there’s some mistake and Daddy was switched at birth. Oh, get this — loony Aunt Pearl is going to clown college.”

My laugh comes out slightly strangled. Rusty. Like I forgot how.

“You don’t sound good, Dani. If the airport weren’t three hours away, I’d be on a plane home in a heartbeat. How about we take your dad some flowers when I get back Monday?”

“Sorry, but I can’t. I’m leaving on Sunday for England.”

“You are? But why?”

“The interment.”

“What’s that? Sounds like something Nazis would do.”

“It’s the, you know…the dirt part.”

“But I thought your dad was being buried in New York.” Her voice is thick and choked. “Aren’t we gonna get even a day of break to hang out?”

I blink back tears. “I wish. I really do. But the England burial is in Dad’s will. Sunday flights were cheapest.”

“You’ll come right on back though, won’t you?”

“No. Not for, um, two weeks.”

“Two weeks! Are ya kidding me? What about midterms?”

“Mum thinks she can cut a deal with the headmaster. I’m not sure what I’ll do if she can’t. I’ve got enough going on without worrying that my GPA is in jeopardy, too, right? I feel like I’m sinking into a swampy pit. I wish someone would throw me a vine.”

“I’ll try, Dani. Let me think. For your dad’s memorial service tomorrow, you need a plan, a way to bail if things get too ugly.”

“How bad can it get? I doubt we’ll have a pro-wrestling smack-down, like at your great-granddad’s funeral in Mobile. My family doesn’t really do ugly feelings, except for sulks and sarcasm.” I pick up my sketch pad again and layer on choppy cross-hatch shadows. “But if I get weepy and my mascara melts, I’ll…I don’t know. Hide in the bathroom?”

“Not very original, but it’ll do. Listen, you need someone there for you who won’t be a mess themselves.”

“Like who? Everyone I know left town for the holidays.”

“That can’t be true. But don’t you worry about it, all right? I got unlimited long distance and I won’t rest till I find someone.”


“Trust me, I wouldn’t let you be alone at a time like this.”

Trust her. I look at my desk, where Dad was standing just minutes ago. Trust her, my only friend who came to the hospital, ate bad cafeteria meals with me, typed my tear-stained homework.

“Heather, I need to tell you something a little freaky.” I take a deep breath. Trust her. Trust her. “I just saw my dad. And he talked to me.”

She gasps, and then the line’s silent.


“You — You think your dad is…haunting you?”

“I don’t know exactly.” I go to my desk and touch the spot Dad had leaned against. “I was trying not to fight with Mum and he was suddenly there, kind of…helping me cope with her. Later he offered to help me clean my room. He seemed so real, down to the wrinkles around his eyes.”

“I know you miss him a lot, but what you saw…might not be quite what you think.”

“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. You think I’m cavorting with evil spirits, huh?”

“That’s not what I meant.” She blows out a slow breath. “You’ve got me worried. Please don’t do anything extreme — like climb in a casket or something. You’re stressed out and hurting and your mind can play tricks on you.”

“Climb in a casket? As if. You are so morbid. Anyway, there is no casket. Dad was cremated to travel lighter. I’d need to be the size of a Barbie doll to fit in his urn.”

“Dani, you better talk to somebody who’s there in person. Like now. I know you and your mom aren’t exactly tight. But your dad’s parents are there, aren’t they?”

“Yeah. His big sister, too.”

“Talk to them, okay? Promise?”

“Fine. Whatever. See you in a few weeks.”

I plunk the phone on my jagged sketch of Dad and me. My face looks half-melted, like Quasimodo or pottery that collapsed in the kiln. Heather’s right. I’m losing my freaking mind. And now my inky fingertips have a fresh coat of charcoal. Great. I can’t do anything without making a mess.

I tiptoe to the bathroom, hoping Mum doesn’t stop me for a surprise inspection. I scrub my hands with wet wipes, pumice soap, then nail polish remover. A dozen cotton balls later, my fingers still have a faint blue tinge, like I’m oxygen-deprived. I ought to put on Goth-black polish to complete the look. Better yet, I could stick feathers in my hair and change my name to Dances-with-Ghosts. It’d be about as sane as keeping my promise to Heather.

I can’t go marching into the dining room and say, “Great news! Dad’s back. He just stopped by for a chat.” I can picture how swimmingly that’d go down with my family. Aunt Cecily would weep into her knitting, while Dad’s mother, Grandma Deane, would sit pale and stricken in her ivory twinset, teacup rattling in her hands. Dad’s father, the Reverend Elliott Deane, would either conk me with a crucifix like I’m possessed or give me the senile church lady treatment — a thoughtful frown, reassuring pat, and vague inspirational quote of the day. Mum would flash one of her apologetic “teenagers are such a trial” smiles, and say nothing. Not like she’d get a word in edgewise with Poppa Tilman grousing about her “un-daughterly” hospitality, “uppity” cooking, “plain-Jane” décor.

Well, I didn’t promise I’d talk about the ghost, only that I’d talk. I think I can manage to get “More tea anyone?” to come out of my mouth.

I towel off each knuckle and nail, chanting a prayer: Lord God. Have mercy. On me.

My heart rate slows. I can do this.

I shut off the light and slowly pad down the hall. Voices grow clearer as I near the dining room. Mum is blathering on about the real estate market in our Upper West Side neighborhood.

Then Grandma asks, “You’ve discussed this with Dani, haven’t you?”

I freeze. Discussed what?

Book Blitz: The Sexy and The Undead by Charity Parkerson

The Sexy and The Undead
Sexy Witches Series Book One
Charity Parkerson

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Punk and Sissy Publications
Date of Publication: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 1484875001

Number of pages: 156
Word Count: 25,769

Cover Artist: Designs by Charity

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/wYF7ZCfUhNo

Amazon (US) Amazon (UK) BN ARe Smashwords

Book Description:

A potion gone wrong, or right?

Single, unemployed, and in charge of her very own pet zombie, Ella Perry is cooking up trouble, and it's raining men.

Ella has spent years searching for a cure for a zombie named Freddie. However, when an experimental concoction takes an unexpected turn, she gets a glimpse of the life she's been missing by hanging out with the undead.

Zombies, Angels, and Pixies. Oh my! Don't miss out on the first book in the new "Sexy Witches" series by Bestselling Author Charity Parkerson.

Short Excerpt:

“This place flipping sucks,” Tam said, using her whiniest voice.
She didn’t get to visit with her friend, Lena, very often since she lived amongst the humans, and Tam was stuck living in the Hall of the Gods. She was taking full advantage of the rare social call by laying all her problems on the Seer as thick as possible. “I mean, look around,” she added, gearing up for a full rant. “There’s not one man in this joint I’d be willing to sleep with.”
Lena’s bright pink hair, which stood out in a spike above her head, tilted from side to side as she did as Tam ordered. Her eyes widened, showing her confusion.
“Are you insane?”
Disbelief laced her words. Lifting one beautifully manicured finger, she pointed out a blond angel that was guarding a nearby door. “What about that one?” Before Tam could answer, Lena added, “or that one?”
Tam didn’t bother glancing in the redhead’s direction. She knew without looking that both men wore matching black kilts and nothing else. Their golden muscular bodies were a common sight in the Heavens.
“Bloody freaking hell, Lena. All these guys are three feet taller than me. What am I supposed to do with them, I ask you? Their,” she made a swirling gesture with her index finger, searching for the right term. “Pricks. Yes,” she said with a nod, deciding that she liked that word. “They are probably the size of my leg. I’d be killed.”
A snort of laughter escaped Lena, but she covered her mouth as if attempting to hold it in. Tam’s nerve endings lit up at the sound. Most people believe that chanting their belief in fairies will cause one to grow strong, but in truth laughter was the key to pixie power. A day with Lena was equivalent to a day at the spa for Tam. Not only was Lena the clumsiest immortal in all the realms, she was also a regular hoot.
Feeling encouraged, she grew even more outrageous. “Take that one, for example.” Tam nodded toward a dark-haired angel that stood a few inches taller than the rest. “Notice that his kilt falls to his shins instead of his knees,” she pointed out.
Lena nodded. “I did think that was odd, but then again, what isn’t here?”
It was Tam’s turn to snort. “Well, his is not a fashion statement. I heard that he tried wearing the standard uniform when he first arrived, but everyone got sick of seeing that huge one-eyed monster slapping his kneecaps every step that he took. Mistress Katrina finally made him wear a longer one.”
Lena openly gawked at the man in question. Leaning over in her chair, she tried to peek under his pleat before losing her balance and almost landing on her face.
Catching her stare, the man began to inch the plaid upward as if fully prepared to relieve Lena’s curiosity.
“Thomas!” Tam cried, admonishing the wicked angel.
With a wink in Lena’s direction, he turned away, but Lena didn’t look the least bit ashamed as she attempted to right herself.
“Too bad,” she sighed. “I’ve never seen a knee-slapping monster before. Why don’t you just leave?”
Wasn’t that the million-dollar question? Tam’s wings drooped, mimicking her inner deflation. “I want a normal man,” she confessed to Lena. “An ordinary man who won’t squash my twat,” she added miserably.

About the Author:

Charity Parkerson was born in Tennessee, where she still lives with her husband and two sons. She is the author of several books including fifteen Amazon bestsellers.

Her “Sinners series” was voted one of the top ten best books by an Indie author in 2011- Paranormal Romance Reads Her book “The Danger with Sinners” was named “Best Book of 2012” by Paranormal Reads Reviews and was a finalist in the 2012 Australian Romance Reader’s Awards for Favorite Paranormal Romance.

She was named as one of the top three Indie authors of 2012- EbookBuilders She is a member of The Paranormal Romance Guild, is a Goodreads moderator, a member of Coffee Time Romance, and co-host of The Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson show.

She won author of the week in August of 2011, and is a five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath.

Website: http://www.charityparkerson.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4506281.Charity_Parkerson

Blog: http://charity-thesinners.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharityParkerson

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Post Edition #29

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

This Last Week @ Books, Books The Magical Fruit

Week of July 22 – July 28
Author Guest Post (Pump Up Your Books Tours) : Down and Out in Beverly Heels, by Kathryn Leigh Scott
Author Guest Post :(Pump Up Your Books Tours) The Seventh Sorcerer and Rock Haulter by Stephen Hayes
Book Review(Pump Up Your Books Tours) : The Little Sparrow Named Too by E. Dantes
Book Blast (I Am A Reader): The Hero's Lot by Patrick Carr
Book Blitz/Giveaway (YA Bound) : Spirit by Shauna Granger
Book Promo (First Wild Card Tours) : Graced With Orange: How Caring For Cambodia Changed Lives, Including My Own by Jamie Amelio
Book Spotlight(Pump Up Your Books Tours) : The Little Sparrow Named Too by E. Dantes
Book Promo (First Wild Card Tours) : Lost & Found by Lyne Reider
Book Promo (First Wild Card Tours) : Whispers on the Prairie: Book One, Pioneer Promises Series by Vickie McDonough
Author Guest Post (I Am A Reader): Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel
Book Blast(Partners In Crime) : Outside Eden by Merry Jones
Book Blitz (YA Bound) : Seeds Of Transition by Carolyn Holland

Next Week @ Books, Books The Magical Fruit

Week of July 29 – Aug 4
Book Blitz (Bewitching Book Tours): Starfire by Michele N. Zugnoni
Book Blitz (Bewitching Book Tours): The Sexy and The Undead by Charity Parkerson
Release Day Blitz (Bewitching Book Tours): Scent of Salvation by Annie Nicholas
Release Day Blitz (Bewitching Book Tours): A Time of Dying by Hailey Edwards

Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Guest Post : Down and Out in Beverly Heels, by Kathryn Leigh Scott

A Day in a Life of Kathryn Leigh Scott

I rise early and my day always begins with a cup of English tea (P & G Tips) and a walk in my garden. I grew up a farm girl and remember my dad walking out the kitchen door in the morning with a cup of coffee to look out across the fields before starting the day. My work as a writer is so much like farming was for my dad: sowing seed, cultivating through the long, hot growing season, harvesting and then going to market. My dad would stand on the kitchen steps drinking coffee, planning his day, just as I walk through my garden sipping tea and formulating the turns my story will take. I'm usually at my desk around 7 am with my second cup of tea reading over my pages from the day before. I find it hard to continue unless I'm satisfied with the writing. I edit and rework before moving on to the day's fresh output. I work from a synopsis and an outline, but I find that by chapter 6 or 7, the characters are guiding the story. I keep them in check, but still give them a lot of freedom. Somehow, everything usually ends much the way I conceived it. I write seven days a week with a goal of 1000 words a day. There are times when it’s a struggle and I just can't meet my goal… so I stop and give myself a break. After all, there were days on the farm when we had to stop work because of bad weather, but the sun always came out again. I'm usually finished by early afternoon when I either swim or take a long walk. I love to cook and garden, and that's what I turn to when my work is done. I love having friends for dinner, and flowers on the table are just as important to me as the meal. I absolutely cannot write after the sun goes down unless I'm at the tail end of my book… then I could write until dawn!

About the Book:

Meg Barnes, a beloved actress for her role as TV detective Jinx Forgarty, has it all but thanks to her newlywed con-man husband, loses everything and ends up living on the streets of Tinsel Town in her Ritz-Volvo. This fun, light-hearted romance takes us into the Hollywood social swirl, but also delves into the gritty truth of what it is to be “homeless and hiding it” in one of the most glittering, fashionable cities in the world. It’s also a story of redemption with a “Thelma and Louise” twist as Meg, incorporating skills she learned as a TV detective, tracks down her fugitive husband and struggles to regain her reputation, career and friendships.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


Excerpted from Down and Out in Beverly Heels by Kathryn Leigh Scott, © Montlake Romance 2013

Actress Meg Barnes, homeless and living in her car, hopes to spend the night in a safer place than parked at the curb of a local park for the night. She needs a good night’s sleep because she’s got a job guest-starring in a TV pilot.

I park up the street in a cul de sac off the main road. Then, my overnight bag slung on my shoulder, I slip through a break in a boxwood hedge. In the shadow of a sycamore tree, I pause, listening to the sounds of the night. The lights are off in Marjorie Singleton’s house, my benefactor tucked in for the night. I don’t know Marjorie well, though whenever I voted, it was in Marjorie’s clean, spacious garage, her Bentley parked on the street to make way for a bank of polling booths on election day. I’m sure Marjorie, if she knew, would be only too happy to extend a neighborly welcome to me.

It’s Wednesday: Marjorie’s son, who lives in Encino, is home with his family and won’t stop by again until Friday afternoon, when he’ll bring her Chinese takeaway. I know the rituals; I’ve watched Jake Singleton come and go. This is a safe night, and all is quiet.

I follow the flagstone walkway around the swimming pool, past the rose bed, and turn the knob on the side door to the garage. It’s unlocked, as usual. Inside, I slip quietly along the west wall to the workbench Marjorie’s long-dead husband built, and set down my carryall. I plug my laptop and cellphone into a wall outlet to top up, then move through the darkness to Marjorie’s Bentley. She rarely drives it anymore.

I toss my sleeping bag into the back seat. Tonight I can pack in a good six hours and be gone before the gardeners arrive. On those nights when I’ve had to spend the night in my own car, I remain fully clothed, doors locked, windows open no more than a finger-tip wide.

Usually I find a spot on the street around Holmby Park, the gates to Aaron Spelling’s mansion within spitting distance. Should his ghostly presence be hovering above his former abode, I can imagine his bemusement seeing me camping out a stone’s throw from his old bedroom window. I still get residuals from his shows, blessed checks from repeats of mindless fluff that pay my car insurance and buy me another month at the health club. But those nights parked on the street, hiding under spread newspapers, even with the tinted windows, are the tough ones, the only time it really hits me that I’m homeless.

More accurately, I am without a home. I am not actually a Homeless Person. I always manage to have a roof over my head, even if it comes with four wheels and a dashboard. I’m not a bag lady, a bum. I’m not a thief, though I suppose I’ve stolen a few pennies’ worth of kilowatt juice from Marjorie. But the back seat of an old lady’s car is only temporary accommodation, not Home, Sweet Home. I awaken too often in the night, dozing more often than sleeping.

I slide my legs deeper into my sleeping bag and hug my arms for warmth, trying to stop the rat-wheel of worry spinning in my head. I am far from complacent about the fix I’m in, yet I manage to drift off in welcome sleep.

Moments later—or is it hours?—I’m fully awake and alert, every fiber of my being a listening device. What is it? What did I hear? My heart bangs in my ears as I strain to sort out the sounds. The irrigation system kicking in? A squirrel on the roof?

Hearing footsteps falling softly on the flagstone walk, I slide free of my sleeping bag. Who’s coming for me? Who in hell knows I’m here? My fingers close around a small can of pepper spray. I don’t even know that the aerosol works. The container is old and I’ve never had occasion to test it.

The garage door scrapes open. A beam of light arcs across the windshield. A male voice booms. “C’mon out. Now!”

… It’s my Margot Kidder nightmare, a “caught-in-the-headlights” shot of myself disheveled, my arms clutching a sleeping bag, splashed on the cover of a supermarket tabloid: “Former ‘Holiday’ Star Down and Out in Beverly Hills!”

Tears sting my cheeks. Wouldn’t the paparazzi love this shot? Jinx, face puffy, mascara smudged, lurking in someone’s garage. I press my forehead into my sleeping bag, recalling poor Margot, missing her front teeth and in need of meds, cowering in someone’s backyard. What’s my excuse? If I’m busted now, it’s the end of my job next week, the end of pulling myself out of this confounding mess I’m in.

About the Author:

Kathryn Leigh Scott is an actress, probably best known for creating the roles of Josette DuPres and Maggie Evans, the love interests of vampire Barnabas Collins in the cult classic TV show “Dark Shadows.” Down and Out in Beverly Heels is her second work of fiction. Scott wrote Dark Passages, a paranormal romance, with more than a passing nod to the ‘60s soap and she appeared in the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film Dark Shadows last year.

Scott is currently at work on a sequel to Down and Out in Beverly Heels.

To learn more about Kathyrn, please visit www.kathrynleighscott.com .

Connect & Socialize:


Book Promo : Lost & Found by Lyne Reider

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

LIFE SENTENCE Publishing (May 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jeremiah M. Zeiset for sending me a review copy.***


Lyne and Nicholas John Reider married in 2004 and had five children. Nicholas went home to be with the Lord in November 2012. Lyne has spoken to adults and youth all over the United States about pain and grief and how to find rest in Jesus Christ. The Reider family currently resides in Wisconsin.

Visit the author's website.


After losing two sisters, a best friend, and her thirty-seven-year-old husband, Lyne shares her incredible testimony of how God has not only kept her, but ultimately used every event to bless others.

Lyne came from a broken family. Her father is a convicted murderer. The first and only time she met him was while he was in chains and in prison. She was raised by an abusive stepfather and contemplated suicide several times. Lyne knew there was a God and she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only thing keeping her alive.

Tragically, Lyne’s sister Michelle passed away at the age of twenty-four, and her other sister Antonya passed away at the age of sixteen. This ultimately led to severe depression. Nothing, however, prepared her for the pain she felt when her thirty-seven-year-old husband Nicholas died. Incredibly, she never lost hope in God and therefore, she chose life over death.

Regardless of a person’s status in society or how much money they have, grief affects anyone, in any culture. This book has touched the lives of many. And it will touch you.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99

Hardcover: 102 pages

Publisher: LIFE SENTENCE Publishing (May 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1622450795

ISBN-13: 978-1622450794


Why Not Me?
Growing up I knew that my twin and I had a different father from my older two sisters. I also knew that our stepfather was neither of ours. I’m not sure how I found out or at what age I found out. I do remember that I knew it at the age of about eight because a woman who had come to the house said that my twin looked just like our father, and we burst out laughing. We knew she must have been lying or she didn’t realize Zeke was our stepfather. Perhaps she really did think they looked alike, but we knew better.
The earliest childhood memory I have is when I was about five years old, and I was at Red Lobster with my sisters, mother, and cousin Lat. My next memory is around the same age, and we were in Michigan where I was born, and my mother and Zeke were leaving us with relatives to go to Texas. I remember that I cried like never before. I feared I would never see my mother again, but we soon moved to Marshall, Texas.
Growing up was hard for me. I was shy, fearful, and intimidated. I always thought I was ugly and unpopular because of the fear Zeke had put into me. My biological father had never been in the picture. He led a very destructive life and is now serving life in prison for it. Not only was he involved in multiple crimes, including robbery and rape, but he eventually committed the terrible crime of murdering a young woman. I never knew him. I only knew his name. I did have an old picture of him from the 1970s. I don’t remember how I got the picture, but I think my mother gave it to me when I asked her about him.
I used to stare at it because I could not see how in the world I looked like him. There were several times when I was young that my mom would get upset with me. I’m sure I did something wrong. She would say I had the same personality as my father, and I looked just like him. It made me mad because I could tell that in some small way, she was disgusted with me for reminding her of him.
So I stared at the picture and hated it. I had never met this man who was my biological father. I did obtain his prison address and wrote one or two letters to him in 1996. But when I got his letter back, he talked crazy, and it scared me. I never wrote him again.
When I was twenty-four, I did finally meet him. In the year 2001, while dating a guy named Jesse, I had such a burden on my heart to find out why he had killed that young lady. More than anything, I wanted to see him and talk to him face to face. I had a college ministry during that time at Iowa State University, and I was on fire for God. I wanted everyone to get saved.
I discussed this with Jesse, but we needed to get my name on my father’s visitors list. We did and we then drove to Michigan from Iowa.
Nervous and unsure of what I would say, I entered the maximum security facility. I was scared. After a lot of waiting, they called my name and did a normal body search. They took me to an area where people were talking through a thick glass or plastic window. I sat down and waited.
In about two minutes, he entered, wearing an orange jump suit. His hands were shackled and his feet were shackled. He could barely walk. I became numb. The only thing I remember is him telling me how much I had grown and how beautiful I was. All I could manage to ask was why he had murdered that young lady.
He said they were dating and smoking marijuana and drinking. In the middle of an argument, the young lady had grabbed a letter opener. He tried to take it from her, and all of a sudden he snapped and stabbed her.
I just sat there holding my breath. He knew I was a believer in Jesus Christ, and he told me that evil spirits came into his cell and tormented him. He was very afraid. He asked me to look on the internet about demonic spirits, and I nodded. I was in shock. But why was I nodding my head?
I didn’t need to know about demonic spirits. I knew about the power and blood of Jesus Christ! But I couldn’t get the words out. I prayed with him, but I don’t even remember what I prayed; I was so shaken up. I never went back, and I never answered any letters. I was so afraid of him knowing where I lived even though he had a life sentence in prison.
I had known that I had a bad father, but not much had ever been said about him. My early years were good as far as I could remember. One time in particular we had a huge Christmas. My stepfather Zeke wasn’t as mean back then. We had chores, and a lot of them, but our house wasn’t the war zone that it would later become. That Christmas we got so many toys, bikes, remote control cars, dolls, and stockings full of candy! That was the first and last nice Christmas I remember having. After that, Christmas consisted of maybe one shirt, some pajamas, and a stocking full of nuts and oranges. Life had taken a dramatic turn.
I wish people, especially parents, would realize that although children may have had happy moments in their lives, if the majority of their life was in darkness, that is what they will recall most often. That overshadowing darkness was especially the case with me.
Stark contrasts filled my early life. In high school, I was in band, and I twirled rifles and flags. Twirling rifles was pretty cool, and only about five to eight girls qualified, so you had to be good. And I was! We had to attend parades, but most of the time my sisters and I could not go.
We were all in band, and my twin twirled also. My older sister was the drum major. One time we went to a parade, but to my mom and stepfather, that was probably enough. However, we would get left there with no ride home.
By this time, we had moved from the city out to the country, in Nesbitt, Texas. Nobody ever wanted to take us home. We never had any money, so here we were in 101 degrees of hot Texas weather, and we had no way of buying an ice-cold drink. The parade was downtown, with no water fountains around.
I felt like I was going to pass out. I stared at other kids buying drinks and started to cry. Then my older sister Michelle came up and said she had begged her friend for some money to buy a Dr Pepper. The three of us drank from that small eight-ounce cup and savored every last drop. So what my parents thought was a fun event turned out to be terrible and humiliating to me.
I’m sure my mom did the best she could. I guess I was upset with her for choosing a husband who didn’t work, but stayed at home instead of supporting her. If he had worked, we would have had enough. I have such a dislike for laziness now, and that is a good thing.
Similarly, we would go to band practice and get left there. We would sit outside on the steps as everyone else left, hoping someone would pick us up. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t. My band teacher, Mr. Robinson, often took us home but was reluctant to do so every time, and didn’t always offer. If my mother did pick us up, she would be late. Practice would be over at 5:00 p.m., and she would come at 8:30 p.m.
Sure, this isn’t the end of your life, but you sure start to feel that way. We seldom had new clothes for school. In the earlier years, we did. But starting in the sixth or seventh grade, we did not – no new clothes for the first days of school. I know this because I remember being embarrassed at school about it when I didn’t even have new school supplies either.
As I worked out in the yard, I daydreamed about wearing an outfit that I had seen in a JCPenney catalog. I wanted that outfit. We worked a lot. We lived in the country on a farm, and we had goats, chickens, cows, and dogs. I learned how to gut a fish before I was ten years old, and I knew how to kill and skin a chicken. I hated my life.
My sisters and I spent countless hours a day working on that farm while Zeke stayed in the house and dictated to us from the back steps. This was not easy work, and it was too hard for a little ten-year-old. We had to clean and rake out the outside sewage line. Nasty. Our yard was so large that once we raked leaves and burned them, Zeke would come outside and make us do it again because the wind had blown new leaves out of the trees. We used axes and sickles and cut down logs all day. It did not matter if we had school or not.
On Saturdays, Zeke would bark and yell at us to get up at 7:00 a.m. and go outside to work. I used to wish that we could watch cartoons. We would stay outside until dark, which was between nine and ten o’clock in the evening. We could only break to eat. I would be so sore that I cried.
I remember one night when we had been working all day and night, I was so tired. I didn’t get to bed until at least eleven o’clock, and that week I had been on “dish duty.” Well, there was one small saucer left in the sink. Zeke came into our room around one o’clock in the morning and yelled at me to go clean that one plate. I was so tired and weak, I just started crying.
I rarely had peace in our home. If I did, that meant Zeke and my mom weren’t home. They would argue so loud and so much that I would pull the pillow over my head and cry. One time the fighting got so bad that my mom pulled a gun out on Zeke. Of course, in Texas people hunt a lot, so we had a pistol and a rifle by the back door. My mom went to jail that night.
Our house was a mess, and I wanted to get out! We could never go over to our friends’ homes, and we could never have them over to ours. I didn’t care about that because I was too ashamed to have them over.
A dramatic change took place the day my sister Pinky died. I believe that was the day a part of my mother died as well. I can still see my sister. She was beautiful, and I thought she was the coolest person ever. Her name was Antonya, but we called her Pinky. My mom said that was because her skin color was pink when she was born. She was cool and she had cool friends. I remember a party we had for her, but we could only hang out in the backyard because we weren’t grown up enough to hang around her friends.
We traveled to Houston, Texas a lot. I saw MD Anderson Hospital a lot as well. You see, Pinky was sixteen years old and had melanoma carcinoma skin cancer. I don’t know exactly how long it was between them finding it and her dying. Not long though.
We went to Camp Star Trails for family members of cancer patients. I remember the first year that we went, Pinky had given me about sixty dollars. I didn’t know what it was for. But I knew I loved candy! I went into the camp candy store and bought the entire store out! The only thing I left was Chick-O-Sticks. Campers were in a theatre room, and I snuck next to Pinky and my sisters in the dark. Very sneakily, I showed them all the candy I racked up. My sister Pinky gasped and asked me where I got the money for all of that candy.
I said, “From the money you gave me.” 
She shrieked back, “Girl! That was our bus money to get home!” 
Of course she made me take the candy back and get our money back. At the end of camp, I received the “Candy Queen” award. That was funny. There was a beautiful girl there named Heather. I wished I looked like her. She was breathtaking. And then she died. Although camp was a fun atmosphere to take your mind off things, you were constantly reminded of the sickness.
I do think, however, that at camp was the first time I seriously had a crush on someone. His name was MacGyver, and he was our camp counselor. Of course, I was ten and he was in his twenties. He pretty much laughed at me. I would have too if I were him. He was married, and this little tike was begging for his attention. My sisters laughed at me.
Our move to the country had caused things to change with more chores, more work, and more abuse. Zeke never wanted anything good for us. One Halloween my mom wanted to take us to get candy. She shoved us into our pickup truck after she and Zeke had been arguing about us not going anywhere. As my mom tried to drive off, Zeke attempted to jump into the back of the truck. I didn’t even want to go home because I knew it would be bad when we returned.
One time Zeke made Michelle so mad that she grabbed a butter knife and pulled it out on him. She always was a pistol. As adults we later laughed because a butter knife would not have done anything harmful.
One day as my twin Ellaysa, my sister Michelle, and I got off the school bus, we noticed a lot of white chairs in the yard. No one was home. We often came home to an empty house because Zeke was next door at his father’s house. It was the country, and his father’s house was not close, but he was our neighbor. Michelle thought we were having a party, but Ellaysa thought Pinky had died. I leaned more on the side that Pinky was gone, but didn’t believe it.
My mom’s best friend Ora Brown brought Mama home, and she was crying. I knew Pinky died, but said nothing. Mama pulled all of us into the back bedroom and said that Pinky was gone. She was dead. All I could do was cry. I cried even more for my mom. That was her firstborn. That was her baby. Now that I am a mother I feel her pain even more. Oh, it had to hurt so badly. To lose the baby that you have adored, taken care of, loved, and raised. My mother lost a part of herself that day. I still grieve for my mother.
Because I had never seen a dead person before, I was terrified at the funeral. My beautiful sister and the coolest person in the world didn’t even look like herself. What did they do to her? It didn’t look like her at all. An usher tried to force me off the pew to go look inside her open casket. Who did he think he was? He didn’t know her. He didn’t know me. Didn’t he realize I could see her face from where I was sitting in the front row? I told him no as he tried to pull me up to go look at her, and then I became angry and yanked my arm from around him and firmly told him no again.
I didn’t want to see her like that. I later regretted that I did not go up and kiss her forehead. After it was over and she was buried, I just wanted to see her one more time, and I couldn’t. I hated myself for many years for refusing to see her one last time.
After this, I noticed that everything in my home changed. I love my mother. I always found peace, rest, and safety in her. But that all disappeared. After Pinky died, my mother had good jobs, but it wasn’t enough because Zeke was unwilling to work. The jobs my mother had didn’t pay much, or perhaps they did, but because Zeke could never keep a job, we always struggled. I resented him for being so lazy.
Out of all the years of living under that roof, I only remember him working straight for one month. He was always yelling about the white man and not wanting to be told what to do. So, he bummed on the couch all day, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. I hated that smoke. I still do because I’m allergic to it. My allergies are so bad that I take allergy shots. Zeke became more and more cruel. He knew how I would sneeze around smoke, and he would smoke in the car with the windows rolled up. He would refuse to roll them down if I asked. He was so miserable in his own pathetic life that he wanted to make ours the same.
I remember my mother sticking up for me one time. I was sneezing so much and couldn’t stop. Zeke became irritated in the car and yelled at me.
My mom yelled at him, “It’s more irritating to her than it is to you!” 
It made no difference. I was still stuck in a smoky car. To this day, I do not like to see children in cars with their parents smoking. Why are you killing your child? Do you not love them enough to stop your habit for a car ride? You have a choice to smoke. They do not. You are the one that is making them smoke.
I will always be able to say I love my mother. I’m sure she did the best that she could, at least from the understanding and knowledge that she had. My only source of sadness comes from people not wanting to grow in their knowledge. For instance, someone may want to borrow money from you, but they do not want any knowledge of how to be debt-free themselves. It is a shame and very sad that people tend to not want any meaningful learning tools that would help them manage their money and be good stewards over what God has given them, especially if it is not received from a family member.
I cannot grasp the pain of losing a child. I can only imagine it. And the thoughts alone are unbearable. One thing I have learned on this journey is this: After I have tried for so long to make things normal in my life, I now realize that after the death of a loved one, things will never be normal again. People say you must find a new normal. No, take out the word normal because it will never be normal again. You must start a new chapter.