Monthly Archives: January 2018

VBT – Survivors’ Dawn

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About the Author

Ashley Warren

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.




About the Book

Survivors' Dawn

Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction


A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

 Survivors' Dawn teaser



Book Excerpt

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

Book Excerpt


At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.

She took a slug of the vodka soda.

Pace yourself, Lauren.

It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.

Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.

“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”

When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.

“You forget about him. You need to study.”

If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.

With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.

She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.

Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.

God, college is fun.

The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.

Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.

“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”


His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”

“Not a problem. Catch you later.”

He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.

“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”

They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.


At two thirty in the morning an Uber dropped Lauren outside Roxbury Hall. Lighting a cigarette, she gazed up at the three-story brick building and remembered move-in day, how excited she’d been; her mother and aunt and uncle had come to help. What had she wanted then? Freedom? Relief from her mother’s watchful eyes? Yes, that was part of it, but she’d hoped for a lot more.

Lauren had smoked pot with her latest score, a hipster from California, and now her head felt heavy and thick. After the joint he had wanted to have sex again. She had no urge for an encore but couldn’t think of a polite way to turn him down. What did that make in total? Three? Four? Five counting the blackout sex with Colin Jordan. Five boys (men?) in four weeks. What the hell? So weird. The hookups were like gorging on pizza, but the gnawing emptiness she’d felt after Colin hadn’t abated at all.

What did she have on the calendar for the next day? A couple lectures: Psychology and English Lit. She might make it to class, or she might not. They were easy courses anyway. Crushing the butt beneath her heel, she tossed it in a trashcan and walked through the door.

Inside Lauren’s dorm room, Caitlyn sat at her desk reading a textbook with her earbuds in.

“Hey,” said Lauren. “What are you doing up so late?”

Caitlyn turned in her chair. “Studying for the psych test.” She sniffed the air.

What? Caitlyn never studied this late. Lauren walked to Caitlyn’s side and saw, sure enough, that the fat psych book was open a third of the way through.

“What for? The test is next week.”

“It’s tomorrow.”

“No, it’s next week.”

“It’s tomorrow. I texted you to study together, but you never answered. Where’ve you been?”

Lauren ignored Caitlyn and walked to her desk to check her laptop. The test had to be next week; she’d skipped a few classes and hadn’t read the book. “What?”

“I asked where you’ve been.”

“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”

Fuck! Caitlyn was right. The test was that morning—less than seven hours away. Lauren shook her head. The buzz from the pot had turned into a headache. How did she mess this up? Caitlyn was saying something else.


“You smell like cigarettes and pot. Where did you smoke pot?”

“Uh…I stopped at this guy’s place to party.”

“On a Tuesday? Shit, Lauren. What the fuck?”

“Hey, you’re not my mom. Chill the fuck out.”

After a shower and some caffeine, Lauren reviewed her notes and opened the textbook. Caitlyn had gone to sleep, and Lauren’s desk lamp made shadows on the floor. The quiet of the room calmed her, and for the first twenty minutes she made progress, covered the better part of a chapter, but then her eyelids grew heavy, and the words blurred on the page. A short nap would clear her head and allow her to absorb the material with her usual speed. She set a twenty-minute timer on her phone, lay down, and closed her eyes. The psychology concepts quickly drifted away.

* * *

Lauren sat in the classroom, breathing fast; her eyes flitted back and forth over the questions. Half of the class had already finished and left. She flipped back several pages. Damn. There had to be another question she could answer, but she couldn’t find it, and after another minute the professor called time.

She had woken at eight thirty to Caitlyn roughly shaking her shoulder.

“Wake up! It’s time to go. I woke you twice already.”

With no time to even brush her teeth, Lauren had pulled on boots and a clean top and walked with Caitlyn to class. She had never felt so unprepared.

And now she’d failed the test. Fucking flat-ass failed it.

Outside in the bright sunlight, Caitlyn stopped to face her. Her eyes peered into Lauren’s, her ever-present smile nowhere to be seen.

“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.

“Awful. I really fucked up.”

“I’m sorry. You know…I tried to text you.”

Lauren’s legs were numb. Adrenaline had fired her up during the exam, but now all the energy had burned off.

Caitlyn headed off to another class, and Lauren trudged to the student union. She’d spent the last of her cash on cigarettes. Once inside, she made it to the ATM and took out ten dollars.

She stared at the red and white logo on the touchscreen.

Bank of America.

Her mother’s apartment was two blocks from a branch. Kim would deposit cash tips at the drive-thru while Lauren sat in the passenger seat. Some days at the salon were hard. The owner would berate the workers for not learning English. But the drive-thru had always lifted Kim’s spirits. On the way out she’d pause to look at the B of A sign and say the same thing every time: “Your future is in this bank.”

Lauren took two steps and her knees softened. She turned her back against the wall and sank until her butt touched the floor.

Don’t cry. Don’t.

But her throat tightened and warm tears forced their way through closed eyelids. She sat with elbows on knees, her hands over her face. Silent sobs shook her shoulders. Students walked past in the hallway, busy, with classes to attend, futures to build. Two girls giggled, happy, oblivious.

Fuck. What was happening? She was freefalling into black air.

Someone said something. A man’s running shoes appeared through spread fingers.

“Are you all right?” he said.

Lauren pressed her palms against her eyes to rub away the tears. She wouldn’t compound her failure by making people pity her, too. Pushing off the tiled floor she stood, pulled her backpack over her shoulder, and faced him.

“You looked kind of sad,” he said.

Who was this guy? What was his game? Not bad looking, with strong shoulders and a relaxed vibe, faded jeans and a simple black T-shirt.

“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.

“What?” His mouth opened. “No!” He stepped back and thrust his hands in front as if to ward her off. “What’s the matter with you?”

Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.

Lauren marched away from the onlookers. She ran upstairs to the second floor and exited onto the grounds on top of the hill. She kept walking, past the admissions building and the Old Chapel and onto Philosopher’s Row. She took one of the paths into the side gardens and dropped on a bench.

She rocked slowly, hugging her arms. God, how pathetic was that? What would she do next? She wanted to skip class and walk to the Homestead for an early afternoon cocktail.

As if clinging to the edge of a dark abyss, Lauren tried to hold on, her stomach roiling, her arms shaking. She had propositioned the boy, because she had wanted to fuck him. She wanted to fuck a guy…any guy…every guy.

But why? She’d never done that before. Never on the first night…that was her rule, one she’d broken how many times now? Five.

She grasped the edge of the stone bench, squeezing, ignoring the grating surface against her fingers. A bird sang from a nearby tree. The bird flew from one tree to the next, a flash of red, a cardinal. It settled for a few moments on the branch of a maple tree, whose leaves had begun to turn, sang, and flew off.

The cardinal reminded her of Todd, the gay guy she’d met three weeks earlier, with his bright plumage and sweet song. What had Todd told her as they waited for the Uber driver? Something about the dean of student affairs. Maybe she should check it out.

Giveaway Details

Survivors' Dawn giveaway

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


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VBT – The Continuum

Cover Image - Continuum

The Continuum


Wendy Nikel

170 pages   *   Science Fiction and Time Travel

Author Bio:

Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Fantastic Stories of the ImaginationDaily Science FictionNature: Futures, and various other anthologies and e-zines.

For more info, visit or subscribe to her newsletter here!

Social Media Links:




Elise Morley is an expert on the past who’s about to get a crash course in the future.

For years, Elise has been donning corsets, sneaking into castles, and lying through her teeth to enforce the Place in Time Travel Agency’s ten essential rules of time travel. Someone has to ensure that travel to the past isn’t abused, and most days she welcomes the challenge of tracking down and retrieving clients who have run into trouble on their historical vacations.

But when a dangerous secret organization kidnaps her and coerces her into jumping to the future on a high-stakes assignment, she’s got more to worry about than just the timespace

continuum. For the first time ever, she’s the one out-of-date, out of place, and quickly running out of time.

“Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech.”

Unreliable Narrators


Buy Links:

Official page:



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“The spinning slows. Suddenly, everything stops.

My legs flail, searching for solid ground, until I plunge abruptly into dank, smelly water. I gasp, and my mouth fills with brine. I’m being dragged in one direction, but instinct pulls me the opposite way. I kick against my heavy skirts and break the surface. For one dizzying moment I’m utterly confused. The concrete slabs of the nearby docks sharpen my fuzzy memory.



The Titanic.

I Extracted while on the gangplank—a gangplank that doesn’t exist in 2012. This is exactly why our travelers are encouraged to use pre-approved Extraction locations. The Wormhole dumps travelers at the same place they’ve left from, which can make for some awkward (or dangerous) entrances.

Across the way, Marie does a frantic doggie-paddle towards the steel rungs leading up to the dock. With labored strokes, I swim after her, clutching the sphere in one hand. When I reach her, she’s still clinging to the bottom rung, too exhausted to climb to safety.

“Hang on.” I slip my Wormhole Device into my handbag and pull my dripping body up to the dock. Water streams out around me, forming a dark puddle on the concrete. The evening sun, balancing on the very edge of the horizon, casts an eerie glow on the water.

“Okay. Come on up—”

My encouragement is drowned out by the sound of retching. Lovely.

I clench my jaw to stop my teeth from rattling and focus on retaining my professionalism—not easy, considering the mucked-up circumstances.

Finally, Marie starts up the ladder, ascending tentatively, with gasping breaths. When she’s close enough to grab my forearms, I pull her up with much grunting and tugging. Her eyes widen as she takes in the industrial warehouses, giant cranes, and sprawling parking lots that seem to have appeared instantaneously.

“What have you done?” Her voice rises in pitch with each word.”

* * * * * * * *

Interview With …

Wendy, thanks for being here today.. Tell us about you

I’m a former teacher-turned-homeschool mom from the Midwest who currently lives in Utah. I love drinking tea, playing board games, and — of course — reading.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Usually, my six-year-old comes in and starts telling me all about what he’s been reading or writing or imagining. Sometimes, there’s music involved. All in all, it’s not the worst way to start the day, though I usually do need a cup of coffee before I can really get down to work.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

I’d love to sit down for a conversation with David Tennant to hear about his time on Doctor Who. His seasons were some of my favorites of the whole series, and I’d love to hear his take on the character he played and how that role has changed since he left the show. Plus, he has a great accent.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

THE CONTINUUM began as my very first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it’s sometimes called, is an online writing challenge for writers to complete a 50,000-word novel in the 30 days of November. I’d never written a novel before, and I wanted to write a fun time-travel adventure, since that was always one of my favorite genres.


Tell us your writing process

NaNoWriMo has worked well for me for completing first drafts. Over the past five years, I’ve written nine novel-length manuscripts with this fast-first-draft method. The revision process obviously takes a lot longer, though I’ve developed a system that works for me that involves multiple read-throughs, each time working on digging deeper into the novel’s different layers until I have a finished product I’m happy with.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?

Writing a book is a long game. Getting one published is even longer.

There’s a lot of places where you’ll be tempted to rush through the process — whether it’s in revisions or edits or in getting it out into the world. But there really are no shortcuts, and the time you spend in each phase can be a great opportunity for growth and learning.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and making up stories and pondering “what if” scenarios. In college, I studied to be a teacher, but after my kids were born, I quit teaching to raise them and found that I really missed the mental challenge that teaching brought with it. I’d also done photography in the past, but that wasn’t a very conducive creative outlet with two very small children, so I turned to writing and found there a great way to challenge myself that was flexible enough to do while also raising a family.

Tell us about your main character:

Elise Morley takes her job very seriously. As a professional time traveller, her job is to keep the Place in Time Travel Agency’s clients out of trouble in the past, which isn’t always easy to do. She has to be resourceful and smart, as well as know a lot about past historical eras.

What are you working on next?

I usually have multiple projects in the works, and right now is no different. In addition to the work I’m doing on this series, I’m also revising a historical fantasy novel that takes place on the Pony Express and working on a handful of short stories.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

I am quite skilled at building with LEGOs, if I do say so myself. I enjoy finding ways to work LEGO-building into our homeschool lessons, so my kiddos and I have built pyramids, pirate ships, rainforests, and even a model of the Titanic.

LEGO Titanic

Who are your favorite authors?

I’m a fan of the classics: Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Alexandre Dumas, Jack Finney, H.G. Wells, and others. As far as contemporary authors go, my tastes are somewhat eclectic, though I’m always excited to read something new from Jodi Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kate Morton, Kenneth Oppel, and Neal Shusterman.

What do you like to do with your free time?

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to go on road trips with my family. I love traveling around the country, seeing new things, checking out random roadside attractions, and exploring places I haven’t been before.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.

The Place in Time series which begins with THE CONTINUUM will have at least two, possibly more follow-up novellas all revolving around the time travel agency and the people who work there. Book two, THE GRANDMOTHER PARADOX, takes place about a year after the events of the first book and features one of the side characters from THE CONTINUUM as Dr. Wells sends him on a secret mission to the year 1893.


Turquoise Mountain Pre-Order Blitz

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About the Author


USA TODAY bestselling author Diane J. Reed writes happily ever afters with a touch of magic that make you believe in the power of love. Her stories feed the soul with outlaws, mavericks, and dreamers who have big hearts under big skies and dare to risk all for those they cherish. Because love is more than a feeling—it’s the magic that changes everything.

Her latest book is Turquoise Mountain.



About the Book

Author: Diane J. Reed
Publisher: Bandits Ranch Books
Pages: 270
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Turquoise Mountain


He’s a fierce protector of his land and sacred heritage–and only a strong woman can capture his wild heart.

Dillon Iron Feather is dangerous and he knows it. Hardened by his championship fighting career, he returns to his remote Colorado ranch to heal, only to discover that city girl Tessa Grove is determined to stake her claim to the old mine she inherited on a corner of his land. Stubborn to the bone, Tessa soon digs up precious gems from deep within the earth to use in her custom-made jewelry business. But those stones turn out to be sacred, and sparks fly as they begin to guide her to the secret chambers of Dillon’s heart.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt

The first meeting between Dillon and Tessa in Turquoise Mountain

(Tessa has traveled all the way from New York to Colorado to find her mine, which happens to be on Dillon’s property)

“I’m Tessa Grove, and when my grandfather passed away, he left his mining claim to me. It doesn’t expire for another six months, which means I have legal title to that mine.”

“You only have mineral rights to a hole in the ground.” Dillon Iron Feather nodded in the direction of the mine. “Which means you can’t set foot on my property.”

“What?” Tessa crossed her arms.

“You heard me. This piece of paper entitles you to dig behind that old wooden door. That’s all. And my land surrounds every inch of it. Which means you’re breaking the law by getting anywhere near that mine. So get lost.”

“Wait, you can’t deny access to what’s legally mine!”

“Can’t I?” Dillon’s face broke into a wry smile. For a moment, his eyes sparkled at the prospect of challenge, lighting them up to a warm, charming brown.

Damn! Tessa cursed to herself. That’s all I need right now is a guy who gets more good looking when he taunts me—

Fuming, she boldly yanked the mining claim and map from his hand to scrutinize them. According to her documents, it looked like her ancestor was the one who originally built Grove Road that led to this mining parcel, which sat right smack dab on the stranger’s property. Okay, so he was right—her quarter acre didn’t include any of his buildings, but it connected to the road. And nowhere did it specify that she was required to get permission from any stranger to use that dirt lane. But how could she convince him of that?

“Listen,” Tessa sighed, “I know it might seem out of the blue that I’m here. But my grandfather meant a lot to me. And this place—this gold mine—it’s…it’s kind of sacred. What I mean is, my great-great-grandfather found it only because a Native American outlaw gave him some powerful medicine. That might sound crazy to you, but it’s true. His name was Iron Feather—”

“Your great-great grandfather knew Iron Feather?”

Tessa nodded. “He was Benjamin Grove the First, and he helped Iron Feather and the Bandits Hollow Gang hide from a posse.” She dug into her purse and held up the sacred owl feather. “All Iron Feather had to give him in return was this, but it was rumored to have, you know—”

“Special powers.”

To Tessa’s amazement, Dillon’s face darkened in thought. He studied the feather for a long time as though it were a precious artifact. Then he looked out over the mountain tops at the threads of garnet in the sky that had begun to spread from the dipping sun. His eyes seemed very far away.

It’s the feather, Tessa realized. He knows something about that feather…

Dillon returned his gaze to Tessa. Yet when he reached for the feather, she seized her moment and surprised him by lunging for his shotgun. She managed to grab it and run several strides, when she whipped around.

“Back off!” She aimed the shotgun straight at him and pumped it awkwardly, barely remembering how from when her grandfather taught her fifteen years ago. “I want to see that mine,” she demanded, her body visibly trembling. “And I’m not leaving till I do.”

Dillon smirked, his gaze tracing her wild blonde hair that had fallen across her face, her blue-green eyes spitting fury. What Tessa hadn’t noticed in her panic, of course, was that her purse had fallen from her shoulder and spilled onto the ground. He crouched carefully to the grass, keeping his eye firmly on the gun barrel, and picked up some of the contents before standing to his feet.

“Where do you expect to go after this if I’ve got your ID and credit cards, city girl?” Dillon smiled, noticing the blush that suffused her cheeks. Her eyes darted to the drivers license and MasterCard he held in his hand, and that was all the opening he needed. With an expertly aimed kick, he knocked the shotgun from her grip and sent it twirling in air, then caught it. He set the butt down on the ground.

“You should know your opponent a whole lot better before you start a fight,” he scolded. “Now you don’t have your purse or a weapon. Fortunately, you’re far too pretty for shooting practice today. But don’t press your luck.”

Another blush warmed Tessa’s cheeks, and she cradled her arms tight to try and stop the tremors. To her astonishment, Dillon threw down his gun and caught up to her within a couple of strides. Before she knew it, she was born aloft by his strong arms, her body next to his warm, hard chest. Despite her kicks and screams, he set her gently on the grass and pulled a long piece of baling twine from his pocket, then proceeded to tie up her hands and feet.

“What the hell are you doing!” Tessa screamed, wriggling on the grass like an angry caterpillar. “First you threatened me with a gun, and now kidnapping? You’re going to face the law for this!”

“For your information, lady, I deliberately shot out the truck mirror and fired the second shot in the air to scare you off. I have no intention of killing anybody today. But I will make sure you have a soft bed and a good meal in your belly, since you appear to be stranded, no matter how hot headed you are.”

With that, he pulled a bandana from his pocket and stuffed it in Tessa’s mouth. She kept thrashing violently while he picked up the scattered items on the meadow and returned them along with her ID and credit card to her purse.

But he slipped the owl feather into his pocket.

Just then, Tessa saw vivid red and blue lights trace over the cabin and barn as the shrill sound of a siren echoed off the hillsides. A police cruiser appeared at the front gate, and an officer stepped out.

“Dammit, Dillon!” The officer called out. “What have you done to this poor woman? For crying out loud, are you that desperate for female company?” He walked boldly toward them. “Good thing Dusty went to town and called 911 after you shot out the mirror on his truck.”

Dillon laughed. “As a matter of fact, Barrett,” he replied, picking up Tessa’s squirming body and heading toward the cruiser, “I was about to bring her to you anyway. She’s lost, and if she hadn’t been so pig-headed about refusing to leave, I would have driven her to town and put her up in a hotel myself without hog-tying her. Watch out—she’s a feisty one.”


Turquoise Mountain giveaway

Diane J. Reed is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter
  • This giveaway ends midnight January 31
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Crowdfunding Campaign – Creatives On The Couch Season 3

As some may know, we are going to be filming another season of Creatives On The Couch, in Melbourne in Mid February

From the launch of the show on C31 Melbourne, we have had some wonderful guests on the show from all walks of Creative life.

Now in it’s third season, we are asking people to check out our project on Indiegogo, and help us make some quality programming for another season.

All funds raised go to: Studio Hire, Make Up Costs over 2 days, Tech Mixer, Editing, Catering.

Check out the wonderful perks we have in place for businesses and individuals alike.

VBT – From Compton to Congress


About the Book

Title: From Compton to Congress: His Grace for my Race
Author: Walter Tucker III
Genre: Nonfiction Memoir

From Compton to Congress reveals shocking criminal charges, based on an FBI Sting, that send Congressman Walter R. Tucker III reeling, and changes his life forever. Against the great odds of overcoming the tough streets of Compton, young Tucker fulfills his goals of becoming valedictorian of Compton High School, graduate of USC with honors, graduate of Georgetown Law School, passing the California State Bar, and filling his father’s vacant seat as Mayor of Compton—all by age 33. During his meteoric rise in the political arena, at age 35 he becomes the youngest African-American from California to be elected to a U.S. congressional seat. However, the U.S. Attorney’s federal indictment against him shocks the nation. Tucker’s choice to fight the charges against him thrusts him into a criminal trial that tests the condition of his human spirit and provokes us to reflect on every man’s plight versus every man’s fight.


Author Bio

Walter R. Tucker, III is a native of Compton, California. He graduated Valedictorian of Compton High School in 1974. After graduating from high school, Walter studied Politics at Princeton University for two years. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from U.S.C. in 1978, and his Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law School in 1981, Walter worked as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, established his own law firm, served as Mayor of Compton, and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1993 – all by age 35. Walter R. Tucker, III is still the youngest African American to ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress from the State of California. In 2003, Walter became a pastor of a church in Chicago. In 2012, Walter and his wife, Robin Tucker, returned to Los Angeles and founded Truth and Love Christian Church, located in Carson, California. The church currently has over 300 members and 40 ministries in operation. Walter and Robin have been happily married for 30 years. They are the proud parents of Walter, IV, and Autumn and have one son-in-law, Spencer Rodney Sr., and one wonderful grandchild, Spencer Rodney, Jr. Walter enjoys morning walks on the beach and candlelight dinners with Robin.







VBT – The Adventures of Mitee Mite

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About the Author


David John is the author of The Adventures of Mitee Mite book and app series. The series follows the adventures of superhero Mitee Mite and her sidekick, Terry the Ticker. The five titles in the series are The Time Frame Game (Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-0-2; Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-6-4), The Measuring Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-2-6), The Money Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-4-0), The Shape Game (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-3-3), and The Time Frame Game Advanced (Softcover ISBN: 978-0-9860919-5-7). Complementary apps for each book are available on Google Play and iTunes.  The companion song is available at the website:

David lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife and daughter. He enjoys spending time with his family, playing hockey, and creating new stories for The Adventures of Mitee Mite book and app series.



About the Book

 The Adventures of Mitee Mite

Author: David John
Publisher: Mitee Mite
Pages: 120 pages total in series
Genre: Children’s Picture Book


Building on a desire to teach children about time, shapes, measurements, and money, author David John created THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE series. In the same way that many of us learned our ABCs, the book and app (available on Google Play and iTunes) collection helps young readers learn how many seconds are in a minute, the number of sides different shapes contain, and more, using a catchy tune that captures their attention and motivates learning.

Focusing on children from age 3 to 11 years old, THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series offers its readers a dynamic female superhero, Mitee Mite, as their guide through the often tricky terrain involved with mastering time, shapes, measurements, and money. In her matching red cape and boots, Mitee Mite, accompanied by her alarm clock sidekick, Terry the Ticker, activates her superpowers by using her manners, respecting others, and accurately answering questions in the games she encounters during her adventures.

The five books in THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series include The Time Frame Game and The Time Frame Game Advanced, which break down seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years to teach readers the fundamentals of time. The Measuring Game explores the components of feet, yards, and miles, as well as cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. Mitee Mite teaches kids about currency in The Money Game and dives into a colorful world of triangles, squares, hexagons, and more in The Shape Game. The companion song for this series (available at helps kinds absorb the skills in an enjoyable and interactive way.

The idea for THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series came about when David was faced with a dire challenge. “One day as I was babysitting my friends’ children, and not having any idea what to do, I made up fun games to help them learn,” David revealed. The goal of the series is to expose children to a variety of lessons in a manner that is fun, relatable, and memorable. David says, “Mitee Mite was created to help give children a head start on the basics of time, measurements, shapes, and money.”

David’s daughter, whom he calls his “Little Mite,” is the inspiration for the main character and the themes of the series. David’s desire to teach his daughter the basic skills featured in THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE book and app series has expanded into the goal of sharing these lessons with other children through his “You Buy, They Read” program. “We plan to give away one book for every one bought to kids in need.” In addition, David will donate $1 for every $2 of the gross sales of apps to teachers “who are going into their own pockets to buy supplies.”




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Book Spotlight – Double Take

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About the Author

 Version 2

Abby Bardi is the author of three novels: Double Take, The Secret Letters, and The Book of Fred. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals, and she has written academic articles on Roma (Gypsies). She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and now lives in Ellicott City, MD, the oldest railroad town in America.



About the Book

 Double Take

Title: Double Take
Author: Abby Bardi
Publisher: Harper Collins Impulse
Pages: 186
Genre: Mystery

Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey, a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.


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Book Excerpt


I recognized his voice from across the room. When I handed him a menu, he looked up absent-mindedly and went on talking to some guys, then did a double take.

“Cookie?” he said.

I tried on the name like an old article of clothing to see if it still fit. It felt like a suede fringed jacket. “Yep,” I said.

“Wow. You look so different.”

“I cut my hair.”

“Everyone did.”

“I’m older,” I said. “Everyone’s older.”

“You look exactly the same,” I said. He was wearing a beat-up leather jacket over a green T-shirt, maybe the same jacket and T-shirt he had always worn. His thick black hair was shorter now and curly, skin still tan from summer, small mouth with perfect teeth. He still looked tough and handsome, but in a creepy way, like someone you couldn’t trust.

“Cookie, what the hell are you doing here?”

“I work here. I’d rather you didn’t call me that. My name is Rachel.”

“I thought your name was Cookie.”

“Nope. Do people still call you Rat?”
He laughed. “Nowadays I go by Joey.”

“Okay, Joey,” I said, since this was nowadays.

“Miss?” a voice called from a nearby table. The voice brought me back to where I was standing, in Diana’s Grotto, a Greek diner on 57th Street, with ten tables full of customers. For a moment, I had thought I was in Casa Sanchez.

It took me a while to make it back to Joey’s table. A divinity student had found a fly in his milkshake, and it wouldn’t have taken so long if I hadn’t made the mistake of saying, “So, how much can a fly drink?” Like most academics, this guy had no sense of humor and gave me a lecture on hygiene. It was amazing that knowing as much about hygiene as he seemed to, he would continue to eat at Diana’s Grotto. By the time I got back to Joey’s table, the men he had been sitting with were gone. Off-duty police, from the looks of them, I thought, or plain-clothes. We got a lot of cops in Diana’s; they slumped on stools at the counter with their guns hanging from their belts, sucking down free coffee. Back in the sixties, the sight of their blue leather jackets had always made me nervous, like I’d committed some crime I’d forgotten about.

“So why are you working here?” Joey asked. “I thought you were a college girl. A co-ed.” He flashed his white teeth. “I don’t mean to be nosy.”

“The problem with college is they make you leave when you finish.”

“And here I thought it was a permanent gig.”


“But why aren’t you doing something a little more—”

“Collegiate? Don’t ask.” I slid into the booth next to him. From across the room, Nicky, the maître d’, shot me a poisonous glance. I ignored him. “I like it here.” I smiled a crazy little smile.

“Hey, different strokes.” His eyes swept the room, resting on a mural of a white windmill on an island in the Aegean. The windmill’s blades were crooked. I remembered this eye-sweep from Casa Sanchez, where he had always sat facing the door so he could constantly scan the whole restaurant. His eyes returned to me. “Didn’t I hear a rumor you were supposed to be getting married? Some guy in California?”

“Just a rumor. Glad to hear the grapevine still works.”

I felt someone hiss into my ear. Nicky had slunk up behind me. He looked like a garden gnome in a plaid jacket and baggy pants, reeking of aftershave that had tried and failed. “Rose!” he snapped. He never called anyone by their right name. “What’s in a name?” I always murmured.

“Be right with you.” I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile.

“This is a classy place,” Joey said as Nicky ambled away.

“He’s the owner’s brother-in-law.”


“There is no Diana. She’s a mythological figure.”

“Like Hendrix?”

“Kind of.”

“Hey, you want to have a drink after work?”

“Actually, I don’t drink any more.”

“You want to come watch me drink? What time do you get off?”

“Nine thirty. You could come help me fill the ketchups.”


“You know, take the empty Heinz bottles and pour cheap generic ketchup in them.”

“Sounds like fun, but why don’t you meet me at Bert’s? Back room?”

I thought for a moment. This did not seem like a good idea, but I didn’t care. “Okay, why not. So, can I get you anything?”

“Just coffee.”

“You want a side of taramasalata with it? It’s made from fish roe.”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

When I brought him his coffee, he said, “You’re still a hell of a waitress, Cookie.”

“You’re still a hell of a waitress, Rachel.”


“Thanks,” I said.

VBT – Secret Baby, Second Chance

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About the Author

 jane godman lg

JANE GODMAN worked in a variety of shops, bars, and offices before settling into a career as a teacher. She was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. Home is now the Wirral, a beautiful English peninsula situated between Wales and Liverpool.

Jane still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. Venice, Dubrovnik, and Vienna are among her favorites.

When Jane isn’t reading or writing romance, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She is married to a lovely man, has two grown up children and has recently discovered the joy of becoming a grandparent.

Jane writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and SMP Romance, thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and self-publishes her steamy historical and gothic stories.

Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Secret Baby, Second Chance.




About the Book

Secret Baby

Author: Jane Godman
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 288
Genre: Romantic Suspense


She’s alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he’s shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.

Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones’ lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.


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Book Excerpt

As he approached, he sized up the building. Nothing about it made him think of Beth. It had a slightly neglected air, as if the owner didn’t have the time, energy or money to spend on it. He contrasted that with the Stillwater house she had lived in. That had been as neat as wax. Being organized seemed to come effortlessly to Beth, spilling over into how she dressed, her surroundings and how she dealt with other people. Vincente wondered, not for the first time, if the reason she had struggled with their relationship was because she couldn’t neatly package up her feelings for him. When they were together there was no controlling what they felt. It had always been raw, primal…and incredible.

The thought spurred his feet up the front step. His heart was pounding so loud it almost drowned out the sound of his knock on the door. Prepared for disappointment, his nerves—already under intense pressure—were ratcheted up to crisis level when he heard a voice calling out.

“Did you forget something, Detective ?” It wasn’t just any voice. It was Beth’s voice.

He wondered how she would react if she checked who it was through the peephole in the door. Her words indicated she thought Laurie had come back again and he heard a key turn in the lock immediately after she spoke.

The door swung open and the smile on her lips faded. As she gazed at him in shock, Vincente took a moment to drink in her appearance. Her hair was shorter, just reaching her shoulders now instead of the waist-length mass in which he had loved to bury his hands. It was scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. She looked thinner. And tired, definitely tired. Almost to the point of exhaustion. But maybe the reason for that was sitting on her hip.

The baby wore pink sweatpants and a T shirt with butterflies embroidered all over. Not quite a toddler, she was a perfect little girl. Her black hair clustered in a halo of curls around her head and she studied Vincente with eyes that were huge, dark and framed by thick, spiky lashes. The hint of olive to her skin and the full ruby lips were additional confirmation of his first suspicion. It was like looking in a mirror .

Vincente almost took a step back in shock as he gazed at his daughter.

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