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Spotlight – MERIDIAN CHRONICLES BLACK WIDOW CURSE & THE COVEN

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About the Author

MD Fryson

I am a wife and mom to three boys. I am an animal lover especially horses that I used to ride, train and show. Someday will do once more!

Favorite books are anything astrology, self help, motivation, romance and humor.

I love chocolate, coffee, my family (not in that order), and the beach.

I like to garden, hike, jog, swim and travel. My oldest two boys tell me I am weird as they laugh and I’ll take that as a good thing. I am told I am witty and sarcastic and I believe that comes out in my writing. 

The third installment to this series comes out September, 2019 and I am nearly finished with the last book to the series that comes out in 2020.

Website Link: www.mdfryson.com

Twitter Link: @madelyn_fryson

About the Book:

Title: MERIDIAN CHRONICLES BLACK WIDOW CURSE & THE COVEN
Author: M.D. Fryson
Publisher: AMF Publishing
Pages: 408
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Meridian Chronicles 2

BOOK BLURB:

MERIDIAN’S curse has left her in a state all her own of amnesia. She is on Earth lost and afraid with only fragments to piece together her mysterious circumstance. The curse has taken the unimaginable from her, but that is just scratching the surface. The Black Widow curse will reveal itself through the demon’s riddle, the Coven and the Fairy Nymphs.

A trip back to Salem is just what the psychic ordered, but treachery lurks with an ex coven member who calls on demons. The demon realm offers more riddles than answers, but a stroke of luck from the high demon court, brings in a sophisticated demon, Lahash who has grown tired of the games. 

The curse hides Meridian’s identity and her memory will unlock the Universal secret of her twin soul to find her way home. As Meridian finds Aiden so do the impacts of her curse and what it could do to their budding relationship. 

Meridian’s soul and fate are in the cross hairs, while the odds rise between the demons, witches and the fairies. 

Finally having found Aiden, the Fairy Queen comes through to send aid to Meridian, but she still doubts herself and contemplates running away from it all. Who is Meridian’s twin soul? Will she go back to Etheria or will the curse reign down on Meridian?
Find out in this dark and twisted paranormal romance. 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FDB677Q

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/meridian-chronicles-md-fryson/1127896815;jsessionid=EBD1EC14FF1A7890BFF25262A6DC8416.prodny_store02-atgap01?ean=2940162087151

Book Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=14&v=-JBhIUwdXgo


Book Excerpt:

First Chapter

The air was crisp and cool as it danced around her face and through her messy raven hair. With a quick stop to investigate the window of the restaurant, she paused at the reflection staring back at her; Meridian did not recognize who she was. Her disheveled look was unflattering, and her dark and ominous wardrobe gave her the appearance of someone heading for a funeral, a fan of Johnny Cash, or on the other end, a lover of all things gothic. Wincing, she turned away from the stranger in the reflection and continued to walk down the street that she had once known in another life. Meridian had no idea where or who she was, or how she had arrived in such a state. With overwhelming emotions raging inside, the flush on her face gave color to her pale face, and her eyes appeared even more piercing with the compliment of the blush in her cheeks.

As she walked down the street from Aiden’s old school, her mind scrambled with thoughts. Her face devoid of movement, like a statue, it would not have been hard for any onlooker passing by her to see how lonely she felt. All Meridian could remember was Aiden and a distant memory of a name, Talon, but she was not sure why these names came to her and what the importance of these names was. The more her mind obsessively ran over thoughts of things she didn’t understand, the quicker her pace became as though she was running from something. Maybe she was running her way back to, in the very least, a clue that would brim with familiarity.

Meridian passed a few shops and a small bar that were out of place amongst the administrative offices and city hall. Meridian was unaware though; she wouldn’t have known what was out of place in this world. She stopped outside the bar, looked in the windows, and did not see anyone there. Moments later, she heard voices from inside as the door came open. A woman dressed very strangely was saying goodbye to the owner of the bar. “I will see you later, Stephanie!” she yelled out to the bar owner.

There Tallulah stood, looking at Meridian, adorned with jewelry of Celtic and Wiccan symbols. Her light brown hair was long, but strategically swept up in a messy bun atop her head and looked as though it had not seen a wash in a couple of days. Her clothes hung loosely on her large curvy body giving it a boxy appearance, her feet were hidden by the overture of her long dress, and she smelled of patchouli. Although Meridian was not quite sure what the scent was, as she had not encountered it before, it somehow gave her a sense of knowing and comfort. Meridian stared at the woman as she was trying to put together this feeling of familiarity. Tallulah waved her arms in sync with her exchange with the woman inside the bar, her large and gaudy bracelet chiming with every move of her hand. Meridian could not help but stare at the eccentric lady as she spoke to the other woman.

“Sure thing. Come by for a chat soon,” Stephanie answered back as Tallulah closed the door and took notice of Meridian’s stare. Tallulah’s smiling face quickly changed, and the twinkle in her eye disappeared as she looked at Meridian. Meridian’s expression struck Tallulah; as a psychic, she was too sensitive of a person to just walk on by.

“Hi, how are you?” Tallulah asked with concern.

Meridian stood with her arms crossed barely making eye contact. She kept her head down, kicking a small pebble on the ground as though that it was more important than Tallulah engaging in conversation with her. After a very long pause, she allowed her deep and mesmerizing green eyes to look up and quietly answer, “I am okay.”

“You sure you are okay? Are you looking for someone?” Tallulah asked.

“I really don’t know. I mean I do not know if I am okay or not, and I am looking for someone, but I do not know how to find him. His name is Aiden,” Meridian quietly explained, keeping her voice down as passersby continued to stare.

“Aiden? Hmm, I do not know anyone by that name. Are you from around here?” Tallulah inquired further.

“No, I am from out of town, and I do not know anyone here.” Meridian realized how she must sound to the stranger she was speaking to. She worried that this somehow familiar woman would see right through her, and in Meridian’s mind, there was no telling what that would entail for her.

“How did you get here? Do you have any parents or family? I see many people in my line of work, but I get the feeling I know you. Have we ever met before?” Tallulah was a little taller than Meridian, and she was bent at the waist just low enough to try to peer into Meridian’s eyes that were still locked on the ground. Her questions though innocent felt invasive to the lost and castaway spirit guide.

“What is your name, sweetie?” Tallulah pressed on after receiving no reply, “I am sorry I am asking you so many questions. Where are my manners? In a small town, we all try to help one another; we are all like family. I didn’t stop to think about how that may come across to a stranger.” Tallulah looked away from Meridian.

Meridian stopped kicking the pebble and looked up to the woman who had now stopped trying to make eye contact. “Meridian, I think. I am not sure. I can’t really remember things.” Meridian looked around seeking any clue to remind her of who she may be, but nothing was ringing any bells. As she heard herself speak, it left her feeling even more vulnerable and embarrassed.

“What happened? Were you in some sort of accident? I can call someone for you or take you somewhere if it would help you out,” Tallulah explained as she fumbled through her big purse digging for her cell phone. After several minutes of digging through a seemingly endless purse, Meridian put her hand out to Tallulah.

“No, no, it is fine, really. I don’t need you to call anyone for me. I don’t know what happened to me exactly. I just know I woke up in the high school parking lot, and I went into the school. The Principal called the authorities, but while I was waiting I asked if he knew where Aiden lived, and he said that he lived in a farmhouse off a county road outside of town. That was where I was headed when I stopped here,” Meridian said.

“Well, there aren’t but a few county roads around here in this small town. How come you didn’t wait for the authorities?” Tallulah asked further as she looked back at Meridian.

“I don’t know. I don’t think I have done anything wrong, I just had this name in my mind, and I wanted to find him.” Meridian paused. “I don’t even know him… I don’t think I do. I just…” Meridian stopped herself. She did not want to say anymore or mention Talon’s name.

“So, you do not remember anything but this Aiden’s name, and you do not know him, and you don’t know what happened?” Tallulah’s eyes were dark and soulful, like deep pools of water that were still and quiet. “I do not want to push, so I am going to get back over to my shop. If you change your mind, I would be happy to call someone for you. I do hope you are okay. Here is my card.” Tallulah had managed to pull an old bent up business card with her information on it and handed it over to Meridian. Tallulah began walking away across the street and back to her place.

Meridian took a glance at the card, and then she looked around at the street at all the people walking around. She looked back at Tallulah who had just made it to her door, and she was again digging through her big purse looking for her keys.

Meridian dashed across the street. “Right, but the strange thing is you seem familiar to me too, but I don’t know how,” she said.

Tallulah smiled as she pointed at a sign on the door that read ‘Psychic readings by Tallulah’. Meridian glanced up at the sign while Tallulah unlocked the door and walked in, leaving the door open for Meridian to follow. Tallulah went through her living area straight to the kitchen and set her things down. “I am the town psychic, and perhaps you came to me for a reading? I know that you seem familiar to me as well, but I have done so many readings that I cannot always remember each person.”

“Maybe I did. That could have happened.” Meridian walked in and took a look around. Tallulah had an old light brown carpet on the floor that looked as though it had been well maintained. Her walls were an old wood paneling job that were decorated with paintings of country fields and purple coneflowers. Scents of lavender were heavy as Meridian continued toward the kitchen. Tallulah’s table was small and decorated with a cheap linen cloth with red stripes and a centerpiece of large crystal quartz, set on a mirror with a crack in the center.

“Would you let me take you to the hospital to be checked to make sure that you are okay, at least? I can try to help you find your friend, and maybe he can help you find your parents and family. I am sorry I am not more help; I am uncertain what else I can do for you.” Tallulah filled her teapot from the sink and moved over to heat it up on the stove.

“Hmm, I do not want to go to the hospital right now. Is there something else I could do? Do you have any more suggestions?” Meridian dropped onto Tallulah’s large couch. Sitting down, she scooted all the way to the back of the couch where her feet dangled off the ground.

“Sure, I could give you a reading on the house? I may not be good at many things, but I am good at a reading – or so I am told.” Tallulah’s eye’s twinkled in the light coming in from her large picture window.

Tallulah led the way into her favorite room – the reading room. There were crystals placed throughout, and smudge sticks sitting on a shelf for customers to purchase. A red curtain separated the living-waiting room from her small and private area for clients. The charm hanging from the ceiling fan switch was two half-moons on either side of a moon with a Witch’s pentagram in the center, and Meridian walked over to the fan to reach up to touch the charm.

“That is my wind chime. I bought it while I went on a trip to Salem, Massachusetts… you know, for Halloween weekend. I always did enjoy going to Salem. I have plans to go back this year.” Tallulah attempted to hand Meridian a cup of tea, however, Meridian had not pulled her eyes away from the charm, barely taking notice of what Tallulah was sharing. Her thoughts were interrupted by a divine scent that immersed through the air as Tallulah stood next to Meridian holding her tea.

“What is that wonderful smell?” Meridian looked into the cup and inhaled the steam floating away from the cup.

“Oh, that is chamomile tea. I thought you would want a cup to warm you up. Fall is certainly in the air. I love to have my teas,” Tallulah said as she sat down at her table putting away her tarot cards. “Now, what can you remember about yourself?”

“I truly do not have a clue about my whereabouts or even where I come from. Judging by the way I am dressed, I look like I am going to a funeral, I guess?” Meridian looked down at herself and opened up her arms as she explained herself. “Well, maybe not a funeral. I am sure I would wear a sweater over a shirt like this.” Meridian pulled the end of her sheer black shirt that showed through to the black bra she was wearing underneath. The only thing she had on over her tawdry shirt was a black leather waistcoat that barely zipped up over her large breasts.

“Well, you look like maybe you like gothic style, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s all right to be proud of your body. I mean, as long as you are comfortable with that kind of attention. I see a lot of that with my clientele. This little town is a wonderful place away from the bigger cities. It is small enough that most people who have lived here a long time know each other. However, it is growing, so we do see new faces more frequently. If you like the beach, we are just about an hour away, and there is plenty to do down at the boardwalk.

Meridian looked right at Tallulah. The psychic had jumped from her comment on Meridian’s wardrobe right into her sharing information on the area, but Meridian got hung up on Tallulah’s remark about her outfit. “Attention? I don’t understand.” Meridian took the seat across Tallulah’s reading table.

“Oh, now you have to know what kind of attention that you get. I am sure all the guys must look at you. I mean you definitely have the body to pull off your look well. Don’t be ashamed.” Tallulah didn’t give the raven beauty any time to respond, and she moved right on to what she knew she did best. “So, let us do a reading and see what I can help you out with.”

Tallulah closed her eyes. Soon she began to see images flash through her mind of Meridian and what she looked like as a guide. She had platinum blonde hair and a glowing tattoo on her wrist that represented Infiniti. She caught a glimpse of her own self and the woman she was reading back when Meridian, Relic and Caius came in to talk with her. She remembered that day and how odd it was to have spirits talking to her in the way they were with their strange requests. Tallulah could not get any more on Meridian, but she did see a glimpse of Aiden driving down his grandparent’s long dirt road to their home. With his window rolled down and his rock music blaring, his long blond hair blew around with the wind and his bright smile spread across his face. Tallulah opened her eyes, and she looked at Meridian with some confusion. She remembered the names of the guides, and it startled her that one of the spirits she had spoken to had the same name.

“What is it, Tallulah? Can you tell me anything?” Meridian’s excitement did not give Tallulah another moment to collect thoughts any further. She was leaning in and studying Tallulah’s face.

“Well, I got a flash of you, but you looked different. Can I see your wrist?” As Tallulah examined Meridian’s wrist, the tattoo was there, but it was not glowing white like she saw in her mind, it was just a simple black tattoo of the infinity symbol. Tallulah’s face showed her confusion, and Meridian was becoming just as confused. “Meridian, did you dye your hair? Or was it another color before?”

“What? I don’t think so.” Meridian walked over to the mirror on the wall as she looked at herself. “I would think that I have always had black hair and green eyes.”

“Well, in my vision I see you, but your hair is platinum blonde, and you still have green eyes, but they are a very light translucent green and they are very, well… deep would be a good word to describe them. They do not look like any green eyes I have seen before, and the tattoo was glowing and a silvery color, not black like it is now. The mark on your wrist seemed like a hologram that floated above your wrist, casting a dark silver or grey shadow, but it isn’t a shadow. This is all very different, compelling, and strange. I also saw a vision of a boy and wonder if this is your Aiden. He had blond hair, about shoulder length, and he was driving a black truck down a dirt drive to a farmhouse. That house looks like the one I pass on the way out of town, and I think this must be him. This is very strange,” Tallulah repeated as she questioned herself.

Meridian continued to study her reflection. Long, flowing jet-black hair and piercing green eyes. Her eyes were the only thing that made sense to her, but she still remained puzzled with her fuzzy memory, in contrast with what Tallulah said. Meridian’s delight left, and her statue-like expression returned – accompanied by the slump she had carried when she and Tallulah had met on the street. She plopped back down onto her seat at the table and put her head in her hands as she stared at Tallulah.

“Meridian, I was doing a reading last year for a client of mine, and I had to ask her to leave because I was getting some spirits making strange requests. They spoke to me, and I could hear them, and their names were Caius, Relic and…Meridian.” Tallulah stopped as she saw Meridian’s face light up. “They were Spirit Guides that watch over humankind.”

“Are you saying I am her? I am Meridian the Spirit Guide?” Meridian’s voice drifted as she pulled a strand of her hair in front of her eyes, for a closer look. “This makes no sense; how can I be a spirit and be here talking to you?”

“I don’t know, child. This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me, and trust me, I have had some strange experiences. They were asking me about a Fairy Quartz stone and how to locate the family or persons who had it. I never truly answered them; I asked them to leave. I knew where the stone was, but I was afraid to say anything.” Tallulah took pause as she waited for Meridian’s reaction.

Meridian stood with her hand over her wide-open mouth, the shock evident in her expression. “Tallulah, I think I am her. I remember… I remember being here and seeing you and the stone, but I have no idea why I needed it. I am so confused, but this seems more like a dream I had. Nothing that would be realistic.” Meridian walked over to the couch and sat down in disbelief of her own thoughts. “Maybe this is a dream, and maybe I don’t remember because I was in an accident or something? I mean isn’t this backwards? Shouldn’t it be a human goes on to the spirit world, not the other way around?” Meridian looked to Tallulah for some semblance of comfort, but as she looked at the psychic, she did not find what she was looking for. Instead, Tallulah appeared to be just as confounded as Meridian.

After much urging from Tallulah, the pair went down to the hospital for a full work up, and to make sure there wasn’t anything that they could find to piece together Meridian’s circumstance. Tallulah had taken on quite a bit, and she questioned herself as to if this was really something she should be involved with. After the hospital checked Meridian, and they saw no signs of trauma, Tallulah felt better knowing that at least physically, Meridian was okay. The pair sat in the waiting room as they waited on more test results coming back from the lab.

“What else do we need to have tested?” Meridian was impatient as she sat drumming her fingernails on the magazine that lay on her lap.

“Well, I have never had this happen to me either, but I think it makes sense that we have you checked out. The next thing we will look at doing – if we can’t locate your family – is finding a place for you to stay. There are shelters here for folks who have nowhere to stay.” Tallulah sat with her large purse in her lap digging for her wallet, so she could get a drink from the vending machine. Meridian raised an eyebrow and smiled as she watched the digging.

“Why don’t you get a smaller bag?” Meridian elbowed Tallulah gently and laughed.

“Why should I? I like having what I need. It just takes me a while to get it!” She popped back at her new acquaintance. Tallulah made her way to the vending machine, and as she was putting her change in, one of the doctors who had seen Meridian for her checkup approached with a clipboard and some papers. Meridian stood and watched the pair visiting. Tallulah appeared confused as she shook her head several times and shrugged her shoulders as she responded to the doctor’s inquiries. After a few more moments, the doctor, alongside Tallulah, walked over to where Meridian was sitting in the waiting area.

“Meridian, I have the results of another set of labs we ran, and I am troubled by some of the results we have uncovered. It appears that you do not have a blood type. No matter how many times we rechecked for errors, the results are always the same. The strangest thing is, you seem fine, and there are no indications of anything that could be wrong with you. I have no reason to hold you here, except by you volunteering to run some more tests. Maybe there is something else that is going on with you that we have yet to uncover. I seriously think you should come back for some additional testing. If you don’t want to do it now, you can go to the front with an order, and they can schedule it.” Dr. Jones walked away leaving Meridian and Tallulah with an order to take for an appointment.

“I don’t want to do this!” Meridian shouted at Tallulah.

Tallulah paused and looked around struggling with what to do. “Okay, okay; calm down. You and I both know that there is more to you than we can share with just anyone. I am happy to know for the most part you are all right. We can hold onto the work order for now. I have some friends that may be able to help you, but you have to promise me that if for any reason we can’t uncover what we need to in order to satisfy your mystery, that you will come here and allow the staff here to take care of you.” Tallulah’s tone was forceful.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like you are giving me an option. I will only do so if they do not have a clue how to help me. It sounds to me as I am being volun-told,” Meridian acquiesced with a guarded endorsement. They left the hospital and found a shelter that Meridian was welcomed to stay in. Tallulah left Meridian there while making a few calls to help her out. One of those calls was back to her dear friend, Stephanie. Tallulah was hopeful she could put Meridian to work while they worked out the young woman’s perplexing circumstance.

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Spotlight – Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series

SGT. WINDFLOWER MYSTERY SERIES 

by Mike Martin, Mystery

 
The Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are a light mystery series set
in Newfoundland on the east coast
of Canada.
These cozy-like books follow the adventures of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Cree
from Northern Alberta as he finds a new life and new loves in the tiny village
of Grand Bank. There are crimes and mysteries for the Canadian Mountie to investigate
and solve but the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are more about family, friends,
good food and good times.
The recurring cast of characters include the love of his
life, Sheila Hillier who keeps him well-fed and grounded in reality. There’s
also his fellow Mounties like Corporal Eddie Tizzard and a long list of bad
actors, both local and just visiting, to cause havoc in their sleepy little
town. Windflower brings his native background and traditions with him and finds
ways to use them to help himself and his friends through difficult times.
Rounding out his life are his collie, Lady, who often has adventures of her own
and some new additions to his family that appear in the latest book, Darkest Before the Dawn.

The Walker
on the Cape (Book 1)

A man’s body is found on the Cape in a
small fishing community on the East Coast. At first everyone thinks it’s a
heart attack or stroke. But then it is discovered that he was poisoned. Who
would do this and why? Finding that out falls to Sergeant Winston Windflower of
the RCMP along with his trusted side-kick Eddie Tizzard. Along the way they
discover that there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and
powerful people who want to keep it that way.




Windflower also discovers two more things; a love of
living in a small community that is completely different from his up-bringing
in a remote Indian reserve and maybe the love of his life. He gets a taste of
East Coast food and hospitality as well as a sense of how crime and corruption
can linger beneath the surface or hide in the thick blanket of fog that
sometimes creeps in from the nearby
Atlantic Ocean.

The Body on the T (Book 2)

The Body on the T is the second book
in the Windflower mystery series and it follows up on the highly acclaimed
premiere, The Walker on the
Cape. The story begins when a body washes up on a beach near
Grand Bank,
Newfoundland. There is no identification on the body and few clues to
identify who the person was or where they came from. The case becomes the
responsibility of Sgt. Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
and his trusted side-kick, Corporal Eddie Tizzard.
But this is just the beginning. There is also a
devastating accident on the highway and another suspicious death to deal with.
Throw in a rogue police officer and an international drug ring operating in the
waters off the coast and Windflower’s peaceful world is turned upside down.
This time Windflower’s adventures take him to the scenic town of
Burin
where Captain Cook once patrolled the waters looking for French mercenaries.
And to historic
St. John’s where he faces down an armed suspect on a parking
garage rooftop in the midst of a busy downtown evening.

Along the way Windflower also continues to enjoy the
food and home-style hospitality of this part of the world. Cod tongues, pan
seared scallops and even figgy duff become part of his diet, and his long list
of favourite foods. Windflower may be a long way from his Cree home in
Northern Alberta
but he has found a new place to love in the fog and mist of
Newfoundland.

 

 

 

 


Beneath the Surface (Book 3)

 

Sgt. Windflower is back and as usual
he’s loving life on the east coast. He may be a long way from his home in
Northern Alberta
but he has been adopted by the locals as almost one of their own. He has a good
life, good work with the RCMP, and a good woman that he has grown closer to in
his years on the southeast coast of
Newfoundland. But trouble is brewing just beneath the surface of this
calm and charm-filled existence.
It begins with the discovery of a dead girl’s body in St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. The girl is from Grand Bank where Windflower has been
stationed for the last few years. Sgt. Windflower and his associate Corporal
Eddie Tizzard are pulled further and further into the case. The situation also
grows to include a whole array of criminal activities from human trafficking
and even the Russian Mafia.

Along the way Windflower not only has to deal with this
crime wave operating all around the region, but with some challenges in his own
life. He has to go back to his Aboriginal roots to find the answers to some
very deep and disturbing questions. But nothing seems to bother his appetite
and joy for life, especially his appetite. He continues to sample traditional
Newfoundland dishes like fish and brewis but he also expands to include
pan-fried sea trout and baked salmon, along with a range of desserts from
blueberry buckle to his all-time favourite, peanut butter cheesecake.

His faith in the police force, that has become his
life, is also threatened by a series of events that he becomes aware of that
are certainly immoral if not even illegal. He is forced to face not only his
own personal demons but those in real life that are lurking all around us.
Sometime they are right in front of our face, but at other times they are
hiding deep beneath the surface, waiting to be resolved.

A Twist of Fortune (Book 4)

A Twist of Fortune is the fourth book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series and it continues the adventures of Sgt. Windflower as he tries to solve crime and experience the joy and the sadness of life in a small maritime community. Follow along as he feels the sometimes bitter taste of an east coast winter and the unique culinary delights
of this part of the world.

A Long Ways From Home (Book 5)

A weekend visit to picturesque Newfoundland by a large crew of outlaw bikers leaves behind another mess
for Sgt. Windflower to clean up. This time he’s facing violence, murder,
mystery and intrigue. This adventure has Windflower questioning everything he
thought he knew. There are troubles on the home front, cutbacks in the policing
budget, old friends leaving and new ones not quite here yet. Windflower is
seeking to find answers in territory that is both dangerous and unfamiliar.

This instalment in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series
has our hero dashing all over the beautiful little
island of Newfoundland. Along the way he never wavers in his pursuit of justice.
But he stills tries to find a way to enjoy the natural beauty that lays all
around him, and to bring out the best from everybody he meets.

A Long Ways from Home is about more than just homicides
or the dirty dealings of outlaw bikers. It is also about helping people and
communities face up to and overcome new and very difficult challenges.
Windflower relies on his friends and allies, including some four-legged ones,
to help him and them find the answers. He also discovers that we are never
really alone, even when we are a long ways from home.

A Tangled Web (Book 6)

Sgt. Windflower is back on the case
in Grand Bank. This time there’s a missing girl, trouble at the factory and
signs of danger everywhere. But there’s always good food, good friends and good
company to make life worthwhile. All the usual characters and a few new
suspects are back to help Windflower unravel the web of deceit and deception
that threatens the small community.
  

Darkest Before the Dawn (Book 7)

Darkest Before The Dawn is the
latest adventure in the Sgt. Winston Windflower mystery series, the popular
Maritime tales about a Mountie who finds himself with a new family and a new
life in tiny Grand Bank,
Newfoundland. Ghosts, mysterious deaths, and a new, perplexing character
confront Windflower, Tizzard and the other police officers in Grand Bank as
they unearth secrets that have been lying hidden in the sleepy hamlet for
decades. A fast-moving mystery, Darkest Before The Dawn is also a story of
love, loss and learning how to grow old gracefully; a tale of family, community
and looking after each other, of not giving up hope, just before the dawn.

ORDER YOUR COPIES:

Amazon

 

The Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are a light mystery series set in
Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. These cozy-like books follow
the adventures of Sgt. Winston Windflower, a Cree from Northern Alberta
as he finds a new life and new loves in the tiny village of Grand Bank.
There are crimes and mysteries for the Canadian Mountie to investigate
and solve but the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries are more about family,
friends, good food and good times.

The recurring cast of characters include the love of his life, Sheila
Hillier who keeps him well-fed and grounded in reality. There’s also
his fellow Mounties like Corporal Eddie Tizzard and a long list of bad
actors, both local and just visiting, to cause havoc in their sleepy
little town. Windflower brings his native background and traditions with
him and finds ways to use them to help himself and his friends through
difficult times. Rounding out his life are his collie, Lady, who often
has adventures of her own and some new additions to his family that
appear in the latest book, Darkest Before the Dawn.

Website: www.sgtwindflowermysteries.com

Twitter: @mike54martin

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

 

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

 

 

 

Spotlight – Moses & Mac

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About the Author

Franca Pelaccia

Franca Pelaccia is the author of Moses & Mac, a fast-paced and lively action/adventure/mystery and the first book of the Vatican Archaeological Service series published by Solstice Publishing. The second book is tentatively entitled Mac & the Crusaders. Under the pseudonym of Kirsten Paul, Franca is the author of two romantic comedies for the Calendar Men of King Court series. The first book, The Hockey Player & the Angel will soon be published by the Wild Rose Press. The second book, The Detective & the Burglar is in progress. Writing as Francesca Pelaccia, Franca self-published The Witch’s Salvation, a historical paranormal novel, which won the Beck Valley Reviewers’ Choice Award for 2013. An avid reader, Franca reviews novels for the Historical Novels Society.

Website Address: https://francapelaccia.com/

Blog Address: https://francapelaccia.com/blog/

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/FrancaPelaccia

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/pg/FrancaPelacciaAuthor/

About the Book:

Title: MOSES & MAC
Author: Franca Pelaccia
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Pages: 303
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Adventure/Mystery

Moses and Mac

BOOK BLURB:

On her dismal 30th birthday, unassuming Victorian scholar Mackenzie Braden receives a mysterious package from her Aunt Sara, urging her to locate Moses’ rod. The most powerful weapon in history will start global chaos if it lands in the wrong hands. Sara was an agent for the top-secret Vatican Archaeological Service. She has also been dead for 30 years and the agency dormant for just as long. Mackenzie’s only clue is a souvenir figurine of Moses, and except for hunky ex-military pilot Eoin Reilly, her allies are as inept as she is.

But nothing is going to stop Mackenzie from recharging her lacklustre life, fulfilling her mission, finding answers about her aunt, and making Eoin her birthday present. Armed with the figurine, Mackenzie sets off with Eoin for the Middle East. There she has to fend off a Ph.D. candidate turned terrorist, a dysfunctional family of treasure hunters, a fake Mossad operative, a manic former VAS agent, the underground tunnels of the Gaza Strip, and a whole lot of rocket launchers. But this is training for the ultimate confrontation with her aunt’s and now her greatest foe, a charming deposed Saudi prince with world domination on his mind.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Link to book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1625268602 (Print)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KPK56HK (ebook)

Book Excerpt:

A birthday no one remembered was outright unforgivable. A birthday that would change all those to follow was downright insane.

It was a changing of the guard birthday. The one when everything went thicker—face moisturizers, waistlines and mindsets, and the absence of a credible man in my life was tossed around me, over me, behind me, and in front of me by all my loved ones. But, instead of a “Happy Birthday, Mackenzie” call from a mother who was never supposed to forget. Or a “You thought your old man forgot, didn’t you, Mackie?” from a father who pretended to forget. Or some form of birthday sympathy from any of my three older sisters, I got a call from ancient Father Somerville.

Father Somerville saw through my god-forsaken soul, or made me believe it, even now in my supposedly all-powerful thirtieth year of life. In his sixty-year-old seasoned pulpit voice, he declared I had received a package from my Aunt Sara. A package from her would have been great on a birthday no one remembered, if Aunt Sara hadn’t vacated her office and neglected her duties as lecturer of biblical archaeology over thirty years before and been declared dead twenty years ago.

Aunt Sara was my father’s youngest sister. She was also my godmother. Along with my Uncle Tony, she had held my tiny head over the baptismal font thirty years before. She had posed for pictures with every relative on the Irish side of the family and wisely followed that up with everyone on the Italian side. She enjoyed the seven-course meal at my Uncle Gianni’s restaurant, left to catch a plane to Cairo and was never heard from again. Unless there was delivery from heaven or as both rosary-touting grandmothers would say, from that other place that can’t be named, the package had to be a joke from one nasty person.

But, heck, it was my big 3-0 birthday. Maybe this was some ploy, although on the dark side, to get me to a big birthday bash.

Spotlight – The Society

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About the Author

C.G. Abbot

CG Abbot was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration as well as a degree in Sacred Theology. While working in large companies and even Department of Defense, she dreamt of writing. She still resides in Colorado and enjoys creative outlets like scrapbooking, card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. She inherited a love for reading from her family and grew up talking about books at the dinner table.

Website Address: www.cgabbot.yolasite.com

About the Book:

Title: THE SOCIETY
Author: C.G. Abbot
Publisher: Blazing Sword Publishing
Pages: 367
Genre: Suspense Thriller

The Society

BOOK BLURB:

When Elizabeth Grant sees her childhood friend, she is thrown into a world of secret societies laced with conspiracies.

Elizabeth has been plagued with visions since the disappearance of Loralie. When she returns to the small town of her childhood, she’s unaware that she’s walking into the middle of what killed her friend.

Unknown to the rest of the world, The Society for a Restored America has been preparing to seize control of the government through manipulation of a national crisis. The Society’s membership has already infiltrated the government and military at the highest levels. The only thing between them and success is Elizabeth Grant.

Elizabeth must accept her special gift and stay alive long enough to uncover the Society’s dark plot to seize control from a nation that blindly supports them.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

https://www.amazon.com/Society-Elizabeth-Suspense-Thriller-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B07KN4MFTH/

Book Excerpt:

She hit the floor, hard. Thud. She just missed hitting her head on the nightstand. Her eyes darted around the room aglow with moonlight, out of breath from the nightmare. Where was she?

It wasn’t until her senses took in the ratty stuffed bear that sat on the white dresser, the white lace curtains that rustled from a whispered breeze heavy with scent of Magnolias, and the chorus of many crickets that she remembered. She was in Mississippi, hundreds of miles away from her Denver apartment. Her grandparent’s house, well… grandma’s ever since gramps had passed a few years ago.

Unease settled into the pit of her stomach, beyond what the vivid dream had produced. Loneliness assailed her and settled in her heart. Her first night back in Cyprus and her nightmares returned. Thought I was over all that.

Elizabeth took several deep breaths to steady her nerves and slow her breathing. Her muscles ached as she stood, legs like rubber and hands shaking. The recurring dream always produced such a physical reaction.

She knew from experience she wouldn’t… couldn’t, fall back asleep after her fight-or-flight response had kicked into overdrive. She made her way downstairs with care at each step.

Elizabeth grabbed the teakettle before its shrill whistle could disturb the tranquility; she was accustomed to living with a roommate and being quiet. Hopefully, some tea would help to calm her nerves… and her nausea. Another physical result of the nightmares. She poured the water over her waiting tea bag in a mug.

She rubbed her sore thigh and then rotated her aching shoulder from falling out of bed as the tea steeped. Her long chestnut hair was still disheveled and her pallor made the sprinkling of freckles across her face and cheeks stand out. Her heart was approaching a normal rate.

She settled into a worn chair in Grandma’s living room, last decorated a few decades ago when brown and gold country fabric patterns with heavy oak touches were all the rage. The scent of lemon furniture polish clung in the air. She breathed deeply the steam from the tea and let her breath out slowly. The subdued light from the one lamp created a cocoon of safety and comfort. Now that the adrenaline rush was fading maybe she could get another hour or two of sleep after all.

The nightmares would pass, she had to face them head-on like you would a bully.

She took in the room, each knick-knack and crocheted doily. She used to spend every summer with her grandma and grandpa. It had been like a second home. Her first summer spent here she was lonely, until she met Loralie, a local girl, in the park. She was only six and Loralie barely five then, and they had been like sisters from that moment. They were both raised by single moms and didn’t know their dads. Elizabeth’s life had changed in that instant in the park.

Until seven years ago when it all changed again, all because she didn’t come to visit over the summer. Her world shifted because of that simple decision. Loralie, the closest thing to a sister she ever had, disappeared the summer she didn’t come to visit, and worse – they had fought terribly only weeks before she vanished.

Digging up old bones.

Her life was moving along fine on a predictable path of school, and eventually college. When they had fought over Loralie’s brother, Jeremiah, she couldn’t have known that would be the last time they would speak, the last memory of her would be words of anger.

She took a sip of tea. Why had she started having the nightmares again? It had been over a year since the last one. But, this was her first visit to Mississippi since the night Loralie had gone missing.

Maybe just returning was enough to start her night terrors again. Shouldn’t it be ancient history and the nightmares long gone? Okay, she still felt guilty for not visiting that summer, as if she could have prevented whatever happened to Loralie.

She held out hope that her dearest friend had left town touring with a band or something and got out of Cyprus. One day her friend would call and share her adventures, and she’d be happy.

Nightmares were one thing and even understandable, but seeing things – visions or hallucinations – was a whole different matter.

The night Loralie went missing was the night she swore she saw a vision of Loralie in her bedroom in Denver, Colorado. An image of a beaten and bloody Loralie, who was physically in Cyprus hundreds of miles away, appeared right there in her bedroom, frantically reaching out to her. Then Elizabeth passed out. When she regained consciousness her mother was holding her in her arms and dabbing her face with a cold washcloth.

It was on Elizabeth’s insistent pleading that her mother called Mississippi in the middle of the night to ask a groggy Mrs. Carter to put Loralie on the phone. She remembered taking the phone, waiting for Loralie to talk to her so she could get that image out of her mind, only for Mrs. Carter to come back with ragged breaths and exclaim; “She’s not here. I can’t find her!”

It was the instant that she had that vision of Loralie which really changed her life. But she had seen her and was inconsolable for hours, so she was labeled “fragile”, “over-sensitive”, and “over-wrought”. Being at grandma’s was bringing it all back.

Digging up bones.

No physical trace was ever found of Loralie. Then the nightmares had started – and hallucinations of Loralie regularly over the last seven years. The nightmares terrified her, but the hallucinations… visions… whatever you called them – they left her doubting herself.

She made the mistake of researching what could cause hallucinations and was convinced she had a brain tumor or something for the first year. Still, she told nobody about her continued visions. As far as everybody else knew, her mother included, the night Loralie disappeared was the only time she experienced such a visual aberration, rather than the continual problem that plagued her still.

She shook her head to dismiss such serious thoughts. It was disconcerting to be here again. She wasn’t the same person who had last run happily through the house.

She rubbed her eyes and sipped at her tea, clearing her mind. She stiffened when she heard a car pull into the driveway. Every cell in her body listening.

This wasn’t Denver, people in rural little Cyprus were asleep at this hour. Maybe some were doing chores on the surrounding farms, but nobody was out visiting in the wee hours of the morning.

Barely audible footfalls on the veranda floorboards and a soft knocking at the door made her heart race. Just that quickly the feeling of a secure cocoon vanished – replaced by dread. She scanned the shadows and saw Loralie, forever sixteen, like an animated photograph, motioning with a degree of urgency for her to go answer the door. She swallowed, shakily set her tea down, and stood up.

Surely it’s nothing. It’ll be innocent, you’ll see. But, she felt like she was on the very edge of a cliff and everything in her life was about to change… again.

She took a deep breath to calm herself and rolled her shoulders back, crossed the living room to the door and slowly opened it.

On the wide white-painted veranda was an elderly black woman with her hand poised to knock again. She lowered her hand and smiled. It was wide genuine smile that made her eyes sparkle. In the illumination of the porch light, her coifed white hair looked more like a halo. She wore a turquoise cotton dress, was of average height, but stood proudly and with composure. Another time and place one might think she was Egyptian royalty.

“Hello dear, I’m Madame Antoinette of Shreveport, Louisiana. You must be Elizabeth. I’ve been driving all night to talk to you, hon.” Her voice was melodic with a reserved southern drawl. She watched expectantly as Elizabeth blinked a few times.

“Ma’am, you’re here to see me? At 4:30 in the morning? Are you sure you have the right house?” Elizabeth whispered because she instinctively felt the need to be quiet. A dog barked in the distance, then howled – a long mournful baying filled the air.

Madame looked around at the other houses on the street. All were dark and quiet. Returning her attention to Elizabeth she whispered, “I must speak with you about Loralie.” Looking around again she added, “I had to visit when it was least likely to be seen.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Spotlight – People Skills 101

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About the Author

Kerry O'Hallaron

Kerry O’Hallaron was born in St. Louis, MO. He attended college at the University of Missouri, and later “emigrated” to Florida. His passion in life is to help others maximize their own potential.

His latest book, “People Skills 101 – tm: How to Have More Friends, Fewer Conflicts, and Better Relationships,” is a compelling and life-changing new spin on one of the oldest “self-development” books in print. In it, he adds new color the art and science of people skills, which wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller called the most valuable asset under the sun. O’Hallaron teaches us in a humorous way how to use time-tested principles in our quest for friendships and positive business and personal relationships. The teachings aren’t new – but O’Hallaron’s unique twist on them certainly is. Whether you’re a shy, reserved introvert or a bubbly, outgoing extrovert, “People Skills 101” could be the only book you need to understand the simple tools that will help you both create and manage the perceptions people have of you.

You will be amazed how a few, subtle changes you can learn from this book will craft a new, more influential, more charismatic, more likable, YOU!

O’Hallaron lives in Tampa with his wife, Carol, and can’t seem to get away from spending significant parts of each year in his home town of St. Louis.

Website Address: www.peopleskills.training

Twitter Address: @ps101_book

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/PeopleSkills101/

About the Book:

Title: PEOPLE SKILLS 101: HOW TO HAVE MORE FRIENDS, FEWER CONFLICTS AND BETTER RELATIONSPS
Author: Kerry O’Hallaron
Publisher: Shamrock Publications
Pages: 301
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-Help/Self-Development

People Skills 101

BOOK BLURB:

A life changing modern-day twist on Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic – learn how to have more friends, show more charisma, and better manage every relationship – all in the comfort of your home.

“Kerry O’Hallaron simply nailed it with People Skills 101,” says Jason Broadman, international book critic. “He took something everyone needs to know, which nobody teaches, and made it interesting, eminently readable, entertaining, and exceptionally useful to just about everyone.”

Do you remember that course you took in school called “Basic People Skills?” You don’t, do you – because nobody, anywhere, teaches such a course. Whether grade school, high school, or beyond, NOBODY thought it was important to teach us how to interact. NOBODY thought it was important enough to teach us interpersonal skills – how to get people to like us, how to get them to see us the way we want to be seen, how to manage our relationships.Apparently they just assumed that we are either born with “people skills” – or we weren’t!

People Skills 101 offers an elegantly simple and completely unique solution. It works, whether you are a shy and reserved introvert, a bubbly and outgoing extrovert, or anywhere in between. Simply choose any three of the twenty-one “GoldenRules” offered in the book, begin to use them faithfully, and watch the results with awe. You will be amazed how a few, subtle changes will quickly craft a new, more influential, more charismatic, more likable, YOU!

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Excerpt:

1

How to INSTANTLY Become More Likeable

 

Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.”

(Christie Brinkley, American model, actress, and businesswoman, 1954- )

Legend has it that “Connie” (her real name – she’d be pleased to know that I’m sharing her story) came out of the womb with a smile on her face.

I wasn’t on this earth at the time, so I don’t know that for sure. I only knew her for the last two thirds of her many years. So let me share what I do know about her.

She was born in the Midwest United States, of hard-working middle-class parents who were not far removed from European immigrants. She had a happy childhood. In the middle of World War II, as a young adult, she married Don. They were together nearly sixty years – by all accounts a very happy union.

Connie, along with Don, raised six children. That alone was a herculean effort. Somehow, she managed to keep smiling through it all.

In the early 1970’s, as the children were progressing through their education, she entered the work force – during a time when many women could only get jobs as secretaries. Being a secretary, though, was not for Connie. Her exceptional work ethic and winning smile earned her the job of city clerk in her home town. She worked there until retirement, at which point she (showing her captivating smile as always) was featured in the local newspaper for being a one-of-a-kind woman.

She loved retirement, enjoying her relationships with Don, her children and grandchildren, and old friends. She lived the good life until the late 1990’s, when tragedy struck in the form of a massive stroke. Not one to give up easily, Connie survived the stroke well – except that it became difficult to verbalize what she was thinking. She thought clearly but spoke with great difficulty – often barely able to get a message across.

Previously, she had always communicated with a smile and a friendly word. Now she just had the smile, as many of her words did not make sense except to those closest to her.

If that bothered her, you’d never know it. Whenever someone came to visit her, her eyes lit up and her smile warmed the room. The smile projected a clear message: “Hi. I’m really glad to see you. I’m glad you are in my life. I’m glad you are here.” Her speech was challenged, but her communication was just a little different than yours and mine.

When Don died in 2004, she moved to a nice senior living facility, where her smile alone was enough to befriend residents and staff alike. She had constant visitors from her large extended family, friends, and residents, in spite of the speech challenge. Connie made life good.

I got to spend some time with her just a week before her death in 2014. We both seemed to know her time was coming – but she refused to give up that radiant smile even then. We spent time enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the home, looking at the flowers and listening to the birds. I talked; she smiled.

A week later, as she departed this world, she left behind a gift to everyone who knew her – now including you. She entrusted that wonderful, powerful smile to each of us, asking us to both keep it and share it with others, and make the world a little brighter place in the process.

(Rest in peace Connie O’Hallaron, a/k/a Mom, 1920-2014.)

Look around you, and you will see the effect a smile can have on people. A warm smile can strengthen a relationship. A smile from a physician in a hospital emergency room can instantly ease the patient’s fears. A smile in a job interview can put the candidate at ease. A sincere smile in a store may turn a “looker” into a customer.

The examples are endless. But Connie taught us best how powerful a genuine smile is, particularly in her later years. She realized that, because of her very limited speech, her primary way to communicate was through facial expressions. She knew, and she taught those of us who knew and loved her (it was impossible to know her without loving her), that the expression on her face had a powerful effect on the person she was sharing that expression with.

 She knew that if she smiled that warm smile, it would make the person feel good, loved, wanted, happy – often all at the same time. She also knew that if she frowned, or otherwise showed anger or displeasure, she could immediately have a powerful negative impact on that person. She could ruin that person’s day, or their morning, or at a very minimum their mood for a short term, just with a frown.

 She realized, either intuitively or consciously (or both), that what she projected would have a powerful effect on the person she projected it to – and that she greatly influenced whether that effect would be positive or negative. I’m not sure she ever actually wanted that kind of responsibility – but she was well prepared to handle it. She simply chose to have a positive impact on the lives of everyone she touched, every time she touched them!

I’d like to propose a little two-step exercise for you. The first step simply involves “people watching.”

Over the next few days, go about your work, family life, etc. doing things exactly as you’ve done in the past. However, pay close attention to the people you encounter. Watch for people who smile at you. I’m asking you to take a few days, because you may not encounter very many people who smile. But there will be some.

Watch carefully. Pay attention to the circumstances. Was it someone in the elevator, where most people try desperately to get to their floors without making eye contact? Was it someone in traffic? Was it a clerk at a store? Was it your spouse / significant other, child, or parent?

Now, as they smile at you, try to associate a meaning with the smile. In other words, try to imagine their smile is a form of communication, and guess what they are “saying.” What is the message that the person with the smile is conveying?

It may be, “Hi, how are you? Good to see you.” It may be, “Thanks for coming into our store/restaurant/place of business.” It may simply be a subconscious expression such as, “I’m friendly. Are you?” Or in a relationship, it may mean, “I’m really glad you’re here!” (My own beautiful wife realized the power of her smile over forty years ago when we first met, and she continues to use it daily to reinforce our relationship.)

OK, now it’s time to move on to part 2 of the exercise. In part 2, you do the exact same thing as in part 1, except as frequently as possible, make eye contact and smile at the other person. This may come easily to you, or it may not. But please try it. Do it several times a day for a few days.

And by the way, when you smile, do what Connie did and convey a message with your smile. The message should be appropriate to the person you’re smiling at. If it’s your boss, it should be along the lines of, “Hi, boss. It’s really good to see you.” If it’s a stranger, it should be along the lines of “Hi. How are you?” If it’s your significant other, you can use your own imagination, depending on the circumstances and his/her mood.

Here’s an easy trick: as you are smiling, think the message you are trying to project. If it’s your boss, think, “Hi, boss. It’s really good to see you.” Warning: this really works. So don’t smile at the boss while you are thinking, “Hi boss.You’re an idiot and I could do your job with my eyes closed!” Most people can “feel” when the message is incongruent. In other words, most people can sense an insincere smile!

So smile, think of the message you want to project, and watch closely when you do this. Watch their reactions, and try to imagine how they feel. You should see, as Connie did, that a simple, warm, genuine smile changes the entire trajectory of a person’s day, and maybe even of their whole life.

OK, one more homework assignment. But this one is simple. Think back to the last time you saw a baby smile. I’m told that after about six or eight weeks, many babies develop a “social smile.” In other words, after that age they really mean it – it’s not just “gas” or some involuntary reaction.

So think of the last time you saw a baby smile who was at least six or eight weeks old. If it’s ever happened, even once, I’m sure you remember it. The experience was almost priceless, wasn’t it? It’s hard to describe. It’s the same as any other person smiling, but so incredibly pure.

With a baby, there’s no possibility of a fake “politician” smile. It’s hard to know what the baby’s message is, because the baby doesn’t know a language yet that he/she can express with a smile. You get to assign your own message to the baby’s smile – but it’s almost certainly a positive message.

The baby might be saying, “OOH. You’re that nice person that feeds me. I like you.” Or, “You’re that nice lady that smells good and kisses me all over.” You don’t know exactly what the message is. All you know is, that smile warms your heart. Doesn’t it?

So how is it that so many of us intuitively know the power of a smile at eight weeks of age, and then proceed to forget it as we grow up?!!!

Connie’s smile would have melted your heart if you knew her. In fact, if you let it, just about every sincere smile you encounter will soften your disposition, improve your mood, make you feel better – and make you like the person who is doing the smiling. What if you were to simply turn things around, be on the giving end of a warm, sincere smile, and watch and feel the powerful effect it has on the other person? Try it. You’ll like it.

It takes less than a few seconds to smile. There are 86,400 seconds in every day. Make a commitment to invest just a few of them every day in giving genuine, warm, sincere smiles.

At the end of each section, we’ll propose a GoldenRule (see below). Each GoldenRule in this training will have some positive effect on your life and your relationships with others. They are all important and valuable. However, not one of them will have more of an impact than this one!

*****

GoldenRule #1

Smile like you genuinely mean it! Do it warmly and sincerely. It will move the world towards you in a small but unmistakable and irreversible way.

Spotlight – Obsessions of a Djinni

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About the Author

Claudia Herring

Claudia Herring writes romantic fantasy novels. Her Djinn Chronicles series are set in a world of mysterious powers and tumultuous intrigues fraught with subterfuge. They begin in Regency England where sensible mortals interact in disbelief with djinnis, magicians, sorceresses, and soothsayers.

 She would live in a library if she could.

 Is afraid of her cat.

 If you like Diana Gabaldon or Carol Berg, you’ll love Obsessions of a Djinni.

Website: https://claudiaherring.com/

Twitter: @claudiakherring

Facebook: claudia.herring.writer

About the Book:

Title: OBSESSIONS OF A DJINNI
Author: Claudia Herring
Publisher: Caravanserai Publishing
Pages: 374
Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Obsessions of a Djinni

BOOK BLURB:

A djinni seduces his master’s young bride, forcing her to make a fateful choice.

A world of mysterious powers and tumultuous intrigues comes to life in Regency England as a djinni, burdened with a dark secret, is thrown into a love triangle fraught with subterfuge.

Will he defeat his nemesis or be betrayed?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

Prologue

I am Djinn. I am abandoned.

Another day of countless days. Waiting. A torture, but not the worst I have endured.

The light of this place sets me on edge. I know not its origin. Where the brightness falls illumines my carpets, colors rivaling my jewels, the finest weave of silk from Persian masters, treasures on which to tread. But I would gladly tread a floor of dirt strewn with rushes if I could be free.

I stretch my arms above my head. My kurta shimmers around my body, the gossamer silk the hard work of thousands of industrious and sacred lepidopteran larvae and their keepers. I see the gleam of silver and gold, the glimmer of gems on my ivory tabletop reflecting the rubies’ blood red, the emeralds’ echoing green and the ancient amber of the topaz as if it were a soft, tranquil pond.

I will be called. I know not when. My impending summons looms over me like the sword Dionysius hung above Damocles. I pray my next master will be kind, for I have had enough of cruelty. And if I could have wishes, if I could follow my heart, I would search for my Thalia.

Meanwhile, I am here, in Bramley House, for many years now. I sense I am in the East wing, upstairs, in one of the older bedchambers. Of over a hundred rooms in this centuries-old manor, this is one rarely used. In here are cast-offs of years gone by.

Among the clutter and jumble sits a marble bust of some long-forgotten statesman, transported to these misty isles to adorn the august Roman villa of one of England’s early conquerors. A magnificent, life-sized bronze stands by the window—an Indian god with four arms, dancing, dancing, dancing, a Natraj, Shiva, who keeps this world, where I am forced to exist, in motion. A few steps away, above the mahogany escritoire, hangs a drawing, elaborately framed in burnished gold leaf, the flowing black ink magically coalescing into my lady, my Lavinia, my Thalia, fixing you in her grave gaze, her somber eyes conveying the tragedy I made of her life.

And on the mantel the etched brass urn, securely lidded, where I am prisoner—for how long I do not know.

I remember being in this great house, living in its rooms, a real person in a real place. Happy. Reunited with my beloved, my heart, my Thalia. I remember sunlight streaming at an angle through the wavy old glass, warming my black velvet jacket, dust motes floating in the rays like stars within a galaxy. My hair pulled back in a queue secured with a black velvet ribbon, the style of the time. I took it all in, my treasures, my manor, my love, my life.

Even I never realized how quickly it could change.

Spotlight – The Liebold Protocol

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About the Authors

Michael McMenamin

Michael McMenamin is the co-author with his son Patrick of the award winning 1930s era historical novels featuring Winston Churchill and his fictional Scottish goddaughter, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist Mattie McGary. The first five novels in the series—The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal and The Silver Mosaic—received a total of 15 literary awards. He is currently at work with his daughter Kathleen McMenamin on the sixth Winston and Mattie historical adventure, The Liebold Protocol.

Michael is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor [Hardcover, Greenwood 2007; Paperback, Enigma 2009] and the co-author of Milking the Public, Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter [Nelson Hall, 1980]. He is an editorial board member of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the International Churchill Society and a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work also has appeared in The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies [Irish Academic Press, 2012] as well as two Reason anthologies, Free Minds & Free Markets, Twenty Five Years of Reason [Pacific Research Institute, 1993] and Choice, the Best of Reason [BenBella Books, 2004]. A full-time writer, he was formerly a first amendment and media defense lawyer and a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent. 

Kathleen McMenamin

Kathleen, the other half of the father-daughter writing team, has been editing her father’s writing for longer than she cares to remember. She is the co-author with her sister Kelly of the critically acclaimed Organize Your Way: Simple Strategies for Every Personality [Sterling, 2017]. The two sisters are professional organizers, personality-type experts and the founders of PixiesDidIt, a home and life organization business. Kathleen is an honors graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and has an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The novella Appointment in Prague is her second joint writing project with her father. Their first was “Bringing Home the First Amendment”, a review in the August 1984 Reason magazine of Nat Hentoff’s The Day They Came to Arrest the Book.  While a teen-ager, she and her father would often take runs together, creating plots for adventure stories as they ran.

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About the Book:

The Liebold Protocol

Title: THE LIEBOLD PROTOCOL: a Mattie McGary + Winston Churchill World War 2 Adventure
Author: Michael & Kathleen McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Pages: 389
Genre: Historical Thriller

BOOK BLURB:

Winston Churchill’s Scottish goddaughter, Mattie McGary, the adventure-seeking Hearst photojournalist, reluctantly returns to Nazi Germany in the summer of 1934 and once again finds herself in deadly peril in a gangster state where widespread kidnappings and ransoms are sanctioned by the new government.

Mattie turns down an early request by her boss Hearst to go to Germany to report on how Hitler will deal with the SA Brown Shirts of Ernst Rohm who want a true socialist ‘second revolution’ to follow Hitler’s stunning first revolution in 1933. Having been away from Germany for over a year, her reputation as “Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist” is fading and she wants to keep it that way.

Instead, at Churchill’s suggestion, she persuades Hearst to let her investigate one of the best-kept secrets of the Great War—that in 1915, facilitated by a sinister German-American working for Henry Ford, British and Imperial German officials essentially committed treason by agreeing Britain would sell raw rubber to Germany in exchange for it selling precision optical equipment to Britain. Why? To keep the war going and the profits flowing. After Mattie interviews Ford’s German-American go-between, however, agents of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch are sent by Churchill’s political opponents in the British government to rough her up and warn her she will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act unless she backs off the story.

Left no choice, Mattie sets out for Germany to investigate the story from the German side and interview the German nobleman who negotiated the optics for rubber deal. There, Mattie lands right in the middle of what Hearst originally wanted her to investigate—Adolf Hitler believes one revolution is enough—and she learns that Hitler has ordered the SS to assassinate all the senior leadership of Ernst Rohm’s SA Brown Shirts as well as other political enemies on Saturday 30 June, an event soon known to History as ‘The Night of the Long Knives’.

Mattie must flee Germany to save her life. Not only does the German-American working for Henry Ford want her story on the optics for rubber treason killed, he wants her dead along with it. Worse, Mattie’s nemesis, the ‘Blond Beast’ of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, is in charge of Hitler’s purge and he’s secretly put her name on his list…

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Book Excerpt:

Mattie McGary

21 Club

21 West 52nd Street

New York City

Wednesday, 13 June 1934

MATTIE McGARY tipped the taxi driver and stepped from the Yellow Cab and walked under the portico of the 21 Club, the former 1930’s speakeasy that had become, after the end of prohibition, one of the most popular watering holes in New York. It was known to its regulars, of which Mattie was one, as Jack and Charlie’s or simply 21. She was a few minutes early, but she didn’t want to keep her boss, William Randolph Hearst, waiting. The new Hearst headquarters building was just up the street at West 57th and Eighth Avenue and he also might be early.

Mattie was a tall, attractive and some—including her husband—would say stunning redhead whose figure turned heads in any room she entered. Now, she entered the Bar Room at 21 and stood there, scanning the room until she saw Hearst at his favorite table, #4, in the far left-hand corner of the room. Her hair was cut in a short tousled style that she had somewhat patterned after the American aviatrix Amelia Earhart. She wore a royal blue matching silk jacket and form-fitting skirt flattering a figure that, judging from the number of male heads that turned as she waved at Hearst and walked the length of the dark mahogany-lined room, drew men’s attention wherever she went. As she was the only woman in the Bar Room, she had no doubt most men were checking out her ass. She had wedding and engagement rings on her left hand, but she knew what her assets were.

There were various model aircraft hanging from the Bar Room’s low, dark ceiling. These included a British Imperial Airways Flying Boat, a Pan American Clipper, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, a Ford Tri-Motor, a giant Handley-Page HP-42 bi-plane airliner, and, of personal interest to her, a Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-2 autogiro and the new German Zeppelin, the Graf Bismarck, formerly the British Vickers-built airship the R-100.

The autogiro was a model of the Celtic Princess, her husband Bourke Cockran’s aircraft. A few years ago she and her then-fiancé had flown it cross-country in an unsuccessful attempt to break America Earhart’s record set earlier that year. The zeppelin was the model of an airship commanded by her good friend Kurt von Sturm with whom, to her regret, she had a brief affair several years ago when she and Cockran had been briefly estranged and she thought, erroneously, that he had dropped her and taken up with a new blonde client.

Hearst stood up to greet Mattie when she arrived at his table. They exchanged brief kisses on the cheek and then a waiter arrived to pull out the table so she could sit beside him on the banquette. 21 had a specific protocol that if two people were dining together at a banquette table, then they had to sit next to each other facing out to the room.

Hearst was a tall, shambling man, well over 6 feet with a comma of gray hair boyishly falling over his forehead. He had clear, blue eyes and didn’t look his 71 years of age. For such a large man, however, he had a surprisingly high voice.

Thanks for joining me for lunch, Mattie, I appreciate it.”

Mattie had been surprised Hearst asked her to lunch at 21 when she called him yesterday to schedule an appointment to discuss her next assignment. Usually, on those occasions, they met at his castle-like estate on Long Island Sound when he was on the East coast. “Any time you want to treat me to lunch at Jack and Charlie’s, Chief, all you have to do is ask and I’ll be there with bells on. What’s the occasion?”

Hearst smiled. “I always take my Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalists to celebrate at 21.”

Well, Chief, this is the second year in a row I’ve had some stories nominated for a Pulitzer, but that’s not the same as being a winner.”

In fact, Mattie had four stories from 1933 nominated for a Pulitzer, all of which she believed deserved to be winners. One involved the Transfer Agreement between the Jewish Palestine Authority and the German government in which the Nazis agreed to allow Jews emigrating to Palestine to avoid the currency rules which forbade any German emigrant from taking assets with him. In exchange for allowing emigrating Jews to take with them to Palestine the equivalent of $5,000 US, the Jewish Palestine Authority agreed to buy exports of agricultural equipment from Germany in an equivalent amount. Further, the Jewish Authority agreed to actively oppose the Jewish-led worldwide boycott of German exports that was threatening to cripple the German economy and bring down the new Nazi government.

A companion story concerned the Concordat negotiated between the Vatican and the Nazis whereby the German government agreed to allow the Catholic Church to operate freely in Germany with no interference. In exchange, the Church agreed to forbid its clergy—priests, monks and nuns—from engaging in ‘political activity’ of any kind with the Nazis being the sole arbiter of what constituted ‘political activity’.

The third story consisted of exclusive interviews with the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and the new U.S. President, Franklin Roosevelt, right before assassination attempts on both where Mattie had been sitting beside them during the attempts. A fourth story concerned the rise of the fascist movement in America, focusing on the Silver Legion of America and Friends of New Germany.

Hearst raised his hand and a waiter came over with a silver bucket of ice on a pedestal, inside of which was a bottle of champagne. He placed two champagne flutes on the table and held the bottle up for Hearst’s inspection. He nodded his approval and the waiter undid the foil, popped the cork and filled Mattie’s flute halfway to the top. She smiled when she noticed the champagne was Pol Roger, the favorite of her godfather Winston Churchill.

Once Hearst’s flute was filled, he stood up, tapped his spoon against the flute until the buzz of noise from the many luncheon conversations in that section of the room had died down. Then he raised his flute and said in a loud voice that carried to the front of the Bar Room. “I propose a toast to the Hearst organization’s newest Pulitzer Prize winner.”

Mattie blushed as applause and not a few wolf whistles greeted Hearst’s toast.

Really, Chief, I won?” Mattie asked as she reached over and hugged Hearst after he sat down. “Which story was it?” she asked, her voice full of excitement.

Actually, it was all four stories and two prizes. You received the prize for ‘Correspondence’ for your stories from Germany on the Transfer Agreement and the Concordat. I think it was your interview with Hermann Göring that did the trick. No other story had that. You got the ‘Reporting’ prize for your stories on the Hitler and FDR assassination attempts after your exclusive interviews with them as well as your story on American fascists. The panelists were impressed by your courage under fire with Hitler and FDR as well as your running the gauntlet of the Silver Shirts and the Friends of New Germany in front of Severance Hall in Cleveland.”

Hearst reached down into a briefcase beside him and pulled up a galley proof of The New York American dated for tomorrow and handed it to her. There, on the front page and above the fold was a bold headline: ‘Two Pulitzers For Hearst Papers’ Mattie McGary’. Right below it was a two-year-old photo of Mattie standing in front of Cockran’s autogiro that she had just flown across the country, almost breaking Amelia Earhart’s record. Shot from below, it was her favorite. She was wearing a leather flying outfit from head to toe—a shearling–lined sheepskin flying jacket, trousers and boots—a camera in one hand, her leather flight helmet and goggles in the other, her tousled red hair blowing in the wind and a big grin on her face.

That’s only the galley for The American,” Hearst said, “but the same story in the same place will run in all my papers tomorrow.”

Thanks, Chief,” Mattie said as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I really appreciate it.”

It’s a shame,” Hearst said, “that the Transfer Agreement and the Concordat undercut the anti-Nazi boycott of German exports that otherwise might have crippled the German economy and brought down the new Nazi government.”

True, it didn’t do that,” Mattie allowed, “but don’t overlook the silver lining of the boycott. It accomplished two big things. It’s all there in my interview with Göring. First, Hitler issued a directive to the SA and its brown-shirted Storm Troopers to cease any actions like boycotts against the mostly Jewish-owned department stores and their suppliers. He even authorized a loan to a Jewish Department store that was close to bankruptcy. Sure, Hitler only did it to keep thousands of Aryans off the unemployment rolls if any department stores had to close their doors because of brown-shirt bullying, but he still did it and those stores remained open and prospering.”

Mattie paused and took a sip of champagne. “The second thing Hitler and Göring did in response to the boycott last year was even bigger. They forbade all violence against the Jews that the SA had been committing without authorization of the government. The penalty for doing so was, at a minimum, confinement to a concentration camp or, at the other end, death.”

Really, death?” Hearst asked. “I don’t recall you mentioning that in your article.”

I didn’t go into any detail,” Mattie replied, “and only mentioned it in passing. You remember Bobby Sullivan?”

Sure, I first met him at San Simeon in 1929 right before the reception of the Graf Zeppelin when it arrived in Los Angeles on the round-the-world voyage I sponsored. He was in your wedding party last year in Scotland. Wasn’t he ex-IRA or something?”

More like the Irish Republican Brotherhood led by Michael Collins. He was a member of ‘The Apostles’, Collins’ hit squad in the Anglo-Irish War in 1920 to 1921. Anyway, Bobby’s sister was married to a Jewish physician in Berlin who the SA castrated and killed last year. Göring practically gave Bobby a license to kill in taking revenge on all those responsible. He showed me photographs of Bobby’s six victims, all of them naked below the waist and missing their manly parts. Each man had a sign pinned to his chest that said ‘This is what happens to all who disobey the Fuhrer and kill Jews without his consent.’ We obviously couldn’t use them in your papers, but Göring actually had them published on the front page of Der Angriff.”

Congratulations, Miss McGary,” the waiter said as he returned to their table to take their lunch orders. Mattie thanked him and then ordered a dozen oysters and chicken hash while Hearst went for the Dover Sole and, to her surprise, another bottle of Pol Roger. Her boss rarely drank alcohol and, in fact, prohibited alcohol in the guest rooms at San Simeon, his elaborate Spanish mission-style estate in Central California.

I must say Göring was right,” Mattie continued after the waiter had left, “when he said the SA loved their, uh, genitals more than they hated Jews because violence against Jews over the course of the next year practically disappeared, especially in large cities where most German Jews live. I think the boycott deserves the credit for forcing Hitler’s hand to issue those decrees.”

Okay, Mattie, what’s next? What are you going to give me to enter in next year’s Pulitzers? I’d really like to see you follow up on that SA leader Ernst Rohm and the story our Berlin correspondent filed in March about a speech he gave in early February. He said that the SA was the true army of National Socialism and that the Reichswehr should be limited to being a training organization for the SA. I’d like to know what your friend Göring thinks about that, not to mention the German General Staff.”

Mattie frowned. It had been well over a year since last she had been in Germany. As a consequence, her reputation in Germany as ‘Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist’ was beginning to fade. The last thing she wanted to do was revive that by doing a story on the SA and the German Army, notwithstanding that she had many high-level contacts in Nazi Germany including Göring and the Nazi foreign press chief Ernst ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl as well as Hitler himself.

Göring is not my friend, Chief. He is a source and that only because my friend Kurt von Sturm is his principle adviser on airships. Speaking of airships, Bourke and I are flying to Europe this Saturday on the Graf Bismarck. We’re going to spend the summer at our new house in Ireland. Bourke is going to finish his book on political assassinations and I’m going to use it as a base of operations for what I hope you’ll approve as my next story. Patrick and his grandmother Mary Morrissey sail tomorrow for Ireland. He’s going to spend a month in Galway with her getting to know his first and second cousins before he comes up to join us in Donegal.”

That sounds like a wonderful summer. What did you have in mind for your next story, my dear?”

Fascist movements in Europe other than Germany and Italy. A companion piece, if you will, to my story on fascism in America. Democracy is in trouble, Chief. I’ve done the preliminary research and there are fascist movements all over Europe. If the world’s economy stays bad, many of them could come to power just like Hitler and Mussolini.”
Her oysters arrived and Mattie ate one, took a sip of champagne and continued.

She held up her hand, and ticked them off on her fingers. “There are strong fascist parties in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Poland.”

Well,” Hearst began, “I suppose it would be a good follow-up to the American fascist story, but I really was hoping to have an in-depth piece on the growing tension between Rohm’s SA and the German General Staff who I imagine don’t take kindly to becoming just a training cadre for Nazi Storm Troopers. Our new Berlin correspondent, Prescott Talbot, is good, but he’s not as good as his predecessor Isaac Rosenbaum or, for that matter, you.”

Mattie began to reply, but she was interrupted by their entrées being served. After the waiter had left and she had sampled her chicken hash, she looked over at Hearst. “Yes, it’s a shame you had to reassign Zack, but you had no choice after those SA thugs fractured his skull and cut off his ear for a souvenir. London is a far safer place for a Jewish journalist. Look, I really don’t want to get involved in any story about Ernst Rohm.”

Why is that?” Hearst asked.

Because when I was working on the Transfer Agreement, Kurt von Sturm and I were kidnapped at the Reichsbank one night by SA Storm Troopers and brought to Rohm’s hotel suite where, in plain view, he was buggering one of his adjutants, a young, very naked blond Storm Trooper.”

Hearst’s eyes went wide. “Oh, my God!” Hearst exclaimed. “I had no idea.”

Wait. It gets worse. It’s common knowledge that Rohm is homosexual, so I wasn’t surprised, but doing it right in front of us was a tad off-putting. What’s worse is that he threatened to do the same to me if Kurt and I didn’t tell him why we had been at the Reichsbank that evening.”

That’s…I’m at a loss…What a horrible person.” Hearst said.

Yep,” Mattie said and slurped another oyster. “Fortunately, Sturm bluffed our way out of Rohm’s clutches. He said that I was an undercover Gestapo agent who used my position as a journalist with the Hearst papers as a cover for my work for the Reich and that we had been on a top-secret mission inside the Reichsbank at the behest of Reichsminister Göring with the blessing of the Fuhrer.”

Well, given that, I understand your reluctance to go anywhere near that man again, but can’t you do the story without interviewing him?” Hearst said.

Here’s what I can do. “Mattie concluded, “Göring and Rohm are bitter enemies. I’ve known Göring since 1923 when he commandeered my motorcar as a machine gun platform in the Munich putsch. If I have Sturm convey my request to Göring to have him give an exclusive interview to Prescott Talbot on the subject of Ernst Rohm, I’m sure he’ll agree. I’ll have Kurt brief Talbot off the record on what he knows. Göring has wiretaps on all the top SA people, not just Rohm. Transcripts of the calls are made daily. They’re called the ‘Brown Pages’ because of the color of the paper on which they’re typed. Sturm is on the approved list so he may well know a lot about what Rohm and other SA thugs are up to.”

Hearst sighed. “Well, it’s not the same as you doing the interview, but it’s better than what Talbot could do on his own. I’m not enthusiastic about your European fascist story, but let me think about it some more and I’ll get back to you. Why do I have the idea you always get the better of me when we disagree on your next story?”

Mattie grinned. “A faulty memory on your part, Chief. Sooner or later, you always get your way.”

Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter

About the Author

A.L. Bryant was born and raised in St. Petersburg FL. She became interested in writing at an early age; an interest that depending on the circumstance brought punishment (detention for passing out the latest installment of her novella during class) and praise (being chosen for a youth writers conference at the Poynter Institute.) A.L. Bryant gets her inspiration from both her mother and her Great Grandmother. Her mother recently published an inspirational children’s book under a pseudonym and her great grandmother is South Carolina’s first published African-American female author and playwright.

Until recently writing had simply been a pastime for A.L. Bryant who although she attended several writing courses, graduated with a B.A. in International Business. It was shortly after her second job as a Financial Office Manager at a Goodwill correctional facility that she realized she loved writing more than anything else. It would still be some years before she would convert the short story she wrote in college into a novel.

Besides writing, A.L. Bryant loves traveling the world. God has blessed her with the opportunity to visit a total of seven countries. She has studied abroad in Seoul and has traveled throughout Kenya; two locations she researched for her Blessed series. Her dream is to visit every country in the world.

Her latest book is the supernatural Christian thriller horror novel, Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter.

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About the Book:

Title: BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
Author: A.L. Bryant
Publisher: HSW Publications LLC
Pages: 279
Genre: Supernatural Christian Thriller/Horror

BOOK BLURB:

On New Year’s Eve 2021 the staff at St. Ann’s Hospital witness a medical miracle when a semi-conscious woman walks into the emergency room. The Jane Doe has been stabbed multiple times and as the staff struggle to keep the woman alive in the end all they can do is stand back and watch as their mysterious patient revives herself.

Glory wakes up in St. Ann’s Hospital gravely injured from an attack she cannot remember. However, her memory loss is no ordinary amnesia and she is no ordinary patient. Much to the shock of the hospital staff Glory heals at three times the rate of an average person. Soon the administration hears of her unique case and waste no time convincing the recovering Glory to be a part of an experiment to discover the origins of her power.

Once outside the comforting walls of the hospital it becomes apparent that healing is just a small portion of Glory’s capabilities. Abilities that to Glory’s distress are becoming increasingly unstable. Deciding that the hospital’s experiments are in vain, Glory embarks on her own Journey to discover the source of her power, unaware that she is a major pawn in a war between two secret organizations.

The two syndicates continue to clash in their fight for control and their battles result in several casualties. The crimes of their warfare surface and draw the attention of Dennis Wilson, a NYPD Detective known for solving his cases in the first forty-eight hours. Dennis follows the trail of bodies out of curiosity. But when his curiosity causes the deaths of his loved ones Detective Dennis becomes obsessed with the case.

In his overzealous attempts to find the murderer Dennis becomes the syndicates’ next target. Now the Detective must run for his life and the only person capable of saving him is the very person he suspects.

Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is a hybrid of government espionage and supernatural Thriller. This novel is intended for audiences 18+ that seek an edgier outlook on Christian fiction. Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is the first installment of the Blessed trilogy.

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Book Excerpt

With a slight hesitation, Glory examined the entrance. Using the corner of her jacket she tested the knob, not overly surprised when the door opened easily. Behind her, she could still hear the muffled sounds of the girl’s sobs. Glory stepped one foot through the door and paused. She turned sideways and looked back out into the yard. With one foot inside the house and one still on the porch, she stared at the girl, whose eyes were as wide as her own. The side of her body that remained outside of the house felt light; she could feel the breeze whip her clothing. She raised her hand and, as expected, it lifted easily. Glory looked down at her other arm, the one in the corridor of the house. Sweat drizzled down her brow as she struggled to lift it.

Making sure to keep her voice light, Glory nodded in the direction of the gate. “Go home, I’ll get Mitch and he’ll call you afterwards.” She waited until the girl nodded reluctantly and disappeared.

Feeling a strong urge to leave, Glory turned as quickly as she could and closed the door behind her. Instant darkness. She pulled out the cell phone Dr. Stephens had helped her purchase shortly after she left the hospital, and turned its flashlight on. She had not paid the bill in a long time, so she had no service, but Glory still kept it charged. The corridor was short, maybe two or three large steps long. A staircase, which dominated the space in the narrow corridor, stood against the left wall. Glory shined the light up the steps trying to determine where they led, but the light’s range was too short.

Examining the staircase carefully to make sure it could hold her weight, Glory began ascending. The house had its own gravity; every step felt like moving through quicksand. By the time she made it to the top, she was winded. She leaned against the wall, shining her light around the area while she rested. She stood in another corridor, much larger than the first one. A solid wall lined one side; several doors, some of them mere centimeters apart, lined the other. She pushed herself away from the wall and walked to the first door, covered her hand with her jacket, turned the knob, and pushed the door. It gave way only slightly before it refused to open any farther. She tried pulling the door, but it could only be opened inward. She pushed one more time, shining a light through the narrow opening to see if she could locate the blockage—silently hoping it wasn’t the boy—but nothing met the light. Frustrated, she moved on to the next door, only to encounter the same problem.

By the sixth one, Glory started to wonder if any of them were meant to open. With each door, she put more strength and effort into her shoulders and arms, desperately trying to force her way through. By the twelfth, she was exhausted. She took a deep breath and shoved her shoulder against it. The door swung open, Glory stumbled two feet, and fell through the hole behind it. She fell through one story of the house into an open room and into the much bigger hole in that room’s floor. She fell through another story and into another room with another hole. She hit hard rock and slid until she landed on her back. Her head hit the floor and her eyes instantly clouded from the impact.

Glory’s breath and sight came back simultaneously. Slowly, she sat up with a grunt as she brought her right hand to her ribs. Not only had her pack survived the fall, but she had managed to hold on to her phone. Standing up, still favoring her left side, Glory began dusting herself off. Her hands shook and she took a deep breath to dispel the effects of the adrenaline still rushing through her body. Turning on the light so she could look around, Glory shifted her feet. Taking a small step forward, she tripped on something, but managed sustain her balance with a small hop to dislodge whatever had caught her foot.

Glory turned the light downward to look at the ground and saw a piece of cloth clinging to her boot. Ruffles—the cloth was filthy, covered in dust and grime, but the ruffles still maintained their shape. Forgetting herself, Glory reached out and ran her fingertips over the cloth, smoothing the dirt away so she could see the color. Her fingertips grew warm and her eyes widened as she realized what she had done. Too late, she snatched her hand away.

“This is so exciting!” A young woman in a blue ball gown tightened her grip on her friend’s arm, her gloved fingers long and delicate. Looking a little less interested, her friend, a tall, thin brunette, pried the girl’s hands from her arm, but her friend only returned them with slightly less bruising force.

“Yes, well, if my father knew I was here, it would be the end of me.”

“That’s what these are for, silly.” The young woman flipped her blonde hair behind her shoulders and tapped her masquerade mask with her folded fan.

“I shouldn’t have let you talk me into this. I have a bad feeling.”

“You are thinking far too much. Now tell me how beautiful I look and then let’s go get some refreshments.”

The brunette stood back and pretended to consider her friend. “You look positively stunning as always, Annabelle. Your dress is lovely; I could never pull off so many ruffles.”

Annabelle waved the last statement away. “Nonsense, Sarah, I’m sure you would look just as lovely in ruffles. I don’t know why you insist on wearing such drab garments.” She looked her friend up and down, a frown on her face as she examined the dark green dress that covered Sarah, from its unfashionably high neckline down to the slightly pointed toes of her boots.

Sarah grimaced. “My father does not agree with today’s fashions. He thinks exposing shoulders, wrists, and cleavage is unseemly.” Trying to distract her friend from her dress, she made a show of looking around. “This is an extremely odd house, isn’t it? Why would he build a staircase directly at the entrance?”

“For that matter, why build a staircase that only goes to the top floor when there are four flights in between?”

“We’ve been here less than an hour and I’m already confused. So many corridors and staircases.”

“And how many rooms are there, anyway? There are doors everywhere you look.” The girls spoke frantically now, their intertwined arms squeezing together as they became more excited.

Annabelle turned to her friend. “Let’s explore the house more.”

Sarah looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know. We haven’t even greeted the host yet. It would be bad manners.”

Annabelle shrugged. “It was bad manners for him not to show himself so he could be greeted.”

Keeping an eye on the group they had been standing with, Annabelle pulled Sarah toward the door, only to stop mid-stride as their path was cut off by a large figure in an expensive dinner jacket and a full porcelain mask.

“Good evening, ladies.”

Annabelle released Sarah’s arm and took a step closer, resting her hand coquettishly on her bosom. “Good evening.” She let the greeting hang in the air. When the man merely nodded, Annabelle tried again.

“I do not recognize you, and since I know everyone in this town except the owner of this fine home, you must be…”

“The owner? That is correct.”

Barely masking her annoyance, Annabelle turned to her companion. “This is…”

The man held up his hand, effectively cutting off the introduction.

“If I wished to know the identity of my guests, then I would not have made this a masquerade ball.”

Flustered by her mistake, Annabelle released a breathy chuckle. “My apologies, I don’t know what I was thinking. We must keep the mystery up.”

The man turned his head to the side as he considered the two ladies. “Do you like mysteries?”

Eager to impress, Annabelle stepped forward. “Yes, I do!”

The man turned to look at Sarah, who hovered in the background, not at all certain she wanted to join in the conversation.

“And what about horrors?”

Taken aback, Annabelle frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“Do you like to be frightened?”

Not sure where this was leading, Annabelle glanced at her friend. “I suppose being frightened every once in a while can be thrilling.”

The man nodded slowly as if contemplating her answer. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”

Annabelle laughed. “Do you mean ghosts and goblins? I think it’s nonsense.” She waved a delicate hand. “Stories to scare children.”

“And what of demons?”

Annabelle paused, the smile wiped from her face. “The church tells us that they exist, so I believe in them.”

The man leaned back on his heels and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So do I. I have always been curious, and judging by the turnout of this gathering, I’m not the only curious one.”

While he surveyed his guests, Sarah inched forward and grabbed her friend’s arm.

“Come, Annabelle.” Annabelle ignored her, staring at the man as if mesmerized. Sarah pulled sharply on her arm. “You said you wanted to explore the house.” This time Annabelle looked at her and nodded, allowing Sarah to lead her around the man and toward the door.

“Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be possessed?” Both girls turned to look back at the man as he spoke. “All the power of the demons and none of the rigid rules of the angels.”

Sarah trembled. “At the expense of our souls and sanity? No, thank you. You can keep your so-called demonic power.” She pulled Annabelle forward and escorted her through the door. Before she could close it behind them, she looked up to see the man looking directly into her eyes for the first time.

“There is only one way to leave this house, and it isn’t the way by which you entered. I doubt you could find the exit even if you stayed here a hundred years.” He turned and headed toward his other guests. “I wish you the best of luck.”

Sarah closed the door. “What an unpleasant man.”

Annabelle shrugged, walking along the corridor, sliding her hand along the wall. “I think he’s fascinating.”

“I think we should leave, Annabelle.”

Annabelle swung around. “I’m not leaving until I’ve explored this house.” When Sarah didn’t make a move to follow, Annabelle turned her mouth down, opened her eyes wide, and lifted her pupils, creating the perfect pout. “Just this one corridor and then I promise we will leave post haste.”

Sarah studied her friend and then nodded. “Just this one corridor and then we’re leaving.”

Annabelle smiled and skipped toward her friend, linking their arms once more.

Trying to take her mind off the eerie darkness of the corridor, Sarah changed the subject. “I wonder what he meant when he said that judging from the turnout, there were a lot of people curious about demons.”

“Oh!” Annabelle swatted the question away. “He was just referring to his invitations.”

Sarah looked over her shoulder. Had she heard something? “What about his invitations?”

“In his invitation, he appealed to those of us who were interested in a thrilling evening. Something about satisfying curiosity about demons in—and these are his words—the demons’ playground.”

“What?” Sarah stopped walking. She stared in Annabelle’s direction, but could barely see her in the dim lighting.

Misinterpreting, Annabelle shrugged. “I know… Who would name their house that?”

Sarah grabbed Annabelle’s shoulders. “Who cares about the name—why did you come? Why are we here?”

Annabelle tried to pry Sarah’s bruising grip from her shoulders. “Calm yourself, Sarah. It’s like taking a ghost tour, there is no need to be—”

Sarah covered Annabelle’s mouth with her hand. “What is that?” The question was rhetorical; the noise was piercing and distinct.

“W-why is everyone screaming?” Annabelle, who had taken Sarah’s hand from her mouth, stared back toward the ballroom. Sarah grabbed her friend and made a move back toward the sound—but more importantly toward the path she hoped would lead to the exit. The girls had only gotten a few feet when the corridor erupted in chaos.

Terrified men and women spilled from the room, tripping over each other in their panic and trampling the people in their way. They didn’t run back the way they came. Instead, they ran toward the two girls, their bodies pressing forward trying to propel themselves farther away from the ballroom. Everything happened so fast that it took Sarah a couple of seconds to react. In that short period of time, the mass of people was almost upon them. Sarah swung around and pushed the startled Annabelle farther into the corridor.

“Get into one of the rooms!” Annabelle grabbed the closest doorknob. She leaned her weight against it. Sarah came to help.

“It won’t open!” Annabelle cried.

“It’s locked?”

“Not locked—just won’t open!”

“Try the next one. Hurry!” Giving up on that door, Sarah followed Annabelle to the next one. She looked over her shoulder to find the crowd less than ten feet from them. Directly behind her friend, she cried out in relief as Annabelle opened the door. But her world came crashing down as she watched her friend disappear in that same second.

Glory sat up sharply. A full minute passed before she stopped gasping and coughing. She had made some progress in controlling the duration of her illusions. Standing, she dusted herself off and picked up her cellphone. From what she could tell, she was underground in a place that resembled a dungeon carved from the rock that the mansion had been built on. It was large and dark. There was no place for light to shine through, so even during the daytime, the room would still be pitch black.

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