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10 Things You Didn’t Know About …

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Monsterland
By Michael Okon

  • 10. I came up with idea of Monsterland while watching an 80s & 90s movie marathon one weekend with my son.
  • 9. I called my brother immediately and told him I want to write a story about a theme park with zombies. He told me no, the theme park has to have werewolves, vampires AND zombies. I started beating out the story that night.
  • 8. It took me a little over three weeks to complete Monsterland.
  • 7. I self-published Monsterland in 2015 and it became a best-seller on Amazon.
  • 6. Within two years of self-publishing, I got a literary agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a publicist, a two-book publishing deal, and film interest from a well-known producer.
  • 5. Monsterland went from being an indie book in 2015 to the number one pre-ordered book in Teen & Young Adult Zombie Fiction on Amazon in 2017.
  • 4. My brother designed the cover with an artist.
  • 3. There are two massive twists at the end of the book that most readers never see coming.
  • 2. Monsterland 2 is completed and comes out May 26, 2018.
  • 1. I have eight Monsterland books planned.

 

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VBT – Monsterland

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About the Author

Michael Okon

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling is his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

His latest book is Monsterland.

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WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book

Monsterland teaser

Title: MONSTERLAND
Author: Michael Okon
Publisher: Wordfire Press
Pages: 232
Genre: Monsters

BOOK BLURB:

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

The last couple years of high school have not been fun for Wyatt Baldwin. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An on-going debate with his best friends Howard Drucker and Melvin over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can rock out with vampires at Vampire Village, be chased by actual werewolves on the Werewolf River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

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Book Excerpt

What did these strangers want? Billy fought the urge to scream.

This is our home. Humans don’t belong in the swamp.

The moon continued to rise, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. A full moon, a dangerous moon, Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis.

He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked.

A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun set, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body.

Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, Billy let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing.

Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing. The enemy had arrived.

GIVEAWAY!

Michael Okon is giving away 2 autographed copies of MONSTERLAND!

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Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a copy.
  • This giveaway ends midnight December 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Interview With ….

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Hi Caridad. Thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you as a person. 
I am a Type AAA personality which means I am always going, going, going.  If I am not at my day job or writing, I am helping my daughter with her surf and skate shop, mentoring other writers at Liberty States Fiction Writers, or just hanging out on the beach (Okay, I do have to stop sometime! LOL).  I’d love to be a full-time writer and maybe have a bed and breakfast where I could whip up amazing meals and help other writers improve their craft.

Caridad Pineiro

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
That is a tough one!  I think it would have to be Queen Elizabeth.  I got hooked watching The Crown and the Queen is someone who has lived through some fascinating times and has such a unique and seemingly archaic role in a very modern world.  I would love to know how her vision has changed from when she first ascended to the throne to now and how she’s dealt with being a woman in such a high position of power.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
ONE SUMMER NIGHT, first book in the At the Shore series, is a Romeo and Juliet meets a marriage of convenience tale.  Yes, it sounds complicated and it is because the hero, Owen Pierce, is trying to do everything he can to make the heroine, Maggie Sinclair, love him, but to do so he has to defy his father who is intent on holding a decades old grudge against the heroine’s father.  As you can imagine, lies build upon lies shakily until it all comes crashing down and Owen has to prove to Maggie that his love for her was true.  I loved writing the complex emotions in both of the characters as well as the supporting cast of Maggie’s best friends and Owen’s younger brother (the hero of #2 in the series).

One Summer Night

What is your writing process? 
I write a lot on the train during my commute to and from NYC for my day job.  On the weekends I put in a solid stretch of 3 or so hours.  During winters I do that indoors while watching the TV, but my favorite time is in the spring and summer when I can go out on my little balcony and write with the sound of the nearby ocean.

Tell us about your main character.
I had just finished writing a dark paranormal novel when this character popped into my head and just wouldn’t leave me alone.  She was spunky, determined and fun and I knew she needed special story that would inspire people not to give up on their dreams.  That heroine was Maggie and when she brought along her friends, I just knew I had to write her story.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I would love to have someone like Nina Dobrev or Victoria Justice.  I think they both look the way I imagined Maggie Sinclair. Cool and elegant.  Beautiful.

What are you working on next?
I am currently working on #3 in the At the Shore series.  #2 – WHAT HAPPENS IN SUMMER – will be out in late spring 2018 and #3 will be out in late summer 2018.  I am hoping to write more stories set in Sea Kiss with some of the men and women you meet in #3.  I also will be rel-releasing some of my earlier contemporary romances and working on new stories in The Calling is Reborn Vampire Novel Series.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Social media is about being social.  I think people get turned off by having a constant cycle of “buy me buy me” all the time.  You need to engage people, make them laugh, share yourself and not just the book.  Another thing to remember is, You’re the brand.  The book is just a product.  Your brand is what’s most important.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
That’s a tough one.  I’d have to say Lois Winston’s latest release – Scrapbook of Murder.  I love Lois’s dry humor and the way she mixes up crafts in her cozy mysteries.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I wish that I could say that I did, but I don’t.  But I try try try to improve what talents I have, whether it’s writing, cooking or doing crafts.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
I think the power of speed since I could rush from place-to-place to help people and do more things in less time.

List 5 things on your bucket list:

  • Sip wine in Tuscany.
  • Stand on the Great Wall of China
  • Orbit the Earth in the Space Station
  • Sing Do-Re-Mi while skipping through the streets of Salzburg
  • Visit where my family lived in Cuba

Where can readers find you on the web?
Readers can connect with me at www.caridad.com. You can also find me on:

Twitter at https://twitter.com/caridadpineiro
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Caridad.Author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/caridadpineiro
Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/caridadpineiro/
Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/Caridad_Pineiro

If you want to receive my newsletter with exclusive content just for subscribers and special giveaways, please visit http://bit.ly/2cbxlYw to sign up.

Any final thoughts?
Thank you so so much for sharing my new release and taking the time to interview me!

YW 🙂 

VBT – One Summer Night

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About the Author

Caridad Pineiro

Caridad Pineiro is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with pork roll and the Jersey Shore, but still can’t get the hang of tomato pies. When Caridad isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk to maintain her sanity and burn off that pork roll, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million books sold worldwide. Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She is a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at the RT Book Club Convention, Romance Writers of America National Conference as well as various writing organizations throughout the country.

Want to receive Caridad’s newsletter with exclusive content just for subscribers and special giveaways?

Just visit http://bit.ly/2cbxlYw to sign up.

Caridad values your privacy and will not share your e-mail or personal information.

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About the Book

 One Summer Night

Title: ONE SUMMER NIGHT
Author: Caridad Pineiro
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BOOK BLURB:

An offer that’s impossible to accept . . .

Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family’s business, including mortgaging their beloved beach house on the Jersey Shore. But now, she’s out of options.

The Sinclair and Pierce families have been neighbors and enemies for almost thirty years. That hasn’t stopped Owen Pierce from crushing on Maggie, and he’s determined to invest in her success. Now he has to convince her that he’s more than just trouble with a capital T…

Watch the Trailer at YouTube!

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Muscular man with the retro car in the background

Book Excerpt:

Tracy Parker was in love with being in love.

That worried her best friend and maid of honor Maggie Sinclair more than she cared to admit.

In the middle of the temporary dance floor, Tracy waltzed with her new husband in a satin-and-lace designer gown, gleaming with seed pearls and twinkling sequins. But the sparkle dimmed in comparison to the dreamy glow in Tracy’s eyes.

The sounds of wedding music competed with the gentle rustle of seagrasses in the dunes and the crash of the waves down on the beach. The fragrance from centerpiece flowers and bouquets battled with the kiss of fresh sea air.

Connie and Emma, Tracy’s two other best friends and members of the bridal party, were standing beside Maggie on the edge of the dance floor that had been set up on the great lawn of Maggie’s family’s beachfront mansion on the Jersey Shore. Huddled together, Maggie and her friends watched the happy couple do a final whirl.

“She’s got it so bad,” Maggie said, eyeing Connie and Emma with concern past the rim of her rapidly disappearing glass of champagne.

“Do you think that this time he really is The One?” Connie asked.

“Doubt it,” Emma replied without hesitation.

As the DJ requested that other couples join the happy newlyweds, Maggie and her friends returned to the bridal party dais set out on the patio. Grabbing another glass of champagne, Maggie craned her neck around the gigantic centerpiece piled with an almost obscene mound of white roses, ice-blue hydrangea, lisianthus, sheer tulle, and twinkling fairy lights and examined the assorted guests mingling around the great lawn and down by the boardwalk leading to the beach.

She recognized Tracy’s family from their various meetings over the years, as well as some of Tracy’s sorority sisters, like Toni Van Houten, who in the six years since graduation had managed to pop out a trio of boys who now circled her like sharks around a swimmer. Although the wedding invite had indicated No Children, Toni had done as she pleased. Since Tracy had not wanted a scene at her dream beachfront wedding, Emma, who was doing double duty as the wedding planner for the event, had scrambled to find space for the children at the dinner tables.

“Is that Toni ‘I’ll never ruin my body with babies’ Toni?” Connie asked, a perplexed look on her features.  At Maggie’s nod, Connie’s eyes widened in surprise, and she said, “She looks…happy.”

A cynical laugh erupted from Emma. “She looks crazed.”

Maggie couldn’t argue with either of their assessments. But as put-upon as their old acquaintance seemed, the indulgent smile she gave her youngest child was positively radiant.

Maggie skipped her gaze across the gathering to take note of all the other married folk. It was easy enough to pick them out from her vantage point on the dais where she and her friends sat on display like days’ old cakes in the bakery. They were the last three unmarried women in an extended circle of business and college acquaintances.

“How many times do you suppose we’ve been bridesmaids now?” Maggie wondered aloud. She finished off her glass and motioned for the waiter to bring another.

“Jointly or severally?” asked Connie, ever the lawyer.

“Way too many,” replied Emma, who, for a wedding planner, was the most ardent disbeliever in the possibility of happily ever afters.

Maggie hadn’t given marriage a first thought, much less a second, in a very long time. She’d had too many things going on in her life. Not that there hadn’t been a few memorable moments, most of which revolved around the absolutely worst man for her: Owen Pierce.

But for years now, she’d been dealing with her family’s business and its money problems, which had spilled over into her personal finances. As she gazed at the beauty of the manicured grounds and then back toward her family’s summer home, it occurred to her that this might be the last time she hosted a celebration like this here. She had mortgaged the property that she had inherited to funnel money into the family’s struggling retail store division.

Unfortunately, thanks to her father’s stubborn refusal to make changes to help the business, she spent way too much time at work, which left little time for romance. Not to mention that none of her casual dates had piqued her interest in that direction. Looking down from her perch, however, and seeing the happiness on so many faces suddenly had her reconsidering the merits of married life.

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride,” she muttered, surprising herself with the hint of wistfulness in her tone.

“That’s because the three of us are all too busy working to search for Prince Charming,” Connie said, her defense as swift and impassioned as if she were arguing a case in court.

“Who even believes in that fairy-tale crap?” Emma’s gaze grew distracted, and she rose from her chair. “Excuse me for a moment. Carlo needs to see me about something.”

Emma rushed off to the side of the dance floor, where her caterer extraordinaire, Carlo Teixeira, raked a hand through his thick brown hair in clear frustration. He wore a pristine white chef’s jacket and pants that enhanced his dark good looks.

Emma laid a hand on Carlo’s forearm and leaned close to speak to him, apparently trying to resolve a problem.

“She doesn’t believe in fairy tales, but her Prince Charming is standing right in front of her,” Connie said with a sad shake of her head.

Maggie took another sip of her champagne and viewed the interaction between Carlo and Emma. Definitely major sparkage going on, she thought.

“You’re totally right,” she said with an assertive nod.

Connie smiled like the proverbial cat, her exotic green-gold eyes gleaming with mischief. “That’s why you hired me to represent your company as soon as I finished law school. Nothing gets past me.”

“Really? So what else do you think you’ve seen tonight?”

Raising her glass, her friend gestured toward the right of the mansion’s great lawn where some of the fraternity brothers from their alma mater had gathered. One of the men slowly turned to sneak a peek at them.

“Owen has been watching you all night long,” Connie said with a shrewd smile.

“Totally impossible, and you of all people should know it. Owen Pierce has absolutely no interest in me.”

She set her glass on the table to hide the nervous tremble of her hand as her gaze connected with his for the briefest of moments. Even that fleeting link was enough to raise her core temperature a few degrees. But what woman wouldn’t respond like that?

In his designer tuxedo, Owen was the epitome of male perfection—raven-black hair, a sexy gleam in his charcoal-gray eyes, broad shoulders, and not an ounce of fat on him, which made her recall seeing him in much, much less on a hot summer night on Sea Kiss Beach. She had been staying in the quaint seaside town on the Jersey Shore with her grandmother that summer, much as she had all her life. As they also had for so many years, the Pierce boys had been residing next door for the entire season.

The two beachfront mansions had been built side by side decades earlier, before the start of the Pierce and Sinclair rift. The cost of waterfront real estate had escalated so drastically since their construction that neither family was willing to sell their beloved home to put some distance between the warring clans.

Well, make that the warring fathers, because as far as Maggie was concerned, she had no beef with Owen. They had played together down on the beach as kids. She couldn’t count the many sand castles they’d built or the time they’d spent out in the surf.

But after her mother had died, things had changed, and the carefree spirit of those halcyon days had disappeared. The Pierce boys had stopped coming down to the Shore for the next few years, and combined with the loss of her mom, it had created an emptiness inside her that hadn’t really gone away.

By the time the Pierce brothers returned years later, the feud had gotten worse, and Owen and Jonathan had been instructed to stay away. But an ill-timed and half-drunk kiss with Owen on a moonlit summer night had proved that staying away was impossible. It had also helped the emptiness recede for a bit. Since then, fate had seemed to toss them together time and time again in both their business and personal lives, keeping alive her fascination with him. She felt not quite so alone when he was around, not that she should get used to that.

Owen Pierce had left her once before when she’d needed his friendship the most: right after her mother’s death. His on-again, off-again presence in her life proved that she couldn’t count on him.

Owen stood next to his younger brother, Jonathan, who couldn’t be more different. While Owen was clean-cut and corporate, Jonathan had the scruffy hipster look going on. It was appealing in its own way, but not to her.

“Trust me, Maggie. Your families might be at war, but Owen would clearly love to sleep with the enemy,” Connie said.

She blew out a frustrated sigh. “More reason to avoid him. You know I’m not the kind to sleep around.”

Emma returned, color riding high on her cheeks, but not in a good way.

“Something wrong?” Maggie asked.

Emma kneeled between the two of them and whispered, “It seems the groom had a bit too much to drink and Tracy caught him being hands-on with an old flame.”

“Not Amy? Tracy always lost it if she spotted him with Amy,” Maggie whispered.

“Definitely Amy. Now Tracy is refusing to come out and cut the cake. I have to say, this takes the cake, literally. Married a few hours, and already there’s trouble.”

“Ever the hopeful romantic, Em,” she kidded.

“If you think you can do better, why don’t the two of you come help me talk Tracy off the ledge?”

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Book Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9dhRJwhabg

 

Guest Post – M. K. Theodoratus

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Guest Post – M. K. Theodoratus

M.K. Theodoratus

Saved By My Paper Blizzard

Paper makes it possible for me to be a writer. I’m so old I can remember when gurus promised the world that computers would rid it of paper. They made the pronouncements without considering my addiction to sticky-notes.

Yeah, I’d be lost without those little squares of paper with the gluey-stuff down one edge. They’re my idea-saver. Without them, I could never be a writer.

Losing ideas is a common gripe among the writers I know. My critique partners often complained about the “idea that got away”. They’d give up on something that wouldn’t work, thinking the idea or solution would come back when they’re doing something else. The missing piece would, eventually, pop into their heads at the most inconvenient times. After a firm resolve to remember the idea, they’d lose it before they got the idea into the manuscript.

I’m no different. For years, great ideas would flash between my ears only to get lost in the ether. Since I wrote fiction mainly to amuse myself, it didn’t matter. I just jotted down whatever popped into my head, wondering what would happen next. Maybe it’s just as well most of those sheets of paper are lost.

Then, I got more serious about writing fiction. I started working with critique groups that expected me to write something coherent. My sense of duty got in the way of my laziness. I felt obligated not to waste my partners’ time.

First, I jotted new insights or plot developments down on any handy piece of paper, only to lose most of them. Worse, there usually was never a piece of paper or a pen in sight when I needed them. Of course, I never remembered the idea beyond a couple nano-seconds. Fortunately, 3M came to the rescue with their Post-Its.

3M didn’t solve my problem, though. The sticky pads sit at my elbow at the kitchen table. Lay in the clutter by my comfy chair in front of the TV. Are buried under the clutter around my computer. Lurk in my wallet and car. The ideas get written down, but the sticky notes don’t do any good unless they’re organized.

I solved that problem two ways:

  1. I classify them at the top, like the book and character they pertain to.
  2. I enter them into my computer…eventually. Each of my projects gets a folder on my desktop. Ideas get written in a document and filed. If I’m not getting any new ideas about a project, I file the folder in another folder called “Inactive”.

It may not be neat and tidy, but it helps me keep things organized and accessible.

One good thing about the pile of sticky notes, they tend not to go anywhere. They stick together in a clump.

I know there must be some neater way of salvaging those lost inspirations, but I haven’t found it. Doubt if I’ll ever discover it. So, I make do with a salvage system that that works for me.

VBT – There Be Demons

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About the Author

M.K. Theodoratus

Fantasy has always been part of M. K. Theodoratus’ life, starting when she starting playing with an imaginary friend when she was three. Comics, books, TV, and movies followed throughout her life. A northern California girl, many of her Andor alternative-world stories are firmly rooted there. Today, she lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two lap-cats, and writes when she’s not wasting time on social media.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

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About the Book:

There Be Demons

Title: THERE BE DEMONS
Author: M.K. Theodoratus
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 360
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Paranormal

BOOK BLURB:

Heroes come in all shapes.

The war for Andor has lasted a century. Humans and their allies, the Angeli, fight demons from another plane who need a warmer planet to hatch and raise their young. Trebridge becomes Ground zero when Abraxas, a minion of the demon Prince Vetis, opens a secret portal into the city. The demons’ goal is to build an army to subjugate the city before the humans realize they are under attack.

Standing in the demons’ way are two disparate groups: the humans of Andor and their Angeli allies who command gargoyle warriors.

Leading the four gargoyles guarding Trebridge is Gillen, a proven war hero who uses magic to fight demons. But Gillen is an outcast, mocked for his tuft of hair that normal gargoyles lack. It’s up to him to prove once and for all that he’s worthy of his command, in spite of dissention in his ranks. When Gillen asks the Angeli Commanders for reinforcements to fight the growing demon menace in Trebridge, headquarters send four human teens from the projects.

The leader of the humans is Britt, a 14-year-old half-Hispanic girl who is one of the four magic-possessing Chosen. But Britt was never trained in the art of magic, and like most girls her age, spends her days preoccupied with school and romance. Like Gillen, she must rise above her station in life–if she is to save the ones she loves.

But Gillen and Britt are facing formidable demon foes, Abraxas: a chicken-headed demon who possesses several humans as part of his plan to build the demons’ base in Trebridge and power-hungry Prince Vetis who is his commander. Neither will let the deaths of expendable humans get in their way of the conquest.

In There Be Demons, author M.K. Theodoratus spins a brilliant tale of good versus evil. In this thrilling Young Adult fantasy novel, unlikely heroes rise to challenge a relentless enemy. Join them as they risk everything to save their city.

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Book Excerpt

An Unwanted Discovery

2

Britt Kelly leaned against the jamb between the cramped kitchen and living room of her new home in the projects. I feel like a sardine stuffed in a can.

Her anger churned. If her father hadn’t abandoned his family for his bimbo boss, she’d be back home in her own bedroom, chatting with friends about the new school year. Instead, she was stuck in her older half-sister’s apartment.

Many prized the apartments in St. Edmund’s Towers for their size, but Britt refused to see it. She looked at the walls they had painted as a trap. Her mother and sister were sleeping in each family’s respective bedroom. Her two small nephews smeared jam on their faces in the living room as they waited for the cartoons to start. Her two younger brothers, Carlos and Darin, whispered in the bathroom, forgetting their argument over who got the sink first might wake their sleeping mother.

Welcome to another merry day in the projects.

The teen huffed as she waited for her brothers to get ready to sneak away to go see their father uptown. Her thoughts switched to getting revenge on her absentee father. He’d missed his last two court-ordered visits, but she’d get him today, even if her mother forbade them to annoy him. The court said he could see his kids every third Sunday of the month. See them he would. Her brothers had a right to visit him even if his new wife hated them like cooties. Britt was going to make sure they did.

Wish I could make him suffer for the visits he’s missed.

A vision of Britt sticking him with a knitting needle in each hand like his Granny Nan made her smile.

No. That’s not vicious enough.

A vision of a steamroller with thousands of pins on its roller popped into Britt’s mind. In seconds, the machine squashed her father into the ground. When he emerged from underneath, he was a bleeding mess.

A low volume fanfare announced the TV news. Just as she was about to yank her brothers out of the bathroom, her favorite reporter came on. Jessica Hawthorne of the The Trebridge

Channel wore a stunning form-fitting green outfit that Britt coveted. The color would go as well with her dark hair as the reporter’s blond, blue-eyed looks. Hawthorne took a deep breath, ready to deliver her morning spiel.

Britt swallowed hard. Before the Divorce, Britt had worn expensive clothes like Hawthorne’s, not thrift shop junk like she wore now. When they lost their uptown apartment after her mom got sick, the county sheriff had dumped all their belongings on the sidewalk. Most of their stuff got stolen.

Dad could’ve helped us. At least buy us some new clothes for school. He’s still got plenty of money. Mom couldn’t help getting sick.

The small living room swallowed Jessica Hawthorne’s breathy voice. Britt strained to hear her over the bratbies’ sporadic giggles as they shoved pieces of toast in each other’s faces.

“Enough about the underage Crown Prince of Andor getting caught in a strip joint when he should have been at school. Closer to home and our thought for the day. The Guarda assures the citizens of Trebridge the new curfew will end the vandalism and muggings. Stronger measures are needed, I tell you. Scores of people appear at hospitals with the most dreadful wounds and can’t remember how they got them.”

The reporter blathered on, an earnest expression knitting her brows. “We need more guarda on the streets, especially in the river districts. These hoodlums need to be stopped.”

Britt concentrated harder, not daring to turn up the volume while her mother slept. She worked the swing shift now and didn’t get home until four in the morning. Someday I’ll look that polished again, I swear. Granny Nan would bawl Dad out for how we live now if she were still alive.

Britt shut her complaints down, feeling embarrassed at how proud she had once been to be called her daddy’s ‘little princess’.

“While the guarda say their investigations are ongoing, I don’t see any results. Why have so many people disappeared? The police haven’t a clue.” Her lip curled. “You’d almost think we’re being invaded by demons and our fine protectors are too scared to investigate.” Her contempt poured from the screen.

Britt tapped her foot, wishing her brothers would stop giggling. She wished she lived uptown where she still had a room of her own. Granted, they didn’t live on the streets, but four people stuffed in one bedroom in her half-sister’s apartment was torture. Her father deserved to be kicked in the ass. Britt wanted revenge. Her father needed to pay for abandoning his family and her.

The noise in the bathroom grew louder.

Those buttheads better not wake Mom up.

Britt twitched the draped folds of her new V-neck blouse wishing she had the boobs to fill it out. It did have a designer label, just the thing she needed to sneak into the posh condos where her father now lived.

Just like the boys can’t wear their grubs today.

“I want to wear a T-shirt to Dad’s, Britt.”

Quarrelsome Darin whined behind her, making her jump. He had become a total pain since their parents’ divorce. Britt hoped seeing their dad would stop his constant bitching. Britt didn’t feel any guilt for disobeying their mother’s orders. The boys deserved to see their cockroach of a father. His ice-blooded new wife could just tough out their visit.

Britt’s muscles tightened in the cold, funny way they did when something bad was going to happen. She shook her head, forcing herself to ignore the bothersome feeling that was happening too often for comfort.

Glancing at the closed bedroom doors, she put a finger to her lips. Mom’s going to blister our ears if we wake her.

Darin opened his mouth. Lifting her hand to smack him, she brushed back the thick fall of hair across her eyes instead. If she hit him, Darin’s screams would wake their mom and Pietra, their half-sister.

Keeping her voice low, she said, “Get your butt in gear. You’re wearing what you’re wearing. End of questions, comments, and complaining.”

Darin did not give up. “My tees are clean. Dad don’t like fancy either. He sat in front of the TV with his shirt and shoes off all the time. In summer, he only wore his boxers. Remember? Mom always got mad at him for leaving beer cans on the coffee table. Always.”

“Shh. Don’t wake Mom or Pietra.” Britt held a finger to her lips. “Get your shoes on, and we can talk in the hall.”

“I don’t like dress shirts either.” Carlos, her older, calmer brother, carefully left the bathroom door partly ajar. “It’s not fair to make us wear them. You’re just a kid like us even if you’re taller. Being a high school freshmen ain’t no bigger deal than being in fifth grade.”

“Stop being buttheads, both of you.” Britt jerked the apartment door open. “You begged to visit Dad. I’m doing the best I can to see you do, so shut up and move your ass before Mom wakes up.”

Her mother did her best to push their father out of their lives. Britt refused to let her have her wish. Since the messy divorce and his marriage to the Ice-Bitch, Timothy Kelly had seldom spent more than an hour with them. Their dad mostly offered excuses when his visitation weekend came. When he did see them, they barely ate a fast lunch before he sent them off to a movie on their own. The last time was three months ago. Britt missed him and his compliments terribly.

He’s not going to escape today.

Britt remembered their one visit to the posh high-rise, so different from both their suburban and project homes. The pristine rooms, sprinkled with figurines and trinkets, made her nervous enough to get the cold crawls down her back every time she moved. The Ice-Bitch’s rat-dog had barked and snapped at them the whole time.

Carlos didn’t mean to break the stupid shepherd figurine when he jumped. The damn dog would’ve bit him if I hadn’t kicked the yapping rat in the head. I don’t care if the cabrona told us never to come back again. It’s our right to see him.

Outside the apartment, the hallway reeked from years of cooking in the eight apartments of the fifth floor, B-wing. In spite of the blinking light of the security camera in its wire cage, someone had tagged both sides of the hall. Thankfully, they left the picture Britt called the “Tree of Life” undamaged. Someone had painted a huge tree with birds flittering through the leaves. No one told the artist that real trees didn’t grow alone, especially the big ones. Britt missed the trees lining the streets of their lost home, and the painting’s survival gave Britt hope she might survive living in the slums, too.

Be glad you don’t down near the docks.

The thought of trees made Britt smile as memories of her summers at Granny Nan’s flitted through her mind, the pines sighing in the breeze while the oaks rustled with a brisker note. Her huge white dogs slipping out of the house to silently disappear into the tree-covered hillsides. Granny Nan standing lost in thought, rubbing her hidden necklace with the tips of her fingers until the gems glowed, when she thought she was alone. The three guard dogs,

Nan called her guardians, licking Britt’s face.

Britt’s heart clutched when she recalled their goodbye last summer. Granny Nan had bustled about the kitchen, packing a lunch with extra snickerdoodles for the drive back to Trebridge. Just before she shoved the paper bag into her hands, she rose to her tiptoes to kiss Britt on the forehead.

“Cheer up, my girl. Next summer will be loads of fun. You’re going to learn all sorts of new stuff. Our secret now. Remember.”

The last word had held force as she tapped Britt’s forehead. She’d loved Granny Nan. Staying with her was always fun, except when she trained Britt in self-control. Britt had looked forward to her coming summer, not ever imagining the old woman would die.

Britt shoved the memory away because it hurt too much to remember. Won’t learn anything now since she’s dead.

A shuffling noise on the stairs put Britt on alert, living in the projects wasn’t as safe as Uptown. The head of the girl from across the hall appeared, followed by some older guy with broad shoulders carrying a sack. The girl took one look at Britt and dropped her gaze before scurrying toward her door.

On her way, the girl said, “Hi, tree.”

“Why do you always talk to that silly tree, Sara?” asked the guy following her. His gaze rested on where Britt’s boobs should be and sank to her crouch area.

When he smirked, Britt was glad her skirt was loose, happy she did not share Pietra and her mom’s busty figures.

The dark-haired Tejano girl pushed the door open after unlocking it. “Gerome, Hurry up. Mama wants that milk yesterday.”

He scooted into the door, throwing a backward glance at Britt. “Okay, Sara. Okay.”

Carlos slipped into the hallway, pulling their door shut without closing it. “Okay, Britt. Now tell me why I gotta do the dress-shirt shit before school starts.” He stopped and folded his arms across his chest. His expression mirrored his father’s when the old man was ready to start a tantrum and throw things when something didn’t go his way. “I’m not going to move an inch until you let me go back and get a t-shirt.”

“Yeah,” said Darin, joining them.

“We gotta sneak by the co-op’s security, buttheads. If you don’t blend in, they’ll check their list of undesirables and bounce you out the door faster than you can spit. So, you’re wear prissy clothes. Comprendes? Or are you guys totally too stupid to understand?”

“Dad don’t like you speaking Spanish,” said Carlos.

Darin parroted in the high-pitched voice that grated her patience raw. “Yeah, we’re Americans. Have been forever. You can even join the Daughters of the Kingscourt.”

“Shut up, or go watch TV with the bratbies.” Britt gave him a cold stare. Her fifth-grade brothers hated being lumped with Pietra’s pre-school sons. “Carlos and I’ll visit Dad by ourselves and get bigger ice creams afterward.”

Carlos gasped. “You won’t really leave Darin behind?”

Britt’s glare heated. “Damn sure I would, if he don’t stop whining like a baby.”

“Okay, but I still don’t like dress shirts,” said Darin. “All the guys around here wear tees.”

“Duh. Wear a tee to school tomorrow. Now move your ass. We gotta catch the tram.”

Once on the street, the boys forgot the argument in a game of shoving and giggling. Was I ever so young? Maybe before Pietra fell down the stairs and everyone blamed me for pushing her.

Memories of her father’s great-grandmother who lived back in the hills flooded through her mind. Longing pulsed through Britt as she thought of the summers when she lived with her.

Britt should’ve hated the old woman, but she loved her. When she was nine, Britt had been sent away because everyone thought she shoved Pietra down the stairs, breaking her leg. Pietra had been teasing her by lifting her Mr. Pongo over her head, and she had been jumping trying to grab him away. But she slipped. Pietra had fallen down the stairs when Britt had grabbed her for balance. No one believed her when Britt said it was an accident.

The summer after, Granny Nan had invited her back. She did teach her to “control” her temper. She taught her imagination games. Made her use her use all her senses to examine the world around her. Taught her to sing in descant during the long evenings with the mages who came to visit her. Granny Nan was a Dissenter who disliked the Kingscourt and all it stood for. Still, Britt had loved Granny Nan’s mountain valley. The summers had been the most wonderful of Britt’s life.

Book Spotlight – The Song of Solomon Revealed

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About the Book:

Title: THE SONG OF SOLOMON REVEALED
Author: Owen Sypher
Publisher: Litfire Publishing, LLC
Pages: 308
Genre: Religion/Bible Studies

BOOK BLURB

The book of Song of Solomon is a spiritual book full of allegories or pictures where God used the natural to show the spiritual. By using the keys of understanding found in the Bible the author has unlock the hidden meaning of the book of Song of Solomon.

The book of Song of Solomon is about the love that Jesus has for his bride. When looked at from this angle a lot of the verses makes more sense.

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Book Excerpt

Song 4:16: Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. KJV

We know that north is God’s direction as stated in Psalm 75:6–7.

Ps. 75:6–7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. KJV

Since promotion comes from God, and the only direction not mentioned is north. That makes north God’s direction. That would make south man’s direction. This illustrates to me that we need the right spirit in our lives, no matter what comes our way. Whether the wind is blowing from the north or the south makes no difference; we still have the same spirit (our fragrance).  What this tells me is that no matter if I am receiving the blessings of God (north wind blowing upon my life) or cursing or tribulation from others (south wind, or man’s direction), I would have the same spirit blowing out of my garden or I would show the right spirit no matter what is happening in my life, and it would be a sweet smell to the Lord, and it is all because of the things that the Lord has planted in my garden.

We have the capabilities of doing this because we understanding this verse in Romans 8.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. KJV

Phil. 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. KJV

I use this scripture to show that I am not going to let outside circumstances dictate how my spirit responds to the Lord. I can be content in the Lord no matter what.

About the Author

Owen Sypher

Owen L. Sypher is a devoted servant of the Lord. At eleven years old, he started a spiritual journey to discover and understand God and his word.

In 1979, he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Since then, he has had fellowships with the same group. Song of Solomon is his first book.

You can visit his website at http://www.sypherbooks.com.

Book Blast – A Tangled Web

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About the Author

Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

About the Book

A Tangled Web

Title: A TANGLED WEB
Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

BOOK BLURB

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

 

Find out more about when this book will be released at

Mike’s Facebook Page

 

Book Excerpt

“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment. Life was very good indeed.

He had good friends, including Lady, who was amongst the best of them. And he had a child on the way. His wife, Sheila Hillier, was pregnant and at the clinic for her three-month checkup. He was waiting to hear how both Sheila and the baby were doing. His Auntie Marie had told him the baby was a girl, and if anyone knew about these things, it was his Auntie. She was a dream weaver, an interpreter of not just dreams but of messages from the spirit world. Windflower had recently spent a week with her and his Uncle Frank, another dream weaver, to learn more about the dream world.

Interpreting dreams was part of his family’s tradition. But it was an imperfect tool that gave information, not always answers. Perhaps the most important thing he learned was that dreams do not predict the future. Instead, as his Auntie told him, “Dreams tell us about our past, what has already happened. They also point to actions we should take if we want to get the right result in the future and to the signs all around us that we need to follow.”

Windflower was contemplating that piece of wisdom when he noticed a very distraught woman get out of her car outside the RCMP detachment in Grand Bank. She ran towards the front door. He walked out to meet her, but the administrative assistant, Betsy Molloy, beat him to it.

“There, there now, Molly. What’s goin’ on?” asked Betsy as she put her arms around the other woman and guided her to a seat in the reception area.

“It’s Sarah, she’s gone,” said the other woman between sobs. “I told her to stay close by the house where I could see her. I went out back to put the wash on the line. When I came in, she was gone.”

“Okay, Mrs. Quinlan,” said Windflower as he knelt down beside the two women. “How old is Sarah?” He didn’t really need to know how old the girl was. He wanted to help the mother calm down so she could give them as much information as possible.

“She’s going to be six next month,” said Molly Quinlan. “She’s growing up so fast. But she’s still such a little girl. And now I’ve lost her. Brent is going to kill me.” She started sobbing again.

“What was she wearing so that we can help find her?” asked Windflower, trying to get information but also trying to help Molly Quinlan feel useful.

The woman stopped crying and said her daughter was wearing jeans and a favourite t-shirt. “It was pink and had sparkles. She said it made her feel like she was a princess. And she had her light blue jacket on with a hood.”

Windflower smiled. “I’m sure she’ll show up soon. But let’s go over to where you last saw her, and we’ll start looking. She can’t have gone far. Leave your car here, and come with me. I’ll drive you over.” The woman smiled weakly at Windflower through her tears and allowed him to take her arm and guide her to his Jeep outside the door.

He returned inside to give directions to Betsy. “Get Constable Smithson in here. I’ll call Frost and get him to come in from his rounds.”

Betsy nodded her agreement, and Windflower went outside to drive Molly Quinlan home.

Meanwhile, it turns out, Sarah Quinlan was fine, perfectly fine. She had wandered a little way from home in the centre of town. She was going to go down to the nearby brook to feed the ducks. She knew better than to go into the water, but she couldn’t see any reason why she couldn’t just look. She’d done it before, and nobody seemed to mind. As long as she didn’t stay away too long, everything was okay.

Sarah had that great fearless attitude of a child who grew up in a small and very safe community. She knew most of her neighbours, and they all watched out for her. She also had the natural curiosity of little children, especially when she saw something new. The truck parked on the roadway above the brook was new, so Sarah went to take a closer look. Even better, the back door of the truck was open, and there was a ramp leading inside. This was certainly worth a closer inspection.

Sarah Quinlan was having fun exploring the back of the large truck when she heard a loud, rumbling noise. She didn’t know it, but the driver had started the engine. It was so loud, and Sarah was so frightened by it, she froze. The next thing she remembered was everything going almost completely black and the back door of the truck slamming shut. She cried out, but by then it was too late. Seconds later she, the truck and the unsuspecting driver were barrelling out of town and onto the highway.

Windflower drove Molly Quinlan to her house and got her to show him where Sarah had been playing. Together they walked through the house to see if the little girl had come home and hidden there. But no such luck. While they were searching the house, they were joined by two of Quinlan’s neighbours who took over Molly’s care and made her a cup of tea. Soon afterwards Constable Harry Frost arrived from his highway patrol.

Windflower gave him a quick update and directed him to go to one end of town to start the search. He would begin the house-to-house search through the neighbourhood when Smithson showed up.

He first checked out back and looked in the storage shed, a favourite hiding place of every little kid and probably where Windflower himself would have taken refuge. But Sarah was not there. As he went to the front of the house, Constable Rick Smithson showed up.

“Afternoon, Boss,” said Smithson. “Any sign of her yet?”

Windflower shook his head. “Frost is doing the big circle search. You and I will start the door-to-door. Ask them if they saw the girl this afternoon. I’ll start from here. You go down to the brook, and work your way up.”

Smithson returned to his cruiser and sped off. Windflower wasn’t worried. Yet. But he knew that the first few hours were crucial in finding a missing child. If they didn’t, then it was almost always something more serious. Not time to panic, but no time to waste. He walked up to the first door and knocked.

 

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