Blog Archives

Book Spotlight – Fighter Pilot’s Daughter

Fighter Pilot's Daughter banner

FIGHTER’S PILOT DAUGHTER by Mary Lawyor, Memoir, 336 pp., $18.95
(Kindle edition) $20.50 (paperback)

 

Title: Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

Author: Mary Lawlor

Publisher: Rowman and Littlefield

Pages: 336

Genre: Memoir

Format: Hardcover/Kindle

FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER: GROWING UP IN THE SIXTIES AND THE COLD WAR
tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish
Catholic, military family during the Cold War. Her father, an aviator
in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen
times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government’s
Cold War policies demanded. For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each
move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life. The car was sold, bank
accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.
Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of
temporary attachments. The book describes the dramas of this traveling
household during the middle years of the Cold War. In the process,
FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American
foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the
domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the
spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and
she was attending college in Paris. Having left the family’s quarters in
Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but
her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to
her parents’ world. When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter,
she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters
who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of
her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da
Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates
their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American
military community of Heidelberg. The book concludes many years later,
as the Cold War came to a close. After decades of tension that made
communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited. As
the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship
between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the
hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a
distant memory.

For More Information

  • Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

 

The pilot’s house where I grew up was mostly a
women’s world.  There were five of us.  We had the place to ourselves
most of the time.  My mother made the big decisions–where we went to
school, which bank to keep our money in.  She had to decide these things
often because we moved every couple of years.  The house is thus a figure
of speech, a way of thinking about a long series of small, cement dwellings we
occupied as one fictional home.

It was my father, however,
who turned the wheel, his job that rotated us to so many different
places.  He was an aviator, first in the Marines, later in the Army.
When he came home from his extended absences–missions, they were called–the rooms
shrank around him.  There wasn’t enough air.  We didn’t breathe as
freely as we did when he was gone, not because he was mean or demanding but
because we worshipped him.  Like satellites my sisters and I orbited him
at a distance, waiting for the chance to come closer, to show him things we’d
made, accept gifts, hear his stories.  My mother wasn’t at the center of
things anymore.  She hovered, maneuvered, arranged, corrected.  She
was first lady, the dame in waiting.  He was the center point of our circle,
a flier, a winged sentry who spent most of his time far up over our
heads.  When he was home, the house was definitely his.

These were the early years
of the Cold War.  It was a time of vivid fears, pictured nowadays in
photos of kids hunkered under their school desks.  My sisters and I did
that.  The phrase ‘air raid drill’ rang hard–the double-a sound a cold,
metallic twang, ending with ill.  It meant rehearsal for a time when you
might get burnt by the air you breathed.  
Every day we heard
practice rounds of artillery fire and ordinance on the near horizon.  We
knew what all this training was for.  It was to keep the world from
ending.  Our father was one of many Dads who sweat at soldierly labor,
part of an arsenal kept at the ready to scare off nuclear annihilation of life
on earth.  When we lived on post, my sisters and I saw uniformed men
marching in straight lines everywhere.  This was readiness, the soldiers
rehearsing against Armageddon.  The rectangular buildings where the
commissary, the PX, the bowling alley and beauty shop were housed had fall out
shelters in the basements, marked with black and yellow wheels, the civil
defense insignia.  Our Dad would often leave home for several days on
maneuvers, readiness exercises in which he and other men played war games
designed to match the visions of big generals and political men.  Visions
of how a Russian air and ground attack would happen.  They had to be ready
for it.
A clipped, nervous rhythm
kept time on military bases.  It was as if you needed to move efficiently
to keep up with things, to be ready yourself, even if you were just a
kid.  We were chased by the feeling that life as we knew it could change
in an hour.
Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War. Her father
was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World
War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His
family followed him from base to base and country to country during his
years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters,
and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she
graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools.
These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief,
dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the
rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.
As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture
of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set
family life on fire. While attending the American College in Paris, she
became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968. Facing her
father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she
fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different
from his and her mother’s.
Years of turbulence followed. After working in Germany, Spain and
Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became
a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.
She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000),
Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013).
She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

For More Information

 

 

Advertisements

VBT – The Long Lost

The Long Lost banner 2

About the Author

 Tom Nixon

Tom Nixon is an author and entrepreneur with writing credits to his name that span artistic genres. He has written multiple novels, two screenplays, several short stories, a children’s story, and has five music albums in his catalogue, for which he wrote both music and lyrics. He discovered his passion for writing and reading at an early age, going on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Michigan. He resides in Michigan with his wife and children, along with a couple of the canine variety.

His latest book is the suspense novel, The Long Lost.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

 The Long Lost

Title: THE LONG LOST
Author: Tom Nixon
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 418
Genre: Suspense

BOOK BLURB:

The sudden and strange disappearance of Joel Thomas brings together his ex-wife and best friend in a search for answers. As Mary and Jason seek out the truth, their quest consistently turns up more questions than clues. In another time, the story of a long-time group of college friends plays out across 30 years of history, revealing the highs and lows of a group that vowed to maintain their friendship until death. Is the answer to Joel’s mysterious departure found in a simple note sent to Mary, or is it locked somewhere back in time? Told in alternating voices and timelines, Nixon’s The Long Lost tells a story of both intrigue and suspense — along with sentimentality and introspection — as he examines the painful discoveries realized when childhood friends grow up…and grow apart.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

EVERYBODY knows someone like Joel Thomas.

I once heard someone describe him as the man who was friendly with everyone…but friends with no one. Which isn’t exactly true. It’s not that he was particularly at odds with any one person, or even that he was standoffish. It’s just that, when it came to having meaningful, deep friendships or relationships, there was nobody you could point to and say, “Those two are very close.”

But yet, there he was. Joel was at every party…every night out…every group outing. He seemed to like sports, the arts, movies, TV, pop culture. He knew a little bit about everything, so he always seemed to fit in, no matter what the occasion. But you were hard-pressed to say why, if asked.

Joel was married for a little more than 16 years to Mary, a woman he met in college during his study abroad program. They never had kids, but they did acquire the obligatory dog and 2,500-square-foot ranch in the suburbs. It was a normal life, if unspectacular. But that was Joel. Normal, sure. But unspectacular. A man that was seemingly liked by all…but loved by nobody in particular.

It would be a shock, then, when Joel suddenly disappeared.

I got the call around 7:30 that night. Mary seemed put off, but not frantic. I can’t tell you why I remember her demeanor in that way, only that it seemed significant at the time. Was I expecting the reaction an actress might have on a bad primetime cop show? I don’t know. Then again, Mary was Joel’s mirror image in some ways, so a subdued (though, certainly distraught) state of mind wasn’t entirely out of character. Still, it just seemed…different. Different than what I’d suspect, but I wasn’t sure if it was meaningfully different, or just different.

And I can’t claim to have been in the proper state of mind to be a judge of such things. Not that night. It’s a strange thing when you get “the call.” Or, in the movies, it’s the knock on the door. If you’ve never been so unfortunate, you’ll know when it happens. I’ll never forget watching my dad get the call when grandpa died. I’d never seen my old man cry before. It was jarring. It was a shock, to be sure…but grandpa was 84, and with a history of heart problems.

There’s a part of you that expects it…one that has been waiting for such a call. There’s another part of you in paralyzing shock. And there’s this weird part of you that starts immediately and reflexively having the sort of reaction others might expect you to have. Like you’re the one on the TV show. Call it, macabre exhilaration? This is happening. It’s horrible. But it’s excitement, in a sick sort of way. All of those parts of you begin an instant quarrel inside of you for supremacy, and it’s not until several hours, days or weeks later that reality sets in, and you hate yourself for feeling anything other than grief.

“Jason? Hi, it’s Mary. Sorry for calling so late.” A long, pregnant pause. “It’s Joel.”

Shit. Those words rang out like a shotgun in the open prairie air. It’s Joel. Whatever came next, I knew it wasn’t good. I immediately hunched down into a chair at the kitchen table. I’m not sure if I said anything, let out a self-defeated groan, or just waited in stunned silence for Mary to continue.

“It’s Joel. He’s not answering.”

“Not answering what?” I asked, now grasping to a lifeline of hope. Maybe I got ahead of myself with needless worry.

“Anything,” Mary responded, immediately sucking the wind out of my hopeful sails. “The phone, texts, the door. Normally I wouldn’t worry. We sometimes go weeks — maybe months — without talking. In fact, we usually do.”

“So what’s the worry?”

Mary paused. I could tell there was a “next part” that she didn’t want to get to. But she gave in. “It’s not normal.”

“What’s not?” I pressed.

“To get something in the mail.”

“What something? Something in the mail? From who? What was it?”

Another long pause.

“From Joel.”

“Mary, what are you saying? What the hell happened? Spit it out.”

Mary started slowly and softly, building both pace and volume as she continued. “I’ve been trying to get ahold of Joel for a few days. We got a strange tax thing in the mail, and it didn’t seem to make any sense, so I scanned it over to Joel last week. Followed up with a phone call. No answer. Then the texts. Nothing.”

“Yeah…” I needed her to get to the point.

“So I stopped by a couple days ago. No answer at his place. His car was there, though. I kinda poked around a bit, peeked in some windows…nothing. So I called the office. They said he’s on vacation. So I started to calm down…didn’t think much of it.”

“There ya go,” I reassured her. “He’s probably just out of the country or something. No cell service, ignoring emails and stuff.”

“That’s what I thought,” she continued. “Then I got this in the mail.”

“What?”

“A note. In a box. Like a cardboard shipping box. It looked more like a parcel at first, with no return address. But it was light…like a letter, you know? I opened the box, and there was just this note in there.”

“Yeah?”

“Jason. It was Joel’s handwriting.”

“So? What did it say?”

And now, the longest, most silent, pause.

“Mary, what did the letter say? Read it to me.”

“Read it to you?”

“Yes! Read it to me!”

“No need to read it…I have it memorized…it was only two words.”

“Mary, what the hell did the letter say?”

A shorter pause. A softer voice. A slower pace. Finally, Mary got to the point.

“Tell Jason.”

 

 

VBT – THEIR WITCH WEARS PLAID

Their Witch Wears Plaid banner

About the Author

Shaputis-photo

Kathleen Shaputis lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats and three pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude: Brugh, Bouncer and Miss Jazzy. If not writing, she’s busy reading and watching romantic comedies, her ultimate paradise.

Her latest book is Their Witch Wears Plaid.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

 WitchPlaid_CVR_XSML

Title: THEIR WITCH WEARS PLAID
Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing
Pages: 316
Genre: Magical Realism / Paranormal Romance / Romantic Comedy

BOOK BLURB:

A giant-sized Druid, annoying trances and frightening nightmares mess up Nell’s festive end of summer plans. Living in Scotland, a palm reader for Baillie Castle, Nell loses her heart to a professional jouster. But is her shining knight in cahoots with the sinister Druid?

Will the recipe of a magic coin, diva queens and witches be enough to save Nell from death? Or will evil triumph over love?

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

PRAISE:

A page-turning delight with twists and turns for the fabulous Lady Nell. It’s 2018, what woman wouldn’t want to be chased by a knight in shining armor?J. Verstraeten

Book Excerpt:

While sitting behind her covered card table, Lady Nell dabbed at a trickle of sweat on the back of her bare neck with a long, white handkerchief. The summer heat, though mild in temperature for many, had dampened her coiffed hair and Elizabethan costume. Well-worn tarot cards splayed across the sapphire paisley tablecloth in a colorful, symmetric array. “May I answer any other questions for thee this sweltering afternoon, my lady?”

The flustered middle-aged woman across from her, wearing a thrown-together costume of a black wench’s vest and ankle-length skirt, shook her head. “Goodness, no. You’ve been quite helpful as one who seeks the future, thank you, Lady Nell.” And she took a last look at the cards before disappearing from the palm reader’s tent.

Scooping the displayed cards into a pile, Nell smiled at how the first day of the Scottish Faire at Baillie Castle was proving a great success. Excited crowds from surrounding areas were showing up in droves. Nell practically pinched her damp double chin in the delight of having moved to Scotland and using her psychic powers for employment within the castle. She sent a spiritual blessing to her friends, Baillie and Rogue, the proprietors of the castle, for encouraging her to establish a new life across the Atlantic. Her last home address had been Olympia, Washington, though her talents had let her travel throughout the United States.

Nell’s flamboyant pavilion was placed under a shade tree, offering some relief of the mid-summer heat, but barely a breeze had stirred the sauna-like air for the last hour. The steady stream of customers had kept her emotions animated despite the stifling heat. Nell respected and enjoyed her talent for reaching into another’s aura, their soul, and sharing information. She stretched her arms over her head and twisted her neck to one side hearing the familiar crick.

Suddenly a dank, frigid cold penetrated her chest, the icy bolt more like a speeding car crashing unheeded into a block wall. She couldn’t breathe. Yet she was not a complete stranger to the deathly artic slam, as the wintery pain felt similar to her first meeting with the ghost of Baillie Castle, Lord Kai, years ago in Olympia, Washington, where the poltergeist had been desperate to penetrate the real world.

Gripping the edges of the table, Nell tried centering herself, closing her eyes, grounding her being to the Earth’s core by visualizing a thick steel chain locking her in place. A moment later, it was gone. Gulping in heated air, Nell kept her eyes closed, alarmed at the unexpected glacial intensity. What in the not-of-this-world had caused such an explosion of cold?

Chastising herself for possibly overdoing the herbal recipe she’d created for her morning smoothie, Nell shook her head. She stared around her, expanding her mystic aura, rippling it out beyond the tent, searching for unearthly energy, anything possibly related to the polar blast. Knowing the hours she’d be working today, the potion recipe she concocted was meant as an enhancement to her psychic abilities, a mere boost. She blinked her eyes, the tent vacant and nothing out of the ordinary showed itself. By and large things were as they should be inside and outside the normal excitement of festive crowds and the music of Celtic pipes music filling her ears.

Knowing her foretelling talents would be in constant demand for palm readings and tarot cards once the Faire opened this morning, Nell asked petite T-Cup, a spicy diva queen from Seattle and dear friend of the castle owners, to act as an assistant for her. T not only acted as the money keeper but provided part-time entertainment for the crowds passing by. She kept Nell’s sanity and the flow of customers continuous in and out of the tent. T-Cup’s delightful voice squealed and twittered outside the tent’s dangling strands of pastel beads as Nell tried discerning any mystic turbulence from the cold blast. T’s saucy remarks on various costumes and people throughout the day hadn’t changed in tone or manner as Nell cleared her table with shaking hands.

T’s own outrageously bawdy dress of lace and silk caught many the eye of people walking by and made for a great marketing asset. A singer and entertainer by trade usually in company with her best friend and fellow diva, Rafael, T’s persona of hysterical delight brightened any room or situation, a petite dynamo of glitter and glamour. T stuck her beribboned head of curls inside and said, “This will be your last reading for today, Lady Nell. Looks like the universe saved the best for last. Mr. Gigantic, Dark and Mysterious will be right in.”

The cash box clinked shut before a hooded giant blocked the beaded doorway. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, the Druid-dressed customer moved with no haste. She looked at the floor-length, burlap garment wrapped well to his body, tied with a leather strap, and a deep hood concealing his face in shadows. Flowing sleeves draped at his sides as he sat in front of her with fluid motion. The realistic garment fascinated her, the material seemed threadbare and ancient. He’d paid a pretty penny for the outfit at an estate sale or movie studio auction, she wanted to bet. Nell couldn’t find a way of dipping her head toward the floor without looking odd to see what he wore on his feet, something authentic or Nike sneakers.

“What would you like to hear this day, good sir? What your future holds in store or may I answer a specific question ye need answering? I can read your palm or maybe you’d like to see what the cards have to say for you. My talent but waits your answer.”

He sat silent. No movement, nothing.

Nell blinked before picking up her tarot cards and started shuffling. This wasn’t the first time someone shy or conservative wasn’t sure what they wanted, but instead of her calm natural patience, she felt a bit defensive, a molten nervousness moving through her. The choking silence between them bothered her. First a blast of frigid, intense air sent chaos into her chest and now an enormous mannequin sucked the very oxygen she needed. The man raised his hand palm out, the fingers lengthy, and she stopped mid-motion. The heat inside the tent dropped in temperature until it crackled like thin ice on a raging river. Rivulets of perspiration trickled down her ample body, despite the sudden disappearance of the infuriating heat.

His silence weighed solid like a glacial wall and her intuition created an instant need to surround herself in a protective spell. Her lips moved silently as she stared at the deep hood that cloaked his face from view. The darkness nagged her in a disquieting, almost dangerous way. Who is this Mr. Chill? What is going on?

“I am quite well acquainted with who you are, Lady Nell.” His smooth, deep voice poured out like the syrup of a public radio station announcer. “If I may explain, I have been approached by your parents…”

“You’re quite mad, sir,” Nell snapped, her face flushed with irritation despite the cold. How dare this cloaked idiot have the audacity to spout ancestral nonsense? “My parents are gone and have been for many years. I don’t understand your trickery this day but you have paid for my services, sir, not the opportunity to make mockery of me or my profession.”

Moments ticked by in silence and the temperature inside the tent dropped further. His game with the air conditioning will not deter me. Goosebumps rippled up her bare arms. She forced herself not to give in to shivering. Nell had hoped her anger would fight the frost, but its invasion seeped through. She slowly lifted her chin in defiance. Her work and talent was not a game, and she didn’t appreciate his rude announcement saying he’d been in contact with her deceased parents, parents she’d hardly known herself growing up.

“I understand more about you than you could possibly know. You are young and naïve still in your powers. You will believe in me soon enough, stubborn one, I have no doubt of this. Your parents’ spirits and elders before them have given me a quest to find you and I am here.” His eyes glistened, practically glowing. Specks of amber light shone deep inside the murkiness of the hood. “They told me of your talents to see the past and feel the energy yet to be in images—an inherited ability. Your powers are much similar to mine in some basic ways. But over recent years, you’ve strayed on a different course and the elders have asked me to warn you to take heed. Their request of me is to shield you from your own foolishness.”

Nell felt the warmth of her face drain into the empty chill. “They know of my work on the dark side?” she whispered. What does he mean about keeping me safe? From what? Who is this person?

Over the recent years she had discovered magical talents and energy flowing through her soul, untapped reservoirs of abilities she didn’t know existed beyond seeing the past and future. An understanding of crystals and herbs filled her mind at odd times, pushing details and recipes from an unknown source into her reality. She’d kept them close to her in private, rarely using the dark magic in front of people, except for last year here at the Baillie Castle when she felt compelled to assist the Baillie family in a dire emergency with unmitigated success. The process had drained her sorely for days but she still felt it was one of her finest accomplishments.

“Your parents know you’ve taken your innate skills beyond the familiar white magic and they worry for your safety.” He placed his pale, wrinkled hands on top of the table.

Nell found her mouth still open. She shifted in her wooden folding chair, the stuffed cushion beneath her lumpy, stiff, uncomfortable. She took in a deep breath and exhaled to a long count, while gathering her strength and thoughts. “Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir, as I do not know who you are. And could you turn the temperature in here up a tad? Seriously, I am not some slab of beef.” She could see the white vapor from her words swirling in front of her and wondered if icicles would form along the edges of the tent. A scene from an old I Love Lucy episode flashed in her mind, when Lucy was locked in a freezer vault and her face covered in frost.

He swiped away her words like irritating flies with his elongated hands. “Silence, woman. I will tell your fortune and you must listen well. Obedience is imperative.”

Squinting her eyes at the hooded Druid, she snorted. “I will be obedient to no one. You have no power here, you robed cretin, slithering in here with tricks of threatening me with lies of my parents, chilling the air, and fallacies of wanting to tell my fortune?” Like a kitten with an arched back, thick fur standing on end, Nell refused to cow down to this stranger. Not a muscle twitched as she waited for his next move.

“Belay your wail of pitiful skepticism. Listen to my words and listen well. A young man you’ve met before will come to you with information you most desire. Believe him, as the bond between you is powerful. You must then travel across the water to your former homeland, back to the beginning of this Scottish journey at the bookstore and obtain your spiritual guide. This will help you understand the foretold answers waiting ahead. Ignore these words and direness awaits you.”

He stood nearly caressing the ceiling with his hood. “Good morrow to you, Lady Nell.” Ducking his body in half, he left the tent before she could shove her chair back or voice any questions. And she had a million of them on the tip of her tongue. What man was he talking about who she had met before? Go back to the beginning? Did he mean Baillie’s Pen and Pages bookstore in Olympia, Washington? Well, that would be across “water” certainly.

Placing her hands on top of the card table, she pushed herself up with trembling legs. The slam of claustrophobic heat filled the tent nearly knocking her backward. Sounds began filtering into her conscience: the strum of a mandolin, conversations and laughter, a sweet Celtic tune on a pipe, as if her hearing was restored from a deep, lengthy silence.

T-Cup popped herself inside, swishing the silk of her Elizabethan dress. “Hey, I didn’t see long-limbed, dark and spooky leave. Do you have a back door in this tent I don’t know about?” She twirled in a circle creating a rustling murmur from her petticoats. “C’mon, let’s go see what deliciousness Putney the cook has for us in the kitchen. It’s got to be tea time, right? I’m starving for something fresh and chilled.” T stopped in mid-motion. “Wha… Lady Nell, are you doing okay?” She touched Nell’s arm and squealed, “Dang, you’re like ice,” before bouncing through the beads yelling, “Gillian, Gillian, come Lord Gorgeous, our lady looks dazed and feels like a fresh blended margarita.” The last words slid out before she sucked in another breath. “Ándele, pronto, get your tight butt over here now, I said.” Her voice screeched an octave higher.

Through the parted strands of plastic beads, a polished, well-built blond dressed in a traditional blue and green Baillie kilt and sporting silk finery sauntered across the dry grass as if on a fashion cat walk. Gillian Nation was used to the attention and lingering looks from anyone nearby. Tanned, taut thigh muscles showed bare under the hem of the kilt as he walked. “How wither you call, my Seattle-based jester-ess?” He slid into the tent with noble smoothness but seeing Nell’s distress rushed to her side. “Have you overdone yourself, my lady?” He put his strong right arm around her waist and his eyebrows rose dramatically as he caught Nell’s gaze. “You’re like a pale Popsicle. T, make way, you fluffy fairy. Let’s get her outside.”

The faire had emptied of tourists and most of the performers. A few groundskeepers had begun clearing the trash, making little noise as they emptied smaller waste containers into a large rolling bin. Reality snapped her into a safety hold like a seat belt in a speeding Porsche. Patting her damp face with the already wet handkerchief, she imitated, clung desperately to Gillian’s calm, graceful moves as he sat next to her.

“Anything you want to talk about, Lady Nell that precipitated this dearth of possible frostbite?” His well-pampered face showed no emotions, unlike T-Cup’s pasty, frightened look nearby.

“Did, did you see my last customer, the giant-in-robes man come in or out of the tent?”

T-Cup raised her perfectly manicured hand. “Ooh, ooh, I did, I did. Well, I saw a Druid-looking guy go into the tent after he paid me. I don’t remember seeing him come out though, you know, but I wasn’t paying attention. Tapping my fingers along with the music, I guess. It’s the end of a long hot day. I’m tired. Sue me already.”

Gillian closed his dark, cappuccino-colored eyes at T’s dramatics, shaking his head, sliding his low ponytail over his shoulder. “I’m afraid my attentions were also elsewhere.”

“Did, did you see his face, T?” Nell’s voice cracked.

“That sounds rather ominous.” Gillian tilted his head catching T-Cup’s nervous glance and the tiny shrug of her bare shoulders.

“No, I don’t think so.” She waved her arms wildly over her head. “He had this enormous hood up covering everything, everything. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up, if that’s what you mean. He paid for his session, Lady Nell, and went inside. Easy peasy. Did he steal something from you other than the heat inside your body? Pretty fancy trick, I might add.” She inhaled sharply. “Did he touch you inappropriately? Is that why you’re upset?” T puffed up like a frazzled hen, flapping invisible feathers everywhere. “Should I sound an alarm and have someone search the castle grounds for the criminal?”

“No, no, he didn’t take or touch anything except my sanity.” The last word came out in a whisper as she rubbed her forehead.

“T, bounce yourself somewhere and get the good lady a cold drink. She’s probably dehydrated.” Gillian kept a still face as the flouncing skirt disappeared. “Now that the dear elf is gone, what happened inside the tent, Nell?”

She inhaled a deep, shaky, breath through her nose and slowly blew out the air. “This oversized giant came in dressed head to toe in brown sack cloth, Druid looking, well-worn material. My first thought was he had on either a pricey costume or had somehow stepped through time. I swear, my very first thoughts.” Gillian rolled his eyes with a faint smile. “No, now hear me out. The hood draped over his head so deep his face was completely in shadow, just like T said. On purpose, I’m sure, yet I caught a single glimpse of his eyes while he sat there and they glowed, almost a maize color, spooky and bizarre.”

She bowed her head, fussing with her skirt. “Gillian, he said he came by a request of my parents and my elders to tell my future and when I challenged him, he lowered the thermostat to some teeth-chattering zero degrees in the tent.”

“Now this is getting interesting! What does a scam fortune teller tell a real fortune teller?” He tapped his fingertips together. “So we have an overdressed druid who paid for your services, but instead told you your fortune with some stage-effect trickery like dry ice. Did he at least report anything sizzling in your future? Some delightfully male encounters by any chance?”

A heated flush rushed from her neck to her cheeks. Why did Gillian never take anything seriously, twisting most conversations into sexual twitters? “No, well, yes, I am supposed to meet a young man I’ve met before who will answer my questions. What questions, for heaven’s sake? What kind of questions could he possibly mean? And I’m supposed to go back to Pen and Pages like the beginning of a puzzle and find my spirit guide. What hokey nonsense is a spirit guide, whatever that may be, going to do for me?”

“What delightful man you will meet is the more important detail of the story, my dear.” Gillian sniffed as T skipped toward them, clutching a dripping bottle of cold water. “We’ll continue this discussion later, out of prying curious ears, you realize. Say nothing of this during our tea,” he focused on T, “or you’ll have the whole castle staff up in arms.” He stretched his arm out, wiggling his fingers at the colorful nymph. “You are a jewel and an enchanted servant.” T squeaked from Gillian’s words. “Exactly what our dear friend needs.”

“Putney asked me to report tea is ready and her old foot’s a tapping. C’mon, you two, you’re the only ones out here.”

“Goodness, Cook will have our heads if we keep the sweet ancient thing waiting.” Gillian turned his arm to Nell. “Allow me to escort you back to the castle.”

Nell clutching the now half-empty water bottle, gave a grateful smile to T-Cup. “Thank you. That was just what I needed.” She tucked the ominous meeting away for now and slipped her arm in Gillian’s. “Let’s go.”

Interview With…

Kathleen, tell us about you.  As the youngest of teenaged siblings, I was also an “oops” baby, a total surprise. With my head continually buried in a book, I didn’t notice or remember much of anyone else. Books were my life, the smell, the feel of the crinkle paper on the covers from the library and the sounds of flipping the pages, nourished me. My library card was the ticket away from reality. I dreamed of living in a forest, being a hermit and writing books for a living. I’ve succeeded in two of those goals, I live in a two-acre woods and have eight books under my belt.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why? My idol Katharine Hepburn. I can imagine sitting over tea for hours soaking up the independent strength and tenacity of this woman. A social therapy session of learning to maintain confidence and self-endurance as I grow older. The woman was and is a legend and I admire her dedication to life and her talents.

What’s the story behind your latest book? Being the third book in the Baillie Castle trilogy, it came with an entourage of familiar characters. But Their Witch Wears Plaid reads as a stand-alone, centered around Nell, a palm reader now working at the castle in Scotland. I wasn’t ready to let go of a world I’d created, there were more twists and foibles yet to uncover among the group. A group which includes a gorgeous 17th century ghost, drag queens and a variety of supporting players.

What is your writing process?  Though my books play out in my head as movies, complete with soundtracks, I must work in silence for the most part. I am at the keyword in the early morning hours before the rest of the house is awake putting in my hours. I will listen to the proposed movie scores for inspiration while doing other things, such as Their Witch Wears Plaid is a Celtic cornucopia of pipes and drums, but the bleeding on paper is done in quiet.

Tell us about your main character: Though inspired by a talented psychic in my hometown, I see a lot of myself in Nell. She enjoys her own company, is content and a master in doing what she loves. Unconnected and full of pluck, she savors relaxing at home at the end of the day in her bare feet. Having traveled for years following the Renaissance Fair circuit, settling in one place has its rewards when the location is the beauty of the Highlands among friends.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why. I see Melissa McCarthy playing the role of Lady Nell. Ms. McCarthy’s feistiness and exuberance would be perfect for an independent woman suddenly faced with threats and a brewing storm of danger and demands. She’d bring a fun, kick-your-heels passion to the story when Nell meets a man, a knight and her heart opens a bit wider.

What are you working on next? I’m currently working on a commercial fiction tome of a single working mother in the 70’s, living in a disco-dancing, sexual revolution world who is nearly destroyed by sexual harassment and discrimination.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book? Though most authors are more introspective, diving into social media is a must in marketing a new title. The noise of new books is loud and full of static, so you need a willingness to be creatively persistent, dogged in letting people know of your work.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now? A first edition of The Boxcar Children my husband gave me as a gift. The joy the book brought me reading it over and over is never forgotten. Nothing tasted better for lunch, sitting outside in the front yard than plaid white bread and cuts of cheddar cheese similar to the meals in the book.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents? Hmm, I don’t juggle, my skills are rather mediocre in cooking and singing. I have drawn sketches and painted once in a while where I’m rather proud of a portrait of Alan Alda I did in oils during a college class. My main talent I’ve recognized in myself is patience, keeping my head during stress or extremes. Life has thrown a myriad of challenges, sometimes more than one at a time, over the years and I find myself being the calm in the middle of the chaos.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why? Invisibility! I’d use the ghostlike powers to comfort, soothe and protect the underdog, being able to infiltrate into any situation without suspect would be incredible. But as a writer, curiosity is a natural fault. Imagine what I could discover if no one knew I was in the room. The lies uncovered, the truth brought to light.

List 5 things on your bucket list:

I’ve accomplished much in my life and find I have few regrets and needs. I haven’t given much thought to a bucket list and if I died tomorrow, I feel content with my life and times. However, you’ve asked, so here goes.

  1. Visiting Scotland, land of my ancestors. (I made it to a castle in England for a week.)
  2. Write a national best seller.  (I’ve sold thousands of copies of my books, have done a country-wide book tour and dozens of radio interviews.)
  3. See a woman in the White House.
  4. Fit into my wedding dress.
  5. Luxuriate for a week at Disneyland, watching the twinkle and delight of the children.

Any final thoughts? What a delight it’s been discovering the answers in your interview. I write for entertainment, and hope I’ve succeeded in bringing a lightness and merriment to my readers. I think of my books as a cotton-candy treat among the pages. Thank you for letting me share with your audience.

VBT – The Apothecary’s Curse

The Apothecary's Curse banner

About the Author

Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is author of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel The Apothecary’s Curse  (Pyr Books), an imprint of Prometheus Books. She is also Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics Magazine (blogcritics.org), an online magazine of pop culture, politics and more, for which she has also contributed nearly 1,000 essays, reviews, and interviews over the past decade. She published in-depth interviews with writers, actors and producers, including Jane Espenson, Katie Jacobs, Doris Egan, David Goodman, Jesse Spencer, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parilla, David Strathairn, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Elie Atie, Wesley Snipes, and many, many more.

Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is a critically-acclaimed and quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show.

Always a pop-culture and sci-fi geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to the tragic antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature. (In other words, Spock, not Kirk; Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker!) It was inevitable that she would have to someday create one of her own.

She is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA’s HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as “The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture,” “The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hidden History of Science Fiction,” and “Our Passion for Disaster (Movies).” Most recently, she gave a lecture at MENSA “The Conan Doyle Conundrum,” which explored the famous author’s life-long belief in fairies.

Barbara is available for signings and other author appearances as well as radio, print and television interviews. She also loves to speak at writers and other conferences! Feel free to contact her directly!

She is represented by Katharine Sands at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency in New York City. You can reach Katharine at katharinesands@nyc.rr.com.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

 The Apothecary's Curse

Title: THE APOTHECARY’S CURSE
Author: Barbara Barnett
Publisher: Pyr Books
Pages: 345
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gaslamp Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

BOOK BLURB:

Between magic and science, medicine and alchemy, history and mythology lies the Apothecary’s Curse…

A 2017 finalist for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award and winner of the Reader’s Choice award at this year’s Killer Nashville, The Apothecary’s Curse is a complex tale of love and survival set in a very different Victorian era where science and the supernatural co-exist. The Apothecary’s Curse transports readers between Victorian London and contemporary Chicago, where two men conceal their immortality….

In early Victorian London, the fates of gentleman physician Simon Bell and apothecary Gaelan Erceldoune become irrevocably bound when Simon gives his dying wife an elixir created by Gaelan from an ancient manuscript. Meant to cure her of cancer, instead, it kills her. Now suicidal, Simon swallows the remainder – to no apparent effect. Five years of suicide attempts later, Simon realizes he cannot die. When he hears rumors of a Bedlam inmate—star attraction of a grisly freak show with astounding regenerative powers like his own—Simon is shocked to discover it is Gaelan.

When Machiavellian pharmaceutical company Genomics unearths 19th Century diaries describing the torture of Bedlam inmates, Gaelan and Simon’s lives are upended, especially when the company’s scientists begin to see a link between Gaelan and one of the unnamed inmates. But Gaelan and Genomics geneticist Anne Shawe find themselves powerfully, almost irresistibly, drawn to each other, and her family connection to his remarkable manuscript leads to a stunning revelation.

Will it bring ruin or redemption?

Meticulous historical detail infuses the narrative with authenticity, providing a rich, complex canvas. And playing off Simon’s connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Apothecary’s Curse draws on both the Sherlock Holmes canon and Sir Arthur’s spirituality, as well as Celtic mythology, the art of alchemy, and the latest advances in genetics research.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

My dear friend, hold fast the doctrine: when all impossibilities are eliminated, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Nothing could be so improbable that I must now and forever address you as Sir Arthur!”

Dr. Joseph Bell stood at the head of the dining table before twenty assembled guests, offering a robust toast to the guest of honor, his student and friend, the newly knighted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in London for the first time since the honor had been bestowed on him. His confidante Jean Elizabeth Leckie was at his side.

“Do tell, Sir Arthur,” Wilder said with a giggle, “is it not true that our dear Joseph is in actuality your Sherlock Holmes?”

“Indeed not, Wilder!” The author twisted his mustache a bit more at each mention of Holmes’s name.

Miss Leckie patted Conan Doyle’s arm tenderly. “My dear, your mustache shall soon be as fine as a strand of silk. Besides, you well know he is! They even smoke the same sort of pipe!” The entire table joined her in laughter, despite Conan Doyle’s protestations.

“Ah,” interrupted Joseph, coming to Conan Doyle’s rescue. “Alas, I do not share Holmes’s preference for cocaine, nor does my mind crave the constant stimulation of work. I am quite at peace come Sunday afternoons with nothing to do but read the Times.”

“I wish my consulting detective could rest in peace.” Conan Doyle scowled at  Wilder, as she inquired when a new Holmes story would be published. “Did you not read ‘The Final Problem,’ my dear Wilder? Holmes died at Reichenbach Falls! However, since no one will allow him to be at his rest”—he sighed dramatically—“I can tonight announce a new adventure for the Strand come next year. ‘The Empty House,’ it is called!” Conan Doyle laughed, yet it was darkened with an unmistakable note of vexation.

“But how should you have him come back, Sir Arthur?” Cranford inquired. “If he is indeed, as you say, dead?”

“Do let us change the subject, Cranford.” Conan Doyle lifted his glass, taking a long draught of his wine, his eyes closed.

Miss Leckie smiled. “Oh! I’ve something! Have you heard of that apothecary? Lentine is his name. In Covent Garden. The line to enter his shop goes on and on. Can you imagine?”

“And why might that be, Leckie?” Conan Doyle asked. “Why, his amazing Reanimating ftercuric Tonic, of course! To  hear his patter, the medicine ‘shall restore life, even in the event of sudden death!’ Can you imagine? An apothecary, of all ludicrous things!”

Mr. Cranford laughed. “They should hang them all, the thieving rogues. I’ve never met one I can trust, always trying to hawk the latest patent medicines.”

Gaelan Erceldoune glared at ftiss Leckie, his dark, mirthless eyes hard as basalt. Beside him, his companion, Joseph’s cousin Dr. Simon Bell, laid a calming hand on his sleeve, an urgent plea to forbear; Gaelan snapped his arm away.

With a peevish edge to his voice, Gaelan steered the topic from the dubiousness of the apothecary trade. “What if your consulting detective cannot die?”

Conan Doyle stared him down. “Whatever do you mean—cannot die?”

Simon worried a loose thread in his linen napkin, his hands knotted with tension.

“Yes,” Gaelan continued, ignoring Simon’s disquiet. “Well, after Reichenbach, Holmes is, of course, presumed dead, his body not found. Unsurprising, given the terrain, but I assume your new story finds him quite well. ftight you not suggest, therefore, that Holmes’s invulner- ability extends beyond the intellectual—that he, in fact, cannot die by any natural means, improbable though it may seem? Already, you have toyed with the notion—your Sorsa in ‘The Ring of Thoth.’ You needn’t ever be explicit of course; allow your readers to speculate and draw their own conclusions. Holmes’s devotees will be so elated that none shall even question how it is possible.”

He mimed a vaudeville marquee with his hands high above his head, commanding the attention of the entire table. “The immortal Sherlock Holmes lives on in a new series.” At once self-conscious, Gaelan thrust his deformed left hand into his trouser pocket. “He’ll live forever, by Jove, your creation shall. Perhaps long after you, sir, have gone to your grave.”

Conan Doyle’s enthusiasm seemed tepid at best. But Gaelan pressed further. “As well, do you not imagine, sir, whilst giving new life to your most popular creation, you might also draw upon your truest passion—the supernatural world? Would that not, as it were, be killing two birds with one stone?”

“Ha!” Conan Doyle pointed an accusatory finger at Gaelan. “You, sir, sound too much like my publisher.”

Joseph broke in. “Please, ladies and gentlemen, let us go through to the drawing room. We might continue our conversations there in more comfort—”

But Conan Doyle was not to be stopped. “In a moment, Dr. Bell,” he said, holding up his hand to forestall the company. “I’ve a question for ftr. Erceldoune. Our dear Joseph made mention that you are an apothecary?”

Simon backed farther into his chair, cursing himself that he had disclosed even this small fact to his ever-curious cousin. He twisted his napkin, eyes pleading with Gaelan to be still.

Gaelan leaned toward Conan Doyle, a vague threat in the set of his jaw. “That I am, but why is that of concern to you or anyone here this evening? Do you mean to put me in my place as amongst the same company as Lentine, whom Miss Leckie has just now vilified—and with ample cause, I might add?”

“I mean no disrespect, nor to dishonor you amongst the fine physicians at this table. . . . I am curious, and that is all.” Conan Doyle paused a moment, as if to consider something. “I understand, sir, that many apothecaries in eras past were adept in alchemy, even magic.”

Gaelan settled back into his chair by a degree, coiled as a snake. “That, sir, may have been more the case, say centuries ago—a blurring of the lines. However, Sir Arthur, I possess no personal knowledge, for example, of any apothecary or druggist nowadays claiming to hold in his hands the secrets of life through alchemical abracadabra, if that is what you are suggesting. As for myself, I am quite well tutored in chem- istry and toxicology, and a disciple of Paracelsus. ftany of his dicta still ring true for me. Sola dosis facit venenum . . . the dose makes the poison. Paracelsus coined that in the sixteenth century—today it is an axiom of modern pharmacy. He was both an apothecary and an alchemist— and a physician. I would consider myself in esteemed company to asso- ciate myself with his understanding of alchemy. He had neither desire to make gold from lead, nor to find the elusive lapis philosophorum, but only to reveal the medicinal science it concealed by its art.”

Conan Doyle leaned forward confidentially, as if the rest of the company had vanished. “I have no desire, sir, to offend you. Forgive me if my questions seem more interrogation than polite dinner conversa- tion. I am first and foremost a journalist, but my ardent interest is per- sonal and much to do with my curiosity about the occult, as you may have guessed. I am quite sad to think about how much of the ancient arts were lost or have gone into hiding, along with their knowledge. Our ideas must be as broad as nature if they are to interpret nature, and if ideas—no matter how unusual they seem to our modern sensibili- ties—are destroyed and visionaries burnt either literally or metaphori- cally at the stake, we stand not a chance. And by the way, sir. I must aver that you are only one of a very few to have read ‘Thoth.’”

“But to your point regarding our natural fear of the . . . unusual

. . . On that, sir, at least,” Gaelan said, “we might agree.”

“Let us, then, if we may, Sir Arthur,” Joseph repeated, clearing his throat, “go through to the drawing room. ftiss Leckie, would you do us the honor of leading the way?”

“But of course,” she agreed, patting Conan Doyle’s hand affectionately. “Shall we, my dear?” She rose, and the rest of the company followed her from the room.

Gaelan and Conan Doyle found themselves in a secluded corner of the large drawing room as the other guests mingled. Simon stood nearby, gesturing with growing disquietude that they should leave, and quite soon. Gaelan turned his back on him as Conan Doyle leaned in again.

“By the by, sir, I do recognize your unusual name—Erceldoune—I have come across it on occasion in my research into the Otherworld—”

“The Otherworld.”

“Indeed. Where the fae folk rule. I’ve heard of an Erceldoune associated with legends of old, a certain Thomas Learmont de Erceldoune, a relationship with Tuatha de Danann, the—”

“Fairy folk, Sir Arthur?” Gaelan managed a laugh. “You, sir, hold me in exalted company, and I am sorry to disappoint you, however—” “It is said that this man Erceldoune had a book possessing great power, given him by Airmid herself, Celtic goddess of healing, a gift for

his act of kindness. Have you not heard the tale?”

“My family, old though it may be, Sir Arthur, boasts neither connection with the goddess Airmid nor any of her folk—the Tuatha de Danann, if indeed they ever existed. Besides, was not Airmid an Irish fairy? And I am, as are you, sir, of Scottish blood.”

Gaelan glanced around the room again, finding Simon’s anxious eyes beseeching him to end the exchange. “We’d best join the rest of the company. I see my dear friend Simon is quite unsettled, and we ought soon set off for—”

“It is a book of great healing,” Conan Doyle continued. “All the diseases of the world—and their cures—held in a singular volume, said to be written by her very hand.”

Gaelan paused, a petulant sigh escaping his lips. “I cannot say I can recall its mention, even amongst family lore.” His lips tightened into a tense line as he stood. “Now if you will excuse me, sir, I grow tired and fear it is time Dr. Simon Bell and I return to his flat.”

Praise:

“Barbara Barnett weaves together fantasy and scientific elements for a story rich in magic, history, and myth…The Apothecary’s Curse is bittersweet and tragic, with science, magic, and romance…perfect for fans of Sherlock, history, and science.” (San Diego Book Review)

“A wonderfully written and researched story with deeply drawn characters and more than enough action to keep the reader turning the page. It is at once an excellent rendering of old London and the state of medical practice at that time while also being a tense thriller. A clever and unique story…highly recommended.” (D.P. Lyle in the New York Journal of Books)

“Barnett’s debut novel is a fantastic mix of history and fantasy! Her scintillating portrayal of Gaelan’s tortured soul and Simon’s haunting guilt plus the OMG ending set this book apart.” (Romantic Times)

“Fresh and utterly compelling…one of the finest and most intriguing speculative fiction novels of the year. Sure to please a wide audience of readers, because it’s a stunningly vibrant novel…a breath of fresh air.” (Rising Shadow)

“What price immortality? Barnett, explores the Promethean gift of immortality much like the gift of fire: it has the possibility of enormous benefit but also the capability of terrible misuse. The book moves fast, there is good character development, there are interesting and poignant personal relationships, and there is the lingering question, what is the true cost of deathlessness?” (Manhattan Book Review)

“Masterful blend of the finest storytelling elements…features excellent pacing, humor, passionate romance, tasteful adult situations, and descriptive writing.” (Edge of Infinity)

“Innovative and fresh. The author’s writing is fluent and precise, making this an effortless read, with just enough complexity and mystery happening to keep one engaged. A gripping start and a satisfying conclusion, this book felt complete and well executed.” (Books Vertigo and Tea)

“There is a romantic quality to this fantasy that is subtle but ever-present and works well for this story. a delectable mystery with a form of urban fantasy attached to it. A very satisfying mystery/fantasy that will make you believe the potion for eternal life exists.” (Looking for a Good Book)

“Combining a little of the transtemporal fatedness of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander with the sparring immortals from the Highlander film franchise, Barnett has created a unique urban fantasy that delivers pure magic intertwined with the quotidian demands of our daily lives—even if we are not all immortals.” (Official Barnes and Noble Newsletter)

Book Spotlight – Up All Night

Up All Night lg cover

Up All Night: From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons From an Accidental Feminist.

About the Author

Rhonda Shear

Actress. Comedian. Award-winning entrepreneur. Builder of a $100 million apparel brand. Television star. Former Miss Louisiana. Candidate for elected office. Philanthropist. And now, author. There aren’t many hats that Rhonda Shear hasn’t tried on, and she’s worn them all with style, moxie, southern charm, and a persistent will to be the best.

A New Orleans native, Rhonda started her journey to the spotlight by dominating local, state, and national beauty pageants from the time she was sixteen—including three turns as Miss Louisiana. In 1976, in the wake of a Playboy modeling scandal that cost her a coveted crown, she became the youngest person ever to run for office in Louisiana, losing her fight for a New Orleans post by only 135 votes.

After that, Hollywood called, and she quickly moved from Bob Hope specials to guest appearances on hundreds of television shows, from Happy Days and Married With Children to appearing on classic Chuck Barris camp-fests like The Gong Show and the $1.98 Beauty Show. Rhonda’s big break came in 1991 when she became the sultry-smart hostess of late-night movie show USA: Up All Night, a gig that lasted until 1999 and made her nationally famous.

After Up All Night ended, Rhonda pursued her love of comedy and quickly became a headliner in Las Vegas and at top comedy clubs like The Laugh Factory and the Improv. At the same time, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart, Van Fagan, who she hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. After a whirlwind, storybook courtship, they married in 2001.

Rhonda’s latest chapter began when she appeared on the Home Shopping Network to sell women’s intimates. Her appearance was a sensation, and she and Van quickly started a company, Shear Enterprises, LLC, to design, manufacture and sell Rhonda’s own line of women’s intimate wear. Today, that company has grown to more than $100 million in annual sales, and Rhonda has won numerous entrepreneurship awards—though she still refers to herself as a “bimbopreneur.”

Today, Rhonda and Van live in a magnificent house in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she engages in many philanthropic projects, supports numerous charities for women, and works on new books.\

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE CHANNEL

About the Book:

Title: UP ALL NIGHT
Author: Rhonda Shear
Publisher: Mascot Books
Pages: 275
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Self-Help
BOOK BLURB:

Up All Night combines memoir and self-help to follow Rhonda Shear’s incredible journey from modest New Orleans girl to bold, brassy, beautiful entrepreneur and owner of a $100 million Florida lingerie company.

Along the way, Rhonda has been a beauty queen, a groundbreaking candidate for office, a Playboy model, a working actress, a late-night TV star and sex symbol, a headlining standup comedian, an award-winning “bimbopreneur” and a philanthropist who uses her success to help women of all ages be their best and appreciate their true beauty.

Up All Night is also a love story. Rhonda reconnected with her first love, Van Fagan, after 25 years apart, and after a whirlwind romance in The Big Easy, they married in 2001. Now they share a fantasy life of luxury—but it hasn’t come easily. In this book, Rhonda shares the lessons she’s learned along the way: never let anyone else define you or tell you what you can’t do, make your own luck, and do what you love.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

New Orleans is the greatest show on Earth. Just ask anyone who has awakened on Bourbon Street covered in beads and with no idea how the hell they got there. Like the taste of chicory coffee, the flavor and spirit of New Orleans—the city where I was born, came of age, and met the love of my life—will never leave me. Why would I want it to? It’s part of my soul.

My family was not your typical American clan. We were yats, a term derived from the saying, “Where ya at?”, part of the patois and culture that define New Orleans. Our childhood drives around the Big Easy, for example, would have given most parents a heart attack. We would cruise down Rue du Bourbon in my father’s big Oldsmobile and past the French Quarter strip clubs. The doors and windows would be wide open, displaying the girls’ wares for everyone to see. Daddy would laugh and shout, “Look at the dancing girls!”

My brothers, Mel and Fred, and my sister, Nona, and I, we absolutely loved it. Go cups (the enlightened practice of giving bar patrons disposable cups to take their drinks into the street), lagniappe (pronounced “LAN-yap,” an indigenous/Creole word meaning “a little something extra”), Mardi Gras—it was all part of our normal. The New England Puritanism that shaped so much of the rest of the country never made it down the Mississippi to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Instead, you have a city that’s equal parts bawdy and genteel, American and  Creole, Southern conservative and surprisingly moral. N’awlins is a unique blend of sweet and spicy. Take off her Mardi Gras mask and you’ll find endless contradictions.

It was a marvelous, festive, magical place to grow up. The city has its own unique accent: a little Bronx, a little Boston, a little bayou. It has its signature food, gumbo, which describes the infusion of French, Acadian, Creole, African, and Native American cultures as much as the blend of onions, bell peppers, celery (often called the “holy trinity”), seafood, spices, and a good dark roux. It has its own soul: all-night bars and barkers in the French Quarter, voodoo, above-ground graveyards with moss-covered mausoleums, and jazz.

You can keep your safe, sanitized suburbs and the quiet life. New Orleans taught me and my siblings how to live.

Jennie and Wilbur

I guess it’s not surprising that I came from such a place. What might be surprising is that despite being born into such a sensual environment, I grew up terrified of sex. I was a shy, protected girl, and my mother, Jennie Weaker Shear, was determined to keep me that way. A first-generation New Orleanian, my mom was a great beauty with a drop-dead figure who adored Betty Grable and owned a swimsuit similar to the one Grable wore in her famous “over the shoulder” pinup shot.

(Later in life, I found out that Mom had posed for a series of gorgeous semi-nude boudoir photos for my amateur photographer father. Coincidentally—or not—some of the most successful pieces in my Rhonda Shear Intimates line are a Pin-Up Panty and bra that look a lot like what my mom wore in her pinup photos.)

Mom was raised by my widowed grandmother, the forgotten baby in a crowded household. She escaped the pressure of four overbearing older brothers by losing herself at the movies. Iconic beauties like Betty Grable, Esther Williams, and Rhonda Flemming (who I was named after) were her companions and inspiration, as one day, they would become mine. Mom ended up marrying at nineteen, in part because she dearly loved my dad, but also because she wanted to escape her brothers’ constant oppression.

Mom was a lot tougher than her beauty suggested; years later, I was shocked to find out that twice she’d had to fend off rape attempts. From Grandma Fanny to Mom, the Weaker women excelled both in their looks and in the brains department.

From the time she was a young girl, beauty was everything to my mother. She would wear red lipstick like the pinup girls she admired, reapplying it even after her brothers would wipe it off. Beauty was her way of escaping the austerity of her family life. Later, when she was about fifteen, she entered a local beauty contest. She didn’t even walk across the stage, but her beauty caught the eye of the judges and she won, and a lifelong lover of beauty pageants was born. But it really drove her brothers off the deep end when she eloped with a Reform Jew named Wilbur Shear.

Their meeting was like something from classic television. They were on a double date: she with my dad’s cousin Carl, he with a girl no one remembers. But from the moment Wilbur saw my mother he was smitten. He was driving, and he made sure to drop her off at home last. He got her number, wooed her, sang to her, and six months later they were married.

My father was also a New Orleans native, part of a barely-visible subculture of New Orleans Jews. After he married my mother, Dad worked for the government, the weather bureau, and eventually for her family’s auto parts business. But when he was fifty, he missed one week

of work to have surgery, and his brother-in-law fired him. Imagine being a fifty-year-old man with four kids to feed, a middle-class lifestyle to maintain, and no job. My parents wanted all their kids to graduate from college, but that takes money.

However, I get my dogged persistence from my father. He borrowed $10,000 from a family friend and started his own truck supply company, Fleet Parts and Equipment. It thrived, and with the money from that business, Dad put all of us through college; my two brothers even ran the business alongside him for many years. Unfortunately, while my father saw some of my successes, he died of a heart attack in 1984 at the age of 69. His untimely death—and my absence when he passed—still haunts me. But while I adored my father, I was and am my mother’s daughter.

Beauty Was My Religion

I was born Rhonda Honey Shear on November 12, 1954, when my mother was thirty-seven—at the time, late in life to be giving birth. I may have been born into a Jewish family, but beauty was my religion, and my mother’s love of all things beautiful and feminine made her my high priestess. I was a love child, a mistake, but my mother and father couldn’t have been more delighted to have a baby to dress up and pamper. And was I ever pampered, protected, and babied!

From the beginning Mom dressed me like a doll with long, corkscrew curls and later sent me to dancing and modeling classes. I began lessons at the Ann Maucele School of Dance at the age of two. Ballet, tap, jazz, and acrobatics filled my days with twirls and my nights with dreams of footlights. With all this, from the time I got out of diapers, I was a Southern belle. Mel and

Fred tried to make me a tomboy, even teaching me to throw a mean spiral with a football, but I threw it in heels and a mini-dress.

(Years later, when I auditioned to be a cheerleader in a Budweiser TV commercial, what impressed the director—and probably got me the job—was that I could throw that tight spiral.)

But my mother was really grooming me to marry a prince. For real. She wanted me to marry royalty. In the late ‘90s we both went on the Maury Povich Show for a special Mother’s Day show, and she told Maury, “I want my daughter to marry Prince Charles.” Maury replied, “But he’s married.” To the audience’s delight, Mom snapped, “Eh, small detail.” The crowd roared.

Mom badly wanted me to be a wealthy socialite in New York or California, someone who would only have the finest things. She never wanted me to suffer or go through what she did as a teen. Parents usually want their kids to do better in life than they did, but I wasn’t comfortable with that sort of lifestyle. I’ve dated some incredibly wealthy men in my life, including several billionaires, but I always found that I had more in common with their security guards or domestic help than I did with them.

Shear Honesty: It might seem like hypocrisy to live in a waterfront mansion (which I do), drive a Bentley (which I do, sometimes) and talk about relating better to working-class folks. But it’s really not. There’s a big difference between enjoying fine, expensive things and feeling like you’re entitled to them. I love my lifestyle; it’s the payoff for years of endless work and sacrifice. But none of it matters more than being a good person, being around other good people, helping others, or just sitting around drinking wine with dear friends. That’s wealth.

Don’t lose sight of what’s important: health, family, friends, laughter.

 

 

 

VBT – Survivors’ Dawn

Survivors' Dawn Banner 2

About the Author

Ashley Warren

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

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

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

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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

About the Book

Survivors' Dawn

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

BOOK BLURB

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Survivors' Dawn teaser

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Excerpt

LAUREN LE BEFORE:

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

She took a slug of the vodka soda.

Pace yourself, Lauren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God, college is fun.

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

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

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

“Oh…well…like…”

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

“Not a problem. Catch you later.”

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

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

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

LAUREN LE AFTER:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What for? The test is next week.”

“It’s tomorrow.”

“No, it’s next week.”

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

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

“I asked where you’ve been.”

“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.

“Awful. I really fucked up.”

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

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

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

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

Bank of America.

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

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

Don’t cry. Don’t.

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

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

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

“Are you all right?” he said.

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

“You looked kind of sad,” he said.

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

“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.

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

Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway Details

Survivors' Dawn giveaway

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

Terms & Conditions:

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

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Turquoise Mountain Pre-Order Blitz

Turquoise Mountain banner

About the Author

 AmazonAuthorPhoto.DianeJReed

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

Her latest book is Turquoise Mountain.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book

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

BOOK BLURB

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

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

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt

The first meeting between Dillon and Tessa in Turquoise Mountain

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

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

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

“What?” Tessa crossed her arms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your great-great grandfather knew Iron Feather?”

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

“Special powers.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he slipped the owl feather into his pocket.

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

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

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

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Turquoise Mountain giveaway

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

Terms & Conditions:

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

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

VBT – The Adventures of Mitee Mite

The Adventures of Mitee Mite banner

About the Author

 Dave_Edit1

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

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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK


About the Book

 The Adventures of Mitee Mite

Title: THE ADVENTURES OF MITEE MITE SERIES
Author: David John
Publisher: Mitee Mite
Pages: 120 pages total in series
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

BOOK BLURB

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

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

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

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

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

 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkeJmSC1-Xw

%d bloggers like this: