Saturday, August 27, 2016

Neil Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


NEIL
Sybil Bartel
(Uncompromising #2)
Publication date: August 22nd 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance


Ex-Danish Military Special Forces, built like a legend, and uncompromising in every way—Neil Christensen didn’t walk into my life. The Viking-sized warrior crashed it like a hurricane.

The moment he showed up at my strip club, my life fell to shit. South Florida’s most ruthless motorcycle gang, the cops, the Feds—they all want something I don’t have, something the Viking took from me.

I thought I could run, but the motorcycle gang caught me. Now the only thing standing between me and an unmarked grave is a warrior I don’t trust.

I’m not afraid to die, but I am terrified of weathering the storm. Because when a Viking decides to unleash his fury, no one is going to come out unscathed. 
Warning: This book contains alpha heroes, offensive language, violence and sexual situations. Mature audiences only. 18+
NEIL is a full-length, standalone novel and is the second book in the Uncompromising Series.
TALON, the first book in the Uncompromising Series is also a full-length standalone novel and is available now.

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EXCERPT


He threw the gear in park, cut the engine and opened his door. The cab filled with the sound of cicadas and I glanced around in a panic. Before I could think what to do, my door opened and he undid my seat belt.
“Get out.” His features were more austere than in the warehouse.
I trembled. “No.”
“Not a request.”
Viking was alpha, all alpha. He commanded everything but he’d never forced me to do anything. Anxiety licked at my conscience but I swung my legs out of the truck because showing fear was worse than defeat.
My feet hit the ground and I looked up at him with every ounce of defiance I had. “Now what?”
His shoulders dropped, he leaned toward me and his body language went from tensed restraint to liquid seduction in half a second. “Look up,” he gently commanded.
Was this a trick? Was he only pretending to not be mad? Reluctant to take my eyes off him, I glanced at the dark sky. “What about it?”
“What do you see?”
I swallowed past the tightness in my throat. “Night.”
“The moon and stars,” his low, quiet voice corrected.
I didn’t like this. Him gentle, making me look at the stars, this wasn’t the man who’d killed to save my life. “So?”
Huge, warm fingers wrapped around the back of my neck. “The same moon that was there last night.” He moved closer. “The same stars that will be there tomorrow night.”
His body heat curled around me like everything I’d ever wanted and I pushed back. “Is this some kind of proverb?”
“Same as the night sky, I was there yesterday and I will be there tomorrow.”
My throat closed up, my chest tightened and I fought tears. It was the single most beautiful thing anyone had ever said to me. And it was a complete lie.

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Author Bio:
Sybil Bartel grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew her into the world of storytelling. She loves the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes her swoon.
Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she isn’t writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…
But Seriously?
Here are ten things you probably really want to know about Sybil.
She grew up a faculty brat. She can swear like a sailor. She loves men in uniform. She hates being told what to do. She can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks her out. Her favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—she can’t decide. She has a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on her for driving directions, ever. And she has a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell her husband.
To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), visit her website, like her on Facebook or join her Facebook group Book Boyfriend Heroes for exclusive excerpts and giveaways. 
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Player Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Player
What Happens on Campus
Book One
M L Sparrow

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication: September 1 2016

Number of pages: 254 Paperback
Word Count: 79053

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Designs

Book Description:

Let the game begin…

After a tragic accident which leaves her tormented by guilt, Chloe Newman accepts a scholarship to study a St. Joseph’s University. Traveling from England to Texas, the last thing she expects is to meet the schools charming quarterback on her first night. However, Parker Mitchell is a player both on and off the field. 

Parker is immediately fascinated by Chloe and, after a rocky start, they manage to find a way to make their relationship work despite interference from others on campus, including Parkers jealous ex, and the ghosts that haunt Chloe’s conscience.

But, the real test comes when they visit Parker’s family over Christmas break and he finds himself being pulled back into their lifestyle...   


Excerpt

 “Where are you going?” Karla asked, propping herself up on an elbow to watch him as he pulled on his jeans and looked around for his shirt. “Why don’t you just spend the night here?” Smiling seductively, she sat up and let the sheet drop.
Parker couldn’t help but look, what guy could resist? Karla had a perfect body and great tits, too bad she was as mean as a snake when she wasn’t trying to sweet-talk a guy into her bed.
“Come on, Kar,” he sighed – he was sick of her games already and he’d only been back on campus a couple of days – “you know how it is. We’re just fuckin’, nothin’ else. I’m not cuddlin’ you like some doe-eyed freshman you got wrapped around your finger.”
“Fuck you, Parker,” she spat angrily, seductive look completely gone, “I wouldn’t date you if you were the last guy on earth.”
Laughing, he found his shirt slung over the desk and pulled it on. “You already fucked me and it was amazin’. You’re one of my favorite booty calls.”
“You’re such a dick,” she raged, still gloriously naked, “get out of my room.”
“A minute ago you asked me to stay.”
“Aaahh! Get out!” She threw the bottle of water on the bedside table at his head.
Dodging the missile easily, he scooped up his sneakers, jammed his baseball cap onto his head and left, still laughing.
He should probably feel bad for acting like such a jerk, he thought as he knelt to tie his laces in the hallway, but Karla could take it; she was as mean as they came and he couldn’t force himself to feel sorry for treating her the way she treated everyone else. Anyway, she knew the deal – he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend; he needed to concentrate on football. This was his third year and he had to work extra hard if he wanted to get into the NFL when he graduated. Besides, he didn’t want to be tried down to just one girl, where was the fun in that?
Practice had started yesterday and it had felt good to get back out on the field with his team and best mate Dawson. This year was going to be a great one, he could feel it; the team was fresh and strong, with new talent having joined in the form of several freshmen.
Bypassing the elevator, since it was broken already, he headed for the stairs. Despite what his family thought, university wasn’t all fun and games and he needed to get in a good night’s sleep before practice tomorrow morning.
Halfway down the stairs joining the third and fourth floor, he paused as he turned the corner and saw a girl leaning against the wall with her hands braced on her knees, panting. Beside her stood the most humongous suitcase he’d ever seen, which she’d evidently been hauling up the stairs.
As he watched, she reached down to the black rucksack at her feet and fished out a blue inhaler, taking a couple of puffs before straightening up again and pushing the hair back from her red face.
“D’ya want a hand with that?” he asked, making her jump, her head whipping around to face him. Immediately, he felt his body reacting, even after spending the afternoon screwing around with Karla. The girl was gorgeous. Even with a face as red as a tomato.
Big brown eyes stared up at him in surprise, framed by dramatically long lashes, and for a moment all they did was look at one another, before her face became impossibly redder and she glanced away, biting her lip uncertainly.
“A hand would be great,” she admitted, glancing scathingly down at the big blue suitcase, “it’s really heavy.” Her words didn’t register for a minute as his brain tried to place her accent. British, he thought, clipped and well-rounded. He could listen to her talk forever.
Taking the last few steps, he held out his hand, introducing himself. “Parker Mitchell, at your service.”
“Hi,” she smiled up at him, tucking a strand of dark, coffee colored hair behind her ear before reaching out to shake his hand, “I’m Chloe. Chloe Newman.”
“What floor you on?”
“Sixth,” she answered with a downwards quirk of her lips.
Whistling between his teeth, he grabbed the handle of the suitcase as she picked up her rucksack, putting the inhaler back inside. Half way there, at least.
Lifting the case, he huffed out a breath, “Jesus… I’m impressed you got it this far, it’s probably heavier than you are.”
Wincing guiltily, she twisted a piece of hair around her finger in a nervous gesture. “Sorry. I can probably manage if…”
Laughing, slightly dismayed that she thought he’d let her finish lugging it up the stairs when he was easily twice her size, he shook his head. “I got it. Imagine how bad I’d feel if I woke up tomorrow and found that the cute British girl had a heart attack tryin’ to get to her room.”
“Well, okay then.”
Grinning at the blush that once more filled her cheeks, he gestured up the stairs, “Lead the way.”
If she went in front, he could check out her ass. Not the most gentlemanly thing, but then he’d never claimed to be a gentleman. And she had a good ass. He felt his heart beat faster; she was all lush curves and long, denim clad legs. Tall, for a girl; he was six three and she was only a head or so shorter. He was in deep shit, Parker thought as he followed her up the stairs, trying to tear his eyes away.
By the time they reached the sixth floor, he was sweating. Her suitcase really was fucking heavy. Stopping outside room 605, Chloe turned to him, “This is me. Thank you so much for your help.”
“My pleasure,” he drawled, setting the case down beside her and stepping back. “See you around.”
“Yeah,” she murmured, lifting a hand in farewell as he walked away, “see you.”
When he got back to the stairwell, he couldn’t help but look back, seeing her enter the room and pull the door shut behind her. He should have got her number.




About the Author:

M L Sparrow is currently the author of four books: two YA Sci-fi’s, The Demon Inside and Ghetto, an Adult Fantasy called No Rest for the Wicked.

Player will be her first foray into the world of Contemporary Romance. She will write pretty much anything that pops into her head, no matter the genre, and enjoys keeping her readers guessing as to what she will write next, though you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some degree of romance!

As well as writing, M L Sparrow enjoys travelling and has been to some amazing countries in the past few years, her favourite of which was Japan. She never fails to gather inspiration from her travels and has an endless supply of ideas for future novels…






Breaking Through Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


Breaking Through
Juliana Haygert
(Breaking #3)
Publication date: August 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


From the outside, Hilary Taylor has it all—beauty, money, a caring family, good friends—but inside she’s struggling, full of fears. Events from the past forever changed her, and though years of therapy have helped, she still has a long way to go…. No matter how much progress she’s made, Hil isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to trust men again. Especially one who sees her as nothing more than a pretty face. But Hil knows it’s time to face her fears, and the best way to do that is to start small.

To Guilherme Fernandes life is about three things: polo, parties and pretty girls—only one of which he takes seriously. Gui is too focused on his polo career to waste time on relationships, however he can’t help but be intrigued by the beautiful yet troubled Hil. So when she decides she’d like to learn more about horses, Gui is happy to find himself in the right place at the right time. But what was supposed to be a one time thing, soon turns into a weekly date.

As Gui helps her discover a new found love for horses, Hil’s guard begins to crumble. The more support Gui offers, the more she wants to accept…and the more the lines of friendship blur. Despite knowing better, Hil can’t help it as Gui slowly breaks through the walls she’s built. Now she has to decide if she’ll stop him there, or if she’ll finally let her fear go and allow Gui to reach for her heart. 
Companion novel of Breaking Free and Breaking Away. Can be read as a standalone. Genre: NA contemporary romance. Warning: strong language, sex scene, mentions of rape and domestic violence.


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Grab book 1 – Breaking Free – FREE for a limited time only!
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Author Bio:
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in North Carolina and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy. 


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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Truthsong Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Truthsong
Songmaker
Book 2
Elisabeth Hamill

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Fire and Ice YA

Date of Publication:  July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68046-326-2

Number of pages: 236
Word Count: 80K

Cover Artist: Caroline Andrus

Book Description:

The long awaited sequel to SONG MAGICK

When Telyn’s song magic freed ancient spirits of the Wood, it also awakened a long-slumbering evil. Now she and her beloved Mithrais must battle a spreading shadow that ignites crippling fear, and deal with the unexpected consequences of magic’s return.

More danger arrives with a royal delegation to the forest realm, sweeping Telyn back into court intrigue and the sights of a murderous lord. Mithrais may be forced to choose between his service to the Wood or the obligations of his royal blood.

As Telyn’s bond with Mithrais grows, she is torn between her love for him and the freedom of a wandering bard’s life. But when dark magic plunges the Wood into chaos, she must balance the two halves of her heart—or the Fates may take Mithrais from her forever. 

Amazon     Smashwords     BN    Fire and Ice

Excerpt

Even in the quiet hour before sunset, the Wood filled with music.
One didn’t need the ears of a bard to hear it in the rhythmic jingle of Bessa’s harness, or when doves sang lullabies to each other through the branches. A heartspeaker couldn’t fail to miss the new counterpoint percussion of magic,like the steady, silent beat of a drum.
But underneath it all, only Telyn knew the song of the Wood itself.
A secret composition of chords and harmonies existed beneath the ambient sound of leaves. Sometimes it skirled with a wild and unruly air, and other times echoed with heartbreaking sweetness through the glades. It changed with the landscape, never the same melody twice. It would rush past her in waves, or sing in eloquent whispers almost beyond her scope of hearing. Even when she wasn’t listening, murmurs of song invaded her subconscious like a child humming in hushed tones.
“Seed-voice!”
And in not-so-hushed tones.
Telyn pulled back on Bessa’s reins. The grey horse snorted and slowed to a stop. One of the newer Gwaith’orn hailed her—the truly Old Ones seldom used such common means to get her attention. For those reborn in the wake of the great spell cast in the Circle, it remained a new and exciting thing to be able to speak aloud. As a result, they were impulsive and sometimes a little rude.
The resonant vibrations marked the nearby presence of the tree folk. She caught her breath in surprise when the brush on her right parted in invitation. Bessa snorted, turning the wagon from the stony road into the temptation of soft, green grass. Telyn laughed and gave the mare her head. “Well, that’s settled then. Are you ready to camp, my dear?”
The sun lowered upon the tree-broken horizon, ready to slip behind the mountains. Light and darkness balanced in equality for the moment.But shadow always lay in the deepest parts of the Wood, gray-green areas that seldom saw a shaft of sunlight. Here the Gwaith’orn held court. Once trapped by an ancient spell, her magic and life force bought their freedom. Telyn advanced without fear, for these strange creatures were now her allies.
All around her, the Wood pulsed with the promise of magic, but the Gwaith’orn remained silent. She sensed mischief, and her mouth quirked upwards in a smile.
A new tree, with bone-white upper limbs and wide green leaves, stood in the lee of the old, sprung from the roots of its ancestor. Telyn pulled the wagon into the clearing. Somewhere beyond, the sound of water announced the presence of the river she followed south from Ilparien. She dismounted the bench seat and walked into the heart of the grove, leaving Bessa content to crop the grass.
“Well, I’m here.” Her hand brushed the star-shaped leaves at head level, the tree grown to a startling twelve feet in less than two months. They all grew with unnatural speed—nearly five hundred of them at the last count. “What do you need, young-Old-One?”
The voice came from behind and made her jump, even though she thought herself prepared. “You might have passed us by and not known, Telyn.”
She whirled. The being that stood at her shoulder gave a laugh like the trill of a bird’s song, high and sweet.Its honey-colored eyes crinkled in amusement.
“Not known what?” she asked. It was still extraordinary to see the Gwaith’orn take human-like shapes in the groves.The young ones seemed to revel in it,although they could only manifest within the root-spans of the old trees. Early on, she started to call these manifestations “sprites” because of their playful nature.The name was now indelible in Tauron lore.
Slender white limbs gestured with the grace of breeze-caught branches. “Mithrais is not far away. We believe he will look for you.”
Telyn grinned in delighted surprise. “Thank you for telling me. I’ll stay here tonight.” 
Mithrais and his fellow Magians were busytesting the magical knowledge bestowed upon them by the Gwaith’orn. There were alsomore domestic reasons her lifemate had been unable to join her. These obligations called Telyn to turn her wheels south and begin the three-day journey to the northern gate of Cerisild.
Time had passed without discernible measure in a joyful blur of music and storytelling.She brought the news of magic’s return to the people of the Wood, the shelter of the deep forest more like home by the day. But the passage of weeks meant the inevitable approach of midsummer and the arrival of a royal delegation.
She began to remove Bessa’s harness to allow the horse a well-deserved rest. “There are visitors coming to Cerisild,” she told the sprite while she worked. “Have you sensed anyone entering the Wood who might mean me harm?”
            “None who seek you. There is a mind full of chaos. It is getting closer, but we sense no threat there.”
            She suspected this mind belonged to Vuldur, Lord of the East. An unfortunate, deadly history lay between them. Telyn would never be able to change the fact she killed his son in an act of self-defense.She had just begun to forgive herself for the accidental spell that allowed an already charged situation to escalate. Vuldur only knew his heir was dead—and who was responsible.
            “That may be the man who sent the bounty hunters.” Telyn watched the sprite as it followed the erratic flight of a moth through the grove. “I don’t think he will try to harm me himself, but I do fear him.”
            “Few can harm you now, Seed-voice, unless you allow it.” It chased the moth to the edge of the root span and watched it flutter off. “We have given you the knowledge of what to do with your magic to keep yourself safe.”
            “And I thank you.” There had been little opportunity to test the knowledge left imprinted in her mind, a gift of gratitude from the Gwaith’orn. She didn’t like the thought of using song magic as a weapon. It was contradictory to the self-imposed rules she held concerning her unique powers. “I hope I don’t meet anything my blade can’t turn aside.”
            “Danger will not wait for a sword to be unsheathed or an arrow to be drawn. The darkness which grows may prove more challenging.”



About the Author:


Elisabeth Hamill is a nurse/wife/mom by day, unabashed geek/chocoholic/closet sci fi and fantasy novelist by night. She lives with her family, dog, and cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

Song Magick, her first novel, won first in category for Teen Fantasy in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction.






Dream Junkies Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


Dream Junkies
Anne-Marie Yerks
Publication date: August 8th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary


Actresses in a Chicago comedy troupe, Daphne Corbett and Kristin Brewer share a stage as Jean and Jeanette, a pair of dim-witted legal secretaries upstaging the show’s headliners. When their performance attracts an ambitious entertainment agent from Manhattan, the girls move to New York with hopes of stardom and success. But the search for apartments and showbiz jobs takes them in different directions.

The shared journey leads them to understand that dreams are worth only as much as the struggle to achieve them and that the hardest part to play is yourself.




EXCERPT

The Last Night
The Saturday before she left for New York, Daphne Corbett wrote her ex-boyfriend’s address on a Post-it note and boarded the Pink Line train to West Pilsen. From the CTA station, she walked down 18th Street to find the house where Alec was living with his new band, Saturn Box.
It was a sunny morning in late July and most of the shops hadn’t yet opened. At a corner liquor store, a group of men and a big dog were gathered around a cement stoop. A taxi cab pulled up and the driver tried to wave her over, but she shook her head and kept on going.
“Hey Miss,” one of the men called, blowing smoke from one side of his mouth, “can I ask you a question?”
Daphne ignored him and held her purse a little closer. This was the kind of neighborhood Alec liked because the big houses could be rented for cheap. Everyone could have a bedroom with plenty of the house left over for practice space and a common living area. Alex wasn’t onto mind the shabby people on the streets or the long trek downtown. He’d told her that he wasn’t home much anyway because his band was taking off.
She referred to the Post-it to locate the side street and turned. The house was halfway down the block, easy to find because of the spray-painted Saturn symbol on the side. Alec’s green Volvo station wagon was parked at the curb, loaded up with speakers and amps. Daphne remembered all the work they’d gone through finding the equipment at consignment shops and thrift stores. They’d had fun doing that.
A girl answered the door, a very thin girl with dishwater blonde hair and pierced eyebrows, wearing a greyish t-shirt. It had to be Lorene, the back-up singer. Alec had mentioned something about her the last time they’d talked.
“Is Alec here?” The girl assessed Daphne’s flowered skirt and white sandals with watery blue eyes.
“I think so.” Lorene stood aside and motioned toward the staircase. In one of the upstairs rooms, Daphne found Alec and his guitar in an upstairs room, stretched out on a ratty orange couch, writing in the composition book spread in his lap. It was the same composition book he’d used for song lyrics ever since she’d met him. His handwriting was so small it would take him a month to fill a page, so small that he probably could use that one notebook the rest of his life. Alec’s soul was in that book, she knew. It was in there even more than in his music.
“What brings you out here?” He sat up to make space on the couch, and she sat down. The curtains hanging in the window behind them were a pair that Daphne had brought when they used to live together in Wicker Park. In those days, they had struggled to survive on their tiny paychecks and a good yard sale find was gold.
She took a breath. “I’m moving to New York. On Monday.” Alec lit a cigarette and took a drag, eyes focused across the room at some equipment arranged in a semi-circle: a sheet music stand, a sax, and a keyboard. He smoothed his bangs. “What for?” Daphne told him about the agent who’d come to the comedy club and the audition for the sitcom. She gave all the details, the things that had happened over the past six months, more than what was necessary because she knew he would listen, that he still cared in a way that other people didn’t.
“So, you think this agent is for real?”
This was what everyone wanted to know. Her mother had asked the same question. Are you sure this is the real thing, Daphne? I mean, it’s a big deal to pack up your whole life and move away . . .
“Pavia is definitely for real.” “Did you sign a contract?” “Sort of,” she told him. “Just for representation. Kristin has a role on the show, but I don’t.
Not yet. I’m going to do some modeling until they call me in.” “What’s this sitcom called?” Alec took another puff and then crushed the cigarette into the ashtray. “Streethearts. It’s about Chicago even though it’s filmed in New York. The idea is that the people who work in the little shops on the street get to know each other and fall in love and have affairs and misunderstandings. Typical kind of thing.” She didn’t tell him how much she had wanted to be on the show and how disappointed she was with the second-string position. But he probably knew.
“What about your sculpture? I thought you were going to set up a workshop someday.”
When she first began college, she had pictured herself alone in an art studio, digging her hands in the clay and wood-firing her work in an open field. But even after five years of classes and a senior show, she’d yet to sell a single piece. The fact there were galleries everywhere— even little ones that would take a chance on someone new—was another reason she was going to New York. She couldn’t take all the sculptures with her—there wasn’t enough space—but she had a nice set of slides that her new step-father and her mother had financed as a graduation gift.
“I’m not giving up on the idea, but I don’t know where it can go. The art world is so artificial. The money goes to the wrong place.” She was fighting the tired trend, the urban refuge type thing done a million times over that everyone couldn’t seem to get enough of: Virgin Mary statuettes glued onto banged up car doors, iron fencing worked into sex positions, bottles filled with plastic fruit floating in tea.
“You think acting isn’t artificial?” he asked. “Just take a look at the posters downtown, Daph. It’s the most artificial world there is. It will suck everything pure out of you and spit it back out in plastic.”
“Rock and roll is artificial, too,” she pointed out. “Those guitars you smash onstage are from the Salvation Army.”
“Come on, get real. You don’t even have a job in New York. Sorry to tell you this, but dreams aren’t edible. And they don’t pay bills. At least you have a job here, something a lot of people would like to do. And it makes people laugh. Why give it up for nothing?”
She didn’t tell that she had already given it up. She and Kristin had quit Side Stitches the week before. Downstairs, a dog began to bark. Then another dog. Then another.
“Lorene has three mutts,” Alec said. He stood up and tucked the cigarette pack into the pocket of his flannel shirt. “She feeds them on the top of the kitchen table. Supposedly it’s demoralizing for them to eat from bowls on the floor. If I don’t get down there, she’ll give them my leftover meatloaf.”
They walked downstairs and stopped at the doorway. The sun was dancing over the tops of the cars in the streets. The flowers in the beds were pale and tired, burning into August.
“Send me a postcard,” he said. “From Manhattan?” she asked. “I don’t know. From anywhere. Surprise me. I’ll send you one too.” When they said goodbye at the front door, she caught a look in his eye, one that had never been directed at her before. Envy. But that was normal, she thought, walking north to the bus stop. Most people would be a little envious of someone whose career is about to take off. She tossed the Post-it note into the trash at the Metra stop. As the train pulled away, she could somehow still see the note through the grate—a bright little square of neon orange that seemed to be saying Stop.
At home on Sunday, Daphne listed the things left to do. Most of the furniture would stay where it was. The new tenant, an incoming grad student at DePaul, had bought the couch, chairs, and dining set for a few hundred bucks. Her mattress would go to the curb. The floors needed a good sweep and the baseboards should be washed. The refrigerator was frightening. And she should find the smoke detector and hang it up in the hallway again. She’d removed it months ago because it kept going off when she dried her hair.
Everything was packed into boxes except for her sculptures. In the morning, she would cover them with plastic and use the blankets in the rental van as cushioning. For now they lined the wall in front of a window, their angled shadows stretched across the wood floor. This would be their final hours in the light for quite a while, Daphne thought, running a hand over her favorite—a piece she called “Panda.” It was her simplest work— a tall smooth cylinder with a fist print in the middle—and most recent (she had brought it home the week before). The only exhibition it’d get would be in the living room unless she could find a way to include it in the things she took to New York. She wondered if Kristin would be a picky roommate, or if she would be too busy to care.
The mail had brought a birthday card from her mother with a check tucked inside.
Sorry I can’t be with you! The honeymoon is wonderful! Be careful. Love, Mom.
The envelope was postmarked and stamped from Jamaica with her mother’s new name in the upper left-hand corner: Elizabeth Peepers. She’d just married a man named Al Peepers on a cruise ship.
Daphne folded the check into her wallet. After tonight, when she unloaded the kilns for the last time, she would be unemployed. Money would be tight for a while, she knew. Apartments in New York were beyond expensive. The first time she’d skimmed the classifieds in The Village Voice she thought it would be impossible to pay such prices. Pavia was the one who suggested that she and Kristin share for a while. That way all expenses were cut in half. Daphne was all for the idea, but she sensed that Kristin wasn’t completely sold. Then again, she hadn’t said “no” to it either.
Daphne called Kristen to make sure everything was set. “I’m not even close to ready,” Kristin said. “Are you?” “I’m packed, but I’ve got to get rid of some dirt and grime if I want my rent deposit back.”
Daphne considered the filth on the baseboards as Kristin went on.
“How much room will we have? I don’t think I can fit all my stuff into a car. Should we rent a van or something?”
“I thought you were getting us a van.” “I thought you were getting it.”
It was typical Kristin to forget something important like this, to assume that it would all fall into place without any effort on her part. Probably everything in her life had gone that way, Daphne thought. She had been spoiled by good looks, the perfect complexion, and long blonde waves—angelic features that contrasted with her on-the-brink sexuality. Everywhere she went people looked at her. Her boyfriends were the gullible, earnest types who fell into an obsessive love that drove them to seek her out twenty-four seven. Sometimes they appeared backstage after the show, eyes overloaded with longing and a kind of resignation beneath the yearning. They all knew that Kristin Brewer would cast them out with time, that they were mice in the claws of a cat who would play until the plaything became boring, then hunt for a new one. Maybe they didn’t, but they should have.
Daphne found a number for U-Haul.
Yes, Kristin could drive men crazy. She was much better at collecting suitors than she was at being an actress. Daphne was the one who had carried their show technically. Her minor at DePaul had been theatre arts and she considered herself professionally trained.
When she had auditioned for Side Stitches, a comedy troupe that performed in a popular downtown club, she’d beat out dozens of other girls for a spot. Kristin, who had come out of nowhere, was given the other role. Together, they created a blonde and brunette duo called Jane and Janette, the silly secretaries whose incompetence with calendar software was the chagrin of their stuffy executive bosses. It was one of the troupe’s most successful ongoing skits and it got their faces featured on color posters and TV ads even if it didn’t make much money. This was how Pavia found them.
In the beginning, Pavia seemed like a sweet lady who demanded respect in the same way a schoolteacher might. She was tiny, only a little over five feet, with tight spiral curls that made her look like a Raggedy Anne. Daphne would have described her as “cute” on first impression, but then she began to take note of the points and angles in the woman’s face, the way she clenched her teeth when she was even slightly impatient, the way her dark eyes would whip and judge and assign anything in sight to a proper caste.
But she could be warm and friendly, too.
“I think you girls have more talent than you realize,” she’d said to Daphne and Kristin that first night. And it was only a few days later that she’d given them both representation contracts and sent them to an audition for a network television pilot called Streethearts. The leading female role, a florist named Erica, was up for grabs.
“Now, both of you have a shot at this,” Pavia had said, leading them into the studio the day of the audition, her heels clicking on the tile. “The producers haven’t decided on a blonde or a brunette,” she paused and turned to them, her hand on the doorknob, “but they definitely want an emerging actress from Chicago. Make the most of that Midwestern drawl, the long O’s and A’s . . . don’t be ashamed of who you are.”
Daphne was a native of the Chicago area but had trained her accent away during drama school at DePaul. Kristin, who was from some small town in Wisconsin and had never taken acting lessons, had retained a farm girl nasal twang. When Daphne sat under the lights with the script and began reading the lines labeled ERICA, she was overly aware of the long O and A sounds and her accent sounded artificial. The casting people watched politely. They asked her a few questions and then told her she could leave. Pavia called later with the news that Kristin had won the role. “But it’s not all bad,” she’d said to Daphne. “The producers actually liked you. They don’t think you’re right for Erica, but they might have a role if the show takes off the way they hope it will. Just come with us to New York. We’ll find something for you.”
Daphne had wanted to kick herself. How could she have flubbed the audition? Why had Pavia screwed her up by mentioning accents right before she went in? Or was it Kristin’s big boobs? That’s what they cared about, of course. And being blonde.
“Think about it,” Pavia said. “You won’t be able to do the comedy show with Kristin gone anyway.”
“They could find a replacement, ” Daphne said flatly. “It wouldn’t be the same.” Pavia was right. There was a certain magic that made people laugh and it didn’t grow on trees. Besides, what if a replacement actress upstaged her or tried to take over? “OK,” she said. “I’ll go.” Then began the flurry of to-do lists, packing, job-quitting, and the good-bye party for Side Stitches. The plan was that Pavia would drive them to Manhattan and they could stay in her neighbor’s sublet for exactly one week until they found their own place. Kristin signed up for the Actor’s Guild, and Daphne was ordered to put together a modeling portfolio. She didn’t have any pictures, though, so Pavia hired a photographer. Daphne had spent an afternoon and evening with him doing things like meditating on a park bench, standing on a train track, and leaning against a graffiti-splattered wall. A set of shots arrived in the mail the next week. Daphne thought they looked good, but Pavia said only that they were “passable.”
In the kitchen, Daphne took on her last task in Chicago, cleaning the refrigerator. For this chore she played her Les Miserables soundtrack and sang along, imagining the glory of Broadway lights. Soon she’d be in New York living alongside some of the most famous, rich, and talented people in the world. The future stretched out a long and lavish pathway brimming with unnamed experience.
If only there wasn’t this nagging feeling, this sense that all wasn’t as she wanted it to be.
She glimpsed at her reflection in the window as she rinsed a mound of moldy chicken salad from a bowl. Maybe she wasn’t a glittery blonde, but she was tall and slender with shiny chestnut hair and a pretty face. She had a brilliant smile, a college degree, and a great sense of humor. And she was dedicated to her dream in a way Kristin could never even begin to understand. Dragging the trash out to the alley, she took a mental snapshot of the back porch of the apartment where she lived, the noble oak that shaded the porch, the busy road out front. Back inside, she lowered herself onto the couch that was no longer hers and closed her eyes. She assured herself that, with time, the nagging feeling would go away.
Her cat Mario snuggled into the crook of her knee, and that was how they both fell asleep their last night in Chicago.

Author Bio: 
Anne-Marie Yerks is a fiction writer, essayist and journalist from the Metropolitan Detroit area. Her essays have appeared in the online editions of "Good Housekeeping," "marie claire," "Country Living" and "Redbook." She has work forthcoming in "Modern Memoir" (Fiction Attic Press) and in "Recipes With A Story" (Blue Lobster Books). Her novel, Dream Junkies, will be published in 2016 by New Rivers Press. Find her on Twitter @amy1620. 


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dead Girls Don't Cry Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Dead Girls Don’t Cry
The Undead Space Initiative
Book 1
Casey Wyatt

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: August 18, 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1534902718
ISBN-10: 1534902716  
ISBN13: 2940153402147
ASIN: B01HUFDDT2

Number of pages: 410
Word Count: 83,000

Cover Artist: Kim Killion, Inc.

Book Description:

Cherry Cordial, vampire stripper extraordinaire, spectacularly messes up her life with a single act of kindness. How could she have known when she rescued gorgeous rogue Ian McDevitt that she would be implicated in the vampire queen’s murder?

Soon, she faces the wrath of the entire vampire community. To escape retribution, she joins a settlement program to colonize Mars. Her choices are grim: hurtle through space to the red planet to face the unknown and possible death, or stay on Earth and face certain annihilation.

To make things even more complicated, a certain gorgeous rogue seems to be shadowing her every move...

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Excerpt

Suddenly, I wasn’t the biggest, baddest thing on the block.
Revenants.
They always traveled in packs. Enough of them could take me down. Revenants were cousins to vampires, undead beings with too much spirit. Essentially ghosts with physical reality.
I picked up the pace, steering toward the middle of the street and well away from dark corners. If I had a heart rate, it would have been pounding. My blood was rare and prized. One sip and the revenants would keep me alive to serve as a drink dispenser.
I fished through my bag. Where was my cell? Jonathan would come. Provided I could find the damn phone.
Meaty thwacks rang out in the alley as I passed by.
 Do not look.
A soft oomph, followed by a clipped English accent, “Try that again, bastards.”
I looked.
Shit.
A lone and gorgeous male vampire had been captured. Three revenants had him pinned against the wall. Two held his arms and one pinned his legs. Three more surrounded him like a pack of knife-wielding hyenas.
The vampire snarled. Long fangs bared, presumably pissed off at his capture. With his sculptured physique, he could handle the situation. Right?
None of the baddies had noticed me yet. I could leave.
Another punch landed, connecting with the vamp’s mouth. The crack echoed in the alley. Liquid splattered, followed by cruel laughter.
The vampire hottie spat, his lip broken. Blood trickled down his jaw, seeping into the stark white collar of his button down shirt. “Think twice before you cut me, mate. I’ll smash all of your fucking heads in.”
“Shut up, meat.”
One added, “I’m so scared,” before swinging his knife and tearing a gash in the vampire’s chest. The pack laughed. A revenant approached the vampire with IV bags.
Crap-a-roni, now I had to get involved. They planned to bleed him out. That’s what revenants did. They took a vampire’s blood and drained him or her dry. The blood was then sold to the highest revenant bidder. They believed our blood could remove the excess spirit from their bodies, returning them to their true vampire form.
Problem is—it’s a myth. There’s no way for a revenant to become a vampire, any more than I could become a zebra if I wanted to. These guys were zealots. Deranged lunatics.
 “This is your last warning, blokes,” Mr. Sexy English accent said. I tried not to shiver at the sound of his rich voice. Heady whiffs of his sweet scented blood drifted my way. Like a fine wine, the smell promised a delicious and satisfying taste. Saliva pooled in my mouth. My fangs dug into my bottom lip.
“Well lookee here!”
Damn. I should have run when I had the chance. The pack turned in my direction, their faces eager for more blood. I cringed under the gaze of the hollow-eyed, pale-skinned nightmares who all wanted a piece of me.
The nearest one licked his gray, rubbery lips. “Yum. Dessert.”
I was too stupid to live. Why didn’t I run? My feet were frozen to the spot. I did the lamest, girliest thing possible. I swung my purse. And connected. A solid hit to the nuts.
The revenant shrieked, clutching his junk. “Bitch!”
The male vampire bucked, tossing the revenant off his left arm. Partially free, he ripped the arm off the other revenant before the thing could even react. With balled fists, Mr. Hottie crushed the skull of the captor holding his feet.
“Don’t stand there like a daft pony!” the vampire scolded. He snapped the neck of the nearest revenant, then motioned. “Get out of my way!”
“What? Without my help, you’d still be trapped against a wall!” I ducked and stepped aside, narrowly avoiding the gray-lipped revenant who had thought I was dessert.
“The rubbish bin would be more help than you!” Mr. English silenced two more revenants with brutal, neck-twisting efficiency.
“Oh really?” What a prick.
The revenant recovered from the nut bash and charged me again. His fingertips knocked off my ball cap. I kicked him in the stomach, grabbed the garbage barrel and slammed it over the revenant’s head as he honed in on me. The plastic bin wouldn’t kill the thing, but he couldn’t see either.
“Pathetic,” the vampire said.
Mr. English and I watched as the last revenant bounced against a brick wall before falling over, his legs scissoring.
“Time for this one to bugger off as well.” Mr. English yanked off the barrel and snuffed out the revenant with a bone-shattering blow to its head.
One by one the corpses disintegrated into dusty husks. A breeze blew through the alley and scattered the remains. Gray vaporous clouds floated around before dissipating into the air. To a passerby, the revenants’ final passage would look like dirty car exhaust.
“Well, I’m off then. Have good evening.” He brushed dirt off his tailored trousers. “Sod it, they scuffed my shoes. And this shirt is ruined.”
“Yeah. What a tragedy. You’re lucky. You could have been a revenant Slurpee.”
He sniffed at the suggestion. “I was never in any real danger.”
“You could have fooled me,” I retrieved my ball cap from the grimy sidewalk.
A late afternoon sunbeam penetrated the alley, illuminating the vampire’s blue-green eyes and highlighting the fine bone structure of his face. I tried not to gawk.
I gathered my tangled hair and mashed it under the hat. “Looks to me like they had you pinned against the ropes.” Did I mention he was gorgeous? Like a cover model. An underwear cover model. I cleared my throat. He was a total stranger, and while I bet he looked divine in only underwear, I needed to stop ogling him.
When he stared at me and didn’t reply, I lamely added, “You know? Down for the count.”
“I understood the reference, luv,” he said in his damn fine accent.
A man-shaped shadow shifted from across the street, forming a dark blot in the alley’s entrance. We weren’t alone.




About the Author:


Casey Wyatt grew up in a mid-size Connecticut town where nothing exciting ever happened. To stem the boredom, she spent plenty of time reading fantasy and sci-fi novels and imagining her own adventures in her head. Not much has changed since she’s grown up, only now she shares those made up stories with her readers and earns a coin or two.  






Twitter: @CaseyWyatt1



Instagram: caseywyattbooks