Book Spotlight: The Patience of a Dead Man

Welcome to the blog tour for chilling novel, The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark. Today we have an excerpt for you, and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway! 

Read on, if you dare!

The Patience of a Dead Man KINDLE Book One Cover

The Patience of a Deadman

Publication Date: April 15, 2019

Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more “chilling than gory”.

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: Henry’s Demise

November 29th, 1965

The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her.

It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar.

The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest.

He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done.

The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough.

Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion.  He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go?

He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here– a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch.

The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that.

As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring.

Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in.

As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right.

There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first–but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription.

Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance.

She stood there in the dark–the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions.

And there was a smell.

There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

MikeClark-55-small

Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.

The Patience of a Dead ManDead Woman Scorned Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.

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What makes this tour extra special is that it’s part one of 3! This book is the first in a trilogy, best read as one big, terrifying story!

Here are the details for the other tours:

Dead Woman Scorned (The Patience of a Deadman #2): October 5th – 9th

Anger is Acid (The Patience of a Deadman #3): November 30th – December 4th

Comment if you are interested in joining the other tours. We are happy to provide The Patience of a Deadman (Book One) as well!

Giveaway: To win print copies of the entire trilogy (US Only), or a print copy of The Patience of a Dead Man (International), click the link below!

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Blog Tour Schedule

August 3rd

Cats Luv Coffee (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

Ity Reads Books (Review) www.ityreadsbooks.com

Purple Shelf Club (Review) https://www.purpleshelfclub.com/

Ally’s Reading Corner (Review) https://allysreadingcorner.com/

August 4th

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

Sophril Reads (Review) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Cocktails and Fairy Tales (Review) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

August 5th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

@DreaminginPages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com

August 6th

Dark Whimsical Art (Guest Post) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

@_MyBookCorner (Review) https://www.instagram.com/_mybookcorner/

August 7th

Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com

Blood Rose Writings (Review) http://www.bloodrosewritings.blogspot.com

@TheCrookedHouse (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thecrookedhouse/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

J. Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

@heyyyitsfahh (Review) https://www.instagram.com/heyyyitsfahh/

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Hey everyone! I did an author interview with Lisa Luciano, author of the mystery crime novel The Chosen Ones! It is a book that goes inside the scandalous & icy world of Olympic figure skating. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: The Road to Delano

Welcome to the blog tour for historical fiction, The Road to Delano by John DeSimone!

The Road to Delano Cover 2D bThe Road to Delano

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Coming of Age

Publisher: Rare Bird Books

Jack Duncan is a high school senior whose dream is to play baseball in college and beyond―as far away from Delano as possible. He longs to escape the political turmoil surrounding the labor struggles of the striking fieldworkers that infests his small ag town. Ever since his father, a grape grower, died under suspicious circumstances ten years earlier, he’s had to be the sole emotional support of his mother, who has kept secrets from him about his father’s involvement in the ongoing labor strife.

With their property on the verge of a tax sale, Jack drives an old combine into town to sell it so he and his mother don’t become homeless. On the road, an old friend of his father’s shows up and hands him the police report indicating Jack’s father was murdered. Jack is compelled to dig deep to discover the entire truth, which throws him into the heart of the corruption endemic in the Central Valley. Everything he has dreamed of is at stake if he can’t control his impulse for revenge.

While Jack’s girlfriend, the intelligent and articulate Ella, warns him not to so anything to jeopardize their plans of moving to L.A., after graduation, Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian, a star player on the team, to help to save his mother’s land. When Jack’s efforts to rescue a stolen piece of farm equipment leaves Adrian―the son of a boycotting fieldworker who works closely with Cesar Chavez―in a catastrophic situation, Jack must bail his friend out of his dilemma before it ruins his future prospects. Jack uses his wits, his acumen at card playing, and his boldness to raise the money to spring his friend, who has been transformed by his jail experience.

The Road to Delano is the path Jack, Ella, and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, their destiny.

“This whole story is an absolute triumph!”
Thehauntedfae Book Blog

The Road to Delano is a compelling story that will leave readers thinking about its surprise ending long after the final confrontation comes to a head.”    ―California Bookwatch

“Five Stars. Outstanding writing, fast-paced. A must-read for people who love history AND baseball.” ―ReedsyDiscovery

“I really enjoyed this story. It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a very good way…”  —Leigh Anne, Book Sirens 

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Ash Wednesday

Monday at lunch, Jack and Ella settled on the grassy school quad. The morning haze, a gray dullness, hung over them. Ella in a long skirt and T-shirt printed with her favorite saying played her guitar. Jack ate slowly, as Ella gently strummed a Joan Baez song.

She let the last chord vibrate in the air. “You look far away today, Jack.”

“Just thinking.”

“Worried about the big game?” She strummed a C chord.

“Not really. I’m ready for those guys.” As crucial as the Arvin game was to his chances for a scholarship, his head spun with Herm, the sheriff, and lost combine. He needed to set all that aside.

But how?

“You’re worried about losing that combine, aren’t you?”

He shrugged and glanced off into the haze. Herm’s beat-up face filled him with too many questions, ones he would rather not ask.

“What do you think happened to it?”

Jack did his best to suppress a frown. He spent the next twenty minutes explaining how Sheriff Grant found Herm Gordon face down in the mud and how their combine had gone missing. Short of stealing someone else’s machine and selling it to pay the taxes, he didn’t have too many ideas about what he could do to save his mom’s place.

“Jack, you have to protest. Write to the newspaper. Make noise until the sheriff finds your combine. Someone knew you needed that money to save your property.”

Ella’s sense of urgency hovered over her, an impending sense of doom that required her to stand up and shout to drive it away. She had been this way since he first met her, always ready to protest. Vietnam had taken up most of her attention. But it was their trip to Berkeley a couple of years ago that had set her on fire, and had almost got Jack arrested in front of Sproul Hall.

Two years ago, their sophomore debate team had joined the junior and senior team on a field trip to UC Berkeley to observe a statewide competition. They left Delano before dawn and talked for the entire four-hour bus ride. That was something he had never done with any girl. They sat across from each other, an aisle between them. Her darting green eyes held his interest. Life shot out of them, beautiful and intelligent in the same instant.

They debated the war in Vietnam, who killed JFK, the likelihood of a gunman on the grassy knoll, the Selma march, the Freedom Riders, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers—she had an opinion on everything. Mostly, she made sense. The girl’s intensity at times unsettled him, but it mostly intrigued him.

During the debate competition in a Berkeley auditorium, shortly after the lunch break, Ella leaned into him in the dark. “Meet me outside on the steps in a few minutes.”

Without waiting for an answer, she rose and disappeared. Jack stewed in his seat, trying to figure out what she was up to. He wouldn’t miss much if he left. Besides, her sense of adventure piqued him. A few minutes later, he found her outside the glass doors on the steps. In the breeze, her brown hair, straight and long, riffled across her mischievous smile.

“There’s an FSM rally on the other side of the campus. Go with me. We’ll be back in plenty of time.” “A what?” he asked.

“You know, the Free Speech Movement. Please, go with me,” she pleaded with her green eyes. “Mario Savio is going to speak.”

From the way she threw out his name, he was someone Jack should know. He had never heard of the Free Speech Movement, or Savio, whoever he was. Jack glanced back to the doors.

“They’ll be in there for hours.” She took his hand. He marveled at her warm grasp. He liked it.

They made their way through a maze of buildings. She must have had this all planned out. She led him directly to a large plaza packed with students milling about. Some sat, most stood talking and smoking, and clouds of strange smelling smoke wafted over the crowd. A line of cops stood on the fringes of the crowd. They fidgeted with their batons.

The two of them were so far back, they could hardly make out what the speaker was saying. Ella pushed her way toward the front, and Jack held on. Had she done this before? She stopped when they were about twenty feet from the speaker, who read a list of students who were being expelled. People were booing.

A new speaker came to the microphone, a tall wiry-haired student in a white shirt and sheepskin-lined jacket. Electricity seemed to shoot right out of his hair. The crowd around Jack murmured, likely wondering what this guy was going to say. Ella squeezed his hand tighter. He didn’t dare let go of her, afraid they’d get separated in the jostling crowd.

The crowd hushed when the man with the electric hair started to speak. He had a machine-gun delivery. His message burst from him with so much energy the entire crowd leaned in for more. His lips moved like waves, every word coated with fire.

I ask you to consider if this university is a firm…we’re the raw materials.

And we don’t mean to be made into any product…to be bought by anyone.

We’re human beings!

The crowd applauded, and Ella loosed her hand to clap and shout.

There’s a time the operation of the machine becomes so odious… you can’t take part.

You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears…upon the levers… and you’ve got to make it stop.…Unless you’re free, the machine won’t be prevented from working.

The crowd broke into more applause. Kids were yelling their agreement. Jack wasn’t clear what machine the guy was talking about, or what freedom he didn’t have, and what gears needed to be stopped. Then the speaker introduced Joan Baez, and the crowd went crazy with chatter and clapping.

She started singing a Bob Dylan song, and a hush fell over everyone.

How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind… Ella hopped up and down on the balls of her feet.

Baez started up another song, “We shall overcome…,” and everyone joined in, the crowd swayed with the words. Something great, something powerful was about to break open here. He took Ella’s hand, and she gave him a complicit smile. She held him tight as if she feared she would float away in the euphoria of the moment.

When the song ended, she pulsed forward. Jack dared not let her go as they slipped between applauding students who hovered around the famous singer. Ella ascended right up to the great Joan Baez, her long black hair draped over her shoulders, her guitar slung over her neck.

Ella tried to talk calmly, but she only stammered.

“Did you want an autograph, honey?”

Ella had a confused look as if the question she wanted to ask had slipped away.

“Do you go to school here?”

Ella shook her head. “Delano High School.”

“Look,” Baez pointed over Ella’s shoulder. “You guys got to get out of here. There’s going to be trouble.”

At the far end of the crowd, cops were forcing students to move. Cop cars with lights flashing swarmed into the quad forcing students toward them. Panicked voices, screams, and shouting rose in the quad. Police vans rolled into the quad, lights flashing, the short squawks of their sirens stirred up the crowd.

Available on Amazon

Giveaway: For your chance to win a hardcover edition of The Road to Delano, click the link below!

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About the Author

John DeSimone-Blue Shirt

John DeSimone is a novelist, memoirist, and editor. He’s co-authored bestselling The Broken Circle: A memoir of escaping Afghanistan, and others. He taught writing as an adjunct professor at Biola University and has worked as a freelance editor and writer for nearly twenty years. His current release, a historical novel, The Road to Delano, is a coming of age novel set during the Delano grape strike led by Cesar Chavez. BookSirens said, “It’s more than a little Steinbeck, in a good way….” He lives in Claremont, Ca, and can be found on Goodreads and at  www.johndesimone.com

Blog Tour Schedule

August 3rd

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

August 4th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Bookriot (Spotlight) http://anjedah.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

August 5th

@a.p.reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/a.p.reading/

@kikis_books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/kikis_books/

Inked & Blonde (Review) https://inkedandblonde.blogspot.com/

August 6th

Where Dragons Reside (Spotlight) https://kernerangelina.live/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Spotlight) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

August 7th

Meli’s Book Reviews (Review) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

@district.reads (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/district.reads/

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Cover Reveal: Awaken the Three

If you haven’t heard about the Highglade Series yet, check out the cover for Awaken the Three by D. L. Jennings, a must read for Fantasy lovers who love imaginative new worlds and epic adventures!

Cover Photo for BookSirens

Awaken the Three (Highglade #2)

Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Beyond the Wastes of Khulakorum, a storm is rising . . .

The Shaper of Ages is gone, and along with her, the Breaker — yet gods are not the only threat to the peace of the living.

Aldis Tennech, the once-great general of the armies of Gal’dorok, finds himself in exile. His only hope of reclaiming glory lies in the hands of a self-proclaimed emperor, and the unearthly powers that put him there. Meanwhile, improbable alliances are forged in the north as unexpected enemies rear their heads and threaten ruin-with a single thread in common, connecting them all.

In the sequel to his award-winning novel Gift of the Shaper, D. L. Jennings once again brings to life an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Ancient powers lying dormant must be called upon, bringing strength to those who need it and conquest to those who seek it; battles will rage and cities will fall, but only the most desperate or reckless would seek . . .

. . . to awaken the three.

Pre-Order Here!

Gift of the Shaper (Highglade #1)

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For thousands of years, the Breaker of the Dawn has been locked away in the ethereal plane of the Otherworld. Now, a young blacksmith’s apprentice finds himself trapped in a war between the noble Athrani, a subset of humanity gifted with the ability to transmute matter, and the malevolent and powerful Khyth, who seek to free the ancient god from his prison.

When his father, Olson, is kidnapped, Thornton Woods and his childhood friend, Miera, must leave their small village of Highglade to find him. On their way, they are joined by Ynara and Kethras, cat-like humanoids called Kienari, who use their skills as hunter/trackers to follow Olson’s trail. When it comes to light that one among them possesses the key to the Breaker’s release, Thornton and his friends must defy the might of the Khyth as armies on both sides collide in pursuit of the ultimate prize.

Gift of the Shaper chronicles the epic struggle between the existing forces of good and evil, with both sides vying for control of the key that unlocks the Otherworld. The very powers of creation and destruction hang in the balance, and only a heroic effort by Thornton and Miera, backed by the power of the Athrani, can possibly stop the Khyth from unleashing ruin — and the Breaker — upon their world.

 Goodreads

About the Author

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Once again, D. L. Jennings, who won the “Beverly Hills Award for Fantasy” in 2018, brings life to an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, AWAKEN THE THREE is a riveting page-turner, and a must-read for fantasy readers who want to escape to a different world, time and place ruled by other-worldly beings. It’s the perfect book to escape from the anxious times of our COVID-19 reality.

D. L. Jennings is a fourteen-year active-duty veteran of the United States Air Force, serving under the Air Force Special Operations Command. In 2005, he earned his associate degree after graduating at the top of his Korean class at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and earning the Korean Consul General’s award for excellence. He is a graduate of Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor of science degree in security management in 2008. He finished writing his debut novel, GIFT OF THE SHAPER, which won the Beverly Hills Book Award in 2018 for Fantasy, while serving on his ninth combat tour. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several countries in Africa. When he is not reading or writing epic fantasy, he enjoys traveling, listening to ‘90s punk, and watching Ohio State football. Jennings lives in South Florida

D.L. Jennings

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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Winning the Game of Work

Welcome to the blog tour for Winning the Game of Work, by Terry Boyle McDougall! Today I have an excerpt from the book, and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Terry_McDougall_Winning_the_Game_of_Work_Amazon_Ebook_CoverWinning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms

Publication Date: April 10, 2020

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Career Coaching Guide

You can be happier and more successful when you learn to play the game of work. If you’re not currently satisfied in your career, it could be because you’re playing by the wrong rules.

In Winning the Game of Work, Terry Boyle McDougall shares the rules she learned from wise mentors and coaches, as well as the lessons she learned the hard way. She entered the workplace as an ambitious “go-getter” and was confused about why she wasn’t advancing at the pace she expected. She learned that being smart and working hard aren’t enough. The reward for developing a strategy for the game of work is success and happiness with less stress and duress.

This book will help you:

* Get recognized for your value on the job
* Develop and appreciate your unique “superpowers” at work
* Cope with a bad boss without burning out or getting fired
* Get the promotion you deserve
* Deliver more impact on the job with some simple hacks
* And more…

Winning the Game of Work is the essential guidebook to help you develop your unique skills as a “player.” Now is the time to see the whole field, make the savvy moves and win the game of work on your own terms!

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Excerpt

Chapter 5

When You’re Dealt a Bad Hand: Coping with Toxic Work Situations

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Toxic Workplaces Are Common

Workplaces can become toxic when the work demands, culture, and/or coworkers cause serious disruptions in the rest of your life. According to a 2019 research report published by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly two-thirds of working Americans have worked in a toxic work environment at some point in their career, and 26 percent have worked in more than one. That’s truly astounding!

We spend a lot of time working, and most of us are dependent on work for income and a sense of purpose. When work becomes toxic, it can have a devastating impact on both job and life satisfaction.

Here’s a story of a toxic work environment that I lived through back in the late 1990s and the lessons I came away with.

In Comes Shelly the Screamer

About four years into an otherwise great job, I had my first encounter with workplace toxicity. My department was restructured and the department leader who worked in another city hired a new director for our office. Shelly left a global consulting firm for this role and moved to the Southern city where the company was headquartered.

Within the department, Shelly made us wary. Her direct style clashed with the gracious and courteous culture of the organization. Admittedly, when I moved there a few years before, I quickly realized that small talk in this culture was a requirement if I wanted to develop productive relationships within the organization. Getting directly down to business, which had been the norm at my employer in DC, was considered rude there.

Culture Shock

Shelly was fast moving and direct. And when she became upset, she tended to scream. (Yes, scream!) One day, I was unfortunate enough to hear her side of a phone conversation through the office wall I shared with her—at an incredibly high decibel, I heard her berate the dry cleaner in the building for allegedly losing the pants to a suit she’d dropped off for cleaning.

As time went on, I realized that this was not a one-time loss of composure on Shelly’s part. This type of unhinged behavior became shockingly common. I shook my head and could not believe this was my job and that she was my boss. I mean, who acts like that?

Shelly’s approach to management alternated between ingratiation, manipulation, and micromanagement of female subordinates and colleagues. With men, she also included flirtation, which I suppose is a form of manipulation.

Her frequent emotional outbursts tended to be confined to times when only subordinates on the marketing team were present, which meant that it took a while for her dysfunction to become apparent to her business partners, HR, and leadership.

Stress and Self-Medicating Behaviors

I began to dread going to work and encountered health issues such as insomnia, irritability, and anxiety. As much as I hate to admit it, I began drinking wine just about every night after work to relax and forget about the chaotic situation at work. Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I was dealing with a toxic boss in an otherwise supportive workplace.

I was experiencing some of the common responses: depression, anxiety, weight gain, self-medicating behavior, a drop in productivity, and reduced ability to focus. Other common responses include self-harming behaviors, workplace absence, increased illnesses, raised blood pressure, and other negative health effects.

The Dangers of a Toxic Environment

A toxic workplace can leave you feeling trapped. Most people work to earn money for material needs and enjoyment. Work can also contribute to self-esteem and a sense of purpose. When you are in a toxic workplace, you can feel like your existence is being threatened, and that can cause you to retreat into survival mode.

You may stop doing the things that you enjoy, which disrupts your ability to relax and recharge. Stress increases, and you may become fixated on how to “solve the problem” of work. In my case, initially I had a hard time seeing what was really going on as I redoubled my efforts to avoid, then please, my demanding boss.

Coping with a Toxic Work Situation

Whether or not your bad work situation rises to the level of “toxic” doesn’t really matter. If you’re finding that work has gone from enjoyable (or at least tolerable) to draining and dreadful, you can take three actions:

  1. Do nothing and continue to endure the situation as it is,
  2. Leave to find a better situation,
  3. Stay and try to improve the current situation (including making changes in your own behavior, discussing the issues with someone who has the authority to effect change, such as HR or a supervisor, or other actions).

To help you decide which path you should take, here are some questions to consider:

  • How long has this been going on?

Is it related to a specific project or deadline? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? If it’s a relatively short-term situation, you may want to wait it out. The stressors may pass, and the environment may return to a state that you can tolerate or even go back to enjoying. If this is the “new normal,” you may be motivated to make a change.

  • What caused the change in the environment?

Was it sudden or gradual? Did the situation change due to new leadership or organizational structure, new policies, or a change in market conditions? If you can pinpoint when and where the situation started, you may be able to understand whether you can potentially change or adapt to it.

There’s a big difference between lobbying for a change to a poorly conceived policy and arresting the effects of a tanking economy. Some things you have the power to change, and some you don’t. Understanding the root and magnitude of the issues at hand is a good start.

  • What influence do you have over the situation?

Are those in leadership aware of the impact that the environment is having on you? How able are you to have a frank conversation about it with your boss or another person in a position of influence? Sometimes the issue is not with your boss. It could be coming from higher in the organization and your boss may have little influence on the expectations. Or it could be that your perception of what is expected is not aligned with your boss’s.

Getting clarity and bringing ideas to the table on how to do things better is often welcomed. After all, those in leadership may not fully understand the impact their decisions have on your day-to-day experience. Speaking up could result in positive changes. Give it a shot before deciding on more radical actions.

  • Are others in your organization having similar experiences? How are they coping?

Sharing your experiences with coworkers may help you to feel less alone. You could learn tips on how to better “manage up,” or build a coalition to influence leaders to make changes. Building alliances with fellow employees can help ensure management doesn’t perceive you as a “problem employee” in case a true structural or management problem is at the root of the issue.

  • Will opportunities at your organization allow you to leave the toxic work situation?

Is it your boss or department that is causing the situation, or is it a more systematic malady that exists throughout the entire organization? If the toxicity is confined to your specific department, you may decide to explore other opportunities to leverage your current organizational knowledge and network. If the toxicity is rampant throughout the organization, you may need to get out to save your health and sanity.

  • Is the environment unique to your organization, or is it a reality of the industry?

Can you consult people in your network at other organizations to find out? Your skills and experience may be in demand at another employer that has a better culture or is in a more favorable position in the marketplace. Getting a view of what it’s like at other companies can give you information you need to decide if you should stay, go, or try something completely new.

  • What does it cost you to remain in your current situation? Is your confidence waning?

How is the situation affecting your health and relationships? Sometimes people will stay in a situation for much longer than they should. It’s hard to consider leaving without another job, but sometimes it can be the best option before their relationships, health, or confidence are eroded to the point of not having the energy to look for another job.

Sometimes hanging in there can eventually lead to being fired by an unreasonable manager or pegged as the scapegoat for mistakes. Both of these scenarios can be hard to bounce back from. Though leaving a job without another job is not ideal, sometimes taking control of one’s destiny is preferable to continued suffering and abuse.

  • How egregious is the situation? Has it risen to the level of illegality?

Does blatant abuse, harassment, or discrimination take place? Are you able to document it? If the abuse is significant, you may consider consulting an employment attorney to explore your options. Some companies may be open to a negotiated exit, which could include a severance package.

Some employment attorneys provide free consultations, and, even if you need to pay for an hour of their time, it could be well worth the investment. Experienced attorneys often know a lot about specific employers. They may know whether your employer would negotiate or if they’ve been accused of other employment law violations. At the very least, they can advise you of your rights.

  • How much of this situation is based in reality and how much is your perception?

Sometimes people will label a situation “toxic” when it’s actually just uncomfortable because it requires them to develop new skills, adapt to a new structure, or learn new processes. Take a close look at yourself and ask whether your experience could be different if you responded differently.

If other people are not having issues with the situation, it could be that you need to learn some new skills to cope. It’s always helpful to get perspective on the situation. A mentor, coach, or experienced friend can sometimes help you see the bigger picture and help you decide what options you have.

What’s within Your Control?

Without going into too much detail about my role in the toxic dance with Shelly, suffice to say, initially I didn’t handle it well. As a manager, she sought to control me and I, in turn, tried to avoid her. Eventually, I realized that I would hurt myself if I didn’t begin to respect her position as my boss.

Because the department leader was in another city, he wasn’t witness to her worst behavior, and she was able to control the narrative with him. Any complaints to him from her direct reports were seen as the team getting used to the new structure.

Taking Control of What I Could

I finally woke up to the fact that I would need to proactively show my support for Shelly even if it meant I had to grit my teeth and paste a smile on my face when I checked in to say hello to her each morning. What I found was that she relaxed and actually began stopping by my office to get my opinion on things.

My job became easier, as I was no longer the target of her vitriol and frustration. Once I turned over this new leaf, I found acceptance of the situation took less energy than the resistant stance I’d previously taken. When I approached the situation differently, Shelly’s response to me changed. However, that didn’t mean she was reformed.

Shelly Finds a New Target

Unfortunately, a colleague soon became the new target for Shelly’s nitpicking and bullying. Though I knew nothing of it at the time, Shelly’s bullying of my coworker was the proverbial “last straw.” She had finally overstepped the boundaries between poor management and documented abuse (with witnesses) so that the HR department could take decisive action.

One evening as I sat in my office finishing up a project, the voicemail light on my phone suddenly blinked red. As the message played, I realized my fervent prayers had been answered. The departmental leader stated that effective immediately, Shelly was no longer employed by the organization. Shelly’s ten-month reign of chaos had ended.

Lasting Lessons from a Horrible Boss

As painful as that episode was, I am glad that I went through it. I realize that both despite and because of her poor management skills, I learned several important lessons that have served me well since then:

  1. If you want to lead change, you need to know where you’re starting from. It’s important to understand the situation you’re entering, communicate a vision, and gain buy-in before trying to lead a change. Shelly had been hired to lead a team that was already high-performing, close-knit, and collegial. She approached the team as if it were in need of a turnaround rather than a basic tune-up, and because she neglected those steps, she met resistance. More open dialogue would have gone a long way to gaining buy-in with the team.
  2. Regardless of the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of a supervisor, it’s imperative to respect the role. Avoiding interactions with my boss served no purpose for me or the organization, other than to make me insubordinate. It wasn’t my place to pass judgment on her effectiveness. I was also obliged to ask her for what I needed—such as reminding her to provide feedback on the projects she was reviewing so I could keep them on schedule. I needed to be fully responsible for my part of the projects, regardless of whether she was delivering on her side. Though her style was frustrating to me, I had no excuse not to keep up my work commitments or to respect her authority as my manager.
  3. Have a contingency plan. While it wasn’t my place to judge, it would have been wise of me to take note of her lack of effectiveness and document my own actions so I could explain project delays caused by her slow review and approval of project deliverables. If there had been an accounting for why projects were not being completed on time, the blame could have easily been placed on my shoulders, even though the delay was caused by her failure to provide timely feedback. Though documentation can be time-consuming, sometimes it’s a wise insurance policy if you foresee the situation taking a bad turn.
  4. Keep some perspective. Nothing is forever. During that time, I allowed myself to become highly stressed, and then suddenly one day, the cause of my stress (Shelly) was gone. At that moment, I realized that I’d been walking around loaded for bear, but suddenly the bear was gone. All at once, those big guns were heavy and unnecessary. At that moment, I realized that it had been my choice to be defensive and resentful. In fact, I was the cause of my own misery due to my beliefs and how I chose to respond to Shelly.
  5. Working through personnel issues can take some time in the corporate world. HR issues are confidential and only those who need to know will be privy to what’s going on. It may seem like the abusive employee is getting a free pass and that no one in authority is taking notice when, in fact, due process may be moving along behind closed doors. For several months, as Shelly continued to bully and cause mayhem, I believed that the HR department had left me and my coworkers at the mercy of a madwoman. That’s what it felt like. I later found out that the department leader was aware of the problem and was working on a resolution with HR.
  6. Beliefs create mind-sets, and we have control over our beliefs. This is the big takeaway—I was stressed and overwhelmed not because I had an ineffective boss but due to my own beliefs. I was capable of being happy. I could have chosen to leave work behind when I went home at the end of each day. Instead, I chose to bring the troubles home with me and whine about my situation over a few glasses of wine. When Shelly was gone in a wink, I realized I’d been resisting harder than necessary, and it felt strange when suddenly I had nothing to resist. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders with that realization!

Working for Shelly wasn’t a pleasant time in my life, but I learned some extremely valuable lessons from her, for which I’ll be forever grateful. So, to Shelly, wherever you are, thank you for teaching me these lessons. And I hope you found your suit pants.

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About the Author

Terry HSs-3

Terry Boyle McDougall is an executive coach, speaker and best-selling author of Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms. She works with managers, executives and professionals who want to draw upon their greatest, most authentic abilities to positively impact their organizations. She supports clients who are creating change, driving innovation, and navigating transitions.
Terry relies on both her formal training as a coach and firsthand experience as a corporate leader to support her clients as they work towards their goals. In coaching engagements, Terry serves her clients as a partner and encourager as they break new ground; as a sounding board, supporting them as an objective listener; as a scout, who sees the larger context, their possibilities and potential; and, as a catalyst, helping to spark their commitment and action.
After 30 years of corporate business experience, 15 of which were in senior managerial roles, Terry chose to become a coach to concentrate on helping leaders step fully into their potential to lead satisfying careers. Though the majority of Terry’s professional experience is in financial services and marketing, her work exposed her to a wide variety of industries, business climates and corporate transitions such as mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and restructures.
Areas of leadership skills development include: Goal setting Prioritization Staff management Delegation Strategic thinking Decision making Project management Facilitating meetings
Change management Effective communications Customer relations (internal/external) Onboarding & career transition

She has worked with clients from: AbbVie ACCO Brands BMO BMW Chubb Ernst & Young Four Square Hyatt
JLL JPMorganChase Kendra Scott MediaCom
Mindshare Motorola Newsela Nuveen
Univar Solutions USG Corporation Wells Fargo Zillow

EDUCATION CERTIFICATIONS University of Maryland, MBA College of William & Mary, BA, Economics iPEC, Coach Certification Training ICF, Professional Certified Coach iPEC, Master Practitioner, Energy Leadership Predictive Index, Talent Optimization Partner

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Cover Reveal: Eucalyptus Street (Green Curse)

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I’m so pleased to reveal the new cover for the latest Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery book, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph. Coming this fall!

Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse 

Expected Publication Date: Fall 2020

Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade – 9 to 12 years old (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.

On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.

To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!

“GREEN CURSE is a spooky mystery that starts during a lightning storm in a big empty mansion. The tension ratchets up continuously as the story goes, alluding to ghosts, vampires, tombstones, graves, and a scary old woman that could be a witch. There’s a mystery within the mystery, a broad range of diverse characters, and interesting lore about gemstones of antiquity. My 12-year-old son and I recommend this page-turner that we just had to finish in one day!”

-–BEN GARTNERauthor of The Eye of Ra series

“This book was shocking, fun, and clever. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. One of the best books I have ever read!”

–LIAM M., age 11, Macungie, PA

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Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)

Publication Date: February 1st, 2020

Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

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Egyptian Secrets is available for review! Request copy here!

About the Author

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Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens.

In addition, the author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek to realize their greatest potential with courage and self-respect.

Sherrill is a lexical-gustatory synesthete and native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her poodle-bichon mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Other loves include her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She can’t leave out dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, purple, and daisies. Having never lived in a two-story house, she is naturally fascinated by staircases. Sherrill is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

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I am so grateful to everyone on booktube that has supported me and I wanted to say thank you so so much for helping me get to 1500 subscribers!! I did a Q&A where I answer all your questions (book-related or not) and hopefully, this is as entertaining for you as it was for me to make! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Midnight Temptations

Congratulations to Shari Nichols on the release of her latest Ravens Hollow Coven novel, Midnight Temptation! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

MT DIGITAL COVER2Midnight Temptations (Ravens Hollow Coven)

Publication Date: June 30th, 2020

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: City Owl Press

What are the stakes for falling in love?

When tarot card reader Gillian Howe hosts a supernatural speed dating event, she ponders the stakes of falling in love. Making the perfect match is her passion, too bad she can’t find one for herself. After a chance encounter with a wealthy vampire, she finds herself plunged into a secret society of trancing, blood bonds and human escort rings. But when Garrett Mulroney shows up at the scene, the vampire detective is the last person she wants…even if he is scorching hot.

Garrett has been down this brutal road before and it didn’t end well. His sire tried to force him into a life of debauchery, but he chose to uphold the law instead. Now the one woman he can’t seem to get out of his mind or out of his lust-filled dreams is at the center of his investigation. It’s a good thing she hates his guts, because it helps douse his growing desire for her and focus on the case. But when Gillian’s cousin is kidnapped into the Du Sang Brotherhood, she becomes the prime witness. Now they’re forced to put their differences aside by pretending to be a couple. The more time Garrett spends with Gillian, the more he wants her in his life—and in his bed. Dark forces from his past threaten to resurface…even her love might not be enough to save him from the Brotherhood.

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Excerpt

Suddenly, all the hairs on the back of Gillian’s neck stood on end. Her whole body tensed. The chatter and music became muffled. Her eyes flickered across the lobby in search of who, or what, had caught her attention.

Then she saw him.

Six-feet-three inches of tall, dark, and brooding stood at the front desk. Detective Garrett Mulroney? What the hell was he doing here? Seeing him again after all these months sent a jolt of shock rippling through her.

His gaze locked with hers, and for a moment, she forgot to breathe. They both stood there, staring at each other. It was as though he could see beneath her armor, the kind she wore under the little black dress.

The word handsome didn’t even begin to describe him. Mythological titans like Adonis and Poseidon came to mind, males so stunning, they couldn’t possibly be real. But then she thought of other words too, like arrogant, brash…controlling…she could go on.

Mulroney crossed the lobby with a confidant gait, his long legs eating up the distance between them in a few easy strides. Her heart hammered in her chest with every step.

Every female head turned to catch a glimpse of the vampire. The closer he got, the more her body became hyperaware of his presence. He kept his thick head of dark hair short on the sides and longer in the front. The cut showed off the angles and hard lines of his face. Sexy stubble darkened a square jaw, and he looked every bit as dangerous as she remembered. Long, and lean, Gillian could make out the ripple of sinewy muscle beneath the jacket of his grey suit. In the past, she’d always been attracted to the artistic types. So, there was no good reason why she was drawn to this rough-hewn alpha.

But Goddess help her, he was magnificent.

Laughter drifted from the bar, and that’s when she realized she was still standing on a chair, gawking at him like some lovesick schoolgirl. She went to step down and her foot slipped out from one of her strappy sandals. Before she could fall sideways onto the marble, two strong arms wrapped around her waist and caught her in midair.

When she looked up and into Mulroney’s ice-blue eyes, her heart gave a little flutter. Apparently, the legends about vampires having preternatural speed and strength were real. But then, as his gaze filled with a kind of raw, primal desire, she had no doubt the steamy ones about them possessing a certain sexual allure also rang true.

            “You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck,” Mulroney whispered close to her ear and set her on her feet. “What are you doing here tonight, Miss Howe?” The deep rumble of his voice did funny things to her insides.

“I could ask you the same question.” Gillian grabbed the scissors and scotch tape off the table, then shoved them in her black beaded bag. “If you must know, I’m working,” Gillian snapped. Ever since the prickly detective had been assigned to investigate the robbery of one of her clients, a local antique dealer, their paths had collided on more than one occasion.

Mulroney’s eyes did a slow sweep of her from the tips of her three-inch heels to the top of her head. Goosebumps instantly spread across her flesh. Gillian wanted to squirm from the flagrant perusal, but remained still, refusing to give him the satisfaction. Why would she? After all, he had tried to ruin her life. “Interesting work attire,” he murmured.

Her hands clenched at her sides, fighting the urge to tug on her dress again. “I’m sure you didn’t walk over here to comment on my choice of clothing. To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?” she asked with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

“Trust me, this wasn’t planned,” he said in a gruff voice, refusing to look her in the eye.

Gillian couldn’t help remembering the day he and his partner had showed up at the coven. Peppering her with questions and unwarranted accusations, they’d invaded her safe space, conjuring that too familiar lash of shame, and reminding her of the days when the neighbors used to call the cops to keep her parents from an all-out war.

He kept his hands stuffed in his pockets, his stance casual, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. There was no mistaking the predatory way he kept checking out the people strolling by as only a cop would. She followed his gaze as it took in every detail, restless with intensity, before finally landing on their banner. “Is this a private fundraiser?”

She nodded, not in the mood to elaborate. “Are you here in an official capacity? What’s the matter, no real criminals on the streets tonight?” Or maybe this was personal and he was meeting someone. He’d worked with Alex on several cases, and according to Willow, he was a confirmed bachelor, not that she had inquired or anything.

 “A quick word, please, Miss Howe. We need to talk.” The object of her unhealthy obsession ignored her questions and reached for her elbow, pulling her off to the side. His touch seared through the thin material of her dress, leaving a hot flush along her skin. At five-foot-seven, she wasn’t exactly short, but even in her heels, he towered over her.

“Hold on. I’m kind of busy right now. What’s this about?” Gillian demanded, catching a whiff of his masculine scent, a blend of sandalwood and clean laundry. She fought the urge to sigh and glared at him instead.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Mulroney glanced over at the couple’s tables scattered with rose petals, floating candles, bowls of heart-shaped chocolates, and the Lawrence Charity placards. He turned back to face her and scowled. “I want you to leave. Now.”

“Excuse me?” His words knocked Gillian off-center and before she could process them, an attractive female vampire with dark hair pulled in a tight ponytail walked up to Mulroney and placed a hand on his arm.

 “It’s time. We need to go.” A surge of irrational jealousy coursed through Gillian’s veins like battery acid.

For a split second he hesitated, his gaze still fixed on Gillian, and she sensed some kind of inner battle raging inside him. Then he gave her a curt nod and walked away. Her heart sank.

Brooke approached and crossed her arms over her chest. “What was that all about?”

Not sure what to make of their twisted interaction, or of Mulroney’s ominous words for that matter, Gillian sucked in a quivering breath and let it out. “No idea.”

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About the Author

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Shari Nichols grew up in a small town in Connecticut where haunted houses, ghosts and Ouija boards were common place, spurring her fascination with all things paranormal. Ever since she read her first Barbara Cartland novel, her life-long dream has been to write sexy, romantic stories. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, going to the gym, or hanging out with family and friends.

Shari’s a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance Writers. Shari’s new series,  Ravens’ Hollow Coven, is an urban fantasy with City Owl Press.

Awards:  Beverley Award, Golden Leaf Finalist, Best Book Finalist by a New Jersey Author, HOLT Medallion Finalist, Literary Titan Silver Medal Winner

Shari Nichols | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

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Book Spotlight: The Memories We Bury

Today I am thrilled to share with you all, H.A. Leuschel’s latest novel, The Memories We Bury, “An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.”

From June 29th to July 5th, you can purchase her book for ONLY $0.99 on Amazon! You can also try to win a digital copy of The Memories We Bury by entering the giveaway below!

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The Memories We Bury

Publication Date: April 17th, 2020

Genre: Contemporary/ Psychological Suspense

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

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Excerpt

Chapter 2

I have never sent the letter but have unfolded it so many times it has frayed at the edges. Each time I read the lines and try anew to understand them, they swim away like fish in a lake trying to escape my feet as I trudge through the water.

I curse myself for keeping the damned letter after all this time because it is a constant reminder of the past, but I can’t make myself throw it in the bin. Will I ever make peace with it? Lizzie and Jamie have both left me, hence another reason to get up in the morning has long gone. I shake my head, still trying to comprehend the loss, even though it is now almost two and half years since Lizzie discarded me and moved away.

My own sister has ceased to show any sympathy about my distress and hence is of no help either. She’s made of tougher material than me, I guess. After a long and successful career in the police force, she took early retirement and dedicates her time to growing organic fruit and vegetables on a smallholding in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh. Lorna does at least stand by me though, as she knows about the strong bond I had with Lizzie and Jamie and that I’ve done everything for them. However, does she understand the loss I’ve had to endure? Lorna has never been a mother and no doubt a life in the police has lessened her ability to empathise over matters such as these.

‘Morag, what do you expect? Bad things happened; you know that,’ my sister said the last time we spoke over the phone.

‘You don’t understand, Lorna. Lizzie and Jamie were like family to me. It’s been over two years and… it’s still devastating.’

‘Yes, I can see that, Morag. May I remind you that you should know why that is by now. You need to focus on trying to patch things up with your own kids.’ Her voice sounded frustrated as it did at the end of every phone call.

‘I guess you’re right. There is not much else I can do than hope she comes to her senses.’ I could feel the exasperation at the other end of the line because it seemed like my sister had left or stopped breathing. It was a silence that meant disapproval about my last comment.

‘Morag, I must go, I have lots to do in the garden. Just try to get them out of your mind once and for all and…’ my sister said, stopping mid-sentence. I assumed that she didn’t want to go over the same story yet again. She needed to end the call before it got unbearable for both of us. ‘You’re lucky, Morag, that you still have me,’ she added and hung up, leaving me with my hand frozen with a surge of anger, the phone still pressed to my ear. Lucky? Nothing could be further from the truth.

I can’t forget the adorable squeals the wee chap used to emit when I stood in the kitchen feeding him his mixed vegetables, or played Peekaboo with him. Babies and toddlers are easy to please. Young children don’t judge anyone, being an open receptacle for anything and anyone, and with Jamie, my life had felt filled up with his. I’d jumped over my own life when my children were born. It had come naturally, and again with Jamie, I did not hesitate for a second either.

Life is empty without him.

I stand and walk over to the windows to pull the curtain aside for what seems the umpteenth time today, dismay replacing hope at the realisation that my two best friends and neighbours are here no more. Even after all this time, I still have bad days, and this is one of them. Tears prick at the corner of my eyes and I wipe my wet cheeks with my fingers before I can find a tissue, and sob until my whole body aches and exhaustion replaces the sadness. I must spend some time in the bathroom later today to fix my face if I still want to look decent for my afternoon tea with Caitlin, my dear loyal friend.

Assuming the role of a mother to Lizzie and a grandmother to Jamie was what had fuelled every single cell of my body.

I stand up and turn to the coffee machine, wearily lifting a capsule of the strongest kind from the small metal rack. I picture Jamie in my mind, who’d marvelled at the capsules display stand. One day we’d invented a game of pass the capsule, and his eyes lit up as I pretended to make them disappear under a dish towel or into the centre of my hand. His eyes would focus and his face would turn serious at the realisation that the item had gone missing, and then he would break into a smile when I made the capsule appear in front of him again. He’d grab for it with such clumsy and innocent delight that I never tired of repeating the game, just to see his face light up. The power I held to focus his attention was addictive. We had that special connection, like a magnet drawn to another.

But all is in the past now. History. I have to admit to that bitter fact. My sister Lorna is right. What did I expect? That they would appear in front of me, throwing themselves into my open arms? I don’t believe in miracles, so that is one more option erased from my list.

I settle at the kitchen table with a small blueberry muffin and stir some milk into the cup of coffee steaming next to it. The comfort of food is something I shared with Lizzie. We understood each other there, and I loved sharing my culinary skills with her. We’d talk pie and cake recipes for hours, discuss ways of adding flavour to a simple tomato sauce for pasta dishes or how to make sure Jamie would never turn his nose up at vegetables because we’d prepared them with aromatic fresh herbs and olive oil.

Lizzie had never reached my level of expertise, but her eagerness had been endearing, and she never stopped showing her admiration for me. She even mentioned once that I could be a contestant on the Great British Bake Off. I toyed with the idea for a short time, and then shrugged my shoulders, despite the tempting image coming into my head of what it may feel like being crowned the best British baker. The second-best feeling, I answered with a smile, the best being a mother and grandmother.

My thoughts have calmed me, and the tasty muffin has added to my improved mood. I settle down in the living room and leaf through one of the oldest albums I’ve kept since my parents died. They contain family pictures taken during some of the few holiday trips abroad and photos taken of my sister and me in school uniform.

My eyes linger on a photo depicting my parents in stunning Christmas attire. My mother had picked her finest black dress, set with small sparkling crystals, which exposed her neck and revealed an ample chest. She’d tied up her blonde hair in a high bun, with one wavy strand escaping above her left ear. The diamond studs in her earlobes, a delicate silver chain around her neck, and subtle make-up and pink lipstick gave her appearance a perfect finish. Next to her, my father looked haughty but I had to give it to him he was the most elegant man I’d ever set eyes on. He had a physique that accommodated most styles. His shirts were always original and in fashion, and his regular visits to the hairdresser meant that he’d always look the part. It would be hard to judge which one of the two was the better looking.

I turn the page and spot a picture of Lorna at the age of four. She seems confident and proud to be holding an infant in her arms. She is my senior by eighteen months. Back then I’d looked up to my sister as if she’d been my mother. She gave me warmth and security and even now, as ladies in our sixties, the roles have changed little.

We grew up in a family where all the members competed for energy. Our parents reprimanded us with harsh words and severity we did not deserve most of the time. To the outside world, my parents were sparkling individuals, admired like you’d admire a vintage Bordeaux wine. I know this is a strange comparison but it conveys the idea that they wanted to stand out, for their special attributes and, to some extent, I get that. Appearances can blind you.

Our garden was impeccable, the house tidy to an inch of its life – even in our early years as toddlers, a visitor would never know that two little girls had entered my parents’ lives because they’d made sure that every room was as neat as a pin and that we could come in at specific times only, when there were guests. I can still hear the whistling slaps coming my way if I couldn’t answer the times tables fast enough, and worse, stumbling over my answers and even worse still, not knowing them. Little did my sister know that one day she’d be joining the police force, and claim that our harsh upbringing had been the best preparation for passing the tough entrance exams. I never beat the eternal optimist in Lorna out of her. Whether nature or nurture were at work to shape her, remains an open question but I am sure she carried a strong gene of positivity.

However, I still have to scoff when I recall Lorna’s thanks given to our parents. It was ludicrous. She turned out okay, she’d add, and whether that was despite of or because of our education, no one would ever know.

We all make ourselves believe what we want to believe. Challenging the only person who ever stood up for me as a child would be cruel, so I bit my tongue then and always will. My sister’s right. I am lucky she is still by my side but that does not change the fact that every morning looking out of the window towards the neighbour’s house, I am reminded that Lizzie and Jamie have left, and that even after all of this time, I still can’t deal with their absence.

Available on Amazon

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About the Author

Photo - Helene edited

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

HA Leuschel | Twitter | Facebook

LB | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

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June 29th

Cocktails & Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

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The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

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Libroum in Sepiternum (Review) http://libroruminsempiternumhome.wordpress.com

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Meli’s Book Reviews (Review) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

My Comic Relief (Review) https://mycomicrelief.wordpress.com/

Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/

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Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

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So at the beginning of the month, Markus chose my TBR. This time, I am choosing his TBR for the month of July. Let me know what you think of my book picks for him! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Forgotten Magic

Welcome to the blog tour for the final installment from the Magic Underground trilogy, Forgotten Magic! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

Forgotten Magic Book Cover

Forgotten Magic (Magic Underground #3)

Publication Date: May 2020

Genre: Anthology/ Fantasy/ Magic

Publisher: Magical Mayhem Press

For the last time, these heroes, witches, wizards, vikings and more will put it all on the line. No quest is too dangerous. No monster be it a dragon or something cuddlier with teeth is off-limits in the epic conclusion to the Magic Underground Trilogy. Stay tuned for details.

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Excerpt

The Ones Who Choose by C. S. Johnson

Before I’d left to return home, Ai started talking to me about the Bloodmagic.

After I’d rescued him from the tower, I had taken him down to the caves. I’d settled him in one as best as I could, and then faced the cave entrance, keeping a lookout for Aiden. I was more concerned for Aidan at first; I didn’t know if he was coming or not. There was a good chance that when Ai was taken, the Community Elders would find a way to keep everyone in the tower until they had answers. As much as we were both in this together, I didn’t know what to expect now that we’d accomplished something this big.

But as Ai kept talking to me, and considering his talk of condemnation, I began to ask Ai questions. It didn’t take us long to talk about Bloodmagic.

“Bloodmagic is their word for the sacrifice,” Ai said.

“What?” My head snapped to look at him, as if to make sure he wasn’t trying to fool me. Instantly, I regretted my action, seeing his mangled body and the sad condition it was in. That was part of the reason I’d offered to stand watch in the caves, keeping my focus on the entrance. While I did not want the Community Elders to find us, and although I was watching for Aidan, I did not want to look at Ai too much. He made me feel uncomfortable.

Ai slumped beside me, looking out toward the cave entrance. The last of the sunlight was gone, and the temperature dropped. Ai did not seem to notice, even if he was nearly naked, with only a thin cloth around his loins.

“They call humanity’s curse ‘Bloodmagic,’” Ai said. “That is their name for it. I don’t think they like to think about it much.”

“If this is why you’ve been hurt, they probably don’t like to think of it,” I said. I glanced at him quickly, before reverting my eyes back to the cave entrance. “This is terrible.”

“It is,” Ai agreed. “But it is like I told you before. All of my suffering is your suffering.”

“That’s not right.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I have been alive for nearly a century, thanks to the Bloodmagic, and this is just the way things are. That is why I would prefer that you return me to my tower room.”

“What?” I gasped at the remark. “No. Why would you want that?”

“The Community won’t survive long, Skyla,” Ai said. “Without the Bloodmagic Covenant, the full effects of suffering will return to your friends and family swiftly and mercilessly. They will suffer, and in their suffering, they will make others suffer more. They might even begin to enjoy hurting others if we don’t hurry.”

“But you will suffer if you return,” I said. “And I will make you suffer, too. I don’t want that. Can’t something else be done about the Bloodmagic?”

“There is nothing that can be done about human nature,” Ai said quietly. “We are prone to self-destruction, and we live in a world where pain and suffering are constants. All the countries and nations of the world have wrestled with this question, and in the end, all of the pain still exists. Many tried to fix the problem and only made it worse.

“So they decided to try something else. And it works.” He reached up and touched the shard on his forehead, the one what was darkening along with the sky. “If I am not returned, the suffering will only increase, and you will see people at their very worst. Every evil, selfish, and ignorant thought will manifest into danger and disaster. I’ve been able to hold off their degeneracy for a long time, and without me, they will exponentially become violent and careless.”

“Surely we still have some more time to stop them.” I put my hands together, trying to think of something else. “Maybe it is a matter of education. The adults here are smart. They’ll be able learn how to deal with the pains our Community has.”

Ai shook his head. “You don’t understand,” he said with a sad sigh. “But you will, once you see it. You must promise me you will not forget me when you do, or you could be at risk, too.”

From that moment, we lapsed into silence, and I was grateful.

I shivered as we sat there, but I didn’t think it was because of the chill in the air.

Available on Amazon!

Authors:  

Melinda Kucsera

Joynell Schultz

Lee French

H.B. Lyne

Raven Oak

L.C. Ireland

Alesha Escobar

Tiffany Shand

C.S. Johnson 

Anela Deen 

Erik Kort 

Devorah Fox 

Stephen Wallace 

Gwendolyn Woodschild

Leah W. Van Dinther

Barbara Letson

C.K. Rieke 

William C. Cronk,

Majanka Verstraete 

Toasha Jiordano 

H.M. Jones

Krista Ames 

A.R. Johnston

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June 1st

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Tranquil Dreams (Spotlight) https://klling.wordpress.com/

Lunarian Press (Review) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

June 2nd

C. Vonzale Lewis (Spotlight) https://cvonzalelewis.com/index.php/blog/

Crystal’s Book World (Spotlight) http://crystalsbookworld.wordpress.com

Jennifer Mitchel, Bibliolater (Spotlight) https://www.jennifermitchellbooks.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

June 3rd

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 4th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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June 5th

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Lecari’s Live Journal (Review) http://www.lecari.co.uk

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In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

51ETMw9hcBL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



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I left my reading fate in my boyfriend’s hands and let him pick all the books I will be reading in June! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Masters of Camelot

Congratulations to author Steven Cross, on the release of his latest novel Masters of Camelot! Read on for book details and an exclusive excerpt!

camelot coverMasters of Camelot

Publication Date: May 19th, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines (Liminal Books)

Lancelot’s true love dies in a battle against an enemy aided by magic. With his kingdom and his love gone, he resigns himself to serving King Arthur, someone who is truly noble. After an innocent infatuation with Queen Guinevere goes wrong, the mysterious Merlin tells him his fate will be found thousands of years in a future where the new Camelot faces destruction from a ruthless king. Only Lancelot possesses the power that can stop him. But is his fate to die there? Is the new Camelot going to face the same destruction as the old Camelot? And how will Lancelot defeat the same magic that killed his one true love, a magic which he has never believed to be real.

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Excerpt

Some of King Ban’s foot soldiers lumbered toward the enemy, but then the iron beasts came back to life. They flew over Ban’s foot soldiers. Noises, like the banging of hundreds of rocks on metal all at once rang out. Something, yellow bursts of fire, came from the beasts. Lancelot watched as the foot soldiers fell where they stood. He saw dozens of holes in their armor and blood seeping out of them.

The beasts then moved over the archers and hovered over them. Lancelot’s heart lurched. Most of their archers were women who wanted to serve in Ban’s army, but whom his father did not want to be foot soldiers. These women warriors possessed another kind of finesse. Many of them fired their arrows at the beasts, but they did nothing but bounce away or break.

Then a blue swath of light appeared from the beast and bathed about half the remaining archers in an ethereal glow. The light beamed almost blindingly bright and then disappeared completely – the archers gone with it.

The enemy at the walls shrieked with ear-splitting force. When Lancelot turned toward their noise, he saw the charge. In another few seconds, they were on top of them. Ban’s men met them. Blade clanged against blade.

One attacker struck at Lancelot, who blocked the blow with his shield and drove his blade into the man’s chest. When the enemy’s blood poured out, Lancelot’s stomach heaved, but he had no time to vomit—another opponent was already on top of him. He moved so fast and was so strong that Lancelot could not avoid him. The enemy knocked him to the ground and had his sword raised ready to deal the killing blow. Lancelot tried to cover himself with his shield, but he didn’t think he would – the soldier’s hand went to his neck where an arrow pierced it. Blood spurted and then he fell. Lancelot felt his weight crashing down on him, knocking the air out of him. He looked to one side and saw one of Ban’s archers, a woman with long, flowing blonde hair – Eve – one of Anna’s friends with her bow.

He started to yell out her name, but then the blue light swallowed her, and she disappeared.

Lancelot pushed her victim off, staggered to his feet in time to raise his sword just as the second attacker lunged at him. It pierced his enemy’s throat.

“Lancelot!”

He froze at the sound of the high-pitched scream and looked left and right to see the invaders overwhelming King Ban’s army. Lancelot ducked as someone swung at his head, and he thrust his shield up, its edge catching the attacker’s neck. The attacker gagged as he clutched at his throat and crumpled.

“Lancelot!”

Lancelot recognized the voice. He looked down and saw his beloved Anna lying on the ground near him. An invader towered over her.

Lancelot launched his sword through the air like a spear and hit the man just as he was bringing down his own sword. Lancelot ran to Anna. Her eyes fluttered and she smiled at him. “I knew you’d come.” The armor she wore was now red and blood pooled under her. “You can change things, Lancelot.” Her body relaxed and lay still.

He grabbed her wrist and searched for a pulse. He leaned over her and tried to feel the faintest breath that would show him that she was just hurt. Even as tears poured from him, his anger built.

“Why didn’t you listen? Why do you always have to be where you don’t need to be—”

Suddenly, someone grabbed him by his hair and jerked him backwards.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

Photo on 12-14-19 at 11.05 AM

Robert Collier, an American self-help author, once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” For over 30 years of teaching and over 40 years of writing, this adage describes Steve Cross.

He is a semi-retired educator who teaches writing part-time at Three Rivers Community College. While in college, he began writing, and once he started, he didn’t quit. In his younger days, he had some writing successes: several plays published by Brooklyn Publishers, articles in various magazines and websites, and some educational materials. However, these weren’t enough to convince him that writing was something he needed to pursue anymore. When he turned 60 and had almost given writing up altogether, he gave it one more chance.

Every October, the Ozark Creative Writers sponsor a writing conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. As a test of his talent, Cross entered several of the contests that made up part of the conference. If he did okay, he would continue writing. If not, well, it had been a fun ride, but it was time to get off. When he placed in three of the contests, he decided that maybe his idea of quitting was premature. From there, things clicked. He had one young adult contemporary novel accepted for publication and two fantasy novels accepted. He also saw another dream which had eluded him for years come to life. He sold one screenplay outright and optioned another. Then he became a freelance editor for a publisher.

Cross finds himself busier than ever with his writing. But writing is not his only passion. He and his wife Jean work very hard in spoiling their two grandchildren, much to the dismay of their daughter Megan and son-in-law Sean. Cross also follows the St. Louis Cardinals and enjoys reading, listening to music, and writing. Still, he finds time to relax by sitting out on his deck with his loyal dog Bella on his lap and listening to the birds singing.

Masters of Camelot resulted from a lifelong love of all things Arthurian, which was reinforced by a trip to the UK, and a simple question, “What if?” He believes the principles of Camelot can still flourish in today’s world.

Steven M. Cross | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

51ETMw9hcBL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



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Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

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Book Spotlight: The Accidental Hero of the City of Brotherly Love

Welcome to the blog tour for The Accidental Hero of the City of Brotherly Love, by Richard J. O’Brien!

Book CoverThe Accidental Hero of the City of Brotherly Love

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Genre: Contemporary/ Magical Realism

In the tumultuous days following 9/11, Spencer Lee Kavanagh works as a security professional, juggling jobs, relationships, and his writing craft while trying to figure out where his life is headed. One autumn day in 2002, Kavanagh’s life changes forever after he crosses paths with Khalid Neshar, a promising graduate engineering student who recently became radicalized thanks to a less-than-scrupulous imam.

A workplace accident caused by Kavanagh results in Neshar’s death. Freshly arrived in the afterlife, Neshar strikes a deal with Allah. He goes back in time as a djinni so that he can haunt Kavanagh and thereby alter the course of events that led to his untimely death; only, Neshar isn’t much good at it. Meanwhile, in the post-9/11 hysteria of the day, Kavanagh’s anonymity and his literary ambitions are sidelined when he’s hailed as a hero for stopping a would-be terror attack. Like the stranger he accidentally killed, Kavanagh just wants his life back. The television news crews camped out in front of his apartment building have other ideas.

Excerpt

No sooner than I passed the edge of my building the lights came on atop a half-dozen cameras. Reporters jostled to stick their microphones in my face. As they blasted me with questions, I couldn’t help thinking two things: one was that the author of the ninja book was full of shit, and the other was that he probably no ninja at all.

“How does it feel to foil the terror plot that would have killed countless commuters?”

“Care to comment on the phone call you received from Vice President Cheney?”

“There was no call,” I mumbled as I inched my way past them, keeping my head down so that the bill of the baseball cap masked most of my face.

“Mr. Kavanagh,” one of the reporters stepped in front of me. “Do you have any remorse?”

“Will you continue to work at Tiffany and Company?”

“Is it true that the city will pay to have the Atlas clock restored?”

“Are you at liberty to tell us which agency you actually work for?”

“What?” I cried. “I’m just a guy.”

“Lee, are you afraid of retaliation?”

“Will you relocate?”

“Is the government offering to put you under their protective custody?”

“What’s your position on invading Iraq?”

“Do you support our troops?”

“Were you scared that the device might have blown up while you stood over the terrorist’s body?”

I inched closer to the steps.

“Would you be willing to disclose the names of the operatives in your team?”

“Operatives?” I asked.

“Do you think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks?”

“What’s your position on immigration?”

“Did law enforcement officials disclose to you whether there are any other threats in the city?”

One of the reporters followed me up the steps to the main door. She reached out and took hold of the door handle as I inserted my key into the lock.

“Is this a safe house, Mr. Kavanagh?” she asked. “If it is, now that it’s compromised, where will you go?”

I managed to unlock the door and slip into the foyer. When I did, they kept at it with their questions. Once the door was closed behind me, the reporters banged on the door as the camera lights lit up the foyer. They filmed me checking my mailbox. For once I was grateful that there were no letters from Maggie. After I locked the mailbox, I turned to the cameras crowding the door windows. With my head down, I offered them a salute before I entered the first-floor hall.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

Author Pic

Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze MoonInfestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol ReviewDuendePulp LiteratureThe Dr. T.J. Eckleburg ReviewWeirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

Richard J. O’Brien  

Amazon

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 25th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

B is for Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Cocktails and Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

May 26th

The Magic or Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Tales of a Natural Spoonie (Review) https://talesofanaturalspoonie.com/

May 27th

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

May 28th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

LIBRORUM IN SEMPITERNUM (Spotlight) http://libroruminsempiternumhome.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/

May 29th

Bri’s Book Nook (Spotlight) https://brisbooknook.wordpress.com/

Bamshee Irish Horror Blog (Spotlight) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Are any of you interested in Harry Potter? I did a tiered ranking of all the characters and would love to hear your thoughts on it! Check out the video below: