Look Who Dropped By Today: J. Arlene Culiner

Good morning. Five days into March and we still have three feet of snow. UGH! My guest today is a transplanted Canadian who now makes her home in France, the land of my ancestors. Small world.  J. Arlene Culiner is here to introduce you to her latest novel, A Swan’s Sweet Song.  “It made me believe that finding happiness again is quite possible. Diana (Annie) Jones — Romance Reviews Magazine”

ASwanSweetSong_w8888_750About the Book:

The instant Sherry and Carston meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites.

Smart-talking Sherry fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, she’s ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers, and paparazzi, and her spangled cowboy boots carry her all across the country, from one brightly lit stage to the next.

A renowned but reclusive playwright, Carston cherishes his freedom, the silence of his home in the woods, and his solitary country walks. Any long-term commitment is obviously out of the question: how about a quick and passionate fling?

But when their names are linked in the scandal press, Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed. Is their budding relationship doomed?

Excerpt from A Swan’s Sweet Song:

Perhaps she could avoid meeting Carston Hewlett again and circumvent disaster. And why worry? She had a concert to do, interviews to give, and contacts to make so her name stayed in the forefront. And when this festival was over, she’d climb back into the bus with Charlie and her boys and ride away. Perhaps head for the new career she’d been dreaming about—because, according to Charlie, there was serious talk of a role in a television series…

Yes, she had enough on her agenda. No room for a temporary fling. A fling at a conference like this? That had become so commonplace, it was positively banal. And,  at  this  stage  of  her  life,  it  would  also  be undignified.
“There he is now,” said Charlie, ripping into her thoughts. “Right over there. On the left. You see?”

Of course, she saw. How could she miss him? Tall, mighty easy on the eye, he leaned, glass in hand, against a plaster pillar, listening to the dozen people surrounding him.

“Don’t make plans,” she warned Charlie. Yet she couldn’t avoid looking in Carston’s direction again and noticed he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself. Oh, he nodded politely at what was being said, but his eyes had that vague glazed look that comes just before sinking to the floor with boredom. But didn’t he look delicious in that brown silk shirt and elegant tweed jacket; look how those jeans hugged his long legs. He was just the way she’d always imagined a successful playwright should be: cool, intelligent, strong, and sexy.

As if aware she’d been watching him, Carston turned slightly, caught her eye. She tried forcing herself to look away. And failed. For an eternity, their gaze held over the space separating them. Then detaching himself from the surrounding group, he headed in her direction.

She commanded herself to pretend  indifference, but her pulse accelerated, and her heart thumped a sensual jungle beat. Was this supposed to be pleasure? Something closer to pure panic. She swallowed, tried to summon up some zen-like calm…then realized she didn’t have any available. She needed help. Fast.

“Charlie?” she gasped. Looked around. Damn! Where had that man gone now that she needed him? The only thing left to do was run. Except she was incapable of movement. Fool. The reprimand didn’t get escape muscles into moving order.

Why come over here anyway? What would they talk about? They had nothing, absolutely nothing, in common. She had to stop staring at him like this.

Here he was now, tiny inches away, his jaw a hard definite line, his body that tight, sinewy stretch she’d thought about too many times during the night. But it was the expression in his eyes, warm eyes, humorous eyes, that confirmed her instinct: the immediate, deep reaction was mutual. Try as hard as they could to avoid it, something would happen. It was inevitable.

And for once, she, Sherry Valentine, a woman with a smart answer, a flippant remark for everything, everyone, and every occasion, was tongue-tied.

Buy link: Amazon

About the Author:

Photo 5

J. Arlene Culiner, born in New York, raised in Toronto, has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Holland, Turkey, France, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 300-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she protects all living creatures–especially spiders–and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.
She is the author of three other published books: a romance, Felicity’s Power (Power of Love Publishing, 2001) a history/essay, Finding Home (Sumach Press, 2004) a mystery, Slanderous Tongue (Sumach Press, 2007)
Come visit her site and chat at either of her websites:  website or

website 2

Mid Week Tease: On His Watch

MWTease15Good morning. Yesterday I finished the line edits on my latest book due out this April. When I submitted it , my editor said she didn’t think I could top On His Watch, but then said she was wrong. The White Carnation is the first book in a trilogy called The Harvester, and I promise you’ll get to see the first clip when it’s available.

As always, I want to thank Sandra Bunino for the opportunity to share my writing with you. On His Watch was my first attempt at what’s best described as suspense with a little romance. My dad has read all my books and this one is his favorite on.

The set up:

On leave from the FBI, Special Agent Jason Spark is enjoying some welcome peace and quiet when he’s called on to help the local sheriff’s department check out a 911 call. Expecting a prank or misdial, he unwittingly steps into a horrifying bloodbath straight out of a Hollywood slasher movie, complete with clues scrawled on the wall.

Nikki Hart’s husband and son are killed, but she survives, badly beaten and barely clinging to life in a coma. When she awakens, she doesn’t know her name, recognize her face, or remember anything about herself and her past. Terrified, and unsure of whom to trust, she clings to the memory of the angel who comforted her in her darkest moments.

The investigation turns up a prime suspect: The Butcher, an elusive hired assassin for the Sicilian mob. As the news of Nikki’s recovery spreads, putting her in this ruthless killer’s sights again, Jason will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he’s learning to love.

Nikki’s beginning to believe Jason might be the angel who protected her in her dreams. But when she learns about the secret role he played in the worst day of her life, can she ever forgive him?

Today’s tease:

They sit across from one another at a small café, one of her favorite places in San Francisco, and she’s happy, happier than she’s been in a long time. Her angel’s back. He’s going to take her away from the ugliness. He’s dressed in white, his clothing so bright it’s luminous. His wings are furled but everyone walking by stares at him in awe. His halo glows, and she can’t make out his features. She wants to see his eyes. She senses something’s wrong. She needs to know what he’s hiding from her. He reaches for her hand. His large hand always comforts her, but this time, instead of bringing warmth, it chills her.

“You’re safe now. I won’t let anyone hurt you again,” he says, but his voice is different, dictatorial. It’s a voice she remembers, but instead of consoling her, it frightens her.

Feathers start to fly around them as he slips a heavy ring on her finger. She glances down and sees shackles around her ankles and wrists.

“You’re mine. We were destined for one another. I’ve always known it.” She still can’t see the face of the angel across from her, but he’s no longer dressed in pristine white. His garments are dirty, covered in blood, even his wings, and he reminds her of a giant bird. He grips her left hand painfully and instead of removing the ring, his talon holds a bloody scalpel. The pain blinds her.

She begins to fall and spirals through an unfamiliar darkness. Like Alice she’s falling into nothingness. Objects float by her—an easel, a baby carriage, a puppy, a large bouquet of red roses. Flowers from him are a punishment. She hates them, but he insists on sending them. They become an extension of his displeasure. She sees a baby doll dressed in a light blue romper. She wants it, but a little blond girl reaches for the doll as well, so she pulls back her hand. When she looks again, the child holds an infant girl. She lands heavily on her stomach on a sticky surface. She needs to keep her weight off her belly. She tries to stand, but she can’t get up. There’s something on the floor just ahead of her. She reaches for it, but her arm shrinks.

The floor vanishes, and she’s standing in Chinatown amidst firecrackers and smoke. She’s alone and frightened. A huge blue and gray dragon materializes in front of her. The color is soothing, the creature playful. It opens and closes its wings to the beat of the music. The dragon’s face is bisected—one side fierce, the other benevolent. The dragon reaches out its claw and pulls her close to him. She feels safe, protected. She looks up at his large face, both sides blend together, recognizable for a second, and then not. The dragon dissipates.

“Get rid of it or I will,” the two-headed demon yells at her from inside the swirling vortex in which they’re caught.

One head wears Sam’s face, but the other is constantly changing.

“I can’t trust you for two seconds. Who is he?”

“He’s nobody. He’s just a figment of my imagination.” She’s lying, but she’s afraid. If he learns she went to the cliffs alone, he’ll only get angrier. And he’s cruel when he’s angry.

“She used to be such an angel. I don’t know what’s happened to her. This is your fault.” The other head speaks, the voice unfamiliar, but the blurred face dissolves into her father’s. “She’s become willful and disobedient.”

“Give her time,” the head with Sam’s face replies. “She’s mine now. She’ll come around, and if she doesn’t, I’ll make her obey.”

Her father’s face dissolves, and Jason’s visage takes his place. His familiar voice is frustrated, and she watches the muscle jump in his jaw. “Be reasonable,” he says, but there’s iron in his voice, and she shivers. “It’s for your own good.”

Now, she’s in a small dark place, pounding on the door. “Let me out. Please let me out.” Why has Jason imprisoned her here?

“I’m sorry.” She hears his voice outside. “You have to fight to stay here. You can do it. You can survive.”

Light fills the closet and the badly scarred demon with the diamond and finger necklace stands there, sneering at her as another faceless fiend moves closer to her. The door surface is suddenly covered in long, sharp nails that stab into her back, but she can’t pull away from it. She hears the unmistakable crunch of someone eating an apple. The demon raises the knife in his large hand, and advances toward her.

“Kiss me.”

“No, stay away from me.” He grips her left hand, and pain fills her. Blood drips from it. He pulls her tightly to him, too tightly. She can’t breathe. He tangles his fingers in her hair and tugs painfully. She can feel his erection. She has to fight. She has to get away. Her mouth fills with bile. She bites down on his lip as hard as she can and raises her knee. He groans and pushes her away.

“You little bitch. You’ll pay for this.” She opens her mouth to scream, but no sound comes.

“It’s okay. It’s just a bad dream,” says a familiar voice.  Out of the void comes the angel, but he isn’t her angel.

“Wake up, Mrs. Hart. You’re having a nightmare.”

Want to read more? Amazon

Now, please check out the rest of today’s teasers:

Look Who Dropped By Today: Connie Ann Michael

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Hello again. March has arrived with a sunny day and slightly warmer temperatures. My guest today is Connie Ann Michael, one of the amazing authors you’ll find at Anaiah Press. Today is the official release date for her latest novel, A Thousand Stolen Moments. I’m pleased to welcome her here today to share an excerpt from her new release.

About the book:

1000StolenMoments-CoverCan you choose between fighting for your life and fighting for your heart?

When twenty-two year old Emme Sawyer joins a Marine unit heading into Helmand Providence, she focuses on what she does best: keeping her men safe. But, when the unit is hit by an IED, Emme realizes she can’t save everyone. With her humanity on the line, and her faith in question, she seeks comfort from Raven, her commanding officer. Soon, Emme develops feelings that don’t belong in a combat zone, where each step could be your last.

Raven keeps his emotions locked up tight, never allowing the men to see him sweat. But when Emme joins his unit, all bets are off; and the feelings he thought he left stateside begin to emerge. Knowing that the deserts of Afghanistan are the last place to start a romance, and the United States military’s view on fraternizing; Raven tries to deny his heart. Emme and Raven learn you can’t always choose where love finds you. And that sometimes, you just have to trust in God’s plan.

 

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22819497-a-thousand-stolen-moments

Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com/Thousand.html

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Stolen-Moments-Connie-Michael-ebook/dp/B00TCSWPD6/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-thousand-stolen-moments-connie-ann-michael/1121205804?ean=2940046568554

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/517927

Excerpt from A Thousand Stolen Moments:

The freezing temperatures of the night woke Doogie. The area was quiet, except for a few light snores coming from the men. She got up, stretched her muscles, and then grabbed an MRE and headed to the fire.

Raven’s shadowed outline was visible next to the fire as she approached.

“Quiet tonight,” she said.

“You should be sleeping. Not sure when it will be this quiet again.” Raven’s deep voice sent a chill through her.

“I’m not much of a sleeper.”

“We have guys with NVG’s watching. The Taliban might be using the dark to maneuver around our flanks. But I don’t think so. You should at least rest.”

“Hmm,” she hummed while she squeezed the bag she held.

“What’s for dinner?” Raven’s expression was more relaxed than usual.

“Uh?” Doogie held the label toward the fire. “Applesauce. But it’s debatable as to the amount of apples in it.”

“I have some beef stew in my pack if you want it. You can’t keep up with only applesauce.”

“Why is it always stew? Why can’t they MRE a cheese burger?” Doogie sucked on the bag.

“I think the food has to be juicy to get out of the bag.” Raven shrugged.

“Stew has chunks of mysterious stuff. You’d think a few chunks of normal food would fit in there. Besides, ketchup is juicy.”

“Well when you get out you can go into the business of creating wonderful gourmet MRE’s. The men would love you.”

“And the women.” Doogie smiled at him.

The corner of Raven’s mouth looked like it might have turned up, but she wasn’t sure. “Who can forget the women?”

“I’ll hire you if you need a job after the war,” Doogie offered.

Raven snuck a quick glance at her before returning to stare at the fire. “I’d appreciate that. I could be your tester. I’ll see if the cheeseburger is up to par. I’ve been known to cook a mean burger.”

“Excellent. Maybe you could even cook the burger since I don’t cook.” Doogie rubbed her hands together at the thought of seeing Raven after the war.

“You don’t cook?” Raven seemed surprised.

“I enlisted at nineteen so didn’t have time to hone my domestic skills.”

“Oh,” was all he said.

They stood in awkward silence for a few minutes.

“Today’s Valentine’s Day,” she blurted.

Raven narrowed his eyes, his mouth in its signature scowl, and then started to laugh. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

“It’s just. Well Tahk told me.” She was such a dork.

“Was he planning a party? Handing out Valentines to the locals?”

Doogie’s head jerked to look over at Raven. Had he just tried to be funny? She’s never had an actual conversation with him. Usually he talked at her…or yelled at her. She let out a stiff laugh. “No.”

 

ConnieAnnMichaelAuthor Bio:

Connie grew up in Seattle but moved to Central Washington to be closer to all things outdoors.  Married with two college boys she keeps busy kayaking, mountain biking, skiing ,and hiking through the beautiful hills of the Wenatchee Valley.  Growing up with a love of reading the transition into writing seemed natural and she can be found on summer days writing under the tree in her front yard surrounding by her three dogs.

Website: http://www.connie-avidreader.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/connieamichael

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7169768.Connie_Ann_Michael

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

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Ann-Michael/e/B00H4LEH5C

Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com/CMichael.html

Here is an opportunity to win a great book: Love Overcomes by Angela Shroeder  Rafflecopter Giveaway:

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Look Who Dropped By Today. K.C. Sprayberry

 My guest this morning is K.C. Sprayberry, one of Solstice’s prolific authors. Her latest book is being released today. Congratulations, K.C. and best of luck with your new novel.

When their younger twin siblings were murdered by their
cold-blooded father, Shane and Keri’s own twin connection deepened. Their
father shamed Shane and Keri into silence, and then went on to bring four more
children into a house shuddering under the weight of his unpredictable temper.

Ten
years later, what should have been a regular visitation turns into a horrific
nightmare. Trapped in the Superstition Mountains with an addicted and dangerous
father, Keri’s faith and determination wavers, but she knows she must save her
brothers and sisters and return all of them to the home they love.
She now
faces one insurmountable obstacle. He can’t afford to let her go.
 
Excerpt 1 ~ Shane
The window in my bedroom that I share with my two younger brothers overlooks Main Street. I angle my head, so I can attempt to see where my twin is.
“See Keri?” Axe, my best bud, asks.
“Nope. But I do see a bunch of cars leaving.” I face him and grin. “That means she’s on her way back.”
“Great. We can leave now.”
“Looks that way.”
He and I race down the stairs. The normal noise of a large family during winter holiday break greets me, along with what can only be described as evil snickering. We come around the corner, shoving and pushing to see which one of us gets to the bottom first, with me gaining an inch on my bud.
“Yes!” I pump a fist and hop down the last three steps, the satisfaction of proving once and for all that I’m the best pass receiver on our team.
“I am so going to beat you one of these days,” he says.
We knuckle bump and clown around.
“Ready when you are, honey,” a strange female voice says.
“Huh?” I turn around.
A woman who looks like a million miles of bad road stands beside the open front door. Before I can ask who she is and what she’s doing in our house, a series of loud bangs precedes the sound of a cat yowling. That noise sends fear shivers through every inch of my body, and I don’t scare all that easily.
“What the heck?” Axe pushes me aside. “What’s going on, Shane?”
“Don’t know.” I point at the woman. “Who are you?”
“Jake’s honey-poo,” she purrs.
That response is wrong on so many levels, beginning with Jake is my dad’s name. The last time I checked he was still married to my mom.
“Who are you two handsome hunks?”
Gross. Sick. Yuck! She sounds just like Scooter when he catches a mouse.
Just as I’m about to tell this loser from the wrong side of the tracks to get lost, Scooter races out of the kitchen. A mix of who knows what, he has gorgeous gray and white striped fur and I can only describe him as fat and slow.
Slow comes nowhere close to describing that streak racing for safety. Scooter howls out his fear. His fur stands on end and his tail is so fluffy that it looks ten times its normal size.
Author Bio:

Born and raised in
Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling
the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in
Northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty
years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and
coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who
comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have
appeared in anthologies, others in magazines. Three of her books (Softly Say
Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon best sellers. Her other books
are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits,
Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The Call Chronicles 1: The
Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, Paradox Lost: Their Path, and
Starlight. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From
the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The
Ghost Catcher.
Excerpt 2 ~ Keri
Carly and I sneak up
the walkway to the backdoor of the house where I live with my parents and five
siblings. We’ve done nothing wrong. There is no reason for us to be sneaking
into my house, except one… him.
“Are you sure about
this?” she whispers.
“Yeah.” I cast a
guilty glance at the driveway.
Shane’s truck isn’t
here. He must still be hanging with his best bud, Axe. Heat rushes up my face
whenever I think about that hunk. Axe not Shane. Big Bro is anything but a
hunk. Well, he is kind of cute, and a lot of girls like him, but a hunk? Give
me a break. None of the girls hot for him know that he stinks up a bathroom or
dumps his clothes all over the place for me to pick up.
I’ll forgive Carly for thinking like that. She’s good for Shane, if
he’d just get over the “everybody will hate us for dating” thing. Big deal if
she’s African American and we’re white. Nobody cares about that anymore.
“Your dad will pop a
cork if he catches me in the house,” Carly says. “You know he hates… you know.”
We never talk about
that. So what if my dad is the biggest bigot in the world? The rest of my
family is totally cool with me having Carly around. They like her. She’s funny,
and an awesome bestie.
We both stop in
front of the back door. I reach out a hand, but don’t turn the knob when I hear
shouting.
“Oh, shit.” I glance
at Carly.
“What now?” she
whispers.
Memories flood
through me of a night I try so very hard to forget. Once upon a time, there was
another set of twins in our house. Then they were gone. The reason they’re not
with us anymore is too hard to think about. I don’t even talk about that night,
but that’s because Shane and I made a sacred vow. We will always keep that
secret. Telling now will cause so many problems for us.
I have to tell someone, but that means I’ll go to jail. Won’t I? Isn’t
that where liars go when they hide a crime?
The anniversary of
that particular act still haunts me, even though it was way back in August.
December has usually been good, even if we’re sad because of whatever he is doing. To have such an innocent
act end in the violence as that one did should never happen to anyone,
especially a kid. To have the person responsible still walking around as if he
did nothing wrong infuriates me, until I think about how I never told.
Shane didn’t either. We should have told. It didn’t matter if we were
only seven. It doesn’t matter now that we’re almost seventeen. We should have
told.
Social Media Links:
 

Reviews by Sue: Elected by Rori Shay

booksWelcome to another sunny Sunday morning. It’s positively balmy today–only 11 F. Maybe spring is on its way.

Today, it’s my pleasure to talk to you about Elected,  a post-apocolyptical YA novel. I’ve long been a fan of sci-fi novels and movies. I grew up during the Cold War when we had regular drills to protect ourselves in the event the enemy dropped an atomic bomb on us. People built shelters in their yards, most of which have now turned into storage areas. Is iut because we believe we’re safe and no one will bomb us? Probably not. Many probably feel like I do–if there is a nuclear war, I don’t want to be one of the ones left to pick up the pieces.

Elected is about those who survive the near destruction of the world.

22260666It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret—the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

My review:5 stars

This is not a world I’d want my grand-daughters to live in. Unlike the United Federation of Planets from Star Trek, the planet has become one of isolationism rather than brotherhood. In some ways, the political foreign policy reminds me of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine in the United States.: It stated that efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression. In Ms. Shay’s world, trying to move from one country to another is a crime punishable by death.

People live the way our pioneer ancestors did, but without any kind of technology. Transportation is limited to horses for the ruling class and its protectors, and bicycles which are state-owned and must be treated with respect since no new ones can be made– that would require technology and all technology is banned. Many of the things we consider basic rights are denied its citizens.  Women have one sole purpose, to have babies and repopulate the world.

In the midst of this social nightmare, an accord was signed giving power to one family for 100 years–a way to provide stability. Power passes from the father to the eldest son on the boy’s 18th birthday. But what happens if there’s no son?

Aloy must deny who she is for the sake of her people, but at what cost? The story is well-written and thought provoking. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Selected, which will be available this spring.

The Food of Love: It’s NOT All About Me!

writerGood morning. Well, the sun is shining and it’s a balmy 10 F and according to the weather network, there’s a chance we may see the Northern Lights in this region between now and Tuesday. How cool would that be!

Now that the annual hoopla around Valentine’s Day has ended, we have a romantic trough to fill. St Patrick’s day is next, and it really isn’t usually associated with love and romance. Following that, we’ll have spring and weddings–you get the picture. Love will definitely be in the air.

This morning, I’d like to talk about a short story anthology released by Solstice at the beginning of February. The book, The Food of Love, is comprised of ten short stories by some of Solstice’s authors, including myself. The contributing authors are: Mya O’MalleyRocky RochfordSusanne MatthewsRachael StapletonElle MarlowVanayssa SomersMargaret EgrotCynthia LeyRebecca L. Frencl, and K.C. Sprayberry.

Food of LoveAbout the Book:

Food entices the senses just as love entices the soul. We take chances, we share new beginnings, in hopes of making that special someone part of our lives, now and forever. Solstice Publishing presents ten tales of love, each with a recipe our authors consider part of their love story. We hope they can be part of yours too.

The Way to a Man’s Heart, by Mya O’Malley involves a cooking class for singles and a set of twins who make one too many switches.
Him & Her, by Rocky Rochford is a ‘he said, she said’ about a shy boy’s first date with the girl of his dreams.
There’s Always Tomorrow, by me, Susanne Matthews, is a reunion story with a second chance at love for Iris, a former supermodel crippled in an accident.
Dinner in the Dark by Rachel Stapleton describes a sensory experience meal with a twist at the end you won’t see coming.
The Heart of Stone by Elle Marlow, written in her signature cowboy way is all about a chance meeting with a Good Samaritan and hope for the future.

Love, Food, and Heaven, by Vanessa Somers is a story of remembered love and the wonder of becoming your own person.
Chains of Magic by Margaret Ergot is a brilliant take on Shakespeare’s Othello, describing the first meeting between Desdemona and the Moor.
The Moon and The Daystar by Cynthia Ley is a sweet story of best friends who share a common love for the beauty of the day and art.
Wine and Magic, by Rebecca L. Frencl is  also a second chance at love for a couple brought back together by a mutual loss

New Future by K.C. Sprayberry is another “he said, she said” story, but this time the characters are twins, trying to get on with their lives after a shattering experience, hoping to find love and happiness.

All of the stories are fresh and unique. The recipes are delicious. This is a wonderful way to get to meet these authors and sample a taste of their writing style. I feel privileged to have been allowed to participate in this.

The Food of Love is available from Amazon.

Look Who Dropped By Today: Margaret Egrot

Hello again! Do you remember your teen years? Were you among the less than perfect who suffered from acne? I vividly recall praying that the dreaded spots wouldn’t come out before significant events–like every day of the week! The ones on my nose were the worse. My dad would name them after famous singers from my record collection. As I recollect, Mama Cass took over a week to go away. No amount of cover-up helped.

My guest this morning is Margaret Ergot and her latest YA book title brought back memories of John, Paul, George, and Ringo along with a host other favorites from my teen years. But it also made me smile–acne, the great constant. It’s nice to know some things will never change, and no matter which side of the pond you dwell on, teenagers will always be the same too.

And Alex Still Has Acne

And Alex -cover

Life for fourteen year old Alex is OK most of the time. He enjoys school, has a best friend Sam, and a pretty and only mildly irritating younger sister, Nicky. But then Sam starts acting strangely, and so does Nicky – and both insist on sharing secrets with him and making him promise not to tell anyone. Then Nicky goes missing and only Alex feels he knows where to find her. But is Sam anywhere around to help?

Excert:

Chapter 1.

        The school bell rang to mark the end of the first lesson of the afternoon. Without showing a trace of sarcasm Miss Smith, the French teacher, thanked the class for being such an attentive bunch and, with a sigh of relief, gathered up her books and retreated for the staff room. A pity, she thought, that smoking was banned everywhere on school grounds – she could really do with a cigarette now. Year 10 were always hard work, especially first thing on a Friday afternoon.

Several students let out a whoop of delight as she left. In her rush to get out of the classroom, Old Smithers (she must have been at least 50) had forgotten to set them homework again. No doubt they would each get an email telling them to revise French verbs or something in time for the lesson on Monday, but they could always deny opening the email on the grounds they never switched on their computers at the weekend. As if!

Sam Rainsworth was slower than the others to collect his books and pens and stuff them into his school bag. He had hardly registered the start of the lesson, let alone the end. And Miss Smith, glad to have a quiet pupil not causing any trouble, had been happy to let him sit dreamily at the back of the class. He got up thoughtfully and left the classroom without speaking to anyone. At the corner of the corridor he found his friend, Alex, waiting for him.

“You OK? Thought you’d gone to sleep in Old Smithers’ class just then.” Alex loomed over him. A year ago both boys had been the same height, Sam just a little thicker set. But Alex had been going through a growing spurt and was now almost a head taller. He hadn’t grown out sideways though and looked chronically under-nourished despite an enormous appetite. ‘Legs like knotted string,’ his mother often said about him, much to his embarrassment.

Sam looked up at his friend. “Yep, I’m fine. I was just thinking, that’s all.”

Sam carried on down the corridor instead of turning left towards the labs.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Dunno, home I s’pect.”

“It’s not home time yet, we’ve got double physics, remember?”

Sam gave a mirthless smile. “It’s an infringement of my human rights to have double physics last thing on a Friday. Besides I haven’t done the homework.”

“I have…”

“Smart-arse.”

“No, I mean you can copy mine during the lesson and hand it in at the end – Parky never takes the books in till the end.”

Sam paused for a moment, as if thinking about it. He leant down and pulled at one of his socks, then the other. Then he ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it up even more than usual. Finally he looked up at his friend and shook his head.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not in the mood.”

He turned from his friend and set off back down the corridor. He wasn’t surprised though to hear lolloping footsteps behind him and to feel a hand on his shoulder. He knew who it was without turning round.

“So, you can resist the lure of physics too then?”

“I like physics, believe it or not,” Alex said. “But you don’t look right – I’m coming with you.”

“Suit yourself.”

Sam shrugged and continued walking in silence out of the school building, across the yard and down the short drive to the main road.  Alex walked along beside him, hunched into his parka hood and whistling softly under his breath.

“I wish you’d cut that.”

“Sorry?”

“That stupid whistling.”

“Sorry, nervous tic. I was worried someone might spot us and haul us back.”

“Well, you’re safe now so you can shut up. You need more practice.”

“Someone’s going to catch up with you soon and write to your parents and then you’ll be for it.”

“As if they’ll care …”

“So your dad’s really gone then? For good?”

“None of your business.”

“Sorry, only my dad says …”

“None of his business either.”

“Sorry.”

The pair walked on in silence for a couple of minutes. Then Sam felt inside his parka and drew out a couple of cigarettes and a lighter.

“Want one?”

“Where’d you get those from?”

“Mum. She’s started smoking again since Dad’s gone.”

“Won’t she notice two missing?”

“Nah. I took them from different packets earlier in the week. She couldn’t tell.  She’s too pissed to notice much by bedtime these days.”

“You mean she’s drinking? I never thought your mum would do anything like that. She seems so…”

“Refined? Me neither. Never saw her drink anything more than a small glass of wine with a meal before. She’s different now – sort of lost.”

The boys continued for a while again in silence. Alex couldn’t help noticing that his friend too had a lost look about him. But he had no idea what to do about it. Perhaps just sticking with him for the rest of the afternoon would be a start. After a few long minutes he said: “Well, what are we going to do? No point going into town – I’m skint.”

“Me too, almost. Could we go over to your place?”

“Nah. Dad’s home. He’d slaughter me if I came home from school too early. He’s into school in a big way at the moment. Wants me to do well in GCSEs and so on and go to university. It’d be like his world had fallen in if he found out I’d bunked a lesson. What about your place?”

“Nah, not yet. Too empty when Mum’s not there; too gloomy when she is. Later perhaps – let’s go out on the town first. I’ve probably got enough for a burger and Coke at McDonald’s.”

“That’s settled then. I’m starving.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Alex’s appetite was legendary.

They turned their feet in the direction of the golden arch, a new sense of purpose quickening their step. McDonald’s was pretty full, plenty of people their own age, though their grammar school uniforms, badly concealed under their parkas, marked them out from the other customers. But, after chasing the last crumbs out from the burger wrappers and draining their cans, both boys felt better. Sam even smiled.

Alex belched as he finished his last drop of Coke.

“Oops, pardon – could do with another one of those,” he waved his empty Coke tin in Sam’s direction.

“Sorry, no can do,” he put all his money on the counter between them and counted it. “Only got 60p to my name until I see Dad.”

Suddenly his mobile rang – “Speak of the devil,” he said to no-one in particular and answered the phone. “Hello Dad.”

Alex leant back so as not to eavesdrop, and attentively brushed a mass of crumbs off his chest onto the floor. He watched as his friend grunted and nodded his head to the faint mumbling he could hear coming from the phone.

“Yeah, great,” Sam said eventually, without any visible sign of enthusiasm. “See you same time and place on Sunday.”

He switched off and turned back to his friend. Alex could see from Sam’s face that he didn’t want to discuss the call further. He straightened up in his seat as Sam concentrated on gathering up all their food wrappers and depositing them in the waste bin. He looked with mock horror at the ring of crumbs around Alex’s seat.

“God Alex, you’re a messy eater! Well what’ll we do now?”

Alex shrugged. “Dunno. It’s still too early to go home.”

“You can come back to my place for tea if you like. It’s not so bad really, and I’m still hungry.”

“Me too. What you got to eat at home?”

“Nothing, unless Mum’s stocked the fridge since breakfast this morning, which, I think not. We’ll have to get something on the way home.”

“But you haven’t got any money.”

“So?”

“So?”

“So, what?”

“Sam, you’re not going to nick stuff are you?”

“All property is theft. Weren’t you paying attention in history last week? At least that’s what I think that Marx bloke said. I need to eat to live and if Mum is too drunk to shop, I’ve got to find other ways of feeding us.”

“Does your dad know?”

“Of course not! Do you think I’m going to shop her to him? Or myself for that matter.”

“I see. But surely he could do something about it, if he knew?”

“Mind your own business, will you? This is my problem and I’ll sort it in my own time. Now, are you coming back to my place for more food or not?”

Alex sat silently for several minutes. He had never knowingly broken the law before, apart from cycling on the pavement – but then his mother preferred him to do that than run risks on the road. He didn’t like the idea at all. But Sam was his friend, and he didn’t like to abandon him either. Moreover, despite himself, he felt a tingling of excitement at what Sam was proposing. Anyway, he could never knowingly give up an opportunity for more food these days.

“Where?” Sam knew his friend was not enquiring where his house was, and felt a glow of pleasure that Alex was in on this with him. He too felt a tingle of excitement, plus a mixture of guilt and fear – but not enough of either to stop him.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Still-Has-Acne-ebook/dp/B00RU1Y02G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420543100&sr=1-1&keywords=And+alex+still+has+acne

https://www.createspace.com/5229368 

And Alex … is also available on amazon.co.uk.

Margaret also has a short story in the newly released The Food of Love anthology from Summer Solstice.

Food of LoveChains of Magic is a delightful short story based on an imagining of Desdemona’s plotting to woo Othello through food (or magic if needs be). Whether this is a good idea or not on her part is left to Shakespeare to explore in his play!

Bio:

Margaret has lived in the United Kingdom all her life. She has worked with the Probation Service, the Police Authority, as a charity boss, and as a free lance child protection consultant. She currently sits on the boards of two charities: one that runs assessment centres for families experiencing problems, and one that provides services for the elderly (well, you’ve got to think ahead…)

She enjoys reading and the theatre. She tries to keep fit by swimming and racing her cairn terrier round the park. He usually wins.

Media links:

Facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Egrot/1374506486178952

Twitter: @meegrot

www.margaretegrotwriter.weebly.com

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