Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cover Reveal Worthy of Song and Story by Neal Chase

Worthy of Song and Story
Stian the Viking Series
Book  One
Neal Chase

Middle Grade Fantasy

Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

Winter 2016

 Book Description:

Twelve year-old Stian’s plans to be The Greatest Viking Ever appear to be over before they even begin. He’s captured by Dahlia—a dark elf and a girl. If that wasn’t bad enough, he discovers he may be the son of Loki, the greatest enemy of the Viking gods and the one foretold to bring about the end of the world.

Knowing he is meant to be extraordinary, Stian decides to discover the truth for himself and free Loki from the clutches of Odin. Only then, will he discover who he is and what he is meant to do.

Stian must out-think, misguide, and defeat Thor’s children. To do this he will need the power of Gram—a sword with magical powers. There is one catch, only one pure of heart with the desire to help others, is worthy of wielding it. If Stian succeeds, he will become the world’s most famous Viking, but if he fails he will fall victim to the gods’ merciless justice.

About the Author:

Neal Chase lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, two children, two dogs, and a bird, which strangely has the same name as his dad. He is a member of SCBWI and the Writers’ League of Texas. When he is not writing and reading, you can find Neal coaching football or adventuring with the help of his PlayStation.

Defying Destiny by Shelly Morgan

Defying Destiny
Forsaken Sinners MC Series
Book Three
Shelly Morgan

Genre: MC Romance/Suspense

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Date of Publication: May 3rd, 2016

Word Count: around 74K

Cover Artist: TOJ Publishing Services

Book Description:

Twenty-six-year-old Louie Creighton knows there is something inside him he can’t control…

Ever since he can remember, Louie has had a short fuse. People always said he’d amount to nothing. He wasn’t smart enough to get into college. He wasn’t tough enough to be a Marine. No one believed in him.

No one except his father, Mike Creighton…

Louie’s father always taught him to turn the other cheek. He was a true mentor, teaching him how to be a man in a world of cowards. But when his father is murdered the day after scratching a winning lottery ticket, Louie’s inner monster can’t be contained. He becomes determined to track down the suspect at any cost. All along, he struggles to live by his father’s motto—To find out what you live for, you have to discover what you’d die for.

Then he meets Harlow McPherson…

Her entire life has been a battle. Harlow grew up in the system, bouncing from one foster home to the next. Most weren’t that bad, but some were hell.

The only comfort was the fact she wasn’t alone. Her twin brother, Hendrix, was always there—until he took his own life years later, abandoning Harlow in a cruel world. Unable to forgive, it’s Louie who reminds her there’s still hope.

When Louie unleashes his inner monster, and Harlow finally faces her demons, will they lose themselves to the darkness, or risk it all Defying Destiny?

Chapter One
Age 17 

One more hour, then I can finally go home and be away from this shithole. Then it’s just one more month until graduation.

I fucking hate school—and I don’t mean that in the way that most kids would probably say they hate school. I hate it because of the pieces of shit that roam these halls. They all walk around like they know everything and are the kings and queens of the town. But they ain’t royalty. They are the shit on the bottom of my fucking boot. The pesky mosquitos that want to suck you dry. 

My dad and I may be trailer park trash in their eyes, but we are better than everyone in this God forsaken town. Better than the mayor who fucks his assistant on the side. Better than the preacher man that has a thing for little boys. And better than the teachers, the townsfolk, and their spawns. 

I grew up without a mother and even though I wish I would have known her; I can’t say that my life would have been any better or I would have felt more love in my life. My father provided everything for me. He was the one who taught me how to walk, talk, and ride a bike. He played catch with me when he wasn’t working, helped with my homework when I needed it, and always made sure I had a hot meal at least once a day. My dad means everything to me and I’ll wipe the floor with anyone who disrespects him. He was a God damn fucking Marine—served five tours overseas, took more than a dozen bullets throughout his service to this country, and saved more men than anyone will ever know. My dad is a fucking hero—my hero. 

The bell ringing brings me out of my thoughts. One more class to go.

Getting out of my seat, I put all my books into my bag and make my way into the hall and toward my locker. Since my last period is Shop, I make sure to grab everything I need so I can leave right after class. Any extra time spent here is time wasted in my eyes, even if it’s just to walk back to my locker. No fucking thank you.

I’m the first one into the shop, as usual, since I have no need to delay. I get right to work on the old Chevy Mr. Peterson brought in for us to work on. Today, we’re starting to work on the engine.

Shop is actually one of my top favorite classes, the other being gym. Those are the classes I get to use my hands. In here, it’s tearing shit apart, finding the problem, then fixing it. In gym, it’s pushing my body to the limit and working my ass off. Usually, no matter what the activity is for that day, the gym teacher will let me do my own thing in the weight room. I think he’s learned that I don’t play well with others. Either that, or he just doesn’t want to have to deal with me, like everyone else in this fucking place. 

Five minutes later, the rest of the students show up. Not like they will actually do anything. But as long as they stay the fuck away from me, I’m good. 

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to hold my tongue and I can only be pushed so far before I’ll pull my hands out of my pockets and knock one of those fuckers out. Sometimes the beast inside me takes over and the rage is just too much. It’s been there for as long as I can remember, waiting for the opportunity to bare its teeth and draw blood. But, for my dad’s sake, I do my best to just let things slide. My dad taught me to turn the other cheek, but told me to stand my ground. Called it bein’ a man. Said that if someone was wrong, to never back down and prove my point by driving it home. And if that meant throwing the first punch and whooping their ass, then so be it.

I told my dad that once I graduated, I wanted to move to the east or west coast. We’ve lived in Iowa my whole life, but I’ve always dreamed of being close to the ocean and away from this shit town. I want to find a good trainer wherever we find a decent place and start fighting for money. I’ve done a good job training myself in my homemade gym in my room and watching any video I can find, but if I want to make it professionally and make the big bucks, I’ll have to find someone willing to train me. I know I can do it too. I’m good enough even without professional training, but I’ll need that to take me to the next level. Plus, in order to get signed up for the big money fights, it’s easier to do if you have a trainer in your corner. Especially if that training has a big name.

Dad wasn’t too open to the idea of moving away at first, but now that he knows I’m serious, I think he’s warming up to the idea. It’s not like he’ll have anything holding him here after I graduate and leave. I don’t want to go without him, but I’ve told him that I will if I have to. I can’t be here anymore. If I stay for even a day longer than necessary, I know I’ll end up just like everyone says I will—dead or in jail—and I will not let that happen.

Feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket, I wipe off my hands and pull it out. It’s a text message from my dad. He rarely ever messages me and for him to do so during school hours must mean it’s important. I turn around to make sure Mr. Peterson isn’t watching, then pull up the message.

Dad: Things are finally turning around for us, son. This should help for the big move, don’t you think?

Attached to the message is a picture of him holding a lottery ticket and a huge fucking check for fifty thousand dollars.  

Me: Is that for real?

Even though my dad has never played a trick on me, at least not to this extent, I have to ask. I don’t want to get excited, but looking at the picture, I know it’s real before I even read his next text.

Dad: It’s real and it’s ours. So here’s to the future.

I don’t even bother responding. Instead, I grab my bag and am out the door before my teacher even realizes I’m leaving. 

Sprinting out to my banged up truck, I throw my book bag inside before jumping in after it. I burn rubber as I press down on the accelerator and speed home. I only live about five minutes from school, but today, I make it there in two.

As soon as I pull in front of the house beside my dad’s old Harley, the door opens and I see him standing there with the biggest smile I think I’ve ever seen on him. “You just couldn’t wait an hour, could ya.” It’s not a question, but a statement.

Getting out of the truck I walk up to him and pull him in for a tight hug. Most kids my age, guys especially, don’t hug their parents anymore, but not me. I love my dad more than anything and have never been shy about showing it to him or anyone else.

“What the fuck you think, old man?” I answer him anyway.

My dad laughs and shakes his head. One of the best things about him is he never scolds me for swearing. He always said that if you’re man enough to swear in front of your elders without fear of being punished, then you’re man enough to actually say it. Yeah, my dad’s pretty fucking awesome, I know.

“So we going out to celebrate?” I ask. Things have always been tight in our house—he works almost sixty hours a week to make sure we can make rent and that I have food in my stomach
and clothes on my back. It would be nice to go out and have a nice meal for a change, instead of eating ramen noodles or Hamburger Helper.

“You read my mind, boy,” he says before heading back into the house.

“I was thinking we’d go to that steakhouse downtown and then I was thinking of stopping by the bar for a celebratory drink.” He’s hesitant when he says this, but it’s only because I know he feels like he shouldn’t waste money on something as trivial as alcohol when he could put it to better use. Usually that better use is something for me or paying bills.

I look at him with a stern look. “Don’t you even think about taking that back. Hell yeah you should go get a drink. Shit, maybe you can get me a six-pack before you go and I can have a celebratory drink too.” I end on a laugh, which has him laughing too.

“Yeah. I can do that, son. But no driving, ya hear?” Now it’s his turn to use a stern look. The one major rule my father has is no drinking and driving. He’d say, “If you want to have a drink here and there, that’s fine, but I need to know where you are and I better not ever catch you behind the wheel after you’ve even had a sip. You call me, I don’t care what time it is, I’ll come and get your ass. Better me than the police or the morgue.” I don’t go out drinking a lot because let’s face it, I couldn’t care less about going to any of the parties the kids my age attend, but I have on occasion gone out to the bluffs with a few cans of beer to just clear my head and think about the future. And I’ve never once gone against his word—I either walk home or I call him. He’s never gotten mad when I’ve asked him to come get me, even if it was past two in the morning and he had to be up at five.

“I hear ya, old man. Now let’s go. I’m fucking hungry and I can hear a big ass steak callin’ my name.” Even though it’s barely four, we’re used to eating early whenever we’re both home at night. Dad usually goes to bed around six-thirty since he has to be up at the ass crack of dawn. He doesn’t have to work tomorrow since it will be Saturday and it’s his weekend off, but I figure we might as well keep with our usual eating schedule. I’m also hoping there won’t be a lot of people there since it’s earlier than most people eat. I don’t want anyone to ruin our good mood and a good meal.

Since I know he wants to stop at the bar later, we both hop into my truck. He’s an adult but he’s never driven after he’s had a drink. I think that’s one of his best qualities; he won’t do something that he tells me or others not to do. He says if it’s important enough for him to tell others, then he needs to take his own words to heart too. Most people will tell others what to do just because they enjoy feeling like they are the boss, but then they don’t do the same. Fucking hypocrites.

On the drive over, we talk about mindless shit, like how his work week went or how school and training is going for me. I’ve never had a problem talking to my dad about anything. I guess you could say we’re closer than most father/son relationships usually are. I will always think of him as my father, but he’s my best friend too. I know that he would never judge me and he’ll always give me advice or direction when asked or if he feels it’s needed. 

Once we park and head inside, we’re immediately seated. 

“Out celebrating, eh, Mike?” I hear someone say from behind me as we sit down. 

I look over my shoulder and see that it’s Marcus Brindel. He’s the town attorney and father to Jimmy, who is my age and the star quarterback for the high school football team.

My dad laughs, though it’s a little strained. He hates these people almost as much as I do, maybe sometimes even more. “Well, can ya blame me? It ain’t every day you win a few thousand dollars.”

Marcus looks at him with a twisted sneer on his face. “A few thousand, huh? I thought for sure someone like you would think it’s more like a few million.” With that said, he gets up and walks toward the bar. 

“Fucking prick,” I say, looking at my dad.

“Now son, what have I always told you?” he asks, but he’s smiling so I know he’s not mad. Shit, he probably thought worse than what I did, he just isn’t saying it out loud.

“Hm, let me think…” I pause and tap my finger on my lower lip. “Oh, I remember. That you should always respect your elders…unless they are sorry pieces of shit that deserve to be put in their place.” I add the last part in with a smile on my face. Like I said, he’s taught me right and wrong, it just may not be in the traditional sense. But it’s the way we live and it’s honorable than most people.

He laughs and nods his head. “Damn right, son.”

The waitress walks up to our table and asks if we’re ready to order. Since we already knew what we wanted before we even got here, we don’t even need to look at the menu. I order a twelve-ounce T-bone steak with a side of mashed potatoes and Dad orders a New York Strip steak and a baked potato. We both decline the salad. Salads are for girls and pussies. Real men eat meat.

“So tell me again what you want to do after graduating? Do you have an idea where you want to go?” he asks after the waitress refills our sodas and walks away.

Since I was a teenager, I always knew I wanted to leave this place, but I never really knew where I wanted to go. I just thought that maybe I’d tour the US for a while and settle wherever seemed right. Now though, I know exactly where I want to go.

“I was thinking we could take a little detour down to Florida, check out the beaches on the east coast, and then head west until we reach the beach in California.” 

“California, huh? Why there?” he asks, genuinely interested. That’s another thing I love about my dad—he’s always interested in what I think, even if he doesn’t understand it.

“Well, I’ve done a lot of research about fighting professionally and California seems to be the place that always pops up. They’ve got some amazing trainers out there and it seems like all the big names come from California. So I figure if I want to make it in the business, that’s where I should go. You’ve got to learn from the best to be the best, right?”

He’s quiet for a few minutes, thinking about what I said.

“What about the Marines?” he asks, though I know he isn’t trying to push me to do something I may not want to do. He knows that was something I have been interested in, but wasn’t really sure if it was for me. When I was little, I would always dress up in his old uniforms and play Rambo. Since I was probably five years old, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up—a soldier, just like my dad. But now, I’m not sure if that’s what is meant for me. I mean, it still interests me, but I think fighting is the best bet. At least for now.

“I’m not sure, Dad. I mean, it’s still a possibility, but I want to see where this takes me first. I figure I could fight for a few years and then re-evaluate where I’m at. Maybe fighting isn’t for me, but maybe being a Marine isn’t, either. How will I ever know if I don’t try?” 

I wait for him to think about what I just said and hope that he agrees with me. He always told me to never let anyone dictate my life and to always do what was best for me, what I wanted to do. He’d say I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believe him. But I still want his approval and support. I suspect I’ll always want that, even when I’m old and grey.

He stares at me for a few moments, then he looks down at the table. “I’m proud of you, son. I’m sorry I don’t say that enough, but I am. I know life hasn’t always been easy on you and life
can be so hard that sometimes you just want to quit, but you never did—and you never will. I wish I could go back in time and do a few things different so I could have given you a better life and I wish I could have stopped your mother from leaving us. But we can’t go back and change the past. We can only move forward and pray we’ve learned something. So no matter what you choose to do, I’ll be right there with you—to guide you when you are uncertain, stand beside you when you just need someone there, and I’ll walk in the shadows to look after you when you can walk the road of life on your own. I may not have done a lot in my life or have a lot to show for it, but I do have you. You are my one amazing thing in the world and I’m so damn proud to call you my son.”

Listening to him talk has me almost choked up. My dad has always told me he loves me and that he’s there for me and that’s something a son always wants from his father. But hearing those words—that he’s proud of me—does something inside of me. I don’t know if I want to cry or laugh.

The waitress saves me from having to choose when she delivers our food. “Can I get you gentlemen anything else?”

My dad shakes his head and smiles at her, then she walks away.

Still a little flustered, I just stare at my plate. I feel like I should say something, anything, after what he just said, but I have no idea what. I have a billion things rolling around in my head but none of them seem to add up to how I feel.

“It ain’t going to eat itself. Dig in,” he says, then he follows his own advice. Deciding that my words can wait for another day when I don’t feel so raw, I shake my head and do just as he says.

My steak is cooked perfectly. I practically inhale everything on my plate. It’s not often I get a meal like this and I feel like if I don’t finish it fast, it could all get taken away. I’ve felt that way about a lot of things in my life—that they are too good to be true and it will never last. Most of the time, I’m right. But not this time.

I finish my meal before my dad, but he’s close behind me.

“Damn, that was good. How was your steak, son?”

Leaning back in my seat, I pat my stomach. “Fucking delicious.”

We are both quiet while we digest the good food and wait for the check. I start to think about what I should do tonight. I know there are parties going on because there are parties every Friday night, but I don’t think I could stand being around anyone who frequents those parties. Even with the knowledge that I’ll be leaving this place behind soon and that my life is finally starting to look up for the first time in forever, I won’t risk it. Knowing the fuckers that will be there, someone will say something to piss me off and I won’t be able to stop myself from beating the fuckers down. Yeah, I think I’ll just have dad pick me up a six pack and go find a spot to be alone and start planning for the future.

“You ready to get out of here?” he asks as he stands up.


My dad slaps me on the shoulder as we walk outside but he doesn’t say anything. Though, he doesn’t need to. This is the happiest I think I’ve ever seen him. And it’s not just because he won the money, though that might be a part of it, but it’s because he’ll be able to give me the life he has always wanted to give me. Little does he know, whether he won that money or not, I’d still be happy. Things would be harder for us, sure, but as long as he was with me and we were living our dreams, it doesn’t matter how long it would take us to get there as long as we get there eventually…or at least do our best trying. Enjoying the ride, that sort of thing.

“Pull into the gas station. I gotta grab a few things, then you can drop me off down the street.” I don’t answer and just watch him while he walks into the store. I see him grab something out of the beer cooler and then walk to the other side of the store where they have the grocery items, pharmacy stuff, and other little odds and ends. Then he makes his way up to the front to pay for everything.

As he walks outside, I see him holding a twelve pack of Bud Light and him stuffing something into his back pocket.

“All right, now remember what I said. I give this to you and you better not drive anywhere or do anything stupid, ya hear?” he says as he gets into the truck.

“Yeah, old man, I hear ya.” I laugh and pull out of the parking lot.

When I park across the street from the local watering hole, he pauses before opening the door and looks back at me. “I love you, Holden.” He doesn’t wait for me to say anything back before he’s out of the truck and walking into the bar.

I have no idea what’s making him say all the things he’s said tonight and there is a part of me that is a little boy again, jumping for joy at the approval from his father. Then there’s the embarrassed teenage boy who can’t find the right words to say back.

I sit in my truck for a few minutes and just think back on everything he’s said tonight. I always knew deep down that my dad loves me and is proud of me, but hearing him say it tonight makes me want to be better—for him. He doesn’t deserve a sulking boy who gets pissed off at the littlest things. Starting tonight, I’m going to be different. I’m going to be the man he’s always taught me to be. From now on, if someone does something that pisses me off, I’m going to turn the other cheek and think about all the things me and my dad are going to do when we leave this place behind.

Putting the truck in drive, I head toward home to drop my truck off. Then I’ll have a couple beers out by the quarry before going to bed. Tomorrow I want to tell my dad all the things I’m sorry for and how I’m going to be better. Then we can talk about the things he wants to do when we leave after graduation. I now understand that it’s not all about me. It’s more than just needing my dad with me on my journey, but wanting to go on a journey with him—together. We’ll do things that we both have always wanted to do, but couldn’t.  


I wake up to the sun heating my face and my back aching. Cracking one eyelid open, I’m blinded by the sun. Closing my eye again, I try to remember where I am and why I’m outside but the last thing I remember was sitting down at the rock quarry and drinking. I must have drank more than I thought and passed out. Shit.

Sitting up slowly, I stretch and open my eyes. It hurts like a motherfucker, but it’s manageable now that I know what to expect.

Looking around, I see the empty twelve pack sitting beside me and crushed beer cans littered everywhere. I usually never drink more than six, but last night, they were going down so good, I must have drank the whole damn thing without even realizing it. At least I didn’t get into any trouble and no one found me out here. That would be a bitch to explain where I got the alcohol and would have Dad pissed at me for a long time, let alone willing to buy me beer anytime soon.

Once I’m standing, I’m happy that I’m not hungover. I have a little bit of a headache, but that I can handle. I start picking up the cans and placing them back into the box, before starting my walk home. Don’t want to leave any evidence I was here.

It only takes me five minutes before I’m walking through the front door. Not really sure what time it is or what time my dad got home, I try to stay as quiet as possible, but when I walk past his open door, I see that he’s not there.

I head back toward the living room. I look at the couch, thinking maybe I missed him sleeping there when I walked in, but he’s not there either.

Maybe he went somewhere, but I could have sworn his bike was outside. Looking out the window to confirm it is indeed there, I decide to just wait for him. I can’t wait to tell him the revelations I had last night. Not just about wanting to be a better son, but of what I want to do with my life. I thought for sure fighting was what I really wanted, but now I’m not so sure. I still don’t think I want to go to the Marines right away, but I’m keeping that option open for now. What I really want to do is travel with my dad for a while. We could tour the US and see all the places we always dreamed of seeing but never thought it’d be possible. I think California is still where I want to go, but we could move to Canada for all I care.

Heading into my room, I grab some clean clothes and jump in the shower. I think sitting under the hot spray will help ease the pain in my back from sleeping outside last night.

Once I’m done getting dressed, I walk into the living room, checking to see if Dad came home while I was in the shower, but that’s a no go. I wonder where he is. I hope he’s not out looking for me. Maybe I should text him to tell him I’m home. Digging my phone out of my pocket, I shoot out a quick text.

Me: Hey old man, I’m home. Where are you?

Walking into the kitchen, I look around for something to eat, but don’t find much. Shit, we should have gone shopping last night. We have nothing to eat around here. Digging in my pocket, I pull out some cash I had left over from last week when Dad gave me some money for gas, so I decide to head down to the gas station for a slice of pizza or a bag of chips.

Making my way toward my truck, I see a police cruiser pull up. Not sure why they are here, I wait for them in front of my truck. Hopefully no one saw me out at the quarry last night or leaving this morning.

“Holden,” Officer Jacobs says as he stops in front of me. 

I can’t read his face so I’ll just have to tread carefully. If he’s not here because of last night, then I’m not telling him.

“Officer. What can I do for you?” I try to sound relaxed and calm. He doesn’t like me very much since that night a few months ago when he was trying to break up a fight and I “accidently” elbowed him in the nose. Fucker got me back by making me spend the night in jail though.

He looks down at his feet while rubbing the back of his head like whatever it is that he needs to say is painful for him. “I need you to come down to the station, son.”

I feel a prickle of irritation at the word “son” when he’s referring to me, but I hold my tongue. New leaf, remember?

“Sure thing. Lead the way.” I go to open my truck door, but he reaches a hand out to stop me.

“I’ll drive.” 

I let out a sigh and instead of answering him, I just follow him over to his squad car. 

We don’t talk the whole way to the station and I still have no idea why he’s bringing me in. Usually, if he thinks I did something wrong, he would gloat and rub whatever it is in my face— whether I actually did it or not.

He parks on the side of the street right in front of the door. He gets out and waits for me to catch up to him. At least I didn’t have to ride in the back of the cruiser. I feel like a caged dog
when that happens. Thank God that’s only happened once. Okay, maybe two or three times. Four max.

Officer Jacobs leads me to a small office toward the back of the station. When I walk in behind him, he closes the door and sits down behind his desk.

“Please sit down, Holden. I’m afraid I have some bad news.” 

Wanting to get this over with as fast as possible so I can get something to eat and find my dad, I sit down and wait patiently.

“It’s about your father.” He pauses and rubs the back of his neck again.

Before he can go on, I laugh and shake my head. “What did the old man do? Public intox? OWI? Or wait, don’t tell me, he got into a bar fight?” I laugh again, thinking about the last option. My dad is usually a mellow guy, but if you push him hard enough, he’s one mean sonofabitch. I’ve never seen him in action, but I’ve heard stories and have seen him lose his temper a few times with some of the neighbors. Man, I’m going to have fun giving him shit for this for a long time. He’s never going to live this down.

“Well, yes, there was a fight, but—”

“Maybe I should let him sit in the tank for the day. That’s what he’d do for me.” I laugh again just thinking about his homecoming later tonight. 

“Holden. Please, let me finish.” 

He waits until he sees that I’m not going to interrupt again, but that doesn’t stop me from laughing on the inside.

“Like I was trying to say before. There was an altercation at the bar your father was at last night. We got a call from the bartender around one this morning. He said there was a group of men fighting in the alley and that it looked like a few of them had weapons. We got there as fast as we could, but by then the fight was already over and everyone was gone. When we went into the alley to take a closer look, we found your father.” He stops again and looks down. I know my dad can handle himself in a fist fight, but knowing there were weapons, it makes me worried. How badly injured is he?

“Is he going to be all right?” I ask quietly.

He takes too long to answer, so I get up and head toward the door. Fuck it, I’ll go to the hospital and find out myself.

“Holden, wait. Holden!” he shouts as I ignore him and make my way through the building to outside. The hospital is only about a mile away. I don’t have my truck, but I can walk there. It would be faster than going home to get my truck.

Just as I get outside, I feel someone grab my arm. I yank out of the grasp and turn around. Officer Jacobs is standing there, looking a little uncertain, but determined. He has every right to be uncertain. I’ll drop his ass if he keeps me from getting to my dad.

“Let me go.”  I turn to go, but the next words out of Officer Jacobs mouth stops me cold.

“Holden. He’s gone, son. I’m so sorry.” 

I just stand there. I couldn’t have heard him right. My dad isn’t dead. He must mean he’s not at the hospital anymore. Yeah, that’s it. He’s probably already home, waiting for me.

“By the time we got there it was already too late. He suffered a blow to the head, probably from a tire iron, and a gunshot wound to the chest. I’m sorry, Holden, but he’s dead.”

It’s with those last words that every piece of thread that was holding me together snaps. No longer able to hold the beast that lies in wait at bay, I was no longer Holden, a seventeen-year old boy. I was no longer anyone’s son. I was now a man that had been wronged. A man that would do whatever it took to find the people who did this. I didn’t even recognize who I was anymore, but I knew nothing would ever the same again.

About the Author:

Shelly Morgan grew up in a small town in Iowa. She has 2 older sisters and amazing parents. Growing up, she was always a daddy’s girl, hanging out with him in the garage, fishing, and building stuff. She loved to play softball and swimming, but reading, telling stories, and writing were her passion, even at a young age. She took a break from writing for a while, but you could always find her with a book in her hand.

Shelly has three children – two boys and a girl. They are her whole world. Even when she’s having the worst day ever, they brighten up her day and can always put a smile on her face.

A few years ago, Shelly had this story in her head that wouldn’t go away; it would always play over and over. No matter how many times she went through the idea—from beginning to end—the story never faded. So Shelly decided to put it on paper. She never planned to publish it, but when her story was almost done, a friend read it and said that it need to be shared. And that’s what stared Shelly’s writing career.

Shelly loves all genres of books, and even though she started with writing MC Romance, she has a whole book of ideas, so you can expect more from her than just MC, though romance is in her blood.

Shelly currently works part-time, but her ultimate dream is to become a full time author. She wants to be able to spend her days filling pages with stories. To be the reason people find a reason to smile or laugh from lines on a page. Reading a book always allows her to live in someone else’s shoes, even if for a few minutes. She thinks it’s a way to leave her life and troubles behind, so she wants to be able to help others do that as well with her words.

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Spotlight and Giveaway A Lover of Men by Julia Talbot

A Lover of Men
Julia Talbot

Genre: Historical menage romance

Publisher: All Romance eBooks

Date of Publication: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943576-814

Word Count: 23k

Cover Artist: Erin Dameron Hill

Book Description:

A former soldier, a spy, and a spinster…three people, three lovers.

For spinster Lelia August, first came the small fortune then came the hoard of unscrupulous characters wanting a piece of it—or more specifically, a piece of her.

She decides to find a suitable man to marry, someone who won't want her to submit to the marriage bed. She settles on ex-soldier Phineas Moore, who has a reputation as a lover of men.

Phineas is intrigued by Lelia’s offer and thinks a marriage of convenience might just work for them. But when someone tries to kill his future wife, Phineas vows to protect her and find who’s responsible. He hires the irresistible spy Rafe Gaudi to investigate, and soon realizes he's outsmarted himself. Can Rafe and Phineas figure out who's plotting against the woman they’ve come to love, and can they even hope to dream of a future where the three can become one?

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“I have a business matter to discuss with you, Sir Phineas.” Lelia August studied the man who sat across from her, his large body stuffed into the tiny black lacquer chair stationed across from her desk. Somehow he should have appeared quite as ridiculous as all of the recent suitors who had wiggled their way into her library intent upon sweeping her, and her fortune, off her feet.

Contrarily, Phineas Moore appeared perfectly at ease, masculine, even somewhat predatory. His hair, black as a rook, was cut ruthlessly short, and his neckcloth was simple and unfashionable.

Had Lelia not done her research she would have thought him the simple country baronet he appeared. Instead, she knew his unfashionable appearance hid a complex man with a soldier’s mind and a surprising reputation among his peers.

“I confess I am curious, Miss August. That is why I find myself here, answering your summons.” His green eyes gleamed when he smiled slightly, lines around his eyes and mouth crinkling.

“I am glad you have that to satisfy. Makes you far more interesting. Tell me, what have you been able to discover about me in the last six hours?” She had sent her invitation to him at eight, which meant he would have received it around nine. He had arrived at five until three. She approved of his promptness.

“That you are a spinster. That your father was the third son of an Earl. That your uncle passed away leaving the title to a cousin who has a great fondness for you, and he’s settled upon you a stipend of some considerable wealth. In a trust, so it cannot be siphoned off by his miserable, whoring, gaming brother.” His expression never changed during the telling, but he did study her closely.

Gracious, she was outclassed here. Lelia curled her hands together, keeping them from fluttering like nervous birds. No sense giving away her sudden nerves.

“That’s quite a lot,” she said. “If you know all that about me, then you know that since I have come into said fortune I have been deluged with suitors.” All shapes, sizes, and classes of men had been calling, so much so that she’d taken the knocker from the door of the modest townhouse her cousin had also settled upon her. He liked her company, he said, and preferred she stayed in Town. Dear Eustace. Still, some of the men had been rather more forceful in their attentions than she felt necessary.

“Indeed.” Sir Phineas tilted his head. “I imagine your cousin hopes settling a fortune on you will erase your spinster status.”

“Hmm.” She wasn’t sure at all that had been Eustace’s intention. However, now he saw her difficulty, he had turned his eye toward that idea, if only to give her relief. Having just gained her independence from reliance on men, Lelia had no desire to go back. “Hence my proposal to you.”

“I am on pins and needles,” Phineas murmured.

“Yes. Well.” She squeezed her hands together so hard her knuckles turned white. “I realize we do not know one another, but you must realize, I have viewed my situation from every angle and I believe this is the best possible solution to my dilemma.”

“I see.” Phineas sat back, the chair creaking alarmingly. “By all means, enlighten me, Miss August.”

“I want you to marry me.” The nausea left her as soon as she said it. Better to have it right out in the open.

The chair cracked, the two pieces of it falling away to either side while Sir Phineas crashed to the floor. His well-polished boots kicked the air for a moment before he sprang to his feet. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, I wish to propose marriage. To you.”

Shock overtook his expression, and Phineas placed his hands on her desk, leaning into her space. This close she could smell the deep scent of tobacco and freshly pressed linen. “Why?”

About the Author:

Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Samhain Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance eBooks and Changeling Press. She believes in stories that leave a mark, and that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter.

For more information on other books by Julia, please visit her official website: www.JuliaTalbot.com

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Interview and Giveaway - Dragons Among Them by Kyra Jacobs

Please tell us about your latest release.

DRAGONS AMONG THEM kicks off a series that’s akin to Game of Thrones meets Alice in Wonderland:  modern day girl finds herself in an alternate reality that seems plucked out of an era long gone. Only, this reality includes several creatures not included in her history books on the topic of medieval times:  wizards, witches, and dragonshifters.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Yes! Quinn Blackstone was a rather hard nut to crack emotionally. He plays a bigger role in book 2, but I had to really dig deep to figure out what made him into the monster he seemed to be. His backstory proved to be more heart-breaking than I’d first imagined. ;-)

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Ah, that’d have to be Zayne. Don’t get me wrong, Addie was a lot of fun to write, too. But getting to the heart and soul of my shifter hero was an immensely enjoyable experience. He’s not your typical spoon-fed royal, and Addie brings out a whole other side in him. He’s been a lot of fun to develop throughout the series. And book 3? Well, he has no idea what’s waiting for him there…but I’m fairly certain he’ll thank me later.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

Oh,wow. There were so many! Hmm, let’s see… It might have to be the horseback ride that led to their first kiss. Zayne is trying to return Addie to what he thinks is her homeland, and by simply being authentic (and in no way trying to woo the prince) she’s inadvertently and unintentionally beginning to win him over. When it comes time for them to “part ways”, he can’t help but get one little taste of her. Of course, one taste was not nearly enough…

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

These books were not written stand alones. This is a series that follows Addie and Zayne as the primary characters, though the secondary characters play larger roles as the series progresses. None of the books are cliffhangers, though they may hint and what waits on the horizon in the next book. If readers jump in to book 2 or 3 without reading book 1, they will struggle with the “who” and “why” of those books.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Hmm, they might, but I’ll never tell. ;-)

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Oh, heck yeah. I don’t know of an author who doesn’t (and if you do, don’t tell me, I’d hate to hate them! lol) I used to panic when writer’s block struck, because you read often that “thou shalt write every day with no exception”. But over time I’ve learned that if I try to push thru and write something just for the sake of writing…well, for me that “something” is usually crap and eventually gets thrown away. So instead, I’m learning to give my story a little breathing room. Move away from the keyboard and do something else. Kick a soccer ball, pull weeds from the garden—something to disengage my writing mind. When the characters are ready to move forward, they tell me. Usually, I don’t have to wait long.

Do you write in different genres?

Yes, I do. My first two novels were in a romantic suspense series. Those were followed by a sweet contemporary romance series (The Checkerberry Inn series with Entangled—Her Unexpected Detour is out now; next book in the series is due out later this year). DRAGONS is my first “spicy” series as well as my first journey into the fantasy genre. And I have to admit, it’s one helluva lotta fun. But it’s also nice being able to go between genres and following the story I’m feeling most passionate about at that particular time.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

I worried that it might be, but so far, no. I have to remember which series I’m supposed to “fade to black” on for the sexual/physical aspects, but I look at character development in similar ways no matter the genre. Readers want a great storyline, regardless, so that’s what I strive to create.

Dragons Among Them
Kingdoms of Fire and Ice
Book One
Kyra Jacobs

Genre: PNR/Fantasy

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LLC

Date of Publication: April 19th, 2016

ISBN: 9781619234406

Word Count: 66K

Book Description:

Prince Zayne Godfrey, heir to Edana’s throne, is betrothed to the lone princess of rival kingdom Forath. While his heart is not in the arranged marriage, he will do his royal duty.

When he finds a beautiful stranger cornered by a pack of wolves, he doesn’t hesitate to shift into his golden dragon form to save her. She thanks him by taking one look at him and fainting dead away.

Photographer Adelaide Miller is in England for a career-making shoot when a bizarre jogging mishap lands her in a dangerous, medieval-like world of royals, wizards and dragon-shifting men. Her first instinct is to find her way back, but the fire-breathing prince intent on protecting her threatens to melt her heart.

Zayne’s burning passion for Adelaide not only jeopardizes the fragile peace between two kingdoms, it uncovers a ruthless plot to destroy his family.

Remaining together may change Adelaide’s very definition of home—and expose one searing secret that could forever shift the balance of power in Zayne’s world.

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Excerpt 2 (392 words):

Zayne watched with amusement as Addie’s crystalline gaze flashed to the odd slippers dangling from his fingers, then slowly shifted to his face. Even here, in the shadows, the sight of her took his breath away. Emeline insisted the girl was nothing more than a peasant sent into the woods as bait to lure him into a Forathian snare. But no peasant he had ever encountered possessed skin so perfect or golden hair so smooth and long. She rose to stand before him, her pale skin angelic in the moonlight, and the scent of wildflowers and honey nipped at his senses. His gaze trailed uninhibited over her trim yet supple body, dressed once again in nothing but her unusual yet gloriously minimal undergarments.
An angel in devil’s clothing.
“What are you doing with my shoes?” Her voice was low and unsteady.
Shoes? What an odd word. He held up her slippers and fought to keep a smirk from his face. “These? Why, holding them, my lady, nothing more. I feared for your safety and so removed them from your path.”
“Uh-huh.” The blonde vixen’s eyes narrowed. “You knew I was awake?”
“Aye. You blushed when I touched your cheek. I knew it would be but a matter of time before you magically awoke.”
“And yet you let Emeline leave,” she said. “Why?”
“Perhaps I wanted to have you all to myself for a moment.”
Her eyes widened a fraction. Addie took a step back, sucked in a sharp breath and quickly took another. “I see.”
She shifted her gaze from his and swept it across the room toward its lone window, feigning interest in the chamber’s furnishings. She was bold, this one. Perhaps that was why he felt inexplicably drawn to her. The feeling was both new and infuriating at the same time.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” he said. “Even if you survived the fall, there are things lurking in the neighboring woods far more dangerous than I.”
Her gaze shifted back to him. “Look, I don’t know who you are or how I got here, but if you’ll give me my shoes, I’ll be out of your hair in no time.”
“But you are not in my hair.” He took a step forward and wished very much that she was. “Nor am I quite ready to let you go.”

About the Author:

Kyra Jacobs is an extroverted introvert who writes of love, humor and mystery in the Midwest and beyond. When this Hoosier native isn’t pounding out scenes for her next book, she’s likely outside, elbow-deep in snapdragons or spending quality time with her sports-loving family. Kyra also loves to read, tries to golf, and is an avid college football fan.

Be sure to stop by her website www.KyraJacobs.wordpress.com to learn more about her novels and ways connect with her on social media.

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