Friday, May 07, 2021

Kicking and Screaming by McCarty Griffin #Paranormal #GhostHunting

Kicking and Screaming
McCarty Griffin

Genre: Paranormal
Date of Publication: January 20, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-3012-1460-0
Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 98, 373
Cover Artist: Joleene Naylor

Book Description: 

Lacey DeLaney is dragged kicking and screaming into battling evil spirits and portals to other dimensions when she makes an impulsive bet with her best friends, Tish MacFarlane and Penny Elliot. 

Together they face off against the nether world and each other on a wild adventure no reality show could ever have prepared them for. 

Join this unlikely trio of ghost hunters, along with congenial empath Mary McDonald, on their wild ride through demonic mayhem and ghostly madness, where only the deep bonds of friendship they share can bring them safely through to this adventure’s shocking end.

Excerpt from Kicking and Screaming by McCarty Griffin

A smothered scream from Penny grabbedher attention. She turned around and gasped at the spectacle of the front door of the Fergus house jumping out at them from Tish’ssixty-five-inch television screen. Penny stared at it over the hand she had clamped over her mouth.

“Holy shit,” Lacey croaked, wincing at the unpleasant tightening in her midsection. “How’d you do that?”

“Cool, huh?” Tish grinned at her. “HDMI cable. Let’s you connect your computer to your TV. We can relax on the couch or the floor while we check out the pictures, instead of trying to crowd around the desk and squint at the computer screen.”

In the middle of her gleaming walnut coffee table sat a cordless mouse on a pad.Tish made herself comfortable on the floor next to the table and motionedthem to join her. In her excitement, she hadn’t noticed their tension and Lacey decided to let it go for the time being. They could discuss Sid and his canine eccentricities later. As for her dream, well, she put no credence in dreams.She was more interested in what Penny had captured with her manic photo snapping.

Tish clicked the mouse and flipped back several frames to the first few pictures Penny had taken upon exiting the Subaru. Nothing struck them as remarkable right off hand. The house looked like any other old country house on the backroads of Monongalia County.When neither Penny nor she commented, Tish clicked to the next photo.

“What’s that?” Lacey asked, pointing to swirls of what appeared to be fog all around the house and front driveway. “I don’t remember seeing anything like that when we were there.Did you see any of this when you got that picture?”

“No, or I would have said so at the time.” Penny stared intently at the screen. “Is that what I think it is, Tish? Haven’t we seen this shit on those shows of yours?”

 “Yeah. They call it ectoplasm. Supposed to be spirit energy manifesting. It’s a common phenomenon.”

She clicked the mouse through several photos of the front of the house. They examinedthem in silence, seeing nothing else unexplainable except the ectoplasm swirling and twisting in different patterns in each frame. She clicked again and they were in the entrance hall, which was clear of the mysterious fog, but dotted with several spheres of what appeared to be bluish white light.

“Jesus,” Tish whispered. “I know I didn’t see those when we went in. Those are orbs.”

“What are orbs?” Lacey asked. “I mean, besides the obvious reference to their shape, what are they supposed to be?”

“They’re supposed to be spirits,” Penny answered, surprising both Tish and Lacey. “Sometimes, you can see faces in them.”

For someone who in the recent past had expressed skepticism bordering on contempt for the whole ghosthunting genre, she sounded remarkably well-informed.

“Oh, okay,” she admitted with a self-conscious smile. “I did some online research today about taking pictures in haunted places and what to look for. I thought I needed to educate myself, especially after Sid’s nervous breakdown.”

“Sid?What happened with Sid?”

“We’ll tell you later.” She grabbed the mouse and clicked to the next frame, which happened to be in the kitchen. Nothing looked out of place. “Let’ssee all the pictures first. Damn, I wish we’d gotten some video before we bolted out of there. What about the recording?”

“I finished it about an hour ago. We can listen when we get done with this. Give me the mouse.”

Without waiting for Penny to comply, shetook it from her and methodically moved through the pictures of the kitchen and a few through the window over the sink of the property behind the house, then a few more of the entrance hall as they headed for the stairway to seek the source of the first loud thump.

Tish stopped and pointed to a bright blue orb hoveringabout a foot above Lacey’s head. “Do you see that?” she asked in a hushed voice. “Am I imagining shit or is that a face?”

Lacey’s throat was too tight to speak. Those features looked familiar, evoking a memory of warm brown eyes beneath a shock of dark hair. It couldn’t be the same guy, she toldherself firmly. It was a coincidence orher brain playing tricks on her. She’d seen him today in the parking lot immediately after a traumatic event and now her brain, more disturbed than shehad first thought, was seeing his face everywhere.

Penny traced the outline of the face with a scarlet nail. “I could be wrong, but I think it’s a man. Young. He looks friendly. See? He’s smiling at us. I don’t recognize him. Do either of you?”

 “No,” Lacey lied automatically. The face was too small to be sure who it was. Her imagination had decided to go into overdrive today and she needed to rein it in for the sake of objectivity.

“Me neither,” Tish said after another few moments of considering the orb. “He does have nice smile, though. At least as much as I can see.”

“Let’s move on,” Lacey urged her, not wanting to look at him any longer. “We have a lot more to go.”

“Okay. We can come back if one of us realizes who he is.”

Besides a few more orbs exhibiting no signs of facial features, nothing untoward showed up again until they reached the last photo Penny had taken through the open doorway before she had fled the porch.

“Holy shit!” Penny screamed without warning. “What the fuck is that?”

Shescrambledto her feet and backed away from the television screen, pointing at it with a trembling forefinger. An inexplicable gloom shrouded the steps at the top of the first staircase. Amid thehaze, perhaps two or three steps from the top, stood a dark amorphous figure, vaguely human in shape. From what might have been the shadow figure’s head, two red eyes glared at Penny as she unknowingly pointed the camera straight at it.

“Tish, I think you need to take this camera back to the store. It’s fucked up. It’s not taking good pictures at all.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the camera and you know it, Lacey.” Tish looked pale despite her naturally olive complexion. “I don’t know what that thing is looking at Penny, but this isreal picture of it, not a glitch. Something is in the Fergus house.”

Penny seized the remote and turned off the television. “That thing’s creeping me out. I can’t look at it anymore. And Ineed a drink.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         “Okay,” Tish said briskly, “time for the EVP.”

She fiddled with several cords before sitting at her computer. Within seconds, their voices sounded over the sound bar beneath her TV.Lacey heardherself announce their presence in a self-conscious voice and give a running monologue on where they were moving next. Next came the clicking of the camera and the clacking of Penny’s heels, then Penny’s voice echoed in the empty kitchen.

“What’s the temp in here, Tish?”

“It’s cold.”

“Sixty-three . . .”

Tish hit the pause button, staring atthem with wide eyes. “Did you hear that?”

 “Maybe,” Lacey said cautiously. She thought shehad heard deep mumbling amidst the discussion about the room temperature. “Play it again.”

Tish rewound, going back too far, but Lacey didn’t mind. She needed to prepare herself to listen properly for the voice that had slipped in between Penny and Tish’s voices. It was so fleetinga moment of inattention might cause her to miss it.

“What’s the temp in here, Tish?”

“It’s cold.”

Tish clicked the mouse so deftly, she cuther response off completely.

“Yes!” Pennysprung to her feet with eyes alight. “A man’s voice, something about the cold.”

“I can’t hear it very well.” Tish stared at the computer as if willing it to speak more plainly. “Sounds like he’s mumbling. What about the cold?”

 “He said ‘it’s cold.’” Of the three of them, Lacey heard him the most distinctly. “Right after Penny asks you about the temperature in the kitchen, a man says, ‘it’s cold.’”

“He doesn’t sound evil, does he?” Penny said in a puzzled voice. “He just sounds like some guy standing there in the kitchen with us. Ooh, this is weird, isn’t it?” She hugged herself and said with relish, “Keep going.”

Tish pressed play again and they sat as still as statues whiletheir voices played back at them. Penny spoke again.

“Shelly gave us the key . . .”

“You know Shelly? Did she send you here?”

“. . . that came with the new lock. . ..”

“Who are you? You need to get out of here!”

The male voice wasn’t a murmur anymore, it was a shout. Lacey broke out in gooseflesh so stark it hurt, as if all the hairs along her arms had gone ingrown all at once. Tish didn’t hit the stop button this time and Lacey heardherself say, “Let’s go see.”

“No! Don’t go up there!”

They heard themselves debating what to do a few seconds longer and then silence, punctuated by their footfalls. They were headed for the stairs to investigate the unexplained thumps.She tilted her head to listen closer. What was that noise filling the room? It was low and rough, rising and falling in an oddly familiar cadence she couldn’tquite put her finger on. Suddenly, she flashed on Miss Fizzy’s elfin features and knew what she was hearing. She nearly screamed right there in Tish’s brightly lit living room.

“That’s a growl!” She jumped up and backed away from the speakers. “Turn it off, for God’s sake! Something’s growling at us!”

“No,” Penny commanded, blocking the mouse with one outstretched hand.

“Shh!” Tish glared and smacked Penny’s hand away from the mouse. “Listen.We’re about to hear the first thudding noise from the top floor.”

Right on cue, the thunderous crash boomed from the speakers. Next cameher Scooby-Doo moment, which garneredher another scowl from Tish,andthentheir full attention was seized by rich, throaty male laughter flowing into the room from the speakers, spilling over and covering their bickering like a layer of warm caramel.

A second later, the speakers literally rattled with feedback from the force of the second crash from above and over their panicked retreat, theyheard a harsh voice whisper, “Come back here.”

About the Author:

McCarty Griffin lives in the Pacific Northwest, at the foot of the Cascades, with her husband, two children and several nonhuman family members. She is a transplanted hillbilly, born in Texas, but raised in the hollows and hills of West Virginia where most of her works are set. She does not limit her creative efforts to any particular genre, although she does have a special love for horror and the paranormal she traces back to a childhood of Saturday nights eating Chef Boyardee pizza and watching Chiller Theatre with her mother. Before settling in to raise her daughter and son, she served in the United States Army, went home to earn her undergraduate and law degrees, and then practiced criminal defense law for more than ten years. One day she finally sat down and started writing, and she hasn’t stopped since.

Bootleggers by Paul Rudd #Fantasy #SciFi

Book One
Paul Rudd

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Publisher: Ravenous Roadkill Publishing 
& Wild Wolf Publishing
Date of Publication: 15th December 2019
ISBN-10 : 1675816727  
ISBN-13 : 978-1675816721
Number of pages: 497
Word Count: 136,697
Cover Artist: Southern Stiles Design

Tagline: “We’ve gone from zero to apocalypse in six days.” 

Book Description: 

Welcome to 1987, part of the era of VHS and arcade games.

A time when teenagers on BMX’s create worlds of imagination.

The Four Horsemen, Tommy, Mikey, Kurt and Ted, need something new to spice up their gatherings, because, well, boys will be boys. When a stranger approaches Mikey with bootlegged tapes in the trunk of his car, Mikey isn’t interested, but the boardgame the man presents might just do the trick.

The Horsemen become Bootleggers to play this life-altering game, assuming avatars with a twist to every tale and forging into the realms created by a sadistic madman known as Mr. Nobody.

Everything is at risk, family and friends, and their entire town; they must play, or everyone dies.

When folk are murdered, the boys know there is only one way to end the game. It is time to change the rules and kick some ass.

Book Trailer:

Amazon     AmazonUK      AudibleUS     AudibleUK


Monday …

08:10 A.M.

THE DOWNPOUR eased up just before Tommy left home. Still, he chose to take the school bus rather than cycle. The teenager exited the bus and made his way up the driveway towards school, not caring that he was wishing away the day.

Some of the Mids, with their side ponytails, structured shoulder jackets, and baggy, cropped trousers mingled in the courtyard. The term ‘Mids’ came from Tommy and the other Horsemen, for the kids who were not geeky enough to be a nerd, and not cool enough to in the clique; so middling, somewhere in between.

A few jocks sat on the handrail lining the eight steps leading up to the mustard-colored entrance doors. The athletic teens were taking it in turns to knock books out of kids’ hands as they passed. When a kid bent over to pick them up, a kick up the backside sent the kid tumbling down the steps. Hilarity ensued for the brainless minority.

A fashion parade of cheerleaders, sporting big perms and hair, shared a mix of lace gloves, leg warmers and cut-off sweatshirts. Showing a little flesh over their high waist jeans, leggings and miniskirts, the clique watched the world go by from their perches on the Football team players car bonnets.

A few of the nerds were gathered under a tree, admiring something in a magazine. Oversized blazers appeared to be on the dork menu, with a side of one-tone shirts and thick-rim spectacles. Tommy squeezed his coat tighter round his chest, to hide his own blazer.  

He couldn’t see the magazine cover, which annoyed him a little. Rather than dwell on it, he looked for his friends within the few hundred kids currently converging on the high school. He couldn’t see Kurt or Ted, but he spotted Mikey sprinting across the courtyard, his ruddy features noticeable before he doubled over to catch his breath.

“Hey, Mikey, sorry I didn’t meet you at the park entrance this morning. I took the bus.”

Mikey shook his head, “You …  need …”

“To save little Timmy from the well?”

Mikey shook his head, “To …”

“Do the truffle shuffle?”

“To …”

“Learn the ways of the force? Give me a clue here, Lassie.”


Tommy’s smile faded as he spotted, over Mikey’s shoulder, Zack’s car screeching into the car park. Skidding across the wet surface, the car came to an abrupt halt a few inches shy of a teacher’s parked car.

Mikey jabbed a finger at Zack’s Corvette, and then drew a thumb across his jugular. Tommy knew exactly what his friend meant.

“I didn’t do anything to upset Zack.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

“What did I do?”


“I didn’t do her.”

“You kissed her.”

“I didn’t kiss her; she kissed me. Wait. You told him?”

Mikey shook his head.

“Then who did?”


Tommy swung towards a furious teenager. Zack was around six-foot, with wide shoulders, slicked back hair, and a George Michael six o’clock shadow. The kid never took off his beloved leather jacket, which would have been a good thing on any other day. Today he removed it, showing off a plain black t-shirt, and a look that said he wanted to crack some heads. He wore ripped jeans and happened to be the instigator of the trend that was now running throughout the school like a virus.

Like the courage crawling up his ass crack, Tommy had nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. And the beating of all beatings was headed his way at light speed.

EAGER to witness the early morning bloodshed, every kid in shouting distance surrounded the two boys.

“Fight, fight, fight …”

The chant seemed to get louder as the spectator’s circle started to force the boys towards each other.

Zack vaulted a school bench like a hurdler, leaving Tommy wondering if he would ever look so cool while doing the same thing. He spotted Daisy forcing her way through the crowd. She was shouting and trying to get to Zack.

The older kid ran towards Tommy, clenching his fists. “You think you can kiss my girl, and I wouldn’t’ find out.”

“Zack, wait, it’s not what you think.”

“I knew you had a thing for her. Well, it’s time to pay the price.”

Tommy held up his hands. Zack’s punch went through the middle of them, and the darkness descended faster than a closing Death Star blast door.

“I can see the light …”

THE DESIRE to be in Daisy’s arms came out of the blue. The tightness of their embrace, the thrumming of her heart as he pulled her closer, her hands clasping the base of his spine, her perfect eyes taking in the love outpouring from his devoted heart. His lips locking with hers, the smoothness of her tongue, the kiss, a moment hidden from time.

Tommy’s love for her he could not deny, even as the school prom quickly faded away, right before his eyes. Replaced by a dull, overcast cloud front, and raindrops, hundreds of them, running down his cheeks, his throbbing skull reminded him that he was just hit by a meat meteor.

Amid the downpour was Ted, smiling as manically as the Riddler.

“Ground control to Major Tom?” he said, shoving Tommy’s shoulder.

“Shut the hell up, Ted.” Mikey jostled Ted to one side and knelt next to his best friend.

It hurt watching Tommy hit the grass like a dead weight. And then to listen to every kid in the crowd laugh at the fight that ended before it even started.

“Where am I?” Tommy tried to lift his head, despite it feeling as heavy as a bowling ball.

“You’re on Mongo, Flash. And Ming just kicked your blonde ass.”

“Is everything a joke to you, Ted?” Mikey snapped.

“Not everything. Well, I say not everything, what I mean to say is …”

Mikey turned back to Tommy. “Are you okay, dude?”

“How long was I out?”

“About four centuries. You even overshot Buck Rogers,” Ted said, leaning over Mikey’s shoulder. “We had to wait until they created time travel, so that we could come back, tell you to duck. I guess we were too late. Damn time travel traffic. And don’t get me started on that Delorean. I mean, who chooses a Delorean over a Trans AM?”

Mikey turned in a flash. “Ted, as usual, you’re not helping.”

“Don’t bite my head off. It’s not my fault he felt up your sister.”


“Okay, okay …” Ted started dispersing the crowd. “There’s nothing to see.

This is not the kid you’re looking for. You can go about your business. Move along, move along.”

Tommy struggled to take a knee. Most of the kids were still in the circle, pointing his way and ignoring Ted’s attempts to move them.

“Like the kids around here need any more ammunition to throw my way. Now they think I’m a love criminal.”

“Ignore them,” Mikey said.

“Did I do well?”

“If doing well is getting floored with one punch, then you aced it, dude,” Kurt said from over Mikey’s shoulder. “Oh, crap. Here comes the Whip.”

The gathering scattered, leaving Ted standing alone in the dispersing circle.

“Yeah, you better run. Next time I catch you all cheering, I’ll kick your asses myself.” Ted swiveled on his heels and almost collided with a grey-haired man in a pressed suit and waistcoat. “Oh, fu–”

“Don’t you have a class to get to, Theodore?”

“That’s an affirmative, sir.”

Whitmore looked down his nose at Ted’s rucksack. Ted smiled, leaned down to pick it up, and slinked off, grabbing Kurt on the way.

To the kids at Rosewood Falls High, Principal Marshall Whipmore ruled the corridors like this generation’s Wyatt Earp. Rumors were rife of the grey-haired disciplinarian’s horsewhip never being too far away from a pupil’s legs, or his trusty ruler from the back of a kid’s palms. The punishment rumors had yet to be proven legitimate.

“You two boys care to tell me what you were doing out here?” Whipmore asked.

“Nothing, sir. He just tripped,” Mikey replied.

“I didn’t ask you, Mikey. I asked Tommy. Well?”

“I tripped over a tree root sir. I didn’t see it. Damn things are everywhere.”

“It must have been some stumble, considering your eye?”
Tommy reached for his left eye and felt a lump the size of melon three inches from his eyebrow. “Er, yeah.” He glared at Mikey and mouthed, what the f***.

“May I suggest you go and see the nurse, and get some ice on that lump?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll go straight away.”

Whipmore waited until Tommy passed by before he said, “And if I catch you fighting again, it will be the whip, boy. You hear me?”

About the Author:

No, he’s not the actor, or Ant Man, Paul Rudd, the author, is UK based and tends to delve into Sci-Fi/horror/fantasy genres.
Sharks have been a passion since he first watched Jaws at an age far too young to print. Writing about sharks, and in particular, the prehistoric Megalodon sharks, seemed an obvious route to take, and so began the creation of Paul’s debut novel Sharc.
Released in 2012, Sharc led to Sharc Bait (book 2 of the series), London Warriors followed, and then Wild Wild Dead, along with the Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare. Shark Spawn and Bootleggers, the latest release (first published in 2020).
All of Paul’s releases can be found under the Ravenous Roadkill banner, and Ebooks available through Wild Wolf Publishing. Audiobooks for Sharc, Sharc Bait, Wild Wild Dead, London Warriors, Shark Spawn and Bootleggers are all available through Audible.
Please check out the Ravenous Roadkill website at

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Hunting The Beast by W. T. Watson #UrbanFantasy

Hunting The Beast
W. T. Watson

Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Publisher: Beyond The Fray Publishing
Date of Publication: March 5. 2021
ISBN: 978-1-954528-02-4
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 64,934
Cover Artist:  L Douglas Hogan

Tagline:  Werewolves, cryptid creatures and a protagonist straight out of the pages of lore! 

Book Description:

An ancient evil stalks the Adirondacks…

A ghost hunter is faced with events she has never seen before…

A private investigator is not at all what he seems…

When Zachary Collins agrees to help the head of Buffalo Paranormal Investigations with a hostile haunting, he has no idea he will be immersing himself in the hunt for an ancient monster or that the monster may be hunting him.

Zach will need all of his skill, both magical and mundane, to keep his client alive and to survive Hunting the Beast. 


Stakeouts are not the most interesting part of my jobs but, on this night, the surveillance duty was alright. It was warm for an October night in Buffalo and Chippewa street was alive with a number of interesting characters. I took a sip of the hot Jamaican Blue I had picked up from the local coffee shop and scanned the street again, trying to parse a werewolf out of the crowd of students and young professionals moving up and down the street.

I’d been told by one of the local witches, a frequent information source, that she had seen a wolf that she did not recognize from the local pack at The Palmero, the local metal bar. Now, it was possible that Alonso Martinez, the Buffalo Pack Alpha, had inducted a new member but, if so, I should have been informed. I am, after all, the Buffalo Region’s Black Dog and I am responsible for enforcing the Charter, the laws of the Otherworld, on the werewolf population.

Whether Alonso was holding out on me or we had a rogue wolf in our midst, I needed to know about it so I had been watching the Palermo for several evenings, hoping to encounter the mysterious werewolf.

I had finished my third cup of coffee and was beginning to think that this night was a wash when I spotted the wolf. He had come around the corner from Delaware slowly. He was a young man of average height incongruously wearing aviator shades in the dark night. It was not the silliness of the sunglasses at night that cued me; it was the fact that as soon as he got close to the human crowds people formed an unconscious ring around him.

Humans have worked hard to become rational beings, to ignore the things that go bump in the night, but they have not evolved so far that they do not recognize a predator in their midst. The boy did not even have enough control to damp his inner carnivore so that he could mix with human society. That made him a rogue and my job now was to bring him in.

I exited the car slowly, conscious that sudden movement might alert the werewolf and moved across the street. Even an untrained wolf had uncannily sharp senses so I checked to make certain the wind was blowing in my face before moving closer to my target. I had dressed in black so I blended with the Goth crowd outside the Palermo until I was directly behind my subject. Speaking softly enough that nonhuman ears could not hear me, I murmured, “ Listen carefully and do not move. I know what you are. Stand quietly and I promise you that no harm will come to you . . . 

About the Author:

W. T. Watson is a coffee addict and writer of both fiction and non-fiction.  He infuses his work with his expertise in cryptozoology, monster lore, magic, Forteana and the paranormal. W.T. brings a unique shamanic and magical perspective to all of his work after over 30 years of exploration in these topics. When he is not writing or reading about monsters, he can be found outdoors allowing his dogs to take him for a walk around his neighbourhood in Kitchener, Ontario.  He lives with his spouse, Stacey, in a townhome that would be jammed with books if it weren’t for e-readers.  

Monday, May 03, 2021

Ambrosia by David-Matthew Barnes #Romance #ChickLit

David-Matthew Barnes

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit
Publisher: Blue Dasher Press 
Date of Publication: April 7, 2021 
ISBN: 9798732649086
Number of pages: 217
Word Count: 56,400
Cover Artist: Kingwood Creations

Book Description: 

On the night of her 30th birthday, Tina Duncan is dumped by her musician boyfriend and left with nothing. When her best friend dares her to accept every date she’s asked out on for the next year, Tina accepts the challenge only to confirm her theory that the perfect man no longer exists. 

Tina’s life soon becomes one terrible date after another until she accidentally meets Oliver, a beautiful stranger who arrives at her front door to return her purse he’s found in a cab. Before realizing Oliver might be the man to prove her theory wrong – and is indeed the perfect man for her – he slips away and disappears. 

Convinced she’s lost her one shot at true love, Tina embarks on a city-wide search for a man she hardly knows but is quickly falling in love with.


Sex was an evil, dirty thing and because I had so much of it with Geoffrey the Waiter, I knew I was going straight to hell. To make matters worse, Geoffrey was only nineteen, a sophomore at DePaul University (a Catholic school at that) and lived in a dorm room, which is where the immoral act took place. Of course I didn't know any of this when I left work and jumped on a bus taking me south on Michigan Avenue.

As promised, I met Geoffrey at five o'clock. He walked out of the restaurant through the revolving door. To his misfortune, he saw me standing on the corner beneath the yellow blast of a street lamp. I stood there, surrounded by a buzzing swarm of hungry and overstuffed Christmas shoppers who continued to flow in and out of the restaurant like cattle. Despite the fact he was wearing a thick winter parka, a cow-patterned scarf, a knitted black hat, and matching gloves, he was still sexier than I’d remembered. He stood there for a second, just staring. It was at that moment I realized I was still wearing the ridiculous Santa hat.

"Merry Christmas." I felt my chest tighten. I sounded way too enthusiastic. My loathing self-critic began its usual mantra in my head: Oh God, he thinks I'm desperate.
He took a long deep breath, as if he were standing on the edge of a pool and had no idea how to swim. He moved toward me slowly through the crowd. I could see his hesitation. There was dreaded fear in each step. His cheeks were flushed pink from the cold. His hazel eyes held reflections of streetlights and neon signs.

"I didn't think you'd show up," he said.

"Sorry to disappoint you."

He offered me a soft smile. "No, I didn't mean it like that."

Nervous, I looked away. A woman with blonde hair was dragging her crying child down the street by the arm, swearing profusely. I turned back to Geoffrey and strands of my hair flew into my mouth, nearly gagging me. I brushed them away and tried to smile. "I made a horrible first impression on you and I'm sorry."

"It's okay,” he decided. “I forgive you." He smiled again. His dimples practically radiated, warming a frozen spot inside of me. He brushed at a few flakes of snow that had fallen on my cheek, stuck there like wet pieces of tissue paper. He wiped them away with his left index finger. I shivered when the knitted fingertip of his glove made contact with my almost frostbitten skin. "You're cute."

I knew I was blushing. “You don't have to lie."

"Why would I? I hardly even know you."

"We don’t have to do this. I mean, if you want out...” I shifted in my heavy black snow boots. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my old winter coat that was missing a button.

He looked at the top of my head. "Nice hat."

"I was forced to wear this and I'm having a bad hair day."

"Where do you wanna go?"

I shrugged. Then, like an idiot, I giggled. "I don't know."

"Are you hungry?"

"A little."

"You want to get a drink?"

"I'd settle for some hot chocolate."

"I think I can arrange that. I have some hot chocolate back at my place." He reached for my hand, which was numb from the cold, and he held it in his. The softness of his glove rubbed against my palm.

He signaled for a cab. We were on the curb, directly across the street from the massive Art Institute. Beyond that I could see the cold, silver surface of Lake Michigan. "You have beautiful eyes," he said. His words and breath fell onto my lips in a small blast of warm air.

"Thanks," I replied. My teeth began to chatter but I knew it wasn't due to the temperature. I was filled with a sudden flash of anticipation.

About the Author:

David-Matthew Barnes is an award-winning author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. He writes in multiple genres, primarily young adult, romance, thriller, and horror. He is the bestselling author of twelve novels, five produced screenplays, three collections of poetry, seven short stories, and more than sixty stage plays. He graduated with honors from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and English. He earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He attended the Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA. David-Matthew divides his time between Denver and Los Angeles. He is represented by Hoop Earrings Entertainment.

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The Goddess of Magic by Tamara Hughes #PNR

The Goddess of Magic
Bewitching the Beast
Book Three
Tamara Hughes

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: 4/28/2021
ISBN: 978-1-64716-212-2
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 75,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Tagline: He was supposed to keep her safe, but the beast spares no one.

Book Description:

Socialite Holly Ellison’s best friends are immersed in a fight against evil. They don’t want her involved, but she’s determined to keep them safe. Little do they know she’s the key to everyone’s survival.

Dr. Peter Rennick hears his brother’s rumblings about witches, magic, and dragon spirits possessing people’s bodies only to find out what he’s saying is true. Peter witnesses firsthand the destructive powers of the beast and demands a role in the fight.

When Peter is put in charge of Holly’s safety, the intense attraction between them is a distraction they can’t afford. They must focus on destroying the beast, a powerful spirit that has its sights set squarely on Holly.

Each book in this series can be read as a stand-alone.

Amazon US      Amazon UK     Amazon CA      Amazon AU


I, Holly Ellison, am an idiot.

Grinding her teeth, Holly marched down the hospital hallway, away from the emergency room cubicle where her father was being treated for a broken arm. All this time she’d been working her butt off at her father’s art gallery, and for what? She should have seen her father’s betrayal coming. And in a sense she had. She just hadn’t wanted to believe he thought so little of her. Her throat tightened. They weren’t extremely close, but their relationship was good, wasn’t it?

Her footsteps faltered. She wasn’t being the best daughter. Only hours ago her father had fallen down the staircase in his Upper Manhattan duplex apartment. No, other than a broken arm, he was fine. Besides, he had his newest girlfriend at his side. The same girlfriend who would no doubt soon be his traveling companion. Now that he’d had his epiphany that life was too short to continue to run the Ellison Gallery.

Her blood pressure rose again. But instead of passing the reins onto her, his only daughter, the daughter who had been working for him since high school, the daughter who basically ran the gallery when he was gone, he would hire a “professional” to manage the place.

A professional. What was she? A trained monkey?

She pushed open the door to the street and braced herself for the early December nighttime chill.

Sure, she’d never gone to college, but she’d learned on the job. That had to count for something. Her father had given her an office and put her in charge of various aspects of the business. Had that merely been nepotism? His way of showing affection—a pat on the head and, once in a while, telling her she’d done a good job?

A biting wind hit her, but the cold wasn’t an issue. Not tonight. She was too hot under the collar for the icy temperature to affect her. Maybe she should walk all the way to Tess’s apartment. It might cool her off, so she sounded halfway sane when she vented to her best friend. Best friend? The one who kept secrets from her. Ugh. She should go home. A glass of low-cal wine might help just as well.

She rounded the corner of the building and came face-to-face with a . . . masked man? Holy hell! Holly turned tail but got only two steps away when she was grabbed around the waist from behind. Her heart beating so hard it might leap from her chest and pound on the guy for her, she screamed and twisted in his hold as he stuffed a silver compass into his pocket and dragged her toward a parked car.

“No! Let go!” She lost her purse in the midst of stomping on his feet, kicking his legs, elbowing him anywhere and everywhere. The few times she made contact had little effect. “Help,” she yelled as her attacker opened the car door to the back seat and shoved her inside.

About the Author:

A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh.


Amazon Author Page: 

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Apocalipstick by Lisa Acerbo #Horror #Dystopian #RomanticFantasy #NARomance

Hell in a Handbag Series
Book One
Lisa Acerbo

Genre: Horror, Dystopian, 
Romantic Fantasy, NA Romance
Publisher: DLG Publishing Partners
Date of Publication: March 24, 2021
Number of pages: 264
Word Count: 66, 000

Tagline: Life is bad after the apocalypse . . . the undead just made it worse. 

Book Description: 

“My dreams pre-pandemic included  a high school graduation party before attending college and marrying an attractive future lawyer. Instead, I'm praying for a long, sharp knife and a big gun to survive the undead.” —Jenna 

Jenna Martin lives in a world gone insane after a mysterious pandemic kills much of the population. Being alive after an apocalypse is bad, but it is made worse when the multitudes killed by the disease return ravenous for human flesh. Jenna, in serious trouble and pursued by undead, heads to the safest place available, a cemetery. 

Ready to give up, she finds the strength to persevere for one more night and meets a group of survivors willing to take her in. The group caravans to Virginia, where they plan to inhabit an isolated inn called High Point, but the undead are always close behind. Packs of zombies, known as Streakers, attack, leaving Jenna and the other survivors battling for their lives and racing toward safety. 

Once safely isolated at the inn, the group rebuilds society and Jenna begins a relationship with Caleb. Although he withstood the virus, he has not come out unscathed. He and some others now labeled the New Rave have changed into what many would call zombie kin—vampires. Jenna's falls hard and fast for Caleb, which causes more problems that she ever expected in the fledgling society. But there are worse things than vampires and zombies searching for her, and they arrive at the inn's door ready for destruction.

Excerpt 1

Glass shattered in the next room and footsteps crunched over the broken splinters. What had once been a tall, middle-aged man in a business suit, was now a bloated corpse in rags crusted over with blood and pus. The baked-by-the-sun Streaker wore a wrinkled face with the consistency of an old raisin. His right arm hung limply, dislodged from the socket, but both hands made continual grabbing motions.

 Lacking any grace, the creature staggered to the bedroom door and stopped. It sniffed, searching out its next meal. Blood poured from Jenna’s lip, where Tundra had hit her. She wiped it away, then retrieving the piece of wood. Sensing the movement, the Streaker turned its undead eyes on her. Some of its skull had been torn away, exposing the rot. It lumbered and stumbled over the chair in its path, giving Jenna desperate seconds to ready herself. Arm raised, eyes dead and unblinking, it came, dancing with death. It reached out to grab her.

Jenna ducked, then swung low and hard. “I must have gone brain dead. I can’t think of one good zombie joke right now.”

The creature staggered back, but then surged forward. Jenna rammed the edge of the board into its stomach.

“No comeback from the undead. There’s a no brainer.”

 It writhed against the constant pressure of the wood. A trail of intestines spurted out, staining the tattered remains of clothing. Jenna gagged at the stench.

“You, my good sir, are too gross for words.”

The undead groaned, plowing forward. Decaying brains leaking from its nostrils and eyes.

“That all you got for me?” She stepped back, hoisting the board, and swung. The head of the creature flew sideways, but it continued forward, emaciated fingers scratching. She drove the Streaker over to the left with a repeated, steady swing. The wood sank into a shallow layer of skin covering the undead’s overripe, bloated belly.

Upon Caleb’s return, he moved to Jenna’s side. She stepped back and leaned against the window. Caleb, hatchet in hand, forced the Streaker into a corner. A noise at the window had her spinning around. A hand shot through the glass and into the room to claw at Jenna’s face. Outside in the darkness, lifeless eyes found her. The undead rammed against the window, spraying glass. Jenna stepped away, and seconds later, a loud crack caused splintered wood and glass to fall to the floor along with pieces of the zombie’s fingers. With a catatonic stare, the Streaker pushed through the opening, tearing its flesh against the jagged edges of the frame.

Jenna flashed back to the cigarettes and matches she saw in the room. Fire was exactly what she needed now. She searched for the matchbook that had laid on the floor, but the room was in disarray thanks to the fight. Something bumped behind her, and panic rose inside her. Dropping to her belly, scanning the floor, her fingers reached under the bed.


About the Author:

Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at a local community college. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, two dogs, and horse. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and fosters dogs.

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