Monday, January 31, 2022

Exciting News and the month in recap


January has been a busy month with a lot going on, so I figured it's worth recapping.

First up, I'm at Lisa Haselton's blog today, answering a few questions. It's the first stop on a 16-week book tour for Friends to the End. If you have time, stop by, read the interview, and say hi! 

In news...

I signed a new contract with my wonderful publisher for a middle-grade fantasy. Atticus Everheart Fifth Grade Tutor... and Monster Hunter is Hotel Transylvania meets Sherlock Holmes and is likely to appeal to fans of the classic monsters and books by James Riley, Jessica Townsend, Shannon Messenger, and Ursula Vernon, just to name a few.

Friends to the End is an N.N. Light New Year Fete pick! If you haven't visited this event, hop over to N.N. Light's Book Heaven and be sure to enter the giveaway. You could win a $75 gift card. Hurry, this event ends soon. 

The wonderful cover for Merry Little Wishing Spritz by The Wild Rose Press cover artist Abigail Owens won last week's InD'tale Magazine's Creme de la Cover Contest. It's up for a new vote this week, if you're a subscriber of the magazine, click here to hop over to InD'tale site and vote for your favorite cover.

And I have some exciting news coming soon that includes Merry Little Wishing Sprtiz's Cassie Moore and her best friend, Peyton Woods.

Plus I've been working on a special project that includes Isaac Addington from my debut novel Embrace. I've missed the magic in that series! 

And because I sometimes feel as if I've neglected my latest young adult paranormal romance, I thought I'd include a pic. I'm delighted to share that Damned When I Didn't recently won N.N. Light's 2021 Best Paranormal award.  

Did you know, you can order an autographed copy of my books? Most of my books are available for this offer.  Contact me directly for more information. 

If you haven't stopped my blog lately, be sure to scroll down. I had the pleasure of interviewing some wonderful authors and there might still be a giveaway open.

Whew! That's a lot of book news in one month. How has 2022 been treating you? Read any good books or have any good news? I'd love to hear from you, so be sure to leave a comment. 

All my best!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Chatting with author Lyndi Alexander

I'm delighted to have fantasy author Lyndi Alexander with me today, chatting about herself and her young adult novel The Lost Chord. Plus, she shared an excerpt you won't want to miss.

Please help me welcome Lyndi.

What inspired you to write this book?

Just after I turned 40, I married a man who had three kids under the age of 5. Several months into the marriage, we discovered that they were all on the autism spectrum, to one extent or another. I adopted the children, and we engaged in various sorts of therapy and other treatment for years.

Our daughter, Tasha, is the model for Bee Warrick. The doctor who diagnosed her had very little to offer, essentially telling us that with her processing disorders she would likely never be able to do much for herself at all, never be able to use tools, or even speak. But she’s worked hard and enjoyed a full life, graduating from high school several years ago.

I hoped by writing a story like this, it could open a window into her world for other children, so when they met a child (or even an adult) on the spectrum, they would have a glimmer of understanding why some of their mannerisms might be strange. Also, it satisfied me that when Tash is off in her mind and not engaged with the real world, that perhaps she is having a wonderful adventure like this.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I’m a fantasy and sci-fi reader, mostly. When I was younger, I also read a lot of Gothic romance trending into romantic suspense. I write that genre as well, under Alana Lorens. I read much less these days, as I concentrate my energy on writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Well, Tasha is still living at home at 22, since her limitations make it hard for her to have a job. Since I’m borderline disabled these days, we make a good team—I provide the brain, and she provides the brawn, and we get through. We also foster cats and kittens for a local rescue, and have kitties ranging from 20 years old to two years old, in all shapes and colors. We enjoy gardening, having a small patio with several raised planters, which make it possible for me to contribute. We also teach gardening a day a week at Arms Around ASD, a local agency in Asheville that does wonderful things to support both those on the spectrum and their families.

About the Book

The Lost Chord
Author: Lyndi Alexander
Genre: YA fantasy


A poisonous wave is spreading disease and discord across the eleven known universes. Seven special people, known as Keys, must strike the Lost Chord in order to restore the balance.

Among those Keys is Bee Warrick, an autistic teenager from Earth who has traveled between the realms for years without realizing it. Can Bee help the Conductor find the other Keys before a bitter enemy strikes the wrong chord and shatters the universes?

Read it today

Book Trailer

Peek between the pages

"Bee! You'd better be working on your math!"

Bee grimaced, wishing her mother would leave her alone. She was fifteen and perfectly capable of doing her assignment. She pointed two fingers at her closed bedroom door. "Bzzzzzzz."

Minerals interested her more than geometry. They were important, their exact order, the gifts they brought. She just wasn't sure how.

"Bee! I mean it!" Without knocking, Gina Warrick opened the door. "Do you need help?"

Bee put her head on the desk and covered her ears. "Bzzzzzzz."

Her mother sighed. "Fine. I want it in my hands in twenty minutes!" She eyed the rocks. Then stepped out and closed the door.

"Almost," Bee said. She reached in her desk drawer and took out a heavy plastic container, the kind her mother used to save leftovers, and pried off the lid. It was half-filled with sand, colored sand that at one time she had layered in a bottle at an art fair but had since mixed together so the colors had blended to gray.

She rubbed her fingers together in the sand, her eyes closed, feeling the sensation of the fine crystals against her skin, a ritual performed several times a day, especially before math.

After a few minutes, she felt calm again. With a deep breath, she tucked away the sand and took out her geometry book. She started the first problem, working with a yellow pencil. That was what she always used for math. Yellow was math. Science was blue.

Halfway through, her brother Reese barged into the room. The tall, broad-built boy plopped down on her bright pink bedspread and dropped his football helmet on the floor, where it rolled in a circle before coming to a stop.

Bee jumped and covered her ears to protect herself from the sound.

"Hey there little sped girl. I see Mom isn't riding you about homework." He glared at her. "Must be nice to be autistic."

"I'm not stupid like you." Bee knew Reese wasn't supposed to call her names. Mom had told him often enough, but he never stopped so now she tossed names back at him.

She wasn't sure what "autistic" was supposed to be. She had read about it in books. She was just what she was, not some word that started with A. Her favorite book was Songs of the Gorilla Nation, about a woman with autism who had learned to communicate with gorillas.

"Stupid is as stupid does," she said.

Reese twisted up his face at her. He had the same auburn hair as Bee, a color received from their father's genes. She hardly remembered their father. He took Reese away every other weekend, but never took her. She no longer went to the window to look at him.

"Bzzzzzzz," she said, annoyed and wishing Reese would leave.

"You know that's so damn lame. Knock it off. People talk about you at school, sped."

Bee knew that term was derogatory by the tone of Reese's voice, but couldn't understand why it was bad. 'Special' was something extra good, so 'special education' should be something really great, right?

Besides she wasn't in specials any more. Just speech. Her classes were regular, just like everyone else, and she finally didn't have a case worker following her everywhere.

Since she could remember, she had been in occupational therapy. She had swung in a net and glued letters on paper. In hippotherapy, which she loved, she rode and cared for horses at a local farm. In de-sensitizing therapy, which she hated, her mother had scrubbed her body with a surgical sponge for fifteen minutes at a time several times a day.

The longest had been speech therapy, where she had struggled to learn language, a process that was short-circuited somewhere in her brain. So much didn't make sense.

Like special education.

About the author

Lyndi Alexander always dreamed of faraway worlds and interesting alien contacts. She lives as a post-modern hippie in Asheville, North Carolina, a single mother of her last child of seven, a daughter on the autism spectrum, finding that every day feels a lot like first contact with a new species.

Connect with Lyndi
Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookbub  |  Smashwords

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Merlin's Apprentice Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway


I'm thrilled to be a part of the Merlin's Apprentice the Mage Cover Reveal organized by Silver Dagger Tours. Susan McCauley will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter.

Merlin's Apprentice: The Mage

by Susan McCauley

Genre: Epic Middle Grade Arthurian Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Pip must embrace his magical powers to rescue his family from slavery—or help the king save the realm—a decision that will tear his world apart.

Desperate to keep his family together, Pip hides his power so he can be sold with them. But when his father and brother are sold to different mages and the slavers attempt to separate his mother and sister, Pip loses control and injures a slaver with magic. The uproar catches the attention of the southern king’s druid advisor, Merlin, who quickly offers a place to Pip, his sister, and his mother. On the road to King Arthur’s court, bandits attack their camp, and his family is further torn apart. Pip has no choice but to work with Merlin—who may not be the evil mage Pip assumes him to be—to learn to harness his powers so he can help King Arthur stop Mordred. Only then might Pip have a chance to see his family together again.

Goodreads * Amazon

Rain slapped Pip’s face and slithered beneath his tunic, running cold down his back and into his britches. These weren’t the usual autumn mists, but bone-chilling rain. Mud churned beneath his feet, sticking in clumps to his tattered, tired boots. They shouldn’t be out trudging the roads today. They shouldn’t be out at all. No one should. But today they didn’t have a choice. Today all the villagers had to attend a summons.

No one knew what this summons would be about. The magistrate had already issued a proclamation setting a new harvest quota for the ordinarius, and if it wasn’t met, King Mordred would take more than just taxes. He would take flesh.

So they’d all had to help. Even his little sister, Mary, had worked her tiny fingers raw pulling turnips in the garden. If only they lived south—in King Arthur’s realm—then surely their lives would be easier. King Arthur was supposed to be a fair king. Pip sighed and trudged along behind his parents. Mother and Da had said maybe the taxes would increase, or maybe the rations would decrease. Pip knew that whatever the magistrate had to say, it wouldn’t be good. He was a pig who only cared for himself.

The rain dulled to a heavy mist, and a group of ravens flew and twisted in the sky, their wings nearly blacking out the pale winter sun. One dove toward Pip, its caw shattering the cool morning silence and filling Pip’s belly with dread. He stopped and stared, watching the flock disappear into a smear of darkness.

“Pip. Hurry up, lad! Stop your daydreaming,” his father bellowed. “We can’t be late for a summons.”

A shiver of power tingled over Pip’s skin as he watched the last of the ravens disappear into the morning mist and then ran to catch up with Da and the rest of his family.

“Did you see the ravens, Da?” Pip whispered so his little sister Mary couldn’t hear.

Da stopped and looked at the sky. He crossed himself and shook his head, his brow furrowed with worry. “I didn’t see any. And I pray to God there were no ravens, lad. There’s too much darkness about already.”

Pip’s stomach twisted in knots. Da hadn’t seen any ravens, only Pip had. Maybe it was another vision. They’d only come since he’d discovered he was magus, and he still wasn’t used to having visions. Real or imagined, though, surely ravens were an omen of things to come. But the magus wouldn’t possibly take more from the ordinarius families. They’d taken enough already.

“When I’m a mage,” Pip swore to his sister, “I’ll make sure every ordinarius and magus is treated fairly. Then none of us will need to worry about village summons or selfish magistrates.”

“Shhhst,” Mother hissed, eyes like whips, head twisting from side to side to see if anyone had overheard.

Da grimaced, and Galen glared. Galen. Pip scowled; his older brother always sided with their mother. Pip had never been close to Galen. His brother was old enough to work the fields when Pip was born, and they’d never spent much time together. The only time Galen ever spoke to Pip was to criticize him on his handling of a chore or to try to stop him from using magic. No wonder he was Mother’s favorite.

Pip gazed at the barren field around them. The closest villagers were several paces away. “There’s no one close enough to hear us,” he protested.

“I said not to speak of it.” Mother’s words were clipped, her eyes colder than the morning rain.

Pip held his breath and then let it out slowly instead of speaking his mind. He was glad to be a magus, even if he was new to his power, which had come after his twelfth birthday, just passed. But his family had told no one. Not yet. Mother had been especially strict that no one should speak of it. No one should know. Maybe it was because he’d only discovered his power. Maybe it was because no one else in his family had any magic. Mother was just being suspicious when she should be proud.

Pip wrapped his arm around his little sister and whispered. “When I’m apprenticed to become a mage, I’ll be sure to learn more than a few tricks to keep you safe and happy.” He tweaked her nose and she giggled.

They made their way along the muddy lane to their village, which lay south of the hill fortress at Etin, a two days’ march north of Hadrian’s Wall. Both magi-soldiers and battle mages sometimes skirted their village, yet they never stayed. It was a poor place, but the local mage lord who oversaw the ordinarius farms was kind enough. It was Mordred’s edicts that were harsh, forcing ordinarius families to cut back on their own rations to provide more to his court and the magus class ruled by the cruel northern king. And all because ordinarius had no magic. Because they were not magus. It was so unfair. At least there were more ordinarius than magus in the world; otherwise, there would be no end to the work they did for the magus class.

When they arrived at the small muddy square that marked the village center—usually decorated for festivals or alive with peddlers selling their wood or tin or cloth—it was empty of festivities. Armed magi-soldiers dressed in black and blood red, Mordred’s colors, lingered at the perimeter. Their swords gleamed in the pale morning light and their wary eyes darted from face to face.

Mordred’s soldiers were here. Fear shot through Pip’s veins. He peered around the square taking in the magi-soldiers’ armor, embossed with silver runes. Da had long ago taught him and Galen to identify the magi symbols to stay clear of trouble. He saw none of the plain clothed magi with their green sashes, nor any magi marked with the golden runes or red sashes of a battle mage. Still, they’d never had soldiers here for a proclamation before. Something was different. Something was wrong.

Susan McCauley is an award winning author of paranormal, fantasy, and horror for adults, young adults, and middle grade readers. She first fell in love with the paranormal when she was three years old and scared witless on Disney's Haunted Mansion ride, but begged her parents to ride again and again! Susan has lived on all three coasts of the United States, as well as having spent a few years in the U.K. She loves to travel, snorkel, practice taekwondo, read, try new restaurants, watch movies, and go to the theatre. She’s also passionate about animals and has a special place in her heart for cats.

You can visit her on the web at

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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$10 Amazon

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Tour, Guest Post, and review: People of the Sun by Ben Gartner


I'm excited to be a host for the People of the Sun virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ben Gartner will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to follow the tour. The more you comment the better your chances of winning.

Please help me welcome Ben Gartner to my blog!

Guest Post

5 Pros and Cons of Writing Middle Grade


1. Kids are awesome. Kids are entirely candid. If they loved a part of the book, they’ll gush. If they were confused by a part, they’ll ask. They’ll tell you what they think. Sometimes they may not know how to articulate their inner thoughts, but even just a facial expression or body language can reveal so much truth.

2. Teachers and librarians are awesome. Since it’s harder to reach kids directly (see the cons list), the primary gatekeepers for children’s books are teachers, librarians, and parents. Working closely with teachers and librarians is a joy. Parents too, of course, but teachers and librarians are the shepherds of the flock. They’re sincerely heroes in my book. I can say this with all honesty because I tried teaching a class of first graders while volunteering with AmeriCorps and I did not have the stamina for it. Tutoring English in small groups was exactly my cup of tea. And working in an impoverished area gave me a gigantic respect for all the challenges that teachers have to deal with on a daily basis. Their work is hugely important.

3. It’s fun. Writing middle grade is gloriously fun. You still have to respect the rules of a world you create (kids are stickler about this!), but you’re free to create any world you like. Sure, you can do this in adult books too, but it’s a lot easier in middle grade to incorporate magical elements or fantastical ideas without worrying about legitimacy. Raining gumballs? Sure! Magic portal to another world? Yes, please!

4. The middle grade community is wonderfully supportive and uplifting. I’ve made so many friends along this writing journey. This also ties directly into #2 above.

5. Kids are awesome. It bears repeating because the middle years are when we can still slip into our imagination with such enviable ease. And, at the same time, these formative years when we’re pushing our own physical and emotional bounds are such a time of cerebral growth that it’s amazing what we go through. Kids are awesome.


1. It’s harder to reach your audience directly. Not a huge deal, see #2 in Pros. But, when you do (such as school visits), it’s super fun. See #1 in Pros.

2. Some adults sometimes see “children’s books” as somehow less than adult books. However, and I love this, often if you ask them to name a book that had a profound impact on their life, they cite . . . you guessed it, a “children’s” book.

3. I honestly can’t think of any more. Sorry, I guess this article’s title is a misnomer. But that’s okay, right kids?!

Thank you for having me on your blog! If people would like to learn more about me or my books, the best place to find me is my website:

I’m also active on Twitter:

A bit less on Instagram:

And I’m really bad at Facebook:

My books are available wherever books are sold! Again, thanks for having me.

About the book, review, and excerpt


by Ben Gartner
Genre: Middle Grade, Action-Adventure, Time Travel, Historical Fiction


The explosive reveal about who John and Sarah really are and why they’re traveling through time, with their most gut-wrenching challenge yet.

In the time of the Aztec, a scoundrel named Cort├ęs arrives and the kids are forced to make an extremely difficult decision: If you could change history, should you? For more twists, more danger, and more fun, read the third book in The Eye of Ra series, People of the Sun!

Buy Links
Amazon  |  Local bookstore  |  Apple  |  B&N  

My thoughts

When I found out People of the Sun is the 3rd book in the Ra Series, I was a little worried I'd be lost, but Ben Gartner does a nice job of weaving in enough detail from the first two books to keep that from happening. John and Sarah are adventurous siblings who possess the ability to time travel, and their assistance is needed to save the universe. No pressure! When two unexpected people from the future visit, John and Sarah aren't left with much choice. They're the only ones who can correct the timeline and save the future. But time travel is tricky. Change the wrong event, and things can take a turn for the worse. John and Sarah might even zap themselves out of existence. 

There are a lot of twists and turns in this middle-grade adventure, and I enjoyed being a part of the journey. I recommend this book for kids and adults alike. It's just such a fun read. (However, do start with the first book. This way, you can have even more time to spend in this world.)


Peek between the pages

When they came out of a pine forest and could see the lake below, with Tenochtitlan as a dazzling island city, John couldn’t help but mutter, “Wow.”

He heard his sister mumble the same thing.

The city sparkled and spread out with a much bigger footprint than John had imagined. He’d heard of the famed city of the Aztec, but he’d always pictured something . . . smaller. This was a regular metropolis, with suburbs and floating islands and multiple huge temples. Canoes drifted on canals like the pictures he’d seen of Venice in Italy, though these canoes were loaded with goods headed to market. Farther out into the lake, men cast nets and brought up flopping silver fish, their scales sparkling in the sun.

John’s mouth watered when he saw a floating garden bursting with leafy greens. The rectangular plot of land had poles sticking out of each side, securing boards that held the dirt like a raised garden bed back home. But this was in the middle of the lake. John squinted at the marvel of it all.

The sound of sloshing water pulled his stare toward a stone trough that started in the hills and was then suspended on man-made islands right across the lake and into the city. “An aqueduct?”

“For our drinking water,” Ome said.

“But you’re on a lake,” John said, implying that there was fresh water all around.

“Lake Texcoco is too salty to drink. Great for the fish, bad for the people,” Huitzi said.

“There are dikes that keep some fresh water close to the island, but that is used for farming,” Ome added.

Wow. John never knew that either. They lived on a lake and yet had to build a system of aqueducts to bring in safe drinking water. Amazing.


One randomly drawn winner will receive a $50 Amazon/BN GC.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of The Eye of Ra time travel adventure series for middle graders. His books take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Do you enjoy time travel books? Did you enter the giveaway?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Book Tour & Giveaway: Two Truths and One Liar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Two Truths and One Liar virtual book tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours. Deirdre Riordan Hall will be awarding a $20 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter.

Two Truths and One Liar
Deirdre Riordan Hall
Publication date: December 27th 2021
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

Knives Out meets One of Us is Lying with a hint of the Inheritance Games. Like the original whodunnit, Clue, this suspenseful mystery also has three possible endings explaining what could have happened.

They all have secrets. They all have motives. They all tell lies.

Every year, at a prestigious boarding school, Professor Groff hosts the Midnight Masquerade. But this year, before the festivities, he’s discovered dead in his office. Yet six students still receive invitations. The same six students who’re questioned about his murder.

The show must go on. At the Masquerade, two additional students claim to know the truth. The lights go out and when they come back on, one of them is dead. Anyone could’ve been at fault.

Francisca blind in one eye and deadly on the rugby field. Toshi a number ninja and the campus punching bag. Taz who struggles with anxiety and lingers in the shadows. Fish the golden boy hiding wounds and not only in his heart. Caroline the heiress and the image of perfection. Gorgeous George the resident Greek God with nothing to lose.

The six receive anonymous notes, making them question themselves and the assumptions they’ve made about each other. Brought back together, they must prove their innocence before the all-school meeting the next morning, otherwise, they risk humiliation if their secrets are exposed exposed—and worse, if they’re found guilty.

It’s a long night of theft, danger, and threats by a secret society that shows Professor Groff was right during his final lecture.

Everything that can go wrong will.

Goodreads / Amazon


Dean Hammond straightens a stack of papers then looks up. With a severe lift to her eyebrow, she scans those of us present, and then says, “Oliver Groff was found dead in his office at 3:22 pm, shortly after his last class of the day.”

A weight in my stomach sinks just as it did when Arpad made the announcement in the dining hall. Questions roll through my mind and collide when the realization hits me full force. He was alive, teaching earlier today, making dire pronouncements about how basically everything sucks.

Boy, was he right. Now, he’s gone.

The circumstances were different the first and second times someone in my life died but the familiar emptiness, the void, vacancy returns—or maybe it never left.

“Yeah, we heard—” George’s tone tells me he wants to say something more about loss and tragedy, something sentimental perhaps, but he’s hard-wired for nonchalance as the campus crush and most likely to smoke, hook up, and skip classes.

Caroline clasps her hands in front of her chest. Her knuckles pale. “I’m so sorry to hear that.” She pauses. “He was an…efficient teacher.”

I imagine she struggles to think of a nice thing to say about Groff. I sneak a glance at the others because I can’t be the only one wondering why we’re here.

Arpad already announced the news in the Refectory. There’s a good chance not everyone was there. Hammond inhales.

“Francisca Thompson-Sanchez, nice seeing you again.”

Francisca’s expression doesn’t suggest the feeling is mutual, although she is wearing a mud-streaked rugby uniform and likely feels as out of place in the plush office as I do.

“Can you please tell me where you were from the end of English class until now?” Hammond asks.

She focuses on something on the wall behind the dean but her hands tremble slightly. “I went to talk to Mr. Groff after class, but he looked, um, busy. Then I went to the bathroom.” She glances at Caroline. “Uh, then my dorm, followed by rugby practice, and then the Refectory.”

Arpad writes rapidly on a yellow pad.

Hammond’s penetrating gaze lands on a math whiz, gamer kid whose dorm room is by the day student room in my dorm. “I was at the Library then Refectory.” He speaks clearly, but he’s all-over sweaty.

“Tazmin King?” Hammond says, going down the line.

“Taz,” she corrects. Eyeliner stains the space around her big brown eyes like she’s been crying. “After class, I went to my dorm and then dinner. If Oliver died, it was because of a broken heart,” she blurts. Emotion streaks across her features, but she captures it and makes it disappear.

“And how would you know that, Tazmin?” Hammond’s tone is dark.

“It’s none of our business,” she answers. Then it’s as though she ghosts even though she’s still in the room with us. Hammond barely conceals a look of disgust.

“Moving on. John?”

“Maybe the professor was tired of his life and wanted to escape. Suicide? Or maybe he just wanted out. Faked it. On a plane to Tahiti.”

By Hammond’s pinched expression, I instantly realize this is the wrong answer. My sweat now rival’s Toshi’s. I cannot get kicked out. I cannot afford to go back to Burningham. Whatever this is about… I cannot lose my spot here.

“No, we found the body. Poetic though. However, the question was where were you this afternoon?” Accusation fills Hammond’s tone.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I misunderstood. I was in the dayroom at my dorm, Varth Dader, then lacrosse practice in the lower fields.”

She glances at me dismissively and nods at Caroline. I know all too well not to allow relief to replace the nerves inside. Best to stay alert.

“I was with the Promenade committee, finalizing some items for tomorrow. Wait. You’re not canceling prom because of this are you?” Typical Caroline, always concerned about her agenda.

The goth girl, Taz, narrows her eyes. “It should be after the tree went up in a blaze and now Oliver, I mean Professor Groff, is dead.”

Hammond hardly looks at them. “Ladies, that’s none of your concern. Now, George. If you please.”

“I was in the student center. You can ask Mrs. Carson.” He smirks. Likely, he was hooking up with someone.

“Do any of you have a reason to want Oliver Groff dead?” Hammond’s question is like a stone thrown in a lake. The ripples of this implication could be devastating.

Author Bio:

Deirdre Riordan Hall is the author of the contemporary young adult bestsellers Sugar and Pearl as well as the High School Murder Mystery series. She’s in an ongoing pursuit of words, waves, and wonder. Her love language involves a basket of chips, salsa, and guacamole, preferably when shared with her family.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Book Tour & Giveaway: Tripp Unleashed by Darren Simon


I'm delighted to be a part of the Tripp Unleasehd virtual book tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Darren Simon will be awarding a $20 Amazon to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter at the end of the tour. 

Tripp Unleashed

by Darren Simon

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy 

Tripp Taylor is a teenager trying to hide his genetic disorder and live a normal life, but that’s hard to do when the smallest morsel of food and the tiniest sip of liquid bring about a change in him—a metamorphosis he cannot control, making him a danger to himself and those around him. At least that’s what he’s been told by his father and the doctor who has devoted his life to finding a cure.

By day, Tripp plays by their rules. By night, Tripp journeys through the city from one convenience store to the next to taste real food (frozen burritos are his favorite). Then comes the night when he chooses the wrong convenience store, for on that night an armed robber enters the store and threatens everyone’s life. From that first transformation come others, and soon Tripp finds himself on a collision course with destiny as a madman pushes him to use his powers, a government that fears him tries to control him, and dark secrets lead him down a dangerous path—one that could make him a hero or twist him into a monster. And that all depends on whether he survives, and the odds aren’t in his favor.

Add to Goodreads

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A gurgle rose from deep in my stomach. A belch escaped my lips. Everyone could hear. Searing heat spread like lava flowing through my veins into my heart, pumping the molten liquid through my arteries out to my limbs, setting them afire. I hunched over and screamed. The robber took a step toward me. “What the—?”

I screamed again. My knees buckled. I clutched my stomach. Something grew inside of me, pushing its way out. My body twisted. The woman shrieked. Her eyes bulged in horror at whatever was happening to me. She turned her head away, covering her face with her hands.

“Holy crap.” The clerk bent over as if to vomit. His chest heaved. Lips parted to let out the spew.

A muffled cry escaped my throat. God, make it stop! My bones cracked louder. What had I done? What beast had I unleashed? My pain subsided. Gasping for air, I glanced up.

The woman fell to her knees. The clerk gripped the counter with both hands. His arms trembled.

The gun-wielding punk slumped against a display of potato chips. His mouth agape in a silent scream. He staggered to his feet, gun aimed at my head. “What are you?”

“I… I don’t know.” My voice sounded gurgled, like I was speaking underwater. Instead of arms, I had four long green tentacles covered in suction cups. A security mirror on the ceiling revealed the rest of my transformation. Bile rose halfway up my throat. I was going to be sick.

My hair fell away. Lizard green scales covered my bald head. I no longer had a nose—just two tiny slits. My brown eyes, larger and spread farther apart, glowed yellow. I’d become a walking squid, a new horror even for me.

A round exploded from the robber’s gun. The bullet pierced one tentacle, plunging deep into my flesh. Blood spewed. The tentacle recoiled from the pain, ten times worse than any wasp sting. I drew shallow, quick breaths through clenched teeth. “Uhhhh!’

An animalistic desire for survival took over. I became the prey facing a predator in the ocean deep. I should flee. I didn’t owe the others trapped in the store anything, especially my life. Squids are loners. We save ourselves.

No, I couldn’t abandon them. I had to become the predator. I launched my tentacle arms at the gunman. Two wrapped around each of his hands. I squeezed until he yelped, dropping the gun. The weapon clattered to the floor. With my other two tentacles, I grabbed his shoulders, then dragged him closer.

Darren Simon, who is a longtime college English teacher and former newspaper journalist, is the author of five middle-grade/young adult fantasy, urban fantasy and historical fantasy books and two horror short stories published in anthologies. He writes for younger readers to inspire them as readers the way he was inspired as a youth first by the comic books he read, then the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and then the fantasy and science fiction novels that became so important to him—and still are. He lives in California’s desert Southwest with his family, including his wife, two sons and two crazy dogs.

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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Chatting with author Kassandra Garrison

I'm delighted to welcome Kassandra Garrison to my blog. Her book, The Walls We Built, is celebrating its 1 year anniversary. 

Hi, Kassandra! Thanks for joining us today. 

Can you tell us about your main character? 
Charlotte Pryor is an introvert who would rather read books than chance more heartbreak. She is witty, blunt, funny, and deeply loyal to those close to her (not many). After her mom and brother left without an explanation, Charlotte remains guarded but college and a persistent boy named Ezra will challenge her way of thinking.

What are you reading? 
I am currently reading Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst. My previous read was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.

What is your favorite comfort food? 
CARBS. Cake, pasta, bread… give me all the carbs!

Now for the speed round...

Good guys or bad guys? Good guys with special skills.

Good girls or bad girls? Good girls who work to discover how great they are.

Morning or night? Morning

Favorite food? Lo Mein

Favorite beverage? Coffee

Coffee or tea? Coffee

eBook, paperback, or audiobook? Paperback

Plotter or Pantster? Plotter but things change as I write

Favorite season? Fall

Dogs or cats? Dogs

Favorite holiday? Christmas

Favorite movie? Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version!)

Ironman or Superman? Ironman only because he’s in the Marvel Universe (otherwise, Superman)

Wonder Woman of Top Model? Wonder Woman

Night on the town or cozy evening in? Cozy evening in (total introvert)

Favorite book? Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Sandell

Favorite fictional world? Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters

Last book read? Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Black or white? Depends on what it is

Stilettos or flipflops or sneakers? Flipflops if I have to wear shoes

Favorite song? I change it up quite a bit but I love Ed Sheeran, Dean Lewis, and James Arthur

Chicken or steak? Chicken

Cake, cookies, or pie? Cake

Favorite junk food? Chocolate! (Specifically dark chocolate with sea salt caramel)

Favorite thing to do to relax? Bake, read, or walk

Paranormal or Historical:? Historical

Favorite TV show? The Great British Baking Show, Outer Banks, New Girl

Hot or cold? Depends on what it is but I would rather be hot than cold

Favorite vacation? Bahamas (Swam with the dolphins!)

Beach or mountains? Beach 100%

About the book

The Walls We Built
Author: Kassandra Garrison
Genre: YA Fiction/Romance


At the young age of eight, Charlotte Pryor was abandoned by her mother and brother without an explanation. Left only with her father, Charlotte pushes away anyone who could hurt her. Now at college, she is forced to interact with her peers and a particularly persistent guy who challenge the walls she worked so hard to build. Through lessons about life, love, and heartbreak, Charlotte and her family learn there is more to life than hiding behind walls.

Read it today

Peek between the pages

His eyes searched my face as I smiled up at him, one of his hands leaving my waist to gently cup my chin. Electricity shot through every vein in my body as his soft, warm lips touched mine. Ezra’s lips grazed over mine tenderly before he pulled away, a grin pulling the corner of his lips upward. The cold night air and snow dusting our hair had no match to the warmth his kiss made me feel as we continued to dance, snow falling silently around us.

About the author
Kassandra Garrison has always been a book lover. After earning her Bachelor's in Business Administration, she decided to follow her lifelong dream and share her stories with others by writing her first novel, The Influencers. She currently lives with her husband and high school sweetheart, Joseph, along with their daughter, Nora. In her free time, she enjoys baking, drinking coffee, and taking her rescue dogs on walks.

Connect with author

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

This is my word... what's yours?


Welcome to 2022! I hope it's off to an amazing start. 

Last year, I set a list of goals, which I will admit I forgot about halfway through the very busy year. Looking back on my goals, I didn't do too badly. The two I failed to achieve and wish I had are to drive somewhere to specifically watch the sunrise and to drive somewhere to specifically watch the sunset. Maybe I'll do both in 2022.

This year, I'm taking a page out of Bryn Donovan's newsletter and choosing a theme word for 2022. My word is...


I used to be easily inspired, which made it easy to be positive and see the cup as half full even when it was almost empty. When I was inspired, I inspired others. But certain events in my life stifled my inspiration. Over the last couple of years, I've worked hard to get back to me. I'm almost there. So in 2022, I aspire to be inspired. And hopefully, I'll inspire others to do the same. 

Do you want to choose a theme word? Did you set goals last year? How did you do?