Friday, April 18, 2014

Fear the Daylight! Virtual Book Tour: The Shade (The Shade Trilogy, Book 1) by Matthew Tallman


James Langley's life is over. After an automobile accident leaves him comatose, James' body lies vulnerable in a hospital bed. However, his mind is lost, drifting between life and death, into The Shade.

Trapped in a world shrouded by the unknown, he meets Virgil, a mysterious stranger that informs him that his car wreck was no accident; that the man responsible has imprisoned them both, intent on keeping them there. Together they must race against time to get James back to his body in the real world before he becomes the next victim of a malevolent psychopath.

Enter the world of The Shade, where the boundaries of the human psyche are pushed to their limits and survival is not guaranteed. A place where death isn't the end, but only the beginning.


The Shade
The Shade Trilogy, Book 1 
Matthew Tallman

Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: March 9th 2014

ISBN: 9780991619207

Number of pages: 340
Word Count: 105,494 words

Cover Artist: Pixel Pixie Design

Excerpt:

            “Virgil—,” I said in an almost whimper. He didn’t answer me. The clouds began to separate letting light through, like rips in a sheet of paper the light tore through and began to fill the air. “Virgil.” I said a bit louder. Then, in an unimaginable burst of power, the sun tore through the clouds like a fist through paper. In an instant, the warmth of the suns light replaced the grey shadows that had filled the air. “Virgil!” I yelled.

            That was when he finally took notice; Virgil looked over at me and instantly knew what was going on. His eyes widened as he watched the sun’s rays filter down to the ground. “James run!” He yelled.
            I did as Virgil commanded. My eyes set to the horizon, the shapes looking more like houses, but the closest one was still four hundred yards out. My heart cracked hard against my chest as my mind struggled to make my legs run faster.
            Three hundred yards out.
            My head twisted back to see the rays of the sun, they were pushing down from the sky and coming straight for us. “Don’t stop running!” Virgil yelled. My eyes snapped forward, focused on the house in the distance. The sound of loud footsteps filled the soft air in the field as we ran.
            Two hundred yards out.
            I felt warmth on my back. I knew what it was, but didn’t dare look back for confirmation. Behind us the stampeding sound of two—no four, more sets of feet. Growls erupted as the new sets of feet moved forwards after us.

            One hundred yards out.
            The sun’s rays had past us. There was never any chance we could out run the light. The growls from behind us had become louder and louder. Closer and closer, the creatures that chased us drew in for the kill. I could see the house we were running to, only fifty feet away from us. My legs burned as they pushed my feet against the ground, making me move faster.
            Forty feet to go, my legs pushed harder.
“James, we have to split up.” Virgil yelled at me as we approached the house.
Almost instinctually, my body shifted course and ran to the right of the house. My head twisted back to see if the creatures following us had separated, what I saw was nothing short of pure horror. I saw what pursued us, two massive wolves. Just like the one I had seen in the hospital, the two beasts that followed us were enormous, almost the size of a bear. They didn't really look like wolves, but they ran on all fours. Their black skin shown through the wispy hair that stuck out from their bodies. I turned away from the nightmare that chased us just in time to see Virgil phase through the wall of the building I’d chosen to round.
            An instant later, the wolf following Virgil dove through the wall after him. However, the wolf didn't phase through the house as Virgil had, instead it smashed its body against the wall. The sound of the animal ripping through the wall was like a clap of thunder. I continued to run just as Virgil had instructed me. To my left another explosion ripped out through the air. As I ran down the line of houses every so often, I could see Virgil phasing in and out of homes, as the wolf that chased him smashed haphazardly through walls. My head twisted back to see my assailant, but to my surprise, there was nothing there. My body slowed to a stop and for a moment, I was in the street alone.


Amazon Purchase Link:

About the Author:

I am currently a part time writer and full time government employee. Reading and writing books is one of my favorite hobbies as I enjoy every part of the story telling process. I have been working on three full-length novels for the last three years. I grew up all around the world because my father was in the United States Air Force, the past ten years I have lived just outside of Dayton, Ohio, which is where I now reside with my wife and stepson.


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Premier Virtual Book Tour: Dancing Backward in Paradise by Vera Jane Cook


Life for Grace Place is all about sucking on “meat jerkys” and Lenny Bean, her handsome lover. Grace’s mother has loftier plans for her daughter. She insists that Grace save her money and move to New York City so she can find fame and fortune as an actress.

Grace works as a cleaning lady for wealthy Betty Ann Houseman so she can pool her pennies for the trip north. Betty Ann has a passion for men more pronounced than her overbite, and it isn’t long before she’s parting the sheets for Lenny Bean. But just before Grace leaves Hixson for New York City, she uncovers an insidious plot: the Bean family is trying to steal Betty Ann’s estate.

Grace flees to New York, where she faces her darkest hours. In a world of surprises, Grace truly discovers paradise.

Chapter One Excerpt:

If you drive up there near the state line, on the border of Tennessee and Georgia, you just might pass through my hometown, the Chattanooga suburb of Hixson. But you might not know you passed it, not unless you take the time to read the sign hanging near the highway. Most people only stop in Hixson for the cemeteries and the old Civil War battlefields around Chattanooga. I grew up thinking a trip to Soddy Daisy was living the high life. But it was beautiful country, no matter what Mama says. I remember the back roads mostly, and the trees. When I was small, I’d spread my arms out as far as I could and I’d try to reach as wide as a tree’s branches. I’d dance in the wind, partner to the limbs of the old oak and the sugar maples. Trees seemed to be all the poetry I’d ever need.

Country living in Hixson wasn’t always peace and quiet though,with so many highways going every which way. But back where I lived, the back roads were all over. They were mysteries that flirted with my sense of adventure. I never could walk by a back road without wanting to follow it. There wasn’t anything finer to do with an afternoon than walk a road I’d never walked before. The narrow ones around Paradise were some of my favorite; they curved and twisted up into places that I could keep hidden from everybody else. I’ll always think of country roads like that, seducing me onto nature’s unknown paths. Sometimes those country roads led me back where I began. Sometimes they took me so far away I’d have to hitch home.

When I was a young girl, I never could sit still. Why, I’d be damned if I didn’t ruin the best pair of fruit boots I ever had running through Miles Canyon Creek, jumping over brambles that scratched the shit out of me and left my legs looking like I’d shaved for the first time and done one hell of a bad job. Nearly fell and broke my neck every time, especially when ole Horace was shaking his fist at me. Mean old man Horace “Toothless” Mooney. Goddamn son of a bitch almost caught me too. But I could outrun that skinny old man same way I could run circles around Tommy, my slower-than-molasses-coming-out-of-a-jar brother. Shit, for a girl, I could run one hell of an eight-minute mile.

Tommy and me were always getting caught stuffing old man Mooney’s meat jerkys into our back pockets. Only time I ever had a well-done piece of meat back then is when I picked a jerky right out of Mooney’s display. Hell, he used to have a whole jar of them sitting on the counter of Mooney’s Market. He had boxes of the damn things in his back room. Seems he could have spared a couple for Tommy and me.

“If I catch you two looting my jerkys again, I’ll string you up by your feet and hang you over the sinkhole by Cratson’s Corners. You hear me?” old man Mooney would call out.

“I’m addicted to jerkys.” I’d giggle and try to intercept Mr. Mooney as he made his way after Tommy. Poor Tommy would slide into the magazine rack and scoop up all Mama’s favorites.

“We’re good for it, Mr. Mooney,” I’d say as I ran backward and zigzagged a bit so he couldn’t catch me. “You have more jerkys than you need.”

Mooney would be out there on the street shaking his fist, his face as red as Mama’s nails. I still get a kick thinking back on it. Old man Mooney would come hollering to my daddy after he’d caught me and Tommy with our hands in his jerky jar.

“Your kids are up to no good again, Tim Place.”

Mooney’s lips were as thin as thread and whenever he came by to complain his lips would disappear altogether. But Daddy never paid him any mind. He knew how much me and Tommy loved our meat jerkys. And besides, Mooney needed my daddy ’cause he was the best damn mechanic in all of Hamilton County. Mooney drove a piece of junk that wound up breaking down every other damn week. Mooney would huff and puff and then he’d say, “You keep your kids away from my jerkys, you hear me, Tim Place?” And my daddy would say, “Yeah, yeah, Horace. I’ll make ya a promise. I’ll tan their hides for it. Sure enough.” And that would appease the old bastard, and he’d go off in his jalopy. My daddy would crank his spark plugs for nothing but a quarter the next time he pulled up in that hunk of tin he called “a classic.” A classic piece of shit, that’s what I called it.

Eventually, we outgrew stealing Mooney’s jerkys. Tommy went his own way once he discovered that girls thought he was hotter than fire. But by that time I had me my own distractions — more boyfriends than I even wanted — and not a damn one of those boys were worth any exploration of my secret garden. I guess that was because I had had me more lessons than I needed in deviant male behavior so I didn’t think I’d be fooling with anyone anytime soon. My granddaddy chased me around my bed more times than I like to recall. Then there was my encounter with Jeb Oates. I don’t like to think about that night either, but some things don’t ever become the memories too far gone to reach. It’s hard to forget when a good day turns bad. I was eighteen then, just turned, and I had graduated high school only weeks earlier. I started working in my daddy’s mechanic shop to earn some money, but Mama made short work of that. She didn’t like her baby girl covered in grease. She insisted I get myself something better suited to a lady. Hell, I liked working on those old cars but Mama put her foot down. So I found myself a job at Graves Motel on Highway 75. I was going to be waiting tables and taking tips from all those cheating sons of bitches who pretended to be on business trips but were really out there grabbing ass.

It was supposed to be my first night on the job, but it turned out to be the night I learned that things never turn out the way you would have expected them to. I was excited to be earning my own money, even though I knew Mama had an ulterior motive for my loose change. I was nervous that night, though I certainly knew how to carry a tray and pour coffee, but working for strangers wouldn’t be at all like having Daddy’s greasy fingers showing me how to check oil or change a fan belt.

Some people say luck is in the stars? Well, if that’s the case, I should have checked out the sky that night. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t a damn star out.

“My car is acting forlornly, Daddy,” I’d said earlier that day, not wanting anything to go wrong with my new job. You might say I probably had a premonition.

“The car is fine, sweetheart. I tuned her up myself.” Daddy grinned and pinched my chin with his dirty oil fingers.

Wouldn’t you know, the damn car had a coronary that night right before I even got on to the highway. It sounded as dead to me as some old back-road graveyard. There I sat, stranded at a stop light on County Route 3, having myself an anxiety attack. Then, out of the blue, I hear all these honks and hollers, and when I looked up, there was Jeb Oates coming to my rescue. Jeb Oates was the town creep, whistling at girls as though he didn’t have a wife up in the mountains living in one of those House Beautiful abodes with shutters on the windows and fake stone pigs on the lawn.

“What you doing out here on the road, pretty woman?” Jeb asked as he pulled up alongside me and rolled down his window.

“My car died,” I cried.

“Well, don’t you fret,” he said as he got out of his Thunderbird and walked over. “Smells like a rabbit died in here.” He grinned as he leaned in.

I glared at him. “That’s my car deodorizer. You going to help me or not? My battery is probably dead, and I can’t leave it here in the middle of the street.”

Jeb Oates was the very last person I would have wanted to be on a road with needing his assistance and feeling beholden to be as polite as possible. In better times, I would have told him to take a swim in the Everglades.

“Jimmy John,” he called. “Come on out here and help me move this antique off the road.”

I stepped out of my car as Jimmy John approached. I stood off to the side watching Jeb watch me. It was getting real dark outside, and there was hardly any traffic. Mostly, everybody was where they needed to be, but the son of a bitch had those eagle eyes and he saw me clear as spring water.

“Daddy said it was okay, but all of a sudden it stopped dead. I couldn’t start it back up,” I said. “I’m sure it’s the battery.”

“You sure know a lot for a girl, darling,” he told me. “I don’t have my hot wires…can’t help you. Don’t know much about cars either. Don’t like getting my hands dirty,” he said as he held them up.

“I don’t have booster cables either,” I said, wondering how the hell I was going to get to Graves on time. Figured I’d have to hitch over there and have Daddy pick up the car in the morning.

“You think it’s safe to leave it here?”

He laughed. “Nobody wants it but you, girl.” I could smell the beer on Jeb’s breath as he walked over and leaned in close to me. “You look like you have a hot date, Grace. You have a hot date? This put a damper on your plans?”

I watched as Jimmy John grinned at me. He’d been in my high school class, and I wondered what the hell he was doing hanging out with Jeb. Hell, Jeb was probably over thirty. He might have even been as old as my daddy, somewhere around fifty.

“Evening, Grace,” Jimmy John said. “You got a problem?”

“My car died,” I said.

I could see another guy leaning out the window of Jeb’s Thunderbird. “Hey, Grace,” he called.

I gave him a wave. It was Joe Jack, another old high-school classmate of mine. Joe Jack was so gangly he couldn’t walk down the hall without his knees knocking or speak without there being spit on the side of his mouth that you were just dying to tell him to swallow back down.

“Hey, ya’ll, Grace,” he called again.

I watched as Jeb and Jimmy John pushed my car over to the side of the road, huffing and puffing and flexing their muscles like they were sweet on each other.

“Whew, didn’t think I’d be working tonight, Grace,” Jeb said and wiped his forehead with his shirtsleeve. “Tell your daddy where we left it and get him to come over here with Tommy and pick it up before they junk it.” He laughed like some weird animal with a frog in its throat.

“Thank you,” I said quietly.

“’Bye, Grace,” Jimmy John said as he started back to Jeb’s Thunderbird.

“Hold up there, fella.” Jeb grabbed him by the arm. “You leaving a lady all alone to fend for herself on a dark road? What kind of gentleman are you?”

Jimmy John looked at him like it was a trick question. “Ah, no.”

“Where you off to, Grace? We’ll give you a lift,” Jeb said and tipped his hat.

I thought that old bastard had come to my rescue. I should have known that that loudmouth braggart wouldn’t help his own mother fry an egg without asking for a tip.

“I was going over to Highway 75.”

“What on earth for?”

I peered over at Jeb’s fancy new Thunderbird and noticed they had room for me in the back, but something instinctual was clicking in that told me that the son of a bitch was up to no good. I could tell they’d just knocked off a few six packs. I was reeling from Jeb’s breath.

“I got a job at Graves,” I said.

“Do tell?” Jeb said as he walked to his car and got behind the wheel.

“You got yourself an automobile full of friends with you tonight, Grace. Why, there’s me, Jimmy John and Joe Jack out here in the dark doing the gentlemanly thing for you.”

I nodded my head and tried to listen to the voice inside of it.

“Come on in, Grace.” Jeb looked into my eyes and something about the way he ran his tongue over his lips made me step back and tell him I had money for a bus.

“C’mon, Grace. Like I said, you’re among friends.” He laughed as he pushed Joe Jack out of the front seat. “C’mon and sit next to your hero, Grace. I’ll take you to Graves.”

I made the biggest mistake of my life getting into his fancy Thunderbird— trying to take the easy way out, not using the sense I was born with. I knew they’d all been drinking. The car smelled like a Budweiser plant had exploded under the hood and those fools were the happy fish floating in the foam.

Jeb started up the car and turned to grin at me. I noticed he wasn’t using his turn signal.

“Where you going?” I asked when I also noticed he hadn’t gotten on to the highway, but was turning left, back in the opposite direction.

“I want to show you my hunting cabin,” he said.

“I don’t want to see your hunting cabin, Jeb. I need to be at Graves. I’m already late.”

“You got a minute to spare for a Good Samaritan now, don’t you?”

“No,” I said and watched as we drove further and further away from Hixson.

Joe Jack and Jimmy John were giggling like a couple of girls at a spin the bottle face-off. I knew they were going to be useless to me.

“Let me out of this damn car,” I said through teeth as tight as I could clench ’em.

The next thing I knew Jeb had grabbed me by my neck and he was holding tight. “I’ve had my eye on you for a long time, Grace,” Jeb said softly.

I tried to get out from the stranglehold he had me in but he was too strong.

“I’ll jump out!” I screamed.

Jeb laughed. “We won’t pass any more stoplights. You want to try jumping at this speed, pretty baby?”

“I’m going to report you to the sheriff,” I screamed again.

“Nothing like young -----,” Jeb said to the boys in the back, ignoring my threat. “Better than draft beer and Super Bowl Sunday.”

“Young ----- is tight, huh, Jeb?” Jimmy John laughed and leaned in from the backseat smelling like piss water.

Jeb released his hold on me and started playing with my hair. “You’re a sought-after woman, Grace,” he said.

I watched as he grinned into the rearview mirror and spoke to the two fools in the backseat.

“Her breasts are like honeydew melons and her legs are long as a Texas mile.” He turned to me again and tugged on my hair. “I think I’d like a date with you, sweetheart.”

“I’d rather lie down next to a rotting corpse,” I said as I stared into his profile and almost leaned over to spit into that shadow of a mustache over his fat lips.

Jimmy John screeched out a laugh and punched Joe Jack on the shoulder.

“Graves isn’t safe for a young pretty woman like you, Grace,” Jeb said, scowling at me. “Too many stray dogs looking for meat. Wouldn’t you agree, boys?”

“Uh-huh,” those two fools said, like they were Siamese twins attached at the vocal cords.

I sat there trying to think of a way out of that car and hating myself for getting in it to begin with. I watched as Jeb pulled off the two-lane route we’d been on and onto some quiet, dark road with nothing on it but night critters. We were going up a hill, and all I could see out the damn window were his headlights glaring back into my eyes.

“Get out of the car, boys…take a walk.” Jeb sneered. He pulled to a stop in the middle of nowhere.

“No,” I said. “Don’t you two go nowhere. Take me home, Jeb!” I demanded.

I’ll never forget Joe Jack’s eyes; they were big, big as a raccoon’s.

"He won’t hurt you none,” Joe Jack said. “We’re just going up behind the trees to take a leak. We’ll be back.”

“No!” I shouted and started screaming. Those idiot boys did just as they were told and left the car and went running up into the woods. I kicked Jeb with my foot.

“Just a kiss, honey — that’s all I want.”

Jeb pulled me to him. I was wondering how hard I could bite his lip when he surprised me and sat back. He undid his belt buckle and burped.

I took advantage of the longest burp I’d ever heard and leaped through that door like a deer reacting to gunshots.

“Hey, where you going?” he shouted.

It was so dark I couldn’t see two feet in front of me, but I ran like the devil. I heard his car door slam and the next thing I knew, Jeb was running after me. I paused just long enough to try to figure out what direction to go in, and in that dumb moment of reflection, Jeb grabbed me and forced me to the ground.

“Get off me, Jeb!” I hollered as I moved my head back and forth, trying to avoid his mouth. “Please stop!”

The old bastard had a wang the size of an eggplant. I could feel the damn thing hard as steel, against my leg.

I started screaming as he lifted up my dress and ripped my underwear right off my body. I felt his hand clamp down on my mouth.

“C’mon, baby,” he grunted in my ear.

I could barely breathe but somehow I managed to bring my knee up right into his stomach, just as he was lifting himself up high enough to pull his eggplant wang out from behind his zipper. The son of a bitch fell back against the truck and slid to the ground. Shit, I was stronger than I ever dreamed I could be.

“I’m going to throw up, Grace,” he mumbled. “What did you want to go and do that for?”

I could hear him puking as I jumped behind the wheel of the T-Bird and slammed the door. I got out of there so fast that I might have run the bastard over, but I wouldn’t have gone back to check out his sorry body.

I looked up once in the rearview mirror. I could barely see, but I knew it was Jeb out there on his knees puking his guts out. Those two other fools sauntered out from behind the trees, looking all over for the car.

Well, I always try to look on the bright side; I’m glad I never made it over to Highway 75 that night. Maybe, if I had, I’d still be there waiting tables and taking tips from horny fools. Of course, I never will get over what almost happened to me. I came home that night looking like I’d swam in the swamp with an alligator. I’d ditched the Thunderbird over by Cratson’s Corners, as close to the sink hole as I could get it without falling into it myself. I walked the two miles home in the dark feeling like I’d brought this whole thing on myself and swearing to hate men for the rest of my life.

“Darling, that you?” Mama asked as I tried to sneak past her. I’d brushed myself off as best I could but I still looked a wreck.

“Yes, Mama. I’m going to bed.”

Mama came to the doorway and stared at me.

“Are you all right? You look…”

“I’m fine, Mama. The car stalled out. I had to leave it by the side of the road. I’ll take Daddy over there tomorrow to get it.”

“Did you get to Graves?” she asked.

I shook my head. I knew Mama wasn’t going to be happy. She wanted me to take that job at the motel so that I could save my money up for New York City.

“Did you call over there and tell them you’d be in tomorrow, honey?”

I shook my head again. “I’m not working there,” I said. I think working over there would have always reminded me of that night, and I couldn’t let myself think about it again. I felt so damn dirty. I was an almost victim. It was a connection that wasn’t ever going to transform into something I could stand looking back on. It was too much forever ugly.

“Why, honey?” Mama asked and came over to me. She brushed the hair from out of my eyes. Mama always knew me better than I knew myself, but I lied to her anyway, trying to keep my pounding heart from beating too loudly. But it was like pretending it wasn’t raining when you were standing knee deep in a puddle.

“I don’t want to be a waitress, Mama.”

“Oh,” she said and stepped back. She stared at me until I thought I’d faint.

“Where’s Daddy?” I asked, just to change the subject.

“Jake’s…gambling.”

“And Granddaddy Ellsworth?”

“Preaching,” she said.

I avoided her eyes. Mama walked to the window. “How did you get home, sug?”

“Walked.”

Mama smiled. “Why, my resourceful daughter. How far?”

“A couple of miles, Mama, that’s all. I’m going to bed now,” I said.

Mama came over and took my hands. “You’ll find something else,”she said. “My daughter is a survivor. Isn’t that right, sugar?”

She kissed me then and went back to the TV. I could hear music. It sounded a little like Judy Garland…probably was Judy Garland. Mama said Judy Garland’s pain was transparent. Mama said that was the downside of genius, a soul not clothed by layers of inconsequential packaging was at the mercy of every vulture out there. Mama always said there were more vultures in life than real people.

I showered until my skin felt raw. Then I lay on my bed thinking about Granddaddy Ellsworth. I guess he wasn’t much different than Jeb Oates. The old bastard finally stopped chasing me around the bed, and I had my brother to thank for that. He beat the hell out of him when he caught the old geezer coming out of my bedroom clutching his heart. Tommy finally got it out of me, how the old coot kept chasing me around, telling me how he was going to pop my cherry. Tommy told me then that the old man grabbed his crotch once and started fondling his privates, but Tommy punched him in the groin, and Granddaddy Ellsworth pretty much kept his distance after that. Tommy was only ten years old when he first started beating up on Granddaddy Ellsworth, but the old fart was so frail by then he couldn’t even protect himself from my little brother.

We eventually told Mama about Granddaddy Ellsworth and Mama went and got one of Daddy’s pistols. She held it to the old geezer’s head and he threw himself on the ground and wept for mercy. If I told her about Jeb Oates, I wouldn’t put it past my mama to shoot his genitals so far off his body he’d be walking on a cane before he ever found them again.

I lay there in bed feeling like the shower couldn’t wash the grime from my heart. Jeb Oates had slimed me. But then I thought of Mama’s words: “My daughter is a survivor.”

“Yes, I am,” I whispered in the dark. “Yes, I sure as hell am.”

Book Details:
Publisher: Musa (November 16, 2012)
Category: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction/ Southern Fiction
Tour Date: April/May, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 347 Pages

Amazon Purchase Link:

Winner: Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence and the Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction! 5 Star Clarion ForeWord Review!

About the Author:

:

Vera Jane Cook, writer of Award Winning Women’s Fiction, is the author of The Story of Sassy Sweetwater, Lies a River Deep, Where the Wildflowers Grow, Dancing Backward in Paradise and Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem.

Jane, as she is known to family and friends, was born in New York City and grew up amid the eccentricity of her southern and glamorous mother on the Upper West and Upper East Side of Manhattan.

An only child, Jane turned to reading novels at an early age and was deeply influenced by an eclectic group of authors. Some of her favorite authors today are Nelson DeMille, Calib Carr, Wally Lamb, Anne Rice, Sue Monk Kidd, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Her favorite novels are too long to list but include The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Cheri and The Last of Cheri, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wuthering Heights, Look at Me, Dogs of Babel, The Bluest Eye, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Body Surfing, Lolita, The Brothers Karamazov, She’s Come Undone, Tale of Two Cities, etc., etc., etc.,

Vera Jane Cook’s Website: http://www.verajanecook.com/
Vera Jane Cook on Twitter: https://twitter.com/verajanecook
Vera Jane Cook on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vera.j.cook


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Music and the Writing Playlist: Mind’s Eye (Mind's Eye Series, Book 1) by Rebecca A. Roger


Seventeen-year-old Kearly Ashling can travel anywhere her mind takes her—literally. Becoming Empress of the planet Cyeor and battling monstrous, otherworldly creatures isn’t a problem. Living among the elves on the Plains of Glasslyn has yet to be an issue, as well. Even touring normal places like Paris, London, Tokyo, and the Amazon Rainforest isn’t difficult.

But traveling through her imagination isn’t just fun and games—it has consequences. Following a battle on the planet Cyeor, she’s visited by a guy who’s unimagined. He warns her to stop using her gift or they will find her. Kearly doesn’t heed the messenger’s advice and soon wishes she had. When the messenger finds her again, he transports her to the M.I.N.D., a corporation which specializes in “healing the psyche.” Once she’s inside the M.I.N.D.’s doors, however, Kearly realizes escaping is nearly impossible.

Now, she must figure out the M.I.N.D.’s true intent, try not to fall for the irritating-yet-handsome messenger, and find a way to outsmart the organization before they stop her from ever imagining again.

Mind’s Eye
Mind's Eye Series, Book 1
Rebecca A. Rogers

Genre: Paranormal (with romantic elements)

Publisher: Rebecca A. Rogers

Date of Publication: January 1, 2014

ISBN: 1481061577
ASIN: B00HMJQNTO

Number of pages: 284
Word Count: 50,219

Cover Artist: Rebecca A. Rogers
Music and the Writing Playlist

It doesn’t matter what country you’re from, or what language you speak, there is one thing that’s universal: the love of music. Which is why it’s no surprise readers adore seeing what their favorite authors listen to while writing. Which song or artist kept the creative juices flowing? What genre of music do they listen to? What mood does the music set?

I’ve recently released my tenth book, and I know I couldn’t have completed many scenes without the aid of a playlist. Music has a tendency to relax our mind and body, help us forget our problems, and allow us to just drift along with the melody. For me, it’s all about envisioning other worlds and losing myself in those daydreams. Music, much like reading, is an escape.

So, without further ado, here’s the list of songs I listened to while writing Mind’s Eye:

“Endlessly” - Green River Ordinance

“Texas Rain” - Sleeperstar

“Ocean Wide” - The Afters

“Down” - Jason Walker (This was featured on an episode of The Vampire Diaries!)

“Our July in the Rain” - He Is We

“When I’m with You” - Faber Drive

“Telescope” - Graham Colton

I know. It’s an extremely short list, but I kept it on repeat throughout the entire writing process. More than likely, this playlist will stick with me throughout the remainder of the trilogy, and I’ll be tacking on a few more songs.

What’s your favorite music to listen to while blocking out the rest of the world?


Excerpt:

A loud, slow clap began at one end of the tavern after everyone else had stopped applauding. My people stopped conversing, and I glanced up at the young man—no older than me—standing across the room. His hair was as dark as mine and barely reached the top of his shoulders. He wore a white shirt that exhibited his strong build, dark jeans that were slightly baggy, and a black, leather jacket. His boots were messily hanging open, laces dragging the floor. His eyes were so dark they appeared sinister, soulless. A slight five o’clock shadow grew along his jaw line, and there was a fullness to his bottom lip that triggered a vision of me kissing it softly.

I shook my head. Who was he? I definitely didn’t imagine him. Although, if he was somebody my mind created, then I seriously needed to visualize hot guys more often.

With each new clap, he took a step toward me, until we were face to face. “A not-so-surprising victory for the one who pretends to be a fierce idol by using her mind.”

What the hell?

“Who are you?” I asked.

“An enforcer. A Realist,” he replied, a slight grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. “And the person who will be your downfall if you don’t stop using your ability.”

My eyes expanded. “How…?”

“Ah, yes. The inevitable question: how do I know about your skill?” His eyes skimmed over my face, pausing briefly at my lips, then flicked upward and met my gaze once again. “I work for an organization that specializes in healing people like you.”

People like me? “I’m not the only one?”

He grinned and blew air out of his nose in one short huff. “No, my dear, you aren’t alone. There are others like you around the world, and there are others like me, destined to stop you from using your imagination.”

I frowned. “Everyone has an imagination, though…”

“Not like yours. Not with the power to physically disappear inside their dreamscapes.”

He had a point. My ability went above and beyond what was normal, but I knew that since I was a child—from the time I asked my friends if they had traveled to alternate realities and they said no. I understood I was different, that I had a secret talent nobody else could be made aware of.

“And how are you able to appear inside my mind? I didn’t dream of you.”

“No, you didn’t. It’s part of my ability. We can track who uses their imagination too often, who disappears inside their own head, and who has been too carefree with their secret. Damage control is always the worst part, especially if the media gets a hold of a story like this. Do you know the impact your kind can have, to just disappear into thin air and visit your dream worlds? There’d be uproar.”

“So, instead of letting my kind use their ability peacefully, without harming anyone, you and your kind remove it from us? What kind of bullshit is that?”

“A precautionary measure. Remember, Kearly, I only give one warning, and if you don’t listen, I’ll bring you in and eradicate your ability. Do you understand?”

I opened my mouth to respond, but he cupped his fingers over my lips, his face mere inches away. Those dark eyes entrapped me, until I caved and nodded.

“Good,” he said, removing his hand. “It’d be in your best interest to keep your mind clear.” He slowly backed away, and the crowd around us stepped backward, as well. “Consider yourself lucky. Most of our other agents wouldn’t even dream of giving you prior notice. It was a pleasure meeting you, but I sincerely hope we never meet again.”

A shadowy vapor secreted from his skin, coiling around his body in a dense fog, until he was shrouded from sight. The mist contracted, then exploded. Everyone gasped. The leftovers of the haze hung in the air and, eventually, faded away.


Purchase Links:

Amazon US Mind's Eye (Mind's Eye, #1)

Smashwords Mind's Eye

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU BN
Createspace
Apple iBookstore


About the Author:

Rebecca expressed her creative side at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. She won’t hesitate to tell you that she lives inside her imagination, and it’s better than reality.

She’d insert something here along the lines of living in the Northeast, USA, or Europe, with her wonderful husband and their dogs, but these things haven’t happened yet. Instead, she’ll tell you she’s an avid gamer, chocoholic, coffee addict, animal lover, and owns way too many books and shoes.

Website/Blog: http://www.rebeccaarogers.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rebecca_Rogers

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


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Rebecca_Rogers

Book Release Blitz: Hearing Love by Katie Lee




Hearing Love - Release Blitz
By Katie Lee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publish Date: April 16, 2014

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   Ella James, the beautiful, feisty Director of Operations at Coopers’ Treats finds herself immediately at odds with Alexander Shepard, CEO of SBS, Inc. Alex’s company is looking to merge with the financially shaky Coopers’ Treats, but from the moment they met, Alex had this way of getting under Ella’s skin. Alex’s plans for the merger would require Ella to uproot herself from her safe, quiet existence in the bucolic suburban enclave of Brookside and move to the bright lights of Manhattan. For Ella, who lost her hearing at a young age, change wasn’t something she embraced or welcomed freely. She was also reluctant to leave Chase Kramer, her on-again, off-again boyfriend, even though they were currently in the “off-again” phase.

But a merger with the more financially stable SBS, Inc. would mean ensuring Coopers’ Treats continued existence, so Ella packs up and heads for the Big Apple, hoping that giving Chase the chance to really miss her might clarify his feelings for her. When Ella gets to Manhattan, she is charmed by both the big city and Alex. Despite her feelings for Chase, she finds herself hopelessly drawn to Alex and the chemistry between them is sizzling. They embark on a passionate, fun, whirlwind affair. Ella is surprised by her intense feelings for Alex, even though she is still haunted by dreams of chasing after an elusive man, dreams that she started having when Chase first broke off their relationship.

 As the merger deadline approaches, Ella finds herself caught between her feelings for two very different men. As she works to see that the merger is completed successfully, her muddled feelings for both men threaten to jeopardize everything she holds dear. Will she finally be able to hear love and make the right choice?

Book Excerpt:

“But this would be more of a. . .date.”

Her eyes widened, and she swallowed before she whispered, “A date?”

He nodded, rising and moving closer to the conference table. “You’ve heard of them I assume?”

She blew out a breath. “Of course I have.”

He grinned. “Great. I didn’t want to have to explain what they were.”

“Alex.” His grin grew wider. He loved it when she said his name in that irritated tone. It was refreshing considering very few people did that with him.

“So are you busy?”

“No.”

“Great! I can pick-"

“No, I meant I don’t date.”

“In general or me in particular?”

She looked at him, her expression dumbfounded. “Is that really relevant?”

“Oh, yeah,” he answered, taking a few steps closer. In response, she pushed her chair back, sliding a bit away from him.

“How?”

“Well, for starters,” he said easily, taking a seat on the edge of his worktable. “If you don’t date in general, I’d want to know why, ‘cause I might still have a shot. If it’s just me in particular. . .” He shrugged. “I’d still want to know why.”

“I just don’t date, okay?”

“’Cause of the Kramer guy?”

The way her body stiffened gave him his answer, despite her curt, “No.”

“Are you two in a relationship?”

If it were possible, she stiffened up even more. “No.”

“So you’re pining after him?”

“No,” she said forcefully.

“Yet you don’t date.”

She huffed out a breath in exasperation. “Okay, fine. Maybe I just don’t want to date you.”

His ego emitted a little squeal of protest but Alex knew that Ella was reacting to him putting her on the spot. He knew, or at least he didn’t have any reason to think otherwise, that Ella liked him. Whether she liked him beyond their professional relationship he didn’t know, but that was why he was asking her on a date now. “Why?”

“Why?” she repeated, frustrated. Alex had to admit he was enjoying her reaction to this far more than he should. “Why do you need to know why?”

“Curiosity,” he said with a nonchalant shrug. He was really enjoying the way her expression was verging between incredulity and annoyance. “I think I’m a relatively dateable person. So what is it about me that you find so unappealing?”

“I. . .don’t. . .” She stopped, shaking her head.

“I mean, come on, I really want to know. Is it because I’m tall?”

“Alex. . .”

“Too successful? Not good looking enough? ” He snapped his fingers. “You don’t like the way I dress.”

A small laugh burst from her, as if it had escaped despite her best efforts to keep it in check. “This is ridiculous.”

“Actually I’m very serious.” He leaned forward, looking straight into her eyes. She swallowed and looked away for a beat before meeting his eyes again. “I’m a reasonably attractive, normal man with a good job. For a lot of women, that’s more than enough to secure a first date.”

“You’re my boss.”

“Ella, I already told you. Technically, I’m not your boss.”

“Technically, maybe you’re not, but for all intents and purposes, you are and dating you would be way too complicated.”

“But fun,” he teased.

“Alex.”

He grinned. “We’re talking a date here, Ella. Not a lifelong commitment or anything. How complicated could that be?” He indicated the remnants of another take-out dinner spread on the far end of the conference table. "It’s not like we haven’t had dinner together before.”

“That’s different,” she protested.

“How? It’s food and conversation. Getting to know each other.”

“With strings attached.”

He held up both hands, miming a gesture of surrender. “No strings.”

“I don’t think,” she began to protest but Alex could see that she was wavering. All he needed to do was nudge her a little.

“Come on, Ella,” he said with his most disarming smile. A reluctant smile tugged at her lips and he knew he had her. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

About the Author:

 photo DenverBar_zps81c40bb7.jpgKatie Lee has had a lifelong love affair with books. She fell in love with her first book in the second grade and hasn’t looked back since. She first took up writing as a hobby, wanting to craft her own magical adventures, and through the love and encouragement of family and friends, decided to get serious about writing and share her stories with the world.

She currently resides in Maryland in the United States. She works for the government during the day, and her spare time is devoted to writing. She gains inspiration from all sorts of things, but mostly from the fun and adventurous trips she takes when she can.

Her debut novel, "What Endures" was published in August of 2013 and is available on Amazon.

Author Links


Buy Link


Giveaway Details and Rafflecopter:

$10 Amazon Gift Card


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Book Bliz: INVITATION by Christine Hoffman (Presented by Pump Up Your Book)


 We welcome Christina Hoffman, author of the contemporary romance, Invitation, to Sapphyria's Book Review Blog!


Book Details:

Title: Invitation
Author: Christina Hoffman
Publisher: Christina Hoffman
Pages: 187
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase Links:

Amazon Kindle US Invitation




Available at Smashwords in epub, mobi, pdf and doc: Invitation

About the Book:

Madison Spencer is a serious medical student, focused only on work and hiding her beauty and her once-passionate spirit behind a quiet plain-Jane facade. Since she was drugged, stripped, assaulted and photographed by a vengeful ex, she has stayed away from men and kept her heart and body safe.

But when heart-stoppingly gorgeous Dr. Liam Mason walks into her world, she knows she's in trouble. After finding out about her devastating past, Liam offers to bring her back to life with physical passion. Madison thinks she should be repelled, but she's intrigued and can't turn him away. Together they explore days and nights of pleasure, and slowly develop into something more than bedmates.

Deep inside they each wonder if they've found their perfect match. But with Liam's fear of being dragged down by commitment, and Madison's fear of being hurt by another man threatening to destroy the world they’ve built together, will they each be strong enough and brave enough to risk their hearts to have it all?

Book Excerpt:

I can't even blame it on the booze. There wasn't any, or at least there wasn't any for me. I was with Chloe, my bodyguard. Okay, actually she was my friend, but a really overprotective friend who knew all about what I’d been through and wanted to make sure it never happened again. So, no alcohol.

But, what she and I hadn't counted on was him being there. There I was, minding my own business, putting in my time at the Med School Social, more than ready to head home for some studying, then Chinese food and a movie. And suddenly, him. 

I was inhaling when I caught sight of him, but my breath just stopped. It felt like being punched in the chest. I kept telling myself, look away, look away! But it was impossible. I was paralyzed. His beautiful face and magnificent body were magnets, and my eyes were locked on them.

I hadn't felt this kind of physical attraction since, well, ever. I had never felt like that. I had stayed away from men for two years. I was pretty much terrified of them, to tell the truth. But there he was. Unavoidable and irresistible.

I saw him in profile. Oh, that hair. Thick, almost curly, falling into his eyes. The kind of hair you need to gently push off of his face right before you kiss him. Or, the kind of hair you grab really hard right before you're about to...

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The point I'm trying to make is that my mind very clearly recognized all the dangers ahead and was saying, “Turn around, go, get out of here! Before it's too late.” But then he turned around to look right at me. It was already too late. 

We held each other's gaze a second longer than politeness required. Something inside me went click, and for the first time in almost two years, I felt young and alive, and really, really turned on. Every part of me suddenly woke up, and all the best parts started to tingle. I was breathing harder. My lips parted slightly, already begging to be kissed.

It was a little overwhelming. I was out of practice. No, actually, I had never had the kind of practice you would need to stay controlled in a situation like that. I think maybe you can have a soul mate for your mind, and also one for your body. And my body was saying “Get me over there right now!”

But I was still too afraid. I smiled a little and turned away. 

I had to stay for a while, to look sociable, so I went over to the food table and stared at the snacks, which were already stale. Nothing looked very good, and my throat was too tight to eat anyway. 

I was starting to formulate a plan for escaping without the other students or the teachers noticing when I felt the air move behind me, the softest caress against my bare shoulders. Then, a hand on my back, an electric shock to my body, wildly pleasurable. I gasped and spun around. Right into the arms of...

“I'm Liam.” 

Liam. Right into the arms of Liam. Oh, he was even more beautiful up close. My hand rose all on its own to push that wonderful floppy hair from his face. I stopped suddenly, embarrassed, but he caught my wrist, and held my palm gently to his face. We looked at each other and knew. 

“Wanna get out of here?” he asked, and of course, foolish, foolish woman that I am, I said, “Yes.”

I saw him my first day at the new hospital. I'm a medical student and had just finished the lecture part of things where we sit around learning about chemical reactions and body parts. That was over, at last, and we were moving on to seeing real live patients in the hospital. 

The orientation was step one in getting us ready for our new roles. We each got a short lab coat and a tour of the locker rooms. We received our ID tag photos. 

I'm not sure why I first noticed Liam. 

Since the bad thing happened, I keep my head down and make eye contact with pretty much nobody. I wear my hair in a tight bun at the nape of my neck and my clothes are dull and loose. On that particular day, I was trying very hard to concentrate. I was excited to be starting work in the hospital, but I was mostly terrified. There was so much to take in and remember. My head was reeling after only two hours. The last thing on my mind was men. So, who knows why I took that second look as he walked by our group.

Well, actually I do know why. He was gorgeous. Ridiculously gorgeous. Dark wavy hair, just slightly overgrown so he looked like a happy surfer who'd tumbled out of bed. Smiling eyes. Sparkling, mischievous, movie star eyes. A little bit of stubble, likely because he had been on call all night. The rest of him looked pretty much immaculate. He wore light wool pants and a sky blue shirt. No tie, but the white lab coat made him look professional enough. 

I was dedicated to maintaining my nun-like lifestyle, but, seriously, it was impossible not to look at him. Even Chloe noticed him. She looked at him, then at me. She shook her head lightly and whispered, “No”. I laughed a little because she sounded like a mom telling a toddler that she couldn't have any candy. Well, that was pretty much what was happening, so I guess Chloe nailed that.

She was absolutely right. I didn't want any trouble. Certainly not that awful, frightening feeling of falling in love. No time-consuming romance. And certainly not all the time I had lost trying to recover from the trauma of what had happened before. Even a plain old tiny heartbreak could set me back, and put me way off course in my career.

No, I didn't have the time or energy for any distractions. Nothing. Just work and school. 

So I ignored the stunning resident with the black hair, and tried to focus on the tall blond giving us the orientation spiel. This was much easier because I felt no attraction to him at all. He was really handsome, too. But something about him seemed mean. Or maybe arrogant. It's hard to remember what I thought of him that first time, because the memory is so clouded with all that came after. I'll just say he was a tall, slim blond who should have caught my eye, but didn't.

About the Author:


Christina Hoffman was born in London, England. She moved with her family throughout Canada and the US, and has finally put down her suitcase, for now, in San Francisco.

She believes that everyone has the right to feel both smart and sexy. We don't have to be one or the other! She writes stories about characters who live in the real world and who, somehow, still believe in love.

She's starting a mini-revolution. She writes sexy stories, but hasn't lost the romance from her Romances. Enough with whips -- back to lips!

She hopes you enjoy her stories and see yourself in her characters. After all, they are based on smart and sexy people, just like you.

Christina’s latest bo
Visit her website at www.christinahoffman.com
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