Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wesley Raccoon Series by Michelle Porter

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michelle Porter will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?

As a child I always loved the Dr. Seuss books for their simple rhymes and creative inspiration. Pick up any of the older books and find yourself immersed in the often muddling silliness of prose. It would make my tongue twist and heart giggle. After all, who doesn’t like Green eggs and Ham…except of course Sam.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

Superpowers are a funny thing; you think you know exactly which one to pick and then bam!, something changes and you’re looking for the next best superpower. As a child, I probably would have chosen the power of time travel….if that’s even considered a super power at all.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

As a 70’s child, I couldn’t get enough of the original Scooby-Doo cartoon series. I loved the mysteries and downright great team sleuthing of Shaggy, Daphne, Velma, and Fred. Anyone who is familiar with the cartoon can debate who usually solved the mystery, but my vote always goes to Velma, a super intelligent young woman filled with various knowledge facts and sometimes obscure information.

Favorite hot beverage. Why?

My favorite beverage has to be a perfectly made Greek coffee. There is a smoothness to it that melts in the mouth. It’s nothing like drip coffee or espresso, it has a uniqueness all its own. My husband introduced me to this delight years back when we went to visit his family in Greece and I’ve been drinking ever since.

Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?

What a great question to ask, I don’t think I have ever been given free range to come up with my very own ice cream flavor. Hmmm, let me see, I would definitely have black cherry, maple syrup, and probably bacon….all rolled into one oozy gooey delicious creamy treat. Let’s call it ‘Maple Cherry–porkalicious’…it's maple, it's sweet cherry, it's pork, and it's delicious.

Wesley Raccoon: The Old Man in the Houseboat

This story is about a shy little raccoon who overcomes his fear of meeting new people. Join Wesley Raccoon on his travels through the streets of Amsterdam to find out how The Old Man In The Houseboat becomes his new best friend.

Wesley Raccoon: Captain John's Social

This inspiring story of friendship captures the importance of spending time with friends throughout our life. Join Wesley Raccoon and The Old Man in the Houseboat on their adventures through Vondelpark, and learn how Captain John's Social gathers a unique circle of true friends.

Read an Excerpt

Wesley loves to spend time with his friends at Captain John’s Social.

Tonight, he introduces his best friend to the Wise Owl of Nine Streets; Riley Fox, who lives in Dam Square; Leia and Dexter, the alley cat twins; and, of course, LisaLou, the Hare of Vondelpark, who they sang songs with earlier that afternoon.

The Captain tells stories and listens carefully to his friends as they share their week’s adventures.

“How wonderful it is to have friendship of all kinds in our life,” says Wesley to the Captain. Wesley and his friends are thankful for knowing so many different people and spending time with them every week at Captain John’s Social.

As Wesley thinks about his friends and their wonderful times together, he knows that each person is truly unique, and in their own special way, brings kindness to Wesley’s circle of friends.

About the Author:As a mother to four grown boys, Michelle is passionate about writing captivating children's stories on the importance of social acceptance, kindness and life lessons. Her books focus on friendship, love and self-awareness blossoming in a world that children understand.

Her warm-hearted approach to writing and whimsical use of watercolor illustrations connect with young creative minds, inspiring children of all ages. The message she coveys is simple yet powerful: "When we release our fear of the unknown and our preconceived notions, we free our hearts to find true friends, to love, and to grow."






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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Drifting by Steven M. Cross

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Steven M. Cross will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Drifting brings light into the dark corners of mental health, bullying, and sexual assault.

Dean Knight has struggled against his personal demons for as long as he can remember. He thought he lost that struggle when he felt their knowing grip pull him deeper in the river, but he was saved. Saved for what? His memories are trapped within his mental illness. He hears his sister and father’s voices. The problem is, they’re dead, both killed in the same river that tried to claim Dean. As he struggles to remember, he discovers their voices aren’t pushing him to harm himself, but to discover the truth surrounding both their deaths. One person, Ella, has all the answers, but Dean can’t remember if she loved him or tried to kill him.

Roxanne “Rocky” Rivers struggles against her own demons, not voices, but a past trauma she can’t fully remember. She only knows everyone at school thinks she’s a slut and a head-case. A razor her only release for the pain. Rocky knows no one will believe a crazy girl who tries to kill herself.

Dean and Rocky find a connection. Can they find the strength and trust to help each other when neither can survive alone?

Read an Excerpt

The police won’t get here before he kills me. My mom stirs, reaches into her pocket, gets some keys. She reaches for the table she just tripped over.

So this is the way it’s going to end? My mom gets away while her insane boyfriend murders her insane son. Instead of fleeing though, she slips the key into one of the small drawers on the coffee table.

A crazy thought enters my head. She’s getting one of her bottles, and this has been an elaborate ruse so they can kill me and then celebrate. They’ll say I attacked him, and the police will believe it.

Danger to self and others.

She’ll get my money. He steps in front of me with his fists balled. This guy’s going to beat me to death while my mom drinks.

In the distance, sirens shriek. They won’t make it in time. I can imagine the red lights reflecting in pools of—

Blood spatters my face and foams from his mouth opened in a big O of surprise. He drops to his knees. Through the broken glass, I see cop cars flying up our road.

A gun drops from my mother’s hand.

I wonder if the bullet has gone through Paul into me, but I don’t feel any pain. He coughs again, blood gurgles from his mouth. He crumples to the floor.

The police burst through the door with guns raised just like on a cop show, only it couldn’t be any more real.

About the Author:
Steve Cross is an educator/freelance writer who lives in Poplar Bluff, MO. His credits include four young adult novels, two fantasy novels, and seven plays. He has optioned one script and sold another one. Plus, he's finished as a quarterfinalist in Bluecat and in Fresh Voices screenwriting competition. He and his wife have one daughter and two grandchildren with whom they spend a lot of time. Cross loves Cardinals baseball, classic rock music, and character-driven movies. His favorite films are Dead Poets Society and Field of Dreams. Cross also likes to read, everything from Young Adult contemporary novels to screenplays, to horror and fantasy. At 62 and a cancer survivor, he believes his writing career is just now getting into full swing. His favorite type of screenplay to write is a psychological drama.

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Calling by Branwen OShea

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Branwen OShea will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What’s your favorite sweet treat?

Raw cookie dough. My current favorite is homemade chocolate chip cookie dough, but instead of chocolate chips I add in a mix of butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips. Since my family usually eats it raw, I use egg substitute to avoid food poisoning concerns.

Ideal summer vacation. 

 I don’t like the heat, so I’d much rather do a winter vacation. I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland and stay in one of the shelters with glass ceilings so that you can watch the Northern Lights. During the day I’d hike glaciers, visit the hot springs, and see a volcano.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

As I said before, I don’t like the heat, so I’d like to get off that island ASAP, even if its gorgeous. The most powerful character to save me would be Kalakanya, since she’s a Crowned One, and with her metamorphosis complete, she can now star beam to any location. She’d get us both somewhere cool with ice coffee in a flash, quite literally.

Favorite pizza toppings.

Extra cheese, hot Italian sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and jalapeños.

Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?

All Nighter: Coffee ice cream with chocolate-covered expresso beans & caramel swirl.

Playlist for The Calling

While I don’t usually listen to music while writing, I almost always listen before writing sessions to figure out the day’s scenes. My favorite music for planning The Calling is Two Steps From Hell’s album Invincible.

However, recently I began making playlists for all my characters that will eventually be on my website. I created a general playlist for The Calling that I’ve linked below. It’s on Spotify, and if you download the free Spotify app, you should be able to access the music. The following is my spoiler-free reasoning for adding each song.

The first song is Hearts of Courage by Two Steps From Hell. When I imagine The Calling as a movie, this is its theme song. It starts out with a base beat that reminds me of the humans living below ground. Its joined by another higher and contrasting theme including a chorus that reminds me of the ethereal star beings. The two themes interplay and then reach a somewhat settled conclusion at the end.

Human Characters:

The other songs are for the characters in order of appearance. For eighteen-year-old Bleu Reinier, who is constantly called by nature to leave his home and venture onto the Surface, I chose Into the Unknown by Idina Menzel. This song also fits chapter two where Bleu discovers he and his mother have an unusual connection to someone outside of Northern Haven.

For fifteen-year-old Ayanna Reinier, Bleu’s wild kid sister, I chose I’m Going Slightly Mad by Queen. Ayanna contracts the strange Sickness that is plaguing the teens and makes them lose their minds.

Commander Savas spends much of the book enjoying guns and mad at Educator Girak (Atsushi and Ayanna’s science teacher) for being a ‘traitor.” For Savas, I chose Traitor by Daughtry.

Bleu and his best friend Stamf (also 18) are the number one team in the holographic games arena. Stamf enjoys strutting his stuff in front of the women, so I chose Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, which I can imagine Stamf playing after a big match and trying to get Bleu to dance to.

Fifteen-year-old Atsushi has a sweet crush on Ayanna, but never knows how to quite make his move. I do Adore by Mindy Gledhill fits him well.

For Educator Girak and his wife Josefina Girak (both scientists), I chose The Science Love Song by ASAPScience. Their love is adorable and full of the humorous banter this song contains.

Star Being Characters:

The star beings have a vastly different culture and music based on their goal of Crowning, or metamorphosing into a near-enlightenment state of existence. For 16-year-old Rana, I chose Adi Shakti: Bhangra Mix by Sada Sat Kaur because of its danceable beat and mantra invoking the divine feminine. Rana wants to Crown more than anything, but fears she won’t because her parents were both rare failures at Crowning.

Rana’s best friend and possible love interest, Kahali plays the drums and is one of the best dancers around. For Kahali I chose Ceremony of Passage by Vas, because its one of the best songs I know that’s mainly drums and he’d love playing it.

Eka, another star being who also likes Rana, is more into wood carving. I struggled to find a song for him, but chose I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers because despite his anxiety, when he commits to something, he’s all in.

The final star being is Kalakanya, the only main character to have already Crowned. We Are Peace by Snatum Kaur is slightly dancey, a bit playful, but also has a strong message. It fits the way Kalakanya sees the world even when its falling apart around her.

The Calling is a multiple point of view sci-fi adventure novel that features the POV of Bleu, Atsushi, Commander Savas, Rana, and Kahali. Step into their world with their playlist on Spotify:

Humanity’s wake-up call. Answer it or face extinction.

When Bleu’s little sister shows symptoms of the deadly Sickness, a strange vision directs him to leave humanity’s subterranean haven and seek the cure on Earth’s glacial surface. Joining the expedition team, Bleu expects extreme temperatures, not a surface ruled by ingenious predators.

Rana and her fellow star beings have co-existed with Earth’s top carnivores since the humans disappeared. But when her peers transform into Crowned Ones, the final stage of star being development, she fears remaining Uncrowned like her parents. To prove her worth, she undertakes a dangerous mission—contacting the hostile and nearly extinct humans.

But Rana’s plan backfires, and Bleu’s team retaliates. As war with the more advanced star being civilization looms, both Rana and Bleu separately seek a way to save their people.

Read an Excerpt

“All right, get out, men.” Savas had never experienced such peace on the last mission. This was truly pleasant. They climbed out of the rover, and he tripped on his own feet as if drunk.

Laughing at himself, he reminded the others, “Guns out. Stamf, take the lead. I’ll bring up the rear.”

He paused, swaying a bit, while the other two men passed him and then proceeded slowly down the left branch. Sparkling light from farther down the tunnel lit their way. With a quick glance back toward the entrance, he took up the rear.

Then a voice as ethereal as the wind sang, “Caaaaaahm heeeeeeeere…caaaaaaaaaahm heeeeeeeere…”

What the hell?

Savas shook his head, blinked, and tapped his ear communicator. Stamf and Abdul, farther ahead, had frozen and appeared confused, swaying in place.

Something was terribly wrong. Was this cave filled with noxious fumes? Had they all gotten cold sickness? The databases talked of arctic workers becoming weak and confused by the extreme temperatures.

Think! Think. Savas wanted to lie down and nap. What’s wrong with me? Images from his childhood tumbled through his head. Not now. Not again. I control my own mind.

“Caaaaaaaaahm heeeeeeeeere,” the voice lulled, endlessly peaceful.

They all mindlessly continued forward, as if in a dream. A small part of Savas’ brain screamed in warning. I. Control. My. Own. Mind. He grunted with the effort. Fighting the urge to relax, Savas forced his hands to raise his weapon.

About the Author:
As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.

Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her previously published works include contributing to a nonfiction yoga book, wellness magazines, and her published science fiction novella, Silence of the Song Trees.


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Monday, May 17, 2021

Sophella's Birthday Wish by Maggi Nicholas

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maggi Nicholas will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I loved reading as a child. Of course we didn’t have all the distractions that kids have today. I still believe that the child who reads will be imaginative and resourceful. Today’s kids have access to social media and video games, sometimes without parental guidance whereas a well chosen book will stimulate their imagination and creativity.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

I would like to be able to fly! It’s a theme in both my books as fairy magic in the first book, Sophella, and as possible reality in my next book about time travellers. I’m confident that future technology will see humans flying instead of driving. Favorite hot beverage. Why?

Green tea with Manuka honey. Tea is in my English culture and I drank it from an early age - PG Tips strong black tea with milk and sugar. These days I enjoy a healthier version, but it’s still tea. I love the flavour of green tea, and honey is just “delicious” as Sophella says in my book. I’m very involved in saving the bees and my garden is full of bee-friendly flowers.

You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?

Sophella would be the obvious choice as she can move from human to fairy and back, but my choice will be Sweetpea who has the name of my favourite flower. This fairy lost her wings when a large toad chewed them off but shows remarkable stoicism and bravery despite her disability. She is also an entertainer, composing and singing her songs at the fairy parties. Although she is very tiny she is strong and resourceful, a great asset on a desert island!

Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?

Oh yes, my perfect ice cream would be honey flavoured and golden honey coloured, dotted with multi coloured sugar flowers and a chocolate bee on top to remind everyone to help the bees by discontinuing harmful pesticides and providing organic flower meadows. I’ve heard that agriculturists in Denmark have to assign five percent of their acreage to growing wild flowers for the bees - what a wonderful idea! The name of my ice cream flavour would, of course be “SAVE THE BEES”.

Here is a modern fairy story about a little girl who has the gift to move between the fairy world and the human world. Her birthday wish comes true when she wishes to fly with the fairies, and so she is able to go on a magical journey with the fairies whilst using her human side to rescue animals and kids in a way that fairies cannot do. Throughout the journey she comes to realize her own strengths as she protects the penguins and rescues the dolphins with great bravery and compassion. During her heartwarming adventure. Sophella forms new friendships and demonstrates life-affirming lessons that can inspire us all.

Read an Excerpt

Fairies fine and fairies good
We are in your neighborhood
In the flowers in the trees
Flying, dancing in the breeze
Magic wands and fairy wings
Fairy dust and sparkly things
We are big, we are small
You may never see us all
In the towns and in the cities
On the beach and in the sea
When the world is sad and lonely
Happy daydreams set you free

About the Author: Maggi was born and grew up in the UK and later moved to Canada with her husband and sons. Inspired by her grandkids, she started writing stories for and about them and is currently working on her next Sophella book, and a book aimed at a slightly older readership about time travellers.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Magical Beasts by Geoffrey Saign

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Geoffrey Saign will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

1. Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

Young people have a fresh perspective on life and are not as jaded as ‘adults’ who have already accumulated a lot of baggage. There is an energy and excitement in discovery, and young people are continually discovering the world as ‘new.’ Relationships are a process of discovery, as is the young person’s place in the world. They are making choices to define who they are. All of that is alive and fun to write about.

4. What’s your favorite sweet treat?

I love maple syrup! I put it in cookies, buckwheat blueberry pancakes, pies, and even a rice dish. That flavor on the tongue is priceless.

5. What did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

Since about age 15 I wanted to be wise and clear about life, because I had a lot of confusion when growing up. Doesn’t everyone? Well, I did! Wisdom and clarity were more of a center to my life than pursuing a particular career. I had a wide variety of interests, in self-awareness, wildlife, sailing, and writing. In the end, all those separate interests combined into writing. I always loved reading stories, so it’s not a great stretch to see that I would love creating them too.

6. What would you write in a letter to your teen self?

You are wise, intelligent, and worthy of love. Life will throw challenges at you; learn from them and keep going. Everything will work out for the best. Never doubt that. And never put limits on yourself, listen to everyone, follow no one. Listen to what your heart wants and follow it! Pay attention to intuition and spend time in nature. Love everyone as part of your family, including wildlife, and treat the world as your home. Create the world you want to live in. Love yourself in how you talk to yourself and think about yourself. You are special.

9. What superpower would you love to have? Why?

Super speed, like the Flash. It would allow you to travel worldwide and help many people very quickly. You could change villages, countries, and the world without much effort. You could end all aggression against women and children. You could stop barbaric wars and conflicts easily by overcoming small armies without much effort. You could prevent anyone from beginning a nuclear war. And you can do it all incognito, because no one can see you moving that fast. On a more personal note, I could clean up my living space in seconds!

15. Ideal summer vacation.

I live in Minnesota, so we have 4 seasons. I love all of it. But summertime is priceless. To walk around barefoot in shorts and a T-shirt, and swim 5+ days a week in lakes and rivers is wonderful. Minnesota is called the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so it’s the perfect place for a swimmer. Thus, it’s the best vacation I could imagine. If during the winter or another season I wanted a ‘vacation,’ it would have to involve water—swimming, snorkeling, or sailing—but always being IN the water.

16. Which of your characters would you most like to meet IRL? Why?

I would LOVE to meet the Great Ones in my books. They are giant animals that can morph into humanoids and would be wonderful to meet, to see what they had to say about life. They are immortals, so their perspectives on life would be interesting. Some of the dragons would be fun to talk to as well, to get a different viewpoint. Also Uncle Biggie is another cool character. Gentle, funny, and also immortal. He’s just a kind soul, and you can never have too many of those in your life.

19. Favorite pizza toppings.

Green olives! Something about that salty, tangy flavor is one of my favorites! Green olives in potato salad, sandwiches, salads, lasagna, pasta…you get the idea.

21. You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?

I would give some money to a few people I know that could use it. Otherwise I’d spend the rest on the best environmental strategy I could find to help the planet. Environmental and wildlife issues have always been close to my heart.

24. Favorite class in high school. Why?

Creative Writing, for sure! Mrs. Stifter gave us a writing assignment. A week later she said, “A writer like this comes along once every 17 years.” Then she read my piece to the class. I was stunned, and it gave me the confidence I needed to pursue writing.

Samantha and Jake fight to save their poisoned parents, and instead find themselves in a battle to save the parallel magical world of KiraKu. The two teens discover they must defeat the Evil One—a diabolical master of deception—or their own world will fall too. Samantha must master the mysterious supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find out if she has what it takes to fulfill the prophecy of the true guardian. In a final battle, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, the two teens will have to risk everything, or lose it all. For Fans of Fantastic Beasts, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.

Winner Outstanding YA Fiction IAN BOTY

~ Magical Beasts is now in development for a major motion picture. ~

Read an Excerpt

“Watch out, Sam!” yells Jake.

I fling myself sideways onto the grass, pulling WhipEye out of reach of the lizard’s snapping jaws. The beast keeps going, leaping up.

Tarath springs vertically after it, but the Komodo’s flapping wings lift it fifty feet in one beat, inches beyond the caracal’s swinging claws. Tarath falls back to the ground, landing silently on the grass. She snarls up at the Komodo.

Hissing, the lizard hovers above us. His eyes bore into mine. “If you want to save your elders, bring the staff to Gorgon. Today. Alone. Or they die.” Shifting his gaze to Tarath, he says, “We’ll meet again, Great One.”

Tarath yowls while the Komodo quickly flies away, giving a faint roar before it fades in the distance.

“Mom.” Jake rests his hand on his mother’s shoulder. She appears unconscious.

Scrambling over the lawn to Dad, I press trembling fingers against his neck. He has a pulse. Jagged cuts on his thighs have darkened his jeans with blood. The same ugly slashes mark Cynthia’s legs. The wounds appear serious enough for stitches, but not life-threatening. In fact, when I examine Dad’s cuts closer, they’ve already stopped bleeding. Komodo bites can be deadly due to venom, but I’m not sure about claw wounds.

Jake looks bewildered. “Why didn’t you give the staff to the Komodo, Sam?”

My throat thickens. “I couldn’t.” It sounds lame, even to me. With one decision everything in my life is in shambles. And I have no one to blame but myself.

Tarath surprises me when she shrinks to five feet tall while padding toward us. Lowering her head between our parents, she sniffs the air. “Poison,” she spits.

About the Author:


Geoffrey Saign’s love of wildlife led him to write the award-winning fantasy series, Magical Beasts. He often experiences the magic of nature and wildlife while hiking and swimming. He has a degree in biology and has assisted in field research on hummingbirds and humpback whales. Geoff loves to sail big boats, hike, and cook—and he infuses all of his writing with his passion for nature. As a swimmer he considers himself fortunate to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota. See what he’s up to at

Kindle/KU/Paperback Series page



Goodreads—Magical Beasts Book 1—Guardian The Choice







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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

He'll Be Waiting by Liz Alterman

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Liz Alterman will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What would you do to remember? What would you give to forget?

When Tess Porter agrees to pick up her boyfriend’s college pal at the airport on a snowy December night, she has no idea she’s about to embark on the most dangerous ride of her life.

Two days later, the 17-year-old wakes up in a hospital with broken bones, unable to remember how she got there. Her parents are acting strange, and neither James, her boyfriend, nor her best friend, Izzy, has visited.

As she struggles to physically recover, Tess wrestles with haunting questions: What happened? Will her memory ever return? And what if she’s better off not recalling any of it?

Read an Excerpt

A blast of heat smacks my face as I walk through the automatic doors. I look at the monitors. If someone gave me a dime for every time the word “canceled” appears beside a flight, I could buy a private jet.

Stranded holiday travelers sleep on the floor using their suitcases for pillows. Families eat dinner slumped against garbage cans. The stale air smells like French fries and feet. It’s chaos, and though I don’t want to drive again anytime soon, I’m jumpy to get out of here as fast as possible.

Circling the baggage carousels like a shark, I’m bursting with adrenaline after that hell ride. My shirt, damp with sweat, sticks to my skin. I feel chilled beneath Mom’s coat. I’m wondering how I’ll ever find Nick Lawrence in this sea of people when a guy walks up to me. At first, I think he’s going to ask me for money or a ride, but then I take a closer look. Dark hair, dark eyes, empty-looking duffel bag slung over his shoulder. He’s wearing a lightweight hoodie over a t-shirt. The neck is stretched out and wavy. He looks sloppy, not like a guy who attends a top university, but maybe he’s shot from finals too. His eyes, vaguely familiar, meet mine. He holds out a thick, clammy hand. When our palms touch, an electric shock passes between us. He holds my hand a beat too long and smiles, a weird, goofy grin. I have the sudden urge to pull away, turn around, leave him standing there. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy James would befriend, but James always reminds me: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

About the Author:
Liz Alterman lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Parents, McSweeney's, and other publications. She spends most days microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms.



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Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Virus of Beauty by C.B. Lyall

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ugliness is power, and the Virus of Beauty is spreading causing panic throughout the witch population.

Wilf Gilvary is a teenage wizard who is terrified of using magic. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Wilf is plunged into the middle of a political struggle between the witches and wizards in the Magical Realm. He’d rather play soccer than practice magic, but he’s forced to make a choice between the life of a normal Hong Kong teen and one of wizardry after a powerful virus begins to decimate the witch community. The cure is spellbound in a journal Wilf inherited from his father and when his friend Katryna contracts the virus, Wilf understands that he must overcome his fear of magic to unlock the journal’s secrets – but will it be too late to save her?

Read an Excerpt

Katryna hurried along the dimly lit corridor. Its dark, stained carpet and peeling paint reflected the building’s location. This wasn’t a part of town she usually visited. The balconies and entrance might have a view of the market square, but at the back of the building pulsed the Veil. The swirling gray mist had separated and protected the witches of Mathowytch from the citizens of Kureyamage for over fourteen years.

She unlocked the door of a studio apartment crowded with chintzy, overstuffed furniture. A cat lay sprawled along the back of the sofa in the sunlight, licking his paws. Katryna wrinkled her nose at the smell of cat and decay. Flies buzzed around the cat’s dirty food bowl, and she zapped them, hoping the frail old witch wouldn’t be upset with her use of magic.

Griselda lay on the bed in a fetal position, whimpering. Katryna sat down next to her in a wooden, high-backed chair. She reached to rub Griselda’s back, but then pulled back. It might not be safe to touch the old witch.

“Can I get you something to eat?”

Griselda shook her head and remained facing the wall.

There seemed to be very little Katryna could do. Perhaps that was why Ermentrude had forgotten to add Griselda’s name to the list of new cases to visit. However, her mother had been distracted before she left. Ermentrude might be among the city’s most powerful witches, but she made time to visit the sick whenever she could. Her mother’s hard outer shell hid a soft center of community spirit. The problem was, Ermentrude expected her daughter to pick up the slack whenever she disappeared on a new, urgent assignment for the Witch Council.

About the Author:
Carolyn Lyall was born in Stockton-On-Tees, United Kingdom. As a child growing up in Northern England in the sixties Carolyn loved sports, reading and amateur dramatics. She joined a renaissance group, practiced the broadsword and dreamed of visiting other worlds. Her passion for what could be drove her forward when faced with everyday struggles. Her first memorable skirmish with gender inequality came at nine-years old when she was told that only boys were allowed to play soccer. In response, she simply refused to do any classwork until they changed their old-fashioned policies. She won that battle.

At the age of 18, she took a role as typist for a nursing school in Middlesbrough. She then moved to London and enrolled in night school. She was quickly recognized for her ability to fit in anywhere and for not being afraid to push back on the predominantly male leadership. She eventually became a project manager in software development and micro-computers, bridging the gap between computer programmers and management.

Her dream to travel was finally realized in 1990 when she moved to New York City, USA with her husband and the first of three sons. This was the steppingstone to a lifelong adventure that has taken her and her family to India, Belgium and Hong Kong.

Raising her family in multiple countries around the world, she saw that each move, while a shock, was an opportunity for her sons to redefine themselves against new challenges and different cultural norms. Now, that her sons have left home, Carolyn has used her passion for the fantastic to create a world where every day gender inequalities are at the forefront of a world ending conflict. She shares this story through the eyes of a young man who is suddenly thrust into this new world along with all of his own woes and prejudices. The introduction to this world is in Carolyn’s debut YA fantasy novel, “The Virus of Beauty,” released July 31, 2019 under C B Lyall.

Carolyn has published two short stories in an annual anthology by 25 Servings of Soop. She wrote a number of articles for the American Women’s Associates Magazine. Fueled by her love of the works of Terry Pratchett, Sarah J Maas, Cassandra Clare, Brandon Sanderson and others, Carolyn has completed a number of writing courses, which included a Master Fantasy/Science Fiction writers course with Gotham Writers’ Workshop, a YA Voice class and Advance Novel Writing course at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.


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