Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Spotlight of The Mysterious Treasure of Jerry Lee Thorton by Mike Thomas

The <p style=Join Mike Thomas, author of the young adult adventure novel, The Mysterious Treasure of Jerry Lee Thorton, as he tours the blogosphere August 5 through September 27, 2013 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!



What does a guy do when his best friend starts doing things that are completely out of character? In the case of Luke McAllister, you can’t do anything - until you figure out exactly what it is that is different. The fact that his best friend is a girl complicates matters a heap. Nothing makes sense when RaeNell Stephens, the girl that has “the best curve ball he’s ever seen”, starts blushing and acting like a durned female. All of this at the beginning of the ‘summer to end all summers’ too. This is the summer that Luke, RaeNell, and their friend Farley Midkiff set out to locate, and cash in on a rogue Civil War soldier’s stolen one million dollar Union payroll. Undaunted by thousands of scholars and fortune seekers having looked unsuccessfully for the treasure for a hundred years, the three twelve-year-old friends search diligently for themselves. What they find is an adventure that leads them on a spiraling path of discovery. They discover newness in themselves, their families, and the closeness of a small southern community in the process. Luke wrestles with his morality, ethics, and his slowly emerging awareness of the difference between boys and girls. He also discovers that his late father left him an incredibly large legacy of duty, fidelity and caring for those around him. The telling of the story takes place in imaginary New Caledonia County, NC in 1966. The deep rural traditions, vernacular, and ways of life of the region and community are portrayed in great detail as the story unfolds. This is an adventure story, but it is also a story about making good decisions whether you want to or not... It is also a story of relationships. Family and community are underscored, but there is an underlying theme of male/female relationships. It's really okay for boys and girls to be buddies without always having to be boyfriends and girlfriends. It is also a story about innocence. NOT innocence lost, but innocence maintained. Purchase at: barnes and nobleamazon  
    Add on Goodreads: goodreads  



Mike Thomas is a southern writer. He grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina where he learned a lot about family, traditions, and the genteel lifestyle most southerners enjoy. The richly eccentric folks of his youth have become his characters in today's books and stories. Mike began as a newswriter, editor, columnist, reporter, and speechwriter before switching to the role of Critical Care Registered Nurse. He traveled nearly every corner of the world as a vagabond contract nurse before resettling in North Carolina a few years ago. He lives with Bobby, his desktop computer, and Rachel his laptop, in Halifax County, NC. "That's all I need," He says, "Just my computers and a bit of focus. Then we can make up worlds we could only have dreamed of last week." You can visit him at




The Mysterious Treasure of Jerry Lee Thorton Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule


Monday, August 5 - Book featured at Margay Leah Justice

Wednesday, August 7 - Book featured at Between the Pages

Friday, August 9 - Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz

Tuesday, August 13 - Guest blogging at Beauty in Ruins

Wednesday, August 14 - Guest blogging at The Writer's Life

Friday, August 16 - Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book

Monday, August 19 - Book reviewed at Hezzi D's Books and Cooks

Tuesday, August 20 - Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book

Wednesday, August 21 - Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking

Friday, August 23 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure

Monday, August 26 - Book featured at Plug Your Book

Tuesday, August 27 - 1st chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn

Wednesday, August 28 - Interviewed at Between the Covers

Friday, August 30 - Interviewed at Review From Here

Wednesday, September 4 - Interviewed at I'm Shelf-ish

Thursday, September 5 - Guest blogging at Between the Covers

Monday, September 9 - Interviewed at Broowaha

Wednesday, September 11 - Interviewed at Beyond the Books

Thursday, September 12 - Guest blogging at Straight From the Authors Mouth

Friday, September 13 - Guest blogging and 1st chapter reveal Queen of All She Reads

Monday, September 16 - Book reviewed at Create with Joy

Monday, September 16 - Book featured at My Book Addiction and More

Tuesday, September 17 - Guest blogging at She Writes

Thursday,September 19 - Interviewed at As the Pages Turn

Monday, September 23 - Guest blogging at Allvoices

Tuesday, September 24 - Interviewed at Blogher

Wednesday, September 25 - Book reviewed and interviewed at Authors and Readers Book Corner

Thursday, September 26 - Book featured at Cheryl's Book Nook

Friday, September 27 - Book reviewed at Blooming with Books

Monday, September 30 - Book featured at A Room Without Books is Empty


Pump Up Your Book

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Spotlight of The Red Queen Dies by Frankie Y. Bailey

The Red Queen Dies

by Frankie Bailey

on Tour August 1 - September 30, 2013

Book Details:

Genre:  Mystery & Detective Published by: Minotaur Books Publication Date: Sept 10, 2013 Number of Pages: 304 ISBN: 978-0-312-64175-7 / 978-1-250-03717-6 Purchase Links:


The first in a new high-concept police procedural series, set in Albany with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Frankie Bailey introduces readers to a fabulous new protagonist and an Alice in Wonderland-infused crime in this stunning mystery. The year is 2019, and a drug used to treat soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, nicknamed "Lullaby," has hit the streets. Swallowing a little pill erases traumatic memories, but what happens to a criminal trial when the star witness takes a pill and can't remember the crime? Biracial detective Hannah McCabe faces similar perplexing problems as she attempts to solve the murders of three women, one of whom, a Broadway actress known as "The Red Queen," has a special interest in the story of Alice in Wonderland. Is the killer somehow reenacting the children's tale? This smart, tough mystery will appeal to fans of high-concept police procedurals.

Read an excerpt:

Excerpt: DATE: Thursday, 24 October 2019 TIME: 0700 hours WEATHER TODAY: Mid 90s. Air quality poor. Evening storms. DISPLAY ON WALL: Wake- up News “Good morning, everyone. I’m Suzanne Price. “First, the news from the nation. The federal government says, ‘No hoax, no conspiracy, but still no definitive answers.’ “The administration denies suppressing portions of the commission report on the November 2012 close encounter between NORAD fighter jets and the black boomerang- shaped UFO that appeared over the Mojave Desert, creating worldwide awe and panic before disappearing in a blinding flash of light. “In Las Vegas, preparations are underway for the now- annual spectacular celebration of that close encounter. “However, a warning from alien invasion survivalists, who say this seventh anniversary will be the year the spacecraft returns leading an armada. Survivalists plan to retreat to their bunkers on November 2. Gun shop owners report sales of firearms are up, as they are every year as the anniversary approaches. “Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says another eruption of solar fl ares could cause more communication and power disruptions early next week. “Forest fi res in both Canada and breakaway nation New France continue to burn out of control, sending smoke southward. “Scientists taking part in a climate change conference in Philadelphia disagree about the explanation for the significant improvement in the acidity levels of the world’s oceans. ‘It shouldn’t be happening,’ an MIT oceanographer said. ‘Nothing in anyone’s data predicted this turnaround. But I think we can safely rule out divine intervention and UFO babies.’ “Out on the presidential campaign trail, a political firestorm erupts as Republican front- runner Janet Cortez accuses in dependent candidate Howard Miller of ‘rallying angry, frightened people to commit hate crimes.’ During an arena speech yesterday, Miller called on several thousand supporters to ‘reclaim America for Americans’ and ‘restore our way of life.’ Cortez says Miller is ‘morally responsible’ for the attacks that have been escalating since he announced his third- party candidacy. “Now, here at home . . . a chilling scenario posed by a local crime beat threader. Is there an ‘Albany Ripper’ in our midst?” “Dammit!” Hannah McCabe jumped back as the grapefruit juice from her overturned glass splashed across the countertop, covering the still- visible display of the nutrition content of her father’s breakfast. “Bring up the sound,” he said. “I want to hear this.” “Half a second, Pop. Hands full.” McCabe shoved her holster out of the way and touched clean up before the stream of juice could run off the counter and onto the tile floor. “. . . Following last night’s Common Council meeting, threader Clarence Redfield interrupted a statement by Detective Wayne Jacoby, the Albany Police Department spokesperson . . .” In the chief of police’s office, Jacoby struggled to keep his expression neutral as the footage of the press conference and his exchange with Redfield began to roll. “The Albany Police Department remains hopeful that the Common Council will approve both funding requests. The first to expand GRTYL, our Gang Reduction Through Youth Leadership program, and the second to enhance the surveillance—” “Detective Jacoby, isn’t it true that the Albany PD is engaged in a cover- up? Isn’t it true that the Albany PD has failed to inform the citizens of this city of what they have a right to know?” “I know you want to off er your usual observations, Mr. Redfield. But if you will hold your questions until I finish—” “Isn’t it true that we have a serial killer at work here in Albany, Detective? Isn’t it true that a secret police task force has been created to try to track down a killer who has been preying on women here in this city?” “That is . . . no, that is not true, Mr. Redfield. There is no secret task force, nor is there any cover- up. We . . . the Albany PD does not engage in . . .” From his position by the window, Chief Egan said, “Stammering like a frigging schoolgirl makes it hard to believe you’re telling the truth, Wayne.” “The little bastard caught me off guard,” Jacoby said, his annoyance getting the better of him. The others at the table avoided his glance, their gazes focused on the wall where his confrontation with Redfield was continuing. “So, Detective, you’re telling us that there aren’t two dead women who—” “I’m telling you, Mr. Redfield, that we have ongoing investigations into two cases involving female victims who—” “Who were the victims of a serial killer?” “We have two female homicide victims. Both deaths were drug- induced and both occurred within the past six weeks. On each occasion, we made available to the media, including yourself, information about—” “But you didn’t release the details that link the two cases. You didn’t tell the media or the citizens of this city that both women were—” “We do not release the details of ongoing homicide investigations, Mr. Redfield. And you are not aiding these investigations with your grandstanding.” “My grandstanding? Don’t you think it’s time someone told the women of Albany that the police can’t protect them? That they should stay off the streets after dark, get inside when the fog rolls in, and lock their doors? Shouldn’t someone tell the taxpaying citizens of this city that in spite of all the hype about your Big Brother surveillance system, a killer is still moving like a phantom through the—” “What the citizens of Albany should know is that the Albany PD is bringing all its resources and those of other law- enforcement agencies to bear to solve these two cases. Veteran detectives are following every lead. And the citywide surveillance system the department has implemented—” “When it’s working, Detective Jacoby. Isn’t it true that the solar flares have been giving your system problems?” One of the captains sitting at the conference table in Chief Egan’s office groaned. “Is he just guessing?” On the wall, Jacoby’s jaw was noticeably clinched. “As I was about to say, Mr. Redfield, before we began this back- and-forth, the DePloy surveillance system has been effective both in reducing crime and solving the crimes that have occurred. That is the end of this discussion.” “You mean ‘Shut up or I’m out of here’?” “Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I am now going to finish the official statement regarding funding. I will only respond to questions on that subject. . . .” Chief Egan said, “Not one of your better performances, Wayne. You let him rattle you.” He walked over and sat down at the head of the table. “Her Royal Highness, the mayor, was not pleased when she called me last night.” On the wall, the anchorwoman took over. “Detective Jacoby then completed his statement about the proposals before the Common Council. When a reporter tried to return to the allegation made by crime beat threader Clarence Redfield that a serial killer is at work in Albany, Detective Jacoby ended the press conference and left the podium. Mr. Redfield himself declined to respond to questions from reporters about the source of his information. We’ll have more for you on this story as details become available. “In another matter before the Common Council, a proposed emergency expansion of the existing no masks or face- covering ordinance to include Halloween night. The new ordinance would apply to everyone over eight years of age. The recent outbreak of crimes involving juveniles . . .” “Now, they’re even trying to take away Halloween,” Angus McCabe said from his place at the kitchen table. “Well? Any truth to it? Do we have ourselves a serial killer on the loose?” McCabe put her empty juice glass on the shelf inside the dishwasher. “Since when do you consider Clarence Redfield a reliable source, Pop?” “He ain’t. But I’ve spent more than half my life grilling official mouthpieces, and the way Jacoby was squirming—” “Jacoby can’t stand Redfield. You know that.” McCabe snagged her thermo jacket from the back of her chair and bent to kiss his forehead. “And you’re retired now, remember?” “I may be retired, but I’m not dead yet. What’s going on?” “Got to run, Pop. Have a good day.” “Have a good day nothing.” He rose to follow her into the hall. “Hank McCabe, you tell me what’s—” “Can’t discuss it. I’ll pick us up some dinner on the way home. Chinese okay?” He scowled at her, his eyes the same electric blue they had always been, the bristling brows gone gray. “No, Chinese ain’t okay. I’m tired of Chinese. I’ll cook dinner tonight. I’ve got all day to twiddle my thumbs. What else do I have to do but make dinner?” “I thought you might intend to work on your book. You do have that deadline coming up in a couple of months.” “Book, hell. There ain't no book. I’m giving the advance back.” “If that’s what you want to do,” McCabe said. “On the other hand, you could just sit down and write the book.” “You try writing a damn book, Ms. Detective.” “Not my area of expertise. But you've done it a few times before. Even won an award or two.” “This one’s different. Nobody would read it even if I wrote it. And don’t ‘If that’s what you want to do’ me. We were talking about this serial killer that Redfield claims—” “Sorry, Pop, I really do have to go. I want to get in a few minutes early this morning.” “Why? What are you—” She closed the door on his demand that she get herself back there and tell him what was going on. Striding to her car, McCabe tried to ignore the whiff of smoke that she could taste in the back of her throat and the sticky air, which made her want to step back into the shower. The heat was due to break to night. That would clear the air. And Pop would pull himself out of his funk. He always did. Of course, the other times, he’d had an office to go to . . . and no restrictions on his alcohol consumption. “I have every confidence in your ability to get what we need, Mike boy.” “Right.” Baxter fl ashed his best cocky grin. “You know you can count on me.” His caller nodded. “I know I can.” He pointed his finger at Baxter. “Watch your back out there, you hear me?” He disconnected, his image fading from the screen. Baxter closed his ORB and leaned back on his cream leather sofa. He stretched his arms over his head, fingers clasped. His gaze fell on the framed photograph on his desk. Himself in dress blues. Graduation day from the Academy. Baxter grunted, then laughed. “You should have seen this one coming, Mike boy.” He rubbed his hand across his mouth, whistled. “Well hell.” Baxter reached for his ORB again. He pulled up a file and began to update his notes. When he was done, he grabbed his thermo jacket and headed for the door. His mind on other things, he left the apartment on cooldown and the lights on in the bathroom, but the condo’s environmental system had gone into energy- saver mode by the time he reached the lobby. In the garage, Baxter paused for his usual morning ritual, admiring the burgundy sheen of his vintage 1967 Mustang convertible. Then he got into his three- year- old hybrid and headed in to work. McCabe was stuck in traffic on Central Avenue, waiting for an opening to maneuver around a florist van. In Albany, double parking had always been considered a civic right. With more traffic each year and the narrow lanes that had been carved out for Zip cars and tri- bikes, Central Avenue in the morning was like it must have been when Albany was a terminus for slaughter houses, with cattle driven along Central Avenue Turnpike. Stop, start, nose, and try not to trample one another as they moved toward their destinations. McCabe tilted her head from side to side and shrugged her shoulders. What she needed, yearned for, was a long run. Even with geosimulators, five miles on a machine was never as good as running outside. McCabe’s attention was caught by a fl ash of color. On the sidewalk in front of Los Amigos, a young black woman in a patchwork summer skirt laughed as an older man, suave and mustachioed, swirled her in a samba move. Still laughing, she disengaged herself and scooped up her straw handbag from the sidewalk. Hand over his heart, the man called out to his impromptu dance partner. Giggling, she went on her way. Stopped by the traffic light at the intersection, McCabe lowered her window enough to hear the music coming from the open doorway of the restaurant. Before it was Mexican, the place had been Ca rib be an, and before that, Indian. The owners of the hair salon on one side and the discount store on the other had complained about this latest example of ethnic succession. Loud music, spicy smells— in other words, the threat posed by “Mexs” moving into this block as they had others. Some legal, some American citizens, some neither, arriving in Albany in greater numbers during the years when the convention center was going up. Now the resentment was more vocal, the sense of being in competition greater. Even the imagined threat of an interplanetary invasion hadn't changed that dynamic. Earthlings still distrusted other earthlings. They defended what they thought of as their turf. Since the UFO, old episodes of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone had become a cult favorite with teen “space zombies.” According to Pop, the zombies weren’t the only ones who should be watching the series. He claimed that in the event of another close encounter, Rod Serling had left instructions. Rule number one: Even if the spacecraft looks flashy, check to make sure it isn't a balloon from a Thanksgiving Day parade. Rule number two: Even if the lights do start going on and off , don’t turn on your neighbors, assuming they must be the aliens. Rule number three: Even if the “visitors” introduce themselves and seem friendly, ask for additional information about how they plan “to serve” mankind before hopping on their spaceship. Meanwhile, daily life continued on Central Avenue, where Zoe James, the black female own er of the beauty shop, refused to patronize the Mexican restaurant next door. At least she and Sung Chang, the Korean- American owner of the discount store, had stopped calling the cops every time the music and dancing overfl owed onto the sidewalk. Of course, the janet cortez para presidente sign now on proud display in Los Amigos’s front window might set them off again. Both James and Chang had signs supporting the current vice president, who was male, black (biracial, actually), and likely to be the Demo cratse nominee. But according to Pop, the candidate they all needed to be worried about, should be scared to death of, actually, was Howard Miller, that smiling “man of the people.” Howard Miller, who was as smooth as the churned butter from that family- owned farm he boasted about having grown up on. McCabe stared hard at the traffic light that was supposed to adjust for traffic flow and right now was doing nothing at all. She decided to give it another thirty seconds before she reported a problem. Howard Miller. They hadn't looked at that kind of hate crime because they had two white female victims. But the murder weapon . . . What if one of Miller’s crazy followers . . . Horns blared. McCabe was reaching for her ORB when the traffic light flickered and went from red to green. More horns blared. Three women, pushing metal shopping carts, had decided to make a last-minute dash across the busy intersection. White with a hint of a tan, clad in light- colored shorts and T-shirts, they were too clean to be homeless. The women were almost to the other side when a bike messenger zipped around a double- parked produce truck. The women darted out of his way. He skidded and went down hard. Sunlight sparkled on his blue helmet, but his work- tanned legs were bare and vulnerable. One of the women looked back, peering over her designer sunglasses. She called out something. Maybe it was “Sorry about that.” Then she and her fellow scavenger hunters sprinted away in the direction of Washington Park, where Radio KZAC must be holding today’s meet- up. The taxi driver behind McCabe leaned on his horn. She waved for him to go around her. She watched the bike messenger get up on wobbly legs. He looked down at his knee and grimaced. But the next moment, he was checking his bike. Then he grabbed for his leather satchel before a car could run over it. Hopping back on his bike, he pedaled off . A car pulled away from the curb, opening up a spot a few feet away from Cambrini’s Bakery. McCabe shot forward and did a quick parallel park. She got out and headed toward the intertwined aromas of fresh-baked muffins and black coffee. Maybe the day wasn't going to be so bad after all. The line wound back to the door, but it seemed to be moving fast. McCabe glanced at the old- fashioned chalkboard that always had the morning’s “featured muffin.” Not in the mood for pumpkin, she found what she wanted on the menu and sent her order from her ORB to checkout before joining the queue. “Good morning, sister. Is God blessing you this fine day?” She turned toward the deep voice and beaming smile of the man in the black New York Yankees baseball cap and the white suit and white shirt, which contrasted with his chocolate brown skin. “Good morning, Reverend Deke.” “I said, sister, ‘Is God blessing you this fine day?’ ” “Yes, thank you, He is,” McCabe said. “I’m pleased to hear that.” Reverend Deke went out the door carrying his steaming coffee cup. By high noon, he would be bringing “the message” to any of the office workers who decided to leave the climate- controlled Empire State Plaza complex to patronize the lunch wagons lined up along the street. Some of the workers would pause to listen as Reverend Deke broke into one of the spirituals that he had learned on his Georgia- born grandmother’s knee. McCabe watched him go, greeting the people he passed. Ten minutes later, she was jammed in sideways at the counter by the window, munching on a lemon-blueberry-pecan muffin. Half a day’s supply of antioxidants, and it even tasted like it was made with real sugar. The police frequency on her ORB lit up. She touched the screen to see the message that Comm Center had sent out to patrol cars. McCabe swallowed the last bite of her muffin and grabbed her ice coffee container from the counter. Out of the sidewalk, she spoke into her transmitter. “Dispatch, Detective McCabe also responding to that call. En route.” “Copy, McCabe. Will advise,” the dispatcher responded. Mike Baxter picked up the same dispatch as he was pulling out of the fast- food drive-thru. He shoved his coffee cup into the holder and reached for his siren. “Dispatch, Detective Baxter also responding.” “Copy, Baxter. McCabe’s headed that way, too.” “Thought she would be. This could be our guy.” “Happy hunting.” McCabe pulled herself to the top of the fence and paused to look down into the alley. She jumped and landed on the other side, one foot slipping in dog shit. The man she was chasing darted a glance behind him and kept running. In a half squat, McCabe drew her weapon and fired. Her bola wrapped around the man’s legs. He sprawled forward, entangled in the cords, crashing into moldering cardboard boxes and other garbage. McCabe ran toward him. He twisted onto his side, trying to sit up and free himself. “Get these ropes off me, bitch!” “Stay down,” she said, training the weapon, now set to stun, on the perp’s scrawny torso. “Roll over on your belly.” He looked up at her face, then at the gun. Either he was convinced she would use it or deterred by the minicam that was attached to the weapon and was recording their encounter. He sagged back to the ground and rolled over. She stepped to the side, about to order him to raise his arm behind his back so that she could slip on the fi rst handcuff . “You got him!” Mike Baxter said, running up. He was sweating, cheeks flushed, eyes bright with excitement. “That was great.” “Cuff him,” McCabe said, trying not to let Baxter see that she was breathing hard. She was thirty- four to Baxter’s twenty- nine, and, yes, she had outrun him. But she should be in better shape than this. Today’s air-quality reading was no excuse. Baxter snapped the cuffs into place and McCabe retracted her bola. Baxter hauled the perp to his feet. “Hey, man, this is police brutality, you hear me?” the perp said. “I’m gonna sue both of you.” “That all you got to say?” Baxter said. “Say? You’re supposed to read me my rights, man.” “You got it, man,” Baxter said. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you . . .” He recited the words with the controlled irony of a cop who had been saying them for several decades. But he looked like a college kid. That was why he had been recruited from patrol to work undercover vice. But word was that he had wanted out of that and played a commendably discrete game of departmental politics, involving his godfather, the assistant chief, to get reassigned. Sirens screeching, two police cruisers pulled into the alley. Baxter grinned at McCabe. “Great way to start the day, huh, partner?” “Absolutely,” she said, scrapping her shoe on the edge of a mildewed cardboard box. She hoped he realized that the likelihood that this was the guy they were looking for was about zilch.

Author Bio:

FRANKIE Y. BAILEY is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Bailey is the author of mysteries as well as non-fiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. Bailey is a Macavity Award-winner and has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards. A past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime, she is on the Albany Bouchercon 2013 planning committee.

Catch Up With the Author:

Tour Participants

First Chapter peak of The Enchanted by Elaine Cantrell

Title: The Enchanted Author: Elaine Cantrell Paperback: 218 pp. Electronic: 484 KB Publisher: Astraea Press Language: English Purchase at AMAZON Forced by his father into a marriage he didn’t want, Prince Alan soon finds that his bride isn’t the sweet, submissive creature he expected. Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, but she isn’t thrilled about the marriage either. When black treachery threatens the kingdom, Morgane and Alan embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death for them and all of their people. First Chapter: Keeper Kynthelig's long, dangling necklaces clinked softly and tangled together as he bowed low to his visitor. "King Bowdyn, it is an honor to receive you. I had no idea that you would come to collect Prince Alan in person, or I would have made arrangements for a feast in your honor." The king's nose flared slightly. The stench of the prison penetrated even these fine apartments. "That is quite all right, Kynthelig. I must collect Alan and leave right away, else we will be late for the wedding festivities." "Yes, news of Alan's marriage has spread throughout the kingdom." Bowdyn frowned. "I trust no one here has spoken to him of this matter." "No, sir, they have not." "Good." The king's face relaxed. "I wish to break this news to him myself." "Of course. Would you like the guards to fetch the prince for you?" "I would." At the keeper's nod, one of the guards hurried from the reception room. "Please, sit and make yourself comfortable," Kynthelig begged the king. "I will send for wine and cake." Bowdyn nodded and seated himself in a cushioned chair overlaid with rich, gold brocade fabric while servants ran to do Kynthelig's bidding. They soon returned with a silver tray loaded with myriad sweet delicacies. A second tray held several bottles of wine and three golden goblets. A wine taster stepped forward and sampled both wines before Kynthelig or the king drank. "This is excellent wine, Kynthelig," the king approved as he sampled the keeper's offering. "Now I do not feel so dry and parched from my trip across the desert." He drew a deep breath. "I no longer smell the stench of the prison either." Reaching for a small, bite-sized cake with pink frosting, he settled himself more comfortably in his chair. "Are you pleased with my son's progress?" Kynthelig almost smiled. "Indeed, I am. The prince's time here has made a new man of him. It is a pity that such steps had to be taken, but as always, you did not flinch from the duty set before you. Your subjects have much to be grateful for. Not all monarchs are so wise." The king grunted. "I have little doubt that Alan feels quite differently, but in time I believe he will see that I did the right thing. I pray it will be so. Even though he has been disobedient to his father and king, he is my son." The clanking of heavy chains announced Alan's arrival. The king set his silver cup down and beheld his son for the first time in a year. "I almost did not recognize him. He is filthy, and his hair is disgracefully short, but he has certainly put on a lot of muscle." Kynthelig inclined his head. "Indeed." The keeper's servant brandished a fan made of fluffy white feathers and fanned King Bowdyn as he looked Alan up and down. "He looks as if he has worked often in the sun. His skin is quite bronzed." "That is so. After a few months of underground work we moved him to the surface. Staying underground too long is unhealthy." "Turn around," King Bowdyn commanded. The prince did so with absolutely no animation. Bowdyn stared at his son's back. "You whipped him. He bears the scars from the flogging." The keeper shifted uneasily as he clasped and unclasped his hands. "He is not stupid. One flogging was all that it took, so the scarring is minimal." Bowdyn picked up his wine cup and drained it. "I am glad for the scars. Every time he looks at his back in the mirror he will be reminded of his duty. Did he make friends here?" "Yes, sir." A pained look crossed the keeper's thin, sallow face. "He and another prisoner called Adair were friendly to each other. Naturally, I transferred Adair once I learned of this situation. Isolation is necessary to achieve certain ends." The king stood up and walked over to Alan, whose head hung low. "You have not made eye contact with me since you walked into this room. You are not a prisoner anymore. Lift your head as befits the crown prince of the realm." Alan's head came up, and he stared straight ahead. The king smiled. "You have taught him well, Keeper Kynthelig. He no longer speaks his mind without permission." The king snapped his fingers. One of his guards hastened to present a set of new, soft clothes to Alan. "Wash yourself and put on new garments. We will leave as soon as you are ready. I would cross the Leptan as quickly as possible." Keeper Kynthelig motioned for one of the prison guards who stood in the doorway. "Escort Prince Alan to the pool and give him soap and a towel." The man nodded and touched Alan's arm. Alan silently turned around and followed him. The keeper watched with a face full of satisfaction. "I think you will be pleased with him. I am certain he now appreciates all the advantages of his position." "I certainly hope so, Kynthelig. Now, if it is not too much trouble, I will drink another cup of your excellent wine." "It is an honor to serve you, my king." **** Alan stopped so abruptly that the guard behind him plowed into his back. How wondrous! A set of stone steps led down into a little pool of sparkling water. Bushy, dense trees surrounded the pool and provided privacy to bathers. His throat sucked dry as he caught the sweet scent of fresh water, so different from the warm, brackish liquid he had been forced to drink for the past year. The guard prodded him in the back. "Wash yourself." Alan stripped off his filthy, ragged loincloth and plunged into the water. He drank deeply as his dry skin soaked up the cool, refreshing moisture. "Hurry up," the guard growled. "Do not keep the king waiting." Alan soaped himself, rinsed, and left the pool with some reluctance. He dried on the rough towel the guard gave him and donned the traditional hooded white robe worn by most desert travelers. Without a word, the guard escorted him back to the keeper's reception room where King Bowdyn was just finishing a cup of wine. His mouth watered as his eyes fell on the plate of cakes on the table. The guards had refused him food that morning, as they sometimes did when they wished to torment the prisoners. The king nodded to him. "You look much better. Most of the prison dirt is washed away as is the stench. Come. We must ride as far as we can, and the hour grows late." The king strode from Keeper Kynthelig's reception room. Alan followed several steps behind him. They reached the courtyard where one of the king's servants bowed and handed Alan the reins of a large, dappled gray stallion. "The horse is a gift for you," Bowdyn said. "I selected him myself. Gawen, who trained him, assures me that there is no finer animal in the kingdom." They mounted up and exited the grounds. Alan drew a deep breath as the prison disappeared from view. He had feared that this was only some new torture, and at the last moment, his father would leave him behind. He and the king rode in the middle of a large contingent of soldiers. They traveled for hours, stopping periodically to rest and water their horses at the small, infrequent pools of water scattered throughout the desert. By nightfall they had crossed about half of the Leptan. King Bowdyn called a halt for the night, and the servants set about making camp long before Alan wanted to stop. The more distance between him and the prison the better. Knowing the king's appetite, the cook hastened to assemble and heat a savory meat stew from precooked ingredients he had brought with him. Alan's stomach growled. He felt almost lightheaded when he smelled the food. The cook served the king first and then offered Alan a tin plate heaping with meat. He turned to the side, hoping his father would not watch him eat, but he could not stop himself from almost inhaling the food. "You were hungry," Bowdyn observed. "Well, no wonder. I doubt you have eaten meat in a year now. Jacca, serve my son more food." Jacca hurried to do so, and Alan gobbled that, too. King Bowdyn finished his meal and laid his plate aside. "Let us get some rest. We still have a long way to go." He turned to Meryn, his chief servant. "Be certain to keep the fires burning all night. I have no desire to wake with a sand dragon beside me." Alan agreed. Sand dragons were about the size of a housecat, but their bite spread noxious venom that destroyed flesh and usually killed. They feared fire, though, no matter how small. Meryn approached Alan with shackles. "My lord, your father the king commands that we shackle you until you are accustomed to your freedom." The muscles in Alan's arms knotted, but he allowed himself to be restrained with no fuss, looking neither right nor left and avoiding eye contact with either Meryn or his father. The king's eyes perhaps held a hint of compassion. "That will not be necessary once we reach home. For now it is simply a precaution. You are undoubtedly another man now, and I do not know as yet whether you harbor ill will toward me or not." Alan lay down on the blanket Meryn spread for him and watched the stars. It had been a year since he had seen the moon or the stars. He yawned. His eyelids drooped. After awhile, he turned over and let himself drift off to sleep. The sharp crack of a whip behind him jerked him from slumber. "Did you really think to escape us so easily?" Kynthelig hissed. He gestured to the burly guards who had accompanied him. "Seize him." This time Alan fought back, punching and kicking and cursing the blanket and shackles that hindered him . A hand clamped down on his arm. "Alan! Enough!" Gasping for breath, Alan wrenched his eyes open. His taut muscles relaxed. A dream.Only a dream. King Bowdyn released Alan's arm. "Sleep. The morning will soon come." **** Meryn awoke them early the next morning. By daybreak they were back on the trail. They rode until the sun was straight overhead before they paused to rest. Alan searched the landscape with eagerness. Things had begun to look familiar to him. In the distance he saw the Desvault Mountains where he and Nealon had roamed as children. They had enjoyed playing in the many caves that honeycombed the mountain. No one knew who had made the caves or why, though everyone thought they were man-made. Several hours later they reached the castle, a heavily fortified stone structure on top of a steep hill. A red flag bearing the image of a screaming eagle flew from the topmost spire, proclaiming Bowdyn's pride, glory, and power to the world. Alan heard a horn blow to signal the return of the king. By the time they reached the courtyard, it was crowded with servants, warriors, and advisors eager to greet Bowdyn. One of the grooms took the reins of Alan's stallion. He dismounted and followed the king into the castle. Queen Donella met them as they entered the high-ceilinged central hall whose mosaic floor was considered a wonder all throughout the kingdom. Castle Bowdyn was the only known structure with such an imposing, costly floor. His mother stood tall and willowy, with light brown hair, brown eyes, and a porcelain complexion. She approached Bowdyn with the grace of a gazelle and kissed his cheek. "So, he is back, Bowdyn." "He is." "Has he learned his lessons as he should?" "I have seen no indication otherwise." The queen's blue satin skirts rustled as she turned and held out her bejeweled hand to Alan. "Welcome home, Alan." He bowed and kissed her hand. His mother smelled of cherries and almonds, a signature fragrance King Bowdyn had created for her many years ago. "I have ordered a special dinner to celebrate your homecoming." She took Bowdyn's arm. "My king and my prince stink of horses' sweat. I will instruct the servants to prepare baths for you." The king nodded. "You may go to your room, Alan. I will send a servant to tend you." Alan felt his father's eyes boring into him as he moved toward the stairs. A large, fawn-colored dog darted toward him from behind a tall, heavy curtain. He had raised Amena from a pup, but he paid no attention to her, not even to pat her head. When he reached the landing Alan shot a look at his father, who had wandered over to the window to look out at the activity in the courtyard. The satisfied look on Bowdyn's face told him his father was pleased with him. Alan's jaw tightened. Bowdyn probably thought he had done him a favor by toughening him up. As his father had said many times, they lived in a hard world where dreamers and artists had little place. **** The minute the door closed behind him, Alan bent and hugged the dog. "I have missed you," he whispered as Amena furiously licked his face. As he patted her, he studied his room. Things looked different to him after an absence of a year. Brilliant light and clean, sweet air filled his spacious room. He pressed the bed with his hand. The golden coverlet felt as soft as a spring breeze, and the bed itself was surely made of spun clouds! And oh, he had never noticed how large the fireplace was. He shivered, remembering the coldness of the underground mine. As he had expected, all traces of his wife had been removed in his absence. Her silver hairbrush no longer lay on the dresser, and her wardrobe held no gowns or shoes. The small painting of her that he had kept on a bedside table was also gone. No matter. The very day his brother had died, he had hollowed out a space under the floor stones. There he kept his greatest treasures, including a good portrait of his beloved Olwyn. He heard a discreet knock on the door. "My lord, I bring your bath water. May I enter?" "Come in." Turi, Alan's personal servant, entered the room with two other men. Each carried two large buckets of water which they emptied into a small stone tub in a curtained alcove. Then Turi'shelpers left the room. "It is good to see you, Prince Alan," Turi assured him. "I have worried about you for an entire year now. Are you ready for your bath?" Alan brightened. "Yes, I am, Turi, and I have missed you too." He eagerly stripped and stepped into the tub. "Ah, this warm, clean water is a miracle. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel clean again. It seems to me as if the foul stench of the prison has permeated my very skin. I only pray that with time the dreadful odor will finally leave my nostrils." Behind him, Turi drew a sharp breath. "Prince Alan! The… the scars…" "It is nothing, Turi. Let us not speak of it." After Alan bathed, Turi finished his bath by pouring a bowl of water over his head and shoulders. "The king requests your company in thirty minutes, Prince Alan. May I help you to dress?" Alan inclined his head. "I will be there, but I will dress myself." He needed a few moments' privacy to prepare for the coming meal. Under the circumstances, he wished his mother had not prepared a celebration for him. After his servant left him, Alan donned a soft, rich tunic of red velvet and a pair of skin-tight breeches in dark gold. Both garments fit tightly after his stay in the prison, for as his father had said, he had put on quite a lot of muscle. His lip curled with amusement. Frankly, except for the bath and the food he would just as soon be back in prison. At least there he had known where he stood. **** One of Bowdyn's servants pulled out Alan's heavily carved chair as he came down the stairs. "Welcome home, Prince Alan. May I serve you?" Alan nodded, and the man served him a heaping plate of pork, vegetables, and bread. He also brought wine of an excellent vintage. His mother and father had already been served, so the king called, "Let us eat." Everyone started to eat with gusto. "This truly is a meal fit for a king," one of Bowdyn's courtiers called. Another man answered, "Of course it is. King Bowdyn serves only the best food and drink." As the nobles and military leaders ate their fill, Bowdyn turned to face Alan on his right. "I have news for you, Alan." Alan said nothing. The hard, cold expression on his father's face told him he would not like what he was about to hear. Bowdyn's eyes narrowed. "For two months now, you have been a married man." Alan had resolved to say little or nothing to anyone, but surprise loosened his tongue. "I do not understand. Olwyn has been dead for four years." "Indeed. But you and Princess Morgane, daughter of King Maccus, were married by proxy two months ago." Alan frowned as he tried to understand his father. "I have never heard of this thing. What does it mean?" "It means that as long as both fathers are present, two people can be married even if one of them is absent. This is a privilege extended only to those of royal birth. Due to your confinement, it seemed like the easiest thing to do. King Maccus will arrive with Princess Morgane tomorrow. We will celebrate your marriage with a feast and a ball. At the appropriate time, you and Morgane will consummate your marriage in order to produce heirs for the kingdom." Alan's fists clenched under the ornate table. "I see." Queen Donella tapped his arm. "I am told that Morgane is beautiful. I am also told that she is a spirited girl who likes to laugh and enjoy life. I think you will be very pleased with your father's choice." "There is one thing." The king pursed his lips. "Maccus has told me of Morgane's beauty, but she has a scar which runs from the corner of her mouth almost back to her ear. It seems that she annoyed Maccus past all restraint one evening, and he punished her by cutting her face." "That was foolish," Queen Donella huffed. "He lessened her value in the marriage market. Who would wed a scarred woman? Is he trying to pawn his defective daughter off on us?" "To make this alliance, I would not care if she looked like a cow." The king turned to Alan. "Is this a problem for you?" Alan swallowed hard and tried not to look his father in the eye lest Bowdyn see the anger and resentment burning there. "No, Father." "Good. Then we will celebrate tomorrow." After they had finished their dinners, most of the nobles and military men approached Alan to offer words of welcome. In some eyes he saw pity, in others scorn. A muscle in his jaw jerked. Pity! Scorn! Gah! Once the meal concluded, Alan went to his room, where Amena waited for him. He had brought the dog a piece of meat, which she attacked as if she had not eaten in a long time. "What am I to do?" he muttered. "I would almost rather go back to prison than marry this woman." Amena growled over her pork. "I forgot for a moment, Amena. It is already done. I am a married man." He lay down on his bed, reflecting as he did so that he hadn't had a clean bed to sleep in for an entire year. The backbreaking labor and cruelty of the guards had been no harder to tolerate than the filth in which he had lived. He imagined a strange princess beside him in this clean, soft bed. "No," he muttered. "I want no part of it." A soft knock on the door interrupted his gloomy thoughts. "Come in." Cademon, his old tutor, poked his white head around the door. His seamed face lit, his brown eyes sparkled with joy when he saw Alan. "Good evening, Alan." Alan jumped up and threw his arms around the old man. "It is good to see you." "And you as well." Alan indicated two comfortable, deep chairs drawn around the oversized fireplace. "Please, sit down. Tell me all your news." "Nothing changes with an old man. I would rather speak of your troubles." Alan grimaced. "I had hoped my father would forget this marriage nonsense, but evidently it is not to be." Cademon snorted. "Indeed not." Alan frowned. "You sound as if you agree with my father. I expected your loyalty to lie with me." "As it always does," the old man placated. "I love you as if you were my own son." "Then why do you speak to me in such a fashion?" Cademon shrugged. "Is it not obvious? Since Nealon's death, you are your father's heir. You must marry and produce offspring. I would not have chosen such a way as prison to bring you to your senses, but did you not know that eventually your father would require you to marry?" Alan shrugged. "I gave it very little thought." "I have heard good things about the Lady Morgane. Perhaps you will grow to love her." "Doubtful." Cademon tapped his knee. "Your father needs this marriage, Alan. It will cement the alliance between our people and King Maccus. We need this alliance. Since you went away, the Baronis to the north have grown bolder in their attempts to take your father's northernmost provinces." "And Maccus lives on our northern border," Alan finished. "Yes." Alan's face hardened. "Did my father send you to me?" Cademon nodded. "I will not lie. He did send me. He wants me to report on your willingness to obey." "And what will you tell him?" "That you are a loyal son who understands the necessity of the marriage and will do his part to produce heirs for the kingdom." Cademon smiled at him and rose from his chair. "Your father was wrong to send you to prison as he did, but all of that is now ended. Take your rightful place at his side." Alan refused to tell Cademon what he wanted to hear. "Thank you for your visit." Cademon bowed and let himself out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Amena crawled out from under the bed and snuggled against Alan, who absently stroked her head. "I have three choices, Amena. I can do as Cademon says, but if I do, I fear I may become as cold as my father. Of course I could run away, something I have vowed never to do, as it indicates a cowardly and weak nature. However if I do not run away, the Princess Morgane joins us tomorrow night." He paused and poured a glass of water from the jug on the washstand. "I could also challenge my father. If I defeat him in battle, I become the king and can do as I please." Amena whined and Alan exclaimed, "I do not like that one either! I do not feel kindly toward my father, but I cannot kill him." So his course was clear. He would rather live as a wanderer than become like his father. Tomorrow he would leave the kingdom. ------------------ The Enchanted Tour Page:

Audio Sample and sneak peak of Snow Day by Dan Maurer

SnowDay_Maurer_BookCover_Small_LowRez_287x459_Color_FinalABOUT SNOW DAY: A NOVELLA

It happens each winter, and has for over 35 years. Every time the snow starts to fall late in the evening before a school day, the dreams begin again for Billy Stone. They are always the same – there’s a dark tunnel, and there’s blood, lots of blood, and someone is screaming. In this chilling childhood tale, Billy, recounts the events of one unforgettable day in 1975. On that day, he and his friends played carefree in the snow, until an adventure gone awry left him far from home, staring death in the face, and running from a killer bent on keeping a horrible secret. Set in a time before Amber Alerts, when horror stories were told around camp fires instead of on the nightly news, Snow Day is a blend of nostalgia and nightmare that makes us question if the good old days were really as good as we remember. From a new voice in dark fiction comes a thriller about an idyllic childhood turned horrifying; a cautionary tale about how losing sight of the difference between feeling safe and being safe can lead to deadly consequences. Free Audiobook Sample — Snow Day: Prologue Buy Snow Day at Amazon Buy Snow Day at Amazon Buy Snow Day at Audible Buy Snow Day at iTunes




Dan Maurer is an independent author, publisher, theater producer, director, and digital marketer. He is also a proud member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. and the Horror Writers Association. Throughout his career in publishing and marketing, he has been involved in the publication of bestselling titles such as John Grisham’s The Firm, Richard Price’s Clockers, and Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger’s Lost Moon, which became the film Apollo 13. As a digital marker, he has supported popular publishing brands including Curious George, Peterson Field Guides, and The Polar Express. He has also developed marketing strategies for many corporations, including Citizen, Dun & Bradstreet, RCN and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dan is a member of an acclaimed New Jersey-based theater company and has won awards for his producing, directing and sound design. He lives with his wife and their daughter in Robbinsville, New Jersey.



An Excerpt from Snow Day: a Novella by Dan Maurer

Copyright © 2013 by Dan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Prologue January, 1975

Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… ”Hello?” My voice was cautious as I called into the darkness. It wasn’t my house and I had no business being down in that cellar. By the look of the boards on the windows upstairs, and the weeds that strangled the front yard, it hadn’t been anyone’s house for a long time. But still, even at ten, I knew in my bones that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. One of the windows was busted at the corner, and the cold wind whipped and whistled at the breach. Outside, a loose metal trash can rolled and rattled and knocked about with each new gust. It made a soft, distant sound. Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… The only light was an old Coleman lantern that I found there. It lay at my feet, the mantle fading and sputtering. Beyond the meager glow that lit no more than my boot-tops, it gave me the terrifying certainty that someone was here, or close by, and would soon — Was that a sound? I held my breath and listened carefully, trying hard to dismiss the pounding pulse that thrummed in my ears. Was that a shuffling sound, maybe feet moving and scraping across loose dirt? “Hello…? Anyone here…?” I squinted hard but it was useless. The darkness was unyielding and oddly thick with the smell of freshly turned earth. Someone had been digging down here. Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… Running into the house to hide from the police was my only option. The place should have been empty, long abandoned. But it wasn’t, and I knew now that I had to get out. I turned to leave, to run; and then I heard it, a word from the darkness. It was whispered and pitiful and — it was my name. Someone in the darkness called my name. ”B-Billy?” ”Who’s there?” I called out. ”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy.” Both the voice and its stutter were familiar. Just hearing it made my guts twist. Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… I snatched up the lantern at my feet, recalled my scout training, and worked the pump to pressurize the kerosene. The lantern’s mantle hissed a bit, burned a little brighter, and pushed back the darkness. ”Holy shit…” The light washed over a young boy. Like me, he was just ten, and I knew his name. ”…Tommy?” It came out like a question, but it wasn’t. Tommy Schneider lived next door to me and was part of our snowball fight just a few hours before. When the light touched him, Tommy flinched and turned his shoulder, as if anticipating a blow. He shivered and folded his arms across his chest, hands tucked in his armpits. He paced and shuffled his feet in a small circle, as if his bladder was painfully full, and he whined and muttered; half to himself, half to me. “It w-wasn’t m-my fault, Billy. I…I just w-wanted to play.” His eyes were swollen and red, and the tears ran streaks through the dirt on his freckled face. Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… “Tommy, what the hell are you doing down here?” ”I..I…I’m sorry, b-but I d-didn’t do nothing wrong, Billy. I’m s-sorry.” He kept his hands tucked under his armpits, but motioned with his chin. And that’s when I saw it, just a few feet from where I stood. Naked and half buried in a pile of loose earth lay the dead body of a boy that appeared to be our own age. ”Jesus Christ…what the hell, Tommy.” ”No….” His whining grew and fresh tears were coming. ”What the hell did you do?” ”Nooo…” he whined more and covered his ears. “I didn’t do nothing wrong.” Frantic now, I held out the fading lantern, quickly looking around. We were still alone. The scene before me was unfathomable. In the half-shadows of the cellar where the lantern struggled to reach, there was a pile of fresh, moist earth and broken shards of concrete. I saw some tools – a sledgehammer and a shovel, and I think a pickax, too. A few brown sacks of cement mix were piled against the wall. And there was a large hole; a gaping wound in the cellar floor that reached beneath the foundation of the house, a hole that led down into a place where the lantern’s light could not touch. Nearby, a stray boot lay in the dirt, just beyond it a gym sock, and another lay close by my feet. A faded, wadded up pair of jeans was perched at the edge of the hole. Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang… I shivered, despite my layers of clothing and new winter coat. Tommy was freezing. He wore only jeans and a t-shirt pulled over a long-sleeved sweatshirt. His breath, like mine, fogged in the January air, and his jaw waggled helplessly from his shivering. “Who’s that?” I asked, pointing to the body. At first, Tommy’s eyes followed my finger, but then he just moaned and cried some more, and turned away. I couldn’t tell if the boy on the ground was from our immediate neighborhood, or my school, or Boy Scout troop, or baseball team. It was difficult to discern much about him at all. He lay on his belly in a pile of dirt, and the loose earth covering his face and parts of his torso were, it seemed, tossed on him carelessly by whoever dug the hole. The backs of his pale white thighs glowed in the lantern’s light. The only stitch of clothing left on him was a pair of white Fruit of the Loom jockeys tangled around one ankle. I picked up one of the gym socks from the ground, pinched it into a ball and held it with the tips of my fingers. Kneeling beside the dead boy’s head, I held the lantern close with one hand and used the sock to brush the dirt from his face with the other. Like a fossil being unearthed by an archeologist, the truth came slowly. As the seconds passed, the light and each stroke of my hand brought broken, bloodied and indecipherable features into sharp focus. But the crushed and jellied eyeball put me over the edge. I jerked back from the body. ”Oh, God! Tommy, what — “ My stomach lurched. I dropped the lantern and fell backward onto the ground. Turning and scrambling away on hands and knees, I found a corner and began to wretch. My back arched and my body convulsed uncontrollably. It was the Coney Island Cyclone all over again, but this time nothing came up, only thin strands of bile dripped from my mouth and down my lips. In time, the convulsions faded. I finally rolled over and just sat there, looking at Tommy, wiping the spittle from my lips with the back of a shaky hand. My head throbbed and my mind was fuzzy. No words would come. The wind howled through the broken cellar window again. Outside, the passing cars made a distant shushing sound as they crept along Woodlawn Avenue, tires rolling through the snow and slush. My heaving, stinking breath clouded in the cold air, and Tommy just cried. Clang, clang… Clang, clang… I was ten years old and had just seen my very first real dead body – still and soulless, and battered beyond recognition – lying on the floor of a cold, dark cellar of an abandoned house. What the hell did I get myself into? Clang, clang… Clang, clang… Staggering to my feet, I picked up the lantern and held it out. ”Tommy… who did this?” My throat was dry and pained. Just as the words passed my lips, something in my mind and in my ears opened up – popped open, really, like in the cabin of an airliner during descent. That sound. Clang, clang… Clang, clang… It was different. It was continuous. It wasn’t the rattling trash can anymore. The sound came from a distance but it was there, and it was distinctive. I knew exactly who was standing impatiently, hip cocked and jaw set, banging on the lip of a dinner bell with her soup ladle. Clang, clang… Clang, clang… Tommy looked at me. He heard it too and knew what it meant. ”Your Ma’s calling, Billy.” ”Who, Tommy?” ”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy,” Tommy whined. “I just w-wanted to play.” ”Tommy…” ”It was ol’ George,” he finally said. “He did it. Stay away from ol’ George.” And then he started to cry again, whimpering. “I just wanted to play,” he mumbled through the tears. ‘ …just wanted to play…” Clang, clang… Clang, clang…Clang, clang



Pump Up Your Book and Dan Maurer are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here's how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn't set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries. This promotion will run from July 1 - September 27. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2013. Each blogger who participates in the Snow Day virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at) What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book spotlight of The Alchemist Agenda by Marty Weiss


When Charlie Rocklin and his company Gold Diggers Exploration set out to recover a 17th century shipwreck, they discover an undocumented Nazi submarine with enigmatic symbols. Ariel Ellis, a femme fatale historian with a mysterious past, proves that the U-boat contains the key to a formula more valuable than any sunken treasure, and more deadly than any weapon that has ever existed. In this globetrotting international adventure, Charlie and Ariel uncover an accelerating tempest of secrecy, lies, and agendas, fighting not only for the truth, but for their lives. Weiss's debut novel is a lightning-paced story with surprises at every turn, and shows us that our personal legends may be more real than we ever could have imagined. Purchase at: amazonbn     Add to Goodreads: goodreads


Marty Weiss was born and raised in Chicago and decided that he wanted to make movies after spending a summer working on the set of John Hughes' movie "Sixteen Candles." After earning a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an M.F.A. in film and television from New York University, he directed national and international TV commercials for major Blue Chip brands as well as TV movies. He helmed his first feature film, "Vampires: The Turning," for Sony/Screen Gems Entertainment - an action/horror movie that evolved out of John Carpenter's "Vampires." It was filmed in Chiang Mai, Thailand and released worldwide in 2005. Weiss has filmed throughout North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and Southeast Asia, and has garnered numerous industry awards. His screen adaption of his debut novel, "The Alchemist Agenda," was the honored with the Best Screenplay award from Amazon Studios and is currently on their development slate for production. Weiss lives in Los Angeles with his wife Elisabeth and children Jasmine and Jake. Visit his blog at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music for Your Heart by Ace Collins

Music for Your Heart: Reflections from Your Favorite Songs
Music For Your Heart by Ace Collins

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for days? Something abut its tune or lyrics impacts us and holds our attention. Why? How did the song come to be? Why was it written? And what does the song really mean? In Music for Your Heart, best-selling and award-winning author Ace Collins takes you behind the scenes of your favorite songs to show how the lyrics and music began. Through insider stories, artist bios, and inspiration from Scripture, Collins weaves stirring reflections on our adored and popular classics. Whether the featured song is a holiday carol, children s worship tune, or love song, each short chapter will inspire curious music enthusiasts as well as those seeking a book for a devotional meditation. Digging deep into the words and history of the music, these uplifting and informative reflections will warm the heart like the songs themselves. Songs include: - Jesus Loves Me - You Are My Sunshine - How Great Thou Art - White Christmas - Amazing Grace - Sweet, Sweet Spirit - Blue Moon - Jingle Bells - You Raise Me Up - Deep and Wide - I Will Always Love You - Moon River

My Take:  I really have enjoyed reading this book along with devotions.  I like learning the various stories behind these songs that everyone knows and I found myself singing these songs after I read the entry for that day.  I liked how the author tied in the Bible into the story even to songs that were not considered a Christian song.  Each entry will have you coming away with an " I didn't know that" moment.  You will be humming the various songs in your head and enjoying yourself immensely  

I received a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion from Abingdon Press. 

The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson

About the book: An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages---a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.

Purchase a copy:

About the author: Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Connect with Melanie at:

My Take:  One aspect that is not covered very much in the history lessons or the history books is the role that women played in the various wars throughout history.  Melanie Dobson covers this in this book quite well and shows the internal struggle that comes with not nowing if you picked the right side and how that can effect your life as well as the lives of  your family.  If you enjoy historical fiction then you will enjoy this book and you just may learn something along the way.  

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion from Litfuse. 

First Chapter Peak of The Machine by Bill Myers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

B&H Kids (September 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***


Bill Myers is an accomplished writer and film director whose work has won more than sixty national and international awards including the C. S. Lewis Honor Award. Among his best-selling
releases for kids are The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle and The Forbidden Door. He has sold more than eight million books and videos and lives with two cats, two kids, one dog, and one
wife near Hollywood, California.

Visit the author's website.


For ages 10 to 14, Truth Seekers is a fast-paced, thoughtful, and funny new series using a 21st century approach to sharing ancient Bible truths.

In book one, The Machine, twin siblings Jake and Jennifer have just lost their mother and are not thrilled about moving to Israel to stay with their seldom seen archaeologist dad. They don't yet understand how "all things work together for good to those who love God." But they will when a machine their father invented points them to the Truth.

Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Series: Truth Seekers
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: B&H Kids (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433690802
ISBN-13: 978-1433690808


It was like a dream, but not really. I mean it was a dream but there were parts that seemed so real—besides the parts where Mom had actually died in real life. Does that make sense? I get those every once in a while, dreams that are more real than real, ever since I was a kid.

Anyway, in the dream Mom was driving our SUV up the steep, winding road to our home in Malibu Canyon.

Jake and I were in the back, sitting in our clearly designated seating areas . . .

Jake in his WARNING: Biological Hazard Zone, complete with empty Cheetos bags, crumpled McDonald wrappers (which had last seen action months ago), his wadded up T-shirt and crusty socks (which had last seen a washer longer than that), and don’t even get me started on the last time he shampooed his hair.

I, on the other hand, sat in the WELCOME: This is How Normal People Live Zone, complete with breathable air and a place to sit without catching some deadly disease. (Jake accuses me of being a Neat Freak. Maybe, but it’s better than being a toxic waste site.)

And where was our dear father in all of this? To be honest, he seldom shows up in my dreams—just like he seldom shows up in our real lives. Oh, he says he loves us and all, but what’s the saying? Actions are louder than words. Anyway, I’ll get to him a little later.

It was the same dream I’d had a hundred times before . . .

I was busy doing homework when I glanced up to see a monster truck coming around the corner in our lane.

“Mom!” I shouted. “Look out!”

“What’s that?” She reached over to turn down the radio—one of her silly Country-Western songs about some girl breaking some guy’s heart.

“Up ahead! Look out!”

But she didn’t look out. And, just like all the other times, I saw the truck heading towards us, blasting its horn. I’m guessing his brakes had failed by the way he was scraping along the mountainside to slow himself. A good idea, except the mountainside was on our side!

Mom had nowhere to go. She swerved to the outer lane then tried to turn back, but she’d run out of road. We crashed through the guardrail and sailed out over the can- yon floor, which was a good two hundred feet below. There was no sound. I could see Mom screaming but heard only silence—except for that Country-Western singer going on about his broken heart.

I spun to Jake but he didn’t even glance up. He was too busy playing his stupid computer game. Then, just when the singer reached the line, Why you stompin’ on my achin’ heart with your high heel boots, we hit the water with a huge splash.

And this is where things get interesting . . .

In the real world, on the day Mom died, there was no water at the bottom of the canyon. It was September and the stream had dried up. And while we’re doing a reality check, Jake and I weren’t even in the car that day. Jake had been at the beach being Mr. Cool with a bunch of girls, and I was at home doing my algebra. (I know I’m only seventh grade, but besides being a neat freak, I’m kind of a workaholic.)

But in the dream there was plenty of water and the SUV kept sinking deeper and deeper with all three of us inside. Well, actually four, if you count the Country- Western singer who was now sitting in the front passenger seat, strumming his guitar!

Water poured in and quickly rose. Mom tried opening her door, but it wouldn’t budge. She hit it with her shoulder over and over again, but the pressure of the water outside was too much. It began swirling around our waists and rising to our chests.

“Jenny,” Mom shouted, “roll down your window!” “It’ll flood us worse!” I yelled.

“It’s the only way. Roll down your window and swim out!”



I threw a look to Jake who had conveniently disappeared. (Even in my dreams, he’s a slacker.)


I rolled down the window. More water roared in, pounding against my chest and face. I had to turn my head just to breathe. Then I grabbed the sides of the open window with my hands, turned my head away for another quick breath, and pulled myself out into the water.

I kicked and swam until I grabbed the SUV and pulled myself over to Mom’s door. By now the car was completely filled. Our faces were inches apart, separated only by her window. I yanked at the door handle. It didn’t budge. I tried again. Nothing. My lungs started aching for air, but I kept pulling and tugging as Mom kept pushing and banging.

Still, nothing.

My heart pounded in my ears. My lungs felt like they were on fire. The outside edges of my vision started going white. Mom pounded on the glass. I joined in and hit the window with my fists. When that didn’t work, I tucked in my feet, raised my legs and kicked it. Still nothing. My lungs were screaming for air. My vision grew whiter. I had to get a breath. I pointed to the surface and shouted, “I’ll be back!”

She nodded and I pushed off, my lungs ready to explode. Sparkly lights danced through my head. I was losing consciousness, I was going to pass out, I was—

Then I broke through the surface, coughing and gasping. Cool air soothed my lungs as I gulped in two, three, maybe four breaths. I forced my head to clear, then took one more breath and ducked back down into the water.

It was dark and murky but I could follow the bubbles. The SUV had settled to the bottom of the river. When I reached the roof, I pulled myself over to Mom’s side. She wasn’t moving.


I yanked at the door. I slammed it. I kicked it. I had to get her out. The door gave, ever so slightly. I pulled harder. It moved some more, then it opened with a groaning CREAK.

I grabbed Mom’s arm and pulled, but she was stuck. I spotted her seat belt and reached down to unbuckle it. My lungs were crying out for air again as I pulled her from the car. But we’d barely started before we were jerked to a stop. I turned and saw that something like a shadow had grabbed her other arm. At first I thought it was the Country-Western singer. I pulled but it held her tight. It was like a tug of war game, me on one arm, the shadow man on the other. And the harder I pulled—this was even weirder—but the harder I pulled, the more he started turning into this shadowy creature that kept growing bigger and bigger with huge, bat-like wings.

This is a dream, I kept telling myself, this is only a dream!

But my lungs were on fire. My vision was going all white again. This time I would not leave. I’d stay here and die with her if I had to, but I would not leave.

The pounding in my ears grew louder, filling my head . . . along with the song. That’s right, the singer or shadow or whatever it was, had begun singing again. Maybe it had never stopped:

I’ll never let you go . . . you will always be mine . . . always be mine . . . always be mine.

Well, Mr. Shadow could guess again. Dream or no dream, he could not have her.

Always be mine . . . always be mine . . .

My vision was totally white now. My mind shutting down. I could no longer feel my hands or my legs. I knew I was dying, but I would not let go. I loved her too much, I would never let go. The shadow thing may have won, but—

And then I heard a shout. “Augh!”

It sounded like Jake. But that was impossible. What would Jake be doing down here? I heard him again, even louder.