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You have made it all the way here, so you may as well sit down, take a minute to look around, and enjoy. What you will find, depends on the day and my mood. You just never can tell.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blacktop, by Terry Lloyd Vinson - Blog Tour Stop



This week, I'd like to welcome author, Terry Lloyd Vinson to my blog with his new release, BLACKTOP.  Please note, that Terry will give a digital copy of Blacktop to one randomly drawn commenter on his blog tour.  If you are in to Sci-fi Horror/Thrillers, maybe you should check out this book.  




Title: Blacktop
Author: Terry Lloyd Vinson
ISBN: 978-1-62420-330-5
Genre: Horror
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3


TAGLINE
Atop a dark, desolate stretch of blood-spattered West Texas asphalt, the road to survival will require the ultimate sacrifice. 


BLURB
Blacktop is a terror-filled road-trip atop the dark, isolated back-roads of West Texas. Equal parts action/thriller and sci-fi/horror whodunit, it guides readers through a shock-filled maze, beginning with the hijacking of a commercial bus and concluding with a furious battle royale pitting the ultimate in extraterrestrial evil versus the few survivors of that initial abduction.


EXCERPT
The commotion, and alien sounds reverberating from same, drew me, beckoned me back to the open door, so much so that by the time I stood on the bottom step looking out, I couldn’t recall even a trace of the actual movement that got me there. I might have considered, before better judgment kicked blatant stupidity’s ass, venturing out to obtain a better visual not so obscured by the latest in torrential downpours. In retrospect, it wasn’t at all necessary. I’d seen plenty, more than enough, to fuel a lifetime of couch-trip counseling sessions. To describe it in the layman is damn near impossible, the closest I’ve managed is to say it was a scene written by Sid and Marty Krofft, storyboarded by H.R. Giger and directed by David Cronenberg. Sometime during the duration of what had begun as my private voyeur session, I’d felt but utterly ignored the presence of others peering over my shoulder from the higher steps. There were startled gasps, muttered curses and assorted grunts and groans that proceeded the turning of the Beast’s engine and subsequent revving, a few of which might’ve even been my own. This was due to...

From no more than five or six yards away, Blake Carver’s limp form was being slung and swung about like a rag doll on a stick, the stick in question being the right arm of Deputy Olive-Oil, AKA Grimes, the fingers of the attached hand clenching and unclenching in a furious attempt to free itself from the once future king of porn’s thoroughly hollowed-out skull. As Stony’s lifeless corpse flopped and floundered, at one point spinning in a complete circle, head over heels and back a total of three times like a roulette wheel constructed of flesh and bone, the good deputy struggled mightily to free that wrecking ball disguised as a fist from the backside of his mutilated noggin.

It was, bat-shit crazy as it sounds, like watching a disgruntled angler try to free a snarled fishhook from the catch of a lifetime, as in ‘the one that got away’. Only, poor Stony hadn’t been so lucky. In his haste to avoid death, Blake had apparently ran smack dab into the King Kong of right hooks. Bony build aside, it seemed the good Deputy possessed some seriously hazardous punching power. As disturbing as watching Blake’s faceless husk being flung and jostled about was, it was no better than a child’s boo-scare compared to his killer’s verbal frustration in being unable to free her submerged appendage. Frustration and something else; a wail of pure agony I could only equate with the highest order of regret.

Head tilted back, her mouth was pulled so wide I swear I could’ve chunked a regulation-sized basketball inside, the klaxon-like shriek that escaped was no more human or animal than the pulsating, orange-glow eyes or forked tongue, three, I swear I counted three separate prongs that accompanied its ear-splitting concerto. One final, ferocious jerk Grimes had paused to strategically plant the back of a booted foot at the corpse’s lower back for leverage sent the body sailing overhead, spinning into the distance with arms and legs failing and giving the temporarily illusion of life. The ruin that had been Blake Carver landed with a loud crash atop the Deputy’s parked cruiser, what little that had remained intact above his shoulders bursting apart like a rotted Jack-O-Lantern while splintering the windshield dead center.

Call me a cracked egg, no denying it at this stage, but my initial thought at seeing Stony’s headless corpse splayed across that powder-blue hood was that the adult industry’s loss was gonna be decent society’s gain. Cruel I know, but apparently my subconscious was large and in-charge and not at all in the mood to mince words. As for that aforementioned hodgepodge of gasps and groans only partially overheard from over my shoulder, what little dialogue was identifiable went something like

“Sweet Jesus, did she just…boss, w-what the fu…” cried Wesley Muncie.

“As I’d stated most vehemently, old friend, this very second is the time to vamoose,” replied Malcom Gentry, seemingly on the verge of hysteria-driven tears.





AUTHOR BIO:



Born and raised in Northern Alabama, Terry Lloyd Vinson is an Air Force veteran and former corrections officer who is the author of over a dozen published novels. Having previously resided in five states and overseas, he currently homesteads in Nashville with his wife Liza and their canine pal, Dexter.


KEYWORDS
Road-trip, horror, Texas, back-roads, flood, apocalyptic landscapes


SOCIAL LIINKS
Blog URL:
Twitter handle: @Tagsmaniac

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Welcome to another week with an opportunity to win free books!  This week I have author Christopher T. Werkman, on my blog with his new release, titled:  Girlfriending.  He will be giving away:  A Digital Copy of Girlfriending to one of the many commentors along his blog tour.  So, comment, say hello, you could just win a free book.  



Title: Girlfriending
Author: Christopher T. Werkman
ISBN: 978-1-62420-327-5
Genre: Short Stories
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

  
TAGLINE
Girlfriending is a collection of funny, sad, and occasionally bizarre stories of characters beginning, ending, or finding a way through some type of romantic relationship.


BLURB
A detective known for bold courage on the job deals with mental and physical abuse by his trophy wife. A woman strives to overcome the PTSD she brought from battlefields in Iraq so she can become a loving partner. In the title story, a socially dysfunctional man “girlfriends” women he “meets” in obituaries. From liaisons that are real, to those that are imaginary or somewhere between, Christopher T. Werkman skillfully creates characters beginning, ending, or finding a way through some type of romantic relationship. 

Girlfriending, Werkman’s collection of short stories, will fascinate, amuse, and astonish. Many of the stories are published in literary magazines and anthologies, but most appear only in this collection. His novel, Difficult Lies, was published in 2015.


EXCERPT
The bottle danced an erratic jig. Otis saw it floating near the stern of Bubble Watcher as Andre backed the fifty-five footer into its mooring slip. Otis decided prop wash caused the motion, but even after Andre shut down the grumbling diesels, the clear-glass beer bottle continued to jiggle, bottom-end-up. While other divers off-loaded their gear, Otis watched the bottle continue to wiggle and bob amongst the Styrofoam cups, plastic bags and other harbor flotsam. He realized there had to be a creature hooked on a line tied to the bottle’s neck, engaged in an unending struggle for freedom. The work of bored teens, he figured. Bait the hook and toss it in the ocean—a floating gallows. Otis grabbed the gaff, climbed out of the cockpit and shuffled along the narrow deck-space between the cabin and the gunwale, hoping the bottle would come within reach.

“What’s up?” Andre called down from the flying bridge.

“Not sure,” Otis shouted back. He could snag anything inside ten or twelve feet, but the bottle was out of range. It submerged, then popped to the surface again. Whatever the line held was too small, or weakened, to take it under for long. “C’mere,” Otis hissed, in his raspy whisper. Instead, the bottle moved closer to the algae-coated jetty, green as ripe spinach. Just as Otis decided to get off the boat and try to recover the bottle from the pier’s walkway, it made a break for open water, giving Bubble Watcher wide berth.

Diving in to swim after it was Otis’ only option. He noticed a tampon applicator floating in the coffee-with-cream colored shore-water. A mile or so out to sea, he could count the planks in Bubble Watcher’s hull from a depth of a hundred feet, but in the marina, all manner of waste found its way into the water. Not only that, he had no idea what was hooked on the line. Getting bitten or being speared on the dorsal of a panicky fish was even less appetizing than a leap into the murky water. So, the bottle skittered away, leaving Otis as angry at his own inaction as he was with whoever set the trap.

He jumped down onto the main deck, stowed the gaff and picked up his gear. He dove the summer-warmed ocean in his swim trunks and a tee-shirt. Since Andre, the owner, supplied him with a tank and regulator, he had only to off-load his buoyancy vest, weight belt, mask, fins and snorkel.

Andre climbed down from the bridge and tilted his head toward the jetty. “No treasure?”

Otis hoisted his equipment onto the pier, then glanced in the direction the bottle took. He wanted to tell Andre about the bottle, but the words hung in his throat. “Nah, turned out to be nothing.”

“How was the dive?”

“Spec-tacular. One of those little gals and I found a sea turtle with a wad of fishing line tangled around her flippers. We cut it loose, and she followed us around for most of our dive.” His smiled. “Neat.”

“That ‘little gal,’ the tall drink of water you surfaced with?” When Otis nodded, Andre did a once-around to make sure she wasn’t nearby. “Man, Otie. I was you, I’d be on her like spar varnish.”

Otis winked. “She probably already has a grandpa.” He stepped up onto the stern, then to the pier. “Same time tomorrow morning?”

“Sure. Eleven spots reserved. Probably some walk-ins. Castin’ off at ten sharp.”

“I’ll fill the tanks and have everything good to go.” Otis picked up his gear, walked into the dusty gravel parking lot and discovered the girl they were talking about was parked next to his car. Her shiny red SUV wore New York plates. She was toweling off her robin’s-egg blue aluminum tank. A large woman with olive skin and long raven hair, she was fleshy, but athletic. He judged her to be in her thirties, and imagined she might look at home on a soccer field or a basketball court.

“Hey, Otis.” Her smile came on like high beams. “I really enjoyed the dive. That poor turtle seemed so happy when we cut off the fish line.”

“Yeah, glad we ran across her. Damned monofilament line is ruining the ocean.” The jittering bottle did an encore in his memory as he opened his car’s trunk and laid his gear inside. He almost mentioned it, but as he turned to face her, she stooped to remove the regulator from her tank. Instead, Otis watched the top of her Day-Glo pink swimsuit strain to contain her breasts.

She stood and gave him a knowing look. “I bet you’d like one of these.” She stowed the regulator in the back of her car, and pulled two cans of beer from a cooler.

“There’s the way to my heart, girl. Thanks.”

“What makes you think I’d want your heart?”

“You wouldn’t.” He opened the can and took a sip. “It’s old and worn out, just like the rest of me.”

She laughed hard. “I work with guys half your age who will never be in the shape you’re in.”

“Then they have my sympathy. And what is it you do up there in…?”

“Schenectady. Marketing.”

Otis grinned. “Convincing people to buy what they don’t know they need?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Sometimes. Or what they bought from me a year ago isn’t as good as what I have to sell them today. Companies though, not people.” She closed the SUV’s back hatch and leaned against it, her reflection on the window doubling her beauty. She explained she was a refugee from the dot com collapse of the late nineties and she’d sold software for six years. “The company is moving into a new building in late August, so I bumped my vacation up a few weeks. I get a corner office with a great view of a park, and I need to be there to make sure it’s arranged the way I want.”

“Well, if you have to work, it sounds like you’ve got a great situation.”

“Have to work.” Her laugh rolled. “That’s right, you said you retired. What did you do before you became a dive bum?”

“Michigan State Patrol. Was a trooper for thirty-two years. My wife, Jayne, died a few years back after ten rounds with breast cancer. Right after that, I had a bout with the big C myself.”

For the first time, a serious expression cleared away the woman’s smile. Her dark eyes brimmed with concern, making her even lovelier. “Oh, Otis.” She touched his arm lightly. “You’re okay now?”

“Seem to be. Had surgery and some radiation.” Radiation scared him, especially because he believed radiation exposure from traffic radar caused the cancer in the first place. When the course of treatment ended, he was declared clear of disease, but lacked confidence in his body. To his way of thinking, nurturing cells bent on his destruction amounted to treason. As a trooper, he relied on his body to safeguard his life. Its dalliance with cancer shook him to his core. On the way home from his final radiation treatment, he saw a mid-sixties Pontiac GTO gleaming beneath the wind-tickled plastic flags on a used car lot. Half an hour later, he was writing the chain-smoking salesman a check. The car took Otis back to the time when he was young, strong and healthy. At another level, the control he exerted over such a powerful machine transposed into a feeling of mastery over his body. Otis liked to think of the GTO as an outgrowth of his psyche, although the reverse was probably closer to the truth. “But, yeah,” he told her. “I’ve been clear since.”

“And you had it…where? Do you mind my asking?”

Otis shrugged. “Not if you don’t mind me telling you. My testicles. They took the right one. Managed to save the left.” He raised his eyebrows, amplifying his grin. “Easier to cross my legs, now.”

Dark as she was with a tan compounding her complexion, her blush ripened. “I’m sorry” She laughed. “I deserved that.”

Otis shook his head. “No. You really didn’t. I should watch my manners. I’m the one who’s sorry.”


AUTHOR:
Christopher T. Werkman




Keywords: short stories, romance, humour, bizarre, sad
Blog URL:
Twitter : @Chwerks

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More than Just a Dog - by Genie Gabriel

Welcome to another author post.  I hope you all are enjoying these as much as I am.  This week I'd like to welcome, Genie Gabriel to my blog as one of her stops along her tour for her new release, More than Just a Dog.  




Genie will giveaway a digital copy of her new boo, More Than Just a Dog to one randomly drawn commenter at each stop, so make sure you say hello!



Title: More Than Just a Dog
Author: Genie Gabriel
ISBN: 978-1-62420-341-1
Genre: Paranormal
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3


TAGLINE
Three generations of independent women, driven in different directions by one man’s anger. Until his death reconnects them with their mystical Irish ancestors and wonders beyond this limited human existence.


BLURB
Three generations of independent women, driven in different directions by one man’s anger. Until his death reconnects them with their mystical Irish ancestors and wonders beyond this limited human existence.

Trained in the shamanic arts by her Irish grandmother, Chessie Durand travels to alternate worlds to rescue animals in danger. Aided by her Chosen One, an angel dog and a mysterious merkaba necklace, she discovers powers unknown to most humans.

Ever practical, her mother provides a sanctuary for these alien and exotic species stall-beside-stall with barnyard creatures. And when their paradise is threatened by ignorance and poachers and unknown dangers beyond the stargates, Marlise loads her shotgun and joins the fight.


EXCERPT
With only a fleeting second thought, Peter entered the coordinates in the computer implanted in his wrist to transport to the cave on Chessie’s farm. His mentor had warned him of disturbances in the stargate that caused several “incidents” and had resulted in the decision to seal it off. However, Peter hoped opening the surface entrance had corrected those disturbances.

This was the most direct route to see Chessie and, after weeks of waiting, he wanted more than to just court her in dreams. He wanted to touch her. Smell the scent of flowers in her hair. Convince her they could build a relationship in the real world.

But which real world? His dimension or hers? Or perhaps somewhere totally different.

One step at a time, Peter reminded himself. After his abrupt departure the last time he had seen her, Chessie might not exactly fall eagerly into his arms. Best he establish a cover story before he contacted her. Thanks to a disagreement between the ruling governments of his dimension, he had some time off between assignments of retrieving endangered species during which he could pursue his Chosen One.

He stepped through the stargate in his dimension, anticipating the look of pleasure on Chessie’s face when she saw him.

”Danger. Danger. Coordinates cannot be guaranteed.” His computer implant transmitted the message to Peter’s brain as his body was sucked into a spinning vortex, faster and faster, buffeted on all sides by angry voices and recriminations until he blacked out.

~ * ~

The rock formations fascinated Chessie as she descended into the cave. However, the hot springs drew her most strongly. She loved to slip into the heated water and feel all her tensions wash away, as she was doing today. She thought about posting a notice at the entrance of the cave informing her family of her private hours in the hot springs so she could soak in the nude. But so far, she limited herself to wearing a modest one-piece bathing suit while in the springs.

Her body floated slightly as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back on a rubber pillow she brought with her. “Ahhh…”

She wondered if Peter would enjoy the hot springs as much as she did. Where was he? Were her dreams of Peter and the cave simply her overactive imagination?

Intuitively, she knew more than fantasies were involved. She hoped by returning to the cave, she could solve this mystery.

With her eyes closed, her mind and body relaxed even more. The water rippled against her skin, soothing and calming. A small wave splashed against her chin and Chessie shifted her body. Opening her eyes, she noticed tiny, choppy waves across the pool’s surface that hadn’t been active when she first stepped into the pool.

Sitting up straight now, she touched the merkaba around her neck and wondered if some of its magic was at work.

The ground began rumbling.

Get out of the pool. Chap’s image appeared in her mind.

She didn’t need to be told twice. She shoved her feet back in her tennis shoes and pulled the terry cloth robe around her body.

Frozen with fascination, she stared toward the rock wall where the cave ended—that her grandmother insisted wasn’t the same as when the cave had been closed up.

The rock wall was now splitting apart like giant elevator doors, revealing the dark night sky filled with billions of stars and a spinning vortex that grew larger and larger as it moved toward her.

Use the merkaba, Chap stated. Do not give in to fear. Simply know the merkaba will protect you.

Chessie braced her feet at shoulder width apart and placed a hand over the merkaba. Protect all that is pure. Surround us with love and keep us safe.

She didn’t know where the words came from, but Chessie repeated them over and over as the vortex engulfed her, echoing with her grandfather’s angry voice. “You will never practice your witch’s spells again! You will be obedient! You will do as I tell you!”

Images of her grandfather as he had been when alive swirled within the vortex. Chessie held fast to the merkaba and called upon the spirit of her grandfather. Help us! By all that is loving and pure, keep us safe!
As Chessie repeated these words, a body fell at her feet as the vortex faded and drifted away like mist dispersing under the morning sun.



Author Bio: 
Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. So began my journey of being more in tune with animals than with people.

I went through the expected motions of marriage, kids, divorce, and career, but usually out of step with most of the human population. This proved to be an advantage in developing an independence and a curiosity about things most people don’t even consider.

A minor health issue led to energy healing and becoming a master level Reiki practitioner. Working at the local animal shelter flipped on the switch to communicating with animals. Each dog I adopted showed miraculous changes most people couldn’t believe.

As a writer, I explored the mysteries of why people behave as they do, and also became fascinated by science, especially quantum physics. But perhaps my favorite way of writing stories is to ask the question, “What if?” and dive into those imagined worlds—surrounded by my beloved furbabies, of course!



Keywords: Angel dogs, stargates, alternate worlds, independent women, fated lovers

Website URL: www.GenieGabriel.com


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Captain's Sortie - Blog Tour


Welcome to another week at my blog.  I've been gone the last few weeks enjoying a very much needed holiday away from it all.  But like all grand things, my holiday must end and so here I am, back to the ole grind of life.  





This week, I'd like to welcome author, Mike Fuller, to my blog.  He has a new book release, that I'd like to share with you.  As with most blog tours, make sure to comment, as Mike will give a digital copy of Captain's Cross to one randomly drawn commenter.



Title: Captain's Sortie
Deland Sea And Land Adventure Novel Book 2
ISBN: 978-1-62420-300-8
Author: Mike Fuller
Genre: Historical, Action, Adventure
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2



TAGLINE
Captain Ben Deland sails north from the Caribbean to join the English and provincial forces moving to stop the French from control of the frontier. But Ben becomes the only hope for the rescue of loved ones snatched by Indian and French raiders.


BLURB
The American colonial frontier is at war and stained in the blood of farmer and soldier alike. French generals have filled the land with armies of white uniformed troops and their north woods Indian allies. No one is safe from the perils of this conflict that seems to have no end. Captain Ben Deland sails north from the warm Caribbean with more than one mission to accomplish. The war is not going well for the British and Americans in the late winter of 1758 and Ben once again must lead his loyal crew ashore and into the dangerous forests and mountains to face the French and Indians.
But the British have undertaken a great task to stop the French from overwhelming the Hudson and splitting the colonies in two. Captain Deland is drawn to their aid and then has to launch a desperate rescue into the dangerous wilderness filled with enemies to find the victims of the war raging all around them.
Sea and shore action and adventure told through the stories of the men and women who face overwhelming obstacles and evil characters. Real history mixed with rich descriptive portrayals of nature and man set in the violence and uncertainty of war on the colonial frontier. Another thrilling novel from the author of Captain's Cross.


EXCERPT
Thomas had done the same thing when he was younger. He lay next to Paul just behind a moss-covered log. He could see Paul’s hand quiver just a little as the boy cocked the hammer of his short rifle. Thomas had been surprised and a bit overwhelmed when Ben presented an almost identical rifle to him years ago. Thomas had since outgrown it and now had his own full sized long rifle. So, it was his turn to pass along to Paul the knowledge of the mountains as Ben had done to him before.

“Just where the shoulder rounds over the front leg,” Thomas whispered. The shot would drop a little over the distance and put the ball in the vital spot of the doe whitetail on the opposite bank across the stream. “Take a breath and let part of it out. Just touch the trigger, don’t pull it…”

The little rifle roared and through the smoke Thomas could see the doe crumple to the ground. Paul tried to see where the deer had gone and rose up on his knee to look over the smoke. As he started to move over the log, Thomas reached out and put a firm hand on Paul’s shirt.

“What did you forget?” Thomas had heard the same thing from Ben in the past.

Paul looked at Thomas for a moment and then frowned. “Yes, Sir, to reload.” Paul stood and began the process of powder and ball, finishing with priming the pan of the flintlock. It took longer than Thomas would like, but the lad was still learning.

The meat from the doe would fill out the load on their pack horses and send them back to the smoke camp. Paul was out with Thomas on this trip. Paul had been sent out with several members of the crew, each adding their own woods wisdom to his education. The summer was full and they had to be careful where they stepped as they moved through the thick forest. There were other hunters in the warm woods now and some of them had very poisonous fangs.

Ben was less than a mile north of them and leading the mare and his pack horse down a ridge following an Indian trail too narrow and overgrown to ride atop the mare. Horses were sometimes more of a burden in the thick woods and Ben decided he would leave the mare behind next trip and only walk with the pack horse.
The warm southerly wind carried the sound of the gunshot to him and he stopped for a moment trying to place the direction of the sound. He listened for any follow on shots, but none came. The meat they brought in was feeding boat builders and soldiers south of them at the head of the Mohawk. They would have to move soon. 

The army was loading the boats on wagons and going to the west. Another part of the war was off to the northeast. The French and the British fought over the lakes and forts there without much progress for several years. The farmers on the frontier suffered the most though. Raids from the north continued with bloody results. The French relied upon their Indian allies and did little to hold back their murder and torture. Thomas had lost his family to it.

Ben kept moving. He likely would cross with the shooters when they got closer to the smoke camp. The summer heat meant that they had to turn around their hunts quickly lest the meat spoil. It was good they were moving west again to new hunting territory. They would have to venture farther every day that they took game around the camp.

Just the smallest bit of red color in the distance ahead brought Ben to his knee and the long rifle up and aimed at the spot. He dropped the leather rein to the mare and slipped sideways into the thicker brush aside the narrow trail. It would hurt his soul if the mare took a ball meant for him, but that may have to be. With skill refined to the highest level over twenty years in the woods, he moved toward the swatch of color angling out away from the horses.

The red swatch was joined by another of a less bright hue and another of gray feather. The top dressings of northern woods Indians. He counted three, but knew more could be just behind these three. It would come to confrontation soon. They had not seen the mare and pack horse yet, but in only a few more steps…

~ * ~

Draco had the scent. The wolf dog appeared just as Paul was tying off the meat on the pack horse and circled the small piece of forest the two men and four horses occupied. Thomas stopped his digging at the front foot of the gelding and let the hoof drop back to the ground to watch the dog.

“Something’s wrong,” was all that Thomas said before he mounted and slipped the buckskin cover from his short rifle. He tapped the gelding’s sides with his moccasins and the horse was gone into the trees in only a moment behind the dog. Paul was confused, but regained his thoughts and gathered the leads of the pack horses and once on his own horse, set off after Thomas.

Thomas hadn’t gone far to the north when he pulled the gelding to a standstill. Draco was walking with his nose to the ground and the gray and black hair standing almost straight up on his back. Dismounting and loosely tying the horse to a sapling, Thomas followed on foot. Each step was thought out. It slowed him, but he knew silence was putting favor to his cause. He still carried the short rifle. He lost little in range and nothing in caliber with the smaller weapon. In the thick woods, he was satisfied his first rifle served him well. A turned leaf, an oak dropped this spring after the winter, showed the wetness from its underside where a careless foot pulled it over revealing passage. Thomas examined the forest floor and was able now to see the slightest trace of a game trail. Another leaf and a thin branch pulled forward then caught in the crook of another betrayed more of the man or men that had moved through. Not many White men would leave so little of a path behind. These were woodsmen, White or no.

Thomas scarcely breathed and within a few more steps saw Draco down on his belly and pointing his nose straight ahead. Only the soft swish the small breeze made as it passed through the upper leaves added to the stillness. Not a bird sound. Something or someone, more likely, was just beyond the pines blocking the way. Thomas tried to will his eyes to see through them, but it would not be.

It happened together. Paul crashed ahead through the trees from behind leading the horses atop his own and Draco lunged just as an Indian showed himself through the pine boughs and fired his musket past Thomas’s head toward Paul. The Indian died only a second later and Thomas hesitated deciding if he was to reload the rifle or go after Draco with his pistol and sword.

The sound of the dog roaring, as only Draco could do, within the pines and Paul hitting the ground with a cry of pain gave Thomas no choice. He spun and covered the distance to Paul and as he got close enough to see the boy awash in blood, he heard a gunshot then another from the pines. Thomas grabbed Paul’s collar and drug him back behind the horses scooping up Paul’s short rifle as he passed. A thick beech sheltered him as he put his body between Paul and the pines and began to reload his own rifle.

“Where?” he whispered to Paul. He heard no answer and did not dare take his eyes from the place the Indian had emerged. Thomas nudged Paul’s shoulder and said again, “Where?”

“In the pine trees, Thomas. The Indians are…” Paul coughed and went silent. Thomas meant to learn of Paul’s wound, but the boy went past that to the threat before them.

Thomas had his rifle reloaded and judged the distance to the long rifle in the scabbard on the gelding behind them. With both short rifles, his pistol and his long rifle, he could answer well for them. But then he had Paul to deal with. He took time to look down at the boy curled up beneath him in the lee of the beech. There was a lot of blood on the boy’s summer shirt. Most of it was near his waist and on the right side.

“I know where they are. Are you still with me, Paul?” Thomas again whispered.

“It hurts, Tom. So bad. My side hurts.”

The Abeneki was only about Thomas’ age and had a war club in his hand as he burst from the trees toward them. Thomas was looking down at Paul and could not see the look of pure and concentrated rage in the Indian’s eyes. The sound of the Indian’s buckskins against the pine boughs is what drug Thomas back into the fight, but it was too late to bring the short rifle to bear. Thomas was knocked backward and was underneath the warrior before he could even begin to defend himself.

The Indian swung the club down and caught the flinching Thomas with a glancing blow to the side of his head. Thomas felt the strike, but it didn’t hurt. He was too full of fight himself by then and the Indian was launched up and over Thomas, the club falling away. The warrior was well trained and rolled to his feet with a rather substantial trader’s knife in his hand. Thomas reached for the pistol in his belt, but it was gone and he didn’t bother searching for it, instead coming to his feet with the short sword in his hand.

More snarling dog sounds came from behind, but Thomas was otherwise occupied at the moment. The Abeneki did not know that Thomas’ family had been butchered by Abeneki raiders when Thomas was only thirteen. It may have not made a difference, but it did to Thomas. With a fierceness that overwhelmed the Indian, Thomas charged and swung the sword at the very last moment. The Indian died as his body hit the ground, the sword finding the heart of the attacker and ending the fight.

Thomas dove back to Paul and scooped up his rifle, ready for the next threat. But only a bloody faced Draco appeared followed a moment later by Ben and three Mohawk warriors.

AUTHOR:
Mike Fuller





Keywords: history, action adventure, colonial America, war, French and Indian War
Twitter: @mikefullerwrite

Tuesday, June 27, 2017





This week I'd like to welcome, Julie Beekman, the author of Two Trees to my blog as one of her stops for her tour. For Julie's blog tour, she will give a digital copy of Two Trees to one randomly drawn commenter. 





Title: Two Trees
ISBN: Ebook 978-1-62420-326-8
Print     978-1546754114
Author: Julie Beekman
Genre: Memoir/Trauma/Adoption/Therapy
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: Mention of sexual abuse

TAGLINE
Children who experience trauma always need an advocate.


BLURB
Julie is adopted by the Beekmans in the late 1960’s and at first, brought up in the idyllic town of Grand Haven, Michigan. When her father dies, her mother, Marge decides to sell everything, leave town and provide Julie and her brothers with some “cultural awareness” which includes enrolling Julie in an all black school in the south. Over the years, Marge becomes more abusive and ultimately Julie seeks help. She begins to confide in a young Art Therapist who helps uncover a barrage of secrets. While the book covers some dark times and tragedy, there is a strong sense of humor running through it that will keep the reader reading to see just how Julie manages to pull through it all, not only in one piece, but as an adult well able to survive in this world.


EXCERPT
I don't remember the baby showers family and neighbors threw for Marge after the Beekmans adopted me, or that I refused to eat anything other than lima beans. I was nine months old when Warren and Marge brought me home. I listened to stories about how it all came to be. "We kept having boys and, after three, I just wanted a girl, so bad." These were the moments when I loved listening to Marge, when she was just being my mom. 

She was endearing and it reminded me she meant to love me. "I just told the caseworker we wanted a girl with blue or green eyes. I mean, no one in our family has light eyes!" she explained dramatically. The speech was always the same; Marge telling me it took four years for the adoption agency to approve them, that I cost three-hundred and fifty dollars.

"When we went to visit with you for the first time, you were wearing a little pink dress. You held out your arms to Warren and said, Da Da." She raised her arms out and made a face that looked helpless. "We knew then, we just had to have you." She seemed to always refer to him as Warren and not my dad.

"Did Randy, Scot and Dan want a sister?" I asked like it was the first time I heard the story.

"Oh, of course." Marge lit a cigarette, took a short drag, and then held it near her coffee mug. I hated when she just held her cigarettes and didn't smoke them or take the time to tap the ashes into the ashtray, because I couldn't focus on her. I could only stare at the long cylinder of ash, wondering when and where it would fall. 

"We came home after meeting you and told the boys all about you. We were especially concerned when it came to Danny because he was only five and used to being the youngest." Marge took a sip of black coffee without the slag of her smoke even moving slightly, although I could see the slight orange glow move fast toward her fingers. "I don't want to be the youngest, Mama! I want a sister, is what he told me." Marge pushed her cheeks out to imitate her idea of what Dan looked like when he was a kid and she laughed. "He was so damn cute! All you kids..." She smiled, stamped out her cigarette and looked far away like it had been some other lifetime and now she was let down. It felt the same to me because I didn't remember any of it.

My first memory is my third birthday and that Grandma Beekman made me a cake in the shape of a lamb. The white sugared icing was thick and billowy, like wool. The lamb's eyes stared back at me with chocolate glare. It was also the first year of many that Grandma made me a baby purse. She washed out old dish detergent bottles, cut out the bottom half and punched holes along the edges. Then she crocheted the holes so that she could build a purse with drawstrings from the plastic base. She showed me how to pull the drawstrings and yarn over the plastic sides, to reveal a crib with a tiny doll baby inside. The crib had a pillow and knitted blanket, too. She demonstrated over and over. It seemed she rather liked talking about her own creations and it drove Marge over the edge sometimes. Thankfully, Marge allowed Grandma to stay on my birthday and the cake didn't end up on the floor.

Grandma didn't come over too often. My dad would go to her house every week and sometimes take us kids. I especially liked to go, because Grandma gave us sugary treats and we rarely got sweets. Once, I spent the whole day with Grandma and we made church window cookies. We melted butter and chocolate, stirred in mini colored marshmallows, rolled everything out into a log coated with coconut, and refrigerated it in wax paper. Once the cookies were chilled, we sliced the log to find all the colors like on a stained-glass window. Grandma cut a lot of slices for me to take home.

When Marge picked me up and we headed for the car, she threw the bag of cookies into a snowbank. "How many times do I have to tell you and that woman, no sugar. You're fat enough!"

I huddled against the passenger door on the way home.

Wherever I wandered, there was Blackie. Blackie was adopted about a week after I was. She was the runt from a litter of short-haired mutts. She was a sweet little dog that, right from the start, tried jumping into my crib. She ate everything I didn't want and protected me as best she could. At night, she slept under my covers and growled when anyone entered my room.



AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS:
Julie Beekman is an avid runner, hiker and skier and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her dog, Francesca. 

Website: Authorjuliebeekman.com