Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Los Alamos

by Shirley Raye Redmond
I am blessed to live in Los Alamos, a snug little community nestled on a
plateau in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. If you know
anything at all about Los Alamos, you will recall that it was once a
“secret city,” where scientists during WWII were frantically working to
develop the atom bomb before the Germans did so. WGN has recently aired a
television drama Manhattan (referring to the top secret Manhattan Project)
that depicts life (sort of) as it was on top of “the Hill” in those
frantic war days.

Today, Los Alamos is the home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, where
scientists from around the world pursue advances in everything from
nuclear energy to biotechnology.

Fuller Lodge, in the heart of downtown, is a national historic landmark.
It was once a dormitory for the Los Alamos Ranch School, home of Boy Scout
Troop 22—the first mounted troop in the nation.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: L.E. Fred

L. E. Fred
Twitter ID: @marsjaws
Describe yourself in three words:
Vivacious, determined, hilarious
Tell us a little about your latest release:
Lucid is a YA sci-fi fantasy about a young teenager who is transported to another world and becomes a hero.
Devon Alexander is a 15 year-old teenager coping with the monotonous reality of his average life. His life receives an interesting reprieve as he has his first realistic dream of a spaceship. The strangest thing about the dream is that he seems to be the only one on board who isn’t in a dream-like trance. Before he can figure out anything about the dream or his strange shipmates, he manages to wake up. The next day, Devon catches a news story about inexplicable comas taking place all over the world. Devon’s life becomes increasingly interesting as he recognizes some of the victims from his spaceship trip.
Devon and an unlikely group of other teens start devising a plan to find out who is behind the strange dreams and the comas. Their plan is not only successful but immerses them in to the fantastical world that only resides in dreams. While in the dream world, the teens learn about the power of teamwork, a new world of culture, and their hidden potential to be heroes.
Suspenseful, funny at the worst times, and just a hint of teenage romance, Lucid takes a group of young adults and throws them into a fantasy world that they only thought could exist in their dreams. In a sense, they’re right.
I got the idea for Lucid, fittingly, from my first lucid dream experience. I never had a lucid dream before, and it fascinated me. Being able to control my dream self was such an exhilarating idea that stuck with me and prompted me to ask a lot of "What if?" questions about human dreams. Eventually, Devon popped into my head and demanded to be the protagonist. The rest is history!
What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is of a Sprite machine in Lake Tahoe. I was about 2 years old going on a Christmas trip with my family. Don't ask me why I know there was a Sprite machine on the second floor of our hotel. Not really sure why I remember that! I also remember a really large indoor pool and feeling snow for the first time,
What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?
While I'm young and always looking forward to the next great moment, my current greatest moment in my life is when I completed a fitness marathon. I am a recent fitness fan who had very humble beginnings. Going from barely being able to jog for 20 minutes to completing 2 hours of mixed martial arts cardio was a really defining moment in my life. I proved to myself that if I try hard enough, I can achieve my goals. Finishing that marathon pushed me to complete other goals in my life, such as finishing my first novel and traveling to other countries in my own.
What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?
The hardest thing in life I've ever done was moving away from home for the first time. I stayed home during college to save money, so studying abroad was my first real flight out of the nest. I lived in the English countryside for only 6 months, but that half-year taught me more about myself than my entire life had. The hardest part was being completely isolated from my friends and family. Figuring out how to buy things for myself, take care of myself when I was sick, and *gasp* learning how to cook on my own were some of the challenges I had to quickly overcome.  The Internet was pretty shaky, so I often spent days to myself walking around campus and thinking about the direction I wanted to take in life. When I returned home, I realized how much my trip had taught me as I became a move independent individual.
What have you learned in life so far?
The one thing I've learned in life so far is that if you want something, you should go for it. Nothing's going to wait for you to make the next move. Life is too short to have a bunch of "what ifs" following you around all day. If you want to move to Thailand, do it. If you want to run that marathon, train for it. If you want to write that romance novel, go for it! It's much better to try something you really want to do than to be stuck doing something that you're only doing because you want to play it safe.
Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?
Do they have to be real? I'm going to assume the don't. OK, here it goes:
1. J. K. Rowling: this one's sort of a given, but Ms. Rowling opened my eyes to the world of books. Before Harry Potter, I never read a page of anything. Escaping into her world of wizards and magic inspired me to create my own worlds, even at a young age. Writing my first Harry Potter fan fictions (nerd alert!) led to writing my own stories in middle school, which arguably led to my writing now. Harry also helped me during a really rough time in my life, and I'd like to thank her in person one day.
2. Robin Williams: he's been my favorite actor since I was about 4. I'd love to share a joke or two with him and listen to what he has to say. He seems like, underneath that comical guise, a pretty wise fellow.
3. Lara Croft: the video game one, not Angelina Jolie. Lara was my first female role model. I have always been a fan of video games, but she was the first female protagonist that didn't need help from anyone else to get the job done. We need more strong female role models like her, and I'd like to tell her that one of my characters is influenced by her.
4. Jim Carrey: he's another one of my favorite actors who seems wiser than his characters on the big screen. I'd love to share a meal and have a chat with him!
5. Rick Riordan: author of the Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, and Kane Chronicles series, Mr. Riordan is a strong force in the YA fiction genre. I'd love to talk with him about writing for adolescents and also teaching. He was also a middle school teacher; I'm sure we could share some stories together!
Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about L. E. Fred?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy "Ronan's Blood Vow"

Bare knuckles brawler Ronan O’Neill makes a living with his fists as he wanders through the American frontier. But he dreams of a home, a place to call his own. A fight in a tiny Ozarks settlement brings more than he expected and he meets a widow, Jane, who offers to tend his hurts. Without Jane, he’ll never survive but she draws upon all her skills as a healer and fey ways to keep him alive. As he burns with fever and dreams of survival, he’s struck by one thought above all others – he’s come to love this woman. As he heals, he realizes he might – after so long – find his way home if they can overcome a few obstacles along the way.
Growing up in historic St. Joseph, Missouri, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy scribbled her stories from an early age.  Her first publication – a poem on the children’s page of the local newspaper – seems to have set her fate.  As a full time author, she has more than twenty full length novels published along with assorted novellas and short fiction.  A contributor to more than two dozen anthologies, her credits include Chicken Soup For The Soul among many collections of short fiction.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League.  Lee Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Missouri Southern State University as well as an Associate Degree from Crowder College.  She has worked in broadcasting, retail, and other fields including education.  She is currently a substitute school teacher.  As a wife and mother of three, she spends her days penning stories, cooking, reading, and other daily duties.  She currently makes her home in the Missouri Ozarks, living in what passes for suburbs in a small town.
Now available on
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Chapter One
With his feet planted on the thick green grass heavy with clover, Ronan O’Neill balled his hands into tight fists and prepared to take on his opponent. Murmurs from the gathered crowd echoed in his ears, but beyond the noise he heard birds singing in the trees at the edge of the grounds. Overhead the noon sun shone down over the gathering. Somewhere Ronan caught the sweet scent of honeysuckle still in blossom in early September, stronger than his own rank stench of sweat and anxiety. No matter how many times he fought or how well he put up a mask of bravado, Ronan always tasted fear until the first punch. Then blood lust, battle instinct, rose up, and he thought about nothing else.
Just as the first contender stepped forward, Ronan saw the woman. She stood apart from the others with a worn shawl across her shoulders and her feet bare. He noticed her dark hair was tamed into a heavy braid descending past her knees. When her dark eyes met his, he noted her pretty face. Few women graced the throng with their presence, and those who did stuck close to their men. But this one stood alone. And unlike the others, she didn’t wear a sunbonnet or hat of any kind. He thought she smiled at him, a sweet, brief expression, and he inclined his head in a brief nod to acknowledge it.
Ronan turned his attention toward the man across from him. He stood more than six feet tall, several inches taller than Ronan, and his broad shoulders made him wider too. Ronan sized up his challenger and, despite the man’s size, detected softness around the man’s middle and what he thought might be weakness in his face. He could take him, he decided with confidence, but it might be difficult.
The master of ceremonies – an older gentleman, someone of importance, if his waistcoat was any indication – stood beside the two men. “Are you goin’ for blood or being knocked out cold?” he asked in an effort to determine in advance what constituted a win.
“Well, Amos, I say I’m for putting this other fella down and out,” Ronan’s opponent said.
Amos turned his gaze to Ronan, who nodded. “Aye, fair enough,” he said, aware how musical and foreign his brogue must sound to the people here. Their countrified accents were strange to his ears. Although Ronan spoke English well enough, Gaelic remained his first tongue, the one his mother whispered to soothe him as a wee wane. His father had realized English, even though it was the tongue of the British oppressors, would be a vital tool for his son’s generation.
“All right then,” Amos said. “You’ll go at it till one of you goes down and out.”
Without any further discussion, Ronan raised his fists and ducked the first attempted blow. He hammered the other man hard with a series of quick punches to the face, and as blood streamed from his rival’s nose, Ronan punched the man’s wide belly. When his challenger moaned and bent double, Ronan knew he would win this match and the prize, a five dollar gold piece. As they sparred, the crowd called out encouragement to his adversary.
“Go get him, George! Take the Irishman!”
Smirking like a fool, another shouted, “Knock him out, George!”
George rallied to their calls and battered Ronan’s face in a fierce attack. In retaliation, Ronan jabbed a finger into the soft spot at the base of George’s throat, and the man choked. Ronan thumped him hard and pummeled his head with a series of blows hard enough his hands hurt with the force of delivery. Their fight continued as they wrestled and did their best to damage each other. Ronan found his feet, and so did George. But, the larger man wavered back and forth. Ronan took him down with a series of well-aimed blows to the head and a final punch to the gut. George toppled like a felled tree and didn’t move.
Ronan, blood streaming from a dozen cuts and aching from too many blows, stood, and after a moment’s hesitation Amos declared the Irishman the winner. He handed over the five dollar gold piece, and the crowd, stirred up with the fight, quieted. Their cheers throughout the battle in George’s favor stopped when he hit the ground, and their mutterings sounded hostile to Ronan. Several men knelt down beside George, declared he was breathing, and carried him away toward town. As the crowd began to disperse, one man rushed forward with a harsh cry and a knife in his outstretched hand.
“I’ll get you for this, you sorry Irish dog!” the man shouted. “George is my kin.”
He slashed at Ronan with the blade, aiming for the chest or gut. Swift-footed, however, Ronan sidestepped the attack, so the knife sliced his outer right arm. Sharp pain burned, but Ronan did nothing. A powerful aroma of homemade corn whiskey rippled outward from George’s relative, and Ronan figured the man far too drunk to spar with. Several onlookers came out of the crowd and maneuvered the attacker away. Blood gushed from the wound. Despite the pain, Ronan did nothing but dig into his pocket for a handkerchief. He dabbed at the flow, but the rag did nothing to stem the tide.
After putting the gold piece into his inner pocket, Ronan assessed his injuries. His head pounded, standard enough after a hard fight, and his stomach muscles ached where he’d been struck. He didn’t doubt his shins would be bruised, and his left knee throbbed from a well-aimed kick. His right eye would blacken, and it swelled already, sore. Ronan’s worst wound, the knife cut, still bled, and he struggled to stop the bleeding before it made him feel faint. Alone, without any friends or kin to call his own, he couldn’t afford to be ill, and the possibility stirred his normally tranquil soul with growing anxiety. He concentrated on the task and didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings until a quiet voice said, “You’re hurt.”
Ronan lifted his head to find the woman he noticed before the fight standing at his side. At close range, he found her beautiful. Her delicate features could have been those of an expensive china doll. He could get lost in her dark eyes, so deep and filled with mystery. Her full pink lips begged to be kissed. With interest, despite his hurts, he smiled at her and said, “Aye, well, it’s never so bad. I’ll fare well enough if I stop the blood.”
“I reckon I can tend to your wounds,” she said. “I don’t have anything here, though. You’d have to come home with me.”
Not one to trust much of anyone unless they earned it, Ronan trusted her. He didn’t understand why. But his instincts did and so did Ronan. Her willingness to bring him home surprised him, though, because most women wouldn’t risk their reputation, especially not with a stranger such as him. “Aye, I will, then,” he said. “I hope home’s not far?”
“It’s a little ways,” she said. “But it’s not so far we cain’t walk it.”
Fatigue and weakness threatened, but Ronan drew on his physical strength and his stamina and determined he could make it. “Let’s go then, woman,” he said. “Before I fall down in a faint. If I’m going home with ye, I should make your acquaintance. My name’s Ronan O’Neill.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she said. “I’m Jane Allen.”
Jane took the blood soaked handkerchief from his hands and peered at the cut. From her apron pocket she took out a fresh rag and applied it. Her light touch on his arm soothed some of his uneasiness, and he didn’t protest. Nor did he object when she tied the cloth around his arm or linked her arm through his uninjured one to provide support.
“Do you live in town then, Jane?” Ronan asked. In his wanderings, he came across the small settlement, and when he heard about the chance to fight, he stayed a few days. Most of Neosho centered on the courthouse square and trailed up the hills just above town. It seemed as likely a place as any to make a little money fighting before moving on to another.
“No,” she said. “I live off yonder. It’s not far to town, and I like it fine off away from the rest. Can you make it? I sure cain’t carry you.”
“I’ll do,” Ronan said, although weakness dogged his steps.
“You’re looking peaked,” Jane commented. “Hold on, Mister O’Neill. We’re nearly there.”
If not, he’d fall on his face. Still, he somehow summoned up enough spirit to say, “’Tis Ronan, woman. There’s no Mister O’Neill here.”
“Ronan,” she said, with a hint of amusement in her voice. “Come sit a spell then, and I’ll tend to your hurts.”
Jane pushed open the cabin door and brought him inside. Her capable hands guided him to a crude bench, and he sank down onto it, grateful. Ronan swayed, and she scooted him until his back rested against the table. She removed a kettle from the hearth and poured hot water into a tin cup. He watched as she rifled through some baskets to the left of the fireplace and put something dry into the hot water. As it steeped, Jane produced some dried herbs and some cloth.
“I’ve got some willow bark steeping for tea,” she told him. “It’ll help what pains you. Let me undo this around the wound.”
Her hands were gentle as she removed the cloth tied over his cut. Although the movement sent daggers of pain through his head, Ronan twisted his head to look. It looked worse than he thought, a deep, wide slice into his flesh, but the bleeding had slacked off. Using water from the kettle, Jane washed the wound out and removed the drying blood. It hurt, but he didn’t mind. After she cleaned it, she reached into a covered bowl on the mantle and took out some short sweetening. Jane added it to the willow bark tea.
He sipped the pungent brew, glad of the sugar to temper the otherwise bitter taste. It would help, he knew from experience, but without the sweetening it would have gagged him.
As Jane washed his face, Ronan squinted out of his good eye, the left being too swollen to allow much vision at his surroundings.
While the warm willow bark tea seeped into his body, his headache diminished to a tolerable level. Jane reached for an opaque glass jar with a tight lid. Ronan watched as she brought it to the table and fished out some leeches. She handled them with care as she applied them to his black eye. So, she’s a bit of a healer, then, he thought as the cool bloodsuckers clung to his skin. The sensation made him uneasy, but he didn’t fuss knowing they could relieve the swelling.
“What else pains you?” Jane asked. “You seemed to favor your knee a bit. Is it hurt?”
“Aye,” Ronan said. “The amadon kicked me hard there.”
“Let me see it,” she said. He bent, head whirling, to roll up his pants leg. Jane made a little cooing sound of sympathy when his puffy knee emerged, and she touched it with light fingers. “Oh, it must hurt terrible bad.”
“It does,” he said, wincing.
“It’s a wonder you could walk at all,” she told him. “I’ll use leeches on it too, but first, I have some witch hazel extract.”
The faint smell of the tincture reminded him of other fights, previous injuries, but as Jane bathed first his knee then some of his other bruises, Ronan grew aware of her touch. When she ran her hands along his sides, checking for sore spots, he stiffened but not with pain. Her touch evoked feelings he’d all but forgotten, and he wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. When Jane touched the worst spots, however, he winced, and she unbuttoned his shirt without a by-your-leave.
“You’re going to bruise something awful,” she commented as she touched the worst places with her fingers. “I’ll put some witch hazel on these, too.”
 She applied it with a soothing touch and one also somehow disturbing. With her body in such close proximity to his, Ronan wanted to hold her. He ached to kiss her, and his loins stirred to life, reviving passions he thought dormant or dead. Although he liked what she did very much, he wondered what kind of woman would bring a stranger home and tend him like family. And he was curious why she did.
After bathing all his bruises with witch hazel and applying leeches to his sore knee, Jane smoothed his hair away from his face. “Now,” she said. “Do you want more tea, or are you hungry?”


RELEASE DAY: Riana Lucas "Awake"

After being nearly killed at the hands of Damien, Poppy slowly regains consciousness as a prisoner of the Seelie Court. At least that’s what Poppy believes at first. She cannot help but to wonder why she is being treated so well. She has a luxurious bedroom instead of a cell in the dungeon and a hand maid by the name of Willow who is assigned only to her. To anyone else this would seem to be a perfect arrangement, but it becomes quite clear that the Queen and the entire Seelie Court has a secret. Unfortunately this is not the only problem. Poppy wakes up every morning from horrible dreams that she just cannot seem to remember. They leave her with a sense of urgency to see her friends Reed and Rho, who she now believes are in trouble over at the Unseelie Court. Will the Queen let Poppy in on the secrets of her Court? Will she ever be allowed to return home? And will she reunite with Reed and Rho to finally discover what is happening with them?
Riana Lucas is actually a duo of writers who are best friends who go by the names Nichole and Angela in the real world.  Realizing that gobbling books like hungry caterpillars and then discussing them for hours at a time wasn’t fulfilling enough, the team decided to write their first book together.  The Deadly Flowers Series was born out of a kernel of an idea and has grown into a four book series.  The two have realized their true calling in life and plan to make a career out of writing books with strong characters who evoke true emotion.
Now available on
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Chapter One
"Poppy! We need you! Please help us. I’m not sure what to do."
"Reed? Reed, is that you? Where are you?"
"I’m here, Poppy."
"Where? I cannot see you. It is too dark."
"I’m at the unseelie court, but things aren’t right."
"I do not understand."
"Rho and I have been put into the dungeons."
"I don’t know! This isn’t right. You said I would be safe!"
"I do not know how to get to you. I cannot leave. The queen will not allow it."
"Please, Poppy! We need you…"
I awake with a start, my hand reaching under the pillow for my dagger. Stretching my fingers in hopes it has only shifted in my sleep, I continue to search but am unable to find it. Even more anxious now, I jerk up in the bed and throw the pillow aside. My dagger is missing. Unarmed but still alert, I turn my attention to my surroundings. My eyes scan the room, my gaze bouncing off elegant tables, colorful flower arrangements, and exquisite paintings as my eyes frantically try to locate what woke me. As my vision adjusts to the darkness, I can see there is no one else here with me. My body, however, does not seem to understand. Sweat is dripping down my back, my heart is racing, and my head is tingling as my brain works to remember what woke me.
As I scan the room one last time, I am forced to believe it was a dream—a dream I have been having ever since I woke up in the seelie queen’s court, my enemy court, two days ago. I struggle to remember some of it, but I cannot. The only thing I am able to recall is a vision of Reed and Rho as well as Reed’s faint voice, nothing else. I do not know what they are doing or where they are and am unable to decipher the words.
I lie back in the bed, frustrated by my memory block. My head hits the mattress where my pillow was before I tossed it to the ground, the sheets are bunched down by my feet, and faint early morning light glows through the window. Staring at the ceiling, I remember the first time I woke up in this bed.
I awoke suddenly then, too. It was dark, and I was confused. My head felt as if it were filled with cotton, making it difficult to think. I could not remember where I was or what had happened to me, and I was scared—not only because of the confusion, but also because I sensed another fae in the room with me. Lying still, not wishing to alert them to the fact that I was awake, I kept my eyes closed and my breathing even. As I lay listening, I heard the sound of metal clinking and water pouring, and then felt a warm, damp rag on my forehead. The gentle movement startled me, and I had to stop myself from grabbing the hand of the fae touching me.
Instead of reacting, I slowed my breathing and concentrated on the person tending me. A female voice hummed a soft lullaby, and the sweet smell of roses and lavender wafted from her skin. The smell soothed me and felt somehow familiar. Her touch was soft and gentle, yet thorough, as she wiped my face with the damp rag. Then she used her other hand to push my hair back off my shoulders before wiping down the side of my neck.
Then I noticed I was not wearing any clothes. A thin, soft sheet covered my body. Luckily for the fae bathing me, she did not remove the sheet. Had she done so, I would have tried to kill her. Instead, she left the sheet alone and quickly finished wiping my body around it. After she moved away, I heard the sound of the cloth being placed in the water. All the while, she continued to hum her pleasant song.
As I continued to listen, I waited. After a few more seconds of muffled sounds, she returned with a dry cloth to wipe my damp skin. This cloth smelled like she did, and I realized she was spreading lotion on my skin. When she finished covering all my exposed skin, I sensed her moving down my body near my hip. The sheet began to lift, and I once again fought the urge to stop her. In doing so, my body shifted a bit, which sent a sharp pain slicing into my side.


RELEASE DAY: E.A. West "Running from Christmas"


Army veteran Alessandra Castillo just wants to be left alone. Life has been tough since her deployment in Afghanistan, and the holiday season makes it even more difficult. Unemployed and homeless, she’s currently living with her brother, who refuses to let her avoid all things social.

Enter Brad Kovac, youth pastor and good friend of Alessandra’s brother. He’s tall, gorgeous, and outgoing, three things guaranteed to catch Alessandra’s interest. At least they would have caught her interest before she survived an assault by a fellow soldier. Now all she wants to do is run from him and avoid anything resembling a relationship.

Will God provide a miracle in time for Christmas, or will Alessandra lose her chance for romance?



E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

For more information visit:


Now available on
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Chapter One

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” Alessandra Castillo glared at her older brother and tugged on her coat. “I need a job and an apartment, not a social life.”

“Actually, you need one of those too.” Tony picked up the box of craft supplies sitting on the kitchen counter and shoved it into her arms. “Besides, you like kids.”

“Kids, yes. But what do I know about teenagers?” She shifted the large cardboard box, getting a better grip on it. “I’ve never worked with them.”

“You used to be one, and not that long ago, so you know enough.” He hefted a second box and guided her toward the door that led into the garage. “Besides, it’s not like you’re going to be all alone with them. The youth pastor is going to be there.”

Alessandra sighed as she passed through the door he held open. “I have a great idea. Why don’t you help the teenagers make wreaths, and I’ll untangle the Christmas lights?”

“Sorry. You know I’m hopeless when it comes to crafts. Besides, I already told Brad you were going to help him.” Tony popped the trunk of his dark green sedan and set his box inside. “He’s looking forward to meeting you.”

“So you’ve said.” She nestled her box beside his then stepped back and crossed her arms. “But you still haven’t given me a good reason why I should want to meet him.”

“Because he’s a good man and a strong Christian. Just the kind of man you need in your life.” Tony closed the trunk and headed for the driver’s door.

Alessandra fought the urge to follow him and smack him upside the head. As if she didn’t get enough grief from every woman in their family about her singleness. She didn’t need her brother playing matchmaker as well. He should know better, anyway, considering she’d caught her last boyfriend with another woman. She hadn’t bothered to tell him about the sexual assault she had dealt with from a guy in her company after that, but the cheating boyfriend should have been enough to get through to him.

He opened his door, and then looked at her. “Let’s go.”

She blew out a breath and climbed into the front passenger seat. As he pressed the button on the remote to open the garage door, she turned toward him. “I know this Brad guy is your friend and works at your church, but please don’t try to fix me up with him. A relationship is the last thing I need right now.”

“Can I at least introduce you to people so you can make some friends?” Tony glanced at her as he started the engine.

“You’re not going to let that social life thing go, are you?”

“Nope. Everybody needs people they can count on. People they can hang out with and relax around.”

She stared out the window at a stack of boxes containing her belongings as he backed out of the garage. “I had that.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have that here.” He braked and laid a hand on her shoulder. “I know things are tough for you right now, but I’m trying to help.”

“I know.” She sighed and glanced at him. “I do appreciate everything you’re doing for me, but this time of year is hard.”

“And that’s why I’m trying to keep you busy and get you connected with other people.” Tony gave her shoulder a squeeze, and then backed down the drive. “You’ve got to get out of your head to find Christmas cheer.”

“Christmas cheer...right.” She looked at her car sitting on one side of the drive and wished she was in it instead of stuck with her brother.

Thankfully, he let the sarcastic comment slide. He lived for the Christmas season, as did most of their family, but she couldn’t do it this year. She hadn’t been able to do it last year or the year before either. Something about being deployed in Afghanistan and dealing with the constant threat of death and violence had killed holidays for her. Or maybe it was the friends she’d lost over the years. Memories of her childhood best friend drifted through her mind.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Town in Three Photos - Kansas City

by Heather Manning
1. Kansas City is known as the city of fountains. So what better way to celebrate our baseball team, the Royals, making it to the World Series than dyeing all of our fountains Royals blue?


2. Kansas City is a city rich in its history. (Perfect for a historical author!) Its the home of President Truman, the site of a gigantic Stockyard, and much more. Here's our gorgeous, historical Union Station all dressed up for Christmas.


3. Not all of KC is historical! This town also has a surprisingly expansive theatre scene. This is our almost-brand-new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. Looks straight out of Sydney, Australia! This center is home to two theatres and can be used for events. I have seen my share of musicals there!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

AP Author Spotlight: Mercedes King

Mercedes King


Twitter ID: @Mercedes_King_

Describe yourself in three words:

Stubborn. Control-freak. Hates-being-late-anywhere. Oops, wait, that's my husband describing me...Okay. Three words. Creative. Passionate. Intuitive. Yeah, let's go with those...

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Plantation Nation is the story about Emma Cartwright, a 16 year old girl who leaves her family's rice plantation and joins the Union Army--disguised as a young man. She's an idealist, passionate and devoted, but sorely unprepared for the sacrifices and challenges she faces. Complicating matters further, she falls in love for the first time...with her commander.

That is your earliest memory?

I can remember a big yellow Ryder truck in my driveway and my family packing to move from Kentucky to Ohio. I was a toddler, and for some reason that "One Way" logo printed on the side of the truck scared me. Fortunately, I got over it. No issues today with yellow trucks.

What would you consider the greatest moment in your life?

Definitely becoming a wife and mom were the greatest moments! There's no better gift, no higher calling. And I have to say, when it comes to my husband, wow, I chose well.

What’s the hardest thing in in life you’ve done?

The hardest thing ever was taking care of funeral arrangements for my mom after her battle with cancer. You never see something like that coming and wrecking your treasured relationships. But, I'm thankful she's in a better place, healthy and whole.

What have you learned in life so far?

I've learned that common courtesy and respect for ALL is so important. For me, I also feel that we need to love those important to us in big ways and small ways. Life is pretty precious and laughing, making memories, enjoying each day should be a priority.

Everyone’s favourite question: if you could invite five people for dinner, who would it be?

First off, please tell me I'm not cooking! While I can 'cook', I think my guests might not be enthralled with...toast. Anyway, five people: Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway), Luis Ortiz (of Million Dollar Listing), Lu Ann (from Real Housewives of NYC). Wait, is my addiction-affection for reality TV / pop culture showing? Maybe I just need to hang out in New York. Nobody cooks there, right?

Chance for our readers - what else would you like to know about Mercedes King?