Tag Archives: authors

Life & Soul: A Poetic Journey With Harmony Kent!

I am truly honored to host my dear friend Harmony Kent today on The Indie Spot. I am excited to help her with the launch of a new collection of poetry. Take it away, Harms!

Hi, Beem. Thanks so much for hosting me today. It’s always wonderful to visit with you. Here’s a little bit I’d love to share about my latest book of poetry …

From Lonely Soul:

Hello?

 

Sitting at a crowded table

Good food, good friends, good wine

And still a silent tear escapes

The corner of my eye

Surreptitious wipe

Hoping nobody sees

Their sympathy will only

Bring me to my knees

And who could truly understand

This empty chair in which I sit

Or the ache masked by my laughter

Is there anyone there?

When I wrote this poem, I had recently moved down to Cornwall after leaving the Zen Buddhist Monastery, where I’d spent about 13 years in a thriving community. The juxtaposition from being surround by people, even if we spent much time in contemplative silence, to the utter emptiness of a house with only me in it, was massive. While I soon made friends, every night—and most days—saw me alone with my own company. Disabled and aged forty, I held little hope of meeting a soul with whom I could spend my life. Also, because I had suddenly entered such a different life than that of the monastery, I felt the odd one out. How many of us have felt alone in a crowd at some point in our existence?

Hello is all about that search for belonging. I hope you enjoyed this poem and would love to know what you think.

The Book!

Life & Soul is the second book in the Soul Poetry Series by acclaimed author Harmony Kent.

This beautiful collection of over fifty poems will take the reader through the highs and lows of everyday life via contemporary poetry in a range of styles and themes. Within these pages, you will find reflections on the Lonely Soul, the Seeking Soul, Brief Soul, Friendly Soul, and the Loving Soul—states of mind and living and longing we each experience over the course of a life.

Life & Soul offers something for lovers of poetry from all walks of life.

Praise for Slices of Soul, Book 1 in the Soul Poetry Series:

 

“I found my answer in this wonderful treasure-trove and have already read it three times.” Robert Fear

“I found in Slices of Soul something approaching aesthetic bliss, a sense of being connected in some way to other states – like tenderness, kindness, ecstasy – where art is the norm.” Colm Herron

“A stunning collection of poems that I read in one sitting! Unable to simply put this down until I had read the last. I love the clarity of the short poems, such clear images created in so few words or phrases. Many of them touched my heart and I will be giving them a 2nd and 3rd read!” Audrina Lane

Universal Link: mybook.to/LifeAndSoul

AUTHOR BIO:

 

Harmony Kent spent 13 years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, where she faced her demons and overcame devastating low self-esteem and found freedom. After a life-changing injury, Harmony returned to the world at the tender age of 40, and her life as a writer began.

Harmony is an award winning multi-genre author, and her publications include:

The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

 

Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

Slices of Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 1)

Life and Soul (Soul Poetry Series: Book 2)

Interludes (Erotic Short Stories)

Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)

Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)

Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)

Polish Your Prose (How to Self-Edit)

Creative Solutions (Creative Writing Inspiration)

Backstage (Erotic Romance and Thriller)

FALLOUT (Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree

 

The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony is always on the lookout for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.

Harmony’s Website

twitter: @harmony_kent

Goodreads: Harmony Kent

BookBub: Harmony Kent

Story Empire (co-authored blog): Harmony Kent

The Hat is Humorous and Original

The Blurb:

41ttPYmy6PLLizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

When 21-year-old Lizzie’s grandmother passes away, she seeks a memento, a personal item meant to help the young woman grieve Granny. But an uncle gets there before her, and has liquidated much of Grandma’s personal effects. A last-minute decision finds Lizzie snatching an old hat from the remainder of the possessions. Thus begins the often-humorous journey of Lizzie and the Hat.

Author C. S. Boyack is a master storyteller with an incredible imagination. He has created a world and characters that stand out as original and seriously entertaining. Boyack mixes humor with high adventure in equal measures. Giving a memorable personality to a hat is something only a skilled writer can do. I found this story to be delightful and fun. This is the first book in a series that I look forward to completing.

I highly recommend this tale to any reader who enjoys originality at its finest. A wonderful work from an author worthy of celebration. Well done, Mr. Boyack.

About the Author:

knaod4mgs65nhtupfiubp3ci00._SX450_I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Craig

Where to Buy:

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Celebrating Sally Cronin on this International Day of Awesomeness! @sgc58

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Greetings to one and all. Today, March 10th, is International Day of Awesomeness. I would like to introduce you to one of the most awesome individuals in the blogosphere. That person is author and blogger Sally Cronin. And just what makes Sally such an awesome person? It’s her selfless promotion of indie authors from across the world.

07YhR08E_400x400Sally publishes the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine. Her incredible support has helped connect indie authors with readers from all four corners of the planet. Today is a grand day to celebrate this wonderful soul. And since Sally supports so many of us writers, it’s a great day to support her.

Visit Sally’s Amazon Author Page and find your next read. Stop by the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and leave a comment letting her know how much she’s appreciated. Find her on Twitter and give her a follow!

Join me and all my friends at Story Empire in celebrating this wonderful human being.

Story Empire group

Happy International Day of Awesomeness, Sally. You truly are one of a kind.

Jagged Feathers – @jansikes3 #NewRelease #RomanticSuspense #WhiteRuneSeries

Greetings to readers everywhere! Today, I have the honor of hosting friend and fellow author Jan Sikes here on The Indie Spot! Take it away, Jan . . .

Thank you, Beem, for inviting me to your blog site today to talk about my new book, JAGGED FEATHERS! I appreciate your generosity.

Caught in the crosshairs

PTSD is a crippling disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. A horrific car wreck, a kidnapping, witnessing a murder, spending time in prison, or fighting in a war are just a few of the things that can cause PTSD.

My character, Vann Noble, fought in Afghanistan and lost a part of his leg and the life of his best friend in a roadside bombing. He suffered from PTSD and sought healing in solitude and nature. He avoided situations he knew would trigger PTSD.

But when a car backfired inside a parking garage, it sent him into a full-blown episode.

EXCERPT:

Vann stood and cautiously left the shelter of the concrete wall.

Below, he spied a covered walkway that crossed over the street. He could circle around and come from the backside of the parking lot to the vehicle. That appeared to be his best option.

He had to get down to the walkway and quickly. Nakina depended on him.

Halfway down the stairs, a resounding boom echoed through the structure.

Vann gripped the stair rail with white knuckles and covered his head with his free hand. In an instant, he was back in Afghanistan under enemy fire. His breath came in hard gasps fighting to find a way inside his chest. He sank against the wall, eyes squeezed shut. With his heart pounding and chest constricted, he trembled from head to toe.

It was happening all over again. The distinctive acrid smell of ammonium nitrate, the panicked yelling, the ricochet of bullets against the side of the Humvee.

“It’s not real, not real,” he muttered as sweat dripped from his forehead.

Dammit! This was not the time for a PTSD panic attack. It was nothing more than a car backfiring, he told his brain. Breathe. Pull it together. Think about Nakina.

He forced himself to remember the feel of her soft lips on his. That was real. Willing his eyes to open, he wiped the sweat away with the back of a shaky hand and pushed to his feet. He didn’t have any time to waste. Gulping air into his lungs, he took the stairs two at a time, crossed the walkway, and hurried down the steps to street level.

***

White Rune Series

My late husband was incarcerated in a maximum-security federal prison for fifteen years. He most definitely suffered from episodes of PTSD, and he hated it. It always made him feel weak. Large crowds of people with everyone talking were big triggers for him. He said it always took him back to the prison chow hall, where he witnessed many stabbings. So, I pulled from my first-hand knowledge of PTSD to write this character. Have you ever experienced this or known anyone who did?

BOOK TRAILER LINK: https://youtu.be/CwGRyRVMyLE

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BLURB:

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed.

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive, but find an unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?

UNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK:

https://linktr.ee/Rijanjks

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SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

WEBSITE: http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG:   http://www.jansikesblog.com

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/jansikes3

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095856.Jan_Sikes

BOOKBUB:   https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jan-sikes

LINKEDIN:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/jansikes/

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK

 

A Mind-Bending Trip: John W. Howell’s Eternal Road #BookReview

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Book Blurb:

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save mankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★

Imagine Marty McFly driving Doc Brown’s DeLorean through the afterlife rather than traveling through time. This is kind of what you get in John W. Howell’s uniquely original take on eternity and life beyond this realm.

Eternal Road begins with a taut, suspenseful prologue set some seventeen years in the past. Sam, a young girl, is murdered, though her body is missing.

Seventeen years later, James stops to pick up a hitchhiker. Soon, he discovers this young woman is his childhood sweetheart, the missing Sam. It’s at this point that James realizes both he and Sam are no longer among the living.

This is where Howell takes readers on a unique and original journey through an ultra-strange world of the paranormal. James’s old 1956 Oldsmobile serves a similar role as McFly’s DeLorean, as it carries James and Sam through different times and places. The first stop is 1881, where James is introduced to Virgil Erp, Marshall in Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Erp and Doc Holliday are there as well. James and Sam witness the gunfight that made the OK Corral famous. Asked to stick around for the inquest, the pair settle into the local hotel. Adolf Hitler makes an appearance as a representative of the devil.

With Sam as his assigned guide, James travels the Eternal Road toward his ultimate destiny, making stops at the Alamo, Las Vegas, a visit to Sam’s parents, and an encounter with Lucifer.

John Howell has created a mind-bending reality that is fun and entertaining. There are elements of romance, mystery, paranormal, and historical fiction at play here. I thoroughly enjoyed this long, strange trip—and I mean that in every sense of that phrase. A good read.

About the Author:

dp89a742lqi4u5jtd31vjsd9p1._SX450_John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series.

John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. John’s latest book is titled Eternal Road – The final stop and launched in September 2020. In search of their eternal home, Sam and James discover a threat to human existance. They also encounter the prince of darkness. The question is; can they save humankind and their eternal souls. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Where to Buy:

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Fresh Ink Group Offers Half-Price on Video Book Trailers!

 

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Multi-media indie publisher Fresh Ink Group is running a half-price sale on their video book trailers. Regularly $198, get yours now for just $99. Fresh Ink Group can customize a video to your specifications and needs. Voice overs, music, live action video, and animation! Fresh Ink Group does it all.

Stop by and see what Fresh Ink Group can do for you!

PublishNow.FreshInkGroup.com

GeezandWeeks.com

 

Last Words of the Famous

Everybody dies at the end. Even the stars—unless you believe in reincarnation, then there’s a potential chance for a sequel. It’s just the way life in this world is set up. In the famous words of Jim Morrison, “No one here gets out alive.” Famous words, sure enough. But those were not his last.

gettyimages-55653323-copyWhat exactly were Morrison’s last uttered words? Well, if his girlfriend Pamela Courson is to be believed, Jim’s final words were, allegedly, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?” She found him dead in the bathtub a short while later.

Final words, as heard by those who claim to have been there at the end, can be humorous or sad or startling or even eye-opening. They may give comfort to loved ones left behind or pause for thought to fans who never knew the deceased as anything other than a star.

Here is a selection of last words uttered by famous people as they slipped the surly bonds of earth.

gettyimages-515986080James Dean, actor, two-time Oscar nominee, as he drove a silver Porsche Spyder on his way to a race in Salinas, California: “That guy’s gotta stop . . . He’ll see us.” Unfortunately, the guy in question, a 23-year-old student named Donald Turnupseed, did not see the car in time and turned directly into its path. According to Dean’s passenger, mechanic Rolf Wutherich, Dean survived for about twenty minutes following the wreck, screaming in agony.

Legendary actress Joan Crawford left this world an angry and bitter soul. As Crawford’s life drew to its conclusion, her housekeeper began to pray aloud for the woman’s soul. Before breathing her last, Crawford is reported to have snapped, “Dammit . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”

Actor, comedian, and musician Dudley Moore’s final words seem to suggest an experience of sorts. As companion Rena Fruchter held his hand, Moore allegedly said aloud, “I can hear the music all around me.”

Hollywood legend John Wayne spent his last days drifting in and out of consciousness. His daughter, Aissa Wayne, tending a bedside vigil, held his hand and asked if he knew who she was. The Duke responded, saying, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

In the humorous category, author Oscar Wilde, lying on his deathbed in a fleabag hotel in Paris, is reported to have uttered, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.”

Family members at the bedside of Apple founder Steve Jobs say his dying words were, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow.” Simple words, really, for such a momentous occasion.

Frank Sinatra passed away after saying, “I’m losing it.”

American rhythm and blues singer Johnny Ace, while playing with a pistol, utter these final words: “I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, passed away at the age of 71 while working in his garden. He turned to his wife and said, “You are wonderful,” then clutched his chest and died.

MV5BMzEyNjQzOTQ5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzY5MjI2._V1_UX178_CR0,0,178,264_AL_Michael Landon, the beloved star of such classic television shows like Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie, passed away in 1991 after a much-publicized battle with cancer. As the end drew near, Landon’s family gathered around the actor’s bed. His son said it was time to move on. Landon said, “You’re right. It’s time. I love you all.”

Percy Grainger, the Australian composer, with his dying breath, told his wife Ella, “You’re the only one I like.”

Ernest Hemingway, before committing suicide with his favorite shotgun, told his wife Mary, “Goodnight, my kitten.” Hemingway took his life in the front foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

Basketball great “Pistol” Pete Maravich collapsed and died during a pickup game. Moments before his death, Maravich proclaimed, “I feel great.”

Singer/guitarist Bo Diddley died while listening to the song “Walk Around Heaven.” His last word was a simple “Wow.”

Sir Winston Churchill announced, “I’m bored with it all,” before drawing his last breath.

Emily Dickinson, at her moment of death, told those in the room with her, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

Author Truman Capote, as he lay dying of liver disease, phlebitis, and multiple drug intoxication, repeated, “Mama— Mama— Mama.”

James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, as his life dwindled down to mere seconds, said, “I’m going away tonight.”

Perhaps the most thought-provoking final word comes from the surgeon Joseph Henry Green. Upon checking his own pulse as he lay upon his death bed, simply said, “Stopped.”

Whether we’re famous or anonymous, we can’t know what our last words in this world might be. That moment may come along while we’re busy preparing for tomorrow. The Bible tells us to never let the sun go down on your anger. Wise words, those. As for my own last words? Whatever they may be, I just hope they convey a message of love, of gratitude, of forgiveness.

Staci Troilo’s No Such Luck! A #NewRelease

I am excited to host the talented Staci Troilo on The Indie Spot today! She has a new release available! Take it away, Staci . . .

Thanks for having me here today, Beem. Hi, everyone. I am grateful that you’re giving me a few minutes so I can tell you about my new release, No Such Luck. It’s a short and sweet romance just in time for Christmas.

Piper Seidel has run home to her father with her tail between her legs. She’s lost her job, and she feels lost. Compounding her humiliation, she constantly embarrasses herself in front of her high school crush—a man she’d love a second chance to make a first impression on. This excerpt shows Piper’s moment of clarity, when things start going her way and she has the epiphany that will (hopefully) make all the difference.

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She leaned over to hug him. “Good night, Tom.”

“Night.”

After she climbed out of his cab, he sat in the driveway, truck idling. Finally, he rolled down the window. “What are you doing?”

“I was going to watch you drive away.”

“I’m waiting for you to go in the house. It’s the considerate thing to do.”

She chuckled. Touché. “You’re right. Good night.” And with a final wave, she ran to the mudroom door.

But she didn’t go inside. After Tommy left, she headed for her car.

It was time she took her own advice.

Life wasn’t about being cool. It was about being considerate.

No wonder she’d lost her last job. She’d been a raging pain in the butt.

But she could find another job. Pittsburgh had a bunch of online magazines that might need writers. And a great newspaper. If worse came to worse, the small-town local newspaper was an option. The editor tried to convince her to work for him every time he saw her during a visit.

The thing that scared her was that she almost lost the most wonderful thing in her life because she hadn’t been considerate.

Worse, she’d been blind. For years.

Piper had been living in the past for too long. She finally stepped into the present. Hopefully her epiphany wasn’t too late to change her fortune.

I hope you enjoyed that quick sneak peek. No Such Luck, the first installment of the Keystone Couples series, is available now on Amazon.

No Such Luck

Blurb:

Seeds of luck usually wither. The rare one grows and blooms.

Piper Seidel has one thing going for her—a red carnation given to her by Tommy Burnett in the tenth grade. It might have dried over the years, but it’s still her good luck charm. Losing it sets her life in a downward spiral, forcing her to return to her hometown where she comes face to face with her high school crush.

The years have been kind to Tommy, who looks better than ever. Unfortunately, Piper is at her worst, continually embarrassing herself whenever he’s around. The only plus? Her long-time friend, Jack Rhodes, still lives in town. Since she last saw him, his legs have grown longer, his biceps thicker, and his shoulders broader. He was always the brother she never had, but now she can’t help noticing him in an unsisterly way. Jack is every bit as caring as he’s ever been—until her bad luck drives him away, maybe forever.

Piper needs a new good luck charm, and fast, before she loses her final chance at happiness.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09J31935Z?

Staci Troilo bio box

Website | Blog | Social Media | Newsletter

Amazon ​| BookBub ​| Goodreads

Author C. S. Boyack Offers Freebies!

Author C. S. Boyack will be pushing his Hat stories during the month of October. These stories have a Halloween vibe, which fits well with the month. He will be doing a volume per week, and two of them will have free days.

THE HAT

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BLURB:

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

The Hat will be FREE from October 5 – 7.

THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY

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BLURB:

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exists? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony will be FREE from October 19 – 21.

The entire push will involve a Tuesday and Thursday blog tour, with a push of the free volumes by Fussy Librarian

Rave On (A Short Story)

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Ten minutes till.

The clock beside my mattress flings every spent second into my lap, nudging me so much closer to whatever is about to happen. Mom can’t be bothered with it; she’s passed out in the next room, oblivious to my escape into night. And even though I’m certain I’ll be home long before sunlight splits the dark, my body still bristles with something akin to static electricity, a tight anxiety over knowing I’ll surely be found out. And it really doesn’t matter; I’ve been caught before.

Shadows engorged with blackness lurk like thugs in the corners of our backyard; delicate dew blankets the grass like the blood of others foolish enough to go before me.

Blood.

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Life?

My mind sports with competing scenarios of what I hope might happen and what I pray will not—Lord knows I don’t need any more lectures regarding proper behavior for a young lady.

Five minutes till.

What if they don’t show? Suppose this is all just a well-played joke, with me as its shiny white butt?

But this is Molly we’re talking about—faithful Molly.

Mom’s old sneakers swallow my feet in a comforting fit. The back door whines protest against my departure. Nobody steps forward to quash my moment. I’m all alone.

A lustful breeze plays peekaboo with my nightshirt and soothes my heat. I’m bare underneath. That’s the part that excites me most: knowing the only thing standing between me and the real world is a thin scrap of white cotton.

The street out front offers neither light nor sound, as if nothing decent dares occupy such a miserable piece of earth but Donnington Trailer Park and the white-trash misfits it spawns. That’s what kids at school call me: white trash. That, and Icky Nicky.

My given name is Nicole—Nicole Lynn Robishawl. I can’t quite peg the origins of a name like Robishawl, but I’d bet a hundred bucks its roots lie buried someplace in Europe—the far northern part. I own a headful of blond tangles and uncomplicated blue eyes to prove that theory. And there’s another of those curious little oddities assholes around here like to whisper about when they’re certain I’m not listening: Mom and Dad are both dark-haired and dark-eyed.

Two minutes till.

I reach the crumbling sidewalk and crouch low beside a naked mess of annuals meant to spruce up the front of our trailer. A word like hatred doesn’t begin to tell of my feelings for a shithole like Donnington. We aren’t even supposed to be here, Mom and me. Dad promised to take us in, giving me back my old room, if only there’d be no more drinking. But mom prefers vodka to a husband.

Lightning spatters a silvery web across the sky right above Lincoln High School, and my silent prayer for a direct hit goes unanswered. Dull rumbles chase the flashes, but even thunder can’t match the wicked growl of Tommy Mizvinski’s engine.

He’s early!

A full sixty seconds early!

My frantic dash launches me recklessly toward the corner at the end of my street. Tommy won’t wait. If I’m not there under that lonely streetlight, forget about it. No rave for me.

I’m there before he is, though, quick enough to spy that single headlight slicing open the night—our night. Sweat jogs the course of my spine. My heart swears an oath to knock a hole through my middle. I’ve waited all month to have this moment.

Tommy’s door yawns wide; his lanky body leans forward, offering me the back seat. “Get in, Sped,” he huffs. “They won’t wait around if we’re late.”

Sped. That’s short for special ed. Tommy’s the only one who calls me that—even though I’ve never ridden the short bus.

The lure of this moment sucks me in, puts me close to Molly. Our bodies bump in the darkened back seat, tossing up loose sparks of anxiety. Nervous giggles supply our greetings.

I’m the one who suggested we go to this thing. Faithful Molly, she even tried to talk me out of it. And truth be told, I’d have laid odds on her just staying home. But here she sits, dressed like me—only her nightshirt is pink. I hate pink.

Dale Harvitz rides shotgun. That lazy eye of his gets all hung up on me the entire trip—as if I’d even consider the likes of him. Dale is the true sped in this car, not me. But he’s also Tommy’s best friend, which makes him more welcome on this ride than me, so I won’t call him a sped to his zit-covered face.

Still, I’m the one who set this up. “Where are your pajamas?” I ask.

Jeans and T-shirts, that’s what both boys are sporting.

Dale’s the defensive one. “Fuck that noise,” he spits. “I’m not wearing pajamas to a rave.”

I produce the flier, wave it in his pizza face. “That’s the theme. It says so right here.”

“They won’t turn us away, Nicole,” Dale argues. “They hold raves to make money. I’ve got my twenty bucks.”

Tommy has his say, lays down his own law. It’s me and Molly that has him spooked—our ages, that is. “Just don’t go acting like a pair of babies,” he tells us, “and they’ll probably let you two inside.”

Dale lights a Marlboro and eyes Moll and me like he’s starving and we’re medium-rare fresh-off-the-grill. You can just tell his mind is stuck in the muck and sinking fast. “Got twenty bucks says they’re both still bald,” he wagers.

Call it a natural reflex, that way my knees squeeze together. He’ll never know what’s what where those sorts of things are concerned.

Tommy, though—he finds me in the rearview, holds my gaze the way I wish he’d hold my hand, before returning to the road ahead. “Thing like that doesn’t concern me,” is all he says of the matter.

But then he finds me again and goes back to his law. “Either of you girls get pinched,” he orders, “don’t you dare mention my name. Cops raid these things all the time. If they snatch you, tell ’em you snuck out on your own, let ’em take you home.”

I have no intention of getting caught. I’ve waited too long for a night like this one. If we are among the chosen, well, then it’s meant to be; it’s already been tossed up to fate. That’s called providence or something. Anyway, Tommy’s been to half a dozen raves, and none of those were ever raided.

Tommy’s one-eyed Cutlass angles hard onto the shoulder, finds that service road leading away from Summitt Highway. You never drive directly to a rave; there’s a proper etiquette involved. Besides, they won’t let you in if you just show up. Not even for a hundred dollars.

The designated pickup point calls to mind a crop circle at the center of Hatcher Field. A lonely pair of white minivans promise travel to other worlds.

It’s the swirling crowd that yanks at my attention, puts me up on the little secret nobody else in the car has deciphered just yet.

“Let us out,” I demand, kicking at the back of Tommy’s seat. It’s mostly guys doing all that swirling, which means girls are the priority to board those vans. And if Tommy catches on, none of us are going.

Pizza-face Dale pops his door open.

Moll and I spill into the night like twist-cap wine from an overturned Dixie cup. We bolt toward the closest van and ignore Tommy’s orders to wait for him and Dale. But they’re not coming along with us—at least not on this trip. Any fool with eyes can read a scene like the one we’ve tumbled into. Moll and I—we’ll be welcomed on this go-round. And a ride home, well, what did that matter at this moment?

A black guy spies us, waves us over; he lures me and Moll into a void between those white minivans. I recognize him from school, though I doubt if I could come up with a name to match his face if given a dozen guesses.

Dark eyes roll over Molly first, then me. A grin parts his lips, shows off teeth like fine white porcelain. “Freshmen, huh?” he asks.

Neither Moll nor I acknowledge his question; we both offer him our twenty dollars instead.

“Awful eager, ain’t you?” he asks, drifting between us like lazy smoke. “Suppose it ain’t money gonna get you on one of them rides? How bad you wanna go?”

I hear Molly’s voice before words have a chance to form on my own tongue. “Whatever it takes,” she promises.

That’s not the Molly I know.

The Molly I know is far too shy to undress even in front of her own shadow.

That dark gaze of his attaches itself to me. “How about you, Robishawl?” he wonders. “How far are you willing to go?”

Hesitation nearly steals my words—but only for a moment. “I’m with Molly,” I inform him. Just leave it open, let him interpret the meaning.

His grin softens into a familiar thing—almost friendly. “Go on and get in line for communion,” he says.

Communion?

I’m not even Catholic.

And neither is Molly.

The black guy snatches our money, straps red bracelets around our right wrists, and warns against us taking them off for any reason at all. “That’s the only thing gonna get you inside once you get there.”

This is the part I love most about raves: all that secrecy, the feeling of being someone special, a chosen one.

Moll and I join a small congregation behind those vans, out of sight of Tommy and Dale and every other guy getting left back tonight.

“Kneel for the rites,” orders a skinny white guy sporting stringy black hair down to his shoulders.

The grass, wet with dew, is cool beneath my knees. My head tips back, my mouth falls open, awaiting the chemical sacraments about to be administered.

“Ecstasy,” says our high priest, placing a tablet on my tongue.

I swallow before I can chicken out.

Moll swallows too.

Midnight’s moon splits the clouds just for a moment; it’s large and swollen, shiny as a new dime.

Molly’s lips brush against my ear. “Are you gonna, you know . . . ?” she whispers. Bubblegum-sweetened breath warms my neck.

“I have to do it,” I assure her. “I’m gone past due.”

“We can’t have that,” she says, snatching hold on my hand, yanking me into the van.

*      *      *

The pull of freedom lures us an hour south of town, out where the old Piven Industrial Park crouches low among tangled weeds and ancient willows long past weeping, forgotten by all but a few hundred ravers.

The van door slides a wide yawn and, like an overfed bulimic, vomits us in front of the warehouse. Familiarity like a scent fills my head. I know some of them, these other girls; upper-class types, mostly; the very sort who’d normally call me Icky Nicky.

But not tonight.

Tonight, everybody’s equal.

Molly’s the eager one. Those small hands of hers clasp my shoulders from behind; she gives me a push inside the oversized building, into a swirl of underdressed boys and girls bumping and rubbing against a thumping beat intent on recalibrating my heart’s natural rhythm.

Lights of yellow and red, blue and green, flash from above like stalking nymphs bent on finding us out.

I pull Molly closer. “Find the water station,” I yell over the din. “Keep hydrated.”

That smile of hers—that’s what makes her Molly. “You picked one already?” she hollers, her small body becoming entangled with that steady beat.

A nod bobbles my head; I leave her there at the edge of a makeshift dance floor alive with hope and boys.

Molly likes boys.

A nameless guy hovers near the door, blue eyes clouded over with that familiar euphoria only a thing like Ecstasy can conjure.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” I tell him, mixing promise with potential.

His fingers find his chest, a gesture meant to convey a Who, me? tone. But words fail the boy’s lips; he’s too far along for conversation.

My hand fits snugly into his. It falls to me to find a private place for us to get through what has to be done. Fine by me; I’ve been this way before, done this sort of thing innumerable times. But there’s never much chase, not like there was when it first started. Back then, well, it was usually the older ones, the perverts, that went for the chase.

“There’s a place around back,” I tell him, pulling the guy into night.

“I wanna touch your hair,” he says, stumbling behind me like a freak on a leash.

Overhead, the spring sky opens wide, clouds flee, leaving us to our shared intimacy.

Beneath the loading docks is where I take the boy, in full view of a witches’ moon—if you’re so inclined to believe in such things.

My lips find his; a sneaky gesture meant only to settle any loose nerves.

Clammy, clumsy hands grope me beneath my nightshirt, finding my body bare and eager—maybe even hungry for such a touch. Had this one been in the car with us to take the bet, he’d have easily taken twenty bucks off Dale.

But tonight isn’t his night.

A quick nip with my incisors opens the skin just below his jaw, exposing the plump jugular. Barely a flinch, is all he offers. Ecstasy makes our moment easy; there’s no room for a fuss.

It’s instinctual, that urge pushing me to rip into that purple vein. His salty rush fills my mouth, stirs a familiar frenzy inside my soul. The boy’s struggles come cheap, a thing most fraudulent. I hold his body tight against the crumbling concrete, draw long and deep on his life until there’s nothing left to take.

They’re beautiful when they fade, so pale and blue, like a years-old rose pressed between the pages of a lost lover’s book of poems.

*      *      *

Molly is bare beneath her nightshirt. I can tell by the way the pink fabric clings to her sweat-dampened body.

That smile of hers ignites a heated rush through my blood no drug could ever challenge.

“Did you drink any water?” I holler, stepping between her and the Asian kid she’s dancing with.

That’s the thing with Ecstasy: it’ll keep a person moving for hours, without a thought toward maintaining hydration.

And Moll, she won’t stop dancing—not even for necessity. “You’ve fed already?” she yells, keeping pace with that relentless beat.

To tell the truth, I hate dancing. But it’s Molly’s urging that has me folding myself in with her and the Asian boy.

Moll’s hand finds mine, yanks me closer. “Can we take him home with us?” she asks, hopeful in this bold change of plans.

He’s not bad to look at, I suppose—if you’re into that sort of thing.

My head tips a subtle nod. “Gonna have to be quiet, though; can’t wake my mom.”

Yeah, Molly likes boys.

And so do I, I guess.

Just in a different sort of way.

© 2012 Beem Weeks

This story, along with 19 others, is available in Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories. Find it at all online booksellers.

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