May 2013

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Orangeberry Free Alert - HORSES AND HEROIN by Bev Pettersen

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013

Horses and Heroin - Bev Pettersen

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Romantic Suspense

Rating - PG

4.6 (153 reviews)

Free until 4th June 2013

JOCKEY SCHOOL IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS.
A talented rider disappears without a trace.
His frantic sister poses as a student.
A private investigator's plans for quiet recuperation are shattered.

Megan is determined to find her missing brother even though no one else at the illustrious California Jockey School seems to care. Her only ally is a recuperating PI who unfortunately is the owner's best friend. Soon she is caught between a blossoming romance and a far-reaching conspiracy...where misplaced trust can be deadly.

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Trouble in Paradise by Deborah Brown

A Brand-New Madison Westin Novel, with More Craziness in Tarpon Cove…

Remember Madison? What she had to go through… inheriting her aunt’s cottages was peanuts compared to what awaits her in TROUBLE IN PARADISE, the latest addition to the Paradise Series.

What is big news in small town Tarpon Cove? An accidental drowning or maybe even a ruthless murder? When a dead fisherman rolls up on the shore of Tarpon Cove, Madison cannot resist but to jump into her new role as Private Investigator, with only one goal in mind: to solve this intriguing mystery of the dead guy. But things do not go as Madison wants as she discovers that people in small towns are usually tight lipped, and that is certainly the case for the residents of Tarpon Cove. Although a hot bed for gossip, in a town where everyone knows everyone’s business, what is safer than keeping your mouth shut?

But that is not all…

With Madison’s tenant assessment skills not shaping up, her cottages are still full of riffraff, and it has become Tarpon Cove’s hotbed for illegal affairs. Madison teams up with her best friend and Glock-carrying Fabiana… Together they take on cases no other investigators would ever dare to touch in Tarpon Cove or anywhere else. Sometimes a girl needs a bubble bath and a fun book. So draw your bath and dive into Madison’s adventures!

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Mystery

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Deborah Brown on Facebook & Twitter

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK by Lee Evans

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2013

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What’s in This Book?

Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK, has 160 NEW jobs, 200 jobs from Killer Work from Home Jobs 1, and 100 jobs from Killer Work from Home Jobs 2. There’s no story. No lessons. Just jobs! Economical too – it’s three books in one. SUPER BOOK identifies Fortune 500 & Legitimate Work at Home Jobs from global, national, mid-sized and start-ups with wings.

Why You Need This Book!

Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK will help you accomplish your dream.

  • Is it finally time to find a job so that you can work from home?
  • Do you really want to trudge hours to work every day?
  • Are you looking for an honest work from home opportunity?

The idea for the Killer Work from Home Jobs Series came from the fact that I trudged to my job, as manager of someone else’s business, wondering why I wasn’t happy. I was good at what I did, achieved the company’s goals, made good money, received accolades, but something wasn’t right, there was no sense of fulfillment.

I can’t convey the melancholy I felt, I worked hard to achieve success, earned every academic credential, had a resume to swoon over. But I wasn’t a happy camper. Was this all there was?

Once I decided to work at home, it was amazing, I jumped in the air and clicked my feet! Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK is dedicated to all those who just can’t go back to work. In addition to the “I can’t take it any mores” of the world, this book will help many who have other compelling reasons, as well. The need to work from home runs deep. Taking the first step to working at home will make you jump for joy.

How is This Book Different?

How is Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK different from other work from home books? It is the largest compilation of home-based jobs available on Amazon today.

  • Is the company financially healthy?
  • Has the company been around for awhile?
  • Does the company have a global footprint?
  • Does the company have “money in the bank?”

My months of research answered these questions, to provide you with key company data.

My Promise to You

I verified all links in Killer Work from Home Jobs: 460 Jobs SUPER BOOK at publication. Since companies change web pages, and job needs, if any of the links don’t work, simply contact me at Free-Job-Search-Websites.com, I’ll provide you with revised link info & you can get notice of new books, too.

You’re not just buying a book, you’re buying my promise that I’ll tirelessly provide you with the most up to date info at my disposal. I want to help you make your dream come true!

Learn how to find Killer Work from Home Jobs

Genre – NonFiction / Business / Job Hunting

Buy Now @ Amazon

Rating – G

More details about the author

Connect with Lee Evans on her

Website http://www.free-job-search-websites.com/

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Orangeberry Free Alert - Still Fine at Forty - Dakota Madison

Still Fine at Forty - Dakota Madison

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating - R

4.6 (7 reviews)

Free until 1st June 2013

It all started with a Girl's Getaway Weekend in Sedona, Arizona...
It's been a year since Jennifer Ellis's ex-husband left her for a much younger woman and Jennifer still hasn't dated. Now turning 40, Jennifer wonders if she'll ever find love again. So Jennifer's best-friend, Melanie Malone, books them on a Girl's Getaway in picturesque Sedona, Arizona in hopes of inspiring Jennifer to have a vacation fling.
Jennifer gets more than she bargained for when she meets the ruggedly handsome 29-year old tour Jeep guide, Cody Miller, and the two begin a passionate romance. What Jennifer doesn't know is that Cody has a secret past that not only threatens to destroy their new love but also expose a tragic event from Jennifer's past that she has tried desperately to forget.

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Orangeberry Free Alert - How I Wrote 2 eBooks in 21 Days by Glen Stanford

Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

 

How I Wrote 2 eBooks in 21 Days - Glen Stanford

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Non Fiction

Rating - PG

4.6 (55 reviews)

Free until 2 June 2013

Ride a hilarious roller coaster with Glen Stanford as he follows Steve
Scott's plan in "How to Write a Nonfiction e-Book in 21 Days!"
Not one to let the writing process cramp his style, this ukulele-playing,
bluegrass-singing YouTube sensation (32 views and counting) juggles his
new-found fame with astonishing persistence to produce not one, but two
works of genius. This is the true story.
FIVE CRITICAL Reasons you MUST read this book
1. America's Funniest Recipes want you to read this book
The (secret) recipe for success:
Writer's buzz - 1 oz
Sleepless nights - 2 oz
Tenacity (and beer) - 7 (units left deliberately vague)
Irreverence and political incorrectness - to taste
Espresso - administered intravenously - 55 gal
Pizza (1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 mushroom) - 37 slices
Humility - a whole bunch
Blend and enjoy.
2. Chuck Noris wants you to read this book
You gonna argue with Chuck? I'm not! He is a huge believer in the power of
laughter because it leads to the lowering of stress hormones. This is
the carrot AND the stick - lower your stress by laughing and you won't
have to worry about Chuck getting angry with you at the same time.
P.S.
Chuck Noris is from Dubuque, Iowa and is in no way related to Chuck
Norris, the consummate actor karate-guy who would probably kick my ass
if I used his name without permission.
3. The Bible wants you to read this book
The Good Book says "A joyful heart is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).
Then again, it also says "Judas hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5) and "Go
and do likewise" (Luke 10:37) so you gotta be kind of selective when you
pick your quotes from this 1700-year-old classic.
4. It's flipping funny and Rated PG, too
While I might dance around some edgy subjects, I never want my readers to squirm. I leave that to the Ben Stilers of the world.
P.S.
Ben Stiler is in no way related to the incredibly funny Ben Stiller,
whose masturbatory comedic genius (when he's not meeting some Fokker)
always leaves you with a chuckle.
All of my books are swear-word-free. I tire of today's "comics" who resort to f-bombing
their material as if dirty words are the main ingredient instead of an
occasional spice.
The worst word you'll ever hear from me is "crap." Feel free to substitute something stinkier if it makes you feel
better, but honest humor shouldn't have to rely on shock jock laziness.
Then again, Howard Stearn made $100 million with his lesbian obsession and I
sell my books for the price of a cup of coffee, so what do I know?
When you see the word "flipping," you are also free to substitute something
racier, like "freaking." It's your theater of the mind, and you are the
only one taking the tickets.
That is, unless you object to me using the word "Damn" in the subtitle. That's just too funny to pass up,
and I'm #%$#&! using it.
P.S. Howard Stearn is in no way related to the radio professional Howard Stern, for whom I have only the
greatest respect. Baba Booey. Oh, and "lesbian" isn't a dirty word
anyway, nana.
5. For Writers only
You will uncover nuggets of resources that will be incredibly helpful on your journey to write
and publish your own book. You'll just have to suffer through the fun
stuff to uncover them. Think of it as a treasure hunt.
IN SUMMARY
God,
Chuck, America's Funniest Recipes and the movie Rating Board all want
you to read this book (and probably Ben and Howard, too). I wouldn't
mess with any of them. So it's no coffee for you today -  you have a
hormone level to lower.

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - Too Many Secrets (Cleo Sims Mysteries) by Lynn Osterkamp

Chapter 1

December 11

Waves of nausea overwhelmed me as I rushed into Turley’s Restaurant at noon that icy December day. A blast of hot air smelling of fish, burgers, onions and such sent me careening to the ladies room to avoid puking on the dining room floor. Amazingly, once I was inside the safety of the stall, I managed to avert the worst, containing my sickness to dry heaves. I hurried out to the sinks to make myself presentable for my lunch meeting with Bruce, the local dot-com millionaire who funds an experimental project that is a major part of my grief-therapy practice. I was a wreck. I'd had a miserable morning, I was late to a meeting with Bruce who prizes promptness, and my shaky queasiness exacerbated my anxiety about why Bruce had summoned me.

As I calmed my breathing and dabbed at my face with a wet paper towel, the ladies room door flew open, letting in a tall blond woman wearing designer jeans and a red ribbed turtleneck, topped with a necklace of multicolored glass beads. My best friend Elisa, looking stunning as always. We both jumped in surprise, then she darted over and enveloped me in a welcome hug. “Cleo? Honey, you look under the weather. Is the morning sickness getting worse?”

“Shhh,” I said. “Let’s not spread the news all over Boulder.” I wasn't ready to tell the world about my pregnancy, since I was only three months along, and Pablo and I aren’t married. So far Elisa and Pablo are the only ones who know.

Elisa pulled back, looking up and down the room. “Sorry for the blabbing, but you know me. Sometimes my mouth works faster than my brain. The good news is it looks like we’re alone in here. Now let’s fix you up a little,” she said, straightening my sweater. She grabbed a comb out of her bag and worked some magic on my hair.

I felt better right away. Elisa is like a big sister to me. The kind of sister who knows how to do stuff you don't, but never makes fun of you. She just helps.

“You’re a lifesaver,” I said, “but I have to run. I’m already late for my lunch meeting with Bruce.” I headed for the door.

Elisa waved me on. “Oh—you’re meeting Bruce! Well hang in there, honey, and call me later with the scoop.”

Back in the dining area, I scanned the room a couple of times. Didn’t see Bruce. Deep breath. Maybe I’m not as late as I thought? But no, there he is sitting with a petite dark-haired woman in a booth next to a brick wall. Unexpected. Bruce is a brilliant guy who works all the time. Divorced. No social life. Who is this woman and why did he bring her?

I hustled over to their table and slid into the booth across from them, my mind on autopilot running through possible menu choices that my gut would be willing to tolerate. “Sorry to be late,” I muttered, hoping my winning smile would distract from my tardiness. “Good to see you, Bruce.”

“Hi, Cleo, I thought you forgot. This is my sister, Gayle. She needs your help.”

Whew! A relief on that score. Good to know he hadn’t summoned me to talk about problems with the funding for my Contact Project.

Gayle gave Bruce a poke. “Whoa, Bruce. This isn’t a computer-programming job. It’s personal. Let’s take a few minutes before we dive in.”

“Okay, let’s order first, then talk,” he said, burying his face in the menu.

As we perused our menus, Gayle’s cell phone rang. She answered, and jumped up. “No,” she said sharply into the phone. “That’s not acceptable.” She turned to us. “I have to take this,” she said. “Be right back.” She dashed toward the door, talking intently into the phone with her hand over her other ear to block the restaurant noise.

“Gayle’s a real estate agent,” Bruce explained. “Her phone is her life.”

We sat quietly looking at our menus. Bruce isn’t much of a talker. He’s a techie. Brainy, but basically shy. Even though he’s forty-five and a self-made multi-millionaire, his social skills aren’t well developed. He’s one of those guys who goes around looking at the floor or off into the distance so he doesn’t have to make eye contact. Small talk is definitely not his forte.

Gayle darted back across the room to our booth. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m ready to order if you two are.”

I took a last look at the menu. Turley’s trademark is its healthy food, and in addition to more traditional lunch and dinner entrees, they serve breakfast all day. Knowing I needed protein for the baby, I decided on a garden omelet with mushrooms, spinach, and tomato with toast on the side. Hoped I could get it down with the help of a ginger ale. Bruce ordered a buffalo burger with a side of fresh fruit, and Gayle ordered the sesame spinach salad with the dressing on the side.

“So like I was saying,” Bruce began as the waitress left to turn our orders in, “Gayle needs some help from you.”

I turned to her. “Would you like to tell me about it?”

She took a deep breath and launched in to her story. “You’ve probably heard about the woman who went missing from the Rainbow Lakes Campground in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area a few weeks ago.”

“I did,” I said. “Do you know her?”

Gayle looked down at the table silently for a couple of minutes, her shoulders slumped as if the weight of her problem was a burden too heavy to lift. When she finally looked up, tears streamed down her face. “She’s my best friend, Sabrina—or maybe I should say she was my best friend. She’s probably dead. But they can’t find her and we don’t know what happened to her and that’s even worse.” She wiped her face with a tissue, but her tears continued to flow.

Bruce put his arm around Gayle’s shoulders and hugged her. More empathy than I would have expected from him, but then again until today I didn’t even know he had a sister. All I know about Bruce is what he told me in his grief therapy sessions after his eighteen-year-old daughter died from a drug overdose. He’s such a private person, he would have never come for grief counseling except that his business partner—who saw how paralyzed Bruce was after his daughter’s death—insisted. Bruce’s relationship with his daughter had been stormy for several years before she died, and his deep regrets that they hadn’t made peace had intensified his grief.

Gayle continued wiping her face as she struggled to regain her composure. But I could see grief winning out. "Take your time," I said gently. "I know it's hard to talk about."

Her face crumpled. “I’ve cried so much in the past few weeks that I’ve made myself sick,” she sobbed. “I’m totally devastated about Sabrina.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and collected herself. “Okay. I’m ready to tell you the story,” she said quietly. “I was part of the group at the campground—there were six of us who’ve been friends for years. We each went off separately on our personal journeys and Sabrina never came back. We searched, the rescue groups searched, the dogs searched, the helicopter searched. But no one has found her. And now they’re calling off the search.” She closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat.

The waitress showed up with our lunch. I took a quick bite, which actually tasted good. Bruce spread mustard on his burger and bit in.

Gayle picked at her salad. “I was blown away when Bruce told me about your Contact Project—that he actually talked to his daughter Charlene after she died and how he resolved things with her,” she said, her voice perking up a little. “At first I didn’t believe him when he said you put him in your apparition chamber. It’s so unlike Bruce to have anything to do with the paranormal. He debunks everything. When he told me he reached Charlene, and they forgave each other and said goodbye, I knew it was real for him.”

Bruce put his burger down. “I don’t debunk everything,” he said.

“Ha!” Gayle said. “Remember when I played the DVD of that movie, What the Bleep Do We Know? for you last year? You went on and on about how it misrepresented science, that it was pseudoscience, and quantum mysticism. You weren’t open to it at all, even though so many people liked it that it’s made over $16 million.”

Bruce scowled. “Gayle, the science was unsupported and incorrect. New Age hogwash. One of their so-called experts turned out to be a 35,000 year-old spirit from Atlantis.” Bruce gave her a self-satisfied grin as he speared a chunk of pineapple with his fork and returned to eating.

She laughed and gave him another poke. “Bruce, I’ve told you before, you totally missed the point. The movie is supposed to blow your mind, not engage it in an analysis. It’s about learning to become the creative force in your own life, instead of being a victim of circumstances. My friends and I have watched it over and over. We know group consciousness can change reality. If you looked up from your computer now and then, you’d see.”

They were off the track here, but I hesitated to break into habitual brother-sister banter. Also, I figured Gayle needed a few minutes to relax before we talked more about her missing friend. I focused on my lunch, thankful I could eat without gagging.

Bruce ignored Gayle’s jeers and turned to me. “Here’s the thing, Cleo,” he said. “Gayle needs to go into your apparition chamber and try to contact Sabrina to find out if she’s dead or alive. She needs to know and the sooner the better.”

Uh oh. As soon as Gayle said they didn't know whether or not Sabrina was dead, I should have guessed this was what Bruce wanted. But my apparition chamber is for grief-therapy clients who want to reach a loved one to resolve an issue, not for solving missing-person cases. I didn't want to refuse Bruce's request, but I had concerns about Gayle. “I understand that it’s hard not knowing what happened to your friend,” I said. “But the contact process may not make you feel any better.”

Gayle looked straight into my eyes. “It’s not about how I feel,” she said intensely. “It’s about how Sabrina’s sister Brandi has taken over Sabrina’s house and her son Ian. Sabrina would be furious. She expressly didn’t want that to ever happen. If she’s dead, everything is in trust for Ian, and I’m Ian’s guardian. But Brandi jumped in as soon as Sabrina went missing, and right now she has control. So I need to know if Sabrina is dead or alive.”

“I’m not sure the contact process can answer that question,” I said. “You could try to reach her, but if you do, it wouldn't constitute legal proof of her death, and if you don’t, that doesn’t mean she’s alive.”

Bruce broke in. “Actually I’d already thought of that,” he said. “I want you to do a thorough job. If Gayle can’t reach Sabrina, then the other women who were up there should try. In fact, why not start by meeting with all of them and telling them about the process. Get some of that group consciousness going. I’ll pay for your time—whatever it takes.”

Before I had a chance to think about how else to voice my reservations, Bruce slid out of the booth, stood up, and picked up his coat. “I have to go. You two can go on from here. Gayle can keep me updated.” He nodded at us and headed for the door.

“Oof!” Gayle said. “That’s my brother. Makes his point, and ducks out before the discussion gets complicated. But I suppose you’re used to his tactics.”

I shrugged. I'd have to go along, at least for a while. Not only had Bruce been very generous in funding my Contact Project, all he’d asked of me was that I operate professionally and that he remain anonymous as a funder. So even though the timing wasn’t ideal for me to get involved in a situation that smelled like trouble, I didn’t see any other options. “No problem,” I said. “Here’s my card. Call me and we can set up a time to talk more.”

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre - Mystery

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Lynn Osterkamp on Twitter

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Surrender by Melody Anne

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Raffaello (Rafe) Palazzo takes what he wants with no regrets. Arianna (Ari) Lynn Harlow has led a charmed life until tragedy strikes her family. He’s looking for a no-emotions attached mistress, she’s looking for redemption.

They are not a pair that should ever work, but undeniable attraction and devastating tragedies bring them together in the city by the bay where he fights to keep their relationship nothing more than an enjoyable way to meet his needs, and she battles to not lose herself in him. Spending time with Ari starts cracking the hard shell that Rafe has built around his heart, but he denies the affect she has on him until it’s too late to stop the inevitable conclusion that their relationship is headed for.

Rafe once believed in happily ever after, coming from a large Italian family. He’s got the Midas touch, since every endeavor he tries turns to gold. That all ends when his wife walks out the door and leaves him blindsided. His devastation quickly turns to steel when he decides no woman will fool him again. From that point on he treats relationships as nothing more than business transactions where both party’s come out mutually benefited.

Just when Ari has sunk to the lowest she’s ever been she finds an ad in the paper announcing a job that’s too good to be true. It turns out she’s right. She makes it through the intense rounds of interviews only to find out the job is for a mistress to the powerful Rafe Palazzo, owner of Palazzo Enterprises. Rafe gives her a day to think about whether she wants the position or not, and she’s sent on her way, only to find out her mother’s near-terminal position has taken a turn for the worse. Her mom’s only in the hospital because Ari messed up, and her mother’s the one who paid the price. Is Rafe her savior, or will he take her with him straight to the depths of hell?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – 18+

More details about the author

Connect with Melody Anne on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.melodyanne.com/

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Orangeberry Blast Off – Sam’s Top Secret Journal: We Spy (Book 1)

Posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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Sam’s Top Secret Journal – Book 1: Sam Spies by Sean Adelman. Join Sam as she embarks on her first big adventure in this middle-grade mystery full of fun, suspense…and just the right amount of spying! Sam is a middle school girl living a normal life-except when she is occasionally bullied for the differences kids perceive in her. Sam has Down syndrome. See how she and her brother John work together to find some stolen money, help a new friend and escape real danger in this exciting adventure!

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Middle Grade Mystery

Rating – G

More details about the author

Connect with Sean Adelman on Facebook

Website http://www.raiseexpectations.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Orangeberry Free Alert - Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy: The Templar Chronicles: Book 2 by Jeff Gunhus

Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy: The Templar chronicles: Book 2 - Jeff Gunhus

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - YA, Fantasy

Rating - PG

4.6 (14 reviews)

Free until 30 May 2013

After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions. Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying than anything he’s faced so far.

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - Intoxicated by Alicia Renee Kline (Excerpt)

Prologue

“So you are really going ahead with the roommate thing?”  Matthew’s voice crackled over the telephone.

Blake wasn’t sure if her brother’s words were garbled due to her faulty cell reception or if they were laced with emotion.  She had, of course, announced with a flourish approximately six months ago that it had been the appropriate time in her life to purchase her own place.  Up until then, they had been roommates themselves.  But her wildly independent streak as well as a buyer’s market had persuaded her to take the leap into homeownership.  That and the fact that Matthew was still best friends with her ex.

She just never expected to feel so alone.

“Yes, I guess I am,” she replied as she paced her floor.

“And you’re sure about this?” he pressed.

Blake sighed.  No, not really.  But posting a room for rent online and actually having someone sign a lease for it were two entirely different things.  So what if someone was coming to look at the place tomorrow morning?  If things didn’t feel right, she could always lie and say that she had been fielding a lot of calls and that, unfortunately, she had chosen someone else.

“You’re not having money problems, are you?” he continued.

“No,” she responded quickly.  Now that had upset her a little bit.

“Just be careful.” Matthew warned.

Despite herself, Blake chuckled.  If anyone should be giving that advice, it should be the other way around.  Matthew’s indiscretions had been the whole reason that they themselves had been roommates.  Although it had been a terrible, uncomfortable time in both their lives, it had been the beginning of their beautiful friendship.  There was no one else that she trusted as wholly and completely as her brother.  Their past had forced them to lean on each other in a way she never would have imagined when she was younger, and they had ended up on the other side as better people for it.

Matthew either chose to ignore the giggle or he found the irony in the situation.  There was silence on the other end of the line until Blake whispered her response.

“Always am.”

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Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Romance / Chick Lit

Rating – PG13

More details about the book

Connect with Alicia Renee Kline on Twitter

Website http://aliciareneekline.com/

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Orangeberry Book Tours – Magicstorm (Heart of a Vampire) by Amber Kallyn

 

When a mortal cop must delve into the paranormal, only a Viking vampire can save her soul, and her heart.

Detective Celeste Wilder knows who she is, a damn fine cop. But when the recently dubbed ‘Cult Murders’ start back up, this time targeting city prostitutes she’s sworn to protect, she’s thrown into a world of paranormal creatures she never believed existed. And now, they’re out to keep her from uncovering even more secrets.

An immortal Viking vampire, Brandon Wulfgar knows something is strange the moment he sees Celeste valiantly fighting for her life against a group of rogue vampires. When he’s asked to work with her–solve the crime while keeping the mortal woman safe–he figures no problem.

But as the undeniable connection between them grows and danger appears from every side, they will have to trust one another not just for their lives, but for their very souls.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Paranormal / Vampire Romance

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Amber Kallyn on Facebook & Twitter

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Review: Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, #1) by Amber Kallyn

Bloodstorm (Heart of a Vampire, #1)Bloodstorm by Amber Kallyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked. We had a chance to read the first book in the series and the newest which was Magic Storm, the build up is AMAZING. Each of the female leads are strong women you want to keep on reading.

Did you find that the cover and title represented what the story was really about? Yes, we've seen covers of all the author's books. They all bring meaning to the overall theme and story.

What did you think of the story structure? Very tastefully written. The sexual tension between Niki and Shane will have anyone salivating for more.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

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V. Frank Asaro – What Inspired Me to Write the Novel

Posted on Monday, May 27, 2013

What inspired me to write the novel, The Tortoise Shell Code, and its non-fiction corollary, Universal Co-opetition?…

by V Frank Asaro

When my son, Dean, was in high school thirty years or so ago he shared an assignment with me that involved a very thought provoking concept.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ It related to the question of how people can compete for something, yet at the same time help each other– seemingly against self-interest. But sometimes one will gain the thing they competed for – and reach success – often to the exclusion of the other.  For example, students often cooperatively study together for the final exam, yet compete against one another to be the best on the bell curve.

That set me to thinking about whether there is something – a paradigm fundamental to nature – that enables such melding of cooperation and competition to happen. Perhaps, for example, this paradigm could lead to avoidance of polarization in politics? I thought.

I read and studied and finally came to the conclusion that this fusion of cooperation and competition is in nature itself, and is even a fundamental law of the universe.  It is in music, chemistry, economics, political science, business, snowflakes, everything!

I hired a handful of university graduate students, independently from one another, and gave them assignments to research various fields of thought – such as philosophy, physics, etc. – to find either support for, or invalidation of, my theory.  After a summer of research and course correction meetings, to a person they came back and enthusiastically said, “Validated. “

So during the decade of the 1980’s I wrote up a monstrous treatise on my coined word: co-opetition.  I did this in scraps, usually in the middle of the night, primarily to get into a zone away from the crowding thoughts of whatever trial I was in at the time.  This was how I eventually could get back to sleep.  The finished manuscript I titled Synthesis Between Order and Chaos, and I sent it around to publishers and circulated it among many others.  Generally, they were intrigued, but in those days they wouldn’t invest in my book unless I went on a speaking tour and commercialized the idea.  I was no Carl Sagan, nor did I have the time from my busy law practice to become so engaged.

The word co-opetition, obviously a contraction of “cooperation” and “competition,” has since been used by others– usually in the field of business theory, but I frankly don’t know where they got it, or whether someone also independently came up with it. It all has the same meaning, however:  a synthesis of the behaviors of cooperating and competing.

But in my view, I expanded the co-opetition idea to apply universally.  Order, I likened to cooperation.  Chaos, I likened to competition. My conclusion: to achieve the highest level of success in any system, a melding of cooperation and competition – in varying proportions – is necessary.  If we recognize that both behaviors to some extent are necessary to any equation for success, we are better able to achieve that success, or to resolve whatever problem may be under consideration.

A very brief example from my books, among many is that: Capitalism has built into it a healthy element of cooperation, i.e. ethics, fair dealing, trust. Such is necessary in order for the competition of free enterprise to work with optimum effectiveness. That was part of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

In 1989, I sent an outline of the manuscript to best-selling author Spencer Johnson M.D. (Who Moved My Cheese, One Minute Manager), who six months later, called from Hawaii and wrote me a letter, dated February, 9 1990, telling me that I must write and publish the book. Thus, I wrote Universal Co-opetition.  Later, I figured that the best way to get the concepts across was to novelize the theory – a la the genre of Huxley, Orwell, Rand, and Burdick et al.  So I put a story together, calling on what I know – the law and the courts and maritime issues. The Tortoise Shell Code came to life – a saga of high seas crime, ship sinking, romance, courtroom drama, fisticuffs, prison break outs, revolution, sea-going gun battles, all with the spice of co-opetition theory interwoven though the plot.

And that is the inspiration.

 

Off the coast of Southern California, the Sea Diva, a tuna boat, sinks. Members of the crew are missing and what happened remains a mystery. Anthony Darren, a renowned and wealthy lawyer at the top of his game, knows the boat’s owner and soon becomes involved in the case. As the case goes to trial, a missing crew member is believed to be at fault, but new evidence comes to light and the finger of guilt points in a completely unanticipated direction.

Now Anthony must pull together all his resources to find the truth in what has happened and free a wrongly accused man—as well as untangle himself. Fighting despair, he finds that the recent events have called much larger issues into question. As he struggles to right this terrible wrong, Anthony makes new and enlightening discoveries in his own life-long battle for personal and global justice.

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Genre – Legal Drama

Rating – PG13

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The Learner by Alan Nayes (Excerpt

Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2013

CHAPTER 2

I gaze down at my crumpled body and know I’m in seriously bad shape. I’m helpless. I’ve experienced minor injuries in the past but nothing of this magnitude.

I’ve called Earth my home for over four Earth centuries. I’m always in control. Šumayins are bred and raised that way—masters of all those we study. Our goal is to learn and catalogue every living entity in the visible universe. Why? I don’t ask my rulers, the ZYX, such things—I just do it. We’ve conquered and controlled the dark matter universe, which is ninety percent of all existence. As a learner, my current project is to study and learn as much as I can about this third planet from the Sun. My hosts call it Earth. We call it Yu. I’ve been here nine Šumayin years. And I’ve never been truly frightened…until now.

This is terrible. A disaster. Mainly because it could seriously affect my sojourn here.

Oh, Usýs, I bemoan. What the hell happened? One moment I was seated comfortably in the bus and the next—I’m lying unable to move on the steep slope of a wooded ravine. My legs are twisted at unnatural angles, telling me the bones are fractured. If I were full-blooded homo sapien—or I’WE, as we call our human hosts—it would be many months before I would walk again. If ever.

I groan aloud as the nerve fibers resurface from my shock. Rapidly, the pain escalates. Quickly, microseconds actually, I shut down the impulses shooting up my spinal column. I have extensive internal injuries as well—bleeding from a lacerated liver and spleen and a cardiac contusion.

Soon, I’ll lose consciousness.

I must act, if I’m to preserve the last nine Šumayin years I’ve dwelled here on Earth.

My junýe. With one good arm, I reach into my purse, which miraculously is still strapped over one shoulder. I reach inside—momentary panic. It’s not there. I must find it.

I attempt to move my head. First rid my eyes of the blood. Setting the purse aside, I flex my fingers of my right hand. Movement, but slowly. And weak. My left, dominant, hand is stronger.

“Ugh,” I murmur. My left elbow is dislocated.

Back to my weaker right. I wipe the blood away, and as well as I can, examine the ground around me. Leaves and rocks. And a large lodgepole pine tree growing nearby. I strain to see a little farther in the dark and detect the twisted wreckage of the bus below me. The air carries the scents of diesel and smoke. And more blood. From the bottom of the ravine, I hear weeping, moaning, groaning, and a few cries for assistance. In the distance I detect sirens. Help is on the way.

I have to act quickly!

He is coming!

Find my junýe. In rapid static bursts of arm movements, I search the area immediately around me. There! I grasp the intricate instrument—which to a host would appear to be nothing more than a flat cell phone minus any keypad or viewing screen. A blank smooth tapering metal tablet. But that assumption would be so wrong!

As soon as it activates, the messages from the ZYX fly at me like words shot from a machine gun. Only infinitely faster in Šumayin.

ZYX: Abandon. Abandon!

I say, “No” using my native vernacular. Šumayin is a super-compressed language by human standards and communication is extremely rapid. A series of clicks to alien ears.

ZYX: You must, NayéLi.

“I won’t leave my body.”

Tûc: Abandon. It’s Tûc talking now, my retriever.

Screw you Tûc. He would want me back. He’s always desired me.

“I can fix it,” I say.

Tûc: Abandon! Return to Šumaura.

“I’m not abandoning.”

I picture them on their dark side of the universe beyond the Great Divide looking aghast at how I minimize my situation. Just like NayéLi, they’ll complain. Too much a rebel. Well, I’ll show my Šumayin leaders. They know, and I know, if I abandon my human body, I will be forced to leave the planet with only one Šumayin year remaining on my assignment. I realize in their stoic way, they are concerned. It’s been many, many Šumayin years since a learner has been lost on a host planet. Still, I can’t leave. Not now, not so close to fulfilling my contract.

Tûc: NayéLi, you will die.

“I’ll survive.”

Tûc: Leave your host body.

Me: “I refuse.”

The ZYX again: You can’t defy the HADJX.

I’m tempted to say something crude in my adopted host’s language—to hell with the HADJX comes to mind—but I resist. The HADJX is our Šumayin covenant that my species is bound to honor and deep inside me I do respect the universal rules, but right at this moment, survival is foremost to me. And remaining on Earth.

The HADJX states—among many things—no Šumayin shall disobey the ZYX.

I sign off with a single “Bye.”

I’m going into shut-down mode. This will give me time to heal myself. I heal very quickly, but there is a great risk. If I shut down, thus making myself unconscious, and my physical injuries prove insurmountable, and my host body dies while I’m in shut-down mode, then I will die. However, I, as an energy entity, can survive my host body’s death, but I must be conscious in order to abandon my physical Earth body before it dies.

I’ve made my choice. I’m not leaving my host home, nor my host body.

Ignoring all other bullets of communication, I slide the junýe in my purse and concentrate on the monumental task at hand. It will require tremendous energy, energy I may no longer possess. But I’ve learned many things from my hosts and one is to have faith, even against long odds.

“Try,” I convince myself.

Suddenly, I cringe. That fear is back, an unsettling disquiet, totally separate from my body’s physical mayhem. And my instincts never betray me.

He is coming. And he will find me.

But he won’t find me like this, I vow.

You can do it, girl. Shut down!

NayéLi signing off!

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Genre – Sci Fi / Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - For the Future Generations (For a Generation) by Anastasia Faith (Excerpt)

Posted on Saturday, May 25, 2013

For the Future Generations

[Book 1 of the "For a Generation" series]
3.4.2113

Alamogordo, New Mexico

The sun set over Alamogordo, New Mexico and night fell in the desert. Thick black clouds shifted over the horizon, contrasting the orange sky above, and casting shadows on the barren landscape.

In one mound of sand and rock sat an underground house with a tan roof protruding from the top of the hill. The residents had built a door in the side of the roof. This remained locked during daylight hours. Inside this house, the Channing family had just finished their evening meal. The women in the family cleaned the last of the dishes, the father worked in his office, and a ten-year-old boy grew restless. The boy had a head of strawberry curls, a round face, and deep blue eyes.

He scampered down the hall and pounded on his father’s office chamber door. His father, Kelvin Channing, a college professor, would be grading the day’s homework or preparing assignments for the next school day.

“It’s Declan,” he called.

“Yes, Declan?” Kelvin answered through the door. “What do you want?”

“Laken, Chaslyn, and I want to go outside.” Declan said. “Is it safe?”

“It’s 8:00,” Kelvin said. “I don’t see why not. Remember to wear your coat.”

Declan glanced at the clock on his touch screen music device. He and his two sisters had to stay indoors until after dark because his sisters, being conjoined twins, were frowned upon in the eyes of the culture.

In Declan’s day, “handicapped” individuals were those who could not contribute financially. They required government assistance and were considered a burden to society. These handicaps could be something as simple as inseparable conjoined twins, or as severe as major cerebral palsy or quadriplegia. Benevolent medical professionals would simply deny them healthcare, while the majority would euthanize them, with or without a caretaker’s permission. At their doctor’s warning seven years before, Kelvin and Ayla Channing had relocated with their three-year-old triplets—Declan, Laken, and Chaslyn—from Kansas City, Missouri to a desert in New Mexico, hoping it would be safer. Several families who were close friends with the Channings had also come to ease the adjustment. They had scheduled their days so the triplets would be able to spend time with their friends at night.

Removing his coat from a hook near the front door, Declan slipped into it. His sisters came into the living room after they had finished cleaning the kitchen. They too were becoming restless, and the Alamogordo evening beckoned them.

“Did Dad give us permission?” Chaslyn asked.

Declan nodded and assisted Laken and Chaslyn into a special joining coat tailored for them, since they joined at one of their forearms. They piled into an elevator that led to the roof. The elevator opened, and Declan unlocked the door. They stepped out onto the sand and raced down the side of the hill to their “fort”, a crude structure constructed of logs stacked so they overlapped each other. As the evening progressed, the children’s friends arrived and joined in the imagination games.

Over their playing and laughter, Declan could hear a transporter door slam shut and then footsteps approaching. As they grew louder and came closer, Declan became increasingly concerned. All of their friends were with them, and others rarely visited the deserted area.

“Wait here,” he cautioned his sisters. “I’m going to see where that noise is coming from. Guys, keep your guard over them for just a minute.”

Fearing the worst, he left them in the fort and stole away to track the source of the footsteps. He scampered a few feet down the path behind their house. He saw a silhouette several feet in front of him, standing in the glow of a transporter’s headlights. As it came closer, he perceived a middle-aged man holding a flat nylon case.

“Who are you?” Declan demanded. “Don’t come any closer.”

“Declan, I can’t tell you much,” the man replied hurriedly, as if in a rush. “You need to trust me. My name is Mr. Wilcox; I’m a time traveler.”

Mr. Wilcox handed Declan the case. He unzipped it and found an electronic notepad. Opening a side compartment, he pulled out an automatically recharging payment card or ARPC for short. Declan searched his face for an explanation, both of the contents and of the fact this stranger knew his name.

“Keep this book a secret.” Wilcox instructed. “When the time comes, you’ll know who it’s for.”

“What about the ARPC?” He questioned. “Dad opened an account for my sisters and me, but only because he has a job; they’re linked to his. This card’s number isn’t the one on mine.”

“It will be in about thirteen years.” Mr. Wilcox said, “Remember, I’m a time traveler.”

Declan powered up the book so he could read the content, only to find it blank. He flipped it over in his hands and toyed with it, trying to discern why it would not grant him access. He pressed the bottom of the device. It squawked and a negating red light flashed.

“What happened?” He asked the man.

“I set the privacy so only the future recipient can open it. Underneath the electronic device is a fingerprint reader. It’s programmed for only my fingerprints and the person who will receive it.” Mr. Wilcox explained. “There’s an unlocked note at the beginning that I addressed to you.”

With these words, Mr. Wilcox vanished into the night and Declan focused his attention on the unlocked message.

“Declan Channing,” it instructed, “return to the place where you met me at 7 in the morning on May 1st, 2130, when you are twenty-seven. Bring this book with you. On June 30th of 2130, leave the ARPC I gave you—and your FBI badge—at the Indianapolis, Indiana branch of the bank where your account is.”

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Genre - Christian YA Fiction

Rating – PG

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Orangeberry Book Tours – Be Careful What You Wish For (Saga of the New Gods) by Daniel Black

The time has come, Hells gates shall be thrown wide and the power of creation shall run rampant upon the earth.

In this, the first book of the “Saga of the New Gods,” a group of young college students bring about Armageddon in the most literal sense of the word. With a simple wish upon a unique wedding band given to him by his love, Michelle, Adam unleashes a power that could – if left to reign unchecked – destroy the entire world…

The story begins with a couple of young women, Chelsea and Michelle, bearers of a tragic past, fighting to create a future for themselves. They travel to an old pawn shop in the town of Athens, Ohio, and purchase a ring for Michelle to give to her love, Adam, in the hopes of becoming his wife. A poorly timed wish after the gift of the ring has dire consequences however, as magic enters the world. All that they know, or have known, begins to come unraveled as first their comfortable existence in this bucolic town is ripped from them, then their future. They reach their moment of greatest despair as one of their number flees, another lays near death, and another sleeps in a state akin to a coma… In this moment of vulnerability a man arrives offering a glimmer of hope, Mathew Banks, a federal officer, arrives with the dawn to take them to a place of safety and security. But what is secure when the very laws that govern reality begin to unravel? What is safe when those who watch over you risk change from day to day, moment to moment, and even those who are your closest friends deceive you and risk more than your lives, but the very souls that make you who you are?

This first story tells the tale of the creation of this new world, as the series continues you will rise to the heights of this world and others, and to the very depths of hell.

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(soon available as an audio book)

Genre – Dark Fantasy

Rating – R

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Killer Abs: A Body (Pump) Horror Comedy by DR O’Brien

Twenty-something accountant Matt Warner enrols at an exclusive weight loss resort with his career on the line should he fail to shed the pounds from his paunchy frame.

Before long the accountant realises that his girth is the least of his problems as there is something deeply wrong with the Phoenix Resort where it’s no gain and all pain.

It’s a serving of full fat fear for the guests who must fight for their lives to survive the week.

Matt Warner is going to lose weight, or die trying.

Killer Abs is an 11,403 word short body (pump) horror comedy, with content for mature audiences.

Previous praise for the Author’s work:

“I think that you will enjoy the way Mr. O’Brien ties everything together and pits some of, if not the most famous characters in literature against each other. The story is fast paced with lots of action and adventure: a very enjoyable read and I wholeheartedly recommend it”
FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND

“Luckily for is it seems that D R O’Brien is tainted with just enough craziness to pull this task off. O’Brien has breathed new life into these well known and well loved characters. Thrilling, horrific, and funny at the same time which is no mean feat… O’Brien is a talented writer.”
GINGERNUTS OF HORROR BLOG

“Shakespeare’s characters duking it out with Lovecraft’s creatures? Sign us up immediately!
DREAD CENTRAL

“All very inventive, clever and ghoulishly entertaining… Bizarre, baroque and amusing…”
CONTAINS MODERATE PERIL

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Genre – Horror

Rating – 18+

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Betty’s Child by Donald Dempsey

Posted on Friday, May 24, 2013

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“Heartrending and humorous.” Kirkus Reviews

“Highly recommended.” Dr. Alan Gettis, Ph.D., author of The Happiness Solution

“An unforgettable memoir.” San Francisco Book Review

In the tradition of Frank McCourt and Angela’s Ashes, Don Dempsey uses Betty’s Child to tell the story of life with his cruel and neglectful mother, his mother’s abusive boyfriends, and hypocritical church leaders who want to save twelve-year-old Donny’s soul but ignore threats to his physical well-being. Meanwhile, Donny’s best friend is trying to recruit Donny to do petty theft and deal drugs for a dangerous local thug.

Young Donny is a real-life cross between Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield as he tells his story, with only his street smarts and sense of humor to guide him. Donny does everything he can to take care of himself and his younger brothers, but with each new development, the present becomes more fraught with peril–and the future more uncertain.

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Genre – Memoir

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Free Alert - Artful Dodger (Maggie Kean Mis-Adventures) by Nageeba Davis

Artful Dodger - Nageeba Davis

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Romantic Suspense

Rating - PG13

5 (4 reviews)

Free until 26 May 2013

Take one funny, wise-cracking artist, one gorgeous, sexy detective, throw in a grizzly murder, a little amateur sleuthing, and you have the makings of a wild, romantic, mis-adventure.
Art teacher and sculptor Maggie Kean thought she was having a rotten day, burning her toast, stubbing her toe, and all before eight in the morning. Things just couldn't get any worse. At least, until the dead body clogs up her toilet. To make matters worse, Maggie becomes the prime suspect. Now all she has to do is evade the police, clear her name, trap a killer...and deal with one mouth-watering, hunky detective who drives her crazy while making her hormones do the happy dance.

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Madeleine McLaughlin – Ten Ways To Improve Your Writing

Ten Ways To Improve Your Writing

by Madeleine McLaughlin

1. READ – It’s the most important thing. You became a writer because you like to read. You spend your childhood reading, so you developed the instincts of what works for you in a vague way. Now that you’re writing seriously, you  need to read everything you can, to learn. How to build a character without telling. Or any other thing you’re interested in learning, like dialog or plot points. You can learn it all by reading others. Which brings me to the next tip.

2. ANALYSE – Everything you read now should be analyzed. What keeps you reading in the books you read, especially for books that break the mold. A lot of writers will tell you that good people make bad characters, I’ve said that, too. Yet, Fannie Flagg can write a book with nothing but good, middle-class people in it. So why does on keep turning the page when there’s no bad guy? Analyze. I can also say that Angela’s Ashes is an extraordinary book, while Frank McCourt’s follow-up, Tis, while it is a good book, does not have that special quality that Angela’s Ashes has. Why? Analyze. Now, these are just my opinions about these books, you’ll have your own but whatever you think about a book, you should analyze what has made you draw that conclusion.

3. LEARN NEW WORDS – Also known as building your vocabulary. This is important so that you know more words and how to use them, so that when you’re writing, you have more choices and can pick the right word. Unless you know a lot of words, your writing will be restricted, the more you know, the more you can experiment.

4. READ BLOGS – Now blogs are not edited but many writers have blogs and will share their secrets with you. How they plot, if plotting programs for the writer are of any use. They can put you onto other writers who write about style or characters, any number of these sites can help you learn.

5. KEEP AN OPEN MIND – Don’t ever shut yourself off to learning new things, thinking, which you, as a writer, can’t stop yourself from doing will help you apply new ways to write. For instance, hip-hop novels. You may not want to write them but if you read any, see what you can apply to your own writing.

6. PUNCTUATION – Don’t forget your basics. You have to, if you want to be published, impress an editor. If they see a manuscript where the author doesn’t know her stuff, they’ll just toss it, mostly because they won’t be able to read it. An exception may be if you’re a mega-talented, one-of-a-kind writer, but that’s not most of us. Learn your commas and semi-colons.

7. FORGET PASSIVE VOICE – Editors hate the passive voice, where the action is happening to something instead of something making the action.

8. PRACTICE – Write every day about something. You can get pretty good with effort at coming up with interesting things to say about your day. Once you get into how you felt about the repair man coming over, how you always worry about your place looking clean enough. A lot of women are like that and that particular subject could lead you into a psychological examination of why a person cares what a stranger thinks. And it could be a plot to a short story, too. Practice is your 90% way of improving your writing.

9. CARRY A NOTEBOOK – Your fleeting thoughts are much more important than you may think they are at first. Find a handy place to carry it when you go out. People sitting in a coffee shop can make good characters but first you have to sketch out a character outline. Notice the way they walk and talk and then write down what you think that person would be like. Whether they’re scary or afraid of everyone. Everyone has a story. You’re the lucky one. You get to make them up.

10. EAVESDROP – Listen to conversations around you. Notice what people talk about and how they talk. This will help you with your dialog. Try writing an entire fiction piece with nothing but dialog. You’ll start to see the use of good dialog and when it’s better to have description.

When Kevin learns of his mountain town’s evil past, he must struggle to understand his father’s part in it and how it affects himself.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Horror

Rating – PG

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Review: The Mountain City Bronzes by Madeleine McLaughlin

The Mountain City BronzesThe Mountain City Bronzes by Madeleine McLaughlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Share a quote from the book. “There isn't much evil in a bottle of wine or a fifty-dollar debt.” Kevin's father was telling him to not judge Chest & Lorne to harshly and this quote spoke volumes for that particular scene.

Share a favorite scene from the book. Kevin talking about playing in the jail. He vividly described evil was around every corner and he was always the hero. Reminds me of my kids playing through the yard/house. They were always the hero and always won against evil.

What did you like most about the book? The story was easy to read. It is very hard for authors to write a short story that will keep readers interested, have a full plot and characters that are fully developed. This short story has it all.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

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Orangeberry Free Alert - American Ghoul by Walt Morton

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013

American Ghoul - Walt Morton

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Horror

Rating - PG13

5 (12 reviews)

Free until 24 May 2013

AMERICAN GHOUL tells the story of seventeen-year-old Howard Pickman, a boy with odd problems. He just got dumped into the worst high school in the state of New Jersey, but that's nothing compared to his secret family history of digging up corpses for dinner. This is a novel filled with the creepy funkiness of the 1970s, a bygone age of punk rock, bad disco and muscle cars roaring through hot summer nights. AMERICAN GHOUL explores the good times of teenage friendships and the darkness at the heart of American youth. It's a fun, scary, and zany look at a time when being a teenager was so dangerous you just might have to be a monster in order to survive.

AMERICAN GHOUL is recommended for readers from age 13+ on up. If you lived through the 1970s, a few flashbacks are guaranteed, both pleasant and shocking.

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Here Among Us by Maggie Harryman (Excerpt 2)

Chapter Two

Flynn rang the bell and then waited while snow tumbled down through the glaring beam of the overhead light. Footsteps started and stopped on the other side of the imposing mahogany doors and she imagined her sister primping one last time before the hall mirror until Maeve opened the door and the light from the hall’s extravagant crystal chandelier spilled over them. When their eyes met, Flynn was sure she saw her sister’s mouth twitch the way it had when they were children and she was forced to do something she dreaded, then her lips parted to reveal a brilliant, artificially-whitened smile.

“Welcome,” she said, encircling Didi in her arms. “You must be exhausted. Come in.”

Didi let out a howl of delight, forgetting her grief and exhaustion. “Aunt Maeve you look wonderful,” she said, leaving her duffel on the step for Flynn to drag in.

Although Flynn had been hoping Maeve had let herself go in the ensuing three years, become lumpy and misshapen, finally suffering the relentless tug of gravity that would have savaged the perfect tip of her nose into a droopy ball, puffed her hollowed cheeks, caved and circled her wide set eyes with dark shadows, even she had to admit her daughter was right. Maeve hadn’t changed one iota, not aged a day, in years.

Standing in the soft hall light, she was more beautiful, more regal at forty-seven then she had been at thirty. Certainly, she was more self-possessed. No, Maeve’s looks hadn’t faltered with time, appeared concrete and intractable in fact, and once again Flynn was forced to recognize one of life’s most annoying truths—by some freak accident of birth, Maeve had inherited every possible genetic marker for beauty available to the human race and been stunning since just about the day she was born. Reaching 5’9” sometime in her mid-teens and never weighing more than 130 pounds, she had thick honey blonde hair, streaked with shades of red and brown, lime green eyes, their mother’s high cheekbones and perfect aquiline nose and their father’s strong jaw. Maeve’s beauty had eclipsed any woman she ever stood next to and as her plainer sister, Flynn had disappeared into her shadow. The way families do, roles were divinely parsed out; Maeve was the beauty and Osheen, the athlete. With few choices left and a natural affinity, Flynn had carved her own niche in their family as the smart one, even while absorbing two of life’s most facile lessons early on; the sort of exquisite beauty with which Maeve had been blessed was the ultimate prize and gifts allotted at birth were in no way fair. By the time Flynn had reached high school, she’d given up wondering how it was that her parents had created the most talked about beauty for miles around and only four years later produced another daughter who was described by those same Maeve admirers as “pleasant to look at.” Long before high school Flynn had already learned the valuable lesson that in life, fair was rarely part of the equation.

While the entire world bowed to Queen Maeve, there were only two people Flynn had ever known who were unimpressed—Osheen and their mother. Osheen never noticed his older sister was any different from any other girl. As to Oona, whenever someone commented about Maeve’s looks she either remained stubbornly mute, denied them altogether or said, “I suppose God gives us the gifts we need most to get through this awful life.” What the hell did she mean, Flynn often wondered, that Maeve needed her beauty because, God help her, a life of comfort and leisure awaited her?

But then, she’d done the same thing to Flynn, downplaying how easy is was for her to excel in school. Even when Flynn had gotten a near perfect score on her SATs, Oona had asked her high school guidance counselor how a test offered to anyone who could pay the fee to take it could be all that difficult. It wasn’t until years later when Flynn realized this reshaping of reality was Oona’s way of never playing favorites, ensuring, she thought, neither girl would suffer the jealousy that tore sisters apart. It hadn’t worked. For most of their lives, there had been something solid and razor sharp wedged between them that had nothing to do with beauty or intellect. If Maeve had been as plain as a doorknob and Flynn as dumb as a post, they still wouldn’t have gotten along.

But Maeve adored Didi.

“Deirdre, you’ve grown a foot since I saw you last. You’re gorgeous!” Maeve turned her around to face the hall mirror and stood behind her, gently pulling back her shoulders just as their mother had. Flynn wondered if Maeve dared comment on the pierced brow.

“I think…no I know, you’re going to be far prettier than I ever was.”

Flynn watched as Didi tried to smooth the thick mane she generally refused to brush. “Really Aunt Maeve?” she said, still gazing ahead.

“Yes, really. And look at your figure. Do you work out? Tell me you do or I’ll die of jealousy. I have to see you in clothes.”

Flynn watched the smile on her daughter’s face fade. No mention of the nose piercing but a dig at her clothes? This could get interesting. One wrong word about her clothes and enlightened Deirdre would hand Maeve her head.

“Clothes? What’s wrong with my clothes?”

“Absolutely nothing. I love your look. In fact there’s a shop in the Village called Zap that has the most delightful…”

“You know ZAP?” she said. And then, looking to her aunt with a degree of admiration Flynn didn’t think her daughter capable of she asked, “Do you shop there?”

Flynn almost laughed aloud. ZAP sold a mixture of new and used clothing, the more ripped, frayed and generally trashed the better. They didn’t carry cashmere sweater sets.

“I think it’s a little young for me but I can’t wait to take you there. It’s the least I can do to reward you for your brilliance. Your grandmother tells me you’re at the top of your class.”

Didi smiled sweetly, “Oh yeah, I am. In fact, I’m ahead so this year I’m doing independent study. Gives me options,” she said.

Maeve smiled into the mirror. “One can never have enough of those.”

Flynn had finally had enough and interrupted. “We may not have time,” she said, and Didi shot her a look as though surprised she had been followed from the airport.

“Really, mom? We have five days.”

Maeve slid her arm around Didi’s shoulder. “You’re mother’s thinking about work, honey. But don’t worry. You and I can go without her,” she said. “Now go on upstairs to your room and relax. I got you a new flat screen tv and there’s a stocked refrigerator in the ante room leading into the bath. I’ll speak to Flynn about our plans. And say hello to Declan. He’s in his room working on a model airplane.” Without the slightest hesitation, Didi kissed Maeve’s cheek, picked up her bag and bounded up the stairs.

And there they were.

Maeve turned her gaze on Flynn, looking over her creased and rumpled clothes. She looked sad and sympathetic the way people do when they stay at a fancy resort in the third world and stumble onto the homeless outside the perimeter. Her eyes traveled down to Flynn’s feet and her face clouded. This time she made no attempt to hide her disgust and the twitch revealed itself again. Flynn had committed what her sister considered a cardinal sin of fashion. She was wearing Birkenstocks.

“Where’s your bag?” she asked, peering around the hallway and then leaning in to give Flynn a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks to the gross incompetence of the airlines, lost somewhere between here and San Francisco. I should have it in twenty-four hours, if I’m lucky.”

“Or maybe if you’re lucky you won’t,” Maeve laughed, taking Flynn’s coat. “Hmmm,” she said, sizing Flynn up, “Don’t worry. I have closets full of clothes. Something has to work with your style.”

Heading for the hall closet, Maeve stopped dead and sniffed Flynn’s coat. “What in God’s name?” she said, wrinkling her nose and then dropping the Mac in a heap on the floor. “Never mind, I have one of these upstairs you can have. This one smells like dog.”

Flynn looked at Maeve, one hand on her hip, eyes just slightly narrowed, feet planted, waiting to be challenged and she was reminded, in the way cooking smells or old family photos or brogues spouting worn expressions always reminded her of things she’d rather have left forgotten, of a night just after her father died when she had awakened from a bad dream. She remembered jumping out of her bed desperate to see her mother, and being blocked at the door to her bedroom by Maeve.

“You can’t go in there, Flynn. Oona’s too tired. She needs her sleep.”

At seven, Flynn was no match for her sister, either in size or ability to intimidate. But she was desperate. “Please let me in. I need to see Mommy.”

“Flynn, go back to bed or else.”

She might have given up then had she not noticed that Maeve’s face was covered in foundation and blush, her eyes set in liner and finished with thick, black mascara, and her lips cast in a deep luscious red, all strictly forbidden until she was at least fifteen. Flynn realized in a flash her sister was protecting herself. Suddenly Flynn was more overcome with anger than fear.

“I’m warning you, Maeve, let me pass.”

Maeve said nothing, but instead smiled, raised her arms and hooked them across her chest. Flynn turned and began walking back to her room and then, without thinking, turned back again and ran toward her sister, hunkering down in an attempt to protect herself and, just at the point of impact, flew at her, sending Maeve crashing backwards into the door which immediately burst open. Maeve landed with a loud thud at her mother’s feet.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Oona hissed through clamped teeth, her eyes swollen with exhaustion. “They’ll think we’re killin’ each other up here and how is that for business?” Then turning to Maeve, “What in God’s name is all over your face? You look like the whore of Babylon.”

Before Maeve could defend herself or explain that the problem was Flynn, she was dismissed. “Don’t dare argue with me, Maeve. Get it off now, before I take it off for you.”

And then, as Maeve walked down the hall toward the bathroom, Oona spoke to her in a voice Flynn still remembered because it was the first time she’d ever heard defeat. “Couldn’t you have just let her in?”

“She’s a spoiled brat,” Maeve hissed back.

Her mother had let out a deep sigh. “She’s only a small child, Maeve.”

Flynn remembered her sister’s face, black tears running down her cheeks, and the hatred in her eyes as their mother took Flynn’s hand and closed the door behind them.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – R (Strong language, adult themes)

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Hunter’s Son by BE Jewell

Chapter 2

“You know who I am and you know what he is, so you better start talking. I saw him come in here earlier.” The stocky man slams his hand down on the table. He keeps his eyes locked forward and squeezes his hand, making the veins in his forearm pop.

This elicits the desired response, and James has to fight back a smile. The owner of the grungy little shop nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of the hand slamming on the dirty laminate counter top. It’s the typical type of place a sympathizer might own. Funneling black market goods might pay the bills, but this guy certainly isn’t getting rich off this line of work.

“Look man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So you better buy something or…” James’s hand shoots out and grabs the shop owner’s neck. A slight squeeze cuts off his voice with a gargle.

“Don’t you lie to me. The smell in here is enough to make me puke. One warlock doesn’t smell up a joint like this,” James says through gritted teeth. “I saw him leave here earlier and have been chasing him since. I lost him when he jumped off the fifth floor of the parking garage over on Beaubien Street and took off toward the river. Tell me where he stays and maybe I’ll let you live.”

He squeezes just a bit tighter and the shop owner’s eyes bulge just slightly from his now-purple face. A noise squeaks from his collapsing throat that sounds enough like agreement to allow James to release his grip. The shop owner rubs the red area where the incredibly strong hand was affixed and clears his throat loudly.

“He’s gonna kill me. Ya know it’s true, hunter,” the shop owner says in his new, gravelly voice.

“Either him or me.” James opens his jacket and taps the gun sticking out of his waist band. Surprisingly, this doesn’t get a rise out of the man behind the counter.

“That supposed to scare me? You know what that warlock can do. He’s not normal. The things he will do to me will hurt far worse than getting shot. Maybe I should just let you shoot me and get it over with.”

James looks at the mousey man and puts his hand on the butt of his gun. The man might be afraid of the warlock but he is clearly more afraid of dying. He can barely stop the words from spewing from his mouth.

“Alright, alright. Ya better get him though, or we’ll both be dead. He hangs out in Milliken Park down on the river. It’s off Atwater Street. Not that I care if you live, but you better be careful, hunter. Like I said, this warlock is different. Got some powers I haven’t seen in a long time.”

“Oh, dontcha worry about me. Believe it or not I know what I’m doing.” James walks to the door. “And if he isn’t there, I’ll be back. No need to worry.”

The air outside the shop is cool, even for September in Michigan. James regrets not dressing warmer. His body shivers, partly from the cold but mostly from frustration. He does not usually have this much trouble and rarely has to run like he has today. The air burns his lungs like he is breathing boiling coffee. The money he was paid isn’t worth all the trouble this warlock has given him and the thing doesn’t look much older than JC. Should have asked for hazard pay, he thinks to himself.

James heads down the street toward the area he believes is the park. His mind is preoccupied with thoughts of JC and his first day at yet another high school. He bumps into an older couple walking with bags of groceries. Cans and boxes scatter all over the sidewalk. He scrambles to help the folks clean up their food and moves on quickly. He can’t let anyone get a good look at him. If things get ugly with the warlock, he can’t have the local news putting his description on TV.

He generally prides himself on staying anonymous. No one will mistake him for a body builder, but James is sure that most people would not want to run into him hiding in an alley unless they have some sort of power. Despite his stocky frame, there is nothing particularly striking about James. Most would say he looks fairly ordinary. Not strikingly handsome but not ugly either. He could be an accountant when he isn’t wearing army cargos and a black hooded sweatshirt. Hopefully the old couple was so startled they forget everything about him.

It’s nearly dark when James reaches the park. The acidic stench of the warlock hangs on the air and almost ruins the beautiful park set inside the city. The park is completely out of place. Trails lead in every direction and trees line numerous lush green clearings. It would be easy to forget about being in the city altogether.

James heads toward a raised walkway at the edge of the river, letting his nose show him the way. This would be the perfect place for a warlock to hide out. Plenty of space to watch potential victims. It would be easy to snatch someone, drag them into the woods and perform a spell without anyone seeing. Wouldn’t matter how elaborate the ritual, the trees would provide ample cover. One day having a nice picnic in the park, the next kidnapped and waking up to a nightmare–a warlock having stolen their identity or, worse, having made them do terrible things all while they were completely unaware.

This sentiment makes James shudder. He shakes his head and moves further up the river walk. The cold has driven most people out of the park. Only a few people stroll down the walkway, fighting the strengthening breeze. About fifty yards ahead, James sees someone that sparks his interest.

Sitting alone on a bench is a young-looking man wearing an oversized coat. James stops and breathes deeply, but the wind at his back makes it hard to tell if the warlock is close. He takes a step forward and the man bolts off the bench. James rips the gun from his waist and levels it at the young man.

He begins to squeeze the trigger but feels a rumble under his feet. Before he knows it, his shoes are no longer touching the ground. The river walk crumbles into the water below. He hits the water with arms and legs still trying to find steady ground. He surfaces as quickly as possible, gasping for air.

Thankfully, the water is still warm from the summer. James looks up and sees a huge hole in the walkway twenty feet above him. He looks around, sees a ladder 100 yards down the river and lets the slight current drag him toward it.

The wind bites at him as he reaches the top rung and pulls himself onto the walkway. He strips off his soaked hooded sweatshirt and scans the area. He sees movement in the distance between some trees and reaches instinctually toward his waist for his gun but comes up empty. He stares into the river knowing his favorite piece is long gone.

He turns and walks away from the tree line, back toward the city. He doesn’t know what to do without his gun. Hunting has evolved in the last 200 years or so to the point that he has become reliant on shooting as an answer to his problems. It’s no longer necessary to burn a witch, and using a pail of water always had its problems, anyway. Fire does a fine job just like it would with any animal, but a bullet does the trick a lot easier. It takes a hunter a long time to realize they do not need to stock up on garlic and wolfsbane to ward off evil spirits. Silver bullets do work a bit better than the junk from the sporting goods store and nothing beats a wooden stake up close, but who really wants to get that close? Plus, there isn’t always time to drive a stake in the ground or spread a salt ring to protect yourself.

The problem is everyone thinks witches and warlocks are busy running around a castle in England fighting bad wizards with wands, but that just isn’t true. If people knew how heartless these creatures are, they wouldn’t let their kids dress up like them on Halloween or stand in line to see movies glorifying them.

James moves quickly away from the park, putting as much distance between himself and the warlock as possible. After ten blocks, he sees an alley and ducks in to rest and get his bearings. This wasn’t supposed to be so difficult. It’s just a young warlock, he thinks to himself as he crouches next to a dumpster.

A few smaller trashcans help hide his position but are too small to hide his broad shoulders. He sits down on the dirty ground and takes in his surroundings. He could not have picked a worse place. This is the kind of alley even a bum wouldn’t sleep in. Whoever is dumping trash here doesn’t care if it ends up in a dumpster or not. At least the smell of rotten fish is a welcome change from the warlock.

Something crashes off to his left and James shakes his head to clear the cobwebs. He glances down the alley but nothing appears out of the ordinary. Just a bunch of kids horsing around out on the street. A boy picks his grimy body up off the ground and starts after his friend. James’s heart beats way too fast and he takes a deep breath. It rolls out of his mouth like smoke and he pats the area where his gun should be again.

“Getting way too old for this. I guess this will have to do,” he whispers as he slowly pulls the six inch blade from his boot.

Suddenly, his nostrils fill with a depressingly familiar smell. Even the rotting fish in the dumpster can’t cover it up. He looks around but sees no one in the alley. His body tenses at the eerie lack of movement out on the street. People should be moving about at this time night, especially in a busy town like this. Maybe they are all down the street a bit. Daylight is gone now and he cannot see much beyond the edge of the buildings. That smell is strong. It seems to come from all around him. He inches slowly around the trashcan and into the alley. He turns toward the main street at the end of the buildings and takes one step forward, quickly glancing over his shoulder.

A blinding pain shoots through James’s throat as a thin, but incredibly strong, forearm slides around it. He lets out a terrified yelp for the first time in years as he loses the grip on his knife. It clanks on the concrete like a church bell ringing. James struggles to get out of the warlock’s grasp. He can feel its hot breath on the back of his head and the smell begins to burn his nostrils. If he could breathe, he would puke. James’s head whips back and he can see an old, broken fire escape above him. He did not notice it before. Such an obvious hiding spot, he can’t help but think.

“What do you want with me, hunter?” The warlock hisses in his ear.

Rancid breath fills his nose, and he can feel heat radiating off of the warlock’s body. He does not understand why the warlock would have a conversation at this point. He has been shooting at it all day. He did not hesitate to try to kill, why would this creature give him this type of courtesy? If he could get to his knife he would stab straight through the thing’s heart. Instead of killing him, the warlock is more concerned with James’s job description. Compassion is not their strong suit. No negotiating with a hunter or with a monster. The rules of war are being broken. The forearm begins to release a little pressure in anticipation of his answer and he gasps for air. His lungs are really on fire now.

“It’s nothing personal. Just a job,” he chokes before the blinding pressure returns to his throat.

James sees the witch’s mark on the creature’s forearm move as the muscles strain to block air from his lungs. Curious things, those marks. Often they look like any ordinary tattoo, with criss-crossing in varying patterns depending on the clan. This particular one is in the shape of the letter “Y” with two lines running through the curved stem. It is the only way to be certain that you have a witch or warlock on your hands and not just an extraordinarily smelly person. Every one of these creatures is born with the little symbol. It really would be fitting if this mark is the last thing he ever sees.

“JUST A JOB,” the warlock snarls. “IT’S NOT A JOB, THIS IS MY LIFE! You hunters seem to think you are the only things on the planet with a life. I did nothing to no one. Understand that? You need to learn that things bigger than you are going on all the time. Maybe in the future you won’t be so quick to shoot at someone who isn’t bothering you or your family. Next time the consequences might be far worse than today. Next time I will rip your heart from your chest. Believe me, I better not see you ever again.”

Everything goes black as something thuds against James’s head.

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Genre – YA Supernatural Thriller

Rating – PG13

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