October 2014


@CarinKilbyClark on Mentors Being Critical to the Success of a Writer #WriteTip #AmWriting

Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you were to interview someone who is successful – in any field – there’s a really great chance they will mention a mentor. Someone who supported them on their path and showed them how to replicate the success they’ve experienced in their own endeavors.
Before I had a mentor, I didn’t know how important mentoring was. I really didn’t see the point at first. I was determined to figure it all out on my own and thought it may be better that way. And that I’d learn more through hands-on, rather than listening to someone else tell me how they did this or that.
I first became associated with my mentor, Natalie MacNeil, in late 2013. I had followed her work for some time and was really moved by her philosophy, ethic, and vision for women entrepreneurs. When she opened applications for her founding Concord mastermind group, I jumped right in.
Why Mentors Are Important
Mentorship means not doing this alone. It means having someone to show you the ropes  – and someone who will be there to cheer you on. Once I started working with my mentor, she was the perfect person who I could bounce my ideas off of. She gave me valuable feedback, and helped me to develop my plans. When I told her that I wanted to write a book she was the first person who said YES, you should. And she showed me how to plan my book proposal and query letter, and how to research agents and publishers. My mentor’s advice has been critical to my success as a writer, and as a business owner.
When you work with a mentor, their industry knowledge is at your disposal. You benefit from their years of training or information gathering. You are put on the fast track by being able to avoid the pitfalls and curve balls that they experienced. Mentors are important because they help you replicate what works, so that you can be successful in what you do.
If you are considering a mentor, here are a few thoughts to help you make the right choice.
  • Look for someone who has in-depth expertise in your industry
  • Find a mentor that has actually accomplished what you are looking to do
  • Personality is important – find a person who you click with
  • You want a mentor you respect, and who you can admire and look up to
  • Look for a mentor who is humble and has a deep respect for all people
  • Find someone that you feel is relatable and approachable
Carin Kilby Clark is the author of the ebook, Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms: 5 Simple Tips on How to Control Your Time and Get Things Done (April 2014, Clue Consulting, LLC). If you want to learn how to finally put time on your side, then this book has the goods that you need – and for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Buy your copy today!

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

I’m just too busy
I have too much on my plate
There’s never enough time
I have to do it all
I don’t know how to manage it all

If you answered yes, then prepare to put an end to the overwhelm once and for all. In Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms, Carin Kilby Clark shares five simple tips that moms can implement right away to improve how they control their time and get things done.

Time Management Made Easy for Busy Moms offers insight into the one major block that prevents us from maximizing our time, gives readers practical information that is easily applied to everyday life, and helps you along the path to your “aha” moments about how and why you’ve been ineffective in managing your time; and how to to finally put time in its rightful place {on your side, of course!}.

As the mother of three very active children who also works full-time, runs a business in her “spare” time, publishes a lifestyle & parenting site, manages a growing motherhood community, and regularly contributes parenting advice to many popular sites in the parenting/family life niche, Carin’s advice is solid; based on methods that she has successfully implemented in controlling her time and getting things done.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Parenting, Relationships
Rating – G
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WITNESS TO MY HEART by Loni Flowers @LoniFlowers #Excerpt #Romance #GoodReads

Posted on Saturday, October 11, 2014

“Do you know how great that bathing suit fits you?” he commented.

I was surprised by the unexpected compliment. “Thanks. It’s definitely not the bikini I should have been wearing, according to Caroline.”

“You can see just as much in a bra and panties, which I’ve already seen.”

“Only the bra,” I corrected him.

“Personally, I’ve always preferred a woman in a one-piece. The way it molds to the skin… perfectly outlining every delectable curve on her body. There’s only one thing sexier than that.”

“Oh yeah? And what is that?”


When I didn’t respond to his answer, Max plucked my empty bottle from my hand and set both bottles on the on top ledge of the pool behind my shoulder as he moved in closer. “Shall I get you another?”

I shifted back a bit. “No, I’m good. I hope you’re not trying to get me drunk so you can have your way with me?”

He took another step closer. “You accepted the beers. I didn’t make you drink them, or ask you to get in the pool. And I would never force myself on a woman just to get what I want.”

“Is that because alcohol makes it so much easier for you?” I retreated another step and my back reached the tiled side, indicating I had nowhere else to go.

“The alcohol means nothing; and the fact that you brought it up tells me you’re trying to find an excuse. What I’m trying to figure out is: do you want me more right now? Or that day I pushed you against the wall? Or was it when you came out of the bathroom last night, dressed in a tight, little tank top and shorts?”

My heart started racing at his sudden forwardness, but I couldn’t let him get to me. “I see the decent conversation we enjoyed tonight has ended. Now you’re full of delusional assumptions.”

“Your eyes give you away.”

As soon as he said that, I stared into the water. There was only about an inch of space between us.

“And so does your breathing. I affect you more than you realize, or will admit.”

“You’re so full of yourself. I just met you. I don’t even know you.”

“I’m only stating the facts. You want me and you can’t even admit you do.”

“I do not! I’m not sure what gave you that idea.”

“The gaze in your eyes, your increased breathing, your mouth, hell your whole body reacts to me when I’m around. I can even smell it on you!” Max raised his arms and put them on each side of my head as he gripped the ledge with each hand. Water trickled down his arms and dripped back into the pool. “When I’m this close, your body sends out pheromones and signals, like it is calling me. Your hands find their way to my skin… like now.”

My hands were pressed against his chest. Like a magnet, they were drawn to him over and over again without any forethought on my part. Closing the gap between us, Max pressed his body against mine and I found it hard to resist the moan that nearly escaped my mouth.

Leaning down, his lips barely brushed mine when he spoke. “And right now, you’re wondering what it would feel like to have my lips tasting yours. Possessing you. But I won’t take what I want, Abi. So, tell me… what do you want?”

Witness to my Heart

Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.

Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.

Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.

Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.

Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
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RJ Blain on Her Greatest Character Strength and Weakest Characer Trait @rj_blain #Fantasy #TBR

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2014

What’s your greatest character strength?
I’ve been told by a multitude of trustworthy sources that I have the patience of a saint, so I’m going to go with that one. I like trying to give everyone a chance to prove themselves and become better – especially at writing. I think giving someone the gift of my patience is the only way I can really help another writer or person do what they want to do.
What’s your weakest character trait?
Hyperactivity. When I’m really having fun, I get particularly energetic and hyperactive. This can involve bouncing, squealing, and other disruptive reactions. I usually try to save this bundled up energy for home, but sometimes it slips out in public…
… especially if I spot a horse. I love horses.
Why do you write?
I love writing. When I first started to write, I think it was because I wanted to escape the real world for a while. Now, I just write because I like bringing these worlds to life for other people. I really enjoy the entire process. My favorite thing, however, is when I feel like I brought an interesting character to life on the page for others to enjoy. That really makes all of the work and effort worthwhile.
Have you always enjoyed writing?
No. Once upon a time, I hated reading and writing. Most of my elementary school career I spent dodging language altogether. I enjoyed science experiments. Most of all, I enjoyed sports and playing outside. I had no use for general education and English until fourth grade. Then I had a teacher who gave me a copy of A Wrinkle in Time. I learned to love writing shortly thereafter.
What motivates you to write?
A lot of things motivate me to write, but most of all, writing was something I decided I wanted to do. It’s very much a focal point of my daily life, and it’s gotten to a point I feel bereft if I’m not writing in one way or another – even if I’m editing something I’ve already written. Once upon a time, however, I was love in with the idea of seeing my book on a shelf. Now I’m just in love with writing. I think that shift is what let me actually want to turn my writing into a career.
What writing are you most proud of?
Storm Without End is definitely the piece of writing I’m most proud of. I started trying to build this book some six years ago, went through as many complete rewrites, but I finally managed to capture the essence of the Requiem world like I wanted, and managed to give these characters real lives of their own. 
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
This might sound a bit weird, but I’m really proud of the fact my husband and I could buy a house. When we got married, we were the definition of broke, and could barely afford to pay the rent on the cheapest apartment we could find. Achieving the stability to buy a home and live within our means was a huge accomplishment for the both of us!
That, plus the fact we’ve been married for over ten years now.
What books did you love growing up?
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and all of the Valdemar novels by Mercedes Lackey. These were followed up by Stephen King’s The Stand and Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. I skipped a lot of the younger age reading stuff and went for big fat fantasies and horrors pretty quickly.
Who is your favorite author?
Mercedes Lackey. She was the author who inspired me to write. My favorite of her works is definitely her oldest books, though. Nowadays, my favorites also include Jim Butcher (Mhmm Harry Dresden and Tavi!) and Brandon Sanderson.
What book genre of books do you adore?
Traditional and Epic Fantasy. I really love escaping to fall off worlds full of magic and wonder, with a healthy side dish of action, adventure, and excitement. I’m growing a bit more fond of Urban Fantasy as well, though I tend to favor novels like The Dresden Files.
What book should everybody read at least once?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This book made me think, and I really enjoy books that make me think. I feel this sort of novel has a lot of impact over time. That said, I think it needs to be read in the mindset of comparing the reality of our world with the presentation of the government and world from Brave New World to have the most impact.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I really have a strong dislike for A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin. I never was able to get into it, and I keep getting pressured by people who think I should enjoy it when I don’t. I probably wouldn’t dislike it nearly as much if so many people didn’t act like I should like it when I don’t.
It doesn’t fit my particular tastes. I have nothing against people liking this series, but I don’t want it shoved in my face when I just don’t enjoy it.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
Obituaries are so interesting. If I had to have one written about me though, I’d hope it’d be written by a fan of my writing. My writing is an integral part of me, so that’s what I’d like for  it to be about. So I guess I’d like to be survived by my pets (and hopefully my spouse) and my fans – I’d like my writing to be remembered by people who enjoyed my stories.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in the middle of the woods in Maryland. It was about 45 minutes to get to the nearest actual library, 20-30 minutes to the closest grocery store, and the morning commute to my high school took 2 hours. Once I learned to read, there was nothing else to do but play pretend and read books, so I got lost in my own little world fairly often.
The next door neighbor and I played abandoned on an island using a picnic table as our island and boat pretty often.
I abandoned ship after I turned 18 to move to Canada, as my fiancé (at the time) had work there, so it made sense for me to immigrate to Canada.
How did you develop your writing?
I practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. Then, with an overly ballooned ego, I asked another writer friend for his honest opinion. My ego balloon was shredded to little scraps. Being the stubborn type, I rolled over and played dead for a few months, dusted myself back off, snapped my fingers, and decided I’d prove him wrong. It was about that time I realized I had to relearn most of what I thought I knew about grammar…
I developed my writing by writing, reading about how to improve my writing, and trying to emulate the authors I really enjoyed until I found my own style and way.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
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Cheryl Rice Shares an #Excerpt from WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? @RiceonLife #Memoir

Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I knew something was up when I found Jane already sitting on Jean’s family-room couch, coffee mug in hand. They each took a turn sharing their concerns and offering up evidence of my “disordered eating” as if they were reenacting a scene from an ABC Afterschool. Though I knew their hearts were in the right place, I was furious. They just don’t get it, I thought. If they did, they wouldn’t ask me to eat. They would know how much aliveness there is in hunger—how light and strong it makes me feel. If they got it, they would understand how connected this was to my mom and, more specifically, to not having my mom; in fact, they should applaud me for finding such an elegant outlet for my grief.

I pleaded, “I’m fine.” (I’m not.) “Back off.” (Please don’t.) I assured them I had it under control, but I didn’t. And, though I couldn’t admit it, I was starting to get scared. Every time I reached my stated goal weight, I set a new one before I stepped off the scale. I had reached ninety-nine pounds and was now going for ninety-five, maybe ninety. Yes—ninety sounded better.

My friends gave me an ultimatum: either I would tell David what I was doing or I would go to an eating-disorders clinic within the next week; otherwise, Jane would call David herself. A voice inside me cried out, Please don’t make me eat. Being hungry is all that is feeding me.

Where Have I Been All My Life

Where Have I Been All My Life? is a compelling memoir recounting one woman’s journey through grief and a profound feeling of unworthiness to wholeness and healing. It begins with the chillingly sudden death of Rice’s mother, and is followed by her foray into the center of mourning.

With wisdom, grace, and humor, Rice recounts the grief games she plays in an effort to resurrect her mother; her efforts to get her therapist, who she falls desperately in love with, to run away with her; and the transformation of her husband from fantasy man to ordinary guy to superhero. In the process, she experiences aching revelations about her family and her past—and realizes what she must leave behind, and what she can carry forward with her.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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@MarcADiGiacomo on 'Behold a Pale Horse', Reading & Writing #AmReading #Thriller #BookClub

What book should everyone read at least once?
Behold a Pale Horse by Bill Cooper.

What is hardest-getting published, writing or marketing?
They are all difficult. I am an independent so that eliminates the first part of this question. As for writing and marketing, I find it very difficult to split my time between the two.

What marketing works for you?
Word of mouth and social media are my two favorites.

Do you plan to publish more books?
I just released Back In Town, the second book in A Small Town Series.

Is your family supportive?
Do your friends support you? Yes and yes. My family has been great throughout this entire process and some of my friends end up being my toughest critics.

What other jobs have you had in your life?
I was a police officer for almost 15 years prior to my writing career.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Somewhere in the mountains.

The small town of Hutchville, New York is turned upside down. No longer is it the quaint, sleepy, suburb of New York City. Detective Matt Longo is back on the job and embroiled in his latest nightmare. Further complicating matters is the revelation of his partner’s corruption and organized crime ties; Donny Mello has left a bitter trail of lies and deceit. With his kid brother and newly promoted Detective Franny Longo by his side, will Matt be able to put his past behind him?

Special Agent Cynthia Shyler, (F.B.I.) has been reassigned due to her meeting with Matt Longo. Will this move complicate their relationship? Or will a new stranger in town spin a web that entangles the entire Hutchville Police Department, especially our most seasoned detective, Matt Longo?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
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Born of Oak & Silver (Caradoc Chronicles) by @Marie_McKean #Paranormal #Fantasy #Horror

My childhood was much like any other’s during that time. However, my mother coddled me incessantly and could only be made to part with me when either my father demanded or Bram requested it—which was frequently. My parents suspected that my presence eased Bram’s yearning for his own grandchildren, and suffered no qualms about my accompanying him wherever and whenever he sought my company.
Initially, he would take me on short walks around my parents’ property. But as I was able to walk on my own, he’d allow me to lead as we wandered aimlessly to fleeting strikes of fancy. The one exception to my carefree exploration was that he would never allow me to visit what we generally referred to as my mother’s stream. If ever I ventured too close, Bram made sure that something absolutely extraordinary could be found immediately elsewhere.
When I asked why we couldn’t go to the river, he was always quick to respond that it was too dangerous and was better left alone. I learned quickly that Bram was immovable once resolved upon something. And so it was that I learned to content myself with the walks he preferred to take in the countryside, learning key plants and animals native to our countryside, which he would point out as we went.
As I grew older, we began to venture farther away from home. It was then that Bram began instructing me in increasing detail. He’d tell me of why plants in a certain area might be dying, why animals were traveling the way they were, how to use a green forked stick to do some ‘water witchin’’, and even how to feel if it was going to rain. But, I couldn’t content myself with only learning forever.
One day, when I was just about five, I’d had enough of learning, and wanted to do something I’d been dreaming of for about as long as I could remember.
“Bram, how come we can’t go fishin’?” I asked indignantly, my own dark, wavy hair, which was so much like my father’s, flouncing to the side as I cocked my head at him. My hazel eyes implored him for mercy, as I regarded him with the same haughty, uplifted eyebrow my own mother used.
Bram looked up at me from the plant cuttings he was collecting, his green eyes filled with genuine curiosity as he quoted me with upturned white bushy brows, “Fishin’?”
I knew that he was correcting me for improper grammar, but I was undeterred and retained my challenging attitude even while he kindly asked, “Why do you want to go ‘fishin’’ so badly, Daine?” His face was etched by the lines of a loving grandparent.
“Well, Bram,” I replied authoritatively. If he was going to correct me on the proper way to say what I wanted to do, I was going to tell him exactly why it needed to be done my way. “It’s what boys are supposed to do!” I told him exasperatedly.
“Papa’s always working, and since you don’t really have to work, you can take me. So, like I already asked you, how come we can’t go fishin’?”
Bram couldn’t help but chuckle at me as I stood looking down at him with my arms crossed over my chest, my hip cocked, and my eyes clearly stating that my logic absolutely necessitated that we go immediately.
“Daine, you are absolutely right. It is what boys do during the summer. But I have another idea for you—a betteridea. What would you think about going to school? Most of the other boys that you know will not have the opportunity to go. It would make you . . . special.” He allowed the word to hang between us, letting the idea of being privileged above other children lure me in.
I silently toyed with the idea in my mind, getting a feel for it before I replied undeterred, “Hmmm . . . I don’t know, Bram. It’s summer now, and I really want to go fishin’. William Thiery goes with his brother every day, he says. He says they get lots of fish, and then they eat them. I love fish, Bram. I’ve just got to catch some too! I want to catch the biggest fish ever! And,” I schemed, whispering conspiratorially, “maybe, we could keep him in one of Mama’s bowls on the table!”
Bram regarded me, his knobby hand thoughtfully brushing the length of his white beard. I could tell he was truly considering all the points of my finely crafted argument.
When I almost couldn’t stand the silence a moment longer, Bram finally voiced his conclusions. “I don’t know about putting a fish in a bowl on your mother’s table, she probably wouldn’t like that one bit.” His eyes twinkled up at me, and I grinned at the idea.
“But, you are pretty convincing, Daine. So, how about I make you a deal? If we can talk to your parents about you going to school, then I will take you fishing.”
Bram used one of his gnarled index fingers to beckon me closer. I knelt down beside him in the tall grass, the tall oak trees above shading us from the sun. As I bent my head close to his, he looked carefully around to make sure no one was near to overhear us. Whispering in an equally conspiring tone, he spoke next to my ear, “I know of a place where this really huge monster of a fish has been hanging out.” His eyes were large and bright as he drew away to look directly into mine. “William Thiery will never catch anything like this fish in his entire life,” he unnecessarily elaborated.
I leaned back, my eyes gleaming with promise and visions of glory.
“So, what do you think?” Bram inquired. “Do you think we can go and ask your parents about school?”
I was too caught up on the idea of catching his massive fish, that was no doubt at least as big as I was, that I could only manage an enormous grin and a wild nod of my head.
That evening Bram presented his plan of my receiving an education to my parents over dinner. However, Bram’s idea of school was not exactly what I’d had in mind as I’d mulled over the suggestion that afternoon. I’d assumed going to school meant frequenting a structure of sorts that was widely recognized to be a school, with other children, and with a teacher whom I did not yet know. As Bram expounded his idea to my parents, my conclusion that school might not be as bad as I originally thought it would be, vanished.
Bram informed my parents that he wanted to be my private tutor. If permitted, he would teach me to read and write in French, Latin, Greek, and English; complete complex mathematical equations; and even proficiently perform scientific experiments.
At first my parents were disbelieving that the old man genuinely desired to do such a thing. But, as Bram sincerely continued to tell them of his plans for me if they agreed, I could see the approval becoming ever more evident in their eyes with every word he spoke.
And so it was, with little to no convincing needed, my parents readily agreed to Bram’s proposition. He was to be my teacher, and I his only student.
In two weeks, the day after my fifth birthday, Bram would come to collect me from our home. And then everyday thereafter, I was to gain my formal education day by slow and difficult day in the confines of his home, until the evening when he’d finally return me home in time for supper.
As I lay in bed that night, I was secretly outraged that my parents had not even asked me what I wanted. They didn’t even know that the only reason I’d agreed was because Bram promised to take me fishing. Why couldn’t I just be a boy and fish whenever I wanted to?!
The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that after my parents saw the giant of a fish Bram was going to help me to catch, they were going to forget all about this whole school mess and decide that I should take up fishing permanently. With that in mind, I lulled myself to sleep on thoughts of a magnificent battle between boy and fish. In the end—I bruised but still standing—stood victorious. And the fish that was no smaller than one ofMaman’s cows, my unprecedented prize of triumph.
Bram arrived at our house early the next morning. I was just beginning my chores when he’d arrived. Upon entering the house, he informed my mother that he needed me immediately, and that my tasks would have to wait until I returned.
Seeing the pole in the old man’s hand, my mother gave him her quirked eyebrow, and with a smile, began to interrogate him. “Really, must you have him now? He’s only just begun his chores, and I do not think that I can part with him until he is done.” She loved to tease him by adding a haughty lift to her already upturned nose.
“Oh yes, Madame Dalton,” he bowed his head low, “it is absolutely imperative, and will be a matter of life and death if he does not come with me now.” Speaking so that only she could hear, he jovially added, while looking at her with his head still bowed, “At least, for him it is.”
My mother and friend stood silently while they exchanged knowing glances with one another. I looked on hopefully, and prayed to the gods of fishing that Bram could somehow convince my mother to let me go with him now.
“I don’t know, Monsieur Macardle,” she feigned a serious tone that I could not then tell was forged, “Daine has not finished his chores, and how will I ever teach him responsibility if you are always taking him away? I think it would be best if he were to stay until he has finished.”
Hearing that, my hopes deflated entirely. If Bram couldn’t convince my mother, then surely no one could. I looked down at the floor that I had been trying to sweep, and despite my best efforts, my bottom lip stuck out and began to quiver.
My despair was such that I almost didn’t hear my mother when she spoke to Bram. I looked up at them from under the mass of hair that had fallen forward to cover my disappointment. It was her hazel eyes, so full of love and amusement, that drew me in.
“Ah, my good sir will not always be this way. You’d best take him now, Bram, before I’m able to reconsider. And,” she added for good measure, speaking loudly and excitedly, “make sure he catches me a really big fish!”
My face broke into the largest smile it could manage. I dropped my broom and ran out of the door, pausing only for a moment to turn and shout, “C’mon, Bram!”
The old man laughed as he quickly left the house in order to happily herd me to a pond that was on the edge of his property.
The pond was large, and over it hung the boughs of many leafy trees. The water rippled as fish mouthed the surface, eating their breakfast of various insects.
“Okay Daine,” Bram whispered, “I want you to whisper from now on. Do you see that little eddy over there where the stream flows into the pond?”
I nodded my head.
“Just to side of that is where the fish I told you of has been lazing about. Now, if we walk quietly around that way, and set our line just between that eddy and the stream, I bet we’ll have him.”
We quietly walked around the pond. My little heart thumped with anticipation and excitement. We stopped on the bank not far from the eddy and I watched, completely engrossed, as Bram deftly tied something to the hook that looked like a mayfly. “This is called a ‘fly’, Daine. You use it to hide your hook. The fish see something they think looks like breakfast, bite down, and much to their surprise find themselves with a hook instead. You ready?”
I again wordlessly nodded my head. My apple-round cheeks were beginning to hurt from smiling as big as I had been for so long.
“Alright then, here’s what we need to do,” Bram whispered again as he came around behind me with the pole in his hand. Carefully, he placed the pole in my hand and adjusted my grip. When I had it, he placed his capable old hands over my own. “You need to cast the line into the water. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do it. I’m going to help you.”
With a few quick flicks of our wrists, he easily zipped the hook to exactly where he’d said it had needed to go.
I waited, eyeing the water with large, excited hazel eyes. Watery plops could be heard from where the other fish continued to chomp the surface of the pond. Instinctively, I doubted Bram’s judgment. There were fish biting the water everywhere except for where we’d thrown our hook.
Bram continued to hold my hands. Together, we began to slightly jerk the fishing rod a few times, causing the fly in the water to twitch too.
The seconds seemed hours to my all too excited mind. Still leaning over me, Bram began to speak something that was barely over a whisper. I felt a thrill reverberate through my entire body as his words began. Just as quickly as he started, he was just as soon finished, and the echoing feeling vanished.
Suddenly, the rod lurched down in my hands as a fish pulled and darted in a wild attempt to release itself from our line.
I let out a whoop of surprise and joy. “Bram, did we get it?!” I exclaimed, reveling in the feel of the bowing pole and the strength of the fish it held.
Affectionately the old man replied, “We caught something, but I don’t know if it’s him. Let’s bring it up and see.”
Together we began to walk backward over the rocks and bramble. The line jerked recklessly as the fish fought to free itself. As we backed away, it was pulled out of the water and onto the muddy, pond’s edge. It flopped determinedly against the hard ground, its gills working desperately in an attempt to bring water into its lungs.
I stood there dumbfounded as I looked down on the biggest fish that I had ever seen.
Bram was right, it was a monster. It was so big, that it would have been impossible for me to bring it out of the water by myself.
Bram clapped me on the back, “Excellent job, son!” and then he walked to the fish. Placing a hand under its white belly and another toward its tail, he lifted it up and brought it over to me so that I could see it face-to-face.
I was absolutely terrified. I’d never fished a day in my life before, but yet here I was staring at the biggest fish I’d ever seen, complete with two matching rows of razor-sharp teeth moving up and down in its gasping mouth. I just knew its unblinking eyes were staring all of the hatred it could muster at me.
“Would you like to touch it, lad?” Bram asked me gently.
I think he knew that I was afraid. But of course, I just stood there staring at my fish in stupefied wonderment. I barely managed to shake my head in a no.
Bram chortled and cheerfully laid the fish down on a bed of grass away from the pond. I followed him in silent awe. “Daine, I’ll be right back. I need to go and get a basket from the house so we can carry that thing back for your mother.”
He wasn’t gone long, but in his absence I finally managed to compose my flood of emotions into something I could actually express—fishing was fun!
“Bram!” I shouted as I saw him walking toward me with a large wicker basket in hand, “that was the greatest thing ever! And look at this fish! William Thiery is going to piss himself when he hears about it!”
Bram laughed as he walked to me and crouched down to once again hold the fish in his hands.
“Did you see me, Bram!? I did it! I caught the biggest fish in the whole world!” I was dancing and jumping at this point, unable to contain an ounce of my overwhelming five-year old joy a single moment longer.
“Didyouseemehuh!Ican’tbelieveIcaughtafishonmyfirsttry!Dadisgoingtobesoproud!” I jumbled out in my excitement.
Bram, always calm, said nothing as I zipped around him in youthful bliss. He retained an ever charmed smile on his face as he watched me. I’d seen the same look on my parents’ faces, and guessed that that is what adults did when children were so happy they could scarcely breathe.
“Alright Daine, let’s get this cleaned up.” He withdrew a long and sharp knife from the sheath on his belt and crouched down as he cradled the fish over the water. “But, before we do anything, we need to thank the fish for giving himself to us.”
I nodded and solemnly bowed my head. With my face lowered, Bram began to again speak in a language that I didn’t know.
I eyed him from under the cover of my dark hair. What on Earth is he saying? I wondered as I watched him and listened. I felt what I can only describe as a warming, or a tingling, that grew and seemed to fill the world around us. The air suddenly felt alive. I looked around. Everything shimmered with life, colors, and depth that I had never seen before. My head came up, and I marveled at the scene around me.
When Bram was done with what I believe was his prayer, I could have sworn that it almost felt as though the Earth sighed in sadness that his words were not continuing.
“Daine,” Bram’s voice now said in its usual timbre, “come close, I want to show you how this is done.”
I quickly crouched beside him in the mud and forgot everything I’d just seen in the experience of learning how to gut a fish.

*          *          *
My parents were rendered entirely speechless when they saw what lay on a bed of grass in a basket upon their table.
“I’ve never seen a fish like that come out of a pond,” my dad finally managed.
“Nor have I, Robert,” my mother added absently. Her eyes and mind were unable to truly tear themselves away from my fish.
Myself, well, I practically overshadowed the sun radiating with my pride.
“Daine here is one amazing fisherman. He just threw his line in, zigged it a bit, and within a minute had this beast on his line. Ha, if he did not have the chance of gaining an education or of learning from a master carpenter, I’d say he’d have quite a future in fishing,” Bram boasted as he ruffled the wavy hair on my head.
Mother just shook her head in disbelief, and went to work cooking the brute for us for lunch. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever had a fish that tasted as wonderful as that one did. When we were through eating, stuffed so full that our bellies hurt and all of us were eying the massive quantity of fish that remained upon the platter unenthusiastically, Bram stood and informed us that he would be leaving us for the next few weeks. It was necessary he explained, to acquire some oddities before he felt comfortable in beginning my instruction. But, as he assured me, he would most definitely be back for my birthday.
With Bram gone I was entirely left to my own devices. I spent the next few weeks causing mischief around my father, annoying my mother, and generally acting the biggest pest that I possibly could. As such, it was a relief to my parents to know that in only a few short weeks, I would be away for most of the day doing something constructive with Bram.

All that you can do is make the most of what you’ve been dealt—fight a good fight, resist being beaten by circumstance, and hope that somehow, despite it all, you’re able to accomplish the impossible.
But even then you cannot change the fact that you were born cursed.
I am one of those unlucky few upon whom the Curse of the Four Fathers has fallen.
It is I who must bear the burden of having a life that is unchangeably intertwined with the Fae. A sorrow made all the more great by knowing that where they are tragedy, loss, misery, and despair most assuredly follow.
As a Druid it is my responsibility to uphold the boundaries that keep the worlds of the Tylwyth Teg, and our own, separate. As a man it is my only ambition to protect the family and woman I so desperately love.
The only problem: I’m not sure this curse will allow for me to do both.
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Genre - Paranormal Fantasy, Horror
Rating – PG-13
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 Connect with Marie McKean on Twitter


A LIFE LESS ORDINARY #Excerpt by Victoria Bernadine @VicBernadine #Women #ChickLit

Posted on Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Manny glanced up as her assistant energetically bounced in.
“Morning, Manny.”
“Morning, Roxie. How was your evening?”
“Great–went to that new Robert Downey Jr. movie–rrrooowwwrrrr! Phil wasn’t too impressed with my drooling though.”
Manny laughed. “I’d expect not. I guess I need to go see it then.”
“Yeah, sure. When was the last time you actually went to a movie in the theatre?”
Manny paused, considering the question then shrugged carelessly. “Can’t remember, actually.”
Roxie shook her head in exasperated fondness and sat down in front of Manny’s desk. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “So, the new boss starts today?”
“Yep,” Manny replied absently, reviewing the e-mails in her inbox.
“Are you going to be okay with this? I mean, you–”
“Of course I’m okay with it. Steph’s a nice person, bright, energetic, competent, levelheaded, full of new ideas. She may have a bit of a learning curve ahead of her, but she’ll do just fine. She may be just what we need around here. Perk us up a bit.”
“Yeah, but you–”
Manny took her hands off the keyboard and turned to face Roxie directly. She gave her a reassuring smile and calmly held her gaze.
“I’m okay with it,” she said. “Really. I didn’t want to be the boss anyway.” She paused then continued. “Everything’s going to be fine. You’ll see. A new boss will be fun!”
Roxie grimaced cynically and Manny shook her head in mock disapproval.
“We should get to work,” she urged gently.
Roxie nodded and stood. “Yeah, that at least never changes. But Manny…”
Manny raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“It should’ve been you.”

For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
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Genre – ChickLit, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
 Connect with Victoria Bernadine on Twitter