‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #21 NEW Image Prompt! Join in the fun! #IARTG #WritingCommunity #flashfiction #writingprompts @pursoot

It’s that time again! Suzanne Burke chose a great photo for her most recent flash fiction photo prompt—a perfect fit for autumn weather, Halloweenish happenings, or things that go bump in the night. As always, I enjoyed playing with this prompt and giving my muse free rein. To learn more about Soooz’s weekly fiction challenge, click HERE to join in the fun.

This time I came in at exactly 750 words (the limit) when including the title.

Old abandoned, boarded up two-story home in autumn woods at sunset

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

I’ve Got a Plan

“You really bought this?”  Mason shook his head as he surveyed the derelict property. In its day, the house had probably been grand. Now, it was nothing more than a weathered, ivy-encrusted shell. Gilded by the last rays of the setting sun, the old two-story appeared part of the barren woodland surrounding it. “I hope you can get your money back.”

“It was dirt cheap.” Jeremy’s face glowed with pride. “Besides…I’ve got a plan.”

There was always a plan with Jeremy—another fanciful idea or dragon tail. It had been that way since he was a kid. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the plan?”

“A Halloween Haunt. Picture it.” Jeremy spread his hands, framing the house. “It won’t take a lot of money. Just enough to shore things up and make certain they’re sound. We add a few fog machines, cheap vintage furniture, and I’m telling you, Dad, it can’t fail.”

“You’ll need actors.”

“I’ve got that covered. We add to the existing atmosphere and play up grim and creepy.”

Business would be limited to a few months in the fall, but that wasn’t entirely problematic. Plus, it would be good experience if the kid pulled it off. At twenty-eight, it was time he managed something. 

“Maybe.” Mason wasn’t ready to commit. “Let’s see inside.”

~ooOOoo~

Isabelle rolled her eyes at the agonized creak of the front door. It had started screeching like that somewhere during the last century. “Dearest, we have company.”

Liam flipped a page in his book. “Two men. I saw them standing out front.”

“Don’t you think you should go downstairs and see what they’re about?” She lowered her embroidery hoop to her lap, the soft folds of her saffron gown, a color match for the flames in the hearth. As cozy as their sitting room was, she understood why Liam was reluctant to leave but one of them had to address the situation. “You’ve already read Moby Dick numerous times.”

“But I never tire of it. We could send Chloe.”

“That strumpet?” Isabelle clucked her tongue. “I think not. I don’t even know why the fool girl insists on lingering.”

“She did love me.” Liam set his book aside. “Probably still does.”

He was a distinguished man with a smattering of gray in his hair, his eyes the dark blue of midnight skies. Isabelle was sometimes overcome by her devotion to him. She couldn’t term the affection love—not any longer—but her emotion ran strong. She’d been naïve when they’d wed, but after a decade discerned his wandering eye. Especially after Chloe came to live with them, lending a hand with domestic chores.

“Her love is irrelevant. I do not share.”

“As you proved.”

Isabelle flashed an innocent smile. “You always enjoyed my tea in the past.”

“Minus the poison.”

“At least I followed you to the grave by drinking it myself.”

“Not quite the grave.” He motioned to the room at large.

“Which brings us back to the problem downstairs.”

“Very well.” Liam heaved a breath. “I’ll scare them off like the others.”

~ooOOoo~

“It has potential.” After exploring the main level, Mason was almost ready to commit. It would take an outlay of cash, but nothing he couldn’t raise. Maybe this time Jeremy would finally turn one of his pipedreams into gold. “We should look upstairs.”

He started toward the staircase, halting abruptly when he spied a figure at the top. “What the—” 

The man’s face appeared chiseled from granite. Dressed in outdated clothing, he looked much like a Dicken’s character, wearing a short waistcoat, silken cravat, and high-topped boots. 

He speared a finger in their direction. “Trespassers! You do not belong here!” The walls shook at the boom of his voice. The floor heaved and cracked. Behind him, lightning exploded from the ceiling, filling the air with ozone. “Leave while you can.”

“Holy shit!” Mason stumbled backward, colliding with his son.

Jeremy caught him by the shoulders. “Don’t mind him, Dad. That’s just Mr. O’Conner.” He hustled past, climbing the steps two at a time. “Hiya, Mr. O’Conner.” He flipped a wave to the stunned apparition. “Chloe told me all about you and your wife. You’re going to fit right in. Aren’t they, Dad?” Jeremy glanced over his shoulder. “Dad?”

Mason stood rooted to the landing, knees quavering, heart thundering. “J-J-Jeremey…” He couldn’t seem to find his voice. “Th-that’s a ghost.”

“Yeah, I know.” The idiot kid grinned ear-to-ear. “Didn’t I tell you we wouldn’t need actors?”

Book Review Tuesday: The Ballad of Mrs. Molony #UrbanFantasy #SuperHeroFantasy @Virgilante

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageIt’s pumpkin weather and I have a great pumpkin read to share today. Craig Boyack has a new Lizzie and the Hat adventure, and it’s a perfect fit for this month. The great thing about Lizzie and the Hat novellas is that you can read them in any order. Each story is complete to itself. They’re also an ideal size for a fairly quick read.

And let’s not forget the Hat or his trademark snark. I LOVE that character! 🙂


Book cover for The Ballad of Mrs. Molony shows straw cowboy hat on wooden table with cobwebs, pitchfork beside tableThe Ballad of Mrs. Molony
by C. S. Boyack

C. S. Boyack’s unique crime fighting duo is back in a new Lizzie and The Hat adventure. Not familiar with these two? Lizzie is a twenty-something who wields a mean pistol and plays the upright bass in a cover band with the help of the hat. He may look like a fedora (or whatever hat style he chooses), but he’s actually a being from another world—capable of zinging some of the best snarky dialogue you’re likely to encounter. These two play off each other with witty banter and plenty of adventure as they go up against supernatural bad guys. This time, it’s a group of vampires haunting the rodeo circuit.

That makes for a lot of colorful happenings as Lizzie, the hat, and their band take on the country music scene, mingling with broncobusters and cowboys. Boyack treats us to plenty of rodeo experiences in addition to Lizzie and the hat working to track down the vamps. Some of the moments that stood out for me included Lizzie target-shooting ghouls in a cemetery, egged on by the hat’s snarky asides; a vampire with a speech impediment; the hat’s addiction to “my internet” and his ongoing insistence the band should have a fog machine. And then there’s Mrs. Molony—but you’ll need to read this supernatural romp yourself to find out just how she plays into the story. Clever, clever, clever!

AMAZON LINK
black bat with wings outstretchedGenre:  Superhero Fantasy > Superhero Science Fiction > Paranormal & Urban Fantasy

I give The Ballad of Mrs. Molony 5 Stars, and 5 Spooky Bats


And speaking of spooky things—if you’re out and about the blogosphere, you can find me at Teri Polen’s place today. Want to find out what book scared me so much, I threw it in the trash? Hop on over for my turn on Teri’s Halloween-themed Bad Moon Rising.

Guest Author: Balroop Singh with Magical Whispers #poetry #newrelease @BalroopShado

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in scriptToday, I am delighted to have a first time guest on my blog. Balroop Singh has a knack for painting words on canvas in the form of beautiful poetry. When I learned she had a new release, I jumped at the chance to host her, especially when I learned this collection focuses on elements of nature. Take a look:


Book cover for Magical Whispers shows waterfall tumbling over rocks

Thank you for hosting me, Mae

Book Blurb:
I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.

‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.

Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whisper life into us.

Book Information:
Title: Magical Whispers
Author: Balroop Singh
Genre: Poetry
Available at AMAZON
US | UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

Excerpt:

A Concert

Misty mountains beckon
Slippery stones scare
Where clouds adorn the valley
Illusionary world comes alive here

Rivulets dance with abandon
Sunbeams play a dazzling game
Songs of nature mystify you
Tricky pathways meander

Dew never dries here
Fragrance floats forever
Positive vibes permeate around
Seeping within your soul

Where we could touch the mist,
Inhale tranquility of waning light
Be one with the dreamy duo –
Earth and sky

Heaven below our feet,
grandeur above
Purging all our doubts
Concert only senses could hear!


Meet the Author:
Author, Balroop SinghBalroop Singh, a former teacher and an educator always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and  Emerging From Shadows, both widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

You can visit her blog at: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

Connecting links:
Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon


I’ve already grabbed my copy of Magical Whispers, and plan to immerse myself in the tranquility and reflections of nature. I don’t read poetry that often, but I have “go to” authors when I want to unwind with a book of poems. Balroop is definitely one of those authors! I hope you’ll drop her a line in the comments. Help us spread the word about Magical Whispers with the sharing buttons and join in her new release excitement!

Returning Soon

Cute tabby cat peeking over a rim

Hi, friends. Just peeking in to drop a quick note asking that you pardon my absence these last few days. I had a chance to grab several unexpected vacation days and jumped on the opportunity. I’ve been off work for most of the past week. As I already had guests scheduled, I’ve made an effort to keep up with those posts but have been lax in my visits. I should be back to normal by Monday, but in the meantime am still enjoying lazy fall days and plenty of shopping (my favorite sport). Looking forward to catching up with all of you soon!

Guest Author Thursday: Hiding Cracked Glass by James J. Cudney #newrelease #giveaway @jamescudney4 @Shalini_G26

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in scriptWelcome to another Guest Author Thursday. Today is release day for James J. Cudney’s newest novel, Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions of Glass book 2). To celebrate, Jay is offering a GIVEAWAY to two lucky winners!  Just CLICK TO ENTER.

I read the first in this series, Watching Glass Shatter and was enthralled by the depth of character development Jay brought to each member of the Glass family. You can find my review for Watching Glass Shatter HERE.

I asked Jay for a post that would address family dynamics and how they factor into his books, and boy did he deliver. I hope you enjoy his post today as much as I did—then don’t forget to grab your copy of Hiding Cracked Glass and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


logo for Digital Reads Blog Tours has banner with business name over the spines of old books

Some of us are obsessed with good plots. Others connect with strong characters. When you combine the two, and you toss in the family dynamic, it’s almost as if a book explodes with boundless drama. As readers, we often search for ourselves or those we know in the characters of our favorite books. Even when it’s a science-fiction or fantasy novel, and the story is not at all realistic, it is still a place where we want to be. To me, perhaps since I grew up surrounded by family, I find myself drawn to the core relationships in our lives.

I’ll begin with saying I am an only child; however, I have ~15 first cousins who basically spent a lot of time together while growing up. I am probably best as an only child, but at the same time, it has always made me sad too. I often feel so unique and independent that no other person shares the same set of parents as me… that when they are gone, because I don’t have children, I am thoroughly alone in this world. That said… I’m not at all looking for someone to make me feel better. But what this did in my childhood was force me to be creative and imaginative with how I developed relationships. I closely monitored characters on TV and in books. I wrote stories about the relationships. I asked a lot of questions of all my friends and cousins who had siblings.

In the end, this experience helped cultivate my ability to write books with extreme family situations… in both my Perceptions of Glass and Braxton Campus Mysteries series, there are five siblings, lots of extended family members, and a focus on people’s connections with one another. All those nicknames the Glass brothers share for one another? All the competition among the Ayrwick siblings? Then consider my stand-alone novel, Father Figure: Brianna is desperately searching for her father because she only has her secretive mother and no other family. Amalia wants to escape her abusive family and finds herself ending up in a situation she intentionally tried to avoid.

These are the destinies people face in my dreams, and so they become the stories of my characters. When I began writing the outline for Hiding Cracked Glass (HCG), I knew it had to be very similar to Watching Glass Shatter (WGS), but it also had to be very different. In WGS, Teddy (the eldest) deals with the betrayal of a loved one and a desire to quit his job. In HCG, he’s facing the result of his decision but he’s had to battle something far worse he never expected to happen. In WGS, Matt tried to dig himself out of a serious life-and-death situation. In HCG, we learn that he’s likely brought a major impact on his family that he never knew happened. In WGS, Caleb finally tells his family the truth. In HCG, we learn that he might’ve done something very bad and hurt his relationship. In WGS, Zach dazzled us with his attitude toward the others. In HCG, he’s now the one who’s changed the most after what happened at the end of the first book. In WGS, Ethan suffered a devastating loss. In HCG, his wife is learning how to deal with the aftermath of so many secrets.

Kindle and paperback covers of Hiding Cracked Glass, dramatic shattered glass over old envelope on wood grain surfaceI haven’t even shared much about Olivia, the matriarch of these five boys. She’s rude. Abrasive. Distant. Aloof. But she’s also smart and learns the biggest lessons of all. So why is it that she can make a complete change between books? When she receives the blackmail threat in Hiding Cracked Glass, a series of events is kicked off that challenges everything she thought she’d fixed recently. My own mother is nothing like Olivia, but as you dig deeper, you realize Olivia is a compilation of so many strong women who often get a bad rap for being tough and direct… while a man in her position would be considered powerful and a strong father figure.  When my mother read Watching Glass Shatter, besides squirming over two scenes that I included (who wants to know their son / mother is aware of sex or curse words!), the first thing she said to me: “Wow! You put a piece of your personality in each of the 5 brothers. It’s like you selected a trait about yourself that we’ve always talked about and made it a big piece of each brother’s life.”

Yep, go ahead and try to guess those characteristics! Those who’ve met me can easily figure it out. 🙂

I love taking personalities and flipping them around, mostly to show how we all have a perception of ourselves that is a bit like looking through glass. It’s shiny but distorted. It’s smooth but once it cracks, the repairs are almost impossible without professional help. Families are kinda like that too. Relationships are brittle, and they change at the slightest pressure once people communicate poorly. Imagine a father dying in a car accident and leaving behind a will that changes everything. Then imagine hiding that secret and it being found out 9 months later by someone you never thought would’ve been involved. While I have no personal experience with this… and my family wasn’t very big on keeping secrets… there is one that I hardly tell anyone. Now, I think it’s kind of amusing though, and it actually is another family drama story I’m playing around with as a future book.

book cover of Hiding Cracked Glass, dramatic shattered glass over old envelope on wood grain surfaceWhen I was fifteen, my grandfather passed away. During the planning of his funeral, I learned that one of my parents had another sibling I’d never met. Then I learned this sibling living in our same small town (under 3,000 people). Then I learned this sibling had two children who were just a couple of years older than me. Then I learned I went to high school with both of them. First, you’re probably thinking “OMG, that’s so weird and scary!.” You’d be right… but then here’s where my mind went next at fifteen in a conversation with some friends: At fifteen with two slightly older cousins… what would’ve happened if one of those cousins and I had met and gone out on a date or hooked up! We don’t always tell our parents the name of a guy or girl we go on a date with. Our last names were different. Could you imagine the drama if something had happened between us? Yikes, I could almost be the subject of my next book.

Secrets. Lies. Family Drama. Broken Relationships. These are the events of our daily lives. We all have a bit of a soap opera / daytime drama running around in our families. I love exploring the psychological and physical impacts of these connections, and that’s why my books will almost always have the elements of family–past, present, and future–woven into its binding. And perhaps now you might know a little bit about me that you never thought you’d learn. NO, I never actually connected much with my cousins other than the funeral… thought we did socialize for a few years… but then the family fell apart again. Now you can see how I incorporate reality into my literary world! Any crazy stories in your family you’d like to share?


Wow! Did that blow you away? I actually met cousins I never knew I had roughly seven years ago. They’re scattered over the map, but now we hold a family reunion every year. It’s a long story, but I can so relate to Jay’s tale.

And speaking of tales, I’ve got my copy of Hiding Cracked GlassIf you aren’t intrigued from that fabulous post, I know you will be after reading the blurb:

ABOUT THE BOOK:
An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.


PURCHASE LINK


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author James J. Cudney in professional shot with suit and tieBackground
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog
Website | Blog | Amazon | Next Chapter Pub |
BookBub

Social Media
Twitter | Facebook Author | Facebook Braxton Campus | Facebook ThisIsMyTruthNow | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads |
LinkedIn

Genres, Formats & Languages
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.


Goodreads Book Links
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017) |
Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

ENTER GIVEAWAY FOR HIDING CRACKED GLASS


Welcome Guest: D.L. Cross with Astral Conspiracy Series #AlienInvasion #AlienEncounters @stacitroilo

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in scriptIt’s my pleasure to host Staci Troilo today. Staci is a Story Empire colleague, one of the best writers I know, and a close friend. Her books never disappoint. Her Astral Conspiracy series (written under the pen name D.L. Cross) is pure gold. These aren’t just science fiction stories, but combine elements of thrillers, suspense, mysteries and fast-paced adventure—with character development that pings in the stratosphere.

And now, here’s Staci to tell you more!


Ciao, Mae. Thanks for having me here today. I’m really glad to visit with you and your readers again. Hi, everyone!

file folder marked top secret with name of agent Halpern, Natasha

I’m here today to talk about my Astral Conspiracy series. It’s technically science fiction, as it’s part of the acclaimed Platt and Truant Invasion Universe, but my saga is as much thriller as it is sci-fi, so I thought I’d have a little fun with my marketing and include pages from the top-secret government files on my main characters. Today, I’m sharing info on Tasha Halpern.

DOSSIER

Name: Natasha (Tasha) Halpern

Occupation: Special Agent for US Government AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program)

Of Note: A modern-day Mata Hari, her expertise is in asset recruitment

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW BETWEEN AUTHOR (Staci Troilo a.k.a. D.L. Cross) AND CHARACTER (Special Agent Natasha Halpern) ON ASTRAL DAY (the day the world is alerted to the approach of alien ships) via video conference. (Video is eyes-only, file #7161998-V, director’s approval required.)

Subject photo available, file #7161998-G

Staci: Tasha. How are you?

Tasha: Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. Should make life easier once things calm down. But who knows when that’ll happen, so we’re in Chicken Little mode.

Staci: Even people in the upper echelon of the government are panicking?

Tasha: Maybe more than the general public. We’re responsible for keeping everyone safe. It’s a big responsibility. (looks around, ducks her head, whispers into the mic) And between you and me, the people at the top never like to think their positions are going to be compromised.

Staci: You’re telling me we’re about to meet aliens for the first time, and our elected officials are more worried about power than protecting us?

Tasha: Who says this is the first time?

Staci: (gasping) They’ve been here before?

Tasha: Before? Or still?

Staci: You’re kidding?

Tasha: You didn’t hear that from me.

Staci: So, can’t you talk to the… visitors… and ask them for help? They could be a mediator, bridging the gap.

Tasha: That’s assuming they aren’t hostile toward us.

Staci: Are they?

Tasha: If our… guests were here as friends, don’t you think we’d have announced their presence years ago?

Staci: Years? How long have they been here?

Tasha: A while. A very, very long while.

Staci: Is that how you met Landon? You never told me the meet-cute story.

Tasha: I’m sure I did.

Staci: No. You didn’t.

Tasha: Well, I can’t tell you now. Beck’s bellowing. Gotta run. Stay safe, Stace.

Staci: You, too. (gives a half-wave to an empty screen)

Tasha makes her debut in the Astral Conspiracy series in book one, The Gate. You can read a brief synopsis of all five books below, and each one has links to its product page and a purchase link.

Book covers of all five novels in Astral Conspiracy series by D.L. Crossa

The Gate: When the hypotheses of disgraced ancient alien theorist Landon Thorne prove to be true, he travels across the globe in search of a way to communicate with—and perhaps stop—the approaching alien armada.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Stones: The invasion couldn’t be prevented, but there is a chance the Astrals can be driven away… if Landon Thorne can reach the Georgia Guidestones, unearth its secrets, and decode the mystery before the aliens stop him.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Nine: Landon Thorne and his team of resistance fighters seek a cipher to decode the message accompanying a cache of alien artifacts they’ve unearthed, but the government, a clandestine cabal, and the Astrals themselves stand in their way and might not only put an end to their plans—they might put an end to their lives.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Twins: When all factions converge for a human-versus-alien showdown, resistance fighter Reverie Sterling gets help from the least likely source. But even then, it may be too late for everyone she loves to make it out alive.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

The Lab: In the final showdown between Earthlings and Astrals, twins Asha and Vonn insist their long-lost grandfather has a plan to save humanity. It’s a long-shot, but the resistance takes it—and no one is prepared for the consequences.
Full Blurb | Purchase Link

Author, Staci TroiloAbout Staci Troilo/D.L. Cross

D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

Connect online:

Website | Blog | Troilo Amazon |  Cross Amazon | Troilo BookBub | Cross BookBubTroilo Goodreads | Cross Goodreads | Social Media

Thanks again for having me here today, Mae. And thanks to all of your fans for indulging me. This post was as fun to write as the stories were, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Grazie!


What a great post! If you’ve been following this blog tour, you know each stop has provided a behind-the-scenes look at key players in the Astral Conspiracy series. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it, and hope you are too. Please use the sharing buttons below to help spread the word about Astral, then drop Staci a few lines in the comments. I gave each of these phenomenal books 5-Stars and count them among my top reads of 2020!

Book Review Tuesday: The Lab by D.L. Cross #AlienInvasion #AlienEncounters @stacitroilo

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy Book Review Tuesday! Today, I’m sharing my review of The Lab, the closing chapter in the Astral Conspiracy Series by D.L. Cross (a.k.a. Staci Troilo). I’ve been glued to these books from the moment they released, reading one after the other as soon as new titles became available. All five books and the prequel are now available for download, so you can start at the beginning and read straight through, back-to-back. Trust me—you’ll be glued to the pages!


book cover for The Lab by D.L. Cross shows flying saucer hovering over an one story building at night, emitting ray of light into buildingThe Lab
Book 5 Astral Conspiracy Series
by D. L. Cross

After breathlessly following this series from Book one (and the prequel), I found myself riveted to the closing novel. The Astrals have found humanity lacking and it’s only a matter of time until they release their judgement on Earth.

Each chapter and each plot thread—of which there are many, expertly woven together—are ticking time bombs. Catch your breath on one, and Cross plunges you into another maelstrom of danger, action, and double-crosses. The sense of urgency in this novel is a pot-boiler.

All of the plot lines that have been steadily building through the previous books meet head-on in an explosive conclusion. It’s difficult to say much without giving away spoilers, but I find myself startled to note how my opinions altered regarding certain characters.

It’s difficult to name a single standout character (each are deftly drawn and multi-faceted with plenty of gray areas) but the relationship between Nadia and Beck—how it changed and grew over the course of the books—was a highpoint for me. By book five, I’d also started to look at reptars differently, especially one in particular. Journeying through five books in a world populated by Titans, Mullahs, the Separated, the Nine, Reptars, Lightborn, and humans has been a astounding adventure.

In the end, not everything is wrapped up with a tight bow. It makes me wonder if there is more planned, or if the author chose to leave certain elements open to the readers’ imagination. All of the major storylines and events are concluded, but there are a few surprises that leave the door cracked slightly ajar.

For anyone who enjoys intelligent and fast-paced science-fiction mixed with vast dollops of mystery, suspense and brilliant character development, I highly recommend this series. It stands among my top reads for 2020!

graphic of flying saucer emitting a beam of lightI give The Lab 5 STARS and 5 BIG GLOWY UFOS!!

AMAZON LINK
GENRE: Alien Invasion Science-Fiction > Colonization Science-Fiction


Thank you for joining me for another Book Review Tuesday. I know several of you are reading this series or have it on your radar. With the weather turning colder (at least in the northern hemisphere), it’s a great time to curl up inside with a book. And if you’re lucky enough to be in the warmth of the southern hemisphere, there is nothing like a good read by the pool or on the beach. Just watch out for the reptars!

Guest Author Thursday: Marica Meara with The Emissary 3: Love Hurts #newrelease

red quill pen on a piece of old parchment paper, with an ink well with words Welcome Guest in script

My guest today has a lot of pluses in her corner—she’s a good friend, a Story Empire colleague, a gifted writer, and has been blessed with a wonderful sense of humor. She’s also a fabulous supporter of others. I have gobbled up everything she’s written, including her first two Emissary novels—and this one! You can find my 5 STAR REVIEW HERE. I thoroughly love these characters! You’ll find out why soon enough as you read the blurb and excerpt she’s sharing. Take it away, Marcia!

Banner ad for Emissary 3 by Marcia Meara shows Kindle with book cover displayed lying next to red rosesThanks so much for having me here today, Mae. It’s a great pleasure to be sharing the news of my latest release, The Emissary 3: Love Hurts, with you and your followers. I hope you’ll all enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 2. Dodger is battling a panic attack as he tries to get ready to visit the library where he’s just discovered the girl of his dreams works. I think it’s a pretty good example of the unofficial father/son relationship between Jake and Dodger, the bedrock of this series.

But first, let’s start with the blurb, so those unfamiliar with the novellas can get an idea of what’s going on overall.

Blurb

Header ad for The Emissary 3 by Maricia Meara

The archangel created his emissaries to help mortals avoid choices that would doom them for eternity. He hadn’t planned on the youngest member of his team falling in love with one.

~~~

Azrael’s emissarial program was growing daily, but it still met with stubborn opposition from many on the Council of Angels. Dodger’s request to be allowed to experience what falling in love was all about didn’t help matters, but Azrael thought the boy was onto something. He agreed emissaries who’d shared a loving relationship during their mortal lives would have a deeper understanding of human emotions and motivations, thus enhancing the skills they needed to do their jobs.

With that in mind, Azrael gave Dodger one chance to search for true love. He then laid down a daunting set of stringent rules and guidelines that could not be broken under any circumstances lest dire happenings occur. But while the angel sincerely hoped Dodger would find a way to make this endeavor work, he feared an avalanche of unintended consequences could be in store for his youngest emissary.

Sometimes even angels hate to be right.

~~~

Will Azrael ever tire of popping up behind Jake just to see his first emissary fall out of his chair in shock? Will sharp-eyed motel owners ever notice a big red and white semi mysteriously appearing and disappearing from their parking lots overnight? And will Dodger be able to track down the mystery girl who caught his eye two weeks earlier to see if she’s really The One?

To find the answers to these and other angelic or emissarial questions, come along on one last adventure with Jake, Dodger, and that ginormous, glowy-eyed archangel, Azrael. They’re waiting for you!

Excerpt

In the Somewhat Cool Trailer of Their Big Semi,
Gulping Down Coffee While Talking Over His Shoulder
And Hunting Everywhere for His Cleanest Pair of Jeans.

“WHERE THE HELL are the good ones? I only wore them to dinner the other night. They shouldn’t be in the laundry yet. And have you seen my belt? Or my other sneakers?”

Jake studied Dodger’s frustrated grumbling and frenzied search. “I don’t suppose it’s me you’re trying to impress, is it? Or maybe you think Azrael will be dropping in today?”

The boy didn’t answer, but an embarrassed flush spread across his cheeks.

“Okay, kid. If it isn’t either of those, I’m going to take a wild stab and say you’ve finally worked up the nerve to stop by the library.”

Shoulders slumped, Dodger glanced back at Jake, his eyes filled with panic. “That was my plan. Of course, it was my plan yesterday, too. And the day before.”

“So, what happened then?”

“Same thing that’s happening now. I start thinkin’ about all the ways I could screw this up, and I chicken out and put it off to go lookin’ for folks you and I can help, as usual.”

“But today, you’re not going to give in to the temptation to overthink this, right? You’re just going to jump in feet first like you always do with everything else and figure it out on the go.”

No answer.

“Dodge? Please tell me you’re going to quit driving yourself insane with needless worry and go talk to the girl. You don’t have to do more than that, you know. Just stop by to say hi and see how it goes.”

Still no answer.

“Look, kid. I understand how you feel. I do. Trying to have those first conversations with someone you really want to get to know is one of the hardest things in life, even without all the complications Azrael added into the mix. But I think you’ve put your own roadblocks in the way now, by inventing things to worry about that probably won’t happen at all. It’s time for you to trust your instincts and go for it.

book cover for The Emissary 3 by Marcia Meara shows silhouettes of couple gazing an ocean, angel wings over sky“You don’t have to settle every rule and regulation and goal for this relationship right off the bat. All you have to do is drop in for a quick visit. I have a feeling she’ll be happy to see you. Everybody likes to know others enjoy chatting with them, right?”

With a shaky sigh, Dodger plopped down on his bunk. “I know, I know. But I can’t help it. When I think about her, nothin’ works right. My heart beats too fast and my mouth gets dry and my knees shake. I can’t mess this up! I just can’t.”

“Oh, ye of little faith. In all the things Azrael said, did he once mention you’d screw up this possible relationship due to being too scared to carry on a normal conversation?”

“No, but—”

“No buts about it. It sounded to me like our angel wasn’t worried about how things would start out. His concern was directed at how it might end up, and the potential for future scenarios you wouldn’t like. I didn’t pick up on a single thing about you messing up right off the bat. Only that finding a way for it to turn into more would likely be pretty tricky.”

Jake rose, stepped to the little bookcase they used for storage, then grabbed a pair of jeans from the top shelf. “Here.” He tossed the jeans at the boy. “Are these the ones you were digging all over creation for?”

As Dodger caught the jeans, his embarrassed smile morphed into a sheepish grin. “Yeah. I guess I wasn’t lookin’ very hard.”

“Fear makes us blind, Dodge, and not always just about the big things. Get dressed so we can grab a quick breakfast. You’ve got a library to check out.”

~~~


Buy The Emissary 3: Love Hurts HERE


Bio

Author, Marcia MearaMarcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years and four big, spoiled cats.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish her first book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

CONTACT MARCIA HERE:
marciameara16@gmail.com |
The Write StuffPinterest | Twitter: @marciameara

Find Marcia’s Books Here: MARCIA’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Book Review Tuesday: The Body From the Past #JazziZanders #Cozy Mystery @judypost

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Happy Tuesday! I only have one book review to share this week, but it’s a charmer, and part of a cozy mystery series I love. It was so good to catch up with some of my favorite characters in The Body From the Past.


Book cover for The Body From the Past by Judi Lynn shows cute pug dog in devil costume with jack-o-lanternsThe Body From the Past
by Judi Lynn

The latest Jazzi Zanders mystery delivers in a big way. I have enjoyed all of the books in this series to date, but this is my favorite. Jazzi, her hunky husband Ansel, and her cousin Jerrod are in the process of flipping a new house when they discover a young woman who lived there in the past was murdered.

Jessica Hodgekill had everything going for her when someone pushed her from a second-floor balcony the night of her high school graduation party. The suspects are plenty and range from rivals to a busybody neighbor, and even family members. As Jazzi digs for an answer, rattling skeletons that shouldn’t be rattled, new murders occur in the present and the roster of suspects mounts.

I really enjoyed the multiple angles in this story that included glimpses into Jessica’s past and even journal entries she’d left behind. The mystery builds slowly with each suspect rising to the surface as individual motives are revealed. The author does an excellent job in painting several characters as having plenty of reasons to plot murder. Set against the backdrop of October, the story also offers a nice balance with Jazzi’s homelife as she and Ansel prepare for a Halloween bash. There is plenty of warmth with familiar secondary characters who have become like friends and neighbors throughout the series. Even Jazzi and Ansel’s pets—pug George and cats, Inky and Marmalade—get moments to shine in multiple scenes.

The plot threads are tightly woven for a satisfying ending when all the pieces fall into place. Judi Lynn knows how to deftly juggle numerous characters within an engaging story, while continuing her characters across a series that leaves the reader eagerly looking forward to the next mystery. 5 Stars!

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Cozy Mystery > Amateur Sleuth Mysteries


And there you have my latest read. As we head into October, The Body From the Past with its Halloween theme and long unsolved murder mystery makes for perfect reading during jack-o-lantern season. I give it 5 Plump Pumpkins! 🙂

Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #19 NEW Image Prompt! Join in the fun! @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #WritingPrompt

I had some free writing time this weekend, and although I tinkered with my WIP,  I also found time to participate in Suzanne Burke’s latest flash fiction challenge. If you’d like to play, you can find all the details HERE.

This week’s photo prompt:

A shot of the iconic Hollywood Sign on hillside

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Shattered Dreams

“It’s iconic, you know that, right?” Terrence pointed to the photo behind his desk.

“You have to ask?” Marco smirked, rolling a toothpick in his mouth. “Who doesn’t know the Hollywood sign?”

The town inspired dreams, fantasies and stardom. Sometimes, it inspired hate.

Terrence studied his fingernails. “How much?”

“Depends.” The toothpick tasted woody. Marco flicked it aside. “Do you want it flattened or—”

“Obliterated.” Terrence circled his desk. Stood gazing at the framed photo on the wall, hands clasped behind his back. “I was thirteen when this was taken. Family vacation. That’s me and Russ in front of the sign. He was ten… grew stars in his head that same night. Said he was going to be a big name when he was older.”

“Sorry it didn’t work out.” An outright lie. Marco didn’t give a rat’s ass, but he’d learned it helped to project a measure of sympathy until the payout was in hand.

“I’ve dumped every dollar I have into supporting my brother. I’m out of cash, and patience. The idiot thinks he has a shot at the lead in the Merchant Mercury franchise.”

Marco snorted. This was too rich to pass up. “Your brother’s claim to fame is a shaving cream commercial. Merchant Mercury is supposed to be the next Star Wars.”

“You see what I’m up against.” Terrance grimaced. “I want you to take down that damn sign, so he realizes the whole thing is a pipe dream. He needs to man up, start earning a living. Forget this ‘acting is my destiny’ crap. The guy’s a loser. It’s time he faced the facts.”

“Consider it done.” Marco had already stockpiled the explosives. “You know where to send the money.”

++++

Terrence scrubbed his face, suppressing a yawn. He folded into the couch, coffee in hand, then snatched the TV remote. Every channel had the same news—someone had blown up the Hollywood sign sometime after 3:00 AM. Videos and images showed police swarming the scene. What remained of the iconic sign was strewn in chunks and splinters over the hillside. Helicopters pinwheeled overhead and reporters angled for face time. Talking heads popped up in a mosaic of windows on his screen, one after another.

“Hell, yes!” He pumped a fist in the air. Marco had blasted that wretched sign into fragments and—if Terrance had calculated properly—Russ’s dreams right along with it. When his phone rang, he juddered to his feet, snatching it from the end table. “Yeah?”

“Hey, Terrance, how are you, big brother?” Strange that Russ sounded energized. He should be crestfallen after seeing his altar blown to smithereens.

“I, um…” Terrence knew he should feign horror or sorrow. Maybe outrage. Outrage was always good.

“I’m so freaking stoked I don’t even know what day it is.” Russ didn’t give him the time to decide.

“Where are you?”

“My pathetic shoebox of an apartment, but not for long.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I hit the big time.”

Terrence muted the TV remote. “You’re not making sense.”

“Probably because I kicked a bottle of champagne in under fifteen minutes.”

A queer sense of foreboding spread in Terence’s gut. “You’re celebrating?”

“Sure am. I landed the lead in Merchant Mercury.” Russ’s voice climbed an octave. “Just got the call. Can you shittin’ believe it? The studio head is already saying I’m going to be the next Harrison Ford. First thing tomorrow, I’m hiking to the Hollywood sign to have my picture taken.”

Terrence’s knees buckled. He sank onto the couch, eyes glued to the emergency personnel on the screen. What the hell had he done?

“I’d love it if you could be with me big brother. You always believed in me. Never gave up on my dreams.”

Terrance dropped the phone, cradled his face in his hands. He’d spent every dime he had paying Marco’s price, figuring Russ would crawl home when broken. They’d start over, go into business together. But all of that had changed. His bank account read zero and his younger brother was destined for stardom. Who was the loser now?

He clawed the phone to his ear. “Russ…” His voice broke. “I, uh… I hate to ask, but I’m out of cash.”

“Seriously? How?”

“I did something stupid.” He swallowed bitter tears. “I shattered my dream.”


Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my take on the photo prompt, and—as always—I wish you happy writing wherever your muse may take you!