Tag Archives: Adventure

Book Blitz: ‘A Lovely Paradox’ by Mahiraj Jadeja

Title: A Lovely Paradox

Author: Mahiraj Jadeja

Publisher: Mahiraj Jadeja Publishers

Genre: New Adult / Erotic Romance / Adventure

About the Book:

When Raj , a common Indian man whose background was traditional and religious falls in love with Bella living in USA through Facebook., being innocent and crazy in love, he went for an american job visa against his parents wishes selling his ancestral land to meet her love and propose her for marriage but there was to lot to prove that whether his love for her was real or was it just plain lust?

This is a quick read novella and would be suitable for readers who enjoy whirlwind romances that are unpredictable.Erotic, highly emotional and sensitive, A Lovely Paradox is a novella which will surprise you, and will make you deeply move with a twist that no one expected in the end!

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

About the Author:

Mahiraj Jadeja is a freelancer, Poet and a Visionary from Rajkot, Gujarat, India. Having studied commerce he entered into field of writing starting a journey towards Arts and Spirituality which are his passion. His two books “A Lover’s Will” and “Love Forever” which were beautiful collection of contemporary romance poems of which he got beautiful reception from readers worldwide. This motivated him to write something on Love which connects Indian conspiracy theory of Love Jihad. The author writes to showcase reality to the world that “who are us” really? He invokes people to start a journey flowing inwards balancing materialism and spiritualism as for the author balance is very important from the small matters to the infinite universe.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MahirajJadejaofficial

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15416114.Mahiraj_Jadeja

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Author Interview: ‘The Voinico’s Daughter’ by Sallie Cochren

About the Book:

Watch out, vampires! There’s a new girl in town!

Nicoleta has never taken a life before, but she will have to make her first kill soon. Typical of girls her age, her concerns are boys and college. But when she takes a trip to Romania with several of her classmates to celebrate graduating from high school, Nicoleta is going to discover who she really is. When Nicoleta learns that she is adopted and that her biological parents live in Romania, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finding out that her birthright is hunting and killing vampires, Nicoleta has to decide if she will remain in Romania and fulfill her destiny or if she will return to America and try to forget about the nightmare of a world that she has been thrown into.

Adding to Nicoleta’s problems, a notorious vampire named Varujan has been waiting for Nicoleta’s arrival. Her parents are called voinicos because they survived being bitten by a vampire. By birth, a voinico’s child becomes a vampire hunter, also known as a vanator. Varujan has known that the voinico’s daughter would eventually return to Romania, and he is looking forward to meeting her and killing her. With his vampire mistress, Antanasia, Varujan seems unstoppable.

Is Nicoleta ready to face Varujan and Antanasia? The other vanators have been training to kill vampires since they were children. Will Nicoleta be able to catch up with her training and be ready for the battle that is inevitably coming? Can she keep herself and her friends safe, or will they become the vampires’ victims before their trip is over? Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Nicoleta’s life is never going to be the same again!

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Excerpt:

“Were you really so foolish?” the voice was deep and ominous. “I thought that of all the voinicos, you were one of the wisest. You are the great Andrei, after all, aren’t you?”

Andrei lay on the ground bleeding, a mere ten feet from Varujan. His adversary had picked him up and thrown him to the ground, and Andrei had cut his calf on a sharp rock. The wound wasn’t lethal, but a steady stream of blood oozed down his leg.

The vârcolac’s words stung. Andrei would rarely want to admit that a vârcolac was right about anything. But in this case, Varujan was right. He shouldn’t have come alone.

Normally, Andrei wouldn’t have been so careless. But when he had caught wind of Varujan, he had to see where he was going. 

Vârcolacs, being fully-turned vampires, were natural enemies to the voinicos. Andrei knew that the vârcolacs despised voinicos more than any other human. It was their defiance that made the vârcolacs the angriest. A voinico was a human who had been bitten by a vampire, but they had resisted the urge to feed on human blood for three long days and nights after having been bitten. In doing so, they had been spared the fate of becoming a vampire. It wasn’t often that a vârcolac chose to turn a human instead of feed on them. It would obviously be the ultimate insult for someone to decline that gift and keep themselves from turning. The voinicos would always be a reminder that there were humans who would defy the vârcolacs even after they had been spared of having their blood drained.

 When Andrei had followed Varujan, he hadn’t planned on getting close enough for Varujan to see him. He had only planned on following the vârcolac and then reporting back to his friends. It would give the vânătors the intel they needed to be able to track Varujan and fight him. That was the vânătors’ job. Hunt vârcolacs and extinguish them.

If the vânătors were lucky, they would find other vârcolacs and destroy them also, although Andrei had hoped there wouldn’t be too many. Even though they had quite a number of vânătors ready and willing to fight, the vârcolacs were still stronger than them. If there were too many vârcolacs and not enough vânătors, it would be a bloodbath. Literally.

“I’m surprised to hear you call me great,” Andrei said weakly. “You know I’m no match for you.”

That was an understatement. When a voinico encountered a vârcolac, they became weak. Most even became paralyzed in the presence of a vârcolac. No one really knew why, but everyone believed it had something to do with the fact that they had been bitten by a vampire but hadn’t allowed themselves to turn. Being too close to a vârcolac was more than their bodies could handle. Andrei was definitely too close to Varujan now. There would be no chance of getting up and trying to run away. Not that it would do much good anyway. Vârcolacs were much faster than any voinico.

Upon hearing Andrei’s feeble reply, Varujan laughed, but there was nothing light-hearted about it. It was a cruel and taunting laugh.

“No, you are no match for me,” Varujan said. “And yet, you still followed me. I suppose you thought you were far enough behind me that I wouldn’t sense you. It’s true that I wouldn’t sense a voinico as quickly as I would sense any ordinary human. Your blood did change after I bit you. If only you had fed within those first three days, you would now be nearly as strong as me.”

Vampires gained strength as they aged, at least until they reached full maturity which usually didn’t happen until around a hundred years. Some continued to get even stronger over the next few centuries. Indeed, if Andrei would have fed, he would be much stronger by now and would be close to matching Varujan in strength. But he would also be as evil.

Andrei still remembered the night more than twenty years ago when he had first encountered Varujan. He had been naïve back then, not knowing anything about the dark creatures who lived in the outskirts of his world. Of course, he had heard of vampires. But like most other people, he had thought they were nothing more than fantasies meant to be a part of scary stories. He found out differently when he was bitten, and his life would never be the same again.

“I regret nothing,” Andrei said. “Kill me if you must. But know that if you do, you will have ten or more vânătors hunting you down.”

As if that wasn’t the case already!

“Anyone I know?” Varujan’s voice sounded sarcastic.

Andrei knew that Varujan was trying to anger him. Andrei had heard a rumor that Varujan and Antanasia knew about the girl. He had encountered one of Varujan’s servants, a human who was referred to as a paznic. Andrei had been forced to kill the young man when he was attacked by him. He still remembered the paznic trying to choke the life out of him. As they struggled, the paznic admitted that his plan was to take Andrei to Varujan. He told Andrei that Varujan was angry with him because he hadn’t allowed himself to turn and that Varujan wanted him alive. So, Varujan wanted him alive, did he? Andrei knew that at least guaranteed his safety for the moment. The paznic wouldn’t dare to kill him. The repercussions for that mistake would likely be fatal for the paznic. 

Andrei was strong, provided there were no vampires around. He was stronger than the paznic. Had he not been taken by surprise, the paznic wouldn’t have gotten him into a dangerous position in the first place. Andrei was able to push the paznic off of him. The paznic wouldn’t give up, though. However, his determination wasn’t enough to save him. As the fight continued, Andrei laid a blow to him that ended the paznic’s life.

Before the paznic died, Andrei had gathered a little information. Nothing about Varujan’s and Antanasia’s whereabouts, unfortunately, but the girl’s name had come up. It had been a great distress for Andrei. How did the vârcolacs know about her? It frightened Andrei. And now, to hear Varujan’s tone, Andrei knew who he was talking about.

“No!” Andrei shouted. “Not her! She will never fight you!”

Varujan laughed.

“Maybe you’re right. But then again, maybe you’re not,” he said. “Do you really think she can stay hidden forever?”

“You and I both know that you will never leave the safety of your woods to track her down,” Andrei pointed out.

Okay. So maybe Varujan would leave the woods on occasion to hunt in Cluj-Napoca. That was a city in the region of Transylvania. Like most locals, Varujan just called it Cluj. But Andrei knew that Varujan would never go beyond Cluj, and the girl was hidden much further away than that.

“That much is true,” Varujan said.

He looked down at Andrei, toying with him.

“My, oh my!” Varujan spoke as he inhaled deeply, smelling the blood still oozing from Andrei’s leg. “You’d better get that tended to, or you may get a nasty infection. You might be stronger than you once were before I bit you, but like me, you are not immortal.”

Even though vârcolacs were vampires, it was a myth that they were immortal. They did enjoy much longer life spans, however, often reaching a thousand years of age or more. Because they lived so long and aged so slowly, the myth had risen that vârcolacs were immortal. Of course, few people believed in vampires anyway, not until it was too late. Usually, once they met one, their life was about to end.

Only the voinicos and vânătors knew that their enemies were mortal. They could be killed, but it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like a voinico would do the killing, though. While they were significantly stronger than the average human, that strength faded whenever they came near a vârcolac. That would leave the fighting and killing to the vânătors who were the children of the voinicos. Depending on whether or not a vânător had one or both parents who were voinicos, they could be up to three times as strong as an ordinary human.

Even so, a vârcolac was still stronger than even the strongest vânător, so the vânătors rarely hunted vârcolacs alone. On those rare occasions, it would be an unexpected hunt. Any organized hunting party would include several vânătors since no one knew how many vampires they might encounter. Still, plenty of vânătors stayed out of the hunt. They couldn’t send everyone out at once. If a hunting expedition went wrong, then there would be no one left to fight the remaining vârcolacs.

“What do you care about my injury?” Andrei asked. “You and I both know you will end this here. I won’t live to see my wound tended to!”

Varujan got down on the ground so quickly that Andrei didn’t even see the movement. It was as if Varujan was standing one moment and was on the ground beside him the next. Varujan held Andrei down. Andrei struggled to move, but with the vârcolac so close to him, his whole body was paralyzed. Varujan leaned his mouth down to Andrei’s neck and let it hover about two inches above it. Andrei could feel Varujan’s breath on his skin.

“This does bring back memories,” Varujan said. “That night when I bit you seems so long ago, doesn’t it? Funny, I didn’t think it would be a repeat performance. I thought you would be joining me and that we would be ruling the woods together by now.”

“Never!” Andrei spat out the word.

Tears spilled out of his eyes. He didn’t want to be afraid, but he was. He didn’t want to die at the hands of a vârcolac, let alone the one who had changed his life so long ago.

Varujan lowered his teeth to Andrei’s neck. He exposed his fangs and felt the blood pulsing under Andrei’s skin. A strong desire came over him. Bite! Even though, a voinico’s blood wouldn’t taste good like a normal person’s blood would, it had been a while since Varujan had fed. He was hungry. Biting Andrei would be so easy.

Of course, it wouldn’t do much for him. Once someone became a voinico, their blood changed. It didn’t nourish vampires, not like human blood. It would only take their mind off their hunger for a few minutes. Then, they would still be looking for someone to feed off of. Vânător blood was even worse. It made them slightly nauseated. The only reason to bite a vânător was if they were doing so in an attempt to kill them. Fortunately, there were much quicker ways to kill someone, so they rarely bit a vânător. Voinicos, on the other hand, could at least take their minds off their hunger for a short time. 

Andrei braced himself. He knew it would be quick. Once the vârcolac bit him, the blood wouldn’t remain in his body much longer. Within seconds, he would lose consciousness.

Like many animals, vampires could sense fear. Andrei had plenty of fear for Varujan to feed off of now. He had no doubt it was giving Varujan a rush of adrenaline. That feeling would be almost as satisfying to the vârcolac as if he were to take his victim’s blood. Varujan let his fangs stay on Andrei’s neck for several moments. Andrei knew that Varujan was enjoying himself immensely.

Finally, enough time had passed. Varujan slowly pulled his mouth away from Andrei’s neck and pulled himself back up into a squatting position, looking down at his victim.

Andrei was confused. Why hadn’t Varujan killed him? He knew it was what the vârcolac wanted to do more than anything.

“I don’t understand,” Andrei muttered, still overwhelmed by what had just happened.

Again, Varujan laughed.

“No, I suppose you don’t,” he said. “But it’s not you I want. You know who it is that I’m after.”

“No! Why?!” Andrei’s voice grew louder, his body pumping so much adrenaline that he felt slightly stronger.

“Why?” Varujan asked bitterly.

“Yes, why?” Andrei asked again.

Varujan sighed.

“It’s simple really,” Varujan said. “No one gets to escape their destiny.”

“I’ll never tell you where she is, and you will never leave the woods to go find her,” Andrei reminded him. “You might as well kill me now. You’ll get nothing out of me!”

“I don’t need to get anything out of you. And yes, I could kill you now,” Varujan said. “But then, you wouldn’t be around when I do find her, or rather, when she finds me. You and I both know that it’s in a vânător’s blood to hunt vârcolacs. It doesn’t matter how far away you sent her. She will eventually fulfill her destiny. And when she does, I do want you to be around to enjoy the show.”

“Never!” Andrei shouted. “I will kill you first myself!”

It was an idle threat. He and Varujan both knew it. He was in no position to fight Varujan, let alone kill him. His body could barely move. He was at the vârcolac’s mercy.

Varujan reached his finger down to Andrei’s leg. He scraped up the line of blood that was still slowly oozing out. He put it to his mouth and licked the blood off his finger.

“Just as I expected. It’s kind of like eating stale food, if I remember right,” Varujan said, and then he laughed. “Still, stale or not, I am hungry.”

“You and I both know that feeding off of me would hardly nourish you at all,” Andrei reminded him.

“Yes, that’s true. Probably no more than if you were to eat a couple of potato chips,” Varujan agreed. “But it might alleviate my boredom and take my mind off of my hunger for a while. It might buy me enough time to go get a real meal in Cluj! It would be rather blissful to drain your body, wouldn’t it?”

“Then, what’s stopping you?” Andrei asked bitterly. “It’s certainly not me.”

Varujan laughed.

“No, it’s certainly not you,” he replied.

He stood up and stared down at Andrei for a few moments, looking like he was lost in thought. Neither of them said anything more. Then, Varujan left at lightning speed, so quickly that it was all a blur to Andrei.

After Varujan had been gone for a few minutes, Andrei’s strength slowly came back to him. He carefully pulled himself up and started hobbling back to the village to warn the others about what had just happened. They needed to know that he had found Varujan. Andrei knew that he would see the vârcolac again soon. He and the others needed to be prepared. Of course, he couldn’t tell them everything about his encounter with Varujan. There were certain details that he was going to have to leave out.

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I have always loved writing. Even as a child, a lot of my free time was spent writing stories and scripts. I often imagined stories when I went to bed, dreaming up my own plots. In high school, I was placed in a creative writing class. I wrote plays, poems and stories. My writing still needed to be developed, but it definitely got my creative ideas flowing. One of my teachers saw my writing talent. She told me that she knew I would want to major in English when I went to college but not to do it. The reason, of course, was money. I’d most likely end up teaching, and that didn’t pay well. I went to college and heeded my teacher’s advice, studying journalism. But when I graduated, I realized I couldn’t see myself as a journalist. I went back to college a few years later and got my teaching certificate. I taught middle school language arts for sixteen years. While I used my creativity to teach my students, my job was very demanding. It simply left no time to write for fun. I finally had to retire early due to health issues, but there was at least one good thing. I now had plenty of time to work on my writing! I took advantage of the opportunity and began to write novels and stories. It was a great stress relief, and I enjoyed it immensely. I grew as a writer, improving my craft the more I wrote. I took the self-publishing route. Now, my problem is that I have ideas for so many books, it will take me many years to write them. I have over a dozen books on my list to write, but I know that I will eventually get to all of them!

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I don’t really have a favorite time or place. I just like to write when the ideas come. I find that if I even delay writing for a short time after an idea comes to me, it’s never as good as what I had originally come up with. I find that many times when I go to bed, the ideas start coming. I’ve often gotten up out of bed to at least jot down my notes so that I don’t forget my thoughts. I also find that I sometimes write for hours a day, several days in a row. Then, I go a week or two without writing anything.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I usually just start brainstorming. I think of a general idea of what I might want to write about, maybe aliens or an imaginary friend. Then, I start outlining the plot in my head. Once I have a general idea of what I want to write, I type out the general plot and go from there. I have also come up with several ideas from dreams. My short story, “Traffic Stop,” was based on a nightmare I had. Part of the dream is almost exactly the same thing as what happened in the story right after the main character gets pulled over. A lot of people are disturbed by nightmares. I can be too, but I also often look at them and think that it’s a great opportunity for a storyline. Then, there is my “Alien Cats” trilogy. I always wanted to write a book about cats ruling a distant planet. That series was also inspired by cats I rescued and was lucky to share my life with. For me, it’s kind of like a memorial to those kitties as well as a fun story.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I always have a general idea. I know some authors do great just letting it go where they want. I find I do much better if I know where I want my story to start and how I want it to end. I do often wind up changing things significantly. I’m not afraid to change an ending altogether if that’s what feels right, but it helps me to have a general map of the story when I write. Once I have written several pages, I usually make a general outline of what I want to happen in each chapter. Sometimes, a single chapter is too long and becomes two or three chapters, but that’s okay. Just knowing that I have enough material in my head to come up with enough chapters to make a novel, I know that I can do it. It becomes less overwhelming for me.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I am all over the place with genres! I simply love to tell a good story. It’s the same when I read other books also. My genres include science fiction, dark fantasy, horror, humorous fantasy, psychological thriller and even Christian fantasy. I also am working on a dystopian series. As long as I have an engaging plot and characters who I connect with, genre doesn’t really matter to me.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

My sister, Elsie Marie Cochren, helped me co-write my latest novel, “The Voinico’s Daughter.” It comes out in December. It’s about a girl named Nicoleta who finds out she is meant to be a vampire hunter. I would kind of like to see Willow Shields play Nicoleta. I absolutely loved her as Prim in “Hunger Games.” I would like to see her take on the role of vampire slayer and show the strong character that Nicoleta becomes by the end of the novel. Speaking of Hunger Games, who couldn’t love Amandla Stenberg as Rue? I would like to see her play Nicoleta’s best friend, Tatiana. Both Willow Shields and Amandla Stenberg would be the right age now to play Nicoleta and Tatiana who have just graduated from high school when the novel begins. In addition to Nicoleta and her best friend, two other characters are the notorious vampires who are looking for Nicoleta. Being a huge “Divergent” fan, I picked out an actress and actor from that movie series who I would like to play those characters. For Antanasia, I would pick Shailene Woodley. I loved her in “Divergent.” While Antanasia is a much different character than Shailene’s role as Tris, I believe she could pull it off. Likewise, I think her co-star, Theo James, would be good playing Varujan. Both Antanasia and Varujan are evil characters. It would be interesting to see how Woodley and James would portray them.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I love to read. Lately, I’ve been so busy writing that it hasn’t left a lot of time for reading. The last book I read and finished was “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins. I’m a huge “Hunger Games” fan. I have loved all of the books and movies. I watch the movies repeatedly. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” did not disappoint. I even deprived myself of sleep as I stayed up to read it to see what would happen next. Needless to say, I didn’t write much those few days that I was reading that book! I’m also a huge “Twilight” fan even if my own vampire book is nothing like the “Twilight” series. I love all four books in the original series, as well as the movies. Another author I also love is Marie Lu. In my opinion, “Legend” is just as good as the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” series. I would love to see it become a movie!

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I bought “Midnight Sun” by Stephenie Meyer. I’ve read about half of it. I don’t know why, but I’m having trouble finishing it. Like I said earlier, I’m a huge “Twilight” fan. I think if I would have started this book before reading the others, I would probably be devouring it. But knowing the story and simply reading it from another point of view hasn’t grabbed me yet. I like it enough to eventually get back to it and to not read another book until I do so. However, I haven’t made it a priority over other things right now.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

This is such a hard question. There are so many good ones, but I think I would have to go with “Hunger Games.” First of all, I love the dystopian genre. But mostly, I love it because of the characters and theme. I like that it has an ordinary girl put in extraordinary circumstances. She wants nothing to do with being a hero and leading a revolution. Yet she winds up reshaping her entire society. To me, it’s a beautiful story of bravery amid impossible circumstances!

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Just do it! Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do. You will get plenty of people who will tell you that you will never make it as a writer or others who will criticize your work. Don’t allow them to keep you from writing. Write a lot. Listen to constructive criticism.  I find that no matter how many times I look over a book, I still find things I can improve. Writing is one of those art forms that you will never completely perfect. You need to be open to improving your work, but the most important thing is to be comfortable with writing. The more you do it, the easier it gets. At least, that’s the way it is for me. 

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

My main website is www.salliecochren.com. I also have author pages on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Sallie-Cochren), Instagram (www.instagram.com/aliencatsauthor) and Twitter (@sallie_cochren). I also have a Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCzhXHVMiPvnMDFCvfq77ptQ.

About the Author:

Sallie Cochren is the author of several books in multiple genres. A retired middle school teacher, Sallie has created a variety of stories, ranging from comedic to dystopian to thrillers. Sallie has published one short story collection. The stories are also available to purchase individually. She also has full-length novels. Some of her books are part of a series. You may find out more about the author at http://www.salliecochren.com.

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Book Blitz: ‘A Dog of Many Names’ by Douglas Green

Title: A Dog of Many Names

Author: Douglas Green

Publisher: Circuit Breaker Books

Genre: Adventure / Fiction

About the Book:

Born a runt, Rascal is destined to be an underdog. Despite what looked like an unbreakable bond with the daughter of the family who bred her, Rascal’s devotion is discarded when she finds herself left roadside, with nothing but a few pieces of kibble to help her survive. Abandoned and alone, Rascal must learn to fend for herself and embark on a harsh and dangerous journey through the mountain wilderness of Southern California. Along the way, she encounters strangers who teach her about the good and bad of humans. But will she ever find a home that lasts? A Dog of Many Names is a courageous story of survival, seen through the eyes of an unforgettable dog, struggling between her greatest needs — to find her own strength, and to love and be loved.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Barnes and Noble

Excerpt:

Chapter One

The Empire

And then, one by one, the eyes opened…

Everything you hear about Southern California is true—stars, beaches, awful traffic—but about sixty miles east of Los Angeles lies another world. Called the Inland Empire (to convince farmers to move there long ago), it’s a dusty land of factories, warehouses, and homes. A land of struggle.

For example, take Fred and Myrna Corbett. Fred’s grand- parents stopped here on their way from Oklahoma during the Depression. Years later, Myrna’s father moved nearby for a military job after serving in Korea and met her mother one night as she sang for a touring band.

Fred and Myrna met in high school. But they were in their thirties before both suddenly realized they’d always liked each other. Next thing they knew, they were married, then pregnant, and then mourning the loss of a son who almost made it to breathing. But this only made the birth a year later of a baby girl, Angela, especially joyous. By this time, the local couch factory had closed, and Fred had started his own furniture repair business, while Myrna kept her job at the chain drugstore counter three days a week. And now that Angela had defined them as a family, they bought a dog.

Greta was, everyone said, as perfect a German shepherd as ever had been seen. Larger than normal, with defined musculature, noble chin, and a splendid mask (the coloring on her nose and mouth), she was a natural watchdog and companion, and easily the most valuable possession—if you’d use that word—in the Corbett home.

But the Corbetts had another role for her too. Given her looks and her pedigree, they found that breeding her with José Hastings’ similarly beautiful Siegfried gave them litters of pups which, after splitting the profit, brought in  a welcome few thousand dollars a year. Myrna joked that, while they lived in an area called an empire, the only real imperial power around was Greta and Siegfried’s progeny taking over the whole county.

Fred refused to keep Greta in a crate, except when she was nursing pups. But he did keep their eight-foot fence in good repair, to ensure no one but Siegfried would ever date their beloved debutante. Which eventually led to quite a mystery.

When Angela was almost nine, Greta was found to be pregnant again, but when she gave birth it was clear the puppies…weren’t Siegfried’s. All but one bore a clear resemblance to Walter, a chow-Doberman-and-more mix owned by Homer Scott down the street. But how could Walter, who was too stocky to jump over a shoebox, have managed to climb into their yard?

Fred searched the yard and found no possible way. But as he finished, he noticed muddy footprints on top of Greta’s doghouse, which was just tall enough for her to have climbed onto it and pulled herself over the fence. Pulled herself?

Despite regular visits with Siegfried, she risked her life to escape to Walter? Fred went into the house, where Myrna was showing the newborns to Angela, and revealed his discovery. “We won’t let anyone know about them till they’re eight weeks old,” Myrna explained. “Then they’ll be so unbearably cute, no one will be able to resist them.”

Angela smiled, remembering when “unbearably cute” was the term her mother would use to describe her, just before covering her tummy in loud kisses. She counted the babies out—five, six, seven, with the seventh just half the size of the others. She asked why, and Fred explained that, even inside the womb, puppies compete for food, and the smallest often comes out malnourished. “And the runts usually end up fearful, because they’ve been beaten up for longer than they can remember.”

“Ohh!” Angela whined, and reached out to hold the tiny morsel, but Myrna reminded her not to touch them yet. Seeming to grasp the idea, though, Greta leaned over and started licking the tiny one.

And then, one by one, the eyes opened. And their personalities as well.

The cheerful brat who would bite his siblings to get more access to Greta’s  milk; the nurturer who spent all  his awake time licking his brothers and sisters, even when they were sleeping or nursing; the explorer who had to    be watched so that she wouldn’t find a way out of the fenced-in kitchen (“Like mother, like daughter,” Fred shook his head); the lazy sleepy boy who didn’t seem to mind any treatment as long as he could remain exactly where he was; the nervous watcher, always checking around as if some- thing bad were coming at him; the big bulky girl, shoving others all day, but with no ill will—just moving whatever was in her way. And the sad-eyed runt, pushed away by the others at every feeding time, but pulled in by Greta when she’d cry, or at the bottom of the pile at playtime, or sleeping on the outside of the tiny pack—pressing herself against whomever was available for warmth. Ironically, she was the only one who looked like a tiny version of noble Greta, while all the others looked like Walter or a mixture of the two.

And at eight weeks, Myrna’s theory proved right. All it took was posting on a website, and the phone started ringing immediately. The puppies, unable to sleep with the noise, watched to see what the furless giants were doing. When the sixth call came in, Myrna smiled at Angela and answered, “Daisy Hill Puppy Farm!” Angela giggled, even though she didn’t know what her mom was referring to. But then Myrna’s eyes widened suddenly. “Oh, I’m sorry, Rich. Nothing. What…?”

She looked concerned. “Today? But I’m…I’d…I’d have to bring Angela in, is that…? Okay, sure, I’ll be there.”

She hung up, looked at Angela, and almost said some- thing, but thought better of it.

“What, Mommy?”

“We have to go in to work.”

“Oh, Mom, I don’t want to! It’s boring there, and I want to stay with the…”

“I’m sorry, honey,” Myrna cut her off. “It won’t be for long. Something’s…something’s up.”

They left out the back door, as sixteen eyes watched.

All the eyes were startled open two hours later, by the sound of the door unlocking and Angela asking, “What does ‘got her trained like a little monkey’ mean anyway?” in annoyance. The puppies began whining, as Greta pulled them in and began cleaning them.

“What? Who said that?” Myrna asked absently, looking at her phone.

“Mr. Daniels. When we first went in. He gave me that big, loud, ‘Hey, Angela! How’s it going?’ and I said ‘I’m fine, Mr. Daniels. How are you?’ and he told you that you had me trained like a little monkey.”

“Oh, honey, he’s just… He’s not very good with people. He was actually complimenting your manners.”

“Well, if he’s not good with people,” Angela asked while opening a bag of electric-colored candy, “why is he your boss?”

Myrna paused to think that one out. “I think because he’s good at dealing with his bosses. That’s a good lesson to remember, dear.”

The runt, getting shoved aside by the pushy pup, watched Angela give that idea some consideration for about one second, before giving up on it. “And why does he ask questions and then talk over me when I answer?”

Myrna turned to Angela. “That was awful, honey. He was wrong to do that. He asked you about your school, and then when you started to tell him about it, he turned and talked to me, completely ignoring you. I hated it.”

“So why didn’t you stop him?”

“Because…” Myrna winced. “Because what he was saying upset me more. I’m sorry.”

Angela nodded blankly but turned to the crate. “And how are you, little squirrels? Did you have a good afternoon?”

“Better than ours,” Myrna muttered under her breath as she opened the refrigerator.

Greta looked up from her pups and gestured a friendly lick to Angela. Two of the puppies stayed feeding, while the others came up to the bars to lick and chew her fingers. “Why do you think they smell so good, Mommy? Even their peepee smells nice.”

“Oh, that’s probably so we don’t get mad and kick them out when they bite us with those sharp teeth.”

“But they’re too sweet to…Ow!” She pulled back her finger from the brat as he wagged his tail and headed back to his mother.

“Oh, Myrne, no…” Fred moaned as he walked in, the watching pups able to hear his worry. “What happened?”

“I’ve known it was coming. Ever since they started in- stalling those self-checkouts in the front, I’ve told you.”

“But you’ve been so loyal. Who was it? Rich?” “Of course.”

Angela, holding the sleepy little one in her lap, while Greta and the other pups focused on the scent emanating from the oven, chimed in, “I don’t like him, Daddy. He asked me how I liked school and I told him it was fine except that Julia Gonzales called me stupid, and Robin Walker pulls my hair, and—”

“Honey, let Mommy tell me.”

Angela sat back with her mouth still open, and then looked down as the pup in her lap nuzzled her hand.

“Oh, you know, it’ll be two weeks’ pay—what’s in the contract—and he’ll write a letter of recommendation and talk me up. Usual company policy. All ‘Hey, Myrn, you know I don’t make policy, right?’” Myrna said, in a good enough imitation of Rich to make Angela giggle.

Myrna and Fred smiled at her, but then nobody could think of anything to say, so the room went silent, except for the whimpering of the exploring puppy, trying as usual to open the crate’s gate.

“And Mommy took me and her out for candy. And I got a—”

“‘Herself and me,’ honey. Or ‘us,’” Fred counseled Angela, not taking his eyes off Myrna’s clenched face.

“I thought the darkest chocolate I could find might help,” Myrna smiled.

Angela’s face soured. “I tried it. It tasted like the tar on the playground.”

Fred turned to her. “You really ate the—?” “Actually, honey, dinner’s almost ready,” Myrna interrupted. “Can you put him back and go wash up? Face and hands—your mouth looks like a rainbow from all those gummies.”

Angela gave a silly, wide smile, with a “Yummm!” as she carefully put the squirming handful back into the crate and walked out. He sniffed at his curious siblings, curled up in a corner, and shut his eyes.

“There’s something else…” Myrna said low, once the child was out of earshot. “I got a call.”

“What about?”

“It’s Greta,” she whispered, but the sleeping mother across the room heard her name, her ears raising just slightly. “A breeder called. He saw our ad and said she’s probably got only one good whelping in her left, and he’d be happy to take her where he can watch her more closely than we did, to make sure they’re purebred.”

“Oh, I can build our fence higher—that’s no problem. Why would we—?”

“Three thousand dollars,” Myrna interrupted.

Fred started to talk, but stopped, thinking. “Up front?” he finally got out.

“Cash. He says he’s got buyers looking for shepherd pups, as well as wanting some for himself, and Greta’s so known…”

“But I can’t just give her away. That’d be like selling off you or Angie.”

She took his hand in hers. “He said we’d be able to visit her all we wanted. And we’re going to need the three thousand by the end of the month.”

Fred sat back, his body deflating. With his mouth twisted, he thought out loud, “Well, let’s check him out, anyway. To make sure he’s legit.”

Angela walked in. “Are you all cleaned up?” Myrna asked, opening the oven and releasing enough aroma to send all the puppies yapping.

“Clean enough for pizza!” Angela smiled.

Over the next week, countless interested buyers came by the house to check out the puppies, till all seven were booked to be picked up on their twelve-week birthday. As it might be too difficult for Angela to watch, she was sent to her grandparents the night before the pickups, and Fred and Myrna set to glumly doling out the youths they were more attached to than they liked to admit.

First, though, they took Greta to the breeder’s home, figuring it would be too cruel to make her watch her chil- dren being given away. He did seem kind and welcoming, repeating that they should come often for visits.

Then, with no time to feel emotions, Fred and Myrna rushed back to face the puppy-adopters. The feisty brat went to a farmer with a large field; the nurturer to a fam- ily with a child in leg braces who needed a protective companion; the explorer to a young couple who loved hiking; the sleeper to an aged couple who’d just had to put their fourteen-year-old Labrador down; the observer to a storekeeper as a watchdog; and the bulky shover to a local high school football coach, who respected the mutt’s attitude toward life.

The last family finally showed up, excited to take home the funny brash nipper. “But you picked the runt. The shepherd-looking one,” Fred explained.

“No, we picked the fun one. We were holding the little one, but we said we wanted the other.”

“Oh, sorry, but he’s gone. This one’s all that’s left. Would you like her?”

“Well…” the father whined, irritated. “Really, no. We wanted a fun playmate for our boys. This one’s scared of her own shadow. Thanks for nothing.” And they left in a huff.

Fred was still doing his best to explain to Angela, as they walked into the kitchen later, that, as expected, Greta and the other puppies had gone to other homes, and they’d put another ad out for the remaining pup. Angela didn’t re- spond, but looked inside the crates as her father left. There was the little one, gnawing on the bars. “Are you going to be mine?” Angela whispered. “Are you my friend?”

The puppy licked her through the opening with her grey-dappled tongue and then rushed back to gnawing. Angela giggled.

Myrna yelled from the next room that it was time for bed. Angela put her finger into the cage to let the puppy chew on it, said “Goodnight, little rascal,” and headed off to brush her teeth—while the puppy went back to dealing with her own, in her puppy way.

About the Author:

DOUGLAS GREEN is the author of the widely-acclaimed 2015 book The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead, and runs the advice website AskShirelle.com, based on the wisdom in the book, which he was taught by his ridiculous dog. Released from decades in the entertainment business for good behavior, he directed the film The Hiding Place, and now works as a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, specializing in children and teenagers.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.authordouglasgreen.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheTeachingsOfShirelle

Twitter: @DougGreenAuthor

Instagram: www.instagram.com/douggreenauthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7421468.Douglas_Green

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Author Interview: ‘The Goblin Pitcher’ by Paul Lonardo

About the Book:

The one thing eleven-year-old Jake Lupo loves more than anything else is baseball. However, despite his father being a professional pitcher, Jake’s fear of failing has kept him from competing against children his own age. When his father, who has recovered from a serious arm injury, is invited to pitch for an independent team, Jake and his parents move to Pine Barrows, a far flung forested mountain outpost. Jake is excited about his father’s chance at a comeback, but he soon learns that he is not the only one in Pine Barrows who loves baseball. Goblins love to play baseball, too, and Pine Barrows happens to be chock full of them. Then Jake discovers that the region is occupied by two factions of warring goblins.

Seeking to take control of the goblin kingdom, the leader of the evil goblins kidnaps Jake’s mother and bans baseball, a game which itself is a natural source of power for the goblins.

It turns out that Jake has a secret kinship with the legendary beings, and he is the only one who can save them, their kingdom and his mother. However, Jake must believe in himself and play a winner-take-all game against the best goblin players in Pine Barrows.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I am fortunate to be able to write full time now, doing freelance work and contributing to a local magazine/newspaper. Besides my own fiction and nonfiction projects, I ghostwrite and collaborate with aspiring writers or people who have a unique or interesting experience they want to share with others. I really enjoy all of it. However, filmmaking was my first love, and as a kid I got hold of an old super-8 film camera and started making movies with my friends in the backyard. I wrote scripts, telling original stories with the camera, editing, and screening the completed films to family members and friends. After high school, I even went to a film school in Hollywood, CA. I was a great experience, and it’s where I developed a love of writing, short stories at first, and eventually my first full length novel. 

2: Do you have a favorite time and place where you write?

I feel I am at my most creative in the evening, and late at night. When everything is quiet and the day is done, I can focus better on a creative project. The daytime hours I usually spend doing promotional work and research, as well as reading.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

There is no telling where an idea will come from, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It could come from something you read, see in a movie or on television, or something you hear someone say that sparks an idea for a storyline, a character, some dialogue or just a cool sounding title. Once that little seed gets in my brain, it starts to germinate. If this nascent idea is not acknowledged and cultivated in some way, it will wither and die. Whether you call it a muse, an inner voice, or some other extraneous force whispering in a writer’s ear, wherever inspiration comes from, it cannot be denied. Maybe all people hear these whisperings, but a writer cannot simply dismiss them.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Often a story will “write itself.” That does happen, but it only works if you have a character that is fully developed, one you completely understand. That character will take you on a journey that you as the writer may not know, at least not consciously. Go with these characters, trust them. If your story is getting pulled in some inexplicable direction, then you have to pull back and find out more about the character. That is the key.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

As evidenced from my list of books, there are numerous genres represented, both fiction and nonfiction. I really enjoy the challenge of writing in a genre that is new to me. It keeps me feeling fresh and eager to learn different styles of writing and approaches to a topic or subject matter. This also ensures that I continue reading, because you have to read in the genre you are writing.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

My latest book, being a middle grade fantasy/adventure, it would be difficult for me to name a current young actor to play the main character. However, I drew such inspiration from an early Stephen King novel, The Body, and have an affinity with the film adaptation of that story, Rob Reiner’s directed, Stand By Me, that I pictured young Wil Wheaton playing Jake in my book. His parents, I could see Matthew McConaughey playing his dad because of his athleticism, and Toni Collette playing his mom. She was so good in The Sixth Sense.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read a ton growing up. Being the late 70’s and early 80’s, horror was king, and Stephen King was Overlord. So, one of his books was never far from me. I liked the horror masters, Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, but I also read many other contemporary authors of fright and the macabre, such as Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Joe R. Lonsdale, Ramsey Campbell and Robert McCammon, to name a few. I still read today, perhaps not as much, but certainly a much more diverse array of writers, because of my penchant for writing across genres.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I am reading a couple of books right now, one is a middle grade novel and the other is a sports book. With the recent passing of baseball legend, Hank Aaron, I picked up a biography on Hammering Hank. I alternate between chapters of that book and a middle grade adventure, titled “Took: A Ghost Story” by Mary Downing Hahn. 

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ is one of my favorite books, and one of the few that I have read more than once. Why I like this book so much is because of the perspective the author offers the reader in the telling of this story. Capote does not sensationalise the crimes or make the murderers out to be rock stars. It is an approach that works on so many levels, and you see the approach emulated in true crime books today, but never surpassed by Capote’s signature work.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

If writing is something you really enjoy, don’t let anything stop you, no matter how little time you have to devote to it. Always write for you first, write what interests you, and the readers who find you will be lucky they did.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Recently, I have been scouring the Internet for all the best sites to reach the reading public. I have joined a whole host of them, and if anyone has other recommendations for me to consider, please feel free to let me know. You can find my books and information about them, and me, on Goodreads, LibraryThing, AuthorsDen, BookBub, The Authors Guild, LinkedIn, and of course my Amazon author page. I also have a new website, www.thegoblinpitcher.com, featuring highlights, giveaways and other fun stuff related to my new middle grade fantasy adventure book, THE GOBLIN PITCHER.

About the Author:

I have authored both fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of genres, from true crime to romance. As a freelance writer, I often collaborate with people to help them write and publish their biographies, memoirs, or to help them relate a particularly compelling or personal experience.

I studied filmmaking / screenwriting at Columbia College – Hollywood. I earned an A.S. (Mortuary Science) from Mount Ida College and a B.A. (English) from the University of Rhode Island.

I live in Lincoln, RI with my wife and son.

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Book Blitz: ‘Horseback Across Three Americas’ by Verne R. Albright

Title: Horseback Across Three Americas

Author: Verne R. Albright

Publisher: Hellgate Press

Genre: True-life, Adventure

 

About the Book:

Travel with Verne Albright on his famous Peru-to-California ride. Cringe as he encounters vampire bats. Feel apprehension as he’s chased by bandits, and when he rides into Nicaragua days after a violent revolution. Be there when a road grader driver tries to run him and his horses down. Experience the tension of facing malaria, typhoid, cholera, and bubonic plague. Come with him across the Peak of Death, where travelers have frozen to death standing. Feel his anxiety when he becomes a fugitive from the law in Mexico. And meet countless fascinating people including a witch doctor, bandits, a smuggler, a bullying sheriff, and a beautiful American girl named Emily.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Also by author:

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Link to Author Interview:

www.readingnook84.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/author-interview-playing-chess-with-god-by-verne-r-albright

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

About the Author:

FLASH: My novel “Playing Chess with God” was voted Online Book Club’s 2019 Book of the Year. Order copies for yourself or to give as gifts.

“My earliest memory,” six foot, nine inch Verne Albright remembers, “is of an English class where the teacher assigned a one-page story. The other students’ reaction was summed up by a boy who exclaimed, ‘how will I ever write a whole page!’ I however, wrote twenty and in the process discovered my life’s first passion.”

At twenty-one Verne traveled to Peru and was enchanted by the country and its people. During that first visit he, his wife, and their year-old daughter traveled by jeep in the Andes Mountains of four nations. Over the next half-century he returned to Peru sixty-four times and imported over two hundred of its Paso horses—including a pair he took overland to California, a nine-month trek of more then five thousand miles in eleven nations. Riding much of the way he came face-to-face with killer deserts, witch doctors, bandits, avalanches, poisonous reptiles, vampire bats, and a violent revolution.

“Finding a true calling is a miracle experienced by few,” he once said, “and Peru provided me with two. I promoted its Paso horses worldwide for over fifty years and more recently began writing historical fiction set in its fascinating past and rich culture.”

Verne is a master story teller and his novels are so well written that they’ve already begun appearing on Best-Seller Lists. And why not? He has lived adventures at least as exciting as the ones he writes about.

 

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