Excerpt The Last April by Belinda Kroll

Spontaneous, fifteen-year-old Gretchen vows to help heal the nation from the recently ended Civil War. On the morning of President Lincoln’s death, Gretchen finds an amnesiac Confederate in her garden and believes this is her chance for civic goodwill.

But reconciliation is not as simple as Gretchen assumed. When her mother returns from the market with news that a Confederate murdered the president, Gretchen wonders if she caught the killer. Tensions between her aunt and mother rise as Gretchen nurses her Confederate prisoner, revealing secrets from their past that make Gretchen question everything she knows about loyalty, honor, and trust.

The Last April is an entertaining, thoughtful novella of Ohio after the Civil War, meant to encourage readers to reflect on themes of fear and hope in uncertain political times.

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Everyone else would remember that Saturday as the day President Lincoln died. Gretchen Miller would remember it as the day the ragged man collapsed at her feet.

Gretchen was tugging at weeds and swatting at gnats when a thud made her whip around. The war was over, but Confederate supporters were everywhere. They lingered after General Lee’s surrender, and President Lincoln’s reconciliation speech, and in pro-Union Columbus.

Gretchen swung from her hunched position to lean back on her barefoot heels. Her skirts puffed out with the movement. She slapped them down, annoyed.

Sharp sunlight made it difficult to see. Gretchen thought she saw a collapsed man just yards from her hem. She adjusted her straw hat so it shaded her eyes.

The man was sprawled across the oak tree roots. Gretchen could not tell his age or condition from where she crouched. His back was to her, his dark head resting on his outstretched arm. He was not moving.

“May the angels have charge of me,” Gretchen whispered. She patted the revolver in her skirt pocket.

His leg twitched.

Gretchen’s heart leaped. That dark, matted hair gave her a turn. Maybe it was her brother Werner, returned from war at last. A hundred men from the Grove City area had answered President Lincoln’s call for soldiers. Everyone was afraid of the number that would return.

Gretchen grabbed her skirts as she scrambled to standing. She flailed her arms at the log farmhouse she called home. She could not shout, in case the man had faked his injury and was waiting for an excuse to attack.

Her aunt, Tante Klegg, stuck her head out the kitchen door. “What is it?” Tante Klegg’s heavy German accent was strident in the quiet morning. It matched the severity of her hair braided and twisted tight against her head.

Gretchen put her finger to her lips. She cupped her hands around her mouth so her whisper would carry. “There is a man.” She waved at her aunt to come outside.

Tante Klegg tiptoed across the rocks Gretchen had overturned gardening. She held her skirt layers high above her ankles.

The man remained quiet, only his twitching foot letting them know he lived. Gretchen did not know if that meant he was dangerous or that he was too injured to move.

Gretchen brushed a strand of reddish hair from her mouth as the breeze picked up. Though it was April, the humidity was heavy and stifling. The wind still carried the scent of cooling bonfires from yesterday’s elaborate celebrations.

Last night, Gretchen had danced until her feet ached and sung until her voice was hoarse. She had been ready to do anything to help her country heal. She held onto the president’s words of reconciliation that she read in the newspaper. She hoped everyone could see the Confederates as prodigal brothers and sisters. She hoped the Confederates would be humble and welcomed home.

With a stranger at her feet, Gretchen realized such things were easier said than done. She gripped the revolver hidden in her pocket and held out her other hand to stop her aunt from advancing. Holding her breath, she crept closer.

The man perhaps could have been her brother, once upon a time. His body was gaunt, worn thin by trials Gretchen suspected she would never understand. His left hand did not bear Werner’s distinctive strawberry-shaped birthmark.

This was not her brother.

Belinda Kroll is the author of Victorian fiction for kids and teens. She grew up in a home where reading was encouraged and Jeopardy! was on every weeknight. Both activities fostered her love of history. Some of her titles include Catching the Rose, Haunting Miss Trentwood, short story Haunting Miss Trentwood: The Seance, and contemporary short story Mad Maxine. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and two step-dogs. Go Bucks!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BelindaKrollFans
Twitter: https://twitter.com/worderella
Author Site: http://worderella.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4189553.Belinda_Kroll

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Excerpt – Mirror Image and Giveaway

Las Vegas stripper, Jazz Connolly is wrongly accused of murder and finds out the killer may be her identical twin. With help from a Denver cop Mike Mitchell—the latest victim’s best friend and her accuser, Jazz uncovers facts about her past, a dark secret twisted with lies, and clues to the killer’s true identity.

When Mike finds Jazz on his doorstep, he can’t resist the temptation and helps her track down details of her past. As they uncover clues, he can’t ignore the potent chemistry between them. In this tangled web of chaos, their passion ignites, but can they learn to trust each other? While the body count grows, they will have to fight back, love hard, and survive in order to learn the truth and expose the real killer.

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Studying the picture of the woman, I could swear I’m looking at myself. “I don’t know who that is, but that isn’t me,” I gulp out. “I don’t have clothes like that and my wig is black.”

“It’s uncanny, isn’t it though? She looks just like you, aside from the wig. Are you sure you don’t have any siblings? Maybe a twin sister? She has to be, from the way you two look so much alike.” Lindstrum charges.

“No. I’m an only child. I don’t even have cousins,” I say. All the while my focus is on the picture of the woman in the red wig. I know it’s me in the black wig. But both detectives are right. This woman and I can pass for sisters. Twins.

“Are you sure?” Ruiz is insistent. “We tried getting into your adoption files but they’re blocked.”

“Positive.” Wait. Did I hear him correctly? “What do you mean adoption files?” I ask, staring at Ruiz for the answers. “This has to be some mistake? I’m not adopted.” Or am I?

“We were able to find some details about your adoption, Ms. Jessica Ann Connolly. What we uncovered is that you were adopted by Margaret and William Connolly from Brandford, Idaho, on June 13, 1991.” Lindstrum says evenly. He leans back in his chair and nods at me. “That is the truth.”

I’m adopted. Shock tears through me. Is this possible? The truth is like a boulder on my chest and I can’t breathe. I don’t know what to think or do. Everything is starting to spin. Not even sure if I’m having a heart attack because my chest is hurting so bad. My skin’s prickling tight against my bones and my hearing and vision are fading in and out.

Don’t pass out, is all I can repeat to myself, but that is exactly what I do.


CJ Warrant Bio:

CJ Warrant is a lover, a hater and sometimes a fighter for all she’s passionate about. She can’t exist without coffee, chocolate and a damn story brewing in her head. She was born an overseas Army brat, in a Korean Italian household but settled in the states at the ripe old age of five.

With a long career in the beauty industry, a wonderful marriage to a great man and three kids nearly all grown, her view of life is as such. Life is a journey; both good and bad, light and dark, but she takes it all in and learns from every experience life has to offer. She takes those crazy moments, stirs in the dark and brings her passion for words to life.

Visit CJ at www.cjwarrant.com

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Goddess Of The Wild Thing by Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D

Goddess of the Wild Thing is a dramatic tale of one woman’s spiritual journey where magical happenings, unexpected turns of fate, and unseen forces influence her ability to love and be loved. Eve Sanchez, a middle-aged woman and scholar of esoteric studies, encounters a seductive but frightening man who introduces her to a supernatural world in which the wicked powers of a surrogate mother’s twisted affection threaten love and life.

In the mystic realm of Aztlan del Sur, Eve and three friends struggle with whether bad love is better than no love and discover that love is a wild thing.

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Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico. He specializes in treating individuals in emotional and spiritual crisis. His novels, visionary thrillers, delve deep into archetypal realities as they play out dramatically in the lives of everyday people. Memberships include the Author’s Guild, the Depth Psychology Alliance, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Jungian Studies.

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Inter with Emme Dun Author of Bully

BullybannerBullyBully is a fast paced legal thriller where “The L Word” meets “Kramer vs Kramer.” Bully begins in the 1980s when courts routinely stripped LGBT parents of their parental rights solely because they were gay. Bully then shifts to the 2000s to explore a typical lesbian relationship wherein Lisa meets Windy and they quickly fall for each other, despite Lisa’s plans for a baby.

Although Lisa and Windy never marry, when Lisa breaks it off because Windy reveals herself to be a deadbeat, Windy files for custody of Lisa’s daughter to fatal effect… Bully explores the legal and emotional issues faced by single parents in the LGBT community and leaves readers asking the question: what rights do parents really have?

It has been said, “In a world without law, you have chaos, oppression and tyranny and everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.” Bully is that story.

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Interview –

Let’s start out easy. Tell us a little bit about your book.

Bully is a legal thriller about justice in every sense of the word. Its themes are full acceptance, respect for and equality in our choices and decisions as human beings and parents regardless of our sexual orientation, gender, race, or other status.

What inspired you to write this story?

My spouse was sued for forced shared custody of her child and over the 5 years the case wound its way through the legal system, I became acquainted with several mothers in the same situation. In light of my background as a lawyer and gay person, especially since the horrible case of “Bowers v. Hardwick” was the law of the land when I was in law school, I followed these cases with disbelief and incredulity. And even though Obergefell righted many past wrongs, there is still injustice and much work left to do in order to have full equality and acceptance.

What is the main lesson that your book is trying to teach?

I wanted to show that we have come full circle from the very dark Bowers v. Hardwick days, to a time, now, where although we can marry, the courts are back in our homes defining our families for us, irrespective of Obergefell, simply because we are lesbians or gay people. I decided to write Bully to show that as far as we’ve come, we still have a long way to go and to bring attention to the near- absolute power elected judges possess and to encourage everyone to become more engaged in the political process.

Moving on to your writing career, how long have you been writing?

Did you always dream to become an author?

I’ve been writing my entire life, but in more of a technical and professional fashion. And, yes, as someone who expresses herself better in writing, I did always dream of becoming an author.

I’m always curious whether or not authors read the same types of books that they write.

So tell us, what book genres do you love to read? to write?

I love thrillers, mysteries, suspense, time travel, and feel good stories.

What are you reading right now?

A Dog’s Purpose

Have any particular authors inspired you to write? If so, can you name one and what you like about their style?

Yes. I have to name two because their writing has had such a profound impact on me: Diana Gabaldon and John Grisham. Their styles are very different, but both write such engaging stories I just lose myself in them!

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes. I’m working through the plotline where “Jenna” is the main protagonist.

Emme Dun has been a lawyer for 23 years working in both the private and public sectors including clerking for a trial court judge. While in law school, Emme served as the president of the LGBT student group and had her student note published in the law journal. Bully is her first novel.


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Book Review – The University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies #FreeEbook

The University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies tourCorporealEtherealStudies_FrontCoverPromoPrintAt the University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies meddling with unknown powers can be dangerous work. Courses in arts and sciences experiment with supernatural forces to solve the mysteries of the universe, but when school projects go awry, the students may discover more than they would like to about the madness of the cosmic ‘Beyond’.
Eight interwoven stories follow students whose school work, social lives and inner demons crash together, leading to fantastic and horrible experiences, supernatural powers, and a fuller understanding of the dark depths of their world.
Classes include subjects such as time travel, alchemy, oneironautics , psychedelic transformation, rogue automatons, cosmic ghosts, reality-warping crystals, and more.
Inspired by many authors of science fiction, fantasy and horror, including H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov.

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Wolfgang Edwards was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1987. He has been an aspiring writer since he was a child and intends to keep writing the rest of his life.

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This book has a little bit of everything. Sci-fi, horror, and paranormal so there is something for everyone. I happened to like it all. This is a compilation of stories, eight total and they are a nice length. The characters are nicely developed and interesting. I still have a couple of stories to go. You can get the first one for free.

Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World by P.F. Citizen One

unexpectedtour-bannerscreen-shot-2016-10-26-at-7-11-05-pmA series of short, true life stories, which are the product of the travels and observations of one man. The stories are a miscellaneous collection of the funny and sad, of tragedy, love and friendship. And they are all, in a way, unexpected.
Unexpected takes you on a journey from a Brazilian working on the oil rigs of Venezuela, who gets the shock of his life, to the uplifting story of a Chinese beggar living on the streets, entertaining passers-by with his songs and surviving through the mercy and kindness of others.
There is a story for each of us in this book. Each one is subtly different and each carries either a message of hope for lost, or of caution for the unwary.
Unexpected is just that. Just as life is and just as the course of our lives run, at times unexpectedly.

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P.F. Citizen One is a writer. He works as a petroleum engineer, which requires a lot of traveling to different screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-7-15-00-pmcountries, and he uses the situations and varied people he has come across as an inspiration for his great love of writing. His interest in travel has meant that he has picked up some useful languages along the way, and he is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and German, allowing him to go just about anywhere and still be understood. Most of the time. He lists his great fear as ”being stranded alone on a desert island” and, as a result, he avoids traveling by boat whenever he can.

P.F. Citizen One’s new book, Unexpected, was published on October 7th and is a book of short stories, inspired by his travels throughout the world and the people he has met.


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Excerpt from Explosive Decompression : A Novel by John L. Sheppard


screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-15-05-24Isaac Asimov meets Charles Dickens with a dash of Jonathan Swift… 
In a world that is a science experiment gone horrifyingly wrong, scientist Audrey Novak awakes from a centuries-long sleep to discover that her work has been used to create an appalling world. Aided by commoners, bots, and another refugee from 20th century America, Audrey takes on the power elites on Earth and on the Moon in a novel that is equal parts adventure, science gone haywire, and rollicking humor. ?
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Let’s begin our story with Orlon Pledger, shall we? It’s his fault that you’re stuck with me as a narrator. Braedon Pledger, Orlon’s father, answered the bell when the visitor had arrived.

The visitor was dressed simply in a charcoal gray tunic, black jodhpurs, and glossy black boots. He was clearly a True Canadian, a well-bred Gentry, a Level 2 class. “Is Master Orlon
Pledger home?” the white gentleman asked.

“I’ll fetch him, sir,” Braedon replied. He did not invite the man into his humble home, so the gentleman stood on the front stoop shuffling nervously about, certain that a dark complected commoner would stab him to death. A bee buzzed round his head and landed on his shoulder. The gentleman did not brush it off. It was an artificial creation, a spybot sent to make certain that the gentleman discharged the duty bestowed upon him properly.

The heir to the Duke of Ontario was, at that moment, sitting comfortably inside a barge tied up on the Cuyahoga River, watching the gentleman as he twitched around in this commoner neighborhood, filled with naturally conceived people who were, he was certain, plotting his doom. CBC News made a habit of hyping up any crime committed in a commoner neighborhood so that everyone was convinced that commoners were naturally violent. Even commoners bought into this.

For their part, the commoners were staring out their windows at the gentleman from their
modest homes, wondering what a white man was doing making a call on the local blacksmith during the supper hour.

Orlon was in his room, the door open, flopped across his feather mattress, reading a musty old book of poetry illustrated by Buzz Pepper, an artist from the 20th century.

The pages practically crumbled as Orlon flipped carefully through them. Books were a rarity, and frowned upon by all classes of Canadians. Orlon peered over the top of the book and brightened, “Was the door for me?” He clutched the book to his chest as if the person at the door might want to steal it.

“Yeah,” Braedon said, leaning against the door jamb. “And no, it is not Miss Alice. It is a gentleman.”

“A gentleman, Pop? I don’t understand.”

“You best go talk to him. It’s not good to keep a gentleman waiting, especially a True Canadian gentleman. I know the accent well enough from when your mother and me lived there.”

Orlon slipped a torn piece of paper into the book to hold his place. Pepper’s illustrations were drawn in the closing days of his life. He’d been a soldier in the Gulf War in the 1990’s and had been exposed to chemicals and radiation, causing him to develop glioblastoma multiforme, an incurable brain tumor, at age 36. Pepper, in the years following his death, was thought of as one of the greatest artists of that period. A lot of his fame came from the way he died, from the suffering-porn industry of the 21 st century.

Pepper had been mistaken by the Canadians as the second man on the Moon—Buzz Aldrin—even though several of Buzz’s artworks, including a massive frieze depicting soldiers stepping off a plane in Saudi Arabia, hung in the Imperial Gallery of Art in Toronto.

He was also widely thought of as a Canadian. It was an easy enough mistake to make after history was nearly erased by that series of calamities known collectively as “The Great Collapse.”

“You’re gonna go blind reading that stuff,” Braedon said as Orlon slipped past him and walked down the hall to the front parlor.

“I know, Pop,” Orlon replied. Orlon jerked open the door revealing the gentleman standing there. The gentleman, as he had been instructed to, bowed deeply before the young apprentice blacksmith. “I represent His Lordship, Studholme Prescott, heir to the Duke of Ontario, colonel of light infantry, commanding His Majesty’s Royal Rifle Corps, currently on assignment to put down the rebellion in the Unquiet Zone. Please excuse the liberty of my intrusion. His lordship wishes to know if you are well.”

“Should I bow?” Orlon asked his father, who had strode up behind him.

“No,” Braedon said. “He is a Gentryman.” Gentry were Level 2 class, genetically modified into effective middle-managers, their built-in flaw an insatiable taste for the acquisition of shiny baubles. “Let him say his peace and then beat feet.” He placed his hand on Orlon’s shoulder protectively.

Orlon was dressed in fireproof coveralls despite the heat of the mid-afternoon. If there hadn’t been another row of houses across the street, man and boy would have been looking at Lake Erie, glistening like a jewel before them, gooey with hundreds of years’ worth of pollutants. Instead, they saw Mrs. Marbury, their across-the- street neighbor, standing on her front stoop staring openmouthed at them and their visitor.

“Your father,” the gentleman said, “your biological father, wishes an audience with you
tomorrow. You will stand where I stand now at precisely half past noon. A carriage will arrive. You will step into it. You will then be transported to your father’s location.”

“My boy will not be having an audience with that rapist,” Braedon said. “Lord or no.”

“It is his choice. His father wishes to see him on his sixteenth birthday.”

“That was last week,” Braedon said.

“His father—”

“Enough! Get off my stoop, you proper gentleman of Canada! Go away and leave us be! We’re not on the dole, and we owe you nothing!”

“Typical Fussy sentiment,” the gentleman muttered darkly. He turned to Orlon again. “The order stands, young Master Pledger.” He bowed again, backed away, stepped off the stoop and a black carriage, an opaque black box with no discernible wheels, whisked silently up to the curb. A door manifested itself in its side, the gentleman stepped in, the door disappeared, replaced by seamless black boxiness, and off it glided.

“Fussy” is how True Canadians referred to subjects of the crown residing in the lower provinces, in the Former United States. Hardly anyone there even blinked at the term

“Fussy” by that time. After two centuries of Canadian rule, it failed to be an insult any longer. The only people in the lower provinces who ever referred to themselves as “Americans” were white people living off the grid in the Rocky Mountain Province, a.k.a. “the Unquiet Zone.” They also called themselves “the Sons of Liberty”—a term they picked up from a popularly shared video created by the Walt Disney Company, Johnny Tremain, which they mistook for a documentary.

The bee buzzed into the homestead and sat atop the fake gilt frame surrounding a painting of “St. George Slaying the Dragon” hanging on the parlor wall next to the 48- inch TV set, the only electronic device in the home other than the two LED storm lamps that the man and the boy carried around with them at night. The TV and lamps were powered by solar panels bolted to the roof, which juiced up strung-together batteries filled with genetically modified algae stashed in the attic. The TV picked up three channels: CBC One, CBC Sports and CBC News.

Orlon and Braedon were both well-acquainted with the antics of Colonel Prescott from CBC News. A typical broadcast from the Unquiet Zone featured the 30-ish lord standing in a field, resplendent in a red tunic weighted down with medals, a riding crop under his armpit, his head held high, blonde hair flowing off his scalp, business in the front and party in the rear whipping round in the mountain breeze, his emerald eyes gleaming with psychotic glee, declaring that he had these white supremacist scum on the run and that the rule of law would be the order of the day, surely.

Orlon recalled Braedon’s reaction, time and again, as one of bitter contempt toward the
Colonel. He’d assumed that it was merely his father’s (and nearly every commoners’) general contempt for the aristocracy. But it became clearer that evening when the two of them sat in the parlor together watching the PKK fights on CBC Sports.

“That man is your mother’s rapist,” Braedon said during the break between rounds.

“Know that before you go rubbing elbows with that… lord.”

The colonel watched Orlon’s worried reaction through the eyes of the bee with a measure of sadistic satisfaction.

A sampling of acclaim for John L. Sheppard
“Sheppard’s characters pretend not to be funny, to not be emotional, to not need each other, when of course, they are and they do. There’s a clarity to the chaos, the restraint, the vulnerability Sheppard creates, something so human and essential you can’t help but turn the page.”
–Entropy magazine
“…an easy affection for his characters and a sense of natural, unforced humor.”
“…You have a good time seeing someone have a bad time. It’s fun…”
–Padgett Powell
“…raw feeling and taut smart prose.”
–Sam Lipsyte
“The author grips you from the beginning, I couldn’t have put it down if I wanted.”
–Amazon reviewer

John L. Sheppard wrote the novels After the Jump, No Brass, No Ammo and Small Town Punk.


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