Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Blast: The Possum in the Pool by Joy Liebl

Title: The Possum in the Pool
Author: Joy Liebl
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Children's Book
Format: Ebook

A fun and educational book with attention grabbing illustrations for younger children and easy to read text for older ones.  The book's focus is on listening to parents and the consequences of not doing so.  It also deals with a parent's love and concern for their children. It received great reviews from "Pacific Book Review" and "US Review of Books (w/Eric Hoffer)". 

Joy Liebl was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI.  She spent 5 years living in Elmhurst, IL before settling in Winter Park and then Safety Harbor, FL.  Joy loves to crochet, do needlepoint & embroidery, sketch and work with dollhouse miniatures which she sells in her Etsy Shop “JoysHandmades” along with her crocheted pieces and varied vintage items.  She is an avid reader but enjoys “Fantasy” the most.  This is her first published book.  The story line is based on a true life experience of finding a small baby possum in her pool one morning and expanding her mind to create what she felt happened before and after the poor possum fell into the pool.  Joy designed every bit of the book herself as to how each page must be set up to maximize the story.  She was thrilled with D’Lynn Roll’s vision of how Robby would look and with each picture subsequently done.  Joy was equally thrilled with the wonderful reviews she received from “Pacific Book Reviews” and “US Book Reviews”  



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins March 19 and ends on March 30.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 19
Review From Here
Literal Exposure 

Tuesday, March 20
The Writers Life
As the Pages Turn 

Wednesday, March 21
A Title Wave
I'm Shelf-ish 

Thursday, March 22
Straight From the Authors Mouth
The Dark Phantom 

Friday, March 23
The Zen Reader
Inkslingers Opus 

Monday, March 26
All Inclusive Retort
A Taste of My Mind 

Tuesday, March 27
Bent Over Bookwords

Wednesday, March 28
Lover of Literature
The Book Czar 

Thursday, March 29
The Book Refuge
The Revolving Bookshelf 

Friday, March 30
Voodoo Princess
The Literary Nook

In the Spotlight & Book Giveaway: Survivors' Dawn by Ashley Warren

We are thrilled to be hosting Ashley Warren's Survivors' Dawn Blog Tour this month! Sign up to win a free copy by filling out form below. Good luck!

Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction


A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.



Book Excerpt:

At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.
She took a slug of the vodka soda.
Pace yourself, Lauren.
It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.
Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.
“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”
When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.
“You forget about him. You need to study.”
If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.
With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.
She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.
Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.
God, college is fun.
The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.
Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.
“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”
His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”
“Not a problem. Catch you later.”
He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.
“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”
They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.
At two thirty in the morning an Uber dropped Lauren outside Roxbury Hall. Lighting a cigarette, she gazed up at the three-story brick building and remembered move-in day, how excited she’d been; her mother and aunt and uncle had come to help. What had she wanted then? Freedom? Relief from her mother’s watchful eyes? Yes, that was part of it, but she’d hoped for a lot more.
Lauren had smoked pot with her latest score, a hipster from California, and now her head felt heavy and thick. After the joint he had wanted to have sex again. She had no urge for an encore but couldn’t think of a polite way to turn him down. What did that make in total? Three? Four? Five counting the blackout sex with Colin Jordan. Five boys (men?) in four weeks. What the hell? So weird. The hookups were like gorging on pizza, but the gnawing emptiness she’d felt after Colin hadn’t abated at all.
What did she have on the calendar for the next day? A couple lectures: Psychology and English Lit. She might make it to class, or she might not. They were easy courses anyway. Crushing the butt beneath her heel, she tossed it in a trashcan and walked through the door.
Inside Lauren’s dorm room, Caitlyn sat at her desk reading a textbook with her earbuds in.
“Hey,” said Lauren. “What are you doing up so late?”
Caitlyn turned in her chair. “Studying for the psych test.” She sniffed the air.
What? Caitlyn never studied this late. Lauren walked to Caitlyn’s side and saw, sure enough, that the fat psych book was open a third of the way through.
“What for? The test is next week.”
“It’s tomorrow.”
“No, it’s next week.”
“It’s tomorrow. I texted you to study together, but you never answered. Where’ve you been?”
Lauren ignored Caitlyn and walked to her desk to check her laptop. The test had to be next week; she’d skipped a few classes and hadn’t read the book. “What?”
“I asked where you’ve been.”
“The Homestead. I went for a drink.”
Fuck! Caitlyn was right. The test was that morning—less than seven hours away. Lauren shook her head. The buzz from the pot had turned into a headache. How did she mess this up? Caitlyn was saying something else.
“You smell like cigarettes and pot. Where did you smoke pot?”
“Uh…I stopped at this guy’s place to party.”
“On a Tuesday? Shit, Lauren. What the fuck?”
“Hey, you’re not my mom. Chill the fuck out.”
After a shower and some caffeine, Lauren reviewed her notes and opened the textbook. Caitlyn had gone to sleep, and Lauren’s desk lamp made shadows on the floor. The quiet of the room calmed her, and for the first twenty minutes she made progress, covered the better part of a chapter, but then her eyelids grew heavy, and the words blurred on the page. A short nap would clear her head and allow her to absorb the material with her usual speed. She set a twenty-minute timer on her phone, lay down, and closed her eyes. The psychology concepts quickly drifted away.
* * *
Lauren sat in the classroom, breathing fast; her eyes flitted back and forth over the questions. Half of the class had already finished and left. She flipped back several pages. Damn. There had to be another question she could answer, but she couldn’t find it, and after another minute the professor called time.
She had woken at eight thirty to Caitlyn roughly shaking her shoulder.
“Wake up! It’s time to go. I woke you twice already.”
With no time to even brush her teeth, Lauren had pulled on boots and a clean top and walked with Caitlyn to class. She had never felt so unprepared.
And now she’d failed the test. Fucking flat-ass failed it.
Outside in the bright sunlight, Caitlyn stopped to face her. Her eyes peered into Lauren’s, her ever-present smile nowhere to be seen.
“How’d you do?” said Caitlyn.
“Awful. I really fucked up.”
“I’m sorry. You know…I tried to text you.”
Lauren’s legs were numb. Adrenaline had fired her up during the exam, but now all the energy had burned off.
Caitlyn headed off to another class, and Lauren trudged to the student union. She’d spent the last of her cash on cigarettes. Once inside, she made it to the ATM and took out ten dollars.
She stared at the red and white logo on the touchscreen.
Bank of America.
Her mother’s apartment was two blocks from a branch. Kim would deposit cash tips at the drive-thru while Lauren sat in the passenger seat. Some days at the salon were hard. The owner would berate the workers for not learning English. But the drive-thru had always lifted Kim’s spirits. On the way out she’d pause to look at the B of A sign and say the same thing every time: “Your future is in this bank.”
Lauren took two steps and her knees softened. She turned her back against the wall and sank until her butt touched the floor.
Don’t cry. Don’t.
But her throat tightened and warm tears forced their way through closed eyelids. She sat with elbows on knees, her hands over her face. Silent sobs shook her shoulders. Students walked past in the hallway, busy, with classes to attend, futures to build. Two girls giggled, happy, oblivious.
Fuck. What was happening? She was freefalling into black air.
Someone said something. A man’s running shoes appeared through spread fingers.
“Are you all right?” he said.
Lauren pressed her palms against her eyes to rub away the tears. She wouldn’t compound her failure by making people pity her, too. Pushing off the tiled floor she stood, pulled her backpack over her shoulder, and faced him.
“You looked kind of sad,” he said.
Who was this guy? What was his game? Not bad looking, with strong shoulders and a relaxed vibe, faded jeans and a simple black T-shirt.
“Do you want to fuck me?” she said.
“What?” His mouth opened. “No!” He stepped back and thrust his hands in front as if to ward her off. “What’s the matter with you?”
Several students stopped, sensing an incident of interest.
Lauren marched away from the onlookers. She ran upstairs to the second floor and exited onto the grounds on top of the hill. She kept walking, past the admissions building and the Old Chapel and onto Philosopher’s Row. She took one of the paths into the side gardens and dropped on a bench.
She rocked slowly, hugging her arms. God, how pathetic was that? What would she do next? She wanted to skip class and walk to the Homestead for an early afternoon cocktail.
As if clinging to the edge of a dark abyss, Lauren tried to hold on, her stomach roiling, her arms shaking. She had propositioned the boy, because she had wanted to fuck him. She wanted to fuck a guy…any guy…every guy.
But why? She’d never done that before. Never on the first night…that was her rule, one she’d broken how many times now? Five.
She grasped the edge of the stone bench, squeezing, ignoring the grating surface against her fingers. A bird sang from a nearby tree. The bird flew from one tree to the next, a flash of red, a cardinal. It settled for a few moments on the branch of a maple tree, whose leaves had begun to turn, sang, and flew off.
The cardinal reminded her of Todd, the gay guy she’d met three weeks earlier, with his bright plumage and sweet song. What had Todd told her as they waited for the Uber driver? Something about the dean of student affairs. Maybe she should check it out.

 About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn. 


Giveaway Details:

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS' DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

In the Spotlight: When a Stranger Karen S. Bell @karensuebell #thriller

WHEN A STRANGER COMES by Karen S. Bell, Thriller, 224 pp., $12.00 (Paperback) $2.99 (Kindle edition)

Author: Karen S. Bell
Publisher: KSB Press
Pages: 222
Genre: Thriller

Achieving what you crave can also bring the terrifying fear of losing it. For Alexa Wainwright, this truth has become her nightmare. Born Gladys Lipschitz, the daughter of an unwed Soviet-era Jewish immigrant, her debut novel, A Foregone Conclusion, soared to number one on the bestseller’s list and became an international sensation. The accompanying fame and riches were beyond her expectations. Unfortunately, her subsequent work has yet to achieve the same reception by critics and readers. Yes, they have sold well based on her name recognition, but she dreads the possibility of becoming a mid-list author forgotten and ignored. She vows to do whatever it takes to attain the heady ego-stroking success of her debut. But is she really?

Witnessing an out-of-the-blue lightning bolt whose giant tendrils spread over the blue sky and city streets below her loft window, Alexa doesn’t realize just how this vow will be tested as she’s magically transported to an alternate reality. In this universe, the characters from her books are given the breath of life and she meets publisher, King Blakemore, who just might be the Devil himself. At first, she shrugs off her doubts about this peculiar publisher and very lucrative book deal offer because the temptation of riches and refound fame is too strong. But all too soon, Alexa realizes she’s trapped in an underworld of evil from which she desperately wants to escape. For starters, she finds herself in an iron-clad book contract that changes its wording whenever she thinks of a loophole. Desperate to get her life back, she devises schemes to untether herself from this hellish existence. She’s also aided by the forces for good who attempt to help her. However, King Blakemore is cleverer and more powerful than she can begin to understand. Playfully, he decides to give Alexa a second chance to save herself from eternity with him and to be free. He offers her the prospect of a rewrite, as most authors do as part of the writing process. Given this chance, will Alexa make the same choices and the same mistakes again?

Alexa, as the MC, is relatable, likable, and vulnerable with a keen sense of humor. Her world is very small because writing is her life and so she is an easy target for entrapment. Her pact with the Devil is an allegory for the evil lurking in our midst. The social decay of modern society with its excessive greed, the ignorance of our political leaders, and our indifference toward the survival of all species from the effects of climate change, among other environmental pressures, are perhaps brought forth by the darkest forces of human nature.

When A Stranger Comes is available at Amazon.

Order Your Copy!

When she opened her eyes, it had taken Jodie a moment to realize she was lying on the living room floor. Automatically checking her wristwatch that now had a cracked plastic face, she saw that she had been unconscious for about 20 minutes. She was alone. That was good. There was blood all around her. That was not good. It had been difficult to get up and walk, but she needed to see the damage and tend to her wounds. Shuffling over to the front door, she engaged the deadbolt just in case he decided to come back. Usually, after one of these brutal fights, he stayed away for several hours getting so drunk that his rage turned into remorse.
            She turned on the bright florescent lights and looked in the bathroom mirror. What she saw was so shocking that she stared at her image in disbelief. Her left eye was swollen shut and the surrounding skin was dark purple. Her bruised and battered lips were swollen, cracked, and caked in blood. Two teeth were missing right in front giving her face the frightening hint of the homeless beggars she saw sleeping in the alleyways and picking through garbage. It hurt to keep her pummeled mouth open but her broken nose made breathing difficult. The metallic taste of blood oozing on her tongue and dripping down her throat made her gag. Her chafed skin, where his fists pounded on her chest and neck, was achy and throbbing. Gaping sores, almost to the bone on her arms and legs, were from where he kicked her with his heavy work boots after he knocked her down. Their exposure to the air or where they contacted her torn clothing stung as if touched by a hot poker. Ugly, chilling mementos of his snarling, wild-eyed mania as he bashed her again and again.
            With shaky hands, she turned on the water and noticed her swollen black and blue knuckles most likely from when she punched him hard in his face. She moistened a hand towel and carefully brought it to her eyes. The warm compress felt good and she stood like that for several minutes until a wave of nausea hit her. She grabbed for the sink feeling dizzy and broke out in a cold sweat. You fucking bastard, I hope I punctured your eye and scratched all the skin off your face! For a split second the horror of that fight gripped her again and she swallowed hard, her bloody saliva choking her. Trying to take deep breaths was excruciating, so she took quick shallow puffs of air in an effort to calm herself, but her heart was racing and pounding like a drumbeat in her chest. Focusing on her wounds, she tried to regain her composure as she gingerly washed the blood off her face and body but kept dropping the wet towel in the sink.
            And then the doorbell rang.
            She froze, as a spontaneous paralyzing fear shot through her. Quickly, she turned off the water silencing any noise. Maybe whoever was there would go away if they thought she wasn’t home. No one can see me like this. Then the banging started and for one frightening second she thought he had come back, angry that she bolted the door. “I know you’re in there.” It was Kerry, her next door neighbor. She hadn’t realized she was holding her breath until she started breathing again. “Are you okay?” Kerry yelled. “I almost called the police. Open the door and let me in. You might need to go to the hospital. Jodie? …Jodie?” Then she got annoyed. “Suit yourself.” And the yelling, banging, and doorbell ringing stopped.
            Waiting a few minutes until she thought it was safe, Jodie came out of the bathroom and sat on her bed. She looked at her packed suitcase, the empty threat that had started this most recent vicious confrontation. No more. Now she was certain. She had to leave. To get out of there. Right now. He used his fists on her…again. He had kicked her...hard. Next time he might kill her. Beaten to death. Another homicide in this godforsaken white trash part of town. Why am I so stupid? Why have I stayed with this guy? I thought we had something, a future. Said he was so sorry the last time. Said he loved me. Said he’d never hurt me again. Lying scumbag!
             She left without so much as a goodbye note. Why would he care anyway? The prick. But before she walked out, her wounds opening anew, her blood dripping on everything, and her hands trembling, she poured the remaining whiskey in the 2-liter bottle on the crappy sofa. Her rampage gaining momentum, she bashed the flat-screen-52-inch-TV with the empty bottle knocking it off its stand, causing it to crack in several places. Nearly passing out again, she managed to smash all five bottles of his precious booze on the cheap linoleum floor. Shattered glass flew everywhere making the whole room a minefield for bare feet. Good! I hope he comes home in the dark and walks on this in the morning.
            Her frenzy in full froth, she wobbled into the kitchen. Every dish crashed to the floor. Wine glasses. Crash. The pretty porcelain candlesticks they bought at the fair. Crash. Holding on to the kitchen counter to gain some strength before she grabbed her suitcase still on the bed, she found scissors in one of the drawers. Stumbling over to his closet and then his dresser, she cut up his shirts and pullovers, scissored the pant legs off his jeans, and clogged their bathroom toilet with his underwear. As an afterthought, she slashed the mattress, gouged the feathers from the comforter, cut the foam in the pillows into wedges. With a final relish, and gathering up all her remaining might and power, she slammed his laptop against the wall.
            Then she hobbled as fast as she could. Threw her suitcase out the door and onto the pavement, it being too awkward to carry in her condition while negotiating the few stairs. Luckily, her car was parked close. Easing herself into the driver’s seat, her lacerations making her wince, she stepped on the gas and left town, calming down only slightly when the trailer park was out of range of her rear view mirror. She did not speed. She did not want to get pulled over looking like someone’s punching bag. At least she could see okay out of her good eye. Driving carefully, she took the highway heading north. Anywhere but here. Any town but this. Another ending, another lonely drive to nowhere…and then a sliver of hope. Always that sliver of hope. A new beginning. A fresh start. I’ll figure things out. Be smarter. And finally get it right. Yeah, this time, I’ll get it right. Find a decent guy with a good job. Find a guy who doesn’t drink. Find the life I’ve always wanted.

When a Stranger Comes…is Ms. Bell’s third novel. Her debut, Walking with Elephants, was initially published by a small publisher who went out of business. Subsequently, she took over as an indie publisher. It went on to win the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence and was a top-five finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s 2012 contest for the best indie books. Sunspots, her second novel, was awarded the Seal of Approval for good writing. She holds a Master of Science in Mass Communication and for 15 years, she was an editor/copyeditor for a “Big Four” public accounting firm. Ms. Bell was also technical editor for an accounting industry magazine.
Here are some reviews of her previous work published in the Florida Times Union:




In the Spotlight: A Collection of Twisted Tales by Kraig Dafoe

A COLLECTION OF TWISTED TALES by Kraig Dafoe, Thriller Short Story Collection, 114 pp., $2.99 (Kindle edition) $8.99 (paperback)

Author: Kraig Dafoe
Publisher: Createspace
Genre:Thriller Short Story Collection

Most of these stories have one thing in common, death. Although death is the common thread, there is nothing common in the way that it comes about.
This collection is chock full of interesting characters scattered among various settings that inspire the imagination, such as a Lavish English mansion or the dark interior of a rundown home.
This book is inspired by and written in the style of, Edgar Allan Poe.


A Collection of Twisted Tales is an ambitious project that testifies to the author’s appreciation of Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction in particular. In this collection, Kraig Dafoe offers a creative homage with many original ideas and unexpected twists.”
Professor Vanessa Steinroetter, PHD

Order Your Copy!


The Unheeded Omen:
“when an arrant mind wanders,
and breaks open the protective shell,
rising up, a wicked demon saunters,
from the darkened depths of hell.”
--Louis Banks--
The general populace has long considered ravens to be associated with bad omens, though never putting much stock in such trivial absurdity, I delightedly accepted the opportunity to move my family into a lavish home located on Raven road.
In the early morn, in the spring of the year 18--, bracing yet dreary, leaves insignificantly rustled as a gelid breeze swept along, washing away droplets of early precipitation. Clouds hanging oppressively low, still darkened, loomed overhead, threatening another ghastly shower to descend upon us while we rode protected from the elements, while the wheels of the carriage jostled us about as they trundled over cobblestone. The voyage was relatively short, reaching just beyond the edge of town, which I had and would continue, to call home for many a year.
The caw of ravens echoed overhead as we veered down the road of our new dwelling, with seemingly thousands of the blackened beasts residing in its progression of Oaks.
My darling Penelope and our two young progenies, plus one in the womb, sat delighted as the driver directed the carriage down the lane to the two-story brick mansion as it seemed to us, having lived a life of little resource. This was the beginning to a new epoch, this auspicious occasion afforded by a promotion I procured; we received the home joyfully with the compliments of my company, as part of my bonus.
As the carriage rolled into view of the domicile, the children curiously gazed through the panes of glass, pressing their noses to achieve a better glimpse, their fidgety disposition putting smiles on our faces. Penelope and I showed approval for their enthusiasm.
The usually neatly manicured grounds were awash with the residue from the storm of the previous eve. Well-groomed hedges of significant splendor and foliage lined the drive, their once proud branches drooped towards the ground, some almost bear of leaves, and as the carriage circled in front of the home, ivy, overspreading the exterior, glistened in the dim light of day.
A valet, another benefit of my new station and being a servant of the house for numerous years, met the carriage as we stopped.
As we departed, the valet bowed deeply and gestured toward the portico, commenting that he had allocated our possessions to their proper place and now, the vast luxury of the domicile awaited us.
We embraced the cold air and made haste for the door, the children enthusiastically, first through its threshold. I followed my beloved, nodding attentively to the valet and, approaching the door, I noticed my new neighbor, an elderly man, pitifully disheveled, standing on the porch of his own discriminately decrepit home across the adjoining field.
The grass of the field, more resembling brome, between us was unkempt and thus made it impossible to tell where the abandoned yard ended and the neighbor’s began. The neighboring house was decayed from years of neglect, paint long ago wearing thin, cracked and peeling, and shutters hung precariously from their mounts. A broken fence of rotted wood surrounded the property, half its horizontal slats lying at angles to the ground and hidden by overgrown sedge. The windows seemed blackened by death, empty eye sockets peering at our new home and the roof seemed to house more ravens then did the trees, as any of its worn shingles were barely visible. Overgrown and under trimmed vegetation scattered the lot, yet the view of the house itself, unfortunately for me, was unobstructed. Upon looking at the melancholy house, a sense of indispensable gloom washed over me.
My new neighbor seemed to be as unkempt as was his yard and I noticed, with ease, the elderly man’s demeanor appeared to be one of utter indifference. I waved to him in what I considered to be a polite gesture and, perplexingly, he just turned and entered his house without response, which I thought a bit odd as I entered my new home.
I absorbed the splendor of my new abode, which was of stark contrast to my neighbors, while trying to shake the awkward encounter from my mind. Artful paintings hung from the brightly colored walls while decorative rugs dotted the cherry hardwood floors. The furnishings bore elaborate carvings, with soft velvety cushions, while brass and silver trinkets topped the stands and mantles. Fires burned in the ornate fireplaces casting a warm glow about the rooms, filling them with a cozy air, and simultaneously casting eerily dancing shadows about. Spacious was the home, with formal living and dining rooms, a parlor, four bedrooms upstairs and indoor plumbing, a fairly new innovation. We quickly settled in and, with assistance from the valet, we fell into a routine, living a somewhat leisurely life compared to the drudgery of life before my promotion.


Kraig Dafoe was born in Potsdam, New York and grew up in Canton. He played high school football and joined the Army Reserves at the age of seventeen.

Kraig has earned his BA in English writing and graduated cum laude from Washburn University in 2017.

Kraig has published two novels and published poetry. He is currently working on another writing project.

His current novel is A Collection of Twisted Tales.

You can visit his website at


Friday, March 2, 2018

Book Blast: Sgarrwrath by Sarah Kennedy - Win a $25 Gift Card

Title: Sgarrwrath
Author: Sarah Kennedy
Publisher: XlibrisUS
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook

The Flame is the most mysterious and powerful entity in the universe. Even the Guardians, in whose hearts Flame burns, who breathe and wield its power, have never seen its Source nor harnessed its full potential. They are content to serve the Light. Arawn is not like the others. He is young, untested, and he seeks more power though a prophecy reveals the predominance of the Flame belongs to another. Arawn is easy prey for Sgarrwrath who lures him into Darkness to corrupt Arawnís Flame to his will. His brotherís, three powerful, incorruptible Guardians refuse to abandon hope. They journey into Darkness, how far will they go to save him?

I have always loved to write stories and was blessed with wonderful parents who still encourage me to follow my dreams. To hone my craft, I have taken courses through the Institute of Childrenís Literature and Long Ridge Writerís Group. In 2005, I was published in Angels on Earth, and in 2011, I published my debut novel, Sgarrwrath, Prequel to the Prophecy of Hope, which recently received an Honorary Mention in the Halloween Book Festival Competition of October 2013. Today, I live quietly in a small town with my three rambunctious cats.   



Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 26 and ends on March 9.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 10.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway