“The One Apart: A Novel” by Justine Avery #Excerpt


The One Apart cover


The One Apart coverTitle: The One Apart

Author: Justine Avery

Genre: Paranormal

Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he’s lived before.

Tres is about to be born… with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he’s too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.

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Book Excerpts

The One Apart by Justine Avery – Excerpt 1

Tres felt his body abruptly drop around him with overbearing weight, encapsulating him once again.

The mental images, the overpowering memories, finally faded. Only an ominous stillness remained.

Every cell within him began to twitch, infusing with energy—even as he felt immobile. Every joint, tendon, and bone ached under the pressure of being alive.

A deep sadness engulfed him. He pondered possible reasons. And, just as quickly, he was distracted by the presence of his own simple thoughts.

Thoughts. He realized his own thinking.

This mind—certain of its own newness—desired to explore, feel, do, be. Tres opened his eyes—tried to open his eyes. He found his eyelids fused shut.

He opened his mouth. Thick, warm syrup seeped inside his swallow. Intense fear washed over him, even as he knew exactly where—and how—he was.

Oh, no.

Tres was aware, more aware than any had ever been. In this moment, he knew everything—and yet, nothing.

He was beginning again.

The One Apart by Justine Avery – Excerpt 2

A casual knock pre-empted the arrival of an attending nurse. Sancha heard the sounds of a metal cart rolled in, its wheels locked in place at her bedside. She took a quick puff of air and released it as the knuckles of her fists began to turn white.

She heard a rustling of linens, then Maria leaning toward her from her chair on the opposite side of the bed.

Something heavy and warm was laid against Sancha’s arm.

“Sancha…” Maria pleaded this time. “Please.

Sancha squirmed against the uncomfortable pressure on her arm.

“I can’t let you live the rest of your life,” Maria whispered, “knowing you never even saw him.”

Sancha swallowed. Her breathing quickened. She rolled her lips between her teeth. And she opened her eyes—as slowly as humanly possible.

The brightest pair of crystalline blue eyes stared back at her.

They blinked tenderly, giving away how new to blinking they actually were. Their steady gaze pierced straight through to something rooted within Sancha.

The eyes blinked again, temporarily cutting off the intense connection before opening again to resume it. Sancha rested on her bed in silence, mesmerized by the novice rhythm of blinking resembling Morse code.

Every muscle in her body relaxed. Her mouth began to form an unthinkable smile. She couldn’t help herself.

The baby—her baby—beamed at her with his big, round eyes and flooded her with the total contentment and perfect peace that wafts only from brand-new life.

 

 


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~ Author Bio ~

Justine AveryJustine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.

Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final “job”—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.

Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.

Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say “hello”—or konnichiwa.

www.JustineAvery.com

Twitter: @Justine_Avery

Goodreads Author Profile


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“Just Like the Bronte Sisters” by Laurel Osterkamp #Excerpt2 #Giveaway


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Just Like the Bronte Sisters coverTitle: Just Like the Bronte Sisters

Author: Laurel Osterkamp

Genre: Women’s Fiction/NA/Magical Realism

Sisters Skylar and Jo Beth adore skiing and they virtually share the same soul. After an accident, Jo Beth flees to Brazil, leaving Skylar behind in Colorado to obsessively read the Brontë sisters. While abroad, Jo Beth meets Mitch and her life takes some unexpected turns until tragedy leads free-spirited Mitch right into Skylar’s empty arms. With their Heathcliff/Catherine romance in full swing, Skylar wants to trust Mitch, but did he harm her sister? Loving Mitch could make Skylar lose everything. Just Like the Brontë Sisters is an unconventional romantic page-turner inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, full of magical realism, literary references, a ghost, and some healthy doses of suspense.

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Excerpt #2

Mitch used tweezers to not-so-gently remove all the glass from Jo Beth’s skin. They sat in the bathroom, her atop the toilet with its lid down, and Mitch on the floor, his back leaning against the edge of the tub as he picked out the glass piece by piece, shard by shard, dropping each one into the wastebasket.

Occasionally he’d look up and his wide, dark eyes pooled with distress.

Jo Beth couldn’t keep silent. “Mitch, I swear that she started it. Magda hit me with that spoon and then she cut herself to make it seem like it was my fault.”

Mitch’s chest heaved up and down. He kept his eyes on her knees. “Jo Beth, you have to stop.”

“But I’m telling the truth.”

“Jo Beth!” His inhale was sharp like he’d just been hit. “Once the baby is born, we’ll leave. I don’t care where we go, but we’ll figure something out. Until then, you have to keep it together.”

“She’s still in love with you, Mitch.” Jo Beth could say this as loud as she wanted because Magda was out, having taken herself to the emergency room after Mitch said that her cut probably needed stitches.

Mitch vehemently shook his head. “No. It’s not like that. She dumped me.”

“Wait, what?” Jo Beth felt her brain synapses coil tightly in confusion. “I thought you said that your breakup was mutual.”

He dug the tweezers into the base of her ankle, right where some glass was lodged. Suddenly Jo Beth felt like he was playing that board game, Operation, and she was as real to him as the clownish cartoon character who needs gas bubbles removed from his stomach.

“No,” Mitch replied. “She decided it was time after I lost my ability to see through the blood-red cloud that surrounds her. That’s what happened.”

“Ouch!” Jo Beth yanked her foot away. His excavation attempts were just too vigorous. “What are you talking about? What blood-red cloud?”

Mitch grabbed her foot back and held it tight as he mined for more glass. “The one that surrounds Magda?” His tone was condescending and impatient, almost as bad as his nursing skills. “Don’t tell me you don’t see it.”

“Mitch…”

He wouldn’t look at her but stayed focused on his task.

“Mitch, you’re honestly telling me that a blood-red cloud hovers around Magda?”

“Yeah.” He sighed. “I realize that not everyone can see it, but I can. I’ve always been able to see things that other people can’t. My ability is more a curse than a blessing.”

The pressure behind Jo Beth’s eyes was uncomfortable, just like the pricking of Mitch’s tweezers. Could he possibly be for real? “Why haven’t you ever mentioned this before?”

“Magda wanted it to be our secret,” he said simply. “But things changed, she broke up with me, and it was fine. There was no tidal wave, no crisis, she didn’t disappear, and we stayed friends.” Mitch finally dislodged the last pieces of glass and after depositing them in the trash can, he dropped the tweezers like he was dropping a microphone. “And I love you, Jo. But you have to stop acting so crazy.”

She had to stop acting so crazy? Jo Beth just nodded and gripped the edges of the toilet beneath her. How could one little statement from this man change everything?

she kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks for taking such good care of me.”

Jo Beth went to bed and lay there until she heard Magda come in, and then there was the sound of their voices speaking in low, romantic tones. Were they kissing? Had they been intimate with each other this entire time? She was surprised to realize that she didn’t even care. But when Jo Beth was sure they were too consumed with each other’s company to worry about her, she got out her cell phone, hid under the covers so her voice would be muffled, and called Skylar. It was the middle of the night where she was, so Jo Beth thought for sure she’d answer, but it went straight to voicemail.

“Sky,” Jo Beth whispered. “You have to believe me because Mom doesn’t. Magda and Mitch have charmed her into believing that they’re innocent. But I know the truth. Magda is an evil bitch and Mitch is crazy.” She took a deep breath, trying not to feel claustrophobic underneath the covers. “I’m actually sort of relieved,” she continued. “Maybe Mitch actually does love me. Maybe’s it’s not his fault that he’s insane. I don’t know how long he’s been like this, maybe his whole life, but it explains everything. It explains why I can’t trust him.” She tried to keep her tears out of her voice. She had to stay strong. “Skylar, where are you? Why didn’t you come? I have to get myself and my baby away from Mitch. Once she’s born I’m going to leave and I’ll need your help. Promise that you’ll help me.” She took a deep sniff. “We need to talk in person. I don’t know how that will happen, but just know that I love you. You’re my favorite and I love you best of all.”

She pressed end, emerged from the covers, and sat up. Then she reached under the bed and removed the knife she’d kept beneath the mattress for over two weeks. Jo Beth gripped it in her sweaty hand, wondering if she was capable of murder, or if her subconscious just liked to pretend. Hell. She was pretty sure she was capable. The bigger question was whether she was up for the effort that murder required. Exhaustion slowly dripped through her, turning her muscles and mind to slush. She must have fallen asleep with the knife still in her grip because after what seemed like hours, she woke to Mitch’s face looming above hers.

“Why are you holding a knife?” His voice was sharp, like the blade she clutched.

“Huh?”

He took the knife from her and her breath caught. If he wanted to kill her, right here, right now, there was no stopping him. “Are you afraid of me, Jo Beth?”

She pushed him away and struggled into a sitting position. “No, Mitch. I’m not afraid of you. But I think we should break up.”

“What?”

“As soon as I have the baby I’m going home with my mom.”

Mitch closed his eyes and fell back against the bed. “You can’t do that,” he whispered.

She took the knife from his hand and he let it go without protest. “Yeah, I can.”

His eyes rolled toward the ceiling. “So much water,” he said, holding out his palms as if to catch a nonexistent flood. “Like the roof is crying.”

“Mitch…” She placed her hand on his shoulder. He sat up abruptly and swiped back the knife. “Why can’t we just be okay? Is that too much to ask?”

Suddenly Jo Beth was afraid, but not of Mitch. There was a flood, but it wasn’t coming from the roof. It came from between her legs. “Mitch!” she cried. “Stop being delusional. My water just broke.”


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Laurel OsterkampLaurel Osterkamp is a Kindle Scout/award-winning author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her “day job” is as at Columbia Heights High School, where she teaches creative writing, college writing, and AP Lit. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, two chatty children, an overweight cat, a gecko, and a hissing cockroach (don’t ask). Her other loves include chocolate, jogging, and boots.

~ Links ~

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurelosterkamp

Website: http://laurel.pmibooks.com/


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“Framed – A Black Swann Investigation” by Wayne Kerr #Excerpt #Giveaway


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Framed Excerpt

Okanagan Bliss

A police cruiser sat outside the house as I pulled into the garage. All kinds of thoughts entered my mind, none of them pleasant. Had my investigation ruffled some feathers? I quickly made my way inside, not bothering to remove my helmet. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard laughter coming from the kitchen. From the doorway, I spotted Mom and Hannah sitting at the table, sipping tall pink concoctions. On the counter, beyond them, stood the blender, a bottle of Bacardi, a cutting board and the remnants of chopped fruit.

I stepped into the room.

“Hi, honey,” Mom said. “Look who stopped by to see you.”

Hannah waved, and though she was still in her uniform, the open collar without tie and hat made her seem much more casual.

“Hi, Hannah,” I said, removing my helmet and shaking out my hair. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

“My shift ended at eight and I came right over. I wish I’d gotten here sooner,” Hannah laughed. “Your mom is a hoot.”

Another tall glass magically appeared on the table before I had managed to sit down. The nectar of the gods slid across my tongue. The look on my face caused giggles from my tablemates.

“Good isn’t it?” Hannah’s question was an understatement.

“What is this?” I asked after a larger sample.

Mom raised her glass. “I call my little concoction ‘Okanagan Bliss’. I throw peaches, plums, pears, ice, and rum into the blender and this marvelous mixture is the result.”

“To bliss,” Hannah said, then we clinked our glasses together.

“I can use some bliss right now,” I said, after swallowing another mouthful. Then while we polished off our Okanagan Bliss and another blender full after that, I told them about my frustrating afternoon. My serial killer theory had turned out to be a lot less fruitful than our drinks.

“Don’t be so certain,” Hannah said. From next to her chair, she retrieved a leather satchel and pulled out a one-inch-thick ream of paper. “I ran a nation-wide missing persons search this afternoon.”

“There are that many missing people in Canada?” Mom asked, her voice filled with alarm.

“Oh, heavens no,” Hannah responded.

Mom patted her chest and breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness, you had me worried.”

Having been in law enforcement for all those years I knew what was coming. I reached over and took Mom’s hand.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Hannah informed her. “For our purposes, I didn’t include missing children, older folks or men.”

“Oh my,” Mom said. “I had no idea.”

“Most people don’t,” Hannah told her, then turned to me and slid the stack my way. “These are the women between eighteen and forty who are missing and/or presumed dead.”

“How many are there?” I asked, giving Mom’s hand a final squeeze before thumbing through the missing women.

“Over the past ten years, 182 women have gone missing and are, as of yet, unaccounted for,” Hannah informed us.

“That’s awful.” A look of horror swept across Mom’s face. “Those poor women.”

“I assure you that some of these women are alive and well,” I told Mom, hoping to make her feel better.

“Some of them are hiding,” Hannah piped in.

“Hiding?” Mom asked.

“Escaping abusive relationships,” I told her. “A few are hiding from the law, to avoid prosecution.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Mom said.

“But most are likely dead,” Hannah said.

“Hannah!” I said, indicating with my eyes to tone things down, for Mom’s sake.

“Many of them are possibly,” Hannah hesitated trying to find the right wording, “in heaven by now.”

“Really?” I laughed.

“I tried,” Hannah giggled. I laughed, she laughed and even Mom joined in. Guilt over the subject matter sobered us quickly, though.

“To the ones that got away,” Mom said, raising her glass. “Stay safe ladies, wherever you are.”

“Hear, hear,” Hannah and I added. We drained our glasses.


Title: Framed – A Black Swann Investigation

Author: Wayne Kerr

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Toronto’s newest homicide detective, Reggie Swann, seemed to have it all: great career, handsome husband and plans to start a family, until she was framed for murder…

A cop has very few friends in prison.  After surviving ten brutal years behind bars, Reggie’s conviction is finally overturned thanks to her tenacious mother, a new forensic test, and a very clever lawyer. She quickly discovers that getting her old life back won’t be as easy as she hoped. To many, she was still as the media had dubbed her: ‘Black Swann – murderer and cop-gone-bad’. The Toronto Police Department still considers her to be a suspect, Reggie’s husband has remarried and the real killer is still on the loose.

Before Reggie can return to Toronto and solve the crime that ruined her life, she reluctantly agrees to investigate a murder in her hometown of Penticton, only to discover the two cases which are separated by ten years and five provinces might somehow be connected. Will anyone believe the wild theories of the disgraced detective?

The real murderer does. He framed her once, this time Reggie Swann must die!

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~ Author Bio ~

Wayne KerrCanadian author, Wayne Kerr, was born and raised in the small town of Biggar, Saskatchewan (New York is big, but this is Biggar).  He married his high school sweetheart, Marlene, thirty-nine years ago and has lived happily ever since.  They resided in the United States for the past twenty years, but recently returned to Canada and now call the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia home.  The writer honed his story-telling skills while keeping his five younger siblings and later his daughter entertained during long cold winters.  When not reading or writing thrillers, Wayne is probably hiking, biking or playing tennis.

For more information on the author and his books please visit: waynekerrnovels.com or follow him on Twitter: @waynekerrnovels

Links

website: waynekerrnovels.com

twitter: @waynkerrnovels

Amazon: https://goo.gl/qQonNw


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“Winner Take All” by Mary B. Rodgers #Excerpt #Giveaway


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Winner Take All coverTitle: Winner Take All

Author: Mary B. Rodgers

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Hotshot skier and unrepentant party girl Carly Carrington is on top of the world until a disastrous crash destroys her championship dreams. Can she lower her guard long enough to trust the one man who might be able to heal her body…and her heart?

When it comes to sports doctors, buttoned-up Paul Blackburn is the best of the best. But when Carly upends his carefully ordered little world, will Paul fight his one chance at true love, or go for the gold in… WINNER TAKE ALL.


EXCERPT

Paul

I handed the judge the file he’d requested.

A silent Carly perched on the arm of a chair that was as far away from Judge Whiting as she could get without being in the next room, rubbing her thumb into her palm over and over as she studied her shoes.

Pale and tear-streaked–why had she been crying?–she was still lovely, her sun-bleached hair curling up around her face in messy layers, her green blouse setting off her hazel eyes above her Cupid’s bow of a mouth that looked too perfect to be real.

Although it had certainly felt real several weeks ago, when Carly had made one of my fantasies come true. Well, almost. My forbidden daydreams about kissing that luscious mouth involved both of us being willing and sober. God knows I’d been willing. But she hadn’t been sober.

And that, for me, was an absolute deal-breaker. My jaw tightened as I thought about my broken mess of a brother. On every possible level.

I’d been pretty cold to her afterward. But that was because I was furious with myself, not her. Getting suckered in by her bad girl appeal–ridiculous. I knew better. Shouldn’t have allowed it to happen. Shouldn’t have wanted it to happen. Headstrong, reckless, unpredictable Carly was the opposite of what I needed to have around.

Well-practiced routines made my life run just the way I liked it. Classic clothing that functioned as both uniform and armor. Pleasant women whose appearance in my life was welcomed, but whose disappearance made scarcely a ripple.

Not jacked-up, cocky skiers whose kisses left me rock hard and dangerously close to losing control.

EXCERPT #2

Carly

Door hinges squeaked, and a barefoot Paul clad only in pajama bottoms padded inside. “Carly? Why are you up? Are you okay?”

I swallowed hard as he approached. “I’m kind of freaked out. Put my boots back on for the first time since…since I fell…” My trembling increased. I slammed one of my shaking hands against the walkway. “This is stupid, this is so stupid, they’re just the damn boots for God’s sake. We aren’t even near a mountain, what is wrong with me?”

Paul knelt beside me and gathered my unresisting body into his arms. “It’s trauma. It’d be a miracle if you didn’t suffer from some kind of PTSD after that crash.”

“I’ve been dreaming about it again. I think that’s what triggered this. Shit. I need to find a way to handle it, I need…” I decided that dignity was overrated and curled up against Paul, pressing my cheek against his chest. His sleep-warmed skin smelled of soap and a faint note of pine-scented cologne.

“It’s okay. It’ll be okay, I promise.” Paul reached down and tugged off my boots. “We’ll try again with these later. But right now you need to relax. Jesus, Carly, it’s the middle of the damn night. Stop pushing yourself so hard.” He picked me up and stepped off the walkway into a grassy swath of the garden.

My laugh was tinged with more than a little hysteria, even to my ears. “Stop pushing myself? Have you met me?”

He chuckled and set me down. With deft hands, he pulled the blanket from around my shoulders, spread it out on the ground and repositioned me on top.

I nestled closer to him, drawing real comfort from his proximity.

“We’ll just sit here for a bit, all right? There’s no rush. Can you match my breathing pattern? Nice and deep, okay? Try it with me.” He inhaled slowly, controlling his breath on the exhale. “Like that.” He pitched his voice at a level someone might use on a skittish horse.

Ordinarily I would have bristled at the notion of being handled. But he sounded so soothing, and made me feel safe in ways I hadn’t experienced in ages. It couldn’t hurt to try. After a few false starts, I managed to coordinate my breath in time to his.

“Good. You’re doing great. Keep going.” He stroked my back and whispered encouragement, the steady rhythm of his movements lulling me into a relaxed, meditative state. My rigid muscles softened as the adrenaline gradually receded from my body. The fear faded away as well, replaced by a growing awareness of Paul’s body wrapped around mine.

I couldn’t have said when the mood changed, the shift was so subtle. But little by little, I raised my head, gazing at Paul through wondering eyes, my mouth only a few inches from his. I didn’t move any closer at first, drinking in his half-sleepy, half-sultry expression, reveling in the power of our attraction that clearly held him as captive as it did me. A dreamy tension built up between the two of us, and when I finally leaned in to close the distance, Paul met me halfway.

So soft, so sweet. We kissed as if it were the first time, a tentative exploration that turned heated in a matter of moments.

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~ Giveaway ~

Two lucky winners will win a Kindle Fire loaded with “Winner Take All” and “Project Catchstar”.

E N T E R


Author Bio

Mary B. RodgersA career performer and storyteller, Mary was the keyboardist and lead vocalist in an all-female rock band for a number of years and has acted in leading roles in plays and musicals across the globe.

Her first screenplay, Common Ground, was a finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival competition, and she is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild/AFTRA and the New York chapter of Women in Film and Television.

An avid gamer and unrepentant nerd, Mary’s been a fan of romance, science fiction and fantasy novels since she was old enough to hide them between the pages of her textbooks during geometry class in high school. She is delighted to introduce the first book in her new contemporary romance series, Winner Take All.

Links

Twitter – @mb_rodgers
www.mary-rodgers.com


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“The One Apart” by Justine Avery #Excerpt


The One Apart cover


The One Apart coverTitle: The One Apart

Author: Justine Avery

Genre: Paranormal

Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he’s lived before.

Tres is about to be born… with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he’s too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.

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Book Excerpts

The One Apart by Justine Avery – Excerpt 3

“He needs a name,” Maria said, pouring scrambled eggs onto the plate decorated with a face of bacon strips.

Sancha stared at her plate. “He has one,” she said.

The hot iron skillet slipped from Maria’s hand; she sighed her relief as it landing safely on the stove burner. “What… did you decide?”

“I didn’t.” Sancha prodded at her eggs, recovering her bacon art one eye at a time.

“I thought you—”

“He has one already. I just don’t know what it is.”

Maria’s subconscious almost recognized the truth in the statement before it was buried by her conscious again. “Don’t be silly. Did you choose a name? If not, I will have—”

“No, you will not,” Sancha ended the conversation.

* * *

In the fenced back yard Maria referred to as “the garden,” sat a rusting swing set for two: Sancha’s favorite spot in the whole world. Swinging there—in and out of the shade of the broad-reaching maple tree—seemed to slow time and shoo away all teenage troubles.

“I have to name you,” she called out to her bright-eyed baby resting in a basket nestled in the grass below her. She swung her pale legs to propel herself higher into the morning sunlight, her glittering hair swirling around her. “But you won’t tell me what yours is,” she pouted.

Her polka-dotted summer dress fluttered in the breeze as her legs scooped up another pocket of air. “I guess you can’t,” she concluded on a downswing. “Yet,” she shouted into the air.

 


~ Giveaway ~

Enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card or a digital copy of The One Apart!

E N T E R


~ Author Bio ~

Justine AveryJustine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.

Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final “job”—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.

Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.

Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say “hello”—or konnichiwa.

www.JustineAvery.com

Twitter: @Justine_Avery

Goodreads Author Profile


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“Just Like the Bronte Sisters” by Laurel Osterkamp #Excerpt #Giveaway


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Just Like the Bronte Sisters coverTitle: Just Like the Bronte Sisters

Author: Laurel Osterkamp

Genre: Women’s Fiction/NA/Magical Realism

Sisters Skylar and Jo Beth adore skiing and they virtually share the same soul. After an accident, Jo Beth flees to Brazil, leaving Skylar behind in Colorado to obsessively read the Brontë sisters. While abroad, Jo Beth meets Mitch and her life takes some unexpected turns, until tragedy leads free-spirited Mitch right into Skylar’s empty arms. With their Heathcliff/Catherine romance in full swing, Skylar wants to trust Mitch, but did he harm her sister? Loving Mitch could make Skylar lose everything. Just Like the Brontë Sisters is an unconventional romantic page-turner inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, full of magical realism, literary references, a ghost, and some healthy doses of suspense.

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Excerpt #1

Later that evening I was still pumped. The dim lighting, soft classical music, and the glass of red wine didn’t mellow me out.  Gavin stood over the stove, stirring his homemade marinara with a small wooden spoon and I pretended not to notice him watching me as I sat on a stool by the island in the kitchen, leafing through an Olympics brochure. I could feel the angry path of a scratch that started at my cheekbone and extended down to my jaw, but I refused to admit to any discomfort or pain. Doing so would invite in Gavin’s judgment and concern, and I knew I’d be ingesting them enough tonight as it was. They may as well have been ingredients in the spaghetti sauce.

I just talked as if his ears were receptive. “Billy pretended to be mad, but I think he secretly respected me.  After practice today, he talked like there’s no doubt I’d be in the Olympics. And seriously, being suspended in the air like that… well, now I understand how people become adrenaline junkies.”

“I’m surprised you came out of the whole thing with only a scratch.”

“You sound like my dad.”

“Then I’ll try to be less protective,” Gavin gave me a twisty smile as he dipped the spoon into his sauce and came toward me. “Here, try this. See if it needs more garlic.”

Halfheartedly, I let him feed me a small amount.  We made flat eye contact and I shrugged. “I think you could go either way. I mean, it’s fine, but is there such a thing as too much garlic?”

“I don’t know.” He raised an eyebrow. “I guess that depends; are you letting me sleep in your bed tonight?”

My eyes awkwardly glanced away from him and settled back on my Olympics brochure, which had a picture of a triumphant Bode Miller on the front.

“How long before dinner?” I kept my voice intentionally light, like I hadn’t registered what he’d just said. “I might go downstairs and stretch. I still have a leg cramp.”

“I can rub it for you later.”

I leaned down and massaged my calf muscle. “Thanks, but I still want to stretch.”

I glanced up to see Gavin’s smile fade as he stepped away, walked back toward the stove, and spoke with his back to me. “I think we should talk.” Ominous words if there ever were any. I stood without going anywhere, as if our situation required formality. “Did you hear what I said?” Gavin said. “About talking?”

His urgency, his obvious desperation, propelled words out of my mouth before I could trap them. “Can’t you just be the guy for once?”

He dropped his spoon against the stove with a clang. “What? I’m not manly enough for you? I stay home in the kitchen while you go flying off a mountain, like you’re trying to be your sister or something…”

“Wait.” My defensiveness was instant and hot, a rash underneath my skin. “I do something spontaneous, something strong, and you think I’m just imitating Jo Beth?”

“Skiing past the safety barricades and off a cliff isn’t strong, it’s reckless, and it’s not like you.”

“Oh really? Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do.”

“Maybe I don’t,” he responded, “but it’s not for lack of trying.”

For a long, tense moment, Gavin stared at me, as if willing me to answer. I shifted my weight and looked toward the stairs to the basement, where I longed to escape from this conversation.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” I finally said.

“It’s simple,” he replied. “I want you to be safe. I want you to stay here in Black Diamond, and I want you to admit to me, to yourself, and to everyone else, that you and I are actually a couple.”

My answer was spineless. “I don’t know if I can do all that.”

Gavin’s face softened, maybe because he was as unprepared for my sudden vulnerability as I was. “Which part don’t you think you can do?”

I could barely squeak out my response, for fear that it would hurt us both. “All of it.”

Gavin nodded as if we’d just completed a business transaction. His shoulders rose and tensed as he turned off the stove with a flick. “I’m going. Just boil some noodles, then pour the sauce over them. It will taste good.”

I gave Gavin a reticent smile meant to beg forgiveness, but he wouldn’t look at me. “No, no,” I said. “Stay. Please, I want you to.”

He walked out of the kitchen, past me, and towards the front door. I followed and watched as he removed his wool coat from a hook and bundled up. My hands twitched from wanting to touch him, to soothe his anger, but my fingers were too timid to follow through.

He was clearly fuming. “Be honest, Sky. You’d rather have the night to yourself.”

I pictured the evening ahead of me, should he leave. It would start with a cold blast of air as he opened the door, a slamming sound as he walked away, and then the emptiness and guilt as I poured his marinara sauce into the sink, a blood red stream trickling down the drain because I couldn’t stomach eating his dinner without him.  “That’s not true,” I said, trying to keep my voice close. “I just don’t get why we have to turn into something serious, into something that we’re not.”

“Because I’m tired of being ‘that guy’—the one you kill time with when you have nothing else to do.”

I felt my face heat up “I admit that I’m anxious to get out of here and into the Olympics. But my restlessness isn’t about you. I’m just sick of waiting for something to happen. You’re still my favorite person to spend time with.”

He paused, hand on the doorknob. I could see how he wanted to leave, how he wanted to stay even more.  “Please don’t go,” I continued. “That sauce you made is delicious, and you don’t have to add any more garlic. That way our breath won’t stink too bad—you know, later on.”

I stepped in closer to him and put my hand on the back of his neck. He relaxed under my touch.

“Fine, okay.” Gavin whispered as he removed his jacket and we walked back into the kitchen together.

Later, I was in the bathroom, gargling with mouthwash. Green foam oozed down my chin and I used the sleeve of my oversized ski team jersey, which I wore as a nightshirt, to wipe it away.  As I spat out the rest of the mouthwash I met my own eyes in the mirror.

Was that hesitation or fear lodged on my face?

I spat again, cupped my hand over my mouth, and breathed in and out through my nose, checking for signs of bad breath. There had been a lot of garlic in Gavin’s sauce. But I was satisfied that I passed the halitosis test, so I fished in the drawer, digging past hair brushes, tweezers, and a bottle of ADVIL to finally find an unopened box of condoms, which I had previously shoved into the very back, out of sight.

Briefly I studied the box that I bought months ago as a precautionary measure. I ripped open the blue and gold packaging, which read Trojan Ultra-Thin Pleasure Pack, and clumsily pulled one out. How could this shiny silver square, which looked like it contained candy, make me so nervous?  Skiing off a cliff was nothing compared to this. I wrapped my fingers around the bright foil package, making a fist, so I didn’t have to see evidence of what I was about to do. I told myself that losing my virginity didn’t make me Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair and that becoming a sexual person didn’t turn me into an anti-heroine. I would instead be like Jo March, sleeping with her love, the professor, for the first time, somewhere off in the dusky void that existed away from well-lit pages underneath a reading lamp.

One more look in the mirror; this time it was a look of resolve. I studied the scratch on my cheek, made this afternoon by my ski pole when I’d landed in the snow, and lightly traced it down my cheek. “Gavin, I’m in the mood for more adventure,” I whispered to my reflection, rehearsing. I closed my eyes, shook my head in disgust, and then faced my reflection once again.

“Let’s take a chance tonight, okay?”

I gave my reflection the most provocative expression I could muster. My shoulders moved up and down, and then I walked out of the bathroom, determined to fly, not fall, off the cliff that I was launching myself from.


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Laurel OsterkampLaurel Osterkamp is a Kindle Scout/award-winning author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her “day job” is as at Columbia Heights High School, where she teaches creative writing, college writing, and AP Lit. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, two chatty children, an overweight cat, a gecko, and a hissing cockroach (don’t ask). Her other loves include chocolate, jogging, and boots.

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Author: Shaun Ebelthite

Release Date: September 2017

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense

“A cruise ship is the perfect target for a biological attack”. These are the chilling words emailed to the Seaborne Symphony in the mid-Atlantic.

Magazine editor Geneva Jones has been sent on the trans-Atlantic cruise to help secure a major advertising agreement from the CEO of the cruise line Rachel Atkinson, but her efforts to win her over are curtailed by a mysterious crew death. Geneva suspects foul play. Rachel insists its suicide. A former investigative journalist, Geneva can’t resist digging deeper, but what she finds is far more devastating. There’s an Ebola outbreak on the ship, everyone is trapped aboard and Rachel is trying to keep it secret.

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Shaun Ebelthite was born in Namibia, raised in South Africa and educated in Dubai in the Middle East where he is a maritime and cruise journalist. He has been covering all aspects of ocean transport for more than five years and runs the Middle East’s foremost online cruise magazine. He has had two children’s books published and is now branching out into a new genre with his first thriller.

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