Monday, September 18, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: HEY JOEY JOURNAL


BUY AT:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

After the psychologically scarring death of her father, wild child Rosie Dwyer is introduced to journal keeping. She initially considers this writing form to be cliché. Before the death, Rosie valued chaos and rebellion- from “protest-peeing” in class to shoving a Twinkie in a classmate’s eye. However, once Rosie gives into this mode of writing, a cathartic obsession begins.

Her entries often focus on her childhood enemy, Logan Fields, after he becomes Rosie’s permanent peer editor in creative writing class. While Rosie loses touch with both loved ones and reality, an unlikely friendship builds between her and Logan. Together, they must try to find the meaning behind insanity- in the school theatre, in the public library, and in the middle of a false Apocalypse.

KEYWORDS: teenagers, mental illness, suicide, Bipolar Disorder, journaling

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will giveaway a digital copy of Hey Joey Journal during this blog tour.

EXCERPT
 August 17, 2012

Hey, Journal,

That “Dear journal” shtick is overused, so I’ll address you with the word “hey.” Hey, journal. I usually write exclusively on scraps of paper. Underneath my bed is my literature’s habitat and the paragraphs are seldom about anything. Last year, I discussed career goals with my high school’s counselor. Once my writing aspirations were revealed, Counselor became giddy and asked about my writing style. She said, “I’d love to hear about it, Rosie.”

“It’s disorganized,” I said. Then she handed me this ginormous journal and I witnessed a disgusting “I’m-a-cool-adult” wink.

This is the first time I’ve cracked you open.

Time seems to have decelerated. The slowing of time is the only gift August 2012 has coughed up. There’s been a drought, among other eyesores. I’m beneath our backyard’s oak tree, its gargantuan arms stretching far, shade encompassing the entire lawn. Many leaves are dehydrated. It’s as pleasant to lie beneath as Magic Mike is to watch. Allow me to explain that analogy. The film’s previews had me expecting a rollicking rom-com...something less serious. It differed from the ads. Still, every scene featuring scantily clad men made it worth the cash. That’s what happened with this shade. I’m below it, experiencing a full body itch, but it could be worse. Due to lacking rain, the ground isn’t summer turf in the slightest. Imagine wearing a pantsuit crafted out of hay and sandpaper. The shade is nice, though. Makes me able to bear my eyes being open.

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick. I kid you not, as I placed the period after “open,” a bird landed in my eye line and inched toward me. Soon, it was atop this journal. I thought, Birds are flighty. Timid. Not this one. Its eyes were a familiar mess. I was confronted by the undeniable fact that birds were my dad’s favorite animal. I blinked, eyelids capturing wetness and holding it hostage. Moisture subsided and the bird was all kinds of nowhere.

I wonder what it would be like to sprout wings. To be gone. My pencil is begging me to release it from my monstrous grip and my legs are screaming, “Let us run far away, Rosie.”

I’ll do what I do best and let my impulses win. Run until I get scared and retreat. Run until I realize it’s not the same as flying. Run.

AUTHOR BIO
Colleen June Glatzel is a writer from Waukesha, WI. She writes mostly fiction, but is interested in exploring other categories now that her first book, Hey, Joey Journal, is published. When Colleen isn’t writing, she deals antiques, acts, performs improv comedy, makes collages, paints and spends time with her family.

Monday, September 11, 2017

FEATURED BLOG POST: BLACKTOP

Atop a dark, desolate stretch of blood-spattered West Texas asphalt, 
the road to survival will require the ultimate sacrifice.

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Blacktop 
to one randomly drawn commenter during this blog tour.

Blacktop is a terror-filled road-trip atop the dark, isolated back-roads of West Texas. Equal parts action/thriller and sci-fi/horror whodunit, it guides readers through a shock-filled maze, beginning with the hijacking of a commercial bus and concluding with a furious battle royale pitting the ultimate in extraterrestrial evil versus the few survivors of that initial abduction.

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AUTHOR BIO 
Born and raised in Northern Alabama, Terry Lloyd Vinson is an Air Force veteran and former corrections officer who is the author of over a dozen published novels. Having previously resided in five states and overseas, he currently homesteads in Nashville with his wife Liza and their canine pal, Dexter.

Twitter handle: @Tagsmaniac

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Monday, September 4, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: CHILD OF THE HEATHEN



Enter the world of the supernatural, witchcraft, demonology, Cree mythology, Immortality, and the Wendigo--a terrifying beast of Native American legend with an insatiable hunger to devour mankind...

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1968...

People are dying inexplicably in Maskek and the local police are divided as to the cause. It’s been happening for centuries.

For Deacon Pierce, who has grown up with the legends and mythology of the First Nations Cree, a visit to his teacher’s home unlocks the door to his father’s tortured past.

In 1750 Jonathan Sparkling Eyes Hare signed away his mortal soul and those of his
unborn children, for life eternal: a deal with a demon or a creature of ancient Cree legend?

When nightmares and darker visions begin to affect Deacon’s health and sanity, his white, adopted mother is forced to reveal the truth about his bloodline and the sinister events surrounding his father Jonathan and his lover Damien Drew.

Can past and present combine to prevent Deacon’s death?

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
During this blog tour, the author will be giving away 
a FREE digital copy of CHILD OF THE HEATHEN. 
Just comment for a chance to win!

EXCERPT
Clattering unceremoniously along the driveway, Janine dragged her stole along the ground, snagging it every few yards on the briars protruding from the potted Alberta roses. To keep her balance, she anchored herself on the cedar wood fence running alongside the drive. Behind her the glaring lights faded into the mist-shrouded darkness arising from Loon Lake. It gave an eerie, almost surreal feel to the landscape and distorted the tall conifer trees into bizarre shapes that might have been animal or human. The solitude intensified the sounds of the night; the howl of a wolf, the snarling of a bobcat, the shuffling and snuffling of the smaller nocturnal creatures that owned the night.
Inebriated and angry and still blaming her husband for leaving her, Janine was barely aware of the noises around her until the piercing screech of a red-tailed hawk split the sky, penetrating her alcohol fuddled brain. She recoiled, startled, throwing a nervous glance over her shoulder, but she could see nothing beyond the cedar wood fence and the dim outline of the steel barrier surrounding the limits of the property. It was beginning to register that nobody had passed her since she’d left the house. Not a single car.
Something moved in front of her, stopped for a moment then vanished. Thinking her husband hadn’t really gone without her, she called to him. “Think you can play games with me, Randy, do you? Well I know you’re there. You wouldn’t have the guts to go without me. Come out, come out wherever you are.”
Swearing loudly as the fur caught on a sharp object that wouldn’t let go, she tugged and tugged until it came away, sending her sprawling across the ground. “That’s not funny, Randy. I don’t think much of your stupid jokes.” When she fell, she lost one of her high heeled shoes. She rose unsteadily to her feet, floundering in the dark for the lost shoe. “Where’s my shoe, goddamn it. I need my shoe.”
Chilled, she wrapped the fur stole tightly around her neck and shoulders. Relinquishing warmth for vanity, she had left her summer jacket at the motel and wore only the stole over her backless gold lame dress “Randy, where are you?” Wishing now that she had accepted the offer of a ride home her anger was rapidly dissolving.
The mist coming in from the lake was beginning to take on a reddened hue, slithering across the ground in long tentacles that reached upwards and outwards. As she stood there paralysed by what was taking place, a strong, sickly stench assailed her nostrils, making her feel nauseous. Then she was surrounded by a sense of dread that she was no longer alone. Something cold, almost metallic crawled across her back and parked up at the base of her spine. Nothing tangible, nothing she could see or touch, but it lingered like a festering toothache.
Randy. Where are you?
The night was turning colder, drawing the last vestige of warm intoxication from her stick thin body. She heard the crackle of breaking twigs, as if walked on by a heavy boot or a huge paw, and a sudden gush of icy wind whipped her hair around her face.
Somewhere out there was the placid lake, now obliterated by the expanding mist. She could hear water, loud, churning and angry as if lashed by a ferocious storm. What if she was heading for it and couldn’t see it?
Spurred on by fear, Janine tried to run but restricted by her body clinging full length gown and one high heeled shoe, she stumbled and fell over an object on the ground; the missing shoe. Shoving her foot quickly into the shoe, she was pushed from behind as she stooped to secure the ankle strap. She landed on her stomach with a force that knocked the breath from her body. Thrashing on the ground she tried to stand, catching her leg in the hem of the dress. Whimpering and breathless she struggled to free her legs, tearing the material. Wrapping her arms around the base of a spruce tree, Janine managed to pull herself to her feet. She saw a piece of her dress snagged on the tree. She must have caught her backside on an overhanging branch as she bent down and it had sprung back and hit her. In her unstable condition, she’d lost her balance.
Dissolving into near hysterical laughter, she tried to take stock of her predicament. How hard could it be? Her head was swimming, the ground spinning. It was as if she was walking on sponges. The goddamn mist was red.
She smelled it again, cloyingly close, the sickly stench of breath in her face from a mouth she could not see. Felt the warmth of the fetid breath settling on her cheeks. Now the snorting, snuffling creatures of the night gave way to the deepest and long buried nightmares from her childhood of being chased by something that wanted to cause her harm.
The sound of surging water was all round her, filling her head with the force of it. Where was it coming from? Emily told her it was a serene and gentle lake. It didn’t sound anything like a tranquil lake. Might have been a storm wrecked sea from the roaring it made, muffling any other noises she might have encountered.
In running away had she inadvertently turned in the wrong direction? There seemed to be no end to the emptiness. Where was the house? Where were the other guests? Surely, she should have passed or seen somebody by now.
The red mist began to phosphoresce, emitting a foul odour that smelled like putrefied death. In one gut wrenching moment and as impenetrable as a fortress the blackness descended upon her.

AUTHOR BIO
I was born in Leek, North Staffordshire U.K. Presently living in Derbyshire U.K. I lived and worked in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada for many years, from where I was able to continue my love of and interest in the Native American people and their culture. Child of the Heathen is my first novel to be published (by Rogue Phoenix Press). I have written a sequel; a third book is begun. Some of my other interests include the local theatre company of which I am a member, gothic weekends in Whitby, and all things supernatural.


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Monday, August 28, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: GIRLFRIENDING--A COLLECTION OF HUMOROUS, SAD, AND SOMETIMES BIZARRE SHORT STORIES

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
During this blog tour, the author will be giving away a digital copy of GIRLFRIENDING.

BUY AT

~ A detective known for bold courage on the job 
deals with mental and physical abuse by his trophy wife. 
~ A woman strives to overcome the PTSD 
she brought from battlefields in Iraq 
so she can become a loving partner. 
~ In the title story, a socially dysfunctional man 
“girlfriends” women he “meets” in obituaries. 

From liaisons that are real, to those that are imaginary or somewhere between, Christopher T. Werkman skillfully creates characters beginning, ending, or finding a way through some type of romantic relationship. Girlfriending, Werkman’s collection of short stories, will fascinate, amuse, and astonish. Many of the stories are published in literary magazines and anthologies, but most appear only in this collection. 


Christopher T. Werkman's novel, Difficult Lies, was published in 2015.

Twitter: @Chwerks

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ABOUT THE COVER
"The cover looks terrific. You are amazing."  --Christopher T. Werkman

Though the author expressed these kind words about the cover design, I want to share kudos with him. In addition to being an author, Christopher T. Werkman's creative talents include art. The piece on the front cover of this book is done by him. Once again, great teamwork on the cover!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

IT'S RELEASE DAY!

My latest book, More Than Just a Dog, is available!


With a Collie, star gates, and a shotgun-toting mother, I had great fun writing More Than Just a Dog. The digital version is at the special introductory price of 99 cents; the print version is $4.99 <http://tinyurl.com/CollieChronicles>. 


I have a blog tour coming up next week featuring freebies and special appearances with my beautiful Tucker, the Collie featured on the cover of this book. Will post those blog sites each day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD

LOST CITY ~ ADVENTURE ~ CENTRAL AMERICA

Peter VanOwen is living by the beach in Costa Rica when his old college roommate, a disgraced professor of archaeology, drops in unexpectedly to convince him to go on an expedition to discover a lost city in the Honduran jungle and help resurrect his career. He is enticed to join the expedition by the prospect of seeing once again his long-lost college girlfriend who has remained the love of his life. But once in Honduras he encounters a sinister and mysterious woman who entraps him into going on an expedition he had intended to avoid. Upon penetrating deep into the Honduran jungle in search of the lost city VanOwen comes face to face with a sinister reality that will change his life and that of his family, friends and even his ex-girlfriend.


AUTHOR BIO:



Monday, August 7, 2017

BLOG TOUR FEATURE: JAK BARLEY, PRIVATE INQUISITOR

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give away a digital copy of 
Jan Barley, Private Inquisitor, and 
the Case of Annoying Assassins 
to one random commenter.

Fantasy! Private inquisitor! Goblins! Witches! Demons! Adventure!

Jak Barley, Private Inquisitor, is tired of adventures and is ready to take on only hum-drum cases offering no drama--those of missing husbands, unfaithful spouses, or fat merchants paying well for outing thieving employees--anything not involving traveling, swords, or the darker magics.

Yet once again his otherworldy friend, Lorenzo Spasm, drags him into cases involving corrupt CIA (Clandestine Information Authority) agents, murderous bank robbers, nasty goblins, furious dragon chases, demonic foes, and going uncover at an elders’ RW (recreational wagon) park set atop a butte overlooking a harsh desert floor. To top it off, Jak finds himself the quarry of the Assassin’s Guild after an anonymous adversary takes out a whack contract on him.

Helping him get through this will be his intended, the beautiful witchling in training, Morgana.


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AUTHOR BIO 
Dan Ehl has been a journalist and editor at both weeklies and daily newspapers in Iowa. The winner of numerous journalism and photo awards, including first in humor from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, he enjoys breaking out of dryer newspaper writing to pen fantasy novels. He served in Germany as an Army photographer during the Vietnam War. “With a lot of Vietnamese people digging pits with sharpened stakes at the bottom for people just like me, I knew I wasn’t really wanted. I didn’t want to be rude and show up anyway. Being from Iowa, we always try to be polite. And Germany during the early 1970s was interesting enough with the barracks always reeking of beer, vomit and hashish every weekend.” His favorite hobbies are hitchhiking and hopping freights.





EXCERPT
“What-t-t-t?” I managed to croak in answer to the incessant hammering on my sleeping room door. I keep it bolted along with several magical wards after a number of tedious attempts upon my life by diabolical assassins, blood-thirsty necromancers, and numerous bat-turd crazy priests and neophytes of ancient and deranged deities. Other than that, my life is fairly normal.
I am back to yawn-inducing cases dealing with unfaithful spouses, stolen silverware, and runaway teensters—and I intend to keep it that way. You will not be kidnapped by piss dragons for investigating a horse theft, hounded by nasty wizards over a missing spouse case, nor forced to traipse through monster-laden wastelands to answer a simple paternity question. I now choose my private inquisitor cases wisely in my hometown of Duburoake, and again, that means no adventures. I hate adventures.
“Come on Jak, open up.”
What kind of hedge-born miscreant would be trying to wake a person this early in the morn?
“Jak, it’s almost afternoon. Open up, you dipsomaniac.”
“Ugh-h-h,” was all my dry throat could sound. I tried opening my eyelids, but it appeared some twisted jester glued them together. I was forced to pry them apart with palsied fingers.
What had that demented lunatic been shouting last night as he kept refilling my ale mug? “There be no tomorrow.” Yes, in principle there be no tomorrow. The clock strikes midnight and it be today, with tomorrow pushed another twenty-four hours away. We all chase a tomorrow that never comes. Unfortunately, today has again arrived and it be not pleasant.
My idle thoughts were just about to lure me back into a feverish slumber when the caller again began shouting. “Jak Barley, get out of bed, you lazy ne’er-do-well sot.”
Like some pitiable prisoner coerced to climb the steps to the gallows pole, I forced myself to sit up and then fight the sudden centrifugal force that threatened to send me rolling across the room to be plastered against the wall like some youngster in a harvest carnival ride. The spinning slowly receded to where I could safely pull on my trousers, though it set off an angry outburst behind my eyeballs.
“Jak, get up, you wretched lay about.”
I lurched to the door and waved my hand across the latch, letting the ring cancel the charms placed upon it. The magical band and its wards were a gift from my betrothed, Morgana, a novice witch at the Kuu Academy of Mystical Arts and Witchcraft. Beginning at the top, I slid the five bolts over and then hesitated at the latch. I knew the grotesque vision I would see on the other side. I sighed in resignation and opened the door, there to view the huge, mocking, obnoxious, leering, and gleeful smile of my supposed friend, Lorenzo Spasm.
“Holy crap, Batman, what wizard cursed you with that aging spell?” he exclaimed.
I was used to his outlandish phrases and words because that is what they literally are—outlandish. Spasm claims to be an inhabitant of a parallel firmament, one similar to our world in many ways, but devoid of any magic. Partial proof of that claim is Spasm’s immunity to spells. Any enchantment will rebound off my friend and back onto the mage or witch who cast the curse.
“What in Hades do you want? Cannot you see I am ailing?” I managed to moan. I could not even lift my head to look in him eye-to-eye without setting off another round of thunderbolts.
Lorenzo is about six-foot, two inches, to my five-nine. I took in his droopy mustache and slightly greying hair that went to his shoulders—and the outlandish mixture of clothing reflecting his exotic wanderings. It is difficult to estimate his age, though I would guess in the late forties. He was taciturn when it came to personal details and background.
“Downed by the brown bottle flu is my guess,” Lorenzo observed with little sympathy. “You reek of a brewery.”
My answer was a glowering stare that failed to wipe away his enthusiastic demeanor. “What do you want?” I finally asked.
“I have a job for you. It seems . . .”
I slammed the door in his face and staggered back to bed. Anything Lorenzo found so enjoyable could only mean peril and hardship. I made the mistake of not locking the door and Spasm pushed it open. He crossed the room to open a window and then took a chair at the foot of the bed.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

BLOG TOUR FEATURES MYSTERY, CRIME, DRUG RUNNERS, MURDER...

 

Mayaki is reportedly dead. 
Her car crashed over Tariaah, the sacred hill, 
making front-page on the morning daily.  

Gloria Reginald rushes to Lohada to verify and arrange for her friend to be brought home for burial but, shockingly, the body in the morgue has a matted face under a roll of bandages and looks nothing like her, raising questions that beg for answers. 

The police can’t be trusted and the doctors seem suspect. 

To the natives of Lohada, Mayaki is merely another victim of the anger of the god of the hill.

But when Mayaki’s wooly red doll providentially turns up in the outcrops, Gloria’s intuition quickly leads her closer to uncovering an ingenious plot hidden behind her best friend’s mysterious disappearance. 

With the conviction that her friend is still alive, 
Gloria must take charge of matter if she hopes to get to the root of the goings-on.

Soon the puzzle unravels and 
she finds herself locked in a dire struggle 
to save her friend from the hold of a 
dreadful and powerful drug-running organization 
that demands just one thing that only 
Gloria can provide in exchange for Mayaki.

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COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Mayaki's Doll
to one random commenter.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR
Twitter: @efbenedict9

ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
think it’s FANTASTIC....This is just great.
--Francis Benedict

Monday, July 24, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: HIS ETERNAL PROMISE

Title: His Eternal Promise
Eternal Gifts Book Two
Genre: Paranormal romance; vampire
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

She never imagined that a peculiar encounter with Maxim, followed by a night of extraordinary passion, would result in His Eternal Promise.

Carlee put everything into her family and her job over the last couple of years, sacrificing any personal life. After a rare evening out with a few girlfriends, she encounters a captivating man under inexplicable circumstances. Against all rational judgment, they share an evening of the most fulfilling and erotic sex she's ever experienced.


Maxim hasn’t wanted a woman, especially a mortal, in over a century, but he wants Carlee. He intends to keep the truth from her in order to build a relationship first, but a woman from his past complicates things forcing him to reveal the truth. He hopes Carlee chooses to keep him in her life, because he can’t leave, her life is in danger.

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will give away a digital copy of His Eternal Promise to one randomly drawn commenter.

AUTHOR BIO

I grew up an Army brat, so my childhood involved moving every three years. However, truly a southern gal, I currently reside in Alabama with my husband, two Chihuahuas, a mean cat, turtle, and a teenage daughter. I have two sons, who live on their own, and a stepson and stepdaughter.

Romance novels have always been my first reading choice. I'm a hopeless romantic, and that trait materializes in every aspect of my life. "Wearing your heart on your sleeve" has been a common phrase repeatedly heard throughout my life. Writing romance and happily ever afters comes naturally.

Whether a result of my childhood, or not, I love to travel. Warm weather and beautiful beaches are always my choice destination.








Monday, July 17, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: CAPTAIN'S SORTIE


Another Book of the
DELAND SEA & LAND ADVENTURE NOVELS

The American colonial frontier is at war and stained in the blood of farmer and soldier alike. French generals have filled the land with armies of white uniformed troops and their north woods Indian allies. No one is safe from the perils of this conflict that seems to have no end. Captain Ben Deland sails north from the warm Caribbean with more than one mission to accomplish. The war is not going well for the British and Americans in the late winter of 1758 and Ben once again must lead his loyal crew ashore and into the dangerous forests and mountains to face the French and Indians.

But the British have undertaken a great task to stop the French from overwhelming the Hudson and splitting the colonies in two. Captain Deland is drawn to their aid and then has to launch a desperate rescue into the dangerous wilderness filled with enemies to find the victims of the war raging all around them.

Sea and shore action and adventure told through the stories of the men and women who face overwhelming obstacles and evil characters. Real history mixed with rich descriptive portrayals of nature and man set in the violence and uncertainty of war on the colonial frontier. 


COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
The author will be giving away a digital copy of Captain's Cross (book one of the Deland Sea & Land Adventure Novels) to a randomly drawn commenter during this blog tour.

AUTHOR CONTACT INFO
Twitter: @mikefullerwrite


ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"You nailed it! Just the look I envisioned."
--Mike Fuller



Saturday, July 15, 2017

COVER REVEAL: MORE THAN JUST A DOG

NEW BOOK!
Arriving on Earth
August 15, 2017...

Three generations of independent women, 
driven in different directions by one man’s anger. 
Until his death reconnects them 
with their mystical Irish ancestors and 

wonders beyond this limited human existence.

This is my next book 
written under the pseudonym Genie Gabriel,
for which I also designed the cover.

Monday, July 10, 2017

FEATURED BLOG TOUR: THE STRANGE HORIZON

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN...
The author will be awarding an ebook copy 
of one of his titles to a randomly drawn commenter. 

A Collage of Short Stories emerged from my imagination--a few actual experiences--and some possibly conjured from a previous life, if you believe in reincarnation and Edgar Cayce. 

The Strange Horizon ranges from stories less than a hundred words to over four thousand words. There isn't any profanity, gore or sexual innuendo in any of the short stories. The genre varies from mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy. You may smile, chuckle, express a tear or two, feel a sudden chill or feel a warmth at the end of the story. Emotions are in the mind of the reader and the heart cuddles or rejects those emotions. 


CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Email address: gosky1@outlook.com 

EXCERPT 

Guiding Spirit 

Adam leaned forward and slid his shovel between the sidewalk and six inches of snow. His peripheral vision saw someone walking toward him. He straightened up and gazed at an elderly man wearing a parka. A cold northern wind gently blew at the man's white hair and long white beard. 

Adam threw the shoveled snow next to him and said, "How are you?" 

"Just fine, thank you." 

"I'm Adam Morris." 

"Please to meet you. I'm Ben Stanton." 

"Didn't you and your wife move into the old Kramer house last month." 

"Yes. We did." 

"Is everything all right there? It sat vacant for a few years." 

"It's just fine. We're very comfortable." 

"I heard you're going to play Santa Claus at the family shelter on Christmas Eve," Adam stated. 

"Yes. I'm looking forward to it." 

"You sure do fit the part. Don't need an artificial beard." 

"No. I don't," Ben said, pulling at his beard. 

"I understand you retired a few years ago." 

"That's right." 

"What kind of work did you do?" 

"Public relations for a large global company." 

"Did your wife retire too?" 

"You ask a lot of questions. You must be a newspaper reporter." 

"Yes. I am. How did you know that?" 

"You're standing in front of the Northern Star Newspaper office." 

Adam rolled his eyes, grinned. "Never was good as an undercover reporter." 

Ben placed his hands on his large protruding abdomen and chuckled. 

"You laugh from your belly just--" 

"I know," interrupted Ben. "Just like Santa on TV or in the movies." 

"Didn't mean to offend you." 

"You didn't. It doesn't bother me at all. Matter of fact, I take it as a compliment." 

Two teen-aged boys approached them. "Hey old man, where's your reindeers?' asked one of the boys. The other boy snickered. 

"Get out of here you juvenile delinquents." Adam scowled at them. 

The boys kicked snow on the shoveled sidewalk in defiance and took off running. 

"You little brats." 

"They mean no harm," interjected Ben. "They got good hearts. Their attitudes just need some guidance." 

"Being in public relations, I would think you'd have negative judgments of people." 

"No. I try to see positive attributes in people. It's the way I am. Too old to change now." 

~ * ~ 

About a week before Christmas, the Santa at the mall became sick. Adam heard about it when the manager of the mall came into the newspaper office to place an ad in the paper. He contacted Ben, who accepted the position. 

Ben sat in a large, adorned chair. A woman in her late twenties, holding the hand of a girl around six-years-old, walked up the red-carpeted entranceway and stopped a couple feet away from him. 

"Hi, Santa," said the little girl. 

"Well, Jasmine, how are you today?" 

"How did you know her name?" asked the woman, frowning. 

"Santa knows all the boys and girls of the world. Although, I heard you call her name a few minutes ago when you walked behind me." 

"So, Jasmine. What do you want for Christmas?" 

"A daddy. Mine died when I was a baby." 

"I'm not sure if Santa can promise you that." Ben glanced at the mother. A tear ran down her cheek. 

Jasmine's face saddened, as her shoulders slumped. "That's okay, Santa Claus. I still love you." 

"Bless your heart. What else can Santa bring you Christmas morning?" 

"My own bed." 

"Do you share your bed with someone else?" 

"Oh. No Santa. The shelter owns my bed." 

The mother leaned forward. "We're staying at the family shelter in town. It's just temporary until I earn enough money for a place of our own." 

"I hope things work out for you and your daughter. Have a Merry Christmas. And God bless you." Ben handed Jasmine a candy cane. 

~ * ~ 

On Christmas day, Adam sat at his dining room table surrounded by family members. 

"I heard that Ben and his wife suddenly left town two days ago," Carl remarked, Adam's brother. "No one seems to know where they went." 

Adam frowned. "That's strange. Ben was looking forward to playing Santa Claus at the family shelter." 

Maybe they wanted to spend Christmas with relatives in another town or state." 

"I don't think so." 

"Why's that?" asked Carl. 

"Ben and his wife were 'only children' and didn't have any relatives. At least that's what he told me a while back." 

~ * ~ 

"Jasmine, get over here." 

"Karen. She's okay," said a young man in his late twenties, sitting next to her on a bench in the mall. Across from them, they were dismantling the Santa Claus stage. 

"I still can't believe how we happened to meet after not seeing each other since high school." 

"Me either. The elderly man that was playing Santa here at the mall came into my store a few days before Christmas. He asked me if I would go to the family shelter on Christmas Eve dressed up like Santa. I couldn't believe it when I saw you there." 


ABOUT THE COVER FROM THE AUTHOR
"Excellent! The revision is perfect."
--G.L. Didaleusky