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Monday, March 31, 2014

Release Day: Bleak Devotion



Bleak Devotion - Release Blitz
By Gemma Drazin
Young Adult Futuristic Dark Fantasy
Date Published: March 31, 2014

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Jessica doesn't know how long it's been, only that it seems like forever since she's allowed her feelings to show. Ever since they attacked her city. Monsters which appear human but are void of any expression, and seem bent on destroying all signs of sentiment in others. Their lethal blades shred anyone who shows even the slightest emotion.

After her only remaining friend is killed, Jessica flees the city hoping to find a place where emotions aren't fatal. A place to grieve those she lost and live out her meager existence. When she discovers the world of the emotionless creatures isn't what she believes, the love it leads her to may also be the path to her own death.



EXCERPT

Jessica clamped her teeth together and took a deep breath. “I can stay calm if he can.”

Zach shook his head. “I don't think—”

“Let her speak with me.” A deep male voice resonated through the crowded hallway.

Throwing on an emotionless mask, Jessica slowly shifted her body toward the voice. A tall male, whom she could only assume was the monster they called Blade, had managed to sneak down the stairs and stood mere inches from her. If she reached out, she would be able to touch him. The thought disturbed her and she struggled to maintain her composure.

The only thing she wanted to do was run screaming at this monster who had ruined her life. Every emotion that she'd been forced to hold in since the invasion begged to be launched at him. Grief. Torture. Outrage. Terror. All of it, she wanted him to feel. She wanted the rage to coat him inside and out, no matter what it would do to him.

Gemma Drazin
Gemma Drazin is the author of short stories and Young Adult Fantasies, sometimes mixing in a love story. She has a great love for cute shoes and can often be found outside with a book and a treat. When she’s not reading or writing she can be found enjoying time with her husband and children.

Author Links



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10 ebook copies of Bleak Devotion


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review Wrap Up: A Chance At Love



Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 2/13/2014

A simple phone call can change your life... just ask successful businessman Sullivan Chasen.  
When the caller shares the news that Sullivan's father is dying, Sullivan laughs and hangs up.  He isn't being heartless, he just knows that it can't be true - because his father already passed away... ten years ago.
Like a bad dream, the calls keep coming and DNA results turn Sullivan's world upside down.  There is only one way, and very little time, to figure out the truth.  He packs his bags for the small town of Ferry Creek, North Carolina.
Once Sullivan arrives, he must confront a past he never knew existed, including a half-brother who lives above their family diner.  The longer he spends away from his wealthy lifestyle and successful business, the more he falls in love with the small town, its community... and waitress, Jess Winthorne.
Can Sullivan Chasen go back to his normal life after learning about his past or will he discover the missing piece of his heart in Ferry Creek?

This book has a current Amazon Rating of 4.4*'s!
Get your Copy for $2.99.




REVIEWS FROM THIS TOUR
March 4 - Pure Jonel - Review
March 8 - Dee's Book Blog - Review
March 10 - D'ebook Sharing Book Reviews - Review
March 13 - FicCentral - Review
March 15 - My Devotional Thoughts - Review
March 16 - D.E. Haggerty Readsalot - Review
March 17 - Electively Paige - Review
March 18 - Wall to Wall Books - Review
March 21 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Review
March 24 - Ramblings of a Book Lunatic - Review
March 26 - Alina Popescu - Review
March 29 - Cruising Susan Reviews - Review




Karolyn James




PROMO: Firefly Hollow



Firefly Hollow - WEEK BLITZ
By T. L. Haddix
Romance w/ Light Paranormal Elements
Date Published: 9/23/2012

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The mysterious recluse…

Owen Campbell holds himself apart from other people. Badly scarred from emotional wounds that have never healed, he doesn’t expect to find true love or happiness. He remains isolated in a prison of his own making, determined to not let anyone close enough to hurt him again. But his willpower is shaken to the core when Sarah Browning enters his world.

The girl next door…

Sarah Jane Browning is three years into her college degree when a call from home changes everything. Back at the family homestead in the heart of Appalachia, she’s forced to reevaluate her hopes and dreams for the future.

Distraction from her heartache comes in the form of her parents’ neighbor. Whispers about “odd Owen Campbell” abound in their small community, and Sarah’s curiosity is aroused. When she breaks the rules and trespasses onto his land, what she finds is beyond her wildest imaginings.

As Sarah struggles to overcome tragedy and loss, her burgeoning relationship with Owen is sorely tested. Will love conquer all, or will the secrets from Owen’s past tear them apart forever?

EXCERPT

Checking back over her shoulder after a few steps, Sarah frowned when the deer continued to mimic her path. Dismissing the incident as the curiosity of a wild young deer that hadn’t yet learned humans were the enemy, she let her mind drift. Before long, she heard the sound of water trickling rapidly over rocks, and as she rounded a curve, she saw a small stream curving through the mountainside. The branch of water cut into a shallow hollow, one side protected by a higher ledge of earth that was full of mountain laurel.

Sarah stopped to take in the sight and drew in a cleansing breath. As she looked around, she realized the deer had followed her and stopped a short distance away. The bench of land it stood on converged with the deer path alongside the stream.

If Sarah hadn’t known better, she would have sworn the deer wore a look of consternation. The animal bent its head to nibble at some greenery on the ground, but kept its eyes on her. It almost seemed to glance between her and the water, as though weighing the danger of coming closer for a drink.

“Maybe if I turn away, you’ll feel bolder.” The deer path crossed the branch at a narrow point, and she decided to go a bit further. The water cascaded down a small waterfall above the narrow point, pooling in a shallow area that would be the perfect spot for a thirsty deer to get a cooling drink. Hopping across the water, Sarah followed the trail. To her surprise, the path didn’t continue to the flat bench on the other side of the small ridge, but climbed up and around the rocky outcropping. Curious, she climbed the incline. The sight took her breath away, and for a moment, she didn’t believe what was in front of her was real.

The rocky outcropping the water cascaded down was a sort of natural dam. On its other side, a large pool of water had collected. Fifteen feet across and nearly that wide again going in the opposite direction, the pool was surrounded by sloping granite on all sides except the front, where the water dropped over the edge. The water was blue-green, going from light aqua to deeper cobalt, and the banks of rock and earth protected it on all sides.

On the opposite side, a craggy granite cliff rose about ten feet out of the water, overhanging slightly to form a shallow cave. The mountain seemed to curve around the pool and, mesmerized, Sarah continued around, crossing the branch once more at a point above the pool. From there, she was able to climb on top of the granite boulder that created the cliff. Easing to the edge, she carefully sat down, her legs dangling over the side.

When the curious deer appeared at the edge of the pool below, Sarah laughed. The deer gave a small jerk at the sound, eyeing her warily.

“I’m sorry.” She felt utterly insane, carrying on a conversation with a deer, but it had followed her like a curious puppy. Sarah realized that keeping quiet would feel even more absurd. “It’s so beautiful here. I had no idea any place like this existed.” She looked around, noticing that the trees didn’t arch out over the pool the way she thought they would have.

“I’ll bet it’s really hot here in the summer, and that water feels so good and cool. Or does the pool dry up, I wonder?”

For a while, she just sat, braced back on her hands, her face lifted to the sky. The peace imbued in the place washed over her. When she felt ready, she let herself remember Kathy’s words to Paul, and their laughter. The memory made Sarah sad and still made her cringe with embarrassment, but she realized that she didn’t feel quite as angry about it as she had.

“Thank you, God, for letting me hear that today. At least I don’t have to face Paul until Monday,” she said to the sky. “And… and maybe, if that’s what he likes, then maybe he’s not as special as I thought he was. Let him have his buxom girls. At least I don’t look like a milk cow, unlike someone I could name.”

A snort came from below, and Sarah jumped. She’d forgotten the deer. Looking down, she saw that it had moved to the edge of the exposed granite and settled down on a soft patch of leaves.

“What are you snorting at?”

When the deer shook its head, Sarah laughed. Even though she knew it was probably batting away flies with its ears, the deer acted almost human.

She glanced down at her watch and was shocked when she saw the time. She was going to have to run in order to make it home in time for supper. With a muted curse that she’d heard her father say when he hit his thumb with the hammer, she scrambled to her feet and looked around. Another bench ran down from the side of the boulder opposite where she’d come up and fell naturally into the one the deer had been on when she’d first seen it.

“That saves me a little time.” With one last look at the deer, which had gotten to its feet when Sarah did, she headed down the bench. “I’ll come back someday,” she promised over her shoulder. “Try to not get shot or anything.”

For a day that had gone so badly, she thought as she ran, things had turned out to be okay.

* * *

For a long time after the girl had gone, Owen stood on the edge of the pool, looking after her. With his enhanced hearing, he could follow her progress down the trail and back onto Browning land.

He didn’t know what to think. He’d never encountered another human in all the time he’d been exploring the woods. His parents had seen to that over the years; no one dared come onto Campbell property without his father’s permission. Now that the property belonged to Owen, he guessed he was the one who’d have to do something about trespassers.

He bent his neck, taking another sip from the water. As the girl had guessed, it was cool and delightful.

Owen sighed, a sound that came out in deer form much as it did when he was human. The pool was one of his favorite places to roam, one of his safe places. If the girl came back as she promised, he didn’t know what it would mean for him. He couldn’t risk being caught, and he wasn’t willing to give up his solitude. If the girl threatened that… he hated the thought of having to go to her parents, but if it came to that, he’d do it.


T.L. Haddix

T.L. Haddix was born in Hazard, Kentucky, a small town in the center of the Appalachian coal fields. Taught to read by her grandmother, T.L. has had a life-long love affair with books, devouring whatever she could get her hands on. From childhood favorites such as the Trixie Belden series and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, to her current favorites from authors like Tami Hoag, Alex Kava, J.A. Jance and Lisa Kleypas (among many others), T.L. still finds refuge in the written word.


“Growing up, I wanted to be everything – astronaut, police officer, doctor, teacher, reporter, psychologist – there was no clear choice for me. I wanted to do it all. Becoming a writer has allowed me to do just that, because I can live vicariously through my characters.”



A resident of eastern Kentucky, T.L. is hard at work on her next book, when she isn’t chasing after her three cat-children with her husband.

Author Links

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review Wrap Up: Pan's Conquest


Paranormal Romance

Date Published: 2/24/2014

Syrinx pulled a fast one on Pan to escape his raging lust. The God of Chastity wasn't about to break her vows and succumb to his temptations. Transported to the twenty-first century, she runs a florist shop - fulfilling her fake, mortal life. Until the breathtaking Parker Thomas hires her to decorate his grand estate for a gala. Five hundred roses? Easy enough. Except Parker makes her feel things she can't ignore...

As the God of Fertility, Pan is used to maidens flocking in droves to his pastures. So when Syrinx denies him, he's determined to win the one that got away. He poses as a mortal to get close to her, but he doesn't count on falling hard for his conquest - hard enough to make a life and stay.

But Syrinx is falling in love with a man that doesn't exist. Can Pan hide his identity forever, or will the truth tear them apart?



This Book has a current Amazon Rating of 4.1*'s!
Get your copy for $2.99.




REVIEWS FROM THIS TOUR
March 18 - Busy Mom Book Reviews - Review
March 19 - Sofia Loves Books - Review/Excerpt
March 22 - Rage, Sex, and Teddy Bears - Review/Excerpt
March 23 -  The Avid Reader - Review
March 23 - The Bookaholic - Review/Excerpt
March 25 -  Pure Jonel - Review
March 26 -  Rythem Poets - Review
March 27 -  Book Briefs - Review
March 29 -  Imagine a World -Review/Excerpt





Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews. She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happily Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Publishing, Inkspell Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she's not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.

Twitter: @authoraubrie



PROMO: Sexual Appetites of Vampires

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Sexual Appetites of Vampires - PROMO Blitz
By Donna Fletcher
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: February 25, 2014

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Lara Bennett intends to only take a few minutes of Michael Valaine’s time. But then she only has a few minutes since a snowstorm is about to hit the area. She’ll interview him, ask him a few questions about his family’s strange heritage and be on her way before the first snowflake falls.



Things don’t go as planned for Lara. First, Michael Valaine is a drop-dead gorgeous man and second, and most importantly, he claims to be a vampire. She assumes he’s either annoyed with her for her impromptu interview or he’s crazy, either way she wants out of his home and away from him.



A blinding snowstorm stops her from leaving and she’s faced with the prospect of riding it out with either a crazy man or a vampire. That is until Michael’s eyes begin to glow red, his lips draw back in a snarl, and his fangs descend.



Lara’s about to find out, firsthand, the information she came looking for...exactly what is the sexual appetites of vampires?


EXCERPT

Lara had met plenty of people who believed themselves a creature of the night. Some were just plain nuts while others played at it. She wasn’t sure if Michael Valaine fell into either category. And that was even more frightening.

            “The need for sex can border on complete madness when a vampire is in need of it.”

            Madness. Now there was something she could agree with. Michael Valaine was stark raving mad.

            “But that type of aching hunger, a need to devour, is what vampires try to keep at bay for it comes with consequences. So we keep ourselves well satisfied with sex with willing human women of which there is an abundant supply.”

            Lara finally had it. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You really expect me to believe this bullshit. I get it. You’re annoyed with me for showing up unexpected, and so you decide to play a little game with me. See if I frighten easily. Well, you chose the wrong woman, buddy. But I do have to thank you for giving me some great material for the book. Now I’m leaving and will never darken your already dark doorstep again.”

            “What were you expecting to find when you came here?” he asked accusingly.

            His dark eyes grew so intense that Lara thought they glowed black. “Certainly not a grown man who claims he’s a vampire.”

            “So you’re upset because you meet a vampire who can answer your questions about sex?”

            Lara rolled her eyes. “Really? You’re going to continue to claim that you’re a vampire. A blood-sucking, unearthly creature that is ravenous when it comes to sex.”

            “I thought you came for the truth.”

            “The truth would be nice, but it seems that you are intent on continuing your little game. I, however, do not wish to play.”

            That sly smile of his surfaced again. “I guarantee that you would enjoy playing with me, Lara.”

            “That’s it, I’m leaving.”

            Michael stood. “I’ll see you to the door.”

            “Not necessary, I know the way out,” she said, buttoning up her jacket.

            “Just because I am a vampire doesn’t mean I’m not a gentleman,” he said and stepped aside for her to pass.             

“A gentlemen vampire, now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one,” Lara said as she scooted past him, eager to get out of the house and as far away from Michael Alexandru Valaine that she could get.

A phone’s jarring ring startled Lara as she entered the foyer and made her way to the front door.

Michael picked up the phone on the side table behind the vase of a beautiful winter flora arrangement. “Michael Valaine. I see. No, not to worry I will see to the matter. Thank you for calling and see that you take care in this storm. I hear that it is to last at least two days. Good. I’m glad to hear that. My regards to your family.”

He sounded so civilized and so normal that Lara grew more annoyed. Why had he treated her in such a ridiculous fashion? Why hadn’t he simply told her that he wasn’t interested in speaking with her and send her on her way?

 He approached her slowly, almost predatorily. And she was damn glad she was leaving.

 He stopped next to the door, taking hold of the handle. “That was Martha. She has calls for her bed & breakfast forwarded to her sister’s place when she’s not there. Your car service called and cancelled. The snow has already started and with predictions worse than they first thought, they won’t endanger their driver or you. It looks like you’ll be my guest for the duration.”

“Hell no! I’ll find someplace to stay, but it won’t be with you,” she said and shoved his hand off the door to swing it open. Her heart dropped along with her mouth at the sight of the blizzard-like conditions. She could barely make out what was in front of her, since the snow was falling so heavily.

Michael pulled the door closed and turned the lock. The click sounded so final, as if a jailer was locking her in and there would be no escape. She was trapped with a sexy hunk of a man who thought himself a vampire. It sounded more like the setting of a romance novel than real life. But she was no swooning heroine.

She looked Michael Valaine straight in those dark eyes of his and felt like a fool saying, “Tell me you’ve been playing me and that you’re no vampire.”

“Oh, sweetheart, if only I could.”

His eyes began to glow red, his lips curled back, fangs dropped down, and Lara fainted.

 Donna Fletcher:

Donna Fletcher is a USA Today Best Selling author of over thirty romance novels.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PROMO: Bad Boy vs. Millionaire

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Bad Boy vs. Millionaire - Cover Reveal
By Candy Starr
New Adult


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When fate forced Hannah Sorrento to take on the management of indie rockers, Storm, she managed to survive but, when she found out she'd been played by their mercurial front man, Jack Colt, the betrayal hit her hard.

She flees to Tokyo, where her father orchestrates a deal to save their collapsed financial empire.  A deal that involves a gorgeous millionaire.

Tamaki is everything Jack isn't and, with their similar backgrounds, he and Hannah form a bond.  He offers her safety and security as well as a return to her luxurious lifestyle.  But the passion Jack arouses in Hannah won't be denied.

In the second Bad Boy Rock Star book, Rock Star vs Millionaire, can Hannah forgive Jack or will she take the sanctuary Tamaki offers?

EXCERPT

Jack was in the kitchen, making breakfast. How could a man look so good first thing in the morning? With his tussled hair and baggy pj bottoms… and I didn't even want to think about his arms in that tank top. That curve from his shoulders down his arm. A classically trained ballerina could not move as gracefully as that curve in his muscle as he . If I thought too hard about it, the only decision left in this world would be whether I wanted to trace that indent with my finger tip or my tongue.

"Want a coffee?"

I jumped, hoping he couldn't read my thoughts.

I sat at the kitchen bench with my gaze fixed firmly on my hands.

"So, what's the plan for today?" he asked.

I hadn't really thought about it.

"I guess I should start looking for a place to live."

"You can stay here as long as you like, you know. It's okay." He grinned at me. I'd add that to my collection of the other four or five genuine Jack Colt smiles I'd got in this life.

"With you sleeping on the couch, I don't think so."

The words hung in the air. Emotions flitting over both our faces, words we didn't want to put out there. Jack didn't have to sleep on the couch. I had taken over his bed and that bed had a huge Jack Colt-shaped emptiness that had haunted my dreams.

He squeezed by me to get cups out of the cupboard. In the small kitchen space, I couldn't help but be aware of his physical closeness, the feeling of his body almost brushing against mine and the smell of his skin that even the fresh coffee couldn't hide. I wanted to press against him and feel his heat. I wanted him to be mine to touch and caress but he wasn't. Too many questions hung over us. He'd told me that he wanted me, he wanted to be with me but I still had no idea if I could trust him.

I moved to sit on the sofa, putting some space between us.

Maybe I should just ask, I thought. Bring it all out into the open. Tell him how I felt, my fears and worries. Let him know what was holding me back. But the words didn't exist in me. This wasn't some talk show. We were real people and real people didn't let it all out. They held it deep inside, hugging it to themselves. When you told people how you felt, that gave them the power.

If I was a normal girl, I'd have these straight forward emotions that I could talk about. I'd be able to lay it out on the table, take it or leave it. But, instead my emotions squirmed inside me, burrowing deeper and deeper.


Candy Starr
 photo candy_zpseb97f9bd.jpgCandy J. Starr used to be a band manager until she realised that the band she managed was so lacking in charisma that they actually sucked the charisma out of any room they played. “Screw you,” she said, leaving them to wallow in obscurity – totally forgetting that they owed her big bucks for video equipment hire.

Candy has filmed and interviewed some big names in the rock business, and a lot of small ones. She’s seen the dirty little secrets that go on in the back rooms of band venues. She’s seen the ugly side of rock and the very pretty one.

But, of course, everything she writes is fiction.

Author Links

Website | Twitter

Buy Links
Amazon Author Page

Giveaway

$10 Amazon Gift Card


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PROMO: Shattered Embrace



Shattered Embrace - PROMO Blitz
By PR Newton
Contemporary / Women's Fiction
Date Published: 3/14/2014

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Bethlehem took her first breath as her mother took her last.

Left to survive in overcrowded Ethiopian orphanages, she developed survival skills rivaling a warrior - a fierce, independent fighter before she could walk or talk. As she approached her second birthday, Bethlehem lived her days guided by two rules: everyone leaves and trust no one.

A world away in Canada, Tory Witcraft is trying to adopt from Ethiopia with her husband, Matt, when her adoption agency goes bankrupt, threatening her dreams of becoming a mother. Against the advice of many, including government officials threatening to revoke the adoption, she goes to Ethiopia, and her new daughter, Bethlehem.

When they finally meet, both mother and daughter struggle to connect, each trapped by their own fears and demons. Emotions and tempers run hot. Hearts and dreams collide, shattering a family before it could fully form. 

The adoption journey was difficult, but no one expected the hardest part of the journey would begin once they met.


EXCERPT

An itty bitty little thing of a girl came running into the room. Bouncing high with each step as she flew at them and promptly threw herself into Matt’s lap. Tory’s hand clutched her face, her breath stopped in her chest as she watched Matt draw the little girl close. His body rocked as he held her, his face split into a smile of pure joy.
“Daddy!” she cried out in a squeaky voice. She grabbed Matt’s face kissing each cheek with a big, slimy, open mouth kiss.
“Bethlehem!” Matt breathed out as he hugged her and kissed the top of her head.
“Bethlehem,” Tory whispered the name, as if saying it for the first time as she took in the face of the little girl she had studied through pictures for months. Blowing up the pictures until she could examine every facet of the the little girls features. Seeing her up close, face to face, finally close enough to touch left Tory breathless. Her skin itched to touch her. With a tentative hand she stroked her back.


About the Author:

P.R. (Piper) Newton is a proud geek mom of two little boys, one through birth, one through adoption. She has a background in psychology and continues to take post-grad courses in childhood trauma and development. In her writings she loves to explore the human mind, putting her characters through unthinkable things, just to see how they react. She is a full-time author, who believes in the magical, creative inducing powers of arm warmers and stripy socks.

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Giveaway

$10 Amazon Gift Card


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Monday, March 24, 2014

PROMO: Glory Days



Glory Days - PROMO Blitz
By Patrick Szabo
Young Adult / Coming of Age
Date Published: March 3, 2014


Matt is heading into his senior year of high school and has the world at his feet.

School comes easy for him. He’s the lead guitar player in a hard rock band, about to embark on their first gig. He has a job he likes, a car he doesn’t, a best friend he hopes to be friendlier with, and a pretty good set of parents. He has it all.

Until he doesn’t.

His dad suddenly begins acting strange and keeping odd hours. Matt has his own life to live, though, and doesn’t pay it much attention. Until he wakes up one morning to find his dad gone, leaving behind only a short note to his mother, setting into motion a chain of events that sends Matt down a dangerous path that could jeopardize his present as well as his future. Forced to quit a job he likes, he must take on a new job to help his mother out financially, but one that also eats into his ever important social life as well as school. Adding to his troubles, his best friend, Dawn, has a new boyfriend.

Matt can’t wait to become a member of the Class of 1989, but first he must get out of 1988 alive.


* NOTE *Contains adult language


EXCERPT

Chapter 1



I was seventeen years old when I played my first gig.

Thinking back, it really wasn’t that big a deal in the grand, macro scheme of things. It didn’t change my life nor did it lead to a record deal, followed quickly by fortune and glory. Women didn’t throw themselves at me or scream and cry when they saw me, like the girls in the old footage of The Beatles early shows. I played lead guitar in an 80’s hard rock band. We did get a fairly decent sized following around Columbia, SC, but a few years into our music career the bottom fell out of that type of music. Thanks in equal parts to fluffy ‘metal’ bands all over the airwaves and a few groups from Seattle that took the nation by storm. So, yeah, that first gig wasn’t that big a deal.

But at the time? It was the greatest moment of my young life.

The night before the show I didn’t sleep that well. I was way too excited to be bothered by any of those little slices of death, to paraphrase Poe. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to sleep, I really did. But each time sleep started to overtake me, my overactive mind kicked slumber to the curb and whirled with a thousand possibilities, all of them bad.

I only had one guitar, so what if I broke a string during a song? What if my voice went out? What if I forgot how to play the songs or messed up during the guitar solos? What if my dream girl didn’t show up? What if, what if, what if?

Then I would nod off for a few minutes and then wake up again and the cycle would continue.

Frustrated, I kicked the covers off and slipped out of bed. I thought about going for a swim—nothing quite like a middle of the night dip in the pool—and then decided against it. There would be dead bugs in the pool, possibly big ass palmetto bugs (my current Biggest Fear for some reason), and we didn’t have enough light in the backyard to properly scoop out all the detritus. So that was out. I decided to get a pop out of the refrigerator and think about my predicament.

I stepped quietly out of my room into the darkened hallway and tripped over my dog, who was asleep on his side outside my parents’s bedroom door. The big dog yelped and tried to jump up as I stumbled across his previously prone form. I cussed, regained my balance, and then he got his legs tangled in mine, and we both went down with a crash, a jumble of arms and legs and fur.

“Son of a bitch,” I said.

“Bo, shut up,” Dad’s groggy voice bellowed from behind the door.

I started to push myself up but Bo threw himself on top of me and shoved me back to the floor. He licked me.

“Get off me, you big moose,” I said and pushed his head away. He lurched forward and got in one more slobbery dog kiss—his impeccabley aimed tongue lapping my mouth—and then he was gone. I wiped his slobber from my face and swiped my hand on the carpet. “Gross, dog.”

He chuffed at me and then lay back down in front of Mom and Dad’s closed door. I shook my head, got up, and went to the kitchen. I squinted my eyes against the glare of the refrigerator light, grabbed a can of pop, and plopped down at the kitchen table. I popped the top as quietly as I could and took a big gulp. Then another. And one more for good measure.

I sat in the dark and drank and did my best to quiet my mind.

It didn’t really work all that well. I was nervous as hell, but at the same time I was as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I finished my drink, got up, and tossed the can in the trash. I thought about that swim again and immediately put it out of my mind. The last thing in the world I needed was a dead palmetto bug bumping up against me in the water. I shivered in disgust at the thought.

I went back to my room and, after closing the door behind me, flipped the light on. I took my guitar off its stand and sat down on my bed. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well get a little extra practice in. Just a quick run through of the songs we would be playing the next night. I took a deep breath, played a few scales to limber up my fingers, and stopped. I couldn’t remember how to play the song we’d be opening with. Hell, I couldn’t even remember the name.

“Shit,” I muttered. I sat there with my guitar resting across one leg and stared at my closet door, but the set list didn’t magically appear on the wood in blazing letters from the heavens.

“Come on, dumb ass,” I said. I thought about calling the singer but I didn’t think his parents would appreciate a phone call at three in the morning from some dipshit kid panicking over a song title. Why didn’t I write the damned songs down and toss the paper in my guitar case? Why was I such an idiot?

And then it came to me.

“Stagefright,” I said and felt relief flood through me. I shook my head and noticed for the first time that I was sweating. I chuckled. “Flop sweat.”

I did a speed run through the first few songs of the set and figured that was enough. If I didn’t get some sleep I would be pretty useless the next night. I put my guitar away and stretched out on my back and stared at the ceiling.

I ran the set list over and over again in my head and finally fell asleep.

I dreamed of a swimming pool full of palmetto bugs and not being able to scoop them all out. Weird and disgusting.

I woke the next morning just before noon and had some leftover pizza for breakfast. I went outside into the bright heat of the day and glanced at the pool. Nope. Not full of those damnable little insects. Not even one.

I kicked around the house the rest of the day, not really paying any attention to what I was doing. It just wasn’t that important. Finally it was time to get ready for the gig, so I showered, blew dry my hair, and got dressed.

I grabbed my guitar case, told my parents goodbye, and went out to my car. I put the case in the back seat, climbed behind the steering wheel, and prayed it would start. I turned the key and prayed again. It would be just my luck that on the most important day of my life the piece of- - -

It started on the first try. Hallelujah.

I checked my hair in the rearview mirror—I wore it more Iron Maiden, than Poison—and, satisfied, backed out of the driveway.

I popped a tape into the tape deck and drove to the gig, a big dopey grin plastered to my face.

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