Thursday, September 29, 2022

For Halloween, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP on Sale for $0.99

I've reduced the price of THE COMPANY YOU KEEP to $0.99 for the month of October. This book has a ghost, a billionaire, plenty of evil entities, and a terrible secret. 
😱
Here are snippets of reviews from the past:

A reader on Goodreads said, "This book surprised me. I though it was just a romantic novel, but I was wrong. Besides romance, includes other genres like suspense , paranormal and crime. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I really enjoyed the story!"


Diane Tugman of The Romance Studio said, "With each chapter you'll be drawn into a tangled web of the supernatural."


Anastasia Castella-Young of Mind Fog Reviews said, "I highly recommend this paranormal romance to those interested in demons, spirits, adventure and love. Penelope Marzec hits the mark dead on!"


This is the story of Jennifer Brant. Her existence has centered on protecting the world from a cursed spirit who guards a deadly portal located on her farm. When a billionaire developer, haunted by the sins of his past, wants to buy her farm, she refuses, knowing the spirit will be released on those she loves. When someone intent on controlling the demon kidnaps her brother in order to use the farm for his own evil deeds, Jennifer and the billionaire must unite to save her brother and destroy the portal. Can their union grow into a loving and safe lifetime for them and their future generations?

The following scene is in Nathan's point of view--he's the billionaire. While Jennifer sleeps after being involved in an accident, Michael, her brother, offers Nathan the land he wants. This comes as quite a surprise to the billionaire...

Nathan placed another log on the cheery blaze in the fireplace. Jennifer lay on the couch, bundled in a wealth of quilts. Her chest rose and fell softly in a steady rhythm. He sat in the chair and took a calming breath. Despite a variety of bruises and a mild concussion, she should be fine, especially since he had volunteered to watch her for the rest of the night.

Michael walked into the room with two brandy glasses. “Here, McDugan. It’s been a long night.”

“Thanks.” He accepted the glass.

Michael paced around the room with his brow deeply furrowed. The younger man was still revved up and running on adrenaline.

 “I want to thank you. I really panicked when I saw Jen’s truck up against that tree,” he admitted. “I’m usually cool on a call but it’s different when it’s one of your own...” After a pause, Michael continued in a raspy tone. “You see, our parents died in a car accident.”

He nodded. He’d felt the twist in his gut when he had heard the metal crumple in the crash, but when he saw Jennifer in that wreck it was as if his heart slipped out of gear. He sipped some of the brandy. The warmth of peaches tingled on his tongue and his control nearly crumbled. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he dared another taste. The sample reminded him so vividly of the flavor of Jennifer’s lips that he felt nearly possessed.

He drew in a great breath. For a moment tonight, he thought he had lost her. In that brief flash, raw grief sliced into him. Thinking about it later, he was stunned at his violent reaction. He told himself that simply visiting a wreck stirred up the old horror.

“The police said someone tampered with the brake hoses,” Michael blurted out. “But that’s ridiculous. I know it’s an old truck. But George—” He stopped his restless pacing and paled. “George always fixed it.”

“She said the brakes didn’t work.” He kept his voice low. He did not want to disturb her. She needed to rest.

“Yeah. Yeah. I know.” Michael downed a good portion of the brandy in one gulp. “How much land do you really need?”

He narrowed his eyes, wondering if he had heard correctly.

“Your absolute minimum,” Michael reiterated.

Momentarily speechless with surprise, he nearly dropped the glass in his hand. Did he see desperation in the hard lines around Michael’s mouth? “Your sister has led the fight and worked the hardest to keep me out of Marlpit. Won’t she consider you a traitor?”

“Everything has changed in the last few months. Everything.” Michael swore softly. “My wife is ill. We had another dry summer so we didn’t grow much produce.” He gave a small snort. “Except for peaches. We had plenty of peaches. Now with Jennifer’s truck destroyed, I don’t think there’s any way—” He didn’t finish the thought. A deep scowl creased his forehead and he balled up his fists.

Nathan cleared his throat. Warning gongs sounded in his brain but he ignored them. He had no reason to trust Michael Brant. However, after tonight, it seemed worth the gamble. “Forty acres.”

Michael sniffed. “Why didn’t you tell us that in the first place?”

“I padded my original proposal figuring it would get whittled down to nothing anyway.” Despite the heady liquor, his nerves seemed ready to snap. He’d wanted this for so long.

Michael set his glass on the mantle and stared into the fire, his back to Nathan. “What price?”

He realized he was about ready to crush the glass in his hand. He forced himself to relax. Leaning back in the chair, he tried to look casual. He didn’t want to get roped into a ridiculous deal.

“This is an unusual liqueur,” he said, taking another sip from his glass. “Do you make your own brew?”

Michael’s shoulders sagged. “Nah. That stuff is something Jen mixes up. Peach juice and vodka, I think.”

He glanced at her, still sound asleep on the couch. Wispy tendrils framed her serene face. She looked fragile—and enchanting. A pang of something like loneliness stabbed at his heart. Clearing his throat, he added. “Your sister is quite talented.”

“Yeah. Well, you have to do something with all those peaches before they rot,” Michael commented. He plopped down in the wingback chair and hung his head. He looked beaten.

Despite the smell of victory, a hollow space seemed to widen in Nathan’s heart. This had all become more than a simple business deal. While he had spent months arguing with Jennifer and the people of Marlpit, he would win only because fate and some crazed maniac had lent him a hand.

“Which forty acres are you willing to part with?” He stared into the sweet but potent liquor in his glass.

Silence hung in the air for several tense minutes before Michael answered. “You can have a portion of Abigail’s woods.”

He lifted his head and frowned. “It would take extra labor to clear it.”

Michael stood again as he spoke louder than before. “It’s well up on the ridge so you won’t have any drainage problems. In addition, it’s out of the DEP’s designated area.”

Then something sparked in Michael’s eyes as his voice reached a new crescendo. “Aside from that, the visitors to your fancy theater will have a sweeping view of feudal serfs living as they did in the dark ages! You should be able to raise the price of the tickets for that privilege!”

Jennifer moaned and stirred on the couch. Without conscious thought, Nathan sprang to her side. He touched her forehead. His hand shook. He wasn’t sure if she felt warm or hot. Dammit. She looked too pale.

“Should I wake her like the doctor said and ask her some questions? Do you think she’s all right? How does her forehead feel to you?” His heart hammered in his chest.

Michael rubbed the back of his callused hand on his sister’s cheek. “She’s okay. I should just keep my big mouth shut.”

Relief flowed through him. “She always tries to act so tough but she isn’t,” he mumbled, almost to himself. Then he glanced back at Michael, catching an odd puzzled look as it flitted across the younger man’s features.

“Yeah. Well. She’s flesh and blood, McDugan. Two hundred year old maple trees are a lot tougher,” he whispered hoarsely. “Come on into the kitchen. I’ll get a calculator. Let’s talk numbers.”


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You can find the book at many ebook distributors. 


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Guest Post: A DIM HOPE by Katie Clark

My guest today is Katie Clark. She started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her Beguiled Series, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, or on social media @KatieClarkBooks.

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     Katie's latest release is A DIM HOPE. It's the story of Amber and she is in trouble. Her sister is dying—and so is her homeland. The Lifeforce stones that power their world are waning, and no one knows why. When the rulers of the land prepare a scientific expedition to study the place where the veins of the Lifeforce run deep, Amber is forced to travel as a servant with the expedition. Though Amber has longed for adventure, her dream always included her sister. Now her only wish is to return home with a cure before it's too late.
     Crops are wilting, food is scarce, and sandstorms, avalanches, and earthquakes threaten to doom the expedition. Besides this, there are more sinister forces at work. Quiet arguments and missing supplies lead Amber to believe their efforts are being sabotaged. She uncovers clues, but the real source of their trouble—and hope—lies in places she never expected.


Read an excerpt!

Amber gripped the rocky cliff wall that rose at the edge of the governor’s pasture. Two horses grazed in the tall, pale grasses nearby. She had crept into the pasture undetected, and now she would do her best to scale the wall without disturbing the horses.

“What are you doing back there?”

Amber gasped and lost her grip. Skin met hard stone as she tumbled from her low place on the cliff and landed on her back on the ground with a thud. Her long brown skirts tangled around her ankles and her brown scarf slipped from its place around her head and into her eyes. Without the scarf, her unruly brown curls spilled around her shoulders.

Her sister stood above her, laughing. Apparently, Amethyst was better at sneaking than she.

“If you must know, I was perfecting my adventuring skills in case I have to take your place on the expedition tomorrow.” She glanced at the horses, who had skittered away several feet. She frowned. “Thanks for the interruption.”

Amethyst laughed and reached down. Amber clasped her hand to haul herself from the ground. “Madame Governor is calling for you. She needs you to go to the village for her. The flowers and milk were not right.” Her pale purple headwrap draped loosely over her left shoulder, concealing her own brown hair. Her long purple robes flitted in the breeze.

Amber sighed at her free time being cut short as they moved toward the house. She tucked her curls back into place and wrapped her scarf around them. The cooler temperatures of midyear gave way to the heat of summer. Soon, the well would run low and the water conservation would begin. The drought would last until next spring, nine long months away. Then the waters would again flow from the mountaintops, replenishing TerraQuadro.

She wanted to enjoy the nice weather as long as she could, but such was the life of a bond slave—her time was not her own. At least, not until she turned twenty-one, two years from now.

They reached the end of the pasture. “The flowers and milk? Why isn’t Mayville taking care of it?”

Amethyst shrugged. “Madame sent Mayville home early to prepare for the festival tonight, and I have to practice with the players, so I can’t go.”

Amber frowned as they reached the two-story wood house—the second largest in the township, bested only by the K’Luren’s. White walls rose toward the sky with dark beams crisscrossing the front, sides, and back. Sand and reeds serving as decoration adorned the perimeter.

“Flowers and milk.” She sighed. “I don’t suppose we could make do with the flowers the miller sent and add our own honey to the milk?”

Amethyst held up her hands in an uncertain gesture. “Madame likes things to be perfect as we all know. She is proud of the Servants’ Festival each year. Don’t blame the messenger.”

“Amber, is that you?” Madame’s voice reached them through the open doorway of the house.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m coming.” She gave her sister one last glance and glided through the doorway. “What can I do, Madame?”

Madame held out a huge basket of flowers. The blossoms were purple—most of the blossoms in Nullaboro were purple—and they overflowed the basket to the brim. Their sweet scent filled the room. “These were supposed to be the larger flowers, not the smaller. I want them exchanged. And the milk.” She grabbed a woven sling from the table. Two jars rested inside, and they clanged together with the sudden movement. “The milk isn’t sweet enough. Have the milkman add more honey.”

“Of course, Madame.” Amber took the milk. Making it to the village without spilling the flowers or the milk would be no easy feat. Still, she wouldn’t question Madame. No one often did as they all loved her so. Besides that, Amber and Amethyst had no choice in the matter. They had worked for Madame Governor for three years, since their mother had died. Madame had taken them in to give them shelter and food—and so they could finish paying off their mother’s debt. Madame was a generous master, one who had allowed the sisters much freedom, even paying them small earnings that they could save for the future.

Amber arranged the milk in the sling across her back to be sure she would not drop anything.

“I’ll return soon.”

Madame returned making marks in her ledger.

Amber headed out of the house and down the lane toward the main village thoroughfare. A moment later, her sister caught up with her. “I can walk with you. The players and I will practice at the sanctuary.”

Amber frowned. “The priest allows that? The sanctuary is holy.”

“Let me amend my words, dear sister.” Amethyst, tall and thin, bested Amber’s shorter, curvier frame by at least three inches. “We are practicing in the yard of the sanctuary. In the back, enclosed by the fence, so as not to spoil the surprise for the servants and villagers tonight at the festival.”

“Ah. I see.” The milk seemed to be gaining weight as they moved. “Care to take these flowers, as we’ll be going the same way?”

Amethyst took the basket from her. “I should have offered. I’m sorry, Amber.” She sighed.

Amber studied her sister. Her best friend. Separated by only a year, they loved almost all the same things. Had almost all the same dreams. The difference between them was that Amethyst was disciplined enough to contain herself and her excitement, waiting patiently for the right opportunities to present themselves. She worked hard, gave generously, and gained love from everyone she met.

Amber, on the other hand, busied herself with making sure no one took advantage of her sister’s kindness. She stood up for her sister, and herself, and she did not keep her desires for travel and adventure to herself, much to the dismay of everyone in the village. Though they often indulged her with chuckles and good-natured compliance. It didn’t hurt that she made the best festival cakes in the whole township, and she shared them freely.

Now Amber looked to her sister. She hadn’t noticed before, but Amethyst did seem preoccupied. “Are you nervous for the expedition?”

Amethyst would be leaving in the morning to travel on a scientific expedition to the Basiin. Madame had allowed it as Amethyst’s service to the scientists would pay off one of Madame’s old debts. Amber longed to travel with the expedition herself, but Madame wouldn’t hear of both girls leaving. Since Amethyst was the oldest—and most likely because she was more disciplined—she was chosen to go instead of Amber.

Amethyst glanced at her. For a brief moment, Amber saw something there—something like fear, or maybe sorrow—but it was gone just as quickly. “I suppose I could be nervous.”


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Buy A DIM HOPE at these ebook distributors: 


Pelican Book Group

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo


 







Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Guest Post: LISTENING TO THE RAIN by Miriam Thor

My guest today is Miriam Thor. She grew up in Louisiana. After high school, she attended Gardner-Webb University, where she earned a degree in American Sign Language and elementary education. Currently, she lives in Alabama with her husband and six cats. She is employed as a sign language interpreter at an elementary school.

Miriam discovered her love of writing in second grade and has been doing it ever since. She has had two novellas published: Her First Noel, a contemporary Christian romance, and Wish Granted, a young adult fantasy story. Her first novel, Listening to the Rain, will be published in September 2022.

To learn more about Miriam, visit her website: https://miriamthor17.wixsite.com/author.

  

What is it about? 

During her freshman year of high school, Ally Griffin is determined to find her thing, a talent that will let her gain praise and recognition. Her cousins, Billy and James, have found theirs in sports and music, but Ally has yet to discover something that will make people cheer just for her.

At her best friend's suggestion, Ally tries ballet. When that doesn't turn out the way she hopes, she signs up to sing in the school talent show. Thanks to support from James, Ally's performance goes well, and she thinks she has found her thing at last.

But when James gets into an accident, Ally's whole world is turned upside down. As she tries to be there for her cousin, Ally wrestles with why God allows bad things to happen and whether she should keep doing her thing at all.

                            §§§§§§§

 

Excerpt:

Unfortunately, it started raining a few minutes before the bus reached our stop. By unspoken consent, the two of us walked home as quickly as we could so that we could get warm and dry as soon as possible.

I wanted to talk to James as soon as I’d changed into dry clothes, but I knew better than to try. Grandpa insisted that we start on our homework as soon as we got home, and while I was willing to bend that rule from time to time, James definitely was not. Resigned to wait, I solved a page of equations and read the short story Mrs. Chamberlain had assigned.

When I was finished, I went in search of my cousin to see if he had completed his homework, too. I found him sitting in a rocking chair on the porch with his eyes closed.

“What are you doing?” I asked, puzzled.

He opened his eyes and looked at me. “Listening to the rain. God plays beautiful music, don’t you think?”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. James said stuff like that sometimes. Random, weird stuff. And I was never sure what to make of it.

“It’s not music, James,” I said. “It’s just water hitting the roof.”

He shrugged, unperturbed, and studied my face. “What’s wrong, Ally?”

“What makes you think something’s wrong?” I demanded.

“You’ve got that ‘I really want to ask you something, but I don’t know how you’ll take it’ look on your face.”

I smiled. He always could read me like an open book.

“Well…” I said slowly. “You heard about the talent show at school today, right?”

He nodded. “Yeah, Mr. Jenkins announced it in homeroom.”

I bit my lip and stared at my lap. I wanted to sing in the talent show so badly. What if James did, too?

“What about it?” James prompted when I didn’t continue.

“Do you want to enter?” I asked and held my breath.

“No,” he said. “Performing in front of all the kids at school and a panel of judges doesn’t sound like much fun to me.”

I heaved a sigh of relief and grinned at him.

“Good.”

“Does that smile mean you plan on entering?” he asked.

“Yep,” I said. “I didn’t want to compete against you, though.”

He smiled. “So, what will you sing?”

I didn’t even ask how he knew I planned to sing. We both knew my talents. Unless I wanted to bring our hens to roost on the stage and gather their eggs, singing was my only real option.

“I don’t know yet,” I said, “but I’ll figure it out.” I started to turn around. “You can go back to your…rain listening now.”

He rolled his eyes as I headed back inside.

 

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Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Listening-Rain-Miriam-Thor-ebook/dp/B09VS27PHW

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/listening-to-the-rain-miriam-thor/1141235963

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=cupkEAAAQBAJ&gl=us

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/listening-to-the-rain-1

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/listening-to-the-rain/id1615814817

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Alternative Uses for a Rubber Mallet

     A long, long time ago, hubby decided to buy a rubber mallet to bang out dents in the car. He discovered that getting to the inside of a dent on a car isn’t all that easy. That sort of repair is best left to the experts.
     So, the rubber mallet began collecting dust until one day I needed to flatten some chicken breasts. I discovered the rubber mallet was the perfect tool for the job. I moved the mallet from the garage to the kitchen.
     When we bought a deck box, we learned the rubber mallet was the perfect tool for putting the deck box together. 
     If we have a party and buy a huge bag of ice to keep the drinks cool, hubby uses the rubber mallet to break up the frozen chunks of ice into smaller cubes. 
     Our rubber mallet has seen a lot of use over the years and it is showing its age. While it never banged out a single dent on the car, it flattened a lot of chicken breasts for Chicken Piccata. Yum. 😁