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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Release Day! The China Doll by Deborah Nam-Krane @DNKBoston


BOOK THREE
The China Doll
By Deborah Nam-Krane
Genre: Mystery/suspense


Hypocrisy, half truths and lies... 
Sick of being treated like she's going to break, Jessie Bartolome is back to her old ways and calling everyone on their hypocrisy. Sheesh! One little breakdown and even easygoing Martin Shepard thinks she's too fragile to handle their age difference. Good thing her older and equally yummy teaching assistant Robert Lester thinks otherwise…right? 
After spending so long cleaning up after everyone else, Jessie's cousin Richard has never had the time to start a life of his own. However had he managed to find his girlfriend Zainab? So what is Richard going to do now that everyone else has grown up? Marry Zainab and start a family? Things have never been that easy for a Hendrickson…just ask his cousin Michael.
Richard's mother, Lucy, is one of the most powerful women in Boston... so when is she going to put a stop to the blackmail ruthless Alex Sheldon has been holding over her for years? And if Richard knows more than he's letting on, why hasn't he gone after Alex himself? The question is, how much does he- or anyone else- really know? 

Welcome to the Bartolome/Hendrickson family. 

The China Doll is Book Three in The New Pioneers Series



EXCERPT

“My dad drowned. My mom died in her sleep.”
“How old was she?”
“About twenty-six.” Jessie shuddered just a little bit. “Just a little older than Miranda is now.”
“That’s awfully young to die in your sleep.”
“Heart condition, they said.”
“Who’s they?”
“Richard and Lucy.” Jessie shook her head. “No. Just Richard.”
“What did your aunt say?”
“Nothing,” Jessie said quietly. “She just let Richard do all the talking.”
“How old was he?”
Jessie sighed. “Thirteen, I think.”
“And how old were you?”
“Four.”
“So how do you know you remember it correctly?”
Jessie looked at him square in the eye. “Because you know when you’re that age. When you’re a little kid, you don’t have to go through the apologetic BS you do when you’re older. When you’re eight, even. You just get it. And people think you’re crazy or in the way or rude because you get it and then you say it. So then no one wants to talk to you or they send you to your room. Then you start making up excuses for why they must be right and you must be wrong. Then you grow up, and you realize that you had it right back then, and if your world seems messed up, it’s because you bought into someone else’s lies. So don’t lie anymore, and everything will be just fine.”
“And when did you come to that nugget of wisdom?”
“When I was fifteen,” Jessie said quietly. “And I’ve been very happy ever since.”



BOOK ONE
The Smartest Girl in the Room
Genre: Coming of Age
Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?



BOOK TWO
The Family You Choose
Genre: Family Saga
Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?


BOOK TWO AND A HALF
An Engagement: A New Pioneers Short Story
Genre: Family Saga
Annabelle Hendrickson always knew Alex Sheldon couldn't be trusted, but even she couldn't have guessed how far he was willing to go to get what he wanted. 
No one was as decent as her brother Jim, but Stephen Abbot had a kind soul behind his mischief. She could accept his reprobate father- he'd be dead soon anyway- but she would never accept his longtime friendship with Alex, her father Gerald's ambitious employee. Annabelle knew it was just a matter of time before he stepped on someone she cared about. 
What a pity she didn't realize who that person would be- and who was going to give him the opportunity. 
An Engagement is Book 2.5 in The New Pioneers series. What happened to Michael Abbot and Richard Hendrickson's parents in 1980 is going to affect everyone three decades later.



ONLY 99CENTS!





AUTHOR INFO
Deborah Nam-Krane is a writer living in Boston proper who has been storytelling since she was a little girl and writing those stories down since she was eight. Any given day will find her reading, writing, reviewing, editing and, just for fun, homeschooling her three school-aged children (she’s very grateful the fourth is now college-aged).
The China Doll is the third installment of the New Pioneers series, the sequel to The Smartest Girl in the Room (March 2013) and The Family You Choose (September 2013). While her long-suffering editor works her magic on the fourth installment Let’s Move On, Deborah is working on the fifth. That book will be set in the world of Boston and Massachusetts politics, and her job will be to tone down the true stories she’s heard so they seem believable.
Deborah is all over the place on the internet- no, really- but the best way to keep in touch is to follow her blog Written By Deb and subscribe to her newsletter (only publishing news, never spam).

@dnkboston


GIVEAWAY
$10 Amazon gift card
5 copies of both The Smartest Girl in the Room and The Family You Choose

Friday, 28 March 2014

Behind Closed Doors: What's taking so long?

Can you believe it's been 18 months since I published my debut novel? Wow. One question I get asked at least once a week is "What's taking so long with the follow up to Tainted Love?"

I want thank everyone who is patiently waiting for Behind Closed Doors. I know a lot of you are keen to meet Darryl and learn what happened to Faith and her children after that last letter!

Let me explain my crazy life. I'm a writer, a full time student and until very recently I was also working part time in a call centre. I say "until recently" because I quit my job, which has freed up some of my time, but just in time for my final projects for my degree so I'm still tied up for the next couple of months. Right now, I'm writing during the lulls I have in coursework demands.

There are some exciting changes coming up which I'm keeping secret until book two is ready for release. I can tell you it involves paperbacks and it also involves re-branding the Valentina Secrets series, new covers and a new title for the book formerly known as Behind Closed Doors. Here's a little teaser for you.



However...

Of course, those who are on my mailing will get all the juicy information in advance including the first look at the new covers, the pre release first chapter and a special discounted price (you see how I said there were some exciting things happening). So if you're not signed up already sign up now! Otherwise, stay tuned because I hope to bring more news to you soon. :)


Erin
Copyright © 2014 Erin Cawood, All rights reserved.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

@GoddessFish Book Blast Harvey by Krystal Shannan @KrystalShannan




Today on Beyond My Writing Space, I welcome back Krystal Shannan to feature Harvey. Krystal visited BMWS last week to feature Caiden. 

The deets

It’s just a game…right?

Olivia Hampton never thought she’d run into the guy of her dreams at a Gaming Convention, but when Harvey MacLaughlin introduces himself a woman can’t help but notice. He’s six and a half feet of tall-dark-and-yummy. Plus, he's a gamer too. But, how do you tell the man of your dreams you decimate him at Soldier’s Call, the most popular FPS game of the year, almost every night?

Harvey MacLaughlin was interested in Olivia the second she stepped on the plane. When he sees her again in the convention hotel, introducing himself becomes priority number one. He may have started out just looking for company, but what he finds in the beautiful Olivia Hampton may be more than he ever dreamed.

Will a secret between them ruin their budding relationship? Or will Harvey take another path and turn the game on her?

Sneak Peek inside the cover of Harvey


“The wheels are turning, Liv. I can see them. What are you thinking?”

“I was trying to decide if I should invite you back to my hotel room.” Whoa! Where did that come from?

His eyebrows raised, registering his surprise, and his pupils dilated, indicating he was very aroused. She licked her lips and swore she heard a low growl come from his chest. 

Oh my God. He’s so sexy.

“Here we are, guys,” their waitress appeared with two plates heaped with steaming food.“Waffles and strawberries for both and then an extra plate of eggs and bacon for you.” She set the protein-filled plate in front of Harvey. “Also, a glass of orange juice.” 

Liv reached and took the glass from her hand. “Thank you.” She sipped the sweet juice and stole another glance at Harvey. He met her gaze with silence.

What was he thinking now? She’d put it out there. Did he think she was crazy? Who sleeps with someone they’ve just met? Oh, God. He must think I just jump in bed with anybody. 

“I’m sorry. That was really forward of me. I don’t...I just...” Now sentences wouldn’t even form. 
Her cheeks were hot with embarrassment. No doubt her face was redder than a tomato. “I’ve never done this before.”

“Done what? Gone out with a guy for dinner or slept with him?” His mouth didn’t curve into a smile, but his eyes twinkled with amusement. “I wouldn’t have a problem accepting your invitation if you chose to extend it.”

Liv took a bite of waffle, enjoying the crunch with the syrupy sweetness of the strawberry topping. She stared at her food and continued to eat in silence. His fork clinked against his plate too as he ate.

He wasn’t pushing or asking. He’d merely said he would accept if she offered. No pressure. But, what if she was terrible in bed again? What if there was something wrong with her?

Wouldn’t it be better to know right off the bat, instead of completely falling in love with a man and then finding out they didn’t want her because she sucked in bed? Her heart couldn’t take another bashing like Todd had dished out.

But, she didn’t want Harvey to think badly of her for being willing to fall straight into bed with him either.

She kept chewing and staring at her food. A few minutes later her plate was empty. She hadn’t said another word the whole time she’d been eating. Taking a deep breath, she looked up. His plate was clean too.

He was sitting casually in his chair, leaning back a little —watching her. He was gorgeous. She wanted to touch him. To feel him touch her. Damn it. I don’t know what to do.

“Can I walk you back to your room, Liv?”

“Yes.” The answer came before she thought about it.

He smiled and stood, extending his hand to help her up from her chair. She took his hand and fought the urge to shiver at his touch. He dropped some cash on the table and led her to the door. It was everything she could do not to plaster herself to his side on their way out of the restaurant.

The light breeze outside pushed the spicy scent of his cologne over to her. She took a deep breath and wanted to run her free hand across his chest. I’m going to maul him on the way across the street if I’m not careful.

Available now @ 


The GiveAway!


 Krystal is giving you the chance to win a necklace featuring the cover of Harvey. Leave your comments below and remember to follow the tour!!! (Dates below)

Who is Krystal Shannan...? 


Paranormal Romance author, Krystal Shannan, lives in Texas and is married to the love-of-her-life. They have a spunky young daughter who believes in fairies. Krystal professes to loving shoes, but avoids wearing them at all costs. She teaches in the public schools and writes as much as she can in her free time. If any more spare time can be squeezed from her day, she enjoys reading romance in all genres, but especially paranormal. If it has a 'Happily Ever After', she's on board! 

She is an active member in her local RWA chapter DARA.

Krystal Shannan
Putting Magick in Romance one Soul Mate at a Time.
Contemporary Romance
Indie Published


Receive a free book for subscribing to my NEWSLETTER!


Follow the tour

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix @tlhaddix



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.

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Erin

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sexual Appetites of Vampires - By Donna Fletcher @Dfletcherauthor

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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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Erin

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Glory Days - By PatrickSzabo @PatrickJSzabo




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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The Legal Bit

All characters have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation to anyone baring the same name. They are not inspired by an individual known or unknown by the author and all incidents are pure invention.

The articles, excerpts, and other written work published under the pseudonym Erin Cawood are copyright protected by the author. Guest articles are published by arrangement and also copyright protected by the guest author.

Images of Erin Cawood are provided by Paul Miguel Photography.


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