THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: After the Fog, Kathleen Shoop {$2.99}

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Kathleen Shoop‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of After the Fog:

For every woman who thinks she left her past behind…

It’s 1948 in the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous “killing smog.” Public health nurse, Rose Pavlesic, has risen above her orphaned upbringing and created a life that reflects everything she missed as a child. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her doting husband, loving children, and large extended family.

When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?

***Independent Publisher Awards:

2012 Silver Medal, Best Regional Fiction–Mid-Atlantic***

***National Indie Excellence Awards:

2012 WINNER– Literary Fiction***



Darlene from “Peeking Between the Pages,” says… “It is based on a true event and at the same time portrays a family who is broken but it is these very things that makes this such a good book – it is raw and real but at the same time you will find hope and forgiveness within it’s pages. It’s impossible to convey how deep this novel is…”

Shelia Deeth says, “A novel filled with believable characters set in well-researched time and location, with such well-drawn historical insights it leaves the reader trembling for today, Kathleen Shoop’s After the Fog is hard to put down, fiercely absorbing, and furiously real.”

Marcia Lehman says, “In her latest book, After the Fog, Kathleen Shoop has woven another compelling story combining history and humanity.”


After the Fog currently has a customer review rating of 4 stars from 33 reviews. Read the reviews here.

After the Fog is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99


An excerpt from After the Fog:

Inside the Greshecky home, Rose pressed the light switch but knew it wouldn’t work. Ian appeared, his form outlined by the paltry light slipping through a gap in the wood siding. Even in darkness his complexion—white as the smoky plumes billowing from the zinc mill—told Rose things were not well with his Aunt. He opened his mouth, but Rose grasped his shoulders and shoved the twelve-year-old toward the kitchen before Ian could form a single word.

“Heat the water. Get the clean towels we hid away for the birth.”

Ian looked at his feet, but didn’t move.

“Go on. You remember,” Rose said.

Ian nodded.

Isabella’s screech from the back of the house summoned Rose toward the bedroom. She groped the walls trying to remember the placement of the furniture. The last thing she needed was to trip and fall. She stepped where the wood floor dropped a few inches into an unfinished dirt path, stumbled and twisted her knee. She grimaced and fell back against the wall, bent over, grasping her throbbing leg. Nothing felt out of place. Another wail. Rose pushed off the wall and limped down the hall toward Isabella. She slammed open the bedroom door, tearing it from its hinge.

In the middle of the shadowy room, Isabella squatted as though urinating, her nightgown splashed with blackened blood, its thick iron odor choking the air. Rose hooked Isabella under the arms and hauled her toward the window, and the mattress on the ground. Rose dug her heels in; thankful traction was the one good attribute of having a mud floor.

She gritted her teeth, wanting to reassure Isabella, to remind her of the slew of births Rose had assisted over the years. But Isabella’s awkward two hundred pounds consumed the energy Rose might have spent on reassuring words.

Isabella groaned and bucked forward. Rose knelt in front of her on the mattress, praying for the moon to move a sliver to the right and illuminate the shadowy room. Rose needed to assess why there was so much blood; Ian was spooked enough to forget the candles she had requested, and his uncle, the baby’s father, was on shift at the mill.

Rose gripped Isabella’s knees and tried to wrench them apart. “It’s all right, you can let go. It’s okay, Isabella. Baby’s coming.” Isabella’s legs gave way and fell open as she dropped back onto the mattress, gasping. Rose felt between the woman’s legs to the baby’s crowned head. She felt a surge of panic at Isabella’s sudden silence, but pushed her fear away.

Rose supported the baby’s head and reached for Isabella’s hand. She squinted, trying to gauge if Isabella’s nails had blued from lack of oxygen, but it was too dark.

“Isabella? You all right? Baby’s here. Prop yourself up, you don’t even need to push, he’s coming, he’s—”

The baby slid out, bringing the usual tumble of cording, but so much more Rose thought she was witnessing the birth of triplets. So much flesh falling through her fingers in the darkness. The rush of blood warmed Rose’s knees, saturating her nurse’s uniform as if it were consuming it.

Her breath tripped and sputtered as she fumbled through the mass of expelled tissue and peeled the baby away. She flipped the body over, whacking its back. Part of Rose understood what she was experiencing, but in the darkness, she could pretend.

“It’s a girl, Isabella. Your baby girl’s here. Just like you wanted. A girl to stay by your side.” Rose worked quickly, firmly opening the baby’s airway and bracing her against her chest, warming her back to life. The baby was definitely full-term, but too thin, and not breathing, heart stilled. Rose cursed herself for not forcing Isabella to take the labor inducement, but the woman thought God alone had the right to induce anything.

“Auntie Bella?”

Rose snapped around. She hadn’t heard anyone come into the room. Behind her stood Ian, a nearly invisible form holding fresh bleached towels that glowed in the twilight. The image of a happy birth flashed through Rose’s mind, a plump, pink baby and healthy mother. Rose’s heart heaved with desolation at what Ian was about to understand.

She waved Ian to her. “I need you to hold this little princess while I tend to your aunt. And, get the scissors from my bag.”

He nodded, handing over the downy towels and dashed to Rose’s bag. She didn’t have time to tell him how to be sanitary when handling them, too busy toweling the blood and fluid from the baby’s eyes, her own burning from the emotion she was stuffing away.

Ian dashed back with the scissors, thrusting them under Rose’s nose.

“She’s okay, right? Both of them?”

Rose lay the baby on the towel, not saying a word, and cut the infant’s cord. Next she swaddled the baby and handed her to Ian. She shuffled him toward the chair across the room and ordered him to sit; fearful he might pass out, afraid if he wasn’t in the room, she might.

Rose resumed her attempts to stop Isabella’s bleeding and rouse her with soft words, knowing the woman died with the birth of her daughter. Even without surgical lighting, Rose saw the woman’s uterus had been expelled with the baby and even in a hospital, it was unlikely she would have survived.

“Sweet Isabella,” Rose whispered, wiping the woman’s hair from her brow. “I’ll put in a call to Dr. Bonaroti.” Rose wiped her hands on the uniform’s apron; angered the physician hadn’t made it to the birth.

“No phone, Nurse Rose,” Ian said, “‘member last time yunz guys come down the house for—”

Ian began hyperventilating, his body shuddering rhythmically, bouncing him out of the chair. His desperation jolted Rose’s own grief. She dashed toward the boy grasping his arms.

“That’ll be enough, Ian. I need your help.”

He looked up, snot flying from his nose, saliva at the corners of his mouth like a rabid animal, and she grabbed him from the chair, hugged him so tight he choked. She held him there, baby between them. Rose eased his pain with the warmth of her skin, hoping that she could stave off the sadness he’d feel as he grew up without his aunt.

“Now Ian. You need to go next door and phone Dr. Bonaroti.” Where was that damn doctor? This was exactly why Donora needed to fund Rose for the next year. If her nearly one year serving as a community nurse had shown her anything, it was that they actually needed three nurses. Just two more months of funding and the program was shot if their data wasn’t convincing.

Rose took the baby and guided Ian from the room. “Tell Alice to tell the doc it’s an emergency.”

She rubbed his back and wanted to say everything would be all right, but she knew nothing would be fine for young Ian. His uncle had a lust for booze and when he wasn’t breaking his neck in the zinc mill, was inattentive even at his most benign.

Though she would have given anything to be one of those people who could lie to make someone feel better, she had discovered through the losses she’d experienced in life, she was not that kind of woman at all.


After the Fog is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

Connect with Kathleen Shoop:

MONDAY’S THREE: Under Nine, Under Five, Under One! {7/30/12}

It’s Monday ~ A brand new week is ahead of us. Let’s start it off with three Frugal Finds for our Kindles!

Under Nine: The Providence Trilogy Bundle: Providence; Requiem; Eden, Jamie McGuire {$7.99}

Now available in a single volume, Jamie McGuire’s best selling trilogy has been hailed by Tough Critic Review’s Mollie Harper as ‘Beautifully talented writing”. Beginning with Night Owl Reviews’ Top Pick, Providence, the Providence Trilogy will ignite your curiosity, break your heart, and have you looking over your shoulder.

This bundle includes the following novels:

PROVIDENCE: In the old world shadows of Providence, Rhode Island, Nina Grey finds herself the center of a war between Hell and Earth.

Struggling with her father’s recent death, Nina meets Jared Ryel by chance…or so she believes. Although his stunning good looks and mysterious talents are a welcome distraction, it soon becomes clear that Jared knows more about Nina than even her friends at Brown University. When questions outnumber answers, Jared risks everything to keep the woman he was born to save—by sharing the secret he was sworn to protect.

When her father’s former associates begin following her in the dark, Nina learns that her father is not the man she thought he was, but a thief who stole from demons. Searching for the truth behind her father’s death, Nina stumbles upon something she never expected—something Hell wants—and only she holds the key.

REQUIEM: Dreaming of the dead might mean a restless night for anyone, but for Nina Grey it was a warning.

Still healing from her last run-in with Hell, Nina struggles with not only her life as a Brown University student, but also as an intern at Titan Shipping, her father’s company. Recurring nightmares about her father’s violent death have become a nightly event, but being overwhelmed with guilt from Ryan’s unexpected departure to the Armed Forces, and heart ache over Claire being across the ocean to protect him, Nina believes her sleepless nights are the least of her problems—but she’s wrong.

Worried about Nina’s declining health, Jared must steal back Shax’s book for answers. Fighting new enemies, and with the help of new friends, Jared’s worst fear comes to fruition. Desperate, he is faced with a choice: Fight Hell alone, or start a war with Heaven.

EDEN: She had seen the unspeakable. She had learned the unknowable. Now, she would fight the invincible.

In the third and final installment of the Providence series, Nina Grey will marry the wrong man, carry the child that was never supposed to be born, and fight a war she can’t win.

Faced with the impossible task of protecting his new wife and unborn child against the throes of Hell, Jared Ryel is allowed no mistakes. Pressured to return the Naissance de Demoniac to Jerusalem, he revisits St. Ann’s to learn the answers were in front of him all along.

Together, they must survive long enough to let their child save them—and the world.The average customer review is currently

{4.5 stars, 16 reviews}.


Under Five: Forced to Kill (Nathan McBride Series), Andrew Peterson {$3.99}

Bravery. Honor. Sacrifice. These are more than mere words to trained Marine sniper Nathan McBride. He’s never backed away from danger, and he’s not about to start now, even if it means confronting the cold-blooded interrogator who tortured him to the brink of death more than a decade ago.

When a mutilated body is discovered in a remote Utah lake, it ignites a chain of events that forces Nathan to face a dark chapter from a past he’s worked hard to forget. Could his Nicaraguan enemy be active again? On American soil? The evidence is clear, but the stakes are higher than Nathan can know. In a showdown that will test Nathan’s understanding of justice and mercy, he’ll have to make a life or death decision that has the potential to expose and destroy people at the highest levels of government.

“An absolutely bone-chilling thriller. Equal parts Stephen Hunter and Thomas Harris. Imagine Bob Lee Swagger going after Hannibal Lecter and you will have only scratched the surface of this intensely exciting novel. Forced To Kill will haunt you long after you read its last brilliantly plotted page.” – Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Foreign Influence

The average customer review is currently {4.5 stars, 43 reviews}

Under One: A Deadly Blessing (LAPD Detective Maddie Divine)
, Kathy Bennett {$0.99}

The critically ill daughter of the governor of California has been kidnapped. LAPD Detective Maddie Divine is assigned to find her before it’s too late. But this high-profile case comes with secrets on every side: cops, politicians, even the innocent.

Maddie Divine: Her marriage hangs by a thread, her SWAT-officer husband has lost it, and almost as bad, she can’t trust her detective partner.

Travis Divine: After the death of a SWAT teammate, he’s a shell of the man he used to be. He’s lost touch with his work, his wife and occasionally even reality. Can he regain the warrior mentality needed to support Maddie and do his job?

Preston Truesdale: The California governor’s daughter has gone missing, and so has her only bone marrow donor. Is it coincidence or something more sinister?

Pilar Luna: The mayor of Los Angeles is a media favorite, and she plays Preston like a Vegas pro would play a Midwestern farmboy…all in hopes of reaching the White House. Will she hit the jackpot?

Tiffany Truesdale: The brainiac teenager evaded her security team to spend a night on the town with her girlfriends, but can she outwit the man who kidnapped her before time runs out?

A Deadly Blessing is a lightning-paced story of suspense that will keep readers on edge from beginning to end.

Author’s Note: This book contains commonly used street language.

The average customer review is currently 5 stars {15 Reviews}.

Click on the links or covers above to read reviews or purchase this Monday’s Three Frugal Finds Under Nine from Amazon!

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1, Bradley Convissar {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Bradley Convissar‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1:

Note: These stories contain adult language, adult situations and violence that may not be suitable for all ages.  You have been warned…

For the first time, the twenty-two stories found in Pandora’s Children books 1-5 and Dark Interludes have been combined into two easy-to-navigate volumes.

This collection contains almost two dozen dark stories, tales where men become monsters, monsters become men, and no one is ever truly safe. You will find ghosts, demons and monsters; evil men, madmen and broken men; a wood-chipper, Santa Claus and yes, a handful of dentists. Each book contains eleven stories, over 90,000 words (almost 300 pages) of disturbing, provocative tales which will keep you thinking long after you’re done reading.

This Volume 1 includes 11 stories.

Bonus excerpt- The first half of my 25,000 word novella, Dogs of War is also included in this volume.



“Evocatively written, the prose in this story feels more like poetry… The good doctor delivers!” -Amazon review of The Madame Penitent

“The writing style was tight and the stories short enough to read in one sitting.” – Amazon review

“I have found a new author to get excited about! I found these stories easy to read- like listening to ghost stories around the campfire.”- Amazon review

“The stories are well written and suspenseful and not just scary, but horrifying….sometimes our minds are scarier than any space spider or alien or what have you. Great book!” -Amazon review


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1 currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 6 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1 is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

Excerpt from Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1:

From “Higher”, the final story in the collection:

“We live in a world where people don’t want to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. It’s hard to take the blame when things go bad, much easier to pass the buck. But ironically, as a parent, as a father, it’s much easier to blame yourself than your child when your child screws up. It’s easier to say that your child failed because you didn’t do enough, because you weren’t supportive enough, because you weren’t there enough. Much harder to admit that your child is a failure because that’s what he is. When things started to go wrong with you, I blamed myself. I tried to convince myself that you turned out like you did because I failed you. But then I look at your sister, happily married with two children and successful as a lawyer, and I know that I did the best I could, and my best was damn good. No, it wasn’t me that failed you, it was you that failed you.”

“When I first saw you tonight, saw what you had become, I tried to convince myself that what I was looking at was not my son. I tried to convince myself that you had become a complete and utter stranger to me. That my Harrison was dead. I thought that if I could convince myself, it would make tonight easier. But it’s not supposed to be easy, is it? For either of us.” He looked over at Harrison’s profile, trying to read something in his expression. He thought he saw something approaching a sad smile behind the tape, but he wasn’t sure. It could have been his imagination. Or wishful thinking. He quickly turned back to the photos, the current one featuring a five year old Harrison boldly petting a sheep at the zoo. “But I was fooling myself, Harrison. As much as I wanted to distance myself from you, deny you, I couldn’t. Because there’s something of this,” he pointed at the screen, “still in you. You wil l always be my son. And that’s why I’m doing this. And that’s why it’s so damn hard.”

A photo of Harrison, six years old, appeared on the screen, his face screwed up in pure glee as his mother blew on his naked belly.

“You may be sitting there and wondering at this tableau, at the purpose, wondering if this is a final attempt by me to save you. It isn’t. I put this together not as a prelude to a new beginning, but as the final act of a play sadly coming to its conclusion. I did it for two reasons, Harrison: first, for myself. This…” a casual finger directed at the screen, “this is how I want to remember you. This is what I want to remember when I close my eyes at night. I don’t want my last memories of you to be of a corpse lying in a hospital or in a morgue. I refuse to be woken one night by the police asking me to come downtown to ID your quickly cooling body. And don’t deny that that’s how this would ultimately end, Harrison. I see it every week, young adults in jail one day for drug possession or assault or burglary, dead on the floor of their apartment or in the garage at their parent’s house or in an alley or on a hospit al gurney the next. You know damn well that if I let this continue, there’s no coming back for you, and the last time I see you you’ll be dead. Is this selfish? Damn right it is. Damn right. But I’m your parent and I’m entitled. After everything your mother and I gave you, after everything we suffered for you, I deserve to remember your life for what it was, not what it is. I deserve to remember this-” Another wave at the slowly flashing photos, “-and not this.” He reached over and gently patted Harrison’s trapped left hand with his own, noting the dryness of the skin and the prominence of the underlying bone. “I gave you life, and I refuse to allow you to dictate how I remember you.”

Gerald finally stood, his legs heavy and stiff beneath him but his soul pregnant with purpose. He grasped the small package which rested on the couch to his left then walked around the chair and stood behind his son. He rested his hands on Harrison’s shoulders, the muscle beneath sweatshirt and skin so atrophied he felt bone. But he ignored the uncomfortable sensation and spoke. He fought back the tears that he knew were imminent, scraping every last vestige of resolve from his tortured soul to keep his voice strong but soft.

“But this, Harrison,” Gerald said, focusing on the photos on the screen, “this is also for you. Because when you die, I don’t want your spirit stained with the horrible things you have done. With the indifference and misery which have defined your life the past year and a half. I don’t want your final memories to be of searching for the perfect vein. When you reach your moment of judgment, I want Him to know that you were loved. I want Him to see the boy I raised, the boy who wanted nothing more than to experience everything life had to offer. I want your soul to be stamped with memories of joy, memories of innocence, memories of a world filled with wonder. When you reach your judgment, I want you to shine like a star so that maybe your sins will be forgiven.”


Pandora’s Children: The Complete Nightmares Book 1 is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


Connect with Bradley Convissar:

Author Website:

Author Facebook Page:

Author Twitter Page: @bconvisdmd

KINDLE DAILY DEAL: Oliver Pötzsch’s Best-Selling Hangman’s Daughter” Series are Just $0.99 Each Today Only!

Today only, the Kindle editions of Oliver Pötzsch’s internationally best-selling “Hangman’s Daughter” historical thriller series are just $0.99 each, and the deluxe, hardcover version of “The Hangman’s Daughter” is 60% off.

The Hangman’s Daughter: Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.


1660: Winter has settled thick over a sleepy village in the Bavarian Alps, ensuring every farmer and servant is indoors on the night a parish priest discovers he’s been poisoned. As numbness creeps up his body, he summons the last of his strength to scratch a cryptic sign in the frost.

Following a trail of riddles, hangman Jakob Kuisl; his headstrong daughter, Magdalena; and the town physician’s son team up with the priest’s aristocratic sister to investigate. What they uncover will lead them back to the Crusades, unlocking a troubled history of internal church politics and sending them on a chase for a treasure of the Knights Templar.

But they’re not the only ones after the legendary fortune. A team of dangerous and mysterious monks is always close behind, tracking their every move, speaking Latin in the shadows, giving off a strange, intoxicating scent. And to throw the hangman off their trail, they have ensured he is tasked with capturing a band of thieves roving the countryside attacking solitary travelers and spreading panic.

Delivering on the promise of his international best seller The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Pötzsch takes us on a whirlwind tour–once again based on prodigious historical research into his own family tree–through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries, bringing to life an unforgettable hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of 17th-century Bavaria as it navigates the lasting impacts of war, and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.

Click here to read more about and purchase both titles for $1.99* from Amazon

*Price goes back up to $9.99 tomorrow!

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy), Lizzy Ford {$2.99}

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Lizzy Ford‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy):

Will the love between a gifted young woman and an immortal outcast save the world– or destroy it?

Katie thinks she’s going crazy when a baby angel and death’s personal assistant appear on her doorstep. Both claim she’s destined for something great. If she can survive, that is. She’s drawn into a world filled with immortals like Rhyn, an outcast who claims her as his mate in a show of defiance to his brothers. Katie rescues Rhyn from Hell, and he discovers fast just how special his little human is. With Death counting his days on one hand, Rhyn must learn to love, before his own time is up and Katie becomes the first human casualty in the brewing war between immortals.



“Lizzy, where have you been? You have put a completely fresh spin on the immortal realm and I haven’t enjoyed a book this much since Larissa Ione’s Demonica series.”

“You become obsessed, you have to keep reading just to find out what happens next.”

“This was a different twist on humans, immortals, and the battles between good and evil. Loved the premise.”

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 67 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99


Excerpt from Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy):

“Lady, that your kid?” someone asked as Katie stepped toward the door of the metro.

“Oh, hell no,” she said with a smile.

The kid began crying and she waited, ticking off her mental to-do list to see where she’d start. First off, request the morning off to go to court tomorrow. Second, find out when the general manager of the fast food joint where she worked was returning from maternity leave. Third, call her snotty sister and find a way to back out of brunch Saturday. Fourth–

“Ma’am, your kid,” a woman said, taking her arm and pointing with a look of such judgment that Katie reddened despite herself.

“Not mine,” she said.

The kid was crying and began tugging on her coat. He spoke in tear-filled gibberish she didn’t understand, and she moved away to the door. She was one of the first off the train while the kid wailed and several people around her muttered.

“Lady, you can’t just leave him!” the first objector said, grabbing her arm. “You’re like that sick lady who put her kid on a plane to Russia ’cause she don’t want him no more!”

“How could you leave him on the train? What’s wrong with you?”

There were three then five voices with a sixth calling the police and the seventh hugging the sobbing kid.

“He’s not mine!” Katie insisted, unable to break away from the mob. She protested until the cops came and took them both to a police station.

Too surprised to understand what exactly was happening, she obeyed the police officer’s instructions to sit down and shut up and sat in the quiet police station reception area. The kid sitting beside her made smacking sounds as he chewed on a huge wad of gum. She rubbed her face, certain the mistake would be clarified soon and she’d be released with an apology the size of a bottle of painkiller she desperately needed.

“Fill this out,” a dour woman with cocoa skin said, handing her a clipboard. “C’mere, honey.” She took the hand of the little boy.

Katie ignored the glare leveled on her while the woman cooed to the little boy. The woman and boy left while she filled out the paperwork and then set it on a counter of what looked like an abandoned reception area. There was no computer, no office supplies on the other side. A single bell sat on the counter. She rang it. When nothing happened, she rang it again.

She looked around her, flustered. The waiting room consisted of two chairs, an empty magazine rack, and a potted plant in the corner. It resembled a doctor’s waiting room rather than any police station she’d seen.

She rang the bell again.

“Please have a seat, Ms. Young,” an irritated voice announced over the intercom.

She obeyed. Another hour of silence passed, and she started to pace. Her cell phone had no signal, her head throbbed, and the coffee pot was empty. When she felt ready to snap, the same woman returned with the little boy in tow. His dark eyes were glowing, and syrup was on his face.

“Officer David will see you now,” the woman told her.

Katie grabbed her purse and walked quickly down a pristine hall to a placard outside an office that read Officer David. The little boy followed her. She knocked and entered with a smile that faded.

Officer David gave her the same glare.

“Have a seat, Ms. Young,” he said. “You too, Toby.”

“Officer, this has been just a horrible morning,” she started.

“For your son, maybe.”

“He’s not my son.”

The officer stared at her then held up an ID card with the boy’s picture.

Toby Young.

“It must be some other Young,” she insisted. “I don’t have a son.”

“I oughta call child services on a wack job like you,” he muttered.

“Go ahead–call them!” she snapped.

“Parenthood is a responsibility that no one should take likely, even if you’re a teen parent! I don’t care how…”

She listened to his rant, peppered with language no kid Toby’s age should hear. Officer David waved a piece of paper in her face depicting Toby’s ID. Toby was quiet, and she snatched the paper, intent on showing him their addresses were different.

Only they weren’t different. Toby’s address was listed as hers. She set the paper on her lap and stared at it. She’d lived there for two years, since a fight with her sister drove her away from the home her sister shared with her fiancé.

“I don’t understand…” she muttered.

“Your record is full of crap,” Officer David said acidly. “Reckless endangerment? And now child endangerment? You’re going to court. You damn well better have a good lawyer, because…”
She sucked in a breath and turned to the kid.

“Toby, kid, whatever. Tell this nice man the truth,” she said, meeting the twinkling brown eyes.

The kid was adorable, with dark eyes and hair, sun-kissed skin, and a round face. He was well-fed, though clothed like he’d been going to make mud pies and not to school like he should have been. He smiled.

“Toby, is this your mommy?” Officer David said in tones as sweet as they were bitter toward her.

Toby nodded. Katie’s mouth dropped open, and she began to realize something was very, very wrong. This was a dream; she’d fallen asleep on the train and not yet woken up. With any luck, the worst part of her day would be missing her stop.

Toby took her hand. His soft hand was cold. The sensations assured her the surreal situation was really happening.

“Officer David–” she began in earnest.

“Enough!” he roared loudly enough to make them both jump. “I’ve had enough with deadbeat…”

He ranted, signed her papers with a vicious flourish, then shoved them at her and manhandled her out his door. She stood in the hallway, staring at the door slammed in her face, holding a fistful of papers she didn’t know what to do with.

“The car will pick you up.” The tone of the woman with cocoa skin left no imagination to what she thought of the latest deadbeat mom in her office.

Frustrated, Katie looked both directions down the pristine, eerily quiet hallway before following the kid toward the far end, where a bright red exit sign hung over the door. Her unease grew as she went. The placards on each of the other doors were blank, the doors closed with no sign of light around the edges. The hallway smelled medicinal and clean, like the antiseptic-laced air of a hospital mixed with pine cleaner.

She’d never been in a police station, but she didn’t think they’d be this different from the police shows on television! She paused near the end and turned back to see both Officer David and the woman watching her with disapproving looks and crossed arms. She’d not thought twice about their lack of police uniforms but was now struck by it.

This wasn’t a police station. It couldn’t be.

“Mama!” Toby called cheerfully.

She turned and stared at him. He shoved the door open with all his might, revealing the steely skies of winter and the grey cement curb outside. Whatever this place was, she–and probably Toby–were better off somewhere else. She joined Toby outside.

The boy was agitated and shivering, skipping up and down the sidewalk while shaking with cold. She’d been too flustered to pay attention to the trip to the police station and looked around, not recognizing the area. It looked suspiciously like the warehouse district near the Annapolis port, and she smelled the sea on the air. She twisted around. There was no handle on the outside of the door she’d just walked through, no number on the building.

She shivered in her wool coat, folded the paperwork, and called her sister. As usual, the phone rang until her voicemail picked up.

“Hey, Hannah, it’s Katie. I need some help. Can you give me a call?”

Toby’s pattering stopped, and she looked up, startled to see a massive man a few feet away. The sight of him struck her like a frozen water balloon. He was tall and clothed in all black, ominous and large against the slate sky. His trench was long and unfastened, the chilled winter wind whipping back one side to reveal a sword tucked against his leg. He looked like death with his dark hair and cold eyes, his panther-like physique, and gloved hands.

“Toby,” she called instinctively.

The little boy ran to her side. The man in black approached. She took a step back, heart fluttering.

“We made a mistake. Toby, you can come with me.” The stranger failed to make the cryptic words in any way friendly, and the cold glare seared through her.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she managed.

“You’re early,” Toby said, unafraid. “I want to go with her.”

Katie turned to stare at the little boy, who beamed a smile.

The shadow-man’s hand twitched and inched toward the sword at his hip. She stepped back even more and clenched the purse to her body, distracted as a sleek black car pulled up to the curb. A door opened, and Toby vaulted in without waiting for her. She took one more look at the ominous man in black and the sword at his hip and followed, shaking from more than cold. The man shut the door behind them.

“Goodbye, Gabriel!” Toby called from the interior of the warm car. He waved at the massive shadow lingering on the sidewalk.

“You’ll be fine. I’ll take you home.” The soft, firm words of the female in the driver’s seat were the first kind ones of the day.

Katie instinctively believed her and twisted, staring with Toby at the man in black who watched them drive away.

“My God,” she murmured.

“No,” said Toby. “Death dealer.”

She looked at him, and he nodded as sagely as a five-year-old could.

“Death dealer, ha! Probably just some bum,” the brunette driver said with a forced laugh. “We get lots of them around here.”

“At a police station?” Katie asked skeptically.

“Yeah, sure,” came the less certain answer. “You know, like, you can’t have a cop station in a nice side of town. They kinda have to be in a crappy part of town, where the criminals are. It makes total sense, right? I mean, why would a death dealer be here?”

The grey eyes were beseeching, but Katie couldn’t manage anything verbal let alone a lie to placate the driver. Instead she looked again to Toby, who’d begun to mess with the buttons on his side of the car.

“Shouldn’t you have your seatbelt on?” she asked.

“Okay, Mama,” he said cheerfully, and complied.

I’m going insane.


Katie’s Hellion (Book I, Rhyn Trilogy) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99


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{Three} Saturday Frugal Freebies!

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Prairie Hil, Fred Burwell ~ Free!

In 1980, a troubled young stranger arrives in Prairie Hill, a small Wisconsin city. Jimmy Lathrop would like nothing better than to go about his business washing dishes at the popular local eatery, the Pullet Surprize. A fresh start. No questions asked. Then he begins moonlighting as the feathered mascot of the local minor league baseball team and meets someone who will change his life.

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H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis, Kevin Rau ~ Free!

Although raised by single metahuman parents, Stephanie, Rael, and Lance weren’t prepared for the sudden and shocking event that thrust them into a night of upheaval as they cope with their metamorphosis into superhumans. The meteor shower that altered the heroes also mutated many others in Metrocity, causing a scene of chaos at Iron Cross General Hospital as Lance and Stephanie are captured by law enforcement, and Rael must free them.

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Winner of the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel

From deep in the heart of his eighteenth century English manor, millionaire Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk writes mystery novels and torments his four spoiled children with threats of disinheritance. Tiring of this device, the portly patriarch decides to weave a malicious twist into his well-worn plot. Gathering them all together for a family dinner, he announces his latest blow – a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet… who was once suspected of murdering her husband.

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Death of a Cozy Writer was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as a Best Book of 2008, nominated for a Left Coast Crime award (the Hawaii Five-O for best police procedural), short-listed for the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the David G. Sasher, Sr. Award for Best Mystery Novel.

G.M. Malliet’s Death of a Cozy Writer won the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel and a silver medal for the IPPY awards in the category of Mystery/Suspense/Thriller.

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Death of a Cozy Writer is a book anyone who cut their teeth on Agatha Christie’s mysteries will treasure. I read it once for the story, and plan to read it a second time just to savor the language. It’s that good.” – Cozy Library

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The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4. stars {31 reviews}.

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{Three} Friday Frugal Freebies!

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Dirt-poor, sensitive as poets, and proud as kings, the Powell family has lived on a Georgia mountaintop for generations. Then, during the 1960’s, young Ursula Powell’s father convinces the Tiber family, owners everything in nearby Tiberville, to commission a huge iron sculpture of a bear for the town. Decades later the strange sculpture – rejected by the townspeople and left to rust on the Powell farm – symbolizes a family’s failure and thwarted dreams. But, unknown to Ursula, it is now worth such a huge fortune that the artist’s embittered son, Quentin Ricconni, is coming to reclaim it . . . and to change everything Ursula believes about the past, the choices that break a heart, and the redeeming powers of art and love.

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Boy and the Hidden Tunnel, Wayne Saber {$3.99}

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Description of The Boy and the Hidden Tunnel:

In 1940 London, Tom is only 12 when his parents are killed in an air raid. He seeks shelter in a London Underground tunnel and discovers a hidden ancient tunnel, where he is almost trapped. When he emerges from the tunnel, everything looks different and he learns that it is 65 years later than when he entered the tunnel, yet he is still 12 years old. He has no parents, no friends and nowhere to go. He has to adjust to the modern world without being able to tell anyone where he comes from. The police think he‘s a runaway and he’s put in a boarding school with uncaring staff and an oversized bully. He finds a book about a man with a similar experience and travels to France and Germany trying to locate him. He also learns about an ancient Celtic legend in which a priestess disappears in a tunnel and emerges years later, looking exactly the same. He keeps thinking about returning to the tunnel and trying to get back to the world h e once knew.


The Boy and the Hidden Tunnel is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99


An excerpt from The Boy and the Hidden Tunnel:

Mum and I had just returned from our grocery shopping. She was upstairs when we heard the sirens.

“Mum, we need to go to the basement,” I said excitedly.

“You go to the basement, Tom. Dad has a fever and he doesn’t feel up to getting out of bed.” Mum had heard the sirens many times before and nothing had happened in our neighborhood. Only military and industrial targets had been attacked. She decided to stay upstairs rather than leave Dad alone.

“Can’t I stay with you and Dad?” I said.

“Tom, go to the basement right now, like you promised.”

I headed for the basement. We had reinforced it to provide some protection in case we couldn’t make it to an air raid shelter. Some of my friends had been evacuated from London and were staying with families in the countryside. Others had moved out of London permanently with their families. But I had decided to stay home with my parents. How could I leave Mum to care for Dad all by herself? Mum allowed me to stay if I promised to go to the basement whenever we heard the sirens.

This time there was more than just sirens. As I got to the basement, I heard a loud explosion. The house shook and I fell to the floor. When I got up, all I could see was a thick cloud of dust and smoke. At first I couldn’t hear anything, only a ringing in my ears. Then I heard a crumbling sound. Our roof had caved in and the first floor had collapsed into the ground floor. The stairs to the basement were covered with rubble. I moved enough of the rubble so that I could climb up onto the ground floor. The ground floor was covered with pieces of the brick walls, plaster, and furniture that had fallen through from the first floor.

“Mum! Dad!” I shouted, terrified, but there was no answer. I started to look around and I saw something shiny on the floor. As the dust started to settle, I could see that it was Mum’s gold locket that she always wore around her neck. The chain was broken and I knew something terrible had happened. Then I saw a hand hanging out of the rubble. I could tell from the wedding ring on her finger that it was Mum’s hand. I started fighting frantically through the rubble, trying to move chunks of the brick wall that were covering her, but they were too heavy for me.

“Mummy! Mummy!” I cried out as I tried to move the rubble. I cleared enough rubble to see Mum’s head and shoulders. Her eyes were closed. I tried to wake her but she didn’t answer. I realized that Mum was dead. I sat next to her crying. Then I heard some movement in the rubble nearby. My dad was still alive. I could see that he was badly injured.

“Dad, Mummy’s dead,” I said sobbing. “You’re hurt; I’ll get help.”

“It’s too late,” he replied slowly, barely able to speak.

“Don’t leave me, Daddy. Don’t leave me on my own.”

“Tom, run to the shelter in the tube station. Run as fast as you can.”

He closed his eyes. I sat there choking and crying in the dust. I had hoped in my head that Mum and Dad would somehow just pick themselves up and comfort me, but they didn’t. They lay there still, quiet.

It started to rain. I looked up in what was once our living room and I could see the open sky. The rain was pouring down into the room. I was cold and wet. I couldn’t think of what to do. Dad’s words echoed in my mind. He had used his last breath to tell me to run to the tube station for shelter and I knew that’s what I had to do. I yanked my long brown coat out from under some rubble and put it on. I picked up Mum’s locket from the floor and put it in my coat pocket. I said goodbye to Mum and told her I loved her. I said the same to my dad. I knew that they couldn’t hear me, but it was something I needed to say.

I ran through an opening where the front door used to be, climbing over piles of rubble to get onto the street. I was shivering. I turned right and ran toward Stockwell Tube Station. Some houses I passed had been reduced to rubble; others were on fire. The sirens were still going off. Planes overhead were making terrifying noises. I looked up and saw bombs dropping from the planes. The sky had an orange glow and there was black smoke everywhere.

Hundreds of people were trying to get into the tube station. I was small and able to mingle easily with the crowd. Wardens were directing people into the station and down to the platforms and I followed behind them. There was a lot of pushing and shoving. Even elderly people and women carrying babies were jostled by the panicked crowd. Parents were calling to their children, trying to keep their families together. Small children were crying with fear. The wardens told the people to wait for the electricity to be turned off so they could take cover in the tunnels. With all the pushing and shoving, I ended up falling off the platform onto the track. I tried to call people to help me up, but no one could hear me because of all the noise. I ran along the track looking for a way to climb up. As I reached the end of the platform, I saw two dim lights further down the tunnel. A train was coming and I couldn’t find a way to get off the track.

As the train got closer, it lit up the tunnel and I noticed some rats running along the track. One of them went through a partially opened door a short distance into the tunnel. I didn’t want to run toward the train, but I couldn’t stay on the track. I had to get through that door before the train reached it. I ran as fast as I could and opened the door and went through it. Just as I got through the door, I heard the train thunder past. I was trembling. It took me a moment to get my breath back. Then I started to notice where I was. I was in a tiny narrow room. I found a light switch on the wall and turned on the light, but it came on very dimly. I decided to wait there until they turned the power off to the tracks so there would be no more trains. I waited for some time, but I wasn’t sure that it was safe to go back onto the tracks, so I searched for another way out.

There was a large torch in a bracket near the light switch. I took it down and turned it on. I could see a steel plate on the wall at the other end of the room. It looked as though it was normally bolted down, but it had been left just propped up against the wall. I moved it aside and found a hole in the wall. I thought it might lead to another way out and I crawled through it. I should have looked around more carefully first. The hole didn’t lead to another room; it led to an area of dirt and rubble. I lost my footing and slid down several feet. I didn’t know how I was going to get back up. I used the torch to look around and I saw a reflection from something shiny about 30 feet away. I walked over to it and saw that it was an iron gate. I opened the gate and walked through it, hoping to find a way out.

As soon as I went through the gate, I heard a noise behind me. I turned, thinking someone was there, but it was just the gate closing. Then I felt the ground shaking. I decided to turn back, but it was too late. The gate had locked when it closed and a stone wall came up from an opening in the ground on the far side of the gate. This didn’t make sense to me. Why would the gate lock by itself? Why would a wall come up behind it? There was a keyhole in the gate, but there was no sign of a key. I couldn’t get back out the same way I came in.

I was in a tunnel now with walls made of roughly cut stones that seemed to be just piled on top of one another. It looked like something much older than the tunnels that the trains ran through. It smelled musty and damp. I thought it must have been there long before the train tunnels were built. The tunnel was very narrow and the ceiling was just a little above my head. An adult would have to crawl to get through it. I continued walking for about 50 feet.

The tunnel led to a circular room with a high vaulted ceiling constructed of stone slabs arranged in an elaborate design. There were three other openings in the wall, each leading to a small room. One room was directly in front of me as I walked out of the tunnel; one was to my left and one was to my right. I went into the room that was straight ahead.

Eight stone slabs were arranged in a circle on the floor. On three of the slabs I could make out skeletons wrapped in some kind of cloth. I turned and ran, wanting to get as far away from this room as I could. I went back into the tunnel, hoping to find another way out. But the tunnel was much longer now. I walked for what seemed like an hour, but I couldn’t find a way out.

Shining the torch down the tunnel, I could make out something that looked like clothing on the floor with a large key next to it. When I got closer, I saw that there was a skeleton in the clothing. Its mouth was wide open and its head was tilted upward toward the ceiling. I jumped back and froze. I was scared, but I thought I might need the key. I quickly bent down with my head turned, not wanting to look at the skeleton. As I reached for the key, I felt a bony finger touching my hand. I grabbed the key as fast as I could and continued to run through the dark tunnel. I kept running and running.

A powerful force seemed to be pulling me through the tunnel. I don’t think I’d ever moved so fast. I saw streaks of light that first became brighter and then disappeared completely. Now it was totally black. The torch fell out of my hand and crashed to the floor. As I approached the end of the tunnel, I could see a dim light coming through a rusty iron gate right in front of me. It looked just like the gate I went through when I entered the tunnel. I tried to open the gate, but it was locked.

Then I thought about the key that I had found with the skeleton. I wondered if it would fit the lock, and if the rusty lock would still work. I put the key in the lock and tried to turn it, but it wouldn’t turn. Then I became really frightened. I thought that if the man whose skeleton I had seen had the key, why did he get trapped in the tunnel? Why didn’t he escape? Would I be trapped in the tunnel as he was?

The Boy and the Hidden Tunnel is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99

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