THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long {$0.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!}

Sponsored Post

Terri Giuliano Long‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of In Leah’s Wake:

***Newly edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press***

‘Book Club Edition’ with author Q&A and discussion questions added.

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Margot Livesey, award-winning author of Banishing Verona, calls In Leah’s Wake “a beautifully written and absorbing novel.”

When happens when love just isn’t enough?

Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence

2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick

Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place


Accolades:

“Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender.” Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author Take One Candle Light A Room

“In Leah’s Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel.” Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

“An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts.” Naomi Blackburn, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

“Easily the best read that I have enjoyed in 2011.” Bonnie Erina Wheeler, author Fate Fixed: An Erris Coven Novel


Reviews:

In Leah’s Wake currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.5 stars from 173 reviews. Read the reviews here.


In Leah’s Wake is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!

 

An excerpt from In Leah’s Wake:

Prologue

February

 

Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror on her closet door. Chin up, hands at her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear…” she begins, and stops midsentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong.

She’s too—stiff. Too grown up. Too something.

With her fingers, she sweeps the hair out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes and tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. When she learned five months ago she’d been selected to give the candidates’ address at her Confirmation, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation and telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people about how her own family has taught her what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.

She has no choice. She made a commitment.

Folding her hands primly, she sets them on her imaginary podium. Glancing at her cheat sheet, she pulls her lower face into a smile and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time.

Justine balls the paper and tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty instead of thirteen.

She unclasps her necklace, places the gold cross in her jewelry box, and logs onto her computer, launching the Word document for her Confirmation speech. She scans the opening paragraph. “I’ve learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family,” she reads. Learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family? Please. Could she have been any more naïve?

She hits delete.

Typing furiously, she begins a brand new essay, the words tumbling out. In a rush of emotion, Justine describes how miserable she feels. And how very, very alone.

 

One – Just Do It

 

Zoe and Will Tyler sat at their dining room table playing poker. The table, a nineteenth century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of Chablis positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.

Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a blanket under the window.

Zoe fanned her cards. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down she’d win her third hand in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.

“Full moon,” she said, glancing out the window. “No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”

The full moon made her anxious. For one of her graduate school internships, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital in Boston. When the moon was full the floor erupted, the patients noisy and agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality and superstition. Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and she’d found the effect impossible to deny—and the nurses concurred.

Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”

“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six-year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, or tweaking her African violets.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.

She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“Don’t be silly. Why would I laugh at you?”

He peered at the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.

“Nice ’do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. Her husband was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California on business. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She took another look at her cards, hesitated, and laid down the straight.

“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”

“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”

“I’m getting water,” he said, flattening his hair. “Want a glass?”

Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door. She yawned and settled back down.

Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfalls moving toward the family room. The music stopped abruptly and then the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe appreciated the gesture. She loved Robbie Robertson; “Showdown at Big Sky” was one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.

From the kitchen, heading his way, she caught his eye. “Turn it down,” she mouthed, gesturing. “You’ll wake Justine.”

He pulled a face and lowered the music.

Exasperated, she returned to the dining room. She bundled the cards, put the deck in the sideboard drawer, and gathered the dishes.

The toilet flushed in the half-bath off the back hall. Then she heard her husband rattling around the kitchen, slamming the cabinet doors. In April, Will had won a major contract for his company, North American Construction. For five months, he’d been flying back and forth to the West Coast, spending two weeks a month on the job site in San Francisco. Zoe hadn’t minded his traveling at first. A glut of office and manufacturing space had tanked construction starts in the northeast; with sales in a slump, his commissions had steadily dwindled. To compensate, they’d initially relied on their savings. In January, they’d remortgaged the house.

The project spared them bankruptcy. But his schedule was brutal. Will hated traveling, being away from the family, living out of a suitcase. He missed her and the kids. Now, with soccer season in full tilt, it was especially hard. Last year, when she was only a sophomore, their daughter had been named “Player of the Year” on the Boston Globe All-Scholastic team. The sports reporter from the Cortland Gazette had called Leah the “best soccer player in the state.” Head coaches from the top colleges in the northeast—Harvard, Dartmouth, Boston College—had sent congratulatory letters, expressing their interest.

Since her first day on the field, Will had trained and guided their daughter. He wanted to be here now to meet the prospective coaches and help her sort through her options. Zoe knew how tough this was on him. It didn’t seem to occur to Will that his traveling disrupted her life, too. Last year she’d developed a motivational seminar, called, “Success Skills for Women on the Move.” With the girls practically grown, the workshops were her babies. The extra workload at home added to the demands of her fulltime job at the counseling center, left her no time for marketing or promotion, and the workshops had stagnated. Zoe understood her husband’s frustration. It irked her that he failed to recognize hers.

Will appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, empty-handed. Her husband was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and at forty-five still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really:  after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose. Zoe recognized those qualities from the start, but it was only now, as he was aging, they showed on his face.

After work, he’d changed into jeans and a gray sweatshirt with the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” across the chest. He pushed up his sleeves and peered around the room as though looking for something.

“Zoe?” Normally, he called her “Honey” or “Zo.”

“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”

“Where’s Leah?”

“She went to the football game with Cissy. They hardly see each other lately. I thought it was nice.”

“She ought to be home by now.”

She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the east-facing wall. Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed before the start of the school year to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. It was ten minutes past.

“You know Leah. She probably lost track of the time.”

Will, nodding, went to the window.

Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view of the street. Now, with the trees nearly bare, they could see the flash of headlights as vehicles entered the circle.

Dog hauled herself to her feet and pressed her nose to the glass.

Will stretched his neck, wincing. His back was bothering him again, residual pain from a football injury he’d suffered in college.

Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot. “You’re tight,” she said, squeezing his shoulders.

He dropped his chin. “That feels good. Thanks. I’ve got to get one of those donut pillows for the plane.”

“Try to relax. You know Leah. She has no sense of time.”

“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. All the other coaches have one.”

“You’re blowing this out of proportion, don’t you think?”

A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac and rounded the circle, light sweeping across their lawn.

“She has a game in the morning,” Will said.

“I know.”

Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming specifically to see her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”

The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark. “She’ll go someplace else.”

“There is no place else.”

No place with such fantastic opportunities, great connections…blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter expressed any interest at all in Harvard, Zoe would do back flips to support her. As far as she could tell, Harvard wasn’t even on Leah’s radar screen. It was a moot point, anyway. Leah’s grades had been slipping. If she did apply for admission, she’d likely be denied.

“Reardon’s got pull. He’s been talking to Hillary about her,” he said. “She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”

What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”

“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”

“Please,” Zoe said, set to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State. What did he do? Dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? For their daughter to burn out and quit? Noting the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop at home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

The look he returned implied that she’d lost it.

“Relax, Will. For all we know, they had a flat.”

“She would have called.”

“So call her.” Duh.

“I did. I got voicemail.”

Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?


In Leah’s Wake is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!


Connect with Terri Giuliano Long:

Website: www.tglong.com
Blog: www.tglong.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tglong
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long {$0.99}

Sponsored Post

Terri Giuliano Long‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of In Leah’s Wake:

***Newly edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press***

‘Book Club Edition’ with author Q&A and discussion questions added.

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Margot Livesey, award-winning author of Banishing Verona, calls In Leah’s Wake “a beautifully written and absorbing novel.”

When happens when love just isn’t enough?

Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence

2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick

Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place


Accolades:

“Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender.” Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author Take One Candle Light A Room

“In Leah’s Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel.” Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

“An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts.” Naomi Blackburn, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

“Easily the best read that I have enjoyed in 2011.” Bonnie Erina Wheeler, author Fate Fixed: An Erris Coven Novel


Reviews:

In Leah’s Wake currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.5 stars from 161 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from In Leah’s Wake:

Prologue

February

 

Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror on her closet door. Chin up, hands at her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear…” she begins, and stops midsentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong.

She’s too—stiff. Too grown up. Too something.

With her fingers, she sweeps the hair out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes and tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. When she learned five months ago she’d been selected to give the candidates’ address at her Confirmation, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation and telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people about how her own family has taught her what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.

She has no choice. She made a commitment.

Folding her hands primly, she sets them on her imaginary podium. Glancing at her cheat sheet, she pulls her lower face into a smile and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time.

Justine balls the paper and tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty instead of thirteen.

She unclasps her necklace, places the gold cross in her jewelry box, and logs onto her computer, launching the Word document for her Confirmation speech. She scans the opening paragraph. “I’ve learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family,” she reads. Learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family? Please. Could she have been any more naïve?

She hits delete.

Typing furiously, she begins a brand new essay, the words tumbling out. In a rush of emotion, Justine describes how miserable she feels. And how very, very alone.

 

One – Just Do It

 

Zoe and Will Tyler sat at their dining room table playing poker. The table, a nineteenth century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of Chablis positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.

Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a blanket under the window.

Zoe fanned her cards. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down she’d win her third hand in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.

“Full moon,” she said, glancing out the window. “No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”

The full moon made her anxious. For one of her graduate school internships, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital in Boston. When the moon was full the floor erupted, the patients noisy and agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality and superstition. Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and she’d found the effect impossible to deny—and the nurses concurred.

Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”

“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six-year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, or tweaking her African violets.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.

She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“Don’t be silly. Why would I laugh at you?”

He peered at the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.

“Nice ’do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. Her husband was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California on business. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She took another look at her cards, hesitated, and laid down the straight.

“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”

“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”

“I’m getting water,” he said, flattening his hair. “Want a glass?”

Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door. She yawned and settled back down.

Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfalls moving toward the family room. The music stopped abruptly and then the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe appreciated the gesture. She loved Robbie Robertson; “Showdown at Big Sky” was one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.

From the kitchen, heading his way, she caught his eye. “Turn it down,” she mouthed, gesturing. “You’ll wake Justine.”

He pulled a face and lowered the music.

Exasperated, she returned to the dining room. She bundled the cards, put the deck in the sideboard drawer, and gathered the dishes.

The toilet flushed in the half-bath off the back hall. Then she heard her husband rattling around the kitchen, slamming the cabinet doors. In April, Will had won a major contract for his company, North American Construction. For five months, he’d been flying back and forth to the West Coast, spending two weeks a month on the job site in San Francisco. Zoe hadn’t minded his traveling at first. A glut of office and manufacturing space had tanked construction starts in the northeast; with sales in a slump, his commissions had steadily dwindled. To compensate, they’d initially relied on their savings. In January, they’d remortgaged the house.

The project spared them bankruptcy. But his schedule was brutal. Will hated traveling, being away from the family, living out of a suitcase. He missed her and the kids. Now, with soccer season in full tilt, it was especially hard. Last year, when she was only a sophomore, their daughter had been named “Player of the Year” on the Boston Globe All-Scholastic team. The sports reporter from the Cortland Gazette had called Leah the “best soccer player in the state.” Head coaches from the top colleges in the northeast—Harvard, Dartmouth, Boston College—had sent congratulatory letters, expressing their interest.

Since her first day on the field, Will had trained and guided their daughter. He wanted to be here now to meet the prospective coaches and help her sort through her options. Zoe knew how tough this was on him. It didn’t seem to occur to Will that his traveling disrupted her life, too. Last year she’d developed a motivational seminar, called, “Success Skills for Women on the Move.” With the girls practically grown, the workshops were her babies. The extra workload at home added to the demands of her fulltime job at the counseling center, left her no time for marketing or promotion, and the workshops had stagnated. Zoe understood her husband’s frustration. It irked her that he failed to recognize hers.

Will appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, empty-handed. Her husband was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and at forty-five still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really:  after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose. Zoe recognized those qualities from the start, but it was only now, as he was aging, they showed on his face.

After work, he’d changed into jeans and a gray sweatshirt with the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” across the chest. He pushed up his sleeves and peered around the room as though looking for something.

“Zoe?” Normally, he called her “Honey” or “Zo.”

“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”

“Where’s Leah?”

“She went to the football game with Cissy. They hardly see each other lately. I thought it was nice.”

“She ought to be home by now.”

She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the east-facing wall. Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed before the start of the school year to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. It was ten minutes past.

“You know Leah. She probably lost track of the time.”

Will, nodding, went to the window.

Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view of the street. Now, with the trees nearly bare, they could see the flash of headlights as vehicles entered the circle.

Dog hauled herself to her feet and pressed her nose to the glass.

Will stretched his neck, wincing. His back was bothering him again, residual pain from a football injury he’d suffered in college.

Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot. “You’re tight,” she said, squeezing his shoulders.

He dropped his chin. “That feels good. Thanks. I’ve got to get one of those donut pillows for the plane.”

“Try to relax. You know Leah. She has no sense of time.”

“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. All the other coaches have one.”

“You’re blowing this out of proportion, don’t you think?”

A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac and rounded the circle, light sweeping across their lawn.

“She has a game in the morning,” Will said.

“I know.”

Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming specifically to see her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”

The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark. “She’ll go someplace else.”

“There is no place else.”

No place with such fantastic opportunities, great connections…blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter expressed any interest at all in Harvard, Zoe would do back flips to support her. As far as she could tell, Harvard wasn’t even on Leah’s radar screen. It was a moot point, anyway. Leah’s grades had been slipping. If she did apply for admission, she’d likely be denied.

“Reardon’s got pull. He’s been talking to Hillary about her,” he said. “She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”

What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”

“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”

“Please,” Zoe said, set to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State. What did he do? Dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? For their daughter to burn out and quit? Noting the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop at home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

The look he returned implied that she’d lost it.

“Relax, Will. For all we know, they had a flat.”

“She would have called.”

“So call her.” Duh.

“I did. I got voicemail.”

Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?


In Leah’s Wake is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


Connect with Terri Giuliano Long:

Website: www.tglong.com
Blog: www.tglong.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tglong
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites

Wings of Hope, Hillary E. Peak {FREE!}

The bond of a father and daughter is special. When Jules’ father asks her to come stay with him because he’s terminally ill, she goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel, or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope takes you on a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life through his conversations with his daughter. Teaching her that death is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

Hope is the last gift of a father to his daughter–the power to reach for her dreams.

What readers are saying:

“I loved this book. My dad died just a few years ago–what I would give to have had that time like Jules to get to know him REALLY. Boy, it’s a little sad, but it’s a lot sweeter and it gave me hope that I should really try to do what I feel I really want to do. I have a talent and I need to go for it.” By Brittany

“This was a delightful read. You journey with a young woman as she spends time with her father during his last days.” By Mimi

The average Amazon reader review is currently 5 stars {6 reviews}.

In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long {$0.99}

In Leah’s Wake has been newly edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press. The author has added a new chapter and several new scenes, adding new and clarifying existing connections and insights, and tightened the book, cutting 60 pages – all while maintaining the integrity of the original edition.

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Margot Livesey, award-winning author of Banishing Verona, calls In Leah’s Wake “a beautifully written and absorbing novel.”

When happens when love just isn’t enough?

Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence

2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick

Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place

What readers are saying:

“Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender.” –Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author Take One Candle Light A Room

In Leah’s Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel.” –Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” –Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

“An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts.” –Naomi Blackburn, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

“Easily the best read that I have enjoyed in 2011.” –Bonnie Erina Wheeler, author Fate Fixed: An Erris Coven Novel

The average Amazon reader review is currently 3.5 stars {147 reviews}.

 

In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long {$0.99}

***New Digitally Signed Edition***

BOOK BUNDLZ BOOK CLUB PICK
Winner of the CTRR, Reviewer Recommend Award

The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore.

While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake.

Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.

What readers are saying:

“Terri Giuliano Long writes about the complexities of marriage and parenting . . . pulled me right along, as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” –Jennifer Donovan, Managing Editor 5 Minutes For Books

“In Leah’s Wake is beautifully written, haunting, fascinating, and a book that has a lot to say, a lot to teach you, without getting preachy.”  –Haley Stokes, Triumphal Writing

The average Amazon reader review is currently 3.5 stars {116 reviews}.

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories, S.B. Lerner {$1.99}

Sponsored Post

S.B. Lerner‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:


Description of In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories:

An engrossing collection of funny, poignant and bittersweet stories about busy young women who find men in all the wrong places (the garage attendant across the street, the stay-at-home dad in the playground, the younger man at the diner counter) and discover something about themselves in the process.

The short stories and memoir were previously published in literary magazines and newspapers.

BONUS: Scroll to the end of this post to see a great Facebook bonus!


Accolade:

What an impressive literary debut! Susan Lerner’s story collection, In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories, offer up deft, deeply insightful glimpses of women who live in urban landscapes, surrounded by millions of people, but are uniquely isolated amidst the throngs. Her characters are looking for connection but are never desperate in their quest. Strong women who are often disappointed but you never get the sense that the flawed men her characters meet will destroy their optimism and turn them bitter. The protagonists in her stories exude a deep sexuality and abiding intelligence that make the reader root for her to find the man who’s truly deserving and even though it doesn’t happen, you know it will. These stories resonate long after you put down the book.


Reviews:

In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories currently has a customer review rating of 5 stars from 2 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories:

French Fries

Another Saturday night home alone, a glass of Merlot in one hand, a cigarette in the other, newspapers and magazines spread around her. Jennifer stretched her shoulders, trying to ease the tension, but knew it was useless. There were places she just couldn’t reach on her own.

She was reading about an old-fashioned matchmaking service that was making a comeback. Instead of using computer forms and complicated algorithms, it was just a little old man who used his intuition. The article quoted several men and women who had tried him. A few of his matches led to marriage. For others it simply meant getting out and socializing after spending too many Saturday evenings watching the late movie alone. Jennifer glanced at the TV, which was on without the sound.

The idea of someone looking in her eyes and intuiting her soul mate through some ancient, mystical process, held a certain charm. It certainly sounded better than marketing herself on the internet or haunting bars late at night. She drifted off to sleep with the TV flickering in the background and dreamt of a shaman-like wise man and a tent filled with incense. When she woke up, the remote still cuddled in her hand, she made an appointment with the service.

The matchmaker was a short, older man with gleaming white hair and a heavy European accent. A few hundred dollars later, he knew exactly what she was looking for. “A nice man,” he informed her with a gentle smile, dismissing the list of specific qualities she had been prepared to discuss with a wave of his hand. “What took you so long to come here? Well, don’t worry. You’ll be married soon.” His comforting patter followed her out the door and quieted a sudden pang of doubt.

By Wednesday, in keeping with the etiquette dictated by the agency, Robert called. He mentioned that he was thirty-five and had never been married. This was a plus, she thought—there were no ex-wives to contend with—and her confidence in the matchmaker briefly soared. But it was also it somewhat suspect because, well, why hadn’t he ever married? The same suspicion didn’t apply to her, thirty-something and still single, although she couldn’t have explained why not.

Robert also mentioned that he was a psychiatrist. On the one hand, that was impressive. But she considered the possibility that he had deep-seated emotional problems that both led him to his professional calling and was the reason he had never married. Nevertheless, she remained determined to be open-minded and meet the guy. When he suggested a quick lunch during the week, she agreed. He only had one hour, he told her. And it would have to be at one o’clock. He recommended a coffee shop located exactly one block north of the midpoint between their respective offices

She had trouble concentrating on the Wednesday morning of their lunch date, and a few minutes before one o’clock she walked over to the coffee shop. The aroma of hot food and fresh coffee drew her in. She’d been too nervous to eat breakfast and briefly became aware of her hunger. Waiters rushed by, carrying trays piled high with platters of food that looked surprisingly good for a coffee shop.

And then she saw what could only be Robert. He was scrutinizing each person who entered until his eyes settled with certainty on her. He wore a dark blue blazer with a light blue button down shirt, a familiar conservative look that made her comfortable. He was tall, with dark hair and sculptured features, which she found attractive. His bright blue eyes looked pleased to see her. She felt as though she had passed his initial visual test.

“Jennifer?” he said.

“Robert?”

They shook hands and were led to a small table by the window.

“I know you don’t have much time,” she said after they were settled. “Maybe we should order?” They looked down at their menus, their heads bent towards each other as they examined them. She had the warm familiar feeling of being in the college library, studying with a friend.

“The sliced white meat chicken sandwich sounds pretty good,” he said.

“You know, I was just thinking of ordering that!” They smiled as they spoke.  “Do you want to share french fries?” she followed up impulsively.

Robert didn’t look as excited about that suggestion, but he agreed. They made some small talk and she learned that he had attended Ivy League schools, came from a family of doctors and was very close with his sister and nieces and nephews.  He had a fluid manner of expressing himself, using his hands to emphasize his points. He seemed to enjoy having her as an audience.

The food arrived and they each got their sandwich.  The french fries were placed between them. They were the skinny kind, some crisper than others and all intertwined with one another. Piled high on a plate that seemed much too small for such a profusion of fries, their aroma was overwhelming. The air at the table was suddenly dense with it and everything else seemed to disappear for her, except an immediate urge to have them.


In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99


Connect with S.B. Lerner:

Website: http://sblerner.com

Blog: http://susanblerner.com

**Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/In-the-Middle-of-Almost-and-Other-Stories/265178710186807

***BONUS! The first 30 people to “Like” the In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories Facebook Page will get a coupon for $1.00 off at Smashwords! Just send your email address to samsonbooks7@gmail.com for the coupon.

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: In Leah’s Wake, Terri Giuliano Long {$0.99}

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Description of In Leah’s Wake:

2011 BOOK BUNDLZ BOOK CLUB PICK
Coffee Time Reviewers Recommend (CTRR) Award

Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler—until their daughter Leah decides to actively destroy her own future.

Leah grew up in a privileged upper-middle class world. She had all-but secured an Ivy League scholarship and a future as a star athlete. Then she met Todd.

Leah’s parents watch helplessly as their daughter falls into a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties. Their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes Leah’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family, leaving her to question whether her parents love her and whether God even knows she exists.

What happens when love just isn’t enough?

This mesmerizing debut novel tells the tale of a contemporary American family caught in the throes of adolescent rebellion – a heartbreaking, funny, ultimately redemptive quest for love, independence, connection and grace.


Accolade:

L.M. Stull, Author of A Thirty-Something Girl

If I was told that I could use only one word to express how this book made me feel, it would be “WOW.”

As a writer, to be rendered nearly speechless is usually not a good sign. This book did just that. In Leah’s Wakemay be a fictional story, but it speaks about everyday situations. The story follows the journey and struggles of not only a teenager trying to find her own path in life, but that of her parents as well. Leah’s family and life spirals out of control at nearly the onset of the novel and I found myself turning page after page, desperately clinging to hope that all would work out in the end. In truth, I lost a little bit of sleep reading this book, as I read it cover to cover in one sitting. It is rare that a book holds me that captive.

In Leah’s Wake doesn’t tell the tale of a perfect family, but of a real family. The characters are raw, captivating and relatable. This book is a nice reminder to each of us to step back and cherish the life that we have been given, and all the good and bad it brings with it; to learn from our experiences; and, above all, to never give up.

What is even more astonishing about In Leah’s Wake is the fact this is the author’s debut novel. If I could give this book 10 stars out of 5, I would. Terri Giuliano Long has a life-long fan in me and I eagerly await her next book.

So go out a treat yourself to a copy of this literary masterpiece. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy for a friend – they will thank you for it later.


Reviews:

In Leah’s Wake currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars from 103 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from In Leah’s Wake:

Prologue

March

Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror hanging on her closet door. Chin up, hands by her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear. . .” she begins, and stops mid-sentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong. She’s too—Too stiff. Too grownup. Too something.

She rakes her fingers over her short dark hair, sweeping the bangs out of her eyes, tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. She’s scheduled to deliver the candidates’ address at her Confirmation Mass this afternoon. When she learned, six months ago, that she had been selected speaker, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation, telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people how she’s learned from her own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.

She has no choice. She made a commitment.

She folds her hands primly, setting them at chest height on her imaginary podium, glances at her cheat sheet, rolls her lower face into a smile, and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time. Justine crumples the paper, tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty, instead of thirteen.

She screws up her face. “I can’t do this,” she says, wagging a finger at the girl watching her from the mirror. She would feel like a hypocrite.

 

Justine plods to the bathroom, pees, pads back to her bedroom. The forecasters are predicting snow, starting later today. A dismal gray stratus hangs over her skylight. Her room is dark, the air raw. Her sister’s blue and gold Cortland High sweatshirt lies in a heap at the foot of her bed. Justine pulls the sweatshirt over her head, retrieves the balled-up paper. With the back of her hand, she flattens it out, and returns to the mirror to practice.

As always, on first glance, the girl in the mirror takes Justine by surprise. She’s grown two inches since Christmas, isn’t chubby anymore, her belly flat, the clavicle bones visible now at the base of her throat. She pushes her bangs out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes. With her fingertips, she touches her cheeks. Her features have matured, her nose long and straight, like her mother’s, her cheekbones defined. She curls and uncurls her toes. She wears a size six shoe, a size and a half smaller than Leah. Her toes are long and slim, the nails painted blue.

Justine crushes the sheet of paper, tosses it in the trash, strolls to her window, raises the honeycomb shade. Spring feels a long way away, the yard empty, the trees bare. A rush of cold air streams in, under the sash. The air smells of snow. Justine presses her hand against the cool glass, the way she and her sister used to do on the windshield of their father’s car, when they were small. Stop, their father would scold. You’re making a mess. She smiles, remembering how Leah loved egging him on. She pulls her hand away from the glass, watches her prints disappear.

Justine wishes, sometimes, that she could disappear, too. Poof, just like the handprint.

Poof, just like her sister.


One

Just Do It

September

Zoe and Will Tyler sat at the dining room table, playing poker. The table, a nineteenth-century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of port positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player in the family room, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.

Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a ratty pink baby blanket, under the window.

Zoe plucked the Queen of Hearts from the outside of her hand, and tucked it center. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down, she would win the hand, third in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.

The moon was full tonight, its light casting a ghostly shadow across the yard. The full moon made Zoe anxious. For one of her internships in grad school, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital, in Boston. On nights when the moon was full, the floor erupted, the patients noisy, agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality, superstition. But Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and found the effect impossible to deny—and nearly all the nurses concurred.

“Full moon,” she said. “I hadn’t noticed. No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”

Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”

“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, tweaking her African violets.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.

She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“Don’t be silly. Why would I be laughing at you?”

He peered at his reflection in the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, pale, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.

“Nice do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean-spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. The poor guy was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California, on business, had flown into Logan this morning, on the red-eye. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious to her that his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She fanned out her cards, hesitated for an instant, and laid down the straight.

“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”

“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”

“I’m getting water,” he said, tamping his hair. “Want some?”

Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door, yawned, and settled back down.

Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfall moving in the direction of the family room. The music stopped abruptly, and the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe loved Robbie Robertson, “Showdown at Big Sky” one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean that the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.

“Will,” she said, gesturing from the kitchen. “Turn it down. You’ll wake Justine.”

She waited a few seconds, caught his eye, gestured again. The third time was the charm.

Exasperated, she returned to the dining room, bundled the cards, put them away.

Will appeared in the doorway, a few minutes later, empty-handed. Will was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and, at forty-five, still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really: after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose, qualities Zoe had recognized from the start but that only now, as he was aging, showed on his face.

After work, he’d changed into a pair of stonewashed jeans and a gray sweatshirt, worn soft, the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” screened in maroon lettering across the chest. Absently, he pushed up his sleeves, and peered around the room as though looking for something. “Zoe—” Normally, he called her Honey or Zo.

“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”

“Do you have any idea what time it is?”

She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the far wall. “Ten past eleven. So?”

“Where’s Leah?”

At the football game, with Cissy. “They’ve been going every week. Did you forget?”

“She ought to be home by now.”

“She’s only ten minutes late.” Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed, before school started this year, to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. “She’ll be here soon.”

Will stalked to the window, grumbling. Dog rose, and pressed her nose to the glass.

Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, arced around the lawn, and straightened, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view. Now that most of the leaves had fallen, the headlights were visible as vehicles entered the circle.

“She has a game in the morning.” Will stretched his neck . His upper back had been bothering him lately, residual pain from an old football injury he’d suffered in college.

Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot, and squeezed his shoulders. “You’re tight.”

He dropped his chin. “From sleeping on the plane. Got to get one of those donut pillows.”

“You know Leah. She has no sense of time. I’ll bet they stopped for something to eat.”

“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. Every other coach has one.”

“Relax, Will. It’s not that late. You’re blowing this out of proportion. Don’t you think?”

A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac, rounded the circle, its lights sweeping over the drive and across their lawn, and headed down the street.

Bending, Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming tomorrow, specifically to watch her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”

The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark, fully aware of the comeback her words would elicit, “she’ll go someplace else.”

“There is no place else.”

No place that would give her the opportunities, the connections… blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter had the slightest aspiration of going to Harvard, Zoe would do everything in her power to support her. As far as she could tell, the name Harvard had never graced Leah’s wish-list. It was a moot point, anyway. For the last two terms, Leah’s grades had been dropping. If she did apply for admission, she would probably be denied.

“Reardon has pull,” he offered, a weak rebuttal in Zoe’s opinion. “He’s been talking to Hillary about her. She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”

Opportunity? What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”

“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”

Zoe opened her mouth, ready to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State, and dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? A college drop-out in a couple years? Noticing the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham, for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

The look he returned implied that she’d lost it. “You think I could sleep?”

“For all we know, they had a flat.”

“She would have called.”

“So call her.” Duh.

“I did. I got voice mail.”

Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen years old. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?

 

In Leah’s Wake is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


Connect with Terri Giuliano Long:

Website: www.tglong.com
Blog: www.tglong.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tglong
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Undrawn, Conchie Fernandez {$2.99}

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Conchie Fernandez‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Undrawn:

Kyle Reed stands on the verge of his lifelong dream of artistic immortality when a call from his estranged older brother Stuart puts a halt to everything in his carefully constructed life. Kyle faces the impossible decision to go back “home” and attempt to undo the many painful choices he made that severed his ties with his family and the woman he once loved.

As he steps into the house he grew up in, Kyle revisits the lives he led. He walks through the elegant rooms where he learned to keep quiet to avoid his father’s temper, and dealt with the debilitating disease that opened the doorway to his art. In his journey through his past, he assesses the perilous habits that distanced him from his family, the bitter enmities that still ravage his peace, and the surprising loyalty he finds in the people who surround him.

Kyle juggles with the present and the past and he clings to sanity through his art, the passion that has become his true north. Between the sculptures and images that fill his spaces and canvases, lie the crucial aspects of his life that he’s been avoiding for years: the icon he destroyed, the crime that still fills him with shame, and the forgiveness he never offered…or received.

 

Accolade:

Jill Allen, Clarion ForeWord Review, April 23, 2011

In “Undrawn”, the imminent death of his tyrannical father Brandon forces frail, thirty-six-year-old painter Kyle to return to his boyhood home after a self-imposed exile. While there, the past catches up to the son, and he finds himself facing old family rifts, former girlfriends, crimes of passion, and, most of all, the overwhelming urge to be loved and accepted. Conchie Fernandez’s debut novel shifts between the past and present as Kyle seeks absolution in a world where many factors are unknown.

The protagonist’s struggles are witnessed by his sneering brother Stuart, who has secrets of his own, his affectionate brother Troy, and his selfless mother, Norma, who possesses more concern about Kyle’s diabetes than about her own emotional well-being in the wake of Brandon’s death. Also populating the story are Kyle’s contacts in the art world, as well as past and present lovers, all with distinct traits.

As a former newspaper editor and present-day creative writing teacher, Fernandez eloquently captures the subtleties of human relationships. Readers clearly see the protagonist hurting because of his father’s control, even as he holds out hope that Brandon will someday acknowledge his art.

Art isn’t the only thing about Kyle that Brandon fails to accept; he does not believe that his son is truly ill. To hear Brandon accuse Kyle, a diabetic, of trying to manipulate his father’s emotions by having an attack is truly horrifying. When juxtaposed against Norma and Troy’s caring attitude toward the sickly Kyle, Brandon’s indifference becomes all the more cruel. Kyle and Troy behave like real brothers. Beneath their profanity-laced dialogue brims love and protectiveness. In a novel loaded with machismo, it is refreshing to see Troy and Kyle hug, both in the past and the present.

“Undrawn” refreshes the trope of the tortured artist. Readers see how Kyle is haunted by his past while he suffers from occasional diabetic attacks. Kyle’s physical and mental suffering is poignantly rendered, although occasionally his diabetic attacks seem like convenient plot devices.

Fernandez masterfully immerses readers in the world of Kyle’s canvas, so that they paint right along with the artist. On the whole, though, “Undrawn” is a well-realized portrait of conflict and forgiveness.


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Undrawn currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars. Read the reviews here!


An excerpt from Undrawn:

Kyle looked down the hall at the doors to his parents’ room.  The double doors beckoned him and lured him to walk into that once-familiar room.  Would his father be lying there, dying, or was the guest room in the first floor fixed as his last bedroom?  Whatever the case, Kyle could not resist the temptation.  He advanced toward the room, his face stone, his entire being possessed by a numbing sense of obligation, as if he knew he was about to be sacrificed but could do nothing about it.  But he pressed on in spite of every internal protestation.  He felt like a cross between a native hypnotized by a conqueror’s shiny baubles and an insect trapped in a giant spider web.

He paused before the doors, which were opened a crack, then stepped through the threshold and into his father’s lair.

The large bedroom was dark, silent.   Kyle had been right; the master bedroom was now an ad- hoc hospital room for his father, who lay raglike on the bed.   A nurse hovered over him, checking the monitors for vital signs, which were visibly bleak.

The nurse turned her head in his direction when she heard the discreet creaking of the doors that closed behind him.  She smiled ruefully and took a step back from Brandon’s side so Kyle could have a full view of his father’s wretched figure.

There’s something to be said about how people look when you haven’t seen them for a while—when all you see of them are pictures stuffed into photo albums or hidden somewhere in your mind. He couldn’t get over the contrast between those pictures and the figure on the bed.  Brandon Reed was reduced to a painfully thin, balding old man.  His cheekbones poked through the reptilian skin on his face.  He was already a cadaver; death seemed to have settled into his body a long time before.  He wasn’t even struggling to live anymore; Brandon looked like he had succumbed and was breathing only because his body still held onto that one last function.  Bone cancer had vandalized every part of his body; he was already the ghost of the man who at one remote time Kyle had called Father.

“Is he awake?”  Kyle whispered.  The nurse nodded.

“You’ll have to come closer for him to see you.”

Kyle stepped closer to Brandon’s bed.  His heart was pounding and he admitted this was the moment he’d dreaded most — the weak recognition in his father’s nebulous brown eyes.  He dreaded not knowing how either one of them would react. Not knowing what anger, what disappointment and regret were still left there—in both of them, in any one of them. He was witnessing the mystery of what time and distance and bad blood leave between a father and a son who had never really been close, loving or compassionate to one another. And despite the shock of his father’s ghastly appearance and the anguish of the awkward, indescribably difficult moment, Kyle pulled a chair up to Brandon’s bed and sat, his clammy hands clasped between his legs to keep them from shaking.  He hoped his father was too sick to notice.

“Hey,” Kyle managed to say after four years of silence.

Brandon sighed, then echoed: “Hey…” His voice was hoarse and dry, as if he hadn’t spoken in a while, either because he had finally run out of words or because his illness had weakened him into silence.  It was not the voice Kyle remembered — this was the corpse’s voice, not the voice of a man who had so often and for so long been nothing short of a tyrant.

“I just got into town.  How are you doing?”

Brandon managed to make a face that Kyle, so used to analyzing and deciphering human expression, simply could not translate.  His artist’s eyes scanned the broken face and marveled that this beaten body had muscles that actually responded to some feeling, so he was more intent than ever on controlling his own. Kyle concentrated on the figure before him, on the motionless arms which lay on the bed, one of them invaded by an IV that uselessly pumped liquid into his body.  A thin plastic tube was taped into Brandon’s once straight and perfect nose and another into his chest.

“Did…you see…your mother?”  Brandon wheezed.

“No, not yet.  I got drenched outside, it’s raining…I took a shower and just made it out of the room.  It’s pretty cold outside.”  He paused.  “Are you in pain?”

“No… lots of meds….” He breathed loudly.  Kyle stared intently at him, trying to hold his father’s gaze, which was increasingly erratic.  “Where is she?” Brandon asked.

Kyle furrowed his brow and rubbed his cold arms with his hands. “Who?”

Brandon’s eyes shifted again from Kyle’s face toward the ceiling, restlessly searching for something that eluded Kyle entirely.  He leaned closer toward his father, wrestling with fear, anxiety, confusion.

“The little girl.”

“I… I don’t know…” Kyle turned toward the nurse, who frowned and shook her head sadly.  “What little girl, Dad?”

Brandon’s lips parted and he stammered incoherently for a second.  “Your little girl. I… I… her name slips…”

“My…? Dad, I don’t—“ and then he froze.  And he understood.

He slowly slumped back into the chair, his lips parted, his body colder than before.  His arms locked around his body and held on tight, as if he could somehow hold himself together through this disarming moment.  “Dad, Jeannie?”

And he realized then that ghosts could smile. Brandon pulled his uncooperative muscles into a grimace that revealed teeth that had turned too large for his ashen, skeletal face.  “Yes… Jeannie… where is your little girl?”

Kyle didn’t reply right away. It took him a while to wrestle with thoughts and feelings which were, true to fashion, in open battle against one another.  But compassion, an emotion he had not associated with his father for so long, won over his grief and his disillusion and he leaned forward. He freed one of his hands long enough to touch the scaly and translucent skin on his father’s arm. “She’s with her mother downstairs.”

“You’ll go… get her for me?”

“Sure,” he whispered.  He watched his father’s lilac-colored eyelids flutter to a close and he took a long, pained, deep breath that echoed his father’s.  He held onto the arms of the chair to bring himself to stand, and he looked down at his father for a long time.  It was a difficult sight to behold—this fallen titan—and he didn’t want to listen to the many cries and conflicting messages that rushed through his mind.  He turned to leave.

His lungs were exploding in his chest, his back was singing a capella, he felt almost faint as he walked away from his father.  He did not look back, not even when he closed the doors behind him.

He covered his face with his hands as he stood outside those closed doors and breathed deep again.

His father had mistaken him for Stuart.

 

Undrawn is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

Amazon UK

 

Connect with Conchie Fernandez:

Website: http://www.conchiefernandez.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Conchie-Fernandez-Author/152792338111559

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Conchiefer

 

{Updated with Winners} The Saturday Giveaway: 2 Signed Paperbacks of Nice Meeting You!

Happy Saturday!

It’s time for a Frugal eReader Giveaway!

See below for how to win one of two signed paperback copies of Nice Meeting You, sponsored by the author, Phil Torcivia… but first, a little about the novel:

 

 

Phil’s humorous relationship struggles continue as he tries to learn what women want.

The book is filled with personal stories, humorous drawings and a lot of things both men and women will relate to dealing with single life, dating and divorce. Torcivia allows women to see just what men think about relationships and all the drama associated with them. He allows men to see that they are not alone in their actions related to relationships. It is just a fun read for anyone! — Jennifer, GA

Nice Meeting You is available for $0.99 at the Kindle Store

Now, for the giveaway:

Simply leave a comment on this post to be entered to win one of two signed paperback copies of Nice Meeting You!

Want more opportunities to win? Share this giveaway via the buttons at the top of this post, and leave a separate comment stating that you’ve done so! {Every share/comment counts as an extra entry!}

Entries will be closed after midnight on Sunday ~ and two random winners will be chosen and notified next week!

Good Luck!

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Congratulations to the two winners!

Julie

Linda

I will be contacting you for your mailing addresses soon!

 

Hollywood Swinging, Chicki Brown {$0.99}

Newlywed author Shontae Nichols Burke is trying to adjust to her life in Hollywood as the wife of actor Devon Burke, one of the film industry’s brightest upcoming stars. She’s left her home and her friends and moved to Los Angeles.

They both have blossoming careers. She’s attending movie premieres and living a life she only dreamed of.

Unknown to Shontae, someone else also believes Devon Burke is the love of her life. When this disturbed woman insinuates herself into their lives, Shontae learns that all Hollywood drama isn’t scripted and finds herself in a fight for her marriage that’s worthy of the big screen.

What readers are saying:

“This book has stalkers, shady in-laws, unlikely love interests and drama, drama, and more drama. I absolutely loved it!!” – Lady J, Amazon Reviewer

“As a reader, I should know to expect the unexpected, but I left myself wide open for a couple of scene I did not see coming. And I found myself with my mouth hanging open.” – Jennifer Coissiere, APOOO BookClub

The average Amazon reader review is currently 4.5 stars {10 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase Hollywood Swinging for $0.99 from Amazon

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