Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Deepest Scars)

  ~~ A sweet, fun romance about how love heals.~~

“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

A new job, new city, and new friends seem like the perfect solutions for healing Zack’s broken heart. A fiery red-head, with passion for all of his favorite activities couldn’t hurt either. She seems perfect for him, and he’s immediately drawn in. The romance blossoms, but Zack is side-swiped when he learns she’s hiding things. Is the relationship worth salvaging or do her scars run too deep? Don’t miss Zack’s story in this Being Me series stand-alone companion novel!

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“So, we didn’t get to catch up today. How was your Fourth?” Mitchell asks as I slide my backpack over my shoulders.

“I was working.” We walk out of the physical therapy room, dodging incoming patients.

“Did you even get to see fireworks?”

“No, we had a couple injuries, so I was there till late.” I find my keys and sunglasses in a side pocket of my bag.

“You’ve got to get a better job, so you can have a social life.” Mitchell shakes his head.

“Are you kidding? I’m living the dream. Fame and fortune.”

“Right, well”—he offers his palm out to me—“I’ll catch you next time.”

“Yep.” I shake his hand and slide my sunglasses on. Stepping through the sliding doors the sun sears my skin, and I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it. Heat rises off the pavement, and hot wind engulfs me as I cross the parking lot. A volleyball rolls out from between two cars. I dip and scoop it up with one palm. Scanning the rows, I spot an open trunk and jog to it. I stop a couple feet from a girl rummaging in the back of a small SUV. “You lose this?” I hold the ball at arm’s length.

She glances at me and then back to her open car. “I’d lose my head right now if it weren’t attached.” Her accent is melodic, almost twangy, and I note her New Jersey license plate. Running her hand through her thick red hair, she turns to face me. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Ball extended, I take a step closer to her. “You play?”

Her eyes land on mine and then cut to my chest where my ID card hangs. Grabbing the sphere with both hands, she tosses it into her SUV. “Yeah.” Shaking her head, she fishes in the closest bag.

“Me too. There’s a league at the JCC if you’re interested. That’s the—”

“I know what the JCC is.” She spins to face me.

I take a step back. “Okay, I wasn’t… I just thought—”

“What? Since I have out-of-state plates, I’m fresh meat? A new chick to take out once and never call again?”

“Whoa.” I raise my palms. “I was just returning the ball.” Shaking my head, I turn and walk away. I should have known. She’s the redhead I saw with Lydia and Rose in the cafeteria. They hate me. Why? I have no clue. I accepted an invite to hang out with them my first week on the job. We’d spent three hours at a bar, them spouting off all the hospital gossip. Drama isn’t my thing. I’d been nice about it, nodding and agreeing where appropriate. The next time they asked me to join them, I had volleyball, fortunately for me, as I am horrible at lying. The third and fourth times, I had a string of twelve-hour shifts and declined them again. They have been shooting daggers and giving me the cold shoulder ever since. I’m not sure what to do about their hostility. Mitchell said to ignore them, but now they’re bad-mouthing me? I’m barely at the hospital two days a week, and they think they know me?

“Hey.” I hear her call out and turn around. “I’m sorry about that. Thanks for saving my ball. This is my first day at work, I moved here two days ago, and everything is out of control. Lydia and Rose said that you…” Shedding her sunglasses, her eyes cut to the pavement and back to my face.

I shake my head and shrug. “That I did what exactly? Did they mention how long they’d known me? I moved here a month ago and only hung out with them once.”

“Oh.” She looks to a passing truck and then back up at me. “They were trying to help, I think.”

The sun has my skin flaming. “We good?”

“Yeah, thanks again.”

“No problem.” I resume my path, hoping my reply wasn’t too rude. She lashed out at me first though. Plus, with the twelve-hour shift and heat, I was done.


“Zack, my man!” Rabbi John greets me by gripping my hand and bumping his shoulder to mine the next night at the JCC gym. “Wasn’t sure you were going to make it.”

“Traffic was bad. How’s the count?” I ask as I secure my laces.

“Good, Kara from team two is sick, but Liz showed up, so we’re good to go.”


“Redhead, said you invited her?” His eyes grow large as if to urge me to remember.

“Long red hair?”

“Yeah, red, it’s back, so maybe? You want to switch to be on her team?”

I shake my head.

“Okay, well I won’t ask about that then.” He looks back to his clipboard.

“Yeah, you don’t want to know.” I pat him on the back and, eyes focused on the floor, make my way to our court.

Jeff approaches. “Who’s the chick?”

“What chick?”

“Redhead. John said you invited her.”

“Don’t know her.” I throw my bag on the stands and retrieve my ball. “Let’s warm up.”


Copyright 2018 Tricia Copeland All Rights Reserved


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Get the first book in the Being Me series FREE on your favorite reading platform!

IS THIS ME? (Being Me Book 1 –Free on all platforms)







Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in sunny Colorado with her family. Her novels include the award nominated contemporary romance series, Being Me, Best Book Award finalist urban fantasy series, The Kingdom Journals, Lovelock Ones, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, and Drops of Sunshine, a YA paranormal novella. Find Tricia and her books at or on your favorite social media.

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Do you want to meet Tricia Copeland? Here’s how! 

Join bestselling authors of contemporary and paranormal YA fiction and more at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia on April 7, 2018 from 10am-4pm. This is a FREE event for readers!

Enjoy an afternoon of books, giveaways, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices!

Want to know more about our venue in beautiful Roanoke, VA? Visit their website to map your route or book a room.

Holiday Inn Tanglewood

**For more information about the event and to stay up to date about authors attending the even, visit the EVENT’S WEBSITE.**


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Author Showcase – Tricia Copeland (Lovelock Ones)

Jema and Troy mange semi-normal lives at the Port Orford Naval Base despite global warming and mandatory genetic typing. With the threat of a second worldwide flu epidemic, their parents send them to a remote desert community. Jema’s sister contracts the virus, and Jema and Troy must decide whether to compromise the group to save one. Can Lovelock develop a cure in time to avoid mass casualty? As the political stage shifts, who can be trusted?

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Part Two: Bred One


Chapter 1 – Troy

“I’m never going to get this.” I let the bow fall to my side.

“Mark.” Jema used my Lovelock name. “I’ve been doing this for ten years. You’re not going to be perfect in a couple of months. It’s muscle memory, just like with football. You’ll get it.”

We’d been practicing for almost three months, both shooting and adapting to our community names. I called her Cleo about sixty percent of the time and hit the center target only one in ten.

“But for you it’s like breathing, Cleo.” I forced out her new name, trying to make the switch in my psyche. She would always be Jema to me.

“Have you never had to work at anything?”

“Yeah, this.” I held up the bow and arrow.

She kicked at the sand under her feet. “Maybe I’m not a good teacher. I just remember how my dad taught me. Think about it like throwing a football. You aim and then release, right?” Cocking her arm back, she faked a throw.

I dropped the bow. “If you put your arms around me like this.” I took her hands and wound them around my waist, so our lips were inches apart. Even in the dim light, I could see her cheeks flush. I loved feeling the warmth from her face. One day I would get up the courage to kiss her again.

Backing away, I lifted the bow and drew the string and arrow to my ear. “Twenty more and then we’ll run.”

“Might help if you use your night goggles like the rest of us.” Her voice trailed off as she walked away.

Swish. I let the arrow fly and fitted another on the string until my quiver emptied. I jogged to collect the arrows and turned to scan the area for Jema. I grabbed a bag and headed to her. “Commander Butler will be happy.” I held the open sac out to her.

“It’s a big one. It will have to hold him till we’re back.”

“You’d think he’d get tired of these.” I synched the bag closed.

“He loves rabbit.”

We walked to the blacktop, and I set the bow on top of her catch. Bumping her shoulder, I faced into the wind. “You ready for this?”

“You beating me again? Never.”

“No, tomorrow.” I pumped my knees up and down in place a few times.

“Yep.” She started a slow jog beside me.

“Not nervous?”

“Always nervous. I hate that it has to be a different place every time.”

“Yeah, and this is the farthest west we’ve been since our marrow run.” I shook my head, clearing the image of the dead soldiers from my brain.

“I do not like that the rendezvous is half an hour from the border.”

“Butler says they’re tightening security.”

Beside me, Jema’s shoulders trembled. “I feel like General Zhou is waiting for us at Port Orford.”

“Yeah, I can see him sitting at your kitchen table, wondering where you went.” I elbowed her, and she jumped to stay in stride.

“Fine. Whatever. Make fun of my nightmares.”

“At least you don’t dream about punching the commander every night.”

Hitting the one-mile mark, my body slid into the familiar rhythm. I watched Jema out of the corner of my eye. She’d become comfortable with our pace after three months of training. Thinking back to our first days in exile, I chuckled at how I pushed her to run. After our rogue mission, we switched to a night work schedule with the rest of the security and supply teams. Waking at 1600 every evening, we ate supper with the community and started our workday. The acquisitions training included physical conditioning, weapons drills, tactical maneuver and psychological warfare study.

Even though the other supply teams switched out, Cmdr. Butler sent Jema and me on each of the last two monthly restocking runs. The next supply run was scheduled for the next day, and we were, again, on the roster. I think Butler tried to keep us busy, so we didn’t plan any tangent missions. Besides being hungry all the time and the lack of friends, cave life wasn’t too horrible, considering marshal law had been issued in the states. At least they’d upped our food portions after we each lost four pounds the first month. Still, it’d taken another month to get my body to stop signaling the need for food.

At the three-mile point, I swirled my finger in the air, and we looped around to head back to the cavern. In addition to the team training, Jema and I ran just before dawn each morning. Then, we showered, and went to sleep just as the rest of the community members started their workday. Mom didn’t like seeing me for only an hour a day, but I appreciated the space from her. Jema and I roomed with the security team, and we had bunks beside each other. This arrangement counted as another plus in my head. Rooming with your mom at eighteen just wasn’t cool.

Nearing the cave we slowed our pace and walked to cool down. Taking in the last few breaths of open air, I snagged the bag with the rabbit and caught Jema’s hand. She smiled and squeezed my fingers, and I wondered if she wanted to kiss me too. But it might’ve made things weird if I pushed beyond our friendship, so I stayed my course.

Inside we dropped the night’s catch in the kitchen, showered, and joined the rest of the community for breakfast. Then, Cmdr. Butler briefed us in the command room, and we made our way to our darkened dorm.

“You ready, Mark?” One of our supply run leads, Garrison, caught up with me in the washroom.

I stood up straight. “Yes, sir.”

“Better not let that brunette mess with your head. I need you sharp tomorrow.” Chuck, the other team leader, pointed at me.

“Cleo? We’re not together. You know that.”

Chuck shook his head. “Commander wants you guys focused.”

I turned to face him. “We are. We’re just friends. We make a good team.”

“It’s more than just your life out there.” Chuck pushed his finger into my shoulder.

I straightened my spine and leaned towards him. “I know, dude.”

“Hey.” Garrison slapped my arm and turned to face Chuck. “Mark and Cleo are solid. They know what they’re doing.”

“Okay, if you say so.” Chuck swung his towel over his shoulder and walked away.

I held my hand out to Garrison. “Thanks, man.”

He clenched my palm. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been on the past two runs with you.”

I hated people doubting my skills. “Well, keep spreading the word. Mark and Cleo are the real deal.”


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About the Author


Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in sunny Colorado with her family. Her novels include the award nominated contemporary romance series, Being Me, Best Book Award finalist urban fantasy series, The Kingdom Journals, Lovelock Ones, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, and Drops of Sunshine, a YA paranormal novella. Find Tricia and her books at or on your favorite social media.

Website Link

Facebook Link/

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Join Tricia’s newsletter for links to her free ebooks to read more today! Newsletter Link

Goodreads Link

BookBub Link

Smashwords Link

Authorgraph Link

Amazon Author Page Link

Do you want to meet Tricia Copeland? Here’s how! 

Join bestselling authors of contemporary and paranormal YA fiction and more at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia on April 7, 2018 from 10am-4pm. This is a FREE event for readers!

Enjoy an afternoon of books, giveaways, and more as you get the latest releases from your favorite authors and discover new voices!

Want to know more about our venue in beautiful Roanoke, VA? Visit their website to map your route or book a room.

Holiday Inn Tanglewood

**For more information about the event and to stay up to date about authors attending the even, visit the EVENT’S WEBSITE.**


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Review of “Love, Second Time Around: A Summerfield Village Sweet Romance” – Penny Appleton

Can Maggie Stewart find love, second time around?

Maggie Stewart is a retired environmentalist, working to preserve the heritage of her little English cottage in Summerfield village. Her children have grown and she’s content to ride horses in the countryside and enjoy her retirement.

Except she needs money for her renovations – and she’s lonely.

When she joins her old environmental team to go up against an oil company intent on destroying a pristine Scottish river, Maggie finds herself working in opposition to a man she once loved from afar, many years ago.

Idaho ranch owner Greg Warren is rich and entitled, with a dark past that he hides behind a professional smile. But inside, he struggles with loneliness after the loss of his wife and the rage of a wild daughter who won’t let him move on.

Love blooms as Maggie and Greg take a chance on a new start, but can they find a balance between the two worlds they inhabit?

In this sweet romance, set between the English countryside and the wide expanse of the Idaho plains, can Maggie and Greg find love second time around?

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It’s dawn and raining hard on a Thursday in Summerfield, but my garden robin is an optimist. He pours his liquid song from the top of a birch tree, telling the world it’s spring, even as leaves blow wildly across the lawn.

I smile and check that the back door and windows are locked as I walk through my cottage. A faint aroma of toast lingers in the warm kitchen, and my big Aga stove purrs quietly as it adjusts the central heating. 

As I pass the breakfast bar, I touch the photos of my wonderful children hanging on the wall behind. Samantha, grinning at Luke on their wedding day, and Harry, surfing with friends. I pause to look more closely at the lovely one of the three of us laughing together, Mother’s Day two years ago, with glasses of champagne in our hands. Happy days, indeed.

I check the dining area next to the kitchen, the center of so much of our family life. I remember Harry, aged nine, sitting at the old oak table, his legs curled around the chair, busy drawing monsters. I look up at the collection of antique milk jugs on the top shelf above, each a chipped and lovely treasure, discovered in Oxford flea markets with my daughter, Sam.

But there’s no time for memories now. I check my watch again, switch off the light, and go into the sitting room.

Like many old English cottages, the front door opens into this living space opposite the narrow staircase, but I don’t use it much. The back door is nearer to the garage and a much better place for storing coats and boots, muddy from walking the fields in the early mornings.

It’s getting lighter outside and I cross to the window that looks out onto the driveway. It’s still raining, and there’s no sign of the taxi. It’s not late, and there’s plenty of time, but I’m eager to get going. I feel a pitter-patter of nerves and breathe, exhaling deeply. I know it will be okay, but this is the first conference since my retirement last year, and I want it to go well. As much as I love this cottage, it needs a lot of upkeep, so I need the work.

My familiar leather briefcase, raincoat, and overnight bag wait on a chair by the door. There is nothing left to do, so I straighten the cushions again and re-fold the throws on the two soft couches. The logs are stacked in the big, open fireplace and the kindling is laid, all ready for when I get home.

I love this room on wild winter nights, all curled up and cozy in the firelight. My Moroccan rug covers half the floor in a palette of reds and blues against a pattern of gray, polished flagstones. The low oak coffee table has two neat piles of books and the latest Horse Magazine that I’m looking forward to reading when I get back. I’m excited about this trip, but no matter how many times I leave, I always want to return to Square Cottage.

Headlights flash across the wall, and a white taxi turns through the gray dawn into the drive. I open the front door and wheel out my bag, eager to get going.

“Taxi to Oxford Station?”

“Morning, Jim.” I smile as he climbs out of the driver’s seat and touches his cap. He takes my overnight bag. “What’s with the cap-touching formality?”

“Just practicing to be the Summerfield taxi driver of choice, Maggie.”  

“Good job, but you’re the only Summerfield taxi driver.” I chuckle as I turn back to ruffle my fingers through a bowl of rose potpourri by the door. The scent of summer fills the air, and I know it will linger in the cottage until I get back. Grabbing my raincoat and briefcase, I pull the front door shut behind me, duck my head, and hurry through the rain to the taxi.

“Early start?” I brush water droplets off my suit as Jim reverses into the lane. My friend Selena waves from her bedroom window above The Potlatch Inn next door, and I wave back with a smile.

“You’re the first today,” Jim says, “but I had a terrible one yesterday. 3:00 a.m. to central London for the Eurostar.”

I make sympathetic noises and turn to look back at Square Cottage as we drive away. It’s three hundred years old with ashen stone walls and a darker gray roof rising to a central chimney on the top. It looks like a cottage teapot without a handle or a spout.

I fell in love with it when we first looked over the gate–Samantha, Harry and me, a little family in need of a home. The cottage was run down and broken. Patching it up took all my savings, but in rebuilding it, we became even closer, and together, we turned it into our family home. Those were happy years, and now that the children are grown up, I’m content living here on my own.

Most of the time.

Jim peers at the road ahead through the driving rain. “Excuse me for not talking, Maggie. The bends are slippery, and wet leaves are everywhere.”

I nod and relax with the swish-swish of windshield wipers and faint music from the radio. From the back seat, I can just see my reflection in Jim’s rearview mirror. My hair is shoulder length and still my natural corn-blonde color, with a bit of professional help. It’s twisted into a smooth chignon today.

The executive businesswoman, professional but not distracting. Good enough. I comb the soft wisps around my face with my fingers and check to see that I’m wearing both earrings. A lesson learned from the past – hurrying out the door, juggling two kids and a demanding job.

I stare out at the rain-drenched fields passing by. Soon we’re into Oxford and pulling onto the station forecourt, where Jim helps me with my bags.

“Have a good trip, Maggie.”

A chilly wind blows across the station as Jim waves from the driver’s window and pulls out into the early morning traffic. I pull my raincoat tighter around me. There’s just enough time to buy a newspaper and a coffee before the train pulls in on Platform 7.

It’s busy, but I find my reserved seat quickly, take off my coat, and settle into my seat. A shrill whistle echoes along the platform, and the train slides out of the station exactly on time. As we leave the suburbs of Oxford, I drink my coffee and look out at vivid green fields with cows and horses by the edge of the river. There are boats moored under the willow trees, their branches trailing in the current.

Rain slashes diagonally across the windows as the train gets up to speed. I read the news headlines, but I’m distracted. There’s so much riding on this conference.

Just after Reading station, the train slows down.

After a few minutes at this reduced speed, it stops completely.

My heart beats faster, and I keep looking at my watch. The minutes tick by faster as the train finally begins to move again, but creeps along by inches.

I turn to the lady next to me. “Any idea why we’re going so slowly? I didn’t see anything on the train app.”

“Something to do with the flooding. I did this journey earlier in the week, and we went at a snail’s pace. Could be a while.”

I try and stay calm, but I can’t miss that flight.

Finally, we pull into Paddington. The doors unlock and I half-jog across the station, dragging my wheelie bag. I make it to the Heathrow Express to find a line of frustrated people and a Cancelled sign. I don’t wait to see what the problem is, I just turn and puff my way to the station entrance, where black London taxis crawl in and out like ants. I join the funnel of commuters and finally make it to the front of the line.

The price to Heathrow makes me wince, but there’s no alternative. My anxiety rises and rises as the taxi inches out of the city and onto the motorway toward the airport. My calm day has fallen apart. I’m disheveled now, my hair and makeup no longer perfect. The rain and wind and running around have flushed my cheeks, and my hair is flyaway. I do my best to touch it up in the back of the cab.

When we arrive at the airport, I thrust money at the driver and sprint to Check-in, making it just before it closes. Of course, there’s a long security line, and I shift from foot to foot, trying to calm my breathing.

Come on, come on or I’m still going to miss the flight.

Cell phone and laptop out, liquids in their plastic bag. I take off my coat and suit jacket and slip them into the tray. Counting precious seconds, I silently plead with the security guy to ignore my shoes.

“Shoes off,” he says.

“Final call for the remaining passenger on flight BA1434 to Edinburgh. Your flight is ready to depart, and all other passengers are waiting for you.”

I run to the gate, blushing as I dash into the cabin. I’m the last to board, and the attendant closes the door behind me. I’m out of breath, flushed, and flustered.

So much for my careful planning and preparation.

I look down at my ticket. Window seat, 12A. Thank goodness it’s quite near the front, so I don’t have to walk the whole length of the cabin in embarrassment.

A man stands in the aisle, stowing his bag in the overhead locker. I wait to squeeze by and he turns as he closes it.

“Thank you.”

I glance up. The man smiles down at me with dark, intelligent eyes behind stylish, black glasses. He’s tall with close-cropped silver hair and a strong, close-shaven jawline. He wears a charcoal business suit expertly tailored to his athletic frame, and he smells of pine forests after rain.

My eyes widen. I take a breath, but suddenly, there’s not enough air.

Greg Warren.

I freeze, my eyes locked on his face.

“Hello, Maggie,” he says, in the beautiful American voice I haven’t heard in so many years.


Continue the journey in Love, Second Time Around by Penny Appleton. Available on Amazon in ebook, print and Large Print editions.


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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)


Young or old, everyone deserves a chance at love and I am thrilled Penny Appleton focused her love story around two individuals with a few extra years under their belts. These added years also meant they had a bit more baggage than most young, budding romances do such as prior spouses and full-grown kids.

As much as I love rekindled relationships, I somehow didn’t fully embrace this couple. I felt as if Maggie loved the Greg she knew from the past and those memories clouded her judgment of him now. He didn’t show her the appropriate amount of attention she deserved when she flew all the way to Idaho for him. Plus, I couldn’t shake the feeling he really thought a woman’s place was in the kitchen. And, there’s the conversation between Barb and Maggie. Barb’s description of Greg nagged at me through the rest of the story. Barb: “But Greg was hard to live with at times. He can have flashes of temper and lay down the law as if he’s Moses.”

I know Greg and Maggie were not getting any younger but, no matter the age, there’s something to be said about getting to know your potential spouse before you pledge your undying love. Making sure you’re truly compatible.

Now for more positives: Penny described both England and Idaho so beautifully that each sounded like a wonderful place to visit. I also appreciated the bit of history she weaved into the storyline: Wolf Recovery Program, Nez Perce (Native Americans), and Native American Heritage Day (day after Thanksgiving). It’s always nice to learn something new.


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤

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Penny Appleton is the pen name of a mother and daughter team from the south-west of England. We both enjoy traveling and many of the Summerfield sweet romance stories contain aspects of our adventures. We both enjoy walking in nature, and a gin & tonic while watching the sun go down.

Some of our favorite romance authors include Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts, plus we love The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch, as well as Jane Austen and Stephenie Meyer. Our favorite movies include Legends of the Fall, A Room with a View, and The Notebook.

We are good friends … although sometimes we want to strangle each other! Family relationships are at the heart of our books.

You can find all the books and sign up to be notified of new releases at: 
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Author Showcase / Interview / Review – A. A. Medina (Siphon)


  1. Welcome, A. A. Medina! For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business? 

(A. A. Medina) To start with the basics, my full name is Adrian Alexander Medina. I was born and raised and still reside in Phoenix, Arizona with my lovely wife, Samantha, our cats, Ishtar and Monkey, and our puppy, Sansa.

As far back as I could recall, I leaned toward the creative side. Whether it was drawing, music, or writing; however, I never really focused on one. To make a long story short, after my father (somewhat abruptly, i.e. long story) passed away in October of 2012, it was like getting hit by a train while skipping nonchalantly in an open field. Weak analogy, but I hope you get the drift.

After the shock and awe and soul-crushing nature of the loss, I reflected on my life and realized I was kind of just floating along. Sure, I played and wrote in bands, we played lots of shows and released albums, but my heart was never truly “in it”.

I don’t remember my thought process at the time, but I decided I wanted to focus the rest of my life on storytelling. I knew – being a person that easily jumps from one idea to the other without completion – that if I didn’t find a way to light the proverbial fire under my ass, I would let that decision fall through the cracks when the next shiny thing came along. So, I enrolled in school, figuring the hard deadlines and financial burden could be that fire.

Many things about the craft I could have learned on my own, but what the school did teach me was a deadline oriented work ethic and a sense of community and networking. That is where I met my business partner for Aphotic Realm Magazine, Dustin Yoak.

@DustinSchyler (Twitter)

@AphoticRealm (Twitter)


We graduated in March of 2017. Overall, I think my plan worked out.

(Until the debt cripples me)



  1. All writers fear the dreaded “block”. Please tell us how you handle it.

(A. A. Medina) First, I just try to push through it with force.

If that doesn’t work, I go on a walk or bike ride and try to work it out in my head.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll usually keep the document/notebook open next to me while I do something mind-numbing like chores around the house or videogames and if something comes – and idea, scene, piece of dialogue, or otherwise – I’ll jot it down.



  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?

(A. A. Medina) I like to try my hand at everything, but much of my stuff falls into the “Transgressive” genre. Looking back, there are a lot of crime and/or thriller elements to my stories.

When not writing, I’m usually working on Aphotic Realm. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading or playing games with the wife and friends – both video and tabletop. And if I’m not doing that, I’m being an utterly useless sack of garbage on the couch.

(Kam) It sounds like you lead a busy, fun life. Congrats! 



  1. I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

(A. A. Medina) If they didn’t know before, they do now due to social media. Many say it is a fitting path for me, many say they’re proud, but most just reply, “That’s sweet, dude.”



  1. Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

(A. A. Medina) I, as well, have a long list. However, I’ll just keep it to my recent favorites. I tend to consume mostly science fiction, with that said, my two current favorites are John Scalzi and James S.A. Corey (technically three because James S. A. Corey is two people: Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck). I haven’t read anything I haven’t loved by them in the recent years.




  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?

 (A. A. Medina) I love this game!

I’ll choose Siphon since this is why I’m here to begin with.

First, I think Dr. Gary Phillips should be played by Gary Oldman (circa 1998). That man can transform into any character almost flawlessly. I would like to see Wendy Carter played by Sharon Stone (circa 1990). Francis could be played by Rip Torn. And Snowflake could be played by Kate Beckinsale (circa 2003).

Could you tell I’ve never thought about this?

If it were a current production let’s say, respectively, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alison Brie, still Rip Torn, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

(Kam) Siphon definitely left a lasting impression on me. (Review posted below.) 




  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.

 (A. A. Medina) Besides a bunch of things over at, I am outlining what you could call the spiritual successor of Siphon. I don’t want to release the actual title just yet.



Our Approach

First and foremost, we are here for the love of the craft. In addition, there are a lot of young, talented writers that struggle to find a home in a very competitive market. We wanted to provide such a home and from that desire, Aphotic Realm was born.

Our Story

Adrian and Dustin met during their studies at Full Sail University and quickly gravitated towards each other due to their similar tastes in dark fantasy, humor, sci-fi, and more. A short time later, they were critiquing each other’s work and collaborating on projects. After graduation, they decided to combine their talents to form Aphotic Realm.



  1. Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?

(A. A. Medina) You can find Siphon on Amazon and all those other places people find books online. But, if you really want to be a winner, you’ll buy a physical copy from

I don’t have too many stories floating around, but that will change soon.



  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

 (A. A. Medina) You can follow/contact me on Twitter: @UglyByProxy




  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

(A. A. Medina) Check out where we have some upcoming publications and online stories by a plethora of amazing authors! Go to HinderedSoulsPress.Com and pick up everything in stock and if it is not in stock, email them and complain.

I hope everyone who read, or plans to read, my work enjoys it.

Thank you for your time!


~~ Closing remarks ~~

And thank you for joining me here today.

Folks, now for the grand finale….

Let’s check out Siphon, the story that will creep you out (but in a good way). 



Dr. Gary Phillips, the resident hematopathologist at Claybrook Medical Center, is a lonely man struggling with the duress of an all work and no play lifestyle.

Burdened with an unhealthy infatuation with his co-worker, a burning disdain for his boss, and an abusive relationship with his grandfather, Gary just can’t catch a break.

That is, until a workplace accident ushers in a bizarre, but empowering experience that evokes a new sense of self, forcing repressed memories to surface while encouraging him to pursue his fantasies with unconventional methods.


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Excerpt from Chapter Three


I was exhausted. It was about the time I would usually lay my head in my arms and close my eyes to kill a few hours. The centrifuge hummed and I turned off half of the overhead lights. It gave the room a warm, soft, luminescent glow. Instead, I hustled.

When handling sensitive material—blood in glass tubes and crucial information about the livelihood of people I’d never meet—I knew I had to work slow, careful, with grace, without shaky hands, with a keen eye and a sharp mind. So, there I am, excessive fatigue and under the influence of downers. And jittery from the uppers.

Amid retrieving multiple vacutainers from the refrigerator, I dropped one. It shattered, and chilled blood oozed onto the dirty linoleum floor.

Cursing through my clinched jaw, I squeezed the bridge of my nose and accessed the damage. I slid the other two vacutainers I was holding into my lab coat pocket and reached for the paper towels. Quilted. I knelt to clean it up, but then something happened.

I leered at the human oil crawl toward me. In that moment, my mind was empty. Not a loss-for-words empty or nodding-off empty. But, empty. No worries, no feelings, no opinions, no identity. No longer was I tired, but I was not awake either.

A comfortable void.

Nothing mattered. Not I or anyone else. I wasn’t sure how long I must’ve been on my knees as I gazed at the pool of vital, room-temperature fluid. My mind was a dark abyss, my body was a barren cavity. I’ve heard of out-of-body experiences before, but I’d never experienced one myself. I, or – for lack of a better word – my soul, watched as my body was taken hostage by another being. A stronger being. A godly being. And then it pulled me back in with it.

The stillness was broken and the vacuum was filled as I jolted back into my body, yet I was still unable to move. My eyes forced to fixate on the blood that had started to congeal. At first, the voice was just a whisper. It was confident, omnipresent, and not after long did it feel like a loudspeaker was installed inside my skull. A mantra, it repeated:


                                        There is an urge inside you…

                                                   … which cannot be satisfied…

                                                                  … with conventional methods.


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(review request submitted by the publisher for an honest critique)


Whether you label Dr. Gary Phillips a psychopath or sociopath, everyone who reads Siphon will agree Gary is a total whack job. There were a few scenes, so vividly written, I actually felt the urge to vomit. Example: Consumption of blood is gross enough but swallowing vaginal blood and getting aroused by it simply made me want to hurl. Other sections involving blood, gore, and violence were also very descriptive and thus showed the true depth of Gary’s warped mind. 

Despite the grotesque content, I have to commend A. A. Medina on creating a story that came alive on the pages even as characters were falling prey to Gary’s delusional mind. 


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤


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Horror Anthology Showcase: Hardened Hearts: Unnerving Magazine

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.
Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless. 

Foreword by James Newman

“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon

“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer

“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun

“The Recluse” by John Boden

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous

“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady

“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L.Knight

“Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam

“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani

“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean

“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams

“Brothers” by Leo X.Robertson

“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell

“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson

“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison


Excerpt from “Heirloom” by Theresa Braun


Rachel took her seat. As she glimpsed the antique mirror, the glass appeared to tremble. It wasn’t the first time her mind had played tricks on her under duress, so she dismissed it.

She tapped the pencil on her lips. “By now, you know how this works.” Earlier in her career, she would have started with something simple like whether or not he easily found her office, or maybe how long he had lived in Ft. Lauderdale. That only wasted the appointment. The goal was to expedite wellness. “What brings you in?”

He crossed his arms. “Got to be here, else I won’t see my kids.”

Rachel sat stiffly upright, hands folded. “Okay, so tell me more about that. Why is it mandated?”

His face relaxed and his eyes softened. Her directness disarmed him. “Maybe I have mommy issues.”

Rachel’s eyes widened. “It appears more serious from the documents I have here.” She tapped the pad and folder in her lap.

“It’s complicated.” He twisted the old-looking silver ring on his pinky, his eyes narrowing.

The fact that he possessed the air of a mafia boss planning his next hit amused her. The way he kept playing with the ring made her think that either he had a form of OCD or it was an extension of his presented manliness.

The mirror jangled on the office wall, putting it off kilter.

“Did you see that?” She leapt up to prevent her family heirloom from crashing to the floor.

Her client might have continued speaking, but Rachel didn’t hear it. The room was like a wind tunnel. She slowly put one foot in front of the other until she faced the mirror. Her reflection stood in a charcoal gray pantsuit, her straight chestnut-colored bob curled up at her sharp jaw. An unseen hand pulled her through the mirror. Her vision blurred—everything was funhouse trickery, colors and shapes morphing, until the world crisped and focused once again.  

She stumbled onto the dirt, now in sandals, kicking up grit between her toes, and looked down to see her usually pale skin was bronze. Thick, wavy brown hair cascaded over her shoulders.

She blinked. Her bosom was more ample and her hands lacked the pink polish she always stared at while on the phone back in her office. Supple suede covered her body. Silver armbands coiled around each bicep.

Sweat pearled all over her.

The day was sunny. A market bustled to her right, and an open plain lay silent to her left. Thatched roof buildings dotted the horizon. A wicker basket dangled on her arm. A horse-drawn wagon heaped with fruits and vegetables hurtled past her, the gravel stirred by the hooves and wheels disappearing in the distance.

Only a few steps away, a burly man emerged through a dust cloud. He wore a dark and tattered robe. His skin was tan, or grimy, and so were the rest of his features, his eyes shadowed by his protruding brow.

Weathered hands with dirt-encrusted nails swiftly gripped her by the arms and forced her over his shoulder. She dropped the basket and screamed. He scurried to the covered wagon rolling closer and threw her inside. Her legs brushed something hard suspended at his waist.

Then everything was like scraps of memory…


Excerpt from “Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam


She spends twenty minutes stuffing a bra for a chest that will never grow. Not unless she can convince her parents to invest her college savings into hormone therapy or two mounds of silicone.

She peers out her window at the suburban neighborhood lined with maple trees and street lamps illuminating the May evening.

He’ll be here any minute, her best friend Andrew.

He agreed to be her date for the spring dance.

As Samantha. Not as what the kids at school call her—Sam. Not as the name her parents gave her the day that she was born with a body that never quite felt right.

Samantha. Not Sam. Not ever again.

She gazes into the mirror, adjusting her neon blue wig. Her hands tremble as she stares back at her carefully-shaven face and lips painted aqua. She tries not to think of the stares she’ll receive. She tries to think of slow dancing with Andrew, her head buried in his chest, taking in the smell of his cologne.


He’s a little late. Not by much. The dance doesn’t start until 7:30. Andrew will be here. That’s what matters. Yesterday, he held her hand in the backseat of the school bus.


She pulls at the hem of her little black dress—practices walking back and forth across her room in heels. Straight and tall. She likes how the heels make her calves look.

Samantha hears the growl of an engine. Peering out her bedroom window, she sees Andrew in his father’s Camaro. Her flesh shivers and little bumps rise on her arms. She checks her makeup one last time before leaving her bedroom.

She lingers at the top of the stairs as she waits for Andrew to ring the doorbell. Her mother glances up at Samantha, a daughter that her mother never knew she had. She smiles thinly then pretends to tidy up the foyer.

Samantha spies wetness in her mother’s eyes. Her dad didn’t even bother sticking around. He said that he didn’t want to see his faggot son dress up like a slut. He said that he’d be drinking at the bar with this golf buddies and that Sam had better be in bed by the time he got home.

The doorbell rings, and Samantha’s stomach clenches. She grips the railing. Her mother opens the door and Andrew walks in wearing a charcoal sports jacket over an electric blue shirt. Tall and lean, a runner’s body. His chocolate brown hair cut short. Samantha’s hand on the railing becomes wet with perspiration.

He raises his eyes to meet hers, waving a bouquet of flowers in her direction, a spring mix, and flashes that half smile of his. The smile that made Samantha’s knees shake the first time she saw him at musical try-outs.

Samantha descends one step at a time, her gaze transfixes on Andrew. When she reaches the bottom, he presents the bouquet to her. She presses her face into the daffodils, peonies, and baby’s breath and inhales the fragrance…


James Newman

James Newman is the author of the novels Midnight Rain, The Wicked, Animosity, and Ugly as Sin, the collection People are Strange, and the critically-acclaimed novella Odd Man Out. Up next are the novels Dog Day o’ Summer and Scapegoat (co-written with Mark Allan Gunnells and Adam Howe, respectively). @newmanjam


Somer Canon

Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo. When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother. @SomerM


Calvin Demmer

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His work has appeared in Broadswords and Blasters, Empyreome Magazine, Mad Scientist Journal, Ravenwood Quarterly, Switchblade, and others. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at


Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her stories appear in The Horror Zine, Schlock! Webzine, and Sirens Call, among others; upcoming stories will be published in Bards and Sages and Strange Behaviors. Twitter  / website


John Boden

John Boden lives in the wilds of central Pa, with his wife and sons. A baker by day, he writes unique fiction in whatever time is left. His work has received kind words of praise from some.


Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is the author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, her debut fiction collection from JournalStone, as well as the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Shimmer, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Interzone, LampLight, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among others. You can find her online at


Eddie Generous

Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. In early 2018, Hellbound Books is publishing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always, and also in 2018 he is teaming up with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller to release Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath, a collection of short stories. @GenerousEd


Tom Deady

Tom Deady’s novel, Haven, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and he released his second novel, Eternal Darkness and a novella, Weekend Getaway, in 2017. Tom also has a Young Adult series he is seeking agent representation for. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel. @DeadyTom


J.L. Knight

J.L. Knight lives in Kentucky and works at an antiquarian bookstore that is probably haunted.


Scott Hallam

Scott Paul Hallam is a short story author living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has been published in Cease, Cows and Night to Dawn magazine. He earned his Master’s in English Literature from Duquesne University and first fell in love with the written word when his dad would read him stories by Edgar Allan Poe as a kid. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottHallam1313.


Madhvi Ramani

Madhvi Ramani grew up in London. She writes short fiction, articles, essays, children’s books, and drama. Her work has been published by the BBC, Asia Literary Review, Stand Magazine and others. She currently lives a thoroughly bohemian lifestyle in Berlin. Find out more or follow her on Twitter @madhviramani.


Robert Dean

Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it” by Shotgun Logic.

His essays have been featured in Jackson Free Press, Victoria Advocate, and The Austin American Statesman. He’s also been on NPR.

Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas.

Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean.


Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is an author, editor, cat lady and coffee enthusiast. Her fiction has previously appeared in Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica edited by Cecilia Tan, Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes, a collection of zombie poetry edited by A.P. Fuchs, and most recently in A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld and Comic Publisher Gary Reed edited by Lori Perkins. You can find her on Twitter at @JenWilliams13.


Leo X. Robertson

Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has work most recently published by Helios Quarterly, Unnerving Magazine, Expanded Horizons and Open Pen, among others. His novella, The Grimhaven Disaster, was released by Unnerving earlier this year. Find him on Twitter @Leoxwrite or check out his website:  

Laura Blackwell

Laura Blackwell’s speculative fiction appears in the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows anthology, Hardened Hearts, and Strange California, among others. She is Shimmer’s copy editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @pronouncedlahra


Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Erin Al-Mehairi is the author of Breathe. Breathe., a collection of dark fiction featuring short stories and poetry, also published by Unnerving. She is a marketing and public relations professional, journalist, and editor of over 20 years and lives in rural Ohio. You can hear her #marketingmorsels segment on The Mando Method podcast on Project Entertainment Network, and besides on all the other social media outlets, you can find her on her blog at


Sarah L. Johnson

Sarah L. Johnson lives in Calgary where she’s mastered the art of the writerly side hustle, working in a bookstore, teaching creative writing, and freelance editing. Her short story collection Suicide Stitch (EMP Publishing) was published in 2015 and her debut novel Infractus will be released in April 2018 by Coffin Hop Press. @leadlinedalias


Meg Elison

Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. She has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Catapult, and many other places. Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. @megelison



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Review of “Deadlines & Dryads”- Rebecca Chastain

USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Chastain returns to the beloved world of the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles for a brand-new spellbinding adventure of elemental magic and courageous gargoyles. If you love action-packed stories filled with mythical creatures, brave heroines, and adorable sidekicks, you’ll love Deadlines & Dryads.

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Terra Haven Chronicles

0.5 Deadlines & Dryads
“Once in a Lifetime Question” (VIP newsletter only)
1. Leads & Lynxes (forthcoming)


Getting the scoop might cost Kylie and her gargoyle companion their lives…

Dryads are a reclusive, passive species—or they used to be. Overnight, the peaceful woodland creatures have turned violent, attacking travelers with crude weapons and whipping the trees of their grove into a ferocious frenzy.

When rumors of the dryads’ bizarre behavior reaches journalist Kylie Grayson, she pounces on the story, determined to unearth the reason behind the dryads’ hostile transformation. Accompanied by Quinn, her young gargoyle friend, Kylie plunges into the heart of the malevolent grove. But nothing she’s learned prepares her for the terrifying conflict she uncovers…

**This prequel does NOT end on a cliffhanger**



**Excerpt ONE**


I hadn’t made it halfway down the block when I spotted my rumor scout barreling down on me. The snarl of elemental energy whipped through the air, tight bands of air and fire woven through thinner strands of earth, water, and wood, all of it holding precious information. I glanced back over my shoulder and picked up my pace. Nathan tracked my retreat, and the senior journalist’s eyes narrowed when he caught sight of my elemental creation. Damn it.

Half jogging, I met the rumor scout at the end of the block. Shaped from my magic, it honed in on me with a precision that had taken years to perfect. I shoved my hair out of the way as the bundle of magic coiled over my right ear, forming a soundproof seal against my scalp. Immediately, a stranger’s voice spoke into my ear, the words having been collected and recorded by the scout.

“. . . dryad chased me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve taken Wicker Road hundreds of times, and I’ve seen my share of dryads, but not like this.” The man’s deep voice held the accent of a Southern merchant, and he sounded out of breath. He didn’t pause to give whoever he was talking to a chance to speak, either. “The dryads looked . . . they looked . . . predatory.”

Predatory? Dryads were peaceful creatures. They lived in harmony with the trees to which their lives were bonded, and their personalities were the equivalent of an oak given mobility. They nurtured the forest and they lived quiet, hidden lives. I couldn’t even picture what a predatory dryad would look like; it was like trying to picture a hostile tree—one that had apparently chased this man.

My journalistic instincts perked up.

I had been hearing rumors about increased restlessness in the local Emerald Crown Grove dryads since the tail end of winter, which was why I’d tailored a rumor scout to seek out and record any conversations in which the word dryad was mentioned. I’d also read up on dryads at the city library, learning that their abnormal agitation could be due to an impending violent storm or a possible encroachment of a new road or predator into their grove. I’d held off pitching the story to Dahlia because I had my own, third theory that involved the timing of the dryads’ restlessness, but I’d been waiting for it to pan out.

I hadn’t even considered that the dryad story might be worthy of today’s challenge, but this new development held promise. Maybe I wouldn’t need to go to the fish market after all.

“Don’t do it,” the anxious voice continued. “You don’t want to chance—”

Claws of air magic ripped the rumor scout from my ear, tearing out a hunk of my hair.


I spun around. Nathan clutched my rumor scout in a thick lasso of air and held it suspended in front of him, studying it with avid curiosity.

Double damn.


**Excerpt TWO** 


It had been a few years since I had traveled this road, and I’d forgotten how quickly the city disappeared. Dense woods and the rolling hills blocked out Terra Haven’s skyline after the first two turns in the road. I wanted to run, but since I didn’t know how far we had to go, I settled on a brisk walk I could sustain for hours. Quinn half trotted at my side, moving with the liquid grace of a big cat, his rock paws making less noise than my boots. The midmorning sun slanted through the trees, heating the packed dirt beneath my feet and warming my scalp. A silent wind stirred the branches of the tall oaks on either side of the road, but not even a whisper of moving air reached ground level, and I fanned the front of my shirt to cool myself.

We’d been walking twenty minutes before I realized an unnatural silence cloaked the forest beneath the susurrus of the wind through the oak canopies. No birds sang, no crickets chirped, no small creatures stirred the underbrush or rustled through the dead leaves of the forest floor. I slowed, quieting my footsteps and straining to listen for the missing noises.

“What is it?” Quinn asked.

“It’s too quiet. I received a rumor scout before we met up, and the voice in it said he’d been chased from the grove, but there’s nothing—”

A pair of coyotes burst from the bushes ahead of us, lips snarled to reveal white canines, ears flat against their skulls. I froze for half a heartbeat, then hunkered next to Quinn’s side, drawing a hasty ward of air around us. The coyotes barely registered our presence, veering wide to gallop around us down the opposite side of the road toward Terra Haven. Quinn didn’t have time to do more than arch his wings before they raced out of sight around the bend in the road.

“Since when do coyotes use roads?” Quinn asked.

I rubbed my thumb against my tingling fingertips. “Come on; let’s find out what’s got them spoo—”

A huge buck crashed down the hill to our right, his slender legs springing over smaller bushes. His antlers caught in a low-hanging branch, and he ripped free with a snort, not slowing until he stumbled onto the road. A trio of does bounded after him, their sweat-slicked sides heaving. None gave us a second glance as they raced after the coyotes.

I spun to peer in the direction they’d come from, my curiosity pounding in time with my racing heart. When nothing else emerged, I cautiously dropped my ward.

“I don’t think that’s a normal wind,” Quinn said, studying the foliage twisting above us.

This early in spring, the leaves were bright green and not yet fully developed, but they were large enough to catch air currents and tug the branches. Only, no pattern connected the shifting limbs of one tree and the next, almost as if—

“I don’t think that’s the wind at all,” I whispered. The trees moved, but they did so of their own volition.




(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

If you haven’t read anything by Rebecca Chastain yet, then you are missing out on one highly creative author. Her fantasy tales have unique characters, battle scenes and plots that set her apart from other paranormal authors.

In Deadlines & Dryads, Rebecca stepped outside the paranormal norm and weaved together a storyline I haven’t read about before. She introduced to us dryads; a nymph inhabiting a forest or a tree, especially an oak tree. The dryads are in a frenzy because a sick spriggan is in their midst. That’s terrible news for a dryad because a hungry spriggan will eradicate anything in its path.  To a dryad, that means they are its dinner. 

To solve the issue of the spriggan, Kylie and Grant go in search of Landewednack dragon’s breath; an uncommon weapon used against a rare, extraordinary opponent. The battle against the spriggan wasn’t your typical knife, sword, guns blazing type of scenario. Their larger than life adversary used vines, roots, and pollen mist to keep them at bay. 

The fight to save the dryads, the Emerald Crown Grove, is surely one you haven’t seen played out often (or ever).

Another scene you might’ve never read/watched before…… How about someone using magic to clean out the feces and bones from a harpy’s nest?



Like I stated above, Rebecca doesn’t write normal, boring stories. What she creates is memorable books that keep you coming back for more.

**FYI — What’s a sick spriggan look like? Think of a hulked out Groot (Marvel)**


Happy Reading!! 


Heart Rating System 

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤ 1/2




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Other novels set in Terra Haven: Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles

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Authors: Get Inspired with February’s Sensational Selections!

I absolutely adore Photographer: Braden Summers images. He captures, beautifully, the love these couples have for one another. Here are a few of my favorite pictures. To view more, click on his name above. Thank you! 🏳️‍🌈








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Author Showcase – CJ Matthew (Survival Reboot: The Paladin Group, Book 2)

Survival is still her #1 mission

Sara Gallagher escaped the memories of a painfully shy childhood and her hopeless crush on the boy next door by joining the USAF where Senior Airman Gallagher excelled as a SERE- Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape instructor. But when a training accident leaves Sara scarred and deaf in one ear, she returns home to join the Paladin Group.

Chris Braxton was Peachwood’s golden boy, a rookie major league pitcher, until a drunk driver shattered his shoulder and his dreams. Now entrepreneur Chris’ upscale sporting goods company is negotiating a nationwide expansion. Enroute to a crucial meeting, he overhears the details of a planned felony. When Chris and his family are threatened, he turns to the Paladin Group.


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Chapter 1


“Stay quiet,” Sara Gallagher whispered across the bedroom to her wide-eyed young client. “Slide under the bed.” In the dim light, she watched the teen roll silently off the far side of the mattress and disappear from sight. Good girl. There was another faint sound outside. Sara crept to the edge of the French door. Drawing her weapon, she pressed her back to the wall. And waited. By climbing onto the condo’s second-story balcony, the stalker was trespassing. Let’s go for B&E. Sara angled her head to the left, straining to hear. The wood casing of the lock creaked. Bingo. Gripping her weapon with both hands, Sara kept the barrel pointed to the ceiling. Heart thundering, she inhaled slow, controlled breaths as the frame cracked, glass shattered. What remained of the door slowly swung open. A booted foot crunched in the glass on the bedroom floor. There we have it—breaking and entering. Sara adjusted her stance. From neck to toes, the intruder was encased in black leather. A black knitted ski mask concealed his head. In one gloved hand, he gripped a metal rod.

Shit. The stalker came armed. Sara curled a finger over the trigger of her Browning. The rest of the intruder’s burly profile eased into the room. “Drop the weapon. Hands up,” Sara shouted. Pivoting, she aimed for his chest. “Drop it now. I will shoot.” The stalker spun around. And took a wild swing with the large crowbar. Sara leapt back. The instant the metal rod cleared her, she yelled, “Stop.” “Bitch…” He growled. “I’ll…” He loomed over her. Gripping the crowbar with both hands, he reared back for another swing. Sara aimed and fired. The 9mm slug tore through the black leather and into the stalker’s shoulder. He let out a wailing scream and dropped the crowbar. It clattered to the hardwood as he staggered back. Grabbing for his bleeding shoulder, the intruder tripped over his own feet. Landed hard on his butt. “Down flat,” Sara snarled. Her fear drained. She was damned angry. Much as the jerk deserved it, she hated shooting anyone. “On your back.” She kicked the crowbar across the floor. “Do it. Or the next bullet goes down your throat.” Eyeing his uninjured legs, she kept a safe distance from his boots. With a mighty groan, the stalker eased back until he was prone. “Police,” a deep voice shouted from the front area of the condo. “Back bedroom,” Sara answered. “I’m armed. Stalker is down and wounded. Needs an EMT.” She raised both her hands. As two uniformed police appeared, she remained frozen in place. Bad idea to be armed and in motion when law enforcement arrived on scene.  

“Stay put,” the taller policeman instructed. Then to his partner, “Secure her weapon. And that crowbar.” He radioed for medics. Then he turned to Sara. “What happened here?” “I’m Sara Gallagher, the PI who reported the break-in,” Sara explained, surrendering her Browning. “I’m working with Detective Morgan…” “The detective’s right behind us.” “Excellent. My client is not armed. Ms. Stewart is under the bed.” On cue, the teen peeked over the edge of the duvet. Scrambling to her feet, she took one look at the stalker, the blood, and burst into hysterical tears. “It’s okay,” Sara reassured the sobbing college student. “It’s all over.” The room filled with new arrivals. Another uniformed officer entered from the hall, followed by two EMTs. Her client cried harder. And louder. Sara stepped back to give the paramedics more space, then breathed a silent sigh when the Denver detective assigned to Ms. Stewart’s case appeared. After a quick scan of the room, he met her gaze. “Sergeant Gallagher. You okay?” Shit. The police officer sealing her weapon in an evidence bag and one of the medics looked up at the mention of her former military rank. “I’m fine, Detective. But Miss Stewart—” “This is the guy?” Morgan asked. “Your stalker?” “Yes, I’m certain,” she said with a curt nod. “He climbed to the balcony. Pried open the French door. When he stepped inside, I ordered him to stop. He took a swing at me with the crowbar. After another warning, he kept coming. I had to shoot him.” “Good work, Gallagher.” The detective moved closer to question one of the paramedics working on the stalker. “You’re transporting him?” “Yeah. He’s stable. Going to Denver Hospital Main Campus.” Glancing up, Morgan finally became aware of the distraught teen. “Want a paramedic to look at Miss Stewart?” “Good idea,” Sara said. “Thanks.” The handsome medic managed to quiet the hysterical young woman. But when he suggested Sara’s client go the ER, she intervened. Moving around the bed, she held Lori gently by the elbows and pierced the young woman with a steely look. “Tell the truth,” she whispered. “Are you physically hurt anywhere?” Lori Stewart hiccupped. “No.” “You’ve been very strong, did everything right tonight. Are you positive you need to go to the hospital?” “Maybe not.” Lori shook her head. “That’s a brave woman.” Sara handed her a tissue. “Now blow your nose.” Her spoiled young client had grown up quite a bit over the past week. “Can I talk to Daddy?” “Absolutely. We’ll call now. You can tell him it’s all over. And I’ll tell him what a fantastic job you did.” Sara retrieved her phone and handed it to Lori. “Remember— we still need to go to the station with Detective Morgan, give our statements. He’ll be the one to tell us when you’ll be allowed to go home.”

Lori spoke to her father as the room began to clear. Detective Morgan was on a call of his own when Lori looked up. “Ms. Gallagher? Daddy wants to thank you. And…can we drop you back in Atlanta? The Lear will be here in a couple hours.” Lori handed over the phone. “Well done, Sara,” Mr. Stewart said, his deep voice booming through the cell. Her client’s hard-boiled executive parent was obviously relieved and pleased with the outcome. “I’ll wait to read your version in the final report. Meanwhile, thank you. As if saving my daughter’s life wasn’t enough, it seems you’ve managed to crack that layer of selfish disdain she learned from her aunt.” Sara gave a silent nod. “Lori’s a smart, capable young woman.” The personal danger had helped bring out the young woman’s naturally cooperative nature. “Your example was the best thing for her. I’ll have my people handle the condo and your rental car. May I offer you a lift to Atlanta?” “I’d appreciate a ride home. Can I confirm after I check in with Paladin Group?” “Just call from the police station when you two are finished. I’ll arrange for a car to pick you up there. The corporate jet will be waiting at Denver airport.” “Thank you, sir.” As she disconnected the call, Sara glanced up. Lori had her duffel open on the bed and was tossing clothes into it. “Ms. Gallagher…Sara, could I have a minute?” Detective Morgan asked.

She gave him a nod, and he turned to Lori. “When you’re ready to go, we’ll be in the next room.” He led the way into the second bedroom. Now what? Crossing her arms, Sara faced the detective. He leaned his hip against the dresser. “You were right all along about the stalker.” “Am I going to have trouble with the shooting?” “I’ll have someone from the prosecutor’s office sit in on tonight’s interview. But from where I stand, it looks clear cut.” “Mr. Stewart offered me a lift home on his corporate jet. Will I be free to go?” “Umm, yes. What’s the rush?” He frowned. “I was hoping we could…have dinner tomorrow night?” Sara tried to ignore the familiar tension in her stomach. Why was this handsome man interested in her? Why did he want to take her out? She turned and pulled her suitcase from the closet. As she transferred carefully folded sweaters to her bag, he straightened and stepped closer. Couldn’t they keep things professional? “You’re an amazing woman. I want to get to know you better,” Morgan said.


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Still risking their lives…The Paladin Group.

Ginger Odom has sworn to become self-reliant…Until she is arrested in a small town and framed for the murder of a police officer. Seems everyone in the community wants her behind bars, regardless of the truth, so her aunt enlists the help of the Paladin Group. A team of wounded former military men and women, now civilian lawyers and investigators, they rescue people in serious trouble.

Hale Peters is determined to ignore his knee injury…The former Air Force Pararescueman, wounded during a rocket attack on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, accepts his first reboot for Paladin. His mission—keep Ginger safe until he can prove her innocence—becomes a bigger challenge than expected when he and Ginger clash over who’s in charge.

The Devil Dogs just want to help…The group of older veterans steps up to assist, but when Ginger’s life is threatened by the real killer, Hale and Ginger need to work together if they hope to stay alive.


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CJ MATTHEW grew up in an Air Force family living all over the US and around the world. It proved to be the perfect experience for gathering ideas and material for future books. And for meeting real life heroes and heroines in uniforms and flight-suits. She spent her high school and university years in California, which inspired her love of marine life, and the Pacific Ocean.

As a young girl, she loved books and reading. Arriving at each new duty station, the Colonel’s eldest daughter’s first priority was to locate the base library and befriend the librarians.

As an adult, CJ divided her time between the joys of raising a son and a daughter and a career in medical sales, marketing, and medical practice management. Then in 2007, CJ began her romance novel writing career. Fascinated with vampires and shapeshifters, her first stories form a unique dolphin shapeshifter series based in Santa Barbara, California. According to CJ, a huge attraction to writing paranormal romance is the ability to do serious world-building and to set your own rules. CJ spent the next several years honing her craft, acquiring a literary agent, and continuing to write while the agent pitched the dolphins to NY publishers.

In spring of 2015, CJ gave up on New York. From August to October she self-published the first three of the Dolphin Shore Shifter series. In 2016 she released two additional dolphin books and debuted her romantic suspense series: Paladin Group. The Paladin books are set in a small southern town, and star wounded air force veterans, men and women warriors turned civilian lawyers and investigators determined to continue their rescue work.

In October of 2016, CJ is introducing A Major Seduction, book 1 of the Colonel’s Daughters contemporary romance quintet.

A member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Georgia Romance Writers (GRW), and Kiss of Death, CJ lives and writes near a lake in the woods northeast of Atlanta. When she isn’t writing or reading romances, CJ spends time with her two grown children, their spouses, a brilliant grandson and a feisty cat named Max.

Schedule permitting, CJ loves to travel, to discover new favorite places as well as meeting new reader/friends in both the US and around the world. Her books have sold in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK.

Max flatly refuses to travel.

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Author Showcase – Jill Shalvis (About That Kiss: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel)

When love drives you crazy…

When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylieshoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.

the best thing to do…

No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.

…is enjoy the ride.

As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.


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**Excerpt courtesy of Jill Shalvis’ Website**


Chapter 1

Kylie Masters watched him walk into her shop like he owned it while simultaneously pretending not to notice him. A tricky balancing act that she’d gotten good at. Problem was, like it or not, her attention was caught and captured by the six foot, leanly muscled, scowling guy now standing directly in front of her, hands shoved in his pockets, body language clearly set to Frustrated Male.

She sighed, gave up the ridiculous pretense of being engrossed by her phone, and looked up. She was supposed to smile and ask how she could help him. That’s what they all did when it was their turn to work the front counter at Reclaimed Woods. They were to show potential clients their custom- made goods when what they really wanted was to be in the back workshop making their own individual projects. Kylie’s specialty was dining room sets, which meant she wore a thick apron and goggles to protect herself and was perpetually covered in sawdust.

And she did mean covered in sawdust. Wood flakes dusted her hair and stuck to her exposed arms, and if she’d been wearing any makeup today, they’d have been stuck to her face as well. In short, she was not looking how she wanted to be looking while fac- ing this man again. Not even close. “Joe,” she said in careful greeting.

He gave her a single head nod. Okay, so he wasn’t going to talk first. Fine. She’d be the grown- up today. “What can I do for you?” she asked, fairly certain he wasn’t here to shop for furni- ture. He wasn’t exactly the domesticated type.

Joe ran a hand through his hair so that the military short, dark, silky strands stood straight up. He wore a black T- shirt stretched over broad shoulders, loose over tight abs, untucked over cargos that emphasized his mile- long legs. He was built like the soldier he’d been not too long ago, as if keeping fit was his job— which, given what he did for a living, it absolutely was. He shoved his mirrored sunglasses to the top of his head, revealing ice blue eyes that could be hard as stone when working, but she knew that they could also soften when he was amused, aroused, or having fun. He was none of those three things at the moment.

“I need a birthday present for Molly,” he said. Molly was his sister, and from what Kylie knew of the Malone family, they were close. Everyone knew this and adored the both of them. Kylie herself adored Molly.

She did not adore Joe. “Okay,” she said. “What do you want to get for her?”

“She made me a list.” Joe pulled the list written in Molly’s neat scrawl from one of his many cargo pants pockets.

Bday wishlist: — Puppies. (Yes, plural!) — Shoes. I lurve shoes. Must be as hot as

Elle’s. — $$$ — Concert tickets to Beyoncé. — A release from the crushing inevitability of

death. — The gorgeous wooden inlay mirror made by


“It’s not her birthday for several weeks,” Joe said as Kylie read the list. “But she told me the mirror’s hanging behind the counter, and I didn’t want it to be sold before I could buy it.” His sharp blue eyes searched the wall behind her. “That one,” he said, pointing to an intricately wood- lined mirror that Kylie had indeed made. “She says she fell in love with it. Not all that surprising since your work’s amazing.”

Kylie did her best to keep this from making her glow with pleasure. She and Joe had known each other casually for the year that they’d both been working in this building. Until two nights ago, they’d never done anything but annoy each other. So that he thought of her as amazing was news to her. “I didn’t know you were even aware of my work.”

Instead of answering, his eyes narrowed at the price tag hanging off the mirror, and he let out a low whistle.

“I don’t get to set the prices here,” she said, irritating herself with her defensive tone. She had no idea why she let him drive her so crazy with little to no effort on his part, but she did her best to not examine the reasons for this.

Ever. Joe had been special ops and still had most of his skills, skills he used on his job at an investigation and securities firm upstairs, where he was, for the lack of a better term, a professional finder and fixer. He was a calm and impenetrable badass on the job, and a calm, impenetrable smartass off it. On the worst of days, he made her feel like a seesaw. On the best of days, he made her feel things she liked to shove deep, deep down, because going there with him would be like jumping out of a plane— thrilling, exciting . . . and then certain dismemberment and death.

While she was thinking about this and other things she shouldn’t be thinking, Joe was eyeball- ing the opened box of chocolates on the counter, which a client had brought in earlier. A little card said Help Yourself! and his gaze locked in on the last Bordeaux— her favorite. She’d been saving it asa reward if she made it all day without wanting to strangle anyone.

Mission failed. “It’ll go right to your hips,” she warned.

He met her eyes, his own amused. “You worried about my body, Kylie?”

She used the excuse to look him over. Not exactly a hardship. He was lean, solid muscle. Rumors were that he’d done some MMA fighting right after his service and she believed it. He was perfect and they both knew it. “I didn’t want to mention it,” she said, “but I think you’re starting to get a spare tire.”

“Is that right?” He cocked his head, eyes amused. “A spare tire, huh? Anything else?”

“Welllllll…maybe a little junk in the trunk.” He out- and- out grinned at that, the cocky bastard. “Then maybe we should share the chocolate,” he said and offered the Bordeaux to her, bringing it up to her lips.

Against her better judgment, she took a bite, re- sisting the urge to also sink her teeth into his fingers. With a soft laugh that told her he’d read her mind, he popped the other half into his own mouth and then licked some melted chocolate off his thumb with a suctioning sound that went straight to her nipples, which was super annoying. It was February and blis- tery outside but suddenly she was warm. Very warm. “So,” he said when he’d swallowed. “The mir- ror. I’ll take it.” Reaching into yet another mystery pocket, he pulled out a credit card. “Wrap it up.”

“You can’t have it.”

At this, he studied her with a hint of surprise, like maybe he’d never been told no before in his life.

And hell, looking like he did, he probably hadn’t been.

“Okay,” he said. “I get it. It’s because I never called, right?”

She pushed his hand— and the credit card in it— away. But not before she felt the heat and the easy strength of him, both of which only further annoyed her. “Wrong,” she said. “Not everything’s about you, Joe.”

“True. This is clearly about us,” he said. “And that kiss.”

Oh hell no. He didn’t just bring it up like that, like it was some throwaway event. She pointed to the door. “Get out.”

He just smiled. And didn’t get out. Dammit. She’d grounded herself from thinking about that kiss. That one drunken, very stupid kiss that haunted her dreams and way too many waking moments as well. But it all flooded back to her now, releasing a bunch of stupid endorphins and every- thing. She inhaled a deep breath, locked her knees and her heart, and mentally tossed away the key. “What kiss?”

He gave her a get real look. “Oh, that kiss.” She shrugged nonchalantly as she reached for her water bottle. “I barely remember it.”

“Funny,” he said in a voice of pure sin. “Cuz it rocked my world.”

She choked on her water, coughing and sputtering.

“The mirror’s still not for sale,” she finally managed to wheeze out, wiping her mouth.

I rocked his world? His warm, amused gaze met hers, going smoky and dangerously charismatic. “I could change your mind.”

“On the mirror or the kiss?” she asked before she could stop herself.

“Either. Both.” She had no doubt. “The mirror’s already sold,” she said. “The new owner’s coming for it today.”

The buyer just happened to be Spence Baldwin, who owned the building in which they stood. The Pacific Pier Building, to be exact, one of the oldest in the Cow Hollow District of San Francisco. Since the building housed an eclectic mix of businesses on the first and second floors, and residential apartments on the third and fourth floors, all built around a cobble- stone courtyard with a fountain that had been there back in the days when there’d still been actual cows in Cow Hollow, the entire place went a lot like the song— everyone knew everyone’s name.

In any case, Spence had bought the mirror for his girlfriend, Colbie, not that Kylie was going to tell Joe that. For one thing, Spence and Joe were good friends and Spence might let Joe have the mirror.

And though she didn’t know why, Kylie didn’t want Joe to have it. Okay, so she did know why. Things came easy to Joe. Good looking, exciting job…hell, life came easy to him.

“I’ll commission a new one,” Joe said, still looking unconcerned. “You can make another just like it, right?”

Yes, and normally a commissioned piece would be a thrill. Kylie wasn’t all that established yet and could certainly use the work. But instead of being excited, she felt . . . unsettled. Because if she agreed to the job, there’d be ongoing contact. Conversations. And here was the thing— she didn’t trust him. No, that wasn’t right. She didn’t trust herself with him. I rocked his world? Because he’d sent hers spinning and the truth was, it’d take no effort at all to once again end up glued to him at the lips. “I’m sorry, but maybe you can get Molly…” she eyed the list again ” …puppies.”

And speaking of puppies, just then from the back room came a high- pitched bark. Vinnie was up from his nap. Next came the pitter- patter of paws scram- bling. At the doorway between the shop and the showroom, he skidded to a stop and lifted a paw, poking at the empty air in front of his face.

Not too long ago, her undersized rescue pup had run face- first into a glass door. So now he went through this pantomime routine at every doorway he came to. And she did mean every doorway. Poor Vinnie had PTSD, and she was his emotional support human.

When Vinnie was thoroughly satisfied that there was no hidden glass to run into, he was off and gal- loping again, a dark brown blur skidding around the corner of the counter like a cat on linoleum. He was half French bulldog and half Muppet, and no one hadever told him that he was under a foot tall and twelve pounds soaking wet. He actually thought he was the big man on campus, and he smiled the whole way as he ran straight for Kylie, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, drool dribbling in his wake.

Heart melting, Kylie started to bend to reach for him, but he flew right by her.

Joe had squatted low, hands held out for the dog, who never so much glanced over at Kylie as he took a flying leap into Joe’s waiting arms. Arms that she knew were warm and strong and gave great hugs, dammit.

Man and pup straightened, rubbing faces together for a moment while Kylie did her best not to melt. Like most French bulldogs’, Vinnie’s expression of- ten read glum. She called it his RBF— resting bitch face. But he was actually the opposite of glum, and the mischievous, comical, amiable light in his eyes revealed that.

“Hey little man,” Joe murmured, flashing that killer smile of his at her pup, who was valiantly at- tempting to lick his face off. Joe laughed and the sound caused an answering tug from deep inside Kylie, which was maddening.

She had no idea what was up with her hormones lately, but luckily they weren’t in charge. Her brain was. And her brain wasn’t interested in Joe, excel- lent kisser or not. See, she had a long history with his kind— fast, wild, fun, and . . . dangerous. Not her own personal history, but her mother’s, and she refused to be the apple who fell too close to the tree.

“I’ll pay extra,” Joe said, still loving up on Vinnie to the dog’s utter delight. “To commission a new mirror.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” she said. “I’ve got jobs in front of you, jobs I have to finish on a schedule. A mirror I haven’t yet even started isn’t for sale.”

“Everything’s for sale,” Joe said. And how well she knew it. Shaking her head, she reached beneath the front counter, pulled a miniature tennis ball from her bag, and waved it in front of Vinnie, who began to try to swim through the air to get to the ball.

“Cheater,” Joe chastened mildly, but obligingly set Vinnie down. The dog immediately snorted in excitement and raced to Kylie, quickly going through his entire repertoire of tricks without pause, sitting, offering a paw to shake, lying down, rolling over . . .

“Cute,” Joe said. “Does he fetch?” “Of course.” But truthfully, fetch wasn’t Vinnie’s strong suit. Grunting, farting, or snoring— these were his strong suits. He also often went off the rails with no warning, zooming around a room in a frantic sprint until he started panting and then passed out. But he did not fetch, not that she’d admit it. “Vinnie, fetch,” she said hopefully and tossed the ball a few feet away.

The dog gave a bark of sheer joy and gamely took off, his short bowlegs churning up the distance. But as always, stopping was a problem and he overshot the ball. Overcorrecting to make the sharp turn, he careened right into a wall. He made a strong recovery though and went back for the ball.

Not that he returned it to Kylie. Nope. With the mini– tennis ball barely fitting in his mouth, Vinnie padded quickly into the back, presumably bringing his new treasure to his crate.

“Yeah, he’s great at fetch,” Joe said with a straight face.

“We’re still working on it,” she said just as a man came out from the back, joining them at the counter. Gib was her boss, her friend, and her very long- time crush— though he knew only about the first two since dating her boss had never seemed like a smart idea— not that he’d ever asked her out or anything. He owned Reclaimed Woods and Kylie owed a lot to him. He’d hired her on here when she’d decided to follow in her grandpa’s footsteps and become a woodworker. Gib gave her a chance to make a name for herself. He was a good guy and everything she’d ever wanted in a man— kind, patient, sweet.

In other words, Joe’s polar opposite. “Problem?” Gib asked. “Just trying to make a purchase,” Joe said, nod- ding to the mirror.

Gib looked at Kylie. “Told you it was remarkable.” It was pretty rare for Gib to hand out a compliment, and she felt her chest warm with surprise and pleasure. “Thanks.”

He nodded and squeezed her hand in his, momentarily rendering her incapacitated because…he was touching her. He never touched her. “But the mirror’s not available,” he said to Joe.

“Yeah,” Joe said, although his gaze didn’t leave Kylie’s. “I’m getting that.”

Suddenly there was an odd and unfamiliar beat of tension in the air, one Kylie wasn’t equipped to trans- late. Because her parents were teens when she was born, she’d been primarily raised by her grandpa. She’d learned unusual skills for a little girl, like how to operate a planer and joiner without losing any fingers, and how to place bets at the horse races. She’d also grown up into a quiet introvert, an old soul. She didn’t open up easily and as a result, not once in her entire life had two guys been interested in her at the same time. In fact, for long stretches of time, there’d been zero guys interested.

So to have that bone- melting kiss with Joe still messing with her head and now Gib suddenly show- ing interest after…well, years, she felt like a panicked teenager. A sweaty, panicked teenager. She jabbed a finger toward the back. “I’ve, um…gotta get to work,” she said and bailed like she was twelve years old instead of twenty- eight.


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Review of “Dream Accomplished: A Story of Cancer, A Mother’s Love & Taylor Swift” – Elizabeth Gross

(Note from the author, Elizabeth Gross) 

Taylor Swift is not affiliated with the book, Dream Accomplished: A Story of Cancer, A Mother’s Love & Taylor Swift
 We are simply a family wanting to say “Thank You”.
For information about Taylor Swift, please visit her website at
For Links to more of the good that Taylor Swift does for so many, please click HERE.​​ 


**All proceeds are donated to various charities. For the complete list, visit the Dream Accomplished website**


Hello, my name is Elizabeth Gross, author of Dream Accomplished.  In 2012 I was diagnosed with a rare cancer.  It changed my life.  This book chronicles my journey and is my way of saying “Thank You”, ​to my daughter’s hero, singer, Taylor Swift.  Paying forward the kindness shown our family, we donate all profits to fund cancer and invisible illness research and support causes.  I’d never written a book before, and didn’t know I was going to write this one, but in hopes my illness journey could be of help to others, ‘Dream Accomplished: A Story of Cancer, A Mother’s Love & Taylor Swift’ just poured from my heart, filling the pages with inspiration, resources, hope, humor, tips, tears & Taylor.  Thank you in advance for reading & sharing about ‘Dream Accomplished’.
​I sincerely hope it is a help to you or someone you love.   ​-Elizabeth Gross 

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Dream Accomplished has won the globally recognized Silver Mom’s Choice Award For Excellence in family-friendly media, products & services. Please Click Here to learn more.

‘Dream Accomplished’ has won Gold in the Memoir category at Readers’ Favorite.  Please Click Here to learn more.

PictureNew Apple E-Book Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing
General Non-Fiction 2015
 Please Click Wording Above To Learn More.



Dream Accomplished has won the 5 Stars Award from Readers Favorite.
Please Click Here To Learn More.​

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 


Cancer is a big, scary, ugly word. It creates havoc in your body. It affects your life, job, daily routine, and your family. It can break you down. If you can find a reason to fight, then FIGHT like Elizabeth Gross did. This is your body. Your life. If you give up hope, you’re not the only one affected. 

Elizabeth wrote a captivating story about the struggles a person faces when diagnosed with CANCER. Cost, procedures, conflicting diagnoses, specialists, and sometimes-unsympathetic hospital staff are just a few obstacles Elizabeth and her family faced. The frustrations, fears, confusion, and pain would break most people. Depression is not unheard of. However, despite all the uncertainties she faced, Elizabeth and her husband (Marc) had a little girl who needed them….needed a smile. 

I don’t know Taylor Swift personally. I know what I see and read about online or through magazines. What I learned through Dream Accomplished is that Taylor is kind, has a generous heart and made a lasting memory for a sweet young girl (Page) and her family. In the darkest of times, she gave them all a reason to smile. 

So even though the Gross family’s medical journey is far from over, when they need something happy to focus on, they can remember the time Taylor Swift made a little girl’s dream come true. 

Stay positive and never lose hope! 


Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

Kindle Purchase Link (US)

Print Purchase Link (US)

Kindle Purchase Link (UK)

Print Purchase Link (UK)


**All proceeds to donated to various charities. For the complete list, visit the Dream Accomplished website**



Elizabeth Gross is a Wife, Mother, Cancer Battler, Invisible Illness Spoonie, Wildlife Gardener, Guest Blogger, Good News Sharer, Chocoholic, Dream Accomplisher & SwiftieMom.  She’s proud to now be able to also add  ‘Award-Winning Author’ to this list (Yay!!)  Most days you’ll find her singing along to Taylor Swift songs as she types away on her laptop or gardens with her husband, Marc, and their daughter, Page, on their Hudson, Ohio ‘Little Lot’.  
This is her first book. 
For more information please visit with her at


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