Call for submissions! Members of the military and law enforcement, we need your amazing stories. You get to learn, see, and do remarkable things, and us civilians would love to read your wisdom and experiences. Submit a 250-300 word paragraph illustrating an important moment, piece of wisdom you learned during training, or a memorable experience you've had in training or on the field. What kept you going when times got tough? What made you keep those boots on the ground? We'd love to hear it!
Please send your stories to email@example.com by March 1, 2017. I'll make them available in a blog mid-march and have my readers vote for their favorite. The top five will receive a free copy of Insurrection, and the grand prize winner will also receive a free copy of Incomplete.
Please try to keep the language clean! And let me know if you have any questions. I cannot wait to hear your stories. Keep 'em coming! And thank you so much for all you do.
Oh, a big moment arrived last night, readers, and I want to share in a megahappy dance right now. Let's just take one break....nah, let's listen in!! Saylor's adventure unfolds now on audiobook!!! Get your copy from Amazon.
The greater part is that you can start a 30-day free trial with Audible and download it for free right now. So GO, click click click and listen to this fantastic narrator reading with brilliant inflection, a bouncy tone, and furrowing into the enjoyable camaraderie of friends on the adventure of their lives.
Download here from Amazon.
Check out the Insurrection page.
And remember that Incomplete is on its way, so pre-order your copy right now! You won't want to miss a moment, I guarantee!
My family and I went roller skating last weekend. I hadn’t used real roller skates since middle school. So after more than fifteen years of standing on my feet, the wheels beneath me shuddered. And then they flew.
As I rolled around the rink, oh soooo wobbly at first (or, well, the entire two hours) by the end I was able to take a hearty look around me at the crowd and muster an exhilarated sigh. I’ve missed skating. Skating is not entirely cardiovascular, as my iWatch didn’t notice I’d spent two hours wheeling around a flat floor and instead noted eight whole minutes of activity. Womp womp. But skating is a task of wonder and thrill. It made me pause and observe, and note just how much life is like a skating rink.
Skating is a challenging activity.
Balance. Wobbling. Fear. Chaos! Total fun. Cramping shins. Let’s accent that last one. Within five minutes on the floor I had to take a break because my shins burned like a thousand fires of Armageddon. And I do sprints regularly! All around me on that floor, kids, teens, and adults alike ate dirt, toppling and tumbling to the ground.
My daughter is learning to skate and she’s frustrated. It’s a mix of balance, freedom, carefreeness, and knowing how to hold your center in just the right way. And then swinging those arms crazy as the balance shifts around the corner. Ah!
There’s no one single “this is how you skate” tutorial. Skating feels different for everyone. Some people catch on quick, some need this magical contraption the rink owners rent out, of something like a walker on wheels, to give the littles something to hold while rolling. To skate is to know the feel of your foot along the sole of the shoe; to skate is to fly free and yet hold just so. Each skater will learn in a different manner, in a different timing, in a different location, after a different amount of falling.
Get back up. Find your poise. Compose your grace.
People fall down.
Simply observing when I had to sit and rest, and even amid the crowd on the floor, there was one constant in the rink: People fell down. There was never a single person not on the ground. At any given time, more than one person lay sprawled on the wax. Skating is a game of falling down. And learning how to navigate around those who do.
Several times, children sprinted before me, wrapped around the pillars, and splattered along the floor. I had to navigate the open waters, like a minnow in a shark pool. The fallers couldn’t always help it. They are learning. They are discovering. They are stumbling over things on the floor.
The falling is embarrassing. The falling hurts. The falling causes a domino effect.
Their actions affect everyone around them. The skater who wishes to remain vertical must look ahead, look around, and be prepared to stumble. When another skater falls down, everyone has two options: either help the other one up or skate around them. It’s easy to be angered by the faller downer. It’s easy to gripe and cast angry glances, but often these lead to the falling down of one’s own self.
Instead of wasting time and energy being frustrated at those who fall, know they are part of the game. Know that the person stumbling is dealing with the floor. The floor isn’t so friendly. But you can be. So since you’re still on your feet, be kind and move along your merry way.
You have to observe the big picture.
The more people fill the floor, the harder it is to navigate the perils of the rink. Little kids bob around, wobbling, tossing their fists every which way, while teens dart and dash and topple like marbles on a slip-n-slide. You have to keep your eyes up, watch for the open path, and navigate even those last-minute adaptations and pivots to the plan. Be ready for change. Because you’re rounding the corner, friend, so expect someone to shoot in front of you.
The more I kept my vision above the horizon, beyond my own feet, the more I could easily maneuver the scene. Getting caught up in wheels and feet and legs is easy. Seeing that it’s only four other bodies in a large room puts it in perspective. There’s more to the story than the skates in your way.
People sit on the sidelines.
You either skate or you sit on the sidelines. You can laugh all you want at the people skating -- their balance, their wobbling, their stumbling, their sporadic waving of the arms -- but at least they’re on the floor. At least they are attempting to do the Y-M-C-A while rolling around the rink. Who cares if they look like a monkey on a frozen pond? Applaud the skaters, cheer them on, for they’re operating vividly and fully engaged. What’s life on the sidelines but a hard bench and a noisy crowd? The floor is much more open and inviting, my friends.
Don’t be hatin’, just keep skatin’.
I noticed as the time wore on that the floor grew emptier. Exhaustion, sweat, sore muscles, and celebrating birthdays drew out the engaged from the spent. It’s crucial to know when you’ve met your limits. It's also crucial to enjoy cake. But also, know that limits are invisible. And cake makes you tired. If you want to skate, then skate on my friend. The best ending to a day in the rink is time on the rink. Shake until the last song. Don’t snicker at the weary, don’t slight the onlooker, but roll on, roll on. Dance with the music and slide along the floor. Time and again I had to remind my daughter -- just have fun with it. The more fun you have, the better you do. And that’s life, friends. It’s all just skating anyway. Might as well spend the time rolling. Don’t be hatin’, just keep skatin’.
To my friend who is struggling with the slick floor, skate on. To my wobbly wheeler, steady. I won’t hold your hand because we’ll both fall down, but I’m here in the rink with you. Getting on the floor is the hard part, but stopping is even harder. It’s more fun on the floor. Come on in. I hear it’s almost time for limbo.
Power within her. War without.
Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must clench the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and independence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
The second book of the Insurrection trilogy will be available on February 28, 2017! You can reserve your copy NOW on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! Stay tuned for updates. Plus, save the date for Feb 28 and be sure to rsvp on Facebook in the Release Party. There will be freebies, fun, and a celebration of the fabulous. Please join me for an hour of excitement as Saylor's story unfolds.
See more HERE on the Incomplete page on my website. Feel free to share with your friends and anyone who needs a good adventure. And thanks for reading, friends!
Head on over to B.A. Morris' blog Six Pack On A Sunday. He's kicking off a fun blog tour with other authors called 20 Questions, and he perused my site and book and had some questions. We talked music, writing ideas, and superheroes. You'll like his site. He's a new author with Clean Reads and writes sports and fiction, which don't always happen to coincide. Keep an eye out for this upcoming author and enjoy our 20 Questions!
Insurrection has been chosen to participate in Author Shout's Cover Wars this week! And I seriously need YOUR help! It takes less than a minute. Click HERE, scroll down to the bottom and select the dot next to "Insurrection by Kadee Carder" and then you'll see the result. Vote once a day. Then once you've voted, share with a friend! And be sure to tag me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram once you've voted.
IF I WIN
I'll give away a free copy of Insurrection to one voter who posts about it and tags me on one of those social media outlets. Thanks so much for your continued support and excitement. Let's do this, guys! High five! <3
Here's the link again, in case you missed it: http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/
-----Missed Chapter One? Read HERE-----
Shuffling through the paperwork and stacks of unopened mail, Ellie sniffed back the mixture of dust mites meeting loss. She bit back angry words and shameful complaining, noting the two store employees working in silence by the counter of the workshop. Her grandfather’s toy store seemed hardly the place for diatribes or whining, and Ellie knew their spirits already hampered with the funeral earlier that week. She’d assured them their jobs would be safe and asked that they continue their work filling orders and running the store until all the paperwork finalized.
The chair squeaked under her slight weight, the chair itself an antique mess of wood chips and chiseled paint particles. Her grandfather had kept his office in the workshop on the back-end of the store front, “So I can stay closer to my little friends,” he’d say. The toys, of course, were his obsession and great endeavor. He’d crafted wooden sculptures, knickknacks, collectibles, furniture, and toys since he became apprenticed as a twelve-year old, and loved the sport ever since day one. Toy-making served as a delight for him, a channel for the creating of puzzles and magical mystery for children to entangle themselves. He’d loved the whimsy of it all. He’d loved the simplicity of it all. But he was gone on to other adventures, leaving Ellie as sole proprietor of a shop where she’d spent many a summer of her own behind the industrious counters watching and learning.
“September first and those crazies are already playing Christmas songs!” Darcy moaned in the background.
“You’d think they would wait until the other holidays are over. Or at least Halloween,” Declan squinted up at her through his thick, black-rimmed glasses. “Let me wear a scarf or two before we rush into the death grip of winter.”
“Wow. Death grip?”
“Why do you think Christmas happens so early in the winter? If it happened in February when it’s actually cold in Texas, nobody would be around to celebrate. By February, everyone is tired.”
“Valentine’s Day is in February, Declan. The holiday of looove.”
“Because they all want to leave for the equator by that point. The greeting card companies needed a holiday to keep everyone at home.”
“You are so dramatic.”
“Realism, honey. I’m planning a revolution.” Declan shoved his glasses up his nose and focused closer on the wooden block in his palms.
“For what? Scarf-wearers anonymous?”
“For the storm-weary travelers! For the hard-working, bare-knuckled grunts who make this country move!”
“You need to drink less coffee, Dec. Watch where you point that knife.”
Ellie looked up from the stack of bills in her hands. “Guys, what’s this?”
Declan and Darcy glanced over at her from their stools.
“Yes, ma’am?” Darcy asked.
“This notice from the county tax board?”
“Was it in the pile of opened or unopened?”
“Well, let me look, there.” Darcy wiped her palms together, scraping off curlicues and wood crumbs. In rising, she towered above Declan’s wiry frame, whisking new scents of coconut sugar butter in the air with her swishing blue capris.
"This one,” Ellie continued. “About a late tax payment?"
"I'm not sure," Darcy said. "Elwood took care of all the paperwork. I work the front register. I can tell you exactly how many dollars are in the till right now but I have no idea about the office work. Elwood always did all of that."
"Well I guess I just need to sort through everything," Ellie muttered, trying to offer a smile toward the two assistants. She flipped her wrist over to check where the misguided numbers sat accusing her of being late to the office. "This might be a late evening for me."
"Want me to close up shop?" Darcy leaned over the counter hours later, studying the blond head bobbing behind three innocuous, haphazard piles now coating the desk. "Declan clocked out. I've got the door locked. Fridays, Elwood liked to count out, but I can do it."
Ellie blinked up at Darcy, scrunching her eyes in the dim light. She twisted her head and rubbed the back of her neck with one hand.
“That would be great. If you can count down tonight, I’ll work with you next week on getting that figured out. I think I need to get caught up on these piles before anything else.”
“Makes plenty of sense to me, girl. You just let me know if you need help with those stacks.”
“Well. I did have one question. Or a thousand.” Ellie unwrapped her legs from the chair, solidifying her numb feet on the floor before standing up. She flipped through a thinner stack on the edge of the desk for a pink sheet of paper. “There’s this renewal notice for the business license. And enclosed in it was a brochure for the mall development across the street.”
“Psh.” Darcy spat out the distaste before thinking. “He’s been pushing for that development for two years.”
Darcy giggled. “Mr. Something-or-other Jones. He’s a big-city big-shot who wants to buy up all the real estate. He thinks the town has a lot of ‘charm’ but could use some sprucing up.”
Ellie’s lips curled up at Darcy’s description. “He could be right, Darcy.” She stifled her own giggle.
“Oh no.” Darcy shook her head, like a cat shaking away a fly. “He wants every empty building downtown. Plus the full ones. He’s funding the mall expansion and has wanted to buy this lot since he arrived into town. Wants to knock down the shop and put in a parking lot.”
“He even dared to tell Elwood he’d give him a prime location for his shop on the mall’s third story.”
“The mall doesn’t have a third story.”
“Did he think Grandfather would fall for that?”
“He certainly did. Elwood chased him out with that plastic pistol he keeps in that drawer next to ya.”
Ellie’s shoulders shook at the mental picture, and she slapped a gritty hand over her mouth to keep from spitting out the hearty chuckle. “Now that’s Grandfather.”
“Jones came back with a packet of letters saying he’d give a spot on the first floor by the food court. I don’t know if Elwood were considering or not.”
“Never said anything to you?”
“Nope.” Ellie admitted. Without a word, she admitted she hadn’t even spoken to the man since her birthday in February. Her eyes blinked to pull away the guilt and stuff it onto another pile to sort through later on. “I guess that answers that question.”
“I’ll go finish the registers.”
“Thanks, Darcy. I’ll owe you.”
“Just keep paying my check, lady. That’s all I ask!”
Ellie caught the jab and threw it back with a grin. “As long as those registers line up, you’re set. I might even let you take over if you sweet talk me enough.”
Darcy left after a hefty hug and two last offers to buy pizza. Ellie had declined, saying she had a salad in her purse, but the truth was she had half a squashed protein bar and a packet of balsamic vinaigrette in the side pocket, next to a coupon for one dollar off a salad at Hall’s Quick Stop. Her stomach hadn’t rumbled all day, but instead filled with a thick, hollow resolution to sort through the mess and straighten it up. If it took all night, she’d clean up the tedium left by her grandfather and make it her own. It was, after all, her own, whether she wanted it or not.
Around 1:48 am, and Ellie knew the time because she had checked her watch, she heard a rattling click from the front windows. What sounded like metal tapping against glass caught Ellie’s quick attention.
Ellie jumped in her spot, shaken and rattling herself. She ducked down behind the desk. Clattering against the worn tiles in the storefront, glass shards broke open to the elements and to the base of Ellie’s spine. Her mind a blending concoction of exhaustion, expense reports, unpaid bills, and sudden powerlessness, she flew toward the nearest door, stumbling over her purse on the way. The cement floor became an unwelcome guest banging against her knees.
Voices whispered from the storefront. Clenching her quivering jaw, Ellie held in a terrified yell, all while terribly frustrated at the leather straps of her purse. Blasted cross-body purses. A single beam of yellow light flitted through the door to the storeroom and then disappeared back into the storefront. Ellie yanked the strap off her bare foot. That door still sat shut only four feet away, and Ellie hurled herself into it, whirling the handle in her palm and sliding it shut without a sound. The storage room.
Complete darkness surrounded Ellie. She knew boxes in stacks piled high of — everything — filled the room. Years of unsold inventory, extra parts, spare tools, old tools, receipts, taxes, who-knows and whats-its, all crammed into that blank sauna of a storage room.
Feeling through the cobwebs, shuddering and flinging her hands away from her body, Ellie shoved the nearest stack in front of the door. She gripped her bare feet against the cement in order to wrangle the demanding boxes from their spot. Sweat even began to build up as she willed her bodyweight against the — four? five? boxes — away from their comfort zones. Surely they will think the door is busted and move on, if they try to get in here, Ellie thought.
Wiping her palms against each other, Ellie considered the options. She slung the leather purse strap over her head into its familiar slot against her neck, and dug into the contents. Her fingers slid around the smooth purple wallet, the slick, shiny tube of retired lip gloss, and the prickly pink hairbrush. As she rifled and rooted for her phone, that startled brain of hers began to untangle from its coiled state of petrification. It seemed to cough, and then sneeze. Your phone’s on the desk.
My phone’s on the desk.
Ellie closed her eyes against the void, wrinkling her nose like she did when something ridiculous obstructed her path. She wrinkled her nose at flat tires, at delayed mail, and expired coupons. And Ellie wrinkled her nose at the phone on the desk. It couldn’t see her, but it felt her exasperation and shrugged with a sheepish smile.
Fine! Ellie again wiped her palms together, curling her cold toes against the cement. I’ll stay here and wait for the robbers to come kill me. Or I’ll move another stack of boxes in front of the door.
The darkness bit its lip.
Ellie slid one foot toward her left, against the cool concrete and the dust covering it, and then waved her hand to feel for cardboard. Another step, sliding, and a waving of the hands, and smack, she found more boxes. Wiggling through the gritty dust beneath her toes, she glided to the other side, wedged against the other boxes, and coerced the stack into moving. Slithering between the stacks, she inched the bundle, as tall as her frame and three times as wide, behind the first barricade stack.
After quite a bit of huffing and heaving and silent groaning, Ellie’s mind began to quell. Nobody can get through the two stacks. Oxygen bumbled around her throat and cleared out of her chest, leaving room for chaos. Her eyes had still not adjusted to the lack of light, and the enormity of murky space began to whirl before her eyes.
Her brain began to click, filling the silence. This is the only door, right? Ellie scrunched her nose, pursing her lips.
I think – I don’t know. Maybe I can find another way out. Or a place to sit.
Ellie’s eyes began to tingle in the shrill silence, and, blinking, she let her palms lead the way.
Here's a new little writing project I've been working on. Hope you enjoy Ellie's adventures in this new holiday novella, "The Christmas Room.
Perhaps the greatest fault of clutter is its insistence upon collecting dust. Ellie swept the shelf-full of knickknacks, toys, dolls, colorful stacking boxes, and mangy-haired dolls into a dingy cardboard box she’d brought from the office, while holding in a sneeze. These items would be packed up and stored in the garage. These items do not sell a house. Clean-cut lines, shiny place settings, crisp drapes and flooring, and fresh paint would sell a house, and Ellie knew it. Her job at Grand Market Real Estate was to make sure their listings booked it off the market. Toys did not sell homes; toys did not bring in buyers. Ellie brought in buyers.
“Pam, I’m going to need a new chair for this room,” Ellie called to the brunette in the next room, setting down the box in the corner next to the door. She wiped her hands against each other, feeling the nit and grit grinding upon her palms. “And a tube of cleaning wipes.”
“Make that two chairs,” Pam replied, holding up her list, “Because I hear the rules of feng shui have updated to include even numbers.”
“I think you’re wrong about that.” Ellie’s smile lit up a laugh in her jingling voice. “How about you look up ‘revised ancient rules of organization from Japanese culture,’ on the interwebs and see what you find.”
“Tsk!” Pam chided. “I saw it in an article yesterday.”
“On what blog?”
“It was in the Current.”
“You know the Current is not current.”
“Well then you tell me this room doesn’t need a matching chair.”
“Fine,” Ellie gave in. “In the name of matching’s sake.”
“And my obsessive compulsion.”
Pam’s white linen pants swished as she emerged from the second bedroom, her brown leather purse bumping against her leg. “I’m assessing the bathrooms next. You want the Master or the third bedroom?”
“The bedroom.” Ellie leaned over the marble slab counter, gazing at the sketch before her. The white-blonde side French braid swept over her shoulder, its curled edges tickling her cheek. “My kitchen is about ready.”
Ellie’s phone buzzed just as Pam’s curly hair bobbed around her nodding confirmation, and Ellie flipped over the black device as it went to voicemail. Ellie sighed, letting the breath whisk out of her mouth as a round, “O,” as if to complain, “Oh, why is he calling now?”
“Hey, Kiddo, it’s Dad. Wanted to check in with you to see if everything is alright with you. Look, hon, I hate to call early in the morning; I know you’re at work. I’d rather talk to you in person. Your mom’s dad isn’t doing so well. When we went to visit him last night, the—well, hon—the doctor doesn’t think he has much longer. Please call me back when you get a chance. I hope you’re having a good time with those houses. We’re both proud of you. Um. Hope you can call soon, hon. Talk to you then.”
Back at the office, Ellie plucked at the various keys on her laptop keyboard, setting up the inventory request forms like usual. Her desk towered with massive piles of folders, papers, wallpaper sample books, paint chip samples, three to-go cups of coffee, a large open-lidded box of pens, and one solar-paneled bobbling Hawaiian doll dancing an endless hula. Aunt Kay sent one every holiday and Ellie kept the latest on her desk, the others filling the kitchen windowsill. She allowed herself one cluttered space at home, because the dancing figurines reminded her of the sun’s warmth, even when she couldn’t see past the clouds. But just the one. Her office was another story. The room needed all the sunshine it could get, as the dreary October days seemed to settle layer by layer over the small town, one gray sheet of clouds at a time, until the light and warmth squelched out under everyone’s plastic rain boots.
“Ellie, have you seen the order from Sherlin’s Paint?” Greg stuck his head around the corner in the hall.
“Nope. No deliveries from Sherlin’s yet this week.”
“Keep an eye out.”
Because her desk sat in the front room of their converted house/real estate office, Ellie often shared the receptionist’s tasks. Ellie knew she stood a mere step above Marla on the ladder, because she’d started off doing the exact same thing, and had only worked into her new position after bartering personal office space for a pay raise. Greg gave few handouts, unless a prospective client needed a pen, and even then he’d add a supply fee in the final round of paperwork. But Greg knew good when he saw it, and Ellie exuded results. He even provided the desk for her.
“Ellie, you’ve got a call on line two,” Marla stated, pressing a button on the body of the phone and replacing the receiver. “Said it’s Walt.”
“Okay,” Ellie murmured, closing her eyes. Dad never called. And absolutely never twice in one day. Heaving in a breath, she prepared for news. Grabbing her handset, she fixed a smile on her lips. The listener can hear it, after all. “Hey, Dad.”
“Sorry I hadn’t called back yet. It’s been so crazy today.”
“I’m sure. I didn’t want to bug you, either, but I needed to get hold of you.”
“That’s why I’m calling, Ellie. He’s not doing well. He wants to see you, asked specifically for you.”
“I’ll try to get up there after I get off work this afternoon.”
“Dad.” Ellie lowered her voice, glancing over at Marla, and then buried her face against her shoulder. “I am on a tight deadline right now. The office needs me and I cannot spare a moment before we close.”
“Ellie, I’m afraid you’re going to regret waiting. Life doesn’t wait for your work schedule.”
“It has to today. I’m sorry.”
Walt held his breath, absorbing the news, before clearing his throat. “Good, then. I’ll tell your mom you’ll be here as soon as you possibly can. We appreciate it. See you soon, hon.” He tapped the ‘end’ button, finalizing the phone call, just as the heart monitor inside the room behind him flat-lined. A stout, searing wail of an alert rang from the bedside device and several nurses rushed in.
Walt grimaced, his forehead furrowing, and he took the few steps to stand in the doorway. Meryl sat next to her father, holding his hand, her eyes fixed on his blank stare facing the ceiling. Meryl’s head lowered and Walt strode over to her, placing his warm, weathered hands on her shoulders. His hands squeezed, offering whatever hope or peace they could, knowing the lives of his family would change forever. If only he knew how much.
**** Stay tuned for Chapter 2! ****
Feel free to share with a friend who needs a happy holiday story. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, friends.
This time of year we love to watch those Hallmark movies and snuggle up with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa or coffee.
Here are delightful, cozy stories from some of your favorite Clean Reads authors to fill those hours with enjoyable literature.
The Starlight Inn
by Lucie Ulrich
On her way to celebrate her birthday and Christmas with her family, Ella Dixon finds herself trapped in the middle of a blizzard. She seeks refuge at The Starlight Inn. Though the inn is full, an elderly guest offers to share her room. Accepting the kind offer, Ella soon realizes Tillie Spencer isn’t your average “little old lady.” She knows things nobody else does, and appears to come and go on a whim.
Nick Wallace runs the inn along with sister, Fran. The attraction Nick feels for Ella is instantaneous and unexpected, but with the miles that separate them, and both busy with their careers, Nick doubts much will come of their Christmas Eve meeting. Tillie, on the other hand, holds a much different view.
Though Tillie won’t admit to being an angel, Nick and Ella think otherwise. How else can they explain the twists and turns that began at The Starlight Inn.
Purchase on Amazon for $.99:
A Christmas Coffee
by Laura Marshall
Villa Bellisimo along with Master Chef Antonia Coronada invite you to Sicily where you will be immersed in the art and passion of Italian culinary delights.
Sarah Cooper is still trying to find her place in the world after her husband died two years ago on Christmas Day. When her parents give her an early holiday gift, it may be just the opportunity she needs.
Parker Matrone is the founder and CEO of the billion dollar company, Coffee Grounds. There's something about Sarah he can't resist, but he's been burned before and is now raising his two young sons alone.
Will they decide loving again is worth the risk? And what of the antique Christmas quilt beneath which Sarah dreams of Christmas' past, present, and future? Come explore Italy in this Christian Christmas romance where dreams do come true and life begins anew.
Purchase on Amazon for $.99:
by Christina Lorenzen
Stranded by a snowstorm, Carrie Sanders is left holding a bag an old woman she’d been talking to left behind in the airport coffee shop. Mystified by the woman’s disappearance, she sits on the bench staring at the snow globe that was in the bag.
Inside the glittery snowy world it’s Christmas during the 1940s. Fighting sleep, the next thing she knows she’s in the arms of the soldier she last saw skating on the pond in the snow globe. He’s no stranger, but the boy next door who never forgot her.
Purchase on Amazon for $.99:
Love Before Honor
by Nicole Zoltak
To avenge his love's death, Sir Gerald challenges her murderer to a duel. Her twin, however, feels that Alice never loved the knight and gives him a tea that sends him to into the future, to the Regency era.
Lady Vanessa seeks a Christmas treat when she hears something outside the manor. Upon investigation, she sees a man dressed in armor. Unwilling to turn away a confused man with the approaching holiday, she convinces her parents to house Gerald until the new year.
Scandal has forced her parents to accept William as their daughter's best chance at marriage. Although rich, he does not understand her or her love of books, whereas Gerald listens to her, confides in her and she him. With the approaching holiday, nothing is certain - not whether Gerald can discover a way back to his duel, whether he can move on from Alice, and not whether this Christmas will be a happy one for either Gerald or Vanessa.
Purchase on Amazon for $.99:
From The Ashes
by Janet Butler
Concert artist James Michael Goodwin has been in a race against time and lost: crippled and unable to perform, he decides to end it all. But fate intervenes in the form of Melody Rowland, who reaches him on a level no woman has done before. Can James trust Melody with his music…and his heart?
Melody Rowland is on the verge of launching her performing career when James Michael Goodwin walks into her life again, after nearly destroying her four years before. Soon, she realizes that playing his music is one thing; admitting she’s never stopped loving him is another.
Purchase on Amazon:
by Lynn Spangler
She had loved. And she had lost.
Dayna Stone had lost her husband eight years earlier when their daughter, Khloe, was only four months old. She had survived the devastating loss of her husband, only to find out she’d likely lose her daughter as well to cancer.
Eddie Kringle is captivated by his beautiful neighbor and her equally beautiful daughter. Born a Magi, Eddie has issues coming to grips that Magi magic cannot cure the child, though his father, Kris, is more than capable. He and Dayna lean on each oth-er as the days pass.
They grow closer and a bond is formed.
A tragedy befalls them on Thanksgiving. Can their love, and the intense love they feel for Khloe, be the miracle they are looking for?
Purchase on Amazon for $.99:
Eight Birds For Christmas
by Tara Mayoros
In the Christmas novella Eight Birds for Christmas, a Holiday funeral sends Laidan into a dormancy of sadness. Holed up in her mother's lake house with her best friend and her bodyguard, birds appear one by one as gifts that help her through a time of grieving. Each birds carries with it a word and a hope that things will begin to look up.
Hurt from the realization that the rock star life Laidan led had made her selfish, the birds reveal forgotten memories and glimpses into how she can become a better person. It will take confronting her past to make peace with her future. By taking to heart the gifts the birds bring, Laidan begins to realize the true meaning of Christmas and that there are other ways that she can share her song.
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White Christmas Kiss
by Kathy Bosman
Rachelle runs a little wedding chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Two years on the passenger liner haven’t helped her find peace from past mistakes. Ray brings his girlfriend on the Coderica’s grand cruise to Europe. When his plans to marry her in the little chapel go horribly wrong and the relationship fails, Ray and Rachelle are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Romance blossoms in Europe, culminating on Christmas Day. But the cruise ends and Rachelle isn’t sure she’s ready to leave the Coderica with Ray. Will the memory of their white Christmas kiss be strong enough to bring them together forever?
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Let's welcome fellow Clean Reads author Bethany Swafford with us today! (Clap, clap, clap!) She has an inspiring story, both fiction and non, to share with us today!
First of all, I am delighted to be here so thank you Kadee for inviting me!
For as long as I can remember, I have loved books and reading. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of being in a library trying to find the biggest book in the children’s section because the bigger the book, the longer it would take to read.
My love of books inevitably led me to trouble, since I would much rather read than do things like schoolwork or chores. Thus, my parents would resort to the worst punishment imaginable, one they knew would get my attention: they would take my books away.
I wasn’t about to let this inconvenience keep me from words though. I found a loophole: anything I wrote I could read.
That’s how my writing career began. I developed the habit of writing short stories and essays to amuse my family and myself even when I wasn't in trouble. It was my hobby and all it would ever be. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.
The older I got, though, I began to realize that the ‘big books’ (novels of delightful length that would surely take me more than a few hours to read) all too often contained sex scenes that were unappealing and left me red faced.
My family had encouraged me to write my own book with the standards that I searched for in books and so that’s what I decided to do. My first novel, Emily’s Choice, was so much fun to write and I wanted to share it with others more than anything else. Many rejections taught me “sex sells” and publishers for a new author who refused to yield just didn’t seem likely.
Once again, it seemed like it was time for stubbornness and a loophole. I self-published without having the slightest clue what I was doing though. I was determined.
However, stubbornness wasn’t enough when doubts hit. Should I have tried harder to find a publisher? What if the reason I’d been rejected all those times was because I wasn’t good enough? If that was true, what was the point of writing more?
These doubts made sure my second manuscript sat, unfinished, for over two years. I worked up the courage to hand those six chapters to my mom for an honest opinion. She wanted to know where is the rest of it was. My stubborn streak flared up once again and I knew I had to finish it if only so Mom could know how the story ended. Once that first draft was done, it sat in all its imperfect glory.
Throughout this whole time, I kept reading, and it was my mission to let other readers know when sex scenes crept up into a novel. That's how I met Donna Feyen, who had just begun her book site More Than A Review which had the sole purpose of letting readers know what kind of content a book had. Soon, I joined her as a book reviewer and, through her, CleanReads.
Though previous rejections haunted my dreams, I spent several months polishing my manuscript to submit. Before long, I received the email with a contract attached and the rest is history. A Chaotic Courtship was released in August and I couldn’t be more proud of it.
Now friends and family ask if I have another book waiting in the wings. I just smile and say, “Not just a book. I have several.” And then I hide behind whichever CleanReads book I have at the time.
A Chaotic Courtship
Twenty year old Diana Forester, a country bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties has driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.
An Excerpt from A Chaotic Courtship:
“I thought you’d never get here!” Sarah said, ignoring my question completely as she spun to face me. I frowned at her as I put my outside garments away. She seemed highly agitated, a state which I had seldom seen her in. “Diana, I must speak with you!”
“About what?” I asked calmly.
Sarah took up pacing, and for a moment I believed she wasn’t going to continue with whatever she wanted to say. “You must listen to me for once in your life!” she finally said, as though I had been disagreeable.
Sinking onto our bed, I tried to hide a smile. “Then come out and tell me what has you in such a state.”
“I think Mr. Richfield is the highwayman!”
My smile faded instantly as I stared at her. How had she come up with this ridiculous idea? “You what?” I asked in astonishment.
“There, I’ve said it!” Sarah collapsed into the chair at the dressing table. “I’ve considered the matter carefully, Diana, and as your sister, I could not let you become attached to such a black-hearted criminal!”
I couldn’t help but laugh in response to that absurd notion. “Blackhearted criminal? You cannot be serious, Sarah. I have never heard anything so outlandish. Have you been reading my novels?”
“Diana, I am being completely serious! Stop laughing!”
“How can I take you seriously when everything you say is utter nonsense? Why would you possibly think Mr. Richfield, a true gentleman if I’ve ever met one, is a common criminal?”
Sarah leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Don’t you remember what Aunt Forester said at dinner yesterday?” she asked, lowering her voice for some reason. She acted like she was about to disclose some deep secret to me, and I found myself leaning closer. “About the highwayman being around the Bath area?”
Thinking back, I did in fact remember the conversation and our aunt’s comment. “Yes, of course I remember. What about it?”
“Mr. Richfield was there!”
I failed to follow her line of reasoning. “I’m sure a great many people were in Bath at the same time, Sarah. Aunt and Uncle Forester, for example, were there for two months, I believe.”
Shaking her head, Sarah groaned. “Don’t be obtuse, Diana! You have to see the connection here. Mr. Richfield was in Bath when a highwayman terrorized innocent people. And now, he’s here, where a highwayman has mysteriously appeared to threaten our peaceful home!”
For as long as she can remember, Bethany Swafford has loved reading books. That love of words extended to writing as she grew older and when it became more difficult to find a ‘clean’ book, she determined to write her own. Among her favorite authors is Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer. When she doesn’t have pen to paper (or fingertips to laptop keyboard), she can generally be found with a book in hand. In her spare time, Bethany reviews books for a book site called More Than A Review.
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Thank you so much Bethany for your words and stories! I think we all need a little chaos in our lives to make things more interesting. Thanks for joining in everyone!
Listen up! No, really! :D Turn up your audio and listen to Chapter One of Insurrection! Enjoy the first harrowing pages as Saylor .......well, you have to listen to find out. And check out Insurrection afterwards. Grab yourself a copy, send one to a friend, and be sure to share the love people. You readers are fabulous. Thanks for tuning in. And now, enjoy! <3
What are you waiting for?
Waiting. The waiting game. The waitlist. The weight gain. Ha ha.
Being a writer is like being a lego door piece. You think you’ll be part of constructing a house or some sort of car. Instead, you have to be flexible. You have to be willing to end up in pieces, as part of any sort of building, or even closed in by other bricks. You’ll be used in a manner you never imagined. When I sit down to work on writing a book, I have to consider all of the other aspects – promotions, advertisements, and ways I can convince people that my words are worth paying for. Super fun. (Translation: Super bummer.) Just because I like constructing stories doesn’t necessarily mean I like to harangue people about buying them. So I’m waiting for one person to like how my cover looks and fancy my blurb, and then another, and then another.
I’m waiting for the people who need my story to find it.
Several of my friends are waiting to adopt or to get pregnant. If you have a child you’d like to be rid of, I know a girl. Hit me up. Winky face. The waiting for a child holds countless expectations and preparations and crushed heartbeats. Waiting for a child to arrive brings out the worst in a person, and ultimately the best. Waiting for the people who need us gives us time to become the people who need them, in more ways than we ever know. That person you’re waiting for will challenge you and maybe drive you to your limits. Take this time to store up knowledge, aptitude, and perseverance. You’ll need it.
How’s that job market looking? Enjoying the grind? Is your boss awesome? Do you want a boss? Do you want to be your own boss? Are you also binge-watching Netflix and hoping for some more employable skills to come your way? I getcha. Heartbreaking is the journey through Indeed.com.
Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’re holding still. The term ‘waiting’ insinuates a lacking. Lacking what you want, unable to fulfill, incapable of movement. But let’s change that. Waiting needs to be constructive. Waiting is the training period.
Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’re useless. Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’ve got no purpose. Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’re faulty.
While you wait, take time to rest.
While you wait, take time to hustle.
While you wait, take time to clean up. Clean up your house, clean up those projects you’ve been avoiding, clean up your spirit. Clean up your game. Clean up your focus. What do you really want? Will you be ready when the waiting ends?
While you wait, strengthen. Go to the gym. Go for a run. Go for a walk -- every single day.
While you wait, enjoy the scenery.
While you wait, take time to dance.
While you wait, jam out to some awesome music.
While you wait, act in gratitude.
On Monday, I sat at my computer and had nothing to do. I didn’t have a class to teach, a project to work on, no deadlines, no due dates, no nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
Some ‘nothing’s are good. Some ‘nothing’s are bad.
I DON’T DO LAZY WELL. DOES ANYONE DO LAZY WELL?
I’m a task-oriented, obsessive compulsive, driven, crazy kid at heart. My first job at a dry cleaner’s illustrated the importance of Always Doing Something, because there’s always something to do. Don’t let Joe see you sitting around! Find something to do!
And I’ve been given the gift of having a hearty work ethic. It’s in my genes. My people were at the Alamo, folks. We were settlers and foragers and builders.
Turn and burn, people. Move it, move it!
There’s always something to do. There’s always something to work on. There’s always something to improve.
But on Monday morning, I had nothing to offer and no spirit to shove onward. I think I experienced all the seven stages of grief on Monday as I sat at my computer. I binge-watched a Hallmark show on Netflix, ate a lot of chocolate and key lime pie, and … I colored. One of my fabulous sisters gave me a coloring book and this fancy set of colored pencils for my Christmas gift, and honestly I thought it was a neat thing but didn’t know I’d use it because I’ve been so incredibly busy and I keep myself busy. I like busy! I like bustle! I like it, honestly, because if I stop moving then I have a hard time starting back up. Starting back up is a whole new monster in itself, yes?
While I colored, I yelled inside. I was mad at myself for my lacking, mad at Everyone Else for having what I wanted, mad at the faceless masses on social media who seem to accomplish things I'm not, mad at my pencil sharpener for being dull. Mad at the coffee for being bitter, mad at the writers of the show script for being so blasé, mad at myself for having chosen WRITING ABOVE ALL USELESS THINGS to do for my vocation! I felt useless. I felt pointless. I felt like, at my core, I lacked essentiality.
“I got a homesick heart but a long ways left to go
I've been doing my part but I ain't got much to show…
These days are tough, these days are long
Sometimes it's hard, you carry on
But I hear a voice singing and I know it's true
I got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night
Telling me I wasn't made for the simple life
There's a light I see, but it's far in the distance
I'm asking you to show me some forgiveness
It's all for you in my pursuit of happiness
Singing, oh, happiness.”
NeedToBreathe penned these inspiring lyrics and I listened to the song several times yesterday. Oh, that we may show more gratitude for these waiting periods. Maybe you want to move on, move out, move up, move laterally, move in, move less, or move more. This life is a package of unconditional realities and unmanageable circumstances.
You’re doing a good job.
Among these unmanageable circumstances, we’ve got a box of Legos full of parts. Big, long ones, short singles, flat skinnies, and the awkward three-prong. Some of us sit in the box waiting much longer than we expect or hope. Maybe you expected to wait. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re a red three-prong, and the Maker needs a red three-prong, and he picks the red three-prong across the box. Of course you’re fully qualified to fulfill that red three-prong role. But now’s the time to enjoy the lego box. You’re not broken. You just need to hang out until the next three-prong slot comes along.
I don’t know all that you’re going through. I feel like you want more, or less, and maybe can’t get where you want to be just yet. That’s hard, yo. This morning as I prepared for Day Three of having no To Do List, I cleaned up my kitchen, which led to laundry, which led to cleaning the living room, which led to more dishes and then dishes usually leads to blogging somehow. I don’t have any new words for you to hear, but there’s a big heart behind the ones I do have.
The heart is where all these matters twist and shout. Underneath the waiting, there’s a heart wrestling with something deeper. Waiting can be great, honestly. You get to chill out, there’s a sofa, and lots of television to watch and books to read. We all say there’s never enough time, so in the waiting, we get to fill our time how we like. But in the waiting, those ribbons of heartbreak tangle and snarl even the most patient of us. Maybe you feel as if you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you feel afraid. Maybe you feel unprepared or bored or restless or exhausted. Oh, you know you feel exhausted.
Here’s an idea. Whatever you are feeling, act in the opposite. Are you lonely? Go find a friend. Text. Call. Hug. Feeling tired? Go for a walk. Feeling afraid? Go do something thrilling. Feeling broken? Seek the one who has made you whole.
“There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place.
And I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord.
There are sweet expressions on each face.
And I know that it’s the presence of the Lord.
Sweet Holy Spirit. Sweet Heavenly Dove.
You’re right here with us, filling us with your love.
And for these blessings
We lift our hearts in praise.
Without a doubt we’ll know
That we have been revived
When we shall leave this place.”
~ Doris May Akers ~
In this waiting period, you and I, we aren’t alone. Don’t give up. Be a Lego door. Be your proud three-pronged self. Be useful in ways you’ve never imagined. Don’t just fill time to fill time. Fill your time with unconventional joy.
The people who need you are waiting, too. Live now in gratitude of all you do have, and the people who need you where you are, as you are, right now. Celebrate. Defy despair.
And while you wait, be your best self possible. Bust out the fun music and dance around the living room, waving your arms like the awkward three-prong you are. Cause you’re pretty amazing. You’re the best awkward three-prong I know.
Enjoy this tasty treat from Clean Reads, by EA West! If you're looking for a sweet romance, she's gotcha Covered. ;D
Sometimes your guardian angel rides a motorcycle.
Lacey Daniels wants a normal life where she can go to dinner or the mall without constantly looking over her shoulder. Unfortunately, her abusive father is out of prison and more dangerous than ever. The Hawthorne Guardians, a local motorcycle club that protected her as a child, is her only hope for normalcy. Some of the faces have changed, but the credo is the same: protect the innocent. One Guardian, Ratchet, takes an interest in more than her safety. He wants her heart.
Despite her growing feelings for Ratchet, Lacey can’t escape the threat her father poses. With him free and seeking revenge, she will never be safe. Her only chance for a normal life — and maybe true love — lies with Ratchet, a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her father from hurting her again… even if it means risking his life to save her.
E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.
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Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M9AMDJI
Where to Find Her:
Amazon Author Central: http://amazon.com/author/eawest
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/EAWestAuthor
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWestCornerReaders
Cade Riggs’ English students at Brownwood High School were given the opportunity to visit with published author Kadee Carder on Wednesday, October 26, during their library time.
Carder, who also teaches college English, has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and recently published Insurrection, the first book in her new young-adult sci-fi/adventure series. Students listened as Carder shared her experience with the writing and publishing process as well as the challenges that come with the profession.
“Having Kadee Carder in class was wonderful,” said English teacher, Cade Riggs. “She helped the students see the writing process as an authentic human experience, not just an academic concept.”
“Be prepared to take criticism,” explained Carder to one class. “Rejection is part of the process, but so is revision. If you are passionate about your writing, it shows. Don’t give up on it.”
Carder explained how she balances writing books, blogging on her website kadeecarder.com, teaching, and being a full-time mom, in addition to how she got her first book published. Carder’s Insurrection series was recently picked up by book publisher, Clean Reads, after she pitched the concept at a writers conference in Las Vegas.
“It was wonderful to have such a talented writer visit our students,” stated BHS Assistant Librarian, Heather Nix. “Our students saw that writing can be a passion, not just an assignment, and that reading can transplant you to places you never dreamed.”
Each of Riggs’ classes were able to use their time in the library to visit with Carder and ask any questions regarding writing, reading, and the challenges of being an author.
“Her vibrancy and enthusiasm inspired several students,” noted Riggs. “I am so grateful to Mrs. McGhee and Mrs. Nix for hosting us.”
See original article HERE.
Need a little magic in your life? It's the perfect time of year to check out this sweet, young adult paranormal romance series from Clean Reads fellow author Ariella Moon!
Think magic will solve your problems?
Bring you love? Cure you? Protect you? Help you find someone who is lost?
In The Teen Wytche Saga, a shape-shifting spell book upends the life of each girl who possesses it. Passed among a group of disparate teens, the rebellious book morphs into a new system of magic as it aligns or opposes the girl entrusted to safeguard it. The girls soon discover…
Magic tests friendships.
It hisses, chirps, stinks up the room, backfires, and explodes! Magic forces you to make tough decisions. Shatter limitations. Discover your true self.
And you thought navigating high school was tough.
The Teen Wytche Saga Books by Ariella Moon:
Book One: Spell Check
Book Two: Spell Struck
Book Three: Spell Fire
Book Four: Spell For Sophia
Where friendship, first love, and magic collide.
A quick introduction to Spell Check (The Teen Wytche Saga #1)
Two girls, one guy, and a spell book — what could possibly go wrong?
Bullies. A secret crush. A traitorous friend.
First year of high school isn’t supposed to be an emotional minefield. A photojournalist father isn’t supposed to die in war, and no one should cast a binding love spell on her best friend’s secret crush. And yet…
Halloween looms and so does the anniversary of Evie’s father’s death. She needs to pull herself together or she’ll lose her position as Yearbook Photo Editor. Even worse, Evie will lose Jordan, her secret crush, if she can’t stop her friend Parvani from casting a love spell on him. Despite a falling out, Evie never forgot Jordan. Now they are lab partners and the chemistry between them definitely sparks. Parvani possesses a brimstone-hissing spell book and plans to cast the spell by Halloween. To save Jordan, Evie must join forces with Salem, the school goth.
The clock is ticking. Can Evie get her mojo back in time to check this spell?
About ten minutes into class, while Mr. Esenberg wrote on the board, I heard Jordan slide his feet under my desk. My breath wedged in my throat as the tips of his size nine high-performance sneakers nudged the heels of my shoes. Could the girl in front of me hear my heart thudding? Should I move my feet forward?
My feet tingled and refused to move. A blush blazed across my cheeks. I struggled to pay attention to Mr. Esenberg without making eye contact. Forty minutes passed, the bell blared, and I had no idea what had transpired. Hopefully, my notes will make sense. I think I took notes.
Jordan slid his feet back and thudded his book closed. We both bent down and reached for our backpacks. His leaned against mine. Our hands brushed and our heads were so close I could smell his herbal shampoo.
Students walked past us. I’m sure some of them were talking to each other or flipping open their cell phones. But it all faded away along with the smell of chalk, highlighters, and sweat. Everything receded except the warmth of Jordan’s skin, his cinnamon gum-scented breath, and the heart-stopping rush sprinting up my arm.
We jerked apart. Seeing Parvani in the doorway looking hurt and shocked snapped my senses into hyper focus. Conversations sounded extra loud. Colors seemed too bright. It felt like a movie had started, full blast, in a hushed theater.
For more excerpts, or to purchase books in The Teen Wytche Saga:
About the Author:
Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval Scotland and Fairy fantasy adventure series.
Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.
Ariella loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at:
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