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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Spotlight: The Hunting by Kerry Peresta

Title: The Hunting
Author: Kerry Peresta
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Pages: 247
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Inspirational
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Isabelle Lewis, top advertising salesperson at the Chatbrook Springs Sentinel newspaper, has a habit of falling in and out of marriage. After her last divorce, she shoved the emotional pain into a compartment in her brain to deal with later. With three teenagers to raise, bills to pay, and sales quotas to meet, introspection was a luxury she could not afford. Her mind needed a happy place.

When Isabelle (Izzy) discovered online dating, it immediately became her favorite stress reliever and best friend. Often, she'd steal into the night after her kids were asleep to meet someone new. One fateful evening, the hunt for the perfect guy took a sinister turn when the mystery man she met turned out to be her worst nightmare! Reluctantly pulled into a web of lies, Izzy is forced to confront her demons.

Snarky, suspense-filled, and real, The Hunting is an exquisite entwining of the crippling emotional fallout of divorce with the quest for a healthy, fulfilling relationship.This inspirational story rivets!  

Book Excerpt:

I sit in my car a minute, adjusting to the darkness of the garage. My eyes land on the kids' car tucked in already, and I know they are inside the house, either asleep or going that direction, because I'd talked to them on the way home. I shake off the feeling that something is wrong, get out of the car, start up the stairs to the kitchen, reconsider and click on the overhead light in the garage to sniff around.

Brightness illuminates the area. Rakes, loppers, an air pump, and various gadgetry cling to a pegboard nailed to one wall; an aging lawnmower sits in a far corner with its best friend, the gas trimmer. Metal shelving climbs the back wall, loaded with fairly common family paraphernalia. My eyes scan the cement floor and the kids' car, searching for signs of inappropriate activity. I smell old grass, a little oil that has leaked from one of the cars, gas, paint thinner.

My heels striking the cement garage floor in the middle of the night remind me of old Law and Order episodes, where Eames and Goren discover a body in the garage, draped halfway out of a car, drenched in blood. I should stop watching those shows. Then I see it. Not tonight, my mind screams. Tonight? After this horribly long day? My stomach clenches in fear.

A tightly folded, small, white square mocks me from the windshield of my kids' car. What time is it, anyway, I mutter to myself as I cautiously approach the car, lift the windshield wiper, and hold the small square between thumb and forefinger. I grab my phone from my purse with my free hand and click the screen on. Almost midnight.

Despair zips through me. I turn off the garage light and climb the three stairs into the kitchen, firmly locking the door behind me. I fling the note through the air. It lands on the kitchen table.

I scroll quickly through my contacts to find Detective Faraday. His phone rings several times. A groggy voice answers. “Yeah?” Cough. “What?”

"Detective Faraday?” I whisper.

“You got him. What’s up?” I picture him wiping his eyes and focusing on a clock by his bed. Maybe a lovely wife by his side, sleeping. I feel awful for interrupting him at home.

“I got another note,” my voice is hushed. I don’t want to alarm the kids, but stress has rushed to every extremity. I cannot stop shaking.

“Okay. This is Izzy, right?”

I shake my head, realize someone on the other end of a phone call cannot see a head shake.“Yes.”

“All right, I'm going to call and get a patrol car out there immediately. What does the note say? By the way, we have analyzed fingerprints on the other note, and it is definitely the man you indicated.That’s good news. It’s probably just a reaction to personal crisis. Which, unfortunately, you seem to be triggering.”

“So what should I do?” I whisper.

“Read me the note, Izzy,” he says, calmly.

“It was on my kids' car.” I feel tears forming. One trails slowly down my cheek. I slap it away.

“Oh, man,” Detective Faraday whooshes out a long sigh. “You weren’t home, then? But your kids were?”

“Yeah, and I'm pretty sure the garage was locked. They know they are supposed to shut the garage door when they get home, no matter what.”

“Izzy, is there a window in your garage?” I think a minute. Yes! There is one in the small storage room at the back of the garage, one we never use.

“Well, yes, there is one in a storage room, but – ”

“Is it locked?” he barks. I start to cry.

“I don’t know! Why is this happening?”

“Go check, Izzy, right now. Keep me on the phone while you do it. Take a flashlight or a bat or something with you. I'll wait.”

The implication hits me that he wants me to find a weapon before I check the window. Seriously? I quietly enter my sons' room and pluck up the bat that is leaning against their bookshelf. They stir, but do not wake.

“Okay,” I whisper. “Got a bat. Heading for the garage.”

“I'm with you, Izzy. Be careful.”

His voice is reassuring and I am thinking how grateful I am for our police force. Funny. I am grateful now, but just let me get a speeding ticket. I enter the garage, and tiptoe toward the closed storage room door, my heart beating violently. I hold the bat in my right hand and turn the knob slowly with my left. The darkened room emerges bit by bit as the door creaks open. Light from the garage spills into the room, illuminating old cans of paint, a broken lamp, basketballs, a football, boxes. I push the door open further, and see the window, which is located high on the wall, shards of cobwebs hanging from the edges.

I lift the bat in pre-strike position as I push the door all the way open. I hear Detective Faraday’s breathing on the phone.

“What’s happening, Izzy?” he says, causing me to nearly jump out of my skin.

I locate the string that turns on the lone light bulb in the room, and pull. The forty-watt bulb creates an eerie glow. To my utter and profound relief, the room appears empty.

“I am in the storage room. It’s empty.”

I lean the bat against one of the boxes and look around.

“How often are you in that room, Izzy?”

“Rarely. It’s for stuff we don’t have room for. Kind of forget sometimes, that it’s here.” 

“Okay,” he says, “go to the window and check the lock.”

My nose wrinkles in disgust. “Okay,” I say and move aside two squashed storage boxes. Looking around, I locate something to stand on, and reach up to check the latch. Push up on the window, which holds. Try again, and it reluctantly slides open. “It’s not locked,” I say, miserably.

“Lock it,” Detective Faraday says. “Don’t worry, Izzy, we'll get him."

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About the Author

Kerry Peresta's publishing credits include a popular newspaper and e-zine humor column, The Lighter Side, and short stories in the published anthology, That One Left Shoe, and her debut novel, The Hunting, contemporary women's fiction, released by Pen-L Publishing. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter before deciding to devote more of her time to writing. She is currently working on her second novel, participating in writing conferences, and serving on the leadership team of the Maryland Writers' Association. Kerry was a single mother for many years to four great kids, all grown and successfully carving out their own unique paths. She and her husband live in the Baltimore metro area.

Her novel, The Hunting, is available in Kindle and paperback on, Barnes & Noble (, and her website.

Visit Kerry at

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Margay Leah Justice: The Scent of Humanity - Excerpt

Margay Leah Justice: The Scent of Humanity - Excerpt: Hey, thought it might be cool to post an excerpt from my latest release, The Scent of Humanity. Enjoy! “What’s this?” he asked, cuppi...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Spotlight: In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda

About the Book:
Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?
From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.
In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda's characters "sparkle with humor and heart," and the stories are "told with honest insight and humor" (Booklist). "Inspirational and engaging" (ForeWord), these are the novels you'll turn to for strong female characters and an "engaging read" (Kirkus).
In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.
If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

For More Information

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda's characters "sparkle with humor and heart," and the stories are "told with honest insight and humor" (Booklist). "Inspirational and engaging" (ForeWord), these are the novels you'll turn to for strong female characters and an "engaging read" (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

Book Excerpt:

Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.
I looked like death.
I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –
I had to get moving.
I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.
I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.
I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.
Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.
 My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”
“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.  
“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.
“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.
“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.
“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”
Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.
So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.
“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”
“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”
I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”
Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells
request your presence at a
celebration in honor of their daughter
Jennifer Wells Benson
Please see insert for your party time
Shady Valley Center
2700 Hocking Ridge Road
RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells
No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.
 At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.
At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.
By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.
And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.

Book Trailer:

About the Author

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women EntrepreneursHere, Home, HopeAll the DifferenceIn the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother's Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.
Her latest novel is the women’s fiction, In the Mirror.

For More Information

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Her Royal Protector by Alexandra Sellers

Her Royal Protector
Alexandra Sellers

Blurb: Aly Percy is her family's ugly duckling, and she's never been allowed to forget it. So she knows better than to imagine that Cup Companion Arif al Najimi's blue gaze holds anything but contempt for her as a woman, or ever will. But if he's offering to show her just how wild one night with him can be, wouldn't she be a fool to turn down his charity? She may never get another offer like this one.
Arif al Najimi isn't sure why he's dreaming about the little scientist who's so determined to take crazy risks for the sake of her research into the endangered turtles of his country. But as luck would have it, he's going to get the chance to do a little research of his own…into the question of why Aly believes her own negative publicity about how desirable she is—and how hard it will be to convince her of the truth.

Buy Links: Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Kobo
Indulgence’s Links:  Facebook  Twitter: @IndulgenceBooks  Steals and Deals

Author Bio: Canadian born, Alexandra Sellers was raised in Toronto and on the prairies. She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London (UK) and acted on stage for several years before her first novel was published by Dell and Robert Hale in 1980. Since then she has written over 40 books. The author of the popular Sons of the Desert series, she is the recipient of the Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award for Series (2009) and Series Romantic Fantasy (2000). She divides her time between London, Crete and Vancouver.


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Book Spotlight: The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger by Robert J. O’Connor

Title: The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger, Civil War Soldier
Author: Robert J. O’Connor
Publisher: Infinity Publishing
Pages: 298
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

James E. Hanger was wounded at Philippi, Virginia on June 3, 1861 and became the first amputee of the American Civil War. He hated the Yankee peg leg his Union doctor gave him. Instead, he used his ingenuity and engineering background to invent an artificial leg with a joint at the knee and a hinge at the ankle. He patented his Hanger Limb.

His invention revolutionized the prosthetic industry. The company Mr. Hanger founded still operates today (Hanger Inc.) as the country’s largest provider of artificial limbs. His story is quite remarkable.

Book Excerpt:

We arrived in Philippi in the early morning. I asked directions and then drove the buggy directly to the Garrett Johnson farm. I knocked on the door and asked for Mr. Johnson. An elderly gentleman came to the door. He said he was Mr. Johnson. I introduced myself and my wife, telling him who I was and why I was here. He invited us to come in and sit down.

“You are a legend in this town, Mr. Hanger,” Mr. Johnson said. “The first amputee of the War Between the States. I had heard the accident and the amputation of your injured leg had taken place in my barn. You look like you are doing well.” He was looking me over, likely trying to see if he could figure out which of my legs had been lost in his barn. I don’t think he could figure it out.

“The action that took place here in your barn and in Philippi changed my life forever,” I explained. “I now am a businessman. I didn’t volunteer for the distinction or the fame. But I have made the best of it. My company provides artificial limbs for veterans from both the North and the South.”

I rolled up my pants leg and showed him my Hanger limb. I continued. “I think some good has come out of that crazy war. I would like to show Nora the barn.” I rolled my pants back down.

“Do you mind if I walk with you?”

“Of course not.”

He walked to the door of his house and held it for us. He led us to the barn. The closer I got to the building, the harder my heart began to race.

When we walked into the barn, it looked just like I had remembered all these years. There was nothing unique about it. I certainly remembered being in this barn before. I didn’t have to say anything to Nora. She knew the story. The barn was where the wayward cannon ball had mangled my leg. This was where the men had lifted me onto what I was told was a door. And this is where Dr. Robison’s surgery had saved my life.

I had to lean on the wall to hold myself up. I started to quietly cry. I was embarrassed, but could not stop. I tried to remember the excruciating pain I must have felt or the horrible sound of the doctor’s bone saw cutting through my leg. I could not remember either.

But I did remember Dr. Robison’s description of the operation and the pain that I endured for weeks and weeks afterwards. It seemed so real, like it was happening all over again. I crumbled onto the floor. Nora stood by quietly. I cried loudly, unable to stop. My thoughts of what happened here enveloped me.  I was unable to move.

Dr. Robison’s face appeared clearly in my mind. He had been so calm in telling me several days later what had happened. He acted like it was routine – no big thing. Yet he must have been afraid too. That was his first amputation. I had not felt even one thread of doubt that he had done the best he could. His determination and confidence helped calm my fears. Dr. Robison was a Union doctor who had operated on a Confederate soldier. I still have problems imagining that just any Union doctor would have tried to save me. After all, I was the enemy. Yet Dr. Robison had conducted the operation, as he said, the same as if I had been his own son. And his successful surgery had pretty much been an integral part of every other step that I had taken in the last twenty years. I owed him everything.

I was so overcome with emotion that I was unsure if I could go on. I had to take deep breaths to bring myself back into the present.

Nora stood beside me as she had for so many years. She had heard my story. We both had wondered what would happen when I returned. Now we knew. It had been exhausting for me.

I finally struggled to get up. Nora knew I had to do this on my own, but held out her hand. She wanted me to know it was there, even if I wasn’t going to take it. This time I did take it. I let her help me up. She held me tight for several minutes to let me know that everything was all right.

We finally moved on. I was still shaken, but knew I had to leave.

My wife wondered out loud if going into the barn had jarred my memory. She asked me if I remembered getting hit by the cannonball or going through the operation.

“Not really,” I admitted. “And perhaps it is a good thing that I don’t remember.”

We walked back to the buggy. I thanked Mr. Johnson. And we left. I turned the buggy and travelled across the long covered bridge. I asked a lady on the street to point out the United Methodist Episcopal Church on Church Street in the downtown.

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About the Author

Bob O’Connor’s first book was published in 2006. He now has ten books published including 6 historical novels and 4 non-fiction books.  He has been named finalist four different times in national book competitions conducted by Indie Excellence Awards and USA Books.

O’Connor writes about the Civil War in a way in which persons of interest find compelling as he writes about the soldiers on the front lines instead of the generals and the battle strategy.  He speaks around the country on the Civil War and has appeared over 600 times in 18 states since his first book was published. His presentations have spanned the spectrum, as he has spoken to first graders and cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy, in national parks and public libraries, at historical societies and Civil War round tables.

His main topics include abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard (Ward Hill Lamon), the United States Colored Troops, the invention of modern prosthetics, and brothers fighting against brothers.

His latest book is the historical fiction, The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger, Civil War Soldier.

You can find out more about the author at his website or connect with him on Facebook.