Curated Content for Writers—Sept 15

Story Empire

Cute cat writing on a small chalkboard surrounded by adorable animalsFriday Eve has passed and THEday is officially here. Yep, we’re talking Friday!

During the week, the SE crew of authors was busy roaming the blogosphere to round up a number of posts we hope you find helpful.

Before you gallivant off to check them out, be sure to give a look-see to Staci Troilo’s excellent post on BufferApp for Authors, and mine on The Importance of Alt Text, Image Titles, and Image Descriptions.  Enjoy your Friday and today’s Curated Content!


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“Always Come Home (Emerson Book 1)” by Maureen Driscoll

#FREE for a limited time!


“Always Come Home (Emerson Book 1)”

by Maureen Driscoll

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency/Holidays

Release Date: March 6, 2014

Amazon KU


From the author of the Kellington series of Regency romances, comes the first novel about the Emerson family.

Colin Emerson, the Earl of Ridgeway, has two unmarried sisters and a mountain of debt incurred by his late father. He has no choice but to marry an heiress. It is most unfortunate, therefore, when he falls in love with a penniless governess.

Ava Conway has been making her way in the world since the death of her father. She takes a position as the governess to Lord Ridgeway’s sisters, but finds her growing attachment to the earl threatens his family’s future.

Bound by honor, torn by love, can Colin do right by his sisters while following his heart?

WARNING: This book contains explicit sexual content and adult situations. You will not like this book if you don’t like either of those two things.

“12 Magical Nights of Christmas Anthology” #CoverReveal


 
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Savor the sexy, explore the mystical, and experience the whimsical enchantment in these never before published stories!

Christmas is a time for wonder and giving! Experience the magic of Christmas with these 12 tales of fantasy, passion, and romance, and discover what gifts true love can bring!

Brought to you by New York Times, USA Today, And Award-Winning Bestselling Authors!

Julia Mills, Tami Lund, Heather Marie Adkins, C.D. Gorri, P.T. Macias, P. Mattern, Yolanda Olson, Ariel Marie, Savannah Morgan, Amanda Kimberley, Heather Kirchhoff, Aimee Shaye.

Featuring Shifters, Dragons, Werewolves, Bears, Vampires, and more!

*All Proceeds go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Dragon Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Julia Mills

The holidays only come once a year, but this crazy couple plans to make it last forever.

Take one dragon racing around the North Pole…

Add a reindeer who refuses to be tamed…

Mix in the outrageous antics of an elf who hates the snow …

And you’ve got a holiday tale of thrills, chills and more than a little snow-melting fun.

Put on your feety pajamas, grab a cup of hot cocoa and gather around the fire while our dashing hero and trusty cohorts race to save the holidays and in the process, find a happily ever after they didn’t know they were looking for, all neatly wrapped in shiny paper with a bright red bow.

The holidays only come once a year, but this crazy couple plans to make it last forever. After all, not even Fate stays home for the holidays.

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuliaMills623

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JLakeMills/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7200721.Julia_Mills

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Julia-Mills/e/B00GRJ1F7U

Website: http://www.juliamillsauthor.com/

Blog: http://www.juliamillsauthor.com/blog

Gift of the Gods by Tami Lund

Some gifts are worth waiting for.

He’s a pauper. She’s a princess.

Ten years ago, he spent three months in a dungeon, punishment for kissing her. He’s never forgotten the experience—or her.

Now, they’re stuck together in a cottage in the woods, during a snowstorm, days before Christmas, when she’s to become betrothed to another. They can’t have forever, but what’s the harm in taking advantage of tonight?

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/TamiLundAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTamiLund/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tami-Lund/e/B00AXJH5MY

Newsletter: http://www.subscribepage.com/Tami_Lund

Blog: http://tamilund.com/tamis-thoughts/

Solstice Magick by Heather Marie Adkins

She doesn’t want anything to do with a soulmate, but he’s determined to convince her otherwise.

Tradition dictates the young soulmates of Calasia will meet at the Yule Ball in their 18th year, and spend the next year-and-a-day alone together, preparing for the rest of their lives. If they choose to part on the next solstice, they will never know another true love.

Lorelei Coine doesn’t want anything to do with a magicked marriage. She’s in line to take the throne, and she would be content to do it by herself. But the man magick has destined for her is determined to convince her otherwise…

Stalker Links: Twitter: http://twitter.com/hmarieadkins

Facebook: http://facebook.com/heathermarieadkinsauthor

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/heathermarieadkins

Website, Blog, Newsletter: http://heathermarieadkinsauthor.com

The Dragon’s Christmas Gift by C.D. Gorri

His heart is frozen, can she change his mind about love?

Alexsander Falk is content to let his heart grow as cold as the ice he breathes in Dragon form. When his newlywed brother calls him home to Castle-sit during the holiday season, he reluctantly agrees. Unaware that he’s to host a Christmas party for the local teen outreach program.

Noelle Gifford is the new owner-operator of Tasty Events. She’s been contracted to cater the party at the newly remodeled home on Beach Drive, aptly named Castle Falk.

She is determined to be her bright and best for her client! But what’s a girl to do with a Sexy Scrooge who refuses to listen to any of her ideas?

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/cgor22

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cdgorribooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7899700.C_D_Gorri

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/C.D.-Gorri/e/B00IS7820W

Website, Blog, & Newsletter: http://www.cdgorri.com

The Dragon’s Magical Gift by P.T. Macias

The Dragon’s Magical Gift by P.T. Macias

Blurb: TBA

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/pt_macias

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/P.T.MaciasAuthorPage/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6035548.P_T_Macias

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008B0EYWQ

Website: http://www.ptmaciasbooks.com/

12 Magical Nights of Bedevilment : My Demon Lover by P.Mattern

“It was her father’s debt……but Princess Calista has the Devil to pay!”

“The last thing newly jilted Princess Calista is in the mood for is a holiday romance. But when her King father loses her in a high stakes game of cards she must confront both a dangerous stranger and her own unawakened dark desires.”

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/MatternPatricia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FullMoonSeries/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/P.-Mattern/e/B00O5VCQ16

Underneath a Fallen Sky by Yolanda Olson

Blurb & Tagline: TBA

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/SymphonyYolanda

Facebook: facebook.com/yolandasendlesswords

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6941335.Yolanda_Olson

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Yolanda-Olson/e/B009OEABAC/

A Beary Christmas by Ariel Marie

Will her secret destroy their chance for love everlasting?

Librarian Kendra Sexton wants to make a good impression. New to town and hopeful she’ll be accepted by the local bear clan, she has her work cut out for her. But it’s not the work that worries her the most. It’s her long-held secret that could destroy her chances of having any semblance of a relationship with anyone… ever.

Future alpha Rocco Brink needs a mate. The Prime Grizzlies clan dictates that he finds his mate and produces heirs, but he’s not inclined to settle for just anyone. With an exhaustible list of must-have traits, no one believes he’ll ever find the one. That is until the night of his family’s annual Christmas party. One sweet scent and he’s sure he’s met his future.

All the pieces in place for the perfect union, Rocco is ready to claim his mate. But when Kendra’s past catches up with her, their plan for a happily ever after is left hanging in the balance.

Will her secret destroy their chance for love everlasting?

*A Beary Christmas is a sweet holiday paranormal novella by Author Ariel Marie that will tug at heartstrings and make readers root for love, romance, and a lifetime of undeniable passion to keep them warm all winter long.

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_ArielMarie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorarielmarie/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13904978.Ariel_Marie

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ariel-Marie/e/B00WB1SBFC

Newsletter: http://www.thearielmarie.com/contact

Wrapped in Magick by Savannah Morgan

A love sanctioned by the Gods or a dynasty mired in a new threat, Alpha female Lexie Wolfe has 12 days wrapped in Majick to decide which is her true path.

Lexie planned to train her new S&R team over Christmas. When Aidan, her brother and Alpha, requests she take his place as host at the Alpha Summit she cannot refuse. Being the only female born to any pack in the last 200 years, Lexie knows this summit is too important to cancel.

As pack beta, Evan Keegan knows the importance of this summit and offers to head Lexie’s protection detail. He’s waited nearly a century for the headstrong, young, Alpha female and isn’t about to send her into the wolf’s den full of unmated wolves alone.

Mateo Gurrero is on the hunt for a mate and is at the summit to see if the legendary last female of his kind, Alexandra Wolfe, is the one. He desires a mated alliance with Aidan Wolfe and his Pacific Northwest Pack, and has vowed to see it through. The fate of his pack is too important to leave to the whims of the Gods.

During the summit, a true mating is revealed as a new threat rises that could destroy the packs once and for all. Lexie has twelve days wrapped in majick to decide which path is her true destiny.

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSavvyM

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Savannah-Morgan-227175397443904/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2fYXsUj

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Savannah-Morgan/e/B00GU0J4WE

Newsletter: http://author-savannahmorgan.us11.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=919a6a5748fafb37a0a9dd1bd&id=e1ab10f8a1

Blog: http://savannahsthoughtgarden.blogspot.com/

The Cure by Amanda Kimberley

Cures sometimes have a bite.

When Annabel needs a cure for her terminal illness it comes from the most unlikely place, she finds it in Chance.

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimberleyLB

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramandakimberley/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/…/5823632.Amanda_Kimberley_LB_

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Kimberley/e/B00K95ML5S

A Magical Christmas by Heather Kirchhoff

Christmas is supposed to be a magical time.

Christmas is supposed to be a magical time. With joy and holiday cheer spreading, and families gathering around their tree. And let’s not forget the snow glistening on the ground.

Yet Renee can’t get in the Christmas mood. Not with her family doing different things this year. Her older brother won’t come home from college, and her father ran off with his mistress after her mother died.

After seeing her despair, one of her friends decides to give her the surprise of a lifetime.

Stalker Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherKirc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherKirchhoff/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/…/show/6579604.Heather_Kirchhoff

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Kirchhoff/e/B00ED77LEY

Newsletter: http://weebly.us11.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=3fc558069baa1a4f84df498f6&id=9d5c2f25c4

Kiss of Winter by Aimee Shaye

Being enchanted never felt so wicked.

Morrigan Black is not a prize to be won, not by anyone but Cadegan Wolfe anyway. Cadegan had his eyes on Morrigan since the day she ventured through his wolves’ den for shelter during one of the worst snowstorms The Black Forest has ever seen. In a ploy to win the heartless—and probably soulless—Morrigan over, Cadegan decides to gift her three enchanted gifts that are sure to make her fall in love with him. But will they work on another wolf?

Find out in The Kiss of Winter.

Stalker Links: Twitter: www.twitter.com/aimeeshaye

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aimeeshaye08

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/aimeeshaye

Blog: aimeeshaye.wordpress.com

Website: aimeeshaye.wix.com/aimeeshaye

Preorder Links:

→ Amazon: http://amzn.to/2xC4Ix5

→ Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2jrxPwZ

→ Google Play: http://bit.ly/2wdX1Nm

→ Kobo: http://bit.ly/2x5SziG

→ iTunes: Coming Soon

“Everett (Drake Brothers Series Book 1)” by Casey Peeler #ReleaseBlitz


 

Everett Drake left the small town life and his three brothers behind the day he was old enough to enlist. However, he returned sooner than he had planned with a chip on his shoulder.

Taking a job with the local beer distributor, he makes a living, but when a new bar owner arrives in town, he knows exactly what he wants—Stella.  
Pulling into Barger’s, the sun is shining and so is Seth’s brand new Camaro. Shaking my head, I put the Dodge in park and step toward my future as a beer truck comes barreling out the back entrance, almost running me over. Turning to see who’s driving, I put my hands on my hips and see dark hair and a set of emerald green eyes on the sexiest man I’ve ever seen and when he smiles my way, I try to act mad but it’s no use. Mental note—stay away from whoever that is.

“Sorry about that, ma’am,” he hollers out the window.

“Damn right, you better be,” I say firmly as he laughs, gives a wave and takes off down the two-lane road.
Casey Peeler grew up in North Carolina and still lives there with her husband and daughter.

Growing up Casey wasn’t an avid reader or writer, but after reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston during her senior year of high school, and multiple Nicholas Sparks’ novels, she found a hidden love and appreciation for reading.  That love ignited the passion for writing several years later, and her writing style combines real life scenarios with morals and values teenagers need in their daily lives.

When Casey isn’t writing, you can find her near a body of water listening to country music with a cold beverage and a great book.

Connect with Casey

“Broken Promises (A Past Imperfect Mystery #1)” by Anne Willow #BlogTour


 

Title: Broken Promises (A Past Imperfect Mystery)

Author: Anne Willow

Genre: Adult, Cozy Mystery

Published: August 17, 2017

Page Count: 212 Pages

***FIRST IN NEW COZY MYSTERY SERIES***

Julia was in a search of a way out…a way back to herself.

The passing of her favorite aunt sends her to the small artist town of Grand Marais, nestled along the northern coast of Lake Superior. There she starts to weave the tattered threads of a new life, rediscovering her love of sketching, while running the antique shop, Past Imperfect. Everything is finally going right. Until a mysterious package arrives, tucked inside is an ornate silver letter opener bearing the initials E.C. along with an even more mysterious note. Julia’s natural curiosity piqued, but before she can discover who sent the letter opener, it’s found embedded in Tom Peterson’s chest. The tapestry of her new life begins to unravel as she is named a prime suspect. Now, left with few clues and a past not willing to let her go, Julia works to solve the mystery and the murder.

Infidelity through time and a curse that only she can break – once she figures out how.

5.0 out of 5 stars If you like mystery then you’ll want to read this book.

By Irene R on September 5, 2017

Great read, loved the mystery behind it.

Who knew that you could touch an object and feel the anger or love from it?

Julia doing what she loves best, sketching and selling old things. Come across a mystery only her Grandma could tell her. However her grandma has passed.

When a mysterious letter arrives with a trinket of sorts, Julia is thrown. She doesn’t know who the sender is until it’s to late.

With things going on with her Ex husband, and now her shop. Julia finds her life tipped upside down. She doesn’t know who did what, but she does know she didn’t do it. Obliviously!!

When the truth about the trinket comes to light, along with a few other things. Julia finally figures out who is who and who done it! Done what?? Well you have to read the book because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, cool setting.

By Mark C on September 1, 2017

This cozy mystery-style story is populated with interesting characters in a very cool setting. Nice small town feel that makes Lake Superior almost another character in the story. The plotline was enjoyable and not overly complicated, and I really enjoyed the supernatural touch, particularly at the end. The flow is good and the author has a nice touch with knowing when to inject an unexpected twist. Strong showing for a first-time author. Between the characters in this town and the interesting “Past Imperfect” antique store setting, this is ripe for a series. And I hope the author maintains the slight supernatural element. That was quite an interesting byline without it dominating the story. Very well done.

Anne Willow has a small addiction to antiques. She loves getting lost in antique shops and learning the stories behind the treasures. The Past Imperfect series was born out of her story collection.

Anne has always loved the North Shore, especially Lake Superior near Grand Marais. She lives there with her husband and two children. When bringing the Past Imperfect series together, Anne couldn’t think of a better place to have Julia’s shop. If you find yourself traveling through, stop by Artist Point, you may just find her sitting on the rocks.

Anne loves to meet and chat with her readers. You can connect with her through the links below.

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“Grave Injustice (Cold Case Files Book 3)” by Netta Newbound #Excerpt


Grave Injustice banner

Grave Injustice cover

Book Excerpt

Bill Featherstone was fed up with his life.

After thirty-five years of marriage, his wife, Marianne, told him she didn’t even like him anymore and moved out of their family home. Now, less than three weeks later, he found he was poorer than he’d been in his entire fifty-three years on the planet. Not only had she left him, but she’d systematically cleared out their savings in the months leading up to her declaration. Then, she took off with her fancy man.

As a self-employed electrician, Bill needed to take on extra jobs simply to pay the mortgage this month, a mortgage that had steadily increased over the years while he thought it was being paid off. It turned out Marianne had re-mortgaged several times, forging his signature. The crux of it was she’d screwed him, big time.

Zooming into the retirement village at just after 4 pm for his fifteenth job of the day, he almost mowed down a bent up old man on a Zimmer frame. He was crossing the road as though he had all the time in the world.

Bill slammed on the brakes and wound his window down. “Get out of the way, you idiot. You’re gonna cause a fucking accident.”

The old man carried on, completely unaware of him.

Bill slammed the heel of his palm on the horn which made no difference to the situation but brought plenty of nosy old codgers out from their bungalows.

Once the man had climbed up onto the curb, Bill zoomed off and parked his van a few hundred meters away. Then, he grabbed his toolbox and rushed to the address.

“Mrs. Jones?” he asked the pleasant-faced lady who answered his urgent door rapping. She reminded him of his grandmother.

“Have you come to fix my oven?”

“I certainly have, love. Can you quickly tell me what keeps happening?”

“The problem began a few weeks ago when my niece and her boyfriend came for a visit. I wanted to make them some scones—they love my scones—I won awards for them back in my younger day…”

“That’s all very lovely,” he interrupted, “but can you get on with it. I’m a busy man.”

“Oh.”

The stupid old woman seemed shocked and although he felt a little awful, he knew what these old people could be like. She’d probably drip feed him her life story before getting down to the problem in hand.

“The fuse keeps tripping when I turn on my oven.”

“Okay, lead the way.”

In less than a minute he located the fault. “Bloody hell,” he barked.

“What’s wrong?” Her trembling voice irritated him.

“Basic common sense, love. Look at this? Tell me what you see?”

She began trembling so badly she appeared to be shaking her head at him. “I-I don’t see anything.”

“This!” He jabbed at a piece of foil lying in the bottom of the immaculate oven. “Would you shove a knife in the toaster?”

“No, of course not.” She gripped the work surface as though to steady herself.

“Then why shove a load of foil into the bottom of the oven? It’s touching an element and shorting out.”

“I’m sorry. I only had gas in my last house. I thought I was doing the right thing.”

“Well you know what thought did, don’t you?”

“Is there a problem, Gloria?” An equally doddery old man appeared in the doorway.

“No. It’s my fault, Eddie. Go back through to the lounge and I’ll make another pot of tea.”

The man eyeballed Bill before stroking the woman’s arm. “Don’t worry, love. I told Sandy I’d take him for a game of dominoes. Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Positive.”

Bill ripped the foil out and tested the element before turning the oven on.

The woman returned from seeing her friend out. “Is it okay now?”

“Should be. When does the fault happen? As soon as you switch it on or after a few minutes?”

“Pretty much right away.”

“Well, it seems to be working alright now. I’ll leave the oven running while I pack up my van and fetch my invoice book.”

Out at the van, he shoved his tool box into the back and sat just inside, his right foot resting against the open door. He looked up, startled when a shadow fell over him.

“What the—?” Bill wasn’t able to say anything else. A searing pain that began under his chin, exploded in the back of his head.

Then nothing.


Title: Grave Injustice (Cold Case Files Book 3)

Author: Netta Newbound

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Geri and James return for their most explosive adventure to date.

When next door neighbor, Lydia, gives birth to her second healthy baby boy, James and Geri pray their friend can finally be happy and at peace. But, little do they know Lydia’s troubles are far from over.

Meanwhile, Geri is researching several historic, unsolved murders for James’ new book. She discovers one of the prime suspects now resides in Spring Pines Retirement Village, the scene of not one, but two recent killings.

Although the police reject the theory, Geri is convinced the cold case they’re researching is linked to the recent murders. But how? Will she regret delving so deeply into the past?

~ Buy Link ~

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Kindle UnlimitedGoodreads Button

~~~~~~~~~~

~ Author Bio ~

Netta NewboundNetta Newbound is the author of twelve popular thriller novels/novellas to date including the Adam Stanley Thriller Series and the Cold Case Files. Her debut psychological thriller, An Impossible Dilemma, shot up the charts in 2015 in both the UK and US reaching #1 in several thriller and horror categories. This rapid success gained Netta a name for herself in the thriller genre. The Watcher, another of her bestsellers that reached the top 20 in the Amazon chart, was published through Bloodhound Books, who will also publish her next book, Maggie, in October 2017.

Originally from Manchester, England, Netta has travelled extensively and has lived and worked in a variety of exciting places. She now lives in New Zealand with her husband. They have three grown up children and four grandchildren.

~ Author Links ~

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ nettanewbound
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ newboundnetta
Website – www.nettanewbound.com

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Freebie Friday and a Giveaway!


Life has been nipping at my heels the last few weeks throwing my writing schedule off into the universe. Waves goodbye. It will be a while before I see “normal” again… whatever that is, but the release of Family Matters, book 2 of In the Best Interest of the Child, is not far away… just not as close as I’d like… like last month!  😉

But, that means there’s more time to read book 1 and catch up!

Head over to getBook.at/BestInterest and you’ll find book 1 is FREE today only, September 15th!
Goodreads ButtonKindle UnlimitedAlso, do not forget to add book 2 to your Goodreads TBR!

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And today is the LAST day to enter the Easy-Peasy Instagram Giveaway sponsored by the insane #AwesomeAmazonAuthors! (I’m the sane one! 😀 ) One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card tomorrow!

 

 

~ R A F F L E C O P T E R ~

E N T E R

“Ideal Image (A SNAPshot Novel)” by Freya Barker and KT Dove #CoverReveal


 

Title: Ideal Image
Series: A SNAPshot Novel
Author: Freya Barker and KT Dove
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Cover Designer: Rebel, Edit & Design

In one blinding flash, the very fiber of her existence is shredded.
For criminal lawyer and single mother, Stacie Gustafson, a dependable career, a well-organized life, and an immaculate image, had always been her armor. Without it she’s left exposed and struggling to create a new existence for her and her daughter. No matter how hard she tries, she is unable to avoid her history.

All it takes is one look at the blue-eyed woman, for Nicolas Flynn to be transported back ten years. Sure, her appearance has changed, but then so has his, since he turned his life around. His devotion to his small-town law firm is tested with the arrival of this bittersweet blast from the past, making for a persistent distraction. One that drags along more trouble than she left behind.

“Tomorrow let’s tackle the roof on the small barn. Last week when we had that rain come through, the horses stayed drier under the overhang covering the outside pen than they did inside the barn itself.”
I’m glad we’re onto more palatable dinner subjects now. As my Pops ages, his choice of casual conversation over a meal, more often than not, includes the day’s special on ailments or a detailed report on bodily functions.
Today’s topics of choice had been ingrown toenails and the effects of the latest pinto bean crop on a senior’s digestive system. Yeah, my dad can be a laugh-and-a-half at the dinner table.
“Absolutely,” I say, trying not to sound too relieved at the change in topic. “Do we still have a few of those corrugated roof panels we used on the shelter for the woodpile?”
“Probably just one or two,” Pops answers, before taking another massive bite of his hamburger.
“Maybe we’ll head into Cortez in the morning?”
“We can hit Denny’s for breakfast,” he says, slurping the dregs of his milkshake loudly.
Pops is a man of simple pleasures; a regular constitution and a hearty meal. Throw in a beer occasionally and he’s a happy man. He also likes predictability, which is why I’ve made it a point in recent years, to keep my schedule clear on Friday afternoons. We go out for an early meal—Pops like to eat at five—and catch up on our weeks, before planning out our weekend.
I don’t have much of a life outside of work. Sadly, my father is responsible for the bulk of my socializing. Friday dinners at a restaurant of his choice, and the weekends mostly putzing about our property. There are days when I feel more like sixty than the barely forty years I’m old.
“Now there’s a sight for sore eyes.”
I barely register Pop’s voice as I focus on my chicken fried steak sandwich, until the melodic cadence of a familiar voice pierces my awareness.
“First pick a booth, Mak, and then we’ll order.”
I swivel around in my seat to find Stacie’s daughter staring back at me.
“Hey,” I offer in greeting, my eyes immediately looking for, and finding, Stacie behind her. I can feel my face crack open in a big smile.
“Hi,” is the cheerful reply, along with Stacie’s more subdued; “Hello.”
“You friends of my son?” Pops pushes half out of his seat, the paper napkin he habitually tucks in his collar to catch the inevitable crumbs and stains flutters down to the floor, as he sticks out his greasy hand in greeting.
Instead of bouncing my head off the table a few times, which I’d like to do, I also stand up.
“Stacie, this is my father, Henry Flynn. And, Pops, this Stacie Gustafson and her daughter Makenna. Stacie is a colleague.” I’m not quite sure why I add the last, but the moment I see my father’s eyes narrow on Stacie’s face, a feeling of doom settles in my stomach. My pops is not exactly known for tact or subtlety.
“Why don’t you join us?” I quickly ask, hoping to avoid what I know is sure to come. Stacie opens her mouth with what I know will be an objection, but Mak easily slides in the booth beside Pops.
I feel bad for Stacie, who is left standing a little awkwardly next to the table. I grab her hand and gently pull her to sit down. I try to glare at Pops to warn him off when he leans over the table, his head slightly tilted to the side, but he’s like a dog with a bone.
“What happened to your face?”
And there it is.
I’m still contemplating my father’s imminent demise, while desperately seeking for ways to soften the shocked expression on Stacie’s face at the impact of his words, when her little girl pipes up.
“She got burned in an explosion. Gnarly, right? You should see her arm.”
I watch Stacie’s eyes pop open at her daughter’s callous description, but Pops is immediately distracted.
“The explosion up on the mountain last winter? That was your mom? Damn, I heard that was bad.”
“She almost died,” Mak says, her face somber.
“Yeah, but she didn’t, did she?” Pops counters sagely, and I throw up my hands, there’s no way to stop this train wreck. “Looks pretty alive to me.”
Stacie’s eyes, round as saucers, turn to me. Surprisingly, I see a glimmer of humor in their depths.
“Thank God,” her daughter blurts out dramatically, and the whole situation suddenly becomes comical in the most surreal way.
“Yeah—thank God,” Pops echoes, a smirk on his face as he winks across the table at Stacie, who promptly bursts out laughing, and I can’t hold back a chuckle. “Besides, they can fix that, you know?”
“Oh, I know,” Mak says wisely, tucking her paper napkin in the collar of her shirt, mimicking my dad. A move that makes all of the adults at the table smile. “Mom’s having her face done in two weeks.”

After a little confusion—during which the waitress shows up to take Stacie and Mak’s orders, and Pops takes the opportunity to order another milkshake and order of fries—I manage to glean that having her face done means Stacie apparently has another surgery scheduled.

Freya Barker inspires with her stories about ‘real’ people, perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy. She is the author of the Cedar Tree Series and the Portland, ME, novels.
Freya is the recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None,” and is a finalist for the 2016 Kindle Book Awards for “From Dust”. She currently has two complete series and three anthologies published, and is working on two new series; La Plata County FBI—ROCK POINT, and Northern Lights. She continues to spin story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

KT Dove grew up, and still lives, in the Midwest. At an early age she developed a love of reading, driving the local librarians crazy, and would plan plot lines and stories for her favorite characters. KT received degrees in English, Speech/Drama, and Education. And yet instead of becoming an English teacher as planned, she opted for an unexpected HEA. 

Now married, a mother and still an avid reader, she stumbled upon the Indie author movement and became involved on several levels. Never in her wildest imagination would she have thought she would co-author a book. With the support of her family, she took the plunge, adding writing to an already busy literary existence.  

She wouldn’t have it any other way.
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