“Just Like the Bronte Sisters” by Laurel Osterkamp #Excerpt #Giveaway

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Just Like the Bronte Sisters coverTitle: Just Like the Bronte Sisters

Author: Laurel Osterkamp

Genre: Women’s Fiction/NA/Magical Realism

Sisters Skylar and Jo Beth adore skiing and they virtually share the same soul. After an accident, Jo Beth flees to Brazil, leaving Skylar behind in Colorado to obsessively read the Brontë sisters. While abroad, Jo Beth meets Mitch and her life takes some unexpected turns, until tragedy leads free-spirited Mitch right into Skylar’s empty arms. With their Heathcliff/Catherine romance in full swing, Skylar wants to trust Mitch, but did he harm her sister? Loving Mitch could make Skylar lose everything. Just Like the Brontë Sisters is an unconventional romantic page-turner inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, full of magical realism, literary references, a ghost, and some healthy doses of suspense.

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Excerpt #1

Later that evening I was still pumped. The dim lighting, soft classical music, and the glass of red wine didn’t mellow me out.  Gavin stood over the stove, stirring his homemade marinara with a small wooden spoon and I pretended not to notice him watching me as I sat on a stool by the island in the kitchen, leafing through an Olympics brochure. I could feel the angry path of a scratch that started at my cheekbone and extended down to my jaw, but I refused to admit to any discomfort or pain. Doing so would invite in Gavin’s judgment and concern, and I knew I’d be ingesting them enough tonight as it was. They may as well have been ingredients in the spaghetti sauce.

I just talked as if his ears were receptive. “Billy pretended to be mad, but I think he secretly respected me.  After practice today, he talked like there’s no doubt I’d be in the Olympics. And seriously, being suspended in the air like that… well, now I understand how people become adrenaline junkies.”

“I’m surprised you came out of the whole thing with only a scratch.”

“You sound like my dad.”

“Then I’ll try to be less protective,” Gavin gave me a twisty smile as he dipped the spoon into his sauce and came toward me. “Here, try this. See if it needs more garlic.”

Halfheartedly, I let him feed me a small amount.  We made flat eye contact and I shrugged. “I think you could go either way. I mean, it’s fine, but is there such a thing as too much garlic?”

“I don’t know.” He raised an eyebrow. “I guess that depends; are you letting me sleep in your bed tonight?”

My eyes awkwardly glanced away from him and settled back on my Olympics brochure, which had a picture of a triumphant Bode Miller on the front.

“How long before dinner?” I kept my voice intentionally light, like I hadn’t registered what he’d just said. “I might go downstairs and stretch. I still have a leg cramp.”

“I can rub it for you later.”

I leaned down and massaged my calf muscle. “Thanks, but I still want to stretch.”

I glanced up to see Gavin’s smile fade as he stepped away, walked back toward the stove, and spoke with his back to me. “I think we should talk.” Ominous words if there ever were any. I stood without going anywhere, as if our situation required formality. “Did you hear what I said?” Gavin said. “About talking?”

His urgency, his obvious desperation, propelled words out of my mouth before I could trap them. “Can’t you just be the guy for once?”

He dropped his spoon against the stove with a clang. “What? I’m not manly enough for you? I stay home in the kitchen while you go flying off a mountain, like you’re trying to be your sister or something…”

“Wait.” My defensiveness was instant and hot, a rash underneath my skin. “I do something spontaneous, something strong, and you think I’m just imitating Jo Beth?”

“Skiing past the safety barricades and off a cliff isn’t strong, it’s reckless, and it’s not like you.”

“Oh really? Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do.”

“Maybe I don’t,” he responded, “but it’s not for lack of trying.”

For a long, tense moment, Gavin stared at me, as if willing me to answer. I shifted my weight and looked toward the stairs to the basement, where I longed to escape from this conversation.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” I finally said.

“It’s simple,” he replied. “I want you to be safe. I want you to stay here in Black Diamond, and I want you to admit to me, to yourself, and to everyone else, that you and I are actually a couple.”

My answer was spineless. “I don’t know if I can do all that.”

Gavin’s face softened, maybe because he was as unprepared for my sudden vulnerability as I was. “Which part don’t you think you can do?”

I could barely squeak out my response, for fear that it would hurt us both. “All of it.”

Gavin nodded as if we’d just completed a business transaction. His shoulders rose and tensed as he turned off the stove with a flick. “I’m going. Just boil some noodles, then pour the sauce over them. It will taste good.”

I gave Gavin a reticent smile meant to beg forgiveness, but he wouldn’t look at me. “No, no,” I said. “Stay. Please, I want you to.”

He walked out of the kitchen, past me, and towards the front door. I followed and watched as he removed his wool coat from a hook and bundled up. My hands twitched from wanting to touch him, to soothe his anger, but my fingers were too timid to follow through.

He was clearly fuming. “Be honest, Sky. You’d rather have the night to yourself.”

I pictured the evening ahead of me, should he leave. It would start with a cold blast of air as he opened the door, a slamming sound as he walked away, and then the emptiness and guilt as I poured his marinara sauce into the sink, a blood red stream trickling down the drain because I couldn’t stomach eating his dinner without him.  “That’s not true,” I said, trying to keep my voice close. “I just don’t get why we have to turn into something serious, into something that we’re not.”

“Because I’m tired of being ‘that guy’—the one you kill time with when you have nothing else to do.”

I felt my face heat up “I admit that I’m anxious to get out of here and into the Olympics. But my restlessness isn’t about you. I’m just sick of waiting for something to happen. You’re still my favorite person to spend time with.”

He paused, hand on the doorknob. I could see how he wanted to leave, how he wanted to stay even more.  “Please don’t go,” I continued. “That sauce you made is delicious, and you don’t have to add any more garlic. That way our breath won’t stink too bad—you know, later on.”

I stepped in closer to him and put my hand on the back of his neck. He relaxed under my touch.

“Fine, okay.” Gavin whispered as he removed his jacket and we walked back into the kitchen together.

Later, I was in the bathroom, gargling with mouthwash. Green foam oozed down my chin and I used the sleeve of my oversized ski team jersey, which I wore as a nightshirt, to wipe it away.  As I spat out the rest of the mouthwash I met my own eyes in the mirror.

Was that hesitation or fear lodged on my face?

I spat again, cupped my hand over my mouth, and breathed in and out through my nose, checking for signs of bad breath. There had been a lot of garlic in Gavin’s sauce. But I was satisfied that I passed the halitosis test, so I fished in the drawer, digging past hair brushes, tweezers, and a bottle of ADVIL to finally find an unopened box of condoms, which I had previously shoved into the very back, out of sight.

Briefly I studied the box that I bought months ago as a precautionary measure. I ripped open the blue and gold packaging, which read Trojan Ultra-Thin Pleasure Pack, and clumsily pulled one out. How could this shiny silver square, which looked like it contained candy, make me so nervous?  Skiing off a cliff was nothing compared to this. I wrapped my fingers around the bright foil package, making a fist, so I didn’t have to see evidence of what I was about to do. I told myself that losing my virginity didn’t make me Becky Sharp of Vanity Fair and that becoming a sexual person didn’t turn me into an anti-heroine. I would instead be like Jo March, sleeping with her love, the professor, for the first time, somewhere off in the dusky void that existed away from well-lit pages underneath a reading lamp.

One more look in the mirror; this time it was a look of resolve. I studied the scratch on my cheek, made this afternoon by my ski pole when I’d landed in the snow, and lightly traced it down my cheek. “Gavin, I’m in the mood for more adventure,” I whispered to my reflection, rehearsing. I closed my eyes, shook my head in disgust, and then faced my reflection once again.

“Let’s take a chance tonight, okay?”

I gave my reflection the most provocative expression I could muster. My shoulders moved up and down, and then I walked out of the bathroom, determined to fly, not fall, off the cliff that I was launching myself from.


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Laurel OsterkampLaurel Osterkamp is a Kindle Scout/award-winning author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her “day job” is as at Columbia Heights High School, where she teaches creative writing, college writing, and AP Lit. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, two chatty children, an overweight cat, a gecko, and a hissing cockroach (don’t ask). Her other loves include chocolate, jogging, and boots.

~ Links ~

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

Website: http://laurel.pmibooks.com/

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“Holiday Love: A Love Brothers Novella (The Love Brothers)” by Liz Crowe #ReleaseBlitz


Title: Holiday Love
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 8, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

After building her successful business from a two-bay garage hair salon to a large, destination pampering spa Renee Reese is contemplating yet another needed expansion. When she finally decides to take up Michael O’Leary’s offer of a commercial loan from his bank, her world changes forever–but not the way she thought it would. A strong woman with a head for business, gossip, friendship, and bad choices in love meets her match in a funny, sexy, poignant and surprising May-December romance.

Holiday Love: A Novella of The Love Brothers Series—a family saga full of humor, heat, and heart…not to mention beer, bourbon, and basketball!


Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.
The Liz Crowe voice brings something new and unique, both in settings and characters, that will thrill readers of romance, women’s fiction and chick lit alike.

“If you want a story that will grip your heart and bring all your emotions into play, then do not miss a Liz Crowe story.”
—International Best Selling Author Desiree Holt

“Liz Crowe is my drug of choice for unconventional romance that pushes the envelope of my comfort zone.”
–Best Selling Author of the Enigma Series, Ditter Kellan

Liz Crowe writes intense true-to-life stories that make you feel. Whether it’s anxiety, love, fear, hate, bliss, or loss woven into her plot lines, you will feel it deep down to your very soul.
–Audrey Carlan, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

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“Always Him” by Ann Grech #NewRelease

Always Him cover“Always Him”

by Ann Grech (Author)

Genre: Holiday/LGBT/Gay

Release Date: December 4, 2017

Forgetting them was near impossible, but choosing one was harder.

Declan had kept his secret for so long; its revelation could destroy his family. Being gay wasn’t it. The truth was far worse—he’d fallen for his stepbrother, Ollie.

Returning home for the holidays wasn’t something he did very often, but his mom insisted on it that year. His trip home didn’t turn out as he expected; Declan’s world was flipped on its head by a sexy stranger. Now he was torn, unable to get Batman out of his head and Ollie out of his heart.

Note: this story was originally published in the Tempting Scrooge anthology, but has been substantially revised, reedited and additional content added.

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“An Intention of Flowers (Work of Art Book 1)” by Ken La Salle #Excerpts

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Work of Art coverTitle: Work of Art: An Intention of Flowers

Author: Ken La Salle

Genre: YA / Contemporary Fiction

Oily pavement.

Thick tempera paint.

A parking lot filled with history, fear, and regret.

A young man named Joseph Arillo sits in the parking lot and paints the pavement with flowers.

And Andy Hollis steps in it.

As the new art teacher at Santa Ana High School, he’s too curious about Joseph’s Flowers and unravels both of their lives in his pursuit for answers.

He learns that it’s all part of a rite of passage, an absurd test started by Joseph Arillo’s father, the suspiciously world-renowned artist named only Tom. Which also connects to the drama teacher at Santa Ana High, Katie Bustos. Whose daughter, Desiree, may or may not be dating Joseph. Who is putting himself in danger from a local gang, the lot’s mysterious history, and the police.

Andy puts himself in danger of losing his job, his home, and his freedom. If he can’t solve the riddle of Joseph’s Flowers, both of their lives will go up in smoke – despite any help from Winny, the old, Slovakian bureaucrat at school, or his students, or Tom himself.

But is Tom trying to help? And is Joseph really up to his father’s test?

And is Andy really fit to be a teacher? He doesn’t understand kids, can’t get to school on time, and… doesn’t appear to care about art or families or anything. But Joseph’s Flowers will challenge everything Andy believes: about himself, about the world, and most importantly of all about art.

Before Andy and Joseph are finished, they will witness the power art has to provide inspiration, to waken our hearts, and to shatter everything you ever believed about humanity.

An Intention of Flowers is the first book in a 5-book series, modestly titled Work of Art, about growing into the person you always wanted to be, making the most of what you have to give and not just what you have, and the power in each of us when we chose to be ourselves.

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~ Author Bio ~

Ken La SalleAuthor and occasional philosopher and monologist, Ken La Salle’s passion is intense humor, meaningful drama, and finding answers to the questions that define our lives. Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue collar roots, which have given his writing a progressive and environmentalist view. You can find a growing number of his books and performances available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at www.kenlasalle.com.


Twitter Feed: http://twitter.com/KenLaSalle

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/kenlasalleAuthor

YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/theKenLaSalle

Website link: http://www.kenlasalle.com/

Amazon page link: https://www.amazon.com/Ken-La-Salle/e/B004U6OFQ0/

Book Excerpts

Excerpt 2

I stopped for a minute and looked at her, taking in the ludicrous sight of this old woman barring my exit. “Winny, do you understand what this means? What you just told me? Do you know what’s going to happen to Joseph?”

“Do you know,” she asked, “that I’m going to lose my car? That you’re going to destroy my credit rating? Is that the way you want to pay me back for bailing you out?

“Listen, Winny. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you did for me. I do. But can you imagine what’s going to happen to Joseph? Do you want that poor kid going to jail, too?”

“No… I don’t.”

I could see her relax her stance just a little so I stepped forward and said in a softer tone, “Then, you need to let me help him. Please.”

She was lost in thought for a moment, but then she looked up at me and said, “No. I can’t let you do that. Bailing you out makes you my responsibility and I will stop you by whatever means necessary.”


“Meaning,” Winny said, “that I have a gun in my purse and I am willing to use it if I have to.”

I looked at the little purse she carried. There was no way a gun could fit in that purse. Winny was bluffing and she wasn’t even that good at it.

I couldn’t wait any longer. I puffed up my chest and stepped forward. “I’m going, Winny. I don’t care if I have to move you aside.”

Turns out, her purse was big enough to hold a gun. She pulled it out and pointed it at me without hesitation. “Don’t you listen?” she asked.

“Of course, I listen,” I replied, backing away. “I just thought you were lying, that’s all.”

“Someone threatens you with a gun and you think they’re lying? What the hell’s the matter with you?”

She took a step toward me, herding me into the living room. I moved out of her way like any good sheep. I’m no fan of guns. “Well, when they do that in movies, it always turns out to be a bluff.”

“Movies?” Winny asked.

“Old movies, mostly,” I told her.

“How stupid are you?”

Winny’s question hung in the air, filling the apartment, waiting for an answer. But I wasn’t going to argue. “I can be just as dumb as you need me to be. Just do me a favor and put the gun away.”

“Oh, come on,” she groused. “It’s only a .22.”

“You were going to kill me with a .22?”

“Who said anything about kill?” Winny took her seat on the recliner and spun it in my direction. “I figured I’d shoot you in the foot or in the leg. You’d bleed pretty badly but you probably wouldn’t die.”

Excerpt 3

The first time I met Joseph Arillo, I didn’t expect I’d go to jail or even get beat up as a result. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

Joseph was sitting out in the middle of a parking lot the first time I saw him. He was a small kid, not the kind you’d notice, practically invisible. In a downpour, he’d probably weigh a few pounds but it would all be water caught in that long, brown hair of his that went straight down his back. He had brown skin like everybody else in Southern California, except perhaps for me, and wore threadbare clothes like a badge. I was walking out of the liquor store, Rod’s Liquor on the corner of 14th and Main, carrying my morning Strawberry Quik and…

“What’cha got there?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer. He didn’t even look at me.

What he was working at caught my attention, though. There he was, on his hands and knees, practically lying down on the cracked and weathered asphalt… painting.

I opened the ice cold Quik and took a swig. Nothing went down better after a jog than a Quik. You might say that was why I never took off any weight but the hell with you; I didn’t ask.

I walked around to watch him work and to see what he had done. He didn’t move. He didn’t appear defensive or concerned in any way. There, on the ground between the oil stains, faded parking lot lines and various other markings – tire marks and graffiti – this young man was painting… “What is that? A flower?”

He had a silver Sharpie in one hand and a butter knife in the other. He was working the silver onto the concrete around circles of bright red paint, creating the sheen on what would undoubtedly be rose petals. Whenever he made a mistake, he’d take an old, brown brush and dab it out or go back with the Sharpie – but he hardly made any mistakes.

I knelt down and took a look at the pen in his hand. “What’s that? A one inch fine? Where’d you learn to get that kind of detail with a one inch fine?”

“I’m good,” were his first words to me.

“You’re painting flowers in a parking lot, kid. You’re not Michelangelo.” I noticed his choice of paint cans was interesting: old Advil bottles. Big ones. The kind your arthritic grandmother might have. “Still… What’s with the flower?”

Nothing. Not even a glance.



Enter Ken La Salle’s giveaway for a chance to win one of 5 copies of An Intention of Flowers.


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#Review “Emotional Beats” by Nicholas C. Rossis

5/5 Stars!

Emotional Beats coverThis is another great reference that strips away unnecessary verbiage, giving you just the facts to help make your writing come alive and make your characters more relatable… instead of allowing them to shrug and glare for three hundred pages.

All writers can benefit from the contents of this book, but I especially recommend it to new writers who may be unfamiliar with beats—descriptions of physical actions—large or small—that fall between lines of dialogue.

Included are beats for different body parts, movements, manners of speech, and even one thousand verbs to write by.

The right movement or gesture can help bring readers into your story and help you avoid the risk of showing vs telling, and this short thesaurus of feelings and movements is a great aide to help you meet the challenge regardless of genre or writing style.

Can be used when writing, revising or editing manuscripts or blog content. You’ll want to keep it close because you’ll reach for it often… especially if you have emotional, over-wrought characters like mine!


“Emotional Beats: How to Easily Convert your Writing into Palpable Feelings (Author Tools Book 1)”

Genre: Writing Skills/Writing Guides/Thesauruses
Release Date: September 10, 2016 (Paperback)
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