Month: May 2020
#BookTour “Every Step” by C.J. Burright
C.J Burright is a native Oregonian and refuses to leave. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter, while she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers (for now) and instead invades the world of paranormal romance, fantasy, and contemporary romance. C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes a story isn’t complete without at least one fight scene. Her meager spare time is spent working out, refueling with mochas, gardening, gorging on Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners…always with music. She shares life with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.
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#PreOrder “Malice and Forethought” by Felicia Denise
RELEASES TOMORROW – JUNE 1ST!
Malice and Forethought:
Short Stories of Malice and Murder
by Felicia Denise
Cover Design: perry elisabeth design
Genre: Crime Thriller / Suspense / Short Stories
Release Date: June 1, 2020
Malice – noun; mal·ice | ˈma-ləs
1 : desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
2 : intent to commit an unlawful act or cause harm without legal justification or excuse
//ruined her reputation and did it with malice
Everyone is capable of malice and no one is immune to its outcome.
A Hint of Malice – When her last living relative commits suicide after having her identity and assets stolen, a grieving niece longs for justice.
Burned – When the masterminds behind a major drug operation get off with a slap on the wrists, a frustrated police detective warns them their wealth cannot shield them from everything.
The Marshall Sisters – After seeing her sister mistreated by far too many men, Leslie Marshall is proud of Paula for standing up for herself and accompanies her on a cold winter’s night to confront her boyfriend, but even Leslie isn’t ready for the new, assertive Paula.
The Watcher – Shamed into exile by his family because of his sexual fetish and hanging on to the shreds of his sanity, a man plots the ultimate date night with his new neighbor.
What’s done in the dark always comes to the light.
~ PreOrder ~
99c / 99p
Song Lyric Sunday | “Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies
Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.
This week’s theme is “Cinnamon/Mint/Parsley/Pepper/Rosemary/Sage/Salt/Thyme.”
If it isn’t spicy… it’s sweet, and I went in the other direction… because I’m me. 😀
Jeff Barry and Andy Kim wrote Sugar, Sugar with preschoolers in mind since that was the audience for the Saturday morning Archie TV show (Barry had children aged 3 and 4 at the time). The “You are my candy girl” line came from them thinking about what kids that age like (candy!). Still, they wanted the song to appeal to adults as well, so they included a line with some weight: “I just can’t believe the loveliness of loving you.”
The song reached No. 1 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969, knocking Honky Tonk Women by the Rolling Stones out of the top spot and remained there for four weeks. It was also No.1 on the UK Singles chart in that same year for eight weeks.
Sugar, Sugar was the #1 song of 1969 in the US, according to Billboard’s year-end chart, beating out songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, and Stevie Wonder. It logged more weeks on the Hot 100 (22) than any other song that year.
In addition to Barry and Kim, “The Archies” included session musicians Toni Wine, Ron Dante and Ellie Greenwich. Kim had a hit in 1974 with Rock Me Gently; Dante produced Mandy for Barry Manilow and Heartbreaker for Pat Benatar. Greenwich and Barry, who were married from 1962-1965, wrote many famous songs, including Be My Baby and Chapel Of Love; Toni Wine wrote the hit songs A Groovy Kind Of Love and Candida.
- The Archies group was put together by Don Kirshner, a prolific promoter and producer. Kirshner also created The Monkees, and wanted to do the same thing with cartoon characters because they are much easier to work with than people.
- The line, “Pour a little sugar on me, baby” inspired the title for the 1987 Def Leppard hit Pour Some Sugar On Me.
- R&B singer Wilson Pickett recorded a cover version of Sugar, Sugar in 1970 that reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 4 on the R&B chart. Pickett’s recording was later used in the 1997 film The Ice Storm.
- Sugar, Sugar wasn’t the first Archies song. The “group” released several singles in 1968, including Bang-Shang-A-Lang, written by Jeff Barry, which went to #22. The follow-up to Sugar, Sugar was Jingle Jangle, which reached #10 and went Gold.
See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for FeliciaDenise.com.
Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.
You are my candy girl
And you got me wanting you
You are my candy girl
And you’ve got me wanting you
(I just can’t believe it’s true)
I just can’t believe the one to love this feeling to
(I just can’t believe it’s true)
You are my candy girl
And you’ve got me wanting you
Ah honey, ah sugar sugar
You are my candy girl
And you’ve got me wanting you
(I know how sweet a kiss can be)
Like the summer sunshine pour your sweetness over me
(Pour your sweetness over me)
Pour a little sugar on it baby
I’m gonna make your life so sweet, yeah yeah yeah
Pour a little sugar on it oh yeah
Pour a little sugar on it honey
Pour a little sugar on it baby
I’m gonna make your life so sweet, yeah yeah yeah
Pour a little sugar on it honey
You are my candy girl
And you’ve got me wanting you
Oh honey, honey, sugar sugar
(Honey, honey, sugar sugar)
You are my candy girl
Milestones of Loss
Dennis Reevers: May 6, 1955 – May 30, 2019
For most of our lives we take time for granted. We look forward to the rights of passage of certain birthdays and holidays ushering us into new chapters of life. We rush down new pathways to careers, marriage and family, stopping to celebrate the moment…because we love our milestones.
Except for the milestones of loss.
We don’t celebrate those. We dread them. We try to fill our minds and time to avoid thinking about the next second. The next minute.
We endure anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays, lying to ourselves that we’re okay…we’re carrying on.
And we might be okay. Maybe we’ve learned how to live with the pain instead of fighting it. But then, we’re faced with one of the worst milestones of all.
And we’re shattered all over again. But that’s okay. No one can tell us how long to grieve. We’ll do it our way, in our time.
We’ll wake up and start the journey to year two.
It will be easier this time… because we know the way now.
Continue to rest in peace, my love. Our children are amazing! You’d be so proud!
#NewRelease #NEW “Stepping Up: Humorous and Heartwarming Sister Saga (Sisters in a Small Town Book 3)” by Holly Kerr
Loving your sisters is easy. Getting them to accept your help is the hard part.
It may have taken years, but all five Skatt sisters are finally back together. Their antics in the tiny Northern Ontario town are legendary, involving fistfights and fierce tempers, stealing boyfriends, and standing up for each other.
Until now, Kayleigh’s been content to live in the shadow of her sisters, always putting them first, happy to blend into the background of their lives. When Cat, the baby of the family can’t get pregnant and Kayleigh offers to become a surrogate, she discovers that stepping up for her sister also means stepping back from her dreams. Will she ever have a family of her own? It doesn’t help that Dory’s return to Forest Hills has stirred up old grudges that Kayleigh doesn’t know if she can ever forgive.
Dory, on the other hand, has never put her sisters first but a lifetime of being the bad sister has taken it’s toll on her. After beating cancer not once, but twice, Dory wants her sisters to realize she’s changed, but with a reputation for trouble, trust isn’t easy to earn. And when Dory meets handsome ex-cop Drew Conlin, her past threatens to ruin everything she’s worked for.
The two sisters are complete opposites, but sometimes opposites make the best allies. Can these two sisters resolve their differences in time to help each other step up and make their dreams come true?
Stepping Up is the third book in the heartwarming Sisters in a Small Town series about love and family and what sisters will do for each other.
#BookTour “Sophie & The Bookmobile” by Kathleen M. Jacobs
#BookSale “Haunted House Ghost (Braxton Campus Mysteries #5)” by James J. Cudney
Not only were many of the books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries discounted to .99 this week, but the 5th book, Haunted House Ghost, is also available as a Kindle download for only .99 from 5/29 thru 6/2. To take advantage of this discount, visit Amazon via this link.
Overview of Haunted House Ghost
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.
Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.
While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
Haunted House Ghost Purchase Links
Large Print: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghostbralp
In the book, we quickly learn about a fire that occurred on campus during a 1968 Vietnam War protest. I imagine it looked a little bit like the one below…
Below are the key details to find the blog tour… it was so much fun. There were character posts, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways!
Dear Readers: I deeply appreciate the author for having sent this book on over. The character development is superb. As these books progress, the characters come alive. Kellan has a great sense of humor. If this book were made into a Halloween movie or TV show, I would enjoy seeing Kellan’s responses to various things. In addition to his great sense of humor, Kellen has a knack for finding crime scenes and the putting pieces together and solving the mystery.
Interestingly, this one is a part of a whole series of cozy mysteries. Each can be read as a stand-alone and are connected at the same time. There are a lot of twists and turns along with a good many story lines within the book. Amazingly, the author managed to see all the adventures through, and tied everything up in a neat and tidy bow.
…. And these leave the reader wanting more. Yes…. There is a cliff hanger and now, I will wait patiently for the next book. I thank the author kindly for having written this book. Everyone enjoys a good mystery. This one satisfied that urge to read a good mystery. It is greatly appreciated that one can read this book into the wee hours of the morning and still be able to sleep, and not fight off horrible scary nightmares!
“I went to the Land of Braxton
Met up with Kellan and Ulan
A cousin from Africa he was
Wanted to move to New house
But a ghost haunted that place
A skeleton was found in old library space
A confession, an attack on the side
A new murder too on the hayride
Who was the victim no one knew
The suspects were old but still new
Father and son were present
Ex and new, old and psychic were sent
A priest and his family were shaken
Kellan and April, their time was taken
A breakthrough occurred in Kellan’s mind
He showed James J Cudney is one of a kind.”
The magician has done it again. A brilliant whodunit!! James J Cudney brought out a pack of cards from his top hat and constructed a house so deeply layered that the clues were hidden in the sleight of his hand.
Brilliant in his writing, it all started with a nightmare, the words had a haunting smoothness to it. If you listened carefully, you would hear the grim reaper with the scythe.
I have never seen autumn and Halloween in real life, the author made them come alive for me with the power of his writing. Red herrings were placed strategically amongst the orange pumpkins and the Halloween props. They blended in so smoothly that guessing the killer was beyond me.
The old characters returned, romance between Sheriff April and Kellan had its sexy moments before a skeleton and murder rudely interrupted them. The plotline had many twists as this author’s books often do, and the finale was a perfect amalgamation of real and unreal.
I repeat – a fun whodunit with shades of autumn, Halloween, and ghostly sightings.
This series is so much fun! And when I saw this title and this cover, I just knew it was going to be my favorite. I’m a huge Halloween fan and would seriously just like this holiday year round! Anyway, now that I’m going off course, let me get to my boy Kellan!
Kellan’s life is full of so much drama and I love it! There’s a ton of mystery to these stories, but what I like just as much is the family dynamic with the side characters. Kellan’s such an awesome dad, and I’ve always wanted that bond he has with Nana D. Seriously, I want my own Nana D! Also, there is some awesome chemistry between April and Kellan in this one! They need to catch a break!
There was talk about Halloween costumes, food, and an entertaining mystery that needed to be solved! Can I also mention that this book had me at skeleton being found in the library! I literally finished this one in less than 24 hours because I wanted to know what was going on! Andddddddd of course there is a cliffhanger, so that leaves me yearning for the next book! Side note: can there just be a Netflix series on Kellan’s mysteries? That would be amazing!
I’m a huge fan of Cudney’s and of course love this series! Protagonist Kellen is moving into his new home that is rumored to be haunted and the first scene will scare you enough to compel you to finish. It’s the same quirky family, featuring his sweet young daughter, feisty Nana D as well as the rest of his family and relatively new love interest, April. There are several murders and lots of characters, layers and layers of plot and history surrounding the house. Even though I recommend reading the entire series, each book can stand alone as Cudney gives us plenty of background on each. This one is a little different as it brings in some spooky and macabre elements that gives it a little bit of a gothic feel. But there’s also Cudney’s charming humor that makes you laugh out loud and now has me wondering which Halloween socks to wear! This series just keeps getting better and better so now I’m awaiting #6!
This season we are back with Kellan as he’s once again pulled in a million different directions what with parenting not only Emma but his cousin as well, along with teaching, other family obligations with Nana D, Violet, Eleanor, etc., and being co-chair of a Halloween/Fall Festival being held at Danby Landing, all while trying to complete fixing up his newold house so they can move in. But all is not smooth sailing for the Ayrwick family as strange things have been happening during the renovation process. Conveniently, Gabriel has been away so they’ve been able to stay in the cottage. And the possibility that these things are being caused by the supernatural causes Kellan (though he doesn’t believe) to agree that Eleanor can contact her psychic friend Madam Zenya to see if she can help.
The renovations for the Braxton Campus library also get underway in this book but those are put on hold when during the demolition a body is discovered in the foundation. So now Kellan feels compelled to investigate that situation as well.
I quite enjoyed reading this story, and it’s always good to catch up my friends in Braxton. I also often emulate Nana D, as I also bake pie the first weekend of October. And I think this story has just enough suspense and mystery and humour and just Fall fun to make it the perfect read to curl up with on a cool Autumn night, along with a blanket and a hot chocolate.
Hunkering behind a weathered, illegible headstone in Wellington Cemetery’s oldest and scariest graveyard, I remained silent and stationary amidst a slew of exhumed corpses. Though surrounded by tall, slender white pines, a gnarly and knotty willow tree’s sweeping canopy of dying branches furtively brushed my neck. After an onslaught of howling winds furiously whipped my quivering skin, I peered over the loosened tomb marker and gawked at the mounds of freshly flung dirt. Why had a ruthless monster dug up so many coffins near the Grey mausoleum?
Skulking two rows away, the determined villain’s soulless eyes glowed like burning coal. The chilling tone of St. Mary’s somber church bells blasted—midnight’s fortuitous arrival. Its ominous beckoning prompted my unsteady feet to falter, crunching a pile of decaying leaves and foolishly revealing my secret location. Suddenly enshrouded in fog and hovering near the nameless gravestone, the rogue’s flowing black and gray robes resembled billowing smoke from an overworked chimney. “I hear you breathing, Ayrwick. Come out, come out wherever you are. I’m not finished with this game.”
“I don’t know who you are, but your obsession with me has spiraled out of control.” As an aloof moon cast an eerie luminosity, I cursed my new modern, sporty aviator eyeglasses for clouding over. Apparition or figment of an overwrought imagination, I couldn’t be certain; nor did I care at that moment. “You can’t be real. My mind is playing tricks on me.”
The ethereal bogeyman glided inches above the churchyard’s hallowed ground. The soles of its feet would vaporize upon stepping in the sacred dirt of the meandering pathways. “Are you ready to die?” the menacing, shrill voice taunted while hunting and cornering me in the darkness of my desolate hiding spot—the cold, melancholy resonance frightening all the bats, owls, and other nightlife creatures into hurried seclusion. The masked phantom narrowed a sinister gaze and brandished a mammoth-sized, razor-sharp scythe that cut swiftly through the crisp air and aimed with precision for my neck.
My arms floundered like gelatin as I struggled to push the heavy cement slab to the ground, then jumped feet first into a vacant grave with my hands and arms protecting my soon-to-be decapitated head. The stealthy tormentor cackled wildly and seized my forearm with an uncannily strong and bony grip, delivering a blast of pure ice that raced through my veins and barreled toward my erratically beating heart. My body froze as though a glacier engulfed and preserved me for all eternity.
It was then I heard myself bellow like a rabid coyote, feverishly rolling off the uncomfortable couch toward the wooden floor in the house I’d recently renovated. My petrified body trembled uncontrollably and sweated profusely. Only a nightmare, I reminded myself while rubbing sand from my weary eyes and concentrating on the conspicuously soundless room. Ever since undertaking the massive remodel, a recurring dream about a creepy grim reaper’s intent to kill me had reared its ugly head.
The vacuous, gloomy memory of the previous night had mercifully disappeared. Hopeful rays of sunshine blasted through the living room’s new bay windows and moored on the precipice of the foyer. Sparkling collections of construction dust and a pungent combination of mothballs and musty old clothes abruptly materialized in the stifled air. When a light breeze curiously swept across my startled skin, the hair on the back of my neck tingled. A willowy shadow lingered in the adjacent central hallway, confirming someone hid inside my home.
I blinked at what was hopefully a mirage, then startled again. An eerie squeak and pervasive thump echoed in the rafters of the foyer’s vaulted ceiling. Had one of the nearby heavy wooden doors just opened and closed? I leapt to my feet and rushed through the hallway to catch the troublesome lurker, but the basement ingress was as permanently sealed as it’d been on my first tour of Judge Hiram Grey’s former abode. For a multitude of reasons, we still hadn’t located the key to the sub-level of my newly acquired, antiquated, and historic home.
The nightmare I’d just awoken from must’ve incited me to imagine the whole series of events. No one lurked inside the house, which unnerved me far worse than the half-dozen times someone had surreptitiously followed me to the new neighborhood. It was as if a stalker tracked my every move, always two steps behind me in the shadows yet never in clear sight. I never asked for this.
Three months ago, my impulsive uncle begged Nana D to raise his fifteen-year-old son, Ulan, for the foreseeable future. Uncle Zach had extended his year-long expedition to protect an African elephant species nearing extinction, but my grandmother was too preoccupied with winning Wharton County’s mayoral election to acquiesce to his request. As an alternative solution, without my consent, they’d designated me Ulan’s temporary guardian. This would force me to vacate the small cottage at Danby Landing, Nana D’s organic orchard and farm, where my daughter Emma and I lived.
Due to my snarky yet generous grandmother’s aid over the summer, I’d bought The Old Grey Place and partnered with a contractor to address the most crucial repairs and optimal redesign options. Residing on a two-acre lot, the charming Victorian home offered excellent bones but had been left in disrepair for far too long. A central hallway divided the dilapidated dwelling in half, with an imposing flight of steps leading upstairs and a basement door whose contents would apparently be a future surprise. Two large rooms anchored the left side, and two more of equal size flagged the right. The home’s original owner had spread all the quarters requiring plumbing across the rear of the house, connecting them via a circular mudroom that presented exits to a detached three-car garage and well-proportioned yet overrun backyard.
Luckily, because of the condition of The Old Grey Place and lack of any other interest, we’d brokered an impressive deal; otherwise, I couldn’t have afforded it. Throughout the last month, we implemented a major facelift to the first floor to ensure a short-term, livable place to call home—three temporary bedrooms, a functional bathroom, makeshift kitchen, and comfortable living room. Since I hadn’t yet moved in my furniture, the grand relocation would occur next weekend. Over the forthcoming months, extensive renovations on the second floor would build modern bedrooms, a private home office with state-of-the-art filmmaking technology, and a traditional formal library.
Nana D had volunteered to let Ulan and Emma sleep at her farmhouse the previous night, enabling me to tick off an entire page on the extensive to-do list gnawing at my sanity inch by inch. I’d stayed behind to paint all the remaining bedrooms, then crashed on an old couch in my provisional living room. While I wasn’t as skilled in carpentry as my younger brother Gabriel, I insisted that I could roll a brush on the walls with the best of them. Other than the tight schedule, my most terrifying concern was identifying the mischievous devil who’d snuck in and out of the house when no one else was around, attempting to frighten us with childish pranks. Thankfully, the shenanigans amounted to nothing more than harmless inconvenience.
Shaking the distress off my dampened body, I searched for my cell phone. It was nine in the morning, and a critical town meeting required my humble presence on what should’ve been a relaxing Saturday. After a text demanding status on my progress, Nana D informed me that Ulan was studying for his upcoming history exam on the Salem witch trials and Emma was helping to prepare brunch.
My mother verified she was en route to chauffeur me to our planning meeting for Wharton County’s annual Fall Festival. I say our because Nana D had announced to the entire population in her first Notes from the Mayor newsletter that my mother and I would chair the much-anticipated autumn spectacular. Again, she achieved this task sans any input or agreement from us beforehand. With only days under her belt as the county’s new mayor at the time of the proclamation, we couldn’t exactly decline Little Napoleon’s flattering nomination. My barely five-foot-tall spitfire nana, known as Mayor Seraphina Danby to everyone else, had energetically earned the nickname after seeking control over every majestic or infinitesimal item within our north-central Pennsylvania county’s jurisdiction.
I located my overnight bag and fled to the bathroom to determine the extent of the damage. Noticeable splatters of red paint marbled my wavy dirty-blond hair and narrow forehead, reminiscent of pig’s blood dripping on Carrie’s unsuspecting body at the prom in the infamous Stephen King thriller. A piece of masking tape awkwardly clung to the side of my face, hiding one half of my normally well-defined, high cheekbones and irresistible, roguish dimples. I screeched as several facial hairs adhered to the tape like ants on a sugar cube when I tore it off in one rapid, painful motion. “Ouch! How the devil did that get there?”
From my sleepy and distraught body, I stripped off a pair of worn low-rise jeans, snug striped boxer briefs, and my favorite hunter-green t-shirt emblazoned with a sarcastic quote I always preached: I’m not done recovering from perfection. Though painstaking, last month’s workouts had generously chiseled out the flawless V-shape I’d sought; and if I kept at it, those six-pack abs would become a respectable eight-pack again. Staying in shape was important to me, and not just because I was a mite vain like my mother. I also wanted to live forever like Nana D.
A quick shower scrubbed off the stains and the embarrassment over my foolish appearance, enabling me to greet my mother in the driveway. She sprung for what turned out to be the most fantastic three-bean blend of morning joe that either of us had ever tasted. She also gallantly whisked us off to the downtown civic center to verify the Fall Festival was in tip-top shape. Several arguments and compromises—concerning the overly ridiculous rules for the haunted hayrides and jack-o’-lantern carving contests—detained us longer than expected. After relenting to an exceedingly caustic fellow team member and addressing a budget deficiency, we hightailed it to Danby Landing for brunch.
“I’ll bet Nana D is baking a traditional apple pie, complete with a crispy lattice crust and gooey cinnamon sugar filling. Impeccably uniform slices, no misshapen fruit chunks either,” I repeated for the third time, salivating on par with Baxter, my daughter’s always-hungry and constantly-begging-for-food six-month-old puppy. “The loser pays for lunch next week. That is, you’ll be buying me an enormous, expensive meal, Mom. And we’re heading off campus this time.” I laughed raucously, praying Violet Ayrwick didn’t accidentally steer us into a ditch on the drive home.
“You’re on, Kellan. I know your grandmother better than you do. When the weather cools down, she always ushers in autumn with a caramel and chocolate pecan pie.” My mother brushed a clump of flyaway auburn hair from her eyes so she could see the road. A torrential thunderstorm had swept through Braxton the night before, littering the slick blacktop with dangerous wet leaves and branches. A fine mist still sprinkled from the clouds, carrying an earthy scent and foreshadowing my glib future.
“I love you to pieces, but you’re wrong.” I rolled my piercing baby-blue eyes—at least that’s what others frequently deemed them—shook my head emphatically and raced into Nana D’s main farmhouse. Only two weeks shy of my thirty-third birthday and with the well-primed body of an avid runner, I’d easily beat my enthusiastic mother into the kitchen to certify my pie-guessing talent.
“I gave you life. I can take it away, my son,” she melodramatically and affectionately chastised while clambering up the path in five-inch pink pumps. Despite sinking a heel in a puddle of thick gray mud and flopping around like a drunken, one-legged pelican, she trailed behind by only seconds.
As a tried-and-true gentleman, I waited on the classically decorated rustic porch and held the fake-spider-covered door for her. Nana D had gone all out with cinnamon and pinecone aromas. I might hold a penchant for teasing my mother, but she was entirely too special not to demonstrate the loving respect she deserved. Wispy bales of yellow-brown straw and overgrown green and orange gourds adorned both sides of the entryway. “Hey, look, it’s The Hampster,” I quipped, showing one of the oddly shaped, ridged, and warty freaks of nature to my mother. She cast a disapproving glower in my direction over the wisecrack about my older brother Hampton, who’d just moved back to Braxton. Don’t ask how he earned that nickname. As if it weren’t obvious, I tended to be a tad sarcastic, but only in a clever way.
Several wooden barrels, strategically bursting with hearty goldenrod, burgundy, and burnt umber mums, dazzled our eyes as we strolled into the farmhouse. My seven-year-old daughter, dressed in a silk cape and wearing plastic vampire teeth, soared into the living room to greet us. Long, curly dark hair framed her slightly chubby cheeks and bounced feverishly on her shoulders. “I’ve been baking up a storm all morning, Daddy. Nana D insisted we couldn’t eat brunch until we finished the pies.” Although my height had reached an unimpressive five-nine, not considered remarkably tall by any measure, Emma would surpass me. Her mother’s family, easily cast as giants by most normal-sized folk, had blessed her with the imposing stature.“Monster Mash” blasted through the background speakers.
“Tell me, sweetheart. What kind of pies are you treating us to today?” After kissing Emma’s cheek, I turned to my mother. “You’re so going down.” I giggled like an immature teenager and rushed into the kitchen, dragging Emma at my side despite my nose suggesting a loss in the latest wager. Given my commitment to round-the-clock renovations, I’d recklessly forgotten Nana’s true autumn welcome. At least I had an excuse; my defenseless mother had racked up way more years of experience than me.
“Everyone knows Nana D bakes a pumpkin pie this weekend, silly,” Emma cooed, kneeling in front of the oven and grinning widely at a golden, bubbling concoction that oozed with deliciousness.
My mother sighed loudly, then impatiently snatched a knife and scurried toward the opposite counter, where two steaming dishes cooled on wire racks. “I guess we both lost, huh?”
“Don’t touch those pumpkin pies, Violet. You might be over fifty—” Nana D headily warned but was speedily silenced before revealing my mother’s true age.
“You better put a lid on it, Mom, or I’ll convince Dr. Betscha to sedate you for your own good. Don’t you dare say how old I am in front of those two.” My mother flashed a wicked smile, then flicked a hand in Emma’s and my direction. “They’ll tell the rest of the family, and you’ll be in big trouble.”
About The Author
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.
Reader & Reviewer
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.
Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.
Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.
Websites & Blog
Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney
Genres, Formats & Languages
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.
All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.
Goodreads Book Links
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)
Braxton Campus Mysteries
Now is the Time We All Need A Great Leader
We need words and acts of wisdom, ethics and compassion, from our leaders now more than ever. Since this is utterly lacking, take heart from the words of a truly great leader that could never be more relevant than today.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
“I Have a Dream”, Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963
My heart breaks for George Floyd, his family and our country. Are we not better…
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#AudioTour “Deep Cut (The Deep Series Bk 2)” by Nick Sullivan
Author: Nick Sullivan
Narrator: Nick Sullivan
Length: 7 hours 35 minutes
Publisher: Wild Yonder Press⎮2019
Series: The Deep, Book 2
Release date: April 30, 2019
Synopsis: Sometimes, the brightest corners of the world can hold the darkest shadows.
Rising steeply from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the Dutch island of Saba is a sleepy paradise, the mountainous slopes dotted with little red-and-white cottages and the seas teeming with life. But this little oasis has a less tranquil history, many of its inhabitants having descended from smugglers and pirates.
Boone Fischer and Emily Durand are eager to explore their new home, but their peaceful lives are about to be shattered, as one of history’s most powerful hurricanes begins to form – and, as if that weren’t enough, a savage evil has made its way ashore. In this sequel to the best seller Deep Shadow, Nick Sullivan brings listeners to another fascinating corner of the world and sends them into a swirl of action and adventure.
Born in East Tennessee, NICK SULLIVAN has spent most of his adult life as an actor in New York City, working in theater, television, film, and audiobooks. After narrating hundreds of books over the last twenty years, he decided to write his own. Nick has been an avid scuba diver for many years and his travels to numerous Caribbean islands have inspired this series. His first novel, “Zombie Bigfoot”, hit #1 in Horror Comedy on Amazon.
NICK SULLIVAN has been narrating audiobooks for over twenty years, recording over four hundred titles and receiving numerous AudioFile Earphones and Audie nominations and awards. He has worked extensively on Broadway and at many U.S. theaters. His TV credits include The Good Wife, The Affair, Divorce, Younger, Bull, Madam Secretary, Boardwalk Empire, 30 Rock, Elementary, and all three Law and Order series. Film credits include Our Idiot Brother and Private Life. Proud member of SAG-AFTRA.
Q & A with Author/Narrator Nick Sullivan
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
I’ve been narrating for so long, I think and write in a manner that is conducive to the audiobook format… much to the chagrin of my editor, as I often would opt for a sentence structure that was more in line with how a person would actually say the sentence. The Chicago Manual of Style would not always concur with my decisions!
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Since I came into writing by-way-of narrating, I absolutely have the audiobook in mind throughout the writing process. I will make character choices based on what dialects I can be comfortable with. You’ll likely never have a Bostonian in my books. That’s my kryptonite.
Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
I set the books of my Deep Series in places I’ve dived, so there are numerous occasions when I will base plot points on things I’ve experienced or create characters who are inspired by the people I’ve met in the islands. Emily is based on one such person… and that individual was even goofier than my fictional recreation.
What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing? What gets you out of a writing slump?
I’m afraid I’m not that good at getting out of them. Once I get on a roll, I can churn out the words at a dizzying pace… but if I do hit a slump, the longer it goes on the harder it is to get rolling again. Because I spend a lot of time narrating for other authors, my own writing sometimes ends up on the back-burner while I hit their due dates. The enthusiasm returns once I have two solid days of uninterrupted writing; that’s usually all it takes.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I have been listening to audiobooks since childhood, starting with The Radio Reader with Dick Estell on my local NPR station back in Tennessee. I still listen to them on any drive longer than two hours. I’m an actor in stage and screen, and I really enjoy listening to a narrator perform the interplay between characters. The heavier a book is with dialogue, the more I enjoy it!
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? It’s not “cheating”, it’s just different. I don’t think people should replace reading with audiobooks, since reading for yourself allows you to put your own mental interpretation on the book… and that’s a magical thing. But sometimes, sitting back and letting a storyteller spin the tale for you is the way to go. Plus, you can multitask!
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
I made a margarita and then called up my scuba buddies and asked where we were gonna dive this summer.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a series vs. a stand-alone novel?
PRO: You end up with some very well-established, fleshed out characters… and you can continue to build on them, filling in the gaps. CON: You have to figure out how to bring in essential information from past books without beating folks over the head with exposition.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
Yes… first, make sure the sample that is chosen to audition narrators is one YOU chose, one that contains your primary characters. If you leave that to the company, they may just use the first chapter, and if it’s a prologue, it may not adequately “test” your potential narrators. Find a narrator you like? Great… ask them what microphone they use. Then look it up. Is it a USB mic, under 100 bucks? Don’t use that narrator. They are a hobbyist.
What’s next for you?
I have to decide where to set the next book! And maybe take a trip there. I also have the sequel to my horror comedy, Zombie Bigfoot, to finish. And, in the immediate future, I’ve got six books to narrate for other authors.
Click here to view the full tour schedule!
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.