#BookBlitz “Broken Pieces of God’ by David B. Seaburn

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Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama,

BPoG cover

 

Published: September 2021

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Crippling unemployment and a life-threatening illness push Eddy and Gayle toward life’s dark edge where they hope a Statue of Jesus, the IRS, some magical thinking, and family ties will save the day.

Eddy, a supervisor for a cable company, loses his job. Gayle, a tax accountant, is recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unemployment, failed chemotherapy, and no insurance bring them to life’s precipice. Desperate, Eddy turns to a statue of Jesus, seeking a miracle, while Gayle dives deeper into a scheme she has been concocting for twenty-five years. The ‘statue’ responds, but in an unexpected and nearly catastrophic way.

In the meantime, their adult offspring, Rich and Sandy, grapple with the aftershock of a tragic incident that has shadowed their lives since high school. What will happen when their secret is revealed? At the eleventh hour, Gayle re-enters treatment. Will it be too late?

This is a story of resilience in the face of uncertainty, hope in the midst of darkness, and family ties strengthened by life’s vicissitudes.

Praise For Broken Pieces of God

“A sensitive and moving tale of family tragedy and renewal.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A truly lovely book, gentle and humorous, about a couple having to deal with the hard stuff life can throw at you and finding a way through.” –Reedsy Discovery

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Excerpt
Chapter 1

The first week off was fine. He fairly flew out of bed each morning, as if he were on vacation, eager to get at the day. He’d brew coffee, read the paper, check the weather forecast, shovel the snow, warm the cars, do the grocery shopping. But after ten days, his once scintillating routine had become drab and lifeless, mirroring his mood.

By then Eddy Kimes was struggling each morning to find an adequate reason to leave the shelter of his cocoon-ish bed. How deliciously soft the mattress was, how sauna-like the comforter. Was it possible that the sheets were lined with an invisible adhesive? So difficult it had become to throw them off, to sit on the edge of the bed and then stand on what felt like a ledge, to face a new day. Now Gayle was the first one up each morning, something that had never happened before. With all that was going on, bed was the last place she wanted to be.

Eddy’s normal routine was to rise at 5:30am to be at work by 7:00am even though he didn’t need to be there until nine. It was the best way to stay on top of things, to make sure his crew was ready to go. You could never tell what might happen and when. An outage somewhere. A storm coming. Pole down from a drunk driver. Always something.

Eddy sat on his bed for several minutes watching the curtains wave in the breeze. Spring was struggling to arrive; the air was still so cold it could have been the dead of winter. Eddy got up, made the bed, showered and finally started to wake up. The house was quiet. He wondered how, or if, Gayle had slept.

He looked in the mirror at his morning shadow and decided he didn’t need to shave today. By dinner he’d look like a fading boxer—pug nose, square teeth, puffy eyes and a dark veil across his jaw. He’d like to grow a beard but Gayle thought it would make him look pudgier. Not pudgy, but pudgier. He leaned closer. He had extra face on every side.

Eddy got dressed, a pair of fire hose work pants, a black T and a flannel shirt.

He had forgotten that Gayle had early appointments. He didn’t like having strangers in the house when he was still waking up, but like she said, “Tax season is tax season; we need every penny.” Truer now than before. Gayle was a hard worker. And a good wife.

Coffee was brewed. He stood in the kitchen admiring March. There was snow in the far corner of the back yard where sunlight couldn’t reach. The garden was thawing. No buds on the trees, but there were daffodils and tulips showing. A wedge of geese overhead, a reticulated woodpecker working the oak, some wrens at the feeder. The sky was blue. Nevertheless, they could easily get ten inches of snow that night. March in western New York.

The door to Gayle’s office was closed. Eddy could hear murmurs inside so he knocked and stuck his head in. Jesse Gordon sat across the table from Gayle.

“Hey, Eddy, how’s it going?” Jesse owned a string of gas stations.

“Good. You?”

“I’ll know in about an hour.” He smiled broadly. “I don’t know what I’d do without Gayle here. And I’m not alone.” He winked.

“C’mon now.” Gayle was hunched over her computer, a legal pad beside her, tax forms stacked all around.

Jesse turned sideways in his chair. “Any final news on Universal and Scope?”

“Nothing,” said Eddy.

“What a mess?”

“How’s the gas business?”

“Prices are holding. Never can tell, though.”

Gayle looked up from her work. Her face was sallow. She smiled.

“Morning, honey. How’s it going?”

Her back now to Jesse, her smile turned into a grimace. “Fine.”

“Can I get you something? Tea, maybe?”

She stuck out her tongue. “No thanks.”

“How about—”

“Nothing, really.” Their eyes locked for a moment.

“Okay. I’m going for a walk. I’ve got my phone if you need anything. From the store or whatever.”

Jesse shifted in his seat, eager to get back to his refunds.

Eddy stood on the front porch for several minutes. White clouds with smoky bottoms had arrived from the west. He breathed deep as a bellows. As the sun emerged from behind a cloud, he could feel a hint of warmth on his face. He unzipped his jacket. Another deep breath and he headed down the sidewalk.

Caroline Kerrigan was digging near her front porch. She wore baggy sweats and a hoody. And gardening knee pads. Her gray hair was tied in a red checked kerchief.

“Getting started already,” said Eddy.

She got up on her hands and knees and then sat back on her heels. “You’re still alive, I see. I don’t think I’ve seen you since December.”

“Decided to come out.”

She got up and met him at the fence.

“We’re like groundhogs, aren’t we?”

“How was winter?”

“The kids came home for the holidays. Then they went back. We’ve been waiting for spring ever since.”

“Yep.”

“And you? How are you doing?” She leaned on the fence post. “How’s Gayle?”

“Busy with taxes.”

“Nothing stops that girl.” Caroline leaned across the fence. “I think that’s good.”

Caroline’s face had a pliable quality. Her smile could spread ear to ear, eyebrows up to her hairline. Or it could get small and closed down, eyes narrow and lips curled at the corners, held in place by her ample cheeks. That was the face she used now as she spoke; a face that was trying to say more than her words could tell. “It can be hard.”

“This is true. See you.”

“Okay. My best to your better half.”

When Eddy was growing up, the Park Pharmacy was on the corner across from the village square. A few years ago, it was replaced with a Walgreen’s so big that locals called it the battleship. Eddy wondered why they needed a drug store that sold groceries. The only smart thing they did in this transition was to keep Sam Cunningham as the pharmacist.

Sam was a classmate of Eddy’s in high school. He was a star basketball player. Eddy wasn’t. He had good grades. Eddy didn’t. He went away to school. Eddy stayed home. Eddy was his best man when he married Marianne. And he held Sam’s hand for months after Marianne died.

When you opened the door at Walgreen’s, a tone sounded and someone would say, “Hi, how are you? Can I help you?”

Today, though, Nellie was behind the counter. She turned on her mic. “Oh no, is that Eddy Kimes; quick, tie everything down.”

Eddy grinned and asked Nellie how she was doing.

That son of mine is going to be the death of me. That’s how I’m doing.” She went on from there. It had taken many visits over an extended period of time before Eddy understood that Nellie didn’t want any response, especially any suggestions; she mainly wanted an ear. He stood and nodded.

Is the boss in?”

Where else would he be?” She pointed toward the pharmacy.

Eddy passed row upon row of painkillers, sleep aids, nausea medicine, stool softeners and antacids before he found the condoms. He emptied five boxes into his jacket. He dinged the bell repeatedly when he reached the pharmacy counter.

Sam’s white lab coat was pristine. He had four pens in his pocket protector. He took off his glasses, pulled a wipe from a nearby dispenser and rubbed his lenses with care. He held them up to the light and was dissatisfied, so he huffed on them and wiped again, this time with a tissue.

And what can I do for you today? I can see you are experiencing great discomfort. If I were to guess, I’d say it was hemorrhoids. Wait, no, that’s not it. Incontinence, right? I can see it in your eyes.”

Wow, and you didn’t even go to medical school.”

Sam pointed at Eddy’s jacket. “What’s going on there?”

Eddy unzipped his jacket, leaned over and the condoms filled the counter like so many shrink-wrapped checkers.

An aspirational purchase. Always important to dream.”

Eddy bowed slightly at the waist.

You are becoming a degenerate old fool,” said Sam.

What do you mean, old?”

Another customer approached. Sam picked through the alphabetized prescription bins.

There you go, Mrs. Hollings. Do you have any questions today?”

Mrs. Hollings shifted her cane from one hand to the other so she could manage the card reader better. She was breathing hard and found it difficult to speak. “No.”

Okay. Just click there… That’s it… Now swipe. Let’s try it again… The other way. No, the other other way… Okay, there you go. Just check the upper box. Now all you have to do is sign and you’re free to go.”

Thank God.” Mrs. Hollings’s face was stern. She held up a crooked finger. “Didn’t used to have to do all this. I don’t like it.”

No one does. That’s the beauty part.” Sam folded the top of the bag and handed it to Mrs. Hollings. “There you go. See you next week, Nancy. Take care.”

Mrs. Hollings inched away from the counter, her back arched.

That’s going to be us, Eddy.”

Come on.”

No, really.” They both watched as Mrs. Hollings reached the front door, Nellie helping her out. “You sooner than me, but still.” Sam swept the condoms into a box and put them under the counter.

The phone rang. Someone had questions about statins. Eddy was impressed with how much Sam knew about medicine. He should have been a doctor. But Sam told him it wasn’t the life he wanted. Being on call all the time. Never turning off the light and calling it a day. Eddy didn’t believe him.

Sam hung up and leaned on the counter. “So, have you heard anything yet?”

Heard anything?”

Yeah.”

About what?”

“Come on.”

Nothing really.”

Going to call them?”

“They’ll call us, I’m sure.”

Sam shook his head and looked at the register.

What?”

Don’t wait too long.”

Eddy nodded at the bins behind Sam. “I think you’ve got something back there for Gayle.”

Sam retrieved a bag. “This should help some with the pain. At least for now.”

“That’s what we want.”

Yeah. Pain is, well, pain.”

Sam’s face got puffy and old right before Eddy’s eyes, like he remembered everything in his life all at once and it wore him out.

Look, Sam, thanks for—”

It’s nothing. Now go on before Gayley thinks you’re lost.”

Sam and Gayle had dated all through high school. They were lab partners in ninth grade biology. She was head of Debate Club. He was president of Key Club. They went to every dance and every sporting event together. If one was seen alone, someone always asked where the other one was. Sam and Eddy hung together on the weekends and some week nights, but Gayle always came first. Eddy and Gayle were friends by association.

Sam and Gayle double-dated to the prom with Eddy and Maggie Dunaway. Sam drove his uncle’s white Caddy. The school had a tradition of couples switching partners for one dance, so Eddy danced with Gayle. He didn’t think anything of it until she was pressed against his chest. Being face-to-face, her eyes so pale, so blue, was overwhelming. When she talked, her voice gently vibrating, she seemed so comfortable. Eddy’s heart skipped beat after beat, though Gayle seemed not to notice. They clapped at the end and thanked each other. She smiled and pressed his arm with her left hand.

Sam left for college in early August. Gayle enrolled in community college near home and Eddy got a job with the cable company. Sam asked Eddy to check on his girl from time to time, which Eddy did, reluctantly at first. He’d call her on the phone or stop by if he saw her on the porch. Once they got together for lunch. Then they started seeing each other regularly.

When Sam came home at Christmas, they told him. He’d wondered why her letters had gotten shorter and shorter and less frequent. “You can punch me out if you want,” Eddy had said. Sam laughed but stayed away until he went back to school in January. When Sam came home in the spring, he had a new girlfriend. He acted like nothing had ever happened. They never spoke of it again.

From time to time, though, he would still call Gayle “Gayley,” his high school pet name for her.

Will do,” said Eddy. He turned to leave, then stopped. “How’s Jamie?”

A frown crossed Sam’s face. “Jamie is Jamie, you know.”

Has he come back from respite care yet?”

Pick him up tomorrow.”

How did he do this time?”

Pretty good, I guess. Less upset. At least that’s what they said.”

It’s hard. But sometimes you have to take a break.”

Yeah, well…” He pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows.

Both men shook their heads and looked at the floor. “If you need anything, Sam…”

Eddy stood at the corner of Park and Main. Grand elms, oaks and horse chestnuts filled the town square, their limbs still bare, some showing green tips. These trees, some over two hundred years old, were a source of pride for the town. Some had metal rods between their heavier, longer branches, and a few were rotting, but their resilience made everyone feel rooted, feel good.

The square had crisscrossing sidewalks that met in the middle at a white gazebo that was trimmed in navy; it had a vaulted roof and a flag on top that was so big you could hear it flapping from almost everywhere on the square. There were swings and slides and sandboxes in the southeast corner. A flower garden. A fountain that soon would be operational sat in the northwest corner. There were benches and picnic tables, all anchored in cement since several had been stolen a few years back. Great mounds of icy, blackened snow were piled in every corner, the only place the DPW could think to put it in the depths of winter. While most of the grass was brown, there were hopeful patches of green here and there.

Clevon Gaddis sat on a bench near the gazebo.

How about this,” said Eddy as he looked up at the trees. “Gives you a good feeling when you can sit on the square again.”

I suppose it does.”

Eddy sat down and both men were quiet for a few moments. Clevon took off his gloves and laid them on the bench. His hands were chunky and raw, work hands.

So,” he said.

Yeah, I know.”

What do you know?”

I’m afraid not much more than you know. I am way outside the loop at this point.”

Damn.” Clevon shook his head hard. “Not fair, not fair at all, plain and simple.”

Well—”

What’s going to happen to us?”

Well, no one’s closed the doors. Nothing like that. I’ve seen a lot of owners come and go. They all had ‘new ideas’,” he air-quoted. “And then they’d settle down or they’d sell out and we’d start over again. But the work still had to be done by someone. Cable doesn’t lay itself. And that means they need people, people like you and me.”

Clevon had been with Universal for seven years, which made him a newcomer. Eddy had been with the company when they were Minute Cable, Total Cable, Cable Quest, Cable 4U, Everlasting Cable, then Unlimited Cable and, nine years ago, Universal Cable. Every time there were changes, wages dropped, layoffs followed, some jobs were lost, then most people were hired back and, in the end, they went on.

I still don’t like it.” Clevon’s hands were fidgety and he looked back and forth like he was waiting for a train that was never going to come. “How many weeks you been off?”

Eight.”

Eight. I’m ten. Driving me a little crazy. I don’t want to sit; I want to work. That’s what I do.”

Any hobbies?”

“You’re looking at it.”

Well, I’m sure—”

Of what? Did you hear about overtime?”

Eddy had heard rumors that he tried to ignore.

I’ve heard a lot of stuff. Nothing certain.”

Well, this is certain. Ralph was at the meeting this morning and Danvers himself told everyone that unlimited overtime was a thing of the past. Do you believe that?”

Eddy unfolded his arms. “He said what?”

“What I said—no unlimited overtime. Period. End of sentence.”

Now it was Eddy’s hands that were fidgeting. The family room—overtime had helped buy that. The boat—overtime again. College for Rich and Sandy—if it weren’t for overtime, they’d be working at Walmart, or worse, Universal.

Are you sure about this? I mean, are you sure Danvers didn’t say they were thinking about this or were just threatening to do it—”

None of that. Done deal.” Clevon was breathing hard.

Eddy rubbed his palms on his pant legs and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.

Look, Eddy, I know you been a company man for a long time; and the company’s done good by you. You’re a supervisor and all that. But times have changed. That don’t matter anymore. Then was then. Now is now.”

Clevon opened his mouth but closed it again. He patted Eddy on the back and stood. They shook hands. Then Clevon crossed the street and got into his gray Saturn.

Eddy didn’t think he needed to tell Gayle any of this, at least not now. When you’ve been married as long as they’d been married, you learn when to say things and when to wait. Everyone says ‘being honest’ and ‘always telling the truth’ are what make for a good marriage. Eddy agreed. Up to a point. When it came to being honest, timing was everything. It’s not what you say, but when you say it and how you say it. Or, whether you ever say it at all.

It takes a long time to figure this out, especially with someone you love. When Eddy was laid off the first time, Gayle was pregnant with Richie. It was a hard pregnancy. She was very sick. Eddy got up every morning and ‘went to work’ even though he didn’t have a job, just to keep things normal. It was about three months before new owners settled in and he got his job back. In the end, he never told her. What did it matter? Sometimes you have to keep things to yourself; otherwise, everything might crash into a million pieces on the floor. Then what? Life only seems imperishable.

The park was getting busy. A half dozen squirrels on the run, moms and dads pushing strollers, kids on swings. Cardinals trilling and somewhere a woodpecker was pounding. When winter came, Eddy loved the silence. But he loved the sound of spring even more.

The chimes at the First Presbyterian Church marked the hour. Eddy stopped for a moment to watch city workers clean the fountain and then he headed for the church. A few tiles were missing from its slender spire. There were modest double doors at the entrance. There were stained glass windows on either side of the front door and three larger ones on both sides of the building. Above the entrance was a rose window depicting creation, modeled after the one at the National Cathedral. The sanctuary was lined with oak pews. Wood beams anchored the vaulted ceiling. On the altar there were a small lectern and a larger raised one where the preacher preached. The choir loft was behind the altar and above the loft was a gold cross, probably nine feet tall. At least that’s how Eddy remembered it from when he and Gayle had gotten married.

Eddy headed round back to the meditation garden. It was sequestered behind dense holly bushes surrounding a twelve-foot-tall statue of Jesus. The bronze plaque said—Jesus the Consoler.

In the ‘50s, when the church was going great guns, a rich congregant died and left money for the church, stipulating that it had to be used for an “external adornment of a religious nature.” Church folk say that the marble was quarried in Greece and sculpted in Italy. It arrived on a massive flatbed. Schools closed early so children could watch the fifty-foot crane hoist the gleaming white Jesus into place.

Some whispered that area Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics smiled through thinly veiled covetousness when Rev. Cecil Upchurch discovered an imperfection—a chip the size of a man’s thumb near Jesus’s collarbone.

Stunned and embarrassed, church elders wanted to sue. But Rev. Upchurch saved the day. Kind of. He said the “notch,” as it became known, was a sign of Jesus’s identification with human imperfection and a reminder that Christ alone was perfect. Most members accepted this, though several members left for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where money matters were handled more deftly.

This opened the door for every arm chair theologian in town to take shots at The Consoler. The biggest complaint was that Jesus’s nose was too large; that it wasn’t “Anglo-Saxon” enough; that it looked, well, “Jewy.” Upchurch explained that Jesus was middle-eastern. And a Jew. Many congregants were aghast. Behind closed doors, some members suggested that it might be time for Rev. Upchurch to consider a new calling. Some even referred to him as “Rev. Upchuck.” Others left to join the Chapel of the End Times out on Town Line Rd.

Finding no one in the garden, Eddy sat on the cool marble bench. He looked up at Jesus’s face, which was tilted down as if looking back at him. “Howdy.” Jesus looked a little sixties-ish, his hair long and his beard thick. There was a faint smile on his lips. His arms were outstretched, billowy sleeves hanging loose, palms up, fingers open and curled slightly. His feet were bare. The years and the winters had replaced his gleam with elephant gray grit.

Eddy came to the garden for the first time when he started getting bad news. He was out for a walk and passed the church. The bushes rustled in the wind and he looked up, noticing Jesus’s face peering over the holly. At first, it seemed funny to Eddy. Notre Dame may have their Touchdown Jesus, but we have Jesus the Voyeur. He kept walking, but on the way back, he went through the opening in the bushes and sat down on the bench. There was nothing out of the ordinary about his visit, except that he enjoyed the aloneness of it. He went back from time to time after that.

When he first told Gayle, she stopped folding the laundry. Her expression said, ‘I don’t know who you are at all’. Not that she was anti-religion. It was more that they had never been church people. Neither of their families had been regular either. They went on holidays, but even then, it didn’t matter which church they went to, just so it wasn’t too far away. Eddy felt uncomfortable under Gayle’s gaze. He tried to explain. “I, it’s, I don’t know what it is…it’s just…”

Gayle seemed to accept his reasoning. “Do you pray or something?”

I don’t know.”

Okay.”

He kept going. Touching the statue’s feet or the robe made him feel different. He couldn’t say why, except that he felt far away and nearby all at the same time. Other times, it felt worrisome to sit there staring at a giant slab of marble made to look like a famous man from old.

Hey, Eddy.” Peter Goff had been the minister for fifteen years. He was tall, slender, a little bent over, perhaps from the burdens of his calling; sinewy; a shock of white hair that made him look like an Old Testament prophet. Gray eyes. Peter was nearing his seventies. He wore black trousers, black shoes, and a long-sleeved white shirt buttoned to the neck.

Mind if I join you?”

Rev. Goff often arrived shortly after Eddy sat down, his office window within sight on the second floor of the education wing.

We could use a coffee machine out here.” His eyes closed and his cheeks swelled when he smiled.

You’re the boss, aren’t you?”

Peter eyed the statue. “Actually, he’s the boss. From what I’ve read, he’d probably favor a wine rack to a coffee maker.”

There was always patter at the beginning, usually about the weather or the need for repairs on the roof, sometimes sports. This was followed by quiet, adjustments to sitting on the stone bench, and then one of them would speak, if only to break the thunderous silence.

You know, I’ve been studying that face for a long time. I think I’ve figured it out.”

Rev. Goff liked to say things that invited a question. “What’s that?”

He pointed up. “Who he looks like.”

Oh.”

I’ve only seen the painting in person once.”

Painting?”

The Mona Lisa.”

Eddy shook his head.

I think his smile is Mona Lisa’s smile.” He waited for Eddy to respond, but he didn’t. “You know, some researchers did a study of her smile. They had people rate whether she was happy or sad or what. And ninety-seven percent said she was happy.” He rubbed his stubbled chin. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know if it’s that clear cut. Maybe all those people just wanted her to look happy.” Eddy stole a glance at his watch. “The smile, if you want to call it that, seems more ambiguous, more mysterious to me.”

There was eagerness on Peter’s face. Eddy often didn’t understand what Rev. Goff was talking about, but he liked him anyway. He liked that even though he was a minster, Rev. Goff insisted on being called Peter; he liked how curious he was about everything, like a child. And even though he usually came to the garden to be alone, he appreciated Rev. Goff showing up from time to time.

I just think it’s a nice statue.”

The holly rustled and darker clouds began to assemble.

So, Eddy, how are you doing?”

I’m doing.”

I’m sure you are.” Peter folded his hands in his lap and looked sideways at Eddy.

You have a lot going on.”

Yes.”

Must be hard at times. Carrying so much.”

Well—”

You’ve been coming here pretty often of late.” He pointed to his office window. “I have an even better view of you than Jesus here.”

That you do.”

Peter shifted and crossed his legs. He licked his lips and took a few breaths before he spoke again.

You know, Eddy, this statue is called Jesus the Consoler for a reason. Everybody needs consolation, comfort, at one time or another.”

Peter, his face aglow, looked up at the Consoler.

Sometimes you need to lift up your burdens. You know, turn them over to a higher power.”

This was the first time that Peter had ever gone religious on Eddy. Eddy understood, though, that Peter didn’t show up so often just for sports talk and the weather. He knew Peter would love to bring him into the fold, to have him sit inside instead of out. Eddy wanted to say something, but he couldn’t find words for the confusion inside.

Well, I should go,” said Rev. Goff. “Do you mind if I pray?”

He took Eddy’s hands in his and bowed his head. His forehead was furrowed and his eyes fluttered, but he didn’t say a thing for a minute or more, just “Amen.”

Eddy stayed a few minutes longer after Rev. Goff had left. The brisk air made him stand. He looked at the stone face of Jesus towering over him. He started to walk away but stopped and turned back. Something was different. He stood on tiptoes to get a closer look. Then he turned away, blinked hard and looked at the face again. He did this several times.

It was the mouth. Something was different about the mouth. He stood back a few feet and squinted. He was sure that if a bunch of researchers asked a thousand people about this smile right now, ninety-seven percent would see sadness. He closed his eyes again and then took another look. Or was it puzzlement?

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About the Author

Broken Pieces of God is David B. Seaburn’s eighth novel. He was a Finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award in General Fiction (2011), placed second in the TAZ Awards for Fiction (2017), was short listed for the Somerset Award (2018), was an American Book Fest Finalist for “Best Book” in General Fiction (2019), and a Semi-Finalist in Literary, Contemporary and Satire Fiction for the Somerset Award (2019). Seaburn lives with his wife near Rochester, NY. They have two married daughters and four wonderful grandchildren.

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#BookTour “Cenotaphs” by Rich Marcello

Cenotaphs copy

Welcome to the book tour for Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello! Read on for details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

Cenotaphs FRont Cover FinalCenotaphs

Publication Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.

When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

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A SORTING

The parts recur––the son, the lover, the husband, the father, the friend, the citizen. They come in whispers and fragments, in the unwinding of memory. They come in your smile, in the laughter of our children, in nightmares, in bursts of violence against once precious objects. How do you gauge the parts of a life? Did I perform any of them well? How do you summon them into an unfettered whole?

I am old now. I’d hoped I would’ve figured out a few answers by this point, but the truth is I spend more time each day watching the Red Sox than thinking about such things. In the summer and fall, the games are on every day, often twice a day, and watching them gives Zeke and me something to do. Something zen exists about the game, something appealing to me as I age, something about the stillness, the waiting, the bursts of energy, all mimicking the best and worst times in life. And I like the red, blue, and gray uniforms. They remind me of a more structured time.

Zeke, a big black, brown, and white mutt I rescued about ten years ago, keeps me company in our cabin. When I first got him, he liked digging holes in my yard, searching deep and dirty, with only a rare unearthing. His record: twenty-two holes. Twenty-two! In one of them, he found an empty wine bottle, message-less. Now, Zeke mostly sleeps in the same worn spot on the living room rug. I’m not sure which one of us will die first.

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to at least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Rich Marcello | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Click the link below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! (E-Card)

Blog Tour Schedule

September 13th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off Post) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/2021/09/13/new-book-3/

September 14th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Spotlight) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

September 15th

Gina Rae Mitchel (Spotlight) https://ginaraemitchell.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@hoardingbooks.herdingcats (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hoardingbooks.herdingcats/

@joanna.zoe (Review) https://www.instagram.com/joanna.zoe/?igshid=1xipr7pa6a9zl

@isbn_reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/isbn_reading/

September 16th

On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Sue’s Musings (Spotlight) https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

September 17th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

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#BookTour “To Be Enlightened” by Alan J. Steinberg

Enlightened copy

Welcome to the tour for “cosmic love story”, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg. Read on for details and a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-gift card!

Copy of To Be Enlightened book coverTo Be Enlightened

Publication Date: February 27, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Literary Fiction/ Romance

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life-a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

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Excerpt

Vedic wisdom holds that during the forty-eight minutes prior to sunrise, which is called the Brahma Muhurta, a wave of purity and balance sweeps through the world, gently waking it up, along with the birds and other animals. I sip my coffee, enjoying the silence and morning calm. About fifteen minutes before sunrise, the birds start singing praises, enlivening and infusing the atmosphere with optimism for the approaching day. The transition rarely fails to uplift me.

A high-pitched fluttering followed by a distinctive buzzing draws my attention. I look up to see a large, shiny purple hummingbird hovering about a foot above the center of the table, looking at me as if wanting to speak. It flits its beak up, down, and sideways, and—zip! It’s gone. I don’t remember ever seeing a hummingbird so close. I sit for a moment. I know that hummingbird! I’ve seen her many times before in my dream. But she was always a bee.

I do asanas and pranayama and then walk toward our bedroom for my morning meditation. The hummingbird gets me thinking about omens. If there really are omens, does it mean that God communicates with us only at specific, special times? Or is it that at certain times we become still enough to precipitate an omen? Maybe there are always omens and we aren’t aware enough to appreciate them? I bet it’s even more complex than that. I adjust my pillows for meditation. In a half lotus, my eyes close.

Mantra, mantra, maaaantra, mmmannntraaaa, maaa…mantra emerges from shimmering pool, drop of water in reverse. Mantra, mantra, mmmmaa…the place on surface of pool where mantra will emerge begins to move, vibrate…I am observing and hearing the mantra’s emergence from my consciousness. It is separate from the real Me, the observer…The school’s administrative board has asked me to head the search committee for a new chief of campus security. I don’t know anything about security. I’m not going…I observe that thought, and this thought, arise in the same way the Mantra emerges.So interesting…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, maaaantra…surface of pool, no ripples, no thoughts, no feelings coming from body or mind, endless…one side, silent awareness; other side, activity. Mantra, maantraa, mmmmm…mantra barely tickles my expansive surface…Bliss surges through body, mind. Bliss is caused by awareness of subtle disturbance at junction between…Mantra, mantra, mantraaaaa, mmmmmmaaaaaaa…flowing outward, all directions; I am a boundless, luminous mirror between my self and my Self… Mmmaaaa…mmmm…maaaaa…I am the surface of the ocean, impossibly still, deafeningly silent…needing to let go…ready to let go…fearing loss…Mmmmmmmm…decision made, must go forward, will go forward…surrendering all I thought I was for what I am…individuality dissolves: raindrop, ocean…

I am.

I am—the vast, unbounded ocean of consciousness. I am—unmoving wholeness. I was never that body or that mind. I have been observing Abe Levy since the moment he was born, and much, much longer than that. I am—at peace. I am—now awake. I was sleeping before. I can see the sun and the planets clearly. They are so dear to have nurtured Mother Earth, allowing her to birth humanity. I notice distantly that my body is glowing. Time is immaterial and has lost its grip on me…

* * *

Back in my body, I look over at my bedside alarm clock. More than an hour has gone by. I lie down to rest and a deep sleep envelops my body and mind, though I am awake, aware, and witnessing.

I get up and put on my robe. Something is very, very different. It’s as if I am still meditating even though my body and I are active in the world. I am in two places at the same time—the unbounded ocean of consciousness and the bounded world of activity and senses. I have never, ever, felt so good and so focused. I walk to the kitchen, but I don’t seem to be moving.

It happened. The thought comes that I should be jumping with joy, but I’m past that. A more pressing, evolving issue appears to be whether my body can contain my joy. I close my eyes and watch as thin, sparkling beams of Bliss increasingly poke their way through the shell that is my old body, shining out from my new one in a myriad of luminous, waving threads of various lengths and hues. The brightest and most numerous ones are congregated around my solar plexus and the top of my head. The weirdest part of all is that I’m not surprised or concerned by this in the least.

I make oatmeal with whole milk, dried cherries, roasted almond slivers, cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of nutmeg. I notice something is gone. I am not, in general, an anxious or fearful man, but I now realize I had significant anxiety and fear all my life. I know this because, for the first time, I am completely without those constant companions. Along with my anxieties and fears, my worries about leaving Sarah to go to Fairfield have evaporated. I don’t have to go anywhere now. I am where I have always wanted to be. I’m Here. The weight of responsibility that I had shouldered in guiding Sarah around her triggers has lifted. I think that I can now lovingly support her without feeling bogged down or burdened.

I shower, shave, dress for class, and it all seems to happen automatically, as if I’m uninvolved in the process. I was somewhat intellectually prepared for this, but even after over fifty years of meditation, I’m not prepared experientially. This will take some getting used to.

Walking to my office, the world is delicious. The singing birds are part of me, thrilling me thoroughly from the inside with our perfect twittering. My heart sings with them. My body hums with a hymn as my feet beat the rhythm into the sidewalk.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Alan Steinberg

Alan J. Steinberg, MD is board-certified in Internal Medicine and practices with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California. He also serves as one of the attending physicians for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. He grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1975. Earning his undergraduate philosophy degree at Pomona and Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, California, he went on to attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine, receiving an MD degree in 1984. His first book was a non-fiction consumer’s guide, The Insider’s Guide to HMOs (Plume/Penguin), which garnered favorable reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other publications as well as appearances on The Today Show, 20/20 and C-Span. The book helped sway the direction that healthcare was heading in the late 1990s. His debut novel, To Be Enlightened (Adelaide Books, 2021), is a work of visionary fiction, inspired by some of his own experiences as a lifelong practitioner of TM. Dr. Steinberg lives with his wife of over thirty-five years in Los Angeles, California. They are the proud parents of three young adults.

Alan J. Steinberg | Twitter | Instagram

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#BookBlitz “The Shade Under the Mango Tree” by Evy Journey

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Multicultural Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Sojourner Books

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After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home where she grew up. An adventure in which she can make some difference.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Months later, they meet at a bookstore. Fascinated by his stories and adventurous spirit, Luna goes to a rice-growing village in a country steeped in an ancient culture and a deadly history. What she finds there defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?

An epistolary tale of courage, resilience, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.

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Praise for The Shade Under The Mango Tree:

Gold Medal, Contemporary Fiction, 2021 Global Book Awards (formerly New York City Book Awards)

Finalist, Multicultural Fiction, 2021 International Book Awards

“A dazzling, globe-spanning tale. In a beautiful way, the story explores how powerful connections can be born at a distance. The storyline is rich, with authentic emotional struggles and believable relationships. Throughout, simple, evocative language and bold descriptions are intermingled with flashes of poetic imagery. Aided by strong thematic undertones, subtle symbolism, high stakes and an ultimately hopeful narrative voice, Evy Journey has delivered a captivating story.” — Self-Publishing Review

“…one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. Emotive, gripping and sweeping… a tale I will remember for a long time.” — International Review of Books

“… a beautifully-written, marvelous story of two people discovering their emotions and learning to trust each other.” — San Francisco Book Review

“… a tender and captivating story that delves into the many existential questions we ask ourselves frequently… with a nuanced understanding of different cultures backed by a worldly sensibility of travel, poetry, and design. The prose reads like a painting adding depth and complexity, making for some beautiful imagery.” — Reedsy Discovery

“This emotional story, with its clear prose and crisp dialogue, will appeal to those who enjoy romantic literature and are not afraid to engage with the ugliness of the real world. Journey’s three-dimensional, well-developed characters carry this appealing story of building new bonds in the midst of loss and heartache. Great for fans of: Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks.” — Booklife Review

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Excerpt

Prologue

Ov’s thin upper body is slumped over his crossed legs, his forehead resting on the platform. His brown, wiry arms lie limp, the right one extended forward, hand dangling over the edge of the platform. Dried blood is splattered on his head, and on the collar, right shoulder, and back of his old short-sleeved white shirt.

It seems fitting that he died where he used to spend most of his time when he wasn’t on the rice fields—sitting on a corner of the bamboo platform in the ceiling-high open space under the house. It’s where you get refreshing breezes most afternoons, after a long day of work.

The policeman looks down at Ov’s body as if he’s unsure what to do next. He lays down his camera and the gun in a plastic bag at one end of the platform untainted by splatters of gelled blood.

He steps closer to the body, anchors himself with one knee on top of the platform, and bends over the body. Hooking his arms underneath Ov’s shoulders and upper arms, he pulls the body up, and carefully lays it on its back. He straightens the legs.

He steps off the platform. Stands still for a few seconds to catch his breath. He turns to us and says, “It’s clear what has happened. I have all the pictures I need.”

He points to his camera, maybe to make sure we understand. We have watched him in silence, three zombies still in shock. Me, standing across the bamboo platform from him. Mae and Jorani sitting, tense and quiet, on the hammock to my left.

Is that it? Done already? I want to ask him: Will he have the body taken away for an autopsy? I suppose that’s what is routinely done everywhere in cases like this. But I don’t know enough Khmer.

As if he sensed my unspoken question, he glances at me. A quick glance that comes with a frown. He seems perplexed and chooses to ignore me.

He addresses the three of us, like a captain addressing his troop. “You can clean up.”

The lingering frown on his brow softens into sympathy. He’s gazing at Jorani, whose mournful eyes remain downcast. He looks away and turns toward Mae.

Pressing his hands together, he bows to her. A deeper one than the first he gave her when she and Jorani arrived.

He utters Khmer words too many and too fast for me to understand. From the furrowed brow and the look in his eyes, I assume they are words of sympathy. He bows a third time, and turns to go back to where he placed the gun and camera. He picks them up and walks away.

For a moment or two, I stare at the figure of the policeman walking away. Then I turn to Jorani. Call him back. Don’t we have questions? I can ask and you can translate, if you prefer. But seeing her and Mae sitting as still and silent as rocks, hands on their laps, and eyes glazed as if to block out what’s in front of them, the words get trapped in my brain. Their bodies, rigid just moments before, have gone slack, as if to say: What else can anyone do? What’s done cannot be undone. All that’s left is to clean up, as the policeman said. Get on with our lives.

My gaze wanders again toward the receding figure of the policeman on the dirt road, the plastic bag with the gun dangling in his right hand. Does it really matter how Cambodian police handles Ov’s suicide? I witnessed it. I know the facts. And didn’t I read a while back how Buddhism frowns upon violations on the human body? The family might object against cutting up Ov—the way I’ve seen on TV crime shows—just to declare with certainty what caused his death.

I take in a long breath. I have done all I can and must defer to Cambodian beliefs and customs.

But I can’t let it go yet. Ov chose to end his life in a violent way and I’m curious: Do the agonies of his last moments show on his face? I steal another look.

All I could gather, from where I stand, is life has definitely gone out of every part of him. His eyes are closed and immobile. The tic on his inanimate cheeks hasn’t left a trace. The tic that many times was the only way I could tell he had feelings. Feelings he tried to control or hide. Now, his face is just an expressionless brown mask. Maybe everyone really has a spirit, a soul that rises out of the body when one dies, leaving a mansize mass of clay.

I stare at Ov’s body, lying in a darkened, dried pool of his own blood, bits of his skull and brain scattered next to his feet where his head had been. At that moment, it hits me that this would be the image of Ov I will always remember. I shudder.

My legs begin to buckle underneath me and I turn around, regretting that last look. With outstretched hands, I take a step toward the hammock. Jorani rises to grab my hands, and she helps me sit down next to Mae.

Could I ever forget? Could Mae and Jorani? Would the image of Ov in a pool of blood linger in their memories like it would in mine?

I know I could never tell my parents what happened here this afternoon. But could I tell Lucien?

The terrible shock of watching someone, in whose home I found a family, fire a gun to his head? And the almost as horrifying realization—looking back—that I knew what he was going to do, but I hesitated for a few seconds to stop him.

~~~

About the Author

Evy Journey writes. Stories and blog posts. Novels that tend to cross genres. She’s also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse.

Evy studied psychology (M.A., University of Hawaii; Ph.D. University of Illinois). So her fiction spins tales about nuanced characters dealing with contemporary life issues and problems. She believes in love and its many faces.

Her one ungranted wish: To live in Paris where art is everywhere and people have honed aimless roaming to an art form. She has visited and stayed a few months at a time.

Contact Links

Website

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LinkedIn

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Purchase Links

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookTour “Everyday Magic” by Charlie Laidlaw

EverdayMagic

I am so thrilled to share Charlie Laidlaw’s latest novel with you all, Everyday Magic! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINAL

Everyday Magic

Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Publisher: Ringwood Publishing

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it.  She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind.  She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her.  She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

 Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

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Chapter One

When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.  She had been exploring, surrounded by oak, birch, and hazel trees, picking her way carefully between bramble and nettle.  There was birdsong, squirrels darting across branches, and patterns of sunlight on the woodland floor.  She had been looking for bilberries, and her hands were full of small black berries.  She stopped to sit on an outcrop of rock by a wide stream that, in winter, could quickly become a torrent of brown water.  In summer, it was comforting; in winter, treacherous.  She ate her bilberries, the stream cascading over a small waterfall; the sound of water in her ears.  It was summer and the stream bubbled crystal clear.  The woodland rose in folds from the stream, and she climbed steadily upwards.  Here, the trees crammed in on her; it was darker.  When she looked up, she could only see sunlight trapped on leaves far above.  It was a part of the old woodland that she’d never been to before, but she pushed on, feeling that she was on an adventure and might suddenly come across a gingerbread house or wizard’s cottage. 

At the top of the hill she found herself in a small clearing.  It was only a few yards across, framed with oak trees, and perfectly round.  Sunlight from directly above made the clearing warm, and she stood at its centre, wondering if she was the first person to have ever discovered it.  Each of the oak trees around the clearing seemed precisely set, each one a perfect distance from the next, and she walked around them, touching each one, wondering if someone had planted the oak trees, or if the clearing really was a magic place.  She still sometimes believed in magic.  Then she stood again at its centre, wondering at its symmetry and why a long-dead sorcerer might have planted the oak trees.  Then, realising that the sorcerer might not be dead, and that she had walked uninvited into his private domain, she hurried away, not sure whether to be frightened or excited.  It was a place she often went back to that summer, and on following summers, sometimes alone and sometimes with her little brother.  They would sit in the centre of the woodland circle, eating bilberries, hoping to meet the sorcerer who had built the clearing.  She wasn’t frightened of him anymore; the clearing was too peaceful to have been made by a bad wizard.  It was their secret place, but mainly Carole’s, because she had found it.  It was a comforting place: it was somewhere she would go if she was sad or angry about something, because the woodland circle and its shifting half-shadows offered calm and new perspectives.  She could almost hear the trees speak to her, the wind in their branches making the leaves whisper, but so softly that she couldn’t understand.  She would listen, eyes closed, the leaves rustling, but she never understood what they were saying.  The circle of trees stood solid and immovable, dark and stoic, old and wise, and each one the colour of stone.

Available Here and on Amazon!

About the Author

download

Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook  | Twitter

International Giveaway: Win one of two signed editions of Everyday Magic!

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EverdayMagic

Book Tour Schedule

June 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

Books, Ramblings & Tea (Spotlight) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

June 15th

@swimming.in.books (Review) https://www.instagram.com/swimming.in.books/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Books Teacup & Reviews (Review)  https://booksteacupreviews.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

June 16th

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@geauxgetlit (Review) https://www.instagram.com/geauxgetlit/

@greeneyedgirl0704 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/greeneyedgirl0704/

@m_books.dogs (Review) https://www.instagram.com/m_books.dogs/

@reads.by.the.sea (Review) https://www.instagram.com/reads.by.the.sea/

June 17th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

The Librocubicularista (Review) https://thelibrocubicularista.wordpress.com/

@theculture.hunter (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theculture.hunter/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

June 18th

The Photographer’s Way (Review) http://www.thephotographersway.org

@jypsylynn (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn/

@jenniferclaywood (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jenniferclaywood/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review)  https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@jeyreads (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jeyreads/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

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#BookBlitz “Everyday Magic” by Charlie Laidlaw

EverdayMagic2

Great news! If you pre-order a copy of Everyday Magic by Charlie Laidlaw and you will receive a signed edition! But you have to order before May 26th!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINALEveryday Magic

Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Publisher: Ringwood Publishing

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

Pre-Order HERE!

About the Author

download

Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter

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#BookTour “Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside” by Stephanie Harper

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Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Date Published: October 26, 2020

Publisher: Propertius Press

 

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When an agoraphobic man develops a relationship with a vivacious grocery delivery woman, the order he prescribes to his apartment, and his world, begins to crumble around him. Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside explores the life of Wesley Yorstead, a thirty-three year old graphic novelist who suffers from a severe case of agoraphobia that has kept him shut inside for over five years. When he meets Happy Lafferty for the first time, delivering groceries on behalf of her father’s neighborhood market, Wesley can’t shake the inherent magnetism between them and seeks to get to know this young woman who invades his space—both physical and mental. As their relationship grows more intimate, the restrictions of his situation become an even greater obstacle. When Happy’s past comes back to haunt her, Wesley must decide if he can finally leave his apartment to help. A meditation on anxiety, fear, and human connection, Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside asks the reader to consider what our fears take away from our lives, and how we might overcome them.

Finalist for the Colorado Book Awards in the general fiction category

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EXCERPT

Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside

Part One: Inside

Inside my apartment, I have everything I need. For a single inhabitant, it’s more than sufficient, with a bedroom large enough for a queen bed, a spacious bathroom, and an open living space with a full kitchen. It has several windows and a door. People tell me the building’s in a prime location in the heart of the Mile High City. They tell me this is important. It’s not a terrible city. I’m certain there are worse.  I remember a field trip I took in grade school. I stood in awe on the steps of the State Capital, with a round marker set into the marble, showing the exact elevation of 5,280 feet.  How Denver earned its nickname. A strange sense of accomplishment overwhelmed me as I planted myself on that stairway, above so much of the world.

I haven’t been to that bronze domed building in years. The stainless steel supports have eroded under decades of weathering and the uppermost portions have begun to crumble in structural decay. I haven’t seen this myself. I haven’t seen a lot of things. My apartment is on the third floor of an old brick building and if I look out the large window along the east wall of my living room, I see a park—a fragment of grass and trees imprisoned by towering condos on all sides. Concrete pathways weave through the area, with a bridge over the river. When the weather permits, these walkways convey people on bicycles, couples with clasped hands and disposable coffee cups, and lone women walking small dogs on florescent leashes. If I look farther I can see the Denver skyline hovering over brick buildings in the distance, glowing yellow-green against the night sky. If I look.

I never open the window in my living room. I did once, the first year I moved. I’d begun to spend more time inside by then, aware that when I went anywhere, I’d become overwhelmed by the utter unpredictability of people and places. Anything could happen out there. This expectancy that something would happen tightened down in the center of my chest and made it harder and harder to endure any kind of new situation. Still, I had occasional moments when I longed to participate in some small way. And in a quiet instance of contemplation, I entertained the notion that if I opened my window for some fresh air, the sounds of the city, even a breeze, might ease the cabin fever. But the Platte River has always been rank with human garbage and the swampy aroma of moss and mildew, the noise of rowdy people traversing the sidewalk below, grated on my nerves. I haven’t opened my window since. That was five and a half years ago, six months to the day before the last time I left my apartment, the day I realized I’d never leave again. October 27, 2004.

I have everything I need inside.

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About the Author

Stephanie Harper is the author of Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside (Propertius Press, 2020), as well as a poetry collection entitled Sermon Series (Finishing Line Press, 2017). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. She’s written personal essays and articles for many publications online and in print. She currently lives in Littleton, CO.

 

 

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookSale “Heart of a Bad Boy: Cowboys of the Flint Hills” by Tessa Layne

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This book was formerly titled PRAIRIE DEVIL.

He’s the Devil she shouldn’t want…
Colton Kincaid is a rake and a heartbreaker. Thrown out of the house when he was seventeen by his brother, Travis, he scraped his way to the top of the rodeo circuit riding broncs and never looked back… Until a chance encounter with hometown good girl Lydia Grace leaves him questioning everything and wanting a shot at redemption.

She’s the Angel he can never have…
All Lydia Grace needs is one break. After having her concepts stolen by a famous shoe designer, she returns home to Prairie to start a boot company on her own. But when her break comes in the all too sexy form of Colton Kincaid, she wonders if she’s gotten more than she’s bargained for.

To get her boot company off the ground, Lydia makes Colton an offer too good to refuse, but he ups the ante. Will the bargain she strikes bring her everything she’s dreamed of and more, or did she just make a deal with the devil?

A delicious fake engagement between the reformed bad boy and the woman who keeps him awake at night.

FREE at time of posting!

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#CoverReveal “Divorcing Atlanta” by Timmothy B. McCann

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DIVORCING ATLANTA

BY TIMMOTHY B. MCCANN

“(Until…) stands head and shoulders above the rest.” Eric Jerome Dickey, NY Times Bestselling Author

Pastor Lorenzo Richardson’s endeavors to fulfill the calling on his life—which is to change the world, one soul at a time, by starting in southwest Atlanta.

So when he loses people in his circle unexpectedly, the ministry he dedicated his life to fails, and his wife is embroiled in an adulterous public affair with a notable public figure. Pastor Richardson is at the end of his rope and decides to change the world he lives in forever.

Divorcing Atlanta is a moving yet timely account that will resonate with readers who believe in the unyielding power of redemption, choose love and hope over hurt and fear, and fight for what truly matters in their lives.

COMING APRIL 20! – KEEP READING TO PREVIEW AN EXCERPT

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EXCERPT

Letter #1

Dear Son

By the time you read this, you’ll be twenty-one and I’ll be dead. And as I see you in my minds eye opening the envelope and looking at the metallic blue ribbon on the accompanying gift, I can only imagine what you’re thinking. ‘No one made him pull the trigger.’ That’s why I wanted you to read this as an adult. So reason could temper your emotions and pain would not overshadow your smile. 

 I once heard an old woman say, ‘Black people love their children with an abnormal fixation that’s hard to explain.’ Since she was wearing a MAGA hat, there was a racist, undertone to her words. But everything changed the morning I touched your mother’s belly for the first time. I felt life radiate from within her, travel up my arm and embed itself in my heart. When I looked in her eyes, I saw you—the life I may never meet. The purpose to which I’d never surrender. The cause of my abnormal fixation.

There’s so much I wish I could have shared with you in life. There are countless things I want to teach you because you will make mistakes. But my son, remember in life, what you look for you will always see. What you see will determine your perspective and eventually your perspective on anything—will become your reality. If only I’d known this three months ago. 

As I lay here today, I’m saddened. Sad because I will not be able to walk you to the bus stop on your first day of school. I will never change your stinky diaper or look at you in the mirror while I’m shaving and see the usta-be-me smiling back. It saddens me that you will grow up—as I did, being fatherless. So, to the extent to which I am responsible for this, I apologize. 

Now, to the gift. 

If you’ve not opened it (and something tells me you have), it’s a porcelain chess piece. I carried it with me every day of my life. The reason I chose the king is because the entire game is centered around him. So carrying it was my reminder of how God saw me. It should have also reminded me of how I should have treated your mom. Like that crowned gameboard piece, I can only strategically move one step at a time—yet God sacrificed it all so I might live. I wish I’d taken my relationship with Peaches one step at a time—one day at a time—one emotion at a time. Nevertheless, I invite you to always carry The King (and now I mean God) with you.

When it comes to your mom—I’ll tell you something I’ve yet to tell her. The divorce was my fault. I never took the time to understand her to the core. I once owned a very nice BMW. A year after I bought it, I noticed a little button on the dash I’d never seen before. It was there. I’d seen it a million times, but never slowed down enough to “see” it. There was so many things about your mother I failed to recognize even though I’d seen them a million times before. It took divorce papers and a bullet to understand the woman I married. 

As I close my son, nothing compares to the idea of holding you in my arms. Nothing can equate in my heart to how it would feel to teach you how to ride a bike, study the Word or shave. You’re the mirror that will project a part of me into the future and even if I am not there to direct that light—I’m at peace as I know it would be the will of God. So for now, I’ll end this letter in hopes that I will be able to write many more. But even if I’m not; just know you’re loved. 

Your Dad,

Rev. Dr. Lorenzo Hosea Richardson

P.S. Someone once said if you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you it’s yours forever. If not—it never was. Son, somebody lied. If you love something, hold on to it. Be honest with it. Fight for it. Take care and value it; and never give it reason to want to walk away. And lastly, remember with all your heart, it’s the words, between “I do,” and “until death do us part,” that kill us.

LHR

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ABOUT TIMMOTHY B. MCCANN

Timmothy McCannTimmothy B. McCann was born to tell stories. What began as penning love letters for a fee, grew into his national bestselling debut entitled, Until. Since then, he has amassed an insatiable and dedicated worldwide readership.

The former collegiate football player, educator, and owner of a financial planning firm is now a commercial real estate broker. In 2018, he founded First Day Christian Center. A ministry dedicated to helping those in need in Atlanta.

In his downtime, Timmothy is a self-proclaimed political junkie, golfer, movie buff and community activist who also loves spending time with the two most adorable grandchildren in the world.

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