#ReleaseBlitz “Weathering Old Souls” by Didi Oviatt & James J. Cudney

WeatheringOldSoul

Congratulations to Didi Oviatt and James J. Cudney on the release of their novel, Weathering Old Souls!

Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt and a week full of fantastic giveaways!

Release Week Giveaways!

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $40 Psychic Services
  • 1 eBook of Weathering Old Souls
  • 1 physical book of Weathering Old Souls (US Only)

WOS Cover

Weathering Old Souls

Publication Date: May 15th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction with historical interludes, metaphysical elements, past life regression, suspense & mystery.

Publisher: Next Chapter

Abigail has always struggled with strange voices appearing inside her head. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that forever changes her future. There are moments from previous periods that serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, but they also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of these voices while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator. Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between some of the people they meet during the journey, and secrets long thought buried come to light in devastating ways. With the twisting of elements, numerical alignments, and the trauma of spiritual entanglements, no one will be the same… and just a few might not even be around anymore.

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Excerpt

One morning as winter should’ve been transitioning into spring, an eight-year-old Abigail awakens with a piercing scream. She bolts upright and snails herself to the edge of her bed, placing a heavy hand on her chest to help steady herself and catch her breath. Her body twinges as though she’s fallen down a flight of stairs or been slammed by a double-decker trolley. The agony starts in the muscles behind her shoulder blade. From there it feels like a rocket exploded, escaping through her chest, leaving only traces of burning gases to snake their way through the rest of her fragile body. She coughs violently as her system tries to rid itself of unknown toxins.

The bedroom is dark and frigid because the pipes broke the previous day and her father was too busy sleeping off a hangover to call a contractor to fix them. Oliver has no mechanical knowledge or experience with home repair, but he tells Abigail that the Stauntons will address the issue since their heating system has also experienced problems with the winter storms that year. It’s been an unpredictable season, much more so than the usual winter in South Carolina. Some days Abigail has played outside all afternoon, hardly catching a chill. Others she wakes to a beautifully ominous layer of frost clinging to every blade of yellow grass as if its very life depends on it.

A thin glint of light pushes through the crack between the bottom of the broken shade and the splintered windowsill. Abigail watches as the sparkly dust settles on the foot of her bed and shines brightly. It reminds her of the quartz necklace dangling on the neck of the woman in her scary dream. It was gorgeous and made the woman feel safe and comforted as it has in every dream where it made an appearance. Abigail’s told Margaret about the necklace many times, wishing she could hop out of bed today and do it again. It’s only been two months since she saw Margaret, but missing her is more than just a faint feeling. It’s soul crushing. She aches for Margaret’s companionship like any other child would her own sibling who’s grown up and gone on without her.

In her nightmare, Abigail was stuck inside the body of an old lady running through a field, sweat pouring from her head down the curves of her hollowed and withdrawn cheeks. It was pitch black, and there were trees all around her, the wind shaking the branches such that they whispered secret directions in an unknown language. They resembled monsters with claw-like arms and vicious teeth, ready to bite her flailing limbs. Someone had been chasing her, but Abigail never saw the figure’s face.

Confusion rocks her body. Part of her is the small innocent child who wants to scream for Elizabeth, but a stronger piece of her feels much older, more mature, as if she’s lived for decades, maybe even centuries. She shakes through the aftermath of terror, unable to make sense of what happened in her sleep. All she knows is that it was horrific and made her fear something awful was destined to happen. Abigail wonders if her nightmares relate to the bits of conversation she’s overheard between Elizabeth and Bradford in the past. Elizabeth once said something about a killer coming after them again, but they’d ultimately agreed they were much safer now.

After deliberating with Imaginary May for a few moments, Abigail announces, “I can handle this on my own. I am a big girl. Margaret’s gone, but she taught me to be strong.”

She cuddles the teddy bear that Elizabeth gifted her last month for Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth had always bought one for Margaret when she was a child, the kind of mother and daughter tradition that Abigail has always yearned for. This is the first year that Margaret has been away for Spring Break during Valentine’s Day. Elizabeth missed her daughter immensely, so she purchased two identical teddy bears at the local toy store. One for Margaret, who would be home on Spring Break soon, and one for her favorite little neighbor and second daughter.

With a heavy sigh, Abigail stretches her arms above her head, extends her legs, and spreads her toes apart. Then she drops her chin to her chest, before rolling her head around in big circles. Four times each direction, one for every major element. She studied them in school that year. With each round of her neck, Abigail breathes in and counts to ten, then she lets out the air and reminds herself of everything she has to be grateful for. Margaret once taught her this morning routine, to help her ease the body tremors brought about by a nightmare, as the last doctor she saw refused to give any pain medication or advice. The stretching and breathing exercises help, and her pains slowly evaporate like a faint mist over a swamp.

An oblong mirror that’s mounted to the wall across from her window offers Abigail a dust-clouded view of her messy hair as it knots and sticks out in every direction, along with her worn-out unicorn covered nightgown. She chuckles at the sight of herself, and the last of her anxiety and spasms disappear. She imagines the body aches to have a color, a dull shade of lilac, as they lift in a swirling pattern like hazy smoke and exit out of the beam of light coming through the window.

“Stay away, you filthy bloke,” she chastises the imaginary swirl of colorful pain.

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Available on Amazon

Weathering Old Souls

About the Author: Didi Oviatt

author image

Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search for Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, and Sketch, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. Most recently, she published her first romance novella titled Skinny Dippin’ which was originally released as a part of the highly appraised Anthology, Sinners and Saints. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle.

Listen to Didi Oviatt’s books on Audible

Didi Oviatt | Goodreads | Twitter

Facebook | Instagram | BookBub | Amazon

About the Author: James J. Cudney

Jay Pic1

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, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and 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 conjure 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 two 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.

James J. Cudney | Blog | Amazon | Next Chapter |BookBub | Twitter | Facebook | Braxton Campus Mysteries FB

Blog FB | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads | Linkedin

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#BookTour “Weathering Old Souls” by James Cudney and Didi Oviatt

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Weathering Old Souls
by James J. Cudney & Didi Oviatt
Genre: Metaphysical, Spiritual Historical Fiction
 
 
Abigail has always struggled with the voices. From the relentless tyranny a woman faces on an antebellum plantation to the unknown prison camps in America during World War II, our heroine discovers the past in a way that changes her future.
 
Moments from the past serve as guiding posts for the country’s growth, and also mark the transitions for Abigail’s own personal history. Her best friend, Margaret, partners with Abigail to discover the identity of the mysterious voices, while focusing on her passion and quest to become a United States senator.
 
Through it all, a serial killer torments the country, romance blossoms between people they meet during the journey, and long-buried secrets come to light in devastating ways. As elements twist, numbers align and spiritual powers connect, no one will be the same again.
 
 
 
 
 

~~~

 
Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search for Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, and Sketch, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. Most recently, she published her first romance novella titled Skinny Dippin’ which was originally released as a part of the highly appraised Anthology, Sinners and Saints. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle.
 
 
 
 
James J. Cudney
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, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.
 
 

~~~

 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
 
Didi and James are giving away 4 prizes as part of this marketing campaign. Winner will be drawn the week after release:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
$40 Psychic Services
1 eBook of Weathering Old Souls
1 physical book of Weathering Old Souls (US Only)
 

#BookTour “Legally Blind Luck (Braxton Campus Mysteries)” by James J. Cudney

Legally Blind Luck (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney

About Legally Blind Luck

Legally Blind Luck (Braxton Campus Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery 7th in Series

Independently published (April 15, 2021)

Gumshoe – A Next Chapter Imprint

Paperback: 295 pages ISBN-13: 979-8707757341

Digital ASIN: B08R347N84

Surprising new family members. A hidden talisman. Deadly curses. Murder. Months after tragically losing a loved one, Kellan learns his relative’s death wasn’t an accident.

Someone has discovered a cursed talisman, and a rogue government agent will stop at nothing to retrieve the heirloom. Unfortunately, it has already changed hands and found its way on campus. Moments before Braxton’s controversial art exhibition opens, Kellan stumbles upon another murder victim, and it appears he might be next on the avenger’s list.

Can Kellan protect the talisman’s true heir and prevent the killer’s nefarious plan? Given all the suspects have ties to prominent Braxton citizens, he’s uncertain whom to trust. Together, Kellan and Sheriff April are determined to solve the mystery – via legal means or blind luck.

~~~

Hot Seat Questions with Bitsy Jaccard from Legally Blind Luck

Bitsy is –

  • 40ish
  • a museum curator with a resemblance to two vibrant cartoon characters.
  • a suspect in the murder mystery
  • the wife of a very peculiar man with a weird speech pattern.
  • The character is noted as having a voice like Betty Boop and similarity to Jessica Rabbit. I’d go with this clip that combines them both!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy5THitqPBw

 

Bitsy, What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Drinking a bottle of wine while perusing the latest art show with a hunk on my arms.

What is your current state of mind?

If that Kellan guy wasn’t such a snoop, I’d try to seduce him even more.

What is your most treasured possession?

My hourglass figure. It’s gotten me pretty far in life… at least where men are concerned. They never suspect I hold even more brilliance and intelligence than I do curves.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

I might flirt with all the men I meet, but hubby Sawyer is my soulmate.

What is your greatest fear?

This curse! It’s really got it out for someone, and with 2 dead bodies already, I don’t want to be the third.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

A hot body. A charming personality. Someone who surprises me.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Busy-body snoopers who don’t believe me. Get my drift?

On what occasions do you lie?

When I feel trapped or cornered and someone just won’t leave me alone.

Are you a lover or a fighter?

Both. I feel all the passions… they just bubble out of me, honey.

Which is your favorite word or phrase?

Studmuffin? Give it to me? I say honey a lot too, honey.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d love to control my temper a little more. Sometimes I get heated quickly. Bad things happen when I can’t manage that side of my personality too.

Find out more about Bitsy, Sawyer, and Kellan in Legally Blind Luck. Download today!

~~~

About James J. Cudney

Background 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, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.

Author Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and 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 conjure 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 two 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 Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4  

~~~

Enter for a chance to win a print copy of Legally Blind Luck! (U.S. Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~~~

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

April 21 – Literary Gold – REVIEW

April 21 – Ascroft, eh?AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 21 – I’m All About BooksSPOTLIGHT

April 22 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 22 – Didi Oviatt – Author – REVIEW

April 22 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

April 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 23 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

April 23 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

April 24 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

April 24 – Nesie’s Place – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 25 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Kyrosmagica – REVIEW

April 26 – Tea Book Blanket – SPOTLIGHT

April 26Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 27 – BookloverBlogs – REVIEW

April 27 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 28 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

April 28 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 28 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

April 29 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

April 29 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

April 29 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

April 30 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

April 30 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

 

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host? Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!   ~~~

#CoverReveal “Legally Blind Luck (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 7)” by James J. Cudney

cover
Name: Legally Blind Luck (Braxton Campus Mystery #7)
Release Date: April 15, 2021

PreOrder

Kindle Unlimited
Description:
Surprising new family members. A hidden talisman. Deadly curses. Horrific murder. Months after tragically losing a loved one, Kellan learns his relative’s death wasn’t an accident.
Someone discovered Queen Tessa’s cursed talisman, and a rogue government agent will stop at nothing to retrieve the heirloom. Too bad it changed hands during an anonymous auction and found its way on campus. Moments before Braxton’s controversial art exhibition opens, Kellan stumbles upon another murder victim. It appears he might be next on the avenger’s list too.
Will Kellan protect Tessa’s true heir and prevent a killer’s nefarious plan from ending the curse? Given all the suspects have ties to prominent Braxton citizens, he’s uncertain whom to trust. Together, Kellan and Sheriff April are determined to solve the mystery via legal means or purely through blind luck.

~~~

Previous books in series:

3D mockup

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#BlogTour “Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions of Glass Book 2)” by James J. Cudney

main cover

HIDING CRACKED GLASS

BY JAMES J. CUDNEY

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass

Book #1 Name: Watching Glass Shatter

Book #2 Name: Hiding Cracked Glass

Publication for Book #2:

Next Chapter, October 8th, 2020

PreOrder

AMAZON US    AMAZON UK

Goodreads

~~~

About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.

~~~

Q and A banner

… with author James J. Cudney

I’m happy to welcome author James J. Cudney aka “Jay” to Nesie’s Place today. Jay is an active blogger and book reviewer on his blog, This is My Truth Now, as well as a busy author who’s latest release, Hiding Cracked Glass, goes live in two days.

Welcome, Jay!

Thank you so much for this opportunity. You’ve been a wonderful friend over the last several years and I’m grateful to know you.

Right back at you, my friend. Team work makes the dream work! 🙂

Hiding Cracked Glass is a continuation of Watching Glass Shatter. What inspired the story? Did you know it would be more than one book?

 Truthfully, I didn’t know it would be more than one book when I began writing it in late 2016. I first surmised it had potential to be a series when the reviews began arriving. Others felt an immediate connection with the members of the Glass family, and I knew I’d created a compelling cast of characters. During the blog tour for Watching Glass Shatter, I committed to writing short stories about each of the brothers and a future sequel. I’d targeted them from 2018 and 2019; unfortunately, I became focused on my Braxton Campus Mysteries and never published the short stories. All five brothers have an outline written, and I do plan to finish it off at some point.

 Luckily, the sequel was easy to outline and write. I knew it needed to match the same style and tone as Watching Glass Shatter, e.g. switching POV by chapter for each main family member and ending with a bit of a cliffhanger or shocking moments before forcing readers to wait 5 chapters until revisiting that character again. It’s kind of the way the Glass family works. That said, I also knew the secret had to be about a letter just like the first book, only it couldn’t be about which brother it revolved around… instead, it had to be who was the blackmailer and what exactly did they know! I’m more interested in mystery and suspense these days, so I amped up the plot to be more of a thriller / suspense in terms of family drama as opposed to the emotional kind. It’s still very heartfelt and painful, but it’s also a way to show growth in several of the family members.

 Do you have a favorite character in the story?

In Watching Glass Shatter, it was a toss up between Olivia and Ethan. In Hiding Cracked Glass, I think it falls to Teddy and Caleb. Teddy is such a strong personality to deal with, but at the same time, he’s been defined by a series of emotions that were more cardboard and black-and-white. He’s got a wider spectrum, and when I explored those elements, he began to grow on me. People change, and he’s the perfect candidate for a blank slate in the future. Caleb has always been an extension of me, in lots of ways. He does things I wish I had done years ago, and so I can live through him… in Watching Glass Shatter, he was an innocent boy, for the most part. Now, a cloud hovers above something he’s done in the last few months. Like Teddy, he also has many facets to explore.

What is your work schedule like when writing a book?

I have a full-time job, which pretty much keeps me busy until 5:30 pm each day. Thankfully, I finished writing the full draft of this book the day before I started this new job. Editing was the big piece from March through July. It wasn’t easy, and I have two full-time jobs because I edited this at the same time as I wrote my next book, a co-written drama with Didi Oviatt entitled Weathering Old Souls. Between marketing my existing books, editing Hiding Cracked Glass, and writing Weathering Old Souls, I spent 40 hours per week on top of 40 hours of technology project management. Add in a personal life, daily blogging, and reading… I do nothing except work! Since we were quarantined during the last 6 months, I hardly saw anyone else… we had several Zoom calls with friends, but for the most part, any non-sleeping moment was fully booked with my literary life!

When did you write your first book?

2016. I finished working my previous job that summer and began writing an outline and my blog. Watching Glass Shatter, my debut novel and the first book in the Perceptions of Glass series, took about 6 months to write, then 6 months to edit. Watching Glass Shatter was published on October 8th, 2017, and Hiding Cracked Glass will be published on October 8th, 2020, the three year anniversary of my debut novel being published.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

As of this latest one, I have nine books published: Father Figure, two books in Perceptions of Glass, and six books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries. I’ve also co-written my tenth book, Weathering Old Souls, which will release in 2021. Didi and I are networking with a few publishers and possibly an agent or two, but we do plan to launch this amazing novel soon. It’s a story about a woman’s past lives… very metaphysical, emotional, suspenseful. It has a serial killer, genealogical mystery, twisting of elements, and a bunch of heartbreaking moments. I love the story so much, and it might be my favorite of all ten so far. Of the published one, Father Figure would be my top choice. It’s my second book, and I learned so much in terms of writing style by the time I drafted it. Also, the dual timeline and the way in which one chapter finishes and connects to the next chapter is truly astonishing. I still struggle to believe what I was able to accomplish with that one, but at the same time, I see several things I would do differently to make it stronger, if I could. But I can’t! 😊

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

I’d say it’s a hybrid. Next Chapter calls themselves a rapid release publisher, which essentially means they work with you to release quickly, and they split some responsibilities… but they function much more like a traditional publisher. They handle all the formatting, setting up and marketing on Amazon, and partnering with audio narrators, foreign language translators, and merchandisers. I handle editing and social media. They are amazing to work with, and after 3 years and 9 books, there are ~50 formats available: hard cover, book store print, large print paperback, pocket book paperback, regular paperback, audio, and German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian translations.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Cook, Garden, Read, Blog, Watch TV. I’m a homebody. Even before quarantine, I only liked going out to see friends once a week… not because I don’t adore them, but I am not a social creature by nature. I like hiding behind the Internet wall for a reason most people don’t realize. I am a major multi-tasker… so, when I can text and email to keep up with friends and family at the same time as I’m writing or editing or reading or any of these other activities, I get so much more done. But I still treasure all the in-person time with those I’m close to… quality not quantity is more of my approach. Usually visit my parents every other Sunday, friends for dinner on Fridays or Saturdays, and calls with long-distance friends and family every month or so.

Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?Baxter

Baxter is a two-and-a-half-year-old Shiba Inu dog. He’s black-and tan and was born in Kansas. He and I often discuss whether he should visit there again, mostly when he’s stealing socks, eating plants, biting his leash, or growling at me when he wants to be left alone. He’s kinda like me in that respect! He is a character in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, so I suppose he inspires me too!

As a child, What did you want to do when you grew up? 

Architect. I built houses with Legos all the time. I also liked to trace my roots, so I wanted to be a genealogist but I didn’t understand enough at the time. I wish I could go back to change that career…

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

Personally, I could 100% live without it. As an author, I must make it a natural part of my day. I can’t stand all the venting and ranting, especially about politics, news and religion. I’ve unfollowed so many friends because of it. To me, social media is an escape from reality. I like connecting with people around the world to talk about books. I don’t need to see what Trump said yesterday, listen to Democrats and Republicans pick one stupid line out of hundreds and make it seem like that was the entire intent of a message, or hear people screaming about protests and whether COVID is a hoax. I get that it’s an outlet for some people… but for me, it just makes me shake my head and say “Find something to make you happy. Stop complaining about others and exacerbating the problem.” I know this might offend some… and I’m not against the valuable messages in some of social media’s content… but I don’t need to get into fights about it. I will always help those who are suffering injustice. I donate money and time to causes that help better people’s chances and promote goodness. Social media is not the method I choose to share about it though, which is why I don’t say a lot on my blog or social media to publicly support certain things. I include diverse characters in my book, where they shine and are amazing examples of wonderful people. They might also be one of the villains too, as it’s about balance. But in general, I stay away from the controversial stuff because I’m not one to engage in conflict 99% of the time.

Here’s a sample from Weathering Old Souls, my collaboration with author Didi Oviatt.

Together, the two girls open their boxes, revealing beautifully shining quartz stones. Each one is a perfect match to the other. The stones are slightly smaller than the ones in Abigail’s dreams, and the chains they hang from are skinnier, more elegant. As Abigail retrieves her gift from the box, she sighs and rolls it around in her fingertips. The same feeling of peace that comforted her while staring at Boris’s bowtie this morning returns, filling her all the way from her legs to her armpits.

At first, it’s just a minor change, but as Abigail holds the quartz necklace longer, an inexplicable explosion begins to ignite inside her body. The quartz burns against her skin, making Abigail feel as if a flame is about to burst from within her chest. She wants to pull the necklace away from her flesh, but within seconds a waterfall of coolness flushes over her. In its wake, her throat feels as though it fills to the point she cannot breathe. Her persistent cough flares up and steals her remaining breath. Just as she’s about to grab Margaret’s hand to beg for help, a blast of wintery air wafts through the front yard and kicks up several clouds of dirt around them. When it finishes, Margaret and Abigail fiercely cling to one another.

“Did you feel that too?” Abigail inquires, releasing her grip on Margaret’s forearm. Suddenly, everything seems calmer than it’s ever been before.

“Yes, it was certainly strange, huh?” Margaret clips the chain’s lock behind Abigail’s neck and places her own on just the same. “Must’ve been some static charge in the atmosphere. All better now!” 

“Yep. Much better. Ready to go inside?”

Together, hand in hand, they skip into Margaret’s home, ready to face the future of Mr. and Mrs. Staunton’s relocation as a team, as a family. It’s all Margaret can think of doing to protect her little friend. Margaret decides not to share her concerns with Abigail that something about the necklace is going to be a powerful game-changer. She had the same feeling the day Oliver and Nadia moved in, when the darkness had begun to creep closer. “At least I hope it’s all better now.”

 

My thanks to Jay for stopping by the blog today. Remember to scroll up and order your copy of Hiding Crack Glass! Release day is only two days away! 🙂

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G I V E A W A Y

Author James Cudney is giving away ebooks, print books and an Amazon gift card! Enter for a chance to win a great prize!

E N T E R

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Author BioJay_suit

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

Website   |    Blog   |    Amazon   |   Next Chapter

Social Media Links

Facebook       Twitter

Facebook      Facebook

Pinterest      Instagram

Goodreads      LinkedIn

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.

paperback

GOODREADS BOOK LINKS

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

 Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

      Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

    Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

    Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

  Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

~~~

DRBT Logo


#CoverReveal “Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions of Glass Book 2)” by James J. Cudney

main cover

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About the Book

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass

Book #1 Name: Watching Glass Shatter

Book #2 Name: Hiding Cracked Glass (cover reveal for this one)

Publication for Book #2:

Next Chapter, October 8th, 2020

PreSale / Amazon Link

Goodreads

 

 

double ebook

 

 

~~~

Author BioJay_suit

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

Website   |    Blog   |    Amazon   |   Next Chapter

Social Media Links

Facebook       Twitter

Facebook      Facebook

Pinterest      Instagram

Goodreads      LinkedIn

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.

paperback

GOODREADS BOOK LINKS

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

            Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

             Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

            Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

                Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

               Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

          Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

~~~

DRBT Logo

#FREE “Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)” by James J. Cudney

The debut book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball, is available as a FREE Kindle download from 6/5 thru 6/9. This book won a Best Fiction award and was the #1 downloaded Kindle book in the highest possible category in February 2019 during the initial promotion. There are now 6 books available in the series, so why not start reading them by getting this one for FREE!

Download for FREE via Amazon

academic download

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Overview / Description:

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family.

Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father, and someone attempts to change students’ grades. Something is amiss on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way and solve the mystery. But can they find the killer before he strikes again?

Praise:

★★★★★ – “I read a lot of murder mystery and whodunit books, and this was one of the best I’ve read in a while. The story is full of twists and turns, and the characters are relatable. If you like cozy mysteries, you should definitely give this series a try.”

★★★★★ – “Fantastic writing and witty dialogue. Awesome.”

★★★★★ – “An exciting, cozy mystery.”

★★★★★ – “Full of twists and turns, and an ending you won’t see coming.”

Purchase Links for Academic Curveball

Kindle: http://mybook.to/ACurveball

Paperback: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbralp

German Translation: http://mybook.to/acbde

Portuguese Translation: http://mybook.to/bolacurvapb

US Audiobook

UK Audiobook

academic cover

Braxton Campus Mysteries Overview

A new mystery series debuting in October 2018 focusing on amateur sleuth, Kellan Ayrwick, a 32-year-old single father who solves crimes in his Pennsylvania hometown while attending to his day job as a professor at Braxton University.

  1. Academic Curveball(Oct 2018)
  2. Broken Heart Attack(Nov 2018)
  3. Flower Power Trip(Mar 2019)
  4. Mistaken Identity Crisis(Jun 2019)
  5. Haunted House Ghost(Oct 2019)
  6. Frozen Stiff Drink(Mar 2020)

Check out the Blog Tour

https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/completed-tours-2019/academic-curveball-braxton-campus-mysteries-by-james-j-cudney/

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academoc tour

Read an Excerpt – Chapter 1

I’ve never been comfortable flying. My suspicious nature assumed the magic suspending airplanes in the sky would cease to exist at some master planner’s whim. Listening to the whirr of a jet propeller change speeds—or experiencing the mysterious pockets of rough air jolt you up and down—equaled imminent death in an aluminum contraption destined for trouble. I spent the entire flight with my jaw clenched, hands clutching the armrests, and eyes glued to the seatback in front of me impatiently hoping the diligent crypt keeper didn’t claim another victim. Despite my uncanny knack for grasping anything mechanical and Nana D always calling me brilliant, I was entirely too doubtful of this mode of transportation. My gut promised I’d be safer plummeting over Niagara Falls naked and in a barrel.

After landing at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport on this miserable mid-February afternoon, I rented a Jeep to trek another ninety miles south into Pennsylvania. Several inches of densely packed snow and veiled black ice covered the only highway leading into or out of my secluded childhood hometown. Braxton, one of four charming villages fully surrounded by the Wharton Mountains and the Saddlebrooke National Forest, was nearly impenetrable from outside forces.

As I changed lanes to avoid a slippery patch, my sister’s number lit up the cell phone screen. I paused Maroon 5 on my Spotify playlist, clicked accept, and moaned, “Remind me why I’m here again?”

“Guilt? Love? Boredom?” Eleanor said followed by a loud chuckle.

“Stupidity?” Craving something of substance to squelch the angry noises radiating from my stomach, I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from a bag on the passenger seat. The extra tall salted caramel mocha—free, courtesy of a pretty red-haired barista who’d shamelessly flirted with me—wouldn’t suffice on its own. “Please save me from this torture!”

“Not gonna happen, Kellan. You should’ve heard Mom when I suggested you might not make it. ‘He’s always coming up with excuses not to return home more often. This family needs him here!‘ But don’t worry, I calmed her down,” shouted Eleanor over several dishes and glasses clanging in the background.

“Did she already forget I was here at Christmas?” Another cookie found its way into my mouth. I must confess, I’m powerless to desserts—also known as my kryptonite—hence, why I’ve always thought they should be a major food group. “Two trips home within six weeks is one too many by my count.”

“How did you let our darling siblings find acceptable excuses to skip the biggest social event of the season?” Eleanor said.

“Me? I gave up trying to compete with them years ago. It’s easy to get away with things when they’re not disappointing our parents like the rest of us.”

“Hey! Don’t take me down because you can’t escape the awkward middle-child syndrome.” Eleanor put me on hold to deal with a customer complaint.

My younger sister turned thirty last month and is unhappy about it given she still hadn’t met the right man. She also insisted she’s not morphing into our mother despite every hour of every day steamrolling those figments of her imagination into oblivion. Truth be told, Eleanor was the spitting image of Violet Ayrwick, and in one of those ways where everyone saw it but the two of them. Twinsies, as Nana D always said with the cutest lilt to her voice. Eleanor will definitely be at our father’s retirement party as there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of me going to that boondoggle by myself. The man of the hour had been the president of Braxton College for the last eight years, but upon turning sixty-five, Wesley Ayrwick stepped down from the coveted role.

Eleanor jumped back on the line. “Was Emma okay with you visiting by yourself this time?”

“Yeah, she’s staying with Francesca’s parents. I couldn’t take her out of school again, but we’ll Facetime every day I’m gone.”

“You’re an amazing father. I don’t know how you do it all on your own,” Eleanor replied. “So, who’s the woman you plan to meet while gracing us with your presence this weekend?”

“Abby Monroe. She completed a whole bunch of research for my boss, Derek,” I said, cursing the slimy, party-going executive producer of our award-winning television show, Dark Reality. Upon informing Derek I needed to return home for a family obligation, he generously suggested adding extra days to relax before everything exploded at the network, then assigned me to interview his latest source. “Ever heard the name?”

“Sounds familiar, but I can’t place it right now,” Eleanor said in between yelling orders to the cook and urging him to hurry up. “What’s your next storyline?”

Dark Reality, an exposé-style show adding splashy drama to real-life crimes, aired weekly episodes full of cliffhangers along the lines of reality television and daytime soap operas. The first season highlighted serial killers, Jack the Ripper and The Human Vampire, causing it to top the charts as a series debut. “I’ve got season two’s massive show bible to read this weekend… ghost-hunting and witch-burning in seventeenth-century American culture. I really need to get a new job. Or kill my boss.”

“Prison stripes wouldn’t look good on you,” Eleanor said.

“Don’t forget, I’m too handsome.”

“I’m not gonna touch that one. Let Nana D weigh in before I crush you for saying something so pathetic. Maybe Abby will be normal?”

“With my luck, she’ll be another bitter, scorned victim rightfully intent on justice for whatever colossal trauma Derek’s caused,” I replied with a sigh. “I vote she’s another loose cannon.”

“When are you gonna interrogate her?” asked Eleanor.

I’d meant to schedule a lunch to get the basic lowdown on Abby, but I barely made the flight cutoff at the gate in all the last-minute rigmarole. “Hopefully tomorrow if she isn’t too far away. All Derek said is she lives in central Pennsylvania. He has no concept of space or distance.”

“It’s getting busy here, I gotta go. Can’t make dinner tonight, but I’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t commit any murders until we chat again. Hugs and kisses.”

“Only if you don’t poison any patrons.” I disconnected the phone, begging the gods to transport me back to Los Angeles. I couldn’t take the stress anymore and devoured the last two remaining cookies. Given my obsession with desserts, the gym had never not been an option for me. Some form of exercise happened daily unless I was sick or on vacation—which this trip certainly didn’t count as. There would be no beaches, cabanas, or mojitos. Therefore, I wasn’t going to enjoy the immediate future.

I navigated the winding highway drive with the heater set to die-from-sauna max and the wiper blades on maniacal passive-aggressive mode to keep the windshield clear of heavy sleet and snow. It was the dead of winter, and my entire body shivered—not a good thing when my feet needed to be ready to brake for deer or elk. Yes, they were common in these parts. No, I hadn’t hit any. Yet.

No time like the present to call Abby and suggest a meeting. When she answered, I wasn’t surprised at her naivety regarding my boss’s underhanded approach.

“Derek never said anything about meeting anyone else. You got a last name, Kellan?” Abby whined after I’d already explained who I was in the first minute of the call.

“Ayrwick. I’m Kellan Ayrwick, an assistant director on the second season of Dark Reality. I thought we could review the research you prepared for Derek and discuss your experience working in the television industry.”

There were a few seconds of silence on the phone. “Ayrwick, you said? As in… well… aren’t there a few of them working over at Braxton?”

I was momentarily stunned as to how a groupie girl would even know anything about Braxton, but then I speculated she currently attended the college or previously went to school with one of my siblings. “Let’s have lunch tomorrow to discuss it. Would one o’clock be okay?”

“Not really. I wasn’t prepared to chat this weekend. I thought I’d be flying out to meet Derek in the next few days. The timing is off.”

“Can’t we meet for a brief introduction?” Derek sure knew how to pick the dramatic ones. I could picture her twirling her hair and blinking her eyes despite not knowing what she looked like.

“I’m in the middle of an exclusive exposé about a crime happening here in Wharton County. Might be something to pitch to Derek for… well, it’s too early to say anything.” Her voice suddenly went cold and limp. She’d probably forgotten how to use the phone or accidentally muted me.

“Is this what you mentioned to him about topics for a future season of Dark Reality? I’m more interested in true crimes and investigative reporting. Maybe I could help with this scoop.” Once I realized she was in the same county as me, I tried all angles to snare a meeting.

“Are you Wesley Ayrwick’s son? I heard he’s got a whole slew of kids.”

My mouth dropped two inches. Nana D would’ve counted the flies as they swarmed in given how long it remained open. Who was this girl who knew something about my family? “I don’t see how that’s relevant, but yes, he’s my father. Do you attend Braxton, Abby?”

“Attend Braxton? No, you’ve got a few things to learn if we’re going to work together.” She laughed hysterically, reaching full-on snort level.

“Great, so we can meet tomorrow?” The woman’s tone annoyed me, but perhaps I’d misjudged her based on Derek’s normal taste in women. “Even thirty minutes to build a working relationship. Are you familiar with the Pick-Me-Up Diner?” Eleanor ran the joint, so I’d have an excuse to step away if Abby was too much to handle. My sister could arrange for one of the waiters to dump a bowl of soup on Abby, then lock her in the bathroom while I escaped. There’s nothing more I disliked than foolish, clueless, or vapid people. I’d had enough of them dating my way through a sorority’s sisterhood years ago. If I ran into one more LA valley girl, I’d consider letting Francesca’s family, the Castiglianos, take control of the situation. Scratch that, I never said those words out loud.

“No, sorry. I’m gonna be tied up for a few hours investigating all the nonsense going on around here. But I’ll see you on campus tomorrow night.”

I shook my head in frustration and confusion. I clearly heard her stifling an obnoxious laugh again. If she weren’t a student, why would she be on campus? “What do you mean tomorrow night?”

“The party celebrating your father’s retirement. Nothing’s ever as it seems, huh? You can properly introduce yourself and set up a time to talk. I hope that’ll work.”

Derek was going to owe me big-time for this ordeal. If he didn’t watch himself, I’d give her his real cell phone number and not the fake one he gave to people the first time they met.

“How exactly do you know my—” The next thing I heard was a click as she hung up the call.

I continued on the main road directly into the heart of Braxton tooting the horn as I passed Danby Landing, Nana D’s organic orchard and farm. I was especially close with Nana D, also known as my grandmother, Seraphina, who’d turn seventy-five later this year. She kept threatening to bend our town’s councilman, Marcus Stanton, over her lap, slap his bottom silly, and teach the ninny how things ought to be done in a modern world. It’s my second job to keep her in check after the incident where she was supposedly locked up in jail overnight. With no official records, she could continue to deny it, but I knew better given I was the one who had to convince Sheriff Montague to release Nana D. I hoped never again to go toe-to-toe with our county’s ever-so-charming head law enforcer, even if it’s necessary to save Nana D from prison. I felt certain that was a one-time card I could play.

The sun disappeared as I pulled up to my parents’ house, parked the Jeep, and walked toward the trunk to get my bags. Given the temperature had slipped to the single digits, and the icy snow wildly pelted my body, I tried my best to hurry to the front door. Unfortunately, fate opted for revenge over some past indiscretion and came back with the vengeance of a thousand plagues. Before long, I skated across a sheet of ice like an awkward ballerina wearing clown shoes and fell flat on my back.

I snapped a selfie while laughing on the frosty ground, to let Nana D know I’d arrived in Braxton. She loved getting pictures and seeing me make a fool of myself. I couldn’t decipher her reply given my glasses had fogged over, and my vision was worse than that of a secret lovechild of Mr. Magoo’s. I searched for a piece of a flannel shirt untouched by the falling sleet or the embarrassing crash to the ground and wiped them dry. A glance at the picture I’d sent caused the loudest and most absurd guffaw to erupt from my throat. My usually clean-cut dark-blond hair was littered with leaves, and the four days of stubble on my cheeks and chin was blanketed in mounds of white snow. I dusted myself off and rushed under the protection of a covered porch to read her text.

Nana DIs that a dirty wet mop on your head? You’re dressed like a hooligan. Put on a coat, it’s cold out.

MeThanks, Captain Obvious. I fell on the walkway. You think I’m normally this much of a disaster?

Nana DAnd you’re supposed to be the brilliant one? Have you given up on life, or did it give up on you?

MeKeep it up, and I won’t visit this weekend. You’re supposed to be a sweet and loving grandma.

Nana DIf that’s what you want, go down to the old folks’ home and rent yourself a little biddy. Maybe you two can share some smashed peas, green Jell-O, and a tasty glass of Ovaltine. I’ll even pay.

After ignoring Nana D’s sass, I ran a pair of chilled hands through my hair to look somewhat presentable and entered the foyer. Though the original shell of the house was clearly a wood-framed cabin, my parents had added many rooms over the years, including a west and east wing bookending the massive structure. The foyer ceilings were vaulted at least twelve feet high and covered in endless cedar planks with knots in all the right places. A pretty hunter-green paint coated three of the walls where the entranceway opened into a gigantic living room. It was anchored by a flagstone fireplace and adorned with hand-crafted antique furniture my parents had traveled all over the state to procure. My father was passionate about keeping the authenticity of a traditional log cabin while my mom required all the modern conveniences. If only the Property Brothers could see the results of their combined styles. Eleanor and I referred to it as the Royal Chic-Shack.

I dropped my bags to the floor calling out, “Anyone home?” My body jumped as the door to my father’s study creaked open, and his head popped out. Perhaps I had the paranormal and occult on my mind knowing Dark Reality’s next season was unfortunately in my foreseeable future.

“It’s just me. Welcome back,” replied my father, waiting for me to approach the study. “Your mother’s still at Braxton closing on the final admissions list for the prospective class.”

“How’s the jolly retiree doing?” I asked, walking down the hall toward him.

“I’m not retired, yet,” my father said with a sneer. “I finished writing my speech for the party tomorrow evening. Interested in an early preview?”

Saying no would make me a bad son. Eleanor and I had promised one another at Christmas we’d try harder. I really want to be a bad son today. “Sure, it must be exciting. You’ve had a bountiful career, Dad. It’s undoubtedly the perfect example of oratory excellence.” He always loved when I stretched my vocabulary skills to align with his own. I shuddered thinking about the spelling bees of long ago.

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Academic Curveball – Book Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/ACurveball

Paperback: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/academiccurveballbralp

German Translation: http://mybook.to/acbde

Portuguese Translation: http://mybook.to/bolacurvapb

US Audiobook

UK Audiobook

About The Author

Background

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.

Author

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

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

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)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

 

#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.

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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.

cover

Haunted House Ghost Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghost

Paperback: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghostbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghostbralp

US Audiobook

UK Audiobook

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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…

btb

Buy the Book Today Here

Below are the key details to find the blog tour… it was so much fun. There were character posts, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways!

tour

Visit Blog Tour Here

Early Reviews

Lost Knight

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!

Shalini

“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.

Candace

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!

Anne

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!

Laura

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.

Book Excerpt

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

Background

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.

Author

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

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

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)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

#BookSale “Father Figure” by James J. Cudney

Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves! Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out @

Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week

FF download

Overview of Father Figure

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.

FF 3D

Father Figure was officially launched for sale on Amazon on April 2, 2018 as both an e-book and a physical book. Reviews have been extremely positive between Goodreads and Amazon since the 5-day free download and 5-day book blitz.

  • Book Blitz: For 5 days, (4/30 thru 5/4) we posted promotions, hints, and feedback
  • Blog Tour: For 5 days (6/4 thru 6/8) we posted reviews, interviews and a giveaway

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Reviews

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”

***

Book Excerpt

Chapter One – Amalia, August 1984

“I didn’t raise no harlot, Amalia. When you’re done with softball practice today, you will go directly to the hardware store and help your father manage that cash register.” The stagnant air, sealed tightly like an old glass jar of long-forgotten jelly, refused to dissipate in the Graeme family home—even it was afraid of Janet’s wrath.

“But Momma, I’ll be home to cook dinner before sunset.” The strains in Amalia’s voice weakened with each of her mother’s refusals to let her live the normal life of a teenager.

“Didn’t you hear me the first time, child? Only little whores go to the lake.” Janet’s stern voice emptied through thin lips stained from devouring a blueberry cobbler before they’d started cooking breakfast. “Are you a little whore, Amalia?”

Retribution for daring to break any of her mother’s rules was always swift and fierce. Amalia had obeyed every word since her mother locked her in the storm cellar for ten hours when she was a toddler —punishment for spilling juice on an antique lace tablecloth. “No, I’m sorry. I thought you might let me celebrate just this once…”

The plea had barely escaped Amalia’s hesitant lips before the clammy grip of Janet’s bony hands shoved her down the hallway. “Stop your sass talk, girl. We can take another trip downstairs if you don’t care to mind me.”

Amalia’s left arm grazed the wall when stumbling from the kitchen into the dark mudroom. Dingy white paint chips rained to the floor and clung to her favorite new red blouse while passing through the dilapidated archway. She cradled her elbow, flicked off the last few flakes of her mother’s venom, and firmly held her ground. “It’s not fair. You let Greg hang out with his friends all the time.”

“Leave your brother out of this conversation. Your responsibility belongs first to this family and then to the hardware store. Who said anything about friends? Now get yourself off to practice.” Janet’s one good eye stubbornly left behind after diabetes stole the vision in her other glared while Amalia reluctantly marched toward the back door. “You’re a spiteful little child.”

“I’m taking out the trash, Momma.” Her voice carried the defeat of a soul unable to find the words or summon the strength to defend herself anymore. As she leaned over, the scoop neck on Amalia’s blouse revealed the slightest hint of cleavage between her ample breasts.

“Stop right now. What are you wearing?” Janet’s tone lingered thick over such insubordination. A special brand of disdain had been developed by watching her daddy preach to his Southern Baptist congregation for nearly forty years before he anxiously married her off to Amalia’s father.

“It’s just a pretty shirt I found at a yard sale. I’m not showing too much skin.” Amalia dropped the trash bag on the mudroom’s gray linoleum and recalled the similar, previous lectures. She refused to turn around to face the woman. “I’m not a child anymore, Momma.”

Janet stampeded through the kitchen and kicked the garbage into the far corner. Though the vinyl flooring had peeled away from the walls as the house settled, it was still not one of the more noticeable improvements desperately needed in their home. “It’s lesson time, girl.”

Amalia yelped and dashed to safety after a cast iron frying pan full of hot grease collided with bare skin on the back of her arm. “No, Momma, please…” She dropped to her knees, scooted across the mudroom floor, and cowered behind the pantry door to protect herself from any further blows. An acrid burnt plastic odor from a fiery singe on the linoleum beneath her wafted through the air as she shuddered in pain. The nerves in her forearm and elbow convulsed when the wound began to blister from the impact of her mother’s lesson.

“Someday you’ll learn how to behave yourself.” Janet grudgingly placed the frying pan on the washing machine and lifted Amalia by the curls of her hair. She tightly squeezed her daughter’s breasts while trying to raise the blouse over Amalia’s head. “I don’t know where you got these girls from. You’re hoping to entice all the boys to put their dirty little hands where they don’t belong.”

Amalia pushed away her mother’s sticky fingers willing to risk more punishment if she kept them off her trembling body. The putrid smell of Janet’s three-day-old sweat and decaying teeth littered the air between their lips. “Leave it. I’ve got a bra on underneath to keep them strapped down. I know the rules.”

Amalia’s breasts had begun to develop when she turned eleven years old. By thirteen, a custom-size bra was bought to contain them. Dresses were never allowed given the attention they’d drawn to her body’s hourglass shape. Though Janet’s words were enough of a rebuke, reduction surgery was still threatened should Amalia’s breasts grow any larger.

“I pray every night for them to stop getting bigger and for God to teach you some morals. It’s like you’re rubbing my great Aunt Tilly’s rose garden’s Miracle Grow on those dirty pillows. Tramps like you get themselves into some mighty trouble when they don’t protect their bodies.” Janet stomped back to the kitchen with the now-emptied frying pan and quickly snapped her fingers. “Cover yourself up or forget about going away to college this summer.”

“Yes, Momma.” Amalia heaved herself from the floor with the help of the door handle and collected the remains of her veiled dignity.

“And put out the trash already. It smells like a sewer in here,” snickered Janet.

Fighting back the tears brimming on the surface of her weary eyes, Amalia sighed with relief upon noticing the frying oil hadn’t ruined her blouse. In a rush to tend to her wounds while running through the living room and up the flight of stairs, Amalia crashed into her father, Peter. At sixty, he’d begun to settle into a grandfatherly presence contented by a quiet and ordinary life. He’d aged quickly in the Graeme household. Everyone did.

“Daddy, I’m so sorry. I was…” Amalia hugged her father, rested her head against his narrow chest, and listened to his enfeebled lungs wheeze with exertion.

Peter fell toward the wall and knocked over the family portrait they’d photographed during Greg’s high school graduation. “Oh, my pet, what’s wrong?” He pulled Amalia closer with one hand and adjusted the brass picture frame with the other. A thin layer of ashen skin on his face failed to cover years of misery being married to Janet. He’d long-accepted divorce would never be permitted by the daughter of a Baptist preacher and that his life would be fraught with reproach. “Did you have another squabble with your mother?”

Amalia sniffled and concealed her burns, desperate to splash cold water on the pain. “She hates me, Daddy. Momma never loved me the way she loves Greg.”

“That’s not true, honey. She’s tougher because you’re leaving later this month.” Peter brushed away a few loose curls from Amalia’s face and smiled with a fatherly love that hadn’t receded over the years. “What happened this time?”

A cherubic expression brightened her pale face with the hope he would understand but disappeared once she remembered begging had never helped before. “I asked if I could go to the lake today with the rest of the softball team for Brant’s town fair, but Momma says I have to work at the store like I do every other day.”

The population of their hometown, Brant, Mississippi, founded in 1784, hovered around five hundred inhabitants, the majority born and raised in the surrounding isolation. The Graeme family, still considered outsiders, had arrived in the mid-1800s settling about a half mile from Lake Newton—the livelihood once used to transport goods to the neighboring settlements. Over the years, as the county paved new roads to share crops more efficiently among all the nearby villages, the lake became a gathering place for the local families and visitors to enjoy each summer. Store owners had organized a bicentennial celebration for the upcoming weekend where all the citizens would barbecue ribs, hold square dancing lessons, and play various outdoor games. Amalia looked forward to it every year believing she always had the chance to find a new friend who might make the rough days pass by a little easier.

“Your momma knows best, honey. We need to be available for our customers.” Every penny was important to Janet Graeme, especially with two kids attending college—they could never close the store early. Janet often reminded them how pitching in around the house or store was impossible on account of her many illnesses. Peter nudged Amalia away and kissed her cheek. “You can leave work early to meet your teammates at tomorrow’s picnic. Will that make you happy?”

“It helps, but I’ll be the only one not going tonight.” Amalia buried her flushed cheeks into the crook of his left arm. He always smelled of Old Spice. She’d bought him the same cologne for Father’s Day every year since shopping on her own.

If Peter noticed the stinging red color or the slight favor of her left arm, he either ignored it or thought she’d injured herself in a recent softball game. He adhered to an insulated belief that his wife’s normal way of parenting didn’t include hurting or abusing their daughter. It wasn’t the first time he’d misjudged a situation. Peter once took Amalia to a movie theatre as an early birthday present telling Janet they’d stayed behind at the store to count inventory and order stock, but she found a few popcorn kernels on the floor of the family Dodge the next morning while driving to church. Janet waited until Amalia arrived home from school later that week to teach her daughter a lesson about lying. Though Amalia had only been trying to catch a schoolboy’s attention by lightening the color of her hair with lemon juice, it was a vengeful wrath she’d unexpectedly invited as Janet took a pair of shearing scissors to her daughter’s golden mane. The emotional scars from an abusive homelife were profound, but Amalia never regretted sneaking off to watch the movie. She was proud of being a daddy’s girl. He was her hero, the father she’d always treasure, the man who made it easier being the daughter of the wicked Janet Graeme.

Peter patted Amalia’s back offering any chance to ease her disillusion. “I know, but tomorrow when you go to the lake, everything will be back on track. Bring some clothes to change into so that you don’t have to come back home in between. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I can’t wait. I love you, Daddy.” She hugged him again and raced up the stairs to change her shirt before her mother had another outburst. Amalia applied cream to her wounds, then chose a long-sleeve button-down sweater she fastened two inches above the dip in her neck. After checking the mirror and wishing a bit of foundation could hide the uneven colors, she splashed water on her face to erase the evidence of her pain. One of Janet’s more ridiculous judgments echoed among Amalia’s numbed thoughts. ‘Only the vile women in this town wear makeup!’

Amalia flew back down the stairs and searched for the trash bag she’d left behind, realizing it would mean another lashing if her mother had stumbled upon it first. As she rushed into the living room, her father handed her a banana and elbowed her out the front door. “I already put it in the outside bin. Get to softball practice, my pet.” His voice barely audible, his expression as loud as a parade.

Amalia smiled and released an uncontrollable giggle as her countenance relaxed for the first time that morning. Although the tense nerves in her neck retreated into partial hiding, her body remained hypervigilant and always waited for the next blistery strike from her mother. She left the house flickering with excitement for the town’s festivities over the weekend but frightened at what her teammates would say about her missing the lake party. No one ever declined their much sought-after invitations without hazardous repercussions.

Although she’d graduated high school two months earlier, Amalia continued playing in the county’s summer tournaments to keep her pitching skills primed for college games. Risking a loss of the unexpectedly received scholarship—as it was the only reason she could afford to go away to school—was not an option. After practice, where she conveniently forgot to tell her teammates about missing the upcoming lake party, Amalia worked side-by-side with her father for a few hours and avoided any further trouble with her mother at home. Once Amalia climbed into bed that evening exhausted from an emotionally and physically grueling afternoon, she drifted asleep clutching her pillow and wished things would somehow improve the next day.

****

The following morning, Janet took the family’s only car to the First Baptist’s services leaving Amalia and Peter to trudge the two-mile distance to the center of town. Graeme Hardware Store was part of the town’s original train depot when first built in the mid-nineteenth century. Shortly before World War I, the train line was re-routed to a larger city a few miles away. This prompted Brant’s town council to vote in favor of converting the train depot into a lunch café and expanding the footprints of local shops hoping it would draw more income from surrounding villages. The loss of the train station left Graeme Hardware Store with far fewer customers managing barely enough to keep afloat during a good year.

Peter unlocked the store and began his morning routine to review the previous day’s sales and prepare the inventory. While he dragged a rolling stand filled with buckets of nails and screws to the exterior porch of the store, Amalia brewed a fresh pot of strong coffee. She retrieved a starter till from the safe under the desk and counted a hundred dollars in small bills and coins, then placed it in the cash register atop the laminate countertop. She grabbed a few dollars to buy breakfast from the local café and strolled to the front of the store. The sharp clank of the bell loosely hung by a nylon cord on the door bounced off all the metal tools and reverberated throughout the building. Amalia held the outer screen door to prevent it from slamming shut and made a mental note to convince her father to repair the hinge that afternoon. Customers didn’t appreciate buying tools from a hardware store with a broken front door.

“I’ll be right back, Daddy.” Amalia bounded down three short steps and traveled the building’s main wooden pathway. Frustrated by the inability to meet the girls from the softball team the prior night, Amalia recoiled at how much of an encumbrance Brant had become to her over the years. She often daydreamed of leaving it all behind but remembered no one had ever escaped. She scoffed at her emotions, slid her fingers across the pathway’s splintered handrails, and ignored the desire to run deep into the woods.

Father Figure Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FatherFigure

Paperback: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurepb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurelp

About The Author

Background

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.

Author

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

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

 

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

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)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

 

#BookSale “Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries)” by James J. Cudney

The 4th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Mistaken Identity Crisis, is available for only .99 as a Kindle download from May 21st thru 25th. If you haven’t experienced this mystery and family drama, get it now via Amazon.

MIC download

Overview:

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer in order to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove.

As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices.

Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County.

Mistaken Identity Crisis Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/mistakenidentity

Paperback: http://mybook.to/mistakenidentitycrispb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/mistakenidentitycrislp

US Audiobook

UK Audiobook

Blog Tour

MIC tour

Check out the 2-week blog tour with great reviews, interviews, and posts.

Both character evolution and character delineation well populate the Braxton Campus Mystery Series by James J. Cudney. In this installment, the atmosphere gains a strong twinge of Noir . . .
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

 

I really love the style of this author, since the first pages he manages to completely involve you in the adventures of the protagonists and keeps you in suspense until you solve the case with them.
Highly recommended.
~LibriAmoriMiei

 

The well-plotted and complicated mystery keeps a steady pace and provides red herrings and twists, turning the focus on one then another of the many characters involved in the storyline.
~Rosepoint Publishing

 

The mysteries are resolved with some clever sleuthing and nosy snooping, which result in secrets revealed and red herrings cleared. All this makes Mistaken Identity Crisis an engaging page-turner, one that I didn’t want to put down.

~Jane Reads

 

The well-plotted mystery and complicated story keeps a steady pace throughout. There are some red herrings and twists that had me focusing on various characters in the story and I did not figure out who the murderer was until the final reveal.
~Carla LovesTo Read

 

Mr. Cudney has blended together an amazing story that I just could not read fast enough.
~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

MIC cover

Book Excerpt

“The first time we met, I knew you’d cause me to gray prematurely,” April griped while clawing at clumps of her brassy blonde hair and squeezing her golden badge until a star-shaped imprint marked her left palm. “But I honestly thought I’d have a better chance at predicting the Pennsylvania state lottery numbers before guessing you’d paint a bullseye on your own forehead for the Castigliano mob family. Seriously, Kellan, you’ve made a royal mess of this situation. Are they gonna take potshots at me next?”

We bantered steadfastly in her downtown office at the Wharton County administrative building with the door glued shut. Very few people knew what’d happened to my supposedly dead wife, Francesca. I shrugged and offered my best apology face, which unintentionally resembled a confused puppy in search of a warm place to sleep, rather than a truly sorrowful man who’d never intended to wreak such havoc. “We’ve covered this several times in the last three weeks. I should’ve immediately informed you that Francesca’s family faked her death. I didn’t know what to do until that last note from Cristiano Vargas confirmed they’d kidnapped her as a revenge tactic to punish the Castiglianos.” I rested both hands and my chin on the heavily papered desk, grinned widely as if my jaw were about to unhinge, and blinked twice through stylish glasses to endear myself to the sheriff.

At least she’d stopped calling me Little Ayrwick. Of all the nicknames I’d heard during my thirty-two years, that was the most insulting. There was nothing little about me anymore. Upon graduating from Braxton a decade ago, I’d transformed from an awkward middle child in a complex, overachieving family into what many women eagerly deemed a devilishly handsome and well-built guy blessed with clever wit and a charming personality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an egomaniac. I’ve merely settled into myself and accepted the positive and the negative. Lately, there were tons more negative than I cared to tolerate. At least Nana D still called me brilliant one, which melted my heart every time.

“That’s your apology?” April vigorously shook her head and slammed a Tweety Bird coffee mug on the desk’s smooth metal surface. Drops of cold, muddy brown liquid splashed across it and landed on my upper lip. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that,” she whined repentantly while handing me a napkin from a squeaky drawer. “Oh, and in case you forgot, that’s how you ask for forgiveness.”

Had it not been for the tiniest of curls at the sides of her sarcastic mouth, I wouldn’t have known April was teasing me. We’d spent an inordinate amount of time joined at the hip, organizing everything that’d happened in the last two-and-a-half years since the accident. Okay, backstory time—Francesca and I had arrived separately at a Thanksgiving party because I’d been working out of town earlier in the week. Our daughter, Emma, begged to ride home with me—a monumental blessing in disguise—rather than her mother. Little did I know at the time, Francesca’s parents, Vincenzo and Cecilia Castigliano, had orchestrated the entire façade. When I received the call that my wife had been struck and killed by a drunk driver, I did my best to rally with the help of Nana D, my five-foot-tall spitfire grandmother. Meanwhile, Francesca lived covertly in the Castigliano mansion until her parents could divine a way to resolve the turf war with Las Vargas, the rival mafia family controlling much of the West Coast. Two years had zipped by without a viable solution or anyone learning their secret.

A few months ago, Emma and I moved back home to Braxton, the small town in north-central Pennsylvania where I’d been raised and now worked as an assistant professor specializing in communications and film studies. Francesca chose that moment to materialize from hiding, jealous and angry about the sudden inability to watch her daughter grow up in LA. After I refused to hibernate in captivity, she took off, letting her parents and me think she was visiting all the places we’d once vacationed in—a blissful trip down memory lane. At some point, Cristiano Vargas had discovered Francesca was alive, captured my not-so-dead wife, and forced her to mail postcards from every location to dangle us in a state of confusion. Now, we pondered their next move.

“I’m sorry, April. I know you intended to leave this spectacle of intense drama when you relocated from Buffalo, but I’m confident we’ll find a solution.” I wiped the coffee from my lip and internally chuckled over her persnickety comments. “I should teach you to brew a better cup of joe. I guess it’s true that cops will drink any sludge someone—”

“Don’t continue with that stereotypical, inflammatory insult unless you want me to handcuff you to my desk and head out for the day!” April released a long pent-up sigh and shuffled through stained papers in a worn manila folder. “Let’s focus on our next steps. The Castiglianos will soon arrive in Braxton, and they better have answers. I agreed not to formally include the FBI until we received an official ransom request. We also need proof Francesca is alive before they’ll get further involved.”

April and I hadn’t been friends previously, especially because I’d unexpectedly solved four murders sooner than she had—not a helpful icebreaker for our relationship. She mostly viewed me as a prickly thorn that irritated every nerve in her body. We’d brokered a tepid alliance in the last three weeks, and I convinced myself that the intense display of awe-inducing fireworks in her office, when our fingers had accidentally brushed against one another, was only a freakish blip on the radar. Then, a visceral flash of lightning surged inside my body and a sensual, steamy dream left me quite flushed and bewildered. I was technically still married and shouldn’t have welcomed those types of thoughts about other women, right?

Once the war ended between the two families, Francesca could reveal herself to the rest of the world, and we’d deal with the repercussions. I only cared about the impact on our seven-year-old daughter. Emma didn’t deserve this level of pain and confusion. Neither did I, but in the few encounters I’d already had with Francesca upon her triumphant reincarnation, it’d grown clear we were both different people. As a good Catholic—my family attended church on Sundays—divorce was a tricky solution. I knew I loved Francesca, but I was no longer in love with her. After all the lies and deception, how could I forgive her? Yes, her life had been in danger from Las Vargas, but she could’ve told me the truth years ago. I’d only discovered the reality of her shady family business by accident after she ‘died.’

“Cristiano’s latest update said he’d contact me soon with next steps. Maybe he’ll offer easily attainable ransom terms for the Castiglianos. Then, this whole mess will blow over.” All remaining confidence drained from my body with each reticent word. “Ugh! Why am I in the middle of this quandary? Las Vargas should work directly with Francesca’s parents for her safe release.”

“Excellent point. Perhaps your uniquely innate charm just begs for more attention? Regardless, I’m collecting evidence on the Castigliano drug-trafficking exploits to put them away for good. Someone will go to prison over this entire ordeal. I won’t be able to protect her, you know,” April said convincingly with a pointed stare. “I get she’s your wife, but the mafia princess committed several crimes. I’m glad you never collected any insurance payments upon her death.”

“I was a fool not to ask more questions about her background when we’d met.” Although my immediate family members were a fantastic crew, the Ayrwicks also liked to pry into each other’s business much too often. When I’d moved to Los Angeles to escape their clutches, an all-encompassing, powerful first love had blinded me from recognizing the truth. Francesca and I married way too quickly, and before long, I’d obtained my PhD, gotten a job as an assistant director at a Hollywood television show, and become a father upon Emma’s arrival in this world. We lived a good life, but I’d always known something important was missing between Francesca and me.

“We’ll sort it out, Kellan. You’re going through a lot, but you can’t tell anyone else until we dismantle Las Vargas. Anyway, I have to follow up on another jewelry heist that happened last week.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask Nana D about those pesky robberies. Anything you can share?”

April swallowed heavily. “Jewelry was stolen. Victims are unhappy. Is that what you need to know, oh holy meddlesome one? Don’t even think about inserting yourself into another one of my—”

“Blah, blah, blah. I read the papers and have some clue, April. I’ll just ask Nana D. She tends to dig up the latest facts. I vaguely recall something about an unusual calling card being left behind, right?”

“I’d rather not discuss it. The ineptitude of the former sheriff still infuriates me. My predecessor had a penchant for burying facts from his townspeople.” April grunted and shook her head.

“Nana D claims he took bribes to hide petty crimes,” I said, hoping to keep her talking about it. “Maybe you and I should compare notes about the case. I have been helpful in the past.”

“And we’re officially done here,” April muttered as she advanced toward me with alarming concentration in her eyes. “Let’s talk tomorrow about your wife’s kidnapping.” Moist, hot breath from her lips passed over mine, and her skin smelled like black peppercorns and coriander—spicy yet fresh.

Although tempting comfort swayed between us like a pendulum jam-packed with uncertainty over its destination, I retreated before April and I approached a line we weren’t prepared to cross. Too many intimate moments had encircled us lately, and I couldn’t fathom how to properly interpret them. “Sure, I’ll update you as soon as I hear from Cristiano.”

Leaving her office, I noticed my reflection in the shiny glass pane of the door. Several days of dirty-blond stubble peppered my cheeks and chin, and dark circles occupied the sunken spaces below my disconcerted blue eyes. At least I’d managed to comb my frequently untamable hair, so I didn’t look horribly disheveled. Nana D would slap my bottom silly—her words, not mine—for drawing shame to her, especially now that she’d won the election to become the new mayor of Wharton County.

***

Later that Saturday afternoon, I drove to Wellington Park in Millner Place to celebrate Nana D’s seventy-fifth birthday in style with the party of the century. Millner Place and Braxton made up two of the four towns in Wharton County—the others, Woodland in the northwest and Lakeview in the northeast. Ninety miles south of Buffalo, New York, our county was one of the earliest settlements in Pennsylvania and had been founded by my ancestors.

“Is today the double wedding, Daddy?” Emma asked as I steered the SUV into a narrow spot.

Aunt Deirdre, a famous novelist and one of my mother’s siblings, had returned from England and coordinated Nana D’s party while simultaneously planning her own upcoming nuptials to Timothy Paddington, an international business mogul.

“Nope, that’s in two weeks on Independence Day,” I reminded my precocious daughter. Timothy’s sister was also engaged, prompting their family to suggest a double wedding to make it easy on all the guests. Both couples had only recently met one another, and it made more sense as a way to reunite the Paddington family who’d experienced several traumatic events earlier in the year. “Do you know what Independence Day is about, honey?”

When Emma nodded with enthusiasm, mahogany-brown pigtails bounced feverishly against her slightly chubby, olive-tinted cheeks. My mother had located a picture of seven-year-old Nana D and designed a matching outfit for my daughter since Emma looked so much like her at that age. “We talked about it on the last day of school. It’s when we shoot firecrackers into the sky!”

“Yes, that’s part of it, but it’s also when we became our own country. Aunt Deirdre thought it would be amusing to shed her independence on the same day America officially separated from England two-and-a-half centuries ago,” I explained. Having lived there for half her life, Aunt Deirdre deemed herself British for all intents and purposes. She also lived inside her head where she dreamed up Victorian romances all day. Ply my aunt with more than two glasses of wine and her American roots were more obvious than the henna rinse in Nana D’s wild, three-foot-long braids.

“That sounds like an adult joke. I don’t get it.” Emma gave a thumbs-down symbol. “When will Nonna and Nonno be here?” My daughter referred to Francesca’s parents by the Italian words for a grandparent. Her hazelnut-brown eyes were darkening this summer, highlighting how much she also resembled her mother before my wife had adopted various disguises. Emma was being kept far away from any conversation about her not-so-dead mother, something even the Castiglianos had easily agreed to with everything exploding around us.

“Monday evening.” I grabbed her hand and rambled toward Wellington Park. Nana D had chosen the cherished location across the Finnulia River, touting it as a critical place to rebuild. She’d also promised free ice cream every weekend in her campaign speeches during the mayoral election. “Look, here’s Uncle Gabriel,” I added when my brother caught up with us at the tree-lined entranceway.

At a complicated and sentimental family dinner earlier in the month, Gabriel had announced his unexpected homecoming and the not-so-earth-shattering news that he was gay. Not surprisingly, the Ayrwicks openly welcomed him back into their fold with minimal concern. My mother cried the entire time at her youngest son returning to the roost. Our older siblings couldn’t visit for that dinner or for Nana D’s birthday party, but I hadn’t expected them to travel. When both had mentioned they would come back for the birthday party or the double wedding, Nana D vehemently insisted on the wedding.

“Emma? It can’t be! She’s grown two feet in the last few days,” Gabriel teased while picking up my best girl and swinging her from side to side. In observance of the warm late June weather, Gabriel donned a pair of dressy long shorts and a collared, black polo shirt. One of his many tattoos peeked out from the shirt’s sleeve as his taut, muscular arms carried Emma in near-perfect circles.

“It’s too fuzzy! Does it hurt?” Emma giggled as she touched his lip piercing and trim, dark-blond beard. He was four glorious years younger than me, as he always reminded me, but our semblance remained uncannily similar. Although he projected a mysterious and rugged appearance, I erred toward the clean-cut side—except for days like today when I hadn’t shaved. I secretly clung to the worthy excuse of dealing with a back-from-the-dead wife. Also, Gabriel had been accepted by the family and was currently the favored, treasured sibling whom our parents and Nana D couldn’t stop fawning over. Even our father, the resolute Wesley Ayrwick, seemed overjoyed at his prodigal son’s return.

 

About The Author

Background

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.

Author

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

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

 Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

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)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries