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Title: WHISPERS ON A STRING: THE STORY OF LONNY AND ROO
Author: Kathleen Stone
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 552
Genre: Contemporary Lit

BOOK BLURB:

What happens when your soul is bound to another before you were ever born? Lonny and Roo have been best friends since they met in high school in 1975 at the age of fourteen. Same last name, same birthdate, they were attached at the hip; rarely was one seen without the other. Together they navigate through their emotional high school years, but nothing prepares the naive teenagers for the real world ahead of them. Now on the cusp of their fiftieth birthday, Lonny finds Roo broke and alone and convinces her to leave with him on a cross country road trip from New York to Las Vegas, hoping to set her on a new path in life. Told exclusively by Roo, follow the friends back and forth through their unique relationship — experience the loss of innocence, career and life choices that separate and unite them, and unspeakable events that nearly destroy them. It’s a love only they understand, as well as the unbreakable bond that forever ties them together. Is it possible they are only capable of loving each other?

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Book Excerpt:

 2011

It was the kind of headache you get when you’ve been out in the sun all day… the heat emanating off your skull and the dull throbbing of drums that causes your stomach to go all queasy. I could hear the buzzer for my apartment going off, then my phone started ringing. I could barely focus my eyes as I poked my head out from under the covers to see it was my friend Lonny trying to video chat with me. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, so I ignored it. Then the buzzing from outside and my phone ringing started all over again. I decided that whoever was buzzing my apartment could only be bad news, so I answered my phone instead.

“Hey Rooster,” Lonny said with his crooked toothed smile, his eyes hidden behind a pair of aviator sunglasses.

“Lonny,” I groaned, barely opening my eyes. “What time is it?”

“Seven o’clock.”

I wanted to strangle him. He rarely woke up before nine in the morning… why was he calling me at seven?

I could hear the buzzing to my apartment door continuing in the background and knew it was bad news. Everything was bad news lately.

“Come on Rooster, wake up. I have a surprise for you.”

I opened one eye to look at Lonny smiling at me from my phone. “Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“I’m standing outside your door. Don’t you hear me buzzing to get in?”

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my head, the throbbing so intense it was as if someone hit me with a hammer. I stumbled to the door and buzzed Lonny into the building, then began searching blindly for some clothes. I managed to throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before he tapped on my apartment door.

I opened the door to see my best friend standing in front of me, wondering how he managed to get to New York from California without telling me. I put on a smile and pulled him into my arms, hugging him as tightly as I could.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I finally pulled away.

“I’m picking up a car for my daughter,” he chuckled, sitting on a kitchen chair. “And driving it back to Vegas for her.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

“I wanted to surprise you. Surprise!”

I searched in the cabinet over the kitchen sink for a bottle of aspirin, dumping four into my hand and swallowing them down with water from the tap. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to explain things to Lonny, and I could already see he was quickly figuring out that I hadn’t been completely honest with him the last couple months.

“What’s going on, Roo? The shop downstairs is closed up, your apartment is nearly empty—”

“Lonny please,” I begged. “I can’t do this right now.”

“You look like shit,” he said, standing. He opened the door to the refrigerator, but made no comment about seeing that it was practically empty. Instead he smiled and said, “Let’s get some breakfast. I’m starving.”

 

1975

 

I met Lonny Winter when we were both fourteen and just starting high school. We seemed to be shoved together at every opportunity, not only having the same last name, but the same birthdate as well. Our names were bound together, attached at the hip, from the day we met, standing in line to get our yearbook photos taken. I giggled as his name was called when it was his turn… Leonard Winter! He turned and glared at me; I was so painfully shy I immediately regretted it. I could feel my face burning as the redness took over.

He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen.

Lonny was still in the room when they called my name… Ruby Winter! I could hear him cackling like a kid who just heard the funniest joke of his lifetime. I deserved it, I knew, but it was hard to ignore him. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to run home and crawl into my bed. Instead I joined my friend Molly and some of her girlfriends, and we walked uptown to get something to eat when we were finished.

When we walked into McDonald’s, Lonny was already there with a group of his friends. I wanted to die. I told my friends I needed to head home and walked out. They were used to my odd, shy disappearances so never questioned me. I didn’t realize Lonny was right behind me on his bicycle.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“Home.”

“Why?”

“I have to.”

I was so embarrassed by this cute boy that I just wanted him to go away. I almost started to cry. My heart thundered in my chest as I wondered if that’s what it felt like to be in love. I was fourteen… what did I know about love?

“Ruby.” He continued to speak as he rode his bicycle slowly beside me. “Sounds like an old lady name.”

I stopped walking and glared at him with my eyes burning. “Leonard!” I hissed. “That’s my grandpa’s name!”

He stopped riding his bike and put his feet on the sidewalk. We stared at each other silently for what seemed like hours to me. All of a sudden we both started giggling, which turned into hysterical laughter. It was that moment the spirits aligned to bring us together. The moment we became the Winter twins; looking nothing alike but having everyone convinced we were siblings living in different houses. The very moment I became Roo… but only to him. He was the only one I ever allowed to call me that; the only one who would ever get away with it. When he was feeling particularly funny he called me Rooster, which he knew I hated. He claimed it was a combination of my name and my auburn hair, and it became a term of endearment between us.

 

2011

 

I plopped myself into the booth across from Lonny in the diner a couple blocks away from my apartment. I never understood why he loved it so much; to me it was just another greasy spoon, but I obliged him whenever he was in town. He smiled as the waitress came to our table, ordering coffee for both of us. I stared at my menu, not really reading anything, all the words just a jumble of letters taunting me.

The waitress brought our coffee and I was still staring blankly at my menu. I could hear Lonny speaking; he knew me better than anyone and ordered my breakfast for me — two eggs sunny side up, english muffin, a side of bacon, hash browns, and a small orange juice. He gave the menus back to the waitress and after she walked away, I finally looked up at him. He was grinning at me. I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Come on, Roo,” he said, poking my hand with his finger. “What’s going on?”

“Billy left me,” I managed to croak.

“Left? When?”

“Two months ago. The divorce was final yesterday.”

I could tell he wanted to scold me for not telling him, but he didn’t. “We talk twice a week… why wouldn’t you tell me?”

The throbbing in my head continued as I tried to answer my friend without bursting into tears. I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples, hoping for some relief, but none came.

“I was too ashamed.”

“Rooster,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

I went on to explain how my husband of nearly 30 years was having an affair with one of the young tattoo artists in our shop, right under my nose. Eight weeks earlier he closed up the shop, left me, and took her to Arizona to start a new life.

“I’m behind on the rent. I’ve been selling everything he left behind, everything I own, hoping to go back home.” I spoke just above a whisper. “I have nothing left.”

The waitress deposited our food plates in front of us and I dug in, unable to remember the last time I had a decent meal. I tried not to look like a homeless person Lonny had pulled in off the street, but I was so hungry.

 

1979

 

Lonny was on the short side for a teenage boy when I met him, but had a growth spurt between sophomore and junior year that brought him to about five foot eight. I always seemed to be two inches shorter than Lonny at any given time. He was always skinny, always funny, always pretty quiet and shy. Most of the girls at school thought he was a silly twerp, but he wasn’t too keen on high school girls anyway. He despised their giggling and screeching, and he really hated the way they seemed to stab each other in the back at the flip of a coin.

Lonny preferred music over anything. He was a genius on the guitar and would rather spend his time away from school playing or writing music. He was never comfortable playing in front of anyone, so he never joined a band or played for an audience. He was perfectly happy playing in his room or for his friends and mother, but that was it.

Until senior year, when Billy Downey transferred to our school. Billy and I hit it off immediately when we met in English class his first day, and started dating that weekend. Lonny let me know right away that there was something about Billy he didn’t trust. I knew Billy loved to embellish the truth a bit, but didn’t see that as a reason not to date him.

Right before graduation there was a student talent show put on by the seniors, and Billy, who claimed to be the greatest guitar player our school would ever see, signed up to perform. Lonny and I snuck into the theater after school one day when they were having rehearsals and Billy’s guitar playing was abysmal at best.

As we tried to sneak back out of the theater, Ms. Cooke, the choir director, caught us and threatened to assign us detention the following day. Lonny stared at the ground, kicking at imaginary rocks with his foot as I tried to think of something to say. He finally looked up at her and asked, “Got any open spots for the talent show?”

Ms. Cooke’s face lit up like a neon sign, a smile spreading over her face so large it was almost clownish. “I’ll see you at rehearsal tomorrow, Mr. Winter,” she replied.

“Nope. Tell me what time I’m going on. I’ll be there.”

Ms. Cooke wrinkled her nose, but for some reason, chose not to argue with him.

Word spread quickly that Lonny was going to be doing something in the talent show. Rumors ranged from magic to gymnastics to juggling bowling pins set on fire. I sat in the theater’s front row watching the different talent acts perform, impressed by what our student body could do. Even Billy sounded better during his actual performance than he did at rehearsal, but he had no idea what was to come. Ms. Cooke added Lonny at the very end of the show, and introduced him as the last act of the evening. I held my breath.

Lonny walked onstage carrying his electric guitar and a small amp. He looked directly at me and winked, then closed his eyes and let his fingers do the talking. He played that guitar like a man who had been doing it for three lifetimes. He played a medley of genres covering blues, pop and rock. The intensity on his face as he played brought tears to my eyes. I could hear the gasps all around me as people were realizing what a talent goofy Lonny really was.

It was because of his unexpected performance that evening I eventually lost him.

 

2011

 

I looked up at Lonny when I finished eating every morsel on my plate, and he was holding a piece of toast with butter and grape jelly close to his lips. He hadn’t even taken a bite of his breakfast, but I was already finished with mine. He grinned, the mischievous grin I knew so well. His grin quickly turned into his famous crooked-toothed smile that I adored our entire existence together. I wiped my mouth with a napkin and leaned back, crossing my arms in front of me.

It had been almost a year since I saw him last, on our forty-ninth birthday. Even though we talked at least twice a week, we only saw each other once a year on our birthday. It was something we had always promised we would continue, no matter what the circumstances were in our lives.

Even though he hated people gawking at him, Lonny was good at the staring game. I watched his face intently as he ate his breakfast, not a word spoken between us. He never broke eye contact; it was a game he always liked to play with me, ever since we met. Whoever laughed first, lost.

Lonny had beautiful brown eyes that were more copper than anything else, but when the sun hit them, they almost looked gold. He had the kind of eyes that drooped on the outside edges and when he laughed, his eyes almost completely disappeared. I loved it when he laughed. He had dimples in both cheeks and his teeth were far from perfect, but they were perfect for him.            The day I met Lonny, he had short brown hair with awesomely crooked bangs that rested about an inch above his eyebrows — something he blamed on his mother, who insisted on cutting his hair. She agreed, however, once he got into high school she would leave his hair alone and I don’t think he had it cut once while we were there. He was one of those guys who grew into his look when he let his hair grow; he fancied the shaggy look with the feathered layers that went off to the side, his bangs long enough that he could have them or not, depending on his mood.

I sat staring at Lonny and he stared right back at me, never flinching. At that moment I just wanted to see his eyes light up the way they did when he was about to laugh. For a guy so close to his fiftieth birthday, he didn’t look a day over thirty. The only telltale signs were a few laugh lines by his eyes and a few strands of gray hair, but even that was barely noticeable. People had said the same about me, but I never believed them. And this day, sitting in the diner playing the staring game with Lonny, I felt about eighty.

I opened my mouth to speak but Lonny wagged his finger at me. I had forgotten the staring game rules… no talking. He winked, continuing to eat his breakfast. I knew I would win this round, as I was so depressed and without hope that I couldn’t imagine breaking into laughter. I was suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of dread, my chest getting tight and my head about to explode. I don’t know what I looked like, but it was severe enough to get Lonny to break his own staring game rules.

“Hey,” he whispered, “it’s going to be all right.”

He put down his fork and wiped his hands, then slid into the booth next to me, pulling me into his arms and letting me sob against his chest.

About the Author

Kathleen Stone has been a freelance writer since 1999 and now writes full time. Her work has appeared in Doll World Magazine, Apolloslyre.com, The Lake County Journals, Trails.com; USA Today (travel), Livestrong.com (lifestyle), Essortment, eHow, Answerbag, Examiner.com, Suite101 and YahooVoices. She is the author of Whispers On A String and the Head Case Rock Novel Series, which includes Head Case and its sequels, Whiplash and Haven. She also has short stories published in the Secrets: Fact or Fiction I & II anthologies.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website:  http://www.kathleenstone.org

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/kstonewriter

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kathleenstonewriter

 

 

One night, 28-year-old, Katherine O’Brian, decides to walk to an all-night diner. The only problem? It’s midnight, but Katherine lives in Reno Nevada, a city that never sleeps; she can clearly see the diner’s lights in the distance. It’s no big deal, until she passes someone’s garage where a man is loading a dead body into the trunk of his car.

And now, she’s in trouble. She outran the man that night, and while she has no idea who he is, he knows who she is. And he wants her dead.

As if attempts on her life weren’t stressful enough, Katherine has gone back to college. She’s determined to finally finish her degree, but her lab partner is driving her crazy. He’s hot, but annoying. And she’s not sure which she wants more—a night of mad, passionate sex or a new lab partner. It varies from day to day.

Will Katherine give in to her lust for her partner or will she give in to her desire to throttle him? If she’s in the ground before graduation, it won’t matter.

Not your typical romance, not your typical mystery.

CHAPTER ONE

Monday afternoon, the raspy wind snarled Katherine O’Brian’s long hair and reddened her face as she quickly walked into the building. She pulled her gloves off and blew on her hands for a few seconds before weaving her way through the thick crowd in the college’s hallway. It was the first night of class and she was nearly late.

She looked around the classroom self-consciously; she seemed to be the oldest person in the room. Well, that’s what you get for putting off college. You get to take classes with kids barely out of high school.

All the desks had been placed in a circle and the professor was moving from one student to another, having them introduce themselves. Katherine’s eyes widened when the teacher got to the man directly across from her.

The day before she’d stopped at a nearby Starbucks. After placing her order, she’d casually looked around. Her eyes had met those of a woman sitting across the room. When the woman smiled, Katherine had blushed. She was a he, dressed in drag.

Slap on some eye shadow and a pair of high heels and that’s the guy I saw yesterday, minus the dress.

Once everyone had introduced themselves, the professor began talking about the term project.

“You’ll be working in pairs, and this assignment is worth seventy percent of your grade, so obviously you’ll need to work together to do a good job.”

Katherine quickly looked at her syllabus. There it was: the class term project. Very writing-intensive. Even PowerPoint slides were required. This was why she’d put off taking the class—writing wasn’t her strongest subject.

“You’ll find your partner listed there,” the professor continued, pointing toward the chalk board, to which a piece of paper was taped.

After all the details of the project had been covered, class was dismissed. Katherine quickly looked at the paper on the board. Oh, this just gets better and better. She looked around for her new partner, but he was speaking to the teacher.

I’ll talk to him about the project on Wednesday.

She hugged her book to her chest and walked toward the exit. When she dropped her purse and stopped suddenly to pick it up, she heard a deep voice.

“Hey.”

Katherine looked up—and up—to the face that went with the deep voice.

“Sorry,” she said, “I didn’t realize you were behind me.”

He was smiling. Not that it matters, but of all the men in the class, why do I get the one that wears dresses?

“I’m Scott Mitchell. We’re partners on the project.”

She turned back and held out her hand. “I’m Katherine.”

As he pulled on his coat, he said, “I was wondering if maybe you wanted to go get something to eat or drink, to talk about it.”

Katherine stalled by moving closer to the wall, as if to let other students hurry past. Her first instinct was to say no, but then she remembered her resolve to do well in the class.

“Sure, where?”

They started walking outside together.

“There’s a Starbucks near here,” he said. “We could meet there.”

Coffee was always the magic word for Katherine, or chocolate.

“Sure, I’ll see you there.”

As she sat in her car waiting for it to heat up, she noticed her hands were shaking slightly. She looked at her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Jeez, it’s just a guy. Get a grip.

They arrived at the same time. The hard part came after they’d gotten their drinks and sat down. Katherine could hardly put two words together; it had been a long time since she’d had a decent conversation, especially with a man. After a few minutes, Scott broke the silence.

“So, how about that project?” he said, a little too loudly. Katherine flinched and turned pink. When she answered, the words flew out. “Going to be an avalanche of work: slides and an oral presentation, thousand words each. A monster.”

“Yeah,” said Scott, “and not really what I expected from a history course. Doing a biography from birth to death is a big deal, especially with all the details the professor wants. Do you have any ideas who we should do it on?”

“How about van Gogh?” suggested Katherine.

“He committed suicide, didn’t he?”

“So?”

Scott sighed. “Well, I don’t know. I’d just prefer to do the biography on someone I can respect. For me, it’s hard to respect anyone who kills themselves. Seems so cowardly.”

“That’s very presumptuous of you,” said Katherine. “To assume the man was a coward because he killed himself. And such a generalization. Sometimes people are just in pain, and that’s the only way they see to end that pain.”

Scott held his hands up defensively. “Sorry. Didn’t know you were such a fan of van Gogh.”

Katherine rolled her eyes. “That’s what you take away from what I said?” Jeez, this guy’s hot, but what an idiot.

Scott tipped his cup forward and backwards, side to side. Katherine held her cup to her lips, blowing on the coffee. Judging by the attention their cups received, Starbucks’ coffee had never tasted so good. Scott sat up, leaning forward, his arms folded in front of him. He seemed to take up the whole table. Katherine sat back in her chair.

“We should probably plan on getting together at least a few times during the week,” he said.

The prospect of seeing him so often filled Katherine with both dread and excitement – dread, because she wasn’t sure she even liked him, and excitement because his baritone voice made her unwilling heart flutter, and his mahogany eyes made her blush. He’s right, though, she thought, if I’m serious about getting a good grade, this project will need a lot of attention.

“You’re probably right,” she answered, her eyes avoiding his. “When do you want to meet?”

“How about tomorrow at the library,” Scott replied. “The one on Virginia Street near the mall, does five thirty work for you?”

“Sure.”

After exchanging numbers, Katherine stood. “I should go,” she said. “It’s getting late.”

They walked out together, Scott holding the door for her.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2OkHlii

About the Author

For many years, MaryAnn Kempher lived in Reno Nevada where most of her stories are set. Her books are an entertaining mix of mystery and humor. She lives in the Tampa Florida area with her husband, two children, and a very snooty Chorkie.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://www.mkempher.com

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

 

“While I was receiving the visitor’s message, I knew that the lights, the vibrations, and the humming were not incidental; they all were vital to the message I was receiving, they all had something to do with how we get messages from light, including how I was currently getting the vision itself. What, inside me, was ready to receive messages from light?”

 

— From FLASH! The Science Behind Intuition by Dr. Anne Watson

Book Description:

If we have intuitions (and we do) where do they come from? Where, in us, do they arrive? What, in us, allows us to receive and interpret them? And why? Why do we get them?

Fourteen years of research, often waiting for the science to catch up with a vision sent to me by the Universe, these questions are answered in lay terms for the wonderment and affirmation of those interested in energy from another plane.

Interview:

Welcome Dr. Watson! Your book, FLASH! THE SCIENCE BEHIND INTUITION is absolutely mesmerizing. Can you recount your earliest memory of being highly intuitive?

Age 22, already a teacher of behaviour disordered kids, on impulse, I tape recorded myself saying that one day I would do something important for humanity. I didn’t know what it was to be, only that it would be an invention. Age 62, under direction from the Universe, I discovered what I now call MindPhasing, where brainwaves that phase together form deep interpersonal connections, eradicating loneliness for the phasers.

Let’s say I wanted to strengthen my intuition. Where would I start?

Consciously develop the habit of asking the Universe before you act or speak in situations where you are not sure.  Where you are sure, that is your intuition confirming what you know. That is your path. Ask the Universe about what you should say to someone who is emotionally perturbed, or what you should do today during down time, or how is your mother (now on another vibrational plane), or what is the meaning of your life? All questions, big and small.

Is intuition and ESP basically the same thing?

I don’t think so. I don’t know enough about ESP except that I believe it is more like Remote Viewing, where you actively focus on a subject of attention in order to “read” it, to investigate and maybe enlighten it.

Yours is a good question. I am asking it of the Universe right now.

The given is ESP is open to everyone who seeks to know that particular object of investigation. It is public knowledge available to those who actively (and sometimes accidentally) seek it.

On the other hand, Intuition is your private messaging service from the Universe. No one will have your same intuitions, they are yours alone, and they are with you all the time, part of your life’s plan. You don’t have to actively focus on a subject, but you just have to ask for guidance and listen for an answer. Sometimes the intuition will just come to you, and feel so right, you take its advice and follow the path it opens for you.  It’s like tuning into a radio frequency and listening to what has been designed for you.

Short answer — ESP public. Intuition private.

Dr. Watson:

In your book, you explain how light sends us visuals. Would you care to expand on that?

I believe the information we receive from light is holographic. We receive whole images, thoughts in ideas or in words, feelings… all from Source. But what is received from light does not stay as a holograph, but I think that’s how it arrives to us.

There are claims WE are holographs ourselves, so, if that is true, it wouldn’t surprise me if we receive the holographs in a lock-key hookup with receptors already primed for us, in a similar way that neurotransmitters lock-key with each other at points of synapse on dendrites. The same kind of “here we are, ready” with “okay, here we come” vibrational message exchange. But, this is just a guess.

So, I asked the Universe this good question. The answer was “Because light has no language, form is all it knows. It brings you form, you apply the language when you receive the form.” Wow! You see how I love talking to the Universe… so much smarter than I.

How did you develop your intuition? What’s the story behind that?

Long story short – I thought I was looking for God, and not finding anything God-like I could talk to and get answers from, after a friend of mine predicted I would. I was frustrated. I banged on the farmhouse table where I was living, and shouted “How can I pass my questions through YOU, if I don’t know where you are?” From the far corner of that kitchen came a deep, resonant voice that said, “Just ask.” I looked around for a person, so real was that voice. It repeated, “Just ask.”

So I did. And have been getting more and more in the habit of asking first, regretting nothing.  A Universe-guided life fills your heart and takes you to places you never thought to go.

Can you explain to us why it was important for you to write your book?

I had a vision. An unseen stranger came to my shoulder as I watched beams of light shine down on my bedroom wall, and the stranger told me this is how we receive information from another vibrational plane, in light, and the purpose is for people to listen to and to get in harmony with the messages, which are benevolent, so that their lives will run smoothly, more temperately. The stranger charged me with getting this information out to people. It was very scary at first, because back when I got this message, few people were open to vibrational messages from somewhere smarter than us. But the more I researched, the more I found my stranger to be right, the more I was sure it was very important for me to write this book.

 

Answering the Question: So Now What with New York Times best-selling author, Laura Munson

My new novel, Willa’s Grove, begins with an invitation:

You are invited to

the rest of your life.

You know you can’t go on like this.

Not for one more day.

You need an interlude.

***

Imagine this:

You are in a farmhouse in Montana, wrapped in a soft blanket, sitting by a warm woodstove. There is a cup of tea in your hand, just the way you like it. There are women surrounding you who need this just as badly as you do.

We all have the same question.

The question is:

So now what?

Come to Montana and find out …

Love,

Willa

(You don’t have to do this alone.)

Maybe you have asked this question. Maybe you are asking it right now. Maybe you know you will be asking it in the near future. Maybe someone you love is asking it and you don’t know how to help them find their answer. Maybe you’ve seen yourself, or your loved one, or both, isolate because of the shame that this tether-less question can so often bring– simply in the honest asking of it. Everyone, I don’t care who you are or what’s in your bank account or how steady your life seems…everyone asks So Now What many times in their lives. It’s called being human. It’s called navigating this beautiful and heartbreaking thing called life.

But maybe you don’t know this right now. Maybe it’s new news to you. Maybe you think that everyone else knows exactly what they’re up to. I mean, just look at their Instagram and Facebook posts. Their lives must be perfect! Unlike yours. So you might as well go hide under a rock. But…maybe when you read the words “You don’t have to do it alone,” just now, you felt a little rush of surprise. And that’s likely because the only way you’ve been able to navigate these perilous waters is by becoming an island with no bridges in sight. You were supposed to know how to move forward into the next chapter of your life. You were supposed to do it with grace. I mean, you picked your spouse. It wasn’t supposed to end in divorce. You chose to have children. Empty Nest wasn’t supposed to be so debilitating. You don’t want them living in your basement. You’ve been slogging away at your job for a decade and you loathe it. But you applied for it. You majored in its field in college. You have letters after your name just so you can have this exact job. You are supposed to love it. So…shhhh…don’t tell anyone that you’re not “fine” at the grocery store. Lest you be judged. Or even rejected. Smile and buck up and pretend. And then go hide on your island. Likely there are pillows and Kleenex involved.

If you are nodding your head right now, I promise you this: you are not alone. There is a way out and it has to do with knowing just the right person to share your truth with. Having the courage to come together. And share your story. The one full of inconvenient truths and dirty secrets and oh…the shame. The shame. So do you pick the most together person in your life? How about—no. How about you choose someone who is also staring down the barrel of their own So Now What. Someone who’s just as scared as you are to have the conversations that you know you need to have. Someone who will be safe and real, even though they’ve been hiding too. Even if they’ve never been great at knowing how to be either of those things. Both of you know it’s time. And that you need to leave your life in order to bridge back to it. Not forever. Just for a small interlude. You can do a lot with a week when you are highly intentional. And that’s my call to action for you. I want us to come together. Now is the time for gathering in safe, trusted, circles of truth.

That’s what the women of Willa’s Grove do, and it’s a model of what’s possible for people everywhere at these crossroads moments of our lives. The model is this: you invite another person who you know is also in need of finding her So Now What—and it’s likely not someone in your daily life, but maybe a friend who reached out to you in desperation on a holiday or at 4:00 am but couldn’t quite bring herself to say what she seemed to really need to say. Who apologized at the end and tried to tie it up in a pink bow when you could hear her heart bleeding on the other end of the phone. That friend. Hopefully she will say yes. And then that friend asks another friend who is also in a major crossroads. And that friend asks the last. Four women. One week. One question.

I have learned the power of what I’m calling “bridge” community over and over at my Haven Writing Retreats in Montana, and that’s what inspired Willa’s Grove. In no way is this a novel about a writing retreat. But the spirit is the same. These strangers who are not strangers. These people who become kindreds as they help each other find their voices and set them free, especially in the woods of Montana.

It’s time to say yes to the profound invitations of our lives. To gather in trusted circles. And to tell each other our stories with the express intention of finding the answers we so dearly need. Please…in your hiding and pretending and shame…heed Willa’s call: We don’t have to do this alone. Call that friend. Create your own Grove Week! I hope my book lands in your heart and calls you to action. Let’s start a movement!

Yours,

Laura (and Willa)

You can pick up a copy of her book at https://amzn.to/2uxmKjH.

About the Author

LAURA MUNSON is the bestselling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is, which chronicles her journey through her own midlife crossroads. Drawing from the striking response to her memoir, the essay version of it in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, and her speaking events at women’s conferences across the US, Laura founded the acclaimed Haven Writing Retreats and Workshops. After watching hundreds of people find their unique and essential voices under the big sky of Montana she calls home, Laura created Willa, the invitation, the friends, and the town to share what she has learned with people globally. Her work has been published and featured in many media outlets throughout the world.

WEBSITE &SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://www.lauramunsonauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauramunson

Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/lauramunsonauthor/

 

MONSTERLAND

By Michael Okon

YA Monster Fiction

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance. But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

Praise:

“Michael Okon crafts a fabulous novel with unique, unforgettable characters. …The world building was done fabulously. There were believable backgrounds that explain how it could be possible for there to be a world that had not only vampires, but also werewolves and zombies, excuse me, the vitality-challenged. It all comes together seamlessly as the plot lines converge to make for an explosive ending.” – Devouring Books 2017, blogspot

“I can assure you of this: you will not be disappointed. Nor will you sleep well at night for a while, either. But isn’t that the mark of a master storyteller! Hat’s off to Michael Okon” – Theodore Jerome Cohen, Author of “House of Cards: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Martelli NYPD, #2)”

“As this book deserves not only top of the New York Times bestseller list but on the big screen as well. The moment I began to read my world was transformed and I was living through the novel.” – Carey Hurst, Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom

“First rate YA fiction with a monsterous twist. Highly recommended.” – Richard Schwindt, author of “The Death in Sioux Lookout Trilogy”

“Okon does a fantastic job of creating distinct personalities for the different monsters. The vampires are sly and cunning while the werewolves are weary and brooding. Even the zombies have some personality, albeit it’s only shown through thoughts they struggle to string together.” – Alejandro Ramos, medium.com

“I enjoyed the beautiful prose, the great characters, and the exciting plot. It’s hard to read this novel without getting emotionally involved.” – Divine Zape, Readers’ Favortie (Five Star Review)

“I think MONSTERLAND provides something different for the YA category that really isn’t otherwise present, not only in type of story but in teen/adult relationships.” – litbites.com, Blog Tour

“This book has a charm often lost in supernatural stories. Michael Okon sets a brilliant scene where you can hear and see the world coming to life before your eyes. You don’t read this book, you live it. .. Monsterland makes for a fun yet harrowing horror read, with injections of comedy, and masterful execution.” – K.J. Simmill (5 Star Review)

Monsterland Awards

  • 2017 Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review
  • Feathered Quill Book Awards 2018 – Science Fiction/Fantasy – Second Place
  • Feathered Quill Book Awards 2018 – Teen Fiction, Graphic/Anime (13-18 years) – First Place
  • The Feathered Quill, The Write Companion Award for Best Overall Top Pick
  • 2018 Shelf Unbound – Notable
  • 2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the Young Adult – Horror genre
  • 2019 International Book Awards – Fiction: Fantasy – Finalist
  • 2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards – Gold/1st Place – Best of Backlist

Amazon → https://amzn.to/31KQKFy

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/2SCCo5P

Chapter 1

The Everglades

The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.

The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.

A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.

The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.

What were the interlopers doing here? Billy thought furiously. This was their territory. The humans didn’t belong in the swamp. The moon continued its trip to the heavens, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis. He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked. A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun dipped to its fiery death, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body. Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, he let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing. Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing.

He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the flames, hiding their existence. It was no good. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind. Humans brought disease, humans brought anger, humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies invading his home. “They’ve found us,” he growled in the special language they used. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur. They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://www.michaelokon.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Michael0kon

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

Title: A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS
Author: J. Richman
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Company
Pages: 356
Genre: Memoir Narrative

BOOK BLURB:

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS by J. Richman is a creative and life-affirming collection of ponderings that expose the deep thoughts and feelings of a man who has lived a life full of diverse experiences and challenges. This uniquely constructed compilation of more than 300 reflections focuses on several areas of living, including intimate relationships and acceptance of human frailty, as well as the author’s internal conflicts.

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS homes in on the complications inherent in intimate relationships from the opening pages of the book: “Problems accrue when we confuse how a woman looks with who she is.” Richman brings the perspective of a mature man to the lessons on love presented in the book, including, “Exploitation of another depreciates both parties,” and “The reason we fall in love with flawed people is that that’s the only kind of people there are.”

In addition to offering a brief study of intimate relationships, A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS probes human frailty and offers readers guidance in accepting this fact. “We must learn to be strong enough to be gentle,” brings into focus the need to deliberately work at treating people well. The author also encourages readers to show self-compassion when dealing with their own baggage: “Sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond the wreckage of our lives, but we must! Take heart! We are more than our mistakes.”

In A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS, Richman further challenges readers to take the reins of their lives when he says, “Name those things that you would do if you had no fear then do something about it.” He offers words of caution regarding political rhetoric: “Beware of politicians who whip up emotions to make us suspicious of others unlike us.” And rounds the book out by sharing his internal conflicts: “The world has bent me more than I have bent it”; “too often my logical mind and my emotional mind are hostile enemies”; “every time I look in the mirror, I expect to see a younger man.”

A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS began as a series of notes that Richman wrote to himself. “I found that if I do not write out my true, and often painful, thoughts and feelings, I do not deal with them.” Richman wishes a book like this one had been available when he was a boy because the knowledge enclosed could have assisted him in navigating his teenage and young adult years. He hopes A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS will assure men that they are not alone in their quiet musings. For women, Richman believes the book will provide a window into men’s unexpressed emotions.

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2RVEoqX

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3b7HaRo

Book Excerpt:

“introspection requires us to be an interested  spectator of our own life.” …can this me be a better me…what happens when unimportant me wants to be important me…can anyone understand us and love us anyway…why must we clutch desperately to or fantasy…what happens when we need for from life than is available…do you frolic  and run with the deer in deer hunting season?…not to worry it’s all in the grand plan that you can change anytime.”

About the Author

Richman is the author of A MAN’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS, a collection of thoughts about life, relationships, and humanity.

Richman’s work history includes his service as an undercover intelligence officer in the US Air Force; later, he established a thriving business in real estate investment. For 16 years, Richman owned and operated Modify My Mortgage, a company that worked with homeowners to prevent foreclosures. His business success allowed Richman the time to pursue his passions, which included serving as the president of Nova, a workshop that provided work and life skills training for clients with disabilities; cofounding A Way Across, a drop-in center for teenagers with emotional and substance abuse problems; and fundraising for several more public service groups.

Richman enjoys writing and editing at night after allowing his ideas to blossom and expand during the day. The author is married with three sons and five grandsons.

Visit his website at http://www.amanslatenightthoughts.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

Title: THE MOCKING MAN
Author: Leslie Georgeson
Publisher: Leslie Georgeson Books LLC
Pages: 373
Genre: Romantic Suspense / Organized Crime

BOOK BLURB:

THE PACT: Two friends. One pact. A dangerous plan with an elaborate deception. In a world where they must rely on each other to survive, how far will each of them go to honor the pact?
______

The Mocking Man:

Deception.

Not a word I would have associated with myself fifteen years ago. Back then I was innocent and carefree, a teenage boy with big dreams.

Then my best friend Rafe was kidnapped, and my world fell apart. I foolishly thought I could save him.

I was wrong.

Now my entire life is a web of deceit. My every breath tainted by lies. I don’t like what I’ve become. But it’s essential for my very survival.

My job now is to stay in the shadows and keep Rafe’s sister Isabella safe. She can’t even know I’m here.

Then danger lurks closer. Somehow, I must protect her while keeping my secret.

But I get so caught up in my own twisted game that I eventually make a terrible mistake.

Now she’s a part of the pact. And I can’t let her go.

But what kind of life can I give her if I can never be anything more than the mocking man?

***This series is a romantic suspense duet. Book 1 is Alex’s story, and Book 2 is Rafe’s story. Each is a separate romance with an HEA (and no cliffhangers). However, events from book 1 lead to events in book 2. Therefore, it is recommended that they be read in order to get the full story. These books contain strong language, adult situations, and dark subject matters. Recommended for readers ages 18 and up.***

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2TLM1S0

Book Excerpt:

Mr. Wilson could be watching me right now through the video surveillance he’d mentioned.

Be very careful, Izzy. You could go to jail if you get caught. 

My boss’s words about being unethical flashed through my mind. What I was contemplating now wasn’t ethical at all. It was dishonest. Wrong.

But I needed to find out if Alex was alive. I needed to find the mocking man. And I needed to do it today. So while Mr. Wilson slept, I was going to quietly snoop while I cleaned, and see if I could find something that might give me answers.

Video surveillance be dammed. If I moved around just right, carrying my supplies and acting like I was cleaning, then he wouldn’t know I was snooping, right?

A half hour later, I’d searched through this entire side of the villa and found no evidence suggesting Alex Davies might live here. Was I wasting my time here? Was Alex truly dead?

I tiptoed back into the kitchen. Then I went around past the sunroom area and down a separate hallway, checking each room. Nothing.

The last door to my right was closed. The sun wasn’t all the way up yet, so it was still a bit dark in the hallway. As I drew nearer, it became apparent the “closed” door actually stood slightly ajar. Just a crack. As if someone had forgotten to close it all of the way.

For some reason, that small opening called to me, saying, “Come check me out. There are secrets in here.”

And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

I gravitated toward the opening, eager to see beyond, taking no heed to my inner warnings that shrieked, curiosity killed the cat, Izzy. Be careful.

Gently pressing on the door, I pushed it open.

The room was shrouded in darkness, the curtains drawn.

A sense of eeriness crept over me as I tried to make out what I was seeing.

I stumbled back, a scream erupting from my throat.

What the…crap was that?

About the Author

Leslie Georgeson writes romance and suspense, sometimes with a dash of sci-fi or paranormal tossed in to make things more interesting. She is the author of the military romantic suspense series, THE DREGS, which was nominated for the 2018 TopShelf Indie Book Awards. Her other titles include the UNLIKELY HEROES series, the UNDERNEATH series, the standalone romantic mystery, NO SON OF MINE, and the newly released romantic suspense duet, THE PACT. Book one, The Mocking Man, is now available on Amazon and book two, The Honest Liar, is scheduled for an early June 2020 release. Leslie lives with her husband and daughter on a quiet country acreage in Idaho.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://lesliegeorgeson.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lesliegeorgeson

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

GIVEAWAY!

Leslie Georgeson is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight April 10.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on April 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 

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