Thirteen Past Midnight by Stephen B. King ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome Stephen B. King with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Thirteen Past Midnight

 

Can dreams foretell the future? Every night Jonathon returns to the same nightmare…where a cat that seems spawned from hell is always waiting for him. The dreams began at the stroke of midnight, but the following dreams happen one minute later than the night before.

A sense of dread looms over him as the clock ticks ever closer to 13 past midnight. Will he realize they’re nothing more than frightening dreams…or will he die in his sleep?

Fun Fact:

I have always been fascinated by dreams, and in my much younger, impressionable days made a bit of a study of all things occult. It started with watching a movie, called, The Devil Rides Out, which I loved and wanted to learn more. I discovered it was based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, so I read it and while by today’s standards it is tame, to an impressionable youth it beckoned its crooked finger. From there I made a trip to the British Museum and spent a few days studying Witchcraft and black magic. I don’t think, looking back, I was ever drawn to trying to be a participant, it was more a deep-seated fascination and thirst to know more.

It was a natural step, after reading more of Mr. Wheatley’s books, to study dreams and in particular Astral Travel, which is the ability of a practitioner to direct their dreams, and even to meet other people on the plane and have different experiences not possible in ‘the real world.’

Of more recent times I saw the movie Inception, and while I accept this is a remarkable work of fiction, scriptwriting and cinematic spectacle, designed to entertain, here again was a concept about directing dreams to achieve an end. Ever since I saw the movie, I think for the fifth time, I wanted to write a story about dreams.

Who knows where random thoughts of inspiration come from? I certainly have no idea where mine originate from. They seem to just hit me from out of the blue. Once I have an idea, I must explore it, and can only do so by writing it chronologically from that point forward and seeing where it takes me. So, while I wanted to write a story about dreams, I still need a spark to get the fire going and it came from Alicia Dean, asking if I would like to contribute a story to the second volume of Friday the 13th and I literally jumped at the chance. My first foray was a lot of fun to write, a tale featuring my favorite character from the Deadly Glimpses Series I’ve written, a criminal psychologist, Patricia Holmes, turned cop, and having her attend a murder-mystery dinner party with other psychologists, but there is an uninvited guest intent on murdering them all for real.

So, when asked to come back for round 2 by Alicia and agreeing obviously meant I had to come up with a story that would suit the theme. That’s when I recalled wanting to pen something around dreams. I love the symbolism of Alicia’s charter: thirteen authors, thirteen chapters etc, and so – yeah shock horror here’s that inspiration I thought of a clock telling the time of 13 past midnight. And so began my favorite question; what if…..

What if someone has a recurring dream, not just recurring, but a continuing dream staggered exactly one minute apart, starting at midnight? The dream appears to be warning of an impending danger a threat of death not to continue, and each night the horror grows. What would happen at the appointed time, death, or worse?

 Jonathon is a troubled young man. He hates his job, is engaged to a wonderful woman who works with lots of incredibly fit Olympic swimmers as a physiotherapist and deep down, he worries. He fears she doesn’t really love him, that she is so much better than he is, and that the baby she carries isn’t his. Then, a woman, who in some lights reminds Jonathon of an evil looking grey cat, wants to commission him to renovate an old house. This house has a history of black magic ceremonies, murder, and suicide. As each nightmare gets closer to 13 past midnight, Jonathon gets better at controlling his dreams, and tries to fight the evil that is coming relentlessly nearer. 

Many thanks to Alicia for inviting me to write this tale, I had so much fun writing it, and I think, though of course I am terribly biased this could be the most interesting story I’ve ever written. What do you think, dear reader?

Excerpt:
I knew I was dreaming when I peered around the trunk of an ancient Red Gum tree in the park to see if I could spot the cat before he saw me. He, or she, I had not been able to discern the sex, was prancing back and forth across the path. It was waiting for me, and it looked pissed. Suddenly it stopped and jerked its head around, and I ducked back behind the trunk, my heart pounding.
The thing has seen me. How the hell did it know I was here? Now what do I do? My mind raged in overdrive.
Why not just wake up? I replied, then closed my eyes, shook my head, and opened them again.
Nope, not working, I’m still here. Any other bright ideas?
Look, dummy, it’s just a cat, what are you so scared of? Just walk up, kick it out of the way, and get to…to…where the fuck am I going in a hurry?
I took a long, slow, calming breath and stuck my head around the tree again.
HISSSSSSSSSSS. The cat had crept up on my hiding place and launched itself at me, claws out. In a second, it would be on my face biting and scratching.
I woke, sweating, frantic rubbing my face, while the alarm clock glowed and flashed three minutes past midnight.
Bio:
Me – just some bits and pieces about – ME!
(Or as my wife often says: “It’s all just about you Steve isn’t it?”)
I’ve said, more than once, life is about the journey, and not the destination, and what a journey my life has been. We are the sum total of our experiences, and not what we eat, in my humble opinion, and when I start talking about my life to people – just before their eyes glaze over – they often say: “You should write a book.” So I have, several in fact.
Thrillers and crime genres have always fascinated me, and in particular, the dark world of serial killers, and while my beginnings were in the ‘Make love not war’ sentiment, I love a good, unputdownable, thriller. You know, the kind you just want to read one more chapter of, and then another, and then you realise you are late for work. Have I succeeded in creating stories that can take people to that place? Boy I hope so.
Drop me an email, and let me know if I have.
steve@stephen-b-king.com
Happy reading
Steve

 

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The End of the Road Hotel by Peggy McKenzie ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome Peggy McKenzie with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  The End of the Road Hotel

Fun Fact

I write western historical romance, but I needed a genre that offered a change of pace so I wanted to try my hand at something new. That’s when creepy came along. Could I do it? I had no idea, but I wanted to try.

Blurb

Sometimes, the end of the road is just the beginning…

Felicity Simon is at a crossroads in her life. She and her on-again, off-again boyfriend have been together for seven years with no progress toward matrimony. Perhaps it’s time to make a change. Suddenly, she receives the unexpected news that she’s inherited her great aunt’s estate, Could this be the change she’s been looking for?

The moment they arrive at the hauntingly beautiful old Victorian, Felicity senses something is off with their host, but she can’t quite put a finger on the problem. He’s amiable, attentive, and accommodating. And, his handsome face and impeccable manners hold an allure she finds very enticing. And yet…her instincts warn her to be wary.

It doesn’t long before she realizes her instincts were right.

Snippet: 

She and Teddy arrived just outside the closed dining room doors. “Prepare yourself for the thrill of a lifetime, my pet,” he announced with all the flourish and excitement of a boxing ring announcer. My pet? She did not like the sound of that, and she was about to say so when he pushed the double doors open wide, revealing a dining room full of people sitting at a long narrow table covered in white tablecloths, crystal stemware and silver place settings all reflecting the flickering lights of a room full of tall pillar candles. Everyone was dressed in black formal attire from the same era as Teddy’s tux and her dress. So, it was a costume party from the roaring twenties after all. And there was a dining room full of people, which surprised her. She’d convinced herself she was here alone with Teddy. Now, she wished Austin was here for two reasons: she wouldn’t have to worry about him, and she could say “I told you so” with a big, wide grin on her face. No one would have been more shocked than Austin to learn there were other people in this place, after all, and she would have enjoyed the hell out of watching him scramble to apologize for doubting her.

Teddy escorted her into the room on his arm with a flourish as if she were a grand lady on display, but the closer she got to the occupants of the table, the more her brain had trouble processing what her eyes were seeing. What exactly was she looking at? It was as if everyone was frozen in time. Literally. No one was moving at all. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet our special guest, Miss Felicity Simon. Felicity, say hello to everyone. They’re dying to meet you.”

She stared hard at the first person she came to—really stared at her—or rather…it. Finally, realization punched its way through her confusion. And then, she screamed until she lost consciousness.

About the Author: 

Where Love Becomes Legendary…

An Amazon best-selling author, Peggy McKenzie was born and raised in Oklahoma, and she’s been in love with stories of happy endings and second chances since her first fairy tales in grade school. It wasn’t until she became enamored by Miss Kitty and Marshal Dillion’s love story that she decided to write her own romance stories where she makes certain the cowboy ride away with his lady love and they live happily-ever-after.

Now living in East Texas, she’s right smack dab in the middle of cowboy country, and she’s more determined than ever to fill her stories with rugged, flawed heroes and courageous, strong heroines. If you like happy endings and second chances with a touch of humor, you’ll like this author.

“Heartwarming sweet romance at its best.”

Sylvia McDaniel-USA Today Best-Selling Author

“You will not just read a story by Peggy McKenzie, you will live it.”

Hildie McQueen-USA Today Best-Selling Author

To learn more about Peggy and her books,

visit her website: PeggyMcKenzie.com.

Follow Peggy on her adventures through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, BookBub, and Goodreads. Gain access to her fan-based webpage where she posts exclusive content by joining her monthly newsletter at https://www.peggymckenzie.com/newslettersignup.

Website: www.peggymckenzie.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pegmckenziebook

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mckenzie2346/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/peggy-mckenzie

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/peggymckenzie

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15276347.Peggy_McKenzie

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Witch Ever Way You Go by Robert Herold ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome Robert Herold with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Witch Ever Way You Go

Fun Fact

Witch Ever Way You Go is set in the Seattle area where I live. There is a bit of rivalry between Seattle proper and the suburban areas. Playing with this idea, I envisioned two rival covens, one in Seattle, the other in the wealthy suburb of Baalberith. (Baalberith is the name for a powerful demon who tempts people to engage in blasphemy and murder. Heck, there is a Diablo Dam and Diablo Lake in Washington State. Diablo means devil, so I didn’t think it was much of a stretch to call a Seattle suburb Baalberith!)

I used many other actual locations for the story: the University of Washington, the 520 Bridge (which was under construction in 2015, when the book is set) and neighborhoods on Capitol Hill. One of my favorite places was a decrepit but awesome Victorian house. Here’s a picture of it:

I have a wonderfully grisly scene in that place! I had planned to do an Instagram reel in front of the house to promote my story. Unfortunately, I just discovered it has turned into something really scary:

Bonus fun fact:

As a boy, Robert Herold wanted nothing more than to grow up to be a werewolf. (Is there any wonder why he writes horror?)

Blurb

When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.

Snippet: 

The crowd in the room became more animated, their voices rising until they were shouting. The man standing over the woman turned one way then the other, presenting the dagger. As the crowd continued the deafening chant, he raised the blade as high as possible, then thrust it down, just below the woman’s left breast. He yanked the knife free, and a fountain of blood sprayed over the man’s robe and white tuxedo. The crowd erupted in ecstasy.

My stomach turned in revulsion. We had been flirting just a few minutes earlier, and now she was dead. “Holy fuck.”

About the Author: 

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided me with the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years (among them being a history teacher and a musician), but the supernatural always called to me. You could say I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call as an adult, I began writing horror.

Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible.

https://www.amazon.com/Witch-Ever-Way-You-Go-ebook/dp/B09V714SSF

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60624641-witch-ever-way-you-go

https://www.bookbub.com/books/witch-ever-way-you-go-a-friday-the-13th-story-by-robert-herold

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Herold/e/B07YW82TLR/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Contact info and social media links:

email@robertheroldauthor.com

https://www.robertheroldauthor.com

https://www.instagram.com/robertheroldauthor666/

https://www.facebook.com/bob.herold.31/

https://twitter.com/RobertHerold666

https://www.facebook.com/Fri13thShortStories/

 

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Deadly Illusions by Anna Kittrell ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Please help me welcome Anna Kittrell with the next story in the Friday the 13th Series,  Deadly Illusions…

Fun Fact

 A skilled magician (not unlike a skilled writer) can suspend reality, causing the audience to escape into a different realm. Illusionists emit a sense of danger. They captivate and control, challenging us to believe the unbelievable. And who can keep their eyes from that sexy, scantily-clad assistant who drifts and twirls across the stage before succumbing to the handsome magician’s sinister tricks? Add in some mysterious music and billowing smoke—and wow. That’s entertainment! However, magic is predominantly a men’s profession, with less than 8 percent of magicians being female.

While writing Deadly Illusions, my goal was to have the book’s heroine embody the same commanding power and sensuality I’ve seen exhibited in male illusionists. The end result was Melinda Sloan, a beautiful independent woman with a love for magic that sadly, is rivaled only by her love of alcohol. I enjoyed writing a strong main character with real life struggles, who ultimately triumphs when faced with her demons. And the researching of magic tricks and viewing of wildly talented illusionists on YouTube while crafting Melinda’s stage performances was an exciting and unexpected bonus!

Blurb

 When Melinda Sloan’s dream of becoming a professional illusionist comes true, she’s headed for the bigtime—maybe even Vegas. But when a dangerous illusion goes wrong, killing her assistant and closest friend, Celine, Melinda’s dream turns into a nightmare—and a whiskey bottle turns into a friend. Hopeless, she vows to give up magic forever. However, when Melinda is evicted from the family home, her sister, Julia, convinces her to return to magic—and is dead set on being her assistant. Before long, Melinda is onstage in Las Vegas, doing what she loves most. But when her booking agent demands Melinda perform the very trick that caused Celine’s death, Melinda’s refusal results in a breach of contract. Julia persuades her to do the trick—penniless and unemployed, she can’t afford not to. But as she faces the sword-riddled cabinet that holds Julia, her blood runs cold. Is her baby sister lifeless and bleeding inside the sword box? Has she murdered Julia, the way she murdered Celine? Or is the magician being tricked?

Snippet: 

Melinda raised the final sword high in the air, twirled it, then rammed it partially into the box, feeling for Celine’s tug on the blade. With the weight of the audience’s stares on her, seconds felt like hours. What was taking Celine so long?

Finally, she felt a slight tug.

Didn’t she?

The booze swirled in her stomach, making her sweat. She grunted, pretending to struggle as she shoved the sword further into the box—then struggling for real as the blade met with resistance.

The music reached a maddening crescendo, each chord striking a nerve in Melinda’s pounding head.

How much time had passed?

The whiskey clawed at her throat as the room spun.

Just then, she felt a definite tug on the sword blade. Relief flooded her soul. Celine must’ve had a bit of trouble navigating the final blade around the others.

What had it been—five seconds? Ten at most?

Melinda shoved the sword down with all her might, feeling no resistance from Celine. The sword slipped easily through the box, into position.

Confidence soaring, Melinda placed a hand on the box and pranced in a slow circle, turning the platform, showing the spectators every side. She faced the box toward the audience.

Time to retrieve the swords and open the box. She loved this part. Celine would be sitting straight up, beautiful as ever, without a scratch on her. The audience would go wild, like they always did.

Melinda removed the first sword, followed by the others, saving the sword jutting from the top of the box for last. Grasping the handle with both hands and closing her eyes, she made a show of slowly pulling the sword from the opening, Excalibur-style, and holding it above her head.

The music stopped. Shocked cries punched through the silence as something warm dripped onto her face.

“Blood!” Someone shouted.

Who was cruel enough to yell out a thing like that? Sick bastard. The horrible word stuck to her, burning like hot tar.

Sweat rolled down her forehead, into her eyes and mouth. It tasted like whiskey. No. It tasted like blood.

About the Author: 

Anna Kittrell resides in the same small Oklahoma town where she grew up, and has been a secretary at Anadarko Middle School for over twenty years. She married her high-school sweetheart, raised two children, and has an eight-year-old grandson who is her very best friend.  She has written for as long as she can remember and still has many of her tattered childhood creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, penned on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

www.annakittrellauthor.com

https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell

https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Kittrell/e/B009OWBPMM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1648916080&sr=8-1

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Skadegamutc: Monster in the Mirror by Diane L. Kowalyshyn ~ A Friday the 13th Story Series ~ #Fridaythe13th

Happy Friday the 13th! It’s release day for a series of horror short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. I will be sharing each story on my post, one per day. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Diane L. Kowalyshyn with her story,  Skadegamutc: Monster in the Mirror…

Fun Fact:

 

I’m fascinated my Native American mythological creatures. I wrote about the windigo in Crossbones, the skadegamutc in a Friday the 13th Short Story, and the chepitchcalm in When the Earth Moves (WIP). There are two more Native American creatures I’ll be bringing to life in the Earth, Wind and Fire series sequels.

Blurb:

Officer Pauline McCrory arrives at Alma Wildberry’s cabin under the impression the elder died of natural causes before her hungry one-eyed cat consumed parts of her face.

When the medical examiner rules the case a homicide, Pauline must determine who drained six pints of blood and removed a pound of flesh from Alma’s head and neck.

The investigation brings an age-old Passamaquoddy legend, the Skadegamutc to life, and Pauline must find the ghost-witch before it kills again.

Snippet:

Bob. Alma’s one-eyed cat. A bad eye infection forced the local farm vet to remove the diseased orb and sew up the empty orifice. “Hi Bob,” Birdie exclaimed, just to break the sinister silence in the room. “Where’s Alma?”

Bob didn’t pay any attention. He waddled toward the kitchen and disappeared behind the center island separating the two rooms.

A stale smell, like rotting garbage, wafted from the kitchen.  Many locals used a compost heap for table scraps and burned what little garbage they generated. Her footfalls slowed when she noticed broken glass shimmering like sparkle dust on the floor. Slivers crunched underfoot, despite her trying to avoid them.

The antique mirror hanging on the wall between the bedrooms and the kitchen had fallen to the floor. A shattered bulls-eye of beveled glass leaned against the baseboard. Alma loved that mirror. She loved finding and restoring treasures from tag sales and repurposing them.

Bob started to meow. Soon it turned into languishing yowls. The cat had to be hungry.

Birdie’s progress ground to a halt.

Maybe Alma had gone out to gather mushrooms or flowers and herbs to pulverize and dry, but it didn’t make sense she would leave the broken mirror on the floor. It made Birdie worry that Bob might cut himself so she jumped to attention. She’d sweep up the flakes of glass and take the smelly garbage to the compost before Alma returned. She bee-lined for the closet beside the fridge and pulled out the broom and dust bin. When she spun, she saw a pair of moccasin clad feet—feet that had been previously obstructed by the position of the island—jutting out from the end. Bob sat hunched over Alma’s face gnawing on what remained of her nose.

“Oh, my God, no.” The broom and dust bin clattered to the floor and she ran toward her friend.

Birdie’s stomach roiled when she got closer. It sent her reeling over to the sink where she wretched up the remains of her lunch. Several bouts of nausea assailed her. She splashed some water on her cheeks and forehead and when the heaving subsided, she reached into her pocket and dialed.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“Alma Thornberry is dead. I found her body in her kitchen. I think she’s been gone a while because her cat’s been eating her.”

About the Author:

Diane L. Kowalyshyn writes heart-hammering, high-voltage thrillers—adventures that run on action, intrigue, and romance. Her first book earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is an avid sailor who’s listened to her fair share of marine storm warnings and relied on the intermittent pulse of a lighthouse beacon to bring her safely back to port. When she’s not on the water, she loves to travel to faraway lands where she navigates rustic landscapes and meanders through ancient and decaying palaces, and castles. Her books are available in paperback and ebook through Chapters/Indigos, Amazon, Google, Nook, iBook, and Kobo.

http://www.dianelkowalyshyn.com

Crossover, March 2021 (Goodreads)
Double Cross, August 2021 (Goodreads)

Crossbones, February 2022 (Goodreads)

Skadegamutc: Monster in the Mirror by Diane L. Kowalyshyn https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09V5RD8VJ

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#HobbyCareerPassion: Sadira Stone ~ Zodiac Encounters Anthology / Steamy Romance #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Sadira Stone…

Crystals, Palmistry, Astrology & Tarot: Getting Woo-Woo for Zodiac Encounters

My two novellas in the Zodiac Encounters Anthology feature a funky, woo-woo crystal shop in a Washington State beach town. Customers come to Madame Zora’s Psychic Emporium for tarot, palm, and aura readings, or to buy all sorts of esoteric gear like books, crystals, figurines, and don’t forget the tie-dyed socks!

I love browsing this kind of hippie-dippy shop and dabbling in divination. As a teen, I learned palmistry—mainly because my best friend learned to read tarot cards and I wanted a cool party trick like hers. Recently I bought my own tarot deck and am slowly learning how to use them. Fascinating!

A hippie mama at heart, imagine my delight when I was invited to participate in a steamy, astrology-themed romance anthology! My two signs are Capricorn and Taurus, paired with a Scorpio and an Aquarius, respectively, so I had to learn lots about these star signs. I also got my own natal chart done just for kicks. About 80% was spot on, while the rest left me scratching my head. I’m a Leo with Capricorn rising and a Taurus moon! Coincidence? Or a nudge from the universe?

Gemma, my Aquarius heroine, works in her Aunt Zora’s crystal shop, so of course I expanded my crystal collection while writing her story—to add authentic detail, and because pretty rocks are cool! I’ve got carnelian and clear quartz crystal for mental clarity, rose quartz to balance energy, rainbow flourite for productivity and creativity, amber for healing, aragonite for homesickness, labradorite to temper negativity, and amethyst for decision making. The latter also protects from drunkenness, in case I’m every tempted to drink while writing! So far, that’s not a problem, but you never know…

My theory about crystals: just knowing that a certain stone is supposed to help with a certain problem will focus your intentions and actions toward solving that problem. Woo woo? Not necessarily. After moving from Washington State to Las Vegas, I was terribly homesick and having a hard time seeing the pluses of living here. Placing that chunk of aragonite (small brown crystal at 7 o’clock in the photo) on my nightstand and holding it every night and morning, my homesickness has eased—probably because I set the intention of letting go of those sad feelings.

So, I hope you’ll enjoy Madame Zora’s crystal shop and the help she provides to the characters in Capricorn and Taurus. Zodiac Encounters is on sale for just 99¢ (ebook only) for a limited time, so grab your copy from your favorite online bookseller!  Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMYOr8

When the stars align, passion sizzles!

Limited time only–grab these 12 spicy, astrology-inspired novellas by bestselling and award-winning romance authors. From Capricorn to Sagittarius, these tales bring the heat!

Which star sign is the most seductive? Hot-blooded? Sensual? Dominant? Twelve fiery couplings showcase the steamy possibilities.

Claim your copy while they last, and experience red-hot, star-fated romance at its finest.  

Excerpt:

From Taurus:

   “Hey, Jesse.”

   He turned toward her with a quizzical scowl.

   “You know about the Esoteric Arts Expo in Portland next month?”

   “Yeah. Got the extra herbs Zora ordered under a bank of grow-lights.”

   “You’ll be there, right?”

   His dark brows drew together. “At the expo? No. Why?”

   Gemma grasped his arms, relishing the feel of firm muscle through his thick woolen coat. “You’ve got an organic herb farm! You could offer teas, tinctures, potted plants. Give me a list of what you grow, and I’ll write up their magical properties.”

   Jesse snorted, which only made him more bull-like. “Listen, I grow culinary herbs, stuff for tea and home remedies, not magic potions.”

   Yup, bull-headed to a fault. She forced her lips to unscowl. Being judgmental would get her nowhere with his type. He needed practical proof. “How could you ignore this huge market? The esoteric community is hungry for local products with integrity.”

   “My business is none of yours.” With another sexy snort, he loomed over her. “You ever actually worked the land, princess? It’s not airy-fairy spirituality. It’s heavy lifting and dirt under your nails.”  He held a broad, dirt-stained palm before her face and wiggled his fingers. Immediately, her imagination zoomed to how those powerful hands would feel on her bare skin, their rough scrape raising goosebumps of pleasure. Would he be a forceful lover? Brutal, even? Or perhaps surprisingly tender?

   Giving her head a little shake, she took his hand and inspected his palm. “Interesting Mount of Venus.” She rubbed the base of his thumb. “Nice and fleshy.”

   She had his attention now. People loved being told about themselves. With narrowed eyes, he peered at the spot she was massaging. “Mount of Venus? What does that mean?”

   “Fullness here shows you’re passionate, sensual. And see this mark? Like a little X?”

   He squinted, rumpling his eyebrows adorably.

   “This means you have a lot of love to give.” She was only quoting the many books on palmistry she’d studied, but a skeptic like him would probably assume she was just spouting pickup lines.

   But now, he simply held her gaze for a long, heated moment. His nostrils flared, but whatever snarky comment he concocted remained behind his tightly pressed lips.

   Focus. Plan. Expo. She forced her shoulders down. “So why not share some of that love with Zora and me? You help us with new products for the Esoteric Expo, and we’ll help you with new customers for your herbs.” See? Practical, logical—just the way you like it, stubborn Taurus.

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMYOr8

Fascinating, Sadira. Thanks so much for sharing. Your anthology soujnds wonderful.

Please tell us a little about yourself…

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, spent most of my adult life in Germany, first as a soldier and then as a teacher on U.S. military bases, moved to Washington State, and recently relocated to Las Vegas to be near my first grandchild. No pets at the moment except my adorable granddogs, two short-haired mini dachshunds. Married to a wonderful guy—ours is a late-in-life love story. One gorgeous, talented daughter from a previous marriage, and one handsome, smart stepson.

I adore writing steamy contemporary romance. Some authors and readers prefer to flee reality in favor of fantasy worlds, but I love plumbing the depths of life in our times—the heartache, the humor, the passion. Themes you’ll find in any Sadira Stone book: heroines who reject confining traditions and roles, and the complex men who cherish them—also chosen family, family reconciliation, and lots of food!

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I’m a retired high school teacher—English, French, German, theater. I loved some of the kids like my own, but the constant bureaucracy, negativity, and pointless “educational initiatives” wore me down.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

I just don’t get the appeal of most reality TV. What’s the point? I do like cooking competitions, though.

Do you collect anything?

Crystals and semi-precious stones. Pretty rocks are cool!

What was your first job?

Church secretary. Not fun.

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

Housework! Alas, the floors don’t clean themselves.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Zodiac Encounters?

A big, satisfied smile. 😉

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

I’ve written, but never published, some slightly sexy cozy romance—but experts in that genre tell me cozy readers want zero sex in their stories. Hmmph. Cozy romantic suspense? I’ll find a bookshelf for them someday.

What is your favorite quote?

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we might as well dance.

Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?

I don’t enjoy reading dark stories, so I’ll never write about a character being tortured, abused, etc.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

She had a blast.

About the Author:

Award-winning contemporary romance author Sadira Stone spins steamy, smoochy tales set in small businesses—a quirky bookstore, a neighborhood bar, a vintage boutique… Her stories highlight found family, friendship, and the sizzling chemistry that pulls unlikely partners together. When she emerges from her writing cave in Las Vegas, Nevada (which she seldom does), she can be found in belly dance class, or strumming her ukulele, perhaps exploring the West with her charming husband, or cooking up a storm, and always gobbling all the romance books. For a guaranteed HEA (and no cliffhangers!) visit Sadira at sadirastone.com.

 

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Author Interview with Karen C. Whalen ~ New Release: Toes on the Dash ~ #WRPbks #AHAgrp

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Karen C. Whalen, sharing her latest release, a funny, fabulous cozy mystery, Toes on the Dash.

Hello, Karen…so nice to have you with us today.

Q-  What is your favorite quote?

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve always imagined.” —Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is often quoted, but that’s because he was one smart guy. This quote makes my heart soar and helps me to believe in myself.

Because I can imagine a pretty great life.

Most authors admit they always wanted to write. I did, too, from an early age. I loved to read and could imagine myself writing a book. My dream came true in 2016 when my first book was published by The Wild Rose Press (TWRP), Everything Bundt the Truth, a murder mystery centered around a dinner club group. My eighth book was published by TWRP on April 25 of this year, Toes on the Dash, another murder mystery, this time involving a super-feminine, shoe-aholic who drives a tow truck in high heels.

Q- How did you come up with the title?

I got the Toes book title from a song I heard on the radio, Take A Little Ride, by Jason Aldean. I had the radio turned up and the window rolled down, trying to sing along, trying being the operative word here. He sings about his girl’s pretty pink toes on the dash. And my imagination took off. Was it possible to leave toe prints on the dashboard of a car? If so, this could be an important murder clue! I checked with my local police department and learned people can leave toe prints, often a vital piece of evidence at a crime scene.

So, my main character, Delaney Morran, suddenly became the kind of gal who props her toes on the dash. When her jerk of an ex-boyfriend is found dead in the trunk of a car she’s towed and her toe prints are discovered on the dash of said car, Delaney becomes the prime murder suspect.

Why, you ask, is Delaney driving a tow truck in high heels? Why is she even driving a tow truck at all? Well, Delaney received an unexpected inheritance—the keys to a tow truck—from her dead-beat dad. And she has some issues. She has very few memories of her father and wishes she could’ve known him better. Plus, her dad died in a mysterious hit-and-run accident that was never solved. So, despite the fact she’s never even changed a tire in all of her twenty-eight years, she decides to give the rough and dangerous business a chance. And, can you imagine all the dead bodies she stumbles upon in the car hauling business? Spoiler alert: she finds a dead body in every book. Actually there’s no surprise there.

Q- Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Delaney’s dream is to get to know her dad by doing the work he did and driving the truck he drove. Plus, being her own boss is a dream come true. The message of the book is this: if you work hard enough at something, you can succeed at it. As Thoreau said, go confidently after your dreams. And live the life!

She went from wearing stilettos to hauling stiffs

Blurb:

Super-feminine and confirmed shoe-a-holic Delaney Morran receives an unexpected inheritance—the keys to a tow truck from a dad she’s never known. Even though she hasn’t changed a tire, or even driven any kind of a truck, she’s determined to make the rough and dangerous business a success. When she hauls a vehicle with the body of her jerk-of-an ex hidden in the trunk, the small-town cops in Spruce Ridge, Colorado do not believe this a coincidence. They have her in their headlights as the prime suspect. When the news hits, her business stalls. As a woman trying to make a living in a man’s world, she drives her rig in four-inch-heels to set herself apart. But she must toughen up her image and solve the crime or she’ll end up parked in jail.

Excerpt:

Stopping with my hand on the door, I sneaked a peek left and right, worried someone I knew would recognize me, then I took a deep breath and stole inside. Need I explain? This is a small town.

My eyes took a moment to adjust to the dark. One girl wearing a thong—thank goodness she wasn’t anyone I knew—was on stage. Mr. Hot Head sat at the bar with a tall beer, foam on top, glass full. Looked like he had just been served a fresh, cold one, and this early in the day, too. I backed out the door, ran for the tow truck, and zipped back to the alley as fast as I could.

I angled the truck in front of Hot Head’s Jeep and muscled the dolly wheels over to the rear end, crouching low to the ground, getting a whiff of the rank dumpster. Hot Head couldn’t see me from inside the building, but he had a sixth sense about me, and I was determined to keep under his radar. I jacked up the first dolly wheel and was on my way around the back bumper to jack up the second one, when bam!

I stumbled right into Hot Head. He had a tire iron in his meaty fist.

Buy links:

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09S5XH9KQ?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_0&storeType=ebooks&qid=1644676163&sr=8-1#detailBullets_feature_div

Barnes & Nobel:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/toes-on-the-dash-karen-c-whalen/1140989970?ean=2940160712291

Apple books:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/toes-on-the-dash/id1609810860

 

Karen C. Whalen is the author of two mystery series for The Wild Rose Press: the Dinner Club Mysteries featuring Jane Marsh, an empty nester who hosts a gourmet dinner club, and the Tow Truck Mysteries starring Delaney Moran, a super feminine shoe-a-holic who drives a tow truck. Both are cozy mysteries about strong friendships and family ties set in Colorado. The first book in the Dinner Club series tied for First Place in the Suspense Novel category of the 2017 IDA Contest sponsored by Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Whalen worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and was a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. Whalen loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.

http://karencwhalen.com

https://www.facebook.com/whalencozyauthor (author page)

https://www.facebook.com/whalenkarenc  (personal page)

https://www.instagram.com/whalenkarenc

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April 2022 Featured Books – Find New & Wonderful Authors!!! #AHAgrp #BookWorm #AmReading #Ebooks

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

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Toxic waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been poisoning the environment, human beings, and wildlife for more than six decades. When her brother dies a horrible death at Hanford, Casey Long, a kayaker and windsurfer by day and bartender by night in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington, swears to put an end to the upriver contamination. But, how can she possibly take on the entrenched fortress of a facility?

After she confides in Little Bear, a bitter Native American fisherman, they contrive a dangerous plan. Joined by a peculiar mishmash of collaborators, they risk everything to save the environment and achieve justice for all injured parties, past and present.

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Louisa Burgess had erred when it came to love before. She had no intention of doing so again. And certainly not with a man who arrived at her door with a posse on his heels. Yet it was a vow she considered breaking every evening — AT TWILIGHT.

Reviewers say…

“AT TWILIGHT is a powerful, unforgettable story — a western that’s at once tender and gritty, passionate and exciting, with a climax that will both shock and uplift. It comes alive with historical details and offers readers a journey of the heart.”
Romantic Times

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She should have followed the rules. “Rule 2: Always double-tap.” Now a girl must travel back in time to that never never land of spies and samovars. To the land of bears, bombs, babushkas, and borscht to finish the job. To the land where anything can happen and often does.

On course in the Pacific, an American ship experiences an event unlike anything that any ship has ever undergone.

Faydra “Spider” Green has had a storied career as a Navy lawyer, juggling being the daughter of a former U.S. president. She has successfully navigated complex diplomatic situations, pulse-pounding legal investigations, and dangerous military missions, managing each time to save the day. But now, a man who had nearly cost Fay her life has seemingly returned from the dead. Now, hellbent on revenge, he poses a threat to Fay and national security. Fay will have to go to extraordinary lengths to stop him, even tampering with the bounds of time and space.

“Norm Harris is a brilliant author who knows how to write thrillers. This is my first Norm Harris book, and it won’t be my last. If you’re a fan of pulse-pounding thrillers with a twist, pick up Deception Pass.” N N Light Amazon “Vine™ Voice” reviewer.
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Daven Talvi made a choice a quarter-century ago to serve the Bitterroot Elf Clan, allowing the Circle of Elders to send him into suspended animation until the queen could be rescued. In doing so, he gave up his mate and his newborn son, sacrificing his own life for that of the clan. It had been a mistake. With the clan now in chaos and the new young queen in hiding, Daven must acknowledge his own errors and take responsibility to set things right. He teams up with Lane Donatelli, a human who has too long used food and computer gaming to feed his own insecurities. Together, they use Lane’s beloved technology with Daven’s innate magical abilities to wage battle against the evil elf mages threatening the clan. [Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book 3) | Fantasy novel released by Dragonfly Publishing, Inc. | Available in Hardback, Paperback, and eBook]

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Enrique Marin wants a quiet life after the death of his wife. Just one problem stands in the way—he’s possessed by the misanthropic English demon, Tzazin. A violent night under demonic influence accidentally leads Enrique to love, and it’s anything but quiet.

Shy, autistic yoga instructor Elle thought allowing herself to be possessed by the very-not-shy sex demon Key would help her find love. She finds Enrique, but she didn’t count on coping with the anti-demon bigotry of society.

Fate—and AA meetings for the possessed—brings them together, but hostile forces, demonic and human, fight to keep them apart. It might cost them everything to keep their love alive.

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Chloe plans to stay only a short time at her brother Joe’s ranch in 1893 Oklahoma Territory. Despite her efforts to avoid Joe’s matchmaking schemes, she is soon entangled in them. At the same time, she catches the interest of a nosy and possibly dangerous ghost called Fire Horse. All Max McKee wants is to buy a few horses. Before he realizes it, he becomes part of Joe’s scheme to marry off the rich and lovely Chloe, who happens to be the owner of those horses. Max is a man with many secrets. Despite the risks, he finds Chloe irresistible. When a series of strange fires spooks the local ranchers, Chloe and Max must work together to discover who is setting those fires and try not to get themselves killed in the process.

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And check out these spooky, Friday the 13th short stories – ONLY 99 cents each while on pre-order…

Find the series here: Amazon Series Page

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Spotlight On: M. S. Spencer ~ Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine / #CozyMystery #RomanticSuspense #WRPbks #Blog

Please help me welcome today’s guest, M.S. Spencer with her new release: 

 

Release day for Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine!! Let me introduce you to the heroine—Philo Brice, owner of Mind Over Matter, an antique book and map store, and the hero, Barnaby Swift, graduate student and famous cruciverbalist. In the excerpt, he takes her for the best chili in St. Augustine. Or so he thinks.

Blurb:

Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.

Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.

 

Excerpt:

Barnaby stopped to survey the street, took a tentative step, and halted again. He whirled around and trotted back the way they had come. “Ah, here we are. Thought for a minute I’d misplaced it.” He led Philo down an alley she’d never noticed before to a tiny restaurant—little more than a hole in the wall. A chalkboard hung in its grimy window. Scrawled on it were the words Welcome to Flora’s. “Let’s see what the specials are.” He read. “Well, how do you like that? Chili’s on the menu. Again.” He held the door for her.

The interior was painted a garish turquoise. Two wobbly Formica-topped tables took up the open space. Pink vinyl stools lined the counter. A woman supported herself on its scratched and stained surface, folds of fat cushioning her elbows. On the steel shelf behind her stood a large coffee urn and a cake stand piled with dusty-looking churros. How on earth did she wedge herself into that cramped space? She has to weigh four hundred pounds.

Barnaby strode up to the woman. “You must be Flora. Reservations for two at six, under Swift. I know we’re a trifle early, but could you squeeze us in?” Flora stared silently at him. He said heartily, “Well, then. Two bowls of your finest chili please, with all the fixings. You want a beer?” This last to Philo.

“Thanks.”

He walked over to a refrigerated display case and pulled two bottles out. “Dos Equis. Excellent.”

They sat at one of the tables, and Flora brought out two soup bowls filled with a dark red mess, along with a tray of grated cheese, and chopped onions and peppers. She plunked a basket of fresh tortilla chips in between the bowls. “Buen provecho.”

Barnaby pulled a small bottle from his pocket. “I always carry my own hot sauce. A blend of pineapple, serrano chilis, and chipotle, with a hint of chocolate.” He poured a generous amount over his chili.

Philo took a tentative bite of hers. Her eyes opened wide, and she almost spit it out.

Barnaby handed her a napkin, concern coloring his face. “Whatever’s the matter?”

She wiped her mouth and whispered, “This is vile.”

 

 Buy link(s):

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/u/mZZ2Ry

https://books2read.com/Hidden-Gem-The-Secret-of-St-Augustine

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Gem-Secret-St-Augustine-ebook/dp/B09QJHCB4V

Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-gem-m-s-spencer/1140893266   /BIN ID: 2940161144589

ITunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hidden-gem-the-secret-of-st-augustine/id1605417704

 

About M.S.:

Librarian, anthropologist, Congressional aide, speechwriter—M. S. Spencer has traveled the globe. She has published fifteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Social media

Blog: https://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/msspencerauthor

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/msspencer
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/msspencerauthor/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/m-s-spencer

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“10 Moments That Changed My Life” by Cara Bertoia ~ New Release: Casino Queen #WRPbks #Blog

Please help me welcome author Cara Bertoia with the moments that changed her life, and her latest release, Casino Queen.  

10 Moments That Changed My Life

When I saw this blog post suggestion, I found it intriguing. Could I distill my life into ten moments that changed my life? I found it quite the challenge and I love challenges.

  1. The first disappointment in my life came at nine years old. My family moved from my beloved Charleston, South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina only a four-hour drive but a world apart. Charleston was a walkable city filled with antebellum mansions, and beaches galore. And Charlotte a suburban ghost town where you never saw a human walking.
  1. In my senior year in college my boyfriend decided he didn’t want to get married. Not sure what to do next I decided to spend my last semester at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. I loved it there, and when I got home and he proposed I decided I didn’t want to be married. I wanted to travel.
  1. My first year after college I was teaching school and living in Charlotte. Then one day my father dropped dead of a heart attack while playing tennis. My heart broke because he was the parent I felt the closest to. I joined the sad club that day, but it cut the ties that tethered me to Charlotte.
  1. On a summer break from teaching, I traveled to Lake Tahoe to work as a blackjack dealer. I never returned to teaching and spent the next three years dealing at Caesars Tahoe.
  1. Eventually I moved back east to take a job in hi-tech. A friend from Tahoe passed through town on her way to New Zealand to work for Princess Cruises. An adventure down under sounded like more fun that my job, so I applied to the cruise ships and got a job traveling the world.
  1. After I had been at sea for five years, and getting a bit anxious about my future, my Prince Charming appeared. We both worked on the Star Princess. Three months later Ray jumped ship to leave with me. We married a week later. I discovered that although I had sucked at dating I was great at marriage.

  1. We took jobs at an Indian Casino in Palm Springs, California. It turned out to be the best job of our lives. The tribal chairman was the most charismatic man I had ever met. Native American casinos had just opened in the Coachella Valley with thousands of people from all over the world moving to work there. It resembled a modern-day gold rush.
  1. We contracted to build a house in Palm Springs. Three fourths of the way through our contractor abandoned us. We didn’t know anything about permits, or building, but we finished the house without divorcing. We didn’t even get into a fight. That is when we truly became Team Bertoia.
  1. We sold our property and moved to Florida to be nearer my sisters. We traded a house and a garden for an apartment in a high rise. Unfortunately, a few years later my sister died. But at least I had that time to reconnect with my family.
  1. I loved the casino industry but an underbelly of corruption ran underneath the surface just perfect for a thriller, and I decided I was the perfect person to write it. I embarked on my next career as a novelist. Now, I spend my days looking out at the ocean as I write about my casino years.

Manager Caroline Popov’s job is to clean up the Night Hawk. In the process her list of enemies grows. With her life on the line, can she pull out a win.

Excerpt:

“Why did I transfer you up from Palm Springs to be my Casino Queen?” The charismatic Tribal Chairman John Tovar asked.

“Casino Queen, really? Apparently, you are the only person in America who isn’t watching the show about the seven kingdoms on cable. The queens always get killed in the most horrific ways. They are hanged, beheaded, poisoned, burned alive in an explosion, or have their throat slit,” an exasperated Caroline Popov answered.

“I promise that won’t happen to you.” He gestured for her to take a seat at an empty ‘Mystic Mermaid’ slot machine, then sat across from her. They swiveled their

chairs to face each other. John tried to act serious, but a smile kept pulling at the corner of his eyes. “According to the Mazurie decision, Native American tribes are considered sovereign nations. Therefore as leader of the tribe, I am King of the Shotowa.”

He continued. “Believe me, when I met the Queen of England I was introduced as the leader of the Shotowa nation. Let me be clear, as soon as you drove into this parking lot you entered the nation.” He gestured toward the uniformed officers standing at the door. “We have our own army.”

She decided to play along with the flow of his logic. “You mean security guards.”

“Precisely, trained courtesy of the United States Marine Corps. The tribe issues its own currency, gaming chips made of ceramic clay, stamped with our logo. At the cashiers’ cage, our central bank, those chips can be exchanged for U.S. dollars. Anyone can find food in our three restaurants or the team member dining room for employees. An underground well supplies us with water. We provide hotel rooms for shelter. Any guest who comes to stay with us will find their basic human needs covered by the Shotowa Tribe. Never forget we are a sovereign nation. I am the King, and I anoint you Queen of the Night Hawk.”

 

Buy link(s):

Amazon 

 B&N

 Google Books

Bio: 

Cara Bertoia grew up in a strait-laced Southern family, but she was always fascinated with casinos. In her twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, she drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. She discovered that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. Her mother highly disapproved of her working in a casino, “a place so bad it has ‘sin’ in the middle.”

Eventually, she succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a hi-tech job in Boston. She also began working on her MFA in writing at Emerson. Her goal was to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. She is always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe her novel will.

While in Boston she was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, she spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. She was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in St. Petersburg.

Cara returned from ships with a very special souvenir, her Scottish husband Ray. They went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs, and now live in Hollywood, Florida, where she writes about her casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.

I love to connect with my readers. Please send me a picture with Casino Queen. I will post those pictures to my social media.

mailto:carabertoia@yahoo.com

TikTok:  tiktok.com/@carabertoia

Cara Bertoia’s Blog 

 Twitter 

 Cara Bertoia – Author 

Instagram

 Goodreads 

 BookBub 

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Filed under 10 Moments that Changed My Life, Author Blog Post, New Release