My Books!

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

MacKenzie's Last Run

MacKenzie's Last Run

by Gayle Rosengren




GENRE: Middle Grade fiction






Thirteen-year-old MacKenzie (Mac) Lawrence secretly blames himself for his father’s death. In his grief and guilt, he has pulled away from everyone, even his twin sister Tessa.  When their mother announces her plans to remarry barely 18 months after Dad’s death, Mac is furious and runs away in an attempt to force her to break off the engagement.  


Unfortunately, nothing goes as Mac plans. He ends up seriously injured, miles from home, unable to reach out for help, while clues he inadvertently left behind suggest he’s been kidnapped—possibly by Mom’s fiancĂ©—and set his twin sister Tessa on a desperate search to find him.  But she’d better hurry, because the clock is ticking, and Mac is running out of time.







“We’re not keeping anything from you, Mrs. Lawrence,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “I promise. It’s just that Officer Borkowski has been concerned by some of the unusual circumstances surrounding MacKenzie’s disappearance.” 


Mom’s forehead puckered. “Unusual circumstances?” 


The sergeant nodded. “The fact that MacKenzie didn’t take any money with him, for example. That’s very unusual for a runaway. And he didn’t take his bike either. Again, this isn’t the norm. Taken together with the bloodstains on the carpet, well, there’s another possible explanation that we can’t entirely rule out.” 


The back of Tessa’s neck prickled. What was Sergeant Hernandez getting at? She looked at her mother, who was frowning at the police woman, twisting her hands together. “I still don’t understand. What are you trying to say?” 


Beside her, Simon’s eyebrows snapped together. “Surely you’re not suggesting what I think you are.” He pulled Mom closer. 


Tessa’s throat tightened. 


“What is it?” Mom’s eyes were huge green pools of panic. 


“We need to investigate the possibility that your son may not have run away,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “Someone may have taken him.” 


Mom shook her head like Tessa did to get water out of her ears after a dive. Her mouth sagged open and she slumped against Simon. “No.” 


Tessa’s heart cannonballed into her stomach. They thought someone took Mac. They thought someone broke into his room and took him! But that was crazy. Why would anyone want to kidnap Mac?




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


As a girl, books were among Gayle’s best friends and inspired her dream of writing for children someday. It was a dream that only grew stronger over the years. Gayle majored in Creative Writing in college. Her first book, What the Moon Said (Putnam 2014) was a Jr. Library Guild selection and CCBC title, and her second, Cold War on Maplewood Street (Putnam 2015) won the Tofte-Wright Award for Children’s Literature. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a pre-school teacher, a youth services assistant in her local public library; and a research assistant in the American Girl library. Gayle is a lover of stories whether she’s writing them or reading them.


Visit her website to learn more about Gayle and her books.







Gayle Rosengren will be awarding a $100 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Beyond the Book: An Interview

Recently, I found a folder of old interviews on my computer. I posted one already, but I thought I’d go ahead and do another one. I hope you enjoy it.

  1. If you were a book, what would your blurb be?  After doing exactly what she should her entire life, Elaine resolved to please herself a little more and not worry about others and what they thought.  In the face of life’s struggles, can she keep her promise to herself?
  • Using three words, describe your voice.  Original, engaging, appealing. (Not to blow my own horn, LOL) 
  • What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?  I’m a tremendous introvert, and these days you have to be an extrovert to promote your work.  It’s very difficult for me, but I try.  I recently accepted a speaking engagement from a woman’s club in the area.  I dread it like you wouldn’t believe.
  •  In your opinion, how soon should a novice writer enter the social scene? Are there any advantages to getting into the swing of things early? What about disadvantages?  I don’t think it’s ever too early to make your presence known.  It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not.  You’ll be making friends and contacts who’ll hopefully be willing to promote you later.  As far as promotion of a book goes, I’ve tried it both ways.  I promoted for months several years ago before a book came out, and I did sell a lot on the first day it was available. But overall I sold less than I have on my latest book which I didn’t even mention until it came out.  I believe the biggest disadvantage to early promotion is that people might get tired of hearing about it.  With epublishing and POD publishers you have time that you don’t have with a traditionally published book.
  • Describe for us your writing schedule? Any tips for the novices visiting today?  This is my ideal day.  I get up around eight and have breakfast.  Then I check my email, post on my Facebook page, and then I get down to writing.  I like to write until lunch time after which I take a break to do my errands, etc.  Then, after dinner I work for another hour or so.  For the novice writer I’d recommend setting up a schedule that works and then stick to it.  I think the worst thing a writer can do is not write at least a little bit on a daily basis.

And that’s it. Authors, what’s your best advice to a novice author?

Monday, August 29, 2022

Bedtime Stories for the Living


Bedtime Stories for the Living

byJay Armstrong




GENRE:   Non-fiction/Memoir






Diagnosed with a progressive brain disease, a young father is determined to teach his children the importance of pursuing their dreams.  

A cell phone’s ring interrupts the silence as Jay Armstrong sits in his high school classroom preparing for the year ahead. Something about the ring makes his stomach drop. It’s his doctor.

The words, “diffuse cerebellar atrophy, a rare, degenerative brain disease” float through the speaker. All of Jay’s youthful dreams of being a writer rush back, flooding the twenty years he has spent teaching students how to appreciate novels, memoirs, and poetry. The care he put into teaching them how to write with clarity, insight, and humor, and how to dance at the prom. The bedtime stories he never told his children spin in his imagination. It will all die when he dies.

Jay chooses to experience his condition as an inspiration here to teach him to appreciate the time he still has. He writes letters and stories to his three children about his failing voice, his impaired motor skills, and falling down on Christmas morning. Writing helps him cope with the illness and its symptoms. And so, he accepts the mission of writing more stories for them: the difference his father’s wink made at a critical moment of a baseball game, why they should take walks even in cruddy weather, and how he avoided having to explain what semen is for.

As his condition worsens, Jay’s faith in the power of storytelling deepens. His daily life is wildly different than he foresaw, and possibly shorter, but he can leave his children a legacy more valuable than any financial inheritance. He writes "Bedtime Stories for the Living", an episodic memoir to show his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery and grace.









There is something you should know. In the history of my ordinary suburban life, I’ve never told any of my three children a bedtime story. Not telling your child a bedtime story seems like a major dad offense. Like forgetting them at Target or wearing a clown costume to “Back-to-School Night” or letting them swim twenty-six minutes after lunch.

Do I love my children?

On most days I do.

On most days, like you, they’re decent people. So why didn’t I tell them bedtime stories?

Selfishly, I don’t like the pressure. The nightlight. The slow swirl of the ceiling fan blades. Their big eyes staring up at me, expecting me to entertain them, to stir their imagination. Who do they think I am? Bruce Springsteen? No. I’m a dad who gets his sushi from a supermarket. I wear sneakers with khaki pants. I once taught high school English in New Jersey. I mean, to be creative and tell a story on demand is down-right stressful. Who needs that kind of stress after 9 pm?


My parents were better parents. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would tuck me into bed and tell me stories about my grandfathers and grandmothers, about how Mom and Dad met, or about playing stickball in narrow Philadelphia streets. Bedtime stories were history. They brought my little universe into focus, shaped my identity, and instilled a love of storytelling.


As good suburban boys do, I fell in love, got married, and had three kids. Just when things were going as planned, in 2013, I was diagnosed with a progressive brain disease called diffuse cerebellar atrophy. The disease degenerates my motor skills, balance, coordination, eyesight, and speech. A fall can lead to a head injury and weakening esophageal muscles to choking and asphyxiation, and so on—a veritable smorgasbord of potentially fatal complications. Two years later, sarcoidosis, a complicated autoimmune disorder that attacks every major body organ, was added to my list of health issues.


It was only when the prospect of death became real that I began writing. 


In 2015, I created Write On Fight On (, and for the next five years I wrote and posted bedtime stories I never told my kids. By writing these stories, I began to reexamine who I once was, who I am now, and the man and father I hoped to one day grow up to be. Writing made me realize, in the face of our inevitable death, our time to tell our story is painfully brief. And that we should make like Springsteen and do what we can to achieve our dreams.


As I wrote this book, time passed. The kids grew up. My diseases progressed. People I love died. And one spring morning, standing in the driveway with my hands in my pockets, time’s yellow chariot turned the corner. The air brakes exhaled, “Bye Dad” was said, and as the bus, my children, and a swirl of exhaust smoke disappeared down the street, I realized the irony of my effort. I was trying to preserve time while it was passing like a school bus in the morning. We can’t stop time. We can only slow time by doing what we love. Doing the things that make us feel alive. And I have never been more alive than when telling a story.


This is a book of bedtime stories for the living. Stories that, if I did my job well, slow time, and make you and me glad to be alive. These stories are real. Or as real as memory allows them to be. As I discovered, life is both a funny and a heartbreaking experience. These stories are the moments I want to share with you because I believe, deep in my dad heart, we all have stories worth sharing.


I came across an article about how, in the mid 1990’s, Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush of Emory University developed and conducted a twenty question survey of children entitled, “Do You Know” which asked them about their families. The results showed that the more stories, both positive and negative, the children knew about their family’s history, the more resilient the children tended to be. As the study concluded, knowing family stories was “the single best predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.” For better or worse, our family stories help us navigate our own troubles. Stories gift us courage when we’re afraid, offer direction when we’re lost, or comfort when we’re lonely.


Dear reader, please know that I’m humbled you are reading this book. Thank you. I hope my stories help you, give you permission to dream, and maybe give you the strength to tell your own stories. I hope you paid full price for this book because college for three ain’t free.


But if this book doesn’t offer my children financial prosperity, more than anything, this book is a gift for them. It’s a family history, an instruction manual, an honest reflection about a fleeting moment, a smile, a glance, and the goodnight kiss I often failed to give them.


Maybe one day, when they’re lost or confused or angry or sad or daydreaming about the prom queen, they will open this book and read a story or one of the letters I’ve written to them. Maybe my words will let them hear my voice again. Feel my lips pressed against their ears. And maybe they’ll know they’re not alone. That Dad is here. With them. Helping them through life forever.


Be well,


A Word With the Author

What is the best part of being an author? 


For me, the best part of being  an author is knowing that my stories serve as good companions for others. To know that my stories encouraged others to think about and reflect on their own lives is deeply satisfying for me. No matter the genre, I think writers write in order to simply fuse a connection to another person.   



The worst? 


Self-doubt. I’ve been writing almost daily for seven years. I have published a piece on my website ( for 364 consecutive weeks. And yet every morning, just before I open my laptop, a hot flame of self-doubt streaks up my chest and for a few unnerving seconds I convince myself I will never write again.  






AUTHOR Bio and Links:


In 2013, Jay Armstrong was diagnosed with diffuse cerebellar atrophy. A condition that causes dysfunctional motor skills, speech and vision impairments, and balance deficiencies. At the time of diagnosis, he was establishing himself as an endeared high school English teacher, a varsity soccer coach, and an above average dancer. However, the progressive disorder forced Jay to reevaluate his life. 


Supported by his high school sweetheart turned wife (Cindy) and their three children (Haley, Chase, Dylan), Jay retired from teaching in 2021 to pursue his dream of becoming an author. 


Jay believes in the power of storytelling. He also believes in dad jokes, laughter, and  the unrelenting pursuit of dreams. Jay’s debut book, Bedtime Stories for the Living, is an episodic memoir in which Jay shows his children how to accept their limitations and find joy. The collection of tender, witty stories about fatherhood, persevering despite illness, and pursuing your dreams, demonstrates how love gives us the strength to face heartache with bravery, humor, and grace. 


Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jay is passionate about Philly sports, soft pretzels, and Rocky Balboa. 


Bedtime Stories for the Living is available at the following:


The book will be $0.99.









Barnes and Noble















Jay Armstrong will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


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Saturday, August 27, 2022

Saturday Sample and Weekend Writing Warriors

 Welcome to my blog. Today I'd like to share an excerpt from my all time favorite book Blue 52. On Sunday when you finish here you can go to for more excerpts from a talented group of authors. 


First Lady Kills President Lovinggood" 

December 5, 2018 

Thirty years later, Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother's innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Dr. Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, and merciless enemy who'll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.

Last Week's Excerpt: 

The backhoe roared to life and started to dig. Hank stoically thrust his hands into his pockets and stood ramrod straight. He felt like sitting down and crying, but he’d be damned if he would. Nobody ever told any stories about his father whimpering and crying, and he wouldn’t do it either. His father wouldn’t know one way or the other, but he’d know. If he didn’t behave with decorum and restraint, it would haunt him until the day he died.

It seemed to take forever for the first coffin to see the light of day. Hank watched as cemetery workers placed the coffin on a dolly that carried it to the back of a hearse. He had no doubt in his mind that he had just seen his father’s coffin. For some reason he had thought it would be bronze colored, but it wasn’t. It was gray.

Unconsciously, he had moved a few feet toward the hearse. His stomach quivered when he saw the presidential seal emblazoned across the top of the coffin. It was his father, all right.

Today's Excerpt: Hank and the Senator arrive at the Sinclair Mortuary to view the remains of Hank's mother and father. 

It didn’t take as long for his mother’s coffin to be removed. The two coffins looked identical, which surprised him. I thought they would be different.

Seeing this coffin brought goose bumps to Hank’s arms. If the history books had it right, he would soon come face to face with the woman whose vicious act had caused them to be in this awful place on this nice, sunshiny morning.

If she hadn’t murdered his father, they’d be like any other normal family, planning a menu for Thanksgiving, putting up their Christmas tree, and doing their holiday shopping. They might even be happy.

Bert Wheeler approached them, wiping his forehead with the back of his arm. “That’s it, gentlemen. Are you planning to follow the hearse to the mortuary?”

Hank nodded. “Yes, we are.”

“We thought you would. Fall in behind the hearse when we go past your car.”

They made their way back to the Jaguar, which no longer seemed quite so wonderful to Hank, and waited. Several Humvees filled with gun-carrying soldiers went past before the hearse drove by. Uniformed men on motorcycles escorted the hearse, which to Hank’s surprise flew American flags.

His eyes filled with tears of pride, anger, and wonder. As God is my witness, I’ll never understand how she could have done it!

Friday, August 26, 2022

The Madness of Mercury


This post ispart of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Connie di Marco will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Zodiac Mysteries feature San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. In The Madness of Mercury, Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of a recently-arrived cult preacher who advocates love and compassion to those less fortunate. But the power-hungry preacher is waging war on sin and his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence those who would stand in his way. Julia is at the top of his list.


Read an Excerpt

Zora was walking in circles around the table, murmuring to herself. Nikolai had donned purple robes and placed several large candles around the room. He cut a very impressive figure. He caught my eye and winked. Gudrun and Eunice were closeted upstairs in Eunice’s room, while everyone else waited in the parlor. I was fairly certain Nikolai would put on a good show. Depending on what happened, I just hoped it wouldn’t be too upsetting or disappointing for Evandra.

Zora turned to me, “There are strong energies close by. I feel sure we’ll have some communication tonight. Julia, will you ask everyone to come in, please.” I nodded and left the room. I found Reggie chatting happily to Alba in the front parlor. She nodded occasionally, but seemed distracted. She looked frightened and I was sure she was only here under duress.

Richard led Evandra slowly down the stairs and into the library and helped her sit. Her face was flushed with excitement. Richard sat next to Evandra and Dorothy took the seat on the other side of her aunt across from Reggie. Alba hesitated in the doorway but finally took a seat at the round table next to Reggie. I sat on Reggie’s other side. When we were all seated, Nikolai and Zora sat down across the table from each other. Outside the rain pelted furiously against the library windows. I caught a flash of lightning and the lights in the chandelier flickered for a moment. It happened so quickly I wasn’t sure I hadn’t imagined it.

Nikolai had turned off the lights in the front parlor and dining room. A small lamp was still lit in the front hallway. No light could reach us in the library. Candlelight cast eerie shadows against the bookshelves and ceiling. No one spoke a word. We waited for Nikolai’s instructions. He stood and raised his arms. In a booming voice, he spoke. “As I pass through the vays, I feel the presence of the gods. They are vith me and I vith them forever.” He glanced around the table at each of us, and finally with a nod from Zora, said, “May vee in this circle be protected from any and all harm.”

Nikolai sat down. “Please. Take hand of the person next to you.” He reached over and took Richard’s hand on one side, and Alba’s on the other. He nodded once to Zora. “Be patient everyone, and vhatever you do, this is most important, do not break circle.”

Zora closed her eyes, breathing slowly and deeply for several minutes. We watched her intently. No one spoke a word or appeared to breathe. Nikolai studied Zora’s face. After several interminable minutes, Zora’s head dropped to her chest, her breathing was faster.

Nikolai spoke. “Is someone here? Do you haf message for us?”

We waited. Zora continued to breathe rapidly. Nikolai asked again. “Is anyone vith us tonight?”

Zora raised her head slowly, her expression had shifted. She rose higher in her chair, her head slowly turning from side to side with a coquettish air. Her neck appeared to lengthen. “I’m here. I’ve been trying . . .” I stared, not sure if what I was seeing was a trick of the light.

Dorothy gasped. Nikolai shot her a warning look.

“ . . . to reach you.”

“It’s Lily!” Evandra cried.

I glanced at Reggie and Alba. Reggie’s mouth hung open in disbelief. Alba looked frightened, as if she were about to flee the room.

Nikolai spoke, “You haf message for us?”

“Yes.” The voice was not Zora’s normally rough tone. It was several octaves higher. The skin on my arms prickled. What was happening? I struggled to stay in this reality. Could Zora really be channeling Lily’s spirit?

“Danger.” Zora’s head dropped to her chest.

“What nonsense,” Dorothy muttered her breath. Richard shushed her.

Nikolai spoke, “Danger for whom, spirit?”

Zora raised her head, her eyes were blazing, “For all.”

“Lily!” Evandra cried.

Nikolai asked again, “Vhat danger?”

Still in that girlish voice, Zora spoke, “Danger . . . death is planned.”

A tremendous thunderclap struck, shaking the entire house. A bolt of lightning lit up the sky beyond the library windows and threw the stone statuary in the garden into high relief. A cold draft swept through the room. The candles flickered in the sudden rush of air and were extinguished. Evandra cried out and collapsed in her chair.

About the Author:
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring Julia Bonatti, a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice: The Madness of Mercury is the first in the series. Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Penguin Random House. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Crime Writers Association and Sisters in Crime.


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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Juche Boxed Set 1-4

Juche 1-4 Box set

by Adria Carmichael 




GENRE: YA Dystopian







Just when Areum - daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson (North Korea) - thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family is taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears, and starvation.


There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then: her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in the face of mounting evidence that he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General - the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.


Note from the author:

Have you ever wondered what the world looks like when seen through an indoctrinated mind?


This is a topic that has intrigued me for as long as I can remember, so when I came up with the idea to write a book many years ago, I decided to create it from the viewpoint of a victim of indoctrination… which in the end became Areum (the protagonist of the story).


What I try to explore in this story is how deep the indoctrination of a 14-year old girl can run and how much “reality” it can be exposed to before breaking… if it will break at all. As a comparison, the defectors from North Korea who arrive in South Korea are isolated for three months in a de-programming facility called Hanawon before they are allowed to join society where they go through this process in a more controlled (and less brutal) way than Areum.


I hope you will enjoy this slightly different take on the dystopian genre!






Cranes sang songs of joy from the mountain tops. 


Double rainbows appeared in the sky. 


The aggressors from the west were defeated. The invaders from the east were expunged. The traitors from the south were put at bay. 


The people of Choson were finally free to create their own destiny, and so a hermit kingdom of people’s rule rose from the ashes, and the doors to the enemies of the outside world were closed, never to be opened again. 


The world around them moved on. Years passed. Decades passed. Peace and prosperity spread throughout the world, and nothing was heard from the secluded hermit paradise. 


Then one day, people started emerging from its closed borders. The stories they brought with    them were, however, not of a paradise on earth. Instead, what they depicted were horrors so vile and cruel that they almost exceeded human comprehension. 


Little had the people of the kingdom known when they closed its doors to the outside world, that the vilest beast of all was still lurking among their midst, and as soon as the curtains had been drawn, the beast unleashed its reign of terror upon the people, not stopping until it had crushed and enslaved every soul within its reach. 


The beast now rules the kingdom from a throne of human misery and agony. 


No one alive has ever encountered this beast, but everybody knows its name.








AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Adria Carmichael is a writer of dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format - books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games - she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind. 








Amazon Buy links:


Juche 1 – The Demon of Yodok: 

Juche 2 – The Weeping Masses:

Juche 3 – The Storm of Storms:

Juche 4 – Freedom or Death:

Juche 1-4 Box Set:






One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.




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