The Good Doctor by Andi Jaxon & A.J. Alexander – Book Spotlight

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**** TRIGGER WARNING: contains mention of physical and emotional abuse. Although no abuse is written out it is described, at times in detail. ****

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the good dr andi jaxon ecover (1)

Published: Feb 28, 2018
Pages: 152

Format: ebook

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Synopsis:
I live in the hospital, working 18 hour days.
My entire life consists of running from patient to patient until I meet her.
The girl that is afraid of her own shadow.
She starts out as a patient, but thoughts of her consume me.
One phone call leads to me meeting her amazing little girl which changes everything.

With the help of my new partner in crime, I set out to try and save her from a life of fear.
Can she learn to trust me with her life and both their hearts?


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Excerpt

“Hey, Sophie, Do you like ice cream?” I ask.

I look over at Isabel and give her a wink because I have an idea. I kneel in front of Sophie, so we are eye level.

“I like ice cream, why?” she answers.

I can’t help but chuckle. There is not getting anything past this one, Isabel is in trouble when she gets older.

“Well, I need to go to the store before we head to my house. I was hoping you would help me pick an ice cream flavor?”

“Ice Cream? For after dinner?”

“Yes, but you have to be good and listen to Mommy while we are in the store,” I respond. I feel like I am negotiating with a terrorist at this point, but as long as she feels comfortable, I see it as a win.

I look over at Isabel and see her trying to stifle a laugh. When I turn back to Sophie, she seems deep in thought.

“How about ice cream and a movie?”

“Well, Ms. Sophie you have a deal.” I reach my hand out, and we shake to close the deal.

All three of us are smiles as we load into my truck and head to Target, for some supplies for Isabel and Sophie. Going shopping with a four-year-old is an experience. Everything is interesting, Sophie seems to say whatever pops into her head, it’s both entertaining and exhausting.

“Ooohhhh, Mommy! I wanna feel all the pillows!” Sophie says as we pass the decorative pillows on our way to grab some clothes for her.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Can I see the toys? Please?!?” she says as we pass the toy aisle after grabbing toiletries for both ladies and clothes for Isabel.

Through the entire trip, Isabel keeps her cool and calmly tells Sophie ‘no’ even when she pouts. The pouty lip pulls my heartstrings, so I take pity on her, she’s had a long day.

“Hey, Sophie, why don’t you help me pick an ice cream flavor? What’s your favorite?” I ask her.

Her entire face lights up like it’s Christmas morning. She starts to answer but looks at Isabel first, when she nods that it’s okay, Sophie lets out a little squeal of excitement.

“I can really pick the ice cream?” she looks at me like I’ll take it back, but I would never do that.

“Yup, you get to pick,” I tell her.

“CHOCOLATE!” she shouts.

Her answer makes me laugh, even though Isabel is telling her to calm down and not be so loud in the store.

“Alright, Sophie. Let’s go pick some ice cream.” Turning to Isabel, I ask, “Mind if I push her?”

Surprised at the offer, Isabel says, “Oh…Um…okay.”

Stepping up to the cart, I start to jog then jump onto the bottom bar of the shopping cart. It’s been a long time since I took a joy ride on a cart, but Sophie’s squeal of laughter makes up for the dirty looks. I can’t control my own laughter as I get the cart under control and wait for Isabel to catch up to us.

“That was fun!” Sophie exclaims, “Can we do it again?”

Before I get a chance, Isabel responds for me, “No, Sophie. That’s enough excitement for tonight.”

She tries to look stern, but she’s hiding a smile as well. We make our way to the ice cream cooler, and I tell Sophie to pick whatever one she wants.

“I want the chocolate one,” she tells me.

“Just plain old chocolate? No marshmallows or peanut butter or caramel?” I ask. I can’t believe she just wants plain chocolate.

“Nope. Just chocolate,” she tells me, putting her hands on her hips. “What’s wrong with just chocolate?”

Putting my hands in the air in surrender, I respond by saying,

“Just checking, sweet pea.”

We gather our items we need and head to the registers, Sophie insists on loading the conveyor belt herself. This girl is amazing. She is smart, spunky, and definitely has a mind of her own. I think I’m falling in love with her already.


Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Otherwise – Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

A look into Deanna Fletcher and her two books

Good Morning Readers!! Today’s author interview is with Deanna Fletcher. She has some really great advice for beginning writers and those trying to get published. And her two books look fascinating. Not to mention how intriguing the covers are.
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Author Interview:
When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
I always loved writing – right from back in grade school. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Back then imagined myself a dancer. Just the same I loved as much the library, pens, paper, writing essays, speeches, poetry and eventually short stories.

Time moved on and the dream of dancing faded, but writing and my obsession for pens, and paper stayed. When my kids grew and I had time on my hands the idea of writing a novel – a story I had in my head as a young girl became a need to put on paper  – A Creation of Tomorrow was written. It was skeletal at first. I had never written a book before and was afraid of being too wordy.

I gave the draft to my mother who loved the story, but told me the characters were stick figures. With that I knew what I had to do and set to filling it all in. Finally I wrote The Dying Butterfly for my husband as I knew A Creation of Tomorrow wasn’t for him. Now I am working on book 2 for each of them.

So when did I discover I wanted to be a writer? I always wanted to be. I just didn’t know it until I wrote my first book.

Tell us about your writing and why you wrote the books the way you did?
I wrote A Creation of Tomorrow because I grew up with those characters in my head. As a child I imagined those very characters in the trees around my country home and places I went hiding in the shadows. Not to hurt me but to protect me. I felt safe with them around. They were my friends and my support when I was lonely or when life was hard. I needed them badly enough that I wished them to be a reality for me. Of course I inevitably matured and I had to let go of my imaginary friends.

Many years later when I decided to try writing a book but no idea what to write I thought of them. I thought of my childhood fantasy. Having read so many bad boy reads I thought that them protecting a young girl would make a great story! They fit all the fantasies that authors write and make best sellers out of. They are bad, they are hot and what woman doesn’t love hot men protecting them, at least in fantasy? I mean no one truly wants to be watched everywhere they go, but no woman truly wants to be trafficked and yet we read those like crazy if the man that kidnaps her is delicious. We inevitably fall for him and crave his touch as he falls for the girl he stole as he slowly grows from fearfully dominant to tender. Hell we close that book when it ends searching immediately for our next hot read.

Now, Cami is a child so there is nothing inappropriate in it when it comes to her. It isn’t a great romance, but it wasn’t meant to be. This is a story of love, loyalty, friendship with a touch of fantasy that women crave.

The Dying Butterfly was written for my husband because I wanted him to read something I wrote. I wanted his thoughts on my skills as a writer. A  Creation of Tomorrow wasn’t going to get that done.

I knew writing an apocalyptic novel would peek his interest, and it did! He loved the book! He didn’t love the romance, but he is the least romantic guy ever so I wasn’t surprised, but the uniqueness to the typical zombie style really intrigued him.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your books?
With A Creation of Tomorrow there is no message or lasting thoughts. My only hope is that readers enjoy the story for what it is. I hope my readers fall in love with Cami. That Jonathan and Swan, that Rick, Zipper or any of the bad beauties within the pages fit their fantasies the way they do mine.

With The Dying Butterfly though it is only fiction we as humans often take so much for granted. The idea of a zombie apocalypse won’t come true, but there are many other ways that can take us out at the knees.

We think we are at the top of the food chain, that we are invincible. We forget how fragile we are. We have forgotten or grown numb to the past events that very well could have ended us or at the very least life as we knew it.

My message, my lasting thoughts I want people to take away is just the simple reminder of all that we take for granted and to remember just how truly fragile we are. We as people are always talking about making the world a better place. Why not just appreciate it for what it is while we have it? Why not live each day respecting the gifts the earth offers us. After all like it or not we are guests. It has the power to kick us off of it when it has had enough of us.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
I have read many, many books. Some hot romances, some sweet love stories, others that are apocalyptic, or someone’s life story. Not one stands out over all the others. They have all made the person I am. They have all had lasting impressions. Silly but let me explain.

Every book written is an author’s fantasy, that author’s need or want, or that author’s life experience or the life experience of someone else written on white paper and shared with the world.

From each of the books I have read I have taken away a piece. I have learned through their writing what I want out of life. The kind of love I want, the kind of job I want. Their stories showed me what truly frightens me, elates me. They helped me to realize that I am not alone in my fantasies good or bad, dirty or clean. They have shown me different versions of life, introduced me to different realms, and allowed me to live in past centuries, or given me a glimpse at a possible future. They have helped me to open my mind and heart, taught me in some way to love better, to see things in people that I may have otherwise never noticed, they have opened me up to explore my thoughts, my dreams, and in some cases even gave me a dream to strive for.  With all that how can I say one book stands out or has had the greatest impact when they all offered something unique and in some way taught me something about myself?

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
It is a hard world to break into. Traditional I am told from other writers – successful writers that it is near impossible. Do your research! Online has a load of information.

What I learned is that the new publishing way in self-publishing. Try your writing out on sites like Wattpad, see what readers think of your writing. It will also help you to build confidence if you are scared to put yourself out there. Just know that a number of readers are young readers. That said it is still a good way to get feedback, to learn how to interact with your readers and a glimpse at the work ahead of you to keep yourself in the limelight. From there make sure you have social media and a webpage.

I am not the best to give advice as I am still trying to get momentum, but I can confirm that even to be an unknown is a ton of work. If writing is your passion and you are skilled in technology, it is a lot of fun just the same. Oh, and make sure you hold your fist book in your hands! An ebook just isn’t the same. To open that box when it is delivered to your door, to see the cover and flip through the white pages seeing your words on it, man… there is nothing that says “YOU did it!” like holding your book.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this winter?
I would recommend Madeline Sheehan’s Undeniable series if you like hot bikers. The men are delicious! Also I love the way she wrote this series. In the first book of course there are the main characters, but in the next book she makes two supporting characters the focus, yet last mains remain in the story. She continues this throughout the series, so you really get to know the entire cast allowing you to build bonds with everyone. It is awesome!

If you want something spicier I would recommend CJ Roberts Captive in the Dark series. Wow! It was hot! Your typical girl gets kidnapped for purpose of being trafficked. The evil dominant tried to break her down and rule her, but an odd twisted, hot romance evolves.

If you want something tame, more wholesome read The Color of Heaven or the Color of Memory by Julianne MacLean.

My last recommendation would be Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. It is long but worth every word on each page. Great story! I personally couldn’t go further than the first in the series, but it was one fantastic read, filled with beautiful romance, amazing description of past centuries allowing you to feel like you are there with Jamie and Clair. Loved, loved it!

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mock03 (1)

Published: April 18, 2017
Pages:340

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Where to Buy:
Amazon

Synopsis:
Alice’s daughter now missing, Cami was without a mother, and the one person that protected her from her father’s anger. Now Cami continuously wore new bruises.

Having no doubt Cami’s father Tom was responsible for the bruises Alice turned to the police again and again, but just like when Patsy went missing, they repeatedly turned their backs on her.

Alice was desperate to find help. With nowhere left to turn, she turned to the most dangerous men she’d ever laid eyes on.

Rumour had it that they were drug traffickers. The leader was thought to be the devil himself, and his men his demon disciples; but what choice did Alice have? She needed someone that could protect Cami.

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They didn’t wear patches on their leather, and they weren’t called by any name, but they were brothers.

For Rick running a drug ring was challenge enough. Having each other’s back was all that mattered – until Alice approached him. Taken with Alice, and drawn in the moment he looked at Cami’s picture Rick ordered Jonathan and Swan to tail the little girl, and find out what they could about her situation.

What they found was that she abused and needed their help. What they discovered was an innocence they forgot existed in the world, and a strength no child should ever have.

Her sweetness drew them in. Her strength tore at their hearts. They would do anything to keep her was safe.

This is a creation of tomorrow…

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Excerpt:

She wasn’t ashamed to admit that she was terrified of approaching him. It was a small town – in small towns people talked and rumors flew. This small town with few strangers was no different. It was a town where ladies stood at storefronts – their conversations always starting with…Did you hear? Nobody was allowed secrets, and the man ahead of her was no exception. He was just as much a victim to the rumors as everyone else – maybe more so.

The talk about him and his men were they were drug traffickers. They would beat you to the point of knocking on death’s door if you crossed them. They’ve been rumored to kill those that got in their way. Some say that the man in front of her was the Devil himself, and his men his demon disciples – so she was afraid of them, but for the sake of her granddaughter she had to do something. She knew it was a long shot that he would be willing to help, or even listen to her at all, but she had to try

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mock03 (5) (1)

Published: March 14, 2018
Pages: 291

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Where to Buy:
Amazon

Synopsis:
Holly and Tony were a young couple in love. They thought they had all the time in the world but they were wrong…

As the illness spread and the population was dying chaos sprang forcing Holly and her group of family and friends to hit the road. A plan set and necessities stocked they left their homes.

One night as the deranged charged their camp they were forced to scatter, separating Holly from everyone she knew and loved. In her search for her group she stumbled upon a small community.

By the light of a flickering candle, from a typewriter she found in her travels Holly tells us about the illness, her new life, and her search for the ones she lost. She shares her new philosophies on life, all that we take for granted each and every day, and human vulnerability as she reminisces the past, and her dreams of one day being reunited with the love of her life and her family.

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Excerpt:
In the very beginning the news about the growth of the disease was buried in with the weather and sports. Eventually it became a bigger portion of the news beating out who made what play off or the hurricane building along some coast. It flowed night after night. It crept into the afternoon news, and it was even the cause for some emergency broadcasts. Of course they hid from us what they didn’t want us to know. You know the part that said we were doomed. Instead they gave us news that offered fictitious hope, promising they were closer to a vaccine. They even tried to tell us that the number of infected had been on the decline. That might have flown if we didn’t see their eyes on the big screen. Eyes can’t lie.

As people figured out they were only telling us what we wanted to hear, the looting began. I expected, as many of us did, to find military making their way into our streets declaring martial law, but it never came.

My dad and Brad took it very seriously from the start. They began loading our garages with gasoline and food. I am sure dad was the one personally responsible for the battery shortage. We had more flashlights and wind up radios than anyone would ever need, or be able to carry if it came down to lights out. I knew when they started buying guns and ammo off the street that it was getting beyond serious.

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Author Bio:
I am a Canadian full time employee – mother of two – grandmother of two – married to a wonderful supportive man who writes in her spare time. I am trying to live at least part of my life doing what excites me the most.

     I have had an infatuation with pens, paper and note pads since I was a small child. This love affair is still as strong today as it was when I first learned to write cursive. I can’t walk into a stationary store or down an isle of pens and paper and not get sucked in. It is so bad that my husband if we are on a mission for something will playfully cover my eyes while taking hold of my hand hurrying me by them.

     Like most teenage girls do I wrote poetry. You know – the sad my life is horrible stuff. I had a few about a teenage crush, but most were quite depressing.  I eventually grew bored with poetry, but I still needed to write! Stories were swimming and I needed to get them out! Being a teen I had little time between school, chores and a social life so short stories were what I wrote. 

     As a young girl I thoroughly enjoyed the library and card catalogues. I could get lost inside of a library for days and I would have been in heaven – though I never admitted that to my friends, because that would have been weird. I loved books. I still love books. I love everything about them! I love the smell of them, the cream thin or thick pages. I love the covers – soft or hard. I love the way a story can make you get lost inside of it – the author gives you the canvas but your mind does the painting.  All of it fuelled my dream of holding a copy of a book I would write some day. 

     As my kids grew older the need got stronger. It was so strong I had to make it a reality. Even if I didn’t sell one I needed to write one and figure out how to get into a physical book. I started writing my first novel in private. I wasn’t ready to share my passion with anyone. I was just too shy – too self-conscious. Eventually though I had no choice but to share my writing with close trusted people in order to get feedback – my mother being the first – I could trust her to be honest, yet kind.

     Armed with my mother’s input and eventually the others I was brave enough to share my work with I filled in the gaps making my first novel a much fuller story- and here I am – still shy and self-conscious with two published books! I’m not sure if I am a great writer or if my stories are interesting, but they are mine. I love the characters like they have lived a part of my life. I love the stories like they have been a part of my reality. 

     Anyway…that’s the first mile of my journey. One that I hope will be a thousand miles long…

Author Blog     Facebook Page     GoodReads Author Page     Amazon Author Page

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Comment below with your thoughts, would love to hear from you! Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

Author Spotlight – Sang Kromah with her new book, Djinn

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Authors like this make blogging so much fun! I am extremely excited to talk to you about Kromah’s upcoming book, Djinn.

“Hauntingly captivating. Perfect for fans of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and all things myth and fantasy. I can’t wait to read the next one!” – GoodReads Reviewer

This Young Adult book is full of mystery and sure to catch your attention! I had the opportunity to talk with Sang Kromah about her upcoming book, Djinn, and ask her a few questions about being a writer. 

When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Honestly, I’ve always been a storyteller. Well before I could read or write, I was taking apart the traditional Liberian folklore my parents would tell me and reassembling them as stories of my own. When I became literate, I always had a notebook and a novel with me, reading and writing simultaneously. I remember telling my parents in the first grade that I was going to be a writer, so every time we’d travel (which was a lot), they’d make my younger brother and me write a story about that trip. After that, I would write down the things I’d see daily, and adding magical aspects to make reality seem a little more fantastical. In the seventh grade, I had the best Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Norvell, who would allow me to read my stories to the class every Friday. After that year, I knew more than anything, I wanted to be a writer more than anything else in the world.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
While most people were told fairytales of princesses losing slippers and beauties being awakened with kisses as children, I drifted off to sleep with stories of dwarfish baby snatchers, unearthly beauties, and looming shapeshifters, who granted twisted wishes. These were the tales my parents told me nightly from their native land of Liberia. Both of them had a knack for weaving dark and alluring characters of mystical beings, but there was one story that stood out to me about a strong-willed, mischievous girl named Femeni who escaped—what should have been sudden death at the hands of a notorious Djinn. After hearing the story, I always wondered what happened to Femeni, and did she have any other encounters with the Djinn? As I grew older, the questions became more complex; what was so special about Femeni that helped her escape the Djinn? What if Femeni had a child, would there be something special about that child as well? These questions and my obsession with ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ gave birth to my novel, Djinn.

This book has a very long history. As I would finish a chapter, I’d email it to my mom, and she would tear it apart, only to have me re-write it. I was angry with her at the time, but I’m grateful that she did, because my novel became something that I am so proud of.

After reading your book, it seems like this is the first in what looks to be a series.
There will definitely be more. I know exactly where I’m going with the story and I just completed my outline last night.

Can you tell me more about this series?
I feel like there’s no way to answer to this question without spoilers, but I can say the lore gets much deeper and since the truth is out, there’s no holding back.

I can tell you that this book takes place at the high school I went to, in the town that I grew up in, and although it’s fantasy, there are many real elements in this world I’ve created. (I’ll attach a photo of Main Street) (middle picture above) The bookstore (A Likely Story) (below) that Bijou, Sebastian, and Amina really exists, as well as the candle shop (Unwined) they visit.

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Where do you see this series going and what can the readers look forward to next?
I see the story eventually leading back to where it all began for Bijou. Liberia.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Stay true to who you are. This is something Bijou (my MC) struggles with when the story starts. She’s insecure and constantly doubting herself and comparing herself to others. Within a few minutes of meeting Sebastian Sinjin, she makes a comment about why he speaks the way he does. His response? “Why would I want to be like everyone else when I can be myself?”

(I’ll be honest readers, before I asked if i could do an author spotlight, I was given the book to read. And don’t worry, the review is coming!! But I know exactly where this quote is in the book because I highlighted this exact one! I love that the author also singled this quote out. We so often get stuck in the day to day grime of life and politics that we sometimes forget who we are. This is such a great quote and reminder!!)

This message was important to me, because I’ve never really been able to conform. As a kid, I was bullied and never truly fit in at school, so I went through a stage, where I didn’t think I was good enough. Even though I was born and raised in America, you could look at me and tell I wasn’t a typical American kid and my name was definitely foreign. Then on the other hand, I didn’t truly fit in with people from my parent’s country as well. I always seemed to be on the outside, looking in. What helped a lot was having parents and a younger brother, who believed in me and supported my endeavors so much that I became so sure of myself that I didn’t mind marching to the beat of my own drum or sitting alone at lunch.

By the time I made it to middle school, I knew exactly who I was and what I was capable of. As I’ve grown, I’ve seen that there are other kids who can relate to how I felt and what I went through, so even when I write fantasy, my stories and characters reflect those experiences, how to cope, and how to rise above it. It seems easy to try to conform, but the more time you take trying to fit in, the longer it takes to find yourself.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
This probably sounds very cliché, but To Kill a Mockingbird is the first book that moved me to tears. I actually read it before my classmates, because my mom made me read it the summer after seventh grade. I think I read it in two days. I remember hiding to read it at night, because it was after my bedtime, and crying so hard during the trial.

In the fifth grade, I became obsessed with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street series. After reading Say Cheese and Die, I thought, I could definitely do this too. By that time, I was already used to writing every day, but I asked my mom to make sure I wrote a hundred words a day. I wrote my first book in middle school about vampire cheerleaders.

But if I’m talking about stories that have stuck with me, I’d have to say, just about Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman. Both authors have the ability to weave magic into the lives of everyday people, transforming the mundane into something wondrously strange. That’s something I’ve always wanted to accomplish as a writer.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
Get used to hearing the word, “No!” I would be lying if I said that rejection has never hurt, but I’ve heard no so many times that I take it as a challenge, because all it takes is one “yes” to change your life. So I look at “no” as a message from the universe to keep going. I feel like that’s the only way you will ever get published. You have to develop thick skin, keep writing, and be persistent.

Besides your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this Winter?
Currently, I’m really into witches (I’m lying. I’ve always been into witches) so I’m currently reading A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. After that, I’m going to read A Discover of Witches by Deborah Harkness. But I’ve decided to re-read Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende novels this year, and I suggest that if you love magical realism or witches that don’t have moles, you should do the same.


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Published
: March 20, 2018
Pages: 343

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Synopsis:
Some believe that at birth, we’re each born with some sort of guardian attached to us, watching from afar, but never seen. But are they wrong? Truth is, there are certain people, special people, born of this world and of the other, who need that extra protection…that extra guidance. They go their entire lives, unaware of the other world, and unaware of the existence of their own personal watcher that watches from afar. But what happens when fate takes a turn for the worse, and The One who needs the aid of a watcher more than anyone before her can’t be found to be protected?

Bijou Fitzroy is strange. With the unwanted gift of being an empath, she has spent her entire life as a sheltered recluse, homeschooled by her secretive and overprotective grandmother, who never allows them to stay in one place long enough for Bijou to settle and make friends. When Bijou and her grandmother move to Sykesville and she starts to attend the local high school, Bijou’s world begins to crumble. Town locals begin to disappear and the creatures from her nightmares begin to take shape in her reality. She finds herself at the center of a war she never knew was being fought all around her.


Excerpt, Chapter One:
Imagine not being able to tell whether it’s you or the person beside you who’s schizophrenic. That’s the story of my life.

Most mental illnesses have thousands of web pages devoted to them online, but whenever I insert my symptoms into a search engine, I get pages upon pages of fanfiction.

The only word that describes my appearance is “peculiar.” Almond shaped eyes might be considered beautiful on some people, but my almond shaped eyes can’t decide whether they’re green, amber, or gray, so “frightening” becomes a more accurate description. The changing colors of irises may not sound scary, but my eyes are the size and shape of a little green man’s. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but this is what I see when I look in a mirror. Peculiar.

I’m not white. But I’m not black. Well, at least I don’t think I am. I’m somewhere in between. Maybe. I’ve asked these same questions about my background, but the topic of race has always been off-limits with my grandmother Gigi. So, on an EEO survey, I have to choose other.

Gigi has always made excuses for people’s confusion. Words like “exotic,” “unique,” and “special” are thrown around, but never “pretty,” “cute,” or “beautiful.” People tend to stare, but when I look back and attempt to make eye contact, they look away in fear. How do I know it’s fear? Because I can feel what they feel. It doesn’t happen with everyone, just with typical people. While most people see race or ethnicity when they first meet, it isn’t that simple for me. Through my eyes, there are two types of people in this world, and the color of their skin has no part to play in the matter. With the Typicals, their emotions rub off on me when they’re in close proximity. It’s even worse if they happen to make eye contact; I see things—sometimes truly horrible things. It’s like being in a room full of babies who are screaming at the top of their lungs for attention. Luckily for me, eye contact is as rare as my interactions with Typicals. When I do have to be around people, I have to keep my hands busy or I’ll go into shock.

And then you have the Others. They’re a little harder to explain. I can’t feel what they feel and, when I see them, I know exactly what they are. They’re ethereal. Some are beautiful, but there’s always a haunting element about their appearance and presence that makes people want to avoid them. You would think I’d prefer their company since I can’t read them, but they scare me.

When I was a kid, my grandmother would tell me I was imagining these things, that I had an overactive imagination, so I just stopped talking about them. Claims like those would land me in a psychiatric ward, so, to block out emotions, I began carrying a deck of playing cards with me everywhere I go. Now I constantly shuffle, distracting myself from all the emotions that are vying for my attention.

“Bijou Fitzroy!” My grandmother’s voice startles me out of my closet. “You harass me about going to school, and, now that I’ve agreed, you’re going to be late on your first day. Allez! Dépêche-toi!”

She always becomes more French when she’s yelling.

“Webster’s defines a door as a moveable piece of wood that people use to enter or leave a room, but if Miss Manners were here, she’d insist on you knocking on said door before entering my bedroom.”

My grandmother, Gigi, is not amused as she addresses me with a cold blue glare. The chilly look, combined with her crown made of a tightly wound blonde bun, brings the term “Ice Queen” to mind.

“If you can memorize the entire dictionary, you have no business going to high school in Hicksville, USA.” She comes toward me in that intimidating way of hers, the way the Victoria’s Secret angels fly down a runway. “We could scrap the whole high school idea, go back to homeschooling, and spend the day exploring Eldersburg.”

“We live in Sykesville, Gigi, and I’m going to school. You know, like normal kids do?” Since moving to Maryland, Gigi and I have been in a constant argument about this. Sykesville and Eldersburg are neighboring towns with smudged borders. They’re so smudged, in fact, that you can live in Sykesville while your next-door neighbor lives in Eldersburg. It really doesn’t matter because the towns share one zip code. “My problem is that I can’t find anything to wear.”

Gigi rushes into my closet and, five seconds later, emerges with skinny jeans, a cute top, a cardigan with elbow patches, and tan Oxfords to match.

“How did you do that? I’ve been in there for the last half hour and nothing.”

“It’s a gift,” she says, leaning against the wall, her impatience apparent. “Magic, really.”

Gigi isn’t like other grandmothers. Yes, she’s the mother of my mother, but other than that, she looks as regal and young as Grace Kelly in High Society, and dresses like her too. She hardly looks like anyone’s grandmother, which is why calling her grandma is forbidden, and hence the name Gigi. Hell, we don’t even look related. She’s pale and tall with bone-straight, long, blonde hair. I’m of a darker hue, about five-foot-seven, and although my hair is long, it’s so black and wild that I break combs and brushes on a weekly basis. So she’s Tracy Samantha Lord and I’m Holly Golightly’s ethnically ambiguous half-sister with the crazy curls. We look nothing alike.

###

“I really don’t understand the need to go to high school here,” she says as she follows me to my mirror with the only brush in the house that hasn’t lost the battle with my hair yet. “Jou Jou, you’re in the eleventh grade and it’s the middle of the school year. And besides, with your marks, you could get your degree now.” She’s right. I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. With a photographic memory, retention of information makes schoolwork simple, but I’m sixteen years old and I’ve never set foot in a school building, never had a friend.

I know why I’m supposed to respect her opinion about my education. She’s been a mother to me since my mom died during childbirth, and my father is an unknown entity. Parents should be respected, but our relationship is a strange one. To me, she’s Lilith Fitzroy, my vain grandmother who looks too young to be a grandmother. To the world, Gigi is the international bestselling paranormal romance author, Anastasia Powers. She writes under a pen name to conceal her identity from the world, and whenever some nosey journalist starts to get close to discovering who she really is, we pack up and move. This is why I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. This is why she’s not very comfortable with me making friends with random strangers, but all that changed last month when she bought a house in Maryland and decided to move us here. It’s a huge change from the big cities we’re used to. Imagine leaving Park Avenue for a home at the end of a cul de sac in a development where most of the houses look the same, the grass is measured, and people smile when they really want to spit at you. Sykesville may be a little too normal, but it’s home now, and I’m glad we’re here.

After Gigi gives up the fight of taming my curls, we leave for school.

On the way, she continues trying to convince me to go shopping instead of going to Liberty High School. “Last chance to change your mind.” Her tone is less than enthusiastic as she glares at my new peers with disgust. “Didn’t you say once that you wanted to write a book? I could talk to my agent, and we can make it happen.”

Just as I’m about to retort, a figure wearing a black hoodie and black jeans comes into view. He’s standing completely still, staring at me, as the crowd maneuvers around him. I close my eyes tight in disappointment, knowing that he’s found me once again.

“You’re not here. You’re not here. You’re not here,” I whisper to myself. When I reopen my eyes, he’s no longer there.

Maybe I’m imagining him, but this hooded figure has been following me for a long time.

“No! No! No!” Gigi interrupts. “You’re not doing this again. If you’re going to attend school with these people, no weirdness and no talking to yourself. The last thing we need is these people running us out of town or attempting to burn you at the stake because you start doing or saying things they don’t understand.”

She can be such a snob. She fails to realize how much I need this. I could get into any top-tier university, but when it comes down to the test of relating to my peers, I fail miserably. I have zero social skills, and I am sure I will be a laughingstock once I open my mouth. The girls will probably snicker and point, while the boys won’t bother looking at me at all. But I’m not too concerned about the boys.

There is one boy though, a boy I’ve always thought about. The disappointing part is that he only exists in my dreams, faceless like so many characters in dreams. Though I don’t know what he looks like, I think about him entirely too much. I know this makes me certifiable, but he’s the only friend I’ve ever had. He was my playmate as a kid and grew to be my protector, keeping me safe in my dream world.

I’m sure other homeschooled kids have friends and some semblance of a social life, but not me. Gigi is an overprotective hawk, watching my every move, keeping me busy with one activity or another. I have been taking martial arts, gymnastics and piano lessons for as long as I can remember, but none of these activities involves an outside individual. She’s always taught me, so it’s always just been us.

“I love you Gigi,” I say as I exit her red Jaguar F-type, “but I’ll write a book after I get some real-world experience.”

“You’re so special, Jou Jou, and my fear is you may be too special for small-town folks,” she murmurs. I’m sure her words are supposed to be comforting, but they put me on edge even more. I smile weakly as she pulls off.

Cursed is a more fitting description.

Cutting through the schoolyard chatter, a flood of emotions hits me like a bloodcurdling scream at the beginning of an Anastasia Powers novel. It’s sometimes hard to separate my own feelings from the influx of emotions that come from others. I pull out my cards and begin shuffling. It must look like I’m about to do some magic trick. I shuffle so fast I have no need to look at the cards as I survey the school from the entrance to the yard. It looks large for a small-town high school. I glance around as I try not to run through the crowd to the entrance. They all look so comfortable with each other. They’ve probably known each other since kindergarten and won’t welcome the arrival of a weirdo who will unbalance things.

I definitely don’t fit in.

“Check out the cards,” a blonde girl says as I walk by. She isn’t exactly one of the Others, but something’s not right about her. “Don’t we belong in a freak show!” The sarcasm in her voice is venomous.

Something about her makes me stop walking and shuffling completely.

“Tell me she doesn’t have a perm,” another girl says as they continue toward the school.

My heart beats wildly, but the moment she leaves, everything returns to normal. Or as close to normal as it gets for me.

I am becoming more agitated by the second, so I resume shuffling my cards and walk away. I’m relieved to enter the front office. It’s not as intimidating as the entrance of the school. The walls are a pale shade of blue and in dire need of a paint job.

Breathe, I tell myself as I walk toward the front desk, clearing my throat.

“Hello, I’m Bij—”

I am interrupted mid-sentence by a dirty look from a frail, spray-tanned receptionist with salt-and-pepper hair. She looks up from her romance novel as if I have disrupted the juiciest part, and she points in the direction of a tall boy I hadn’t noticed until now.

“Hi, I’m-”

“Bijou Fitzroy. I’m aware.”

Normally, I would’ve been irritated about being interrupted for a second time, but I am distracted.

He’s perfect.

His lips are so full that I can only pray he has horrid teeth to make me feel better about my own appearance. He’s slender, muscular, and tall. A veil of dark lashes almost hides the intensity of his eyes. He looks as though he’s swallowed a piece of the sun, and its golden rays glow within his flawless skin. Though we don’t know each other, there is something familiar about him.

“Well, that’s kind of rude,” I say. “You know who I am, and I have no idea who you are.” His silence and unblinking stare make me nervous, so I keep yammering. “Okay, you have about five seconds to say something before I start believing you’ve been stalking me.”

He just stands there staring at me with deep-set, gray eyes—never blinking. I can’t help but stare as well. It takes me a moment to notice he’s making direct eye contact with me. No one ever does.

He tilts his head to the side like a dog ogling a shiny new object when a sudden look of mystification etches his dark brows, and he contorts as if something ghastly has appeared before him.

He looks sideways.

Have I somehow offended him?

He turns back. “My apologies. G’day, I’m Sebastian.”

G’day? Is this how high school students talk? It’s nothing like Pretty Little Liars.

He reaches out to shake my hand, not giving me more than a glance. I stop shuffling, stuffing my cards into my leather satchel to take his hand.

The touch of his hand sends a jolt of electricity through my body, and flashes of a familiar scene of someone drowning surges through my mind until he retracts his hand, putting an end to the vision.

It’s obvious he feels something as well.

The look of concern returns to his face, and then he quickly looks away.

“Just consider me your personal tour guide, eh? They want you to follow me ‘cause we have identical schedules, so where I lead, you’ll follow. No sooking and no whinging.”

The more he speaks, the more evident his accent becomes.

I nod, intimidated by his assertiveness, but I am intrigued.

“Right-o, let’s be on then.” He starts toward the door, expecting me to follow. “Hooroo, Mrs. Reaper,” he salutes the unfriendly receptionist, who actually smiles at him, exposing teeth smudged with red lipstick.

The halls are quiet as we make our way to first period.

“Liberty High,” he says. “Not a ripper. Small town, so lots of bogans, but it’s fair dinkum.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I didn’t understand half of what you said.”

He doesn’t stop walking. He doesn’t even look my way. He smiles as if my comment is right on time.

“It’s Aussie-speak.”

“Why don’t you just talk like everyone else?” The stupid question escapes before I have time to censor it.

“Why would I want to be like everyone else when I can be myself?” He holds the door open for me. “Being normal is highly overrated, ta.”

He looks at me point blank and winks.


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Sang Kromah was born in Philly, raised in Sykesville, became confident as a writer in New York, but is Liberian at heart and by blood. As a child, Kromah would sit in the living room with her brother and listen to her parents recount the folklore of their native land of Liberia, absorbing in the words and falling in love simultaneously.  Born a storyteller, Kromah would run away with the words, creating her own stories, telling them to her family and anyone else who would listen. The summer after receiving her Master’s degree in Communications from New York Institute of Technology, she decided she was going to do what she said she would as a little girl. She moved to Liberia and wrote the novel she was born to write, Djinn.

As a communications specialist, Kromah’s credits range from her work at Seventeen Magazine to UN Women and Half the Sky Documentary. As a model, she’s been featured in Essence Magazine, Jet Magazine, and more, but her greatest accomplishments are with Project READ, a female-run library initiative she started and Project GirlSpire, an online media site she started where girls and women empower each other through digital storytelling.

 Facebook           Twitter           Instagram           Project GirlSpire


Keep an eye out for my review and don’t forget to comment below if you have already read the book or your thoughts on this author! Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

Author Spotlight -Emmanuella Hristova, with a look at her new Poetry book called: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder

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Welcome beautiful people to this weeks author spotlight! Today we will take a look at Emmanuella Hristova’s new Poetry book, The Day my Kisses Tasted Like Disorder, ask her a few questions on being a writer and get a inside look at a couple of her poems!! 

Emmanuella Hristova is an amazing woman who has a refreshing view on feminism and the part women play. As I am writing this post, I find myself internally screaming YES!! and agreeing with so much of what she says. In the world we live in today, we need more stories, perspectives like this!! 

To quote Ms. Hristova, 

I hope that my poetry allows women—or anyone—the right to grieve, to feel deeply. Women don’t need to smile all the time, or to be pleasant. If they want to cry, they can cry and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Emmanuella also has amazing advice for new writers and is a lover of Sylvia Plath. I truly feel like this is a woman after my own heart!! Please check her out and take a look at her poetry. She will be someone worth noting and someone I expect to hear more from!


When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why poetry?
I decided to become a writer one year ago, but the catch was: I already was a writer. I just wasn’t sharing my work with anyone. I had written two Moleskin notebooks full of poems and novel material, but nobody knew about it.

Last January, I read some poems out of said notebook, that would later become my first poetry collection, to one of my best friends. “Babe, you need to publish this,” she told me. So, I began doing research on poetry publications and the self-publishing industry and I decided I would do it for myself. I planned to have it done a few months later, by my 27th birthday. I roped in one of my studious coworkers, Maria Ciccone, to help me edit my work for content and order of the poems, and “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” was born.

As for why I write poetry, I never planned on it. I wrote to express my feelings and sentiments. I fell in love, and I didn’t plan that. My sister was dying, and I didn’t plan that either. So, pent up emotions swelled up inside of me and they had no other place to spill other than onto a blank page. And I became a poet.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, a young woman I used to mentor gave me a green Moleskin notebook. She told me to document all of my adventures. My undergraduate graduation characterized many changes in my life, and at the time I was working out my own definition of feminism. But what began as short musings about sexism jotted down on the BART train, eventually became woeful poems about oppression, harassment, and assault. And then, two months later, I fell in love for the first time.

I never decided to write my poetry collection; it came out of me, rather. I documented the relationship from beginning to end, birth to death. I wrote to express everything I was going through on the inside—which was heavy and hectic. Eventually, that green Moleskin became a chronological account of one of the darkest periods of my life. And when I read it again, years later, I realized I had written some amazing poetry. Poetry I needed to share with others.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book or poems?
I hope the lasting thought readers have from my work is that they are not alone. If they too have gone through heart-wrenching ordeals, they are not alone. If they too need healing, are healing, they are not alone. The final chapter is dedicated to such women:

The aftermath.

For crying girls everywhere,
hiding in the bathroom stall.
May you find your healing.

I hope that my poetry allows women—or anyone—the right to grieve, to feel deeply. Women don’t need to smile all the time, or to be pleasant. If they want to cry, they can cry and there’s nothing wrong with that.


What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
The greatest impact is quite a lofty description. It would have to be the Bible; I was raised quite religiously, and I’ve read it many times. Following the death of my sister, I’ve struggled with my faith a lot and it’s something I’m still struggling with, so it’s had less of an impact on my life. But that’s what my novel is about—struggling with faith in God after a loss. So I would say, yeah it’s still had the greatest impact on my life. However, Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities and George Orwell’s 1984 are my all time favorite books. They have shaped my writing, ethics and taste in books and film.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
The best advice I can give you, is the advice my editor gave me when I wasn’t being “recognized” and when I was having doubts about self-publishing: just do it and keep writing! No one will notice you at first, and you may be talented as hell. But just keep writing, keep posting, keep promoting yourself, and eventually people will start to notice and read your work. It’s a hard effort, but it’s worth it in the end when readers make connections with you. That’s priceless.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this winter?
The best books I read last year were: Homegoing, Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (that’s my favorite in the series), anything by Sylvia Plath, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Do you have any strange antics you do while you write?
I just drink a lot of black coffee and occasionally smoke a Cuban cigar. Sometimes I get this idea in my head that I’m a female Ernest Hemingway or something. I do enjoy it though; it’s not just to fulfill a writer cliché.

What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m finishing up the second draft of my first novel: all these things i never said. It’s a story about a prophetic young woman born to immigrant parents. Even though she can see the future, and the fact that her family members will die, she can’t prevent it from happening. Meanwhile, in another realm, a golden statue of a young girl wakes up. Once the statue realizes who she is and why she’s there, she embarks on this perilous mission to get the main character, Emmy, out of the labyrinth-like castle.

Meanwhile in the real world, Emmy’s left to deal with the psychological trauma of losing loved ones too soon, with her inability to make the American Dream materialize, and with her wavering faith in God. She turns inward to deal with the pain–to the fantastical world she’s built for herself to hide from her grief. However, she’s stuck inside her mind and can’t seem to get out. She’s guided by some fantastical sidekicks inside this dream-world that she hasn’t shared with anyone. The world in her dreams, and in between dreams. It is, as I’m sure you can gather, a novel based on my life.


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Published: June 11, 2018
Pages: 50

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Synopsis:
I hesitate when you kiss me because I
am afraid you will taste the disaster
brewing underneath my skin.

Hristova’s debut poetry collection documents the birth and death of a relationship, and the death of her sister. Each poem is an emotional time-stamp that plunges the reader into the depths of the author’s feelings as they burgeon and wane. The book reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: love, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.


Book Excerpt:
This is the first chapter of my book, as well as a few poems from the second chapter. The first chapter is a prologue, with a dedication to my sister, who passed away while I was writing the book. The epigraph references the fact that I wrote “June 23rd” at the end of the year, after I had written all the other poems and after having gone through everything that I went through. But, my editor told me to move it to the front. “It’s the preface!” she said, because I originally wanted it to be the epilogue. She told me I already knew the meaning of my suffering, and that the book should end with here’s to the woman, which is an empowering feminist poem written in honor of International Women’s Day. That way, the conclusion would look forward to the future, to my current voice, which had changed since I wrote The Day My Kisses.

The preface.

When the end was the beginning, and
the beginning was the end.

For Dora; I wish you were here.

June 23rd
In the depth of
winter, the flowers do not
bloom, no fruits
appear, the leaves
fall off, and the tree looks
dead, but deep in the
darkness underneath,
the roots grow
and grow
and
grow.


The beginning.

I guess I should thank you,
because you turned me into a poet.

upon identifying the day
I knew I loved you
the moment I saw you
the second time I came to
visit you in The City and you
were wearing a cerulean button-down
that matched your eyes and you
had just shaved your beard and
I wanted to kiss you, but
not like a nervous first kiss or
a slobbery wet one; but rather,
the kind of peck lovers give to one another
after being together for years and
what they’re passing between their lips
is time.

September 21st
upon telling you
The air is cold on the rooftop,
running across my bare shoulders
as I tell you how I feel about you.
My arm presses against yours;
yours doesn’t move. I use it
for support. Our bodies pressed
against the cool, gritty concrete
of the wall that keeps us from falling to
our deaths down below.
Your eyes wax, deep and
limpid like
pools of ocean water
that I see into, staring back at me,
as if you’re
seeing me for the first time.
I see the fear in your face,
breath clutched
between your lips like a
piece of ice
stuck in your throat.
You’re afraid to exhale. Oh shit, oh shit,
oh shit, say your eyes.
No shit.

upon telling me
I am sitting in a middle school
classroom at lunchtime when you
tell me you want to kiss me. My
breath stops in my throat. Instantly,
my heart beats faster and faster
like an unhinged train racing down
its tracks. I was hungry before,
I’m not hungry anymore. A heat
rises from the depths of my soul,
steaming the surface of my cheeks,
pouring out over the tops of my breasts,
and spilling out in between my thighs.
I flush. My flesh heats up, unable
to contain the fireworks exploding on
the inside of my heart.
He wants to kiss me.
And these explosions
going off inside me I imagine will be
bolder, brighter, and more beautiful
when you finally do.


authorbio2

Emmanuella Hristova was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the Bay Area. She is the third daughter to Bulgarian parents who immigrated to California shortly before she was born. She began drawing at the ripe age of four, and studied the fine arts for five years in high school. There, she received many art accolades including a Congressional award for her piece Boy in Red in 2009. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She began writing poetry at age twenty-four when she was in graduate school. She earned her Master’s in Education from the same alma mater in 2017. Emmanuella spent two years as an English teacher in Richmond, California. During that time, she self-published her first poetry collection: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder. Currently, she is writing her first novel. She speaks English, Bulgarian, Spanish and is now learning French. You can find her on Instagram: @emmy_speaks

Author Page      Instagram     Amazon Author Page      GoodReads Author Page


I hope you get a chance to check out Emmanuella and her new book! As always, I love hearing from you. Comment below with your thoughts and until next time, Happy Reading 🙂