Category Archives: Horror

Welcome J.J. White

Join me in welcoming J.J. White to Highlighted Author.


J.J. White is a multi-published, award winning author, and he’s with us this week to introduce his latest book, Death’s Twisted Tales.

John WhiteWelcome, J.J., please tells us about yourself.

A native of Vermont, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Central Florida by my parents when my father relocated to work at the KennedySpaceCenter. I was a precocious and adorable little boy who overflowed with the creative juices that would prepare me for success as a noted author. Unfortunately that was stifled at a young age by an overwhelming desire to take apart things to see how they work. Thus, the left side of the brain won the battle over the right and I became a boring engineer. A few years ago, as luck would have it, I ruptured the L4 and L5 disks in my back trying to play tennis as if I were eighteen–years–old, again. With nothing to do but lie on my stomach for days on end, the right side of my brain saw an opening and pounced on the left-brain, once again surfacing my creative juices. Since that fateful day I have penned seven novels and over two hundred short stories. I have had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, The Akashic Press, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. My story, The Nine Hole League, is set to be published soon in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 14. I have won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest. I was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for my short piece Tour Bus which is included in my new book, Death’s Twisted Tales. I enjoy writing, surfing, golf and tennis. I live in Merritt Island, Florida with my understanding wife, editor, and typist, Pamela.


What they’re saying:

“Comprising 28 stories, each either an award-winning tale or a previously published yarn, White’s collection stays true to its title: The stories all have death, and each has a twist.

There are touching tales, such as ‘Beneath the Wintry Sky’ about enemy soldiers meeting on Christmas Eve, or thought-provoking ones, including ‘Grackle Trap’ and ‘Emily Wasn’t There.’

White’s writing pulls readers in quickly; in just a few paragraphs, he can shape a whole story.

Don’t fear the Reaper; let him read you these quick, creepy stories.”— Kirkus Reviews



Death’s Twisted Tales



“Every story ends in death if one waits long enough.”

So quotes Death as he introduces twenty-eight twisted tales for your literary enjoyment. Written by award-winning author, J. J. White, these stories weave their way through the odd, the eccentric, the suspenseful, the vengeful, the evil, and even the hopeful, with the hapless characters hurtling toward their surprising and inevitable demise, much to the approval of our macabre narrator. All of these tales have been previously published in both national and international publications with many winning awards in distinguished competitions put on by Writer’s Digest, the California Writers Club, the Oregon Writers Colony, the Arizona Mystery Writers and the Florida Writers Association, to name a few. So sit back and enjoy, for as The Grim Reaper promises, each story has a happy ending.

Someone dies.



Beneath The Wintry Sky


Death's_Twisted_Tale_Cover_for_KindleSnow fell from an ash gray sky, nearly invisible until a few feet from the ground, the flakes dusting odd-shaped drifts dyed brown from the piss, shit and blood of the 292nd infantry regiment.

He had slept only four hours in five days of constant battles, his side surrendering St. Vith back to the Panzer divisions. Window dressing for the Reich, one success in a lost war, with only one conclusion, the end of their noble quest. The Nazis were delaying the inevitable and taking as many of the enemy with them as they could.

A shell from a Kraut eighty-eight exploded about fifty feet from Joe’s foxhole, an eruption of dirt covering the fresh snow. There was plenty of snow, and sleet, and ice, all penetrating their sleeping bags, coats, and boots, while preserving the mangled bodies of their comrades, blessedly saving the living from the smell of the dead. He’d had enough of death, and enough of war. Why did civilized men capable of understanding mathematics, building cathedrals, and conquering disease, think they needed to club each other to death for a little land?

Joe had shot his first enemy soldier over a year ago. He had squeezed the trigger as if he were holding a baby bird, the rifle nearly jumping out of his hands as the distant silhouette collapsed to the earth. He thought of the dead soldier as an infant held by his parents over the crib, a toddler chasing playmates through high grass, a young man kissing his sweetheart as he boarded his train to eternity.

Those thoughts stopped after a few months of war. Joe felt none of them now. The enemy was faceless and nameless. He was eliminating someone intent on eliminating him. That’s all it was. Anything else and you’d blow your brains out.

Kowalski threw the bottle across the foxhole to Joe. He wasn’t expecting the toss and spilled some on his uniform.

“Dumb Polack,” Joe said. “Don’t they play any baseball in Jersey? You throw like a little girl.”

It was Christmas brandy from Camden’s girlfriend or lover or mother, who the hell knew. Camden wouldn’t need it anyway, buried in a shallow grave two miles north of their entrenchment. Joe passed the bottle to Corporal Johansson who took a quick swig and handed it to Paul Santini. A goddamn League of Nations foxhole. Kowalski got the bottle back from Santini and held it out in salute. “To Jake Camden, God rest his soul.” Santini made the sign of the cross. “And,” Kowalski continued, “to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

“Yeah,” Santini said. “Just like home, except there ain’t no food, no family, no presents and no tree. Other than that, it’s the same.” Santini pulled broken Christmas tree cookies from a sack and passed them around. “A little stale and broke to hell, but better than nothing, right Sarge?”

Joe nodded and nearly broke a tooth on a cookie trunk. It was a six-hour time difference between Belgium and Vermont. Kathy would be helping her parents start the Christmas dinner. Afterward, they would stand by the tree and toast Joe and pray for his safety. He wondered where they got their tree from this year. Kathy’s letters took months to get to him. She probably thought he was dead unless the Army was keeping the mess in Belgium secret.

The snow stopped as suddenly as it had started. Small black bugs crawled out from Santini’s cookie sack. Welcome to our world, Joe thought and threw the rest of his cookie away.

Three years ago, he drove twenty miles to Shrewsbury to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Frasier Firs were at just the right height. The perfect tree for the in-laws. He and Kathy had made love quietly in her old bedroom, each wondering if it would be their last Christmas together. That gave him an idea. He stood, put on his helmet and strapped his carbine over his back.

“You know what we need?” he said.

“Betty Grable,” Kowalski said.

“Besides that. We need a Christmas tree.” He pointed to the woods. “There’s a whole forest of ’em out there. Keep my seat warm.” He pulled a small hatchet from his pack.

“You’re gonna get yourself shot for a tree?” Santini asked.

“Yeah. I mean no. One of those eighty-eights hits in here it’s goodbye Charlie, anyway. What’s the difference?” And with that, he climbed out of the foxhole and ran bent over, holding his helmet on his head as he made a beeline to the forest, about a hundred yards away. The constant artillery barrage of the last two days had left few trees near the edge to choose from so Joe pushed further in until the woods were so thick they blotted out what was left of the setting sun through the heavy fog.

There it was, a four-foot spruce near the bottom of a small gully, the branches heavy with snow. He took the hatchet from his coat and after shaking the snow off the tree, began hacking at the trunk.

A few ration cans and some of Santini’s stale cookies hanging from the thin branches and they’d have their own Christmas tree for their hole. Maybe Stars and Stripes would send a reporter. He could imagine the headline:  “Four unlucky bastards blown up with their Christmas tree.”

He stopped to light a cigarette. About thirty feet away, a German soldier sawed on a similar tree with a large knife. Their eyes met as Joe flicked his Zippo. He missed the tip of the cigarette with the flame by two inches.

Joe swung his rifle around and aimed first at the soldier’s head, then the chest. Light pressure on the trigger, ready to squeeze, but he didn’t. It surprised Joe as much as it did the Kraut. The German fumbled with his rifle but somehow managed to get it into firing position. He was just a kid.

Hell of a thing to die for, Joe thought, but there were worse ways to go and his intentions had been good. He hoped someone would tell Kathy the truth.

A gray squirrel jumped from one tree to the next behind the nervous German. It startled him enough that his Mauser shook. Then the man took a breath and yelled something at Joe that could have been anything. Joe understood a little German but Johansson was the only one fluent and he was a million miles away and drunk on stolen brandy.

Joe lowered his gaze to the soldier’s tree. The boy hadn’t made much progress with the knife. Maybe the Krauts didn’t supply hatchets to their men when they fought in dense forests. It sounded like something Hitler would do.

Joe gently placed his rifle against a charred stump and then pointed to his hatchet. The soldier seemed to understand and nodded, so Joe picked it up and cleaved what was left of the trunk of his little tree with two mighty hacks. He held the tool out to the soldier. “Looks like you’re having a tough time with that knife.” He threw the hatchet to the boy’s feet, where it sunk in the snow.

The soldier fished it out and began chopping at the base of his own small Tannenbaum, never taking his eyes off Joe. A couple of times Joe thought the guy might hack his foot off but the tree finally came loose of the trunk.

Joe walked over to him and the soldier immediately had his rifle up and aimed. The snow began to fall again, small flakes resting on the boy’s long lashes. How old was he? Fifteen? Sixteen? Old enough and nervous enough to kill, he guessed.

The boy tried to hand the hatchet back to Joe, but Joe shook his head.

“You keep it, Hans. You need it more than I do.”

Joe went back to the stump and picked up his rifle and the Christmas tree. He had walked away a few steps when the boy soldier said, “Frohliche Weihnachten.”

Joe smiled, turned, then saluted lazily to him. “Merry Christmas to you too, buddy.”


Get your copy of Death’s Twisted Tales here:

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Welcome Michael Hebler

Join me in welcoming Michael Hebler to Highlighted Author.


Michael Hebler recently became an author alongside building a successful career in feature film publicity, but his passion to create stories with suspense, laughter, and heart is not his only love. He also volunteers his time weekly for charities in his local area including Meals on Wheels, and abets for animal rights by aiding in the CSNR (capture/spay/neuter/release) program.

To date, Michael’s publications include, “Night of the Chupacabra,” (Chupacabra Series #1), and his first publication, “The Night After Christmas,” a holiday picture book for believers of any age. He also authored the micro story, “Hunt for the Chupacabra,” preceding the events of book one.

His third Chupacabra Series title, “Legend of the Chupacabra”, is currently being prepared for a 2014 release while he is hard at work writing book four.

“Curse of the Chupacabra” is number two in the series and he’s with us this week to tell us about  it.

Details on how to get book one, “Night of the Chupacabra,” free are below, so read on!





Curse of the Chupacabra

Chupacabra series, book two

The second Chupacabra novel is a ‘curse’.


On September 10, 2013 fiction writer Michael Hebler, releases book two of the Chupacabra Series, “Curse of the Chupacabra,” which follows the survivors of the Dillmore Valley massacre as they journey northwest for a fresh start, despite the looming terror that awaits around every turn.

Synopsis: They never thought their luck would be their curse. In the months following the onslaught, the extraordinary survivors continue to know no peace, as they are haunted by signs that the relentless creature remains on their trail. However, this fight will be better matched, now that they’ve discovered an advantage that will help protect them from the monster’s bloodthirsty lust. But once faced with the decision to kill the beast, the choice will not come lightly since it is still unclear which loved one the chupacabra possesses.

“Curse of the Chupacabra” stretches beyond the claustrophobic world of volume one’s single town setting as the creature’s victims inadvertently lure the beast across the western states; not only becoming a road story soaked with blood and treachery, but a powerful chronicle of passage that exposes the consequences of not following the path of one’s own heart. “Curse of the Chupacabra” is a relentless feast of tragedy that examines the dangers awaiting those who might be kin to the most infamous abomination to walk this earth.

Since the release of book one, “Night of the Chupacabra,” in October 2012, reports and news of sightings of everyone’s favorite cryptozoological creature, el chupacabra, have continued to saturate the media, and “Curse of the Chupacabra” not only advances a storyline, but continues to feed a compulsive curiosity of the Latin-American sensation that has won the world over. “Regardless of the success of the first book, I’ve always had multiple stories planned,” states Hebler. “I’ve never had so many favorite characters in one story. I really love them; their relationships and dramas, the mythology behind the creature, as well as the action and horror. And there’s still many more exciting surprises to come throughout the six book series.”


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Night of the Chupacabra

Chupacabra series, book one

Free for Three Days!

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In concordance with the release of book two in the Chupacabra Series, “Curse of the Chupacabra,” by fiction writer Michael Hebler, the series’ first novel, “Night of the Chupacabra,” will be made available free for e-book download on Kindle Readers and devices supporting Kindle Apps through from September 10 to September 12, 2013 only.

Once the free days for the e-book of “Night of the Chupacabra” are over on September 12, and beginning September 13, the digital edition will continue to show support for its successor “Curse of the Chupacabra” by dropping its price from $4.99 to $2.99.



Night of the Chupacabra


There is a creature that lurks in the vast open deserts of the west. It can only survive on blood and, although it prefers to prey on the weak and young, it will slaughter anyone or anything, once provoked. It is unnatural, deceptive, and difficult to kill. Word about the existence of this elusive beast has not spread since anyone who has crossed paths with it did not live long enough to tell of their account.

In the Chupacabra Series, a vampire-like, cryptozoological creature (which literally translates to “goat-sucker”) takes a supporting role to a cast of memorable characters who struggle to survive while finding their place in developing America. Currently slated for six books, the Chupacabra Series echoes strong family themes and the sacrifices required for that nature of love; and while some characters do survive long enough to make it through multiple novels, each volume will host a different protagonist to lead the reader through its continuing journey.



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Welcome Ashlyn Chase

Join me in welcoming Ashlyn Chase to Highlighted Author.


Ashlyn Chase describes herself as an Almond Joy bar.  A little nutty, a little flaky, but basically sweet, wanting only to give her readers a satisfying experience. 

She holds a degree in behavioral sciences, worked as a psychiatric RN for several years and spent a few more years working for the American Red Cross.  She credits her sense of humor to her former careers since comedy helped preserve whatever was left of her sanity.  She is a multi-published, award-winning author of humorous erotic and paranormal romances, represented by the Seymour Agency.

She lives in beautiful New Hampshire with her true-life hero husband who’d look like Hugh Jackman if you dyed his hair, and they’re owned by a spoiled brat cat.     

Ashlyn is sharing her new release us today, Flirting Under a Full Moon, which is book 1 in the Flirting with Fangs series. It is a spin-off of the Strange Neighbors series. Publisher: Sourcebooks. It will be available April 2, 2013.



Flirting Under a Full Moon


Cocktail waitress Brandee Hanson is dumped in a text message and swears off men. The psychic who frequents the bar tells Brandee not to give up. Her true love could be the next man who walks through the door. In strolls One Night Nick—a handsome hunk of a man and notorious player. Even though they’ve been flirting for months, he is so not what she needs right now.

Werewolf Nick Wolfensen quit the police force to become a paranormal private eye. His first case is to find a little girl who’s been kidnapped for her paranormal ability. With no ransom demand he has little to go on, so he consults the psychic who hangs out at his favorite bar. When the waitress and wanna-be photographer overhears the conversation, she offers to help…but not by giving him the one night he wants.


What they’re saying:

“This was a wonderful start to a very lighthearted series. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series to come out! I know other readers will enjoy getting swept away as much as I did.”—Robin, Night Owl Romance Top Pick



Book Trailer



Click Image To Purchase . . .

Over the din of clinking ice and lively conversation, the entire bar heard waitress Brandee Hanson wail, “Dumped in a text message? Really?”

Suddenly the place quieted. Heat crept up her neck, and she dropped her BlackBerry into her apron pocket. She was about to slink off to the ladies’ room when Sadie Maven, the owner’s eccentric aunt, waved her over to the booth she regularly occupied.

“Have a seat, dear. Let me do a quick reading for you—on the house.” Sadie was already shuffling her tarot cards.

Brandee slumped onto the opposite bench and set down her tray.

“I had a premonition about you just now.” Sadie winked. “It might make you feel better.”

Brandee sighed. “I’m all for feeling better. Just don’t talk about my love life. I’ve sworn off men.”

“Since when?”

“Since just now.”

Sadie spread the cards across the table. “Pick one.”

Brandee pulled one card from the middle and turned it over. On it was a picture of a couple entwined in a passionate embrace, and the text beneath proclaimed: The Lovers.

“Ah. I was right. You’ll meet your true love soon. In fact, he could be the next man to walk through that door.” Psychic Sadie nodded toward Boston Uncommon’s Charles Street entrance.

Brandee gazed at the door expectantly. It swung open and a tall, blond, broad-shouldered hunk of a man breezed in.

Oh no. It couldn’t be. “One-Night Nick? Are you kidding me?” She burst out laughing.

Sadie shrugged one shoulder. “You never know…”

Brandee picked up her tray and returned to work, still chuckling and shaking her head.

“What put that smile on your face, beautiful? Besides seeing me, of course.” Nick Wolfensen grabbed a stool and sat on it backward. Even with the stool’s height, his big feet hit the floor. His powerful thighs bulged under his blue jeans. That wasn’t the only bulge she thought she saw.

Brandee knew her regulars and Nick was a good tipper. She’d play nice, even though Sadie’s omen sat uncomfortably in the back of her mind. “Just something Sadie said. I think I’ve served her one too many White Russians.”

“Well, you haven’t served me at all, girl. I’m parched.”

“What can I get you?”

“Whatever Sam Adams you have on tap.”

“Coming right up.”

Usually Angie would get Nick’s beer, but the bartender looked engrossed in a conversation. Brandee lifted the part of the bar that flipped up and strode in. “It must be your evening off. You’re not in uniform, and you’re ordering a brew.”

Nick frowned. “Yeah, kind of.”

His set jaw and the twitch in his cheek told her she shouldn’t pursue the subject. She simply grabbed a frosted mug and held it at an angle under the tap like Angie had shown her. It created less froth and made room for more beer. When she set it in front of him, his cocky smile returned.

“Ah, you’re a good girl. I’d sing ‘Brandy’ but you’ve probably heard it a few thousand times.”

“Yeah, thanks for not doing that.” Brandee played the song in her head, and when the words pointed out what a good wife she would be, she scurried away, mumbling, “Well, I gotta get back to work.”

She grabbed a clean rag and wiped down a table that didn’t need it. Over her shoulder she caught Nick unabashedly admiring her rear end. She quickly moved on to another empty table and made sure she was facing him. As soon as she bent over to reach the surface, her V-neck dipped. Now he was gazing at her cleavage like he might drool. She bolted upright.

Oh, my Fruity Pebbles. Why can’t he turn around?

Nick rose, left his beer on the bar, and strolled over to her. He leaned down so he could whisper in her ear.

“When, Brandee?”

She tried to look casual. “When what?”

“When are you going to let me show you the time of your life?”

She smiled, thinking what that might entail, but quickly schooled her expression. “I’m not that kind of girl.”

He tried to look innocent, but she knew it was an act. Players like Nick scared her. Not that it stopped her from fantasizing about him. Handsome, charming, intelligent, and dangerous. Whether she had just been dumped or not, he wasn’t the kind of guy she needed right now—or maybe ever.

Nick backed up a step. “What are you talking about?”

Brandee rested a hand on her hip and tried to look uncompromising. “I know your reputation. They don’t call you ‘One-Night Nick’ for nothing.”

“At least I’m honest about it. I never lead girls on by saying, ‘I’ll call you,’ then leave them to wonder why I didn’t. A lot of guys do. I treat a woman to an awesome night she’ll never forget. I’m just not interested in getting tied down right now.”

She lowered her voice. “Look, I’m not saying I want to get married either. But casual sex isn’t my style.”

He feigned shock, then boomed in his baritone, “Who said anything about sex? Of course if that’s what you want, I’d be happy to oblige.”

“Oh, my Playboy penthouse… Lower your voice, dammit.”

She glanced around, but people seemed to have lost interest in her. They continued their own conversations or preoccupation with the football game. Thank you, Tom Brady.

“What’s your penthouse got to do with anything?”

She chuckled. “I don’t live in a penthouse. I live over the bar. That’s just something I do when I’m shocked. Instead of saying, “Oh my God—I substitute some other word or words for God.”

“Are you religious? Don’t want to take the lord’s name in vain or something?”

“Heck no. It’s just way overused. I don’t want to wear it out.” She faced Sadie, who she knew took an interest in all the waitresses’ love lives. Sadie shuffled her tarot cards with a knowing smile on her face.

He chuckled. “I’m not going to lie to you, Brandee. I think you’re sexy as hell, and redheads are my weakness, but if you can’t allow yourself a night of fun without some damn commitment…”

She sighed. “It’s not like that.”

“Then what is it?”

She couldn’t put her feelings into words. Sure she’d like to have a good time, but was one night worth the trouble and expense of getting a full body wax, a mani-pedi, and buying a new outfit? She needed her tips to pay for her photography supplies. A night with the handsome cop would probably steal her breath away, but she didn’t want to risk losing her heart too.

He waved and walked away. “Forget it.”

By the time he had retaken his stool and started watching the game, Brandee regretted her hesitancy. Damn it all, Nick was hot. His blond hair was growing out just enough to curl around his ears, and his sapphire blue eyes were impossible to ignore. A suspect wouldn’t stand a chance against that intense stare. Hell. She didn’t stand a chance when he looked at her with those gorgeous eyes.

Still, “No casual sex, no matter how tempting the guy might be” was a good policy. She did want to fall in love and get married someday. Even a protected one-night stand could result in a life-altering “accident.”

And if that happened, it would not be with a playboy like Nick Wolfensen. A man who only dated to have a night of fun with a different woman each time must be extremely superficial. How satisfying could that be? What would make someone do that? Had he been hurt so badly he didn’t want to risk it again? She couldn’t think of any other reason.

Sadie caught her attention and held up her empty glass, calling for another.

Oh my pickled herring… that woman can put them away. But her nephew owned the bar and he’d told the staff to keep her happy. Not only did Anthony seem genuinely fond of his aunt, but she was good for business. To sit at her booth and have a tarot card reading, the patron had to meet the one-drink minimum.

When Brandee delivered Sadie’s fourth White Russian, the fortune-teller said, “You know, my Dmitri was like that once.”

“Like what?”

She smirked. “You should know better than to feign innocence with a psychic.”

Brandee rolled her eyes. “Fine. So, you had a commitment-phobic boyfriend.”

Sadie shuffled the cards again. “It wasn’t that as much as he wanted to be free when the right woman came along. He really didn’t like the idea of hurting anyone.” She flipped over a card. “I think your Nick is doing the same thing.”

“First of all, he’s not my Nick.”

Sadie pushed the card across the table toward her. “If you say so.”

Brandee glanced at the card, then stared more closely. It was the same one. A man and a woman entwined in a passionate embrace. The Lovers.

Oh, my heartbreak… I’m toast.


Get your copy of Flirting Under a Full Moon at Amazon or other bookstores and e-retailers:



Where there’s fire, there’s Ash. 


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 Blog Tour Schedule

Week 1:

4/1 TRS (The Romance Studio) Featured Author

4/1 Book Trailer Showcase magazine

4/2 a) Book Monster Reviews and Literal Addiction  blog and contests

b) Cover Reveals Blogspot and contest

4/3 a) Night Owl Reviews Interview

b) Casablanca Authors Blog Launch and contest

4/4 I Smell Sheep blog and contest

4/5 Jordan K. Rose blog and contest

Week 2:

4/8 Brooklyn Ann’s Supernatural Smut blog and contest

4/9 CatsBooksMoreCats blog and contest

4/10 Manga Maniac Café, interview and contest

4/11 a) Fresh Fiction Blog and contest

b) Love Romances Café Yahoo! Group chat and contest 7 to 9 p.m. eastern time

4/12 Bitten by Books Interview and $50 Amazon gift card contest

4/13 B&N book signing. Saturday, 4/13/13, 2 to 4 p.m.

Week 3:

4/15 Anna’s Book Blog and contest

4/16 Booked and Loaded Interview and contest

4/17 Day off! I’ll be catching up on sleep.

4/18 Thoughts in Progress Interview and contest

4/19 Book Lovin’ Mamas Interview and contest

Week 4:

4/21 TRS Book-a-day giveaway for Flirting Under a Full Moon

4/22 Star Crossed Romance Interview and contest

4/23 Day off for good behavior

4/24 Book Chick City Top Ten list and contest

4/25 OMG, another day off. What will I do with myself?

4/26 a) Sia McKye’s Thoughts over Coffee blog and contest

4/27 Book signing, Saturday, 3:30 – 5:30 Boston Marriott hotel, Burlington, MA

Week 5:

4/29 Fraggarita’s Bookcase Interview and contest

4/30 Ruby’s Reads blog and contest