Friday, April 3, 2020

Q&A: Kathleen Stone, Author of WHISPERS ON A STRING

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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website:  http://www.kathleenstone.org
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/kstonewriter
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kathleenstonewriter

Thanks for this interview, Kathleen. Congratulations on your new book!  Would you say its been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

Thank you!  My journey started in 1995 when I spent countless hours writing and mailing query letters to agents and publishers for my first novel Head Case. It was a disheartening and disappointing time because all I ever received was rejections. I ended up self-publishing Head Case in 2002 and its sequel Whiplash in 2003 because I believed in them that much, but I never recouped the money spent to self-publish. Fast forward to 2016 and I’m ready to publish Haven, the third book in the Head Case series, and Amazon has their own publishing platform. I took that opportunity to retain the rights to Head Case and Whiplash and reissued them under the new platform in 2018. In 2017 I became a full time writer, and the freedom to write all day every day along with Amazon’s publishing platform, made it pretty smooth sailing for my new book, Whispers On A String.

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

Great question!  Even though I’ve never had the desire to write an autobiography (my life is far too boring), I have entertained the title quite often. When I was a child my mom used to sing a song to me that went, “Mares eat oats and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy… a kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?”  But in my child’s mind I didn’t hear the words the way they were written. In my head I was hearing, “Mairzee dotes and dozee dotes and little lamzee divey… a kiddle dee divey doo, wouldn’t you?”  I know it sounds crazy, but my autobiography title would be Mairzee Dotes and Dozee Dotes!

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I love reading, traveling, photography, concerts, and laughing with my family and friends.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

Whispers On A String starts its first chapter with the title, 2011. It’s not written linearly, but goes back and forth from the present, 2011, to the past, and all the chapters are titled for the year the story takes place. I took a chance writing it this way, but it worked out beautifully and many readers have told me it’s the reason they couldn’t put the book down.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so so that we can get a glimpse inside?

2011

            It was the kind of headache you get when you've been out in the sun all day... the heat emanating off your skull and the dull throbbing of drums that causes your stomach to go all queasy. I could hear the buzzer for my apartment going off, then my phone started ringing. I could barely focus my eyes as I poked my head out from under the covers to see it was my friend Lonny trying to video chat with me. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, so I ignored it. Then the buzzing from outside and my phone ringing started all over again. I decided that whoever was buzzing my apartment could only be bad news, so I answered my phone instead.
            Hey Rooster,” Lonny said with his crooked toothed smile, his eyes hidden behind a pair of aviator sunglasses.
            Lonny,” I groaned, barely opening my eyes. “What time is it?”
            Seven o’clock.”
            I wanted to strangle him. He rarely woke up before nine in the morning… why was he calling me at seven?
            I could hear the buzzing to my apartment door continuing in the background and knew it was bad news. Everything was bad news lately.
            Come on Rooster, wake up. I have a surprise for you.”
            I opened one eye to look at Lonny smiling at me from my phone. “Oh yeah? What’s that?”
            I’m standing outside your door. Don’t you hear me buzzing to get in?”
            I jumped out of bed and grabbed my head, the throbbing so intense it was as if someone hit me with a hammer. I stumbled to the door and buzzed Lonny into the building, then began searching blindly for some clothes. I managed to throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt before he tapped on my apartment door.
            I opened the door to see my best friend standing in front of me, wondering how he managed to get to New York from California without telling me. I put on a smile and pulled him into my arms, hugging him as tightly as I could.


If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Great question!  I would have to say the Fourth of July, because the two main characters, Lonny and Roo, share that day as their birthday, and this holiday has a lot of significance in the book.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

I would absolutely LOVE my book to be a series!  And it would have to be a series, as there is too much going on and a movie wouldn’t be able to capture the full essence of the story.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

I always wanted to be a writer, but I could never picture it as a reality. I was too fearful of putting my work out there, leaving me vulnerable, raw and naked. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I took that first step toward publication, and as difficult as it was, I haven’t looked back and now work as a full time writer.  I wish I’d done it sooner!

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

My first book, Head Case, was rejected by anyone and everyone, and by some of the best in the business!  I eventually self-published and haven’t looked back. While it would be a dream come true to be published by a traditional publishing house, I like the freedom of self-publishing. I make my own deadlines, I don’t have to wait a year or two for a book to be released, and I remain in full control of my work. I’m not saying that couldn’t change in the future, however.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

I’ve never co-authored a book before, but I was involved in two short story anthologies with a great group of talented writers — Secrets, Fact or Fiction I and II. I’m not opposed to co-authoring a book with the right person or people, as I think it would be a fun challenge!

What’s next for you?

I am currently writing the companion book to Whispers On A String. I say companion as opposed to sequel because while Whispers was written from the point of view of the female protagonist, the new book is being written from the point of view of the male protagonist. His book, however, is being written linearly, so there’s no going back and forth from the present to the past. I’m hoping to have it published later this year, but I also have three other novels in progress that need to be completed.
About WHISPERS ON A STRING

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

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/329vHMV

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Watch Book Trailer for Unearthing the Past by W.L. Brooks



BOOK BLURB:
A single mother and owner of the town diner, Charlie McKay couldn’t be happier with her life in Blue Creek. Taking care of everyone around her is a labor of love, but the secret she’s keeping about her daughter’s parentage lurks beneath the surface. With the scars of the past still not healed, Charlie isn’t interested in adding a man to her life, even if that man is the oh-so-tempting Craig Sutton.

Determined to own his own bar, as his father had, Craig Sutton is a man on a mission. But wanting to enjoy small town life is only one of the reasons he moved to the mountains of North Carolina. Whether meaning to or not, Craig can’t keep from getting involved with the McKay family, and the closer he gets to Charlie and her daughter the more entangled he becomes.

In Blue Creek secrets have always run deep, and someone is now trying to expose Charlie’s in a disturbing way. She isn’t the only one with something to hide, however, and deception threatens a possible relationship between her and Craig. As hidden truths are revealed and danger increases, Charlie must find a way to face the past or lose everything.

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2FTlM3J

 


W.L. Brooks was born with an active imagination.  When characters come into her mind, she has to give them a life- a chance to tell their stories. With a coffee cup in her hand and a cat by her side, she spends her days letting the ideas flow onto paper.  A voracious reader, she draws her inspiration from mystery, romance, suspense and a dash of the paranormal.
A native of Virginia Beach, she is currently living in Western North Carolina. Pick up her latest novel, The Secrets That Shape Us- available now!


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Book Blast The Mocking Man + $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway



We're happy to host the book blast for THE MOCKING MAN by romantic suspense author Leslie Georgeson. Leslie is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Be sure to enter on form below and good luck!


THE MOCKING MAN
By Leslie Georgeson
Romantic Suspense

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

The Mocking Man:

Deception.

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

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

I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Amazon → https://amzn.to/2TLM1S0










Mr. Wilson could be watching me right now through the video surveillance he’d mentioned.
Be very careful, Izzy. You could go to jail if you get caught. 
My boss’s words about being unethical flashed through my mind. What I was contemplating now wasn’t ethical at all. It was dishonest. Wrong.
But I needed to find out if Alex was alive. I needed to find the mocking man. And I needed to do it today. So while Mr. Wilson slept, I was going to quietly snoop while I cleaned, and see if I could find something that might give me answers.
Video surveillance be dammed. If I moved around just right, carrying my supplies and acting like I was cleaning, then he wouldn’t know I was snooping, right?
A half hour later, I’d searched through this entire side of the villa and found no evidence suggesting Alex Davies might live here. Was I wasting my time here? Was Alex truly dead?
I tiptoed back into the kitchen. Then I went around past the sunroom area and down a separate hallway, checking each room. Nothing.
The last door to my right was closed. The sun wasn’t all the way up yet, so it was still a bit dark in the hallway. As I drew nearer, it became apparent the “closed” door actually stood slightly ajar. Just a crack. As if someone had forgotten to close it all of the way.
For some reason, that small opening called to me, saying, “Come check me out. There are secrets in here.”
And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.
I gravitated toward the opening, eager to see beyond, taking no heed to my inner warnings that shrieked, curiosity killed the cat, Izzy. Be careful.
Gently pressing on the door, I pushed it open.
The room was shrouded in darkness, the curtains drawn.
A sense of eeriness crept over me as I tried to make out what I was seeing.
I stumbled back, a scream erupting from my throat.
What the…crap was that?








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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: http://lesliegeorgeson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lesliegeorgeson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlesliegeorgeson/

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

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

ENTER TO WIN!

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com
 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Q&A: Brit Lunden, Author of THE KNOWING

Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology.  Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:



Thanks for this interview, Brit, and congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey? 
  
It’s always smooth sailing for me. When you are an indie, you don’t have to wait for approval from other people. Create, Write, Edit, Publish and Repeat!


If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?


Three Ring Circus. I wear many hats. I am the CEO of a large ground transportation company. I manage my son’s and my own writing careers, I write,and lately, I am a mother and grandmother.


I love yoga and take a class twice a week. I am also very active with my grandchildren. I travel a lot.  For adult entertainment, it’s always Vegas.


What makes your book stand out from the rest?


I think I do write the unexpected. They are not cookie cutters.


Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?


BULWARK, GEORGIA – PRESENT DAY

JB closed the door gently, glad to have the place to himself again. Sheriff Clay Finnes had taken the injured couple to the hospital. The only sound in the cabin was the creak of the wooden floors settling and the tick of the antique regulator clock that hung on the wall. It was an old clock and had never worked very well. JB smiled, thinking Ellie would be pleased to see the ornate second hand traveling around the parchment-colored face and the great brass pendulum swinging again. It must have been set off when he slammed the door shut after he had escorted that ungrateful wretch out of his house. What a creep, calling his wife a witch, of all things. Didn’t she know not to speak ill of the dead?


If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?


Valentine's Day. It’s a love letter to my late husband.


Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?


My books are part of a series.I hope someone picks it up and makes a series on TV!


When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?


I always wanted to be a writer. I began this part of my career at 58 and am enjoying it immensely.


Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?


Yes, all the time. I wrote a book when I was twenty-five. I had an agent and it was rejected, but it was one of the best experiences of my younger life.


What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?


Yes, it’s a lot of fun. I love sharing ideas.


What’s next for you?


I am editing my son’s latest book. I am also in the last stages of editing for my latest book as Carole P. Roman, a joke book. When these are  done, I’m heading back to Bulwark and visiting another character.




About THE KNOWING


Bulwark- a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world. Bulwark, Georgia, isolated, hidden. Who knows what strange things can happen when the rest of the world can’t see you? JB Stratton is alone in the world, and all he has left are the memories of his beloved Ellie. Dirt poor JB and wealthy Ellie feel an instant connection that is as intense and primal
as the blood red earth of their home. Unseen roots connect them, pulling them into an impossible relationship. Will the memories of past lives help or hinder the path of their love? Based on the original novella Bulwark, by Brit Lunden, The Knowing continues the story of a town isolated from the rest of the world where the impossible becomes plausible, and logic is determined by reality.
“THE KNOWING is a wonderfully written romance, a time-hopping supernatural mystery, and an all-around good time–a worthy addition to Brit Lunden’s Bulwark anthology.” – Lisa Butts for IndieReader

“Lunden’s characters feel real, and their interactions make the story work quite well. Her plot is engaging and suitably dark, making this an entertaining urban fantasy tale. The Knowing: A Bulwark Anthology is a well written and engrossing read. It’s most highly recommended.” – Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite

“Romance devotees looking for a quick, colorful read should consider The Knowing, which might spark interest in checking out the preceding novella and other installments in the Bulwark Anthology, all of which are currently available in paperback and ebook.” – BlueInk Reviews

An interesting read and wonderful first addition to what seems to be an anthology with much promise. – Insatiable Readers (blog)

The skillful storytelling brings the characters to life and provides a highly immersive reading experience… I strongly urge you to read Brit Lunden’s original novella Bulwark as well, which sets the stage for all the characters in the anthology and offers more excitement for fans of paranormal thrillers. – Ice Fairy’s Treasure Chest (blog)


The Knowing, as its title suggests, makes a compelling pull in such a short space of pages, absolutely filled with emotion and conveying a powerfully romantic story line in sharp contrast to the previous book, but also very fitting of the town and its tone. Readers seeking an immersive new series where they can experience all different story types within the same, dark mysterious world are certain to love The Knowing and the Bulwark Anthology in general.” – K. C. Finn, Readers’ Favorite

“The story is brief yet impactful as the details included and the images they paint are emotionally evocative. The wisdom of characters such as Bear Bryant shines through and adds a beautiful touch to the already delightful love story. The intensity of JB and Ellie’s relationship plus the paranormal aspects of their story makes it even more enthralling. The Knowing by Brit Lunden is a well-told tantalizing read.” – Edith Wairimu, Readers’ Favorite

“It is a beautifully written love story encompassing the present, past, and even past lives. It is a romance with a hint of the supernatural. It is well written with a level of area building and character development often unseen in shorter books. It was easy to read this in one sitting; the story is sweet, intriguing, and sometimes moving. It has certainly piqued my interest in other books by this author, especially the Bulwark, from which this story stems. ” – K.J. Simmill, Readers’ Favorite

“The engaging tale’s centerpiece is the teens’ romance, with a Southern setting the author masterfully captures… The unadorned prose and concise descriptions make for a quick read all the way to the bittersweet ending… A short but undeniably charming love story.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“When two people find each other and then lose each other, it sometimes takes extraordinary happenings to bring them back together. “The Knowing” is a quick little story underwritten with the paranormal, and this keeps readers guessing. What could possibly go wrong in this strange world?” – Long And Short Reviews

“For those readers looking for a fast-paced paranormal mystery novel with excellent, vivid descriptive elements, this is a great choice for you. I believe that Brit Lunden’s works are destined to become a classic in paranormal short story fiction.” – Patricia Lynn Dompieri, Lemon Bee & Other Peculiar Tales

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon → https://amzn.to/39skWYJ

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/38gvppU

Book Watch: Monsterland by Michael Okon #bookwatch @michaelokon





MONSTERLAND
By Michael Okon
YA Monster Fiction

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

Praise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monsterland Awards

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


Amazon → https://amzn.to/31KQKFy

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






Chapter 1
The Everglades

The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.
The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.
A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.
The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.
What were the interlopers doing here? Billy thought furiously. This was their territory. The humans didn’t belong in the swamp. The moon continued its trip to the heavens, the familiar agony beginning in his chest. Billy fought the demons churning within his body, feeling the pain of metamorphosis. He curled inward, hunching his shoulders, the curse of his nature making his spine pull until his tendons and muscles tore from their human positions to transform into something wicked. A howl erupted from his throat, followed by another, and then another. Grabbing handfuls of dirt, he tried to fight the awful change, but, as the sun dipped to its fiery death, the moon took control of his life, and the unnatural force tore through his unwilling body. Reason fled; his heart raced. Falling on his hands and knees, he let loose a keening cry as his face elongated, his body changing into a canine, fangs filling his mouth. He raced in a circle in a demented dance, knowing his fellow pack members did the same thing. Slowing, he regulated his labored breathing, forcing the icy calmness he needed to keep some semblance of reason. He peered through the dense brush. Lights from the search party bobbed in the distance. The odor, the stench of humanity, filled the clearing.
He turned, digging furiously on the ground, throwing dirt on the flames, hiding their existence. It was no good. Discovery would ruin everything. No one could live with their kind. Humans brought disease, humans brought anger, humans brought hatred. They were there; he could smell them, see their clumsy bodies invading his home. “They’ve found us,” he growled in the special language they used. “Run!” he barked as he turned to his pack, watching his friends’ naked skin transform until it was covered with the same silvered fur. They cried out in unison at the pain, howling with the injustice, and then ran in fear from the interlopers threatening their habitat.










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

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


 



 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Book Blast & Giveaway: Chemo Muscles by Renee A. Exelbert



CHEMO MUSCLES: LESSONS LEARNED FROM BEING A PSYCHO-ONCOLOGIST AND CANCER PATIENT
By Renee A. Exelbert, PhD
Autobiography/Health/Fitness

In Chemo Muscles: Lessons Learned from Being a Psycho-Oncologist and Cancer Patient, Exelbert reflects on her experience of confronting her cancer diagnosis, as the doctor becomes the patient.

Exelbert was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 after working as a psychologist in a pediatric cancer center in Long Island, NY. A wife and mother of two young children, she struggled with vulnerability and identity. As a medical professional, she had both challenging and elevating experiences with healthcare professionals. And ultimately, she became a certified personal trainer and bodybuilding figure competitor to regain a sense of control over her body.

With unflinching candor and detail, Exelbert shares her story by pairing it with psychological theory, well-researched coping techniques for patients and families, and guidance to aid healthcare professionals in treating people with greater dignity, understanding, and respect.

“By sharing the inner-most thoughts and emotions she experienced throughout her breast cancer journey, Dr. Exelbert provides validation that “life-altering” doesn’t necessarily condemn a cancer patient to a life that is “less than” it once was. Her dual perspectives as both a patient and a psychologist provide a unique opportunity to merge the raw emotional impact of the diagnosis with clinical training, thereby allowing her to process and understand the experience in a way that is both reassuring and empowering.”
— Jane E. Austin, Ph.D., Professor, William Paterson University

“This is less a book about cancer and the healing effects of exercise and diet as much as it is about the power of resilience; about confronting the unimaginable and what it takes to come out the other side. By allowing the reader into her personal journey, Dr. Exelbert invites us to explore the human dimensions of illness, seamlessly weaving between best psychological practices and the simple needs that we all have as members of the human family. For those of us working in the cancer community – or in any other community for that matter – this book is a must-read. It summons us to remember our humanity – to not hide behind cold clinical jargon and artificial barriers – and reminds us of the power we each possess to not only ease our own fears and pain, but those of our fellow travelers.”
— Arnie Preminger, CEO/Founder, Sunrise Association International summer and year-round programs for children with cancer and their siblings

“In this important and inspiring book, Dr. Exelbert shares her personal and emotional journey through cancer, with the vulnerability of a patient, the expertise of a psycho-oncologist, and with a generosity of heart that makes this book an essential guide for cancer patients, their families and clinicians alike. Lessons gleaned from personal suffering and transformation, combined with valuable knowledge from psychological and medical research, nutrition, and exercise, will undoubtedly leave the reader not only better informed, but empowered with hope and courage amidst the struggle with serious illness.”
— Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D., Psycho-oncologist, New York University School of Medicine


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One Breast or Two?
I still had not decided if I was going to have the requisite single
mastectomy, or a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. There were some
studies that showed a miniscule chance of breast cancer spreading to
the other breast. My plastic surgeon had discussed that there would
also be a lack of symmetry between my breasts had I elected to have
the single mastectomy. He commented that they would be “sisters”
rather than “twins.” Two days prior to having surgery, I was sent for
a final scan of my breasts. My right breast was the one that had the
malignancies, however, there was some concern that the cancer might
be present in the left breast. The amount of terror I experienced about
the possibility of having more cancer was beyond measure. It turned
out to be nothing, merely dense breasts. However, my doctor notified
me that from this point forward, I would be checked much more
frequently in the existing breast. The prospect of experiencing more
scares due to dense or cystic breasts was something I could not handle.
I decided then and there that I would opt for the prophylactic bilateral
mastectomy. It was not an easy choice, as I could have kept one breast
and therefore preserved some sense of my existing identity, femininity,
and beauty. I had several people close to me as well as Dr. A, my old
boss from the pediatric cancer center, try to convince me that having the
bilateral mastectomy was a drastic and unnecessary measure. On
the other hand, I had been so freaked out by cancer and the possibility
of future trauma, that I felt it best to minimize any and all risks. When
I arrived for surgery, my surgeon, Dr. M, still had not been notified of
my final decision. She asked me in a perfunctory tone, “One breast or
two?” as this was her common vernacular, and illustrative of surgery
that she routinely performed. I couldn’t help but be struck by the metaphor
to coffee—would I like one lump of sugar or two? Additionally,
Dr. K and Dr. M had asked me if they would be removing a mole that
I had between my breasts, as surgery was the perfect time to get rid
of it. It was not attractive, but it had become a part of me. I told them
that I did not want to lose any more of me than I needed to, and that I
wanted to keep my mole. They both joked with me about how hideous
my mole was going to look with my brand-new boobs. They made me
laugh and brought levity to an agonizing experience. Nonetheless, I
am so glad that I kept my mole. We have been through a lot together.
I spent a few final minutes alone with Billy, who gently touched and
kissed my boobs. He then said “goodbye guys.” We cried and held each
other. His unconditional love and acceptance let me know that no
matter how this surgery altered my body, he would always love me and
find me beautiful. And with that, I was wheeled into surgery.
As the anesthesia was administered and I was lying down, terrified
for how this next chapter of my life was about to unfold, Dr. M held
my hand and supported me. It was such a small gesture, but meant the
world to me.













Renee A. Exelbert, Ph.D., CFT, is both a licensed psychologist and certified personal trainer. She is the Founding Director of The Metamorphosis Center for Psychological and Physical Change, where she integrates psychotherapy and exercise with a focus on the mind/body connection. She maintains a private practice in New York City, Manhasset and Nyack, New York for the treatment of children, adolescents, adults and families. Dr. Exelbert is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development where she teaches Masters-level psychology courses. She previously served as Staff Psychologist at the Winthrop University Hospital Cancer Center for Kids, working with children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website:  https://drexelbert.com/
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ReneeExelbert

 

Renee A. Exelbert is giving away an autographed copy of CHEMO MUSCLES!

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