Friday, June 15, 2018

Interview with Greg Hickey, OUR DRIED VOICES

Can you give us a brief overview of your book? Is it part of a series?
Our Dried Voices depicts a future world without disease, hunger or privation, in which the last members of the human race travel to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity. 

Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence. 

With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.

For now, Our Dried Voices is not part of a series. However, many readers have asked about a sequel and I have some ideas about what that book might entail.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, I did, and Our Dried Voices was traditionally published by Scribe Publishing Company. On the way to signing that contract, I sent a lot of queries to agents and publishers and got a lot of rejections. I soon realized that this process is not uncommon. J.K. Rowling famously got “loads” of rejections for the first book in the Harry Potter series before it was accepted. I’ve come to believe that every author has to go through a certain number of rejections before their work is accepted. It could be one, ten or 100 rejections, but at some point, you’ll hit your rejection quota and get a “yes.”

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
Years. Our Dried Voices was my first novel. It took me about a year to write the first draft and another year or so to edit it to the point I felt it was ready for submission. I sent out queries to a few agents and publishers and started working on a second novel. I got some tepid interest from a few people but nothing concrete. Eventually, one agent told me the manuscript was promising but recommended I send it to a professional editor. I did so and received some valuable feedback. I then spent another year or so rewriting the novel to incorporate many of the editor’s suggestions. I sent out more queries and continued to work on my second novel. More than five years after I started writing Our Dried Voices, I got a publishing offer from Scribe Publishing Company. They published the novel the following year.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
As this was my first foray into the world of publishing, I didn’t have much experience to work from. But I was impressed by the enthusiasm the head of Scribe showed about Our Dried Voices. In one of her early emails, she wrote, “Wow - what a hauntingly beautiful, unpredictable story!  I would be thrilled to publish this book.” I figured that if she was so passionate about the novel, she would do a good job of introducing it to new readers.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first or latest book.
I started writing Our Dried Voices in 2008, during the summer after I graduated from college. I had played baseball in college and my college coach had found me a job as a player and coach for a baseball club in Sundsvall, Sweden. My responsibilities were limited to coaching and participating in senior team practices two nights a week, coaching and playing in two games on Saturday or Sunday and coaching the occasional practice or game for the club’s junior team. So I had a lot of time on my hands, especially during the days, and I was able to write a good chunk of the first draft over the course of that summer.

After Sweden, I returned home to Chicago for a month, then traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to play and coach for another baseball team. I had studied abroad in Cape Town while in college and had played for a local team. After Sweden, I went back to join the team for the full season. I had a temporary office job during part of my stay in Cape Town but still found plenty of time to write.

I distinctly remember writing what became the third-to-last chapter of Our Dried Voices in my head while jogging through the Cape Town suburb where my host family lived. I would write a sentence in my head, memorize it, write a second sentence, memorize the first two, write a third, and so on. When I got back from my run, I typed out that chapter of the novel.

I was fortunate to have these opportunities for many reasons, including the fact that by the time I returned home from South Africa the following year, I had the first draft of Our Dried Voices.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
The cover for Our Dried Voices was created by a graphic designer working for the publisher, but I was very involved in the process. We went through several iterations before settling on a cover I felt best represented the theme and tone of the novel. I passed over a lot of cover ideas I thought were too bright and flashy. Our Dried Voices is about a simple group of people, and I wanted the cover to reflect that. The cover also depicts one of the clues that lead the protagonist Samuel to his ultimate showdown.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
My writing process has changed a lot since I wrote Our Dried Voices. I now have a day job, which leaves me with less spare time to write. Nowadays, I do most of my writing while on the bus or train to and from work, during lunch breaks and in the evenings after work. If I’m not in front of a computer, I write in a notebook or on my phone. At the end of the week, I compile everything I’ve written on a project into a single document. And I definitely prefer silence when I’m writing. The one exception is that I’ll often go for a walk outside to stimulate some creativity. When I’m outside, I’m obviously surrounded by a variety of sounds but unless they’re loud and clearly distinguishable words, they seem to fade into the background.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
It depends on what I’m writing. Our Dried Voices has a plot where elements need to happen in a specific order. Over the course of the story, Samuel faces new and increasingly difficult challenges. He learns novel ideas and additional ways of expressing his thoughts. And he continues to discover fresh clues that lead him toward the reason behind the problems in his colony. So I crafted pretty extensive outlines before I started writing Our Dried Voices to make sure that everything occurred in the proper order.

My current project is different in that it revolves around four characters and their backstories. There is a progression of events, but those events don’t need to happen in a specific order to make logical sense. When I started the first draft of this book, I had an idea of what the four characters were like and I just started writing whatever scenes came to mind. This process allowed the characters to develop organically and in a way that felt natural for the story I’m telling.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’m on most of the usual social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.). I enjoy answering questions about various topics in my fiction and about writing in general on Quora and I maintain a blog on my website. I also have an email list where I share updates on my writing as well as discounts and giveaways for my books and other related products.

What’s next for you?
I had another book published last year: a choose-your-own-adventure novel titled The Friar’s Lantern. And I briefly mentioned my current project, which is a novel tentatively titled Parabellum. Parabellum tells the story behind a fictional mass shooting in my hometown of Chicago. It follows four characters in the year leading up to the shooting and investigates how and why they might be involved in the attack. I finished the first draft of Parabellum last year and I’m currently editing it. If all goes well, I hope to publish it in 2020.

Amazon buy link:

Author bio:
Greg Hickey is a former international professional baseball player and current forensic scientist, endurance athlete, author and screenwriter. His debut novel, Our Dried Voices, was a finalist for Foreword Reviews' INDIES Science Fiction Book of the Year Award. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

#NEW fantasy release: ONE THOUSAND TEARS by Pauline Creeden

 Among mermaids and humans, cruelty has many faces.       

One secret Adelaide has kept for as long as she can remember—her love for Jonas. She is the daughter of the clan’s elder; he is a bottom feeder. As Mer, they can never be together. But as humans, it might be possible. When Jonas’s reckoning comes, he must go to land during the cycle of the full moon. But when the next cycle comes around, he doesn’t return. Fearing what might have become of him, Adelaide follows and gains legs for herself. But living life as a human is much more difficult than she imagined. And finding Jonas is just as hard. To follow him to the underwater city, she must endure the Initiate’s Trial. Her strength and resolve will be tested, if she wants to find Jonas and survive. Adelaide must prove she’s more than just a mermaid princess. 

Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited  

Author bio: Pauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.   

 Follow Pauline Creeden: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Interview with Nell E S Douglas, IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? 
Sure! Thanks for having me. Here’s the synopsis: In the Land of Milk and Honey. When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone. Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. 

Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crostini. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both. 

Do you have a favorite character?
All the characters are special in their own way. The heroine, Bree, and Byronic hero, Daniel, are dynamic and complex. Bree’s sister, Violet, brings the levity. Hunter is just one of kind and a really fascinating character to work out on the pages. There’s a great supporting cast in In the Land of Milk and Honey that you’ll love or love to hate! 

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Almost. I had a character that had more to say than I expected. It didn't change the novel but it did add a layer. 

If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I used a professional book cover service. I drew the original cover I wanted then used some basic skills to make a digital version. I sent it to them and they returned a perfect result. Ebook Launch was great to work with. 

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I like playing music during the writing process. Music can set the tone for a scene. 

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
When I have a story idea it arrives pretty complete. There’s always moments or exchanges where the muses shine but it stays within the architecture of the story. 

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Amazon is home base for right now. I’ve enjoyed the process working with them. 

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Good question! I’m on Instagram @nellesdougas and Facebook (Nell E. S. Douglas). I also have a Twitter @nellesdouglas and a personal website, 

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
It’s a learning experience. You owe it to a project to see the business end through and get it into the hands of the readers. Patience sums up my philosophy.  

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena? 
I would say know yourself and your work and understand what you bring to the table that’s different. And if it’s pretty safely inside lanes, know that, too. Just go for it. 

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Family life is my number one passion. My husband and children are the best. I also work part-time, volunteer, I work out, cook (I love experimenting with new recipes) and recharge by spending time outdoors. Reading and writing in my free time are bonuses I could never give up. They round me out.  

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Dogs, Depends on my mood, coffee, texting but it can’t replace a good chit chat with a friend far away, and I love the daytime and nighttime equally but am far from a morning person. 

In the Land of Milk and Honey
Nell E.S. Douglas
Publication date: January 17th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

When Gabrielle “Bree” Valentine awoke in a hospital bed with a newborn baby, she centered herself and rebuilt. Bree didn’t think about her mental breakdown, lost memories, or the features of a stranger emerging daily in the face of the son she is raising alone.
Five years later, on a weekend in the Hamptons, a chance encounter with a man unlike any other jars her—bone deep. Daniel Hawthorne Baird II, wealthy, dangerous, British aristocrat, gravitates to Bree like caviar on crostini. In his relentless obsession with Bree, their lives entwine despite Bree’s resistance. With the unconditional support of friends she calls ‘family’, Bree confronts the most difficult questions of her life. Unearthing the painful mysteries behind who fathered her child, who the real Daniel Baird is, and the irrepressible desire driving her towards a man destined to be the end of them both.

Author Bio:
Nell E. S. Douglas has possessed a deep, abiding love for written words since childhood. The transition from reader, to writer, was a natural one. Her first stories, penned on the lined pages of class notebooks, were inspired by her mother’s poetry and epic tales of travel, and a professorial inquisitiveness inherited from her father. Following college in Florida, Nell exited the world of pure imagination, and entered the one of business, successfully establishing a career in sales, and developing a cup-a-day habit (of coffee).
Today, Nell writes everything from story ideas to essays during the spaces in-between domestic goddessing, and contributing as a managing partner to a thriving small business. Nell resides in Florida, with her husband and their children, passing on the traditions of her mother, and sinking her feet in the sand whenever possible.
Her favorite books are Pride and Prejudice, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her favorite movies are Gladiator, anything by Scorcese, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Bridesmaids.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

#Review: THE PERFECT DUCHESS by Erica Taylor

  3 of 5 stars
Andrew Macalister, the Duke of Bradstone, dreads the annual Macalister Ball although this year he comes to the rescue of childhood friend, Lady Clara Masson. Clara has been ostracized from polite society for a scandal that was not her fault. The fact that she was at the Ball at all was her small rebellion against her brother who had expressly told her she could not attend. Andrew and Clara meeting again after years apart starts a series of events that propels them to doubt everything they believed about each other.

I thought the premise of the book was good, but I did not like the reasons the villain, Clara's brother Jonathan, had for doing all the awful things he did. I thought that one twist was not necessary and there were other reasons that could have worked without that particular one. I won't say what the unusual twist is, but I'm sure there will be many readers who object to it. I also thought Andrew's moods got to be tedious after a while. One minute he's all sunshine and the next he's glaring again. That got old. Clara, on the hand, was a feisty heroine which was a nice change from the usual timid/shy regency young women.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review and was not obligated to leave a review.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Choice of 83 Experts (2018 UPDATE) by Ferry Vermeulen

Over 80 Techcomm experts reveal their favourite technical writing tools. Every technical writer knows it: writing user manuals requires many,many skills. Sadly, not all writers make use of available software tools (maybe there are just too many types of authoring tools to choose from, or often the learning curve can be quite challenging).

However, there are also people that USE awesome technical writing tools to create better content, run a successful business or to support them in a successful career.
I gathered over 80 industry experts and asked them just one question:
If you could use just three technical writing tools in your company, which ones should you use (in the technical writing tools definition, standards and other helpful attributes are included)?

Let me tell you, the insights I received from these more than 70 established techcomm experts were nothing short of amazing. I have listed all of them below. It includes methods, standards, ‘standard’ authoring software, web authoring tools, multimedia authoring tools et cetera.

I hope this post will be of great value for all new to techcomm or for those wanting to broaden their horizon.

Here is the link to scroll through all the tech expert's recommendations.

Ferry Vermeulen 
Founder and director of business development at INSTRKTIV GmbH. After first starting his own industrial design agency back in 2006, Ferry co-founded the company Manualise in 2009. In 2015 Ferry started INSTRKTIV. INSTRKTIV helps brands and organisations create their user manuals and technical documentation. By the strong focus on both usability and liability, clients like Electrolux, Lidl, AkzoNobel, AEG, Skil and Scheider-Electric are part of his portfolio.

Ferry's Top 3 technical writing tools:

Ferry's explanation:
Solidworks Composer: The only powerfool tool to create userfriendly images in my opinion.
Madcap Flare: A user friendly CMS from a brilliant company that has never let me down.

The IEC 82079-1:2012: The international standard for User Instructions. 
User Manual Templates: These templates help to create compliant manuals for Machinery, Medical Devices, Toys and Electronics for the EU marketThe international standard for User Instructions. 

#Excerpt: BEACHBOY MURDER by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Just as travel agent turned reluctant sleuth Gabby LeClair is starting to gain some of the Aloha spirit, a business consortium from Chicago breezes into the Aloha Lagoon resort and offers to buy her business. The offer is tempting...but so is hot helicopter pilot Rick Dawson, making it a difficult decision. One that becomes even more complicated when a dead body is discovered in Gabby's backyard, and she's suddenly thrust in the middle of a murder investigation!

The dead man is a former beachboy attendant from the island. With a trail of broken hearts—not to mention jealous rivals—leading up to the beachboy, Gabby tries to uncover just who had it in for the late lothario. Is the female of the species really more deadly than the male? Or has the beachboy scorned one too many women for some other man's liking?


Detective Ray wasn't on my list of top guys on the island. I'd had a drawn-out encounter with him the summer before. He was brusque and all business when he was working. I'd never interacted with him socially, so as far as I knew that was the way he was all the time.

He touched the brim of his straw skimmer. If it had been any other man, I would've thought the gesture charming, but on just-the-facts-ma'am Detective Ray, it seemed a little rote.

"Good morning, Miss LeClair."

"Detective." I waited.

Her curiosity nearly a tangible entity, Janet stood so close behind me that if I'd moved I would have bumped into her.

"Detective?" Her voice rose in surprise, but for once there was no inflection of flirtation in it.

"What can I do for you this early, Detective Ray?" I asked.

His cop's point of view took in both of us, and he touched his hat again. "I was just wondering, Miss LeClair,"—he paused, lifted his chin, and scratched under it—"if you"—he cast a speculative glance in Janet's direction—"have anything to do with the dead body in your back yard."

About the Author:
The USA Today best-selling writing team of Sally J. Smith (right brain) and Jean Steffens (left brain) make up equal halves of one totally functional writer’s mind. Creative and intuitive and organized and systematic? What could be better than that?

The two desert dwellers work together side-by-side, literally finishing each other’s sentences, putting together their novels faster and more efficiently than they ever could individually.

When their heads aren’t together over a manuscript, you’ll find them with their families, at a movie, the mall, or out-to-lunch—in the food sense, not the spaced-out sense, well…most of the time. Their current series include Jordan Welsh Mysteries, Mystic Isle Mysteries, Danger Cove Pet Sitter Mysteries, Aloha Lagoon Gabby LeClair Mysteries, and Digby Sloan Mysteries.

http://www// up for their newsletter to receive a free short story)

Buy the book at or

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#FREE: The Single Daddy Club, DERRICK by USA best-selling author Donna Fasano

The Single Dad: Ex-military man Derrick Richmond. Solitary and satisfied…until little Timmy was dropped into his lap and Derrick had to learn to be somebody's daddy.

The Single Woman: School teacher Anna Maxwell. Fate might have denied her a family of her own, but Anna still had plenty of love to give, if only someone would notice.

The Solution: Anna would teach Derrick all he needed to know about kids. Father and son would give Anna some precious memories. Then the school teacher and the single dad would go their separate ways. Unless one little boy had other ideas!


"This was a wonderful romance about conquering deep set fears and apprehension...An entertaining read full of emotion." 

"The situations with the students in the classroom setting were like many I have had while teaching. The children's dialogue was realistic, witty, and honest. Donna's descriptive language paints vivid pictures of her characters' feelings, and draws you into the story."

Find this book:

Bringing you the best romance books available!

Friday, June 8, 2018

.99 #SALE: THE ACCIDENTAL WEDDING by Debra Elizabeth

Has Keira made the worst mistake of her life?

Unemployed Keira Callahan decides to try her luck at the casino before delving back into job hunting. As she walks through the casino, she bumps into the most handsome man she’s ever seen. When he asks her to dinner, she doesn’t hesitate. As she learns Cade Tyndale’s story—he needs to wed or lose his British estate, her impulsive nature rears up and she agrees to marry him and move to England for one year. What does she have to lose except her heart to the impossibly handsome Earl of Barrett?

ONLY $.99!
Amazon buy link:

“Congratulations!” the woman sitting next to her said. “Tonight’s your lucky night.”
“Thank you. I was just about to leave," Keira said. "That was my last spin.”
“Good thing you didn’t leave.”
“I know, but I’m definitely leaving now. They’re not getting any of this money back,” she said with a chuckle. By the time the credits finally stopped adding up, she had won a little over a thousand dollars. “This is the biggest jackpot I’ve ever won,” she said, grabbing her ticket as it slid out of the payout slot. She turned to the woman next to her. “Good luck tonight. I hope you win too!”
The woman nodded her thanks and turned back to playing her own machine.
Keira looked around for the nearest cashier window, spotted one past the roulette and craps tables, and hurried toward it. As she passed the craps table, she looked at her ticket again, with its final payout of one thousand and seventy-five dollars. It was the most money she’d ever won at the casino. Tonight was indeed her lucky night. This money would certainly give her some added time while she made up her mind about what she wanted to do next about finding a job. Still looking down at her ticket, she nearly fell to the floor when she ran into something rock hard. Or make that someone. As she began to fall backward, her arms doing wild cartwheels to try to regain her balance, her eyes found the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen standing in front of her.
He was tall and lean, with striking blue eyes and light-brown hair that fell in waves to his shirt collar. Women would kill for hair like that, it was so perfect. He looked like he’d stepped out of a GQ magazine cover; or better still, put him in a suit of armor and give him a sword, and he would become the legendary knight Tristan come to life. A hero destined to make the ladies swoon, and Keira was ready to swoon. He was impossibly handsome.
All these crazy thoughts swirled through her mind as she fell backwards. This tumble was going to be so embarrassing, never mind the bruising her bottom would endure. Much to her surprise, none of that happened. A strong arm wrapped around her waist at the last minute and prevented her from falling. Instead of sitting on the floor embarrassed, she found herself pressed against a hard and very toned chest.
“Oh, my God! I’m so sorry,” she blurted out. “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
Blue eyes twinkled at her. “The fault is mine. I stepped back from the table without looking. Please accept my sincere apology,” the handsome stranger said in a charming English accent before releasing his grip on her waist.
Could he be any more perfect? Not only was he Adonis, the god of beauty and desire, in the flesh, but an Adonis with an English accent. Her mouth hung open as she stared at him.
Behind them, cheers broke out. Were they cheering for him? Keira looked around and saw the stickman place a stack of chips in front of her hero stranger. “Wow. Looks like you won,” she said.
“Well, then I have you to thank for that. Seems like you’re the good luck charm I’ve been looking for all evening,” he said. “Would you care to stay a little longer?”
Stay a little longer? Keira wanted nothing more than to stay in his company. She had a weakness for British accents, never mind the fact that he was incredibly handsome with full sensuous lips. Besides, she wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere else. Putting her winning ticket in her purse, she nodded. “Sure, why not. Thank you for catching me, by the way. I wasn’t really looking forward to bouncing off the carpet in front of a crowd. That would have been embarrassing.”
The sexy stranger chuckled. “Not a problem. Anytime you feel yourself falling, I’d be happy to catch you again.”
A shiver of delight snaked up Keira’s spine. An Englishman with a sense of humor—how delightful was that? This evening was getting better and better—first a win at the slot machines, and now a meeting with a chivalrous and handsome stranger. Yes, her night was definitely looking up. “I’m Keira. Keira Callahan.”
“Pleased to meet you, Keira Callahan.” He extended his hand. “Cade Tyndale, at your service.”
Keira shook his hand. It was warm, and she wondered what that hand would feel like caressing her skin.
What? Caressing my skin? Where did that thought come from? Pull it back, girl. You just met him. Stop daydreaming and focus on the now.

#Excerpt: THE GATHERING by Bernadette Giacomazzo

The Gathering
Bernadette Giacomazzo
(The Uprising, #1)
Publication date: March 31st 2018
Genres: Adult, Dystopian

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.
In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.
I saw Emperor – looking like a hot air balloon, sounding as ridiculous as ever – blathering on about his personal Reichstag fire, and laying the blame of the explosion squarely at the feet of myself and my brothers-in-arms.
“…and it’s these traitors of the state – the threat to the security of my Empire of the United States of America – the defectors of the Cabal who go by Jamie Ryanand Basile Perrinault and, my greatest betrayal, Supreme Allied Commander Kanoa Shinomura…” he hollered into the microphone, which seemed to reverberate throughout the city.
At the sound of Kanoa’s name, the Cabal members below the balcony slammed the butts of their guns on the floor in rhythm. I knew that rhythm all too well – it was meant to be a war cry for those of us in the rank-and-file of the Cabal – but, to the untrained ear, it sounded like a machine gun going off…which was exactly the point.
But I couldn’t help but sneer at the accusation that the blast that nearly killed Evanora and Tommy was somehow our fault. He’d spent decades trying to catch us and failing miserably, yet in the same breath, believed we were inept enough to set off a blast that took no lives and could be cleaned up during a balmy New York evening. And he managed to sell this ridiculous belief to the crowd, no less.
“Let’s make something clear, asshole,” I muttered, “if it had been me and the boys that lit your shit up, you wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Despite the absurdity of the accusation – and despite the obvious absurdity of the accusation – the victims of psi just grunted along, agreeing with everything and anything that came out of Emperor’s mouth, in part because they didn’t know any better (they were psi victims, after all), and in part because any disagreement with what Emperor had to say was met with a fierce, painful punishment.
“His Word, Before All and Above All,” I muttered. “With liberty and justice for no one, so kiss my peasant Old New York ass and take a breath mint afterward, unless you like that funky aftertaste…”
My voice trailed off as my eyes focused on a strange woman on the balcony.
At first, I couldn’t discern who she was – she looked like someone I’d seen before, yet someone I’d never seen before.
Her hair was a garish white-blonde, stringy and lifeless, and pinned tightly behind her head with a set of black ceramic chopsticks. Her makeup was almost cartoonish – cat-like black eyeliner and matte black lipstick sat atop a ghostly white foundation. Even her outfit was a hideously hilarious cultural appropriation – a black silk kimono paired with a set of black stiletto heels. I’d seen Old New York 42nd Street prostitutes, with terrible heroin problems, sell the “Asian coquette” look better than what I’d seen before me now.
“Who the actual…” I began, hesitantly, unable to process who I was seeing before me.
And then it hit me, all at once, who she was.
For the first time in a long time, I was literally speechless.
When I could finally find my voice again, it barely came out in a whisper. “Rosie,” I squeaked.
I walked into the Ludlow Street apartment I shared with Angelique and was instantly greeted with the smell of a meat dish that, I would later learn, was called carne asada.
“Angelique!” I called out over the loud sizzling of steak as I kicked off my black Frye boots and set my matching acoustic guitar down. “Where are you, my love?”
“In here!” she called, out of sight, from the kitchen, where more clanging and banging sounds echoed over her voice.
I began walking through the apartment, shedding layers as I went along until I reached the kitchen wearing nothing but my black leather pants and a mischievous smile. I was hoping to have a little appetizer of crème d’Angelique before dinner, but when I reached the kitchen, I realized – much to my chagrin – that we weren’t alone.
Angelique, her hair tied back into a messy ponytail, was wearing a tight, white, see-through shorts jumper and a matching white apron. She was standing next to an unfamiliar-looking woman with a matching messy ponytail, but whose thick chocolate brown hair stood in sharp contrast to Angelique’s thin flaxen locks. The rest of her, too, was in stark contrast to Angelique, but not in a bad way – she was olive-skinned, in contrast to Angelique’s pale white skin; she was curvy, in contrast to Angelique’s ectomorphic figure; she was fiery, in contrast to Angelique’s ethereal nature.
They were standing side by side, working on something that smelled simply delicious. Angelique was mixing flour, sugar, and garlic powder, and her friend was adding melted butter and salted water to the resultant powder, then kneading it until it formed a dough.
“Am I interrupting something?” I asked as I walked behind Angelique, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck, breathing in her scent of lilacs as I did so.
She smiled, then took her index finger and bopped the tip of my nose with the flour mixture. “Hey handsome,” she said, beatifically. “We’re making something special for you for dinner. We’ve got carne asada in the pan over there – we’ve got some arroz con gandules in the rice cooker – and we’re making…wait, girl, what’s this called?”
Arepas,” her friend said, smiling as she continued to knead the dough between her hands, her silver thumb ring glistening in the light of the dusk as she did so.
“Right, arepas,” Angelique repeated. “Ramira here is teaching me all her magic ways – she says this is the exact dinner I need to make if I want my man to marry me.” She giggled, then elbowed Ramira, who giggled along with Angelique.
I couldn’t help but giggle, as well, as I unentwined myself from Angelique and walked over to Ramira to properly introduce myself. “I’m going to be stuffed fordays with all this delicious food, so it’s only right that we become friends,” I began, extending my hand. “Hi there. I’m James Randall Ryan IV, I somehow lucked out enough to convince this lovely lady Angelique to be my girlfriend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You can call me Jamie.”
Ramira smiled, then shook my hand with two of her fingers, taking care not to smear the wet dough across my palm. “Well, my name is Ramira Diaz, Angelique is my best friend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too. You can call me Rosie, though. Everyone else does.”

Author Bio:
With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb.
Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models.
As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.
Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway