Thursday, March 26, 2015

$500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!! #giveaway #win

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bright Fire by MJ Austin @mjaustinbooks

Introducing MJ Austin and her debut novel, BRIGHT FIRE!


Synopsis


Delfia thought she was a normal girl about to turn sixteen until her adoptive parents are murdered by creatures from the underworld. Her life gets thrown into chaos as she teams up with her best friend, a strange guy, and a prophetess.

She soon discovers her biological father, Hades, ordered the attack on her and her family because a prophecy names her as the one to take him down. She must first complete a set of tasks to free Persephone, her mother, from the underworld and defeat Hades.

Will she be reunited with her mother or will she get sucked into the underworld?

*Book is geared towards readers that liked Percy Jackson Series, Need Series, etc.*



Excerpt

Mondays are the epitome of all evil. It's just a fact.
Do you ever get those feelings deep in the pit of your stomach? The ones that make you feel all queasy and anxious? Well, that’s how I feel right now. I am standing at my locker at a way too early hour, and I am in Dragon Bitch mode; which is surprising because today is my birthday.
Normally, I love my birthday. I officially turn 16 at 11:59 tonight, and instead of reveling in the excitement, am I staring at my locker without really seeing it. I just keep trying to figure out what’s causing this annoying pinch in my stomach. I jump when I hear the locker next to mine slam shut.
Lyla.
"Jeez, Lyla,” I huff. “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? Now excuse me while I find a doctor to remove my heart from my nasal passage." I’m not in the mood for the early morning antics of Lyla Browning, even if she is my best friend.
"Soooorrry, but it seems to be the only way to get your attention. I say 'Happy birthday, Dell' and what do you do? You ignore me and stare at your locker. What is up with you?"
"Nothing, just a funny feeling."
She eyes me for a minute, then shrugs her shoulders and in a matter-of-fact tone tells me, "It's probably PMS."
“Yeah, maybe I dunno...” I trail off, the feeling still bugging me. I understand that she is trying to snap me out of it so I muster up some enthusiasm and sing, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.”
She perks up instantly, and before I can clamp my hand over her mouth she starts bellowing out “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the hall that is seriously starting to fill up. By the time she finishes, everyone is staring at us, and my face is burning red.
“Aww come on, you love me and you know it,” she beams.
I smile because I do love her. Lyla and I have been best friends since forever. We first met in kindergarten when this little twerp, Zach Moreno, decided to pull my hair, and she punched him square in the nose.
We’ve been joined at the hip ever since then.
“But hey, you should be thrilled you’re turning 16.” she nudges me in the ribs a little.
“Yeah, I know, but my parents still won't let me get my permit till I’m 18.”
“No offense, but your parents are a little...intense.” She says.
“What do you mean by that?” I ask getting a bit defensive.
“Well, it’s just that lately they seem to be taking your safety to the extreme. You can't have sleepovers anymore, a car or a life. I mean it’s sweet that they care, but I thought parents got more lenient the older you get.” She fidgets with her wavy blond hair, afraid that she has gone too far.
The truth is she’s not wrong. My parents are great people, and I love them, but lately they have been too over-protective. When I ask them about it they just tell me, “the real world is full of dangers, kiddo.”
and that’s the end of that conversation. “Yeah, I know, I’m sure that is just their way of showing me that they care.”
“By the way, are we still on for binge night Friday?” She sees right through my attempts to change the subject. Binge night has been happening every Friday since the 6th grade. We start off at the roller rink and end up at my place with a large bag of cheddar popcorn, candy, and cokes.
“Uh, duh.” She says rolling her eyes. She grabs her stuff out of her locker. “Come on, we have homeroom.”
I turn to grab my bag out of my locker when the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Everybody gets those feelings now and then, but it was so intense I had to shiver to shake it off.
“Dude, what is your problem? Take a picture it lasts longer.” Lyla clicks her tongue, her usual reaction when something annoys her.
I whirl around to see who she is talking to and meet the gray eyes of Alec Hales, who is staring at me intensely like he’s waiting for something to happen. He would be the hottest guy in school if he weren't so weird. He continues to stare at me unabashed. I can’t help but stare back.
“Come on,” she grabs my arm. “This guy is freaking me out” She throws him the stink eye, and we head to class.
I spend the rest of the morning stumbling through class in a daze worried about that creepy stare. I’ve never seen anything like it.
What’s worse is that I’m pretty sure he’s the reason I had a chill that ranked 100 on the creep factor. OK, Dell get a grip, I tell myself as I walk into the cafeteria.
I do my normal scan and Lyla’s waiting for me at our usual table in the corner of the room, trays in tow. We are not the least popular students, but we are definitely not a part of the in-crowd. Lyla could be, but she sticks with me. Aside from her slightly crooked nose, she is the picture perfect replica of a Barbie doll, with her blond hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs. You get the picture. Me, on the other hand, my height is OK, not too short or too tall, but my drab brown hair and beanpole body are nothing special. The only thing I have going for me is my clear blue eyes. Lyla always calls them hypnotic.
“Ugggghhh,” she whines as she rolls her shoulders back and forth. “I think the teachers are secretly evil demons sent to torture teens with tests on Mondays. Seriously, who wants to take tests on Mondays?”
“Who wants to take tests at all?”
She throws a piece of lettuce at me. With a mouth full of food she asks, “What are your birthday plans?”
“Dinner with the family.”
“Same old, same old,” she laughs “maybe we can do something special for binge night like go shopping before the roller rink.”
“Yeah, that would be...” I trail off instantly when I feel the same eerie feeling I had by my locker. I lean into Lyla and whisper, “Is Alec staring at me?” She lifts her head up, and I pull her down. “Can’t you be discreet?” I hiss.
She subtly does a sweep of the cafeteria and relaxes, “Nope; nowhere in sight. Why do you ask?”
“I just got this creepy feeling earlier and again just now. I thought maybe it was his intense stare earlier.”
“Wow, I hope your weird doesn't rub off on me. Do you think it happens to everyone when they turn 16?” she jokes.
I laugh half-heartedly unable to shake the strange feeling.

About the Author:


M.J. Austin is the author of the Bright Fire series and NaNoWriMo 2014 winner. She has always found the world of fantasy preferable to the real world. She channels this love of mystical worlds and creatures into her writing. She is an avid reader and proud bookworm. She has a Master's Degree in Project Management, but her true passion is writing.

When she isn't working or writing she is diving into random projects as often as possible. She lives in Tennessee with three children, husband, and three dogs.

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Blog: http://mjaustinbooks.com

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heartsong Rerelease from Samantha LaFantasie


Relena wants freedom, depending on herself and not having to answer to anyone, but a betrayal takes that away. The last thing she expected was the incredibly handsome Marren to free her. The catch? She has to fall in love with him, fulfill a prophecy involving their heart song, and rejoin the two realms. But Jiren, the last Ancient of his kind, isn’t convinced and will stop at nothing to maintain his throne, even if it means breaking their most sacred law.

Available Now

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For today only, there will be fun, games, and special appearances by Marren and Relena. Don't miss it!

Excerpt


Chapter 10

Something fell on my shoulder, jarring me from my relaxed state. I shrugged off the weight and then a painful groan fell on my ears. I turned to find Marren picking himself up off the floor in front of the cracked door that hung half off its hinges.

“Oh no, Marren! Are you—how did I do that?” I was caught off guard as soon as the realization I was responsible dawned on me.

“The change has been coursing through your body before you actually turn. Your strength has already evolved.” He stood, stretched his shoulders and neck then took a fighting stance.
“Seriously, you want to spar? Now?”

His lips pulled taut, revealing bright white teeth, the thrill of his intentions gleaming in his eyes.

“Marren,” I said, pleading to no avail.

He lunged at me. I jumped out of the way before he reached me, sending him sliding into the fireplace, chipping a piece of the marble off.

He picked himself up. “Come on, Relena. Don’t you want to play?”

“Any other day maybe, but I’m in pain, I’m scared, and the last thing on my mind is trying to break every bone in my body before I change.”

“You won’t break anything.” He ran at me, this time much faster, tackling me to the floor. A loud crack and a sharp pain entered my ribs, and I hit my head hard against the floor, leaving a spot filling with blood, despite a lack of pain. I kicked him off me and tried rolling to my side to get up. He overpowered me, pinning my legs in between his and my arms above my shoulders. “See?”

I panted, trying to push the wave of desire back, not wanting to change in the middle of that above all. I tried to struggle from under him. He held me in place, chuckling under his breath at my feeble attempts to break free. A light shone in his onyx eyes that I didn’t catch before. His smile faded as his gaze softened, and he gently touched his lips to mine. Slowly, his kiss deepened, becoming harder, more feverish. He released my hands, sliding his down the length torso to my waist. In one thrilling swoop, he lifted me to my feet.

“Something has you in a lighter mood tonight,” I said.

“I’m simply experiencing the euphoric effect you have on me.”

“I hate you,” I teased.

“Why?” It came out in his chuckle.

“You have a beautiful world, a beautiful language, such amazing, beautiful things to say to me, and that makes me feel inadequate. I don’t have a beautiful world to give you or a beautiful language, and my words are plain compared to yours.”

“Relena, you gave more than you can ever possibly understand. You don’t need fancy words, a different language, or a different world to be adequate for me. I’m the one who should feel that way. I’m the inadequate one. I say those things not just because I mean them but also because anything less would not be worthy of you. What you gave me is beyond what words can say. Your gift is the rarest beauty, the most sacred of all . . . You gave me yourself.”

As he spoke, his words touched me. My heart fluttered. I focused through the tears filling my eyes as I reached eager fingertips to his lips. I slid my hand along his face to the back of his head, closing the space between us. I paused before my lips connected to his and whispered, “I love you.”

He squeezed me, bringing my lips to his. Our emotions, for the first time, were aligned. With the way it seemed, I was sure a light shone between us, like a sun, that filled the room and flowed down the hall, over the balcony, and into the world, spreading the light of our love.

But the dark side of our love shadowed our moment in the form of a painful cramp, like a dozen blades slicing across my torso, coursed throughout my body. My skin seared red hot as though layers were peeled off. I couldn’t move. The hurt was too much. I was forced under the weight of the pain and held under as the change ripped through me.

When my skin seemed to no longer cover my bones, the sensation of acid poured on me took over. The fire coursed through my veins until nothing remained but ash and bone. Even then, the pain didn’t stop as every section of bone was shattered by boulders. Once I had no more to be consumed, the pain ripped through me again, starting over from the beginning, with the sensation of peeling muscle and skin, taking the layers one at a time, and as slowly as possible, so that the pain turned bittersweet.

Marren said I wouldn’t die, but I wished I would. The pain was incomparable to anything I had ever experienced before. I wanted it to end, to never experience pain again. Yet, it kept coming. I endured the continuous sensation of being consumed, piece by piece, for what I thought lasted like hours. Then an ease in the intensity. Until the pain ebbed, leaving me afraid to move for fear it would rush back through me again.

About the Author

IMG_3842.33

A Kansas native, Samantha LaFantasie spends her free time with her spouse and three kids. Writing has always been a passion of hers, forgoing all other desires to devote to this one obsession, even though she often finds herself arguing with her characters through much of the process. She’s primarily a fantasy writer but often feels pulled to genres such as sci-fi, romance, and others. Samantha became a bestselling author with the Pandora Boxed Set (which includes Made to Forget: Nepherium Novella series--Part One) on both Amazon and USA Today. Samantha loves to take time to enjoy other activities such as photography and playing her favorite game of all time, Guild Wars 2.    



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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Accept This Dandelion Blog Tour and Guest Post

Accept this Dandelion Promo Post

Accept This Dandelion

By Brooke Williams
Release Date: February 4, 2015 from Prism Book Group
Genre: Romance/Comedy
ASIN: B00R54MUXY
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Order digital and paperback copies HERE

Renee Lockhart has her eye on a lofty goal…to fill the open position of morning radio show host at the radio station where she works.  When her co-workers sign her up for a local TV version of “the Bachelor,” Renee goes along with it in order to raise her public profile.  Ben McConnell, the most eligible bachelor in town, insists that Renee be placed on the show, despite her bumbling audition.  Ben gets much more than he expected in Renee.  He gets a girl who doesn’t bow to his every whim…and a girl who opens his eyes to true, unexpected love. When nothing goes right on the local program called "Accept this Dandelion"...hilarity ensues. Imagine your worst possible dates happening...on TV!


Add “Accept this Dandelion” to your Goodreads list HERE


Guest Post Topic: The impact of radio on fiction writing


I write romantic comedy. In my books, like “Accept this Dandelion” I put two unlikely characters together. While they are falling for one another, things happen all around them and none of it ever goes right. I enjoy giggling while I write and I hope my readers say the same thing about what they read.


While I love what I do, fiction writing is not my first career. With any luck it will be my last and it will most likely always be my favorite. But I began my career in radio, of all places. I started in college on the campus radio station. I continued on to get jobs at other stations around town and an internship in another city, which then turned into a full time job when I graduated. I spent ten years writing scripts, producing shows and spots, organizing promotions, and being on the air in various time slots.


There are many things that I enjoyed about radio, but as an introvert, people had a hard time believing that’s what I actually did for a living. What they did not think about was the fact that when I was on the radio, I was in a room by myself…talking TO myself. Or so it felt. In that way, writing is the same. I only write when I am alone. Things are quiet and still. I know that people might read my words someday, but that’s beside the point. I am alone when I write them.


Radio has had quite an impact on my most recent fiction writing, as has my other very brief career in TV news. I have been to a number of writing conferences and I have heard over and over again “write what you know.” I gave this a try in a number of my books. For example, “Wrong Place, Right Time,” is a romantic comedy centered on a woman who works as a bumbling traffic reporter. That is the very job that I did in TV news for a whole 5 months. So her experiences at the TV station are things I experienced or saw.


In “Accept this Dandelion,” I decided to go even closer to home. The main character in this novel is an on air announcer and scriptwriter at a radio station, much like I was. Everything you read in the book surrounding radio is authentic and I know that because I’ve been there. I was there for a full decade, in fact!


My background in radio also helped feed my current creativity. When I wrote scripts for radio, I sometimes wrote standard stuff. Here’s the client name, here’s the product, here’s the phone number blah blah blah. But when given the chance, I would write some pretty out there things and producing commercials with sound effects is a real blast. In “Accept this Dandelion” someone brings up a vet commercial and asks my main character if she made it. She did. And it’s one that I actually remember making myself several years back.


My career and life in radio seeps through many places in my work. Radio is a fascinating world and not that many people get a chance to work behind the microphone like that. I found bringing it to life in book form easy since I was in it for so long and also a lot of fun.


While I enjoyed scriptwriting and still occasionally dabble in that work, scripts were generally 60 seconds in length at the longest. And as a writer, it’s hard for me to stop once I’m on a roll! I’ve found that fiction writing is much more suited to my lengthiness. I’m not sure that’s a word.  And while I enjoyed many aspects of radio, my only regret is that I didn’t jump into the fiction world sooner.



About the Author

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Brooke Williams writes in a sleep-deprived state while her daughters nap. Her romantic comedy is best read in the same state. Brooke has twelve years of radio in her background, both behind the scenes and on the air. She was also a television traffic reporter for a short time despite the fact that she could care less about hair and make-up. Today, Brooke stays at home with her daughters and works as a freelance writer for a variety of companies. When she isn’t working for paying clients, she makes things up, which results in books like “Accept this Dandelion.”  Brooke is also the author of “Wrong Place, Right Time,” “Someone Always Loved You,” and “Beyond the Bars.” And she looks forward to the upcoming released of “Mamarazzi” and “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut.” Brooke and her husband Sean have been married since 2002 and have two beautiful daughters, Kaelyn (5) and Sadie (nearly 2).

Connect with Brooke:
Facebook
Website
Blog

Praise for Accept this Dandelion

"This book is adorable. I had to sneak away from my desk to read the rest of it once I started. It had my smiling and laughing the whole way through."
-Sarah, Advanced Reader Copy Review

What could possibly evolve from such a strange attraction? That's the meat of Accept this Dandelion, purportedly a romance, but in essence so much more. Acceptance is, indeed, at the heart of Accept this Dandelion: acceptance of self, others, and the paths life offers up, whether for good or bad.
-D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, MBR
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EXCERPT:
Renee leaned way over in her chair, throwing her arm up beside her for dramatic effect. She had the perfect line to close her short ad, but instead of delivering it, she flung one of the flickering candles to the floor with a loud crash.
“Fire!” she screamed as she realized the flame had not extinguished, but rather had transferred itself to the hem of her dress.
Before Renee could stop drop and roll, Ben leapt from his chair and threw himself across the small space separating them. The pressure of his body against her leg put out the fire instantly, but it also toppled her chair over, leaving them in a heap on the concrete.
Renee found herself on her side with Ben’s breath on her cheek. She slowly turned her head, though what she really wanted to do was push him away and run out of the studio as fast as possible.
“That was quite a commercial.” Ben didn’t make a move to rise. “Are you okay?”
Renee wasn’t sure how the dress looked, but there were no burning sensations on her leg. There was a twinge in the pit of her stomach. She nodded. “I’m okay.” She met his eyes and allowed herself a few beats to study him closely. He was handsome. And now, he was even a hero. Though he wouldn’t have had to save her from burning flames had she not set herself on fire.
Ben deftly got to his feet and pulled Renee from her chair as the producer rushed over and the camera operators stood by, panning down to capture Renee’s smoldering dress.
“Hey, Renee,” Ben whispered into her ear, “next time there’s fire between us, I’m not going to put it out.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pucked Promo Blitz


Now Available, Pucked, a novel that takes you back to your first love in high school, while gaining an education of what it's like for people who suffer from Parental Alienation. During the first week of release, February 10-17, all sales will be donated to paawarness.org, so please be sure to spread the word around and help out!




Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warrior’s Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present.  If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life.  He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warrior’s number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations.  Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held.  With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path. 

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her?  When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul?  Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?


**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

Add Pucked on Goodreads HERE

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About Rachel Walter


Rachel is a wife and mother from Central Pennsylvania. Her favorite season is fall, for hockey, changing leaves, pumpkin everything, and bonfires often. She’s also a coffeenista with an insomnia problem. When Rachel isn’t playing with the people inside her head, making her family believe she belongs in the loony bin, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, species confused cat (he believes he’s part dog, love him), and finding new books and music.

Regarding writing, her first love is Young Adult Paranormal, but she’s venturing outside of her comfort zone and opening up to writing more genres. Be on the look out!
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More from this Author


True Connection (The Soul Mate Series) #1
Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBooks

Soul Promise (The Soul Mate Series) #2
Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Available on  AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBooks

A Message of Flowers (A Pocono Valley Romance) #1
Adult Contemporary Romance
Available on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBooks

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Blitz: Unremembered Things by Rachel Tsoumbakos @mrszoomby

Unremembered Things by Rachel Tsoumbakos

Unremembered Things by Rachel Tsoumbakos (Genre: Paranormal Romance)
Unremembered Things (Wood Nymph Chronicles #1) by Rachel Tsoumbakos Age category: New Adult Release Date: February 10, 2015 Genre: Paranormal Romance

Blurb

One woman, two worlds and nothing but UNREMEMBERED THINGS separating them. Indiana Shamira has a dark secret that could shatter her version of reality and get her killed in the process. Now if only she could remember what it is… When Indiana wakes with no memory of her past life and a vampire called Sam hanging from the rafters in her cellar, she knows things are about to get nasty. Not only does Sam know all about her previous life, but he seems intent on seducing her as well. Of course her boyfriend, Kurt, has different ideas – like making her open the portal to hell! And then there is the nagging suspicion that Indiana is not entirely human, now she can see ghostly images from the Otherworld. Or could it be from the life she can no longer remember? They include the flickering effigy of Kurt and a redwood forest that conjures up deeply repressed magic. Not only will Indiana have to risk everything to keep the door to another dimension closed, she will have to decide whether she is ready to lose her heart to someone who has more secrets than herself. Set in the lush Australian bush, UNREMEMBERED THINGS is a fusion of fantasy, paranormal and forbidden romance.

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PRIZE (international):
  • 1 x eCopy of Unremembered Things
  • 1 x eCopy of Metanoia
  • 1 x eCopy of The Ring of Lost Souls
  • 1 x $10 Amazon gift card
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About the Author

Rachel Tsoumbakos. Author of contemporary horror and paranormal fiction.Rachel Tsoumbakos is a stay home mother of two. Her main passions are writing, reading and organic gardening. Rachel lives with her husband, two kids, three cats and eight chickens in the hills surrounding Melbourne, Australia. While she has had several articles published through mainstream magazines, she has also written extensively for True Blood Net and the now defunct Suite 101. When she is not tending to her organic veggie garden, she is working on her cardio as she trains for the zombie apocalypse.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

New Release: Survival by Ken Benton

Today I'm pleased to welcome Ken Benton to the blog to share a excerpt with us from his new book, "Survival."


But first...a little about the book!

The deadliest flu season in a hundred years is about to turn a whole lot deadlier. When an accident at a famous medical research facility lets a mutated avian flu strain out, a nightmare scenario unfolds. Before authorities can react, millions are infected—and that’s just the beginning. The mortality rate exceeds 80%. Leaders and elected officials soon learn the man-manipulated virus respects neither rank nor stature. The resulting chain reaction leads to a collapse of modern society—even in Colorado, where no cases of the killer strain have yet appeared.

Clint Stonebreaker, a happily-married software engineer living in Denver, doesn’t like watching the news. He especially doesn’t let Jake, his wacky doomsday-prepping brother, watch it when he visits. But when chaos goes viral through the entire country, Clint and his wife Jenny are forced to acknowledge reality. They find themselves hitting the road with their gun-enthusiast neighbor to escape the deteriorating city. Their goal? Reaching Clint’s hunting cabin in Southeastern Colorado and trying to make a homestead of it.

They don’t get far before running into a gauntlet of obstacles. Colorado seems to have become a giant sociological experiment, with dire consequences for making the wrong decisions. The spirit of American resolve is pitted against the ugly realty of criminal opportunism in every direction they turn. Ironically, Clint isn’t sure which is worse: being forced to survive in the midst of civil unrest, or knowing he’ll have to admit to Jake that he was right. Assuming he can find him…


And now...the Excerpt!

Because Harold and Barry were both light sleepers, they decided Clint should take the first “watch.” It was only prudent for someone to stay awake and keep an eye on the cars, as well as the personal belongings Barry and Shay had to unload in order to fold their rear seat down for their makeshift bed. Harold would relieve Clint in a couple hours, and then Barry would take the last shift. Barry assured them he would be awake in the wee hours anyway.

“There is one thing that concerns me,” Barry said. “I’d feel better if our perimeter was more …secure.”

“I know what you mean.” Harold scanned their surroundings. “Well, we could move the cars to fence us in better.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Jenny said.

Harold and Barry adjusted the two wagons so they were back to back, overlapping just a little. They decided it was good enough and everyone but Clint retired to try and sleep.

Clint sat in the comfortable canvas chair he brought along and gazed at the night sky. The smell of campfires was still heavy and the stars were out. He thought about Jake. Jake always liked the stars. Clint checked his cell phone for the twentieth time, but there were still no bars.

Jenny came out of the tent. Clint expected her to come over and kiss him goodnight, but instead she scurried to Harold’s tent and called him. The two of them talked in low voices before Harold got up and walked to his car. He came back with a small vinyl bag and handed it to Jenny. She thanked him and they both went back inside their tents.

Clint could still hear bits and pieces of conversations from the other campers. Not enough to understand the exchanges, but he picked up certain words that gave him the gist of the topics being discussed. Everyone was trying to go somewhere. People were concerned about their own safety, in addition to the safety of the ones they were going to see. Complaints about phones not working were also popular. Clint realized he and Jenny were in the same predicament as everyone else. Barry and Shay, too. They were nice folks. Good thing Clint picked this spot, so they could partner up with them for the night.

Clint caught himself nodding off twice. He eventually decided to move to the picnic table to prevent any further occurrences. Harold got up and relieved him shortly thereafter. He had a book, and turned the lantern back on so he could read.

Inside the tent, Jenny was sleeping lightly. She rustled as Clint found a comfortable position next to her. That’s when he noticed the vinyl bag Harold gave her was partially unzipped. He couldn’t be certain in the dark, but it looked to contain one of Harold’s pistols. Clint wasn’t sure whether that should relax him or make him nervous.

It must have relaxed him, because the next thing he knew it was morning. The sounds of people talking—along with car doors shutting and engines starting—caused his eyes to open and find sunlight.

When he and Jenny crawled out of the tent, Harold was talking to Barry next to his brown Volvo. Barry and Shay were packed up already, and apparently about to leave. Shay waited in the passenger seat. Clint and Jenny approached them.

“Good morning!” Barry said “The roads have reopened. Here.” He held out a piece of paper. Clint took it. There was writing on it.

“That’s the name, address, and phone number of Shay’s sister in Pueblo. If you need anything, or have any trouble travelling, feel free to contact us there. Or, if you happen to find yourself in Pueblo, stop by and visit.”

Shay rolled her window down. “Bye, guys. So nice meeting you. Bye, Jenny. Good luck!”

Clint was still groggy as they said their final goodbyes. He wished he had a cup of coffee. They had a bag of grounds packed away, but no practical way to make it.

Barry got in his car and joined the crowd of vehicles that were all attempting to leave at the same time. He first tried to wedge his way into the line, but then seemed to have an inspired notion. He turned and drove right through the trees to get to the side road, his windshield acquiring a small pine branch in the process. Several other cars then followed his example.

“We might as well wait until this clears out more,” Harold said. “Go ahead and use the bathrooms if you need to. I’ll start packing up.”

Harold had everything loaded when Clint and Jenny returned from the restrooms. The field cleared out fast and was nearly vacant by now. Unsightly patches of burned grass marked the sites of last night’s campfires. One of them was still smoldering.

“Are we ready?” Harold said. He appeared to be in good spirits.

They took one final look around before climbing into the car for the road trip. Clint was hopeful of a reunion with his brother before this day was through. Harold started the engine and put the car in gear.

But then he put in back in park.

“No,” he said. “Dear God, no!”

“What’s wrong?” Clint didn’t like the sudden desperation in Harold’s voice.

Without answering, Harold turned the ignition off, opened his door, jumped out, and ran through the trees towards the road.

“What’s the matter now?” Jenny asked.

“I don’t know. Not car trouble, I hope. Looks like he tried to run after Barry and Shay. Did they leave something behind?”

“Or accidentally take something of ours, maybe?” Jenny asked.

Clint looked at her and tilted his head. She raised her eyebrows. They both got out of the car. Harold had disappeared. The traffic was now thinned out, so the remaining cars were moving freely.

Clint turned to Jenny and made an exaggerated shrug. As he did, he noticed a black Chevy Suburban driving on the field. It parked next to the still-smoldering fire. A well-dressed man got out and stomped on it.

“There he is,” Jenny said, pointing to the trees. Clint turned back around.

Harold was back in view, shaking his head and muttering as he slowly returned.

“I’m so stupid,” he said. “So stupid. We’re screwed. Damn those shysters!”

“What’s the problem?” Clint asked.

“They siphoned us. Took all our gas. We had over three-quarters of a tank. Now on empty!” He walked up to his car and pounded a fist on the hood. “Dammit!”

“Are you sure?” Jenny asked. “How can that be? You guys watched the cars all night, right?”

“Let me see,” Clint said. He came around to the driver’s side, slipped in sideways and turned the key one click to the accessory position. The gas gauge rose only to E and the need gas light came on. He cranked the ignition. The car started right up, but the gas reading didn’t change.

“Oh, no.” Clint turned the car off and rested his head on the steering wheel.

Jenny came up next to him. “I don’t understand. Who could have stolen our gas? How could this happen?”

“Our friends,” Harold said. “Barry and Shay. They must have been low.”

“No,” Jenny replied. “No, I don’t believe it. No way it was them. Maybe we punctured the gas tank or something?”

“It was Barry,” Harold said. “Only person it could have been. There’s no gas leak. I saw the gauge when we repositioned the cars last night. There would be a smell, and a puddle under the car.”

“Well then it had to be someone else—like that Zane character, maybe.”

“He’s right, honey.” Clint shook his head. “I remember thinking the position he put his wagon in was a little weird, overlapping the rears like that. It was so the gas caps were lined up.”

“Right,” Harold said. “Remember when he offered to siphon some gas to us? That struck me as odd. Obviously, he had a siphon. Now I see it was a sly way of finding out how much we had.”

Jenny looked shocked. “I …I just can’t believe it. They were so nice. And they gave us their address and phone number.”

“Fake,” Harold said. “Guaranteed. That’s why he wanted the last watch. I shouldn’t have fallen for that. Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

“Not your fault,” Clint said. “They fooled all of us. Good actors. But what are we going to do now?”

“We need help!” Jenny shouted to the air. She began waving her arms frantically. “Somebody, help!”

She then lowered her voice and looked at Harold. “We need to find someone who will give us some gas.”

“Not bloody likely,” Harold said.

The sound of a big motor drew close as the black Suburban on the field suddenly pulled up next to them. The passenger window rolled down and the driver leaned over in his seat.

“You folks all right?” the driver said. “Having some kind of trouble?”

Jenny ran up to his window. “Oh yes, yes, thank you for stopping! Someone siphoned all our gas last night while we were sleeping. We made friends with this other couple, but we think they ended up stealing our gas! Please, can you help us? We just need some gas. At least enough to get back to Denver.”

The driver turned his engine off and climbed out. Clint thought the man looked out of place as he came around the front of his big SUV. Probably in his early fifties, he was too well-groomed, and appeared too well-rested, to be one of the campers from last night. He wore a dress shirt and sports jacket, which smartly complimented his jeans, cowboy boots, and partially-gray hair. This man moved with a certain confidence. Somehow, his presence here relieved much of the stress of the current situation.

“Name’s Wade. Sorry to hear about your trouble. Gasoline has become a scarce commodity, so I’m not surprised by your story. Unfortunately, I can’t spare any, either. And I’m not going to Denver anytime soon—like for the rest of my life, if I’m lucky. About the best I can do is offer you a ride into Springs.”

“Did you spend the night here?” Clint asked. “I don’t remember seeing your car.”

“No.” Wade shook his head. “Not in the park. I got stuck in the Black Forest, too, though. Fortunately, I have some friends with a house here. Heard about the impromptu communities of stranded motorists and decided to take a quick survey of the scene before heading home.”

“You look familiar,” Jenny said.

“You folks live in the Springs area?”

“No, Denver. But we have a second home down near Springfield.”

“I see.” Wade looked disappointed. “Too bad. Well, my offer stands, anyway. You seem like nice people. I’m your fifth-district congressman, Wade Bennett.”

“Oh.” Jenny giggled. “That must be why I recognized you. I’m Jenny Stonebreaker. This is my husband, Clint, and our neighbor, Harold. We were trying to make it down to our second home.”

“Maybe we still are,” Harold said. “Would you mind making room in your truck for some of our equipment?”

“I suppose I could do that. Not the entire load, I hope.” Wade eyed the rear compartment of Harold’s wagon.

“No,” Harold said. “Only the bikes and backpacks.”

“Wait a minute,” Clint said. “We need to discuss this.”

Wade nodded. “Of course. Talk it over. I’ll wait a bit. Those look like good bikes, and you all seem to be in decent shape. You might be able to get back to Denver by early afternoon. Although…”

Everyone looked at him.

“It might be safer heading south. Guess it depends on your second home. Denver had some problems last night, from what I hear. More riots and looting. Just so you know. Up to you.”

Wade sat in his car while Clint, Harold, and Jenny talked. Clint wasn’t initially sure about trying to finish the trip by bike, but when he heard the congressman’s warnings about Denver he was much more inclined towards it. The ride would be difficult either way. But at least going south figured to be more downhill than facing the steep inclines back to Denver.

Then there was Jake. Clint still had no way of knowing if he was okay. Stopping by his house in person might be the only way to do that now. And travelling by an internal-combustion powered vehicle no longer seemed to be an option.

Harold, predictably, was all for it. Jenny took some persuading. Ultimately, though, she was sympathetic to Clint’s fear of riots and acquiesced.


Meet the Author


Ken Benton appears to be your run-of-the-mill city slicker at first glance, blissfully playing with his iPhone at the bar of the local barbeque joint while sipping on craft-brewed IPA. But he has a secret passion: doomsday survival prepping. And if you ever snuck up behind him to see what he was reading, it would likely be one of those apocalyptic-survival stories set after the collapse of modern society. Yes, he’s one of those nuts. But someday soon, Ken believes, those nuts may become the new upper class in society. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with story-telling. And preparing. Cheers.

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