Killing Me Softly by Devyn Dawson Excerpt & Giveaway!

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July 15 – August 3, 2014
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Trish Davy
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Clean New Adult Military Romance

Killing Me Softly

Devyn Dawson


I glance down at my black
pointy-toed high heels and realize they’re the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve
ever worn.  Andy’s mom let me borrow a
pair of Andy’s shoes since we wear the same size.  It will take me a while to think of her in
the past tense.  Looking around the room
all I see are strangers.  None of these
people knew her like I did.  No one knew
the way she loved soft furry blankets and in the summer she loved softy silky
pajamas.  They didn’t know that she spent
more time praying for her friends and animals than she did for herself.  No, they didn’t know those things, and they
never will.
My best friend, Andy, died four
days ago in a car accident with her boyfriend Doug.  A car crossed over the center lane and hit
them head on.  The police say they died
instantly.  I talked to her exactly ten
minutes before the crash, she told me she was going to stop by on her way
home.  We’ve always done that; stop by on
our way home from shopping to show what we bought.   Doug took her to Dallas to pick up a guitar
and to go shopping. Andy’s parents have money. They spoiled her, but she never
acted spoiled.  She was kind and
giving.  For her birthday, her dad gave
her a prepaid credit card.  She had to
keep her grades up, if she did, he’d load a thousand dollars on the card every
month for a year.  That’s more money than
I make at my job. When I go shopping, I hit the thrift stores and yard
sales.  Just because I don’t spend tons
of money on clothes, doesn’t mean I don’t look like I do.  There’s a thrift shop not too far from here
that I find the best deals.  If the
outfit doesn’t fit me, I do the alterations myself.   My money is from my job at the vitamin store
in the mall. Eight dollars an hour doesn’t go far when you’re the bread winner
in your family. 
Andy didn’t spend the money on
things just for her, no, she would buy things for an after school program she
worked for as a volunteer. She would give you every dime she had if you needed
help. When she went shopping for herself, she would buy a matching outfit for
me.  She would always say that I was the
sister she always wanted.
Linda, Andy’s mom, is making her
way over to me, her grief is written all over her face.  I stand up and wrap my arms around her thin
body and in that moment the magnitude of what happened hits me like a brick
wall.  I start to tremble, but I force
myself to keep it together until I get home. 
That’s when I’ll have the luxury of breaking down.
“Sugar, how are you holding up?”
Linda asks.  One of her friends leans
over and hands her a fresh martini.
“I don’t know,” I shrug my
shoulders.  “It doesn’t seem real, does
“She loved you so much,” I smell
the alcohol on her breath as she kisses me on the cheek.  “You’re welcome here any time, you’re part of
our family.  If that daddy of yours gives
you any trouble, you come over and you can sleep in Andy’s room.  She’d want you to be here with us, you know
“I know.  If you don’t mind, I need to go home and
check on my dad.  They changed his meds
this week.  As usual, he’s been in one of
his moods.  Never mind all that, if you
need anything, I’m number five on your speed dial.  I’ll drop off the shoes later this week.”
“Holland, keep the shoes, I don’t
need them back.  Go check on your dad,
I’m going to try to get everyone out of here at a decent hour.  My head hurts too much to deal with so many
people.  I love you, Holly, don’t you
forget it either.” Andy’s the only person who ever called me by my childhood
nickname.  When I started high school, I
went back to my given name, Holland. Linda pulls me in for another hug, this
one is tighter and longer than the last one. 
In my head I can hear Andy complaining that her mom is getting
mushy.  I smile at the thought. 
“I love you too.  I’ll be by soon.”  She’s hugging me as if she’s holding onto a
piece of her daughter for dear life.
Most everyone here are family or
friends of the family.  A few people from
high school came to the funeral, but everyone bailed before the graveside
service.  If it were anyone other than
Andy, I would have done the same.   My
heart is heavy in my chest and tears threaten to come, but I suppress them so I
can get home before I start the water works.
My street is ten streets away from
Andy’s house, but the neighborhoods are polar opposites.  Her street is lined with manicured lawns and
matching brick mailboxes at the end of each driveway.  Several people on our street have taken their
mailbox down because some kids drove by with a baseball bat and dented in the
metal mailboxes.  A couple of the
neighbors have cars parked in their yard and many of the houses have some type
of car up on car ramps or a jack.  Andy’s
neighborhood is filled with houses with three bedrooms and two or more
bathrooms.  Ours isn’t. 
I pull into the driveway that is
cracked from neglect and hot Oklahoma summers. 
Our small two bedroom house is dark red brick with white trim that could
use a new paint job.
The screen door bangs closed as I
step into the living room.  Dad is right
where he was when I left this morning, asleep on the couch.
“Dad, it’s after two.”  I say it loud enough for him to hear me. 
He pushes himself up to a sitting
position.  “How was it?  Is her mom holding up okay?”
“It was as nice as a funeral can be
for an eighteen year old girl.  Her mom’s
okay, she’s a strong woman,” I say harsher than intended. 
“When will you go to the store to
buy groceries?”
The only question he cares
about……food.  He doesn’t give a crap about
the funeral, he’s been sitting on the couch all day.  He sits around and feels sorry for
himself.  “Dad, I told you I don’t get
paid until Tuesday.  Your Social Security
check paid the bills.  I have thirty
dollars for gas.  That’s all the money we
have in the bank.  There’s stuff to eat,
just not what you want.   Give me a few minutes to change for work and
I’ll make you some supper.”
“You’re working on the day of your
best friend’s funeral?”  He asks, posing
as the concerned father.
“Yes, I’m working on the day Andy
was buried.  I have to pay the bills, so
working isn’t an option. Your prescriptions will be running out this week, I
need money for your co-pays.  Look, I
don’t want to talk about this right now.” 
I set my stuff down as I head down the short hall to my bedroom.
“Holland, I’m getting better!  Don’t you worry, before long, I’ll be able to
go back to work!”  He shouts out to me.
He’s told me a thousand times how
he’s getting better.  Per Dr. Paul, his
regular doctor, he’s never going to be fit to work again if he doesn’t go to
therapy on a regular basis.  He’s two
steps away from being placed in an institution. 
He was involuntarily committed last October, it lasted for five
days.  Being the selfish person I am, it
was the most sleep I’ve had in years.  He
was safely behind locked doors, and I didn’t have to worry about which side of
him I was going to come home to.
My little room is large enough for
my full-size bed and a small desk I found at a garage sale.  Most of my clothes are folded up inside big
plastic bins.  Andy teased me about my
organization skills.  She said I’m the
only teenager who puts away their clothes on their own.   I found it easier to strap a bin of dirty
laundry to my skateboard and pull it the two blocks to the Laundromat than to
carry it that far.  I’ve been doing our
laundry since my mom left when I was thirteen. 
That was the year my dad lost his job with the advertising firm and everything
spiraled out of control.
I bend over to tie my shoes and
pick up my keys that fell to the floor. 
I double check my reflection in the mirror before rushing out of my room
to make a quick dinner for my dad. 
Crap!  I think to myself as I
realize I got more bleach splatters on the hems of my khakis.  Thankfully, Gerrie won’t be working tonight
to gripe at me about buying a new pair of pants.  She find a way to complain about me at every
opportunity she finds.  She hates it when
I wear my long hair down, she says I shed it all over the store. Last year she
got upset with me for not being tan like all the other girls in the mall.  She told me guys would come in to buy
vitamins if I had a tan and wore make-up.
Andy and I would dream up crazy
come-backs to Gerrie’s insults, but I never used them. 
How can I face another day without
her humor?  How am I going to deal with
my dad without her encouragement?  How
will I carry on?


Chapter One. 

Six months later.
“Yes Aunt Laney, I know his
birthday is Saturday.  Dad won’t show up
for dinner, he never does.  He hates surprises
and apparently he hates showers too.  I
know you don’t like to come to our neighborhood, so you can drop it off at the
mall.  I’m working tonight and tomorrow
“Okay, I’ll bring it to you at the
mall.  I’ve reloaded that Visa for you to
get some groceries.  Holland, you can
come live with me, no one would blame you,” Aunt Laney says for the hundredth
time.  She’s my dad’s older sister and
the only family member who still checks in on us.  Her husband is a big corporate lawyer who
represents every big company in Oklahoma. 
She was his paralegal, until they fell in love and got married.  To ease her conscience she loads a prepaid
Visa so I can buy groceries and gas.  She
paid off the mortgage last Christmas. 
She has no idea how much easier she made my life when I didn’t have to
worry about that bill anymore.
Things have been looking better
this year.  June moved away and I was
promoted to assistant-manager, which included a two dollar an hour raise.  “Okay, I’ll see you then….and thank you for
helping us by loading the Visa.”
“Oh honey, you’re a doll.  I’m proud of you for being such a good
daughter to my baby brother.  I hope
you’ve been able to keep your flawless GPA. 
You’ve been working so many days a week, it must be hard to keep up your
I can picture her admiring her
fingernails as she talks.  She’s always
struck me as a superficial person by the clothes she wears and the people in
her life.  “Thanks, I don’t have any
choice, he’s my dad.”  I state the
obvious.  “I’m taking online classes, so
it works around my schedule.  Not to be
rude, but I need to go; I have to be at work in fifteen minutes.”
“I’ll see you later.” 
“Okay, I’ll see you this evening,”
I click my cell phone off and close my bedroom door behind me.
“Dad, your dinner is in the fridge in the
purple container, heat it up for one minute.” 
I turn the corner and see my dad sitting up for a change.
“You’re going to work early, you
should eat breakfast,” he suggests.
“Dad, it’s four in the
afternoon.  I have to do laundry
tomorrow, so it would be nice if you took a shower and put your dirty clothes
in the hamper.”  He won’t.  He’ll give me excuses why he couldn’t shower
before I got home.   Recently, he
developed a fear of showering in an empty house.  His therapist called in a new medication, but
it only seems to make him more of a zombie and has done nothing for his fear of
“Four?  The days sure go by so fast.”  He rubs his hand across his unshaven
face.  He’s not even forty, but you’d
never know by the amount of grey in his beard.
“Gotta go, Dad,” I hold my breath
and give him a peck on his head.
Friday evening at Darby Springs
Mall is crowded as usual, leaving the only parking spaces ridiculously far from
the doors.  During my lunch period I’ll move
my car closer so I don’t have to get security to walk me to my car after
work.  I ease the Charger between two
SUVs, barely clearing the one on my right. 
Aunt Laney gave me her old one as a graduation gift during my senior
year.  Old to her is anything older than
two years old.  She had only owned this
one for a year before giving it to me. 
She even covers the car insurance so it wouldn’t be a burden on me and
my dad.
“Hey Sam, can you stay until
close?  It’s the fifteenth which means
payday for the military, and they love to come stock up on the protein
powder.  This is usually the busiest day
of the month.”  I glance around the store
to make sure everything is in order.
“Is that what’s going on?  I had to restock the powder a couple of times
already today.  One guy wanted to return
something, but I told him to come when you’re working.  He said he’d come back tonight,” Sam says.
“Will you straighten up the display
of Vitamin C?  Someone turned all the
bottles backwards, it was probably a kid.” Sam’s a quirky guy who spends all of
his paycheck on body building powder and his spare time in the gym.  He dates a girl I went to high school with,
she’s rumored to have appeared in a couple of adult films.  She’s a pretty girl but she can’t carry on a
conversation without talking about kinky sex. “I’m going to the back to place
some orders, if you need me just call,” I say as I turn to the back of the
“Holland?” Sam’s voice booms over
the phone intercom causing me to jump. 
“Yes, Sam.”
“That guy is here with the return.”
“I’ll be right there.” 
There’s a guy at the register
dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt talking to Sam.  His short light brown hair is definitely Air
Force the way it is perfectly squared off on the back of his neck.
 I remind myself that I’m the assistant manager
and not to be intimidated. 
“Hi, I’m Holland, what can I help
you with,” I ask as I step behind the cashier counter.  Another pretty-boy airman with his deep
dimple and flawless skin.  There’s no way
he’s much older than I am, that’s good because I don’t typically back down to
people my age.  Older guys in the
military scare me, they seem so hard and angry. 
“Hey Holland, Sam here told me to
come back when you’re here to refund this powder.”
The first thing I notice are his
eyes, pale blue eyes…incredibly pretty blue eyes and smile.  The manager-in-training classes I took told
me to always hold the customer’s gaze. 
They obviously never looked into eyes like his.  It takes everything in me not to shift my
eyes away from him.  It makes me feel
exposed as if he is literally looking into my soul. 
“Yes sir, is there a problem with
the powder?” 
He’s first to avert his eyes and
look down at the jug of Mega Muscle Protein Powder.  “It gave me a rash,” he replies without looking
up at me.
Most of the guys who come in are
embarrassed to admit they ended up with a rash. “A rash?  Do you have a photo of the rash?”  Our return policy on store-brand products are
if it gives you a rash, you have to provide a photo.  There’s nothing more disgusting than looking
at a rash on a stranger. 
“That rule on your policy is pretty
intrusive.  When I read it, I was floored
that it was a real rule.”
Here we go, he’ll turn off the
charm and turn into a douche.  I’m sure
Sam is doing the countdown in his head. 
“Yes sir, we must turn in the photo along with the explanation in to our
corporate office.  Our policy is for
quality control and has nothing to do with being intrusive.  May I see the picture?”
He pulls out his cell phone and
scrolls through his pictures before holding it up for me to see.  Sure enough, it’s a rash… on his ass!  He took a selfie of his ass rash in the
mirror. He is standing in his boxers and holding one side of them down and
taking a picture with his other hand.  I
need to call Andy and tell her about this, she’s going to die laughing.  Dammit! 
I can’t call her, because she’s dead. 
“I need a print of the picture,” I
snap.  My mood has gone from good to
pissed in two seconds.
“You really need a picture of my
ass to give me a thirty-five dollar refund?”
I cock my head to the side, my
go-to defense pose when I’m hiding my feelings from the world.  “I didn’t write the rules, but I follow
them.”  This is the look Andy called my bitch-face.
“Look, I’m not going to go print
off a picture of my ass to get a thirty-five dollar refund.  You can keep the powder and the money.”  He shakes his head back and forth before
taking his receipt and folding it up neatly before returning it to his wallet.
I stand at the register and watch
him walk out of the store.
“What happened?”  Sam asks.
“Nothing, I’m following policy,” I
reply nonchalantly.
Sam looks at me like he wasn’t
buying it for an instant.  “Holland, one
minute you were okay and the next you flipped and were pissed off.”
“I didn’t flip.”  I gather up my paperwork to tally out our
sales for the day.  My dad flips, I just
get pissed.
“I think there’s Pamprin in the
office, if you need it,” Sam says sarcastically.  Good thing I like him or I’d write him up
just because I can.
“I’m not PMSing and just for that,
you get to mop the floor tonight.” 
Without turning around, I head back to the office.  When memories of Andy pop into my head, I’m
reminded how lonely life is without her. 
I’ve been going to her grave and sitting there for hours.   She was always my sounding board when it
came to my dad, now I feel guilty for all the times I made her listen to me
complain.  We should have spent more time
doing pranks and laughing at stupid movies. 
Now, I’ll never be able to do those things with someone.  Lately, everything reminds me of her and I’ll
either cry or get angry.  It isn’t that
I’m mad at her, it’s I don’t know when the pain will stop.  My therapist says dumb things like, time heals all wounds, or everyone grieves differently.  The therapist was Aunt Laney’s idea since the
health insurance policy she bought for me covers the visits. 
“Knock, knock,” Sam’s voice brings
me back to reality.  “Hey, do I really
have to mop the floor?  I have plans
after work and I don’t want to smell like bleach and dirty mop water.”
“I told you to mop not take a
bath.  I’ll let it slide this time, but
don’t ever hint for me to take Pamprin again, okay?”
“Deal.  Your Aunt Laney is in the store, do you want
me to send her back here?”
“No, I’ll go out there.”
I’ve thought of myself as a writer for as long as I can remember.  I played grown-up with my family, until everyone grew up and left me to figure out what I really wanted to be.  Jumping over the cliff, I took a leap of faith and wrote my first full length novel, The Legacy of Kilkenny.  My love of young adult books, helped mold me into the writer I am today.  The books I write, reflect the types of books I enjoy reading.  Every story I write will have a huge twist at the end, one that often leaves the reader in shock (no pun intended, if you know me, you know why I say that, LOL).  Thank you for considering to read my books.  Happy reading!
Thank you for having me on your blog!

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St. Patrick’s Day Traditions

Welcome to my stop on the St. Patrick’s Day Blog Hop!

My favorite color is green. Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is pretty much the only St. Patrick’s tradition I participate in. I know, I know. Where’s my Irish pride? Where’s my holiday spirit? Well, I don’t like beer, and I’m not really a fan of corned beef or cabbage…especially the smell.

Despite my aversion to the traditional food and drink of the holiday (green beer, anyone?), I do faithfully don my green clothing every St. Patrick’s Day. Even when I worked in a doctor’s office, I had a green scrub top that I wore to work. Hey, I didn’t want to get pinched! It hurts! Of course, I try not to overdo it on my green. I don’t want to look like Barney…

I would really like to find a leprechaun, though. Not one of the scary ones. A cute, friendly one, who will share his pot of gold with me.

Anyone know how to build a leprechaun trap? Bueller?

What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition? Tell me in the comments below for a chance to win a $10 Amazon OR Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice) gift card!

Even if my gift card offer doesn’t tempt you, leave a comment anyway for a chance at the two grand prizes: a Kindle Fire OR Nook Tablet (winner’s choice), and a $90 Amazon OR Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice). There are over 120 authors participating in the hop, so you can leave a comment at each stop! Visit for the full list. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I’m having a giveaway! There are several prizes to be won:


Ecopies of Foreshadow





























How do you enter? Easy! Just leave a comment below with your email address, so I can contact you if you win. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email address, you may leave a comment, then email me at Contest will run until 11:59 pm PST on Monday, February 13th. Winners will be drawn and announced Tuesday, February 14th in the morning. Open internationally. Good luck, everyone!


25 Days of Christmas: Happy Holidays from Gracen Miller Exclusive Pandora’s Box Scene and Giveaway!

Today we have Gracen Miller, author of Pandora’s Box and Madison’s Life Lessons, with us on the blog! She’s sharing an exclusive scene from Pandora’s Box that you can’t find anywhere else! She’s also doing a giveaway!

Happy Holidays, readers!  What puts you in the mood for the Holidays? For me, it certainly is not the commercial rush of the season. That aggravates me! What does it for me is putting up the Christmas tree with my boys, or decorating the mantel. It’s the simple things that put me in the holiday spirit. What about you, what puts you in the holiday spirit?  
For Madison and Phoenix, lead characters in my recently released book Pandora’s Box (book one in the Road to Hell Series), it’s something just as simple that puts them in the holiday spirit. Below is a taste into their world, an idyllic moment that is rare for their tumultuous lives. This snippet cannot be found anywhere and it’s not in my book, so enjoy, and let me know what you think and you will be entered to win!

Madison gazed out the dingy window of Pancake Decadence, a pit stop located on the edge of Highway 69 to nowhere. A trucker maneuvered his rig with ease into the dirt-packed wasteland of trash and winter brittle weeds to the side of the café. Deep ruts and tire tracks proclaimed the tract of land a long running make-do parking lot.
Sipping coffee so strong it settled like cement in her belly, she peered over the rim at her six-year-old son, Amos, slapping the buttons on the old-fashioned pinball machine. A chip red-flagged the rim of the coffee mug and a stained crack along the side indicated the mug was long past its expiration date. Madison didn’t care about either, so long as it served up coffee. At this point in her journey, she’d take a dirty I.V. of the brew straight into her veins if possible.
Gouged out spots blighted the dirty linoleum floor. Like acne pock-marking a face with such severity it promised to scar the flesh forever. The aged flooring needed replacing. The dated table wobbled on the uneven floor and the vinyl booth held a ragged tear in the center of the seat. Comfort hadn’t been high on her priority list in a long while, so she wiggled a butt-cheek into the tear for a unique level of seating.
Christmas morning at four a.m. and she and Amos were stuck in a dive dining on an early morning fare of pancakes. Lonely and scared, she would call it a low point in her life if she hadn’t already lost her husband and her otherwise normal life.
Strands of Christmas lights bunched along the top of the windows resembled curtain swags. They twinkled on some random cycle, none of them in sync.Merry Christmas was spray painted with a can of snow on the window to her right, along with a painted ensemble of red and green use-your-imagination-ornaments. Or at least she thought they were supposed to be ornaments.
A spindly tree sat in the corner of the café near the entrance to the bathrooms. Madison felt pity for the thing. Leaning to one side, with several branches hanging low from the weight of the ornaments, it was definitely on its last leg. A light breeze would set it on its side.
Good thing, you’re not by the door, little guy, Madison contemplated with a skeptical eye.
Tacky decorations, but they lent the place a redneck kind of charm. She was southern, so she knew rednecks intimately.
Madison lifted her fork, cut out another bite of pancakes and swirled it in syrup. Closing her eyes on a moan, she savored the sweet taste and the fluffy texture hitting her tongue. Only orgasms compared to this self-indulgence!
Ha! Self-indulgence was her picking up the cell and calling Phoenix. After almost a year on the road, she’d give anything to see him. A friendly face. Someone that understood what she was going through. Not that Phoenix owed her anything, but she’d hoped he would answer her desperate call and agree to meet them for the holidays. Ridiculous really since she was a hard and fast devout atheist—or had been. Kind of hard to remain dedicated to that doctrine knowing what she now knew.
Foolish of her to expect more from Phoenix, but others in her life had already proven how naïve she was. Phoenix had a family to spend Christmas with and she and Amos weren’t part of that family. He’d helped her all he could with her supernatural pests and she had left him on her front lawn, declaring she and Amos must take this journey on their own. Loneliness was a hard companion and she was long overdue for some adult conversation.
The bell above the door dingled, announcing a new customer and Madison glanced up, expecting to see the trucker.
“Nix!” she exclaimed on a shocked breath.
Phoenix Birmingham in the flesh!  Wearing ratty low-slung jeans, a wrinkled black t-shirt that stretched like a second skin across his chest and his uncle’s hand-me-down leather bomber. To Madison he was the most exciting creation since the invention of the internet. And her heart agreed, racing faster than the tattoo of a jackhammer as he smiled at her, a slow, wicked grin that revealed his sexy dimples. Dimples she was sure had charmed the pants off a number of women.
A bevy of strong pleasure kicked her in the belly, snatched her breath away and yanked her along a joyride of emotions. None of which she wanted to dissect too closely.
He rounded the backside of the booth and instead of sitting opposite her he tugged her out of the seat and enveloped her in a fierce hug. Being in the man’s arms was better than an orgasm.
“I’m your gift from Amos,” he said low against her ear.
Dear God, what a loaded statement!
Bizarre how the simple things in life—like having Nix with her on Christmas morning—meant so much more to her than a designer label, a nice house or a fancy car. Oh, how drastically her life had changed and how meaningless it had once been.
Nix kissed her forehead and Madison knew this Christmas would officially go down as her best one ever!

Want to read more of Madison and Phoenix’s exploits?  Well, you can in my novel, Pandora’s BoxBook One in The Road to Hell Series, out now from Decadent Publishing.
Wait!  Don’t run off yet!  Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to WIN an e-copy of Pandora’s Box!  As an added bonus, every person that leaves a comment will receive an e-copy of Madison’s Life Lessons (prequel to Pandora’s Box) by leaving me their email address with the format they prefer the book in (Kindle, Nook or pdf). The first three chapters of both books can be read on my blog listed below.
Where you can stalk me—not really!—but I would love to meet and interact with you:
Thanks so much for having me with you, Brea!

Gracen Miller

25 Days of Christmas: The Purdy Family Christmas (and Giveaway) with Rebekah Purdy

25 Days of Christmas continues with Rebekah Purdy! The search for the perfect Christmas can sometimes be more…eventful…than you think it would be! Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her YA paranormal romance novel My Dad’s a Paranormal Investigator: Seeking Shapeshifters!

The Griswold Family Christmas…Er, I mean Purdy Family Christmas
First of all I want to thank Brea for having me on her blog! Okay, so when she asked us to talk about Christmas or traditions etc. the first thing that came to mind is our yearly tradition of cutting down the PURDY FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREE…
So I should start off by saying, we have a big family. I’m talking 6 kids big! Every December we load up into the Expedition to go cut down our tree. Imagine frigid temps, thigh deep snow, frozen appendages, 6 kids, and well, you get the idea. We traipse through the woods, looking for that perfect tree. And of course we all have a different idea of what size tree we’re searching for.
A couple of years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted a really BIG tree. We have 14 ft ceilings in my living room, so I thought hey, why not go big. Er…big mistake (LOL). We spent several hours searching for said tree. Our feet were numb, it was getting dark, and all I kept picturing was the Griswolds out looking for their tree (you know the movie with Chevy Chase National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation).
At last, we found it and holy crap was it huge. It took all of us to get it tied down to the top of the truck. When we got home we had to move furniture out of the way so we could bring it in. We got pine needles everywhere, and the sap ugh! Then, it ended up being too tall (grr). So we had to cut some off the top. At last we got it stabilized and decorated it. A couple hours later, we were all downstairs when we heard a loud CRASH.
Yep, you guessed it. The tree had tipped over (OMG). We hefted it back up and ended up having to put a large hook in the wall and tie rope around the trunk to keep it upright. But yeah it looked really pretty. Needless to say, we decided to downsize after that year. What about you? Do you have any traditions?
In the spirit of Christmas, I’d love to give away an ebook copy of my YA Paranormal Romance: My Dad’s a Paranormal Investigator: Seeking Shapeshifters to one lucky commenter! Make sure to leave an email address…
Sixteen year old Ima Berry (pronounced I’m a) leads anything but a normal life. For starters, the ridiculous name her eccentric dad gave her is always the opening for a good joke. Not to mention the fact he makes his living as a supernatural investigator, which has them moving around every few months. It’s hard to hang out with new friends when she spends all her time trying to prove the existence of Bigfoot, ghosts, fairies and any other number of paranormal creatures. Unfortunately, the cases always end in disaster. That is until now.

On a whim, Ima’s father decides to move them to Point Hope, Alaska. Here, he plans to investigate the possibility of shifters amongst the Inuit tribes. Ima isn’t thrilled with the move, until she meets an Inuit guy named Carsen. Not only is he hot, but he’s also a star basketball player, and he’s interested in her. Too bad his best friend, Talon, doesn’t like her and takes every opportunity he can to discourage the relationship. Ima has no idea what she’s done to make him mad, but there’s no denying the strange connection between them.

As things grow more serious with Carsen, Ima uncovers a secret about him and some of the residents of Point Hope. A secret that will force her to choose between her father’s already dwindling career and her new found love. And with the knowledge of this secret comes danger…a danger that could cost them their lives.

Guest Post: "Do You Believe?": Dianne Hartsock, Author of "Alex"

Today we have Dianne Hartsock, the author of “Alex” visiting with us! Welcome, Dianne!

Do You Believe?
            ALEX is the story of a reluctant psychic. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and wanted to create a character who, by his very nature, could suspend disbelief for the duration of a novel.
            It’s not that I don’t believe a person can be psychic. I’ve had a few unexplainable happenings in my life. There was a time several years back when I was out shopping with my sister. Right in the middle of the mall we stopped and looked at each other. For some inexplicable reason we were suddenly worried about our brother. A few days later we learned that he had been in a hospital in Mexico, deadly ill, and had returned home to convalesce.
With ALEX, I wondered what extreme circumstances could lead to his ‘gift’. I decided it would have to start with his childhood. Alone and isolated, living with the anguish of abuse, perhaps a person’s mind would expand, seeking escape from the sadness and loneliness of life.
            I believed his isolation would also make him hypersensitive to the people around him. He’d be empathetic to the point where he could sense and sometimes see the emotions of others. Their thoughts would leap to him in a wave of a sympathetic connection.
            Here’s one example:
            “Doctor Beckett’s here. Will you let him take a look at you?”
He widened his eyes in alarm. “What?”
“It’ll be okay, I promise. Will you do this for me? I called him because I’ve been worried about you.”
He looked closely at her. She seemed tired and stressed. “Okay. But will you stay with me?” He regretted sounding like a child. “Forget I said that.”
She nodded and called the doctor. When Beckett entered the room, Alex stared unwittingly at the angry swirls of purple and blue radiating from him. His thoughts became entangled in a web of the doctor’s own. He saw the images of a tiny girl with enormous blue eyes and a bleeding heart. “Megan,” he whispered, tears in his eyes for the little girl on the cold table.
Beckett gave him a piercing look but said nothing.
And again:
A knock on the front door disrupted their kiss. They both looked up and Jane reluctantly stepped from his arms. “Come in.”
The screen door creaked open and Ben joined them. There was strain around his eyes. He ran a hand through his hair, not meeting anyone’s eyes. Alex began to ask a question but fell silent when Ben glanced up. The man’s eyes were dark with emotion and his thoughts leaped to Alex in a wave of anguish.
“No,” Alex said.
Ben’s shoulders sagged. “Sally had a stroke this morning.”
“Oh, no,” Jane murmured.
“She doesn’t remember me.” He made a visible effort for self-control, folding his arms across his chest.
Alex cleared his throat. “Can we see her?”
“She’s in the ICU.” His armor cracked. “I can’t talk about her right now.”
“But …”
Ben cut him off with a sharp gesture, his voice bitter. “I don’t want to know what you see.”
Alex has many such experiences throughout the book. Can a person truly be psychic? I hope that with ALEX I’ve shown one way it could be possible.
Alex is twenty and confused.  He always is.  The world presses on him with its horrors and pain, with scintillating auras that pierce his eyes and drive the migraines deeper. He hears the cries of children, the screaming women. He sees the brutal images of the tortured victims. He feels out of control and his mind slips…
 Severely abused as a child, he is left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer. When he can, he helps the police; yet some detectives suspect he’s the cause of the problem, not the solution. Often, Alex finds himself alone and afraid in a world he doesn’t always comprehend. 
Dianne Hartsock