J.M. Pierce – Failing Test

Title: Failing Test (Book One of The Shadow Series)

Author: J.M. Pierce

ISBN: 1451591284

Page count: 380

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Price: $.99 for Kindle and Nook

Author Bio:

J.M. Pierce is a simple Midwestern man with a creative side who has found writing as his primary outlet. He lives happily with his wife and two children in rural Kansas and finds happiness in a good cup of coffee, a Kansas sunrise, a good book, the sound of his daughter singing, his son’s laughter, and his wife’s eyes. Everything else is gravy.

 

Tell us about your book:

Failing Test begins as Test Davis enters his last weeks of high school. He is a good kid with a horrible home life, a severe lack of self control, and a crush on Nicole Paxton. When he finally gets his chance with Nicole, it doesn’t go as planned and his anger gets the better of him. In a drunken fit of rage, he discovers a power that had been resting dormant within him. His life then becomes the ultimate test (and failure) of self control as his secret is revealed to the world.

How long did it take to write the book?

I took a good six to seven months to write the first draft. After that, I spent another three months or so working on revisions and then editing.

What inspired you to write the book?

For years I’ve had lucid dreams where was able to fly and control things without touching them. They were so fantastic and incredible that I thought it would make a good base for a story. Failing Test is not a reproduction of those dreams, rather an evolution of an idea to story. It’s funny, now that I’ve written the book I rarely have the dreams anymore.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine?

My writing process is pretty fluid. Typically, I’ll just sit down and let my mind go. If I get an idea for something that I want to happen later on in the story, I’ll type out the idea on a “notes” page that I create below the current page. I try not to let my writing interfere with family time. Generally, I only write after the kids go to bed or over lunch at work. I have an aversion to bright light, so my ideal writing space is dimly lit and quiet. Music does inspire me, but I can’t listen to it while I’m writing unless it fits the scene that I am currently working on.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I want to provide people with an escape. It is my most sincere hope that they finish Failing Test with not only the desire to read the next book in the series, but that they were thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon Kindle : http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Test-ebook/dp/B003LSSRDA/ref=cm_lmf_tit_13

B&N Nook : http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Failing-Test/JM-Pierce/e/2940011867040/?itm=1&USRI=failing+test

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Visit The Shadow Series blog:

http://jmpshadowseries.blogspot.com/

Visit The Shadow Series Facebook fan page:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Shadow-Series/179099632132580

Follow me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/AUTHORJMPIERCE

Excerpt from book:

Test was awakened by a hand on his shoulder, followed by a subtle nudge and an old man’s voice.

“Wake up, kid. This ain’t no hotel, and you ain’t paid for that coffee yet neither.”

Test looked up to see a silver-haired black man with a heavily receding hairline standing beside him. Hanging low on his nose was a pair of thick-lens, black-framed glasses that were millimeters away from sliding off the tip of his nose. Clenched between his teeth rested an unlit cigar that looked as though he’d been chewing on it for days. His name-tag read “Cliff.”

“Let’s go, kid. You can’t stay here less you pay for somethin’,” the old man complained.

Test sat up straight and rubbed his face. “I’ll pay for the coffee,” he replied with a yawn. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep, sir, I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t realize how tired I was.”

“Oh, you kids and your fast lifestyle. Up all night and sleep all day; it’s no wonder the world’s going to hell in a hand basket,” replied Cliff as he pointed his finger accusingly at Test.

Test watched the old man speak. For some reason, he liked him. Even though the old man was yelling at him, he got the feeling that was just how he was, and didn’t necessarily mean to come off as crabby as he did.

“What are you doin’ out this late, young man?” asked Cliff.

Test took a sip of his now-cold coffee. The bitter taste hit his tongue, and his face contorted in disapproval. He choked the cold coffee down and replied, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Try me,” said Cliff as he sat across from Test. “What’s your name, son? You don’t look familiar to me. Don’t recall seein’ you before.”

“Test Davis, sir,” he replied.

“My name is Clifford Johnston. Folks just call me Cliff,” said the old man as he reached out his hand.

Test shook the old man’s hand and replied, “Good to meet you, Mr. Johnston.”

Cliff dipped his head and turned sideways in the booth. “No, no, no. Didn’t I just ask you to call me Cliff? You kids don’t listen well these days neither,” he said gruffly as he pushed his glasses back on his nose. “Now, back to my original question; what are you doin’ out this late?”

Test looked out the window and noticed that it had stopped raining. The parking lot was full of puddles, and the wind had become still. Glancing back to Cliff, Test answered as honestly as he could.

“I had a party to go to tonight. It was really the first night that I was going to hang out with my new girlfriend. Let’s just say that everything didn’t work out as I had hoped.”

Cliff pulled his glasses off his face and let them dangle on a black shoestring that he’d fashioned into a strap. He slapped his hand on the table and looked at Test with his left eye squinted.

“That’s it? You’re either leavin’ out a bunch of stuff, or you are the most boring kid in the state of Nebraska!” he said loudly.

Test smiled and laughed. “Well, I did kind of do some stuff I’m not proud of,” he replied.

“You on drugs? Damn kids always doin’ them drugs!” said Cliff as he slapped his hands on the table.

“No, sir, no that’s not it at all!” replied Test defensively.

“Then what are you talkin’ about?” asked Cliff as he quickly stood up.

Though Test was twice the old man’s size, he cowered in his seat, afraid of what the old man might say next. Now wide awake, Test answered with his hands held up defensively. “There are these two guys and this one girl that were harassing me and my girlfriend. I just wanted them to stop!” he replied.

“Your girlfriend got a name?” asked Cliff.

Test wrinkled his nose. “What does her name have to do with anything? Besides, I don’t know if she wants to be my girlfriend now or not,” he replied.

Cliff stood idly and waited for his answer.

“Okay, if you need to know, her name is Nicole,” replied Test, thinking now that maybe the old man was slightly touched.

“Thank you,” said Cliff as he once again took a seat across from Test. “Okay, so what’d you do to these two guys and this girl that was botherin’ you?” he asked as he aggressively chewed on his cigar.

Knowing what his reaction was going to be, Test was unable to look at the old man. Reluctantly he replied, “I . . . I smashed their truck.”

Shaking his head in disappointment, Cliff looked at Test. “Always violence. Always them damned drugs and violence with kids these days. Ain’t you kids ever talked nothin’ out?”

“I tried, Mr. Johnston,” he stopped himself mid-sentence, “I mean Cliff. Honest I did. I’ve never been mean to anyone in my life.”

Cliff placed his glasses back on his nose, took the cigar from his mouth, and looked at Test with a great intensity. After several moments of silence, he stood and grabbed Test’s cold cup of coffee.

“You know, son, I believe you. I think you’re a good boy. I can tell ’bout most, good or bad that is. You’ve got a shine to you,” said Cliff.

“What do you mean?” asked Test.

Cliff put his hand on Test’s shoulder and replied, “Some people, they just walk around like they walkin’ in the dark, and they’re fine with that. Day after day just livin’; some days good, some days bad, but either way they just keep walking without any desire or any goal. You, son, I see some fire in you.”

Test smiled. If only he knew, he thought.

“A fire huh?” he replied aloud.

“That’s right, a fire; you’re not lettin’ nothin’ get in your way. You push through obstacles and sometimes fly past your original goal. Yes sir, you’ve got a fine shine, son; a fine shine. You just keep pushin’ like you know how, and this will pass as well,” said Cliff with a wink.

“Thank you, sir,” replied Test, surprised at the realization that he was feeling much better.

Cliff looked out the window and noticed a white cargo van pulling into the parking lot. He looked at his watch. It was three o’clock in the morning.

“Ah, right on time. My favorite part of the mornin’,” said Cliff as he looked back down to Test with a smile. “Let me freshen up your coffee, son.”

“That would be great,” replied Test.

As Cliff walked to the coffee pots, the front door opened, and the bells rang. In walked a long-haired thirty-year-old man wearing a hat that reminded Test of something a golfer would wear. Test stared at the man’s long graying beard and small round glasses, wondering what planet this guy was from. And then the two of them made eye contact. The bearded man froze and stared awkwardly. Test quickly looked out the window, trying to hide the fact that he had been staring, and could see the man’s reflection. He remained frozen, and his eyes locked on Test. Uncomfortable and confused, Test struggled to keep his composure. He couldn’t recall ever seeing him before, but the man looked at him as if he knew who he was. Startled by Cliff’s sudden appearance, Test jumped.

“Mornin’, Jacob,” said Cliff as he put Test’s fresh cup of coffee down on the table.

“Good morning, Cliff,” replied Jacob, not taking his eyes off Test.

Cliff looked strangely at Jacob and then down to Test.

“Anything good in there this mornin’?” he asked.

Stepping sideways towards the door, Jacob replied in a nervous and hurried voice, “I gotta go, Cliff. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Without waiting for a reply, he quickly turned and walked briskly out the front door.

“He’s kind of a strange guy, huh, Cliff?” asked Test.

“Nah, he’s all right. Somethin’s got him spooked. He ain’t normally like that,” replied Cliff.

Test looked out the window, expecting to see the van flying out of the parking lot. Instead, the van remained sitting where it had been parked. Inside, he could see Jacob talking on the phone.

Cliff walked over to the pile of papers that Jacob had inexplicably left on the floor. He bent down slowly, knees crackling, and picked them up.

“Don’t know what’s got into him,” said Cliff, groaning as he lifted the papers to the counter. “I hope he . . .”

Cliff froze as he examined the front page.

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Bruce A. Sarte – Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509

Title: Towering Pines Volume One: Room 509

Author: Bruce A. Sarte

ISBN: 978-0615384863

Page count: 322

Genre: Paranormal Mystery/Young Adult

Price: $15.00

Author Bio:

Bruce lives in Berks County not far from Philadelphia with his wife and three children (with one more on the way!).  In addition to writing, he enjoys baseball, playing guitar, reading, church, cooking and being a dad.

Bruce grew up at the Jersey Shore (the picture is at Point Pleasant Beach, where Sands of Time is set) and graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy in Pine Beach, NJ (where Towering Pines is set) where he first became enamored with reading and story telling.  Early on Bruce was introduced to the classics and fell in love with Shakespeare, Marlow, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

In addition to his books, Bruce has written for The Bleacher Report, The Father Life, Associated Content, City Paper (Philadelphia) and The Examiner.

Tell us about your book:

When high school superstar basketball player Liam Rider is sentenced to military school to serve out an aggravated assault charge, he thought his life was over.  But when Lisbeth Harrington comes into his life she sparks feelings in him he didn’t know he had.  Suddenly pulled into the past of the historic school by nightmares of his own suicide, Liam and Lisbeth are catapulted forward into the hidden history of ghosts, suicide and murder.

Can they solve the mysteries of the military school before Liam becomes the next victim of the paranormal murderer?

How long did it take to write the book?

Towering Pines was written mostly during NaNoWriMo 2009 although the finishing touches were put on by Christmas.  So about two months to get the first draft done.

What inspired you to write the book?

I went to military school when I was younger.  The school had a rich history with many locked rooms that people weren’t allowed in.  When it closed in the mid-90’s I felt I had to set a ghost story there at some point to give life to all the stories we used to tell one-another while in school.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

My writing process is actually fairly simple.  I sit and I write what comes out of my fingers.  I do the research necessary to make the story not sound silly.  But I also go to great lengths to the be true to my initial vision even if it means being less than authentic with some details if it keeps the story rolling.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope that readers feel Liam’s sense of honor and faith.  I hope that they can see how Liam’s relationships throughout the book help shape him into a better person with richer friendships and maybe even a love-interest.

Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon.Com, BucksCountyPublishing.Com and BruceASarte.Com!

Excerpt from book:

Liam felt it walking up his spine before it swept up the back of his head. He rolled over on his back and swiped at it absent-mindedly. The blankets pulled down exposing his chest and stomach, and his shirt slowly moved up to expose his stomach and chest. Liam felt the chill in the air, stirred and groped around for something to cover himself up.

“Hey man, cut it out.” Liam slurred as he rolled back onto his good shoulder. Suddenly, his blanket was ripped from what little of him it still covered and he was very awake. Before he could register what was happening, he felt a strong push and practically flew out of bed landing on the floor with a loud thud. Liam curled up on the floor with the wind knocked air out of him gasping for air. The room was freezing cold and the only light came in from the window was bathed over the desks. Liam couldn’t see anything else. The air was heavy and Liam found it difficult to breath. As the temperature in the room began to gradually return to something more comfortable, Liam’s breathing slowly returned to normal. Finally, he was able to get up. He stood in the middle of his room looking from one corner to another, looking for someone or something that was in his room that shouldn’t be there. He slowly walked to the lockers and opened them both. He rifled through the contents but saw nothing but hanging clothes and shirts folded on shelves.

Liam bolted from the room, slamming the door open. All he could see was a dim light at the other end of the hall lightly illuminating the corridor. Liam walked the length of the hall quickly, but quietly, searching for anyone or anything that might be out of place. He knew that he wouldn’t find anyone.

Liam stood in the middle of the hallway trying to convince himself that he had simply fallen out of bed. There was no other rational explanation. Standing there, staring into the community bathroom, he smelled something that just wasn’t right. After sniffing himself, he realized that he hadn’t showered since he had been arrested. He considered that he wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep again. So, he decided this was as good a time as any to rectify that situation. Liam walked into the bathroom and started one of the showers along the wall. The bathroom was laid out like the shower room in a gym. After a steamy half an hour under the water, Liam was finely feeling better about the entire situation. He resolved during his shower that there was a plausible explanation for everything that has happened to him since he arrived here. He rationalized that he has been under intense pressure and stress. That would explain some of things he felt and thought he was seeing. These are old buildings; his room is just very drafty so that explains the temperature variation in his room. He couldn’t exactly explain what happened in sickbay, but he figured he could just write that off to stress, as well. Liam grabbed one of the towels and wrapped around his waist before he made his way out to the hallway and ran headlong into Lieutenant Snyder.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” he spat out at Liam.

“I was just taking a shower, Sarge. I had a mean stink goin’ on.” Liam moved to go around Snyder. Snyder blocked his path by putting a hand on his chest.

“Not so fast mister soft and fluffy. Do you know what time it is?” Snyder didn’t wait for a response. “It’s past your bed time, now do you think I was awake?” Liam shook his head no, “Very good, I can assure you that not only was I not awake, but I was having the most wonderful dream involving myself, Shania Twain, a very skimpy bikini and a beach. Now, normally I might slap you upside your head and go back to bed. But see, you are new here and I feel like I need to set an example… make it clear that we have rules and there are penalties for waking me up from my Shania Twain fantasy. It is now 0210, yes that is two in the morning in your little world. You will get your ass down the stairs, get to the track…you know, the one you can see from your room? Once you get to that track, you will run. You will not stop running until 0600 when you here reveille. Then you will get your ass to Mess with everyone else.”

Liam stared at Snyder in disbelief. He really expected him to run for three and a half hours? Snyder’s expression went from irritated to a look that could kill.

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Barbara Ellen Brink – Entangled

Title: Entangled

Author: Barbara Ellen Brink

ISBN: 978-1453816745

Page count: 352

Genre: mystery/suspense

Price: 2.99 ebook/12.99 paperback

Author Bio:

Barbara Ellen Brink is a freelance writer, supported financially by a loving husband who just happens to have a much better paying job. She is currently working on another novel in the Fredrickson Winery saga.

Her mainstream novel, “Time in a Bottle,” was selected as a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association 2006 contest and her suspense novel, “Sense of Danger,” was a finalist in 2007. Barbara’s short stories and articles have been published in THEMA Literary Magazine, The Springhill Review, Evangel, Liguorian, and others.

She grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with her husband and their dogs, Rugby & Willow. With her kids now pushed out of the nest and encouraged to fly, Barbara spends much time writing, motorcycling with her husband in the summer, and hiking through snow with the dogs in the winter.

Tell us about your book:

What if you inherited a California winery, fully equip with a house, vineyards, and a sexy blonde lawyer, and not only does it reawaken your worst childhood memories and give you recurring nightmares, but your mother decides you need her and moves in with you indefinitely?

Entangled is told in the voice of Billie Fredrickson, a twenty-eight-year-old cynical divorce attorney from Minneapolis who inherits a winery and must decide whether to stay and run it as her uncle wished, or sell out and return home. Billie has every intention to cut and run, but her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle’s will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting more questions than anyone is able or willing to answer.

A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone’s way of pulling the Welcome mat out from under Billie’s feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper.

More secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery’s innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root. In her search for the truth, Billie unintentionally lays bare painful secrets in her mother’s past as well. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure?

Along the way, Billie’s love of winemaking is awakened, as is an attraction to her uncle’s attorney. But before she can pursue these options, she must learn to see past hurt and regret to hope of the future, like a good wine that stands the test of time.

Great wine evokes a sense of place, a connection to our heritage, much as a good story. Billie’s story is about finding that connection, that sense of belonging.

How long did it take to write the book?

I worked steadily for about six months to finish it, but then went back a few months later and did more edits and reworked the first chapter.

What inspired you to write the book?

I was visiting relatives in Washington State and noticed how wineries and vineyards had popped up across the countryside. I’d read a number of articles about how popular wine tasting rooms had become in numerous states and wondered what it would be like to own and operate a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington, but my memories aren’t so good. Not that they’re repressed—just poor. I found that memories were often jogged through things like the smell of apricots ripening on a tree, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or the sound of frogs croaking in unison down by the creek. It set my mind spinning this story.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I try to write in the mornings and afternoons when the house is quiet and there are no interruptions. I get my email, blogging, and other things out of the way first and then settle in to work on my current book. I usually have a very sketchy story plan in my head and just start writing. I’m not much of an outline person, but I do use a whiteboard to keep track of names, timelines, story arc, etc.

I happily visited a winery or two—just to get the feel for such a place of course. I also had a critique partner who kindly handed over a pile of research she’d done on wineries while living in California. For other aspects of the story I visited the local library and a few interesting winery websites.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Entangled has something for everyone: a mystery to be solved, a budding romance, and mother/daughter relationship problems, all set in sunny California. But the theme throughout is that even though family ties may bind at times and we strain to be free, they’re also our lifelines when storms come our way.

So I hope they laugh and cry and nearly wet their pants, but I’ll be happy if they enjoy the story, tell their friends, and eagerly anticipate my next book.

Where can we go to buy your book?

My ebook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, and Diesel online stores. The paperback is available through Creatspace, Amazon, and other bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it stocked, please be sure and ask for it.

Any other links or info you’d like to share?
Web page: http://www.barbaraellenbrink.com

Blog: http://www.barbarasthinline.blogspot.com

Author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbaraellenbrink

Excerpt from book:

Dreams of shadows hovering over me stole the restfulness from my sleep, and I woke still tired and irritable.  I got up and moved about the room, admiring the view from my window, and taking a closer look at the artwork on the walls.  In here too was an assortment of paintings, abstract and bold in composition, frightening in intensity.  I didn’t like them and blamed the room’s heightened atmosphere for my less than adequate nap.  I promised myself that I would take them down and store them in the back of the closet before I slept in here again.

I stole into my mother’s room and saw that she was still sleeping, a little mascara smudged beneath her eyes, but her hair quite perfect in its protective shell of spray.  Mother was one of those people who always woke fresh as a spring flower, happy and talkative.  When I woke, no matter how long I slept or how still I lay, I always looked like Attila the Hun after a night of pillaging and mayhem.

The sound of a child singing wafted through the open window, and I tiptoed past the bed where Mother slept to lift a slat of the closed blinds and peer out.  Our rooms were situated at the back of the house where the view of the vineyards was obscured by dozens of full-grown oak, redwood, and eucalyptus trees.

A small boy of about six was sitting in a tire swing, suspended from the branch of a tall oak.  He pushed his bare feet against the ground for momentum as he sang at the top of his voice.

“Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…”

I watched him for a moment, a smile on my lips, as he swung higher and higher, his voice floating up into the branches of the trees.  Suddenly I felt a shiver run down my spine as the scene changed and I imagined myself as a little girl sitting in that tire, swinging back and forth, back and forth, like the pendulum on a clock, unable to stop or get off.

I closed my eyes and swallowed hard.  What was wrong with me?  I wasn’t remembering this place, that swing, the week I spent here as a child.  I blew out a breath of exasperation, realizing my imagination was working overtime.  My father had hung a tire from a large maple tree in our yard in Minneapolis when I was seven.  That’s what I remembered.  I’d fallen out of the thing one time and broke my arm.  I turned away from the window and silently exited into the hall, closing the door behind me.

Exploring the house alone was like rummaging through a stranger’s underwear drawer.  I felt strangely voyeuristic.  I knew it would all belong to me eventually, once the paperwork went through, but I didn’t necessarily relish the idea.  Inheriting “holdings” was one thing, but becoming the proud owner of someone else’s toilet brush, kitchenware, and music collection was quite another.  I made a mental note to schedule a yard sale as soon as possible.

The kitchen door opened into the backyard, and I went out in search of the boy.  Was he one of the field worker’s sons or a neighbor child wandering aimlessly, looking for entertainment in the long afternoon?  I followed a path of stepping-stones through the trees to the back section of the house where I’d seen him swinging.  The tire hung empty now, but still moved gently with the breeze as though a ghostly hand were in control.  I stood there a moment, straining for the sound of his voice in the distance, but there was nothing but the creak of the branches above me and the rattle of leaves in the wind.

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