First Page – Where Dreams Are Born

It was supposed to be a win-win situation-a safe environment in which to raise a son for single mom Vicky, housekeeping and childcare for widowed Jack. Believing they’ve had their shot at happiness, neither is looking to complicate their lives with a romantic entanglement. At first Jack sees Vicky as skinny and plain, guarded with him, but openly warm with his children, an important quality for a man who grew up in the foster care system. However, his growing attraction to the woman who scrubs his toilets and washes his underwear complicates their working relationship. Vicky, too, is reluctant to get involved, having been down that road before with disastrous results. 

When Jack learns his best friend fathered Vicky’s son and now wants partial custody, he feels threatened. He’s come to care deeply for both, and doesn’t want to lose the family they’ve become. In desperation he offers a radical solution—marriage. Vicky knows she can do worse than marry Jack, but wonders how successful their marriage would be when its only reason for being was to keep from losing her son. Add to this a troubled child with a secret about her dead mother, and a vindictive ex bent on revenge, and complications abound.


     Vicky Lowell cleared her throat and rang the door bell. When no one answered her first ring, she rang the bell again. This time a baby howled and heavy footsteps approached. “Mr. Hazlett?” she asked when the door swung open.
“It’s about time you got here,” the harried man shouted over the din.
     “Excuse me?”
     Taking care not to muss his shirt and tie, the man handed the fussy baby into her arms. Two little girls, still in their underwear, clung to each of his pant legs. “You’re late,” he said. “That means I’m late. But I’m willing to overlook that because you come highly recommended by the agency.”
     “Mr. Hazlett, I think there’s been some mis―”
     “Look, if it’s all right with you we can discuss the details later. I’d hoped to be able to talk to you first, but I just learned I have to give a very important presentation this morning. So if you can start immediately, I promise to make it worth your while.”
     “Damn it,” he said, shaking off the clinging children. “Look at that, I’m wrinkled already.”
     The man strode into the kitchen and she followed. “But, Mr. Hazlett―” she said again.
     “I left important phone numbers for you on the desk.” He took a last slurp from a coffee mug on the table, grimaced, and then rushed for the door. “If you need anything else, ask the kids,” he shouted over his shoulder.
     Mouth still open, Vicky took note of her immediate surroundings―a kitchen table littered with pizza crusts and cereal bowls, remnants, no doubt, of its occupants’ last two meals, counters piled high with dirty pots and pans, and microwaveable plastic overflowing from the trash can. Clearly, Tuesday must be the cleaning lady’s day off. Though from the overall condition of the room, the woman must have been AWOL far longer than a day.
     Surprised that people of obvious means could live so haphazardly, she turned her attention to the whimpering baby in her arms and the two children staring up at her. The younger one hid behind her sister, a thumb in her mouth and one tiny finger hooked around her button nose.
     The baby, suddenly aware of the stranger whose hip she straddled, began to cry in earnest, and Vicky bounced her on her hip.
     “Jodie thgared,” the thumb sucker said.
     “Jodie? Is that her name? And what’s yours, sweetie?”
     The child released her wrinkled thumb. “Soo-soo,” she said, before latching onto it again.
     “Soo-soo?” Vicky repeated.
     “Suzy,” the older girl said, yanking her sister’s thumb from her mouth with a pop. The indignant thumb sucker stomped her feet in an angry little jig, then re-plugged her mouth.
     “And what’s yours?” Vicky said to the older girl.
     Vicky rubbed her chin, pretending to be deep in thought. “Now let me see. Could it be Ophelia, by any chance?”
     The guess elicited a frown from both children.
     “No? How about Wilhelmina?”
     The girls gave tentative giggles.
     “Oh, I know, I know,” she said. “It’s Hepzibah!”
     The girls howled. “No, it’s Yinda,” little Suzy said.
     Linda’s brown eyes flashed as she elbowed her little sister. “She was s’posed to guess, dummy.”
     Little Suzy gave an ineffectual swipe at her sister.
     Hoping to head off a skirmish, Vicky diverted their attention with a rubber squeeze toy, poking it into baby Jodie’s tummy, then squeezing. The air emitted made a funny noise, drawing giggles from all three children. Taking heart from their amusement, she aimed the squeaker at Suzy. The child lifted her undershirt and stuck out her belly. Vicky squeezed again, and another spate of giggles followed. But when she approached Linda, the little girl pushed the toy away.
     So warned, Vicky set the squeaker aside, put the baby in her high chair with a hard cookie to gnaw on, and then tackled the clutter. As long as she was stuck there, she might as well make herself useful. Her shift at the café didn’t start until five. “So,” she said as she scraped dried tomato sauce and Froot Loops from the table, “where’s your mommy today?”
     “In hebben,” Suzy said.

               The unexpected answer gave Vicky pause, perhaps for its content, perhaps for the matter-of-fact way it was delivered.

First Page – Linehan Saves by Bryan Murphy

In this story set in the near future, Seán Linehan, an international football executive, travels to China with a mission to save a group of players and officials from the death by firing squad to which they have been condemned. After his experience in the racist failed state of Padania, Linehan has his own agenda: no longer girls, art and money, but being good. How will he react to the temptations of this future China that range from beautiful young women in see-through burqas to an ancient scroll worth its weight in gold? The second story in the Seán Linehan series. Dark Future, good reading.

Linehan Saves
 Bryan Murphy
Yingnmeng, China, April 2020.
“I want a man! A man!”
Seán Linehan slams the door in the young woman’s face. She takes a step back, stands still for a moment, then adjusts her dress to its most opaque and walks away down the corridor, shaking her head.
Linehan leans back against the other side of the hotel room door and tries to control his breathing. God, she was beautiful. He staggers over to the armchair next to the bed, flops into it, pulls out his phone and calls Mo.
“Show-un! Good to hear you. What can I do for you?”
“A man! I want a man!”
“You don’t like Miss May? Everyone likes Miss May.”
“I want a man,” he groans.
“Miss May is the best we have. Most pretty. Very sweet.”
“A man.”
“You will see. She is an excellent interpreter. The bestest.”
“Look, Mo, I’m here to work. How can I work if my very sweet, most pretty interpreter keeps turning the front of her clothing transparent?”
“You don’t like?”
“Yes, I do. Too damned like. So -“

First Page – Checkmate by Greer Noble

Lethal opponents… Buchanan, the courageous young yachtsman, obsessed in bringing down a psychopathic maniac… Stone, the depraved sexual sadist hell bent on pursuing his killing spree. 

Tortured by the cruel way in which Stone took the two things most dear to him, Buchanan devises a daring plan to exact vengeance. 

On the run, Stone speeds along his murderous track, criss-crossing the African continent, leaving body after mutilated body strewn like railway sleepers in his psychopathic wake The chase intensifies but after a terrifying turn of events the hunter becomes the hunted. A deadly game ensues with one out maneuvering the other. It’s kill or be killed. 

Then an uncanny twist of fate intervenes, more unnerving, more chilling than death itself.

Greer Noble

Chapter 1


   Tired and covered in grease and grime Selwyn Stone, after a particularly grueling day’s work on the outskirts of London, trudged the dreary block and a half from the bus stop to the bleak East End tenement that was home. Like any other day, after a quick clean-up, a change of clothes and sporting a heavy stubble, he would ‘fingercomb’ his mop of wavy black hair and head for the ‘local’. Only today the thought of that first pint of bitter somehow had an extra special appeal to it. He could almost taste it. Kicking an empty can along the well-trodden pavement, his spirits lifted as he contemplated the evening’s prospects.

   For the past few days he’d been mildly flirtatious with the new barmaid. Perhaps tonight he’d give the darts a miss and coerce her into the back alley. She was hot. He knew the signs only too well. Despite his huge, hawk-like nose and crooked teeth, women seemed to find his rugged, albeit cruel, looks irresistible.

   Brazenly he would undress them with his deep, seductive, laser-blue stare, then take sadistic pleasure in prolonging the inevitable. His stamina in the art of love-making soon had them begging for more. His conquests were legendary.

   Rounding the corner he frowned. His street was cordoned off. Police were everywhere. He broke into a run when he saw a stretcher from the waiting ambulance being carried through his front door. As he pushed past the curious onlookers, a long arm barred his way. ‘Sorry sir, I cannot allow you to pass’.

   ‘I live here!’ The man of the house protested indignantly, his large frame heaving as he tried to catch his breath in the icy January air.

   ‘Mister Stone is it then? You’d better go in sir. It’s your missus… attacked some time this morning. She’s in a bad way, I’m afraid’.

My New Book Cover

I’m SO excited and over the moon! What a week it has been!

First, my sister and I use the same agent, Jane Dowery, and Jane sent an email saying she might have found someone who wants one of my sister’s screenplays if she can pitch it for a TV series!

The second thing was this wonderful book cover for the first book in my new Astrology Series. The artist, Collin Gilbert did a wonderful job and I just love it to bits!! I’m getting excited now! Debby, my editor at Soul Mate Publishing says my book will be out in time for Christmas.

First Page – Tomorrow Blossoms by Joyce DeBacco

When Kate’s husband, Ward, locates the son she put up for adoption as an unwed teen, she’s understandably wary. What if he looks like his father instead of Ward?

The boy, now a man, is also wary. Who are these people who suddenly want him to be a part of their lives? Where were they when he was growing up, when he needed to feel a part of something bigger? After meeting each other, everyone’s fears dissipate.

When Ward passes away unexpectedly, Kate is devastated but thankful he never knew the truth. Facing the rest of her life alone, she returns to work in the company he founded. She’s still coming to grips with life as a single when she learns her son was adopted into the family of Jesse, the boy who turned her away as a pregnant teen. Now, she must deal with her feelings of anger and betrayal while also keeping her son and daughters from learning the truth.

Tomorrow Blossoms

Joyce DeBacco
Chapter One

Snow had just begun to stick as the last revelers pulled away from the Country Club. “And another Beecham Christmas party goes down in history,” Kate Beecham said to her husband of twenty-five years. “I’m glad we scheduled it early this year. I think this winter is going to be a bitch.”

“Yup,” Ward said.

“It was a good party, hon.”

He slid into traffic. “Yup.”

“I felt sorry for Phyllis though. That long black gown she wore made her look like a string of licorice. Something less severe would’ve been more attractive on her.”


“Dave looked terrific though. But I didn’t like the bimbo he came with. Too bad he can’t settle down with a nice girl.”


Realizing conversation was futile once her husband switched into automatic response mode, Kate leaned back and silently reviewed the evening’s events. She was half-asleep when his softly spoken words jolted her awake.

“Do you ever think about finding him, Kate?”

Her eyes flew open, and she stole a look at his face, pained to see, grimly illuminated in the greenish glow of the dashboard, remembered loss, shared loss. She’d hoped the passage of time and the phenomenal success of their business would’ve lessened the sorrow. As if time and circumstances could ever mitigate the loss of a child.

It seemed so unreal to her now. A living being, concealed beneath layers of baggy shirts and sweaters, unborn, innocent, and a young girl sent to live with an aunt in upstate New York. The girl never saw the tiny infant who’d grown under her heart, never heard his mewling cries, or held his warm body to her breast. The entire experience left an empty place in her heart that lingered still. Did she ever think about him? Often. Did she ever think about finding him?

“No,” she whispered. “Never.”

Ward dipped his head in silent acknowledgement. And though he made no further mention of the child, his introspective look spoke volumes.

* * *

Days later, Ward’s sudden interest in something Kate thought they’d put behind them years earlier still troubled her. She knew he thought about it, as did she. But they never talked about it. Ever. Why had it come up now?

She was seated at the hair salon at the mall, waiting for her color to set when her thoughts skipped ahead to her family’s mid-winter vacation. The annual respite was always a godsend for Ward. The minute he stepped off the plane he was a changed man—the most important decision on his plate, whether to jog, swim, or bike around their island getaway. Because he’d been so preoccupied lately, Kate hoped the relaxing interlude would take his mind off more distressing matters.

As she skimmed through one of the salon’s few new magazines, a gaggle of teen-aged girls loitered outside the salon’s window. Exposing as much skin as was legal, the girls postured and posed, showing off their various piercings and tattoos in an obvious attempt to catch the attention of the boys hanging out on the opposite side of the corridor. The scene set a tidal wave of memories in motion.

If you like reading women’s fiction about family and family loyalty, you should buy this book!

Paula Deen – Saint or Sinner?

Since the media latched onto Paula Deen’s racial slur, her empire has not crumbled as they predicted it would. 
Although she has lost some major endorsements and obviously taken a huge hit to her income, some prominent people – Leila Ali (daughter of Mohammed Ali) and  Country singer Randy Travis have stood up for her. Her fans showed their support by buying her book and catapulting it to number one of all books in its category. And some of the larger companies have opted to continue to endorse her.
Paula Deen is a self-made millionaire who worked hard all her life to build her cooking business. Her recipes, traditional southern food, are all about sugar and plenty of calories and are definitely not designed for anyone on diet.
I’m not totally sure what started her problems. Earlier this year, she divulged the fact that she was suffering from diabetes and signed an agreement to promote a new diabetes drug at the same time. It appeared to some she had deliberately kept her disease a secret from the public, and continued to promote her decadent and fat forming recipes.
Some people believed it was wrong of her to continue in this vein, since it is a known fact that obesity and eating the wrong type of foods are a contributing factor to type-two diabetes.  
Until then, Paula Deen had been a Southern icon. She was smart, innovative, attractive, and appeared to be ethical and kind. The kind of mother or grandmother anyone would be proud of.
When a former disgruntled employee filed a lawsuit alleging racial and sexual discrimination, Deen had to answer the question – “Have you ever used a racial slur?”
Here’s where I think she displayed a trait to be proud of. She admitted that she had used the dreaded ‘n-word’ in the past. She told the truth.  She made it clear she had used it in private conversations where it was not hurtful or degrading to anyone.
Personally, I think she showed that she is not a liar.
The media jumped all over it, and the hatemongers and pot-stirrers went out of their way to make it a national crisis.
I am certain of one thing – many prominent people faced with this question in a court of law would not have admitted they might have used ‘cracker’ or ‘chicano’ or the ‘n’ word, which, for some reason, is not allowed to be spelled out in full, even though the others can be just as hurtful and degrading.
She showed another good trait – remorse, when she apologized profusely and tearfully in public.
There seems to me to be a type of mentality in the US whereby a certain element of people don’t like anyone who is successful. They go out of their way to pounce on the smallest mistake and do everything in their power to discredit and crush their target. Is it caused by jealousy? It certainly seems that way. 
It is NOT caused by racism, according to US District Judge William T. Moore, who threw out the discrimination lawsuit due to the fact that the accuser was white.
Take the most loved college football coach in the history of the country, Joe Paterno. Affectionately known as JoePa to his fans, he epitomized the traits everyone wishes they had.
And then someone decided he was complicit in covering up a sex scandal committed by one of the other coaches at the college. Not content with stripping him of his title, they tore down his statue and tried to erase all the good he had stood for in the past.
It probably broke his heart, because he succumbed to cancer and died soon afterwards. Ask yourself, was Joe Paterno a bad man? Is Paula Deen really a bad woman?

Or are they both just humans, exhibiting human weaknesses that may have been blown out of all proportion?

Dan O’Brien’s Blog Tour – Last Day

Welcome to the last day of The Journey blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, the Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. 

A few questions for the author:
Why do religions that support love cause so many wars? 
Because people start wars. The beliefs and ideologies that are inherent in a belief set become debatable and open to interpretation. This interpretation breeds a kind of elitism and warring that eventually turns bloody. I wish that people could see that they have more in common than they know. 
Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil? 
My knee-jerk reaction is to say no. There is a difference between ethics and morality, and notions of good and evil are treated differently in different cultures and contexts. I think a single person will ascribe to set of tenets that are good or evil, but an absolute knowledge is beyond the scope of one being. 
If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? 
It depends on what kind of job I had at the time. Right now, I am working for myself, so the money would just enhance what I am already trying to do. Writing and editing are their own reward, and as such a million dollars would not suddenly make me wish to sip mimosas and sit on beach.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:

First Page – ICE Blue – Suspense Thriller by Susan Rae

When lives are on the line, sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing to do.

     Born into a Chicago cop family, while her brothers get their rush from catching bad guys, paramedic Angela DeLuca gets hers rush from saving lives.  A tough beauty with a heart perhaps too big, Angela champions the underdog because, as the youngest of six siblings, she often felt like one.
     ICE Special Agent Troy Deavers became a cop to prove he wasn’t like his father—a southern politician who brought his family down with his greed and corruption.  He doesn’t suffer victims well.  At first intrigued by Angela’s passion, he soon fears that the fire in Angela’s heart will be her undoing.
    What happens when Troy falls in love with the lovely but infuriating Angela who insists on protecting a young witness and her unborn baby—a witness who could break his case wide open?
   If you haven’t met the DeLuca’s yet from heartbeats, get to know them in ICE blue.

ICE Blue

by Susan Rae

Copyright © Susan Rae, 2013
Chapter One

“Looks like we’ve got vehicle number one!” Chicago paramedic Angela DeLuca called to her partner above the din of the siren as they eased their rig up behind the squad cars that ringed the carnage on the eastbound
lanes of the Eisenhower Expressway.

With her feet threatening to fly out from under her as she stepped out onto the icy pavement, she caught herself with the door handle and eased her way along the side of the rig to retrieve her jump bag. At six forty-five a.m., touches of light were just reaching the city’s skyline. Up above, a light snow fell, sparkling innocently in the glare of the streetlights. Last night’s ice storm had brought Chicago to its knees, coating the streets and everything else in a good half-inch of the slick sheathing before plummeting temperatures turned the falling ice to snow. Now the temperature hovered just below zero and the three inches or so of the white stuff that covered the ice only served to make the roads even more treacherous. The salt trucks and plows were having a tough time clearing them as the morning rush began. Salt did little to melt ice in subzero temperatures.

Angela’s rig was the first ambulance on scene. She and her partner, Josie, had approached from the east, down the deserted eastbound lanes, as the traffic had already cleared out ahead of the accident. As she negotiated the four lanes of treacherous pavement, she counted at least six vehicles involved in the crash. Two cars were smashed up against the median wall, another was stalled in the center lane, water vapor hissing from its demolished front, and yet another was crushed like an accordion against the overpass viaduct with a pickup truck rammed up its rear. The pickup’s own mangled bed was pinned in by the trailer of a jack-knifed semi which was effectively blocking all lanes of traffic. Cars were backing up quickly behind it, probably halfway to the suburbs by now.