Welcome to The Pipe Woman Chronicles book tour. I’m very pleased to share an excerpt. Check out these amazing covers while you’re at it.
Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times. At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.
Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life. Will she succeed? Or will it all go up in smoke?
The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.
It began at the winter solstice
And it ends…
We had at least an hour and a half before the rental place opened. Jack nursed his coffee in silence, mostly, while I looked at stuff online and tried to pretend to work. I couldn’t help remembering that the last time I’d been working while Jack was in the same room with me, he’d attacked me. He was a perfect gentleman today, but still I couldn’t shake my trepidation. Especially when I remembered that I’d just offered him a ride, in my car, with nobody else in the vehicle with us. What the hell had I been thinking? Briefly, I considered offering to call him a cab, but that seemed like a coward’s way out. No, brave Naomi wouldn’t dream of reneging on her offer. Brave Naomi would tough it out.
Brave, stupid Naomi.
Brave, stupid, and very pregnant Naomi. I could almost read the lurid headlines from here.
I shook myself mentally and went back to pretending to work.
Finally, it was time to go. I shut down the laptop and loaded it into my bag while Jack tossed our empty cups and my scone wrapper. Eyewitnesses attested to the assailant’s attentiveness. “He even cleared the table before they left,” one said. “He seemed like a perfect gentleman.”
Jack came back to the table. “Ready? Need a hand with your bag?”
“Nope, I’ve got it, thanks,” I blathered, struggling to my feet. He caught my elbow to steady me, and I flinched. My eyes, of their own accord, flew to his face; I saw there a moment of surprise, then resignation, and a touch of disgust.
“I’ll walk,” he said.
“No, Jack, it’s not necessary.”
“Yes, it is.” His eyes held mine. “I make you uncomfortable and I understand why. I’m truly sorry about what happened in your office, Naomi. I know that you may never believe me. And I know for sure that you will never fully trust me again.”
“No, Jack, I….”
“No, you don’t. You’ve reasoned your way into a semblance of trust, but your lizard brain still runs and hides every time it sees me. And it makes it very hard for me to deal with you.” He snorted softly and looked away. “At least with Joseph, I know where I stand. He’ll always hate me.”
“It’s a little more complicated than that,” I said.
“You think so?” he said with a sidelong look at me. “You’re not a man.”
We regarded each other warily for a minute. Finally, I broke the silence. “What happened to you?” I asked. “At Looks Far’s place. Is Tezcatlipoca still…?” I gestured inanely with one hand.
He sat down, deflated. “Yes. They’re both inside my head. Every minute of every day, They give me Their advice. Right now, I’m listening to a running argument – the same one They’ve had for the past several thousand years. It’s exhausting.”
Lynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, “I could do that.” The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master’s degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange. GOODREADS - FACEBOOK - BLOG - AMAZON - TWITTER -
It was all about the band, until the girl next door.
Her innocence is tempting.
A sexually charged coming of age story set in the throes of stardom.
About an up and coming teenage rocker on the verge of stardom,
when the girl next door becomes something more, they are forced to face the
harsh realities on his road to fame and the expectations of their friends and
Sacrifices are made as everything changes, as they know it.
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Welcome to my stop on The Morning Star book tour. Written by Tania Penn with a sequel Equinox to come. It’s fascinating blurb makes it a YA read to check out and at only .99c on amazon you’d be crazy not to.
Being the daughter of Lucifer keeps seventeen year old Dawn Belial busy. For almost her entire lifetime, she has been trying to think of a way to free her Archangel mother, Michaela, whom her father has held captive for centuries. She’s also attending high school – balancing trigonometry, history, and recruiting souls for her father along with her wicked half-sister, Venus.
There has been no time for love until she meets mysterious Gabriel, a British exchange student. As they fall in love against their will, she discovers a startling secret about him, and a shocking connection to her mother that changes everything.
Author of debut young adult novel, The Morning Star. Currently working on the sequel, Equinox, as well as a chick-lit, rom-com, slightly sleazy and funny story with a twist, Catching Frogs. And, because I’m loco in the roco, I’ve got about 12 more on the back burner. When I’m not writing I can be found kayaking, hiking, ninja-training, traveling, and taking a ferry over to the San Juan Islands to search for the elusive creature known as the “Orca.” I also am constantly adding ridiculous wants, needs, must-see’s and do’s to my ever expanding bucket book.
I covet a delicious malbec with a rare steak and make a killer salsa.
I want to thank Partners In Crime Tours for allowing me to take part in this tour. In A Small Town by Marc DiGiacomo a mystery thriller and the first in a series is on tour. Below is more info on the book and an excerpt to give you all a little idea on what to expect. My review will be coming soon.
The shotgun blast catches Detective Matthew Longo by surprise. His world unravels into a nightmare that seemingly won’t end. Murder, rapes, pedophiles, the small town of Hutchville, N.Y. is changing. It is up to him to make a difference.
While partner Donny Mello is in Italy attending a funeral for a family member who is connected, to say the least, a beautiful F.B.I. agent waits to question him about his family business.
Can Matt keep from answering the Agents questions? More importantly, can he hide a potentially career-ending secret from his community, his brother, and most especially Agent Cynthia Shyler?
Not In Our TownI can’t get it out of my mind. The lightning that exploded from the end of the barrel. The ripping orange flash off the black steel. The smell of gunpowder. The sound, like an M-80. And the pain—the fucking searing pain. It is permanently scorched into my memory. Everything but his face. The face I didn’t see haunts me every second. All I remember are those ultra-white Reebok sneakers as he ran away. The fucking coward would have shot me in the back, but I turned around and caught the blast in the chest. I didn’t have time to pull my Glock.
The shot knocked me to the ground. I thought I was having a heart attack—I couldn’t catch my breath. Then I understood what happened, and reality hit: I was going to die.
It seemed to take minutes rather than seconds, but I managed to radio into headquarters. The response from the good guys was impressive, to say the least. They saved my life. Cops from my own town and others surrounded the scene. I knew they would come. When a cop gets shot, they all come, and with one thing in mind—to find the bastard who pulled the trigger.
Things grew foggy. I saw blue uniforms scurrying around the scene while white-clad EMTs lifted me onto the gurney and loaded me into the ambulance. I could hear people talking about me—reporters, other cops, curious residents. “Detective Matthew Longo…Only 29 years old, been on the force nearly 10 years…Shot in the fucking chest and shoulder. No wife or children. Parents live in town; Hutchville lifers. Oh yeah, the town is going to go batshit over this.”
Blood oozed from my left shoulder. My friend and paramedic Scotty Franks hovered over me and placed direct pressure on my wound. Even through my fog I could tell he was holding back tears. My shoulder was on fire. I never wore my bulletproof vest unless making entry on a search warrant, or if a hot pursuit was coming my way; then I quickly threw it over my shirt. I was lucky I had it on that night. Maybe someone on the other side was looking out for me.
I fell unconscious even with all the shouting around me. I dreamed of my funeral and who would be there. I saw myself in the blue box surrounded by a sobbing crowd of familiar faces. My parents looked horrible. My poor mother clutched her bible and rosary beads. My dad kept his eyes glued to the floor, angry and broken. My little brother Franny, in full uniform, stood near my casket at full attention, his white gloves damp from tears. Donny was there too, trying to keep it together.
I heard Scotty screaming for me in the distance. The poor guy loved me, but why was he screaming my name, spitting all over my face, at my wake? Maybe I should have had a closed casket.
Suddenly I felt him slapping me. I awoke and found myself back inside the ambulance. Scotty took a deep breath, in and out, and said, “Okay Matt, okay. Don’t do that again.”
The pain was relentless, and I couldn’t help but cry. Scotty put a needle into an IV line in my arm and the pain vanished almost immediately. “Don’t give me morphine Scotty,” I managed to whisper. “It killed my grandparents.” Then I lost consciousness again, falling into a world between life and death.
I heard someone screaming in the night. Was it me? It was too dark to see. Where’s Donny? I really needed him now. Was I dreaming again or was this some delusion of reality? I slapped myself and felt a sharp sting, jolting me awake.
It has been three weeks of hell living inside this apartment. My social life has been placed on indefinite hold. The phone rings constantly but who cares? I don’t answer. The window shades are drawn. I don’t know if its day or night, and I don’t give a shit.
Thankfully, the wound has been healing well. But I look at my shoulder and am repulsed by the scar and missing flesh. People say scars are sexy but this one may be the exception. My left arm is still in a sling. At times, the pain is still unbearable. The Percocet I’m still taking makes me pass out.
The sink is loaded with paper dishes and plastic cups. Last week’s dinner from my mother sits on the kitchen table still wrapped in tin foil, and the smell is starting to ferment in my kitchen. I can hear my Dad’s deep voice in my head: “Why don’t you pull it together and clean up around here? You’re making your mother nervous.” She’s nervous? I can’t help laughing.
Hey Dad, your oldest son was almost shot dead in the same small, safe community where we played Little League baseball. Mind if I take a week or two to let that one sink in?
Only cops—and maybe some of their wives—realize how dangerous police work can become in a millisecond. Parents of cops usually choose to ignore the reality—it’s too difficult to accept that a life-or-death choice awaits their son or daughter at any moment. A bank robbery turns into a shootout; a wanted felon gets pulled over for a broken tail-light and decides suicide by cop is his only way to avoid a lengthy jail sentence. As a detective, this is my everyday reality.
This isn’t supposed to happen in a small town. We’ve never had a police shooting—never. In fact, the last time we had any kind of criminal shooting was ten years ago, and it was a domestic dispute between a father and his cheating son-in-law. These old-school Italians are no joke.
The author is a retired and highly decorated police detective who worked for an affluent community within the State of New York. He has worked with numerous police agencies at the local, county, state and federal levels on various investigative assignments. He currently resides in New York with his wife and three children.
In A Small Town can be purchased on Amazon and B&N
Welcome to my stop on the Trapped by George Bernstein tour. I hope you enjoy the first chapter excerpt to make you want to run out and get yourself a copy.
The darkness is still, silent. Jackee Maren’s heart pounds reverberating through her body as fear sears her veins. Someone’s coming. No way out. This time they will kill me. Her breath is short, her chest burns. Must run. Faster. Faster! Her eyes fly open, her heart still racing with blinding fear. Jackee breathes deeply with relief and stares at the ceiling desperately trying to calm herself. The same dream. Something, someone is watching . . . and waiting.
A tragic car accident leaves beautiful, vibrant Jackee Maren in “Locked-in Syndrome,” completely paralyzed, able to move only her eyes. Jackee’s physical therapist, Kevin, seems more invested in her well-being than her husband, Phil, and teaches her to communicate by blinking her eyes.
Soon she discovers she has the ability to sense others thoughts, but hides this talent from everyone but her sons, not knowing who she can trust. Then she discovers her car accident was no accident, and vows to expose the person who wants her dead before they get a second chance. Exercising her new psychic ability, Jackee finally learns who masterminded the accident but feels helpless to stop them from trying to kill her again.
Fading physically, she doggedly embarks on a psychic plan to not only ensure her boys are safe forever, but to exact revenge on her would-be murderer.
Jackee vows not to rest until this killer understands what it is to be TRAPPED! But she must hurry, with only months left to live.
TRAPPED PROLOGUETurn signal flashing, she eases into the right lane in front of a large, battered pick-up, with less than a half-mile to the Old Orchard Exit Ramp. Jackee Maren rarely drives so aggressively, but first delayed by her two sons’ late departure from school, and then navigating around a minor fender bender on Dundee road, she is already ten minutes behind, and she’s never late. The Northern Illinois Chapter of the United Way won’t start their planning session without their chairwoman, and Jackee hates the idea of keeping so many busy people waiting.
Peeling onto the ramp, her attention is drawn to her two boys, bickering and shoving in the back seat. Glancing back at the road, a ridge of goose bumps cascades down her spine. They’re hurtled toward a string of glaring taillights… cars unexpectedly stopped by a red light at the first intersection off the expressway.
Jamming a foot on the brakes, she’s stunned when the big Mercedes slews sharply right, smack into the path of the huge pickup truck, which had exited behind her. It slams into the rear fender of the sedan, sending it careening off the road, the seatbelts gouging her shoulder, crushing the breath from her lungs.
“Hang on boys,” she gasps. Oh God! My sons! They can’t die here.
They spin down the embankment like an eccentric top, ricocheting off a bridge column. The wheel torn from her grip, the air filled with the screech of rending metal and the stench of burning rubber, the car rears like a great angry beast, its rear legs hamstrung. Slamming down, it hurtles backward into the culvert, bucking and skipping along the steep embankment.
Despite seatbelts, Jackee is flung around like a rag doll in the jaws of some huge terrier. The air bag erupts in the midst of their tumultuous downward plunge, rushing out at 200 MPH, just as frontal impact slings her forward.
Her face catches the brunt of the blow, skewering lips on her teeth, smashing her nose. A searing bolt of pain fires across her brain, igniting a burst of red heat behind her tearing eyes. A sharp pitch right crushes her left cheek against the window, knocking her momentarily senseless. The sedan teeters, enveloped in a cloud of dust, hunkering precariously on its haunches before crashing down on its wheels, coming to a thunderous, grinding stop.
She awakens to wailing and blubbering from the two small boys in the rear seat.
“Mommy!” The call gasped through ragged breathing.
“Mommy!” Now a frantic screech.
“I’m…I’m here.” We’re alive! Thank God, we’re all still alive.
She sags against the seatbelt, every joint singed with agony, unable to will herself into action.
Help should be coming. She moans. Gotta hang on… She slips out of consciousness.
The continued bawling and moaning of her sons stir her, drawing her out of the fog of semi-consciousness. One of her eyes is swollen shut, but the other flickers open, glazed with shock.
Where the Hell’s Fire/Rescue.
She winces, her whole body racked by pain.
Seems like we’ve been trapped down here for…
The warble of a fast arriving rescue vehicle answers that question. She closes her eye, struggling to control the thunder in her head and the molten bands of fire across her chest.
“Lady? You with me?” A hatchet-faced EMT materializes at the shattered passenger-side window. She strives to focus on the man, who is futilely struggling with the door.
“Malcolm, Bryan,” the words slurred through blood stained lips. “Sons…back seat…”
“Yeah, they’re still strapped in. We’re gonna take care of everybody, but it’s you I’m focused on.”
Jackee’s head lolls forward, her emerald eye fluttering closed as she struggles to remain conscious. The swell and ebb of her breast confirms that, while battered, she still lives. Her sons in the back continue their chorus of terror, though it’s winding down to a pattern of whimpers as their surge of adrenaline burns out.
“Can’t budge this damned door,” the EMT, grunts. He’s joined by his thick-shouldered partner, hefting a crowbar.
“Move over and give me room to work.” forcing one end of the steel into the jamb, struggling to lever it open, he glances at his partner. “Those kids look okay?”
“Probably. All that loud wailing is a good sign, but we’ll check ‘em out once we get everyone free. The woman’s obviously suffered some airbag trauma and…Oh, oh, she’s coming around.”
Jackee’s eye blinks, her head inches up, and she tastes the blood oozing from her nose and lips.
“Oohhh. What…what…” She makes a feeble effort to turn her head.
Oh! My sons. The brakes…bad crash…are they…?”
“Mommy.” Malcolm’s voice a hoarse squeak. “Are you hurt? We’re okay, I think.” His voice and Bryan’s whimpering through ragged breathing is reassuring.
Thank God. So close. Don’t know how I could…” She sags, her thoughts fading again.
“We’re gettin’ nowhere with this bar.” He looks back.
“We need the hydraulics down here, and in a fuckin’ hurry,” he screams up at the road.
“On the way. How ‘bout a power saw now?”
“No way. Too dangerous.”
Ten minutes later, a hydraulic pry bar dispense with the door. Frantic minutes drag by as they disentangle Jackee from the air bags, and her two sobbing, shaken sons, from their seatbelts.
Jackee smells the fuel that continues to seep from the ruptured tank, pooling beneath the wreckage.
Fire…or worse…is an eminent threat.
She floats to full awareness. Her body is festooned with welts, and her face feels like she’d gone ten rounds with Joe Frazier. Strapped to a gurney, her head and neck immobilized, one medic checks her vitals, which, despite her tattered façade, are surprisingly robust.
“Looks like you’re gonna be okay, lady. Got someone you want me to call?” he asks.
“Husband. Phil Maren.” Mumbled with a thick lisp over a swollen tongue and lacerated lips.
“North Chicago Printing. In city. My sons?”
“They’re shaken and bruised, but don’t seem to have any major problems. We’re checking ‘em out now. They’ll come to the hospital as a precaution, and your husband can pick ‘em up there.
Moments later the ambulance races toward Skokie Valley Hospital.
A freak thing. Was it the brakes? Phil just serviced the car.
How did it…?” She slips off into a sedative induced slumber.
Jackee Maren had no idea that this terrifying accident was but a small taste of the true horror soon awaiting her.CHAPTER ONEWhere am I?
Intense, deep-cave blackness envelops her…smothering, almost thick enough to touch. She seems adrift, suspended a pool of dark, still water.
A bath? That doesn’t make sense.
Despite a shroud of absolute darkness, she senses herself rising, finally breaching the inky surface, floating weightlessly.
And she is awake.
What was that? A dream? It seemed so real!
Jackee Maren lay very still, confused by the eerie perception of bobbing gently on tepid, calm waters. Despite a sense of warmth lapping at her, she shudders.
What’s happened to…? Oh… how stupid of me.
My surgery! It’s finally over. Five months since the accident, and breathing hadn’t gotten any easier. But why is it so… so dark in… where? A recovery room?
Why have they left me alone?
A pungency unique to hospitals floods her with unpleasant memories: momma, daddy, and her own last visit. Not a happy moment in the bunch.
Icy tentacles caress her spine, kindling a mountain range of goose bumps.
What’s going on? Why… oh…
Voices murmuring, bare whispers, apparently close by. What are they saying?
Spooky, laying here in this… this black place. Why haven’t they taken me to my room? Phil’ll be worried.
Won’t he? He promised to take time from work to care for their sons… to be supportive for a change… while she recovers from this reconstructive facial surgery he seemed so eager for her to have. She shivers, momentarily reliving that scary car accident.
Spinning, lurching, crashing down that embankment. The shriek of rending steel.
God, it was terrifying.
The boys tussling in back, and I was distracted, worried at being late… and wondering about Phil’s frequent late nights. He was seldom home evenings before then. But that changed after I spun the Mercedes into that ditch.
Whatever. That was then. Gotta figure out the now… why I’m still in Recovery. Get someone’s attention. If she moves, will stitches tear? The undercurrent of voices pulls at her.
Why are they whispering?
She shivers again, her skin peppered by an icy sleet of uncertainty.
Has something happened… something bad? No one’s here… no one to check on me. Did something go wrong?
Oh God, it must be terrible!
Her heart tumbles, skipping into high gear. This crushing darkness robs her of any sense of place.
Maybe I’m dead, locked away in the Morgue, lying on a slab, waiting to be cut up? It’s so black, and they…. Oh, shut up!
Jeez, it was only reconstructive surgery after the accident. Dead people don’t lie around, thinking. Always ready to worry if there’s a little hitch somewhere. Nothing bad happened. Still, I’ve gotta get someone’s attention.
Hey! Why didn’t I see that before?
How had she missed what was right in front of her… two shaded windows, a bare sliver of light glimmering at their lower edges. Dare she move, seeking aid? Still stymied by the strange aura of weightless floating on a glassy film of water, she tentatively stretches out a hand.
Am I actually moving? Eerie! I can’t really tell in this utter darkness. Her unseen fingers trip lightly across the base of the shades.
Success! Both spool noiselessly upward.
Finally! She winces, blinking at the sudden light, before her vision clears.
There, three men, standing in a small white room, two wearing blue surgeon’s scrubs, the other, the tallest, a dark suit. No second bed, no moveable tables, no guest chairs anywhere. No outside windows, either. Stark illumination from flickering fluorescent fixtures cast demonic shadows across their faces. She shivers, unassured by the sight of the trio of apparent doctors.
What is this place? A recovery room? Suddenly their voices are clear.
“I spoke to her husband,” says the one in the dark suit, fingering the stethoscope looped around his neck. “He said she occasionally took both amphetamines and tranquilizers.”
He said that? It was just this one time, and he said…
“Damn,” from the taller of the two, “that wasn’t on the admitting form. We could’ve rescheduled. Drugs and anesthetics always cause problems.”
Problems? God, I knew it. Damned hospitals! Damn, damn, damn!
“We’re checking,” the third man says. “I’m not convinced tests will tell us anything that will do us much good in court, if it comes to that.”
What are they talking about?
She is suddenly struggling to breathe, her heart pummeling her breast.
Oh Jesus, something did happen! Something bad!
Head spinning, her world lurches surreally askew. She shudders.
I’m so cold! Her little lagoon churns from comfortable warmth into a bed of ice.
Something’s terribly wrong! Hospitals are supposed to fix things, but I had the same scary feeling while waiting for Daddy’s test results… and I was right!
Gotta find out what’s happened. Sucking in a ragged breath… worried about damaging her facial surgery… she grits her teeth before calling out.
Don’t panic. They’ll see me in a minute.
But they don’t. Are they deaf?
“Over here!” Louder now, willing them to look at her.
“You, out there! Please help me.”
The taller surgeon cocks his head and turns.
Thank God! He’ll see me now.
He pauses, still as stone. Then his eyes flare wide, his jaw dropping. Snatching at the other doctor’s sleeve, he thrusts an almost accusing finger at her.
“Look,” he shouts. “Look!”
“Her eyes! Her eyes! “They’re open!”
BTW this is hard to explain but this line from your Goodreads review -- "What I got out of it is that we may not be the way we see ourselves and some people are just bat shit crazy" is actually one of my favorite things anyone's said about the book! somehow I feel like you've completely encapsulated my vision of the world here (which gives me a warm "my work here is done" type feeling... go figure!)
James Warner author of All Her Father's Guns