Monday, February 29, 2016

Fiction Feature gets a little sweet with Heather Gray!

Ahoy lovely readers!

Hope you're all enjoying this lovely Leap Day! We only get one of these beauties every 4 years, so spend this time wisely.

Since this is a extraordinary day, I've decided to deviate from my YA features to a genre I'm honestly not too familiar with: sweet romance.

"What it sweet romance?" my fellow YA enthusiasts ask. Well, I'm glad you asked, because it allowed me to do a little research on the genre! Sweet Romance is classified as romance novels or stories that steer clear of any erotica. Think of all those tweenage sitcoms that are popular on children's TV shows. You get all the warm fuzzies from the relationships building without the hot and steamy parts. Those are also good, but leaving them out of a romance genre calls for the author of sweet romance to be a little more creative and urges them to be master character developers in order to crank out a good romance story.

I'm honored to have a master of the genre, Heather Gray, on my spotlight today! She's on a roll with this latest book, which ties romance in with illness, recovery, redemption, and faith! So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce y'all to An Informal Arrangement!

Holden Jenkins receives a diagnosis that alters the course of his life. His slow recovery is pockmarked with discouragement and puts his future in question. Will he ever again walk without pain? Or be well enough to return home?

A heart-rending day in the ICU leaves Nurse Maddie Smith hurting in more ways than she can identify. In need of a change — and drawn to a man she barely knows — she goes on sabbatical and takes up the fight to get Holden back on his feet.

As he searches for his identity in the midst of this new life, Holden struggles with a deep hurt. Why would God allow this? Meanwhile Maddie, shaped by her own emotional scars, battles against an unseen God she’s not sure she can believe in. Will these two be able to find peace — and a future together — or will the difficulties they face push them apart?

Sounds good, yeah? You know I don't like to branch away from my sci-fi and fantasy, so if I'm tempted, I know y'all have to be! As always, I've an excerpt to really hook you:


“You mentioned something about a toad…” Her remark hung between them like a two-day old helium balloon.

The worry wrinkles on his forehead faded away, melting into his hairline and drawing her eyes to light chestnut hair that couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether it wanted to stand at attention or lie down and take a nap.

“Umm, I guess I remember. Huh. I wonder where that dream came from.” If his nonchalance was anything to go by, he had to dream about toads on a regular basis.

“And you mentioned the toilet.” Maddie took a deep breath and went about her morning routine. Shift had just started, and she still needed to do her patient assessment.

She put the blood pressure cuff on Mr. Jenkins as he told her about his dream. “There was an albino horned toad that got out of its terrarium. It was in the toilet for some reason, but because the commode was white, nobody could see it. Which doesn’t make sense. Albino animals aren’t pure white, but what can I say? A hand reached for the lever to flush, and I panicked. That’s when you woke me.”

After she charted his blood pressure and listened to his heart and lungs, she asked, “What exactly is a horned toad? I’m picturing something froggish.”

Mr. Jenkins laughed, disturbing Maddie’s attempt to count his pulse. He reined himself in, and she began counting again. “Frogs and toads are different, you know, and a horned toad isn’t even a toad. Not really, anyway. It’s a lizard.”

Her eyes darted around the room again. Maddie worked with people — and not animals — for a reason. “So toads and frogs are different, but a horned toad isn’t a toad.”

“That’s right. The people who discovered and named it must have been confused.”

Maddie held up an index finger. “Hold on a second.” Then she marched over to the small attached bathroom. An empty toilet had never been so beautiful. She stepped back into the room. “Whew. All clear.”

When her patient chuckled, she knew she’d hit the mark.

“Are you sure you’re not the one who’s confused? A toad that’s not a toad?” She quirked her eyebrow as laughter sparkled in Mr. Jenkins’ eyes.

“I’m never going to live this down, am I?”


This is book 2 of the Informal Romance series, so be sure to get the first book to be in the know. You can find An Informal Arrangement on the Amazon Kindle Store:

And you can get to know more about Heather Gray and the world of Sweet Romance at her social media and blog links:

Stay tuned for more information about Reverie! T-minus 11 days til the release!

And my Thunderclap is still going strong. You can sign up to pimp my book freely here:

Stay tuned to my book site to get the links when Reverie goes live:

And that's it for now!

Keep readin' and dreamin'


Monday, February 22, 2016

What's in a review? How readers and authors interact,

Ahoy lovely readers!

It's a rainy Monday here down South, which is the perfect atmosphere for some bloggin'. I had a Fiction Feature cancel on me, so I've decided to do something you don't really see on my blog: actual blog posts about writing and stuff. I'll make a conscious effort to do more of these from now on, as this one was fun to write.

So, first writing topic of 2016 will be: Book Reviews!

If you're friends with any author on social media, you've probably read the "book reviews are authors' gold" sort of thing. I'd love to be able to spurn these self-promoting authors...actually, no, I don't. Being an indie author is tough work, and it takes a lot of guts and dignity hiding to shamelessly promote one's work all hours of the day. And, sadly, those authors are right: book reviews are everything for authors.

But it's a lot more than a rankings boost, Reviews establish the relationship an author will have with its readers. It gives other readers insight on more than just whether or not the book will be worth a read. Oftentimes, it gives the readers insight on how the book starts, what the tone is like, and how the pacing is throughout the book. Potential readers can see how the book feels without giving away any spoilers (usually.) Reviews used to be the reader's voice and take on a book with no insight or explanation from the author.

Then reviews on the Internet came about. For the most part, authors are still good with not responding to online reviews, save the few "Thank you so much!" kinds of comments. Those kinds of responses are fine, but when it starts turning into an explanation from the author, it needs to be shut down. Even the comments from authors that are like "Well, I delayed the plot at this point because...." Nope. That review section ain't a creative writing workshop.

"But why, Fred? What's wrong with an author explaining his/her reasons for doing something?"

Good question, dear reader, and I have your answer. It's a slippery slope with those kinds of things. Writing is a very personal profession. Authors have these stories that came from the recesses of our imaginations. A bit of our soul resides in each character, and there's probably very few things we care about more than our stories. Querying for publishers and agents is nerve-wracking enough, but actually publishing the book for the masses to read is a true act of humility.

And that brings about a defensive side for most authors. Not gonna lie, when I saw my first one-star Review on Goodreads, I got really sad. Someone out there didn't like my book? How could they, when I spent years on that story?! Do they not realize how much heart and soul went into my story? But, instead of telling the reader all of this, I reread what they had to say. For funsies, I'll go ahead and post what they put:

"Wanted to like it, but couldn't finish it. Characters didn't feel real and events were choppy."

I started by looking at the positives in the comment. The reader wanted to like my story. That's good, right? My synopsis was strong enough for this person to purchase and read my novel. Great!

Then I read into the criticism. I didn't find the remarks insulting or uncalled for. My characters didn't feel real. That's a valid point, honestly. I knew I published Lucid a little too quickly and should have had more time to revise. If anything, this comment and my own realization caused me to be more careful with Reverie and develop my characters better for the sequel.

With the part about having choppy events, I frowned a bit, I won't even lie. Most of my first book takes place in a dream journal, which usually do read choppily. I wanted the first half of the book to emulate that while having Devon slowly delve into the dream world. But the first half of the book should rope a reader in from the beginning, and I clearly failed on that aspect. Again, I used that bit of information to make my sequel run a little more smoothly this time around.

The best thing I did was look up a famous author's reviews on Goodreads. I chose The Lightning Thief from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and guess what I saw? A whole slew of one-star ratings for that beautiful book! If Uncle Rick gets one-star reviews, then it must be a rite of passage for authors to get some negative feedback. And that's OK! What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Well, every one-star rating for your first book will help you get more 5-star ratings for your next! Progress, y'all~

Me writing Lucid 

My personal story of battling with reviews is just one of the millions of authors who probably did the same thing. I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't respond to negative reviews, and I even applaud the people who take the time to thank readers for the positive ones. My recommended course of action is to smile at the good ones and learn from the bad ones.

A wonderful lesson on what not to do comes in a form of the comments war about a Goodreads book from the Tales of Onora series. The comments have since been deleted, but this lovely blog writer immortalized the situation on her own site. You can check out the full story here:

Now that I've given authors a good talkin to on how to handle negative reviews, I'll turn to the readers for a bit. I, too, am a reader (gasp!) and I sometimes come across books I really despise. It might be a wonderful book for others, but for me, it's just not my cup of tea. When reviewing said books, I always try to remain civil. Refrain from personal attacks on the author who did put in lots of time and love to write this story. Keep it civil, constructive, and think about how you'd respond if someone said the same thing about your line of work. That way, the author-reader relationship can remain a happy and progressive one, even during the Age of Trolling on the Internet :)

So, keep on reading and reviewing! Authors love feedback, and want it in all shapes and sizes!

And until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Achievement Unlocked!

Ahoy readers! 

What's this? Another blog post from your old pal Fred? But I just posted a Fiction Feature. What could I possibly have to tell you this time? 

Well, for once, I'm featuring my own fiction. That's right, Reverie has a release date and it's--well, this wonderful banner made by a dear friend will tell you. 

Fancy, huh? But why did I pick today to tell y'all about the long-anticipated sequel? Well, that's because my Facebook page finally got 400 likes! That's a huge achievement in my book, so I'm in a giddy and generous mood! 

And if you haven't liked my Facebook page yet, you can do so at this link: where I post inspirational and funny things almost daily! 

So, without further ado, I give you my first excerpt from Reverie! Hint: the speaker is not the same little boy from the first one ;) 


I was alone and feeling sick about what I was about to do. It didn`t change the fact that I still had to go through with it. This entire mountain was doomed. The least I could do now was get what I needed to help my friends and hope the Aquarii tribe forgave me.

            Iven was right about one thing. Reverie kicked into leader-mode as soon as I stepped out of the chasm. Without even thinking about it, I swung my sword in a high arc, shattering stones the mountain was hurling in my direction. Reverie hummed after the last attack, pulling my hand to the ground. I saw the wider, but still very narrow, path leading up to the platform at the top of the mountain. Even though the platform`s blinding light and dizzy feeling of being so high up were hindrances, I trusted my sword as it propelled my feet across the pathway.

            There were a few times I doubted I could get to the top successfully, and those were the times I almost fell to my death. I thought back to those times Devon would seem to have control of his magic only to have it vanish in the next second. It was no secret the kid had self-confidence issues, which seemed key to doing what one needed to survive in the dream world. Reverie`s humming and my strong grip on the sword kept the self-doubt out of my head, but a shadow of doubt kept creeping into my mind. The people of Aquarii didn`t deserve to die. They had been sheltered for so long. They deserved to be in the sun one last time. If only another sacrifice could be made…

            I glanced down, now nearly to the top, and saw that the platform that held Fabrica was exactly across from the lake entrance. It would`ve been a pretty awesome zip line ride if the mountain hadn`t decided to go crazy. I looked down at Reverie, who seemed to grow oddly calm in my hand. It was as if the sword knew what I was planning and had no opinion on the matter.

            “Thanks, sword,” I muttered, realizing my other hand was now trembling. I looked up at the talisman as the mountain grew oddly still as well. It was as if the Mother of the mountain was taunting me. Daring me to do what I was struggling to.

            “It`s either me or them,” I muttered to myself, wondering what would happen after I carried out my act. I shut down thinking as I tore a strip from my long tunic. It would be enough to wrap Fabrica around Reverie. Would it be enough to send the two down to the lake?

            “It`s either me or them,” I repeated, forcing my feet up to the pedestal. I could now see Fabrica. It was a silver staff, probably as tall as Devon, with intricate sapphire twine spiraling around the shaft. At the top, a wolf`s head, similar to the one on Reverie`s hilt, was adorned with two aqua eyes. It was beautiful and kept me in a trance for a few moments. I shook my head. There was work to be done.

            “It`s either me or them,” I said a third time. I had never mastered meditation, but I realized I had my own mantra. Maybe I`d return to the waking world after jumping off of this platform. Did I want to, though? Did I want to return to a world where my parents, who barely seemed to care that I was missing, would expect me to get a boring job and marry a boring girl that I didn`t want? Would they expect me to continue studying business even though it would pale in comparison to my short time in the dream world? At least I was a hero, a Champion, in this world. Back home, I was just my parents` puppet.

            “And this decision is mine alone,” I finally said to myself, my feet dragging me to the staff. The mountain held its breath as it awaited my move. I looked down once at the still sleepy Aquarii village. I took one final breath and one look at Reverie before pulling the staff from its spot and having all hell break loose.

            Naturally, the mountain decided to put up yet another fight, and I only had mere seconds to do what needed to be done. Using Reverie to maintain a sense of balance, I knelt down and made my best alpine butterfly loop to secure the two talisman together. I thought it would be a fight, but it seemed the two talisman were happy to be reunited, like two old friends meeting after a very long time.

            “OK, you know where to go,” I muttered to the talismans. Though Reverie was the only one who hummed in response, I put my trust in the sword propelling itself and its friend along. I didn`t have much ground to stand on in order to aim properly, the platform was now crumbling at its ends as it continued to rock violently, but I knew it was now or never.

            “Safe flight,” I muttered, trying to keep my voice from breaking. Reverie grew still and its voice hummed in my head. You have chosen well before leaving my hands to sail across the mountain.

            Now, the mountain was pitching me violently but I didn`t need the platform any longer. I looked at the village one last time, hoping my sacrifice would be enough to save these people.

            Reverie approved of my decision and that was enough to cause me to leap over the edge into the darkness below.


I hope that's enough of a teaser for you! Stay tuned for more very exciting things to come, including the official blog cover reveal! 

Until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'! 


Monday, February 15, 2016

Fiction Feature meets Feng Shui!

Ahoy lovely readers! 

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend! Maybe some of you even celebrated Valentine's Day with that special someone? I decided to keep the romance going strong with a quirky and fresh romance novel by Kathy Bosman! 

Kathy is no stranger to my blog, and I'm happy to introduce her latest novel, It's Called Feng Shui

Renni has burned out from being on tour as the drummer of ‘Eat Your Words.’ When she visits Nolan’s spa at Block Island for a day, she impulsively applies for a position as the assistant massage therapist as a means to drop out of tour.

Nolan is taken aback by the woman in his office with pitch black hair and body piercings. He can’t imagine her working in his spa, but her persistence fascinates him so he gives her the job — on one condition — she gets rids of the excess piercings.

The attraction between Nolan and Renni is immediate despite being opposite personalities. Renni’s fresh energy and charm draws Nolan as does his intensity attract her. Finding they have a lot more in common than expected, they fall in love, but Nolan has a secret and Renni carries baggage from past hurt. Will they focus on their differences or the things that draw them close?

Sounds like the perfect Romance novel to finish off the month on a lovely foot, yeah? Classic boy-meets-girl and opposites attract with a little bit of rock and roll and massage therapy peppered in for a good plot! As per Kathy's standard, her latest romance novel brings you all good things a compelling story should have! 

But, as per my standard, I'll give you an excerpt to really whet your palate :) 


“Hi, Mr. Richie. Am I allowed to swim here?”
He nodded. “Yes, of course.”
“Oh. You looked upset. I don’t want to trespass on private property.” She came up to about a foot from him, smelling of sea and flowers.
“It’s a public beach.”
“Oh, it’s so quiet I wondered about that. Is it safe to swim here?”
“Depends on the weather, but I’d say today is perfect.”
“Isn’t it?” She gave a pleasant smile and took in a deep whiff of the ocean air, turning her gaze to the sea with adoration. If she didn’t have such a womanly body, and oh so delicious—his errant gaze was proof of that—he’d think she was a child. Everything seemed so new and exciting to her, completely taking him by surprise as he’d always thought popular rock band members would have lost their childish innocence years ago.
“What are you running away from?” He surprised himself. Usually he didn’t get involved in the personal lives of his staff.
She whipped her head around, eyes haunted, and just stared at him.
“Why Block Island exactly? I thought you were a famous musician.”
Her gaze shifted back and forth, and she shuffled from one foot to the other.
“Look, I’m sorry. I suppose it’s none of my business.” He should leave before he said something wrong from a boss stance.
“No, it’s fine. It’s just a bit painful and raw at the moment.”
His heart squeezed. He’d experienced painful and raw. Although it had been a while since something that intense had happened in his life — and he’d managed to numb the pain by being so busy keeping his business afloat — suddenly his pain reached the surface again in the form of compassion.
“You don’t have to share it, but I am a good listener.” He still couldn’t believe how different she looked from when she first walked in the door.
“Oh.” Her soft gasp sent an unwanted shiver through him. Her tear-soaked eyes made him press a warm hand on her shoulder.
“We all have those moments.” He couldn’t believe the side of his personality she brought out of him — the deep, compassionate side. He’d been on “boss auto-pilot” the last few years and had hardened himself against people, except for his customer’s needs.
She looked down and drew a paisley-type curl in the sand with her big toe. It reminded him a little of the yin-yang sign — a big part of the feng shui philosophy — how contrasting aspects worked together to create a harmonious whole. How opposites could attract. Is that why he was so drawn to her? Yet, getting better acquainted with her, she wasn’t as opposite as he’d initially thought.
“Touring is hard. It takes everything out of me. The fans are relentless. The sleeping arrangements suck. Do you know how nice it is to have my own room?” She looked up at him with a mischievous smile.
“Oh, I really need to fix it up for you. I’ll do that this weekend.”
“It’s okay. I’m relishing the freedom of my own space and have barely noticed the broken things.”

He’d never seen being famous as possibly difficult. Shows how many people had blinders on when it came to considering the lives of other people, which appeared idyllic from the outside.


You can find It's Called Feng Shui at the links below:

And, just in case you've forgotten, let's learn a bit about our dear author! 

Kathy loves reading and writing even more. She homeschools her three kids, so in between unsuccessfully explaining the difference between subject and predicate or how to divide fractions, she enters an imaginary world of troubled and passionate characters whose stories take over the page. Kathy lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool, and bugs thrive. Her first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, came out in 2012 with Astraea Press (Clean Reads). She belongs to the Romance Writers of South Africa Group (ROSA) which has been her greatest support and inspiration the last few years.

You can reach out to Kathy at the links below:

Website and blog:

Newsletter Subscription:

And that's all I got for this Fiction Feature! Tons of exciting things are happening in the world of Lucid though so stay tuned for a great cover reveal and excerpt from Reverie! 

Until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'! 


Monday, February 8, 2016

Fiction Feature Descends!

Ahoy, lovely readers!

Happy Lundi Gras to all of my fellow New Orleanians! While the rest of the world has to go to work and be adults, we're fortunate enough to have a week to revel in the Carnival season! But of course, I'm more than happy to take a little break from my Mardi Gras festivities to give you another great fiction feature!

This one is a really riveting YA Dystopian that will have you on the edge of your seat the moment you start reading it. I hope you don't have a very busy schedule, because once I introduce you to Jaclyn E. Brod's The Descendants you'll be hooked!

And instead of a blurb to go with this book, Jaclyn's given me this wonderful trailer to do all the talking! Sit back and enjoy a little taste of this amazing tale: The Descendants Trailer

But if that wasn't enough for you, here's an action-packed excerpt that'll have you buying this compelling read today!


Genevieve. It was poor Genevieve who was blocking the front door with bruises adorning her flesh like a molting fledgling. Blood trickled down from the corners of her hazel eyes. Her arms were thrown out to her sides as if that motion alone could stop Theo’s guards and the Experiments.

“Move,” Jaxs hissed, her hands blazing with a midnight glow, but Theo stepped in front of her as fear for the heiress surged in his veins. He heard the safety of Sage’s gun switch from safe to fire. Genevieve said nothing; her knotted golden hair did not even twitch.

Hazel eyes bored into Theo, pleading for him to turn around and give up. He knew that this was the moment. This was the moment where he chose. He looked at Jaxs with the disheveled sneer hanging on her face with frightened eyes and then back Genevieve’s hardened visage.

“You could have come with us,” Theo muttered just loudly enough for her to hear. He knew that time had passed, that there was nothing that would change her mind now, but he had to be sure that this was what she wanted. The blood pouring from her eyes only increased as her eyes watered slightly. “We both know that is not true. You belong here. I belong here. The Confinement harbors souls, Theo, because we need to be kept safe from the world. You don’t know what you are getting into. You don’t know what that thing,” she gestured to Jaxs,

“Will do to you. You don’t know what you are causing here, but I do. Stay here and trust me.” She held out a hand, ignoring the clatter of footsteps echoing down the hall toward them. Theo felt a vice tighten around his throat as he shook his head.

This was not the wonderful girl that he had come to know before. She was not the freedom loving, loyal soul that he once knew. “No, Genevieve.” He shook his head. “I don’t trust you.” The golden-haired young woman reached into her thin pocket and before anyone could stop her, she shoved a syringe into her own exposed neck. It was as if a bomb had gone off.

Manic laughter echoed off of the cobblestone floors of the castle and melded with the yells of approaching guards. Genevieve dropped her hands to her sides, her head twitching upon her neck as shadows fell over her face.

The once graceful mouth twisted into a maleficent sneer and hazel eyes glazed over with black pigment. “I will obey my Mother!” Genevieve said, or what was left of her. Theo took a step back in horror as thick blackened tendrils exploded throughout Genevieve’s body. Her delicate hands rose to the ceiling with smoke flying from her fingertips.

Her hysterical laughter revealed blackened, charcoal teeth just below the surface that housed bleeding gums. At some point in the transformation Jaxs had moved from her position behind Theo without him noticing. Her outstretched hands pushed him behind her as she let loose a surge of power directed at Genevieve.

There was nothing Theo could do except scream as Jaxs’s blast threw Genevieve to the ground. The former head guard just stared at her twitching body on the cold floor as Sage dragged him out the front door.

The five of them made it outside, but when the heavy door closed behind him Theo swore that he heard a weak, mournful whisper of, “I told you to be careful.” The door clicked shut.

Guards rushed into the room. Some ran to Genevieve’s fallen form, but they were quickly waved away by Dr. Grant. The foreboding woman crossed the lobby with her head held high, a cold mask settled over her face. She did not react. Stilettos clicked across the uneven cobblestone, echoing eerily across the floor. The stilettos dug into flesh as she stepped on her daughter’s shuddering body.

Blood washed over the bottom of Dr. Grant’s heels, which she ignored in favor of pulling open the door. The weeping willows were churning in the wind as Dr. Grant felt a snicker rise up in her throat. The darkened sky did not allow the woman to see the escapees, but she knew where they were going. A laugh permeated the silence of the outside world as she dug her heels into Genevieve’s flesh. Dr. Grant stood there for a moment before she looked down upon the girl.

“Get up, my love,” she cooed. “We have some work to do.”

There was no hesitation. “Yes, Mother.”


You can buy The Descendants at the links below:




Now, let's learn a little more about our author!

Jaclyn E. Brod is a full time writer and student, currently going to school for medical billing as a background but her true passion is writing. She has one cat named Zazzie whos she loves more than anything and a fiancé whos a cook and a gamer nerd.

When Jaclyn Isn’t writing she is spending time with her best friends and her best friends children who she calls her niece and nephew.

She is the author of the newly debut novel The Descendants.

Many of her inspiration from stories comes from music and reading.

And her biggest inspiration of all, Harry Potter.

You can reach out to Jaclyn at these links below:

Facebook Author Page: Jaclyn E. Brod

Instagram: Jaclyn E. Brod

Tumblr: Itsjaclynebrod


Twitter: @JaclynBrod

That's it for now! Stay tuned for some exciting news about Devon & Co's latest adventure, including a cover reveal for Reverie! 

Until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'! 


Monday, February 1, 2016

Finding Freedom in Our Fiction Feature

Ahoy readers!

A lovely Monday to you all! As per usual, I've another great Fiction Feature for you today! The twist is that it's not about the typical YA genres I usually cover on here. That's not to say it's not a great read, though!

But I'll let the book do the talking, of course ;) Here's Sue Searles' Finding Freedom!

Naïve Emily Garrett discovers that her safe, secure upbringing has been a devastating lie. Snatched on the day she was born, apparently by the same people she calls her parents, she is forced to learn the reasons for their desperate actions.

Ifetayo Ayassou finally finds the courage to escape her hellish existence as a trafficking victim and, coupled with the difficult healing process, she begins a search for the child she was forced to give away eighteen years ago.

Two women plunged into the underworld of human trafficking, both in search of freedom and truth—and each other. But, will their paths collide?

I always find it interesting how authors from other parts of the world write about different and interesting topics. Human trafficking is a major problem outside of the US, and I'm honored to be featuring a story that focuses on the human connections the victims oftentimes lose and crave. Fast-paced, touching, and chilling at times, this is a wonderful read. As usual, I've an excerpt to get you really hooked:


Her plan was set in motion. Lea would take her usual long walk to the market as if nothing was different. But then instead of returning to the house at the end of the day, she’d go in the opposite direction. Destination Togo—wherever that might be.

A wave of terrifying exhilaration washed over Lea as she stepped out of her mistress’s house for the last time. A collection of painful memories was contained under that roof, each room telling its own horrific story. The idea of living alone on the street was beyond frightening. She’d done the unthinkable, and while the idea made her panic she had a plan, up to a point.

But, she was free.

For the first time in her life she had a purpose—to find her mother and see for herself if the woman still remembered her or cared about her. Until then, Lea would have to watch her back and find a way to survive. She bit back tears, too afraid to let them fall. For now, the sweet taste of freedom would be her main concern, and it was more gratifying than she could ever have imagined.

The congested marketplace drew her in with its roadside bukas, each stall taunting her with its enticing smells of smoked fish and snacks sizzling in palm oil. Despite the comfort of the familiar surroundings, Lea felt unusually restless today, second-guessing her decision for the hundredth time. She was still in familiar territory and it wasn’t too late to turn back. She took comfort in the busyness of the jostling vendors and the colorful stalls, a sight she knew so well. It would be tempting to return to a life that was at least predictable, even if it was horrendous. No! She had made up her mind. Perhaps there was still a trace of the spirited girl she once was, after all.

The unforgiving Nigerian sun sliced through a thick, gray blanket of cloud, enveloping the village in a shroud of dreary smog. Lea made sure she’d sold about half her quota of loaves, before immersing herself in the crowd and taking her first steps of freedom. The sense of exhilaration mingled with pure terror, but she had to keep going. Freedom must be foremost in her mind. She tried to picture her mother’s face, even though the memory was hazy. Perhaps that would keep her calm and help her to press on. She thought of Mother’s arms around her and wondered if she’d ever see her again. Lea swatted away angry tears. This was no time for pipe dreams; she had to be strong.

Soon Lea was in unfamiliar territory. The crowds thinned and she was alone in a labyrinth of back streets with old, neglected buildings and overgrown gardens. Obeche trees drooped overhead, pinning her with dense overgrowth. She felt claustrophobic and trapped in this strange, lonely world. She kept going, the early stage of blisters searing her swollen feet. She rounded a corner and was thankful for the bustling activity up ahead. An elderly man buzzed past on a whining scooter and a pair of stray dogs chased each other across the street. A family of six sat on the side of the road sharing an afternoon meal. Lea had never been this far down the end of town and she started to panic. It was too late to turn back now. In a few hours it would be dark and Alina would know she wasn’t coming back. She determined in herself that she could not—would not—get caught.

As the crowds thickened, she clutched the baskets carrying the remaining loaves of bread. They were her only possessions, apart from the threadbare notebook wedged deep in her waistband. She kept checking to make sure it hadn’t fallen out along the way, and walked until her feet ached.

Before long, buildings cast elongated shadows across the narrow street and darkness wrapped its arms around her. Lea’s anxiety multiplied as her mind wandered to Auntie Alina. Did the woman know yet that she wasn’t coming back? The thought choked her with fear.


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Now that you're hooked, let's meet our author! Sue Searles is new to my blog, but I'm sure she won't be a stranger for long!

Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.

Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.

Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life.

Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.

You can reach out to Sue at her links below:





Instagram: Sue Searles

And that's it for now! I hope y'all have a wonderful February, and as always, stay tuned for more great reads and all things Lucid!

Until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'!