Monday, August 13, 2018

The Hobbes Family by Dan O'Brien




Synopsis: The world had ended abruptly and without warning. How will a family navigate a world that seems bent on destroying them? Follow them in this exciting new serial adventure.


An excerpt from Hobbes Family:

As Michael looked out the broken window of the convenience store, he grimaced. The tall blue oaks that surrounded the building on two sides were dusted with frost; the ground was an amalgam of crystal sheets broken only by brave stalks of undergrowth that dared the frigid touch of the gales. The building wouldn’t serve as a long-term solution. However, it would be useful until the weather broke.

The trek out of the suburban areas began in the family Subaru. Highway 99 was so overrun with smoldering and abandoned vehicles that the Hobbes family was forced to make the remainder of the trek on foot. The winter months proved disastrous. Often, the snow levels came down into the valley for a day, sprinkling unsuspecting areas with brief, beautiful moments of frozen precipitation.

This was different.

A storm settled in the valley, trapped and angry.

When the sun managed to peek through the clouds above, it almost felt bearable. But the great star was soon obfuscated behind a gray wall once more, bloated and teeming with fury as a fresh zephyr of snow and blinding particulates dragged the valley.

Michael looked over at his wife. Susanna’s high cheekbones were prominent and the sallowness of her cheeks from periodic starvation saddened Michael as much as he was capable.

He hadn’t fared much better.

His beard grew in with dark clumps and gray patches; his bedraggled hair was curly in places despite its length. Were it on purpose, he imagined Susanna running her long fingers through it and calling it cute.

The store weathered the apocalypse.

Shelves remained intact for the most part, though they were barren fields. Coolers were popped open. Overturned cans, smashed and left for dead, littered the floor.

This was someone else’s last stand.  



Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency






Synopsis: Have you ever wondered where your loose change went? The missing sock that disappears without a trace: where could it be? Robert has seen it all. He spends his days watching awful daytime television and taking extended naps on his plush couch. One day, a strange little man appears beneath his couch, a leprechaun named Colin. Together, they hatch a plan to reclaim Colin's lost fortune and defeat an army of lost socks and an evil gremlin. Carefully illustrated by the talented Steve Ferchaud, it reminds us that you’re never too old to have one more adventure. Loved by adults and children, this illustrated fairy tale is meant to be read aloud.


An excerpt from Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency:

Robert heard the voice again, the thick Irish accent clear as the little man spoke. “That’d be like me calling ye human all the time, not very polite that’d be.”

He opened his eyes slowly and saw the little man, the leprechaun, perched on the couch. Reclined back against the armrest, a pipe snug between his teeth, he snapped his fingers.

The light of the overturned lamp flickered on and floated back to the now right-side-up table. Robert watched in disbelief, his mouth hanging open and a bewildered look plastered across his face.

Robert pointed shakily. “Not a leprechaun?” he asked, the confused expression deepening.

The leprechaun sighed and stepped off the edge of the couch and landed upon the air as if it were another floor. The smoke from his pipe followed the tiny sprite as he stopped close to the huddled man. He tipped his tam-o’-shanter and pulled the pipe from his lips.

“We haven’t the time for this, laddie. I require your help, Robert Pendleton, and I be afraid that I have little time for lengthy introductions. You can call me Colin.”

Robert’s face twisted in befuddlement.

“Colin, the leprechaun,” he repeated––a long pause before he breathed once more.

“Just Colin, less you want me to be calling ye Robert, the human, all the time,” chided the sprite as he blew a colossal bundle of smoke from his lips.

Robert opened his mouth and then snapped it shut. His mind spun. “What can I do for you, Colin?” he finally managed to say.

The leprechaun eyed him for a moment and then as quick as Robert could blink, the sprite rested comfortably on the couch once more. “That’s better, laddie. Though I imagine you be thinking of pinchin’ yerself to see if this be real. I can assure ye that this be no dream.”

Robert nodded numbly.

“I be from another world just outside the one you know. A place of magic and wonder,” began the leprechaun, ignoring the vacant look on Robert’s face as he continued. “And in this place, we sprites live quite happily. You’ve heard of a leprechaun’s pot-o-gold?” 




Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Half Empty by Catherine Bybee - Excerpt







About the Book

Title: Half Empty
Author: Catherine Bybee
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Trina Petrov’s marriage-by-contract was only meant to be temporary. But when tragedy strikes, Trina is left one of the wealthiest women in the world. To recover from the shock, she takes some time off in Italy, swearing not to fall for any men while there. But that doesn’t mean she can’t fall for anyone on the trip home . . .

Country-music superstar Wade Thomas is lying low in a hotel bar when he gets the cold shoulder from the woman next to him. He’s used to fans fawning at his boots, and Trina is a refreshing change—so is the fact that she has no idea who he is.

As things begin to heat up, Trina discovers that the circumstances of her late husband’s death are not what they seemed. Now she’s in trouble, and Wade isn’t about to let her out of his sight. Getting close to love and danger could get them killed . . . or it could sweep them both off their feet.




Excerpt: Half Empty by Catherine Bybee

They closed the bar and took their last round to the hotel lobby.

Wade had to admit he was a bit more than tipsy, and Trina wasn’t exactly sober. She’d tucked her feet under her on the lobby sofa as she described Venice in a way that made him want to visit.

“There isn’t one car?” he asked.

“No place for them. You only get around on foot or boat. Which is probably best to help counter the pasta you consume while you’re there.”

“So why did you pick Venice?”

Her eyes drifted away, something Wade had noticed happened a lot when she was lost in thought. A hint of sorrow quickly came and went, almost as if she caught herself. The smile she flashed felt forced. “I wanted isolation so I could study.”

“Study?” She rattled off something that went completely over his head.

Her dark brown eyes glistened with her smile. “I’m learning Italian.”

Wade blew out a breath. “Oh, thank God. I thought maybe that last beer was one too many.”

“I like languages.”

“As in many?”

“A few.”

He was happy to speak English. “I’m impressed.”

“Don’t be. Most Europeans are fluent in a minimum of two languages.”

“Are you from Europe?”

“No. Born and raised in Southern California. My grandparents on my mother’s side are from Mexico. Spanish was always spoken in our home.”

“So you speak Spanish as well?” He squirmed in his chair.

“Yup.”

“Now I’m feelin’ a bit inferior.”

“Language is my hidden talent,” she said.

“So how did you end up in Texas?”

Her gaze met his before she wrinkled her nose and gave a quick shake of the head. “It’s a long story.”

“Which is your way of saying don’t pry.”

She stretched out her arms. “It’s my way of saying that we’ve had a pleasant conversation, and bringing up my recent move will change all that. I’d just as soon keep this light.”

Wade wasn’t expecting her reply. “Now you’ve piqued my interest.”

“Another time,” she said.

He offered a smile that usually had women crawling all over him. “Am I going to have that chance?”

“Chance for what?”

“Another conversation.”

Her eyes bored into him as if he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. “I told you, I’m not interested.”

He lifted one eyebrow, flashed a dimple. “What if I told you I was rich?”

She burst out in laughter.

His smile fell.

“Sorry…” She appeared to pull in her mirth. “You’re gonna have to do better than money.”

“Good lord, woman.”

“Sorry.”

He scratched his head. “I’m famous.”

She bit her lip. “That explains the arrogance.”

Wade placed a hand on his wounded chest. “I am not.”

Trina tossed her head back, and her deep laugh filled the empty lobby. “My name is Wade Thomas, you don’t know who I am?” Her mimicry of him was off by several octaves.

Her laughter tickled his gut.

“I can teach you the two-step.”

She pinched her lips together, trying to contain herself.

His pride was starting to dim.

“I’m not bad looking.”

She looked him up and down … twice. “I’ll give you that.”

He lifted both hands in the air. “Finally.”

For the span of a full minute, she stared. Her smile slowly started to fall, and he knew she was talking herself out of dating him.

“Tell you what. I’m flying home tomorrow. Private charter, because I’m rich, famous, and arrogant.” He moaned on that last word.

“And good-looking.”

Now they were getting somewhere.

“I can give you a lift home.”

Trina blew out a breath. “I’m avoiding going home,” she reminded him.

“And I was thinking I needed a quick stop in Nassau … where the plane might not be able to leave right away. That tropical depressed storm and all.”

She pointed a finger in his direction. “I like the way you think.”
 
***

About the Author

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than 4.5 million copies and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the Weekday Brides series, the Most Likely To series, and the First Wives series.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

The Little Artisan by Dan O'Brien - Book Blast




Synopsis: 
Not all fairy tales involve young princesses waiting to be swept off their feet by a prince. Some heroines want to change the world. Camille has watched her village, and the surrounding area, slowly wilt from years of unrelenting sun and no rain. Mein was once a land filled with magic and dense forests filled with fantastical creatures. Now, it suffers in silence. Camille believes that she can change their fate by creating a machine to make it rain once more. However, the village is suspicious of her efforts, concerned that her deep love of science will anger the magicks that once protected them. She will have to learn to stand tall and believe in herself if the world is to ever change.



An excerpt from The Little Artisan:


She paused in front of the entrance; her heart fluttered and her stomach churned. So close. All of the trials and tinkering and prototypes would soon be put to the test.

Taking a deep breath, she pushed aside the curtain and stepped inside. It was bigger on the inside than it appeared from the outside. Mirrors covered all of the walls, which converged on a single hallway leading deeper into the tent.

Camille headed down the hallway. Its walls were also covered with mirrors, creating a maze of kaleidoscope images. She proceeded forward slowly, restraining her impulse to run.

A voice emerged from farther ahead.

“Maker. Artisan. Tinker. Why have you come?”

“For the final piece.”

“The final piece to what?”

“To my Rainmaker.”

Peeling laughter filled the hallway.

“You continue on this fool’s errand even though everyone doubts you,” called the Trickster.

Camille paused.

She didn’t give much thought to what others thought. Occasionally, she would consider how the townspeople might react if the Rainmaker worked; otherwise, she only felt sad when she thought about the people of Mein because they were too frightened to try anything, to take real chances.

“I can make a difference,” she responded.

“Why would you wish to make a difference when no one else will care?” boomed a voice that suggested a large being.

Camille couldn’t even comprehend such a position. She didn’t require others to validate who she was; she did what she thought was necessary. “I have no need of riddles, questions, or condemnations. I only need the final piece. I only need fuel.”

“Fuel?” parroted the Trickster.

Camille noticed a small shadow at the corner of the hallway. Creeping close, she found a small knob attached to a long, thin mirror. She pushed it and the mirror creaked and receded, revealing yet another hallway.

The hallway was unlit except for a faint light at the end. She stumbled forward, feeling the walls to stay upright. Camille turned as the door she came through closed; she could no longer hear the sounds outside the tent. She pushed on through the darkness until the hallway terminated in an open room with a tall chair at its center. A small figure with sandy red hair and a thick beard sat atop it.

“You’re the Trickster?” asked Camille.

The Trickster hopped down, revealing that he was nearly a head shorter than the little artisan. A jagged scar ran from his nose to his chin, giving him a suspicious look despite his otherwise handsome features and green eyes. “I see that you’ve seen past my mirrors, little artisan.”

Camille didn’t like it when people other than her father called her little artisan. “Do you have fuel?”

He shoved his stubby hands into his pockets. “I do indeed. What do you plan on doing with it?”

Frustration itched at her. “I need it for the Rainmaker.”

“Ah, for your weather machine.”

She looked around the small room and saw a cot nestled next to shelves upon shelves of books. “You live here?”

“Our sleepy little village wouldn’t suffer an imp, so I hide behind my mirrors.”

She felt a stab of sympathy for the little man.

“I’m sorry that you must hide who you are.”

The Trickster shrugged. “We all hide a part of who we are. Some must be more cautious than others.”

Camille walked to the bookcase and touched the spines.

“I don’t hide who I am.”

“I suppose that is why we fear you.”

She turned around, surprised. “Fear me?”

He nodded and paced to a long desk with open books stacked on it. “Knowing oneself is a hardship. It forces us to face parts of ourselves we may not like, so we hide behind our fear. Someone who doesn’t hide like we do is certainly to be feared.”

The little artisan looked down sadly.

“That must be difficult.”

“Ignorance proves to be fantastic insulation,” replied the Trickster. Pushing aside some books, he procured a waxen cube and held it up to the light. “I believe I have what you’re looking for….”

Camille crossed the room and looked at the small cube.

“I don’t have much to give you.”

He closed his hand, obscuring the fuel cube from view.

“I ask that you don’t allow our fear to stop you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I sell hope, and possibility. I wish for the world to be different; yet, I do nothing.”

Camille found his strange self-awareness disarming.

What was he playing at?

The Trickster extended his hand and placed the fuel cube in Camille’s hands. He smirked. “I expect to hear rumbling very soon.”


Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dawn by Dan O'Brien - Book Blast





Synopsis: The world is divided between a nation of men and a nation women, each of whom rules with absolute authority. A war brews deep beneath the surface of the peaceful negotiations between these two nations as a love blossoms between a princess and her guardian, a slave of the Society of Dawn, in the first entry of this romantic fantasy series.

Aurora had never journeyed so far alone. In the six years that Aeschylus served as her guardian, she left Pa’ngarin no more than a handful of times. She touched her saddle horn and rubbed the pearl there delicately.
She thought about the day Aeschylus was chosen as her guardian. It was her twelfth birthday, a milestone among maidens and Children of the Dawn. Her aunt, the Lordess Ascendant, the beautiful and powerful ruler of Pa’ngarin, picked Aeschylus for Aurora from among the horde of unseasoned and dirty men who worked the mines and fields.
Her aunt’s words were soft that day.
Soft speech wasn’t Lordess Ascendant’s way. However, on the day when Aurora was presented before the Court of the Nine Blossoms, she spoke in hurried, loving words. She told the young maiden that this man was the strongest among the bloodthirsty and hate-mongering species of men.
He would protect her until his death.
Her new guardian would be her steadfast companion for as long as she saw fit. He would see to all her needs; and if she required, be her First––marking her ascendance.
Aurora smiled as she remembered young Aeschylus. He was already a man when he was appointed as her guardian. Strong-jawed and tight-lipped, he was a cordial, but removed, warrior just a moon past his eighteenth birthday.
At the time, she didn’t know that Aeschylus followed her around long before he became her guardian. His mother died in the same Scythian raid that killed her mother when she was an infant. Every time young Aurora wandered without supervision, Aeschylus wasn’t far away.
But his assistance had a price.
When he was only thirteen, he carried Aurora from the orchards after she fell down and injured her foot. It was against Pa’ngarin law for a man to touch a woman without consent, especially to treat her as if she were powerless to help herself. His act of compassion earned him ten lashes at the center of the Court of the Nine Blossoms. After that incident, he became more careful, making certain to remain hidden from view as he protected her.
Aurora shook herself from her reverie.
Along the side of the road sat a heavy black stone etched in sparkling silver lettering. The letters read Ma’oren.
Ma’oren was a rich town built around mining and forestry operations and run by a minor ascendant named Eris. Aurora couldn’t remember having met her.
Rows of tall trees obscured her vision to the north and south, but she had little fear in her heart despite the circumstances of the previous evening. The silence enveloping the surrounding forest would’ve been disarming if Aurora didn’t know that mining drove the creatures of the forest deeper into the woods. There were few dangers to a woman of her station in a society governed by women. If she were attacked and kidnapped by brigands, they would swing in the Court of the Nine Blossoms.
The trees lining the road soon gave way to cramped male dormitories built upon each other like sloping cliffs. The buildings had no windows except for a wide opening on the second floor.
A man stepped out of one of the dormitories’ slanted doors. His long gray hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and his brown eyes, wide and wise, watched the young maiden pass. He didn’t meet her eyes, but instead stared intently at her mount. He knew the penalty for looking at a woman, if not asked to do so, was the sealing of the eyes.
Opposite the dormitories stood a vast cavern dug deep into the earth, beside which sprawling mining equipment was placed. A piercing whine filtered from the mine’s entrance, as if a whistle were being blown deep below. Aurora spurred her mount forward through the haze of dirt and dust spewing from the mine and made her way up the road toward the city proper.
As if by magic, the haze disappeared and a gleaming citadel rose in the distance. A dawn sphere was a great, ribbed structure composed of symmetrical, ivory pillars from ground to sky.




Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.


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