Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Chocolatier's Wife and The Chocolatier's Ghost NBtM


A truly original, spellbinding love story, featuring vivid characters in a highly realistic historical setting.

When Tasmin's bethrothed, William, is accused of murder, she gathers her wind sprites and rushes to his home town to investigate. She doesn't have a shred of doubt about his innocence. But as she settles in his chocolate shop, she finds more in store than she bargained for. Facing suspicious townsfolk, gossiping neighbors, and William's own family, who all resent her kind - the sorcerer folk from the North -- she must also learn to tell friend from foe, and fast. For the real killer is still on the loose - and he is intent on ruining William's family at all cost.

The Chocolatier's Ghost: Married to her soul mate, the chocolatier William, Tasmin should not have to worry about anything at all. But when her happily ever after is interrupted by the disappearance of the town’s wise woman, she rushes in to investigate. Faced with dangers, dead bodies, and more mysterious disappearances, Tasmin and William must act fast to save their town and themselves – especially when Tasmin starts to be haunted by a most unwelcome ghost from her past…literally.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost is an enchanting sequel to Cindy Lynn Speer’s bestselling romantic mystery, The Chocolatier’s Wife.

Excerpt from The Chocolatier’s Wife:
Time was, in the kingdom of Berengeny, that no one picked their spouses. No one courted—not officially, at any rate—and no one married in a moment’s foolish passion. It was the charge of the town Wise Woman, who would fill her spell bowl with clear, pure water; a little salt; and the essence of roses, and rosemary, and sage. Next, she would prick the finger of the newborn child and let his or her blood drip into the potion. If a face showed in the waters, then it was known that the best possible mate (they never said true love, for that was the stuff of foolish fancy) had been born, and the Wise Woman could then tell where the future spouse lived, and arrangements were made.

For the parents of William of the House of Almsley, this process would turn out to be less than pleasant.

The first year that the baby William’s finger was pricked and nothing showed, the Wise Woman said, “Fear not, a wife is often younger than the husband.”

The second, third, and even fifth year she said much the same.

But you see, since the spell was meant to choose the best match—not the true love—of the heart the blood in the bowl belonged to, this did not mean, as years passed, that the boy was special. It meant that he would be impossible to live with.

On his seventh birthday, it seemed everyone had quite forgotten all about visiting the Wise Woman until William, who knew this of long habit to be a major part of his day--along with cake, a new toy, and a new set of clothes--tugged on his mother’s skirt and asked when they were going. She stared at him a long moment, tea cup in hand, before sighing and calling for the carriage. She didn’t even bother to change into formal clothes this time, and the Wise Woman seemed surprised to see them at all. “Well, we might as well try while you’re here,” she said, her voice obviously doubtful.

William obediently held out the ring finger on his left hand and watched as the blood dripped into the bowl. “She has dark brown eyes,” William observed, “and some hair already.” He shrugged, and looked at the two women. “I suppose she’ll do. I’m just glad ‘tis over, and that I can go on with my life.”

“For you, perhaps,” his mother said, thinking of what she would now have to accomplish.

“Do not fret, mother, I shall write a letter to the little girl. Not that she can read it, anyway.” He petted his mother’s arm. He was a sweet boy, but he was always charging forward, never worrying about feelings.

The Wise Woman rolled out an elegantly painted silk map of the kingdom and all its regions, his mother smoothed the fabric across the table, and then the Wise Woman dipped a brass weight into the bowl. Henriette, William’s mother, placed her hands on William’s shoulders as the Wise Woman held the weight, suspended, over the map.

Henriette held her breath, waiting to see where it would land. Andrew, her younger son, had his intended living just down the street, which was quite convenient. At least they knew what they were getting into immediately.

The plumb-bob made huge circles around the map, spinning and spinning as the Wise Woman recited the words over and over. It stopped, stiffly pointing toward the North.

“Tarnia? Not possible, nor even probable. You must try again!”

For once, William’s mother wasn’t being stubbornly demanding. Tarnia, a place of cruel and wild magic, was the last place from whence one would wish a bride. They did not have Wise Women there, for anyone could perform spells. The Hags of the North ate their dead and sent the harsh winter wind to ravage the crops of the people of the South. Five hundred years ago, the North and the South had fought a bitter war over a cause no one could quite remember, only that it had been a brutal thing, and that many had died, and it led to the South losing most of its magic. Though the war was long over and the two supposedly united again, memory lingered. “I have cast it twice.” The Wise Woman chewed her lower lip, but there was naught else she could do.

“Not Tarnia, please?” Henriette, usually a rather fierce and cold woman, begged.

“I am afraid so.” The Wise Woman began cleaning up; her shoulders set a little lower. “I am sorry.”

William, staring out the window at the children playing outside, couldn’t care less. What did it matter where anyone was from? She was a baby, and babies didn’t cause that much trouble.

“Only you, William,” his mother said, shaking her head. “Why can you not do anything normal?”

This was to be the tenor of most of their conversations throughout their lives.

If I’d never heard of me would I read my book?
If I had never heard of me, I think I would be very happy to read the book.  It contains a lot of the things I love.  I used herb and stone folk lore to base much of the magic off of.  Tasmin is a wonderfully practical woman, William is a realist, but also a romantic.  He writes her letters, even though they were not supposed to meet until their wedding day, sends her presents, supports her studies, and she writes him back, telling of her life, sending him protection amulets.  They fall in love over letters. 

And, of course, mixed in is a murder mystery.  They two of them are trying to come to terms with the reality of each other, while trying to figure out why the local Bishop was murdered and why William was blamed. 

There is also a Regency era feel to it…the world is both fantastical, with wind sprites and palaces of ice, yet I think that Jane Austin would have recognized a lot of the feel of the era she lived in. 

I am also dependent on reviews to help make decisions, so when I went to Amazon and looked up The Chocolatier’s Wife, the reviews would help convince me.  When I read that it was a 10th anniversary, illustrated hardcover, I would be a little impressed, but then, I love hard cover books, especially pretty ones. 

With all that said, I would give it a shot.  And hopefully love it dearly and grab the sequel.  *grins* 

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Author Bio and Links:
Cindy Lynn Speer has been writing since she was 13.  She has Blue Moon and Unbalanced published by Zumaya.  Her other works, including The Chocolatier’s Wife (recently out in an illustrated hardcover to celebrate its 10th anniversary) and the Chocolatier’s Ghost, as well as the short story anthology Wishes and Sorrows.  When she is not writing she is either practicing historical swordsmanship, sewing, or pretending she can garden.  She also loves road trips and seeing nature.  Her secret side hobby is to write really boring bios about herself.  You can find out more about her at, or look for her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The End of Ordinary VBT

Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He's also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War -- a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered -- that's a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew's greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.

Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you -- he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.

Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he's cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew's team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they're all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.

“So,” I said when I’d picked the last bit of rind out of my teeth. “What now?”

Nathan shrugged.

“Wait for death, I guess.”

“Huh,” I said. “I see where you’re going with that, but I was actually hoping you’d have some kind of last-minute escape plan to present now.”

“Escape plan?”

“Yeah. If this were a vid, this is where you’d suggest a super-complicated scheme to get out of here. I’d say ‘that’s crazy!’ and you’d say ‘do we have a choice?’ and then we’d do it and it would work somehow and you would totally be my hero.”

He stared at me, downed the last of his bathtub water, and stared at me some more.

“So,” I said finally. “Do you, uh… have a plan?”

“No,” he said. “Unless ‘wait for death’ counts as a plan, I do not have one.”


I looked down at the lantern, and found myself wondering if the battery would give out before we did. A shiver ran from the base of my spine to the back of my neck and down again.

“Hannah?” Nathan said. “Are you, uh…”

I groaned.

“Am I what, Nathan?”

“Are you really gonna eat me?”

I stared at him.


He looked away.

“Well, yeah. I don’t mean now. Just… you know… eventually?”

I dropped my head into my hands.

“No, Nathan. I am not going to eat you.”

“Are you sure? I mean, you might have to, right?”

I stood up, and picked up the lantern.

“You are an odd duck, Nathan. I’m going for a run.”

Edward, thanks so much for stopping by. So, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I’m surprisingly tall, and I once spent an uncomfortable hour dripping wet in my underwear in the back seat of a patrol car in Fort Lauderdale. Also, I’m the author of the novels The End of Ordinary and Three Days in April, as well as of several dozen short stories that have appeared in venues ranging from Louisiana Literature to Escape Pod to the newsletter of an Italian sausage company. I live in Rochester, New York, where I write, hang out with my dog, and occasionally show up to my job as a cancer researcher. I have a wife and three daughters. They’re very nice.

How did you get started writing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I finished my first novel—written in longhand on two hundred pages of lined notebook paper—when I was twelve years old. The reviews were not great. My dad called it “hackneyed and derivative.” I still have the original manuscript in a lockbox in my closet, though. I submitted my first short story to a professional market when I was fourteen, and, after collecting a massive pile of rejection slips, made my first sale four years later. I haven’t looked back since.

What was the inspiration for your book?
Almost all of my fiction starts with a single scene. The End of Ordinary started with this one:

Here’s a story for you. The summer she turned two, we took Hannah to the beach. It was a perfect day, hot and clear, with an offshore breeze kicking up sharp little whitecaps on three-foot swells. Kara and I took her in shifts, one of us in the water, the other watching her dig in the sand.

After an hour or so, Hannah started getting cranky, and Kara told me to take her into the ocean. I carried her out twenty or thirty feet, to where the swells were riding up my thighs, knelt down and dipped her into the water, let her kick her feet a bit and cool off. Then Kara waved to me, held up her phone, motioned for me to stand for a picture. I picked Hannah up, held her face next to mine and waved. Kara raised the phone. I smiled. I just had time to see Kara’s mouth open in a scream when a breaker hit me from behind like a runaway bus, lifted me off my feet, and flipped me forward. My arms flailed as I spun around. I tucked my chin, and hit the sand hard on the back of my neck. There was a moment of fuzzy numbness. I reached out.

Hannah was gone.

I struggled to my feet as the wave rolled back out, my heart pounding like a jackhammer in my chest. Kara was running toward me and I spun once around, searching . . .

And there, drifting past me on the tide, was a fan of blonde hair. I dove for her, snatched her up out of the water, and held her face to mine. Her eyes were wide open, and she was laughing.

Ever since that day at the beach, I’ve dreamed of losing her. Sometimes it’s in the forest. We’re hiking together, talking and laughing, and suddenly she’s gone. I crash through the trees calling for her, knowing that something has taken her, that if I don’t find her soon, it’ll be too late. Sometimes it’s in the city, in the subway or one of the abandoned neighborhoods. I always wake up soaked in sweat and panting.

I never find her.

This book has a lot of stuff in it—humor and cool tech and adventure and suspense—but at the end of the day, it’s the story of a father and a daughter, and the almost-unbearable fear of letting go.

True story, by the way.

What’s the one genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?
I’ve never done anything with horror before, but I enjoy reading it, and I’d love to take a crack at writing something in the genre at some point. I’ve had an idea floating around in my head for a while about a guy with a girlfriend who’s kind of a giant spider thing. Maybe I’ll give that a go after I finish the next book. Are there any genres you won’t read or write in? Why? I don’t think I’d do well with romance. Bodice ripping makes me very uncomfortable.

What are you up to right now? Do you have any releases planned, or are you still writing?
I’m currently about three-quarters finished with the first draft of my next book, A Brief History of the Stupid War. This one is set in the same future as The End of Ordinary and Three Days in April, and tells the story of the war between the engineered and the unmodified that serves as a backdrop in The End of Ordinary. I also try to put out a new short story every couple of months. You can find links to most of those on my website,

Alright, now for some random, fun questions.
Favorite color? Um… Puce? That’s a color, right?
Favorite movie?
That’s an easy one. The Princess Bride. The clifftop duel between Inigo and Westley is probably the single greatest scene in the history of American cinema. Book that inspired you to become an author? Dying of the Light, by George R. R. Martin. It’s really got everything—incredibly detailed world-building, memorable characters, a plot that winds up somewhere you never expected but that seems inevitable once you get to the end, and a protagonist who winds up sacrificing himself for the happiness of someone who doesn’t even particularly like him. I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever read when I was nine, and (unlike Chicken in a Biscuit) the years haven’t dulled its shine.

You have one superpower. What is it?
Another easy one. Meat vision. Practical and delicious.

You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
Larry, Moe, and Curly. I feel like they’d have a lot of insight into the geopolitics of the 1930s, which I find very interesting. Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why? Despite the fact that The End of Ordinary is speculative fiction, this is probably the most autobiographical thing I’ve ever written. In the book, Drew Bergen is a genetic engineer, and a former college runner who’s having some difficulty accepting the fact that his fourteen-year-old daughter is now faster than he is. I’m a cancer researcher, which is at least genetic engineering adjacent. I’m also a former college runner, and my fourteen-year-old daughter is definitely faster than I am. Additionally, I know a lot about eating waffles in diners, which Drew does a great deal of, and like him, I am an acknowledged expert at awkward social interactions.

That’s all from me, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by!
Thanks so much for hosting me. It’s been a lot of fun.

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Author Bio and Links:
Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.

You can find him online at
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Monday, July 24, 2017

All Signs Point to Murder Blurb Blitz

The stars predict a wedding-day disaster, but San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never expected murder

Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.

Celia’s house was set back from the wide boulevard on a street that never seemed to be busy with traffic.  I pulled up in front and climbed the stairs.  After her husband died, Celia was fortunate.  She could still afford to live in her home.  The front lawn was perfect, a postage stamp of lush brilliant green bordered with hydrangeas.  No leaf would dare be out of place in Celia’s garden. 

I lugged the shopping bag up the stairs, forcing myself not to think about the remnants of Michael’s life that I had packed away.  After all, the very least she could do would be to open the door and say thank you.  When I reached the top of the stairway, I rang the bell and waited.  I waited a few minutes more and then rang the doorbell again.  She was home.  I was sure of it.  She simply refused to have anything to do with me.  That old familiar ache rose in my chest.  The orphan with her nose pressed against the window looking in on a life she couldn’t hope to have.  Angry at my automatic reaction, I rang the bell a third time.  Finally, I gave up.  Okay, Celia, you win.  I placed the bag at the front door and returned down the steps.  As I was opening my car door, someone called my name.  I turned back.  It was Maggie, Michael’s sister. 

“Julia.  Wait.”  She rushed down the stairs, out of breath when she reached me.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the bell.  I was upstairs.”  She gave me a warm hug. 

“Hi Maggie.”  I smiled.  “It’s great to see you.”  I had always liked Michael’s younger sister.  I had never known their father, but they both must have taken after him.  There certainly was no spiritual resemblance between them and their mother. 

“How are you?”  I responded. 

“I’m fine.  I was just visiting at Mom’s.”  Her smiled faded.  “Julia, I’m sorry she’s treating you this way.  She’s home.  She just won’t answer the door.” 

“Maggie, I gave up a year ago, wondering what she held against me.” 

“It’s not just you I’m afraid.  She won’t talk to anybody in the family.  Doesn’t see her old friends.  She rattles around that big old house day and night.  She’s made a shrine of my brother’s room.  I think she spends most of her time there.”  Maggie shrugged.  “I’m really worried about her but I just don’t know what to do.  That’s why I try to stop by whenever I can.” 

“I wish I could help, but I’m likely the last person she wants to see.  You don’t have to apologize for her.” 

“I know that.  I just don’t think you need to be treated like that.  We all hurt.  It doesn’t help to be cruel to you.  Michael really loved you.  I just hope you always remember that.  Don’t let my mother’s behavior color your feelings about him and what you had together.” 

Tears sprang to my eyes.  I hadn’t expected this greeting and hadn’t thought it would strike such a chord.  “Thanks, Maggie.  I do appreciate that.”  Her eyes were Michael’s eyes, the same green flecks in the brown that gave them a hazel tinge. 

“You can call me anytime.” 

I glanced up at the front door.  Maggie had left it wide open.  I spotted Harry, Michael’s dog.  When Michael and I first started seeing each other, we went bicycling in the park whenever we could.  One day, I spotted something moving under a bush and halted.  We investigated and found a beautiful white poodle, half starved, smelling very badly, and suffering from infections.  He had obviously been abandoned and someone had beaten him severely.  Michael left me to watch over him, and hurried back to retrieve his car.  We loaded the bikes on the back and I held Harry on my lap all the way to the emergency vet.  Michael paid for all his treatments and then adopted him.  His budget as a student was tight, but he didn’t hesitate to help a wounded creature.  I think that was when I fell in love with him. 

“Harry’s with you?” 

Maggie followed my gaze.  “Harry!  What are you doing?”  Harry had knocked over the shopping bag and was sniffing it.  When he heard his name called, he raised his head, one of Michael’s gloves in his mouth.  He whimpered and looked at us. 

“Oh, God.”  Maggie said.  “He knows that’s Michael’s glove.  Poor guy.  Come here, Harry,” she called.  Harry dropped the glove and bounded down the stairs.  He came straight at me and leaped towards my face.  “He remembers you.”  Maggie said. 

“Of course, he does.”  I bent down and hugged him as Harry left slippery kisses on my face.  I looked up at Maggie.  “I’m so glad you’ve kept him.” 

“Of course, I’d never let him go.  I just love Harry to death.  It’s like having a part of my brother to hold on to.” 

Seeing Harry had brought a rush of memories.  I had to get out of there before I turned into a blubbering idiot.  I hugged Maggie and thanked her.  As I started the engine, Maggie leaned in the window.  “Just remember, Julia – it’s not you.  It’s nothing you’ve done.” 

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Author Bio and Links:
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice.  Book 2 in the Zodiac Mysteries is All Signs Point to Murder, to be released on August 8, 2017. 

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Penguin Random House (Berkley Prime Crime), set in the village of Snowflake, Vermont.  Her recently released A Clue in the Stew is the fifth in this series.  Some of her favorite recipes can also be found in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. 

Connie is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. 

Author Links:
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Series Links
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Withhold Book Blast

In the ultimate battle between good and evil, Nicole is in a race to stop Keitus before he achieves his plans. If he succeeds, he will crush everyone who has opposed him and enslave Earth and countless other planets. Unfortunately, he is only minutes away from his goal.

With so much at stake, Nicole and her friends must approach Helen, a volatile and dangerous spirit who will probably destroy them regardless of whether she gives them what they want. And the chances of her helping them are slim.

Fast-paced and epic magical fights, exciting plot twists, and non-stop action and adventure await. So sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the explosive, much-anticipated conclusion to the award-winning and bestselling Mosaic Chronicles.

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Forward proof of download (a confirmation email or a screenshot) to to receive:

Discern and Praxis (first two books in the series), Hope(less) and (Mis)fortune by Melissa Haag, other titles by other authors, bachelor of science degree from Katon University, coloring pages, word search, fantasy illustration by Andrea's husband (James E. Curwen, professional illustrator), maps illustrated by Andrea and her husband, etc.

Author Bio and Links:
Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo, and loves putting together musical arrangements. Her favorite sports are basketball and football, though several knee surgeries and incurably awful coordination prevent her from playing them.

Andrea graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of science degree in Communications Disorders. She is the author of many full-length novels (the Kilenya Series and Mosaic Chronicles) and several novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life - it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family and close friends is where she's happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.

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Withhold will be $0.99 through the pre-order period, and until the end of release day, July 18. On July 19, it'll rise in price to $1.99. On July 21, it'll rise in price to $2.99. On July 22, it'll go to full price ($3.99).

Purchase links:
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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Bull Riding Witch Book Blast

Daulphina’s father, the king of Asteria, has always wanted a male heir. Unfortunately for him, Daulphina’s magic means that will never happen unless her bastard half-brother displaces her on the throne. But she’ll take on all the gods herself before she lets that happen. He isn’t nice enough to be a good king.

But apparently, the gods don’t like being challenged because she’s flung across the void and into the dumpy old trailer and chiselled body of Joshua Killenyen, a rodeo bull rider from Alabama. With nothing to eat but Frosted Flakes and no knowledge how she got there, she better find a way home before she gets her head stomped in by the bulls she must ride. Or her brother will take the throne and reduce her people to slavery. Remember, he isn’t nice.

And then, I woke up as a man. 

I stared at the warm water falling over me. It had to be magic. Somebody magicked me into a man’s body. Dear gods, did that mean this hairy man was in my body? Was body-switching possible? Granny had never mentioned any such thing when she taught me everything she knew about magic, not that I’d ever been anything but a disappointment to her. I never had the raw power she expected of her successor. Or was my body empty? Or dead?

I was still staring at the falling water when Jocelyn yanked the stall door open. “Joshua, I told you you had ten minutes. Damn it, what’s wrong with you? You still have your boxer shorts on. Have you even washed yourself?” She turned the knob, and the water went away.

I stared up at her. “Miss, you have to believe me. I’m not Joshua.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Who are you, then? The queen of England?”

“No, I’m not a queen. I’m the crown princess of Asteria. I’ve never heard of England.”

She put her hand to her forehead. “Joshua, just how drunk are you?”

“I’m not drunk. This isn’t my body. Somebody magicked me into it.”

Jocelyn stared at me for a second. “I don’t know what you’re playing at, but it isn’t going to get you out of going to Meemaw’s.”

I rose abruptly. “I’m not going anywhere until someone explains what’s going on! Just how did I become a man?”

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Author Bio and Links:
Jamie began writing stories about the man from Mars when she was six, and she never remembers wanting to be anything other than a writer. Everyone told her she needed a back up plan, so she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized she’d put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. The literary article went into the trash, and she began the book that was to become her first novel. She writes about the fantastic . . . and the tortured soul. Her poor characters have hard lives. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.

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Twitter: @JamieMarchantSF