Tag Archives: FICTION

Needs Work Blitz

Needs Work banner

 photo Needs Work_zpspmbssoao.jpg

Published: October 2019
Publisher: Paragraph Line Books
Once upon a time in Cleveland… Phil Derleth, a former Army “combat cartoonist,” comes home to Cleveland, Ohio after a messy divorce. Phil is brain-damaged from a war wound and there are holes in his memory. His father Larry, a stone mason living on disability, takes him in. Soon enough, Phil finds himself embroiled in all sorts of trouble, including dodging the Ohio Department of Transportation, blood-stealing tramps, the ghost of his dead mother and stray dogs who are more than they appear to be. One stray in particular will show Phil the way back to a life that he may have forgotten.
 photo Needs Work print ipad and iphone_zpsp3czhhlp.jpg


I was let go.
That was months after my wife threw me out, taking our daughter with her. I was twenty-seven and starting all over again with life. I moved in with my father. Moved back to Ohio, a place that I thought I’d left in the rearview mirror. Instead, it was in my cracked and hazy windshield.
My car, a ten-year-old Ford Mustang, broke down in my father’s driveway never to recover. It had thrown a rod.
I got out of the car. The parking brake popped. The car slowly rolled into the street. A small fire crackled under the hood. In few minutes, dark black smoke poured out from the undercarriage and a red glow simmered within the passenger compartment. For a moment, I saw a shadow behind the wheel, a remnant of my former self, the one who was so confident that he would never again grace the state of Ohio. A small explosion. Another small explosion. They sounded less like explosions than someone manually popping a paper lunch sack. The driver’s side front wheel fell off and the car tilted over. The Mustang emblem clinked onto the pavement. A car, and then another car, drove past as if this sort of thing happened all the time. Nothing to get excited about.
“My clothes are in there,” I said aloud. “My employee of the month certificate. My Army uniforms. My crazy pills.”
My father emerged from the tiny house I’d grown up in, leaning forward on an aluminum walker, a wry grin on his mossy face. There was a reason why he’d never grown a beard while my mother was alive. The beard was patchy in so many ways. The coloration was wrong. The growth was uneven. There were too many things wrong with his beard to list.
The look he sent my way told me that he hadn’t yet forgiven me for not coming around while my mother was dying. I came to the funeral. Wasn’t that enough?
The police arrived. They pulled their cruiser up to the curb. A decal on the side of the car read, POLICE INTERCEPTOR. An older fat patrolman strolled up to me. He stood alongside me in silence and we watched my car burn for a while. Finally, he said, “That yours?” His name tag said, SMITH.
“Yes,” I said. “I have no money.”
“Who does?” He patted me on the shoulder solicitously.
The flames licked the air. It was sensuous.
“This is my son.” My father was beside us, opposite the cop.
“Total loss,” the friendly, gray-haired patrolman said. He rubbed his belly like there was a cat underneath his shirt.
His partner, a youngish woman, her hair pinched into a severe bun at the nape of her neck, stood near the car in the street, waving other cars past. When the street was clear, she pulled out her ticket pad and wrote me up.
My state of Illinois vanity plate fell off the back. It read, “E4MAFIA.” It was a joke that wasn’t funny now that I was out of the Army. I’d been out of the Army for years. I was in the Army for four years, most of it spent in a Navy hospital in Illinois, recovering from my war wounds. The Navy corpsmen would wheel us all up to the roof of the hospital at times, I remembered. We’d sit up there, high above the base, staring at Lake Michigan. It was calming. The hospital specialized in traumatic brain injuries. It was why we were all there. We were learning to speak again. To feed ourselves. To walk. To read and write. The Navy’s corpsmen school was there, so the student corpsmen would come by to gawk at us, or help us out with basic things. Eating. Finding our way back to our ward.
About the Author

 photo Needs Work Author John L. Sheppard_zpsua5q7qsy.jpg

John L. Sheppard, a graduate of the MFA@FLA creative writing program at the University of Florida, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Illinois.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
RABT Book Tours & PR

1 Comment

Filed under BOOKS

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland Blog Tour

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae cover

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.
But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?
Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?
From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words Bookshop, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out.


6 October, 2017


Hard to Bear


It’s 3 a.m. here in cardio-thoracic.

All I can do for now is doze, and think, and doze again. My heart is getting weaker, my body bluer. People I haven’t seen for a while are starting to drop in. (Good to see you, Emily, Jacob, Christa. I’m looking forward to the Martinis.) We all pretend we’re not getting ready to say goodbye. It seems easiest. But my mother cries when she thinks I’m sleeping, so maybe here, now, is time to admit that I might really be on the way out.

I should be grateful. A baby born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome a few years before I was would have died within days. I’ve had twenty-eight years and I’ve managed to do quite a lot of living in them. (Also, I’ve had WAY more operations than you everyday folk. I totally win on that.) OK, so I still live at home and I’ve never had a job and I’m blue around the edges because there’s never quite enough oxygen in my system. But –

Actually, but nothing. If you’re here tonight for the usual BlueHeart cheerfulness-in-the-teeth-of-disaster, you need to nd another blogger.

My heart is failing. I imagine I can feel it oundering in my chest. Sometimes it’s as though I’m holding my breath, waiting to see if another beat will come. I’ve been


in hospital for four months, almost non-stop, because it’s no longer tenable for me to be at home. I’m on a drip pumping electrolytes into my blood and I’ve an oxygen tube taped to my face. I’m constantly cared for by peo- ple who are trying to keep me well enough to receive a transplanted heart if one shows up. I monitor every

icker and echo of pain or tiredness in my body and try to work out if it means that things are getting worse. And yes, I’m alive, and yes, I could still be saved, but tonight it’s a struggle to  think that being saved is possible. Or even likely. And I’m not sure I have the energy to keep waiting.

And I should be angrier, but there’s no room for anger (remember, my heart is a chamber smaller than yours) because, tonight, I’m scared.

It’s only a question of time until I get too weak to sur- vive a transplant, and then it’s a waste of a heart to give it to me. Someone a bit tter, and who would get more use from it, will bump me from the top of the list and I’m into the Palliative Care Zone. (It’s not actually called that. And it’s a good, kind, caring place, but it’s not where I want to be. Maybe when I’m ninety-eight. To be honest, tonight, I’d take forty-eight. Anything but twenty-eight.)

I hope I feel more optimistic when the sun comes up. If it does. It’s Edinburgh. It’s October. The odds are about the same as me getting a new heart.

My mother doesn’t worry about odds. She says, ‘We only need the one heart. Just the one.’ She says it in a way that makes me think that when she leaves the ward she’s away to carve one out of some poor stranger’s


body herself. And anyway, odds feel strange, because even if my survival chances are, say, 20 per cent, what- ever happens to me will happen 100 per cent. As in, I could be 100 per cent dead this time next week.

Night night, BlueHeart xxx


P.S. I would really, really like for one of you to get your- self a couple of goldsh, or kittens, or puppies, or even horses, and call them Cardio and Thoracic. My prefer- ence would be for puppies. Because I love the thought that, if I don’t make it to Christmas, somewhere there will be someone walking in the winter countryside, let- ting their enthusiastic wee spaniels off the  lead, and then howling ‘Cardio! Thoracic!’ as they disappear over the brow of a hill intent on catching some poor terried sheep. That’s what I call a legacy.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Author photo

Author Bio:
STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174

Comments Off on The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland Blog Tour

Filed under BOOKS

Black & Blue Tour

Black & Blue banner

Black & Blue cover

Date Published: July 2019
Publisher:  BookBaby
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Have you ever wanted to do something that everyone said was impossible? Then you’ll love BLACK & BLUE. Loosely based on the author’s own life, this coming-of-age novel will inspire you to pursue your dreams.
For as long as she can remember, “Toady” wanted nothing more than to play football.  But for Toady, the love of football is bittersweet – because Toady’s given name is Christine. She’s a girl, and girls “can’t” play football. Despite her exceptional abilities, she watches bitterly as the boys play on the high school team and win scholarships.  Reluctantly, she gives up her football dreams and moves to New York City – where she finds that life is full of surprises. Christine hears about a group of women playing flag football, and she joins their game. The players are so good that before long, they’re invited to become part of a professional women’s tackle league.
For Christine, this is the chance she’s always dreamed of. Not only does she play football, but she raises enough money to become the team’s owner. But that’s when the real challenges begin. Does Christine have the guts and the stamina to spite the odds? BLACK & BLUE will leave readers cheering as Christine doubles down to fight for her dreams and for the women who want nothing more than to play their favorite sport. If you loved Bend It Like Beckham or A League of Their Own, you’ll adore BLACK & BLUE.



I stand in the heat of the day, thinking this must be a mirage! I look again: a group of women is playing football! 

By Andra Douglas

I am sorting socks one day and thinking that all of them can’t possibly belong to one individual when I realize that there are two companions I have overlooked—Me and Myself. After this realization, I view my existence as three entities sharing space in one body. It is a type of schizophrenia that I find comforting. Plus, it explains all the socks. 

Time passes quickly and living in New York City means paying the Piper. It also means paying the doorman, the coat checker, the cabbies, the “super” in my brownstone and the woman giving out hand towels in the bathrooms of fine establishments. Life in New York City moves so fast that it seems as though events overlap. Unlike my beloved game of football, there are no time-outs, no half-times, not even any two-minute warnings. Even the traffic lights mean nothing. And all the horns honking make it so noisy. At home, the things with horns say “mooooo.” In New York, there are lots of nasty and maladjusted people. They swear loudly from the middle of the streets and write rude words on walls. The rudest thing on the walls back home was the day the “l” dropped out of “public” on the building we know as the Public Library. Nevertheless, I navigate this city well. And it is slowly becoming home. 

“Come through, New York!” I say, aiming my words at the beautiful skyline at the southern end of the island. “Come through…” 

Then one day it delivers something. A group of women who play football. Somewhere I hear that beach football is played on Fire Island. So one Saturday I take the ferry over from Sayville out on Long Island. I sit down in the sand holding my football like a security blanket and look for the football action. 

Suddenly, like an apparition, Jessie appears next to me. Twenty-nine, slim, muscular and quite beautiful, until she opens her mouth, at which point you know for sure she is a true Brooklynite. Everything you hear is unruly and the opposite of what you might expect from her full and opinion-giving lips. She swaggers; even her gestures have an accent. 

I take notice of her curly, unruly shock of short hair. She takes notice of the football in my hands. Then she speaks. 

“Seen ya bwall,” she says. 

“Yeah?” My slight southern dialect is not nearly as distinguishable as her ‘Brooklynese.’ 

“Wanna play wit us?” she romps around me in the sand like a puppy.

“Yeah. Ok.” Of course, I want to play! Who’s “us?”

I follow her down the beach and see a group of about fifteen women throwing a football to each other. The heat of the day, the sand…this must be a mirage, or a dream and Jessie is the ghost of football past. But as we approach, I can see that they are still there. An entire group of athletic women and they are playing football! Jessie introduces me. 

“Hey! Found another player for the game today. Maybe for the Sharks, too!” They greet me with sandy handshakes, and soon they are telling me about their team named the Sharks in a league in Brooklyn where they all live. 

“It’s flag football,” announces a woman named Sarah who says ‘ flag’ like she’s just discovered rancid milk in her lunch pail. She is sitting in the sand putting a pink band-aid on her toe, and her long blonde hair drapes around her knees as she leans forward. Flag football. Alright, maybe it isn’t the spot on the Miami Dolphins I dreamed of as a child, but at least I can play my favorite game and meet people, too. 

“But it IS full contact,” Sarah is quick to throw this in, as if embarrassed that they don’t play tackle. They all nod in agreement, grateful that Sarah has pointed this out. She is the EF Hutton of the group. Everyone listens. “Plus, it’s all we have.” She adds as a light afterthought. “So…let’s play…is it Christine or Chris?” 

“Christine.” She stands up and her stature is not nearly as big as her presence. About 5’4”, Sarah has a thin, athletic but curvy body. She begins to trot away from the group and puts her hands up signaling for me to throw her the ball. I feel like I just reached heaven and as I whip the football in her direction, I hear several murmurs and a grunt of approval from Jessie, “That lil’ ‘ol skinny arm can send that ball!” she says and Jessie grunts again, but is smiling. Someone named Dulce is waving for me to throw the ball to her, so I zing one her way. She catches it effortlessly and grins at the others. 

“Aiiight!” she says, and Sarah is kind enough to translate. 

“That’s ‘alright’ in Puerto Rican, Christine.” Then she laughs as a cacophony of ‘aiiiights’ fill the beach air. We play most of the day and the only reason we stop is because Sarah’s dad, Thomas, is picking a group of the players up at the dock in a boat. 

I sit in the sand after everyone is gone, tossing the football in the air against the blue sky, reliving moments that made my adrenaline flow: Jessie catching my pass in the end zone and rushing back to the huddle full of excitement. “I didn’t think you saw me!” But I did! Or after I was flushed out of the pocket and ran for a long gain; as we returned to our side of the ball, Sarah flipped her long hair around and, in a playful taunt, told the defense I was the fastest one on the field. These are the things I want to feast on, and the more I eat, the hungrier I become. I lie down in the sand to digest the delicious moments. The clouds form the X’s and O’s of the playbook in my head. I will go home, gnaw these memories to the bone and be ravenous in the fall when I play flag football in Brooklyn with my new friends. 

Excerpted from BLACK & BLUE by Andra Douglas (BookBaby/2019).  Available at Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Blue-Love-Sports-Empowerment/dp/1733583505/ref=pd_ybh_a_13?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=8DHM7RR02F84K4Z0S170

About the Author
ANDRA DOUGLAS is a native of central Florida and a graduate of Florida State University and Pratt Institute.  A national champion athlete in rugby and women’s tackle football, she was the owner of the New York Sharks Women’s Pro Football team for nineteen years and is the founder of the Fins Up! Foundation for Female Athletes, a non-profit to benefit at-risk teens.  In addition to her love of football, Andra is a professional artist and served as a Vice President/Creative Director at Time Warner for many years. Today, she lives with her parrot, ‘Pie’ in New York’s Greenwich Village where she creates mixed-media artwork.  To learn more, visit: www.andradouglasart.com.
Contact Links
Purchase Link
RABT Book Tours & PR


Filed under BOOKS

The Meaning of Life Blitz

The Meaning of Life banner

 photo The Meaning of Life_zpshcnzjlgl.jpg

Fiction, Suspense
Publisher: Xlibris
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
While change is in progress in James’ life, terrorists give just 48 hours to agree to their demands. Is it too late to stop them?
The Shaw family have experienced insurmountable tragedy in their lives culminating in the sons’ mother wasting away from cancer and the father committing suicide because he can’t bear life without her. Whilst the son James is undergoing counselling, he too is confronted by another death which leads him to examine the meaning of life, and in total despair, he attempts to take his own. Whilst building the courage to do so, he is visited by an entity who encourages him to help save the world, which is rapidly destroying itself though pollution, climate change, over-population, and war.
The boy agrees, and progressively encourages the world leaders to participate in this change, sometimes by force, but not before he has to thwart terrorists who attempt to disrupt the inaugural conference of the world leaders, and then threaten the United States with nuclear warheads they have stolen from a Russian facility, giving them 48 hours to agree to their demands. The chase is on as the FBI attempt to locate these terrorists before the warheads are detonated. They travel half the globe to find them, but is it too late?
There is a hint of anger in the Russian president’s face, although James can’t read his
‘I don’t care whether you want to help or not. I don’t give a shit, but I’ll give you
three possibilities on how this will go down. I can make you a puppet so that you
appear a fool in front of everyone. I kill you now and encourage your replacement to help, or you do this willingly. Which is your pleasure?’
‘I’m not going to be made a fool of, and I’m not going to help you.’
The president opens the right-hand top drawer of his desk, finds nothing, and opens
the drawer below. He reaches inside, pulls out a PSM pistol, and holds it to his head. The president’s eyes widen. He can feel his index finger beginning to press the trigger.
‘Wait, stop,’ pleads the president.
James let the president rest the gun on his desk.
‘OK, I promise I will help you.’
‘I am completely baffled as to why you are totally against helping change the
world for the good of mankind. I understand that the majority of your people love and worship you, but everyone else hates your guts. Others think you’re an arrogant tyrant, a liar, and a lowlife. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as the greatest saviour of the world? A leader with the foresight and the passion to help his fellow man? I don’t care whether you take credit for the contribution you will make in helping the world but as long as you do it for the right reasons and not take advantage or manipulate those who are vulnerable and are trying to help.’
‘Yes, I understand what you are saying.’
‘I hope I can believe you because we will have no further discussions. If you lie
to me again, I will not give you another chance to plead for forgiveness. You will cease to be. You may consider this a threat, but I call it giving advice. Agree willingly, contribute positively, participate completely, and help change the world, and humankind will live a long and peaceful life, including your family, for generations to come.’
‘I still don’t understand why you are doing this. What’s in it for you?’
‘Nothing, nothing at all. I’m not in this for fame or gratitude, and I don’t want to
be mentioned outside the group. I’ve had a happy life, but I’ve also experienced great sorrow, so much sorrow that I wanted to end my life. The majority of the people on this planet know nothing but sorrow and hardship until they die. On the other hand, very few of them enjoy wealth and power and sometimes greed to the detriment of the poor and the environment. But no more. I want those people like you, with wealth and power, to contribute and help everyone and everything on this planet for its long-term survival and happiness. You may think that I’m a fool, but I know what’s coming even though you don’t believe it. The destruction of this planet will not come in our lifetime, but it’s not that far away. In two, three, or maybe four generations, we will have contributed to our own destruction to the point where change will not make a difference. We need to start changing now before it’s too late.’
About the Author

 photo The Meaning of Life Author Robert Scollo_zps96ycsjbv.jpg

Robert Scollo lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has just turned sixty. The Meaning of Life is this first book, and he hopes that it inspires people to help one another.
The author says, “Frustration. We are constantly frustrated when we hear how badly we treat one another. We whine and complain. We turn our backs when people ask for help, or we ignore famine and prosecution, or we abuse the environment and leave it barren and toxic, or we slaughter animals to extinction, but no one does anything about it because we’re a single voice in the wilderness. Apart from one impossible thing occurring in this novel, everything else is achievable. We just need enough of the right people to listen.”
Robert hopes that more people than not will enjoy the book, and if they do, the main character James will return in a second novel.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
RABT Book Tours & PR


Filed under BOOKS

Westward Lies the Sun Blitz

Westward Lies the Sun banner

 photo Westward Lies the Sun_zpsmdwlmvv4.jpg

Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Greg Sonoda, a Japanese American attorney, embarks on a quest to determine what influence God has in his life. In the back of his mind is the question, first and foremost, of whether God exists at all. God is such an elusive concept to a humanist, who, from his earliest years, was made to question God’s very existence—he suffered in a concentration camp for the duration of WWII—and he doubts his efforts will ever come to fruition.
In Westward Lies the Sun, Greg’s search for truth is given voice during the frequent debates with his poker foursome, although the late-night discussions produce more questions than answers. But they do serve to articulate thoughts and feelings about sundry issues such as the search for Greg’s family heirloom: a samurai sword stolen during Greg’s incarceration in the camps. More significantly, Greg is forced to ponder God’s hand in his family’s survival after being shipwrecked on a small, uninhabited Micronesian island. Greg and his family make several discoveries on the island that lead to financial success and miraculous physical healing. But will the island also heal Greg spiritually?
The family sword—Onimaru—is ultimately used in a showdown on the island with Greg’s quest for God, together with his mental and physical survival, hanging in the balance.
 photo Westward Lies The Sun print on shelf_zpsrjvqx3qq.jpg
About the Author

 photo Westward Lies the Sun Author_zpsjuxjdp9a.jpg

Born in 1932, the author, Robert H. Kono, is a third generation Japanese American (Sansei) who spent the duration of WWII in several concentration camps in the United States. An only child, he accompanied his father and ailing mother to war-torn Japan in 1946, thus beginning a solitary growing up as a look-alike American outsider. He managed to return to America, the beloved land of his birth, in 1959 to get married and complete his college education. He is the father of two sons. He resides in Beaverton, OR.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
RABT Book Tours & PR


Filed under BOOKS