Tag Archives: Mike Murphey

The Conman Tour

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The Conman cover
Sports Fiction (Baseball)
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Date Published: November 11, 2019
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Conor Nash has lived his life with a single purpose—to pitch in the Major Leagues. He’s been released from professional baseball contracts ten times over a sixteen-year career, but he’s overcome every obstacle to finally reach The Show when he’s a decade too old.
As he faces the specter of injury-forced retirement, he becomes a man neither he nor his wife recognizes. During his career, Conor avoided the trap of alcohol and drugs because his drug was baseball. And what can an addict do when he realizes he will never get that high again?
Conor climbs treacherous Camelback Mountain, drinks a bottle of Champagne, recalls people and events, and seeks an answer. Who is Conor Nash if he can’t pitch?
The Conman is based on the Life of Keith Comstock. Keith pitched professionally for sixteen years, including Major League time with The Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Following his retirement in 1992, Keith has held minor league coaching and managing positions with several organizations.  For the past decade he has served as the rehabilitation instructor for the Texas Rangers.
 photo New7_zps8xzp7qhc.jpg

EXCERPT

Scottsdale, Arizona

Spring Training 1983

“First thing I want to make clear,” Jocketty told Conor, “is how much we respect the effort you’ve given us. Everybody in the organization, Bob Didier, Fred Tuttle, hell, even Billy, says you’re a good man with talent.”

Conor’s knees felt a little wobbly. Jocketty’s statement sounded like a preamble to release if Conor had ever heard one.

“It’s not that we don’t want you, because we do. It’s a matter of space. Since Charlie sold the club we’ve been doing a better job of stocking the minors. We have a lot of hot young lefties at A ball who’ll be knocking on the double-A door pretty quick this season. And at the same time, you’re bumping up against some real good lefthanders above you.”

If they kept Conor at this point, Jocketty explained, a mid-season release was probably inevitable.

“So… 

So, Conor picked up the thread mentally, you’re releasing me now with a few days left in Spring Training when everyone else’s rosters are set and there’s no way I’ll find a job?
“… we sold you to Detroit.”

“Um … say what?”

“We sold you to Detroit. A guy over there is a friend of mine, and we talked yesterday.”

The Detroit guy told Jocketty Detroit had a slew of young pitchers at Double-A Birmingham and they needed a mature left-hander to solidify that group.

“I told him I knew just the guy. So, we sold you to Detroit.”

“Sold me? How much did you get for me?”

“A hundred dollars.” Then he added quickly, “That’s no reflection on you. It’s the standard price for a transaction like this.”

Conor wasn’t sure what to say. After all, they could’ve released him and been done with it. He couldn’t, however, keep his disappointment from showing.

“Hey,” Jocketty said. “You’ve still got a uniform.”

Conor stood and extended his hand. “You’re right. And I appreciate it. Everyone here has been fair. I’ve learned a lot.”

Jocketty reached to take the offered hand.

Conor turned to go.

“There’s one other thing,” Jocketty said.

“Yeah?”
“Remember Charlie’s orange baseballs?”

Conor did remember. The season before Conor signed with Oakland, Finley had tried to convince other Major League owners that baseballs should be orange. He’d argued that fans could see them better and would find the game easier to follow. So, he’d had all these orange baseballs made, and the A’s were stuck with thousands of them. 

“We thought we’d never get rid of ‘em. Turns out, though, now everybody wants some of Finley’s orange baseballs as collector’s items.”

“Okay …” Conor said.

“So, my friend wants a dozen. It’s part of the deal.”

“A hundred dollars and a dozen orange baseballs?” 

“Yeah, and I’ve got ‘em right here. Would you mind delivering them when you get to Florida?”

* * *

“They sold you?” Kate’s eyes glistened a little. Pregnant again and caring for an infant, Conor sensed that things were beginning to pile up for his wife.

“Yeah.”

“Didn’t the Civil War resolve all that?”

“Not for baseball.”

“Do we get any of the money?”

“No”

“Was it a lot?”

“No.”

“You don’t want to tell me, do you?”

“A hundred dollars and a dozen baseballs.”

Her eyes glistened a little more.

Not once had Kate hinted he should quit. She genuinely loved baseball. True, they were always broke. They lived winters with their parents. They pieced together off-season jobs to achieve any semblance of financial solvency. She seldom complained, though, rarely gave any indication she didn’t love this life they shared. But Conor sensed she was on the edge this time.

“I’ve still got a uniform,” he said.

Kate took a deep breath, blinked and found a smile. “Yes. Yes, you do. So where are we going?”

“I’m going to Florida and finish Spring Training. You’ll be meeting me in Birmingham.”

“Alabama?”

“That’s the one.”

About the Author

Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.
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The Conman Blitz

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The Conman cover
Sports Fiction (Baseball)
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Date Published: November 11, 2019
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Conor Nash has lived his life with a single purpose—to pitch in the Major Leagues. He’s been released from professional baseball contracts ten times over a sixteen-year career, but he’s overcome every obstacle to finally reach The Show when he’s a decade too old.
As he faces the specter of injury-forced retirement, he becomes a man neither he nor his wife recognizes. During his career, Conor avoided the trap of alcohol and drugs because his drug was baseball. And what can an addict do when he realizes he will never get that high again?
Conor climbs treacherous Camelback Mountain, drinks a bottle of Champagne, recalls people and events, and seeks an answer. Who is Conor Nash if he can’t pitch?
The Conman is based on the Life of Keith Comstock. Keith pitched professionally for sixteen years, including Major League time with The Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Following his retirement in 1992, Keith has held minor league coaching and managing positions with several organizations.  For the past decade he has served as the rehabilitation instructor for the Texas Rangers.
 photo The Conman Proof 3_zpsz9wxzhe5.png
 
CHAPTER ONE
October 1992
Phoenix, Arizona
Failure can be an acute condition, perhaps even chronic, but quitting—quitting is fatal.
Conor Nash believed this to his marrow.
No stranger to failure, Conor had been released from professional baseball contracts ten times. He’d been released by major league teams. He’d been released by minor league affiliates. He’d been released in five countries encompassing three continents. He wasn’t sure how to count Puerto Rico. And, technically, that release occurred in an aircraft somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. He’d had a contract when the plane took off. When it landed, they told him, “Go home.”
And Venezuela, well, they weren’t satisfied with just releasing him. A pissed-off dictator banned him from the entire country.
Hope remained, though, and ultimately, he’d kept his vow. Conor Nash pitched in the major leagues. So why did this champagne bottle clutched in his left hand cast a pall that felt like death?
Fat Brad Grady could have helped him sort through these confusing emotions. Brad loved debating the nuance of words, and he and Conor argued the semantics often enough. Where Conor saw a razor-sharp line distinguishing fail and quit, Brad found a middle ground he defined as surrender to reality or honorable retreat. Brad’s intellect would help make sense of Conor’s present struggle. Brad wasn’t available, though, was he? Conor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to slough off the guilty anger he still confronted when he thought of Brad.
Conor set the champagne atop a flat red rock beside one of those damned jumping cactus plants. He bent forward, hands on knees. Everything around him conveyed hostile intent. Towering sajuaro their spines like nails, prickly pears, sharp-edged Spanish Daggers. The cholla cacti were worst, with needles that seemed to leap from the plant if you got too close.
Maybe he hadn’t thought this through.
This was an occasion, and he would not visit a host of family, friends and adversaries dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt. Cowboy boots, jeans and a knit polo were proving inappropriate, though, for scaling Camelback Mountain.
He squinted into the glare of afternoon sun and saw a pair of young women making their way down. They wore cargo shorts. Sweat-soaked tank tops seemed plastered to their skin. Their  hiking boots bit into the steep slant of red rock and sand surface.
Conor shaded his eyes, stood straight and did his best to look ten years younger.
“Hi,” he said.
They smiled politely and passed without comment.
Conor was not a womanizer. He’d put that behind him when he married Kate fifteen years ago. Still, if those women knew they’d been greeted by a genuine major league baseball player, they wouldn’t just hurry on their way, would they?
Then, he amended his thought. Ex-major league ballplayer.
Other hikers—all the traffic seemed to be headed down—offered curious glances at his clothing and champagne bottle. A few wished him success on his climb. He thought it a happy coincidence they were leaving. After all, he sought solitude at the camel’s hump.
  Retrieving the bottle, he craned his neck toward the summit. Damn. He didn’t remember the fucking mountain being this steep. A half dozen more steps and the slick soles of his cowboy boots betrayed him again. He caught himself with his free hand, protecting his Champagne. Breaking the bottle after all these years would be catastrophic.
French. Moët-Chandon. Purchased for twenty-five dollars at an Idaho Falls liquor store during the summer of 1976. Conor hadn’t a clue whether brand and vintage qualified as good, bad or indifferent. They’d been four minor league baseball players. Kids really. The last man standing pact was Conor’s idea. The player remaining when the other three had officially retired from their playing careers got to drink the champagne. Sports Illustrated published a story about this pact when Kenny Shrom  passed the bottle to Conor at when the1989 season ended.
The Idaho Falls Russets, a team named for a potato, represented minor league ladder’s lowest rung. And against all odds, three of the four pact members climbed from that first step to the majors. Mark Brouhard arrived first. He played a half-dozen seasons in Milwaukee, punctuated by a year with the Yakult Swallows, before Kenny took charge of the bottle. Kenny pitched for Minnesota and Cleveland until injury robbed him of 1988. His comeback the next season failed in El Paso.
Initially, the bottle sat on Conor’s garage shelf, subjected to a quiet indignity of shared space with wrenches and bicycle tires and motor oil. Then Kate pointed out it should probably be refrigerated. So, he made room at the back of his garage ice box. It loomed like a grim reaper each time he opened the fridge to grab a beer, and fed a sullen, brooding hostility that took seed following Conor’s final shoulder surgery.
Since second grade, Conor Nash had lived with a single purpose: to be a big-league pitcher. Even through high school, adults and friends indulged him with smiles and chuckles and, “Yes, but what if you don’t make the majors? What’s your back-up plan?”
The only adult who might have swayed him from his path had been his father. Hugh Nash cast an enormous presence. A brawler, he literally fought his way into a leadership role with the Teamsters at the Port of Oakland.
“Conor, I know what I’m supposed to tell you,” Hugh told his second-born son one grey fall Bay Area afternoon. Hugh had conceded he would not beat the lung cancer, and that his five sons would make their way into the adult world without him. He called each boy individually into the living room of the two-story house on Melendy Drive in San Carlos, California, to address their futures.
“Even though you had a good year in Idaho, there’s a long, tough road ahead,” he told Conor. A deep, rasping cough forced a pause. Conor made it a point not to wince or show concern, though he imagined what a painful fire the coughing built in his father’s lungs. Hugh’s failing body still held an iron will, and Conor would not acknowledge the cancer. As his cough subsided, Hugh drank from a glass of water, gathering himself.
“No matter what the scouts said, only something like four or five percent of kids drafted ever make the majors,” Hugh continued. “So, I’m supposed to say find something to fall back on, maybe school during the off-season, or see if I can hook you up driving a truck or working the docks.”
Hugh shook his head.
“I’m supposed say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Conor, I’ve watched you try to change a tire. Son, you’ve only got one basket. That’s it. If you have a fall-back plan, that’s just what you’ll do—fall back. Since you were seven years old, you’ve aimed yourself like an arrow at one goal, and I’ve never seen anyone so focused, so single-minded. For the other boys, that would be a weakness. Not you. That’s your strength.”
And now, on an October afternoon sixteen years later, Conor climbed Camelback Mountain. Along with the bottle of champagne, he carried his father, his best friends—A.J., Basil, Brad—his brothers, his wife and children, a whole community of people who had celebrated his successes and commiserated over his shortcomings, teammates and coaches, both friend and foe. All who had shaped him for better or for worse.
He intended to sit atop a mountain overlooking Phoenix, drink his champagne, and reflect on people, places and events—try and understand what would become of Conor Nash now.
He honestly didn’t know, though, whether he was attending a party or a funeral.
About the Author

Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.
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The ConMan – Reveal

The ConMan cover
Sports Fiction (Baseball)
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Date Published: November 11, 2019
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Conor Nash has lived his life with a single purpose—to pitch in the Major Leagues. He’s been released from professional baseball contracts ten times over a sixteen-year career, but he’s overcome every obstacle to finally reach The Show when he’s a decade too old.
As he faces the specter of injury-forced retirement, he becomes a man neither he nor his wife recognizes. During his career, Conor avoided the trap of alcohol and drugs because his drug was baseball. And what can an addict do when he realizes he will never get that high again?
Conor climbs treacherous Camelback Mountain, drinks a bottle of Champagne, recalls people and events, and seeks an answer. Who is Conor Nash if he can’t pitch?
The Conman is based on the Life of Keith Comstock. Keith pitched professionally for sixteen years, including Major League time with The Seattle Mariners, the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins. Following his retirement in 1992, Keith has held minor league coaching and managing positions with several organizations.  For the past decade he has served as the rehabilitation instructor for the Texas Rangers.
About the Author

Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.
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Section Roads – Book Tour

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 photo Section Roads - Ebook_zpsw41oo54w.jpg

Coming
of Age / Mystery / Humor
Date
Published:
June 8, 2019
Publisher:
Acorn Publishing
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
When
attorney Cullen Molloy attends his fortieth high school reunion, he doesn’t
expect to be defending childhood friends against charges of murder… 
In
a small town on the high plains of Eastern New Mexico, life and culture are
shaped by the farm roads defining the 640-acre sections of land homesteaders
claimed at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Cullen and Shelby Blaine explore
first love along these section roads during the 1960’s, forging a life-long
emotional bond.
  
      As junior high school band nerds, Cullen
and Shelby fall under the protection of football player and loner, Buddy Boyd.
During their sophomore year of high school, Buddy is charged with killing a
classmate and is confined to a youth correctional facility. When he returns to
town facing the prospect of imprisonment as an adult, Cullen becomes Buddy’s
protector.
       The case haunts the three friends into
adulthood, and it isn’t until their fortieth reunion, that they’re forced to
revisit that horrible night. When a new killing takes place, Cullen, Shelby and
Buddy find themselves reliving the nightmare.
  
         Murder is an easy thing to hide along
old country section roads.
Advance
Praise
“An
ambitious, evocative small-town tale located somewhere between Peyton Place and
The Last Picture Show.” –Kirkus Review
 
Read
the Full Review

EXCERPT

July 2009 Friday

 

“I’ll ride with Buddy,” Shelby whispered. “Do you mind? It’ll give us a chance to talk.”

“No, I think that’s a good idea.” Cullen lifted his eyebrows, which Shelby dismissed with a wave.

             Buddy stood a little apart from them at the Enterprise counter. They’d been through the greeting rituals. A hug for Shelby, which she returned with a kiss to his cheek. A polite, interested handshake with Lori.

Cullen and Lori left them and began an hour-long drive through the agricultural blight of West Texas.

“So, what’s the deal with Buddy?” Lori asked. “I know you worked together a long time ago, but you really haven’t talked much about him.”

They drove along a paved road—an impossibly straight line heading north. Deep green alfalfa fields alternated with stubby rows of cotton and weedy, untilled soil bank every few miles forming a pattern replicating itself off into a horizontal infinity. Heat waves shimmered along the pavement. From the soil bank, dust and debris climbed columns of rising, swirling air.

At the age of five, Cullen came to believe these thermal dust devils were pathways for souls fleeing to heaven. He believed this because on the summer day his grandmother was buried at a rural cemetery with brown grass and a few gnarled, wind-battered elms, one of these dust devils sprang from an uncultivated field across the road and as it grew—sucking dirt and paper and tumbleweeds along—passed over the mounded red earth marking the new grave. A spurt of dust leaped from the mound, painting a segment of the great undulating pillar a pale rosy shade. This pink apparition climbed as the thermal moved across the cemetery, finally disappearing into a hot, whitish-blue, eastern New Mexico sky.

Dust devils always made Cullen think of the people he loved who were no longer alive. His mother and father rested with his grandmother at that same cemetery.

Cullen had a ready description when his friends asked him about his home town. Arthur, New Mexico, along with hardscrabble oil patch towns like Hobbs, Artesia, Midland and Odessa, was located on a high plane called Llano Estacado which, Cullen originally speculated, was Spanish for something like really windy dry flat place.

Occupying Eastern New Mexico and Northwest Texas, the region is characterized by hot blustery summers and even colder blustery winters. The wet part of the Llano received barely twenty inches of rain during a good year. “Arthur,” Cullen would note, “is in the dry part.”

Bleak as they might be, the Hobbses, Odessas and Artesias of the world were at least plopped down atop semi-vast underground puddles of oil. Not Arthur. Not a drop. If tumbleweeds had been a cash crop, though, the homesteaders would have prospered.

Arthur and Arthur County were named for Chester A. Arthur, America’s twenty-first president. Researching a junior high school history assignment, the most compelling facts Cullen found about him were that Arthur was America’s fifth fattest president and owned eighty pairs of pants.

The community of eight thousand—at an elevation of four thousand feet above sea level—had nothing geographical, like a river or a canyon or an oasis, to warrant its location.

Arthur just was.

The flat monotony spread in every direction. “Given a clear day,” Cullen was fond of saying, “you could climb a six-foot stepladder and see the earth curve.”

He often puzzled over the pioneers’ judgment. Certainly, more attractive locations waited further west. He supposed the settlers might have been tired and stopped to rest, thinking they would wait for a good rain to replenish their water supplies before they moved on. And when the livestock had all died of thirst, they were stuck.

Still, despite this hardship, there grew a civilization defined geographically by dirt roads that formed the borders of all those perfectly square six hundred and forty-acre sections of land claimed by early twentieth century homesteaders.

As Cullen composed his answer to Lori’s query about Buddy, he thought of those section roads, and all the ways straight lines and straight laces had twisted the paths of this small group of friends.

“I told you about Christy Hammond, didn’t I?” Cullen answered. “The girl who was shot to death our sophomore year?”

Lori gave a little gasp. “That was Buddy? Oh, no. And he went to jail?”

“Juvenile detention. He pled guilty to manslaughter. They kept him until his eighteenth birthday. They took him away in November of 1966. He came back May of 1969.”

“At least he got to come back.”

Cullen gave a rueful laugh and shook his head.

“No, that was part of the punishment. A lot of people thought he should have been charged with murder. They thought he should have been sent away for life. When the judge didn’t agree, half the town was furious at the injustice of it all. Christy’s uncle is a lawyer. He convinced juvenile court authorities to make Buddy finish high school here as a condition of his release.”

“But why would they—”

“It was their last shot at punishing him,” Cullen said. “They had a few weeks to give him hell when they knew he couldn’t fight back.”

About
the Author

 photo Author_zpslfaxxb8o.png

Mike
Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an
award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest.
Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy
entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star
centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners.
Their company produces the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They
also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort
Myers, Florida. They love baseball, fiction, cats and sailing. They split their
time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona. Mike enjoys life as a
writer and old-man baseball player.
Contact
Links
Purchase
Links

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

2 Comments

Filed under BOOKS

Section Roads – Blitz

Section Roads banner

 

 photo Section Roads - Ebook_zpsw41oo54w.jpg

Coming
of Age / Mystery / Humor
Date
Published:
June 8, 2019
Publisher:
Acorn Publishing
 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
When
attorney Cullen Molloy attends his fortieth high school reunion, he doesn’t
expect to be defending childhood friends against charges of murder… 
In
a small town on the high plains of Eastern New Mexico, life and culture are
shaped by the farm roads defining the 640-acre sections of land homesteaders
claimed at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Cullen and Shelby Blaine explore
first love along these section roads during the 1960’s, forging a life-long
emotional bond.
  
      As junior high school band nerds, Cullen
and Shelby fall under the protection of football player and loner, Buddy Boyd.
During their sophomore year of high school, Buddy is charged with killing a
classmate and is confined to a youth correctional facility. When he returns to
town facing the prospect of imprisonment as an adult, Cullen becomes Buddy’s
protector.
       The case haunts the three friends into
adulthood, and it isn’t until their fortieth reunion, that they’re forced to
revisit that horrible night. When a new killing takes place, Cullen, Shelby and
Buddy find themselves reliving the nightmare.
  
         Murder is an easy thing to hide along
old country section roads.
Advance
Praise
“An
ambitious, evocative small-town tale located somewhere between Peyton Place and
The Last Picture Show.” –Kirkus Review
 
Read
the Full Review
About
the Author

 photo Author_zpslfaxxb8o.png

Mike
Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an
award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest.
Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy
entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star
centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners.
Their company produces the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They
also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort
Myers, Florida. They love baseball, fiction, cats and sailing. They split their
time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona. Mike enjoys life as a
writer and old-man baseball player.
Contact
Links
Purchase
Links

 

RABT Book Tours & PR

2 Comments

Filed under BOOKS