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Betsy Blossom Brown Tour

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Young Adult
Date Published: June 5, 2019
Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.
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Betsy Blossom Brown is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who journeys from being an observer of life to a participant. Her seemingly idyllic life with her privileged South Carolina family is turned upside down, revealing truths and disarming pretensions. She’s independent, opinionated, and brave. Uncertainty enters her life when she and her mother move to the Appalachian region until, through a series of unsettling events; she sheds her uncertainty and learns to embrace life. The graphite illustrations help to understand the depth of Betsy Blossom Brown, as she sketches her way through life recognizing her mild Asperger syndrome, without letting it curb her appetite for life.

EXCERPT

After Holden Whittenworth was literally run out of the town of Fayetteville by just about every single resident, Betsy Blossom Brown and Annie Chadwick and every other girl who had been accosted—in one way or another—by him had suddenly been gifted an invisible but very indestructible shield of armor, knowing with complete conviction that everyone—every single person in one of America’s Coolest Small Towns—had their backs. It was a power as impenetrable as the mighty waters of the New and the Gauley rushing against the massive, certain boulders that had staked their claim in this cordoned off wilderness that had become so very familiar in such a relatively short time. It had attached itself to Betsy and to her mother like a blanket of monarch butterflies. 

No one told anyone else what Holden Whittenworth had done—or tried to do—to them. Each thought they were alone in their brokenness, and the feeling of being alone caused them to keep the secret—keep the ugliness as close as Holden Whittenworth had tried to violate. But as the silence grew and crescendoed, their whispered screams ricocheted off the mountains like buckshot. For whatever reason—shame, embarrassment, fear, ridicule—they held onto those violations, as if releasing them would cause an avalanche of unprecedented leveling. And yet, once the secret was revealed and that army of protection and defense built as if it had simply been in hibernation, waiting for a time to be called into service, they were suddenly armed with a deep conviction that retribution would not only be sought but achieved. And in the end, they were left with a cleansing that returned each of those who had been afflicted to a state of near-childlike innocence.

*

Holden Whittenworth had started his bullying with name-calling: for me and for Annie, it was “Aspies,” which was not foreign to either of us but still stung when vocalized. And after our initial infatuation with this Catholic boy from Pittsburgh began to dissipate a bit, we knew immediately after hearing “Aspies” that he was not who he pretended to be—once again, that revelation surprised me in the same way it did every time someone’s true identity was revealed. Annie and I linked arms and walked away, shaking our heads and rolling our eyes.

When Holden Whittenworth stooped to David Pepper’s height, asking him how the weather was down there, straightening and laughing as he walked around the corner of Court and Maple, David replied, “It’s just fine, Asshole, how is it way up where you are?” And we all noticed when Holden didn’t reply, instead pretending to get a call from his cell phone even though it hadn’t rung. And then everybody within earshot covered their laughter with their hands, and even Mr. Jennings, the bank president, tried to repress a chortle—without much success. And we all felt just a bit enabled.

And when Joey Parsons and a truckload of his friends, who were riding in the back of his camouflaged pick-up, drove through town one afternoon, Holden Whittenworth shouted, “Nice paint job, Hillbillies, or is it Mountaineers?” And when Joey slammed on his brakes, Holden ducked into the post office, nearly knocking over the postmistress, who was coming down the steps to pick up the afternoon mail from the mailbox. “Hey there,” Susie shouted. “Watch where you’re going, young feller.”

“Young feller? Where did you go to school, or did you go to school? Maybe you just went to postal clerk school,” Holden barked back.

“Well, in just about five minutes, when I’m no longer on the clock, you’ll find out just what kind of vocabulary I picked up during my time as an inner-city, high school English teacher in the exact part of the country you call home.” And Holden was suddenly silenced. Susie Cutright had a way with folks, and while she didn’t show it often, she had no problem exposing it when the time was right. And the time was more than right.

*

I stood in the school supplies aisle of Ben Franklin with an armload of packs of multi-colored construction paper, mechanical pencils, colored markers, and another wooden ruler. I never could work with a plastic ruler, although Annie was as resistant to my growing collection of wooden rulers. As I bent to retrieve a ream of lined, loose notebook paper from the lower shelf, an unfamiliar object pressed against my backside. It was hard, long, and intrusive in a way that was a bit similar to biting down on a plastic dental x-ray when it was placed at the back of an opened mouth, trying to reach even the hard-to-reach wisdom teeth. Every time dental x-rays were taken and the hygienist inserted that hard plastic inside my mouth, I gagged. And the ensuing seconds that followed were somehow excruciatingly painful, without much of an explanation. And yet, my anxiety intensified as the appointment drew closer.

And then, there was the push of the object at my backside as a hand was placed on each of my hips. And then, there was a voice whispering with the bluntness of a sharp object, “Don’t fucking move, you little whore.” And I didn’t. I couldn’t. I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Not one single sound. Just nothing. And then, there was another push so forceful that my head hit the edge of the shelving unit. And then he stopped and slapped my backside with the palm of his hand. I looked down to see his canvas boat shoes, a primitively-drawn raft etched a few weeks ago by Annie—shoes belonging to Holden Whittenworth.

Dropping my armload of supplies on the floor of Ben Franklin, I ran all the way home, stripped down to my bare skin, tossed my clothes into a plastic garbage bag, and showered underneath a stream of near-scalding water, soaping every inch of my body until it was beet red. I dressed, and found a corner to sob and rock back and forth, back and forth, until I stopped.

*

I never told anyone—not even my mother—what had happened that day in Ben Franklin. And every time I saw Holden Whittenworth, he would wink at me and grab his penis, his cock, his member, his whatever the hell he called it. I called it a piece of shit, but that’s just me. And then, one day, when Annie and I sat on the courthouse steps, eating from a handful of hot cashews from Ben Franklin and drinking a bottle of ice cold Coca-Cola, she began to cry. Holden Whittenworth was walking on the sidewalk across the street from us, rubbing his crotch. As he waved, Annie and I simultaneously flipped him the bird, and I knew that we both knew something had happened to each of us, although neither of us had to say a word.

“Annie?”

“Betsy?”

“What the hell?” we said in unison.

And then, again in unison, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

And once again in unison, “Me neither.”

“But, BB, I think we have to talk about it.”

“Maybe.”

And we both began to cry. And then we hugged each other, and Holden Whittenworth shouted, “Lesbos!”

And once again, we shouted in unison, “Lesbos is a Greek island, you dumb-ass!” And both of us made eye contact with Holden Whittenworth without any effort whatsoever, locking eyes until he looked away first.

“Annie, what happened?”

“You first,” she said.

After I recounted my afternoon in Ben Franklin to Annie, her tears fell with such fervor that I loved her at that moment perhaps more than I had ever loved her before. She sobbed uncontrollably, and her shoulders shook with the intensity of someone about to be pronounced “in shock.” And as she recounted her terrifying episode to me, I mimicked her every reaction, and the two of us suddenly became one—as one as we would ever become.

“I sat on the front porch swing one evening, exactly one week ago today. You and Billy Ray had driven into Beckley for a movie. I don’t even remember the name of it now. You had asked me to join you, but I knew you wanted to be with Billy by yourself. I really wanted to go because I’m so happy for you that you and Billy really like each other. I know that sounds a bit weird, but seeing you happy with Billy makes me happy, and the two of you just seem to fit together like pieces of a puzzle that has yet to be completed. Anyway, your mom and Aunt Penelope had gone to Pies & Pints for dinner, and I was just reading a book. And I can’t even remember the name of the book any more than I can remember the name of the movie you and Billy went to see. And don’t try to help me remember either. I don’t want to remember. And yet, I don’t want to forget what happened to me that evening either. None of it. It’s actually maddening. 

Anyway, Holden scared the shit out of me, because I hadn’t even heard him walk by, but I did hear him say, “Hey, you little, hot bitch. I bet you’d be a great fuck. I bet you’ve never had it stuck to you, have you? And I bet you’d love it too. You’d probably want it all the time once you had mine.”

I jumped up from the porch swing to run, but he grabbed me so quickly and so intensely that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how he was so lightning fast in getting to the porch. And then, he put his hand over my mouth, reached up inside my shorts, and grabbed my crotch. All the time, he was pushing his dick against my backside. I screamed, but his hand was clamped against my mouth. And then I reached up with my hand and scratched the shit out of his face. He released me as he screamed out in pain, and I ran inside the house, bolting the front door. And, like you, I showered myself raw and told no one until now.”

Our Coca-Colas had grown warm and flat, our salted palms were saturated with our tears, and our loss of something so pure, so irreplaceable melded together and became something that would forever join us, no matter what direction our lives took or where we might eventually land. 

*

Over the course of the remaining days, the Catholic boys from Pittsburgh repaired dilapidated houses for the people in rural Fayette County during the daylight hours, Holden Whittenworth violated at least a dozen Fayetteville High School female students throughout the early and late evening hours, and a damaged but not destroyed group gathered Billy Ray, his friends, Billy’s father, Sheriff Deel, and Judge Armstrong together to seek a very silent but resounding vindication. 

Around 5:00 a.m., on the morning the Pittsburgh Catholic crew was scheduled to leave Fayetteville, a motorcade of cars, trucks, and bikers from Albert Portly’s Harley-Davidson Biker’s Club parked outside Brown’s Motor Lodge on Rt. 19, waiting to escort the crew out of town. When they exited their rooms, they were clearly hung-over from the night before; their backpacks and duffle bags were filled with weeks of dirty laundry, disgusting briefs, and stinky athletic socks; their hair was slicked back as if fresh from a hot shower; and they struck matches to their cigarettes, patting each other on their backs for a job well-done. 

The lead truck, driven by Joey Parsons, turned on his high beams, beeped his horn, and blinded every single Catholic boy from Pittsburgh, causing them to drop their bags and shout, “What the hell,” like a band of canaries. Sheriff Deel emerged from his cruiser, tapping his sidearm in his holster, and Judge Armstrong, in full judicial dress, stepped out from his shiny, black, brand new Lincoln SUV. Almost immediately, a stench permeated the early morning air, and Billy Ray’s father said, “Well, boys, I do believe we’ve got their attention.” And it was our team’s turn to laugh—heartily and with just the certain amount of righteous indignation, the unofficial but very prevalent religion that coursed through the veins of everyone throughout this region called Appalachia.

And suddenly, as if on cue, every single girl who had been violated in one way or another by Holden Whittenworth emerged from vehicles driven by fathers and grandfathers, uncles and brothers. And as the Pittsburgh Catholic crew scrambled to find shelter in their own vehicles, Judge Armstrong said, “Not so fast, boys. We’ll be providing your escort out of town, and we’ll take it real slow. There’s a bunch of folks—actually more than a bunch—who want to make sure you depart with the welcome you arrived, with a slight tweak here and there.”

As the snail-paced motorcade—the line-up of Catholic boys sandwiched in-between—made its way north on Rt. 19, headlights flooded both sides of the highway and every roadway and overpass for as far as the eye could see. And draped over the pedestrian walkway that spanned Rt. 19 was a banner that read, in crimson, the following:

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand

against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is . . . against the

powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of

evil . . . Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when 

the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground . . .

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all

the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:10–18.

And for miles and miles along the length of the New River Gorge Bridge, one torch after another was lit, guiding the motorcade, as television cameras filmed the crew’s exit, and all but the head of each car’s driver headed north to Pittsburgh. And it seemed as if everyone who was headed back to those big city lights reached with great exertion the level of the Gorge’s lowest point, and Betsy Blossom Brown knew that she was safe—something she would know for the rest of her life. 

About the Author
Kathleen M. Jacobs is the author of books for young readers. Her first YA-novel, Honeysuckle Holiday, has received critical acclaim. And her children’s book, Please Close It! has won numerous awards. She divides her time between New York City and the Appalachian region. She lives with her husband, John, and far too many books. Visit her website at www.kathleenmjacobs.com and on Instagram @kathleenm.jacobs.
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All That’s Left New Release

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All That’s Left

The Carlington Twins Duet
by Emma Doherty
Publication Date: October 24, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

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Read for FREE in KindleUnlimited: Amazon

Izzy Kavanagh’s life falls apart when her mother dies. She is forced to move to the US and live with her absent father, who thinks money is the answer to every problem, and her twin brother Ethan, who she has barely spoken to in years.

She hates everything about the move. She hates that she’s forced to finish high school even though she’s already completed it in the UK. She hates that her father is controlling her and threatening to take away her inheritance if she doesn’t do as he says, even though he’s barely there and couldn’t care less about her. She hates that everybody already has an opinion on her based on her family name.

But what she hates above all else is having to see her brother every day in his perfect life where everybody worships him, because he chose this life over her and her mum.

And for that, she’ll never forgive him.

Also in the Series

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About Emma Doherty

Emma Doherty is based in the UK and has a passion for writing, travelling and food!

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Betsy Blossom Brown Blitz

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Young Adult
Date Published: June 5, 2019
Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.
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Betsy Blossom Brown is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who journeys from being an observer of life to a participant. Her seemingly idyllic life with her privileged South Carolina family is turned upside down, revealing truths and disarming pretensions. She’s independent, opinionated, and brave. Uncertainty enters her life when she and her mother move to the Appalachian region until, through a series of unsettling events; she sheds her uncertainty and learns to embrace life. The graphite illustrations help to understand the depth of Betsy Blossom Brown, as she sketches her way through life recognizing her mild Asperger syndrome, without letting it curb her appetite for life.
Excerpt
Chapter 1
Charleston, SC:  2007
Fourteen-year-old Betsy Blossom Brown sat on the saffron-colored, vinyl kitchen chair across from her mother, Lily. Lily’s opened palms buried her face, and Betsy’s elbows rested on the vintage, enameled, red and white kitchen table, the palms of her hands holding up each side of her chin. Betsy and her mother loved this vintage kitchen set. They loved anything vintage. But they loved this set in particular, because it was found on top of a heap of discarded furniture outside a dilapidated beach house on Sullivan’s Island. Betsy’s chestnut curls concealed her olive green eyes so that her mother would not be able to see every tear that fell from them. Betsy watched in a near hypnotic state as each teardrop seemed to disperse on the shiny, enameled tabletop. She secretly longed to go wherever they were headed—to a place where what she had just been told hadn’t yet arrived.
“But I don’t understand,” Betsy winced.
“I know, Sugar, it’s difficult. I don’t even understand it, but it is the truth. And ever since the day you entered my life, I made a promise to always tell you the truth, no matter what. Your father thought different. He believed a lie was okay if it meant that you avoided hurting someone. And while that may have a bit of merit, especially with the truth I just shared with you, it’s just not the way I see it. And in this moment, I would certainly love to be able to keep this truth under lock and key forever, but sooner or later, you would find out. And then you’d wonder why I hadn’t been the one to tell you what happened to your father.”
“But why? Why did he do it? I need to know why. I need to know the reason. It’s a quirk I’ve had ever since I was born, Mom. You know that. I always need to know why.” Betsy continued to snap at the placket of her front, periwinkle-colored, linen shirt. She loved this shirt most because it had been her mother’s when she was in college. It was a bit oversized, so Betsy sometimes belted it with her wide, brown, leather belt. Finding plackets and seams on pockets and collars was something Betsy had done since she was a small child. She seemed to look for them without even thinking, and yet, she was thinking of nothing else.
“I don’t know why, Betsy. He didn’t have a reason. All he said when I saw him was, ‘Lily, dear Lily, I’m sorry. Please tell Betsy that I’m sorry.’”
I turned each side of my hair behind my ears, wiped at my eyes, and looked to Mr. Peabody and Steve as they raced furiously around their cage, stopping briefly to hop on the plastic, multi-colored toy ferris wheel, and tumbled to the tiny pieces of torn comic strips from the newspaper and fleece bedding that lined the floor of their cage. I had begged my mother for pet rats for months before she surprised me with a trip to MacGruder’s Pets on Sullivan’s Island. My father was out of town at a business meeting (or so, at the time, we thought), and that always presented a prime opportunity for us to charge ahead with plans that he might not have approved. He pretty well knew that whenever he went out of town, my mother and I would retaliate by doing or buying something that hadn’t been mutually agreed upon. We thought it was funny; he didn’t.
Betsy Blossom Brown walked over to her mother, wrapped both arms around her neck, and picked up the morning paper that her mother had brought for her to read. The front page made her dizzy, like the time she rode the “Round Up” at the carnival. She took the newspaper with her to her room and chose the rigidity of her desk chair to read what she already knew.
LOCAL BUSINESSMAN WILLIAM BROWN
 
CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT OF
 
CLIENT FUNDS
William D. Brown of Charleston was charged on Friday with embezzlement of client funds from his management firm, Brown & Associates. According to a report released from the FBI and in conjunction with an SEC investigation, which had been conducting their own investigation into mismanagement of funds at the firm and client allegations of fraud from a number of Brown’s clients, evidence shows that Brown had been embezzling vast amounts of money from his individual client accounts since he joined the firm in 1994. Brown allegedly skimmed in excess of three million dollars over the past five years. The majority of Brown’s clients are retired, live out of state, and have trusted him since he joined his father, the late Joseph Brown, at the firm in 1994, the same year the elder Brown died from a fall while vacationing in the Caribbean after tripping on a sidewalk as he returned to the vacation home he and his wife owned, hitting his head on the concrete pavement and suffering massive bleeding before going into a coma. The senior Brown opened the respected firm in 1969. At the time of his death, the managed assets of Brown & Associates were listed by the SEC at over one billion dollars.
The South Carolina State Police worked with FBI agents and SEC officials in locating Brown on Friday morning after his wife, Lily Park Brown, the only daughter of the late Senator Tommy Park, reported her husband missing. After numerous reports of Brown’s physical location, the authorities were led to the lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island, where Brown was sitting in a gray flannel suit, starched white shirt, and a perfectly-knotted silk tie, surrounded by an incoming tide that saturated the pillowcases filled with bundled money that encircled him. One FBI official noticed a revolver in Brown’s hand, and as he raised it and pointed it to his temple, the trained police German shepherd leapt through the air and seized the weapon, and Brown fell forward.
Attempts to contact Brown’s wife or any of the officials involved with the incident and apprehension have been futile.
Betsy reached inside her desk drawer and pulled out a pair of scissors. She cut out the newspaper article about her father, opened the finches’ birdcage, and slid the newspaper at the bottom, and then she waited until “Scout” and “Jem” and “Boo” and “Atticus” crapped all over the newsprint. The birds broke into their sweet singsong, and Betsy was overcome with anger. She wasn’t sure, though, whether she was angry with her father, with herself for carpeting the finches’ birdcage with the morning news, or with the finches for sounding so happy, when she felt anything but, as they flew with seeming madness from perch to perch.
About the Author
Kathleen M. Jacobs is the author of books for young readers. Her first YA-novel, Honeysuckle Holiday, has received critical acclaim. And her children’s book, Please Close It! has won numerous awards. She divides her time between New York City and the Appalachian region. She lives with her husband, John, and far too many books. Visit her website at www.kathleenmjacobs.com and on Instagram @kathleenm.jacobs.
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The Last of Will – Tour

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Young Adult
Date Published: April 26 2018
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Greer Sarazen is like any teenager. All she wants is to get her driver’s license, to not be bugged by annoying people, and to NOT have her spring break interrupted. Yet, when her dad, Will – who has been unemployed due to downsizing – finally gets a job at the local cemetery, Greer is forced to tag along on a road trip to deliver a stranger’s ashes out of state. A stranded van, a clown, a rodeo, a disco-dancing nerd and a belligerent dwarf threaten to throw off the itinerary, while the departed “passenger” becomes an unexpected friend … proving that, sometimes, the things we truly need are the last things we would ever expect.
About the Author

Sheryl Benko grew up in southern Colorado, graduating from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Her studies in film and television laid the foundation for a career in motion pictures, allowing her to work with some of the most esteemed filmmakers in the industry. “The Last of Will” is her first novel.
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Blood Branded Blitz

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(The Mix-Blood: Book One)

Young Adult, Coming of Age, Fantasy

Date Published: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Breezy Pages Publishing

Defiance is paid in blood.

Their time is up. The crimsons are coming, marching on Hammerstone to crush the rebellious grays who renounce their rule. The graybacks have defied the ban that forbids trade or alliances with other races.

Frafnar understands intolerance better than most. Every season the grayback settlements send tribute to their oppressive orc cousins, and Hammerstone is no exception. After Frafnar is denied the opportunity to join the tribute guard because of his mixed heritage, he leaps at the chance to prove himself when his father’s signal horn is left behind.

Smoke rises in the distance. Frafnar must warn Hammerstone of the threat and comes to realize that his people are struggling with what he’s faced all his life. Now he must fight alongside those he loves—and hates—to protect his home.

Can Hammerstone withstand the siege, or will it become the final gravesite in a failed rebellion?

When the crimsons strike, always remember… strength in blood.

If you’re a fan of the epic or high fantasy genres, coming of age stories, or action-packed tales with haughty orcs and mysterious magic, then you’ll want to pick up Blood Branded.

Excerpt

Mix-Blood

“I have to win.”

The words pierced the chatter among the gathering, reaching Frafnar and echoing his own thoughts.

“I want to see a crimson!” another hollered.

“Better hope you’re not against me!” someone else shouted.

Then the energy of the group stilled as if everyone held their breath. Frafnar stood on the tips of his toes, but he still couldn’t see past the bobbing heads and shoulders of the other runts.

“Frafnar, son of Armastus.”

His elation was cut short by the groans of the group. The outbursts ceased when Trainer Groth roared for silence.

“His opponent will be…”

The gathering leaned forward.

“Bromh, son of—”

“No!” Bromh yelled from within the crowd. “I won’t be paired against the mix-blood.”

“Then you forfeit,” Groth said, already searching for the next contender.

“I never said—”

“Get over here,” Groth snapped. “Where’s Frafnar? Let him through.”

The circle of bodies parted enough that Frafnar squeezed between them, ignoring the sharp stares from the others. He kept his chin high and broke eye contact only as he passed the runts towering over him.

Trainer Groth and Bromh waited in the center of the ring.

“What’s the matter?” Frafnar taunted when he broke through the crowd. “Afraid you’ll lose?”

Bromh scoffed. “I’ll crush you in an instant, twig.”

Groth’s scowl deepened. Veins popped out of the tight flesh on his arms and neck.

“Fine,” Bromh stammered. “But everyone knows I should’ve had a real challenge,” he dared to add.

“Get into position.”

Frafnar met Bromh in the middle of the circle, a solid wood construction between them.

“Winner moves on to the finals,” Groth reiterated with a huff.

Frafnar mirrored Bromh by grasping the iron bar on the side of the wood platform with one hand and placing his elbow on the leather pad. Bromh glared over their clasped hands and squeezed so hard his knuckles paled. Maybe when he was younger, Frafnar might have cried out because of the pain. Today, Bromh would have to break his hand before he’d let go. When he won, they’d have no choice but to acknowledge him as an orc.

Trainer Groth balanced two thin strips of kindling on each side of their hands to ensure they started at his command. “Prepare,” he said. Then, after a suspense-filled moment, “Go.”

The audience erupted with noise, hollering as the strips fell over. Frafnar met Bromh’s strength with his own. He inched his opponent’s arm halfway down to the wood surface. The notion of a quick triumph crumbled when he heard Bromh snicker.

“That all you got, twig?”

Blood Branded Quote Release

 

JA_Alexsoophoto

J.A. Alexsoo lives in Ontario, Canada, and has forever been a fan of fantasy and science fiction. When not working on writing or imagining new adventures, she tours the lands with her two trusty canine companions. She’s the author of THE KNIGHT’S ORDER and her new book BLOOD BRANDED is scheduled to be released October 1st.

Contact Links
Website: https://jaalexsoo.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaalexsoo/
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Blog: https://jaalexsoo.com/blog/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15928109.J_A_Alexsoo
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/jaalexsoo/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J-A-Alexsoo/e/B01LX3D6ZY/

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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Branded-Fantasy-Novella-Mix-Blood-ebook/dp/B07Y9XHNR2

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