Saturday, May 18, 2024

Down Sick - Updates Soon

 Hello Authors and Tour Owners,

I want to let everyone know I've been sick and will get posts up soon! Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Book Tour ~ On the Threshold by M. Laszlo

 On the Threshold

by M. Laszlo


 GENRE: Historical Science Fiction




Obsessed with learning the origins of the cosmos, the actual meaning of life, and the true purpose of civilization, a fine Scotsman named Fingal T. Smyth dedicates himself to the study of Plato’s most extraordinary ideas. Convinced of Plato’s belief that humankind possesses any and all innate knowledge deep within the collective unconscious mind, Fingal soon conducts a series of bold, pioneering occult-science experiments by which to resolve the riddle of the universe once and for all. However, Fingal forgets how violent and perilous the animal impulses that reside in the deepest recesses of the unconscious mind. And when Fingal unleashes a mysterious avatar of his innate knowledge, the entity appears as a burning man and immediately seeks to manipulate innocent and unsuspecting people everywhere into immolating themselves. Now, with little hope of returning the fiery figure into his being, Fingal must capture his nemesis before it destroys the world.




Autumn, 1907: late one morning, some kind of torrid, invisible beast seemed to wrap itself all around Fingal T. Smyth’s body. Each one of his toes twitching fiercely, he exited the castle and scanned the distant, Scottish Highlands. Go back where you came from. As the entity wrapped itself tighter all about his person, Fingal blinked back his tears. I’m melting, I am. Aye, it’s the heat of fusion.


Gradually, the beast’s heartbeat became audible—each pulsation. At the same time, too, the illusory heat of transformation emitted an odor as of oven-roasted peppercorns dissolving in a cup of burnt coffee.


Over by the gatehouse, Fräulein Wunderwaffe appeared—the little German girl wearing a plain-sewn robe and square-crown bowler. In that moment, she no longer seemed to be a sickly child of seven years: her inscrutable expression resembled that of a wise, indifferent cat.


Perhaps even some kind of lioness. Fingal cringed, and he recalled a fragment of conversation from three weeks earlier.


“She suffers from a most unnatural pathology, an anguished, maniacal obsession with cats,” Doktor Hubertus Pflug had explained. “Ever since the poor girl was a baby, she has always regarded it her fate to one day metamorphose into a glorious panther, for she believes herself to be ein Gestaltwandler. Do you know this word? It means shapeshifter and refers to someone who possesses the power to take the form of anything in nature.”


The heat radiated up and down Fingal’s spine now, and his thoughts turned back to the present. Aye, it’s a change of phase. I’m melting into a chemical compound. Despite all, he greeted the girl and willed himself to flash a grin.




AUTHOR Bio and Links:

M. Laszlo is an aging recluse who lives in Bath, Ohio. Rumor holds that his pseudonym is a reference to Victor Laszlo, a character in the classic film Casablanca. On the Threshold is his first release with the acclaimed, Australian hybrid house AIA Publishing. Oddly, M. Laszlo insists that his latest work, On the Threshold, does in fact provide the correct answer to the riddle of the universe. 


Buy link:




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Monday, May 13, 2024

Book Tour ~ Gob the Gnome - The Gnome and Threat to the Forest - Written by Marilyn Slaughter & Illustrated by Angel Neha



Illustrator: Angel Neha

Children's Book

Date Published: February 27, 2024

Publisher: Mindstir Media


This short story is about a mother wanting her children to enjoy the outdoors. The story takes Nathan, Iris, and Mommy on another trip to the national park. Nathan and Iris are extremely excited to visit with their new friend, Gob the Gnome again. Gob takes Nathan, Iris, and Mommy on a short tour of park and Nathan sees a large empty area of the park. Gob explains to Nathan, Iris, and their mom the unfortunate realities of what happens in some parks due to human interference and natural occurrences. Gob also introduces the family to some of the animals and explains how they suffer through deforestation, tornados, and storms. In this story Iris comes to age by using what she learns from Gob to defend the forest.

Since the 1400s, folklore has described gnomes as guardians of treasure and the protectors of Earth. Gnomes represent stability, growth, and good luck. This is the second book of the six-book series about Gob the Gnome. The six books in this series all revolve around Gob, the protector of a local forest, who becomes friends with Nathan and Iris and helps to educate them on the importance of caring for the environment.

About the Author

 Marilyn Slaughter is an educator with experience teaching second through fifth grades, middle school science, and social studies. She now spends time authoring books for children and adults for engagement, learning, and entertainment. Marilyn’s first six books are a set with the theme of children, with their families enjoying the outdoors; and with teachers and classmates learning about the environment. The children are introduced to a magical and mythical being in the forest and they work to save the local forest. Her goal is to provide a fun read with an entertaining way for children to learn about science.


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Book Blitz ~ Lincoln's Return by Julian T. Morrow



Speculative Historical Fiction

Date Published: March 2024


Imagine if one of the most revered American Presidents returned in time to run again for the presidency. Julian T. Morrow’s “Lincoln’s Return” is not just a book. It’s a riveting tale of hope, redemption, and the power of leadership, with a unique premise that will intrigue you.

Amidst a nation on the brink of discord and disillusionment, a figure of remarkable significance emerges, embodying the very essence of America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. However, a captivating twist sets this narrative apart from others. Lincoln is reborn as a woman, Sharmila Stone, offering a fresh and intriguing perspective on a historical figure.

As Sharmila navigates the complexities of modern America, she draws upon the wisdom of Lincoln’s past life and the strength of her newfound identity. With Lincoln’s memories as her guide, she embarks on a mission to unite a fractured nation and confront contemporary challenges. This narrative offers a captivating blend of metaphysical possibilities and historical and psychological fiction, engaging you in a unique reading experience.

Through Sharmila’s eyes, readers are immersed in the resurgence of Lincoln’s timeless values—empathy, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to justice. But can this president’s spirit, intertwined with the experiences of a contemporary woman, pave the way for a brighter future?

“Lincoln’s Return” is not just a captivating novel. It’s an engaging voyage that challenges conventional wisdom and offers a fresh perspective on the past to illuminate the path forward.


About the Author

Julian T. Morrow is an emerging voice in contemporary literature, known for his thought-provoking style of possible scenarios. With a background that intersects the realms of metaphysical, philosophy, and creative writing, Morrow crafts narratives that challenge the conventional boundaries of genre and expectation.


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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Book Blitz ~ Whiskey with Wolves - A Novel by Erica Spray


Whiskey with Wolves
Erica Spray
Publication date: May 7th 2024
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Sadie Crowe is a runaway hoping to make a better future for herself, but she soon discovers what it means to truly be on her own. While trying to survive bartending in the middle of nowhere, Sadie is swept away by promises of money and an easy life by an enigmatic stranger. The grown-up world makes one dark turn after another, and Sadie must find her way through torment into the light of her future.

Goodreads / Amazon

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Southwest Louisiana taught me how to spin stories naturally. The culture, the flair, and the people really made it a magical place as a child. In a lot of my writings I still use Louisiana as the location because in a place as wild and tight-knit as Southern Louisiana, the possibilities are endless.

I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was in middle school. When i was in my thirties I knew that writing was my true calling in life. Just for the record, if something is your true calling, it will never stop calling you. Writing never stopped calling me and i'm glad that I finally listened and decided to take that leap.

You'll learn pretty quickly that my novels are mysterious and thrilling. I hope to always bring that element of surprise in each book ending. Think you have me figured out? Think again.

Website / Facebook / Instagram

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Friday, May 10, 2024

Book Tour ~ The Nowhere Girls - Detective Nikki Cassidy by Dana Perry


THE NOWHERE GIRLS by Dana Perry Banner


by Dana Perry

April 1 - May 10, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Book 1 in the Detective Nikki Cassidy series

My kid sister was murdered fifteen years ago. Now the killer has struck again. And this time, I’m going to take my revenge…

On the anniversary of her sister’s death, FBI agent Nikki Cassidy takes a call that has her heart pounding in her chest, the image of her beautiful sister Caitlin etched in her mind.

Another girl has been taken.

Days later, the lifeless body of twelve-year-old Natalie Jarvis is found in a remote patch of woodland, a crown of roses delicately placed on her head. Just like Caitlin.

The killer is back.

Nikki rushes to her small hometown of Groveton, Ohio. She will do anything to stop another young girl dying, but she soon realises that nothing is what it seems—everyone in her hometown is keeping a secret. And when a note is discovered near Natalie’s body addressed to Nikki, it’s clear what the murderer really wants: her…

She’s caught killers before, but this time it’s personal. And Nikki will risk everything—even her own life—to get justice for every victim. It’s time to stop this twisted killer, once and for all…

If you love reading Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Kendra Elliot, you won’t be able to put down this gripping new series. Full of heart-racing twists and turns, you’ll be hooked!


Book 2 in the Detective Nikki Cassidy series

Ten days ago, straight-A student Jessica Staley ran away from home. Now her lifeless body lies pale and still in an empty parking lot, her unblinking brown eyes staring up to the night sky…

FBI agent Nikki Cassidy’s heart pounds as she takes in the short, dark hair and delicate features of fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Jessica Stanley. It’s another unsolved murder in Groveton, Ohio, just like her sister, Caitlin, fifteen years before. Her family beg her to keep her distance, but Nikki knows she can’t walk away.

What if her sister’s killer is back?

Talking to Jessica’s heartbroken family, Nikki learns that she wasn’t happy at home. Just days ago, she packed a few belongings into her school backpack and left, never to be seen alive again.

Determined to give Jessica’s family the answers she never found for herself, Nikki works around the clock, trawling hours of CCTV footage from the scene. And just when she thinks she’s close to uncovering the truth, a chilling email arrives that confirms her deepest fear. There are more victims, Nikki. Can you ever stop me?

This killer is playing a dangerous game, and he has Nikki in his sights now—one wrong move and she could be his next victim. She’s determined to unmask the monster who has tortured her hometown for decades. But what if the killer is someone close to her? What if it’s someone she loves?

Fans of Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Kendra Elliot will absolutely love this gripping new series from Dana Perry. Prepare to stay up all night!



Book 3 in the Detective Nikki Cassidy series

As dawn breaks over a small gas station on the outskirts of Groveton, Ohio, the body of a teenage girl lies totally still. Long blonde hair covers her face, and a length of frayed rope hangs loosely around her neck. It’s only a matter of time before someone finds her, just like her killer intended…

When FBI agent Nikki Cassidy receives a call from Groveton’s Chief of Police, her heart pounds. A young girl just knocked on the door of Nikki’s old family home, claiming to be Nikki’s kid sister, Caitlin. But Caitlin was murdered fifteen years ago. Who is the girl and what does she want?

Nikki thinks the impersonator could finally lead her to her sister’s twisted killer. But her hope is shattered when the girl’s lifeless body is found strangled at a local service stop. If the girl knew about Caitlin, could she have known the identity of the killer? Was she murdered before she could unmask them?

Going against her boss’s orders to stay away, Nikki traces the girl’s last known steps to her best friend, Shirley. Nikki learns that the girl was last seen meeting with a stranger at the mall. Could it have been her killer?

Closer than ever to uncovering the truth, Nikki can’t give up now. But when Shirley’s body is found at another service station, a length of rope wound around her neck, her heart shatters. Another young life has been lost. Nikki vows that this will be the last.

When an intruder breaks into her old home, Nikki knows it’s the killer sending her a sign. As she walks into the familiar old house in the dead of night, will she finally get justice and catch her sister’s killer, or did she just walk into a deadly trap?


Praise for Dana Perry:

THE NOWHERE GIRLS: "A twisty-breath-taking page-turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat until it’s stunning conclusion. Fast-paced and riveting, it keeps you guessing till the very end."
Lisa Regan, author

"A thrilling new series."
Killer Nashville

"A fantastic book… Dana Perry has created one heck of female lead!"
NetGalley reviewer

"Wow!!!!! What did I just read!!! Mind blown!!!! Absolutely shattered after being up all night reading but boy was it worth it! Absolutely unputdownable!!"

"This was an edge-of-your-seat page-turner!"


Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Bookouture
Publication Date: April 2, 2024
Number of Pages: 341
ISBN: 9781803147932 (ISBN10: 1803147938)
Series: Detective Nikki Cassidy


Read an excerpt:



Author Bio:

Dana Perry

I am a New York City author who writes mystery thrillers under the pen name of Dana Perry - and also as R.G. Belsky.

Catch Up With Dana Perry:
Twitter/X - @DanaPerryAuthor
Facebook - @DanaPerryAuthor
Instagram - @dickbelsky



Tour Participants:

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Book Tour ~ Fast Times Big City - A Novel by Shelly Frome



by Shelly Frome

April 15 - May 10, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Fast Times, Big City by Shelly Frome

Like most people, Bud Palmer felt this was just another day.

Though the era was drawing to a close, he assumed his life as a sports columnist in the subtropics, in keeping with the benign fifties itself, would go on as predictable as ever.

But that particular autumn morning he was thrust into a caper that was totally beyond him, forced him to leave Miami and take the train to Manhattan, and suddenly found everything in this restless "Big Apple" was up for grabs at a dicey turning point.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: February 27, 2024
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 9798886330267
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Getting as overtired as can be, he opted for the radio once again and the show tunes station. Within minutes another song from West Side Story came filtering into his room. This time the star-crossed lovers put the images on the poster to words, yearning for “a special place,” claiming if they held on tight they could take each other there. Somehow, some day, somewhere.

Even after he switched the radio off, the sweet melody and yearning lyrics stayed with him. But soon faded and dovetailed into the dread of what might await him under these pressing circumstances. He finally let go of it all and sank into a fitful sleep.


Excerpt from Fast Times, Big City by Shelly Frome. Copyright 2024 by Shelly Frome. Reproduced with permission from Shelly Frome. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Shelly Frome

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He also is a features writer for Gannett Publications. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games, The Secluded Village Murders, Miranda and the D-Day Caper and Shadow of the Gypsy. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio: A History, a guide to playwriting and one on screenwriting. Fast Times, Big City is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Catch Up With Shelly Frome:
BookBub - @ShellyFrome
Instagram - @authorshellyfrome
Twitter/X - @shellyFrome
Facebook - @AuthorShellyFrome



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Book Blog ~ Knife River - A Ty Dawson Mystery by Baron Birtcher


KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher Banner


by Baron R Birtcher

April 15 - May 10, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher

A sheriff fighting to keep the peace in 1970s Oregon faces a shocking secret from his town’s past, in this crime thriller from the author of Reckoning.

There are rules in the West no matter what era you were born in, and it’s up to lawman Ty Dawson to make sure they’re followed in the valley he calls home. The people living on this unforgiving land keep to themselves and are wary of the modern world’s encroachment into their quiet lives.

So it’s not without some suspicion that Dawson confronts a newcomer to the region: a record producer who has built a music studio in an isolated compound. His latest project is a collaboration with a famous young rock star named Ian Swann, recording and filming his sessions for a movie. An amphitheater for a live show is being built on the land, giving Dawson flashbacks to the violent Altamont concert. Not on his watch.

But even beefed up security can’t stop a disaster that’s been over a decade in the making. All it takes is one horrific case bleeding its way into the present to prove that the good ol’ days spawned a brand of evil no one wants to revisit . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Open Road Media
Publication Date: April 23, 2024
Number of Pages: 338
ISBN: 9781504086523 (ISBN10: 150408652X)
Series: The Sheriff Ty Dawson Crime Thriller Series
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads | Open Road Media

Read an excerpt:



SOME SAY THAT to be born into a thing is to be blind to half of it. Oftentimes, the things we seek and discover for ourselves are those we hold most dear.

Any cattleman will tell you that a ranch is a living thing. Not only the livestock that graze the meadowland, but the blood that nourishes the hungry soil, the trees that inhale the wind, and the rain that carves runnels into the hardpan that, in time, grow into rivers. The Diamond D is no different in that respect, some would even say it was the beating heart of Meriwether County, Oregon.

As both a stockman and the sheriff of this county, I believe this to be true.

But the events that unfolded in the autumn of 1964 cast a cloud across that land. Not just across my ranch, but the entire valley, though they didn’t bear their terrible fruit until nearly a dozen years later, in the spring of 1976. The incidents still haunt me, though others paid a steeper price than I; some with their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, while some forfeit their sanity, and still others with their souls.

That is where this story begins.



LAMBS AND LIONS hold no sway over the springtime here in Meriwether County. Some years it will snow through mid-May, other times the golden sun rides high and bright, and the river flows fast, clear and deep with high-country melt on the first day of March. Most years, it’s both, with Mother Nature keeping her whims to herself until she alone decides to turn them loose upon us.

But this particular Saturday morning was unusually quiet, not even a breath of breeze stirring the leaves of the cottonwoods that grew thick and untamed along the creekbank. I was standing outside on the gallery, sipping my coffee as I leaned on the porch rail, watching my wife, Jesse, hammer the last nail into a birdbox she had made. She must have felt my eyes on her, as she looked up from her work and smiled. A few moments later, she stepped up the stairs to where I stood and kissed me on the cheek, smelling of sawdust and lemongrass tea.

“The bluebirds are back,” she said. “I just saw them.”

“You haven’t lost your knack for building those things.”

“Plenty of practice. You got home late last night.”

I had spent the previous day transporting a man all the way from Lewiston up to the Portland lockup to await his trial. He stood accused of murdering his own wife and young child. It had been a long, depressing day, and by the time I completed the intake paperwork, locked up the substation in Meridian, and finally drove home to the ranch, Jesse was already asleep.

But this morning, everything in her expression seemed overflowing with hope and expectation. Springtime was her season and always had been.

“Want a hand putting that thing up?” I asked.

She replied by handing it to me, together with the hammer.

She watched me hang the birdbox on a post beside the vegetable garden, outside the kitchen window where I knew she’d spend her quiet mornings secretly observing the bluebirds as they built their nest and reared their brood.

“You plan on helping Caleb pick the new cowboys today?” She asked me when I came back inside.

It was the time of year when we hired a few temporary hands for Spring Works, when we’d round-up the cattle and calves from every corner of the ranch; we’d vet, brand and sort the livestock, and mend a perpetual string of breaks in the wire along miles of fenceline before we turned the herd out to the pastures for summer grazing. The Diamond D employed three permanent cowboys in addition to me and old Caleb Wheeler—our foreman for more than three decades—but with 63,000 deeded acres and another 14,000 under a Land Management lease, Spring Works was more work than the five of us could handle in the short span of time required to get it done. Every year a couple dozen hopeful itinerant riders, ropers, rodeo bums and saddle-tramps would answer the call for a temporary employment opportunity, and every year Caleb Wheeler got more riled up about what he viewed as the eroding quality of the contemporary American cowboy. He’d cuss and grump and holler about it, but he’d end up settling on three or four hands he reckoned could help us get the job done with a minimum of aggravation.

“I’m staying out of it this year,” I said, and Jesse grinned. “Figured I’d lay in a cord or two for the woodshed instead, before the weather gets too hot.”

“I saw some deadfall down by Corcoran’s,” she said.

“That’s where I was headed.”

“Make you some lunch to take with you?”

“I don’t intend to be out that long.”

“Good to hear,” she said, and winked at me before she turned, and stepped inside the house.


* * *


HALF AN HOUR later I was straddling a fallen spruce, angling the chainsaw to buck the trunk into three-foot rounds that I’d later split into quarters with the long-handled axe. The solitary labor, the sweat staining my shirt, and the burn down deep inside my muscles were a welcome balm after the week I’d had, and the air was rife with the smell of pine tar, sap and chain oil. I looked up and caught some movement in the distance, where the BLM forest gave onto an open range already knee deep with wildflowers and whipgrass. I recognized Tom Jenkins’ roping horse moving hellbent-for-leather across the flats, with young Tom leaning across her withers, one hand on the reins and the other holding his hat in place on top of his head. His mount was an admirable animal, a grullo Quarter Horse that stood nearly seventeen hands, fast and thick through the chest. Tom Jenkins handled her well, and he was beelining in my direction like he had something on his mind.

I killed the power on the chainsaw and set it in the bed of the military surplus jeep I use when I do ranch work, stepped over to the fence and took a splash of water from the canteen I’d hung in the shade of a young cedar. I didn’t have to wait long before Tom pulled up in a skidding stop inside a cloud of dust, throwing a cascade of torn earth and pebbles through the barbed strands of the wire.

“Mr. Dawson,” he said and touched a finger to his hat brim, sounding nearly as breathless as his horse. “I was hoping that was you.”

“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” I asked, but suspected I already knew the answer.

When I’d first met Tom Jenkins, he was nothing but a kid with a limp handshake, no eye-contact, and the familiar slope-shouldered gait and posture of the typical aimless teenaged slacker. At that time, he’d been well on his way to serious trouble, the variety and scope of which would have landed him in a six-by-eight jail cell where the other inmates would have eaten him alive.

He is the nephew of my neighbor to the south of me, Snoose Corcoran, whose sister had sent the kid up here from California’s central valley to his uncle’s ranch in southeastern Oregon in hopes of putting some distance between young Tom and his unquestionably poor choices of acquaintances. Ill-equipped to deal with the boy himself, Snoose begged me to take the kid on as a maverick, and I’d reluctantly agreed. After six months working side by side with trail hardened cowboys on the Diamond D young Tom Jenkins’ attitude had been readjusted, straightening both his spine and fortitude. Now, at barely 18 years of age, Tom had assumed the reins of the floundering Corcoran cattle operation from his uncle Snoose, who had been gradually disappearing into a bottle.

“Cow and a calf went missing from my place,” Tom answered. “Fence busted by the westward line, and I figured them two mighta headed for the water.”

My ranch hands ended up nicknaming the kid “Silver,” after he’d astonished us all by stepping up and winning a silver buckle for the Diamond D in the team roping event at the annual rodeo. I knew Tom secretly treasured the handle they’d bestowed, wore it like a medal, but I never spoke it; that was between my men and him.

“Where’s your uncle?” I asked.

His shrug spoke sorrowful volumes.

“So, what set you hightailing over here to see me, son?” I asked. “What’s the trouble? Besides the missing beeves.”

“I was up there on the other side of the tree line,” he said. He twisted sideways in his saddle, took off his hat and gestured with it toward a distant stretch of blue sky. “There was an eagle making low passes over the meadow, so I stopped to watch it for a minute. It was so still and quiet out there, I could hear the eagle calling out while it was gliding on the thermals.”

“You don’t see something like that every day,” I said. “Not even out here in the boondocks.”

“No sir, that’s a fact,” Tom said. “But, while I sat there watching that creature flying, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, a helicopter come buzzing across the ridge, you know the one…”

“Big stone bluff, looks like somebody cut it down the middle with a KA-BAR knife.”

“That’s the one,” he said. “Well, that chopper came in fast, and went straight toward that bird…” The young man’s voice trailed off, his face contorted like he’d encountered a foul odor. “They circled it as it flew, like they were teasing it. Two men inside the—whattaya call it?”


“Yeah, the cockpit. Then they started closing in on him, chasing it. The guy in the passenger seat had a rifle in his hands. I could see the barrel sticking out.”

What Tom was describing to me was not only a despicable and loathsome act, it was a serious crime. The mere harassment of a protected species is a federal offense; hunting and killing one merely for the sick thrill of it was another matter entirely.

“What happened, Tom?”

He swallowed drily, shook his head and looked down at the ground between us.

“He shot that bird right out of the sky, sir,” he said. “That eagle wasn’t even doing nothing, just gliding circles on the wind, and those assholes—sorry, sir—they shot him cold dead.”

I could imagine the creature’s confused and lonely cry as it spiraled down, bleeding, terrified and helpless, to the earth.

“You pretty sure about the location, Tom?”

“About four, five miles thataway, near the bluff, where the river makes that sharp bend to the south.”

“Did you get a look at either of the men?”

“Naw, they were too far away and moving pretty fast. But I got a good look at the whirlybird.”

I asked him for a description of the helicopter, and I knew right away he was referring to a Bell H-13, known to soldiers as a “Sioux.” They’d been in common use as scouting and medical evacuation aircraft by the military. I’d seen them every day when I was stationed in Korea.

“Like the choppers on that TV show?” I asked.

“Yes, sir. Exactly like on M*A*S*H.”

“Big glass bubble on the front? No doors? Looks kinda like a dragonfly?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you see any numbers written on it? On the tail? Or maybe on the underside?”

Tom Jenkins pressed his hat back on his head and gazed up at the empty sky beyond the forest, like he could return that beautiful animal to where it rightfully belonged through sheer force of his will. The high peaks beyond the meadow were streaked with deep blue shadows in the sunlight, their cloughs and gorges washed in purple and topped with snow so white it hurt your eyes.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing numbers or anything like that.”

His face took on the aspect of defeat, as though some personal failure had cost the animal its life.

“You did good, Tom. You did the right thing coming to me straight away. There was nothing else you could have done.”

He nodded once, his lips pressed tight, and he leaned down to adjust a stirrup that needed no adjustment.

“You want some help finding your cows?” I asked, thinking he might appreciate the company.

“I can do it, sir, but thank you. I can haze ’em back home on my own.”

“You gotta get eyeballs on the critters first. I can help you, son.”

“Thank you just the same, Mr. Dawson… Sheriff… Hell, I don’t even know what to call you.”

His expression softened for the first time since he’d showed up, a brief and fleeting smile, then his focus drifted far away again.

“Something else, Tom?”

“Just wondering.”

“Wondering what?”

“Do you think you can catch those guys who shot that bird?”

“I’m going to try my damndest.”

His eyes remained fixed on the horizon.

“What’ll happen to ’em if you do?”

I drew a bandana from the back pocket of my jeans, removed my hat, and dried the sweat that had been leaking from beneath the band.

“It’s been against the law to kill an eagle since the 1940s. If you’re not an Indian, you can’t even possess a single feather. If you get caught, you pay a steep fine and then they send you off to jail. If you’re a rancher, you could lose the leases on your land.”

Tom turned his gaze back on me, and I noted for the hundredth time that this young man no longer bore any resemblance to the person he had been on the day he first arrived here from California.

“That punishment don’t seem tough enough,” Tom said. “Not for what I seen ’em do.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

He clucked softly to his horse, and reined her back in the direction from which they’d come.

“I’d better get a move on,” he said.

“Be careful out there, son,” I said to his retreating back, but my words were lost in the distance.


Excerpt from KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher. Copyright 2024 by Baron R Birtcher. Reproduced with permission from Baron R Birtcher. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Baron R Birtcher

Baron Birtcher is the LA TIMES and IMBA BESTSELLING author of the hardboiled Mike Travis series (Roadhouse Blues, Ruby Tuesday, Angels Fall, and Hard Latitudes), the award-winning Ty Dawson series (South California Purples, Fistful Of Rain, Reckoning, and Knife River), as well as the critically-lauded stand-alone, RAIN DOGS.

Baron is a winner of the SILVER FALCHION AWARD, and the WINNER of 2018's Killer Nashville READERS CHOICE AWARD, as well as 2019's BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR for Fistful Of Rain.

He has also had the honor of having been named a finalist for the NERO AWARD, the LEFTY AWARD, the FOREWORD INDIE AWARD, the 2016 BEST BOOK AWARD, the Pacific Northwest's regional SPOTTED OWL AWARD, and the CLAYMORE AWARD.

Baron's writing has been hailed as "The real deal" by Publishers Weekly; "Fast Paced and Engaging" by Booklist; and "Solid, Fluent and Thrilling" by Kirkus.

~ Don Winslow, NYT Bestselling author

~ Reed Farrel Coleman, NYT Bestselling author

~ Shots Magazine (UK)

Catch Up With Baron R Birtcher:
Facebook - @BaronRBirtcher
Instagram - @baronbirtcher_author
Twitter/X - @BaronBirtcher22



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Blog Tour ~ Calvaria Fell: Stories by Cat Sparks & Kaaron Warren

 CALVARIA FELL: STORIES by Cat Sparks and Kaaron Warren

RELEASE DATE: April 30, 2024

GENRE: Science Fiction / Dystopian / Dark Fantasy

BOOK PAGE:  Calvaria Fell: Stories – Meerkat Press


Calvaria Fell is a stunning collaborative collection of weird tales from two acclaimed authors, Kaaron Warren and Cat Sparks. It features previously published stories from both authors, along with a new novella by Kaaron Warren and four new stories by Cat Sparks. The collection offers a glimpse into a chilling future world that is similar to our own. Readers will be drawn into experiences at once familiar and bizarre, where our choices have far-reaching consequences and the environment is a force to be reckoned with. The title of the collection tethers these stories to a shared space. The calvaria is the top part of the skull, comprising five plates that fuse together in the first few years of life. Story collections work like this; disparate parts melding together to make a robust and sturdy whole. The calvaria tree, also known as the dodo tree, adapted to being eaten by the now-extinct dodo bird; its seeds need to pass through the bird’ s digestive tract in order to germinate. In a similar way, the stories in Calvaria Fell reflect the idea of adaptation and the consequences of our actions in a changing world.

BUY LINKS:  Meerkat Press | | Amazon

The Emporium

Kaaron Warren

Chapter One

Things improved once the mattresses arrived. Before that they’d slept curled up in massage chairs or stretched out on couches that were too short for them and stained with old spills; drinks, food, body fluids, drips from the leaking roof.

They cleared out the secondhand furniture shop of everything except the bedframes, which mostly rested up against the wall.

That area had been a mess, anyway, filled with objects found over many years, the “miscellaneous,” items no one knew what to do with. It was stacked dangerously high; boxes of picture hooks, crates of broken wineglasses, piles of true crime magazines. Things they no longer understood and could barely recognize. They moved the broken things upstairs, finding nooks and crannies in the old shops there, trying to keep some sort of order.

In the front corner of the shop, near the small register, were stacked boxes of ancient cat food. Maud said, “We should take that up to the roof. The birds might eat it if we spread it around.” The other children all agreed, so they piled it outside the shop next-door, a newsagent still stocked with ancient news and magazines. They added the true crime magazines to that collection and headed back to the furniture shop.

Marty stood with his hands covering his face, his shoulders shaking.

“Marty! What’s wrong?” Maud said. “You’ll get a mattress, don’t worry! There’s enough for everyone.”

“He’s sad about the fish,” Bean said. She was so short she could barely see over the counter, but she stretched her toes and pointed. At seven she was the youngest of the children in the Emporium and she hated that. She wanted to be old, like the rest of them. Yet she carried a sack full of soft toys and would bring them out for conversation and cuddles.

Maud looked. Revealed once all the mess was cleared away was a large fish tank. It was filthy, covered with moss and slime, with five centimeters of sludgy water at the bottom. Maud stepped closer. It stank; in the bottom were a dozen long-dead fish, their flesh mostly rotted off, their bones poking through. She sobbed as well, and that set all of them off, all of them sobbing over the starved dead fish. There was much they didn’t remember but all of them remembered the pets they’d left behind.

Carlo pressed his head up against the glass. “Which one is which, do you think? Who is who?”

“You can’t tell, once they’re a pile of bones. They won’t be able to know who’s us when we’re bones,” Julian said.

They dragged the mattresses onto the bedframes and laid some in the spaces in between. Bean wanted to take hers into the entrance atrium, a glass-ceilinged dome, so she could sleep under the stars. Maud said, “You’ll freeze to an ice block. Maybe when it gets warmer,” so Bean crankily dragged her mattress into the furthest corner, tucked under an old counter.

The children collapsed, exhausted but happy, on the mattresses. They weren’t very clean, though, so the next job was to traipse up to the first floor for new sheets and pillows. The Bedroom Bonanza store had been small but well-stocked. A lot of it had gone to customers outside (everyone preferred their bed linen unused) or in the looting, but there was one alcove the children had been saving for this occasion. They mostly used the stuff that came in through the dock in great mounds. They used the worst-stained bedclothes for other things, like an outer lining for the building as insulation, or they’d tear them up for bags of rags they’d leave outside in the delivery dock. They didn’t get much in return for the rags: a crate of yo-yos (none of them had any idea what to do with them but luckily Julian found a book and that was fun) or a box full of broken, salty crackers, stale but still good for soup, a carton of books, all the same and with the front cover torn off. That sort of thing.

Julian pushed up the roller door of the Bedroom Bonanza and exclaimed. The smell washed over all of them; damp cloth and mold.

“Oh, no!” Kate said. She was the one most looking forward to the new beds. Somehow she remembered the comfort of climbing into a freshly-made bed.

Water had leaked through. They had buckets all over the shopping center and the rhythmic plink plink of water droplets calmed some of them, annoyed others.

The walls were damp and the alcove holding the sheets was inches deep in water.

“It’ll be all right. They’re still in their plastic,” Julian said. He stepped into the smallest puddle and stretched out, passing the packages of sheets out one by one.

Carlo led Bean downstairs to the laundromat. It was dark; the line of high windows were dirty and cracked. The lights flickered on when he hit the switch and buzzed quietly; they would keep flickering until they were turned off.

Carlo organized the loads, saying, “I’m not doing it all.” But they knew he would. Carlo used to run the machines alone, and he’d still help when any of them forgot which buttons to push. He got tired of the state of clothes and bedding. With someone else washing it, they didn’t care about how dirty those items were. Once everyone had to wash their own, they took more care.

There were piles of washing in each corner and piled up behind the counter, way higher than the bench top. It had an odd smell, not bad exactly, but kind of meaty. Unpleasant.

Carlo timed it perfectly, filling the machines, adding soap (who knows how old, but it still smelled of soap at least) and closing the lids, then racing from one to the other pressing START. All six machines slowly filled with water and one by one most of the other children crept out. Carlo was mesmerized by the machines and their rhythm, hearing music that made him want to dance.

The machines followed one second after the other, and he spun around, click-spin rock and roll, not caring there was no one there except Bean.

“It’s okay! I know it’s loud! It’s really loud! But the good thing is we know it will stop. Or maybe I’m magic and they will stop on my command.”

Bean shook her head and giggled.

“You doubt the great Carrrlooo?” He rolled his rrrs until Bean joined in. She sat some of her soft toys on the machine and watched them vibrate.

When the machines stopped, Bean went to get the others while Carlo emptied each machine into a different basket. These were ones taken from the supermarket; the laundromat ones had fallen apart long ago or, perhaps, had been used to carry away loot when the shopping center closed suddenly.

The children weren’t sure why it had.

Carlo gave each child a basket of wet washing and they all made their way to the roof. They didn’t like to use the elevators unless they had to, for fear of being stuck between the floors. They told stories of ghosts, forever trying to get out.) The elevators worked before their time, but not since the children had been there.

There was the Very High Roof, but they rarely went up there at the top of the eight story tower.

The much bigger Lower Roof was only two floors up and was flat. The children had found ropes strung up here, with some aprons and workman’s clothes, stiff from hanging in the weather for a long time.

This was where they dried their clothes, and where they hung the freshly washed sheets and pillowcases. They pegged pillows to the line as well, hoping to air them out.

Marty had grabbed a box of the old cat food and shook handfuls out to feed the birds. There weren’t many (the manager had told them it was because the trees were too skinny) but sometimes they did come and perch on the cracked walls, perhaps on their way to elsewhere, somewhere greener. Two black birds and one that was a sickly gray came and pecked at the food, squawked, pecked again. Marty threw more and then the others did. Maud felt momentary joy in this, and she made sure everyone got a handful to toss.

For many miles around there were gray buildings, most of them less than four floors high. “Gravity Leaks,” they called it, meaning tall buildings could not be expected to stay sturdy anymore. Beyond them lay the forest. And way beyond that was the water. From the high roof you could see the trees, or at least the concept of trees, way off in the distance; sometimes Maud would go up there, just to see something green. They didn’t know what sort of trees they were.

Between the forest and the buildings, the Great Fire had laid waste to most everything. When the sun was out, you could sometimes see silvery trails through the black mess, left by people walking toward the forest, perhaps, or to the innumerable mounds that perhaps covered useful items.

Some of these items came as deliveries to the children: dinner plates, cake tins, barbeque grills, coats. Sometimes they were damaged beyond cleaning by ash and smoke, but most things they could wipe clean and sort, awaiting the next time someone needed garden chairs, or metal fence posts, or glass jars, or saucepans. Things the children didn’t always understand, or had forgotten about. Before he ran away, the manager had tried to teach them stuff about the past but they forgot so easily.

They made the beds and snuggled down. Maud went into the supermarket and brought back some fizzy drinks and the oldest of the potato chips. If it was a really special occasion, they’d open a fresher packet. Like the birthday they all shared, or perhaps the arrival of someone new. Maud set her suitcase beside her mattress, laying it down flat so she could use it as a table or as a shelf. The others followed suit; they often followed Maud’s ideas. Maud’s suitcase was brown leather covered with stickers.

“No one is very hungry for dinner after all those snacks, are they?” Julian said. He had not eaten the snacks himself; that food made him feel sluggish.

“Me me me!” Bean squealed. “Sausages!” Bean always wanted sausages.

“It’s not really dinner time yet,” Josh said. The only clocks they had were the ones in the clock shop, broken most of them, and only one, which used sunlight for power, still running. Kate could keep time by the music that played, and she was teaching the others to do so as well. They didn’t know the names of most of the songs and couldn’t understand half the words, but they all sure knew the music.

“Carry on,” Kate said. “It’s time for dinner.”

Izzy jumped up. “I’ll do it,” she said. She always did it.

There was no big oven in the kitchen, but there were salvaged burners and a toaster oven and a microwave, and with these Izzy wrought miracles. Most of the saucepans they received were only good for melting down, but they had gathered three good ones, still in their boxes, and these they used. They sometimes got fresh food delivered. Fruit and veggies. They didn’t like that too much, preferring the frozen food. The old manager used to make them eat boiled vegetables. Disgusting.

Izzy made sausages (skinless frankfurts) from the can for Bean, then a big pot of soup. Tins of asparagus soup and asparagus pieces, a can of evaporated milk, a packet of herbs, and with some crackers it was a feast. They took their bowls into the food court and sat in small groups. They didn’t always sit together but after the excitement of the mattresses, they felt like they wanted to be cohesive. There were old menus left on some of the tables, describing food long since forgotten. Sometimes they tried to cook by the menus, invent what they thought Spaghetti Carbonara was, or Eggplant Parmigiana. They’d say, What should we have for dinner, as if anything was possible.

The roof was leaking in the food court, so there were buckets everywhere. Over in the corner, one of them had a drowned rat in it. They’d all vote Julian take that away after the meal. Until then, they’d ignore it. He’d toss it over the dark side of the building. Below, a dozen cars sat rusting. This was where they threw all the dead creatures they found.

Josh gathered up the dirty dishes and dropped them down the elevator shaft. He was the first to do this when it was his turn, arguing that they had thousands of dishes so why waste time washing them? Now they all did it.

Bean was the first to jump from mattress to mattress, squealing with delight and the others soon followed, hollering and screaming with laughter as they jumped from one end of the large showroom to the other. Someone put a CD in the boombox. They sorted most sound equipment for sale but held one back every now and then when another broke. The broken ones were sold for parts and elements, like all the phones were. Carlo had the job of pulling them apart. Each of them took responsibility for something. They had to turn it up loud to drown out the playlist, but this way at least they felt they’d chosen what to listen to.

If the manager had been there he would have said, “If you’ve got enough energy for bouncing around, you’ve got enough energy to work.”

But he had long since disappeared. He’d left with pockets full of salvaged (stolen) coins. Maud kept a list of all the things that came into the Emporium, as well as a tally of what went out, so she and the others knew what coins he’d taken. A lot of them were scrounged from the wishing well, but everything that came in was checked for money. He’d given them all lessons in value, but Maud was only fourteen then and remembered very little. That was a long time ago. She was fifteen now and thought she’d be better at learning if someone wanted to try. He’d stopped teaching them things; Carlo said it was because he didn’t want them to know the value of what he was stealing, and that seemed as likely as anything else. Although he was very tired, always, so tired. He didn’t say goodbye when he left but he did leave a map for them, directions to the stash of small, sealed cakes, dozens of boxes, that he was saving for a special occasion. They were stacked carefully on the third floor, in If It Fits, mixed in with the shoe boxes full of footwear that didn’t, in fact, fit.

They hadn’t seen that manager in a long time. It took a while before anyone outside the Emporium noticed. Julian took charge of the orders and Maud (after Rachel left to go to medicine school) was the boss of things delivered, so they didn’t need a manager. It was only when the nurse came in to do the immunizations that the manager’s disappearance was revealed.


Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor and artist. Career highlights include a PhD in science fiction and climate fiction, five years as Fiction Editor of Cosmos Magazine, running Agog! Press, working as an archaeological dig photographer in Jordan, studying with Margaret Atwood, 78 published short stories, two collections—The Bride Price (2013) and Dark Harvest (2020) and a far future novel, Lotus Blue. She directed two speculative fiction festivals for Writing NSW and is a regular panelist & speaker at speculative fiction and other literary events.

Kaaron Warren has been publishing ground-breaking fiction for over twenty years. Her novels and short stories have won over 20 awards, from local literary to international genre. She writes horror steeped in awful reality, with ghosts, hauntings, guilt, loss, love, crime, punishment and a lack of hope.

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