New Releases

Blog Tour: Winning the Game of Work by Terry Boyle McDougall @teebeemhp @RRBookTours1 #NonFiction #RRBookTours

Welcome to the blog tour for Winning the Game of Work, by Terry Boyle McDougall! Today I have an excerpt from the book, and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms by Terry Boyle McDougall

Publication Date: April 10, 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Career Coaching Guide

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You can be happier and more successful when you learn to play the game of work. If you’re not currently satisfied in your career, it could be because you’re playing by the wrong rules.

In Winning the Game of Work, Terry Boyle McDougall shares the rules she learned from wise mentors and coaches, as well as the lessons she learned the hard way. She entered the workplace as an ambitious “go-getter” and was confused about why she wasn’t advancing at the pace she expected. She learned that being smart and working hard aren’t enough. The reward for developing a strategy for the game of work is success and happiness with less stress and duress.

This book will help you:

  • Get recognized for your value on the job
  • Develop and appreciate your unique “superpowers” at work
  • Cope with a bad boss without burning out or getting fired
  • Get the promotion you deserve
  • Deliver more impact on the job with some simple hacks
  • And more…

Winning the Game of Work is the essential guidebook to help you develop your unique skills as a “player.” Now is the time to see the whole field, make the savvy moves and win the game of work on your own terms!

Giveaway: You can win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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Excerpt from Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms by Terry Boyle McDougall. (New Degree Press) Released April 2020.

Chapter 8
Becoming Your Own Agent: Understanding and Leveraging Your Value

Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul. –Maria Montessori[1]

Often you may not recognize things about yourself that others can see clearly. As I’m fond of saying,

“You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”

The purpose of this chapter is to provide you with perspective and resources that will help you see yourself the way others see you.

When you understand how you’re viewed, you can make intentional changes so that your self-image and the image you project are much more aligned. This is the first step to being compensated for the value you provide to your organization.

Lessons from HGTV

I’m going to confess a deep, dark secret . . . I’m a sucker for HGTV. I love settling in for marathons of House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, and scores of other real estate–related shows. I find something strangely appealing about watching people search for their dream home in Malibu or renovate their mid-century modern in Kansas City.

I won’t call it a guilty pleasure, because after hundreds of hours of HGTV, I’ve learned a valuable career lesson. Buyers abhor uncertainty and will put off buying or require a big discount to overcome any perceived risk.

You’re Always Selling

If you’re wondering what “buying” has to do with your career, it’s simple. Anytime you’re trying to influence someone—be it your boss, a colleague, or the hiring manager at a company you aspire to work for—you’re selling, and they need to buy in order for you to achieve your goal.

Getting hired is an important sales job. Bringing on a new employee, like buying a house, can be fraught with risk. Organizations make a significant investment when they hire a new employee. Interviewing takes time. When a candidate is hired, they need to be trained and introduced to the people they’ll work with.

They may need to meet and form relationships with clients. And all this happens before the new employee ever starts creating value for the company. If the new hire doesn’t work out, a lot of effort and political capital will have been wasted.

“I Just Need a Chance!”

I’ve heard this refrain hundreds of times: “All I need is for someone to take a chance on me—once they hire me, they’ll see I was worth the risk.” I’ve said these same words myself at times in my career. It was frustrating when I was ready to move up and I couldn’t seem to get my foot in the door.

However, I understood it much more clearly once I became a manager. Given what is at stake for the manager, most aren’t keen on taking chances without ample evidence that it will pay off. Even if you are able to do a particular job, your résumé needs to say that clearly.

For most managers, they want some assurances that the person they’re considering has at least some experience similar to the job they are hiring for. Even when a candidate has had similar responsibilities at another company, it’s often hard to get clarity on the intangibles like work ethic, cultural fit, and the quality of their work.

Prove It to Me

Some of my worst hiring mistakes were when I convinced myself that someone was a good bet rather than making them convince me. I gave them the benefit of the doubt rather than insisting that they prove to me that they were worthy of my trust and confidence. When I look back, I recognize that I had some reservations, but I didn’t delve deeper when I should have.

I was anxious to get the roles filled and get on with the normal routine. Only later did I realize that I’d let my own impatience or optimism cloud my judgment. This would be analogous to buying a house and taking the homeowner’s word that there were no problems with the furnace rather than consulting a home inspector to confirm it.

Creating Career Curb Appeal

Enter the lessons from the HGTV gurus! When a homeowner is trying to sell a home on those programs, professionals advise the seller to get their property ready for the market by creating curb appeal—clean it up, declutter, paint, cut the grass, get new carpet, and even pay a company to stage the home.

This allows the home to be shown to potential buyers in the best possible light. It eliminates the need for potential buyers to overlook the stains on the carpet or the neglected garden. When a home looks like it’s “move-in ready,” buyers are inclined to believe what they see and want to buy.

“As Is” Requires a Leap of Faith

Alternately, when homeowners list their homes “as is” and make no investment in fixing up the home before listing it, it is typically sold at a big discount. The uncertainty of potential problems is priced in.

The beauty of many programs on HGTV is that experienced real estate and building professionals will examine a fixer-upper and can tell if the issue is just cosmetic or if it’s an expensive fix. Your average buyer doesn’t have the time or expertise to do that and therefore shies away from buying “as is” homes. They just want to close, move in, and get on with their lives.

Most hiring managers don’t have time to examine each candidate’s potential in any depth. They are like the home buyer that just wants to buy a “move-in ready” house.

Taking time to hire a new employee is a huge disruption from their day-to-day job. The last thing a manager wants to do is invest time and effort to hire someone, then not have them work out. The consequences could be costly in both lost productivity and reputation.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

When you’re looking for a job, make your value and attractiveness immediately visible on your résumé and LinkedIn profile. When you get a screening interview, be ready with clear examples of how you’ve been successful in previous roles that align with the job.

Be sure to bring the energy as well. Many managers will choose to hire someone who really wants a job over a slightly more qualified candidate who doesn’t show a high level of interest in the position. Blasé is not a good look when you’re serious about getting a job.

Invest to Reduce Perceived Risk

What can you do if you want to pivot to something new or you’re a new graduate who doesn’t have any professional experience? Invest in yourself to reduce the perceived risk of hiring you.

Here are a few things that you can do to gain career curb appeal:

  • Learn to tell your story in a concise and compelling way.
  • Spruce up your résumé.
  • Get your LinkedIn profile to all-star status.
  • Get some additional training in areas where you have gaps.
  • Make sure your image fits the role that you’re aiming for (invest in a stylist if needed).

If you’re not sure what blocks stand in the way of your career goals, hire a professional. Like a realtor advising a homeowner on getting their home to appeal to the largest number of buyers, a career coach can help you get yourself ready for the job market so you’re also in demand.

Trying to Get Hired “As Is”

Years ago, when my boss left the large bank we worked for, I applied for his job. I had been his right-hand person and was heavily involved in the operations of the department and the interactions with leaders in the business. In the months after he left, I stepped up to provide leadership to the team and felt that I had a good shot at being officially promoted into the role.

Assumptions Can Lead to Big Mistakes

I applied for the role, but I didn’t do anything special to prepare myself for the interview. I had been at the company for about eight years at that point and would be interviewing with people who I had worked with in different capacities over the years. I assumed that they understood the value I brought to the organization. In retrospect, that was my big mistake.

Because most of the interviewers supported other businesses and were in another city, they actually didn’t understand what I did. Their knowledge of my expertise and contributions was shallow. In addition, I hadn’t interviewed in the eight years since the company hired me.

A Crushing Humiliation

The first interview was with human resources and was basically a screening interview. I did well enough to be granted a second interview. The second-round interview was with a panel of marketing leaders from other areas of the company. I had never been in a panel interview before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Disappointingly, in the interview, I became anxious and didn’t perform well. Let’s just call it what it was—I bombed!

I felt so humiliated, not only because I hadn’t presented myself in my best light, but also because I would continue to work with and see these people at departmental events. I felt like they would be looking at me as a lightweight and unworthy of performing at a management level. It was embarrassing.

Getting Professional Help

Frankly, I don’t like viewing myself as less than an all-star. Though I realized that I wouldn’t be progressing to the next phase of the interview process, I was motivated to get at the heart of my disastrous performance.

I hired a career coach to help me get over my interview anxiety. With her help, I learned how to talk naturally and persuasively about the value that I brought to the organization. I used the PAR method to concisely frame up:

  • The problems I encountered
  • The actions I took
  • The results I delivered.

Going From “As Is” to “As If”

My career coach also helped me recognize how to package myself so employers would see me as ready to deliver value at the next level. I went on a shopping spree and bought some suits and dresses that were more tailored and higher quality than what I typically wore to work. I was dressing for the job I wanted rather than the job I was currently in. I started acting “as if” I were already at that next level.

The recruiting process for the open role continued, and eventually a candidate was offered the position, but she declined to take the job. The hiring manager didn’t feel comfortable offering the role to any of the other candidates, so he started the recruiting process again from square one.

Disappointment Turns to Hope

I reapplied for the role, and using the skills and new mind-set I’d practiced with the help of my coach, I progressed to the final round of interviews. It was down to me and an external candidate. I felt much more confident going through the process the second time, and I was able to easily communicate the value that I provided for the organization. I was hopeful that this time I’d earn the promotion.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. When I found out that they offered the role to the external candidate, I was disappointed. But it didn’t take long to realize that the universe had a different plan for me. The day I learned that the other candidate had accepted the job, while I was at lunch, a recruiter left a voicemail about a role that was a great fit for me at another company.

Persistence Pays Off

It was as if I was being told that since I’d prepared, something bigger was in store—and indeed there was. That message began an active period of interviewing. By the time I finally moved on from that company, I had two job offers and was actively interviewing with a third company.

The investment I made in improving my skills and promoting myself mentally to the next level resulted in the outcome I’d been seeking. Instead of naively expecting people to see me the way I saw myself, I learned to present myself in a way that made them feel confident “buying” and gave them no doubt that any investment in me would be worth it. The investment I made in myself paid off.

[1] Montessori, Maria. Brainyquote.com. Accessed February 2, 2020.

Terry Boyle McDougall is an executive coach, speaker and best-selling author of Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms. She works with managers, executives and professionals who want to draw upon their greatest, most authentic abilities to positively impact their organizations. She supports clients who are creating change, driving innovation, and navigating transitions.

Terry relies on both her formal training as a coach and firsthand experience as a corporate leader to support her clients as they work towards their goals. In coaching engagements, Terry serves her clients as a partner and encourager as they break new ground; as a sounding board, supporting them as an objective listener; as a scout, who sees the larger context, their possibilities and potential; and, as a catalyst, helping to spark their commitment and action.

After 30 years of corporate business experience, 15 of which were in senior managerial roles, Terry chose to become a coach to concentrate on helping leaders step fully into their potential to lead satisfying careers. Though the majority of Terry’s professional experience is in financial services and marketing, her work exposed her to a wide variety of industries, business climates and corporate transitions such as mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and restructures.

Areas of leadership skills development include: Goal setting Prioritization Staff management Delegation Strategic thinking Decision making Project management Facilitating meetings

Change management Effective communications Customer relations (internal/external) Onboarding & career transition

She has worked with clients from: AbbVie ACCO Brands BMO BMW Chubb Ernst & Young Four Square Hyatt

JLL JPMorganChase Kendra Scott MediaCom

Mindshare Motorola Newsela Nuveen

Univar Solutions USG Corporation Wells Fargo Zillow

EDUCATION CERTIFICATIONS University of Maryland, MBA College of William & Mary, BA, Economics iPEC, Coach Certification Training ICF, Professional Certified Coach iPEC, Master Practitioner, Energy Leadership Predictive Index, Talent Optimization Partner

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
by Christopher Paolini
Genre: Science Fiction
Expected Publication: September 15, 2020
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Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

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New Releases

Cover Reveal: Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph @MysteryAuthor7 @RRBookTours1 #MG #Mystery #MGReads #RRBookTours #Teachers #Librarians

I’m so pleased to reveal the new cover for the latest Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery book, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph. Coming this fall!

Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse
by Sherrill Joseph

(A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #2)
Expected Publication: Fall 2020
Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade – 9 to 12
(For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)

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In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.

On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.

To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!

“GREEN CURSE is a spooky mystery that starts during a lightning storm in a big empty mansion. The tension ratchets up continuously as the story goes, alluding to ghosts, vampires, tombstones, graves, and a scary old woman that could be a witch. There’s a mystery within the mystery, a broad range of diverse characters, and interesting lore about gemstones of antiquity. My 12-year-old son and I recommend this page-turner that we just had to finish in one day!” -–BEN GARTNER, author of The Eye of Ra series

“This book was shocking, fun, and clever. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. One of the best books I have ever read!” –LIAM M., age 11, Macungie, PA

Other Books in the Series:

Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets
by Sherrill Joseph
(A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1)
Publication Date: February 1st, 2020
Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)

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Egyptian Secrets is available for review!
Request copy 

World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.

Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.

A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.

Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.

She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens.

In addition, the author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek to realize their greatest potential with courage and self-respect.

Sherrill is a lexical-gustatory synesthete and native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her poodle-bichon mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Other loves include her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She can’t leave out dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, purple, and daisies. Having never lived in a two-story house, she is naturally fascinated by staircases. Sherrill is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.

Sherrill Joseph | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Waiting On Wednesday: The Enforcer Enigma G.L. Carriger

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

The Enforcer Enigma G.L. Carriger
(San Andreas Shifters #3)
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance
Expected Publication: August 1, 2020
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Charming urban fantasy from New York Times bestselling comedy author Gail Carriger.

ENFORCER

Judd has wandered from pack to pack his whole life, searching for wolves who will accept him for who he is and who he loves. Now he believes that he’s finally found the right pack and the right man.

NERD

Rejected by his family for being gay and geeky, Colin has never fit in with werewolves, yet now he is one. He doesn’t know how to react when Judd starts courting him. He’s even more lost when a famous singer, the selkie mob, and the feds also start chasing him.

Can Judd protect Colin and still prove his love? Can Colin figure out why enemy shifters are invading his favorite cafe? And what’s with all the gold sparkle? Find out in The Enforcer Enigma.

Delicate Sensibilities?

This paranormal romance contains M/M sexy times, horrible puns regarding country music, and men who wear suits without shirts underneath. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The San Andreas Shifter stories include blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart (or mouth or tongue). 

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New Releases

July 2020 Books I’m Excited About

Books I'm Excited About

Hey Everyone!

A new month a new set of releases.  There are 2 books that are coming out this month that I am excited about.

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang
Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
Expected publication: July 1, 2020
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New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real—or whether she can trust those closest to her. 

The Damned by Renée Ahdieh
(The Beautiful #2)
Young Adult, Fantasy
Expected publication: July 7, 2020
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Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart. 

Are there any books that you are looking forward to this month?

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New Releases

Book Blitz: Midnight Temptations by Shari Nichols @Shari_Nich @CityOwlPress @RRBookTours #MidnightTemptation #RRBookTours #Excerpt #Giveaway #UrbanFantasy

Congratulations to Shari Nichols on the release of her latest Ravens Hollow Coven novel, Midnight Temptation! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Midnight Temptations by Shari Nichols
(Ravens Hollow Coven)
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: City Owl Press
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Purchase
Amazon | BookBub

What are the stakes for falling in love?

When tarot card reader Gillian Howe hosts a supernatural speed dating event, she ponders the stakes of falling in love. Making the perfect match is her passion, too bad she can’t find one for herself. After a chance encounter with a wealthy vampire, she finds herself plunged into a secret society of trancing, blood bonds and human escort rings. But when Garrett Mulroney shows up at the scene, the vampire detective is the last person she wants…even if he is scorching hot.

Garrett has been down this brutal road before and it didn’t end well. His sire tried to force him into a life of debauchery, but he chose to uphold the law instead. Now the one woman he can’t seem to get out of his mind or out of his lust-filled dreams is at the center of his investigation. It’s a good thing she hates his guts, because it helps douse his growing desire for her and focus on the case. But when Gillian’s cousin is kidnapped into the Du Sang Brotherhood, she becomes the prime witness. Now they’re forced to put their differences aside by pretending to be a couple. The more time Garrett spends with Gillian, the more he wants her in his life—and in his bed. Dark forces from his past threaten to resurface…even her love might not be enough to save him from the Brotherhood.

Suddenly, all the hairs on the back of Gillian’s neck stood on end. Her whole body tensed. The chatter and music became muffled. Her eyes flickered across the lobby in search of who, or what, had caught her attention.

Then she saw him.

Six-feet-three inches of tall, dark, and brooding stood at the front desk. Detective Garrett Mulroney? What the hell was he doing here? Seeing him again after all these months sent a jolt of shock rippling through her.

His gaze locked with hers, and for a moment, she forgot to breathe. They both stood there, staring at each other. It was as though he could see beneath her armor, the kind she wore under the little black dress.

The word handsome didn’t even begin to describe him. Mythological titans like Adonis and Poseidon came to mind, males so stunning, they couldn’t possibly be real. But then she thought of other words too, like arrogant, brash…controlling…she could go on.

Mulroney crossed the lobby with a confidant gait, his long legs eating up the distance between them in a few easy strides. Her heart hammered in her chest with every step.

Every female head turned to catch a glimpse of the vampire. The closer he got, the more her body became hyperaware of his presence. He kept his thick head of dark hair short on the sides and longer in the front. The cut showed off the angles and hard lines of his face. Sexy stubble darkened a square jaw, and he looked every bit as dangerous as she remembered. Long, and lean, Gillian could make out the ripple of sinewy muscle beneath the jacket of his grey suit. In the past, she’d always been attracted to the artistic types. So, there was no good reason why she was drawn to this rough-hewn alpha.

But Goddess help her, he was magnificent.

Laughter drifted from the bar, and that’s when she realized she was still standing on a chair, gawking at him like some lovesick schoolgirl. She went to step down and her foot slipped out from one of her strappy sandals. Before she could fall sideways onto the marble, two strong arms wrapped around her waist and caught her in midair.

When she looked up and into Mulroney’s ice-blue eyes, her heart gave a little flutter. Apparently, the legends about vampires having preternatural speed and strength were real. But then, as his gaze filled with a kind of raw, primal desire, she had no doubt the steamy ones about them possessing a certain sexual allure also rang true.

“You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck,” Mulroney whispered close to her ear and set her on her feet. “What are you doing here tonight, Miss Howe?” The deep rumble of his voice did funny things to her insides.

“I could ask you the same question.” Gillian grabbed the scissors and scotch tape off the table, then shoved them in her black beaded bag. “If you must know, I’m working,” Gillian snapped. Ever since the prickly detective had been assigned to investigate the robbery of one of her clients, a local antique dealer, their paths had collided on more than one occasion.

Mulroney’s eyes did a slow sweep of her from the tips of her three-inch heels to the top of her head. Goosebumps instantly spread across her flesh. Gillian wanted to squirm from the flagrant perusal, but remained still, refusing to give him the satisfaction. Why would she? After all, he had tried to ruin her life. “Interesting work attire,” he murmured.

Her hands clenched at her sides, fighting the urge to tug on her dress again. “I’m sure you didn’t walk over here to comment on my choice of clothing. To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?” she asked with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

“Trust me, this wasn’t planned,” he said in a gruff voice, refusing to look her in the eye.

Gillian couldn’t help remembering the day he and his partner had showed up at the coven. Peppering her with questions and unwarranted accusations, they’d invaded her safe space, conjuring that too familiar lash of shame, and reminding her of the days when the neighbors used to call the cops to keep her parents from an all-out war.

He kept his hands stuffed in his pockets, his stance casual, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. There was no mistaking the predatory way he kept checking out the people strolling by as only a cop would. She followed his gaze as it took in every detail, restless with intensity, before finally landing on their banner. “Is this a private fundraiser?”

She nodded, not in the mood to elaborate. “Are you here in an official capacity? What’s the matter, no real criminals on the streets tonight?” Or maybe this was personal and he was meeting someone. He’d worked with Alex on several cases, and according to Willow, he was a confirmed bachelor, not that she had inquired or anything.

 “A quick word, please, Miss Howe. We need to talk.” The object of her unhealthy obsession ignored her questions and reached for her elbow, pulling her off to the side. His touch seared through the thin material of her dress, leaving a hot flush along her skin. At five-foot-seven, she wasn’t exactly short, but even in her heels, he towered over her.

“Hold on. I’m kind of busy right now. What’s this about?” Gillian demanded, catching a whiff of his masculine scent, a blend of sandalwood and clean laundry. She fought the urge to sigh and glared at him instead.

“You shouldn’t be here.” Mulroney glanced over at the couple’s tables scattered with rose petals, floating candles, bowls of heart-shaped chocolates, and the Lawrence Charity placards. He turned back to face her and scowled. “I want you to leave. Now.”

“Excuse me?” His words knocked Gillian off-center and before she could process them, an attractive female vampire with dark hair pulled in a tight ponytail walked up to Mulroney and placed a hand on his arm.

“It’s time. We need to go.” A surge of irrational jealousy coursed through Gillian’s veins like battery acid.

For a split second he hesitated, his gaze still fixed on Gillian, and she sensed some kind of inner battle raging inside him. Then he gave her a curt nod and walked away. Her heart sank.

Brooke approached and crossed her arms over her chest. “What was that all about?”

Not sure what to make of their twisted interaction, or of Mulroney’s ominous words for that matter, Gillian sucked in a quivering breath and let it out. “No idea.”

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Shari Nichols grew up in a small town in Connecticut where haunted houses, ghosts and Ouija boards were common place, spurring her fascination with all things paranormal. Ever since she read her first Barbara Cartland novel, her life-long dream has been to write sexy, romantic stories. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, going to the gym, or hanging out with family and friends.

Shari’s a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance Writers. Shari’s new series,  Ravens’ Hollow Coven, is an urban fantasy with City Owl Press.

Awards:  Beverley Award, Golden Leaf Finalist, Best Book Finalist by a New Jersey Author, HOLT Medallion Finalist, Literary Titan Silver Medal Winner

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New Releases

Book Blitz: Defense of Exeter Station by Thom Bedford @ThomBedford and @Shalini_G26

The Defense of Exeter Station
by Thom Bedford
Publication Date: June 27, 2020
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera
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At the turn of the twenty-ninth century, the Milky Way is on the verge of a galactic war. The Combined Systems Alliance continues to expand their territory—much to the displeasure of the Free Planetary Union who, until now, lacked the resources to halt the encroachment. In a bid to wrest control from the Alliance and retake their former colonies, Union agents throughout the Alliance Fleet organize a mass insurgency seizing countless assets. During the ensuing chaos, numerous ships are decimated and millions of lives are lost.

Retired Alliance Commander Tanic Sandorn finds himself stranded on a border station after the Union launches an all-out assault. Fighting against anxieties from the incident that pushed him into early retirement, Sandorn accepts being recalled to active duty and propelled to the front lines. This time, he will protect his crew and the inhabitants of the Exeter star system from any approaching threat—never again will he leave anyone behind.

But outnumbered, outgunned, and outflanked, Exeter Station is left running at a fraction of its operating capacity. Sandorn and the Alliance officers on board must strategize quickly and carefully to hold their ground, or they will be forced to surrender the station, the system, and their lives.

For fans of epic space operas, like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. 

Every crew member aboard the Veloz ran from stem to stern working tirelessly to patch every hole in the ship. The damage was critical to the point that nearly half the ship had been evacuated. With so little power available, compartmental force fields were inoperable, leaving only a single fire door between repair crews and the vacuum of space in many areas.

Not a single deck was spared at least some devastation, for as the ship’s superstructure twisted and contorted under heavy firepower, panels came loose and circuits overloaded throughout resulting in debris littering every room and corridor. The floors weren’t only littered with discarded paneling and blown circuitry, but also injured, dying, and dead crew members. The initial unexpected surprise attack caused the most death and destruction, taking over a hundred lives. Then as the battle wore on, further loss of life was inevitable.

The victory was Pyrrhic, but it was a victory, nonetheless.

Thom grew up in suburban Cheshire, England with his parents and brother. During school he had a propensity for creativity, either writing, building models, painting, or programming. Every subject choice was motivated by creating and building, whether it be design technology, graphic design, programming, or creative writing.

After studying Computer Science at The University of Manchester, he started working as a Software Developer. Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked as a Technical Consultant in London for several years, then in Data Warehousing back in Manchester.

In his spare time, Thom still writes, build models, paints, and programs, but nowadays also listens to a lot of music, watches a lot of films, and enjoys playing computer games.

His love for science fiction comes from blockbuster films like Starship Troopers, Star Wars and Star Trek, as well as B-movies like Wing Commander, Pitch Black, and Iron Sky. Computer games like Homeworld, EVE-Online, and Stellaris, and books like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. In other words, sci-fi—particularly space opera—in any media.

Thom currently lives in Cheshire, England, with his wife, Helen, and their two cats.

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