by Michelle Smith
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
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In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.
Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek–he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.
As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn t everything–maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.
Michelle Smith was born and raised in North Carolina, where she developed a healthy appreciation for college football, sweet tea, front porches, and a well-placed “y’all.” She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and fully believes that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.
Michelle lives near the Carolina coast with her family.
Be sure to follow Michelle’s sites. She’s a lovely person to chat with on twitter and her tumblr is always on pointe.
In this scene, Marisa’s reporting for her first training session at the Braxton family’s flower shop, and Austin is in charge of the grand tour.
I clap my hands together and start for the first display cooler. Marisa’s shoes squeak against the floor as she follows me. “All right, then,” I say on an exhale, turning to her. She stares up at me, all bouncy ponytail and bright eyes. “We’re supposed to be training. So, first things first. Flowers: how much do you know about them?”
She giggles, and dang it, she needs to stop. Please make it stop. All these little things she does that make my stomach do weird flip-flops are going to turn into big things, and big things are a lot harder to ignore.
“It’s safe to say I know a bit about flowers,” Marisa says. “Your mom gave me one heck of a quiz during my interview to make sure I knew my stuff. She even asked what my favorite flower was and how often I’m supposed to change vase water. I mean, really?”
I twirl my finger, signaling for her to continue. “And your answers were…?”
She tilts her head to the side. “Purple roses. Every two-to-three days. Do you think I’m an amateur?”
Even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. I’d train her all day, every day as long as she kept smiling at me like she is now. But that smile falters as her gaze falls to the floor. She clears her throat and says, “Before we moved here, my mom was obsessed with gardening. She taught me everything I know.”
Her voice dips. Before I can ask if she’s all right, she shakes her head and looks back to me, her eyes not nearly as bright, but still as piercing as they were before.
I shrug and force a smile of my own. “Looks like we have something in common. My momma’s a gardening freak, too.” As if owning a flower shop didn’t already give that away. Strike two, Braxton.
She steps to my side, her arm brushing against mine as she gestures to the cooler. “Anyway, continue, Floral Prince. Teach me your ways. I’m sure you know much more than I do.”
I narrow my eyes. “You’re makin’ fun of me, aren’t you? Is it the apron? Because I’ll have you know, I’m rockin’ this apron.”
She grins. “I would never make fun of a prince,” she says seriously and curtsies. The girl freakin’ curtsies.
I cross my arms. “All right, feisty pants. I see what you did there.”
Her jaw drops. “You did not just call me feisty pants. What are you, sixty? Who even says that?”
“I do, obviously. And what I was going to say is, you can’t put whatever flowers you want in the cooler. This is where we keep the special order arrangements and loose flowers. Single roses and stuff like that.”
Instead of replying, her lips curve up again. My heart hammers against my chest. No matter how tough he acts, every guy dreams of someone looking at him this way. Like every word out of his mouth is coated in gold, even if it’s the cheesiest thing that person’s ever heard.
No one’s ever looked at me this way before, not even Jamie. It’s killer. And it’s kind of freaking me the hell out because I’d never even seen this girl until a week ago, and she’s got me acting like an idiot.
“What—” I cough to cover the crack in my voice. “What’s that look for?”
She shrugs and moves past me toward the cooler. In its reflection, I see her staring at the arrangements, her fingertips pressed lightly against the glass. “I like your voice,” she says. “It’s laid-back. Easy-going. Like you have all the time in the world.” She faces me again. “And your accent’s kind of to die for. But you can pretend I didn’t say that.”
Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of PLAY ON (US residents only) by entering below.
The lovely Sasha Abernathy is back, showing off the cover for her novel, CHASING THE SUN. Don’t you just love it?
Release Date: October 21st, 2014; will be available via Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.
Hunted by Chaos. Protected by Death. Guided by Fire. Terran is now the key to a world she never knew existed.
For Terran, life was simple – until she meets the new art gallery owner, Aiden. Through him, she finds herself surrounded by terrifying nightmares and gods. When an ancient evil threatens to escape and unleash all Hell, Terran must dive into a world she never knew existed to save them all…even if that means giving up her life to do it.
“Aren’t these Aiden’s pieces?” Micah had caught up to me and seemed as perplexed as I did.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Who would have thought he’d donate his work?” Micah commented and then lost interest, walking away as she saw someone she recognized.
I stayed, staring in shock.
“Don’t look so surprised. Your friend Jon’s charity is truly for a good cause.”
I shouldn’t have lingered. By now I should have known to avoid anything having to do with Aiden. Many of the contributing artists were here to help promote their pieces so I should have known. But somehow he always caught me off guard.
“Actually, I’m surprised you have a heart at all.” My disdain oozed off my words as I gave him the biggest scowl I could muster.
However ugly I thought his attitude, I couldn’t say the same about his appearance. Aiden cleaned up nicely in his all-black tuxedo. His hair had been gelled down, but you could still see the natural wave of it. His tux looked as if it had been custom-made, which made me curious. How many black-tie events did he go to in order to have purchased a custom tux?
But, who cared? With my shoulders back, chest raised, and chin up I turned my head, grabbed my dress on the sides and walked away. Screw him.
I got about three steps away before I heard him.
“You look beautiful,” he said to my back. It stopped me, my heart thumping loud in my chest. An immeasurable amount of time had passed since someone besides my friends had told me I was beautiful. I could feel him staring at me, but I didn’t move. I only stood there, frozen.
“Terran,” His voice was soft with yearning. It was then that I gained enough courage to walk away. I had already made up my mind about him. He was too complicated and I was tired of the ups and downs of his mood. This man would break my spirit, at least what little of it I fought to keep.
About the Author:
Born in Germany to a Puerto Rican mother and All-American Military father, who saw fit to give her a Russian name, Sasha Abernathy has always loved storytelling and travelling. Raised in Oklahoma, but eventually moving everywhere from Alaska to Spain, Sasha has finally settled in the beautiful state of Colorado. With her loving husband, two wild sons, and neurotic labradoodle, Sasha is surrounded by way too much testosterone and escapes through her mysteriously whimsical and romantic novels.
Just in time for Pitch Wars, Jason Nelson’s FREE AGENT releases. He found his agent through the contest, who sold the the book to Penguin ACE in a three book deal (Grimm Agency series) a few months later. To complete the circle, Jason is now a Pitch Wars mentor. Read about FREE AGENT below, check out the first chapter, and enter to win a copy!
When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…
Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.
Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.
Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…
The New Year’s Eve countdown told me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous enough by itself.
“Marissa, I might remind you of the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me, the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.
“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along the theater line, head down.
His image followed me, reflecting from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope. “I’ll believe that when you actually do.”
Call it women’s intuition, or maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing into the throng.
“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”
“Watch your language, young lady. Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.” Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on.
If I had enough Glitter to buy a happily ever after, I wouldn’t have spent all day chasing a thief. There were easier ways to make a living, and definitely safer ways.
I breathed in the warm lobby air, laced with enough butter, fat, and salt to make me gain a couple of pounds just from walking through.
The ticket man watched me as I approached, jiggling my leg. “I’ve got to go. Could you save my spot in line?”
He rolled his eyes, the apex of teenage angst, and motioned me past. I’d been to my fair share of balls and knew where I’d go if I had a pair of shoes that were killing my feet. I headed straight to the bathroom. Nobody in the prep area, but I listened. There, soft sobbing, and the click of high heels on ceramic.
“The slippers won’t come off like that.” I hoped I wasn’t talking to a Grandma, but the sobbing cut off.
Grimm coalesced into the mirrored wall, his white hair framing the bald spot on his head. He looked at me over horn-rimmed glasses that masked eyebrows like a yeti’s. “Marissa, two minutes.”
If I’d had something handy, I’d have thrown it at the mirror. In the name of not having a magical disaster, I decided to commit the cardinal sin of the ladies room. I tried the stall door. As my hand touched it, the door burst open, hitting me in the face. Pain made the world flash white. I put my hand to my nose and felt the blood as she dashed out of the restroom. Grimm told me the shoes were enchanted, but the fact that she could run in three-inch heels meant serious magic. Now I knew I had the right girl. In the lobby, the fire alarms wailed as I came out of the bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of her running out. I charged after her, through the fire exit and into the alley.
I wasn’t afraid of your average dark alley. I had standard Agency-issue spells in my coat and a nine millimeter in my purse for dealing with the less dangerous pests, but even I knew you have to be careful with an upset woman.
She pulled at her feet and limped down the alley. “I’m not giving them back.”
No way was she going to outrun me. Tennis shoes might not be the height of fashion, but I wore them for their practicality. I slipped a bag out of my pocket. “This will let me take them off. You can’t remove them because you stole them.”
She stumbled, then slumped against the wall, her feet out in front of her. Passing taillights made the glass slippers glisten, moving and shifting, like something alive. That made sense, since Grimm said they were. The glass filled with red, like she’d cut her toe. The bloodstain spread up the sides of the glass and she began to gurgle and cry.
I pulled out my pocket compact. “Grimm, I might have a problem.”
“Tell me you have them.”
“Get out of there, Marissa. She’s not going to turn into a pumpkin.” His voice was firm and commanding. I’d never been the type to listen to firm or commanding. See, there was this thing about magic slippers. Use them with permission, and at midnight the whole deal expired. Steal them from a custom boutique on Fifth, and at midnight turning into a vegetable was the least of your worries.
She curled into a ball, kicking, growling, and making noises I’d never heard outside of the labor and delivery room. Running through the theater was out; heading back in there would introduce a whole load of teens to a different kind of monster than the movie ones. The loading bays down at the end of the alley didn’t look too promising, and now Princess PMS rose to her feet. The bloodred stains covered her from head to toe. Shadows covered her face, but where the orange wash of the street lights hit her she looked maroon.
“You want to let me help you?” I asked. The growling noise she made ruled out diplomacy. “Okay, we do it my way.”
She leaped at me. I’d mastered seven different forms of self-defense and I wore all four of the major protection charms, but one thing was constant: Whether my assailant was a drug addict or a bridge troll, pepper spray would leave them blind. So I ducked out of the way and gave her a dash of the scent I was sampling that day. It hit her like a brick, leaving her clawing at her eyes. I realized as she stumbled past that her nails were now at least three inches long and razor sharp.
She started sniffing the air, then like a dog, she ran straight into me, knocking me back to the Dumpster. Dumpsters hurt. I caught her arm before she could give me surprise plastic surgery and slammed her into the ground, pinning her underneath me.
That should have ended it, but she rolled over, throwing me to the side, and I barely stepped out of the way of those nails. She kicked at me and I caught her foot.
“Gotcha,” I said, rubbing the shoes with the bag. Grimm said the bag was made of genuine werewolf fur, but whatever it was, the effect was immediate. She thrashed and choked and kicked and I held on tight until she went limp. The slippers came off in my hand without a fight.
They glimmered under the streetlight, and for a moment I saw an image form in them: Me, walking down the street in them. No Agency bracelet on my wrist, a bag from shopping in my hand. I could be free, if only I put them on.
“Marissa,” said Grimm, speaking from the reflection in the shoes, “put them in the bag.”
I did, and the fantasy blew away like dry leaves down the sidewalk. My back hurt where I’d hit the Dumpster. My arm throbbed where she’d grabbed me, and my cheek had that hot feeling that said somewhere in her thrashing, she’d managed to nail me with a foot.
“I’m going home,” I said to my compact mirror. “What do you want me to do with her?”
“Leave her for the police. They’ll be there shortly. Evangeline needs your assistance on the Upper East Side, and there’s the matter of a troll.”
“I’m going home.” I knew full well he’d heard me the first time.
“I’ve got work for you, Marissa, and if you are ever to get your own ever after—”
“The only after I’m interested in right now is after a bottle of wine and after a long night’s sleep. I’ll see you when I’m ready for work.”
“Marissa, you need to ask yourself what you want more: A night’s sleep, or another job.”
I wiped a trace of blood off my lip, took a look at my bruises in the compact. Everything about me ached and the cold seeped out of the shadows into my bones. I put my hand on the bracelet and made my decision. “Tell Evangeline I’m on my way.” Nights like this made me wish I’d never gotten started in this business.
Win a Copy:
A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the cover for Megan Erikson’s novel, MAKE IT COUNT. Is this thing not the most amazing cover you’ve ever laid your eyes on?
Not only do you get a peek at the cover, you get an excerpt from the novel. Enjoy!!
MAKE IT COUNT excerpt:
Kat gathered her books and stuffed them into her plaid Burberry messenger bag, then headed toward the front doors, smoothie from the library snack shop in hand. Head bent, fiddling with the clasp of her bag, she stumbled into a wall of human on the pavement outside.
“Oh, I’m sorry—” Her voice dropped out when she realized the solid flesh belonged to Alec, Max’s best friend.
She’d only met him once or twice before he’d moved in with Max this semester and every time, he cocked his eyebrow with a half frown like he knew something she didn’t. Which he actually did, since he had brainy superpowers. Smarter than a speeding Einstein. Able to leap over C-minus students like her in a single bound.
She didn’t trust people that smart. And she didn’t trust a guy who didn’t ogle her ass or leer at her boobs like every other member of the straight male species on the planet.
Right now, that raised-eyebrow frown pinned her where she stood. His pale green eyes behind thick black frames roamed over her shoulder to the library and then back to her. With his pin-stripe button-down, dark jeans with Converse shoes and hair styled in a short, messy pompadour, he looked like a nerdy Elvis.
His frown morphed into a smile when he spotted the smoothie in her hand, and she definitely didn’t notice his full lips. “You know, you don’t have to venture into the forbidden zone just to get a smoothie.”
Oooh. The jerk. She glanced around surreptitiously, then leaned in and spoke in a low voice. “Just play it cool. Don’t let it slip someone like me snuck in the library.” She gripped his forearm and whispered. “Password today is rosebud.”
His face blanked and he looked at her like he’d never seen her before. Kat debated whether or not that was an improvement over his other look.
But then those intelligent eyes narrowed and a smirk curled his lips. “I know. We nerds get an e-mail every morning.”
See? He always needed the last word. She propped a hand on her hip and leaned in. “Well, sounds like you have a mole. Might want to look into that.”
He opened his mouth but she cut him off. “Just looking out for you guys. Anyway, see ya around!”
Before he could shoot back a snarky comeback, Kat skirted around him and bounded down the stairs. She chalked that up as Kat 1, Alec 0.
About the author:
MEGAN ERICKSON grew up in a family that averages 5’3” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.
She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.
Avon Romance: http://avonromance.com/book/
Author website: http://meganerickson.
To show my support for other authors, I have decided I want to do my part and offer opportunities for them to promote their books and talk about their writing process. My hope is that in the new year, weekly (or semi-monthly) interviews will go up and introduce other book loves to new material.
YA author | Fictional character shipper | Makeup & shoe junkie | TV marathoner | Firm believer that the best way to hear music is LIVE | Educator and forever student Read More…