Thursday teaser: Freckled

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A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii

By Toby Neal

At preschool I heard the ladies talking about ESP. There are two kinds of ESP: the kind where you hear other people’s thoughts, and the kind where people can make other people do what they want just with their thoughts. 

I always listen to grownups so I can know things— “Elephant ears” Mom calls me. Grandma Gigi, Pop’s mom, believes in ESP too. “I can tell when you’re thinking about me, so that’s when I call,” Gigi says. She does usually call when we need something, and I love when her packages come in the mail, even though Pop grumbles that I’m getting spoiled.

I want to have the make-people-do-stuff kind of ESP.

We’re at dinner, and the sun has gone down behind the ocean. I can hear the surf outside; it’s coming up bigger with a shushing sound.

“Should be good tomorrow,” Pop says, sipping his beer. Because my dad’s a surfer, we always pay attention to what the surf is doing and the weather conditions. There’s “onshore,” which means the wind is in my face off the ocean and that’s bad for surf—I don’t really know why. Then there’s “offshore,” which is best to make the waves good, and “Konas,” which means the wind is light and from the side. 

Mom is sitting between Pop and me. Her tummy is super big, almost touching the table, and she’s wearing her favorite blue muumuu that she sewed herself. There are some oven-baked fries, special because they are not goodforyou, and fish Pop caught, and Mom’s salad with bean sprouts. We have white plates with a flower border, a milk bottle filled with daisies, Mom’s favorite flower, and everything is pretty and good.

Even after he smoked today, Pop was still grumpy. I can see how he’s feeling like a black cloud over his head. Bad things can happen when I make him mad, and I do that a lot because I’m noisy and too bouncy. I’m always trying to get him to like me and see that I’m smart and can do things as good as a boy. Because I was supposed to be a boy and be named James Theodore the Third. 

Mom and Pop didn’t know what to call me when I was a girl, so they named me Toby after the redheaded boy who runs away to the circus in a movie Mom watched at the hospital. I have no middle name because “when you’re old enough, you can choose your own middle name.” This worries me. How do I pick the right name? I wish I could just be named James Theodore the Third, even if I am a redheaded girl.

Maybe I can make Pop do something with ESP. 

PICK UP THE KETCHUP, I think. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. PICK UP THE KETCHUP. 

Pop looks up at me. His green eyes have red around them. The overhead light shines on his curling blond hair, going thin at the top. I stare at him, my lips moving, as I think as hard as I can—PICK UP THE KETCHUP.

“What are you looking at?” His voice is a low thunder sound. He narrows his eyes. I don’t look away or answer. He’s going to PICK UP THE KETCHUP any second now. I just know it!

“Stop staring at me.” Pop gets louder and seems to swell.

I can tell how mad he’s getting, but I stare until my eyes hurt because I can feel it almost working—he’s going to hear me any minute now. I don’t blink. I want to be scary: eyes wide, mouth tight, staring hard as I think PICK UP THE KETCHUP. I will make him do what I want!

“I said stop looking at me, disrespectful little brat!” He stands up and his chair flies back and lands on the linoleum with a thud. He’s enormous. 

My mom makes fluttery noises, but it’s too late. Roaring something I don’t hear, he comes around the table and whips me off the chair by my hair. I crash onto the floor and hold onto my head and use my legs to hold myself up, trying to keep from being dragged—it hurts so bad, as he hauls me down the hall, but I won’t cry. I’m stubborn like that. I’m not afraid of pain.

I’m still thinking, PICK UP THE KETCHUP. Like it’s going to save me. Like he can hear me.

But he doesn’t. 

**Download Freckled and continue reading now!**

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🌴 Paperback: tobyneal.net/Frppbk

Freckled

For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise.

We never call it homeless. We’re just “camping” in the jungle on Kauai…

We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf…but we’ve been “camping” for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a tractor is coming to scrape our camp into the river.

Standing in front of the tent in my nightgown, clinging to my sister as we face the tractor, I know my own truth: I just want to be normal.

But Mom and Pop are addicted.

Addicted to Kauai’s beauty, to drugs, to surfing, to living a life according to their own rules out from under their high-achieving parents’ judgmental eyes. I’m just their red-headed, mouthy, oldest kid. What I want doesn’t matter.

But I’m smart. I will make a different life for myself someday if I keep up my grades no matter what happens.

No matter how often we run out of food.

No matter how many times I change schools…or don’t go to school at all.

No matter how many bullies beat me up for the color of my skin.

I might be growing up wild in Hawaii, but I have dreams I’m going to reach, no matter how crazy things get.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Bestseller joins BestSelling Reads: Meet M.L. Doyle

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Bestselling and award-winning author M.L. Doyle has joined the ranks of BestSelling Reads.

Mary Doyle is the author of two memoirs, three mystery novels, a four-novella erotic romance series, and the first of a series of urban fantasy novels. Her first novel, The Peacekeeper’s Photograph, won the Carey McCray Memorial Literary Award for best unpublished novel from the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. It has since been published and received consistent five-star reviews.

“When I published my first book in 2010, I thought writing was a solitary thing. It’s still up to me alone to put words on the page, but I’ve learned that working within a writing community means you can find the support you need when you need it,” she says. “I know and have worked with many of the authors in BestSelling Reads already and I am honored to be invited to join such a talented group.”

Mary Doyle’s first book was as the co-author of  I’m Still Standing: From Captive Soldier to free citizen—my journey home (2010, Touchstone) which chronicles the story of Spec. (Ret.) Shoshana Johnson, a member of the 507th Maintenance Company who was captured during an ambush and held prisoner in the early days of the Iraq War. The book was nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award in the literary category for best Autobiography/biography, a year in which the category included books about Nelson Mandela, Jay Z and Ray Charles.

Mary has also co-authored another military memoir. A Promise Fulfilled, My life as a Wife and Mother, Soldier and General Officer tells the compelling story of Brigadier General (retired) Julia Cleckley, the first African-American female general of the line in the U.S. Army National Guard. The book chronicles Cleckley’s journey from joining the Women’s Army Corps, to a position of power wearing the star of a military general. The story details her journey to success while facing the most devastating losses a woman can endure: the loss of a husband and of a child.

Originally from Minnesota, Mary Doyle served almost two decades in the Army Reserve. She was stationed in Germany, Korea and the U.S., and her career took her from Central America, the Middle East, and across western and eastern Europe.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast communications from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

The Peacekeeper’s Photograph was planned as the first in a trilogy that now includes The Sapper’s Plot and The General’s Ambition, both featuring Master Sergeant Lauren Harper. But experience has shown that Mary isn’t done with writing about Master Sergeant Harper and her British companion, Sergeant Major Harry Fogg. Mary has written companion short stories, The Ceremony and Canceled Plans. She is planning a fourth and perhaps a fifth book in the series.

Mary’s adult romance series is called Limited Partnerships. It comprises Part I – Charlie, Part II – Luke, Part III – Wolf and Part IV – Derek, are available as individual ebooks format and as the Limited Partnerships Omnibus in ebook and paperback.

Her current project is a second novel in her Desert Goddess urban fantasy series that began with The Bonding Spell (2015). “I’ve been working on The Bonding Blade for a couple of years and I can’t wait to release it to the world,” she says. “It’s the second book in the Desert Goddess series aand I think it moves the story in a whole new direction. Ever since I released The Bonding Spell, my readers have been clamoring for the next book. I’m so happy to be closer to delivering it and can now promise that I’ll announce a release date by very soon.”

Mary loves to hear from readers. Find out more about her and her books on her BestSelling Reads Author page; check her out on Facebook.com/mldoyleauthor, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor.

You can read excerpts of all of her work on her website, www.mldoyleauthor.com.

 

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Win-A-Book Wednesday: Broken Places

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By Rachel Thompson

FINAL FINAL BROKEN Places COVER  (1)

 

Win a free copy of Broken Places, Rachel Thompson’s acclaimed memoir, just by leaving a comment below.

About Broken Places

Within one week of its release in January 2015, Broken Places, reached the Top Five in Women’s Poetry and #1 on Amazon’s Hot Releases List. Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose and poetry (her fourth book overall). The author bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed.

“A stellar achievement” — Tracy Riva (Top Amazon Reviewer, Tracy Riva Reviews) 

About the author

Rachel Thompson copyRachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places and the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse suvivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenom #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, cohosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Visit her:

Connect with Rachel Thompson on:

Read her:

And follow Rachel on Twitter Twitter @RachelintheOC
and her consulting business  @BadRedheadMedia.

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Win-a-Book Wednesday: Army of Worn Soles, by Scott Bury

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Army of Worn Soles cover

 

Scott Bury will give away a free e-copy of this memoir in novel form to anyone who correctly answers this question:

What does Maurice ask his best friend to do in Chapter 1?

Leave your answers in the Comments section, below.

About the book

1941: Their retreat across Ukraine wore their boots out—and they kept going.

Three months after drafting him, the Soviet Red Army throws Maurice Bury, along with millions of other under-trained men, against the juggernaut of Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the assault on the USSR.

Army of Worn Soles tells the true story of a Canadian who had to find in himself a way to keep himself alive—and the men who followed him.

For more information about the book, the launch blog tour and a contest to win an autographed paperback copy, visit Scott Bury‘s blog.

About the author

Scott2011Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and novelist based in Ottawa, Canada. He has written for magazines in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia.

In addition to Army of Worn Soles, he is author of The Bones of the Earth, a fantasy set in the real time and place of eastern Europe of the sixth century; One Shade of Red, a humorous erotic romance; a children’s short story, Sam, the Strawb Part (proceeds of which are donated to an autism charity), and other stories.

Scott Bury lives in Ottawa with his lovely, supportive and long-suffering wife, two mighty sons and two pesky cats.

He can be found online at www.writtenword.ca, on his blog, Written Words, onAmazon, on Twitter @ScottTheWriter, and on Facebook.

Visit his BestSelling Reads Author page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Army of Worn Soles, by Scott Bury

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Army of Worn Soles cover

Scott Bury‘s third book, a memoir in novel form, publishes on Amazon on June 22.

About the book

1941: Their retreat across Ukraine wore their boots out—and they kept going.

Three months after drafting him, the Soviet Red Army throws Maurice Bury, along with millions of other under-trained men, against the juggernaut of Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the assault on the USSR.

Army of Worn Soles tells the true story of a Canadian who had to find in himself a way to keep himself alive—and the men who followed him.

For more information about the book, the launch blog tour and a contest to win an autographed paperback copy, visit Scott Bury‘s blog.

About the author

Scott2011Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and novelist based in Ottawa, Canada. He has written for magazines in Canada, the US, the UK and Australia.

In addition to Army of Worn Soles, he is author of The Bones of the Earth, a fantasy set in the real time and place of eastern Europe of the sixth century; One Shade of Red, a humorous erotic romance; a children’s short story, Sam, the Strawb Part (proceeds of which are donated to an autism charity), and other stories.

Scott Bury lives in Ottawa with his lovely, supportive and long-suffering wife, two mighty sons and two pesky cats.

He can be found online at www.writtenword.ca, on his blog, Written Words, on Amazon, on Twitter @ScottTheWriter, and on Facebook.

Visit his BestSelling Reads Author page.

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When I Was a Girl by Dawn Torrens

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Dawn Torrens

I was brought up in the state care system for most of my childhood. They had poorly stacked libraries full of donated books. I spent so much of my time in these libraries reading anything I could get my hands on. And from there my love of reading and writing was born. This was the perfect escape for me as I could transport myself any where in the world by just opening a book! The last four years of my time in care was spent in the notorious, (North Wales Children’s homes) called Bryn Alyn and then Cotsbrook Hall.

I wanted to show the world that you don’t have to become a statistic and fall by the wayside like everyone expects. You can grow up to be a functioning and well adjusted adult regardless of the surroundings and life you are forced to endure. My determination and will power to make something of myself has paid off! However, this did not come easy to me. I had to work extremely hard and push myself far harder than most to make my dreams a reality.

Now a mother myself to a four year old princess, I live by the motto, “The child first and foremost.” She inspires all that I am and all that I do…

 

My love for writing was born from incredible circumstances…

I have been writing since the age of twelve years old. I kept a journal and wrote poems, then graduated to short stories. I just loved to write. I never did anything with them, and I never told anyone about them at that point in my life. It was a love I had developed and also a means to escape my existence at that time. Writing for me is a way of transporting yourself into a completely different world for a short while. Developing characters and watching them come to life!

To say I was passionate about writing would most definitely be an understatement! I could not imagine a life without writing. I keep all my ideas for future books in a journal, all ideas written in hand! I am never without my journal, as you never know when or what will inspire an idea whilst out on the road.

Once I have a story in my head, it has to come out right there and then, I become all consumed and spend every available minute penning that story until it’s finished… Thankfully I have an understanding family who fully support me every step of the way.

 

Public reaction to Amelia’s Story

Amelia’s Story has to be my most precious book and will always remain so. This book was written from deep inside of me. I bared my soul to the world hoping I would make a difference. Change people’s perceptions on these huge gargantuan institutions that were otherwise known as children’s homes. But most of all to inspire all those people out there, young and old, who have given up hope on their dreams and themselves — that no matter where you come from or what walk of life, you can achieve your dream with enough will power and determination. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about!

Amelia’s Story has received an incredible heart-warming response from people all over the world. I have received messages from many young adults on my fan100_0358 page advising me how my story has changed their life or inspired hope in them once more. This to me means more than all the sales and reviews put together. knowing I have made such a difference to someone I have never met halfway around the world. One of my American reviews stated that my story had inspired a career change for them.  The response in truth has been so over-whelming and completely unexpected. I could never have foreseen the impact my true story would have on so many. You only have to read many of the beautiful messages left by my readers on my author page to see the impact it’s already had and continues to make on others. I could not wish for more really as my books are having the desired affect which is what I’d always intended for it.

 

§ § § § § § §

Dawn Torrens is the bestselling author of Amelia’s Story, Amelia’s Destiny and Heart and Mind. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings is a modern day war romance which is due for release in the spring of 2013. This story was inspired by a great friend who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. From Dawn Torrens: Each book was written with passion, they are all my babies. I don’t know how to write any other way than from my heart. I am inspired by real life my own and others.

Connect with Dawn Torrens on Facebook  Twitter or her blog.

 

 

Want to know what book bloggers and soap have in common? Join us on Monday, February 4 for an amusing romp with Helen Hanson, bestselling author of Dark Pool.

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