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Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg Banner

Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.

Book Praise:

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST and THAT LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE

Loser Babyis the real deal for hardcore crime fiction fans. This one grinds with the engine over the red line all the way. Hang on tight!”
—Eric Beetner, author of ALL THE WAY DOWN

Loser Baby is one cool book! Bovberg writes characters who get into your head and under your skin. You won’t shake this one easily: It’ll stay with you long after you read it!”
—Terrill Lee Lankford, author of SHOOTERS and ANGRY MOON

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg’s greatest book and one of the best of the year.
—Gary Phillips, author of BLOOD AND ASPHALT and BIRDS OF FIRE

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Dark Highway Press
Publication Date: August 2nd 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 9780966262988
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

0 Jasmine

Smack in the middle of Santa Ana on a Friday night, gang-funk psychedelia, the animal snarl and faint butane odor of nitrous-juiced import cars, the streets undulating and ratcheting like a grungy arcade game—rumble, whoosh, clickety-clack. The city was still new to Jasmine Frank, this sprawling expanse of damp concrete, swaying palms, salty beach sweat, and steaming antifreeze. The japchae and the spicy fish tacos and the pulsating afro grooves, the cackling Chicano rap, the cacophony of indecipherable shouts coming at her along Westminster Boulevard—yes! She got off on the staccato ghetto thrill of it all, closing her eyes, lost in the jagged rhythms, the music and the traffic, crisscrossing like a spastic radio dial. A constantly moving mobile night life.

Sooooo different from what she and Jordy were used to back home in that deadened whitebread cul-de-sac, north Garden Grove. In their new life, it felt as if there were raging pool parties around every cinder-block corner, drugs and condoms handed out like candy, cool kids as far as the eye could see. Plenty of assholes, too, but who cared about them? You just ignored them, and they went away, bothered someone else.

Jordy’s voice whispered hot in her ear, but he wasn’t in the car with her now, he was back at Tommy’s party. She couldn’t catch her brother’s words. It was as if they were buffeting on the humid wind outside her window. Or maybe she didn’t want to hear him. She tuned him out, left him back at Tommy’s house. She laughed at that, then felt a little bad. Just a little.

The inside of the car looked new—it even had a spiffy aftermarket audio deck with a touchscreen—but it was an older ride, some kind of Volkswagen according to the steering wheel. The driver (what was his name, again?) had let her thumb down her window to let the night in. She’d made him turn off his USB stick full of sugary pop right away, in favor of the nightsong. The hazy world swirled, and her body with it. She grooved in the contoured seat.

Jasmine glanced over at the dude, caught him ogling her legs, which she knew looked fabulous beneath the hem of her blue dress. His gaze both mortified and delighted her. Dude was OK looking but nothing special, and of course she knew what he was after. But she aimed higher, deserved better. Deserved more. That’s what Jordy told her, and that’s what her mom used to say, too.

Hell, the guy was good for a ride, anyway.

“How much farther, my duuuuude?” she sang out, full-throated, and she swore she could see her voice splay out colorfully and blast out the window into the night.

LOL, she thought, like actually conjuring the individual letters. She giggled, loving it. What’s wrong with me?

“Few miles,” he said, smirk-voiced.

He was wearing a silly dark fedora that he thought made him look sophisticated or something, but she knew it was only there to hide his thinning hair. She remembered him from the vitamin store a few days ago, when this all started. He was harmless, like a puppy dog. If you’d told her then that she’d end up alone with him, shotgun in his VW a few days later, high as shitballs, rushing through the late-late Santa Ana night in search of burgers, she’d have laughed in your face. Nice eyes, though. A good set of blue eyes could take a guy a long way.

She found herself balling up her fists and drumming the dash and screaming, “Fuuuuuck iiiiiiiit!”

Holy crap, something was in her system, gooey and euphoric, making her feel as if her head was twisting up and away like some fancy warm firecracker. Everything exaggerated, everything spinning out, like just now this hopped-up neon-yellow Toyota ahead of them, its tires chirping on the concrete of the intersection, couple of teenagers’ hands waving frantically out the sunroof. Heading toward the beach, probably, the bonfires, the giddy drunken dancing at the shore. Jasmine squealed laughter, wanting to go with them.

But she was hungry, Jesus Christ! Whooaaa hooooooo!

Food first.

“Well, hurry up, then!” she said nonsensically, realizing after she said it that she was responding to whatever the driver said a few minutes ago.

They were stopped at a light, and she was tapping her foot.

“This probably isn’t the greatest idea, you know,” he said, right hand resting on his short-throw gearshift. “Tommy’s gonna be pissed. At both of us.”

“Jeez, man, you’re bringin’ me down.”

“You don’t want Tommy pissed at you.”

“Awww, he’s a big ol’ softie.”

“I’m serious.”

“He’s cool.”

He gave her a look. “Girl, you’re thinkin’ of someone else.”

“Sheesh, I’ve known Tommy forever.”

“Be that as it may, you don’t—”

“Hold up, did you just say, ‘Be that as it may’?”

A pause. “Shut up.”

Jasmine started laughing so hard that she could barely breathe. After a while, her leaking eyes opened blurrily on the car next to them, and she saw a large Hispanic man staring at her as if he couldn’t figure her out. That was fine with her. She waved goofily at the dull-faced man, and then he pulled away when the light turned green. A few moments later, someone passed them in an underlit red Subaru WRX, sound system booming, windows tinted so black that it was like looking into the devil’s eyes. The rally car swerved liquidly around the traffic ahead of them and was gone as if it had never been.

“Oooooh,” she breathed.

Her laughter had run its course. It seemed like they were hitting every goddamn signal, and it was harshing her chill.

“What’s your name again?” Lolling her head toward the driver.

“Mark.” He looked annoyed, and that made her start laughing again. “It’s Mark.”

When she caught her breath, she said, sighing, “Let’s fetch those burgers and then go right back to Tommy’s, all right, Mark? Sound like a plan? If I don’t get something to eat, I’m gonna faint dead away.”

Jasmine hardly knew what she was coming out of her mouth. She sounded like her mom, she realized distantly. Every once in a while she’d blink hard and fall into a clarity gap in which she could curse Tommy and that guy who’d given her the pills, Derek, the weirdo with the tats. She was surprised Jordy’d let that guy get within twenty feet of her. But shit, who cared, she felt gooooood. Although she could sense that she was approaching the end of it—fuck!

She gripped the straps of her purse tightly, like holding on to the lapbar at the top of one of the insane rollercoasters at Magic Mountain, way up I-5, north of Los Angeles. That’s what she felt like right now. She remembered her mom taking her and Jordan up there to Valencia years ago, blitzing on so many goddamn coasters and so much candy and funnel cake that they’d felt nauseated and lightheaded for days after. That was before Karl came into the picture, before the fun drained out of the world.

The purse straps felt funny. Slippery. She glanced down and found she was holding on to a Safeway grocery bag. It was heavy.

Whatever.

But then all of a sudden, beneath the chemical bliss of whatever she’d ingested, her throat was raw, and she felt like crying. It was as if she were catching intermittent glimpses of an abyss that was beneath her at all times. The sensation was all wrapped up in Jordy, her twin brother who she both loved and hated, and what they’d done months ago. Sometimes she knew for sure that they’d made the right decision and were on their way to a future that meant something—like, absolutely. Other times, she was certain that there was no future, at least along this path … and nothing but doom lay on the horizon.

And now she knew she’d done something extra stupid, and she was heading toward an immediate future she wasn’t prepared for at all. She knew these things, but her body wouldn’t let her feel their full import. It left her fingers sweaty and shaking, barely holding on to this slippery Safeway bag. She pictured her mother’s face, and then the tears were closer than ever. She felt as if her lips were on the verge of murmuring—Mommy.

“Here it is, coming up on the left,” Mark said. “Yeah, I can definitely go for a Double-Double. This was a good call.”

Jasmine perked up, leaned forward, took a look around, wanting to squeeze every last drop of whatever was vibrating in her veins.

Westminster Boulevard seemed abruptly empty now, desolate almost, and it felt like seven hours had passed since she’d gotten in this stranger’s car.

“Where’d everyone go?” she whispered. “I mean, where’d everyone go?”

As the car slowed and eased into the turn lane, Jasmine felt a twitch of hollow nausea, and the eternal abyss—the one that was always beneath her—began to widen. She turned back to the open window, sucked in the night air in huge gasps, forced a beatific smile, tried to lose herself again.

It wasn’t working.

Mark turned into the dark, empty parking lot and immediately began shouting.

Jasmine’s head felt like a gob of Hubba Bubba. She felt Mark’s frustrated temper like a soft pummeling up there, and she brought disembodied hands to her face to massage her temple. Without realizing it, her head had fallen against her door, and she was idly watching the dead-of-night traffic continue to drift down Westminster Boulevard toward the 405 overpass. It was an endless procession of vehicles even at this ungodly hour, and why was she even out here at the edge of nowhere with this Mark person? The Safeway bag was even more slippery now, and it felt wrong in her grip, unnatural, and somewhere deep down she knew she was in trouble because of it.

Mark was still yelling, and now he was asking her a question, a repeated question, but all she could do was listen to the lonely night, the cars and vans and trucks whooooshing past. She closed her eyes, locked onto the repetition, the endless mournful sighs and howls of tires on asphalt, rising and then fading into the distance, one by one. That was really what Santa Ana was all about—a bunch of restless people on the move, all the time, on their way to anywhere else.

Except her.

Except Jasmine Frank.

She would always be here, trapped in SoCal amber, looking outward and yearning for the other side. Even if she found someone to take her to Santa Ana’s edge, like Mark had just done, she’d always be left gazing out into a great unknown, like a fish staring out of a murky bowl, and there’d always be someone yelling at her and telling her what to be or where to go.

As exhaustion began to press down on her, as well as increased nausea, Jasmine’s awareness fractured, and Jordy’s voice came into the mix, and then her mom’s, and she just wanted to go home. Home! Not the little hovel in Santa Ana that she shared with her brother, but her real home, where her mom was, when the world was good and promising.

She lifted her heavy head from the door, and she turned toward Mark.

He stopped yelling abruptly.

“Hey, are you all right? Are you crying?” His expression was one of genuine concern, and she felt a sudden warmth toward him.

“I don’t feel so hot,” she said, smacking her lips with distaste.

“Let’s get you home.”

Every once in a while, someone said just the right thing. Today it was this guy’s turn. Mark. That was his name. The man with the hat.

Jasmine smiled at him.

“Really?”

***

Excerpt from Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg. Copyright 2021 by Jason Bovberg. Reproduced with permission from Jason Bovberg. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jason Bovberg

Jason Bovberg is the author of the Blood trilogy—Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn—as well as The Naked Dame, a throwback pulp noir novel. His forthcoming books include Tessa Goes Down, a border noir, and A Small Poisonous Act, a suburban crime novel. He is editor/publisher of Dark Highway Press, which published the controversial, erotic fairy tale Santa Steps Out and the weird western anthology Skull Full of Spurs.

He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at http://www.jasonbovberg.com.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JasonBovberg.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @jasonbovbergauthor
Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

08/02 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
08/03 Guest post @ Novels Alive
08/04 Review @ Janepettitt
08/05 Review @ The World As I See It
08/09 Showcase @ Nesies Place
08/10 Showcase @ Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
08/11 Interview @ CMash Reads
08/13 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
08/15 Review @ curlygrannylovestoread
08/16 Interview @ b for bookreview
08/17 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
08/20 Review @ Our-Wolves-Den
08/25 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
08/29 Review @ Margaret Yelton
08/30 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews

 

Join In:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jason Bovberg. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs August 1st through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Population Zero

by Fran Lewis

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Population Zero by Fran Lewis

Imagine a forest so dense and so filled with trees that you cannot see anything but darkness. The smell of the dead leaves, the creatures that lived there, and the stench they created.

Imagine smashed windows and abandoned satellite dishes and blocks of plaster all over the ground.

Imagine… What might the world be like if humans were suddenly to disappear?

In Population Zero by Fran Lewis, we experience several post-human worlds through the eyes of people who were allowed to visit for one day. A world covered in ice, a world in complete darkness, a world where deserts are plentiful, and others…

Get a glimpse of what our planet would look like if humans stopped existing. Get a glimpse of the future.

Book Praise:

“Fran Lewis’s newest offering is a polished, razor-sharp double-edged sword. On one hand, it is reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone series and just as chilling. On the other, it is a poignant reminder of just how precious and fragile human life on this planet truly is. A riveting read.”
— Vincent Zandri, New York Times and USA Today bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author of The Girl Who Wasn’t There and the Dick Moonlight PI series.

“Population Zero creatively focuses on the damage being done by Covid 19 as it ravages the human race, and our inability to deal with climate change.”
— Allan Topol, national best selling author of The French Revenge

Book Details:

Genre: Science Fiction
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 26th 2021
Number of Pages: 76
ISBN: 163752868X (ISBN13: 9781637528686)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

My name is Ella, and I will be your guide and voice as you take the journey with me into the future. I am an ethereal being that is not alive but has been chosen by those above to help you, the humans, understand what is going to happen if you do not work together, follow the guidelines for the virus, and learn to live in harmony.

Remember, these worlds are the imagination of the author, and she wants you to really think about what she has created. You can decide if you would want to live in any of the worlds she imagined in her mind. What if you were asked to be the only human to experience one of these worlds if you could travel back for a short while? Welcome to your future. Think about it and decide.

Sometimes I think the world would be better off without humans. For many reasons in the worlds created, people fled and abandoned their homes. Desert areas became common, providing people with the sand, the hot sun, and not even a trace of water. Recent scenes show nuclear exclusion zones, urban neighborhoods burned out, and nowhere to escape.

Think about this: A forest so dense and so filled with trees that you cannot see anything but darkness. The smell of the dead leaves, the creatures that lived there, and the stench they created are worse than the smoke from a five-alarm fire. Imagine a sandstorm that plows across a highway and darkens the daylight sky, making it hard for drivers to see even an inch in front of them.

Smashed windows and abandoned satellite dishes and blocks of plaster all over the ground. The world — Population Zero…a look into the future.

What if this really does happen?

***

Excerpt from Population Zero by Fran Lewis. Copyright 2021 by Fran Lewis. Reproduced with permission from Fran Lewis. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

‪Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three master’s degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure.‪

Fran is the author of 19 titles and completed by the titled A Daughter’s Promise. Fran has 6 titles in her Faces Behind the Stones series and her magazine is MJ magazine. She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites.

Her network if MJ network on Blog Talk Radio. You can also find her reviews on just reviews on WordPress. Her latest titles are Sisters : two sisters from the Bronx, What If? and Silent Voices in her Faces Behind the Stones series and the present one Population Zero. ‬ ‪

Catch Up With Our Author:
Tillie49.wordpress.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @berthatillie49
Twitter – @franellena
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews & guest posts!

08/02 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
08/03 Review @ Our-Wolves-Den
08/05 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews
08/06 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
08/09 Showcase @ b for bookreview
08/10 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
08/11 Guest post @ I Read What You Write
08/12 Review @ Dont Judge, Read
08/15 Guest post @ Author Elena Taylors Blog
08/16 Review @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks
08/18 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
08/18 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor
08/19 Showcase @ Nesies Place
08/20 Review @ oh. happy. reading
08/24 Review @ Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
08/26 Review @ CMash Reads
08/27 Review @ J Bronder Book Reviews
08/30 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

The Journalist by David Gardner Banner

The Journalist

A Paranormal Thriller

by David Gardner

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Journalist by David Gardner

If Jeff can’t save his ghostly ancestors from disappearing, so will he.

Writing for a cheesy Boston tabloid, Jeff Beekle fabricates a whimsical tale about a mob-built CIA prison for ghosts.

Which turns out to be true.

Now both the mob and the CIA have Jeff in their sights.

Even worse, Jeff discovers that his great-grandmother is an inmate and that she and the other spectral residents are being groomed as CIA spies. (And why not? They’re invisible, draw no salary, and won’t hop into bed with enemy agents.)

To his horror, Jeff learns that ancestors held too long in earthly captivity will vanish as if never born, taking with them all their descendants, which includes him.

Can Jeff outwit the mob and the CIA, free his ghostly ancestors, destroy the prison and save himself?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Paranormal Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10th 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 164599144X (ISBN13: 9781645991441)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Book Trailer of The Journalist:

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

SCORPIO Oct. 23 – Nov. 21
Your ancestors are the raw material of your being, but who you become is your responsibility alone. Learn to turn your troubles into opportunities. Today is a good day to defrag your hard drive.

He hovers in the doorway at the far end of the newsroom, his feet not touching the floor. When he spots me, he glides forward, trailing diaphanous versions of himself that become smaller and smaller until they disappear. He wears leather chaps, an oversized black cowboy hat and high-heeled boots that almost bring him up to five feet. He has leathery skin and a drooping gray mustache.

It’s my great-great-grandfather Hiram Beekle, back for another ghostly visit.

He first showed up when I was six years old, right after I shot and killed my stepfather.

I’m the only one who can see him, hear him, talk to him.

As a kid, I would wet my pants and run away whenever Hiram showed up. Now he’s just a pain in the ass.

I turn back to my keyboard, hoping he’ll go away. I’m not in the mood for advice, taunts, prods, complaints, boasts.

He showed up last week to tell me to quit my job and find something better. Same thing the week before and the week before that. Probably why he’s back today.

I have to admit he’s right, but I’m sure as hell not going to tell him that.

Just four months ago I was a hot-shot investigative reporter for the Boston Globe. Now I write for a tacky supermarket tabloid, the Boston Tattler. Its newsroom is an open bay on the second floor of a ratty building that once served as a cheese warehouse that on humid days still smells of camembert. Out front are the marketing and distribution people, along with the office of the publisher, my Uncle Sid. Only he would hire a disgraced journalist like me.

I churn out fanciful tales about creatures from outer space, Elvis sightings and remedies for double chins. Some readers believe my stuff and some don’t. Those in between ride the wave of the fun and nonsensical and don’t care whether the stuff they’re reading is true or not.

Our larger rivals concentrate on noisy Hollywood breakups and soap-opera stars with gambling addictions. The worst of our competitors traffic in fake political conspiracies. But Uncle Sid stays with alien visitors, kitten pictures and herbal cures for chin wattles. He likes to point out that kittens and spacemen don’t sue. He’s been sued too often.

I type:

Although local sportswriters puzzle over the inconsistencies of Red Sox hurlers, the shocking truth is that—

“That’s crap, Jeff.”

Hiram has drifted around behind me to peer over my shoulder.

“Try ‘terrifying’,” he adds. “‘Shocking’ is overused.”

Hiram pretends he’d been a cowpoke, but in fact made a living writing pulp westerns.

I look around to see if anyone is watching, then turn back to Hiram and whisper, “Is that why you’re here, to dispense advice on adjectives?”

“That and to let you know I sense danger.”

“You’re always sensing danger. Just last week, you told me than an earthquake was…”

I stop whispering when Sherwood shuffles over, coffee cup in hand. He’s a doughy, middle-aged man who reads the dictionary for pleasure. “Another tale about space critters, Jeff?”

“A follow-up to last week’s. It’s Uncle Sid’s idea. He loved the national exposure.”

Sherwood nods. “You knocked that one out of the ballpark.”

Sherwood loves sports metaphors but hates sports.

One of my stories from the week before somehow got into the hands of a particularly dim U.S. Congressman who scrambled onto the floor of the House of Representatives to fume against the government agency for hiring a mob-controlled construction company to build a prison for creatures from the planet Ook-239c.

I kick off my sneakers, tilt back my chair and put my bare feet up on my desk. “What’re you working on today?”

“I’ve got a TV chef who’s gone on a hunger strike, identical twin sisters in Chattanooga who’ve been secretly exchanging husbands for fourteen years, and an eight-year-old boy in Brisbane who can predict the future by licking truck tires—the usual stuff.” Sherwood takes a gulp of coffee, shrugs, sighs. “Do you ever wonder what you’re doing with your life?”

“Sometimes. But who doesn’t?”

Again Sherwood sighs. I’ve never known anyone to sigh so often. His wife ran off with a termite inspector a few years back, and soon afterward he lost his professorship and his house. Sherwood was put on the earth as an example of what I don’t want to become.

“You should look for another job,” I say.

Sherwood shrugs, then ambles back to his desk. He doesn’t want another job because it would make him feel better.

But I want a better job so badly that I dream I’ve found one, then wake up to reality.

Hiram floats around front and shakes his head. “The little guy’s right—you should get a better job. And for that, you need to get that darn Pulitzer back.”

I delete ‘shocking’ and type ‘terrifying.’ “Think I’m not trying?”

“Try harder. Young people these days—”

“…don’t know the meaning of hard work,” I contribute. “Yeah, I know. Now go away.”

“No, you go away. You’re in deep trouble, young man. Two black-hearted sidewinders have ridden into town to—”

“That’s the ridiculous opening line from Rise From Ashes. A dreadful novel.”

“Dreadful? Do you know how many copies I sold?” Hiram says.

“The protagonist was an idiot who shot his own big toe off.”

“That had a solid plot purpose. And at least he shot himself, not a member of his own family.”

Whenever I piss Hiram off, he brings up the shooting.

“Screw you!” I whisper and turn back to my keyboard.

Green Monsters on the Green Monster!
Late last night, a sharp-eyed Boston Red Sox guard spotted a pack of green, three-eyed space monsters in Fenway Park. Authorities believe them to be the aliens who escaped from the secret government prison first brought to the public’s attention in last week’s Boston Tattler. The guard reported seeing the creatures scrambling up the wall that Red Sox fans have lovingly dubbed ‘The Green Monster.’
Green monsters attracted to a green wall? A coincidence? Unlikely. In fact, experts on the subject of aliens from outer…

“This little piggy—”

“Hey!” I jerk my foot back.

Melody has sneaked up on me. She likes to do that.

She wiggles my little toe again. “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy—well, you know the rest of the narrative.” She lets go of my toe.

“Actually, that felt good. Don’t stop.”

“That’s as much wiggling as you get, Jeff. You’re married.”

I pull my feet off my desk and rest them on the floor. “Separated.”

“That’s still married.”

Melody is my editor. She’s thirty-seven—three years older than I am. Her face is narrow and pretty, her hair red and wavy. She likes hoop earrings and has long feet.

She shuffles through the printout in her hands. “You sent me eight stories this week but promised me nine.”

“I’m still working on the last one. Did you know that a space creature has replaced the Red Sox mascot and has put a hex on the top of the batting order?”

“They’re already hexed,” Melody says. She eyes me for a long moment, then screws up her mouth. “I’m concerned.”

Here it comes again. “About my articles? About my bare toes? Or my collection of metal toys?” I reach across my desk, pick up the Spirit of St. Louis and fly it back and forth overhead.

Melody puts her hands on her hips and rolls her eyes. “Yes, all those things, Jeffrey, but in this instance, what I meant was I hate to see you wasting your talent writing this garbage. You’re the best writer I’ve ever edited. You deserved that Pulitzer.”

“Which they took back twenty-seven days later.”

“Most journalists would kill to have one for even twenty-seven days.”

Melody said that with a smile. She says most everything with a smile. It’s a pretty smile, but sometimes forced, as if she were trying to make herself happier than she feels. She’s the opposite of Sherwood, who wallows in gloom and wants to pull everyone down with him.

I say, “You always see the best in every situation.”

“Thanks.”

“It drives me batshit.”

Melody raps her knuckles on my desk. “I need the copy by two o’clock.” She raps her knuckles on the top of my head. “At the latest.”

I watch her go. I shouldn’t tease her the way I do. Melody’s not the hard-ass editor she pretends to be. She’s in fact a softy, smart and thoughtful. Also curvy.

Hiram says, “That young lady has a fine carriage.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” I say and pick up my typing where I left off:

Space lizards have the ability to slow down fast balls, strip the spin from curves and send knuckleballs off in…

Hiram says, “‘slow down fast balls’ is flabby and clumsy because ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ interfere with each other.”

“Un huh.” I keep on typing.

“Clementine’s coming to visit.”

“Oh?”

“She’s worried about Ebenezer.”

I look up from my keyboard. “What is it this time?”

“He’s missing.”

“Grandpa Ebenezer is always missing,” I say.

“Clementine thinks he’s in trouble.”

I delete ‘slow down fast balls’ and type ‘retard fast balls. “How can Ebenezer be in trouble? He’s dead.”

“I don’t like that word—and now you’re the one in trouble.”

I look up to see Uncle Sid coming toward me. Two burly guys walk with him, one on each side, clutching his arms.

My uncle looks scared. I hate to see that. I love the guy.

“Jeff,” he says with a quiver, “these two gentlemen want a word with you.”

I’ve watched enough local news to recognize the Ramsey twins—Hank and Freddie. Not gentlemen. Mobsters.

I get to my feet, pull Sid free from the pair’s grasp and wrap my arm around his shoulders. They’re trembling. “What in hell do you two want?

Hank steps closer and blows his cigar breath in my face. He has big ears and black hair combed straight back. At six feet three, he stands eye-to-eye with me, but he’s half again as wide. He says, “Did you write that idiotic story?”

“Which idiotic story? I write lots of idiotic stories.”

Freddie says, “Asshole!” and steps forward.

Hank reaches out to hold him back. “Easy.”

Although the two were born identical, no one has trouble telling them apart because Freddie had the front half of his nose lobbed off in a knife fight. This gives him a piggy look.

Hank says, “You know what I’m talking about, wiseass. Who told you about that government prison for space monsters?”

“Who? No one. I made it up.”

“You made it up?”

“I make up everything I write.”

Hank tilts his head back and half closes his eyes. “You made the story up?”

“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Hank pokes me in the chest. “Then how come it’s true?”

***

Excerpt from The Journalist by David Gardener. Copyright 2021 by David Gardener. Reproduced with permission from David Gardener. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

David Gardener

David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college, worked as a reporter and sold women’s shoes.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David Gardener:
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Instagram – @davidagardner07
Twitter – @dgardner_author
Facebook – @david.gardner.33483

 

Tour Participants:

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08/02 Guest post @ Novels Alive
08/03 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
08/05 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews
08/07 Showcase @ Brooke Blogs
08/11 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
08/11 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor
08/13 Review @ Cheryls Book Nook
08/13 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
08/14 Review @ rozierreadsandwrite
08/15 Review @ Books with Bircky
08/16 Showcase @ I Read What You Write
08/17 Review @ Curlygrannylovestoread
08/18 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads
08/20 Review @ The World As I See It
08/23 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
08/24 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy
08/24 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
08/27 Review @ Cozy Up With Kathy
08/28 Review @ Margaret Yelton
08/29 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews
08/30 Review @ Novels Alive
08/31 Review @ Just Reviews

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Gardner. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each winner will ONE (1) signed print edition of The Journalist by David Gardner (US Mailing Addresses Only). The giveaway begins on August 1 and runs through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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