Posts Tagged ‘women’s fiction’

Exile of the Seas
Chronicles of Dasnaria #2
by Jeffe Kennedy
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Pub Date: 9/4/18
Around the shifting borders of the Twelve Kingdoms, trade and conflict,
danger and adventure put every traveler on guard . . . but some have
everything to lose.
ESCAPED
Once she was known as Jenna, Imperial Princess of Dasnaria, schooled in
graceful dance and comely submission. Until the man her parents
married her off to almost killed her with his brutality.
Now, all she knows is that the ship she’s boarded is bound away from her
vicious homeland. The warrior woman aboard says Jenna’s skill in
dancing might translate into a more lethal ability. Danu’s fighter
priestesses will take her in, disguise her as one of their own—and
allow her to keep her silence.
But it’s only a matter of time until Jenna’s monster of a husband
hunts her down. Her best chance to stay hidden is to hire out as
bodyguard to a caravan traveling to a far-off land, home to beasts
and people so unfamiliar they seem like part of a fairy tale. But her
supposed prowess in combat is a fraud. And sooner or later, Jenna’s
flight will end in battle—or betrayal . . .

 


Excerpt

I grew up in paradise.

Tropically warm, lushly beautiful, replete with luxury, my childhood world was without flaw. My least whim was met with immediate indulgence, served instantly and with smiles of delight. I swam in crystal clear waters, then napped on silk. I chased gorgeously ornamental fish and birds, and enjoyed dozens of perfectly behaved pets of unusual coloring and pedigrees. My siblings and I spent our days in play, nothing ever asked or expected of us.

Until the day everything was demanded—and taken—from me.

Only then did I finally see our paradise for what it was, how deliberately designed to mold and shape us. A breeding ground for luxurious accessories. To create a work of art, you grow her in an environment of elegance and beauty. To make her soft and lusciously accommodating, you surround her with delicacies and everything delightful. And you don’t educate her in anything but being pleasing.

Education leads to critical thinking, not a desirable trait in a princess of Dasnaria, thus I was protected from anything that might taint the virginity of my mind, as well as my body.

Because I’d understood so little of the world outside, when my time came to be plucked from the garden, when the snip of the shears severed me from all I’d known, the injury came as a shock so devastating that I had no ability to even understand what it meant, much less summon the will to resist and overcome. Which, I’ve also come to realize over time, was also a part of the deliberate design.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.

I grew up in paradise.

And it was all you’d imagine paradise to be. A soft palace of lagoons and lush gardens, of silk bowers and laughter. With little else to do, our mothers and the other ladies played with us, games both simple and extravagantly layered. When we tired, we napped on the velvet soft grass of the banks of the pools, or on the silk pillows scattered everywhere. We’d sleep until we awoke, eat the tidbits served us by watchful servant girls, then play more.

Hestar and I had our own secret games and language. All the ladies called us the royal pair, as we were the emperor’s firstborns and we’d been born less than a month apart.

My mother, first wife, the Empress Hulda, and the most highly ranked woman in the empire, spent much of her day at court. When she was home in the seraglio, she preferred to relax without noisy children to bother her. Hestar’s mother, Jilliya, was second wife and kept getting pregnant, forever having and sometimes losing the babies. So, by unspoken agreement, we kept clear of her apartments, too. Something else I understood much later, that the miasma of misery has its own brand of contagion—and that those who fear contracting the deadly disease stay far away.

Saira, on the other hand, third wife and mother of our half-sister Inga, had a kindness and sweetness to her, so we kids often played in her apartments when we grew bored of games like climbing the palm trees to see who could pluck the most dates while a servant counted the time. Inga, along with my full brother, Kral, were the second oldest pair—the

second-borns, also arriving in the same month, to my mother and Saira. Less than a year younger than Hestar and me, they completed our set of four. Our six other brothers and sisters played with us, too, but they were babies still, needing to be watched all the time. Whenever we could, the four of us ditched the babies, exploring the far corners of our world, then making hideouts where no one could find us.

Though, of course, when the least desire took our fancy, someone always appeared instantaneously to satisfy us. Another of the many illusions of my childhood.

Hestar and I, we had a cave we’d made under a clump of ferns. He’d stocked it with a box of sweetmeats and I’d stolen one of my mother’s silk throws for a carpet. Embroidered with fabulous animals, it told tales of a world beyond our corner of paradise. We loved it best of all our purloined treasures, and made up stories about the scenes and creatures, giving them names and convoluted histories.

One day—the kind that stands out with crystalline clarity, each detail incised in my memory—we played as usual. Hestar had been mysteriously gone for a while the day before, or perhaps several days before or for several days in a row. That part fogs in with the timelessness of those days that never ended, but blended one into the next. What I remember is the elephant.

“And the miskagiggle flapped its face tail, saying nooo—”

“It’s called an elephant,” Hestar interrupted me.

“What is?”

“It’s not a miskagiggle. It’s an elephant, and the face tail is a trunk.”

Hestar beamed with pride at knowing something I didn’t.

“You’re making that up.”

“No, I’m not! My tutor told me.”

“What’s that?”

“A teacher. My tutor is named Ser Llornsby.”

“Is that where you went?” Hestar and Kral had been whisked off by servants, and no one would tell me or Inga where they were, just that we’d see them again soon.

Hestar’s blue eyes went wide and he looked around to see if anyone was listening. “Want to know a secret?”

Oh, did I. Even then I understood that secrets were the carefully hoarded and counted currency of the seraglio. “Yes!”

We pulled the silk throw over our heads to make a tent. It was the usual grass beneath, so we didn’t really need the carpet. Having it just made our hideaway more special—and the throw became a blanket, excellent for exchanging secrets.

“We went through the doors!” Hestar told me, whispering but much too loudly.

I hushed him. I didn’t question how I knew, but this secret held power. Most of our secrets had been silly, frivolous things, like how Inga kept candied dates under her pillow. Or ones everyone already knew, like that Jilliya was pregnant again. With the unabashed enthusiasm of children, we absorbed all the murmured gossip and repeated it with equal relish. This, though—I recognized immediately how important it was.

No wonder no one would tell us where they’d gone. Children didn’t go through the doors. Only my mother and some of the women. The rekjabrel and other servants, they went in and out all the time. But a lot of times they came back crying or hurt, so we understood the doors led to a terrible place. And yet Hestar had gone and returned, beaming.

“Was it terrible? Were you scared? Did Kral go, too?”

Hestar nodded, solemnly. “We were brave boys though. And it’s not like here. There aren’t the lagoons and it’s not as warm. They took us to a library and we met Ser Llornsby. We looked at pictures and learned animal names.”

I couldn’t bring myself to ask what a library might be. I wanted to look at pictures and learn animal names. Though I didn’t know the emotion to name it at the time, a jab of envy lanced through my heart. Hestar and I always had everything the same, only I had the better mother, because she was first wife. It wasn’t fair that Hestar got to go through the doors and learn things without me. An elephant. I whispered the exotic word to myself.

“Elephants are huge and people ride on their backs, and the elephants carry things for them in their trunks.” Hestar continued, full of smug pride. “Ser Llornsby is going to teach me everything I need to know to be emperor someday.”

“Why do you get to be emperor? My mother is first wife. Yours is only second wife. Besides, I’m older.”

Hestar wrinkled his nose at me. “Because you’re a girl. Girls can’t be emperor. Only empress.”

That was true. It was the way of things. “Well then you can be emperor and I can be empress like Mother.”

“All right!” Hestar grinned. “We’ll rule the whole empire and have lots of elephants. Kral and Inga can be our servants.”

For the rest of the day we played emperor and empress. Kral and Inga got mad and decided they would be emperor and empress, too, not listening when we said there could only be one of each and we were firstborn so they had to be our servants. They went off to play their own game, but we got Helva to be in our court, and also her little brothers, Leo and Loke. The boys were identical twins and liked any game they could play together. Baby Harlan could barely toddle, so he stayed with his nurse. Ban went off with Inga, of course, as he followed her everywhere, but her full brother, Mykal came to our side.

We didn’t care, because our court was the biggest. Besides, everyone knew the emperor gets to pick his own empress, and Hestar already promised me I’d be first wife and I could pick his other wives, just like Mother did. Which meant Inga wouldn’t get to be one. Maybe not Helva, either, though I told her she would be.

Mother didn’t much care for Saira and Jilliya, so maybe I wouldn’t have other wives at all. I didn’t need them to be empress.

Playing emperor and empress turned out to be terribly fun. Hestar made me a crown of orchids and we took over one of the small eating salons, getting the servants to clear out the table and pillows, instead setting up two big chairs to be our thrones. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Einarr Konyngrr, our father, had a throne. So we’d heard. And we badgered one of the rekjabrel who’d served in the court to tell us what it looked like.

“Huge, Your Imperial Highnesses,” she said, keeping her eyes averted.

“It towers above, all platinum and crystal, so bright you can’t look upon it. I can’t say more.”

“What about the Empress’s throne?” I persisted.

“Just the one throne, Your Imperial Highness Princess Jenna.”

“That can’t be right,” I told Hestar, when we let the rekjabrel go. “She must not have seen properly.”

“We don’t have platinum anyway,” he replied.

So we decorated the two big chairs, which ended up taking a long time. They needed to be sparkling, which meant we needed jewels. Leo and Loke were good at persuading bangles off the ladies, but then didn’t like to give them up. By the time we chased them down and got everything decorated, we had only a little time to have actual court. When my nurse, Kaia, came to get me for my bath, we made all the servants promise to leave everything as it was.

“Kaia?” I asked, splashing at the warmed milk water as she poured the jasmine rinse through my hair.

“Yes, Princess?”

“Have you seen an elephant?”

She laughed. “No, Princess. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Is this one of your games?”

“No—they’re real. Their face-tails are called trunks.”

“If you say so, Princess.”

I fumed a little. How could I find out more about elephants when no one even believed they were real? “When do I get to go through the doors and look at pictures of animals and learn their names?”

Kaia dropped the pitcher of jasmine water, breaking it on the tiles. I would have scolded her for clumsiness, but she had such an odd look on her face that I stopped mid-word.

“Where have you heard of such a thing, Princess?” She had her head bowed, but with her scalp shorn, she couldn’t hide her face. She’d gone white, her eyes squinched up like she hurt. Just like that time Mother accused her of drinking from her special teapot, and had Kaia lashed until she confessed. Kaia had cried and cried, not wanting to play with me for days afterward. But this time she didn’t have any blood, so I didn’t understand why she went all pale like that.

“Hestar got to go. And Kral, too, and he’s younger. I want to go. I command you to take me tomorrow.”

“Your Imperial Highness, I cannot.”

“You will or I’ll tell Mother.”

“Up and out, Princess,” she replied, dumping the shards into a waste bin, then holding out a towel. “We must address this with Her Imperial Majesty. You can ask her in person.”

She dried me off, too briskly, and I almost reprimanded her, but she still looked so scared and I didn’t want her to not play with me for days again. “I already said goodnight to Mother.” Mother didn’t like to be disturbed after goodnights, and the prospect began to make me a little afraid, too.

Kaia wrapped my hair in a towel, then rubbed me all over with jasmine scented unguent. She worked as thoroughly as always, but wouldn’t answer any more questions, simply saying that I could ask my mother momentarily.

She pulled my nightgown over my head and had me put on a robe, too, which wasn’t usual. And we went with my hair still damp, not carefully combed dry before the fire while she told me stories.

I didn’t want to miss my stories and I began to be afraid I’d said something terribly wrong. I’d known this was an important secret. How could I have been so careless? It was the elephant. “Let’s not go see Mother,” I said.

Kaia shook her head, pressing her lips together. “I apologize, Princess, but I’m afraid we must.”

“I don’t want to. Tell me my stories. My hair is still wet.”

But she didn’t bend, which scared me even more. Kaia always did what I told her. Almost always. She took my hand in a grip so firm it nearly hurt and practically dragged me to Mother’s private salon. I resisted, and would have thrown a fit, but Mother wouldn’t like that. An imperial princess gives commands in a firm and gentle voice, never shrill, and

tears are unacceptable.

Still, when Kaia called out through the closed yellow silk curtains, and my mother snapped out a reply, I nearly did cry. And Kaia didn’t relent in her grip, which made me think she was angry with me and Kaia was never angry, even when I refused to eat my supper and demanded dessert instead. She parted the curtains and slipped me inside, kneeling beside me and bowing her head to the plush tapestried carpet. I lowered my eyes, too, though I didn’t have to kneel.

“Well?” the empress demanded in a cold tone. “What is the meaning of this, child?”

“My humble apologies, Your Imperial Majesty,” Kaia said, though Mother had clearly asked me. Her voice shook and her hand had gone all cold and sweaty. I yanked mine away and she let me. “Her Imperial Highness Princess Jenna has asked me questions I cannot answer. I thought it best to bring her to you immediately.”

“It’s not your responsibility to think,” Mother replied. A hissing sound as she breathed in her relaxing smoke. “You are to keep the princess well groomed, as she most certainly is not at the moment. Your hair is wet, Jenna.”

A tear slipped down my cheek, making me glad that I was to keep my eyes averted unless given permission. Maybe she wouldn’t see. “I’m sorry,

Mother,” I whispered.

“As well you should be. Interrupting my quiet time. Going about like a rekjabrel with wild hair. Are you a princess of Dasnaria?”

“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty.”

She hmphed in derision. “You don’t look like one. What question did you ask to upset your nurse so?”

Kaia had gone silent, quaking on the carpet beside me. No help at all. I considered lying, saying Kaia had made it up. But Mother wouldn’t believe that. Kaia would never so recklessly attract punishment. I happened to know she hadn’t snuck the tea—one of the rekjabrel had taken it for her sister, but Kaia had never said.

“Jenna,” Mother said, voice like ice. “Look at me.”

I did, feeling defiant, for no good reason. Mother reclined on her pillows, her embroidered silk gown a river of blues over their ruby reds. Her unbound hair flowed over it all, a pale blond almost ivory, like mine. In contrast, her eyes looked black as ebony, darker even than the artful shadows outlining them. She’d removed most of her jewelry, wearing only the wedding bracelets that never came off. She held her glass pipe in her jeweled nails. The scarlet of her lip paint left a waxy mark on the end of it, scented smoke coiling from the bowl.

“Tears?” Her voice dripped contempt and disbelief. “What could you possibly have said to have your nurse in a puddle and an imperial princess in tears, simply in anticipation?”

“I didn’t say anything!” I answered.

“Your nurse is lying then,” the empress cooed. “I shall have to punish her.”

Kaia let out this noise, like the one Inga’s kitten had made when Ban kicked it. The ladies had taken it to a better home and Inga had cried for days until they gave her five new kittens just like it.

“I only asked about the elephants,” I said, very quietly.

“Excuse me?” The arch of her darkened brows perfectly echoed her tone.

“Elephants!” I yelled at her, and burst into full-fledged sobbing. If you’d asked me then, what made me break all those rules, raising my voice, defying my mother, losing the composure expected of an imperial princess, firstborn daughter of Emperor Einarr, I likely could only have explained that I wanted to know about elephants so badly that it felt like a

physical ache. Something extraordinary for a girl who’d rarely experienced pain of any sort.

Once I’d had a pet, an emerald lizard with bright yellow eyes. Its scales felt like cool water against my skin, and it would wrap its tail tightly around my wrist. I’d only had it a day when it bit me. Astonished by the bright pain,

the blood flowing from my finger, I’d barely registered that I’d been hurt before the servants descended, wrapping the wound in bandages soaked in sweet smelling salve that took sensation away.

They also took the lizard away and wouldn’t give it back, despite my demands and pleas. When the salve wore off, my finger throbbed. And when they took the bandages off, the skin around the bite had turned a fascinating purple and gray. They tried to keep me from looking, but I caught glimpses before they made it numb again, then wrapped it up and I couldn’t see it anymore. I’d tap my finger against things, trying to feel it again. My finger and the lizard, both gone.

I felt like that, full of purple bruising and soft pain, as if I’d been bitten inside, and somehow numb on the outside. I wondered what might disappear this time.

“Elephants,” my mother pronounced the word softly, almost in wonder.

Then she laughed, not at all nicely. “Leave us,” she snapped, making Kaia scurry backwards. “It’s apparently time for me to have a conversation about life with my daughter.”

 


Prisoner of the Crown
Chronicles of Dasnaria #1
She was raised to be beautiful, nothing more. And then the rules changed . . .
In icy Dasnaria, rival realm to the Twelve Kingdoms, a woman’s role is
to give pleasure, produce heirs, and question nothing. But a plot to
overthrow the emperor depends on the fate of his eldest daughter. And
the treachery at its heart will change more than one carefully
limited life . . .
The Gilded Cage
Princess Jenna has been raised in supreme luxury—and ignorance. Within the
sweet-scented, golden confines of the palace seraglio, she’s never
seen the sun, or a man, or even learned her numbers. But she’s been
schooled enough in the paths to a woman’s power. When her betrothal
is announced, she’s ready to begin the machinations that her mother
promises will take Jenna from ornament to queen.
But the man named as Jenna’s husband is no innocent to be cozened or
prince to charm. He’s a monster in human form, and the horrors of
life under his thumb are clear within moments of her wedding vows. If
Jenna is to live, she must somehow break free—and for one born to a
soft prison, the way to cold, hard freedom will be a dangerous path
indeed…

 


Guest Post

Writing PRISONER OF THE CROWN was an interesting foray into history for me. See, this book is the first in a trilogy that’s a spinoff from the world established in my Twelve Kingdoms and Uncharted Realms series. The Empire of Dasnaria, where PRISONER takes place, is a foreign – and aggressive – realm encountered by the people of the Twelve Kingdoms. And Dasnaria is a very different culture where women do not have the same rights and freedoms that they do in the twelve.

Part of that came from wanting a foil to my assertive and powerful High Queen of the Twelve Kingdoms, and the other part came from me being aware of the political and cultural situation in our modern world. I wanted to better understand how women can be happy raised in a culture where they’re kept “under wraps” in one way or another, where men decide their lives and provide escorts everywhere. Dasnaria became that place in my fictional world.

With PRISONER, I got to write that story from the inside, through the character of Imperial Princess Jenna, born in the seraglio of the Imperial Palace of Dasnaria. She’s spent her entire life there, surrounded by women and given a carefully crafted education. So, while I knew the societal rules of Dasnaria from my people of the Twelve Kingdoms learning about them, Jenna was my first opportunity to be in the head of a woman who grew up inside that culture, who knows those rules as immutable.

This proved to be a challenge, because the cloistered world of the seraglio is all Jenna knows to begin with. It’s not until she leaves the seraglio to be married that she begins to seriously question whether she could have another life. At first, she utterly believes that men are smarter and stronger, that only through her husband and sons – and manipulating her daughters the same way she’s been groomed – can she gain any power. She takes at face value that women must learn to pleasure men, and she’ll offer her body with complete obedience and submissive grace to her husband, no matter what he demands of her. She even nurtures a romantic ideal that if she’s beautiful and perfect, then she will have a happy marriage.

We all know how that kind of thinking works out.

This story is not a romance. The beastly husband doesn’t turn out to be a wonderful man beneath. This is entirely Jenna’s story, and how she discovers that how she’s been raised and what she’s been taught is only one lens on the world.

And that there’s more out there beyond the Empire of Dasnaria.


Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans
decades. She lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine Coon cats, a border
collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental
Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at JeffeKennedy.com, or every
Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
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Book Details:

Book Title: Stolen Obsession by Marlene M. Bell
Category: Adult Fiction; 284 pages
Genre: Romantic Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Release date: March 20, 2018
Tour dates: Sept 10 to 28, 2018
Content Rating: R (Small bit of language and one detailed sex scene)

Book Description:

Antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury dreams of a quiet life on the family’s sheep farm, far away from Manhattan’s brownstones, when her closest confidant falls victim to a mugging gone wrong. This had to be a hit–There are echoes from the past–and detectives have no leads. Then at a gallery opening, she sees an artifact on display, an interlocking necklace of horse heads matching her friend’s stolen bracelet. Annalisse fears for the curator who owns the piece.

Convinced the jewelry collection is evil and must be destroyed, Annalisse enlists the gallery owner’s womanizing son. Alec Zavos has his mother’s ear but dismisses Annalisse’s concerns–until a second victim at the opening brings them together in a fight against treachery, a race through exotic lands, and an unimaginable future. If Annalisse can survive…

To read reviews, please visit Marlene M. Bell’s page on iRead Book Tours.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the trailer:

 


AN UNLIKELY WRITER

           I fell into writing by accident. My love, my passion, drew me to drawing and painting—and to earn a living at it. Without a college education, my future had more to do with natural talents. Whether or not I had it in me to pursue my dreams or work for an employer in community service. I chose the latter which eventually led me to writing later in life than most—in my early 50’s.

My parents weren’t wealthy and couldn’t afford to send me to college. It’s a tale that most of us who grew up in the ’60’s and’ 70’s have. We are the generation of the hands-on working class that most people know as the post WWII Baby Boomers. I’m a part of that group and in our current culture wars, feel it every day.

While many in my high school senior class were taking SAT’s for college entrance, I didn’t have it in me to continue education or attend a community college. At that time, community colleges were free with very little money required for books and the like. I haven’t researched colleges these days, but I would imagine there are larger bills facing the student for local college education.

I spent most of my high school training in the art room. An above average student, my interests drove me to hours with a paint brush and creating landscapes in oils. What better place for an artist to end up but the art room? I loved it there. Preferred to be in my own quiet world than any place else. My instructor was one of the premier artists at the time in the city of Modesto, and probably still dabbles in his paintings of sports celebrities in action. Mr. Streeter had an eye for color and a talent for encouraging the rest of us who took art seriously. Not only did he instill a work ethic in art, but I used that same ethic in everything I did after graduating. What he taught us made me into a bit of a teacher myself.

The writing part of my creative juices hid from me while I ran my sheep and border collie mail order catalog, and business, Ewephoric, in 1985 and beyond. It was our 4-H club families who begged me to write a book on how to raise sheep. Teaching kids animal husbandry with sheep and to excel in the show ring came from my art. In 2009 that book request became a reality when Among the Sheep was published through an Amazon company. Writing the memoir/how-to-sheep-book was such an enjoyable experience! So much so that I felt it was time for me to dive into writing fiction. Stolen Obsession is the first book of a series starring Annalisse Drury, who longs to be in the country and encounters many human hardships to attain that goal. I still run Ewephoric and my fiction is a large part of the business today.


Meet the Author:

 

Marlene Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep and lamb landscapes grace the covers of many publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few. Her mail order venture, Ewephoric, began in 1985 out of the need to find personalized stationery depicting sheep that truly looked like them. She wrote Among the Sheep, nonfiction in 2009, and the Annalisse Series launched in March 2018.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in East Texas with their 50 head of spoiled Horned Dorset sheep, a lovable Maremma guard dog named, Tia, and 3 attention-loving cats who rule the household.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Oct 6, 2018

CLICK HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Super Ladies

by Susan Petrone

August 13 – October 13, 2018 Tour

 

The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone

Synopsis:

For three middle-aged women in the suburbs of Cleveland, the issues seemed compelling but relatively conventional: sending a child off to college, dealing with a marriage gone stale, feeling “invisible.” But changes were coming . . . and not the predictable ones. Because Margie, Katherine, and Abra are feeling a new kind of power inside of them – literally. Of all the things they thought they might have to contend with as they got older, not one of them considered they’d be exploding a few gender roles by becoming superheroes.

At once a delightful and surprising adventure and a thoughtful examination of a woman’s changing role through life’s passages, THE SUPER LADIES is larger-than-life fiction at its very best.

PRAISE FOR SUSAN PETRONE’S THROW LIKE A WOMAN:

“While, on the surface, this is a novel about a woman battling to make her way in the man’s world of professional baseball, debut author Petrone presents a stirring and humorous story of a woman doing considerably more than that–trying to rediscover herself, provide for her family, and perhaps find a little love along the way.” – Booklist

“Throw Like a Woman is that rare baseball novel, both a paean to the game and a deeper exploration of character. Susan Petrone has a fan’s heart and a scout’s eye. Read it now. Don’t wait for the movie.” – Stewart O’Nan, co-author of Faithful and A Face in the Crowd

“For baseball fans who yearn for a female Jackie Robinson, reading Susan Petrone’s fun and absorbing novel Throw Like a Woman becomes a kind of prayer. ‘Please, Lord! Give talent a chance. Let this dream come true!'” – Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow

“Someday there will be a woman who plays Major League Baseball. And when it happens, I suspect it will be an awful lot like Susan Petrone’s fun Throw Like a Woman. Susan knows baseball and so the novel – and her hero Brenda Haversham – crackles with authenticity. You can hear the pop of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt.” – Joe Posnanski, author of The Soul of Baseball, NBC Sports National Columnist

“Petrone’s storytelling is first-rate, and she weaves a credible baseball tale with well-defined characters throughout.” – The Wave

 

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published by: The Story Plant

Publication Date: August 14th 2018 by Story Plant

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 1611882583 (ISBN13: 9781611882582)

Purchase Links: The Super Ladies on Amazon The Super Ladies on Barnes & Noble The Super Ladies on Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

On the way home, Katherine called shotgun, so Abra had to sit in the back of Margie’s minivan amid soccer shin guards, baseballs, stray sneakers, swim goggles, granola bar wrappers, a rubber-banded stack of Pokemon cards, and a book on playing Minecraft. “How was this shoe not on the seat when we left?” Abra asked.

“I really couldn’t tell you,” Margie replied over her shoulder. “Things back there just seem to migrate around on their own. Hold it up.” Abra did so, and Margie took a quick look at it in the rearview mirror as they pulled out of the parking lot and onto Superior Avenue. “I don’t even think that belongs to one of mine.”

“Now you know why I called shotgun. The backseat scares me,” Katherine said. “I sometimes get overwhelmed with one kid. How do you manage three?”

“I have no life. Duh,” Margie replied.

Margie cut south onto East 12th Street and then turned east onto Chester Avenue, which would take them through Midtown, up Cedar Hill, and back home. As they drove by Cleveland State University, she asked Katherine, “Do we still have to flip the bird to CSU for denying Hal tenure?”

“Nah, the statute of limitations has expired on that one, I think.”

“I like the new housing they’re building down here,” Abra said. “If I ever move downtown, would you two come and visit me?”

“Hell yes,” said Katherine.

“Sure,” Margie added. “Are you seriously thinking of moving or just toying with it?”

“Toying. If I can unload the house to the bank, I’ll have to rent somewhere. And I’d be closer to work.”

“If you move, who will I run with every morning?” “I don’t know. Get another dog?”

Chester was a wide, three-lanes-in-each-direction boulevard that took them past the university neighborhood and through the dead zone in between downtown, where most of the office buildings and entertainment areas were, and University Circle, where most of the city’s museums and cultural gems were ensconced. Economic development hadn’t hit this middle area, and much of it was taken up by vacant buildings, empty lots, and boarded-up houses.

Nine fifteen on a Thursday night in mid-May isn’t late and isn’t scary. Still, Margie got a bad feeling when she saw a young woman on the sidewalk walking fast, hands folded across her chest, not looking at the man who walked next to her. The girl was a stranger—not her age, not her race, not her neighborhood, but still, the girl was someone, some mother’s daughter.

Margie pulled over to the curb, leaving the engine running.

“Why are you stopping?” Katherine asked.

The few other cars on the wide road passed by without slowing. No cars were parked on the street; Margie’s van was the only stopped vehicle for blocks. Katherine and Abra followed Margie’s gaze to the scene unfolding on the sidewalk. The man was yelling at the woman now. They couldn’t make out exactly what he was yelling but heard the words “bitch” and “money” a few times. And they could see his flailing arms, his face leering up against hers. She stopped walking and said something to him, and he hit her. She lost her balance and fell against the chain-link fence that ran along the sidewalk. They were in front of an empty lot, where once there might have been a house but now was only a square of crabgrass and crumbling concrete and stray garbage. For a moment, there were no other cars on the road. There was no one else on the street, no inhabited buildings for a couple blocks either way. If not for them, the woman was on her own.

“Call nine-one-one,” Abra said as the man hit the woman again. The woman tried to get away, but he grabbed her shoulders and shoved her hard against the fence.

“There’s no time,” Katherine said. In a heartbeat, she was out of the car.

“Darn it, come on…” Abra muttered as she fumbled with the sliding side door and jumped out. “Keep the engine running,” she said as she followed Katherine.

“I’ll go with you…” Margie started to say. No, Abra was right. Someone had to stay with the van, keep the engine running, stay behind the wheel in case they needed to make a quick getaway. Glancing behind her, she backed up alongside the people on the sidewalk. It felt proactive. She could hear Katherine’s strong teacher voice saying loudly but calmly, “Leave her alone” and the woman yelling, “Call the police!” It suddenly occurred to Margie that she had a phone. She could call the police. Hands trembling and heart racing, Margie frantically fumbled through her bag for her phone.

She told the 911 dispatcher where she was and what was happening, the whole time watching Katherine and Abra and the couple on the sidewalk. Suddenly, there was a glint of something shiny in the streetlight as the man rushed toward Katherine. She heard a scream, and then she couldn’t see Abra anymore.

Katherine got out of the car purely through instinct. There was someone in trouble—helping is what you were supposed to do, right? It wasn’t until she was on the sidewalk, walking toward the man and woman, saying loudly, “Leave her alone” and watching the man turn to face her that she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do next. None. It was then that her heart started pounding and a hot wave of fear tingled through her arms and legs.

Up close, she could see the guy was taller and more muscular than he appeared from the safety of the van. He was maybe white, maybe light-skinned African American with a shaved head. An indecipherable neck tattoo peeked out from under his close-fitting, long-sleeved black T-shirt. She tried to burn a police description into her brain. The woman yelled, “Call the police!” at the same time the guy said, “This is none of your damn business, lady” to Katherine. The utter disdain in his voice cleared everything out of her brain except one thought: This was such a mistake. This was such a stupid mistake. There was no way this could end well. For a split second, she imagined Hal and Anna without her, wondered if they would think her foolish for getting herself killed in this way. She heard Abra say softly, “Just let her go, man.”

Katherine could just see Abra off to her right. Margie had backed up, and the open doors of the van were only a few yards away. She could faintly hear Margie’s voice, talking to 911 maybe? Knowing they were both nearby gave her a tiny bit more courage. Katherine took a tentative step toward the woman, who was kneeling by the fence. Her face was bloodied, the sleeve of her shirt ripped. “Miss?” she asked. She looked about nineteen or twenty. Not a woman. A girl. “Why don’t you come with us? We’ll give you a ride.”

“She don’t need a ride,” the man said.

The rest of the street seemed eerily quiet. Couldn’t someone else stop and help? Someone big? Someone male maybe? Katherine wasn’t that big, but she was big enough, strong enough. She could help. Slowly she extended her left arm. If the woman wanted to take her hand, she could. Katherine held the woman’s gaze, hoping she could silently convince her that leaving with some strangers was preferable to getting beaten up by her boyfriend. Katherine was so focused that she didn’t see the knife until it was against her arm, in her arm. The man cut so fast that she hardly saw the blade, only the flash of metal against her pale white skin. It occurred to her that she needed to get out in the sun. Why am I worried about how pale I am? I just got cut. She felt the sensation of the blade slicing through flesh, felt a momentary spark of pain, and then the pain was gone. It happened faster than a flu shot—a quick prick, then nothing.

The man only made one swipe, then stopped, triumphant, staring at her arm, expecting blood, expecting her to scream, to fall. There wasn’t any blood on her arm or the knife. No blood, just Katherine staring at him wide-eyed and unharmed.

Then the man was on the ground, hit from the side by…something, something Katherine couldn’t see. The knife dropped from his hands and landed near her foot. She kicked it away at the same time she heard Abra’s voice yell, “Run!” But where the hell was Abra? She must be in the van. Katherine couldn’t see her.

Katherine said, “Come on” to the woman, who was now up and moving toward her. The woman needed no more convincing and was in the car before Katherine, even before Abra. Where had Abra been? How could she be the last one to pile into the minivan, yelling, “Go! Go!” to Margie, who was slamming on the gas before the door was even closed.

Nobody said anything for a moment. The only sound in the car was that of four women catching their breath, being glad they had breath left in their bodies. Then all of them simultaneously erupted into words of relief and fear, asking each other “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

“Oh sweet mother, I can’t believe you all just did that,” Margie said. “I thought—Katherine, I honestly thought he was going to kill you.”

“So did I,” Abra said. “How the hell did he not cut you? How did he miss you?”

“He didn’t miss me,” Katherine replied quietly. Feeling fine seemed intrinsically wrong, but there it was. Unreal sense of calm? Yes. Pain and blood? No.

Before Margie or Abra could respond, the woman exclaimed, “Oh my God, thank you! Sean would’ve done me in this time, I know it. Y’all were like superheroes or something. You saved my life.”

The three women were quiet for a heartbeat. For the moment, the hyperbole of the phrase “You saved my life” was gone. It was arguably true. This was a new sensation. Frightening and humbling. Then Margie said, “Shoot, I dropped the phone.” With one hand on the wheel, she felt around in the great vortex of tissues, empty cups, and scraps of paper in the molded plastic section in between the two front seats.

“I got it,” Katherine said, coming up with the phone. The 911 dispatcher was still on the line, wondering what was going on. “Hello?” Katherine said. “We’re okay. We got away, the woman is safe. We’re going—where are we going?”

“Anywhere away from Sean,” the woman in the back said.

“There’s a police station right down the street at one hundred and fifth,” Abra said.

“Right, I know where that is,” Margie said.

A police car with the siren off but lights flashing came roaring down Chester Avenue in the opposite direction.

“Was that for us?” Margie asked.

“I think so,” Abra said.

Katherine hardly had time to explain what had happened to the dispatcher before they were at the station. There was a long hour-plus of giving witness statements to a jaded-looking police officer who told them several times how lucky they were to have gotten out of the situation with no harm done. “What you three ladies did was very brave and very stupid,” he said in closing.

“We know,” Abra replied.

They were told they might be called as witnesses if the woman, Janelle, decided to press charges against her boyfriend. Then they were free to go. The three of them walked out of the police station and to the waiting minivan. It was nearing midnight, and the spring evening had moved from cool to downright chilly. Even so, none of them moved to get into the van. Margie unlocked it and opened the driver’s door, then just stood looking at the ground, one hand on the door, the other on the side of the van, breathing slowly. Abra paced in a slow oval near the back of the van, while Katherine leaned against it and gazed up at the few faint stars that could be seen against the city lights. She suddenly wanted to be somewhere quiet, away from the city, away from people. Margie’s voice brought her back: “I’m sorry I didn’t do anything to help.”

What are you talking about?” Katherine said. “If it weren’t for you, we never would have gotten out of there.”

Abra walked around the van to Margie. “You were the only smart one. I’m sorry I got out of the car. That was stupid.” As Abra said this, she shivered, her lips trembled, and she started to shake. “That was so stupid.” “I got out first,” Katherine said. “I’m the stupid one.” Katherine almost never saw Margie cry. Even when her eldest child was going through hell, Katherine had been amazed and admiring of her friend’s resilience. But now Margie seemed overwhelmed by heaving sobs. “I’m just so glad the two of you are okay,” Margie stammered. Crying people generally made her nervous, but Katherine joined Margie and Abra on the other side of the van.

When your friends need you, they need you.

***

Excerpt from The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone. Copyright © 2017 by Susan Petrone. Reproduced with permission from Susan Petrone. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Susan Petrone

Susan Petrone lives with one husband, one child, and two dogs in Cleveland, Ohio. Her superpower has yet to be uncovered.

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