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Friday, April 19, 2024

Pursuit of Innocence by Bethany Rosa - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Pursuit of Innocence
by Bethany Rosa


GENRE:   Romance



“I’m done waiting around. You’re mine. No more games or pining over someone else when it’s me you want. You won’t remember his name after I get through with you.”

Lily knows exactly what she wants in life. To graduate, land a high-paying job, and forge her own way. Nothing will distract her. Until the ultimate playboy, billionaire Sebastian Dubree, barges in. Not to be overlooked, Lily’s longtime crush, Jackson, decides she’s worth the fight.

Reluctant to succumb to either, she quickly becomes a challenge to conquer.

Lily must decide between the familiarity of her childhood longing or the newly discovered  passion ignited by the dominant CEO. But can she surrender without losing herself in the process, or will someone take matters into his own hands?

Boundaries blur between desire and resistance in this gripping coming-of-age romance, leaving readers yearning for more.



“I hope you like champagne. I figured we could toast to our first date.”

“Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren’t you? I was coming into this thinking it would be our only date. But yes, I love bubbly.” I laugh as I answer.

He opens the champagne, then fills our glasses as he responds. “I’m going to be honest. I have every intention of pursuing you unless you convince me with absolute certainty you’re not interested. And what comes out of your mouth versus what your body tells me are two very different things. I’ll be taking orders from the latter.” He hands me a glass of champagne, and I’m unsure how to respond, so I don’t.

He raises his glass. “Cheers, Lily, to seeing where this goes and enjoying the ride. I’m looking forward to showing you how enjoyable it can be.” We toast, and I take a sip of the most amazing champagne I’ve ever had.



Top 10 List of Hot Men:

1.) Robert Pattinson

2.) Jökull Júlíusson 

3.) Chris Hemsworth

4.) Channing Tatum

5.) Henry Cavill

6.) Matt Bomer

7.) Stephen Amell

8.) Dylan Bruce

9.) Alan Ritchson

10.) Gabriel Macht



Bethany Rosa raised four amazing daughters before fulfilling her dream to become a writer. Her goal is to ignite passion in readers through her erotically charged stories. When not immersed in writing, Bethany finds joy in life traveling the world alongside her husband of 25 years. Home is divided between the mountains of Montana and the Arizona sunshine.








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Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Fallenwood Chronicles by Leslie D. Soule - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

The Fallenwood Chronicles Series

Books 1 - 4

by Leslie D. Soule


GENRE:  Fantasy



The Fallenwood Chronicles is the ongoing story of Ash Kensington, a young woman who finds herself transported into a fantasy world, where she must take up arms in a battle of Good vs. Evil, against the Dark Lord Malegaunt. Tragedy strikes her life in the real world, but she finds friends in Fallenwood, like her mentor Will Everett, a talking cat named Greymalkin, and a court jester named Terces.. Working together, they battle against the odds as Ash faces attacks from the world and from within. Eventually Ash finds the strength within herself, to attempt the fight against Malegaunt, against overwhelming odds, come what may.



“A dark, difficult, dangerous path lies before you, Ash Kensington.” Ash’s heart grew heavy. In truth, she knew that she was destined to some terrible, dark fate. For so long, her life was filled with sadness and doubt, and one horrible thing after another. What else can I hope for? “But Ash, you must not lose hope. Our world needs you, and you must learn to be strong, so you can find the power within yourself to change things for the better. Prove that you are stronger than your Fate. Prove that you are worthy of this life that you have been given. William Everett has agreed to guide you, and there will be others in this realm that you must learn from. But your future, your life—everything from this point on is up to you. For you have been granted a precious gift—to return to the place and time you left in coming here, once your quest is through.”



The Background Of The Fallenwood Chronicles

So let us begin at the beginning. I’ve always written myself stories, as a matter of habit, ever since I was little. I never questioned what I was doing, back then, as I typed away on my StarWriter word processor – I just did it, imagining quests and strange characters and scenarios that never were. And eventually I hit upon a character – Ash. She came to me first, as a character I could loosely base on myself, and then I wanted to give her friends. As a child and teenager, I had this cat named Bogey, and he would always sleep at the foot of my bed every night, and was the sweetest little creature I knew. [Photo of Bogey is below]

He was named Bogey because my stepfather was an avid golfer, and that’s who named him. So it seemed natural that I should give Ash a friend who was a cat. The cat character was going to be based on Bogey. And at the time, I’d been reading MacBeth, and there’s one part where the witches say, “Come, Greymalkin”, and I knew that that’s what I wanted to name him. So there we had Ash and Greymalkin. And the story grew from there.

The various characters that show up in the Fallenwood Chronicles, all have little pieces of me in them, though some of them are based on real people, like Will Everett.

Victor Hugo wrote that, “A writer is a world trapped in a person.”

And so it was, with me. I never expected to write four novels that would become a series. In fact, Forgetting Fallenwood (book 2 of the series) was something of an experiment. Could I transport Ash back to the real world? Have her follow me through my state job, and see how she would react? And why did my own world seem to fall apart when I tried to act the way society says you should? I demanded answers of the universe.

Well, Forgetting Fallenwood flowed effortlessly from my imagination. Where Fallenwood had taken years to write, I wrote book 2 in about six months or so. But critics were not so kind. I did not receive words of praise, for book 2. While I managed to avoid the topic of suicide that the first book took on, I still managed to write a book that received negative criticism. So I shelved my writing career for years on end. I thought I was a bad writer. And I didn’t touch the Fallenwood series again for quite some time.

But then I realized, that writing isn’t about sunshine and roses. It’s about “writing clear and hard about what hurts”, like Hemingway said. It’s about bleeding your heart onto the page. So I determined that I would keep on going, and write as clearly as I could, about all the ways in which the world had come to hurt me. Book 1 (Fallenwood) is about Death and coming to grips with it. Book 2 (Forgetting Fallenwood) is about Identity and loss of memory. Book 3 (Betrayer) is about Betrayal. And Book 4 (Retribution) is about Revenge.

So there you have it. At the end of the day, I’m proud of having written the Fallenwood Chronicles, despite whatever negative feedback has come along with it.  



Leslie D. Soule received her M.A. in English from National University. She is a scholar, artist, citizen journalist, and martial artist. She has been an established writer for a decade, and has novels published by Melange Books, Terror House Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and Nat 1 Publishing. The Fallenwood Chronicles is her 4-book fantasy series and features the novels Fallenwood, Forgetting Fallenwood, Betrayer, and Retribution

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Book One - Fallenwood:


Book Two - Forgetting Fallenwood:


Book Three - Betrayer:


Book Four - Retribution:




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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

When the Ocean Flies by Heather G. Marshall - Book Tour - Guest Post - Bonus Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

When the Ocean Flies
by Heather G. Marshall


GENRE:   Women's Fiction



An email from a stranger tells Alison Earley that her natural father, whom she has known for only six years, has died suddenly. What begins as a short trip back to Scotland for a funeral soon becomes a journey that puts adoption, sexuality, and identity on a collision course as Alison finds herself caught between the life and family she has so carefully constructed on one continent and the family from which she was taken on another.

Shunned by her father's family, reunited with her natural mother, and reconnected with a long-lost love, Alison finds herself trying to shepherd her youngest child towards college while questioning everything she thought she knew about herself.

When her natural mother uncovers a series of letters written to Alison from the grandmother she never knew, resurrecting stories of generations of women--stories long buried by patriarchal rule--Alison realizes that she must find the courage to face and reveal the secrets of her own past. At what cost, though? And who and what will be left in the aftermath?

When the Ocean Flies explores the pain of separation and abuse, and the power of love to heal even over huge gaps in time and geographical distance.



Strange to think I’ve been walking this earth, turning face to sky, swimming in the waters for over three quarters of a century. So much has changed, and yet, so little. Women gained the right to vote just before I arrived in this life. We went out in droves to do the work our men had done while they went off to fight the Germans. And then we returned to our homes and our children, expected to return to the way things had always been. That’s what they say—it has always been that way. But I know, and you do as well, that it hasn’t always. Still, we returned to a way of life that denied women like Mary their right to claim their own child unless they had the benefit of a man’s ring on their hand.

Now, in the infancy of a new century, we find footing in a world built by the men who came before, still with much of our truth buried, fossils of the soul.

I did not fully realize how much of that I’d done to myself until after Hamish died. He was a good man. It wasn’t even conscious that I held myself in for him. I loved him. Did as I was told to do. After his death, though, I felt myself begin to unfurl. I returned to reading the cards, returned to reading the air and the sky. Began to find my voice in paint and canvas and here, on these pages.



My Favorite Scene in This Book…

The scene that connects most directly to the title of the book, When the Ocean Flies, is one of my favorites. Alison, the protagonist, is four, and, on the surface, it’s a lovely scene with a grandpa and a granddaughter at the sea. Alison is adopted, though, and what has led to this scene it that the brother who was adopted four years after Alison has been taken back by his biological mother. In the aftermath, Alison’s adoptive mother has, to say the least, gone to pieces. It has all come to a head and Alison has been dropped off at Papa’s for the day. In addition, there’s this juxtaposition of the expectations of Alison’s dad, who wants her to be a good girl and be clean and tidy, whereas Papa encourages her to explore and get messy. These two forces will become an internal battle for Alison as she moves through her life. Here’s the scene:

“Papa lowered her down on the sand at the inlet, as he always did. She ran, on still-podgy legs, towards the sea. He did not call after her to be careful, or slow down, or stay clean—he never did. She hesitated at the edge, turning to see where he was. And then she bent, held her hands just above the waters, wanting to settle them into the gritty ground, to feel the pebbles and seaweed and sand. Dad liked everything spotless, though, so she hovered her hands and waited for the sea to come to her. When the waters arrived, she discovered that they still held a chill, giving her a marvelous tickle. She stepped back, imagining Dad there. Mind your shoes. Little girls don’t get dirty.

When Papa arrived beside her, he produced his handkerchief, waving it. “Do whatever you like. We’ll get all tidied before I take you back.”

She extended her hands, submerged them.

She hunched there so long that the sea stopped coming up to greet her hand, as though it had decided to visit the islands across the waters instead. She wrinkled her nose, looked up at Papa.

“What is it?” he asked.

“The sea. Where is it going?”

“It’s the tide.”


“Yes. The sea goes out.”

She lifted her chin, almost like a little fox, smelling for treachery. “Where does it go?”

He told her the earth was a ball; he said words she did not understand: gravity, the forces that hold them on the earth and the forces, unseen, that pull the seas in different directions. As he talked, her brow wrinkled. Her chin lifted higher. Fairy tales made much more sense. He kept going, trying. “The earth is a sphere,” he said, making it more confusing. 

“The moon pulls the tides.”

“The moon?”

“The moon.”

“Up the sky?”

“Aye. The moon in the sky.”

She looked up. The sun was there. She had seen the moon, of course, following them home at night, and through the gap in the curtains in her room. God was there as well. That’s what the ladies in the creche had said. God was up there in the sky, seeing everything. She liked the moon better.

A gull called, overhead. It landed on the water, dove, went fully under, disappeared and then came up further away, took off again, flew away and away, into the distance. It disappeared.

“The sea flies away where we can’t see it,” she said. “To the moon?”

Papa laughed. “You might say.”

“Will it fly back?”


For a long time, he would retain a frisson of guilt that he had led his granddaughter to believe in flying seas. It was the best he could sort out, though. By the end of these afternoons, though he loved them, he could do with a whisky. He checked his watch. He sighed. He looked down at her, sinking her hand into the sand again. Five o’clock somewhere.

“That’s enough flying sea for one day. What about an ice cream?”

They made their way back down the front, singing ‘I scream-you scream-we all scream for ice cream.’

He hesitated just before he handed the ice cream to her. “Oor wee secret?” He did this every time, even years later, when she would come back to him as a teen.

She nodded.

“I know the perfect place for us to eat it.”

Elsie, behind the bar of The Sheiling, shook her head when they came in. This, too, happened every time. “Malcolm Ritchie,” she smirked. “You’re a naughty lad, as ever.” She nodded at Alison. “You’ll spoil that wee girl’s dinner.”

“Not naughty at all. Just a Papa and his favorite girl out for a bit of fun, which happens to mean going about things in a bit of a different order than some other people think is proper.”

Excerpt From
When the Ocean Flies
Heather G. Marshall
This material may be protected by copyright.



The Craziest Thing I’ve Done in the Name of Research

Decades ago, I wrote a draft of a novel that will never see the light of day. In it, one of the characters plays her bagpipes at Graceland. I was curious to see if that could actually be done. I snuck my bagpipes into Graceland. By that, I mean that I took them out of their case and did the whole Graceland tour carrying them (they’re not small). When I got to the memorial gardens, I played. I’m sure it goes without saying that I didn’t play for long before they told me I had to stop (despite other visitors asking me to continue). Still, I had accomplished my research mission!



Heather G. Marshall is an adoptee, author, speaker, teacher, coach, and traveler. Her short fiction has been published in a variety of journals, including Black Middens: New Writing Scotland, and Quarried, an anthology of the best of three decades of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Her first novel, The Thorn Tree, released in 2014 (MP Publishing). Her TED talk, “Letting Go of Expectations,” centers around her adoption and reunion. Her second novel, When the Ocean Flies, released in February 2024 (Vine Leaves Press). In her writing, Heather explores family, adoption, women (especially older ones), the natural environment, and how these intersect. When she isn’t writing, she likes to hike, travel, practice yoga and meditation, do a wee bit of knitting, and, of course, read. Originally from Scotland, Heather is currently based in Massachusetts.










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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Off the Books by Dana King - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Off the Books
A Nick Forte Novel
Book Six
by Dana King


GENRE:   Hard-Boiled Private Investigator



Nick Forte has lost his detective agency and makes ends meet doing background checks and other paperwork. He pays for everything else through jobs he takes for cash and without any written contract. What starts out as a simple investigation into a traffic accident exposes Forte to people who have truly lost everything and have no viable hope of reclaiming their lives. That doesn’t sit well with Forte, leading him and his friend Goose Satterwhite to take action that ends more violently than anyone expected.

“The return of Chicago private detective Nick Forte, the tough protagonist of two Shamus Award nominated novels, is well worth the wait. Nick’s latest escapade Off The Books—the first in nearly six years—will surely earn additional praise for the acclaimed series.”
~ J.L .Abramo, Shamus Award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Chan.

"Nick Forte reminds me of Robert B. Parker's Spenser: a PI with a finely tuned sense of justice who doesn't take anyone's s***. Any fan of hardboiled detective fiction is in for a helluva ride."
~ Chris Rhatigan, former publisher of All Due Respect Books



I first saw him standing under the “employees only” sign near the exit to the truck service bays. Early twenties, a little under average height, short blond hair. Caroline was unaware of him, focused as she was on a three-way text conversation with her friends Maria and Arielle.

The next time the kid caught my attention he was half as far away, standing where the food court opened into the convenience store. I only noticed him this time because I recognized him, and he was the only Love’s employee on the floor. His name was Jimmy, and he was definitely looking our direction.

I’m an old-school father with an only child. A daughter, no less. My primary purpose in life was to make sure no one messed with her. Everything else—work, food, clothing, mortgage payments, staying out of prison—comes after. Jimmy hadn’t done anything wrong, but the Dadar had activated.

All fathers think their daughters are beautiful; I had empirical evidence. If the steady stream of boys circling the periphery of her life looking for an in wasn’t enough, I once overheard another kid in the band describe her to a friend as the “archetype of virginal beauty.” (What can I say? Magnet school.)

The next time I caught sight of Jimmy he stood three feet behind Caroline, checking her out with rapt attention. I sidled over, using my best stealth technique. He never saw me coming until I leaned in close and spoke in my most quietly menacing voice. “She’s thirteen years old.”

Jimmy evaporated faster than a snowflake in a  microwave..

I still got it.



It was suggested I might want to write about my favorite things in my office, a topic that would terrify my late mother, who would consider Adrian Monk a slob..

Suffice to say, I am not a neat freak.

Creative people rarely are. We tend to set things down when we move on to – or are distracted by – something else, and there it stays until we need  it again. A Facebook post a couple of weeks ago asked writers what their desks looked like. My reply: “The space directly in front of me is clear. Chaos reigns on all other sides.” This was met the general agreement by my writer friends. It’s how we roll.

Of all the crap valuable stuff in my work area, which are my favorites?

First is the window. My monitor sits directly in front of it, so I can always see a bit of the outdoors; it’s easy to shift my angle when I want more. I grew up in the country and the back of our townhouse opens onto a small wooded area. I need that greenery, and I love that deer occasionally stop by.

Next is my computer, but that’s for a purely selfish reason: I cannot imagine writing a book without one. I never would have considered being a writer back in the day when drafts were typed out over and over and over again.

I have eight dry erase boards of various sizes around the office. A couple are big enough to hang from the bookshelves and doors; some fit easily on my desk. I use them for anything that comes to mind: plotting the book, planning a trip, keeping track of day-to-day things that need to be done, and whatever else comes to mind.

And then there are the writer’s aids. These are things I’ve picked up along the way that may provide incentive, remind me of what I’m shooting for, or help to solve a problem. Here they are:

Taped to the top of my monitor where I’ll see it every time I sit down is a piece of card stock with this printed on it:

Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns.

It’s the opening line of George V. Higgins’s classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle. I use it as a constant reminder of the kind of clear and concise prose I aim for.

To my immediate left, on a rack where I keep things handy – notes, research, other books -  are five points from Edith Wharton that are always worth considering, even though I write nothing like Edith Wharton.
• Know your scope.
• Do less better.
• Lead with your characters.
• Dialog is where you learn most about characters.
• Create peaks and valleys.
• Have a point.
Typing this list reminded me how well I have internalized those ideas even though I do not often read them. Thanks for that.

Next to the Wharton are two quotes. The first is from Wes Anderson’s film The French Dispatch. In the movie this is advice the editor of the Dispatch gives to his writers:

Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.

Beside that are three words spoken by Dennis Lehane:

No one cares.

Far from nihilistic, Lehane uses the phrase to keep writers from becoming paralyzed by minor changes that no one but the author will notice.

Last but far from least is a small plaque my daughter – a/k/a The Sole Heir and the inspiration for Nick Forte’s daughter Caroline – bought for me several years ago. This is the phrase I can bank on when all else fails:

If you were in my novel you’d be dead by now.

It’s just a small extra upstairs bedroom, but I spend at least a third of my life in. It suits me fine.



Off the Books is Dana King’s sixth Nick Forte private investigator novel. Two of the earlier books (A Small Sacrifice and The Man in the Window) received Shamus Award nominations from the Private Eye Writers of America. Dana also writes the Penns River series of police procedurals set in a small Western Pennsylvania town, as well as one standalone novel, Wild Bill, which is not a Western. His short fiction appears in numerous anthologies and web sites. He is a frequent panelist at conferences and reads at Noirs at Bars from New York to North Carolina.




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Dana will award a $20 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner's Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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Red Kingdom by Rachel L. Demeter - Book Tour - Book Blast - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rachel Demeter will award a copy of the eBook for Beauty of the Beast, the first book of the series, to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Little Red Riding Hood reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Princess Blanchette’s world shatters when the Black Wolf tears apart her castle and everything she holds dear. All she clings to is the vow she made to her grandmother on her deathbed.

Hailed as the people’s champion, Sir Rowan Dietrich liberates the capital in a quest for vengeance. He takes Winslowe Castle with an army at his back and his wolf, Smoke, at his side.

United by a shared cause and powerful attraction, Rowan and Blanchette embark on a journey of self-discovery and redemption—a path filled with loss, transformation, and ultimately, the healing power of love.

Can Norland’s resplendent princess, with her captivating beauty and spirit, tame the fabled Black Wolf?

Inspired by the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Red Kingdom is a passionate historical romance about the enduring quest for love and the longing for a world at harmony. It is a standalone novel.

Rowan Dietrich, the Black Wolf of Norland, withdrew his sword from the back of the man’s head. The six other brigands slunk backward and fumbled for their weapons. The horses were going crazy at the sight and scent of the wolf Smoke—stomping their hooves, rearing up on powerful hind legs. Except for Sunbeam. He remained silent and still, blending into the dark canopy of trees.

From the corner of his eye, Rowan glanced at Blanchette; her dress was torn and dirty, and she fumbled in the dirt, struggling to rise to her feet.

Anger twisted inside him, red and hot.

I shall kill them all for this.

One brigand, greasy-haired and pockmarked, dashed at him from the left. Rowan swept his sword in an arc and felt the satisfying squelch of steel sliding through flesh, muscle, and tendon.

Movement from his peripheral vision. Blanchette rushed forward and retrieved the fallen axe. Rowan ran toward another brigand. The man staggered back, nocked an arrow, and let it fly.

It took Rowan in the forearm. Several moments passed before the pain struck him. Then he strode forward, a growl in his throat, as the bowman withdrew a second arrow from his quiver and nocked it again.

He raised to shoot—but Blanchette was there, bless the little idiot, both of her hands wielding the axe. She gave a war cry and swiped at the man’s midsection. The metal sank in deep, and then she pulled it free with another gut-wrenching cry.

The man crumpled and fell. Blanchette locked Rowan’s gaze. Dirt and blood speckled her face.

There were five more brigands. Smoke leaped at one of them, his snarl a thunderclap, his dagger-like teeth tearing into the man’s throat. Blood pumped from the gash and soaked Smoke’s muzzle. Then the wolf squared himself in front of Rowan and Blanchette, his fierce growl rising in the darkness.

The last three men backed away slowly, their eyes riveted on the wolf and his gore-stained snout. They turned and ran like bats escaping hell. Smoke pounced and wrapped his jaws around one of the men’s napes. He dug his fingers into the dirt and leaves, screaming for his mother, blood and flesh coming loose as Smoke worked at his neck until he was silent.

Rowan and Blanchette finished off the last two men.

Then she wandered into the clearing like a woman wading through a dream. The red riding cloak streamed behind her.

She stood like that for a long stretch of silence. Tears and blood and dirt covered her face.

She looked fierce. Primal. Breathtaking.

That tragic vision took his breath away.

Smoke threw back his blood-soaked muzzle and howled at the full moon. The eerie sound shivered through the night.

“I wouldn’t linger long, Your Grace,” Rowan spat as he glanced at the arrow sticking out of his forearm and the seven dead bodies. “There are wolves in these woods, and worse.”

I live in Sunny California with my dashing husband, who inspires my romance novels every day!

Writing has always been an integral part of my identity. Before I physically learned how to write, I'd narrate stories to my mom, and she'd record them for me.

I graduated from Chapman’s film school, where I often received the feedback on my scripts, “Your stories and characters are great, but this reads like a novel!” That’s when I realized my true calling.

In my free time, I frequent reptile expos, lift double my body’s weight, and indulge in dinosaur trivia.

I'm passionate about writing stories that explore what it means to be human and to be loved. My books focus on hope, courage, and redemption in the face of adversity.


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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Family That Finds Us by Phoenix Blackwood - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

The Family That Finds Us
by Phoenix Blackwood


GENRE:  LGBTQIA+ Coming of Age



Phee hides her secrets well, until they become too much to bear. Her biggest secret is one she’s kept even from herself. Her longest-kept secret is one that hurts her every day. Her final secret is one that will set her free.

In a school that doesn’t accept them, Phee, Theo, and Alex fight for a community close to their hearts. The community desperately needs the trio to help the rest of them leave the shadows without fear of violence and discrimination. Through some heroic activism, the three push the school officials to their limits — forcing them to act — for better or worse.

For Phee, the fight for a place where she can be herself doesn’t stop when she gets home. The strain of taking care of her alcoholic and abusive mother threatens to break Phee away from her family bond forever. Her mother can go from a messy drunk to an angry one in an instant, turning Phee’s home life from an obligation to a war zone.

Theo’s house offers respite to Phee. With compassion scarce in her life, Alex and Theo are Phee’s light in the dark. They protect and cherish her. At Theo’s, Phee is free to be herself and explore her identity safely — her chosen family ready to catch her if she falls. That’s what family does, how family finds us when we feel lost and alone.



“Thank you, my preciou-ous-es son.” She slurred her words as she spoke into the table, and I sighed inaudibly.

At least she wasn’t angry-drunk. This was the drunk I could handle, the drunk I knew how to care for. I’d been doing it half my life, it would be strange if I weren’t good at it by now. I finished the dishes and laid them out on the drying rack after wiping them dry with a kitchen towel, then sat down in the chair next to her at the table.

“Do you need anything, mom? Have you eaten? Drank anything?”

“Mmno.” She rolled her face to look at me, her deep dark eyes glistening but not completely there.

I got a plastic cup from the cupboard and filled it with some ice water and handed it to her. Her hands shook as she tried to lift the cup from mine, so I helped her guide it to her mouth and take a couple sips, then set it back down on the table in front of her. I rummaged through the fridge to pull out some milk and went to the pantry for some cereal. Only, as lifted the milk to pour, I felt objects hit the side of the carton. I opened the cap to take a whiff and gagged; the milk was sour. Sighing, I dropped the carton into the trash and opened the barren fridge to search for another option.



My favorite scene in The Family that Finds Us has to be the scene about mid-to-late book where Theo’s triggered by the school principal yelling in their face and runs off, without Alex or Phee knowing where they’re going. Alex starts to panic, her mind going to all the worst places as she and Phee run out of the school to try and find them. Phee keeps a cool head under pressure, and makes a plan with Alex to spread out and search. Alex runs towards home, Phee goes to check the skate park. As Phee is running past the woods behind the school, she remembers something that Theo had told her earlier – about how the forest was a safe place for them, they could hide and no one would find them. With Phee’s gut urging her to try, she runs into the woods while dialing Theo’s number.

Phee starts to hear Theo’s ringtone as she gets deeper into the woods, confirming her thought as she runs farther. She stops when the tone is at its loudest, dumbfounded and looking around anywhere for the phone as Theo’s nowhere in sight, until she looks up. Theo’s climbed the tree above, and Phee less than gracefully climbs to the branch where Theo’s sitting.

Theo’s lost deep in a panic attack, and Phee isn’t sure what to do at first. Theo’s never shown her this side of them. Phee knew Theo could get like this from knowing of their history and how Alex interacts with them sometimes, but she’s never actually seen it. She then remembers what Alex had told her once about Theo’s panic attacks, that a lot of things people usually do don’t help, and that she would just hold them and talk to them through it. Phee’s afraid at first, not wanting to encroach on the boundaries of their friendship, but she knows that she has to do something – Theo’s breathing is erratic, they’re wheezing with tears running down their cheeks.

Lovingly, Phee draws Theo in, squeezing them tight. They cry, and eventually relax into her. Phee fights back her own tears – she hates the amount of pain Theo’s in. She’d do anything to make it better. Eventually, Theo’s able to regain some lucidity, and hugs Phee back while taking a few deep breaths and wiping their eyes. They’re both able to climb down from the tree, and they talk for a bit afterwards.

This scene perfectly demonstrates all the love and care Phee has for Theo, how she still views them as strong and admires them even in a moment of weakness. I think it shows how strong people can still be vulnerable, and how even the most independent people still need someone to have their back, to notice the little things about them and respond to their needs. It shows how important their friendship is to both of them.



Born and raised in New England, Phoenix has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.



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