The Meow Guardians by Maria Vermisoglou

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means, when you purchase a book using an Amazon link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.

Title: The Meow Guardians

Genre: Holiday animal fiction

This Christmas the holiday spirit is under threat and only a special stray can save it!

The name’s Ginger, AKA Agent Meow 01. Usually, I spend my free time searching for scraps and getting chased by dogs, like the stray cat that I am.

But this Christmas, everything changes.

When the dog agents from PAWs mess up and leave the human world hanging by a thread, it’s Ginger to the rescue. With my combination of brains, stealth, and daring, I’m the agent they call when the fur starts to fly. Except this time, I’ve got a new partner.

A house cat.

With the clock ticking, this mission seems doomed to failure with so many pheromones about.

Will the Christmas spirit be saved, or will we turn our tails and let the world burn?

Maria Vermisoglou is an International Bestselling author of fantasy and paranormal with an obsession for witches. She loves throwing her heroes into impossible situations. Maria draws inspiration from books, travel, and…the ceiling. (So blame the ceiling!)
Maria started writing when the stories she read became too boring and the voices in her mind too loud.

When she’s not writing, she loves a good riding on the fantasy dragon, but a book can also be exciting, along with a cup of tea.

Nowadays, you can find her in Athens, exploring the mysteries of the ancient world.

Subscribe and enter Maria’s magical portal: https://maraki2311.wixsite.com/creativequillYou can also follow Maria in social media: https://linktr.ee/portal_to_the_unknown

ONE CHAPTER EXCERPT

Chapter One: Duty Calls

It was a sunny morning in an otherwise chilly winter. I lay on a tree branch, reveling in the warmth on my skin. The birds chirped, making my stomach rumble from hunger. While I could leap high, I couldn’t fly, so they rarely became my meal. Besides, all that feathered costume took too much time to dismantle. Sitting under the sunlight was pure bliss until a sharp noise penetrated my ear.

“Agent Meow 01, do you copy?”

I yawned and stretched my tired body. “Can nobody sleep around here?”

“Agent Meow 01, do you copy?”

“Yes! I copy, cut, and paste if you want.” I let the sunlight filter through my eyelids, sat up and scratched my ear. “What is it?”

“Agent Meow 01, the mission is about to start. We need you in headquarters.”

“Of course, how could I forget? Oh, wait! I didn’t forget because it’s freaking November and the mission starts every December!” My voice rose with every word, masking the fear building inside me. If they were calling me a month early, things were worse than bad. A squirrel gawked at me from the oak tree across and tightened its grip on the acorn it held. I pounded my clawed paw, and its fur thinned. With a shake of its pointy ears, the squirrel leaped into the tree hollow.

“There were some complications, which is why we need you forthwith. Please proceed to headquarters with utmost haste.”

I clicked my tongue and huffed, watching my quiet morning dissolve, and problems arise in my future. “I’ll be there in a few.” After a thorough cleanup of my claws on the branch, I licked my paws, removed some insects who had taken refuge in my fur and leaped from the tree.

“Cooold!” I screamed. “I thought the snow would have melted by now.”

An ugly coat of white blanketed the street from the night before when it had snowed like crazy. I retreated, my eyes darted in every direction, in search of dry land. My back collided with the tree, signaling the end of the path. Still, my paws were dipped in the snow, making me shiver from whiskers to tail.

 Some passerby laughed at my predicament, but carried on their way. Probably because I was a cat. And a secret agent. But they had no knowledge of the latter because they were humans.

People in gumboots crossed the crunching streets, shivering in their coats. Children yelled, throwing snowballs, and I glared at them, observing the wet balls of death flying through the air, in case any of the snowballs closed in on my location. Cars moved on the streets at a snail’s speed, the drivers cursing.

“Well, if you hadn’t been living in abandoned buildings and pipes, you might have realized that,” the voice from my earphone sounded amused.

“I will have you know pipes have a great reserve of rats. Do you know how delicious they are?” I licked my whiskers at the thought of their juicy flesh as they went down my throat.

“You’re not made of sugar, agent. Get on with it.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m a dame, but made out of red granite not sugar.”

My body trembled, and my teeth chattered like castanets in a flamenco dance. When a father passed in front of me hauling his son, who was covered from top to bottom with warm clothing, I felt a pang of jealousy. Wet drops brimmed in my eyes, blurring my vision and obscuring the polar weather. I quickly detected the best path to the headquarters without becoming an ice cube and grinned when I came up on the first means of transport. I jumped on an old lady’s shopping trolley when she happened before me and waited till she reached the red light in the avenue, leaped on an oh-so-terribly cold bush and continued my journey, changing means of transportation, avoiding the patches of snow as much as possible. Annoyed at the constant rattling of my teeth, I clenched my jaw and sped up to get away from the icy mattress before I suffered a heart attack. Oh, how I hated cold!

When Tails of the City, a local pet shop, swam in view, I breathed in relief and pressed my legs harder, licking my mouth in anticipation of the warm secluded room with the machine that spat heat. My nose twitched at the prospect of treats and canned fish. Mice I could catch, but I would never get near that treacherous water.

“Hey, kitty, are you hungry?” The shopkeeper welcomed me with a smile.

I blinked. Is she expecting me to answer to that stupid diminutive? Keeping my eyes on her face, I waited.

“Someone is not in a good mood today.” Her mouth quirked. “Is it the snow?”

I hissed.

The woman enveloped with the wet smell of dog food laughed and padded to the back of the store, giving me the chance to slip to the aisle with the cat products. Passing by the discarded empty boxes, I gritted my teeth, resisting my urge to jump right in and proceeded to my destination. I lifted my head, sniffing around, and my senses turned crazy. The massive packages lined up on the shelves teased my nose, causing my mouth to water. So many wonderful flavors to choose from and so not the time to do it. I climbed on the top shelf which hosted transportation boxes, beds, and finally came to a stop in front of the pink cat cube.

I entered and pressed the button that made a monitor come to life.

The pet shop was the entrance to a secret base for the Pat & Purr, which was an organization for cat agents. We had many bases across the globe, with state-of-the-art technology and special toys to help our mission.

The computer voice asked the familiar series of questions, so I answered quickly before the human came looking for me. The lights on the screen faded, and the floor opened beneath my feet. I slid down a pipe, and I yelled, enjoying the trip. I loved amusement parks, especially slides that transferred you from one place to another at lightning speed.

After my soft landing on the white carpet, I walked to the sliding doors that parted and I entered the heart of our organization.

Pat & Purr, the secret cat organization that worked for humans under their nose. I’m telling you, if it wasn’t for us, they would have destroyed the planet. Not that they haven’t tried it already.

It was quiet. Very quiet. The main room, where on a normal day, my colleagues would type in their computers, assess distress signals, fabricate modern devices or chase their tails, was empty.

I swallowed the nervousness dancing in my stomach and studied the desks where the monitors sat quietly, the chairs against them and shifted my gaze, in search of any sign of life. The sticky notes on the pastel blue tapestry where we sometimes stuck memos didn’t shed any light on the mystery, so I moved further to the agency.

“This is strange. Am I too early?” My ears folded, and I meowed loudly. “I am losing my form.”

“Nah. They’re waiting for you in the mission room.”

I rolled my eyes when Sandy, a dirty white cat with a burned tail and goggles on his swollen eyes, came into view behind the master computer.

“I didn’t realize I was such a famous figure. Aren’t you coming?”

“Nah. I have to run some algorithms and put the final touches on your accessories. Time is of the essence, so I’ll just listen from the radio.” He lifted a screwdriver as a greeting. “Have fun, Ginger.”

Chuckling, I padded the way to the mission room, my thoughts swirling. Sandy’s words did nothing to ease my nervousness, adding more mystery to the tangling jungle of unexplainable occurrences. My paws tingled once they touched the fluffy rug, and I rolled on my back, dug my claws on the carpet, rubbed the itchy spots and relished the sensation of velvet against my fur before I got back on my feet.

Pat & Purr had pipes leading to offices and storage rooms, and of course, the playroom. We cats loved slides, boxes, and naps. Our organization was built to give us a haven to be ourselves without the presence of humans.

I slid down the red pipe and landed right outside the door which harbored the mission room where we held all our important meetings. My paw froze in the air and I stalled. I’ve never been to the mission room. Even my tail was nervous. Like all cats, I could feel change and this one blew unpleasant vibes. When I pushed the door, my whiskers flicked from the massive presence of cats, which explained the emptiness in the offices. All cats were gathered here.

The mission room didn’t only look like a mission room, but it smelled like business, too.

Grey walls coated the circular room that broke the tradition of colorful rooms of the agency. The floor emitted the vibrant aroma of freshly cut wood, although claw marks decorated their surface and the paint glistening on the walls gave the impression they were painted recently. My anxiety spiked when I gazed at all the furred bodies and the papers flying around. Arrays of chairs spread in the room where cats were already sitting. The silence was deafening. Only the voice from the speaker sounded, peppered with scratching noises of ears, tapping of claws against the wood, and stretching of stiff limbs. The glowing monitors drew my attention to the tail of the mission room. I felt the food I swallowed yesterday stirring in my stomach. I flashed back to my first day as an agent, when I’d met the Board of cold-blooded killers. Otherwise known as Pat & Purr’s Board. The vested cats typed feverishly on computers while they answered phone calls. When the Russian blue penetrated me with his yellow eyes, I decided to scram.

“This can’t be good.” I inspected the room, confused by the vast meow population, in search of a place to curl while the speech was still underway. My eyes fell on an empty seat and I grinned, but my grin melted when I realized it was in the house cats’ seats.

While agent cats generally got along with each other, since we all sought the same goal, there was a broad gap between strays and house cats. We strays were laid back, ate what we could find and struggled with everything. Since we lived in the streets, we had to protect ourselves, toughen up and sharpen our claws for imminent attacks. The menu of our enemies contained many pages.

House cats had the whole enchilada. A house to pass the chilly winter nights and hot summer days, nice food waiting for them every minute of the day—they were fat!—and love. But they were whiny, slow and indifferent. We stray cats called them cat queens. If we dared to sit next to them, they would call us every name under the sun, not accepting to be close to a cat of lower status than theirs. Rubbish! We all lived on the same earth therefore, they should be helping us, not giving us more obstacles to deal with.

I spotted an empty seat in the stray cat aisle in the middle. My whiskers trembled and I coughed at the pungent scent of sandalwood and fish the Head of Pat & Purr carried who delivered his speech with passion and determination. I wrinkled my nose, hoping I didn’t have to face him today. My stomach rumbled. I crossed rows of dark and colorful cats, passed under swinging and curly tails until I climbed to the seat, curling on the fuzzy pillow.

“Every year, we make sure humans find happiness at Christmas. Our agents work hard, infiltrating homes and move strings so that they can make that happen.”

I yawned. “Let’s catch up on some much needed sleep.” I had barely closed my eyes when I heard paws shuffle from the neighboring seats and meows fill the room. I stirred in my chair.

“You’ll find your assignments on your desks,” the Head of Pat & Purr announced.

He was a British shorthair silver tabby with the most beautiful green eyes a cat could possess. However, his charming qualities stopped there. He was annoying as hell and sluggish. The black bow around his neck set him apart as a house cat. Even if he was a stray, someone would pick him up solely for his beauty.

Screens sprung in desks, throwing up papers from the slot on the side, so I turned my attention to mine. My desk was a wooden circular thing anchored to the chair, and no screen popped up like the others. I punched it and raised my eyebrow when it remained immobile. The cats started jumping off their seats, dragging chairs as they left the room, muttering things among themselves.

I debated whether to go to the silver cat or follow the clowder when a sharp female voice boomed.

“Whoever has no assignment should report to the front desk immediately.”

I looked at the silver tabby and noticed him pace on the desk, conversing intensely with a Siamese female, their tails twitching.

Clearly, there was something wrong, or they wouldn’t have called us mid-November. We took on the mission at the beginning of December and had the whole month. Seeing how he gestured at the calendar, time was of the essence.

“Time to find out who messed up.” I leaped from my chair and made my way to the wooden floor decorated with claw marks.

When the two cats sniffed my presence, they lowered their voice to whispers. The Head cat of P&P punched the desk, ending the conversation. He arranged his bow tie better before addressing me.

“Yes?”

“Agent Meow 01, reporting for duty.”

“I presume your screen didn’t pop up?” He rummaged through the pile of papers in his office.

“I wouldn’t be here if it did.”

“Yes, yes. There are certain circumstances…yes.” He leafed through his papers, mumbling among himself. “There you are. Agent Meow 01, oh, you’re many years in the force.” He finally looked at me, studying me with renewed interest, but his eyes glided toward the back of the mission room where the cats of the Board typed on their fancy screens while they spoke loudly on the phone. My ears flopped. They reminded me of humans who were so absorbed with their work they didn’t see the world around them. As far as I was aware, the Board were lap cats who did secretary duty and acted like they had the best job in the world while we were servants who occupied space.

Our assigned number signified when we joined the force. I was the first recruit in ‘01, hence the code name. The rest of my details were on the fancy papers they made me paw and fairly certain the Head cat of P&P would bring up in a minute or two.

I tapped my foot down, annoyed by his lack of energy. Everything pointed out to the severity of the situation—his assistant paced as she checked her clipboard, the blinking red lights on the monitor behind him suggested an urgent call—and yet, he acted sluggishly.

“And you’re a ginger tiger cat?”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s unverified at the moment.”

His eyebrows shot up and his lined forehead creased. The miracle of eyes darted between me and his papers. “Really?”

I tilted my head, my ear touching my shoulder. “No, sir. I am, as you can see, a very orange striped cat, a fact anyone can determine if they look at you!” I pounded on the floor and he jumped in the air, landed on the desk, scratched the surface and almost fell back.

The Siamese cat stifled her giggles between coughs and hisses but buried her face behind a paper when The Head cat of P&P glared at her. “Strays are so rude.” He licked his paw, leafed through his papers, but he seemed more alert, his gaze wary on me, as if he was afraid I’d start throwing punches.

“I’ll tell you where your manners go when you starve or when a dog is after you because his master ordered him to sick’em,” I growled, ruffling my fur, and decided to put an end to this conversation before we dove into politics. “Why are we starting the mission now? It’s early.”

“Because the dogs messed up!” The Head cat of P&P hissed, losing his indolent attitude. He banged his paw on the desk and pressed his claw hard between his teeth. “The dogs messed up, and we have to clean up the mess, as usual,” he said in a more controlled voice.

I raised my eyebrow and almost felt sorry I attacked him. His docile attitude masked anger.

“Never leave a cat’s job to a dog.”

For the most part, I found them irritating and stupid unless they belonged to Paws—the secret dog unit which had the same role as ours, but started their mission in November. They might be annoying, but they got the job done. Or at least, I thought they did.

“Messed up, how?” I half-lidded my eyes, observing the Head cat of P&P rock back and forth, my back foot nervously tapping the wooden floor like a pendulum.

“Every Christmas, our agencies work hard to bring happiness to the human world,” the Head cat said, prowling.

I waved my paw. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard your speech a dozen times, but you never tell us why. What did the dogs do that was so bad? Why do we have to make humans happy, and why is Christmas our deadline?” The questions slipped through my mouth on their own and I waited, hoping for an honest answer.

When Pat & Purr recruited me, they gave me a purpose. Every December, I felt like I was a guardian of some sort and people would treat me better, spare some food and cuddles. However, I learned the hard way that they could be as mean at Christmas as on normal days. I still did my job in the best possible way, but I didn’t know why I did it anymore. Perhaps for the luckier cats, I guess. Or for the kicks. Or for the cool gadgets I briefly obtained for my mission. Any of these reasons could do, or none at all.

But this time, I needed genuine explanations of why I should work like a dog mid-November before people even started to think about presents, celebration dinners and decorations.

The Head cat of P&P sighed and turned to the Siamese cat. “Can you brief the others while I have this conversation?”

“Yes, sir!” The Siamese cat fished some papers from the mess of his desk and left, wagging her tail.

I frowned at The Head cat of P&P, who scratched his chin. “What conversation, sir?” His cologne misted the air in a thick cloud, tickling my nostrils.

“You’ve lost your interest, haven’t you?”

I was taken aback. It had crossed my mind that he would chide me or give me a lecture on duties, but this was not in today’s forecast. “Well…” I moved my head left and right, trying to come up with an explanation, but I wasn’t the evasive type. “I don’t feel the thrill I used to. It’s just a way to fill my days in December, so I would like to know the reason we must do all these things. Especially since humans don’t treat us well.”

The Head cat’s nostrils fluttered. “Many moons ago, when humans were created to walk this earth, a witch determined they needed cats to guard them against the adversities.”

I blinked. “I’m sorry, a what?”

“A witch,” the Head cat of P&P repeated without hesitation. “They’re not just tales humans tell their children as bedtime stories. Witches are real.”

I took a step back, struggling to wrap this idea around my head. I could believe in things such as birds, dogs, anything natural and logical, but witches were over the top.

Sometimes, on wintry mornings, I slipped in coffee shops when there was a storytelling gathering because every cat knew wherever there’s gathering, there’s food. It was entertaining and educational, if you liked stories with witches who saved the world with their powers and potions or fell in love with the dashing human. But that was all they were. Stories.

I gazed directly at the emerald shades of his eyes, studying the irises. A cat’s eyes revealed everything. Once I got the full picture, I stepped away. He wasn’t lying, or at least, he believed what he said.

“And what does a witch have to do with cats?” I cringed. I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth.

“She appointed us to bring happiness to the humans, but if we failed to complete our duty, we would disappear and so would the world. We are the guardians of balance, happiness and mischief.”

“This is…but…” I shook my head and stayed silent. The words failed to express the vast hole in my chest dripping in the pit of my existence. “Why didn’t you tell me that when I joined?” I stirred the conversation to things I understood before my brain exploded.

“You weren’t ready.” He sighed. “Stray cats are more prone to lose their path, and also more disbelieving because of their past.” He tilted his head.

I nodded. “There must be a more logical explanation than a fairytale. It doesn’t make sense that our fate is predetermined.”

“Do you believe in the magic of Christmas?”

“Of course I do. What does this have to do with anything?”

“Then you believe in fairytales,” he decided. “The witch is real and so is the happiness she brings every year with our help.” He collected the papers in his office into a pile and grinned, the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “If the required number is not met, destruction will be upon us. The dogs failed on their quota, so we have to double our numbers to cover the loss.”

“I don’t believe in witches, but the balance thing makes more sense.” I forced the conversation on the darkest corner of my head and held out my paw. “Where are my cases?”

The Head cat of P&P pushed a paper toward me and my mouth dropped. Blinking rapidly, I studied the printed addresses that covered the entire sheet and continued on to the next page. Sweat gathered on my eyelids and I mopped my forehead with a swift move of my paw. “There are over fifty cases listed.” My small heart complained at the sight of so much ink. This year would be the death of me if I had to cross the country walking on snow. “They used to be barely ten.”

“There are a hundred and fifty.”

My pupils dilated, and I coughed. Punching my chest, I meowed a shriek. “A h-h-hundred?”

“Why do you think I have been yelling at the phone for a week with the absurd dog leader who returned only excuses and yelps?” He snorted. “You will have a partner in this one.”

“A p-partner?” My claws scratched the wooden floor as I backed away.

Deep breaths. I imagined the sun warming my face, flowers spread their intoxicating aroma, and lines of rats waiting for me to devour them. My rough tongue whisked away my anxiety as I licked my mouth, and a certain calmness settled over me. I calculated the possibilities of getting the job done on my own, considered all the variables such as weather and hostile humans, and came to the ugly conclusion it was an impossible task. Given this day had only a few hours left, I couldn’t count on getting much done today. So the logical being in me agreed a partner would be a good move.

“And the dogs,” the Head cat of P&P curled his lips, spitting as he pronounced the word, “have offered their full cooperation.” He paused. “As much as I despise them, I advise you to get their help when you need it. Time is of the essence. Your deadline is December 6. Don’t forget. Should any of the teams fail, destruction awaits.” After an ominous pause, he lifted a claw, pointing to the back of the room. “Lucinda will give you the rest of the details. Good luck and keep your claws sharp, agent.”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.” I padded the way to the exit, panting. My head pounded from the unexpected revelation and I was uncertain how I felt about it. Mystified for sure, but no longer lost and uninterested, which was good, given the current situation. “I hope they don’t pair me with a house cat, or this mission will be a guaranteed failure.”

LINKS:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3DZNwPQ

Books2Read: https://books2read.com/MeowGuardians

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59660911-the-meow-guardians

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-meow-guardians-a-holiday-mini-by-maria-vermisoglou


Renee S. DeCamillis ~ Author Interview

Renee S. DeCamillis is the author of the psychological thriller/supernatural horror novella The Bone Cutters, published through Eraserhead Press as part of their 2019 New Bizarro Authors Series.

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The Bone Cutters – Horror Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror, Bizarro Fiction, Addiction Horror, a novella from the 2019 New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press.


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The Hush Sisters by Gerard Collins #giveaway

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GERARD COLLINS is a Newfoundland writer whose first novel,nbsp; Finton Moon , was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and won the Percy Janes First Novel Award. His short-story collection,nbsp; Moonlight Sketches , won the NL Book Award, and his stories have been published widely in journals and anthologies. He lives in southern New Brunswick.

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The Hush Sisters by Gerard Collins ~ Genre: Gothic Fiction

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Sissy and Ava Hush are estranged, middle-aged sisters with little in common beyond their upbringing in a peculiar manor in downtown St. John’s. With both parents now dead, the siblings must decide what to do with the old house they’ve inherited. Despite their individual loneliness, neither is willing to change or cede to the other’s intentions. As the sisters discover the house’s dark secrets, the spirits of the past awaken, and strange events envelop them. The Hush sisters must either face these sinister forces together or be forever ripped apart.

In The Hush Sisters, Gerard Collins weaves psychological suspense with elements of the fantastic to craft a contemporary urban gothic that will keep readers spellbound until the novel whispers its startling secrets.

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Would you like a chance to win a $15 Amazon giftcard, ebooks of Finton Moon, and Moonlight Sketches by Gerard Collins? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born at the cottage hospital in Placentia, Newfoundland. I grew up in Bond’s Path, just a five-minute drive from that hospital. Placentia, or Plaisance in French, was the original French capital of Newfoundland before the English triumphed in battle and moved the capital to St. John’s. I was the youngest of five boys, and my only sister was born five years after me. I attended a one-room schoolhouse for the first few years, and we didn’t have a telephone until I was in high school. To this day, I despise telephones. I can remember having to break the ice in the well a few yards from the house in order to haul water from the well for tea on winter mornings. In my high school years, and for a couple of years after, I hauled a lot of water and wood.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

There are at least fifteen different answers to this question, and they’d all be fine with me except for the fact that each one means my last day on earth. I’m a “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” sort of person, and I have always known I would kick at the darkness even when death was inevitable. It’s all a part of my underdog complex, I suppose, but it’s also a part of the fact that I love this life, this earth, and the people in it, for the most part, and I can’t imagine not savouring every last breath. That said, I’d probably like most of all to spend my last day at The Brazen Head pub in Dublin – it’s the oldest pub in the country, supposedly – having a few pleasant pints, a good supper, and writing all day long. Maybe a music session in the evening.

Who is your hero and why?

I don’t really have heroes, but there are lots of people I admire. The closest thing I have to a literary hero would be Stephen King who started out as a teacher, with not much money, and just followed his heart and did the one thing (writing) he knew he was good at, and made a great life for himself. Margaret Atwood is another one I admire greatly because it’s harder to be that successful as a Canadian writer, but also – and especially – because she speaks truth and wisdom. I could just listen to her talk about literature and life forever.

What kind of world ruler would you be?

I wouldn’t want to be world ruler because I know I would throw myself into the job every minute of every day and never have a moment’s inner peace. I’d be kind and as wise as I could manage to be, but I’d be a dictator when it came to doing the right thing. I can see all sides of an issue, but it would likely come down to doing the greatest good for the greatest number, with allowances for differences as long as those difference weren’t born out of ignorance or arrogance.

I do have this streak of letting my neighbour go to the devil in his own way. In other words, if someone is determined to self-destruct, and I know there’s not much I can do about it, I’ll just let him or her do that. But if I know there’s good to be done and that I can actually affect someone’s life for the better, I’ll usually take it upon myself to do that.

If there were one world ruler, then global warming might be easier to tackle, as would the economy, which might be a hybrid of socialism and capitalism. I think we could share with each other and not let money be the main factor in such decisions. World poverty would have to be tackled and would be easier under a single world ruler, and I think we could also do something about inequalities of all sorts, particularly regarding gender, race, and economic class.

Looking back on what I just wrote, it sounds like I’d be a boring ruler, but I do know that I have a keen sense of humour, though it can be a dark one. So, if the state had enemies – as I’m sure it would – I’d have patience, kindness, and tolerance up to the point where I couldn’t afford to anymore, and then I’d devise a scheme for doing away with those people, perhaps not literally, but at least in a funny way that was not without a touch of irony.

What are you passionate about these days?

Mostly about writing. I’m keenly aware that we only get so much time on this earth, and I’m determined to make the most of it. Writing isn’t just work to me – it’s also play. It’s me being at my very best, and so it can feel selfish to want to do it all the time, or to talk about it to other people all the time, but, really, I’m just trying to figure things out, which is what I was born to do, apparently, even if I never really figure anything out. It’s the process that matters, and it’s the process that I’m passionate about – that, and just living the best life possible. So, travel, good food, good company, and good beer are a necessary part of that for me – as long as there’s writing, which includes moments to stop and not think about anything. Maybe, ultimately, I’m passionate about peace of mind, which largely eludes me.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I try and lie still for a few minutes, to not think about anything. That rarely works or, if it does, I fall asleep. Sometimes, the world can just be a bit too much for someone who suffers from post-concussion syndrome and just needs a respite in order to reset and move on. But I also love playing guitar and singing, which I don’t do nearly often enough, especially with my partner Jane, who is a lovely harpist, pianist, and singer, as well as writer. We enjoy the traveling, pubs, singing, and all that stuff together, so sitting by a crackling fire and playing music together is about as good as it gets. There’s TV sometimes, too, and for me it can be something like CNN or, more likely, something like Game of Thrones or The Crown – lots of underdogs in those shows. I love movies but can barely find time for them these days. Same with books – I love reading, but I don’t find nearly enough time for them unless I force myself to make time. I guess what I’m really saying is that I work most of the time but when I do relax, it’s with something mindless that doesn’t require anything of me.

How to find time to write as a parent?

For most of my life, I wasn’t a parent, but finding time for writing has never been easy. I often teach university English – on campus in St. John’s for two decades and by distance these past few years – and during the semesters, I focus almost exclusively on that. Nowadays, I offer writing retreats and workshops, mentoring, and all sorts of things related to writing. But only writing is writing. Somehow, despite all that and a few medical setbacks (not “health,” per se, since I’m completely fine now) from which I had to recover, plus major changes in my life in every single way (which includes separation, divorce, moving away from Newfoundland and my job, friends, and just about everything I’d known for so long, then settling into a new place where I lived for six years in a cottage by a lake in the woods, learning how to be an effective teacher by distance – somehow, I still have managed to write three books of which The Hush Sisters is one, and there are two others waiting for publication. This past August, I moved into a huge farmhouse with my partner, and she already had two kids, one in university and another now in his last year of high school. But they’re pretty self-sufficient. I like to eat meals together and watch some shows together, and that sort of thing. Teenagers take up a lot of space and tend to make some noise – which is all fine and natural – but I have an office space upstairs and far away from everything so I can focus on my writing and other work there. I’m pretty lucky in that way.

As for finding time to write, I will say that it is definitely harder for female parents to find time. But I also have to say that it’s never easy for anyone and harder for some. The world doesn’t want you to be a writer. It’ll throw things at you, give you things, set traps of distraction everywhere. Children, I’m sure, demand your attention in an urgent and necessary way that’s not like anything else. But there are all kinds of emergencies – though I also say only the end of the world is the end of the world, and the only things that are matters of life and death are a) life and b) death – just as there are jobs, social gatherings, weddings, funerals, dishes, vacuuming, TV shows to watch, and all sorts of things, and most of them wonderful. But only writing is writing, and if you are really going to make a go of it, you have to make time for it.

If you don’t make time for writing, then writing isn’t as important to you as some of these other things or, more to the point, writing isn’t as important to you as not writing. If there’s a choice to be made, sometimes, at least, you have to choose writing. Even children, after a certain age, are able to take care of themselves to a degree. But then it’s a matter of what you do with your time – and not just writing when you have the time, but writing when you actually feel up to it, when you can muster the creative energy to do a decent job of it and give yourself something to revise later.

I am happy to be one of many tour hosts sharing information on The Hush Sisters by Gerard Collins.

#Theredheadedauthor Presents the November 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – YOUNG ADULT

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Young Adult selections for November 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

A 16-year-old girl sees a police officer killer her friend.


#2 Stamped

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

An exploration of racism and anti-racism in America.


#3 A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

by Holly Jackson

While trying to solve a murder-suicide case for her senior project, Pip now finds her life in jeopardy.


#4 Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel

by A.W. Jantha

Poppy fights to save her family from the Sanderson sisters.


#5 All This Time

by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

Two teenagers suffering from loss find healing in each other.


#6 Punching The Air

by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison, Amal uses the freedom of art to overcome his incarceration.


#7 One Of Us Is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

For five students, a detour into detention ends in murder.


#8 The Black Kids

by Christina Hammonds Reed

A wealthy Black teen’s life is shaken up during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.


#9 The Lost Book of the White

by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Magnus and Alec must retrieve the Book of the White, which is stolen from their apartment.


#10 Dear Justyce

by Nic Stone

Quan, an incarcerated 16-year-old, takes solace in correspondence with his friend Justyce.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


#Theredheadedauthor Presents the November 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – FICTION

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Fiction selections for November 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 A Time For Mercy

by John Grisham

The third book in the Jake Brigance series. A 16-year-old is accused of killing a deputy in Clanton, Miss., in 1990.


#2 The Return

by Nicholas Sparks

A doctor serving in the Navy in Afghanistan goes back to North Carolina where two women change his life.


#3 The Searcher

by Tana French

After a divorce, a former Chicago police officer resettles in an Irish village where a boy goes missing.


#4 The Evening and The Morning

by Ken Follett

In a prequel to “The Pillars of the Earth,” a boatbuilder, a Norman noblewoman and a monk live in England under attack by the Welsh and the Vikings.


#5 Anxious People

by Fredrik Backman

A failed bank robber holds a group of strangers hostage at an apartment open house.


#6 The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

by V.E. Schwab

A Faustian bargain comes with a curse that affects the adventure Addie LaRue has across centuries.


#7 Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

In 1950s Mexico, a debutante travels to a distant mansion where family secrets of a faded mining empire have been kept hidden.


#8 Troubles in Paradise

by Elin Hilderbrand

The final installment of the trilogy that includes “Winter in Paradise” and “What Happens in Paradise.”


#9 The Book of Two Ways

by Jodi Picoult

After surviving a plane crash, a death doula travels to Egypt to reconnect with an old flame who is an archaeologist.


#10 The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

The lives of twin sisters who run away from a Southern Black community at age 16 diverge as one returns and the other takes on a different racial identity but their fates intertwine.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


#Theredheadedauthor Presents the August 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – YOUNG ADULT

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Young Adult selections for August 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 Stamped

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

An exploration of racism and anti-racism in America


#2 The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

A 16-year-old girl sees a police officer kill her friend.


#3 One of Use is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

For five students, a detour into detention ends in murder.


#4 The Shadow of Kyoshi

by F.C. Yee

Kyoski must stop a mysterious threat that emerges from the Spirit World.


#5 The Rise of Kyoski

by F.C. Yee

Kyoshi flees with her friend Rangi after she discovers her airbending powers.


#6 Hawk

by James Patterson

Ten years after Maximum Ride, a new hero emerges in a post-apocalyptic New York City.


#7 Clap When you Land

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Unbeknownst to each other, two sisters meet when their father dies in a plane crash.


#8 Chain of Gold

by Cassandra Clare

Cordelia battles demons in a quarantined London that are nothing like she’s encountered before.


#9 The Betrothed

by Kiera Cass

Lady Hollis Brite and King Jameson are set to be married, but will a commoner steal Hollis’s heart?


#10 With The Fire On High

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni juggles school, work and motherhood while pursuing her dream to become a chef.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


#Theredheadedauthor Presents the August 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – FICTION

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Fiction selections for August 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 Deadlock

by Catherine Coulter

The 24th book in the F.B.I. Thriller series. A young wife, a psychopath and three red boxes puzzle agents Savich and Sherlock.


#2 1st Case

by James Patterson

After getting kicked out of M.I.T., Angela Hoot interns with the F.B.I. and tracks the murderous siblings known as the Poet and the Engineer.


#3 Where The Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

In a quiet town on the North Carolina coast in 1969, a young woman who survived alone in the marsh becomes a murder suspect.


#4 The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

The lives of twin sisters who run away from a Southern Black community at age 16 diverge as one returns and the other takes on a different racial identity but their fates intertwine.


#5 The Order

by Daniel Silva

The 20th book in the Gabriel Allon series. The art restorer and spy cuts his family’s vacation short to investigate whether Pope Paul VII was murdered.


#6 Near Dark

by Brad Thor

The 19th book in the Scot Harvath series. With a bounty on his head, Harvath makes an alliance with a Norwegian intelligence operative.


#7 The Guest List

by Lucy Foley

A wedding between a TV star and a magazine publisher on an island off the coast of Ireland turns deadly.


#8 28 Summers

by Elin Hilderbrand

A relationship that started in 1993 between Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud comes to light while she is on her deathbed and his wife runs for president.


#9 Then She Was Gone

by Lisa Jewell

Ten years after her daughter disappears, a woman tries to get her life in order but remains haunted by unanswered questions.


#10 American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins

A bookseller flees Mexico for the United States with her son while pursued by the head of a drug cartel.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


#Theredheadedauthor Presents the July 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – YOUNG ADULT

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Young Adult selections for July 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 Stamped

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

An exploration of racism and anti-racism in America.


#2 The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

A 16-year-old girl sees a police officer kill her friend.


#3 I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Two girls, one black and one white, form a bond during a racially charged riot.


#4 One of Us is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

For five students, a detour into detention ends in murder.


#5 Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi

Zelie fights to restore magic to the land of Orisha.



#6 Clap When You Land

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Unbeknownst to each other, two sisters meet when their father dies in a plane crash.


#7 Chain of Gold

by Cassandra Clare

Cordelia battles demons in a quarantined London that are nothing like she’s encountered before.


#8 The Betrothed

by Kiera Cass

Lady Hollis Brite and King Jameson are set to be married, but will a commoner steal Hollis’s heart?


#9 Children of Virtue and Vengeance

by Tomi Adeyemi

Zelie must stop the threat of civil war in Orisha.


#10 One of Us is Next

by Karen M. McManus

In this sequel to “One of Us is Lying,” a deadly game of truth or dare via text now plagues the students of Bayview High.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


#Theredheadedauthor Presents the July 2020 New York Times TOP 10 Best Sellers – FICTION

As an avid reader of fiction (and an author who one day hopes to make the list) I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE checking out the New York Times Best Seller list. So, here it is… The independently ranked top 10 Fiction selections for July 2020!

If you’ve read any of the TOP 10 selections and recommend them, please comment below and let me know. If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the cover image, the title or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 28 Summers

by Elin Hilderbrand

A relations hip that started in 1993 between Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud comes to light while she is on her deathbed and his wife runs for president.


#2 The Vanishing Half

by Brit Bennett

The lives of twin sisters who run away from a Southern Black community at age 16 diverge as one returns and the other takes on a different racial identity but their fates intertwine.


#3 Where The Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

In a quiet town on the North Carolina coast in 1969, a young woman who survived alone in the marsh becomes a murder suspect.


#4 The Guardians

by John Grisham

Cullen Post, a lawyer and Episcopal minister, antagonizes some ruthless killers when he takes on a wrongful conviction case.


#5 Camino Winds

by John Grisham

The line between fact and fiction becomes blurred when an author of thrillers is found dead after a hurricane hits Camino Island.


#6 Walk the Wire

by David Baldacci

The sixth book in the Memory Man series. Decker and Jamison investigate a murder in a North Dakota town in a fracking boom.


#7 The Summer House

by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Jeremiah Cook, a veteran and former N.Y.P.D. cop, investigates a mass murder near a lake in Georgia.


#8 The Guest List

by Lucy Foley

A wedding between a TV star and a magazine publisher on an island off the coast of Ireland turns deadly.


#9 Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

An artist upends a quiet town outside Cleveland.


#10 The Last Flight

by Julie Clark

Claire Cook escapes from living with her quick-tempered husband and assumes another woman’s identity.


When you purchase a book using a link on this site, I earn an affiliate commission. All commission earnings go back into funding my books; editing, cover design, etc.


Never Walk Alone by Willow Rose

Never Walk Alone (Harry Hunter Mysteries Book 4) by Willow Rose
Genre: Thriller Suspense

The world is on lockdown due to a virus that originated in Miami.

A woman is kidnapped from her apartment, and Detective Harry Hunter is on the case.

At the same time, his sister shows up after they have not seen each other in a year.

As it turns out, Harry’s sister knows more about the virus than she lets on. Soon, he wonders if the virus is connected to the missing woman.

As he digs deeper into the strange mystery, he realizes his sister’s life is in great danger, and so is his.

NEVER WALK ALONE is the fourth book in the Harry Hunter Mystery Series.

Goodreads * Amazon


No Other Way (Harry Hunter Mysteries Book 3) by Willow Rose
Genre: Thriller Suspense

Shocking evidence hits close to home for Miami PD’s Detective Harry Hunter as Willow Rose’s bestselling series continues.

Three women went on a road trip to Key West. Only two returned. When asked what happened, their stories don’t completely match.

Who is telling the truth?

What are they hiding?

Detective Harry Hunter of the Miami PD is in church on a peaceful Sunday morning when a young teenager pulls out a gun and shoots his own father.

Once the shock is gone, Harry starts to ask himself the question no one else seems to care about: What makes a young boy want to kill his own father?

When more blood is shed, Harry suspects there’s a secret buried in this town that no one wants unearthed. What are the people around him not telling him?

NO OTHER WAY is the third book in the bestselling Harry Hunter Mystery Series.

Goodreads * Amazon


Run Girl Run (Harry Hunter Mysteries Book 2) by Willow Rose
Genre: Thriller Suspense

Willow Rose’s beloved detective, Harry Hunter is back in this thrilling second installment of the bestselling series.

When a mother and her child are pulled out of the harbor in their car, the case seems pretty straightforward for Miami PD and Detective Harry Hunter.

Everything points to a murder-suicide.

They were homeless, living in their car, and the mother decided to end it all for them both by driving into the water.

But the case is not what it looks like, Detective Harry Hunter soon realizes.

Harry’s daughter is carrying devastating knowledge about their deaths, and soon she becomes the killer’s next target.

As Harry races to protect her, he is betrayed by someone he thought he knew, leaving him terrified of trusting anyone in a town filled with liars.

RUN GIRL RUN is the second book in the Harry Hunter Mystery Series.

Goodreads * Amazon


All the Good Girls (Harry Hunter Mysteries Book 1) by Willow Rose
Genre: Thriller Suspense

This novel is the first book in Willow Rose’s electrifying new Harry Hunter series.

Detective Harry Hunter of Miami PD’s homicide squad throws himself into a case no one asked him to solve.

Four teenagers from one of Miami’s affluent neighborhoods are murdered on a boat. Another is found in a dumpster. All five of them go to the same school and are on a list of witnesses to another crime.

Because he’s in bad standing with his boss, Harry is given the task of protecting a possible future victim, but Harry isn’t always known to follow his boss’s orders.

Soon, he’ll risk everything while racing to stop a killer who has left everyone else in the homicide squad shaking in terror.

ALL THE GOOD GIRLS is the first book in the Harry Hunter Mystery Series and can be read as a standalone.

**Only 99 cents!**

Goodreads * Amazon


Would you like a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card? Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


The Queen of Scream aka Willow Rose is a #1 Amazon Best-selling Author and an Amazon ALL-star Author of more than 60 novels.

She writes Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural thrillers, and Fantasy.

Willow’s books are fast-paced, nail-biting page turners with twists you won’t see coming. Several of her books have reached the Kindle top 10 of ALL books in the US, UK, and Canada. She has sold more than three million books.

Willow lives on Florida’s Space Coast with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing or reading, you will find her surfing and watch the dolphins play in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


I’m excited to be one of many hosts sharing information about Never Walk Alone (Harry Hunter Mysteries Book 4) by Willow Rose.