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Management book / Leadership / Psychology

Date Published: May 10, 2022

Publisher:  Serapis Bey Publishing


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Drs Lies Wouters, international organizational psychologist, advisor, trainer and team coach, based in the Netherlands, introduces her unique Metaphor Map and Metaphor Model of Psychological Safety in this, her first book published in English. She shines a new light on how all leaders across the world can use specific learnt skills to create teams where people thrive, when they understand that it is up to them to create the circumstances where people feel motivated, have fun and grow. She explains the neurobiology of our behaviour and its impact on performance, collaboration, creativity, happiness, productivity and so much more. Backed by relevant science, comprehensive research, real life examples and practical exercises this book takes you step by step through the underlying processes in your brain and body to develop the skills that ensure high performance. She reveals the significance of applying these skills in the world and how we can all play an important role in making this world better, where not only teams, but everyone can thrive.



About the Author

Drs. Lies Wouters is an international positive psychology expert, work and organizational psychologist, advisor, trainer and team coach, based in the Netherlands. In addition to the comprehensive research, she has conducted about happiness and resilience, she assists organizations in the areas of: mental health; optimal functioning; motivation; and positive communication. Her mission is to contribute to reducing the number of burnouts in the Netherlands by helping to make people within organizations healthier and happier; and ensuring that they thrive in psychologically safe team environments. In 2018, she published her first book in Dutch, Hoe Dan (So Then How) together with a businesswoman who wrote about how she overcame life’s struggles. In their book, Lies responds to her explaining the psychological theories of what helped and why.

Lies is the founder of her own international business, OMG! which stands for tailor-made leadership and specializes in providing leadership training and coaching. For more than ten years, Lies and her team of fellow experts have been facilitating online and onsite leaders and professionals with business related workshops. Their work is underpinned by their professional knowledge that each individual is unique and each organization is unique. Thus, they only deliver custom work.

Lies is PhD student at the Open University in the Netherlands where she is researching the topic of psychological safety. The title “Drs” stands for doctorandus which is Latin for he/she/they who should become a doctor. Her first article about psychological safety will be published in the spring of 2022. When Lies is not pursuing her professional career and helping other people to thrive at work, she loves to spend time with her husband and two children. She enjoys being outside in nature at all times of the year. She also loves dancing and enjoying good, healthy food with family and friends.


Contact Links

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Website

Email: lies.wouters@omgadvies.nl


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A Monster Who Loved Me by V.F. Mason

A Monster Who Loved Me by V.F. Mason is live!
– Dark Romance DUET in Kindle Unlimited –

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He finds me at the masquerade ball.
Handsome. Dangerous. Mysterious.

His eyes trail after me.
His voice mesmerizes me.
His every touch burns me.

An enigma I cannot help but be attracted to.

A prince straight from the fairytales.
Only it was all a lie.
Because behind the mask hides a monster who came for revenge.
And now he is obsessed with me.

About the Author:
V.F.Mason always loved reading books and had quite a few fights with her momma over the genre she liked (romance, duh!) She studied filmmaking and thought that would feed her desire for stories, but that didn’t happen. Finally, when she was tired of all those voices in her head, she sat down and wrote a book. It was a huge decision to make and she thanks her friends and family for supporting her in it. When she is not writing, she can be found with her friends doing all sorts of crazy things or reading recent romance books that were written by her favorite authors.

Connect with V.F.!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVFMason/
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Cover Reveal

Entangled With An Elf Prince by Amanda Ferreira

Entangled With An Elf Prince
Amanda Ferreira
Publication date: October 12, 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

There’s a reason monster hunters are rarely human.

Immune to the mists that flood the woods every night, Keenyn is a dark elf prince with exactly one fear — that he’ll stray too far from his demi-god partner, Bren, and lose him to the curse.

After all, Keenyn’s seen what’s beneath that suit of armor. In detail. And if he ignores his best friend’s perfect body, god-like strength, and endless stamina, it’s obvious that Bren is just a man, as likely to die in the mists as any other.

Now, if only Keenyn’s ability to ignore things was foolproof…

ENTANGLED WITH AN ELF PRINCE is a standalone adult M/M fantasy romance perfect for fans of Ariana Nash, C.S. Pacat, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Madeline Miller. Expect some spicy (18+) sexual situations and gore.

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Breached

Breached by Sira Banks

General Release Date: 14th June2022

Word Count: 80,293 Book Length: SUPER NOVEL Pages: 304

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM CONTEMPORARY CRIME EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

When a cop falls for a suspect in her latest case, she has to look into the abyss of her own desires. Sharon Richards, a cop working for the NYPD, has to investigate a murder in one of the city’s BDSM clubs. A young woman was shot. No one heard a thing, no one saw a thing. A difficult case, complicated further by the instant attraction between her and the club’s owner, Simon Carter. Who is this man who’s not only attractive and intelligent but challenges her on every level? It’s hard for Sharon to resist the temptation of this man, even harder not to give in to the urge to fulfill her curiosity. Why do people frequent a place like this? Can pain equal pleasure? She’s afraid to find out, yet unable to stop herself from falling deeper and deeper into a world where new desires threaten to destroy life as she knows it. Will she solve this case and be able to protect her career as well as her heart? Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of murder, past CSA and murder of a child, and the HIV diagnosis in a minor character.

Excerpt

Suppressing a sigh, Sharon Richards wondered why she hadn’t decided on a different job. Murder was always a grisly affair, but some days it was harder to deal with than others. This time the location, more than the crime itself, had her on edge. Surrounded by the sights and scents of death, she scanned the place where a young woman had lost her life only a couple of hours earlier. The room was decorated in deep shades of red and black, advertising the fact that it wasn’t a common bedroom, but a place meant for seduction. Although she wasn’t sure that seduction had played a large role in the murder. If it weren’t for the two spotlights brought in by crime scene technicians, the lighting would be dim, with only a small chandelier on the ceiling and a lamp on a bedside table. There was no daylight, the window hidden behind heavy burgundy drapes. She suppressed a snort. Of course there wasn’t. She couldn’t imagine the people coming here wanting any spectators. Although who knew, really? Scanning the room’s contents, she tried not to let her uneasiness show. The last thing she needed was her colleagues thinking she was squeamish. Anders and Jones, the two crime scene technicians, were nice guys. She had worked well with them on previous occasions. Still, if she showed too much of a reaction, word would spread throughout the precinct at the speed of light. Turning her back to them, she focused on the rest of the location instead of the people crowding it right now. Even though the space was bigger than her living room, there was scant furniture. Well, cabinets for the fine china and a coffee table with a vase of fresh flowers weren’t needed in a room like this. Not when its sole purpose was to help people find release. Release of a special kind. Why? Why do it this way? She twisted a lock of her hair around a finger before she realized what she was doing. She crossed her arms over her chest and hoped Anders and Jones hadn’t seen her. She couldn’t let her feelings get in the way of what really mattered—the victim. Looking over at the victim for a moment, Sharon tried to ignore the pang of sorrow in her gut. She pried her eyes away. The murder itself must’ve happened quickly, as everything inside this place seemed to be untouched, especially the four-poster bed. That didn’t show so much as a crinkle on the sheets. Sharon’s hands, sweating inside the cursed latex gloves, itched to touch the sheets to find out if they were indeed satin, as she believed. Ridiculous. The bed was sturdy, with an upper panel but no curtains. There was no pillow, no extra sheet for warmth, nothing to indicate any measure of comfort. It was so damned impersonal, almost a caricature of what a bed should look like, in her opinion. At least the lush carpet underneath the bed—black again—looked comfortable. Instead of giving in to impulse, she looked at a bench on one side of the room and the pair of rings attached to the wall behind it. Rings to shackle someone. Who would want to lose their freedom to another man or woman, to be helpless in front of somebody promising not to hurt them? Still, isn’t pain the main part of the experience? a tiny voice inside her mind piped up. A selection of what Sharon assumed were toys was placed on a rudimentary wooden table next to the bench. She counted several paddles, a whip and some other things she couldn’t place quite as easily. Well, she could always ask. Yeah, right. As she took a deep breath, the coppery smell of blood permeated the air so strongly that she fought the need to retch. The first and last time she’d thrown up had been when she and her partner had investigated the death of a prostitute, Cindy. The woman had been stabbed to death and left to bleed out beside a dumpster. The mixture of scents had been too much, and she’d only been able to take a few steps to the side before she’d thrown up. Reining in her wayward thoughts, Sharon walked over to the victim, kneeling down in front of the body. So young, so beautiful and so untimely deceased. Making sure she didn’t touch the corpse, she focused on the gaping wound caused by a bullet, tearing skin and ending a life within seconds. The shot which had taken Marlene Davis’ life had left a barely discernible pattern of blood on the dark red wall. If it weren’t for the fetid air, the woman lying like a broken doll on the floor and her glassy eyes, nothing would’ve said this was a crime scene. Sharon crouched down in front of the wall next, trying to see the crime, to understand what had happened. She looked closely at the blood spatter. It wasn’t hard to interpret. She’d seen patterns like this one often enough to know the shot had been delivered from close range. Most likely from a person Marlene had trusted. She got up and walked a few steps around the body. It was easy to imagine how somebody had stood in the spot she was now, close to Marlene. Had Marlene and her murderer laughed, argued? One thing was clear—at some point the perpetrator had pulled the gun and fired it at the unsuspecting woman. The bullet entering Marlene’s chest had gone right through her body, spraying the wall behind her with her blood. It would’ve been a quick death, at least. The bullet was still stuck in the wall, waiting for the crime technicians to remove it. A small caliber, most likely a semi-automatic, if Sharon had to guess. So they knew how it had happened, but had to answer the question of why next. They could do it, and they would do it. While a crime like this always caused drama, suffering and pain for those left behind, in a twisted way, it was routine for Sharon. Eight years of working in homicide had dulled the edge of walking into a crime scene. There would always be a moment of pity, but she’d learned to be objective, to see the crime scene first and foremost. She had to detach the emotional part of herself, or her work would consume her. Hell, it was the job. Her job. Every murder was a puzzle she was hell-bent on solving. She would solve this one. The only question was when. She smiled, almost calm once more. Her work had led her to a lot of places throughout the last years, but in all her years in this city, she’d never been in one of the city’s BDSM clubs—not for work reasons and certainly not for private ones. There really was a first time for everything. At the end of the day, this was just another workplace. A place where a murder had been committed. How ironic that the victim had been shot when so many weapons had been so readily available. She walked over to the table and picked up one of the paddles. Pictures had already been taken, so she didn’t have to worry about mixing up anything. The paddle was heavier than she had expected. How much pain would it cause when it touched human skin? At that moment, Sharon sensed him behind her again, and the fine hairs on her neck stood up. He was watching her—she didn’t need to turn around to confirm it. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt such an instant disquiet in the presence of someone else. There was only one thing for certain. When a main suspect was such a distraction, it was a sure sign of trouble. Putting the paddle down, she turned. As she’d known, Simon Carter, the subject of her musings, was watching her process the scene, his dark eyes following her every movement. As the owner of this club, he had a vested interest in her investigation, yet she’d have preferred it if he had let her work in peace. She couldn’t afford to let herself be perturbed. Trying to focus on the crime scene instead of the man, she hoped the effort wouldn’t prove futile. Carter radiated charm and danger in equal measures. One look and she had understood he wasn’t someone to mess with. She shouldn’t find him attractive either, but she couldn’t ignore the way his deep blue shirt didn’t quite hide his muscles, how the dark pair of jeans fit his otherwise lean frame. Carter’s eyes twinkled. Hell, he didn’t even try to hide his amusement. From the very first moment of meeting him, his knowing smirk had told her he knew about her discomfort. In his business, Carter needed to know how to work people, how to charm or placate them. He wouldn’t charm her. She wouldn’t let him. In contrast to her, he stood there calmly, as relaxed as anybody could be in the face of such a tragedy. No, she didn’t like him, if only for the fact there had been a spark of interest the moment they had shaken hands. Not that she had to like him. She was here to investigate a murder, and he could be the killer. As the owner of this establishment, he was at least a main suspect. Ignoring him for the moment, she concentrated on the medical examiner who’d entered the room and had just called out to her. “Hey, Richards. I’d like to bag her now. If that’s okay with you.” She returned his smile. He looked tired, and she wouldn’t be surprised if he’d had to pull a double shift again. “Sure. When do you think you’ll have first results?” “Whenever I’ll have them.” He raised a hand to forestall the complaint he knew would come. “I know you need answers and need them quickly, but there are two autopsies before this one. I’ll call you, okay?” “Yeah. Thanks, Amaro.” She stepped aside so he could do his work. She’d seen enough. Looking at the body for the last time, Sharon silently promised Marlene she’d find the one who had killed her. She turned around again and faced the man still watching her. “Mr. Carter, I need to ask you some questions. Standard procedure. Do you have an office where we could talk?” Sure, they could talk here, or she could let him come to her office for a formal interview, but truth be told, neither place held any appeal to her. She didn’t have time to waste. “I do.” He gave her a look that was longer than necessary, sending a shiver down her back for no good reason. As he passed her, his arm brushed against hers, and she bit down on her bottom lip. Damn, had it really been that long since she’d gotten laid? It was either that or the man itself, a notion she didn’t like to entertain. He led her to a different part of the house. Hearing someone scream—a man—she stopped, but Carter didn’t break his stride. Another scream—it lay on the tip of her tongue to speak out. “No one’s getting hurt. Not in this club. Not in a way that’s unwanted. What you’re hearing is a vid someone forgot to turn off. We’re closed for today, after all.” She hurried to keep up with him. “Do you think Marlene Davis was of the same opinion? That no one gets hurt here unless they want it?” “Marlene Davis is dead.” “And there you’ve just made my point.” “Whatever happens here is consensual.” People meeting to inflict and enjoy pain. She shook her head, put her hands in the pockets of her blazer. It took all kinds. They reached the end of a long hallway and opened the last door on the right. He gestured for her to enter. Again, Sharon was surprised. In contrast to what she’d seen of the rest of the house, this room was all about business. It wasn’t sumptuous. It didn’t scream sex. Dark, sleek furniture ruled its center. There was a desk sporting a phone, a laptop and other accessories to run a business. Along the wall were filing cabinets and a print of a city alleyway. It was a spartan room, one that echoed her own basic tastes. Carter rounded the table and sat down, gesturing to the seat on the other side of the desk. “Can I offer you something to drink? Water? Coffee? Something stronger?” The smell of fresh coffee tempted her to accept his offer. “This is not a social call, Mr. Carter.” “Call me Simon.” It was unsettling how his eyes rested on her. His gaze was piercing, focusing on her in a way that made her think he could see right through her. “I don’t think so, Mr. Carter. And the sooner we start, the sooner we’ll be finished, and I’ll be out of your hair for the time being.” “Interesting. You really don’t feel comfortable here.” She took a deep breath to steady herself and made a point of holding his gaze. She’d been a cop for too many years to be easily intimidated, even if her poker face needed some work. “Did I say that? And what I feel or don’t feel is not the point. Marlene Davis is. Was she a regular customer?” “What unsettles you about this business?” She didn’t snarl, but she came close to it. This man had missed his calling. He should’ve become a cop. They always needed more detectives with good intuition who knew how to corner someone in interview. Only this wasn’t his interview, and she didn’t like being cornered. “Just answer the question, Mr. Carter.” “Yes, she was what we call a regular customer. She didn’t visit on a regular basis, but she was here about a dozen times. I’d have to check our appointment book to be sure. We’re not the kind of club that you can just walk into.” Appointment book? It made sense, but the thought of people scheduling sexual activities of this kind as they would a dinner date was hard to grasp. She’d been aware that there were people with rather specialized tastes. It didn’t mean she’d taken the time to think through the details. Carter’s eyes still rested on her. Although she was proud to keep his gaze, it was as if he could still read her. It was disconcerting, to say the least. “If you could check the dates and get them to me, it might help. Did she always prefer the same company?” “You mean, did she have her own personal Dom?” “Dom?” “A Dominant. The male equivalent of a Dominatrix. Davis was masochistic. To answer your question, no, she didn’t meet with one of our employees. She only used our premises and scheduled her own appointments. At least for the last few times.” At her questioning look, he elaborated. “Her first few times here, she had appointments with Marco. That’s why I know she was a sub.” “Sub as in submissive?” He nodded, a slight smile grazing his lips that was gone as quickly as it had appeared. “But even so, you must’ve seen who she was with. Her…Dom. I saw the security camera at the entrance.” “It doesn’t work that way. We have another door at the back of the house. Only someone already in the house can let you in through the second entrance. This door only works one way. It’s not covered by a security cam. Our clients value their privacy. Everything happening in the back of this house is private.” He was one of those who had an answer to everything, wasn’t he? She held his gaze for a long time, remaining silent. It didn’t faze him. He didn’t so much as twitch. Nobody was that calm. They all had cracks in their armor. The only question was, what was his weakness? “Doesn’t mean you can’t have a hidden security cam, or cams for that matter,” she finally spoke. “If anyone gets wind of a secret cam, our credibility will suffer.” “Having someone murdered on your premises won’t help business either.” His lips curled upward in a slow smile. “Touché.” “So do you have any kind of security cam covering this area?” “No, we don’t. When I started the business, I didn’t plan on anybody being murdered here.” “All right, let me get this straight. Davis booked a room and met with someone she let in herself.” “Yes.” “Did she come in through the front entrance or did she have someone let her in?” “I already checked our cam. Yes, she came in through the front. You’ll get a copy of the data.” “Thank you. But tell me, aren’t you worried that your customers could let in more than just their personal guests?” “Are you asking if I’m worried our clients have big orgies or let in thieves?” “Thieves, murderers, yes. If it were my property, I’d make sure I was protected. It’s one thing to ensure people’s privacy, but I’d also make sure it’s not my butt in the sling if things go south. I’d be the one in control.” Another smile and her pulse sped up. “Control can be a burden. One reason for places like this one. But this will only be a sanctuary if people can trust us. If they can’t, they won’t be able to let go.” “They need a safe environment, knowing there’ll be no pictures of their naked glory in the paper next morning,” she mused. She had to admit it made sense. “Yes. It doesn’t mean there aren’t safety measures. Each room has a panic button. If something’s happening that the client isn’t comfortable with, or if there’s an intruder, the client can summon help.” “I didn’t see one in the room we found Davis in.” “Under the bed. Davis knew that, and one of the crime scene techs dusted it for prints when I checked earlier.” Sharon was annoyed she hadn’t spotted this herself. A slip like that was unacceptable. She ignored the thought. She could beat herself up over it later. “Davis knew how to call for help,” Carter repeated. It was a nice concept, in theory. But help was not in the cards for guests that found themselves literally tied up. She focused on Carter again and relayed the thought to him. “Everyone tied up is in control of his Dom at all times. And if a Dom breaks the rules and actually hurts his sub, they’ll be banned for life and, depending on what happened, we’d file a report with the police.” “Has that happened before?” She would check, and he had to know it. “No, it hasn’t. But I wouldn’t hesitate a second.” His face got hard. “Safe and sane are the key words here. And if I find out who did this—” He left the thought unfinished. So he didn’t like when something, someone, slipped by his control. His chink in the armor. “Someone got around your security measures.” She shrugged. “There was a hole and he or she used it.” “Only known guests, or guests cleared by them, are permitted outside the private rooms. We have bouncers to ensure no one wanders the premises.” “You still trust your system?” A smile made his lips curl. It was as enticing as it was dangerous. “Our business is all about trust.” She shouldn’t take the bait. Although when had she ever done what she should do? “Trust? Didn’t Marlene trust your system too much? Someone used her, killed her.” “No offense, Sharon. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” He shouldn’t use her first name, and it shouldn’t affect her that it had. “It’s Detective, and I think I know enough. I know a woman got killed here, and it’s my job to find out who. You don’t have to like this investigation. Just know, I won’t rest until I have answers to my questions. Speaking of which—where were you for the last five hours?” She hadn’t shaken him or his composure. If anything, his smile had become a bit more taunting. For a second, she contemplated how his lips would feel pressed against hers, then she snapped out of it. She hoped her face hadn’t shown her struggle. It was bad enough the thought had been there in the first place. “I was right here. Before you ask, during that time I spoke to various employees, wrote emails, took calls and made some calls myself. In short, I worked. I suggest you check for yourself. But you’re smart enough to have figured it out on your own. I could have snuck out to meet Marlene. It wouldn’t have taken long to kill her, but I didn’t. Sorry to disappoint.” “You sound pretty relaxed, Mr. Carter.” He leaned back in his seat. “Well, that’s because I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sorry about Marlene, and I’m pissed that someone killed her. This shouldn’t have happened. I’d do anything to undo it, but I can’t.” His eyes had narrowed, but then he took a deep breath, his smile back in place. “I might not be able to prove I didn’t kill Marlene, but you won’t be able to prove I did it, either. I’m innocent, at least when it comes to that.” His dark eyes sparkled with challenge. “It’s your task to find out who murdered her. I can only offer you my help. If you want it, that is.” Something told Sharon they weren’t only talking about the case. She didn’t like it. Not one bit.

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About the Author

Sira Banks

Sira Banks is an European author who is utterly in love with reading and even more so with writing. Always daydreaming, she began writing short stories as a young adult as the characters occupying her mind didn’t stop poking her until their stories were told. Participating in NaNoWriMo one year, she started her first novel, and after a lot of hair-pulling, too much coffee and chocolate, she finished it some time later. Finding out that writing longer stories is addictive, she’s not quite sure she could quit it now. She likes strong female characters with flaws who are not afraid to tackle their problems head on and male characters who are actually willing to listen and communicate. When she’s not writing, she works as desk jokey and manages her small family, consisting of a preteen daughter and a cat aspiring to become the world’s most efficient hunter.

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The Ruthless Groom by Monica Murphy

The Ruthless Groom
Monica Murphy
(Arranged Marriage, #2)
Publication date: June 14th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

I didn’t plan to marry a reclusive heiress. Lucky for me, I find myself attracted to my beautiful new bride. Our arranged marriage connects two powerful companies. That we’re compatible between the sheets is a bonus, but I didn’t bargain on her ex showing up at the wedding reception uninvited.

That pushed me right over the edge.

I protect what’s mine, and Charlotte is now mine, whether she likes it or not. Our honeymoon is a disaster in paradise. I’m angry. She’s resentful. All those swirling emotions explode in the most physical ways.

But even as I’m drawn closer to my new wife, there’s still a threat looming out there. Seamus McTiernan is determined to destroy what we’ve created.

I won’t let anything tear us apart.

He has no idea who he’s dealing with. I will end him.

Watch me.

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Author Bio:

Monica Murphy is a New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their four cats and one crazy dog. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to sometimes putting her characters through tough, angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Monica is also known as USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson (http://karenerickson.com).

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Discordant Memories by Dee Rollings

Discordant Memories
Dee Rollings
Publication date: June 14th 2022
Genres: Adult, Thriller

A car accident, amnesia, two supposed lovers, and many dark secrets. In a race against time, who will come out on top?

Catrina Banks wakes up with bruises on her body and no memories from the last six months. An illustrious painter, she feels as though someone has stolen the colors from her canvas.

Under the teeming hospital lights and white coats crowding around her, Catrina faces questions she has no answers to. How did she end up in a city far from home? What was she doing there? Where is her phone, her ID, and most of all: Who assaulted her?

Struggling with intermittent flashbacks, Catrina tries to piece her life together. Cradling a gray hoodie and wedding bands she has no memory of, Cat returns home with her boyfriend Danny.

Even after she’s safe at home, she can’t shake the weird feeling that something is off, nor can she ignore the haunting glimpses she gets of a different life with another man.

“Discordant Memories” is a gripping domestic thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, desperate to flip the pages to find out what happens next.

Follow Catrina’s story and find out if she can overcome the obstacles in her way and regain the memories she so desperately craves.

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EXCERPT:

I opened my eyes slowly, but as I reached up to scratch an itch on my forehead, pain shot through my side before my hand connected with whatever was stuck to my forehead. A bandage? I tried to sit up to shake off the weird dream I was having, but every muscle in my body protested. Pain shot through my ribs.

Something was wrong. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and realized I was not at home. I was in a hospital bed.

“Help!” I shouted.

Was I still dreaming? I called out weakly a couple more times before a nurse rushed in.

“You’re awake!” she said, helping me sit up. “Can you tell me your name?”

“What’s going on? What happened?”

“You were in a car accident. You are at Nashville General Hospital. Please tell me your name.”

An accident? The scene that played out so many times in my dreams began to have clarity. The sounds and the glass. It must have been a roll-over.

“Nashville? When did I come to Nashville? Oh God, my Chevelle!”

The only possession I actually cared about was the car my dad had given me before he passed away. I didn’t know what I would do if it was totaled. I put my head in my hands to clear my thoughts and try to focus.

The nurse rolled the computer cart up to my bed and started typing. She wasn’t exactly cold, but she didn’t offer much sympathy either. She let out an exasperated sigh. “Can you please verify your name so we can see how you’re doing?”

How was she so calm when I was falling apart?

“Catrina Banks. Please, tell me what happened.”

“I’ve sent for the doctor; he can tell you more when he arrives.”

“Is there anything you can tell me? How long have I been here?” I tried to keep my voice calm, but it was difficult.

She ignored my question and checked my vitals, then asked me to tell her where I was on the silly little pain-scale poster that hung on the wall. I told her it was a mix between the regular sad face and the crying face. She gave me no additional information. When the doctor finally came in, she gave me a pitiful look and rolled her computer cart off to the corner of the room.
“Ms. Banks, it’s nice to see you again. I’m Dr. Parker.” He offered me a sweet smile and a handshake. He was tall and had thick silver hair. He wore a white coat over a green collared shirt and plaid slacks, which looked more appropriate for the golf course than a hospital.

“Catrina, your accident happened a day and a half ago. You suffered a brain contusion and have been in and out of consciousness since then. The ribs on the right side of your body are bruised and you have some additional bruising in places we rarely see in these types of accidents. Do you remember anything before or after the accident?”

I shook my head as I rubbed my hand against my ribs. Now I knew why breathing was so uncomfortable. “I don’t remember even leaving my house. Maybe something inside the car hit me?”

He wrote something down on my chart and clicked his pen a few times, clearly thinking about something he didn’t want to tell me yet. “You’ve been getting a lot of rest, which is good, but you have been regressing every time you fall asleep. We aren’t sure how long it will continue, or if you’ll even remember this conversation later.” The way he spoke led me to believe it wasn’t the first time he had told me this. He paused, giving me a chance to interject, but I had nothing to say. “Do you know what today’s date is?”

“April 10th,” I blurted without even thinking.

Another one of those pitiful looks came my way, but this time it was from Dr. Parker. The room was silent for a few moments except for the sound of the nurse typing away on her computer.

The doctor clicked his pen three more times before replying, “Actually, it’s October 15th. I’m afraid you have some time missing.”

Six. Months.

How the hell was I missing six months of my life?

Author Bio:

Dee Rollings was born and raised in the big city, but her heart lives in the forest.

She does her best writing on the porch of her tiny house in the woods when she’s not wrangling her kid and her dogs or having one-way conversations with chipmunks.

She has a gorgeous husband who resembles Paul Bunyan and builds the best campfires, which makes all her dreams come true.


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Release Blitz

Queen

Title: Queen

Series: Hidden Earth, Book One

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2022

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 95200

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, sci-fi, action/adventure, lesfic, scientists, kidnapping/abduction, sand pirates, beetle riders, crazed bunnies, spaceships, AI shenanigans, grief/grieving, HFN, intersex

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Description

Nobody leaves Queen. On the tidally locked planet, a vulva and an authority problem are the only immigration requirements. Emigration is banned. Ember spends her days cruising Queen’s endless sand dunes, hunting sand pirates and wallowing in memories of her dead wife. After an ambush, Ember is dragged to the pirate camp and learns her wife’s biggest secret—before her death, she’d joined the pirates, built an illegal spaceship, and plotted to leave the planet. Ember, Nadia, and the sand pirates must take back the planet and expose the corrupt New Earth mining. Taming giant beetles, wrestling stinkhorn fungi, and enlisting Queen’s rabbit population in a high-stakes aerial battle are just part of the hijinks that will determine Queen’s fate as a galactic player, as well as the futures of all its conscripted inhabitants. The newly minted outlaws must also grapple with Queen’s narrow concept of “womanhood” and where trans and intersex people belong in its future.

Excerpt

Queen J.S. Fields © 2022 All Rights Reserved Mornings on Queen always looked like blood. Ember stood at the edge of the habitable zone of the tidally locked planetoid. She scanned the crimson and rust horizon all the way to the perpetual sunrise. Her wife’s body was out here somewhere, buried in the coarse red sand. Desiccated, mummified, likely stripped naked by the roaming packs of sand pirates Ember was out here to track. Well… Track. Kill. The line was blurry when it involved a spouse, and it wasn’t like the presidium—the administrative body of Queen—really cared one way or the other. Ember had cared, once, but she was on day seventeen of perimeter duty, and her whole plan of dealing with Taraniel’s death by shooting grave robbers was starting to look a little thin. A rabbit shot across her field of vision, registering in a halo of blue inside the face shield of her envirosuit. TOPA—the suit’s AI—scrolled data across the screen, but Ember ignored it. Without thinking, she yanked one of the wide, flat stones from her exterior right thigh pocket (they were supposed to keep her calm, according to Nadia) and threw it at the flash of white, fluffy tail with precision honed from years of dealing with Queen’s nuisance rabbit population. The rabbit’s hind legs skittered out from beneath it as it slipped on the sand. Ember wrapped her fingers around another stone, preparing to hit the head this time, when the damn thing started digging with its front feet, sand funneling around it, so that Ember lost her clean shot. She stepped forward, grinding her teeth with an adrenaline surge that would again see no release if the little shit got away. She wiped sand from her face shield with a gloved hand, smearing red across her vision. The area where the rabbit had dug settled flat with a slight pock. Tiny fans on the outside of Ember’s face shield blew the particulate from her vision. The rabbit was gone and her stone along with it. Ember cursed, the words bouncing around the inside of her rabbit-hide envirosuit, wasted on recycled air and a generic TOPA. Queen didn’t have stones like that—perfect for skipping over lakes that didn’t exist on the barren planetoid. Those she carried in her pocket were some of her last reminders of Earth. And the rabbit… Ember knelt at the soft indent in the sand. It’d descended into one of Queen’s giant beetle galleries. Of course, it had. TOPA pinged as she reached a gloved hand into the depression. Ember debated the possibility of Queen’s native beetles—approximately the height of a small school bus and twice the length—grabbing her wrist and pulling her down in pulp-era sci-fi fashion. She dismissed the idea. If beetles hadn’t accosted her yet at this site, it meant the gallery was abandoned and being used by the feral European domestic rabbit population. They’d been brought over as food stock on the colony ships. Some had escaped. Big surprise. Please read your notes, scrolled across the interior of Ember’s face shield, in lettering so large it blocked most of the landscape from view. “The rabbit got away. I was stupid for throwing a rock that can’t be replaced. I wasted oxygen on the exertion. That about cover it?” TOPA didn’t respond directly, but it did fire up a series of reports. Landmass stability: within ten meters radius: moderate. Sand for at least three meters below the surface with scattered hollow tunnels reinforced with clay from the temperate zone. Sand transitioning to silt loam noted in geographic surveys, with increasing occurrence toward the colony dome. Silica content of the air: unbreathable. UV index: ten point five. Ember snorted. That did explain the suit smell. She balled her hands as tightly as she could in the double-layered leather of her gloves wishing, not for the first time that day, that Gore-Tex was still a thing. Leather didn’t breathe, though both the buffer and the electrical linings of the suit were supposed to. Nothing from Earth breathed outside the habitable zone, and as much as the filters of her suit tried, they couldn’t filter out the smell of human, slowly marinating in her own sweat. Awaiting input. Continue scan? “Yeah. Sure. Why not?” Ember stood, swallowing the dry air the suit pushed at her. The AI had a newly installed personality patch, but Ember would need to get a lot more bored before she turned it on. Instead, she pivoted on her right foot, keeping level with as much of the horizon as she could see, and let the suit feed data into the AI. Dunes and small valleys surrounded her, and TOPA disassembled each for content. Silica: 100% Silica: 97%, Chitin: 3% Silica: 78%, Cellulose: 10%, Lignin: 10%, Chitin: 2% Suggest moving 1.7 chains northeast for better visibility. “Picturesque view?” Ember asked TOPA. Maybe a body? “Hey, Ember!” The red dunes faded into a semitransparent image of her sister, Nadia, displayed on the interior of the face shield. Ember clicked her right canines together to increase volume. The winds were too fierce outside the colony dome to hear much of anything without enhancement, even when the sound came from inside the suit. That wind was the same reason the damn rabbits tended to stay in the beetle galleries. Wind screwed with everything out here. Nadia’s transmission showed her just outside the dome, her image picked up by one of her suit’s sleeve cameras. Sand licked her calves. Her goggles were up but her face shield down, and red soil caked her envirosuit. The only parts of her skin visible were her lips, chapped but grinning as she tapped the front of her shield and instructions scrolled across the inside of Ember’s own face shield. At the bottom of the message was a clear add-on from Nadia. Your sentry duties now extend to Outpost Eight. Leave immediately. –Dr. Narkhirunkanok Hope you enjoy the sand. I’ll make you dune-nuts when you get home. Extra sprinkles. Served on a tablecloth of rabbit hide since you love the little shits so much. Ember read the short message and scowled—a facial contortion Nadia would see in detail from the camera inside Ember’s suit. Puns and throwaway comments about the excess rabbit population had no place on an official director request. If Nadia was willing to deface government messages, it meant she was worried. But she wouldn’t say she was worried because, historically, the sisters’ ability to communicate was right around “bug and speeding windshield.” “Leave for Outpost Eight? I’m supposed to be here for another three days.” Ember cinched her mouth into a caricature of a frown. “TOPA will be heartbroken. It hasn’t cataloged every dune within a one hundred-chain radius.” “There’s been a change. Director Narkhirunkanok thinks the mella pirates are going to hit one of our storage units, the one where we keep sticking all the glassware we probably don’t need but can’t get rid of. We need a sentry. You’re the closest.” The wind whipped her words away, but the auditory sensors on Nadia’s suit caught them anyway. This time, Ember did frown. It was one thing to watch for the mella and daydream about shooting one so you could avenge your wife, who didn’t actually need avenging because she’d been about to die from cancer and had chosen to walk into a sand dune. Chasing the mella to one of their targets, even if only to spy on them, so they could shoot you, was something entirely different. She didn’t have a death wish, just a need to see her wife’s body and maybe punch someone.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, and always up for a Twitter chat.

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Novas Got Nerve

Title: Novas Got Nerve

Series: Liquid Onyx, Book One

Author: BL Jones

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2022

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 165500

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, family drama, sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, gay, government agents, magic, slow burn

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Description

He’s got far too much nerve. He can blow things up with his mind. Yeah. The world should probably brace itself for this one. When Rex Nova was four years old, he became one of the world’s first superhumans. When Rex turns twenty, he feels the drive to use his scientifically given abilities to protect the world. He leaves home to become a member of the Secret Superhero Security team, alongside three of his friends and Danger City’s own superhero, Polaris. Rex fights murderous Mages, evil organisations, criminal mafias, his agency appointed psychiatrist, his own weird brain, and the most frightening of all, his attraction to a certain blue-eyed superhero.

Excerpt

Novas Got Nerve BL Jones © 2022 All Rights Reserved This Is It. This Is Our Hero Right then. Let’s kick this off with some hardcore exposition and a whole lot of bizarre shit. My name is Rexley Xander Nova. Yeah. I know. Just. It’s a weird name. I have a weird name. I have weird friends. I have a weird family. I have a weird existence. No lie, this is pretty much how things are gonna be all the time going forward. So. For the sake of full disclosure. Beware. Fun fact number two, I live in a little seaside town named Colbie. Colbie is small, like barely there tiny. We have one school, one church, one town hall, one strip of shops, and one park. The rest of Colbie is cottages and beach. It’s the kind of place you get lost in because Google Maps has it out for you, not somewhere you’d go on purpose. The most memorable thing about Colbie is probably the town’s residents. You’ll understand what I mean by that later. Fun fact number three, a lot of people are raised by the subspecies known as parents. I ain’t got those. I do, however, have a Roux and a Lady Mars. Roux is my uncle, and, I gotta be honest with you, he’s one of the strangest men alive. He’s also very annoying. Prepare yourselves. Mentally. Emotionally. Possibly physically if you’re one of life’s throwers. Like, if you tend to throw things when you’re frustrated. Or afraid. Or hungry. I don’t know. Emotions are hard. And yeah, I hear you, “hungry” isn’t an emotion. But. I can’t be alone in thinking it really should be. Maybe part of you is worried this is gonna be the start of me whinging about my bothersome parental figure. I get why you’d think that. I’m twenty and a person and, regardless of age, I think it’s just how we do sometimes. But nope. That is not it, I swear. You haven’t met him yet. And now I feel bad for you. Because if you keep going with this whole thing then you will have to meet him. So. I mean. Good luck with all of that noise, you masochists. The other half of my parental unit is Lady Mars. She and I aren’t family in the traditional, biological sense. But we are family in all the other ways that matter. If I tried to really, properly, describe the pure personification of epic that is Lady Mars to you, then we would probably be here forever. So, I’m gonna knock it down to the basics for now. Lady Mars is the local “eccentric” woman who lives in the scary looking cottage and who everyone secretly thinks is a witch. The town hag if you will. Those are her words by the way, not mine. The old hag part I mean. Lady Mars isn’t old or a hag. She is a witch though. Or at least, she comes from a family with magic in their blood. Magic runs in bloodlines, and most magical families call themselves Mages. The existence of Mages is a secret. Not a lot of people know magic is a real thing, which is probably just as well. Roux isn’t fond of magic. He says people cause enough of their own problems without throwing something as unstable as magic into the mix. Lady Mars doesn’t mind people calling her a witch. I think she enjoys having everyone fear her a little bit too much. On Halloween, she dresses up like a “normal person” and tells everyone Halloween is the witch equivalent of a bank holiday. She also likes to do stereotypical witchy things like collecting crystals and wearing hooded cloaks and using made-up words when she does magic even though she doesn’t need to. As for me, I’m not a Mage. I’m the dramatic result of a science experiment gone very right or very wrong, depending on who you ask. I have powers. Superpowers. Most of my close friends also have abilities as a result of the same science experiment. My father was Dr Alexander Nova. He was a massive dickhead. And also a mad scientist. He created a superpower chemical that was eventually given the name Liquid Onyx. Genuinely. Liquid Onyx. No joke, I’m basically a Powerpuff Girl. Alex started out by experimenting on adults. Every single one of those people either died or succumbed to extreme levels of mental instability within days of being injected. It wasn’t until he accidentally experimented on a child of fourteen that he reached a turning point. The boy’s name was Tyler Kane. He was a runaway foster kid who happened to look a lot older than he was. Tyler survived the initial injection of Liquid Onyx, and it took nearly a month before the first signs of mental and physical sickness began to show. Maybe some people would have seen this as yet another failure. But to a man like my father, a truly brilliant scientist, progress was progress. Alex determined Tyler’s youth was what made the difference. With that discovery fermented in his mind, he kidnapped and injected a load of children, including his own son, with the highly dangerous and potentially lethal substance. He discovered children under the age of ten were more likely to survive. Moreover, children under the age of five were more likely to avoid the insanity that had overtaken his previous subjects. Some of the children died. In agony. Some of them didn’t. I’m one of the lucky ones who crawled away with my body intact. My mind, on the other hand, is something we could argue about all day. Those of us who did survive Liquid Onyx found ourselves able to do impossible things. Superpower type things. Along with an individual superpower of our own, all Liquid Onyx survivors have enhanced senses, superior physical capabilities, and accelerated healing. My father went full-on supervillain, and now I’m a superhuman who can blow things up with my mind. I’m a character from a bloody comic book. And not a particularly good one either. So. Yeah. That’s my baggage. Well, part of it. Definitely the biggest suitcase on the trolley anyway.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

BL Jones is a twentysomething British author who spends all her free time reading and writing and taming her three much younger brothers. She works as a BSL interpreter in Bristol and lives with a temperamental bunny named Pepsi. She’s been writing stories since she was five, rarely sharing them with anyone except her numerous stuffed animals. BL has had a difficult journey into discovering and accepting her own queerness, and therefore believes that positive, honest, and authentic stories about queer people are very important. She hopes to contribute her own stories for people to have fun with and enjoy.

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