Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fright Night Blog Hop & Giveaway!


Join us for a little Halloween fun in the Fright Night blog hop! Stop by each blog to check out their favorite paranormal or spooky reads and enter their giveaways! Many thanks to Simply Angela and herding carts & burning soup for hosting this hop!

For my giveaway, I have three tales of Terror! How about Zombies and Vampires from best-selling and award winning authors?

http://amzn.com/B00FI2W6CK 

Novel Description: 

In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meet The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…

When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?

http://amzn.com/B00MR5VGV8 

Novel Description:

Only fifty years left before vampires rule the world.

When Dallas police detective Cami Davis joined the city's vampire unit, she planned to use the job as a stepping-stone to a better position in the department.

But she didn't know then what she knows now: there's a silent war raging between humans and vampires, and the vampires are winning.

So with the help of a disaffected vampire and an ex-cop addict, Cami is going undercover, determined to solve a series of recent murders, discover a way to overthrow the local Sanguinary government, and, in the process, help win the war for the human race.

But can she maintain her own humanity in the process? Or will Cami find herself, along with the rest of the world, pulled under a darkness she cannot oppose?
 

http://amzn.com/B009GI3YBY 

Novel Description:

"The world, it seemed, had gone silent. It was something we knew but did not talk about. We were alone."

While Layla Petrovich returns home to rural Hamletville after a desperate call from her psychic grandmother, she never could have anticipated the horror of what Grandma Petrovich has foreseen. The residents of Hamletville will need Layla's cool head, fast blade and itchy trigger finger to survive the undead apocalypse that's upon them. But even that may not be enough. With mankind silenced, it soon becomes apparent that we were never alone. As the beings living on the fringe seek power, Layla must find a way to protect the ones she loves or all humanity may be lost.

It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead!

Giveaway Time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep Hopping!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trick or Treat! Meet the Blazing Indie Collective ~ Massive eBook & Cash Giveaway!

 
Trick or Treat!
 
Ready for another fabulous giveaway? The authors of the Blazing Indie Collective have a something special in store for you! How about a massive giveaway? Connect with new authors, win books, win cash, and have fun! Sorry, no Almond Joys or Peanut Butter Cups, but books are so much better!
 
Giveaway Time!
 
 
 

RBTL presents Mirrored Time by J. D. Faulkner: Characters & Cocktails

 
 
 
Novel Description:
 
First it was water.

Then blood.

And finally smoke.

Gwen Conway never knew there were so many ways to die. Honestly, it was something she would have been happy not knowing.

Maybe, they really are just dreams. Nightmares. But they won't stop. And dreaming of her death is getting old. Then there's the sleepwalking. She'd like to pass on that too.

Gwen's pretty sure the dreams have something to do with her new job. Which of course, is definitely not just a 'job.'

Don't get her wrong, working for the Archiver of the Time Streams has its perks. Having the power to travel to any past or future time is fantastic. Plus, there's Rafe, the ex-gladiator from the future. She'd like to keep him around too. Not that she would tell him that. It'd go straight to his head.

But she's less than pleased to find herself in the middle of a time travelers' war. Especially against a crazed half-god who has the power to obliterate the existence of any time or place. And the Guardians, her so called allies? All the help they offer are strict rules and smug superiority. Plus, they seem convinced she's already lost, that she's already died.

Gwen is starting to wonder whether she should have read her employment contract more carefully.

Borrowing themes from Greek and Roman legends such as Pandora and the war between the Titans and Olympians, lovers of mythology and fantasy alike will enjoy this mind-bending romp through different times and universes. Well-grounded in the world of today, this urban fantasy stands out from the pack with its complex theories on time travel and unique brand of quirky humor.

Mirrored Time by J.D. Faulkner
 
Characters & Cocktails Guest Post
I asked author J. D. Faulkner to helps us get to know the characters in her upcoming release by sharing what cocktails best match their personalities. Below, meet her character and their preferred drinks!

Gwen - A little sweet, and infinitely sunny, it’s a warm little drink to chase away the shadows.
  • Tequila Sunrise: 4 oz orange juice, 2 oz tequila, ½ oz grenadine, pour over ice and garnish with an orange slice and Maraschino cherry


http://liquor.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/tequila-sunrise-290x290.jpg
 
Rafe- Honestly, he would just prefer a pint of something dark, but the little umbrella pisses Alistair off every time he orders it.
  • Mai Tai: 1 ½ oz spice rum, ½ oz coconut flavored rum, 1 tsp grenadine, 3 oz pineapple juize, 2 oz orange juice, garnish with a maraschino cherry … And a little umbrella, thank you kindly.
http://www.poshpartybox.com/images/photo_recipe_maitai.jpg

 

Alistair – If you won’t let him have his Scotch up, at least the honey sweetness of the Drambuie compliments the smoky flavor.
  • Rusty Nail: 1 ½ oz Scotch,  ¾ oz Drambuie, serve on the rocks with a lemon twist garnish

http://www.culinarytrends.net/Rusty%20Nail%20lg.jpg
 

Maggie- Too much rum in the cabinet, seems like a great reason to throw a party.
  • Jamaican rum punch: 1 cup Bicardi 151 rum, ½ cup Myer’s dark rum, ¼ cup Malibu coconut rum, 2 ½ cups pineapple juice, 2 ½ cups orange juice, ¼ cup lime juice, 3 tbsp grenadine, throw it in a punch bowl over some ice and let’s get this party started.

http://cooklikeajamaican.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/rum-punch1.jpg
 
Ready to meet the characters? Pick up the novel here:
 
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blazing Indie Collective: Romance eBook Giveaway!


Ready to get romantic?

Best-selling, award-winning, and talented authors of romance--and little old me--have come together to bring you one special offer: the Blazing Indie Collective Romance eBook Giveaway! From spicy paranormal to steampunk to contemporary fantasy to sweet romance, there are 65 romance novels for grabs in this giveaway! This romance pack is filled with great characters. Don't expect wishy-washy female protagonists waiting to be swept off their feet. These girls have moxy! There is so much to fall in love with here!

My titles:

I have two novels available in this giveaway


Novel Description:

An opium-addicted beauty. 
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile. An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.
 
Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a steampunk romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley. 


It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. 


Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way. 


*This novel is intended for mature audiences.



Novel description: Available for pre-order now! Releasing December 3rd, 2014!

Something wicked this way comes . . . 

Gruoch is born to rule, but long before she becomes Macbeth’s queen, ancient forces claim her soul. 

Marked from birth by the old gods, Gruoch is initiated into the ancient religion of her ancestors and begins learning the mysteries of the Goddess Cerridwen. But not everything is as it seems. Soon the Battle Goddess Morrigu imposes her will, and Gruoch finds herself at the mercy of the Wyrd Sisters. 

With King Malcolm plotting, the Wyrd Sisters schooling her in arcane craft, and haunted by dreams of a raven-haired man she’s never met, Gruoch feels her fate is not her own. That is, until she meets a druid named Banquo. Gruoch’s heart is swept away when Banquo awakens something in her more powerful than duty, magic, or destiny: love. 

This retelling of Shakespeare’s classic work leads readers through an unforgettable saga of one woman struggling to escape her fate without blood on her hands. 

Begin the Lady Mabeth Saga with Lady Macbeth: Daughter of Ravens. 


Good luck! Giveaway Time!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5th Annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop


I'm excited to participate in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop once again this year! Many thanks to I'm A Reader, Not a Writer for organizing this hop!

What's your favorite thing about Halloween? I'll be sharing a few of my favorites. What are yours?

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

I looked forward to this Halloween special every year! My children watched for the first time a couple of years ago. I had to smile when my daughter got all emotional about Linus falling asleep all alone in the pumpkin patch.


All Hallows Eve Traditions:

Call me superstitious, but keeping with the Celtic roots of this holiday, we always remember our ancestors and people who have passed over on All Hallows Eve. This is done in a very simple way: we leave out a plate of food for our dearly departed. It's a simple little tradition, but it helps us take a moment to remember those who have past.


And of course, I love the costumes! Not the "slutty pirate-mermaid-baseball player" costumes, but really intricate costumes or really fun, traditional costumes. How many of you dressed up as Dorothy or the Wicked Witch for halloween?



Giveaway Time!

I'm really excited about this giveaway! I wish I could win one too. One lucky winner will receive ONE ruby slipper bookmark (US/CA). Another winner will receive a free ebook copy of The Harvesting!

Prize 1: ONE Ruby Slipper Bookmark (examples shown below)



Prize 2: Ebook copy of The Harvesting!





Keep Hopping!


Friday, October 10, 2014

T.P. Grish casts the characters of The Remus Rothwyn Chronicles



For a little fun, I asked author T. P. Grish to cast the character of Cast The Remus Rothwyn Chronicles. I asked the author "if your series were turned into a movie, what would your dream cast look like? Who would you want to play your characters and why?" Check out the author's selections below:

I could only dream about that, and I do not know which actors and actresses would be suitable for most of my characters, and I would not want to spoil reader's perception of them by choosing the wrong actor. The only character for whom I have a very strong perception of which actor would suit them, is Gedderick. But, I will give it a try for Remus, Elaina and Perfidian as well.


Remus- Formerly a woodcutter and amateur Sage from High Peaks, he is of slightly above average height, has light brown skin, dark brown hair and brown eyes. Moderately muscular and barrel chested, with long limbs, he is vaguely handsome in an unorthodox and rugged way, with a scholar’s brow (slightly large forehead) and slightly large nose. I don't know who would be suitable, maybe the actor (Craig Horner) who played Richard from the Legend of the Seeker TV series based on Goodkind's novels, with some make-up, physical training and other accoutrements?


Perfidian- Tall, charming, debonair, with fair Norlathan skin and blond hair, and light blue eyes. A bard who left his homeland to seek tales and adventure, he is used to cities, settlements, and dealing with the type of folk you meet in taverns and inns, both high class and low. Skilled with the longsword and longbow, as well as the lute, he is optimistic and flexible, but relies on his perception of the world, and his friends, to deal with the problems in the world, not necessarily handling it well when that perception is pierced. I am sure there are many suitable actors, but I can't help but think of a young Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame.


 Elaina- Tall with willowy limbs, piercing dark blue eyes, hair of flax with blue streaks. A powerful Touched, formidable, sympathetic but indomitable and quick to defend others from tyranny. There are many great actresses that could play her- unfortunately I am not up to date with celebrities and actors. Perhaps someone like Blake Lively, but a bit more formidable looking?

Gedderick- The Royal Eye spy and assassin, lean, brutal, skilled, intelligent, indepdendent, determined. I would love Christopher Heyerdahl of Sanctuary fame, or Jeremy Irons to play him.



Many thanks to T. P. Grish for stopping by to talk characters. Stop by Amazon to pick up this series (available in box set too)!

Connect with the Author Online!

Twitter


Where to get the series?

Goodreads

Grab the Box Set!



Or just head on over to Amazon!
 

A Sneak Peek of Midway: A Harvesting Series Novella


Fans of The Harvesting series, ready for Midway? Zombies return this fall! Subscribe to my newsletter to get VIP release info in your inbox! Give me zombies!

Novel Description:

Midway: A Harvesting Series Novella (Book 1.5 in The Harvesting Series) is a tie-in novella that compliments The Harvesting, Book I in The Harvesting Series.

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the beginning of the end.

Carnie. Ride jockey. Roustabout. White trash. Tilt girl. Gypsy. Cricket has been called a lot of things, but she never thought survivor of the zombie apocalypse would be one of them. One day she’s barking on the midway, and the next day, the world is eating itself alive.

Cricket, along with Vella, a tarot reader, and Puck, Cricket’s mangy mutt, find themselves running for their lives, but where can you hide when mankind has fallen? Cricket will need help if she hopes to survive.

Luckily for her, we were never really alone, and apparently, magical forces want to keep this tilt girl alive.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22435511-midway



At the end of the first edition of The Harvesting, I had originally included a short tale about a carnie girl named Cricket whose storyline ran juxtaposed to Layla’s, protagonist in The Harvesting. This brief story was titled The Parallel since its timeline ran parallel to The Harvesting. Some readers loved Cricket. Some readers were confused by the placement of The Parallel. I had originally included the story because Cricket will play an important role in the rest of the series; I wanted readers to meet her sooner rather than later. I really debated what to do with Cricket. In the end, I removed her story from the second edition of The Harvesting.  
Cricket, however, is rather bossy. She wanted to her own story. She basically told me: “I survived the zombie apocalypse. Aren’t you at least gonna tell people how it happened?” Okay, Cricket. Readers who read the first edition of The Harvesting with recognize the first three chapters of my forthcoming novella, Midway. But I decided I would let you meet some of the forthcoming The Shadow Aspect's characters now and see some important events. After all. I already knew what happened to Cricket between The Harvesting and the forthcoming The Shadow Aspect (and how those storylines converge), but I hadn’t planned to write out the complete tale in detail. Cricket, however, insisted, and my characters are usually right. Enjoy Chapter 1 of Midway, Cricket’s story.
 

Little Cricket by Heather Ainsley

Chapter 1


“Tilt-a-whirl, tilt-a-whirl, tilt-a-whirl! Come on ride my tilt-a-whirl! I’ll whirl you round the world,” I barked to the mostly empty aisles at the Allegheny Fairgrounds.
I looked up and down the aisles. The place was like a ghost town. While bags of pink and blue cotton candy hung in the food joints, cherry red candy apples glistened in the sunlight, and over-grown stuffed purple monkeys hung at the game booths, ripe for winning, no one was around to stuff themselves on carnie delights. The smell of kettle corn still perfumed the air, but for a carnival that was usually packed with excited townies, I swore I wouldn’t be surprised if a tumbleweed blew down the row.  
After a bit, two young boys came up to my line. They were only kids around. The older looked to be about twelve. The younger, a good two inches under my height bar, had pulled himself up to full height and tried not to meet my eye.
“Tickets,” I said to them.
Confidently, the older boy handed me his ticket and passed through. The younger boy hesitated. Guessing he’d be all right, I let him through. The older boy slapped him a high five when they thought they were out of earshot.
I turned the key and started the ride. The boys smiled at me. I waved to them.
“Hey Cricket,” Harv, the balloon-pop agent across the aisle, called to me. “Where is everyone? Allegheny Fairgrounds is usually packed. I’m gonna go hungry.”
I leaned over the gate and twirled my blonde braid, checking out the split ends. “I heard someone say it’s the flu keepin’ people home. You know they closed LAX? I hear it’s gettin’ real serious. You get a flu shot?”
“Naa. Damned thing always gives me the flu. You know, Bud’s got it. He’s been laid up in his RV all day.”
“Anyone been by to see him?”
Harv shrugged. “He’s grouchy when he feels good. I don’t imagine he’d be a barrel of laughs when he’s sick.”
“No man is. Even the common cold has you all actin’ like a bunch of babies.”
“This coming from a blonde,” Harv replied with a laugh.
“You better watch yourself. I’ll come pop your balloons.”
“Baby, a grenade couldn’t pop those balloons,” he said with a laugh.
I turned back to the boys. They were all smiles; round and round they spun. Since no one else was around, I let it run until they signaled they’d had enough.
Around nine o’clock that night, the owner, Mr. Marx, came by. I had not seen a soul on the fairway since the boys left. “Sorry, Cricket. We’re going to teardown to get ready for the jump to Cincinnati. We’re just burning juice and not making a dime. This place is dead; not a soul here.”
“All right then,” I replied, and Mr. Marx wandered off. I realized he hadn’t said a word about when he would pay us for Allegheny Fairgrounds, dead or not.
Moments after he left, the first of the evening fireworks shot across the sky. The dark sky was illuminated with gold and pink. I waited for a moment, expecting to hear the excited oohs and ahhs that usually followed what was a pretty measly fireworks display, but there was nothing, just the pop and crackle of the fireworks followed by silence. Eerie.
I whistled for Puck, my mangy mixed breed and the only male I swore I would ever truly love. After a few minutes, the hound-shepherd mix with honey-colored eyes appeared; he looked dirty and happy. I’d found him about a year ago. Well, actually, he’d found me. We were getting ready to leave Crawford County Fairgrounds when he showed up at the tilt begging for scraps. I made the mistake of feeding him a leftover funnel cake, and after that, I couldn’t shake him. A mischievous little devil, Vella, the tarot reader, gave me the idea for his name: Puck. She said it was the name of a rascally faerie creature. It fit him. From that moment on, Puck and I were always together. More than once, a growl and flash of teeth from Puck had gotten me out of a jam. I loved that mangy mutt.
“Up to no good, were ya?” I asked, scratching him on the head. He licked my hand and wagged his tail. I closed up my till and headed to the bunk house to look for some extra muscle to help with the teardown. As I passed through the midway I saw most of the other joints and booths were already closed. Mama Rosie was just closing up the snake show when I came by.
“Marx closed down everyone up here already?” I asked her.
“They’re all sick, Sug,” she replied as she dropped one of her small snakes into her bra. I shivered. Everyone loved Mama Rosie, but no one understood her relationship with her babies. She always had one hanging out of her bra, hanging around her neck, or stuffed in her clothes. Mama was a big woman who liked to wear baggy, loud-colored gowns. I hated sitting next to her at dinner. You never knew when one of the babies might suddenly slither out of her hibiscus-print dress.
I set my box down and helped her push the trailer door closed. “How about you, Mama? You feelin’ all right?”
“I think I ate something bad at lunch, but I’ll be fine. You headed back to the bunks?”
“I guess. I was hopin’ Beau and the boys would come give me a hand.”
“Sug, Beau would give you a hand, arm, leg, or toe if you asked. Why don’t you give that boy a chance?”
“Oh, Mama Rosie, I don’t feel nothin’ like that for him.”
“But you run off with townies often enough.”
“Well, we all have needs.”
Mama Rosie laughed loud. “You got that right. I thought maybe you were hoping someone would marry you out of the life.”
“And give up all this?”
Mama Rosie hooted again, her boisterous laughter filling the empty aisles.
While the smell Chinese food, funnel cakes, and fried sausage still filled the air, there was no one around. Power was still on, so the midway sparkled in a rainbow of light, but the place was like a ghost town. I had never seen it like that, and since I’d practically grown up in the carnival, that was saying something. Several game booth agents had even left their plush hanging—now that was odd.
As Mama and I passed by Iago’s Traveling Torture show, Mr. Iago came out. I winced. After three years of traveling with Great Explorations carnival, I had yet to warm up to Mr. Iago. His show was creepy. I’d once had a look inside. The place was hung with all kinds of pictures of people being tortured, and he had old torture devices like the rack, an iron maiden, a wheel of fortune, and other small harmful contraptions. Mr. Iago was as creepy as his show. On the outside he looked normal enough, just a funny-looking little bald man with too big-ears and a pointed nose, but it was what I felt coming from inside him that set me on edge. I never looked him in the eye.
“Mama Rosie, Cricket,” he called politely.
“You headed back too, Mr. Iago?” Mama called cheerfully.
“Yes, Ma’am, I am,” he replied politely.
“You make any scratch today?” Mama asked him.
“Well, I don’t like to discuss finances,” he told her in his quiet manner.
“He don’t like to discuss finances,” Mama said mockingly to me. “All right, Mr. Iago. You just go on with yourself then.”
“No offense, Mama Rosie,” he replied quietly.
“Of course not,” she replied and rolled her eyes at me.
When we got back to the bunk houses there were half a dozen people sitting outside at a picnic table listening to the radio. I spotted Mr. and Mrs. Chapman. They owned three of the grab joints; Mrs. Chapman waved to us. She was a biblical woman whose savory corndog breading had won top prize at a competition last year. If you didn’t mind hearing her recite verse all day, she was fine to be around. Red and Neil, two ride jockeys, were there as well. Red ran Big Eli; Neil ran the swings. The resident lot lizard, Cici, was snuggled up to Ned. I was surprised to see Vella there as well. Vella, the tarot reader, was a Romanian immigrant who called herself the only authentic Roma, which she said meant gypsy, in America. Even though she was just a little older than me, Vella scared me. She’d never done anything to me and was really nice, but she scared me all the same. The others said she was dead-on accurate with her readings and often had bad news to give. I didn’t want to be around anything like that.
“What’s the news?” Mama Rosie asked.
“Lord, help us! This flu is something else. They have quarantined almost every city on the west coast: LA, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco . . . you name it. They got the national guard on the highways keeping people out,” Mrs. Chapman said.
She was quiet then. We listened: “And inside Portland Central Hospital, military personnel have opened fire on seemingly-rabid patients,” a female reporter was saying. “Reports from the scene indicate that a riot broke out at the hospital when patients, suffering from side-effects of what now seems to be a pandemic flu, began attacking other hospital patients and employees. CDC officials have confirmed that increased violence appears to be associated with the afflicted and continue to advise everyone to avoid direct physical contact with those with the illness. Martial law has been instituted in all major west coast cities and cities across the south. Cities across the northeast and central US have issued a curfew. There have been reports of runs on banks, grocery stores, and fueling stations.”
“What are they sayin’ on T.V.?” I asked.
Red shook his head. “We can’t get a signal in. No one’s dishes are working.”
“President was on the radio. Told everyone to be calm,” Cici said.
“Easy for him to say. They probably got him stashed in a bunker somewhere,” Mr. Chapman replied.
“Highways are gonna be backed up. And nobody’s gonna be interested in a fair, not at Allegheny and not in Cincinnati. But I bet if we don’t jump, Marx is gonna stiff us,” I told the others.
They nodded.
“Well, if ya’ll give me a hand, I’ll pay back the favor,” I told Red and Neil.
“No problem, Cricket. You see Beau around?”
I shook my head. “I just came lookin’ for him.”
“He’s sick,” Vella said. She rarely spoke, so when she did, we all turned to her. “Leave him be,” she added, her voice still thick with her Romanian accent.
Vella had been shuffling her cards the whole time we’d been listening to the radio. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed.
“What do the cards say about this flu, Vella? Should we hit the road? Stay put?” Mama Rosie asked.
“Devil’s work,” Mrs. Chapman whispered under her breath.
“They say the same thing over and over again: the Tower.” She laid out a card for us to see.
When Mr. Iago leaned in to look, I moved away. My skin crept having him so close. I took a step toward the other end of the table and put my hand on Mrs. Chapman’s shoulder. She patted my fingers. On the card Vella had laid out was the image of a tower on fire, two naked people falling from it to the ground.
“What does it mean?” Mama Rosie asked.
“The end of a way of life. Chaos will pave the way in a new world for those who can survive the destruction.”
“That’s cheerful,” Red said.
Vella picked the card back up. She looked up at me. “Can you let me know when you’re going to head out? I’d like to caravan.”
I smiled and nodded. I wasn’t really interested in her gloom and doom, but I sure didn’t want to be on the road alone in a time like this.
Red, Neil, and I headed back to the rides and started the breakdown process. It wasn’t easy with just the three us, but Neil was good with the lift, and I had the breakdown down pat. We had the tilt loaded onto the flatbed in no time.
“I’ve never seen a girl as good with a wrench as you are, Cricket,” Red told me as we headed over to the swings.
“Don’t hurt none that my daddy put one in my hand about a minute after I was born,” I replied with a laugh.
“I met your daddy back in the 80’s. We worked Maverick Carnival together for about a year.”
“For real? I didn’t know that.”
“Boy, your daddy, there wasn’t a mark he couldn’t clean out or a townie whose eye he couldn’t catch. I think your daddy was born for the carnie life.”
“He loved it. That’s the truth,” I replied. I loved talking about my daddy. Since he’d died three years ago, I felt so lonely for him. Anytime someone had a story to share about him I was all ears.
Daddy had just finally saved and borrowed enough to buy a used tilt-a-whirl when he started looking a little red in the cheeks from time to time. My daddy had always been a ride jockey, but now he would be a ride owner, and a “tilt man,” a title that made him proud. He liked the idea of tweaking the ride, playing with the gears and brakes. It was a dream for him. Not a month after getting the ride, however, I found him lying dead of a heart attack. He’d been working on one of the cars. Doctor said a life full of eating nothing but carnival food will do that to you. I’d thought about leaving the carnival, but after my daddy had worked so hard, I couldn’t. I became a tilt girl. The ride was like his living memorial. Every time a child smiled or laughed on that ride, I knew my daddy was smiling in heaven.
“I never did meet your mama. You ever see her, Neil?”
Neil shook his head. “Someone said you look like her, Crick.”
“Yeah, I suppose so. I probably wouldn’t know her anymore. Last time I talked to her she said she’d dyed her hair red,” I replied. My mom and dad had split when I was young. She had married and started a new life. We rarely talked. She was like a stranger to me. I didn’t think on her much.
We worked on the swings. They were an easy break down, and we were done and packed in less than two hours. The Big Eli, as we called the Ferris Wheel, was another story altogether, and it was already after one in the morning.
“Let’s get it first thing tomorrow,” Red said. “I’m feeling my bones.”
Relieved, I nodded. I didn’t want the boys to know, but every muscle in my body was aching, and Puck had started whining for his dinner an hour before. I wasn’t going to argue. “Just knock in the mornin’,” I called to Red. “I’m over by the creek at the edge of the west parking lot. Wasn’t room left in the back when I got here,” I added.
“Well, that will teach you not to play around in town next jump,” Red replied with a laugh, and we went our separate ways, Neil and Red chatting as they went the other direction.
Back in the parking lot, I crawled into the cab of my truck, my home away from home. When I was a game agent, I used to drive a small RV, but I needed a semi to haul the tilt so I gave up my RV, managed to get a CDL license, and now lived in the cab of my truck. It wasn’t too bad, and if it started to feel real tight, I would stay in the bunk house.
I dug around until I found a can of food for Puck. I placed a small bowl on the ground and sat beside him, petting him while he ate, looking at the view. My spot by the creek wasn’t bad. I could hear the sound of the rushing water. Besides, the parking lot was dead. There wouldn’t be any noise. 
After Puck had gobbled down his meal, he jumped in the cab, and we snuggled together on the small cot behind the seat. I pulled the curtain closed, and we called it a night. 



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