Monday, May 23, 2016

Masked Hearts Anthology


HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO

MASKED HEARTS!


Masked Hearts
A sweet romance anthology
By Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: May 23, 2016
Keywords: Fantasy, romance, shifters, dragon, elves, masquerade, sweet

What secrets do the Masked Hearts hold?

Blurbs:

Affinity by Dana Wright
Behind the shadows lies the truth…

A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. A mask, a cloak, and a key leading her to an enchanted evening in the faery garden might be Kristen's end as all that glitters may well have sharp teeth.

Magic mirror on the wall…

Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following. Can he find a way to break the spell that binds him so he can reach the girl that haunts his dreams?

When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor's love be enough to save them?
Water Woman by Claire Davon
Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Isidora and Kimoni look for a way to fight the ruthless intruders, while also saving his grandfather.

Using their combined powers, they meet the challenge, all the while conscious of the growing attraction between them. It has been a long time since Isidora has met a man who calls to her as Kimoni does. The strong, handsome horse shifter sings to her senses, and she sees a matching spark in his eyes. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?
Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang
The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.
For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.  
Feather Fall by Sheryl Winters
Brooke Adair's autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, though, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. If she lets him.

But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. After all, if she doesn’t take this leap, Brooke might miss out on meeting the one man she could actually learn to understand.
Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson
Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home.

Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Camden decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.

Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?





Tour Schedule



~~~oOo~~~

GIVEAWAY!


A $10 Roane Publishing gift card



Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Father Didn't Kill Himself by Russell Nohelty


My Father Didn't Kill Himself
By
Russell Nohelty
YA Mystery. This book deals with death, loss, and grief. There are difficult concepts to deal with and uncomfortable.
Author Bio:
Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He is the publisher of Wannabe Press and its main author. Russell likes to write genre fiction with deep character studies. He’s sadistic with his characters, putting them in the worst situations and watching them claw their way back up, just to kick them back into the abyss. Russell started his career writing comics, and now writes novels and children’s books as well. 
Social Media Links:
@russellnohelty (twitter/Instagram)

Blurb:
How would you cope is somebody you love committed suicide?
Delilah's father is the greatest man she has ever known. When he commits suicide her world is shattered. She can't eat. She can't sleep. Her bubbly personality becomes ascorbic. All she wants is to be left alone.
When his insurance policy refuses to pay out, Delilah sets out to prove what she's known all along: that his suicide was in fact a murder.
A story of getting over grief and learning those you idolize aren't perfect, told in blog posts through Delilah and her best friend.
On the surface My Father Didn’t Kill Himself is a mystery book, but right below the surface is a story of how people get over grief. And not just how Delilah gets over her grief of losing the person she idolizes most in the world. Also about how a wife gets over the grief of her husband, a husband that was supposed to provide for her, but instead left her alone and destitute.
Mixed with that is the loss felt by Alex, Delilah's best friend, in losing her best friend to the anguish of grief, watching her slip away and pull back from the world, feeling helpless.

Buy Link: 

http://www.amazon.com/My-Father-Didnt-Kill-Himself-ebook/dp/B01CKUZR0A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458775611&sr=8-1&keywords=my+father+didn%27t+kill+himself+russell+nohelty

Excerpt:

DROWNING

Posted by Delilah Clark × December 15 at 9:31 pm.
Here is what The Suicide Handbook says about drowning.
Drowning in cold water is supposed to be like going to sleep. For me, it was a nightmare.
Shivering, freezing, I sat for a minute until my body
Adjusted to the cold. Then I sunk down under the water. The cold washed over me, but my lungs were on fire. Before I could pass out my natural instincts kicked in. I couldn't fight them. I kicked and screamed
until half the water was gone. I gasped for air. It was frightful.

I performed my experiment much like J. I laid down in the tub until my body adjusted to the temperature. Once I was acclimated, I sunk below the water. I breathed out until there were no bubbles. And I waited. It didn’t take long for the fire in my lungs to start. Soon, it was unbearable. My body thrashed around for a moment before I shot out of the water and gasped for precious air.
I wholeheartedly endorse every word J said.
On top of that I realized something.
If I died in this tub, my bowels would empty, and I would be sitting in feces-filled water until somebody found me. That is not a dignified way to die—my bowel excretion muddying the water and coating me in a fine mist of poop. They’d be scrubbing for days to get me ready for the casket.
No thank you.


CEMETERY

Posted by Delilah Clark × December 16 at 7:22 pm.
Before every session with Dr. Bennett, Susie drives me to the cemetery and tries to coerce me into visiting my father’s grave.
I’d never been to his grave before; not since the funeral. It didn’t seem important to me.
It’s not like he's in there anyway. Maybe his body, but not him. If he’s anywhere, he's by my side as I try to fulfill his last wishes, not hanging out in a cemetery.
But Susie always insists on driving to the cemetery anyway. The cemetery is a weird place full of weird people. There’s this tall undertaker who seems a little too into the dead people’s families. He’s like overeager for them to buy something. His smile creeps me out. 
There’s a grave digger who has to be high on something because he moves slower than molasses. Sometimes I catch the funeral director yelling at him, as if that’s going to motivate somebody that digs graves for a living to pick up the pace. Shocker, it never worked. 
They’re not weird in a bad way though. Some of them I could like if I didn’t hate everybody on principle. There’s this guy who is always reading comic books. He introduced himself to me one day as “Roscoe. Roscoe Fay.” Like he’s James Bond or something. He just sits under this tall oak tree overlooking the cemetery and silently reads comics. I would watch him read sometimes, letting my eye catch a cool image every once and a while.
I would usually just sit there, looking out at the cemetery, until Susie gave up and drove us away. But today was different. Today, I felt a twinge in my stomach, a pang, not quite a stress baby, but maybe a stress zygote, or an unfertilized egg.
I needed to see his grave. I needed to talk to him.
Susie was ready to fight, but before she could open her big mouth I pushed out of the door and walked over to his grave.
It was weird.
For all my research on death, I had no idea how to act in a cemetery. I saw a few people crying over graves and placing flowers on them as they rehashed their day.
That isn’t me. I’m cried out.
His gravestone was simple and to the point.
Tim Clark. Devoted husband and father.
I read it over and over again. Have you ever noticed that any word you say over and over again sounds super weird? Just try saying neck two hundred times and tell me that’s not a silly word by the end?
By the eight millionth silent loop, my dad’s name sounded like an alien language. Maybe Zorgblopple, which I just made up.
“Hey dad,” I finally said. “How are you doing? Probably not so bad, right? I mean worms might be eating your insides, but at least you can’t feel how cold it is, right?”
I paused, waiting for a response from him. I felt like an idiot.
“It’s been snowing here a lot. Remember when Mom went out of town for the weekend and it rained? You always said that God was crying because he missed her. I thought that was silly, but I always think about that when it rains or snows now.”

I liked it. I liked it so much I skipped therapy and sat there most of the day. I really can’t tell you how much better than therapy it is.

Author Interview Questions:
1.       I write because…
I’m a neurotic mess and writing is the only time I feel sane. I basically bottle up all my neuroses until they are too much to bear and put them on the page. It’s a compulsion for me, but I love it.
2.       If I were your favorite cookie, what would I be?
Macadamia nut, for sure.
3.       Plotter or pantster?
I’m a pantster that REALLY wants to be a plotter. What usually happens is I spend a year on an outline for a book and it goes out the window page 5. I’m working on it though, because I think in order to do longer form books and series you have to be a plotter.
4. What is your favorite type of character to write about and why?
I like psychologically flawed characters, specifically females though I write about 50% male and 50% female main characters. I like females because all men end up sounding like me eventually. With females I can put myself in somebody else’s shoes and it becomes easier for me to get a compelling character.
I like the psychologically flawed because my main two themes are perception and religion. I want the reader to wonder whether what the character is seeing is truth or they are lying to themselves. I think about that a lot. Whether we are living in the Matrix or this is real life, and how my real life differs from your reality. I think those psychological flaws make the characters unique and relatable.
I always want to make sure they are riddled with flaws, but somehow act in spite of them. Too many characters are perfect these days. I want people to understand just the struggle to do something mundane is amazing.
5. Hamburgers or sushi?
Oh man. Well I shouldn’t eat gluten or seafood, so you’ve caught me in a bind. I’m going to say hamburgers though. They are my go to food when I’ve had a bad day.
6. Name three things on your desk.
Well I have about 100 desk toys from Wall-E to Hello Kitty to Legos. I’m going to say that’s one. Then I have the microphone that I use to record my podcast The Business of Art. Finally, I have three monitors which sounds like a lot but really I could use about three more.
7. What books have influenced your writing style?
Clockwork Orange, Siddhartha, Y: The Last Man, Cat’s Cradle, and Fight Club. That is a far ranging list I know, but all of them deal with man’s struggle, either with religion of himself. They deal with perception, juxtaposing truth with lies, and still wind up being very entertaining books despite all the heavy stuff. That’s my goal. I want to write books that mean something but are also entertaining.
8. Tell us a little about your book.
My Father Didn’t Kill Himself is about a girl whose father commits suicide and she sets out to prove it’s a murder. Or at least that’s the plot.
Most people hear that and think it’s going to be a whodunit. While there is some of that, really it’s about a girl and her family who deal with the grief of losing somebody they love.
It’s told all in blog posts between the main character and her best friend, so you really get a sense of the struggle the girls are going through. It’s a deep dive into death, with a murder mystery thrown in for good measure.
9. What advice do you have for new and aspiring authors?
You suck now. If that’s hard to hear I promise it’s going to get worse before it gets better. You are not a good writer, in the professional sense. If you can’t get published it’s not the editor’s problem, it’s your problem.
The good news is that anybody can get better with practice. Anybody. And everybody was once in your shoes. Everybody.
All that separates you from the masters is practice. Now, how much practice you need is different for everybody. Whether you endure the struggle is another matter. I needed more practice than most to get where I am today, but I got there.
You can get there too, but you have to work at it.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
I have another book coming out in June called Spaceship Broken: Needs Repairs. It’s about a kid who finds a homeless alien and helps rebuild her spaceship. Or at least that’s the plot.
Really it’s about my very complicated relationship with my grandfather as a boy. It’s about abuse, psychosis, and how we get over trauma. It’s a fiction book though, so none of this actually happened to me. This was the hardest book I ever wrote.
Top 5 favorite (pick one) desserts, movies, things to eat, ice cream flavors, books.
1.       Steak
2.       Hamburgers
3.       Rice Pudding
4.       Vanilla Ice Cream
5.       Tacos
Or at least that’s what it is at this moment. Maybe next week it will change.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Queen of Likes


Queen of Likes
by Hillary Homzie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: middle grade/tween

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Like everyone at Merton Middle School, Karma Cooper’s smartphone is almost another body part. She’s obsessed with her LIKES on Snappypic. When her parents shut down her social media account and take away her smartphone, Karma’s whole world crumbles. She has to figure out what she actually likes and how to live life fully unplugged. This book will jumpstart conversations about how social media is changing the ways tweens are growing up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Excerpt Two:

“So we’re come up with a new punishment,” says Dad. “Something that will get your attention.”

Dad looks at Mom and Mom looks at Dad and I can tell that they are a united front against me. “We’re going to close your Snappypic account,” states Dad.

 “What?” My stomach dips as if I’ve just dropped from highest part of a roller coaster. I want to flop against the nearest car in the parking lot. “You can’t do that. It’s my account. It’s private. You can’t.” Every day, I get smiley faces and hearts and balloons and LIKES. All of the time. Waking up and not being able to se what my followers are up to? Being totally cut off like that? My parents might as well send me to Antarctica because I’m going to be frozen out of everything. “This must be some kind of hallucination,” I say. “The parents I know would never do this to me!”

“Karma, I’m sorry,” says Mom. “But I think you are over-reacting. You knew the rules.”

“Please.” I clasp my hands together. “Please, please. Please. I’ll do anything. I’ll babysit Toby as much as you want. I’ll clean the house every single day. I’ll make dinner I’ll—”

“It’s a final decision,” says Dad.

“But I’m like… a professional. I have more followers than some companies.”

“Exactly our point, Karma,” says Mom. “You’re not a company. You’re our daughter and still a kid. And I don’t really love this obsession of yours.”

The parking lot is practically spinning. “You just don’t want me to grow up!”
 I fling up my arms. “Please,” I beg. “Don’t do this.”



   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Hillary is the author of the tween novel, THE HOT LIST (Simon & Schuster/M!X) which Booklist says “captures the angst of young teen friendships and fragile identities.” She’s also the author of the middle grade novel, THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY (Simon & Schuster/M!X), a Justice Book-of-the-Month, which was just optioned by Priority Pictures, and the forthcoming  QUEEN OF LIKES (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X, April 2016), which is about social media, as well as the humorous chapter book series, ALIEN CLONES FROM OUTER SPACE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), a Children's Book-of-the-Month Best Books for Children. Emmy-nominated Suppertime Entertainment developed the books to become an animated television series and it was sold to ABC Australia. Hillary’s young adult fiction has been published in TEEN MAGAZINE and anthologized (MUDDVILLE DIARIES, Avon Books). She has sold non-fiction and fiction projects to Klutz Press/Scholastic Books, The Learning Company and John Muir Books. With her frequent writing partner, Steven Arvanites, she has had film projects developed by Brooklyn Weaver’s Energy Entertainment. Hillary got her start performing and writing sketch comedy Off-Broadway, and was a Heideman Playwrighting Award Finalist. Hillary holds a master's degree in education from Temple University and a master’s of arts degree from Hollins University in children's literature and writing. Currently, she’s a visiting professor of children’s literature and writing at Hollins University. Visit her on the web at www.hillaryhomzie.com and follow her on

Twitter @HillaryHomzie and visit her on

Facebook at

Queen of Likes buy Links:




~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Hillary Homzie will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Changing Season



Brief Synopsis: 
This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy—his canine best buddy—going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck. And it was before Vicki. This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple. 

An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, The Changing Season is an experience to savor—with special appeal to dog lover’s. 

Author Bio:   
Steven Manchester is the author of four #1 bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island. His long-anticipated novel, The Changing Season, is currently available for pre-order. Steve is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette) and The Thursday Night Club (novella), while his work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series and he is the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. 
Visit: www.StevenManchester.com 
http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorStevenManchester 

Links to All Online Retailers (for print and eBook versions)http://thestoryplant.com/our-authors/steve-manchester/the-changing-season-by-steven-manchester/ 


The Changing Season excerpt


The beach was nearly deserted. After erecting their tent and establishing a cozy campsite, Jimmy trotted to the water. As Billy looked on, the silver-faced mutt walked in slowly—like an old man easing himself into a warm bath—the reckless abandon he’d once been known for completely gone.
Jimmy swam for a bit before sitting in the shallows with the water line at his chest.
Billy waded in and took a seat beside him where they sat for a long while, looking out onto the horizon. While the tide gently lapped at their chests, Billy wrapped his arm around Jimmy’s shoulder. “This is the life,” he whispered.
A seagull landed on the sand a few feet from them. Jimmy just sat there, watching the squawking bird with mild interest. “You must be tired, Jimmy. Back in the day, you would have chased that vulture until you collapsed.”
Jimmy stood and took chase, but it was a haphazard effort.
“Half-stepper,” Billy teased the dog and stood to go for a walk and dry off.
As they strolled along the coastline, Jimmy shook the salt water from his coat. He also took breaks, long breaks, acting like he was exploring.
“I know you’re stalling,” Billy told him, “and it’s okay.” At least your spirit’s still willing, Billy thought, getting choked up.
When Jimmy slowed even more, Billy headed for the campsite. The sea grasses had lost their summer hue and were now brittle, snapping in half as Billy and Jimmy walked through the abandoned dunes.
They reached camp and sat together again where Billy discovered that the pads on Jimmy’s paws were dry and cracked. One was even bleeding, which Jimmy licked for some time. Billy pulled the big moose into his lap. “Too many miles on those old tires, huh?” he whispered, before noticing the patch of missing fur on the mutt’s hind quarter—a souvenir from a vicious fight he’d won in his glory days. A mean stray had swaggered into the backyard looking for trouble. Unwilling to let it go, Jimmy gave the growling stranger all the trouble he could handle. That one battle scar had been rubbed and patted thousands of times throughout the years, the family being forever grateful for Jimmy’s sacrificial love and fearless devotion. As they sat side-by-side, Billy rubbed it again.
Resting his head in Billy’s lap, Jimmy’s eyes squinted while he enjoyed the heavy scratching.
Billy worked his hand up the old dog’s body, stroking Jimmy’s head and kneading the scruff of his neck. “I love you, buddy,” he said. “You know that, right?”
Jimmy licked Billy’s hand.
“And I need to go away pretty soon…to college.”
Jimmy licked him again.
“The last thing in the world I want is to leave you, but I…” Billy stopped from going any further. A wave of tears was waiting to break on the shore just behind his eyes.
As though Jimmy understood, he nestled deeper into Billy’s lap and began giving Billy’s hand a thorough bath.
With his free hand, Billy rubbed Jimmy’s chest up and down—fast and hard—exactly the way the old mutt liked it. As he did, he looked up and noticed a bank of even darker clouds had gathered above. “Looks like rain,” he told Jimmy. “Hopefully, there’s no thunder.”
They napped in the tent, Jimmy appearing much less worried about his nails on the air mattress than Billy. They curled up together, the rain pitter-pattering on the light canvas above. “It’s just a shower,” Billy told him. As good a guess as any meteorologist would make, Billy thought, though it doesn’t matter either way. As they began to nod off in each other’s arms, Jimmy snored peacefully. Billy stared at his best friend’s face, studying every nook and cranny—memorizing every crease and line. But it was silly. He knew Jimmy’s face better than his own. And I’m going to miss it something awful, he thought, swallowing back the lump in his throat. While the rain picked up and began thumping on the tent’s roof, Billy closed his eyes.

When they awoke from their afternoon siesta, Jimmy stood on the wobbly air mattress and yipped in pain. Once the sound of playful banter, Billy knew it was from pain now. “You okay?” he asked, massaging the dog’s haunches and working out the knots as he’d watched Arlene do many times. “Feel better now?” he asked, stopping.
Jimmy reached up with his right paw and scratched Billy’s hand, gesturing that he continue.
After a few more minutes, Billy stopped again. “Better?” he asked.
Jimmy licked Billy’s face once before slowly stepping off the jelly-like mattress.
Billy hurried to throw two baby aspirin into a glob of peanut butter and fed it to the mutt.
When they came out of hibernation, the air was cool and fresh. The trees glistened from the rain. Billy looked up. The clouds had dispersed, leaving behind the last of the day’s light.
The sunset was a palate of coral pinks and greens, with swirls of purple brushed in. The light softened—like the ambiance of an expensive romantic dinner, before fading into the distance and becoming twilight. There was a giant pause, as if the world collectively exhaled after filing another day into the history books. Billy and Jimmy sat together on a sturdy fold-out chair, silently sharing the magic. Billy took a deep breath and sighed.
Jimmy did the same.
Billy laughed. “Copycat,” he whispered.
The beach had always been the place where Jimmy was free to romp and roam—to explore. And each year he did just that. But not this year. Jimmy nuzzled into Billy’s lap again, where he awaited the attention Billy had always showered on him.
“You’re a good boy,” Billy whispered, as he scratched the gentle canine under his chin. He shook his head. “Although you haven’t been a boy for a long time.”
In what seemed like minutes, a million flickering stars covered the dark sky. Billy and Jimmy got up to take another stroll. They walked a few feet when they happened upon a giant puddle. Moonlight was trapped in the puddle, along with Billy and Jimmy’s reflections—the two of them standing knee to shoulder. While Billy smiled, Jimmy bent at the water’s edge and began to drink, sending ripples through the portrait. “Don’t drink that, Jimmy,” Billy scolded him. “You have fresh water back in the tent.”
Jimmy paid him no mind and kept lapping loudly, slobbering all over himself and depositing an equal amount of back wash.
Billy shook his head. “Whatever, it’s your stomach.”
They made it down to the water’s edge again and stood together in the silence for a long, long while. It was as though neither of them wanted the night to end, as though both of them needed more time together. Billy closed his eyes and listened to the tide. The ebb and flow was constant but random, like surround sound lapping the shore on the left, right and center.

The night grew cold, real cold for the time of year. Billy was surprised he and Jimmy couldn’t see their breath. The drop in temperature was significant, reminding Billy once again that summer was quickly coming to an end. It was a cold slap to the face—literally. I’m moving away in just a week, he thought. One week! He looked down at Jimmy, glad that his furry friend had no concept or fear of time.
Billy built a campfire, which wasn’t easy considering that everything was still damp from the rain shower. But sitting by a campfire had always been his and Jimmy’s thing, the perfect atmosphere to spend quality time together, so he worked hard to get the fire going.
They sat together in silence for a long time, hypnotized by the swaying flames and the rhythm of the rolling tide. When it was time to turn in for the night, Jimmy licked his paw, running it across his face for the day’s final bath. They both stood and stretched, leaving behind a handful of glowing embers and heading for the tent.
Kneeling beside the air mattress, Billy said his prayers. As he crawled in beside Jimmy, he left on the battery-operated lantern for his timid, four-legged friend, knowing that two D cell batteries would be killed in the process.
While Jimmy snored, Billy watched as their silhouettes moved randomly on the ceiling of the tent. He locked onto them, hypnotized by the shadows dancing above. His eyes grew heavy and he yawned. Within seconds, the shadows grew smaller until they disappeared.

Billy watched Jimmy—as a puppy—crying because the bedspread was covering his eyes. Jimmy’s claustrophobic, he realized. “It’s play time,” he told the dog, tricking Jimmy into thinking they were going to horse around. The garden hose and bottle of dog shampoo, however, made the smart dog whimper. Billy laughed. When he looked back, Jimmy was stretched out flat on his belly, all four legs pin straight like he’d been strapped to the torturer’s rack. Billy did a double-take and Jimmy was wearing the cone of shame so he didn’t bite at his stitches after being neutered. Poor guy, Billy thought, and then yelled at the dog after he’d torn a pillow to shreds. In the next scene, an older Jimmy chomped on ice cubes, spraying them everywhere like a broken snow cone machine. And then they were fishing, both of them young again. Jimmy whined as he watched the small perch swim in circles in the bucket. He placed his paw on the lip of the pail, pulling it to him and dumping the flopping fish into the grass—in some sad attempt at freeing the prisoners. Billy laughed again and a moment later, he was watching on in horror as Sophie dressed the poor dog in some ridiculous outfit for one of her lively tea parties. Sophie played with Jimmy’s ears, his paws, his tail; the mutt just lay there, as if he understood it was the price he had to pay for free meals. Jimmy’s the ultimate pilot fish. Billy shook his head, while a water sprinkler soaked the summer grass and Jimmy exhibited another example of his terrible drinking habits. Billy could see himself falling out the tree in the backyard and grabbing his arm; the pain was mind numbing. While he healed, Jimmy never left his side. Billy then looked down to find that his cast was gone. He looked up again and Jimmy was smiling at him, his teeth covered in tartar build-up. “Have you been kissing a skunk?” he teased the dog. “You have a bad case of gingivitis, buddy…or is it halitosis?” Billy passed the groomer’s window and noticed that he’d grown tall. Jimmy was beyond ecstatic to see him; his nails had been clipped, his fur trimmed but his eyes were as wide as two chocolate pies. “What did she do to you, boy?” Billy teased the frightened dog.

Billy awoke, panting like a dog himself. He looked over at his tent mate, who was still snoring peacefully on the air mattress. “Oh Jimmy,” he muttered and wrapped his arm around the drooling heap.
Billy shook the cobwebs from his head and tried to make sense of it all. It was just a dream, he realized. Fragmented and confused in time and context, he’d dreamed about Jimmy. There were glimpses of the past and present merged together, as though Jimmy’s life had been thrown into a blender and Billy was enjoying each experience with him a second time. He pushed himself closer to Jimmy until he could feel the rise and fall of the dog’s breathing. “I love you so much, buddy,” he whispered, before falling back to sleep.