#NewRelease – Under Wrapped by Charmaine R. Parker

Charmaine R. Parker just released her latest book – Under Wrapped – a sequel to her book The Next Phase of Life.

Book Blurb

underwrapTai, Nevada, and Candace—who cherish their sisterly bond of exotic vacations, ladies nights, and unbreakable camaraderie—reunite in this dramatic sequel to The Next Phase of Life.

A savvy entrepreneur and happily married woman, Tai Wilson’s life couldn’t be more complete. But just when she’s getting comfortable in her new lifestyle, she starts to suspect that someone is stalking her, attempting to make her world miserable. Or is her mind playing tricks on her? When things go awry, Tai’s intuitive sidekick, Nevada, a successful Washington, D.C.-based detective who took down a pair of bank robbers, offers to assist. But even the seasoned sleuth is in for a shock when she discovers who the culprit is…

Meanwhile, fashionista Candace has been enjoying her boyfriend and patiently waiting for that permanent diamond on her finger. Once the ultimate pursuer of adventurous men, she was swept away by Don, a pilot who took her all over the world. But despite these pleasurable heights, she becomes disenchanted. Something is amiss and she can’t figure out what’s keeping him single. So like with Tai, Nevada’s efforts lead to the ultimate truth.

It’s another phase of life for Tai, Nevada, and Candace, and a lot of questions are up in the air: Who’s trying to ruin Tai’s life? How will Nevada track down the elusive stalker? And will Candace’s dreams of married life ever come true? Add to the mix Tai’s younger sister, Trista, who has her own complicated relationships to sort out, and life for these three girlfriends is Under Wrapped.

About the Author

Charmaine R. Parker is the author of The Next Phase of Life, The Trophy Wives and Under Wrapped. She is a former journalist who has worked as a reporter, copy editor, and managing editor. The publishing director for Strebor Books, she is the sister of New York Times bestselling author Zane. She received a bachelor’s of fine arts from Howard University and a master’s in print journalism from the University of Southern California. Born in N.C. and raised in Washington, D.C., she started writing stories, poetry and skits during early childhood. She lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter.

You can follow Charmaine on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Under Wrapped on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Leaving the kids home alone

Last week, I wrote about letting my son (age 9) walk home by himself and how so many people seemed astonished by that. So I guess, I shouldn’t mention to those same folks that I have let him stay at the house without adult supervision.

I don’t recall when we started letting Jase stay home by himself. It started with me needing to run down to the storage locker at the pool. I was gone less than 5 minutes. Jase did fine.

And from there it was putting signs out at the neighborhood entrances or picking up Domino’s pizza, which is just a 2-minute drive from the house. All short stints and no problems.

CIMG3609As I said in my post about letting Jase walk home, he is a responsible boy. We have gone over all the rules – don’t open the door for anyone, don’t answer the phone unless it is Mom or Dad (we have caller ID), in case of a fire get out of the house, and if there is an emergency, call us or 911. And yes, we had to go over what constitutes an emergency.

Now there is no way we would be comfortable leaving him at this age by himself for a long period. I think the longest is about 30 minutes when I left to take Lexie to a birthday party. He was alone until my husband came home from work.

Texas doesn’t have an age limit as to when you can leave your child home alone. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website only states that adequate supervision is critical to keeping kids safe and that inadequate supervision can be a type of neglect. They list on the website some things to consider such as emotional maturity of the child, their ability to respond to emergencies, the ease in which they can contact another adult and how long/how often the child is left alone.

We don’t do this often. And this is something we feel safe doing with Jase. As for Lexie, she has stayed with Jase on those short jaunts to the pool or Dominos. But we would never leave her by herself. (She is just 6.) She is not ready for it. However, she is fine with her older brother for 5 minutes without us watching over her.

I think when parents are trying to decide when to leave their kids home alone or even walk home alone they need to consider that child. It shouldn’t necessarily be determined by age. It is what that child can handle. It also depends on the living situation. Do you live in a safe place for a child to be unattended? Would I feel as safe letting Jase walk alone in a rougher neighborhood? I don’t know. But for us, in our situation of living in a safe, family-friendly environment, I feel safe letting him walk by himself, play out front without constant supervision and yes, even stay home for short periods of time.

Today’s Featured Author: Susan Leigh Noble

Yes – today I am the featured author on my own blog. So welcome to me! Actually I had an author reschedule at the last moment so I thought it was a good time to put another excerpt out from my new release The Heir to Alexandria.

Excerpt

Grayson returned to the cabin, circling it until he came to the open window. He peered in. A tall thin man stood before a woman lying on a cot. Her red hair was spread out over the grey blanket. It took him a moment to realize the woman was Alista. The man bent over her. Grayson couldn’t see what he was doing. He didn’t wait to find out. He ran to the front door as he drew his sword. The door wouldn’t budge. He kicked it, causing it to fly open.

The man swung around. “Who are you?”

“Step away from her.”

Grayson entered. He noted the bottles lining the tables and assumed he had found Thorin. The man stepped away from the bed with his eyes on Grayson’s sword. They circled each other. When he got close to the cot, Grayson glanced down. Relief washed over him when he saw Alista breathing.

“What did you do to her?”

“I don’t understand. Who are you?” Thorin stepped back, bumping against the table.

“She came for the Astraglan extract. Where is it?”

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a red vial. He thrust it toward Grayson. “Take it.”

As he reached for the bottle, Thorin swung a knife at Grayson. He barely had time to twist away. As he did so, he ripped the bottle from the man’s hand. He kicked out, sending Thorin tumbling backward.

“Get out! Take it and get out,” Thorin shouted as he got up. “The girl stays here.”

Thorin rushed toward him, jumping away as Grayson swung his sword. He grabbed a box, flinging its powder at Grayson. The yellow dust burned his eyes. He rubbed them with one hand as he swung his sword blindly. He could hear Thorin moving. Then he saw a blurred image coming toward him an instant before the man rammed into him. He fell backwards, hitting the ground hard. His sword fell, sliding across the floor. Thorin punched him in the face.

“You will not take her!”

Grayson blinked, trying to clear his vision. Thorin grabbed his shirt and pulled Grayson toward the door. Grayson grabbed one of the table legs as he gripped Thorin’s hand that held his shirt. He twisted it. Thorin yelled, releasing his hold on Grayson. From the floor, he kicked upward, striking the man in the stomach. Thorin fell to the ground as Grayson scrambled to his feet. He snatched a cup from the table, flinging the contents onto the still form of Alista. She moved, muttering as she struggled to open her eyes.

“What did you give her?” he asked as he advanced on Thorin.

The man scrambled backwards. Grayson grabbed his shirt and pulled him to his feet. He rammed him into the wall beside the door, pressing his forearm into Thorin’s chest.

“Answer me!”

Thorin stared at him. Grayson smashed him into the wall again.

“It…it is something to relax her.” Thorin glanced at the cot. “The first dose always knocks them out.” He smirked. “But if taken often, it makes them compliant.”

Grayson slammed him into the wall again. Thorin’s head cracked loudly against it. The man drooped and Grayson let go, allowing him to slide to the floor. He swung around. Alista was sitting at the edge of the cot, swaying slightly. He grabbed her arm and pulled her into a standing position. She looked at him with a bemused expression on her face.

“Come on.”

He led her to the door, pausing only to pick up his sword. Alista stumbled slightly. He thought for an instant he would have to carry her. But then she righted herself and began walking with more confidence. They hurried toward the trees.

“Wait! No! Bring her back!”

“Keep going,” he said to Alista.

He didn’t wait for a response. He turned to face Thorin. The man stumbled forward, a knife in his hand.

“Grayson!”

He glanced back. Alista was on her hands and knees. She struggled to rise, clearly still dazed by the drug Thorin had given her. Grayson dashed to her side. He turned back as he heard a rustling from the nearby bushes. A large wolf entered the clearing. The creature didn’t look at him. Its eyes were on Thorin. The wolf bared its teeth, growling. Slowly, the beast advanced until it blocked Thorin’s access to them.

Grayson helped her to her feet. He ushered her into the forest. A scream broke through the air. He paused. For a moment, he was tempted to go back and see what had happened. The next scream cut off abruptly, and Grayson led Alista away.

Book Blurb

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverBelieved the descendants of the Gods themselves,

The Alexandria line ensured peace,

Until they were brutally murdered.

But rumor spread a maid escaped with the youngest daughter.

Now as the world rushes toward a period of unrest, the nations’ Kings continue their 200-year-long-search for the Heir to Alexandria – the one person who can bring peace and stability through divine power.

Alista has her own search – for the parents who abandoned her as a baby years ago. When her only lead proves to be a dead end, she heads to the capital with a reluctant escort. Grayson is just following his aunt’s order, but he would rather be on one of his solitary scouting missions for the Landra Guard. However, when Alista unintentionally curses a guard in front of the King’s court, everything changes for both of them.

Now forced to travel to Covington for testing, danger lurks at every turn as a secret society strives to prevent the return of the Alexandria line. Are Alista’s visions of the future enough to save herself and those traveling with her?

You can purchase The Heir to Alexandria on Amazon.

 

Do authors also need to be readers?

Every author that has a blog seems to write of the need for authors to be avid readers so here is my turn.

books uid 1269725Yes, authors should be readers. But I believe all people (not just authors) should be readers – and by read I mean anything – novels, news articles, non-fiction books, blogs, comic books, you name it.

There is a lot authors can learn from reading: learning what has been done before, figuring out what works or doesn’t work, gaining an understanding of the language, to broaden our world, expand on ideas and to get us to think about issues. It gives us new viewpoints and different techniques for telling a story. And it can fire your imagination.

Now I don’t read as much as I would like. In my fantasy world, I could spend all day lying in bed reading. But I have to live in the real world, and there are things to be done. I am the type of reader who authors love. Once I pick up a book, I typically don’t want to put it down. I want to block out doing all other things such as cleaning up the house to working on my own novel. So when I am writing, I spend less time reading fiction.

But that doesn’t stop me from reading the newspaper daily or checking out other blogs as I work on my own. And then there is the research I do for my writing as I delve into making my worlds realistic.

But when authors typically post that authors should be readers, they usually mean fiction readers. There are countless lists of books that “every author should read.” Have I perused any of them? Nope. But I imagine that many of them list great literary works. And while I am sure those books may be good or inspiring, just because something is a classic, doesn’t mean I want to read it. I have read some of them and quite simply these would not be the books I choose to read at the end of a long day.

Everyone has their own tastes when it comes to reading. And for me, when I have time to read fiction, I am reading for the pleasure of reading. I read to get lost in the story.

That is how I write too. I write the types of stories I would like to read. There is no symbolism or greater meaning to them. I don’t write them hoping readers walk away learning a lesson. I write so they can enjoy a good story.

So should new authors read or write? It is a toss-up. You learn a lot from reading, but you can learn a lot by writing too. In a perfect world you would have time for both.

I will leave you with the words of William Faulkner. “Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”

Preparing to take the #AtoZchallenge

Last year was my first time taking part of the A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed it so much, I signed up to do it this April.

For those of you who haven’t heard about it, the A to Z challenge is where bloggers post every day in April (except Sundays). Since there were 26 open days, they are matched with the letters of the alphabet. So on the first day you choose a topic that begins with A, the next day B and so on.

Now they suggest you come up with a theme to help you get through the challenge but I didn’t do that last year. I already post 4 out of the 7 days of the week.

Monday – Parenting

Wednesday – Quote of the Week (First Wednesday also has the recipe of the month)

Thursday – Writing or Publishing

Friday – Featured Author

So except for my Friday featured author spot, I plan to follow the challenge in my weekly writings assignments. On Fridays, I will just have two posts since I can’t expect them to take part in the challenge. As for Tuesdays, Saturdays and the second post on Fridays, I think I will choose a theme for those days. The theme will be TV shows.

Those of you who want to know more about the challenge or to sign up, click here. And you can look for my A to Z challenge posts beginning April 1st.

Letting my kid walk home alone

Every day, I walk my kids (ages 9 and 6) to and from school. As we walk, we typically meet up with other kids and adults. If people in our neighborhood aren’t walking their kids, they are dropping them off on their way to work. You rarely see a kid walking alone to the elementary school.

On the way home, we sometimes see groups of kids walking home together with no adult supervision. There is even a group of girls who walk home the same way we do. The youngest is in kindergarten. The oldest is in fifth grade.

There have been many news stories lately about people getting in trouble for allowing their kids to do things on their own. In one instance, parents got in trouble for allowing their kids to walk to the neighborhood park unsupervised.

Now the article raised all sorts of questions for me. I don’t think you can decide without knowing all the facts whether it was a wise decision for those parents. How far away was the park? Was it down the street? Five streets over? A good 15-minute walk away? What type of neighborhood do they live in? How mature are the kids? Are they responsible? Do they know what to do in an emergency?

In this case, the kids were 6 and 10, and they walked 1 mile to the park. The comments on the story were mostly about how everyone ran around unsupervised when they were children and that it was no big deal then so it should be no big deal that these kids were unsupervised.

This article had had me wondering if I would allow my kids to do the same thing. Well, first of all, we don’t have a neighborhood park close enough so it is a moot consideration. But our neighborhood pool is close. Now suppose there was a playground there. Would I let them walk by themselves? Yes, I think I would. It is in our neighborhood. They wouldn’t be crossing any major streets, and they would be together. At this age, I would certainly let them do it. However, if the park was further away, then probably not.

My friend Heather posted on Facebook about this article. She said that while in Germany, her daughter at age 6 was taking the bus by herself. Again, most of the responses were about parents being too protective. I think you have to do what you feel comfortable with. Looking at my own 6-year-old, I don’t think she is ready to ride a city bus by herself. The school bus would be no problem.

walk homeIn January, Jase brought home a permission slip for him to attend a program after school for an hour for some additional reading help. On the slip, it asked how he was to go home afterwards. He could go to the after school program (KINS), be picked up by an adult, or he could walk home. Jase was all for walking home by himself.

I mentally ran through a list in my head. He is a responsible, rule-following type kid (check). We live in a safe neighborhood. (check) School is only a 5-minute walk away, and he would only travel through our neighborhood streets (with only one big neighborhood street to cross). (check) He knows all about stranger danger and wouldn’t be lured into anyone’s vehicle. (check) And he is 9 years old, certainly old enough for some independence. (check)

So after discussing it with my husband, we decide to give it a try. If he didn’t like it, then I could always tell the school that I would pick him up instead. I talked to him about which way he was walking home (we have two options – one through our neighborhood and one down some busier streets going around the neighborhood) I told him if he wasn’t home within 15 minutes of release time, I would be coming to find him.

When I told several people that I was letting him walk home alone, most of them seemed surprised. They all asked me if I was okay with that. One even asked me if Jase was okay with that. I am not sure why letting my 9-year-old (he will be 10 in May) walk alone seems so odd. Even my in-laws seemed surprised when I said I was letting him walk home alone.

I have every confidence that he can handle it. And he has been for the past three weeks. And I haven’t worried about him one bit. Next thing I know, he won’t want me to walk him to or from school on the other days.