Friday, March 17, 2023

Ashleigh's Losing Sleep

This Week's Newsletter
YA Romance Whodunit
Ashleigh's YA Reads           Ashleigh's Romance Reads          Ashleigh's Whodunits

This week's newsletter contains the following features:
(Feel free to skip ahead to what you want to read)

What's new with Ashleigh?

Have you ever been so excited you couldn't sleep? You just spend your night—sometimes several in a row—lying in bed thinking about an upcoming event? Maybe you're going on vacation. Or maybe you're buying a new car.

Or maybe you're releasing a new book!

That's right! I can't sleep because I am so excited about PS: It was Murder.

             PS: It Was Murder

PS: It Was Murder

She wanted to learn how her best friend died.
Falling for the grieving brother wasn't part of the plan.

Penpals since the age of 11, Katie and Lisa have been best friends more than half their lives. So when Katie learns that Lisa has died falling off the lighthouse cliffs, she naturally drops everything to pay her final respects. That's when she meets Lisa's grieving brother.

Over the past decade, Jeff has lost both parents and his sister. Now he just wants to move on. His family home contains too many painful reminders of what he's lost. He can't wait to sell it and get out of town.

But Katie isn't ready to let go. Lisa loved the lighthouse cliffs and knew when they were unsafe. The more Katie thinks about it, the more she can't help wondering if Lisa's death wasn't an accident and perhaps the answers lie in Lisa's unfinished novel. Even Jeff agrees that an accident seems unlikely.

Someone, however, wants them to let Lisa rest in peace. But intimidating death threats only encourage Katie and bring closer to each other as they race to discover the truth about Lisa's death before they become the next victims.

Now, I want to share my excitement by having a party. I'll bring the games and prizes. You bring the snacks.

So, mark your calendar. Or RSVP and I'll send you a reminder email before we start. Hope to see you there!

PS: It Was Murder Launch Party

Where: Your computer

Date: Sunday, March 26th

Time: 10:00 pm EDT

RSVP: Click here to RSVP


Believe it or not, the book launch is not the only thing keeping me awake. I'm attending an author signing event this summer and I'm already getting ready for it.


RomantiConn 2023
July 8
Trumbull, CT
Tickets Now Available

Already attending?
Book pre-order forms are available here.
I can't wait to see you!

Choose Your Own Path Story

I was so excited with last week's enthusiasm for this new feature. In fact, your response inspired me to lengthen each scene and post the game on Reddit.

Now, as promised, I will only be posting the new scene. However, because I added a lot of details, you may want to re-read the last scene.

The Detention Adventure

Intrigued, you turn over the books. Their fabric hardcovers have no illustrations. The only difference between the two books is their color and the gold words stamped on the front cover.

The title of one of them catches your attention. Which is it?

  • The book on your left, a contemporary adventure about camping.
  • The book on your right, a fantasy about dragons and elves.

The gold lettering on the black book in your right hand stands out clearly. Adventures In the Land of Dragons and Elves. Curious, you open the front cover.

The title is printed in large bold letters on the first page. But no author is listed. Instead, someone has scrawled across the page in large letters: Not For Reading!

You frown at the book. That’s stupid. Why would someone write a book that wasn’t meant to be read? Or maybe the person who scribbled the note didn’t want to read it.

But why not? What could be so bad? Reading the warning just makes you want to read the book that much more.

You turn the page.

But, it doesn’t turn. It’s stuck to the next page. And the one beneath that. You end up turning about fifty pages at once. They are glued together.

Wow! Someone really doesn’t want you to read this book. Now, of course, you can’t wait to read it.

You look at the page in front of you. You might be a couple of chapters in, but maybe you can still get an idea of what the story is about.

Except, it’s impossible to read the story. Not only are the rest of the pages glued together, someone cut out a large rectangle nearly the size of the book.

This is a hollow book! You’ve heard about these in books and movies. But you never knew they were real. This is so cool.

And the best part? It’s not empty. There’s something inside the hole.

You glance over your shoulder to make sure Evil Librarian isn’t watching you. She’s not. You’re all alone in the creepy windowless section of the library. Using the flashlight on your phone, you look at the object more carefully.

The yellowish white object takes up nearly the entire book. It is thick, almost round, but with a slight curve. The outer edge is smooth, but the inner edge is serrated like the blade of a saw. The points even look as sharp as a saw. Only, the teeth are very small and close together.

Teeth. Or rather, tooth. Could this object be a tooth? But what animal do you know has teeth that large? Or with a serrated edge?

You have never seen anything like this. You have so many questions. How heavy is it? Is it solid or hollow? Is it really a tooth? What kind of animal could have lost it?

You try to read through the text on the facing page, but you are literally trying to start reading a book from the middle. It makes no sense. Who is Olba and Keris? What is a Zayrot or Reiverrirth? And where were Zymmarth or Bryvicri?

Trying to read this book was like trying to learn a new language. Now you really wish those pages weren’t glued together. With a sigh, you turn back to the tooth. It’s got to be a tooth. What else could it be?

The front of the book said this is a book about dragons. This thing is probably supposed to be a dragon’s tooth. Obviously, it’s not a real dragon’s tooth, because there’s no such thing as dragons. It must be epoxy or something. So, it’s probably a lot flimsier than it looks.

Someone has bored a hole through the top of the object, wrapping a black cord around and through it to form a type of necklace. Yeah, it has to be fake.

You reach in to grab it, to confirm your suspicions, but you stop abruptly. Your gaze has landed on the words printed at the top of the page. The name of the book is printed in a small font. But someone has written something in the margin. Judging by the handwriting, it was probably the same person who wrote on the first page. But you could have sworn those words were not there a moment ago.

You shake your head to clear it. Obviously, your eyes are playing tricks on you. What does it say? You hold your phone a little closer.

Warning. Magical Item. Do Not Touch.

Biting your lip, you look around. How could a fake dragon tooth’s necklace be magical?

Maybe it changes color in the light? You shine your light closer, but it remains the same. Maybe it’s a little less yellow, but you don’t think it really changed color.

You glance between the warning and the necklace a few times.

Should you pick up the necklace?

Late For Work

As you pull out of your parking space, you hear someone blasting a horn. Slamming the breaks, you check your mirrors. You almost backed into a black sports car. Your eyes go wide as you recognize the driver. Who is it?

  • Hot Guy Mike
  • Your boss

It’s Hot Guy Mike!

Hurriedly, you pull forward to let the car pass. He didn’t see you, right? Or at least, if he did, he didn’t recognize you as the person who spill coffee everywhere. You can only hope.

Sinking low in your seat, you do your best to peek in your rearview mirror, but you don’t see the black car. You check your side mirrors. Nope. No car.

Sipping your coffee, you breathe a mental sigh of relief.

Until you check the clock on the dash. It reads 8:51. You have nine minutes to get to work. You are meeting with a new client first thing and you would like an extra few minutes to prepare. The Yeager account could make or break you. If you do well with this project, you could get a promotion. If you don’t, well, you’re pretty sure you’re already on the company chopping block. Or at least in line for it.

Sitting upright, you check your mirrors again. No cars. After shifting the car into reverse, you back out of the space a little more slowly than you did before. This time, at least, you don’t come close to hitting anyone as you join the line of cars trying to leave the parking lot.

Ugh. Is that person in front seriously trying to make a left-hand turn? On this road? There’s a right-turn-only sign for a reason!

Drumming your fingers against the wheel with one hand, you sip your coffee and glance at the clock. Eight minutes.

Eventually, the moron blocking traffic makes the left and you are able to fight your way onto the main road. Only to hit every red light between here and your office. You wait the best way you know how: sipping your latte and hoping your boss is stuck in the same traffic. Or even better: the client.

When you finally reach the office, it is well past nine o’clock. Pulling into the first spot you can find, you down the rest of your coffee as you shut the door.

You wave to the receptionist as you enter the building, but you don’t have time to chat. Walking briskly, you make a beeline to the back corner of the room. You wave to your coworkers, quickly realizing you are the last one to arrive.

You turn on your computer as you sit, swiveling to search for the folder containing all your notes for this morning’s meeting. And come face to face with your boss.

How long has she been standing there?

You gulp, sending her a sheepish smile. “Oh. Morning. I didn’t see you there.”

Smiling, Karen waves a dismissive hand. “No worries. Just got in. Traffic this morning was horrendous.”

You nod. Does she know you were late? Is she mad?

She doesn’t seem to be. She gestures to the folder in your hands. “Mr. Yeager’s here. Meet us in the conference room?”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Great. See you in there.”

As she disappears into the cubicle forest, you take a few deep breaths. You can do this. You will land this account.

Confident that you are are confident as you can get, you grab your folder and head to the conference room. On your way, you detour to the kitchen. One more cup of coffee will help calm your nerves.

As you approach the conference room, you can see Karen approaching with your new client. Two clients, you realize. Why are there two? You were only expecting to meet with one person.

While researching your new client, you visited the company’s website. The man walking beside Karen is definitely Dr. Yeager. But who is the person behind them? Dr. Yeager is so tall, he is completely obscuring your view.

Since you arrive at the conference room only moments before them, you wait for them, smiling as they approach.

Karen gestures to you, introducing you as the junior accountant who will be assisting her before turning to you. “This is Dr. Yeager, and his son, also Dr. Yeager.”

The older man thrusts out a hand. “Nice to meet you. I look forward to working with you.”

“And I, you.” Smiling, you shake his hand, surprised at his firm grip.

Karen holds open the door to the conference room. “Shall we?”

The older doctor laughs. “Of course. Ladies first.” He holds the door, ushering Karen inside.

And you get your first glimpse of the younger doctor. Except, it’s not your first glance. You’ve seen him before. In line behind you at the coffee shop this morning.

He smirks. “Well, well. Isn’t it a small world?”

What do you do?

A Weekend at Munson Manor

Now that you fully understand your character, it is time to get dressed. Moving aside your suitcase, you open the armoire to find several outfits. According to what you have just read, tonight’s supper is a formal affair, so you need to pick one of the fancy outfits.

Which should you put on?

  • The floor-length gown
  • The double-breasted suit

The taffeta gown is a gorgeous light blue with puffy short sleeves. The flattering brocade neckline is adorned with small flowers in the center. As you remove the dress from the closet, you are surprised at how lightweight it feels. And, you quickly realize, it fits you perfectly. At least now you understand why the registration had asked for all your measurements.

The silver dress shoes have a small heel, just within your comfort level. Frowning, you examine yourself in the mirror on the inside of the armoire door. Not bad. You definitely look like you belong in the 1940s.

Time to see what your host has in store for you this weekend.

You have no problem finding your way to the main hall, where the butler is standing idly. What was his name again?

He bobs his head—somewhere between a nod and a bow—when he sees you. “Dr. Poole. You are all settled in?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Excellent. The others are in their rooms. Would you like to wait in the parlor?” He gestures to a room on your left.

With a shrug, you turn into the room. Gold-framed portraits adorned rose walls with dark-red flowers adorning them. You aren’t positive, but it looks as if the walls may be covered in fabric instead of paper. Either way, they nearly match the drapes, all of which are open. White sheers filter in the last vestiges of daylight, adding to the light from the sconces on every wall and the glowing fireplace to your right.

On the far wall a cherry wood table sits between two windows. Upon it rests an assortment of glass bottles in various shapes and sizes, each filled with a different color liquid. To your right, nestled between two more windows is a hutch of the same wood. A matching chair sits beside it, its embroidered seat containing the same pattern as the walls and drapes. To your left is a large wooden panel you assume is some type of sliding pocket door. On your right, two overstuffed powder-blue couches sit on an ornate Persian rug with two matching armchairs, all facing the fire.

Without realizing it, you find yourself drifting into the room, drawn to the warmth of the fire. Unlike home, there are no electronics. No computer. No television. Not even a phone. Combined with your outfit, you truly feel as if you have stepped back in time.

Hearing voices, you turn to the doorway. You cannot see anyone, but you can definitely hear two men talking. And one of them just uttered your name. Curious, you inch closer to the door, standing against the wall so no one will see you.

“Yes, sir.” You recognize that voice. Isn’t that the butler whose name you keep forgetting? “Dr. Poole has arrived, changed, and is waiting in the parlor. Miss Lewis has yet to arrive. Everyone else is in their rooms.”

“Very well. Let’s—”

A buzzing sound interrupts the second man. Wordlessly, footsteps retreat—one set running, the other walking calmly. A moment later, you hear the front door open and a new exchange, this time between the butler and a woman. You hear him giving her much the same speech you received as he leads her up the stairs.

As you return to the fireplace, you wonder who that second man in the hall was. If he was another guest, shouldn’t he have joined you in the parlor? And how did he know everyone’s name?

Loud voices break your concentration. Two new voices, a man and a woman. You cannot hear the words. Are they arguing or just speaking in raised tones?

The butler’s voice interrupts them. “Mr. Rollins. Professor Mills. Dinner will be served shortly. If you would be so kind, the rest of the guests are gathering in the parlor.”

The man grunts something unintelligible, but the woman speaks. “Thank you, Charles.”

A moment later, the pair enter the room. The middle-aged man is tall, but seems to be having trouble fitting into his gray tweed blazer and green herringbone trousers. His maroon tie has a navy zigzag running from his neck to where it disappears behind his jacket buttons. His scuffed shoes are the same dull brown as his unkempt hair.

The slender woman behind him looks about the same age as the man. Her floor-length rose gown has a gathered bodice with thin shoulder straps and pleats beneath her waistline. Her short black hair curls tightly against her scowling face.

Neither seem to notice you. The woman huffs to the nearest armchair, sitting with her arms and legs crossed and glaring at the floor.

The man, meanwhile, goes straight to the table and examines the liquids. He lifts one, removes the top, and sniffs. With a shrug, he reaches for a rounded drinking glasses and pours three fingers of the amber liquid. After returning the bottle to the table, he steps to the nearby window.

Obviously neither of these guests wish to speak with each other. Maybe you should break the uncomfortable silence. But to whom should you talk first?

Ashleigh's Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge Progress

Don't forget to update your progress!
If you haven't joined us yet,
it's never too late!

Hartfield Chronicles

Hartford Chronicles

Season 5 of Hartfield Chronicles is here!

Melinda loves Pat, but sometimes she wishes he had friends of his own. When he starts spending time with her dance partner, however, Melinda can't help the feelings of jealousy that surface, especially when he starts choosing him over her. Will their relationship survive Pat's new bromance?

Hartfield Chronicles follows the lives of Melinda, Pat, and their friends as they navigate their way through boarding school life. Each episode features two stories, one from Melinda's point of view and one from Pat's, along with an excerpt from Melinda's writing journal. New episodes are published every Friday.

Here's what you missed:

Episode 120
Hartford Chronicles
Episode 121
Hartford Chronicles
A new classmate joins Melinda’s study group while Pat trains a new partner for DMH. Melinda and Pat place bets on how long Sarah and Larry will remain apart. Who wins?

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when the next episode is released?

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As a thank you, you will receive access to bonus chapters from the Hartfield Chronicles.

Announcing the New Hammerhead Club

Hammerhead Club

Membership benefits:

  • Read new episodes 4 weeks in advance
  • Receive new episodes directly in your inbox
  • Access to new bonus chapters every season
  • Each month you are a member, $1 is added to your club credit. This credit can be used to purchase e-books and signed paperbacks at the Ashleigh Stevens Bookstore. Credits never expire.

Free Books

      Snow Kissed

Snow Kissed
The Immortal Grimm Brothers' Guide to Sociopathic Princesses

You've never seen Snow White like this before!

Eighteen-year-old Calla Benson is like any other normal teenage girl. She has a secret crush on her best friend, likes music and movies, works hard to make good grades, and does her best to stay out of trouble. But once in a blue moon, Calla is anything but normal. There’s a predatory animal lurking inside her, just waiting to rampage through the forest once a year.

One fateful night, Calla comes across something she’s never seen before—someone like her. After a tense meeting in the forest, Calla dives headlong into a fantastical land she never knew existed. She learns things are not always what they seem, and she is farther from normal than she ever imagined.

With the help of her best friends, a pair of quirky brothers, and a family she never knew she had, Calla embarks on a mission to save her people from a treacherous queen. With wolves, witches, deathly secrets, and mysterious lands (and a few confusing boys), Calla’s life is flipped upside down. It’s the stuff fairy tales are made of… because being a teenager wasn’t already difficult enough.

Dark Betrayal

Dark Betrayal

Brenna yearns to follow her brother to the States. Suddenly her dreams seem within her reach. But what happens when dreams turn into nightmares?

      Secrets at Safety Cove

Secrets at Safety Cove
A beachside thriller

She wanted safety, but all she got were secrets.

When Emma flees her past to Safety Cove, she settles in to finish writing her breakthrough book. She grows fond of the small beachside town, getting to know the neighbours, even the distressing ones that threaten her to leave.

But when she finds something unspeakable in the shed, she realises that there is more than just heavy morning mist that hangs over the small town. There are secrets that, once uncovered, are dangerous to know.

Would you like some free books in exchange for an honest review?

      Here's a ton of books - Ends 4/10 - All Genre

Want more free books? Check out these giveaways!

    Sweet Yet Sexy - Ends 4/16 - YA, Romance
     Romantic Reading Giveaway - Ends 4/15 - Romance

     It's all about family - Ends 4/5 - All Genre
    Love All Around - Ends 4/6 - Romance

Do you have Kindle Unlimited? These books are free for you!

   A journey through magical realm - Ends 4/1 - All Genre

Other Books on Sale

Complex Solutions

Complex Solutions
a young adult coming of age thriller

Math is easy for Lexi, but complex emotions are difficult, and A.P. Calculus won’t help her overcome guilt, fear, or self-destructive behavior.

Sixteen-year old Lexi Thompson believes she should’ve died in the car accident that took her parents. Now she slices her guilt into her skin, aggravating an already dangerous cutting habit. When Lexi is contacted about her parents’ lost proof of a famous math theorem, her guilt over her parents’ deaths intensifies. Math was her parents’ passion as well as her own. Lexi enlists her friend and fellow math whiz, Joe, to help find the proof. As their relationship deepens, Lexi struggles to keep her self-harm secret. Further, she realizes she’s not the only one interested in her parents’ proof. A mysterious man hangs around her family’s vacant home and lurks in the woods where she runs with her dog. The stalker's presence exacerbates her anxiety, along with the frequency and severity of her cutting. The more she tries to conceal her self-harm, the more she pulls away from Joe and from finding the proof. If she can’t let go of her fear and open up to Joe, she may lose him as well as the proof to a man who’s intent on stealing her parents’ legacy.


A Coal Miner's Love Story

Your Business is Everybody’s Business in a Small Town.

Ten years ago, Willow Kennedy and Reid McHale were in love. Then College and life got in the way, tearing them apart. After finding her fiancé in bed with a floozy, Willow is convinced to go home for her class reunion, her one hope, NOT to see Reid McHale. So much for that.

Reid McHale, having wasted years in the mines, is a bit bitter. After running into Willow, quite literally, he tries all he can to avoid the woman who broke his heart, but this small-town man can’t seem to shake her. What’s worse, the attraction between them is all-consuming and unavoidable. Can it work for these once upon a time lovers, or will the whole relationship simply get the Shaft?

 Murder at the Festival

Murder at the Festival
A New Beginnings Cozy Hometown Mystery

Back in her hometown, city girl Avery Parker is finally settling in after her husband's sudden passing.

The town is abuzz with the annual wine festival and Avery is amped to show off Le Blanc Cellars' newest release. But between pours of their famed Chenin Blanc, a lifeless body is found.

A curious gray stone clutched in the cold grip of a dead tourist intrigues the locals, and no one expects his death would be ruled a murder.

Driven by empathy for the dead man's widow, Avery pieces together the puzzle and unearths a scandal larger than she could ever have imagined.

As long as she doesn't get in her own way, Avery might bring justice for a tourist's untimely demise. That is, unless she becomes a victim herself.

With more twists than the vines at Le Blanc Cellars, Murder at the Festival will have readers guessing this whodunit.

Wine pairings and irresistible recipes included!

You may also be interested in these books

                    Soulmates - Ends 3/31 - Romance
             Hard to Let Go - Ends 4/15 - Romance

              Clean Reads - Ends 3/19 - All Genre
        The Booklist - Ends 4/4 - All Genre

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Check out my books

Adjusting to a New Life A New Home Innocent Bystander Camp Piquaqua Elephant on My Chest Becoming Birgit
Mooncrossed Kayaks, Kisses & Monsters One Night in Sedona

Or visit my bookstore to purchase a signed paperback.


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