22 March 2023

The Rock at the Bottom | Excerpt + Giveaway

JustRead Publicity Tours


A big dreamer and successful novelist carries the sins of his father and a secret that leaves him wondering if he is the author or killer of love.

Stephen feels he is marked from day one to lose the ones he loves. His mother dies giving birth to him, and his alcoholic father makes sure Stephen never forgets it. To block out his father’s hate, fists, and belt, young Stephen loses himself in his imagination. Stories become his closest companions and barricades against a family that never wanted him. Once he can look his father in the eye, Stephen swears he will never be the monster his old man is. He vows he will become a published author, if for no other reason than to prove his father wrong.

While his dreams of being a bestselling novelist and falling in love come true, Stephen has much to prove to himself before he can write his own happy ending. Set against the backdrop of Prohibition-era Cleveland, Stephen fights the same alcoholic demons that plagued his father as he tries to begin a life free from his family. He meets equally headstrong Julie and is smitten, but their marriage is as fractured as his career is solid. He can find ten ways to write about being in love, but he has a hard time translating love on the page to love in real life. Julie slips between his fingers like sand, and Stephen sees his father staring back when he looks in the mirror.

Try as he might to rewrite his life, even going so far as to change his name, he has to wonder if he is the author or the killer of love.

Publisher: Independently published
Release Date: March 18, 2023



So, it was no surprise when I entered the living room that second Saturday in June to find my father in his easy chair, a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other.

“Where’d you get this round of giggle juice?” I motioned toward his empty bottle.

My father scowled, the heavy creases framing his mouth deepening. He dropped the dead soldier, and it rolled until it stopped at my foot. I picked up the bottle, shook my head, and tossed it aside. It gave a satisfying shatter.

Prohibition hadn’t stopped the old guy from getting zozzled whenever the urge hit.

“What d’you want?” He got to his feet.

I stepped up to him, and he recoiled.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

“Then what’re you waitin’ for? Get outta here!” He pointed with a quivering finger toward the front door.

“I have a few things to say first.”

My father gazed up at me and seemed to shrink more. “Well, out with it.”

“I’m a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I was a little kid, and you won’t stop me.”

He snorted. “What do I care about those rags?”

“I thought you’d like to know, Father, that you inspired me.”

He squinted, then raised his eyebrows. “Huh? What’s that?”

“Your hatred inspired me to imagine a life better than this hellhole, and you”—I poked his chest, hard—“are the villain.”


Cynthia Hilston is a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married, and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction, although she still dabbles in fan fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, shamelessly watches Hallmark movies and When Calls the Heart, pets her orange and black kitties, looks at the stars, drinks wine or coffee with good friends, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Connect with Cynthia by visiting cynthiahilston.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a book bundle including Lorna Versus Laura, Rocks and Flowers, and The Rock at the Bottom!

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight March 21, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 28, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.



  1. This sounds like a great book! Love the cover & blurb! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I would love to read this.

  3. I like the author's writing style