Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Win a $25 GC - The Writer's View by Doug Howery


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Doug Howery will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon GC and an autographed copy of the book to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please note geographical restrictions apply. United States only for the physical prize. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The View Outside My Window


The view outside my window is framed by TIME. Each pane in the window represents a piece of time…Time for a world of prejudice, bigotry, and hatred.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for the rights and dignity of the oppressed, a time, and place in this world where beauty and the individuality of people can rise and shine above the deprivation.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for stagnancy and stereotypes, a time for stereotypical titles such as the Mainstream Moral Majority, a title created for the sanctity of a few in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for all who feel anointed, the only creation. There is time for all who are different, the beauty of it all.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for judgment of those who are different. A malignant prejudice that enables people to loathe the ones that should be loved and cared for the most, the ones created in the same spirit like us all.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for acceptance and love for the whole worth of a person, acceptance for the individual spirit, the spirit that creates nations.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for all to be esteemed as a whole society, not by the individual wealth or stature in society, the times that create war from the powerful, hunger from self-interest.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for mothers to kill themselves because of a society stereotyping their children as unnatural.

Outside my window and viewing through the looking pane, there is time for voices of the entire Twenty-First century to make a change for the generations of the next century.

Outside my window, the view is setting high in the alabaster sky: There Is Time!

By: Doug Howery

Sixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man's body. In the 1950's Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the "Mentally Retarded Class" because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.

Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him. Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer. Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours. Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized. The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.

Smiley and Lee flee to NYC. They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.

The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things...straightens out that which is bent...which is sick...

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Lettie sat on the twin bed with the gun and the letter in her lap. She noticed Brac’s graduation picture sitting on the nightstand. She turned it face down. She placed the love letter from Brac’s lover on top of his graduation picture. She placed Ted’s bankbook, her letter to Ted, her cat-eyeglasses and dentures beside Brac’s turned-down picture. She lay down on the bed. She stretched out and placed the gun at her side and stared at the ceiling. She thought about her children. She had never owned them, never owned herself, and now they could choose their own road in life. But she could choose when to exit this world and how. She had to get out of her head, out of her heart. Tears like the mistakes she had made in life flowed down her face. She put the gun under her ribs and pulled the trigger.



About the Author:
DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.

In many of his stories, as in "The Grass Sweeper God," Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.

Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons' sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as "Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell" and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.

Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: "What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter." Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.

Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ LinkedIn
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Win a $20 GC - The Other Side of Hope by R.F. Dunham


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. R.F. Dunham will be awarding $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What is the point of fiction?


We all love to write and I’d wager that most of us aren’t going to stop anytime soon. There are ups and downs, days when we can’t seem to stop writing and days when we can’t seem to start. But despite all of that, we’re committed to this crazy pursuit. I’d like to ask all of us a question in light of that fact:

Why?

Why do you write every day? Why do you sit around creating make believe worlds and populating them with all sorts of characters? Why do you expect to make a living off such a strange activity? Why don’t you do something more “productive” or “useful” with your time?

Now, I hope those questions don’t offend you. I certainly don’t believe writing fictional stories is unproductive or useless. I do, however, want to provoke you to thought, just in case you haven’t considered these questions before. As a writer, you should know why you’re writing. You should have a goal larger than simply finishing your next book.

What’s yours? Why do you write?

In a very broad sense, I think all of us might answer that question in very much the same way. The specifics will be different of course, but when you strip away the top layers, the foundation will be similar.

We all write with the very simple purpose of changing the way people think. Even if we don’t realize it, that’s our ultimate goal. We write stories so that people will read them, of course, but what effect do we expect them to have? Doesn’t it go beyond mere entertainment or escapism? Every story we interact with changes us at some fundamental level. The characters infect us, the plot sparks a new line of thinking, the setting captivates our imagination; something changes when we consume stories. Something changes in your readers when they consume your stories.

Now think about this: what effects are your stories producing in your readers?

You wield incredible power. What are you using it to accomplish? If the point of fiction is to change the way people think, what are you changing about your readers’ thinking?

If you can come up with answers to these questions, you’ll have your goal. You’ll have something that drives you to write even when you don’t feel like it. Even when the words just don’t seem to flow, you’ll force them out because you have a purpose. Writing is fun, sure. But it’s also work. Work with a profound purpose.

Don’t miss out on your purpose as a writer. That purpose is a flame that will fuel countless books if you can tap into it. If you’re only writing because it’s fun, your motivation will slacken eventually. You’ll give up and look for something else. But if you’re driven by passion, by an all-consuming desire to get something done, you’ll never stop. Even better, that passion will bleed through into your stories and your readers will feel it. They’ll be hungry for more even if they don’t know why.

So, what is the point of fiction? The point of fiction is no less than to change the world, one person at a time.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Use yours wisely.

Find out more about me by subscribing to my mailing list at dunhamwriter.com. I’ll send you a free book chapter by chapter, and much more!

In 732 A.D., the Frankish and Burgundian forces led by Charles Martel defeated an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and halted the Muslim advance into Christian Europe. At least, that's what happened in the world as you know it.

Step into the world of The Other Side of Hope, where the world as you know it is turned on its head. A world where Charles Martel fell on that field south of Tours, France and was never given his nickname, "The Hammer." A world where Europe came under Muslim rule and Christianity was eventually forced to flee to the shores of a distant land in search of religious freedom. A land where, without support from European colonial powers, they found only conflict and poverty.

In the modern day, this world remains divided. The wealthy Muslim East and the poverty-stricken Christian West are constantly at odds. A single spark is all it takes to ignite fresh conflict and the cycle seems never-ending.

Follow the paths of Ethan Lewis and Hamid Damir as they are put on a collision course with the other side. Will they find hope for a brighter future or be lost in the despair of intractable conflict?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Hamid looked down at his plate then back up at Dilara. “You know writers don’t make any money. Not for years, if ever.”

“That’s not the point.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not the point, it’s reality. I know you want to write and you know I think you’re a great writer, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need your paycheck.”

Dilaraclosed her eyes and took several deep breaths.

Hamid wasn’t sure if he should take that as a good sign or a bad one.

“We can make changes. Sacrifices. It would be worth it,” she said

Hamid raised his eyebrows. “Worth it? Who knows when it would be worth it. Even if we did move, the gas I’d spend getting to work would cancel out any savings. It’d take you months to write a book, years to get it published, and even then you might not make enough money for it to matter.”

“Sometimes I wonder if you even know me at all.” She picked up her fork and went back to eating.

Hamid stared at her, his own food forgotten. “Of course, I know you.”

Dilara slammed her fork down again. “No. I don’t think you do. You think money is what matters to me? That I want to write so I can make money?”

“No, I don’t think that.” He shook his head. “But that’s what I have to think about, our finances, our family.”

“What about doing something with my life? What about my dreams? Do you think about that?”

Hamid put both hands on his head and looked at the ceiling. “Yes, I think about that. But we have dreams, too. Dreams we’ve been working toward since college. You really want to throw all of that away?”

Dilara looked away and got quiet.

He’d gotten through. Good.

“Maybe those aren’t my dreams anymore.”

About the Author:
R.F. Dunham writes with one purpose: to take you places you've never been before. That might be a distant fantasy land, the far reaches of space, the future of earth, or simply to an idea you've never encountered. A student of language and culture, Dunham's stories will pull you into complex worlds that challenge your perception of your own surroundings.

After working for over two years as a professional ghostwriter, the time has finally come for him to release his first full-length novel published in his own name, The Other Side of Hope. His short story, “Just a Drop,” was recently published in Nebula Rift Science Fiction magazine and an interactive version of the story is currently in beta testing. When he’s not writing, R.F. can be found playing the trumpet, writing his thesis in Arabic linguistics, or hiking in the mountains of Virginia.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Book Facebook Page ~ Twitter ~ Amazon Author Page


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Win a book: Heaing Up by Stacy Finz


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stacy will be awarding a digital copy of Heating Up to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Nugget, California, is remote, picturesque—and the perfect place to fall in love. Even when you’re trying desperately not to… Dana Calloway is tired of being second choice. No question she was her parents’ consolation prize, and now she’s placed second in the race for a guy’s heart—a guy she could have sworn was The One. Is it any wonder such a normally type A person accidentally burns down her house in one distracted moment?

Cal Fire arson investigator Aidan McBride came to Nugget to do a little soul searching about his commitment phobia. But there’s only one available apartment in this tiny town, and the headstrong woman who just had a house fire needs it too. Of course, there are worse things than sharing living quarters with someone so beautiful…

Dana’s determined to resist her sexy new roommate, but it isn’t long before Aidan realizes he doesn’t have a commitment problem when she’s around. And the hotter things get in their apartment, the brighter the blaze when someone finally ignites that first spark…


Enjoy an excerpt:

Aidan hadn’t even officially started at Cal Fire when he’d gotten called out on the boomer. That’s what they called a good working structure fire. He’d just completed his six-week training at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s academy in Ione, a Gold Country town only slightly larger than his new home, Nugget. Although a seasoned firefighter and arson investigator back in Chicago, he didn’t have experience fighting forest and wildland fires.

That was all about to change.

With California in its fourth year of record drought, wildfires burned at breakneck speed across the state. And Cal Fire was responsible for protecting thirty-six of California’s fifty-eight counties, meaning millions and millions of acres.

About the Author:
Stacy Finz is an award-winning reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. After more than twenty years covering notorious serial killers, naked-tractor-driving farmers, fanatical foodies, aging rock stars and weird Western towns, she figured she finally had enough material to launch a career writing fiction. In 2012 she won the Daphne du Maurier Award for unpublished single-title mystery/suspense. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband.

WebsiteTwitter


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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Win a $50 GC: Jigsaw by Stella Barcelona


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stella will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Foraging the cyber-world for puzzle pieces…

Zeus Hernandez, a Black Raven partner, is pulled away from a top-secret project to be the personal bodyguard to lawyer Samantha Fairfax. Terrorists have rendered the future frightening and uncertain, but Zeus and Samantha’s past makes two things crystal clear: she’ll be furious to see him and he can’t refuse the job.

Sorting pieces as stakes rise…

Danger surrounds the International Terrorism Tribunal, a court convened to combat terrorism. Samantha is thrust into the limelight when her mentor dies as the trial convenes in Paris, France. Her role requires steadfast focus and nerves of steel. She’s determined to do her job and move her life ahead, according to plan…without Zeus. He’s determined she’ll reconsider.

Completing the puzzle as their worlds collide…

As personal drama escalates behind closed doors, terrorists take aim at an Achilles’ heel that is capable of crippling Zeus, Samantha, and Black Raven. While forcing puzzle pieces to click into place, a personal reckoning looms for these two strong-willed people. There’s no denying they might be better off apart…but they fit together so well.


Enjoy an excerpt:

Black Raven was her grandfather’s go-to security company, and he’d already made the hiring call by the time he first told her his idea. With steadfast insistence, and continued reference to the horrors of terrorist acts that the ITT was examining, he’d worn her down in repeated phone calls. She’d given her grandfather one stipulation; she’d agree to Black Raven protection, but she did not want Jesus Hernandez to have anything to do with her on-site security detail. She didn’t want to see him or hear from him, and she damn well expected her grandfather to make this happen without it becoming an issue.

Jesus Hernandez.

Zeus to anyone who knew him.

Once, years earlier, she’d known him well. Or so she’d thought. Turned out she hadn’t known him at all. She focused her gaze on the intricately cut crystal water pitcher that the waiter placed on the table. In the last twenty-four hours, she’d been too busy with work to worry about whether her grandfather had truly understood the gravity with which she’d made the stipulation. She hadn’t intended the demand as a request. She hadn’t intended it as something her grandfather could consider and reject.

Now, with the hard knock marking the arrival of the private security company and the literal changing of the guard for the amicus team, her stomach twisted into a hard, nervous ball. Samuel knew the reasons why she didn’t want Zeus there. At least he knew some of the reasons why. Surely her grandfather had damn well listened to her?

Knock. Knock. The email notification finally flashed that the message and the attachments were ‘sent.’ The cc copy that she’d sent to herself appeared in her inbox, with an accompanying ding, just as Lorenzo put a vase of fresh flowers on the worktable that he’d transformed into a dining table.

“Done,” she said, shutting down her laptop and standing. “Thank you for all your hard work today.” As Lorenzo stepped away from the table, she said, “Lorenzo, the table is beautiful. Merci beaucoup.”

Knock. Knock. Knock.

She walked across the room as Charles signed for the room service. She opened the door. Zeus, arm lifted and fingers curled together as he prepared to rap on the door again, towered over her five seven by a good ten inches. Dropping his arm to his side, he gave her a cool nod, his brusque manner suggesting a nod was all that was needed to bridge the gap between his decision to leave her and the intervening seven years. “Hello, Sam.”

About the Author:
Stella Barcelona has always had an active imagination, a tendency to daydream, and a passion for reading romance, mysteries, and thrillers. She has found an outlet for all of these aspects of herself by writing romantic thrillers.

In her day-to-day life, Stella is a lawyer and works for a court in New Orleans. She lives minutes from the French Quarter, with her husband of seventeen years and two adorable papillons who believe they are princesses. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Southern Louisiana Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, DECEIVED, was inspired by New Orleans, its unique citizens, and the city’s World War II-era history. Her second novel, SHADOWS, began her Black Raven series.

She is currently working on her fourth novel, CONCIERGE, another Black Raven novel, which will be released in 2017.

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Win a $15 GC - Sword of Shadows by Karin Rita Gastreich


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Karin will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

"War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst." -Publishers Weekly

This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Mechnes strode to the table where a soldier had left Renate’s head. He took his time unwrapping the bundle, exposing Renate’s matted tresses, the ragged edge of severed flesh, the face—oh, Renate’s face! Stiff, gray, and lifeless. Never again would she laugh, drink wine, cast a spell, or heal a friend.

Adiana’s stomach clenched, and she fought the surge of bile in her throat.

Calm, she told herself. I must remain calm.

Just as Renate had, just like Eolyn would, without as much as a change in the rhythm of her breath.

“Who is this woman?” Mechnes’s voice hit Adiana like a spear.

“It is…” Adiana’s throat tightened. “Was Maga Eolyn.”

Mechnes grunted as he studied the gruesome package. “And who are you?”

“My name is Adiana.”

“You are this woman’s scullery maid?”

Adiana swallowed. She had learned how to lie during her youth in Selkynsen, after her parents were killed and she fled to the piers. Lies must be presented on a bed of truth, or they lose their seductive power. “No, I am not a servant. I am a musician from Selkynsen. Maga Eolyn brought me to Moehn to teach music to her students.”

“Music?” Amusement broke on Mechnes’s face. He seemed genuinely surprised. “What use do magas have for music?”

“Music is also magic, according to the traditions of Moisehén. Eolyn says…used to say that it’s a form of Primitive Magic, the oldest and most sacred of all.”

“So you are a maga?”

“No.” The thought came, terrible and unbidden, that now she would never be. “I only play music.”

“Then Maga Eolyn was trying to protect you by saying you were a scullery maid? How curious.” Mechnes draped one end of the bloodied cloth over Renate’s disfigured face. “I can assure you a musician will find a much better place among the Syrnte than a scullery maid.”

“I don’t intend to find a place among the Syrnte.” Adiana’s breath stalled under the look he gave her. “What I mean is, my home is here, in Moisehén, not with the Syrnte.”

“It’s all one kingdom now. Or perhaps better stated, will be soon.”

About the Author:
Karin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Buy SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB and EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB at Amazon.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Win a $10 GC: The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. Please click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn't seem so bad.
,br> Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms--including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora's arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Enjoy an excerpt:

For a second that felt like a lifetime, everything stopped; I felt like I was floating in nothingness. Then I blinked, and, when I finally opened my eyes and focused again through the tears, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I found myself standing at the mouth of a small cave situated on a hill and overlooking a quiet, moonlit valley. On my left, a dark forest stretched out as far as the eye could see, treetops glistening silver in the light of the full moon. The hills around us undulated into wildflower-filled meadows that lay sleeping in the dewy night.

Far down in the valley, I could see a little village, its lights twinkling in the distance. To my right, a waterfall splashed playfully into a small river that ran down into a lake, next to which the little village was built. The moon here was fuller and larger than I had ever seen it, and the night sky was awash with a fantastic array of glittering stars.

Had I passed through the tapestry? Where was I?

I looked around, disbelief clouding my judgment. I was still trying to get my bearings after that strange moment when I had been inside the tapestry and nowhere at the same time. It gave me a funny feeling, as though I had been lifted out of my own consciousness and then put back into my body.

A warm breeze brushed past my face and played with my hair. Gone were the cloudy grey mist and the cold, nipping wind of the English countryside. I drew in a sharp breath—the air was crisp and clear, sweet smelling, and fresh. The moonlit valley was filled with fruit trees, wildflowers, and rolling meadows.

“How did we come here? Where are we?” I asked, still confused.

“You really are ignorant,” said Oblek, glancing at me. “I take it your uncle didn’t tell you anything?”

I shook my head and looked down. Oblek had tied my hands with a rope he had with him while I was still dazed and looking around. It was humiliating, and the rough ropes cut into my wrists, rubbing them raw every time he pulled me forward.

I had to find some way out of this. And, at the moment, the only thing I could do was discover more about where I was. Then, when I got an opportunity, I could escape and find my way back up to the cave on the hill, where we had arrived out of the tapestry.

But then what?

Christopher was probably dead, and Aunt Arianna would doubtless blame me for everything since I had disappeared at the same time. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t really want to go back, and, now that my adoptive parents were dead, I had nothing to return to.

I was starting to panic. I had nowhere to go, and my mind was imagining an array of horrible outcomes of my kidnapping. My palms had become sweaty, and my racing heart was thundering in my chest as I half-walked and half-ran, desperately trying to keep up with Oblek’s giant strides.

“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded with my kidnapper.

But Lord Oblek said nothing. He didn’t even look at me. He just kept walking ahead and dragging me along behind him, with no more explanations as to what he was planning to do with me.

I was terrified, and I had no idea if I was going to survive this. But I tried to be brave. Maybe I could talk my way out of this?

“You do know that this is called kidnapping?” I said, trying to reason with Oblek.

He didn’t bother to answer.

“What will happen to me now?” I squeaked, my voice breaking, as I tried not to cry.

“Queen Morgana will decide what is to be done with you,” said Oblek, finally.

Queen Morgana! The woman from my dream? It was not possible that this, too, was a coincidence. It must be the same Morgana, the one who had tried to kill my real mother.

Who the hell was she?

Suddenly all of this seemed extremely scary. I hoped that I was still dreaming and that there was no way I had actually traveled through a magical tapestry into some strange land. It all seemed very exciting in books. But actually being kidnapped and then hauled around like an animal, traveling deep into a land I knew nothing about, was not my idea of fun.

I had to get away from this horrible man, and fast.

About the Author: Farah Oomerbhoy is a young adult writer with a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. Her debut novel, The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of The Avalonia Chronicles started on Wattpad where it received a Watty Award in 2015 and over 1.5 million reads. Since publication, The Last of the Firedrakes has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, become a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards and become an international bestseller. Farah lives with her family in Mumbai, India where she can be found checking for magical portals in every closet.

Amazon Author Page ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google ~ Instagram ~ Pinterst ~ Goodreads ~ Wattpad ~ Tumblr


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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Win a book: Midnight Serenade by Alli Sinclair


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alli will be awarding a digital copy of Midnight Serenade to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour..

On the sultry streets of Buenos Aires, the daughter of a world class tango diva searches for answers about the mother who abandoned her—and uncovers decades of lies and deception…

After twenty years of wondering why her mother chose the tango over her, Dani McKenna finally travels to Argentina. What was it about this beautiful, mysterious land that enticed one woman away from her own child—and broke another’s heart? As a journalist, Dani may have the opportunity to find out. And an enigmatic tango dancer may hold the key to her quest—if she can break down his defensive walls.

Carlos Escudero had been Dani’s mother’s protégé. Tragedy ended his career and he refuses to be interviewed. But he will give Dani some insights, on one condition: she must agree to his tango lessons. As the two begin the intricate dance of passion, Dani’s quiet, logical world is exchanged for one of music, motion—and mystery. For the clues to a tango legend’s murder may lead Dani to the truth about the past and its impact on her family—and free her to move toward a future she can claim as her own at last…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

She narrowed her eyes at the ancient lift cage. No matter how many times she chastised herself, Dani found it impossible to enter one of these boxes without being slammed by the memory of the last fiery argument between her parents. No child wants to witness such venom, especially from her own flesh and blood. She planted her foot on the marble steps, even though her mind tried to convince her that dashing out the door, sight unseen, was the best option. Perhaps it would be better if she knew nothing about Iris, as the truth had the potential to rip Dani’s heart out. As much as she tried to deny it, though, the stars had aligned and Dani’s arrival in Argentina offered the perfect chance to build her career and heal old wounds—or make them deeper.

About the Author:
Since taking her first steps, Alli Sinclair discovered her love for dance in musical theatre, ballet, baton twirling, and rhythmic gymnastics. For more than two decades she performed on stage, winning many national competitions. Alli has also trained in traditional dances, such as Russian, Irish, and Spanish (flamenco). The cultural aspects of dance inspired Alli to travel the world to experience dances in their native environment. Her travels ultimately led her to Argentina, where she fell in love with tango and the seeds for The Dance Card Series were sown. Alli’s stories combine a love of dance, history, and culture, taking readers on a journey to exotic destinations filled with romance and mystery.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads


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Monday, July 11, 2016

Win a $25 GC: Land of My Dreams by Norma Gail


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Norma Gail will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If you could travel through time but could only go one way, would you choose the past or the future and Why?

Past. The future is so uncertain and I wouldn’t know what to expect. I think it would be easier to survive in the past because at least I’ve read about it.

If you won a trip to a fantasy destination, where would you go?

Scotland. I loved it the first time and want to see more. I felt an uncanny sense of belonging.

What did you want to be when you grew up; if you wanted to be a writer what inspired that desire?

I always wanted to be a writer. I explored the idea of majoring in American history or literature but I ruled out teaching because I didn’t want to grade papers. I considered archaeology but they get dirty and I don’t like being dirty. I chose nursing because medicine and people fascinate me. When my own medical problems made it impossible to continue in nursing, I raised my kids and then began writing—the best of both worlds. What do you do to relax especially when writing is giving you a bit of trouble?

I exercise, do errands, read, or talk it over with my husband. Sometimes he comes up with great ideas. On occasion, I just keep writing and then read it out loud. That often helps me see what is wrong.

If a Djinn granted you one wish free and clear, what would you wish for?

I would wish my writing had a strong impact on the people who read it. As a writer of inspirational fiction, I want to make a difference in lives and cause my readers to draw closer to God.

What do you find is the most challenging part of writing?

The most challenging part for me is keeping the conflict strong. I write romance because I love happy-ever-after endings. I like the kissing and making up better than the struggle. My husband helps me with that also.

If you could invite any famous person over for dinner, who would that be and why?

Christian author, Michael Phillips. He was kind enough to endorse Land of My Dreams, and showed himself to be as generous and kind as the characters he creates. I admire his writing and ability to weave his faith into the tale without being preachy. He handles contemporary and historical fiction equally well. An evening of asking him questions, or even just listening to his best advice, would teach me so much.

If you could invite any fictional character over for dinner, who would it be and why?

Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He reminds me of my father, kind, fair, honest, judges each individual on their own merits, a wonderful, loving father. He always does the right thing whether it is the popular thing or not.

And last but not least a couple of favorite questions –

Favorite food - New Mexican food. I am a definite chile snob, only the hottest and best.
Favorite drink – an Arnold Palmer, decaf iced tea with half lemonade
Favorite dessert – Red Velvet Cake
Favorite place – The house my aunt and uncle used to own on Flathead Lake in Montana
Favorite genre – romance & romantic suspense
Favorite season - fall
Favorite holiday - Thanksgiving
Favorite TV show – The Waltons
Favorite movie – Pride & Prejudice

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.

Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny’s former fiancé reenters her life, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to a former student.

How will Bonny decide between her rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future, or will it drive them apart?

Land of My Dreams, Christian Romance Novel, spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

Enjoy an excerpt:

When Kieran left his office, he saw Bonny standing behind her car, her foot tapping and shoulders sagging. “Can I help you, Dr. Bryant?”

She startled, and he realized he had been so intent on watching her that he had failed to give warning of his approach. The eyes that met his sparkled, their brilliance drawing him like a treasure hunter to a prize emerald. She was a lovely woman.

“Dr. MacDonell, hello. I’ve changed flat tires before, but these lug nuts won’t budge.”

He checked the urge to brush a smudge of dirt from her cheek. “It’s Kieran, and I’m glad to be of help.” He forced himself to ignore the nervous pounding in his chest and the urge to run. He was alone with the woman who had filled his mind day and night from the moment she had walked into the room.

“I’m Bonny, and thanks.”

“I’ll take that spanner off your hands.”

“Spanner? Oh, you mean the lug wrench, of course.” She held it out to him and smiled.

He took a deep breath. Her smile reminded him of sun breaking through a Scottish mist. His fingers brushed hers as he took it, and he realized how small her hands were, like his mother’s finest china. Dainty and delicate.

Something about the patient way she watched caused his uncertainty to subside. Rescuing a damsel in distress wasn’t a bad way to meet. Tossing the caber was no longer possible, but he knew how to change a tire. She stood near enough for him to smell her perfume—feminine, like a rose garden.



About the Author:
Norma Gail is the author of the contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 40 years. They have two adult children.

Website | Amazon Author Page | Google+ | Pinterest | Goodreads | Twitter | LinkedIn


Buy the book at Amazon. Buy the print book from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Bookstore or Barnes and Noble.

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Win a $20 GC - Marionettes by Kerry Alan Denney


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kerry Alan Denney will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour-- more chances to enter!

Resuscitated after he drowns and dies in a flood, David Flint discovers he has returned from the other side with an uncanny ability: He can “jump” into people’s bodies and minds, and control their thoughts and actions.

David believes it's a gift, and wants to use it to help people. Then four members of a ruthless drug ring savagely attack his fiancée and leave her in a coma, and David tries to use his new power to destroy the whole ring. But the ringleader, a voodoo priest known as the Zombie Master, is a formidable man with a deadly secret: He has the same incredible ability as David.

When the two human marionette masters clash in a brutal bloody showdown, using the ring’s members as their puppets, David discovers he’s battling for much more than his life—he’s fighting to rid the world of an evil human abomination.

Marionettes illuminates the greatest achievements of the human spirit and the darkest corridors of our minds, and answers the age-old question: What are the consequences of absolute power?

Enjoy an excerpt:

My head was turned sideways, and I struggled to push myself into a sitting position only to find another sadistic little swordsman was trying to slice his way out of my gut.

“Let me adjust your bed. Take your time, sweetie,” the angel said. She used the bed’s controls to raise it so I could sit up.

The combination of the brutal swordsman in my gut, the vicious little bastards in my throat, and jackhammer-man in my head made me want out of this bad dream. That’s when things got mega-weird: I found myself inexplicably staring down at… me. My face was slack, my features drooping, and my open eyes looked empty and barely aware.

It scared the hell out of me, dream or not.

I saw the angel’s delicate hands gently adjust my shoulders and brush strands of my long dark hair out of my eyes from her perspective, as though her hands were mine.

I’m Cynthia, a nurse, I realized. I have two kids—Johnny and Leah—and a doting husband named Paul who is a wonderful father to our children. I want more than ever to help my patient, David Flint—the subject of much gossip among the second floor nursing staff—to be well and whole again.

“Little pieces, David,” Cynthia said, feeding ice chips from a spoon to the bedridden zombie who looked like me. I worried about the slack look on my face. “Let them melt in your mouth.”

Cynthia knew about Karin’s tragic death, and felt sorry for me at the same time that she felt hopeful for my continued recovery. This screwed with my mind, and because pity is something I can’t tolerate, I found myself jerked out of Cynthia’s perspective and back into my own.

I felt the cool, soothing comfort of the melting ice slide down my throat and wash away some of the little swordsmen. Take that, you bastards. But the pleasant sensation triggered a darker, nasty memory of brackish waters involuntarily swallowed recently.

My body shook with spasms as the memory rose to the surface of my mind and hit me like a sledgehammer blow crushing my skull. The surrounding dark waters engulfed me, and I panicked.

“Can’t… breathe,” I rasped, grabbing Cynthia’s arm. “Save me.”

“Oh honey, you’re remembering, aren’t you?” Cynthia took my hand and set the cup of ice chips on the rotating bedside table.

“Drowning,” I croaked, squeezing her hand. “Save me.”

“No, David, you’re not drowning. You’re in the hospital, safe and alive, and I’m right here with you.”

“Don’t leave me.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

I looked up into her kind eyes, and saw worry etch lines in her brow. I suddenly remembered the razor-sharp chunk of glass penetrating my gut as I submerged beneath dark waters, unable to stay afloat any longer. That was when I gave in to the merciless deluge, seeing Karin’s face before me as I drowned.


About the Author:
Colleagues and readers have dubbed Kerry Alan Denney The Reality Bender. The multiple award-winning author of the paranormal thrillers Dreamweavers (Juju Mojo Publications, August 2015) and Soulsnatcher (Juju Mojo Publications, April 2014), the post-apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror thriller Jagannath (Permuted Press, February 2015), and numerous short stories published online and in anthologies, Kerry blends elements of the supernatural, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror in his work: speculative fiction at its wildest and craziest. With joy, malicious glee, and a touch of madness, he writes reality-bending thrillers, even when the voices don’t compel him to. His protagonists are his children, and he loves them as dearly as he despises his antagonists... even when he has to kill them.

On July 24, 2015, Jagannath became a #1 Amazon bestseller. On March 31, 2015, Soulsnatcher won 2nd Place as 2014 Book of the Year in The Drunken Druid’s International Book Award competition. Jagannath and Soulsnatcher each received a rave blurb from New York Times bestselling author James Rollins.

Kerry lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia with his golden retriever Holly Jolly, a veteran professional Therapy Dog, where he is currently writing his next supernatural thriller... and deciding who to kill in it.

Be on the lookout for Kerry’s new post-apocalyptic/ paranormal thriller A Mighty Rolling Thunder, coming December 3, 2016 from Burning Willow Press.

Website ~ Amazon author Page ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Google +


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Win Books: Contemporary Romances from Lyrical Press


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of all books on the tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Everyone in Climax, North Carolina, knows the Cates brothers. But Sijan Cates is famous far beyond his quaint hometown--and when he comes back, he brings trouble with him. . .

Avery Danford urgently needs to get back in touch with her estranged family. If only she could get her picture in the papers, maybe they'd track her down. . .and what better way to accomplish that than to squeeze into the world's tightest dress and cozy up to the world's hottest actor, Sijan Cates? It's a crazy idea, but it just might work. And though the former actress has sworn off Hollywood hunks, she's got to admit this desperate measure might be a pleasure. . .

Scandal-plagued Sijan has come home for some peace and quiet--and to stay out of the tabloids. Then a woman claiming to be his number-one fan plants a hot kiss on him--in front of a pack of paparazzi. There's only one way to protect his reputation: tell the world they're engaged. It's all just a show, as they use each other to get what they need. But in this sleepy Southern town, love stories have a way of coming true. . .


Read an excerpt:

“All right, let me see if I have the latest scandal straight.” Sijan Cates sat with his older brother in Dave’s Diner, a former passenger train car turned restaurant. There were two main entrances, one at each end of the car. Booths snaked around the front of the diner next to the front windows while a sit-down counter sat in front of a cramped but ruthlessly clean kitchen. Dave, the owner and cook, was known for his biscuits and homemade blackberry jam, and his burgers. That’s it. Ordering anything else on the menu was like playing Russian roulette with your stomach. But if you wanted biscuits and jam, a burger, or all the most up-to-date gossip, the diner was the place to eat.

“Hell, Ty, I came home to get a break from it.” He frowned across at his brother, but of course, it had no effect.

“It says here in The Tattler you got a sweet young thing pregnant and then dumped her.”

“I did not get a sweet young thing pregnant. I’ve never even met that sweet young thing. Hell, if I slept with even half the women the tabloids claim I do, I wouldn’t have time to get out of bed, let alone make movies.”

“According to them you’ve got a revolving door on your bedroom with a ‘Now Serving’ ticket machine attached to the wall next to it.”

Sijan leaned back as their waitress, Renee, slid steaming mugs of coffee in front of them both. “Renee, run away with me and save me from all this.”

“Sijan, if I weren’t having hot flashes, I’d be just another crazy woman trying to get a piece of you.” Renee tucked her serving tray under her arm and wagged a finger at him. “Now, your latest scandal’s got the Grapevine stirred up. I don’t think the Simon sisters can take the excitement.”

“Those ladies can handle anything. Besides, they’ve seen this before. Remember four years ago when an ex-girlfriend tried the same thing?”

“Thank goodness for DNA tests and poor math skills.” Tynan grinned. “She sure didn’t account for your six months of filming in Prague. You do attract the crazy.”

“It’s Hollywood.” Sijan’s muscles tensed at the memory. “Too many people can make money off you. I’m just an ‘opportunity.’ An opportunity to get a script read, a part in a movie, or free publicity.”

“Or generous child support payments for the next twenty years.”

“Hey, I’ve dated some nice, normal women. Once I learned to steer clear of actresses.”

Tynan nodded. “That would explain all those models, politician’s daughters, and savvy career women.”

He’d be the first to admit he’d enjoyed the benefits of his moviestar status over the years, but he’d always shied away from serious commitment like it was a box of rattlesnakes. Lately though, the serial dating felt . . . empty. Especially after coming home and seeing how happy his brother Quinn and his fiancée Delaney were. “I need a hiatus from women.”

“Bite your tongue. Life is a smorgasbord and you are too young to go on a diet. Seriously, Si, I joke, but this”—he rattled the tabloid before tossing it down in disgust—“just pisses me off.”

“Every job has its downside, right?” Sijan shrugged tense shoulders. He leaned back against the booth, consciously willing his muscles to relax. “I’ve decided I’m just going to lay low and focus on my work while the studio’s lawyers deal with that.”

“You decided?”

“Yup. About five seconds after the president of Majestic Studios called me into his office three days ago and explained loudly and in a few choice phrases that my next two films need to exceed box office predictions.” Or else.

“One year ago, this same man couldn’t wine and dine you fast enough after your Oscar nomination.” Tynan sat back, muttering a graphic although physically impossible suggestion for the president of Majestic Studios. “Fame sure is fickle.”

About the Author:

A former Air Force spouse, Lee Kilraine moved seven times over eighteen years before finally settling with her husband in the pine woods of North Carolina. She has worked as a physical therapy aide, a cashier, a waitress, an English tutor, a ballet teacher and a stay-at-home mom. Holding tight to her mother’s motto, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you try hard enough,” Lee returned to college as an adult and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Writing thirty-one papers in two years (she counted) rekindled her love of writing, and she set her sights on her other dream—writing romance. When she isn’t swinging on her front porch swing or watching another of their four young adult children leave the nest (she swears she isn’t pushing them out!) you can find her typing away on her computer with her golden retriever, Harley, destroying something at her feet. Lee is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist.


Kensington Author Page ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

*****



As a lawyer at Touchstone management, Tessa's position brings her up close and personal to some of the world's biggest heartthrobs. Sometimes that intimacy crosses professional lines, which is understandable considering Tessa's impressive contact list. But when rock star Brian Ellis set her aside for the girl of his dreams, Tessa can't help wonder if "spinster aunt" is her true vocation. Which explains her hook-up with rising star Brett Cherney at Brian's celebrity wedding . . .

As the lead singer of BroRide, Brett has lived the rock-n-roll bad-boy lifestyle to the very hilt. But when the girl of his dreams marries fellow rocker Brian Ellis, he buries his disappointment in the arms of an older woman. The following morning, Brett realizes what he experienced was only the beginning of a song he's been trying to write all his life. It's a seductive theme, which Tessa falls for again and again, but getting her to believe they have a hit is turning out to be far from a sure thing . . .


Enjoy an excerpt:

  Tessa walked outside, maintaining her happy expression past the knot of smokers by the door. This wedding shouldn’t bug her so much. Brian had gotten over his crush on her years ago. Shit, he’d been married before. She’d fallen off his pedestal a long time ago.

So why did this marriage seem like the end of the world?

Suzi made a beautiful bride. One of her friends had designed the simple white gown for her. Ribbons of rainbow colors started as faint pastels across the bust and gained intensity as they wrapped around her body and down the back of her dress until they formed a brilliant train. Daisies wound through her upswept hair and complemented her pretty, sweet face. Brian looked rather sharp, too, in his white tux, open at the throat. His best accessory, though, had to be the expression of utter joy in his eyes.

It made Tessa want to puke. Not because they were happy. No, never that. Brian deserved to be happy. Suzi did, too. Apparently, everyone deserved to be happy. Except her.

“Nice show, huh?”

Tessa glanced at Brett who’d wandered up beside her at the overlook. Or maybe she’d wandered up beside him. The ocean smashed into the cliffs below as if it held a grudge against her. “Yeah. They look really happy.”

“She’s the Holy Grail,” Brett said. He leaned on the guardrail, fiddling a cigarette between his fingers. “She was a total mess when she left Logan last year. I took her out to this place I go to. Never laid a hand on her.”

Tessa nodded. Why did he think she should care? Everybody knew he’d pulled Suzi out of the party where she’d broken up with her last boyfriend, Logan, nearly a year ago. Tessa had been one of many people trying to figure out where the hell they’d gone for weeks before Suzi had reappeared at Jason’s West Virginia place. “You’re a big damn hero.”

“Something like that.” He flicked the cigarette off the cliff, unlit. “Brian’s a good guy, right? He’ll be good to her, won’t he?”

“I’ve known him since he was a kid. He’d walk through hell for her.” Brian was the best guy. Absolute heart of gold. If she’d been half awake ten years ago, she could have had that.

“Good. That’s good. Cause next time I have to haul her away from some asshole, I’m not going to be so easygoing about letting her leave.”

She glared at Brett, but he looked like he’d been dragged backward through the desert by a tour bus, and she faltered. “What’s wrong with you?”

Brett turned, stared at the ocean. “Probably the same thing that’s wrong with you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, come on. How dumb do you think everybody is? You’ve known Brian since he was in elementary school. His daughter is named after you. The only person at this wedding who looks sicker about it is Logan.” Brett bobbed his head. “And maybe me. You and Brian had a thing, or you wish you had a thing, or something. I’d say I could write a great song about it, but there’s already been a bunch. Etta James did three or four.”

“So, are you telling me that party-hearty Brett Cherney lost his poor little heart to the bride?” Tessa meant to smirk, but it came out twisted because of the sob she was trying to cover.

“Only as much as tough lawyer Tessa Callisto lost her heart to the groom.”

Tessa stared back in the direction of the pavilion. Over six hundred guests. This wedding was almost as well attended as the Grammys. No point hiring a band because no local band could hold a candle to this audience, so music had been supplied by a running jam. Everyone was having a blast. They wouldn’t notice a couple of people missing.

“You know what the best cure for a broken heart is, don’t you?”

“What?” He glanced over his shoulder as if the answer to her question was back at the wedding reception.

She stared into Brett’s eyes. Brett, who slept with every female who caught his fancy. And there were lots of those. What with his lean build and washboard abs, he was such a very good-looking specimen. “Wanna?” She arched an eyebrow at him.

His lips curled into a smile. “Sounds good to me.”

“Your place or mine?”

About the Author:

Christa Maurice has been obsessed with rock stars from early childhood when her older brother started randomly quizzing her on rock trivia. How many first graders know who the headliners were on the Black and Blue Tour? Christa did. (Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult.) When not listening to music and/or writing, she enjoys traveling, reading and science fiction.


Website ~ Kensington Author Page ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

*****



Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce is to die for. But right now, Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen--and without a fiancé. Unceremoniously dumped from her place of business and her relationship, Daisy sells her belongings, plus a few of her ex's, and packs her bags. Maybe smashing all the china in her former restaurant was a bad move. Stripped of her Golden Spoon for "un-chef-like" conduct, she is now blacklisted all over Seattle. Her sole job offer is from the Wild Man Lodge. . .in Otter Bite, Alaska.

Too bad Daisy can't even get out of Dodge without incident. By the time she boards a ship for Alaska, she's got a trail of new troubles behind her, and suddenly Otter Bite is sounding pretty good. But the vessel turns into her own personal Titanic when a series of close encounters confirms her terrible taste in men--including one very good looking bad luck charm named Max Kendall. She vows to dedicate the rest of her days to chowders and brulée. Yet even Alaska isn't far enough away to shake the memories of the sexy shipmate who rocked her cabin--and her world. Thank goodness she's done with surprises--but they may not be done with her. . .


Enjoy an excerpt:

  “What’ll ya take for this?” Daisy Moon lifted her glazed eyes from a makeshift plywood table where she had been tidying pieces of her past. She focused on the midlife, mostly brunette whose brassy streaks fit her gravel voice. Backlit by the golden afternoon pushing into the garage, the woman appeared heaven-sent. After a closer look, Daisy knew better.

In her right hand, a cigarette was wedged between two fingers while her left hand strangled a porcelain figurine, its milky pastels and melted contours in unhappy contrast to the black polish on the woman’s talons.

“I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t smoke,” Daisy said politely. “There’s a bucket outside—”

Too late. The cigarette was crushed between the sole of one strappy stiletto sandal and the pristine concrete of Daisy’s double garage.

“So how much?”

A cloud dulled the sun and the saintly aura faded. Stepping back to allow yet another stranger to judge the resale value of her life, Daisy answered the brunette. “Doesn’t the tag say fifty dollars?” as if she couldn’t remember how, in the wee hours of the morning while Lady Antebellum pleaded “Need You Now,” she’d painstakingly tied the price tag around the necks of the porcelain lovers.

“Ye-ahh,” the woman answered as if Daisy were dense. “But how much will you take?”

“Excuse me,” a voice from behind interrupted. “What size is this?”

Daisy turned to a stout woman who held a Kelly-green midcalf skirt and matching short jacket. Daisy loved that suit—it perfectly complemented her Irish genes—but love wasn’t a good enough reason to keep something that squeezed the breath from her. “Size six.”

“Is there some place I could try it on?”

“Try it on . . . ?” Daisy imagined popped buttons and exploding seams.

“I’ll handle this,” Charity Wagstaff whispered, coming through the milling browsers. “You take care of Cruella.”

Daisy shot her eyes toward the heavens.

“But remember,” her best friend softly chided, “you’re turning the page, moving on, taking risks. You’re letting go—”

“I know, I know.” Forcing a smile, Daisy attended to the brunette. “Make me an offer.”

“Ten bucks.”

“Ten bucks? That’s a Lladró!”

The brunette stared impatiently, as if she were tapping a foot. “It’s a limited edition and it cost $275 last year. They’ve probably broken the mold.”

“Well, if it’s so valuable, why’re y’ selling it?”

Because it was meant to crown the top layer of a fabulous, fivetier Amaretto wedding cake . . . “Because I’m moving,” Daisy said instead. “And I don’t have the room.”

The brunette yawned.

“It’s like this—” Daisy tried to look pitiful. But it took memories of her long-departed mutt, Sophie, to produce the tears needed for effect. “My husband died and I have to downsize.”

“Twenty bucks,” countered the dry-eyed shopper.

“She’ll take it,” Charity said, sneaking up from behind.

Her auburn frizz quivering with indignation, Daisy spun toward the sunny blonde. “Have you lost your mind? It’s worth more than twenty dollars. It’s worth more than fifty dollars!”

“Let it go.”

“It’s so beautiful.”

“It’s only clay. Let it go.”

“I don’t have all day.” The woman held out a rumpled bill. “Y’ want the twenty or not?”

Reaching across the plywood, Charity snatched the money.

“I’ve changed my mind, it’s not for sale!” Daisy screamed.

Charity blocked her attempt to chase the woman, who fled down the drive like a hyena with carrion.

Daisy wilted, then quickly tensed. The browsing had stopped and all eyes were upon her. A Miss Marple–type linked elbows with her equally tweedy companion and the two scurried out of the garage, pausing briefly at the garden tools displayed along the drive before glancing back and continuing their escape.

Sympathetically, Charity said, “Why don’t you take a break? You’ve been at this for hours.”

Daisy took a shuddering breath, the embarrassment and humiliation of the last year dumping on her like a sudden downpour. She didn’t even know these people who were picking over the remnants of her life. Why should she care what they thought? It was her garage—for another two weeks. If she wanted, she could be as contrary and unpredictable as the Seattle weather.

“Maybe a short break,” Daisy conceded, before wending her way between bookshelves and lamps and a widescreen television marked with a SOLD sign. Who could’ve predicted that only weeks after Jason had replaced his reliable television with a sleeker state-of-the-art model, he’d do the same with his fiancée?

Certainly not Daisy, who, nonetheless, had taken the high road, thanks to the example set by her mother, a corporate wife who always kept her smile in the face of adversity. With more at stake than just her personal relationship, Daisy had been civil, allowing Jason to move out at his leisure; she had never intended to keep either the television or the telltale Callaway golf clubs until she received the certified letter from Dritz Klak & Smite.

She’d fantasized about bashing the $2,500 television with the $600 driver, but the ever-pragmatic Charity convinced her to sell them instead.

“You’ll get the best price on eBay,” Charity had told her. But money was less the objective than expediency; Daisy didn’t have time to photograph, upload, monitor, and mail. And fear of another “Craigslist Killer” kept her away from that website. So, the old-fashioned method it was; anything remaining at day’s end would be donated to the SPCA thrift shop.

Of course, Jason didn’t know his precious belongings were the main course at a garage sale.

Although short-lived, the thought cheered Daisy as she passed from the netherworld of her garage into the haven of her kitchen. But not before fluffing the potpourri of carnation petals strategically placed between a crystal mantel clock and a silver-plated chafing dish. 

About the Author:

Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood in Asia and South America as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local animal shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in single-engine Cessnas. An animal-rights advocate and vegan, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small. Her compass still points north.


Kensington Author Page


*****



With her trust fund and coveted job at Christian Dior, Fanny Moreau believes she has it all. But when her best friend finds a fulfilling new career abroad—and a dreamy relationship with a great guy, Fanny’s fabulous life suddenly feels empty. Inspired to find her true purpose, she trades her cushy lifestyle in San Francisco for an adventure in the Alaskan wilderness.

Everyone thinks Fanny has gone off the deep end. What’s a girl with a Ph.D in Prada doing teaching in an Inuit village? Even Fanny is wondering, especially when she comes face to face with Calder MacFarlane. The Scottish search and rescue pilot is everything Fanny is not—selfless, heroic, and used to living on the edge. He’s also the man who once loved her best friend. Yet something in Calder’s sexy gaze has her believing that she’s a woman capable of great things—a woman who might just find her own happily-ever-after, in a place where she least expects it.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The worst day of my life started with an unfortunate spritz of perfume.

Every tragedy can be traced back to one fatal mistake, one seemingly insignificant miscalculation that sets into motion a series of small blunders resulting in utter catastrophe.

Take James Cameron winning the Oscar for Titanic over Gus Van Sant for Good Will Hunting. If the Titanic’s wireless operator had known how to work the Marconi efficiently, he might have translated the warning messages about ice in the area, the unsinkable ship would have remained afloat, and James Cameron wouldn’t have won the Oscar for a hopelessly insipid movie.

If Christian Lacroix had added jet beads to his pared-back coat dresses and peplum skirts, his ’09 Fall Collection might have been the buzz of the season; instead, fashion editors and snarky bloggers lamented the loss of his talent.

One seemingly insignificant snowball-sized mistake starts its journey down the mountain, and before you know it, a shit avalanche is descending upon you.

My best friend, Vivian—her name is Vivia, but I call her Vivian because it’s more glam—coined the phrase “shit avalanche.” It’s an unpalatably graphic and overblown phrase and not one I use often, but it superbly describes my situation.

My shit avalanche started with an unwelcome spritz of Kitty Kat’s Purrfect. Kitty Kat, the bubblegum pop singing phenom, might know a thing or two about writing hit songs, but she doesn’t know a thing about the delicate art of blending scents to create an intoxicating perfume.

How could a spritz of perfume cause a disaster?

I will start at the awful beginning, but only because I hope my tragic story will serve as a cautionary tale. The Titanic. James Cameron.

Christian Lacroix. Stéphanie Moreau. The world has suffered enough disasters. Read and learn, mon amie.

About the Author:

Leah Marie Brown has worked as a journalist and photographer. An avid traveler, she has had adventures and mishaps from Paris to Tokyo. She doesn't buy cheesy tee-shirts or useless bric-a-brac, but prefers friendships and memories as souvenirs from her travels. She lives a bike ride away from the white sand beaches of Florida’s Emerald Coast with her husband, children, and pampered poodles. She is hard at work on the next novel in The It Girls series, but loves to hear from readers.


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