Drifting by J. Calamy – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Calamy who is celebrating the recent release of Drifting, the first book in the Diving In series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Two men starting over, and the discovery that could shatter their worlds.

Artist and antiquities expert Cole Hadley is in a good place. Assistant Cultural Attaché to the US Embassy, Cairo, he’s over his divorce, rebuilding his confidence after years of fat-shaming and misery and checking off the first of his bucket-list items, SCUBA diving in the Red Sea.

Hank Ashton, bearded, built, the best—and meanest—divemaster on the Sea, is stranded in the dying town of Al’Shahin. He owes a local gangster a pile of money and is stuck teaching basic classes at a failing hotel to pay the debt, the dream of his own dive shop slipping further away every year.

Cole’s joy and wonder at Hank’s world cracks his carefully constructed shell, forcing him to realize how lucky he is. In turn, Hank’s lust for Cole’s body and care for his happiness go miles toward healing Cole’s bruised heart. Their shared passion for the marvels of the undersea world spills over into a sizzling affair…one they both know has an expiration date.

Until, in exploring the sea, they make the discovery of the century, one that could change both their lives. But their very different plans reveal just how little they know each other. Cole and Hank have to decide exactly what’s important to them and be brave enough to get it, if they’re to have any hope of resurfacing together.

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of bullying including fat-shaming and homophobia, as well as reference to gangster activities.

Enjoy an Excerpt

It wasn’t fair to be this cold on the shores of the Sahara. Despite the broiling heat trying to claw its way through the cracks under the doors, the air conditioning of the Hotel Grande Al’Shahin was arctic, setting Cole’s teeth chattering and chilling his clammy shirt to his back. Hugging himself, he didn’t catch the concierge’s spiel.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Our pool has a dance show every night at six o’clock.” She pressed a stack of brochures into Cole’s hands then glanced at his belly…again. He managed not to tug at his shirt this time as her voice dropped into a conspiratorial murmur. “We have the best in-house gym, and the spa has an amazing detox wrap. Takes inches off. Incredible results.”

How delightful. Cole couldn’t muster a single response, his mind clicking like a car with a dead battery. None of his canned responses, perfected over the last two years, were coming. Only his therapist’s “You don’t always have to educate people. Sometimes it’s okay to ignore them.”

“I’m more interested in diving lessons,” Cole said, trying not to clench his teeth. “But thank you.”

Her face went blank, but not before assuming a brief look of incredulity that didn’t help with the teeth clenching at all. “Diving? We have a full-service dive shop,” she said. “They do intro classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and twice on Saturday. If you…know how to swim?”

“Sounds great,” Cole said, sliding away. That was enough BS for one day. The flight from Cairo had been short but brutal—he didn’t need this on top.

Despite his grand-sounding title—and the State Department loved titles—as the Assistant Cultural Attaché to the United States Embassy, Cairo, Cole had flown in a middle seat. On the return flight I’m upgrading. Never letting the morale office book me a flight again. He’d pretended to be asleep to avoid seeing the faces of his row-mates. Legs and arms clenched tight, seatbelt cutting his hips despite the extension, Cole had barely breathed the whole flight.

The heat and salt marsh air of Al’Shahin had slapped him the moment he’d staggered off the plane onto the shimmering tarmac. Clean air, to be sure, but also hot. Broiling, unbelievably hot. And humid! Trapped against the Sinai, Al’Shahin stewed in the evaporation off the Red Sea. Less than a year in Egypt, and he thought he had mastered the heat. Humidity had not even occurred to him.

Neither had freezing to death in a hotel lobby. It was eleven a.m., and he was exhausted. A backhanded insult about his weight wasn’t the welcome he’d imagined. Three years ago, he would have broken down in tears. A year ago, he would have given her a lecture. But present-day Cole shrugged it off, making for the doors. They always mean well, don’t they? And maybe I’ll get the f****** wrap anyway. Maybe I wanted to before she even said anything. So there.

He took a deep breath before pushing out onto the patio. The heat clawed him with greedy fingers, sun blazing cheerfully away overhead. Three steps, and he could feel the heat in his mouth. Five, and he could sense it through the soles of his shoes. The back of his neck burned, and he looked around, trying to shake off the feeling of being watched. Stared at. You are being paranoid. It’s just the heat.

The pool shimmered, a mirage of blue. Darker sunglasses, they were first on the shopping list. Christ, and he thought Cairo was hot? Still feeling eyes on him, he tried to walk quickly but not too quickly, ignoring the rattle of his suitcase wheels over the pebbled walk. The sweat on his lower back itched. A shower. A shower and a nap then I can reassess. Hands slick, he bobbled his phone, dropped it and his sunglasses both. Someone laughed. Cole flinched, even as his brain registered the sound was happy, flirtatious laughter. Not look at that loser laughter.

“You are not a loser,” he muttered, gripping his phone and straightening his sunglasses. He gave his shirt a sharp tug over his belly. “You have never been a loser. Those were Donnie’s words.” He hadn’t needed that mantra in a while. Cairo was…good. Busy, interesting, professionally validating and really fricking good. Living in a cramped Cairo apartment? Not so much. But who cared? It was Cairo! The geography and antiquities nerd dream.

But now here he was, thinking of his ex, feeling eyes watching him, hurt and slipping into intrusive thoughts. Why? Just because people were laughing?

“All right, all right, quit messing around,” a rough voice barked out, making Cole fumble his phone again. The happy laughter cut off in a chorus of groans. “I don’t care how tired you are! You clean your gear, then you can relax.”

A small building squatted on the far side of the pool, with a thatch roof and an open central arcade, shaded and tiled in blue. The dive shop. The sign over the opening was faded, a shark curled dimly under the Grande logo. One of the million old pickup trucks littering Africa was backed up to the arcade, and a group of young people passed equipment back and forth like hurrying ants.

The bark belonged to a tall, scowling man standing in the bed of the truck with his hands on his hips and glaring straight at Cole from behind a pair of mirrored aviators.

Tanned from the sun, with wide shoulders, he wore a wetsuit unzipped to the waist and hanging around his legs. He had a shaved head and short scruffy beard, brown heavily threaded with gray. The harsh lines of his face made art deco angles with his jaw as he shouted at the divers scrambling around the truck. Whoever this pissed-off jerk thought he was, he was staring at Cole.

Taking a slow deep-oven-hot breath, Cole straightened his sunglasses, glancing back over out of the corner of his eye. His championship record of making a fool of himself in front of hot straight men made him cautious, but he didn’t miss the way the guy in the truck glanced his way again. Busted.

“It ain’t complicated, doll.” The divemaster sneered at a pretty blonde girl with her hands on her hips. “You rinse the salt off your gear, you hang it up, and then you can eat.”

About the Author J Calamy is a queer, disabled veteran and foreign service wonk who spends a good part of the year bouncing down dirt roads in the back of range rovers with men with guns. Coffee, romance novels, and embassy scuttlebutt are her last remaining vices.

Website | Goodreads | First for Romance Author Page

Buy the book at your favorite online venue or First for Romance.

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Creating a Natural Character by Norm Harris – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Norm Harris will be awarding a $25 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.

*****

Your goal is to craft relatable and vivid characters, but let’s exchange “character” for “living people.” Ernest Hemingway said, “When writing a novel, a writer should create living people, people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Creating a profile is a popular technique for developing genuine personas for your story. Sometimes your stories are born out of a person, while others begin with a plot shaping your person. A detailed profile will help shape a narrative and provide a handy reference point for their personality traits, backstory, goals, flaws, and challenges.

If you have done an excellent job trait building, your description of your person will bring him/her/it to life. I have lived with my fictional people for years. I thought I knew my protagonist Faydra pretty well. I recently learned something about her from a reviewer. “From the beginning, I connected with Faydra. She’s a flawed character who kicks butt on all levels, but her insecurities make me love her even more. No one relates to a perfect character.” I had not considered her “flawed” and “insecure.”

Your person will begin with a bundle of ideas and traits developed in your story outline. An example of a particular person or archetype can help narrow your focus. The personas in literature, mythology, and the human experience: are the hero, villain, lover, spirit, queen, and so on.

Our people profiles provide guidelines for their behaviors, emotions, and actions. For example, my Faydra is a lawyer/detective who is naturally curious, restless, and driven to push boundaries. She must be a Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Annalise Keating wrapped in one. You will want to layer characteristics and transform them from one to another as the storyline progresses. Adding an image to represent your character would be a good idea.

Once you’ve defined your person’s personality, you can begin to shape your person and make her an original. Create a bond between your readers, and work towards the desired outcome. Another example, again from a reviewer, “Arid Sea was a very intense and sad read that had me in tears on more than one occasion. I felt bad for Fay after she lost her memory, and some of the things that went on in Arid Sea just broke my heart.”

Create a backstory for your person. What is the journey she has taken up to this point? Her journey will allow you to examine her fears, weaknesses, and motivations. For my Faydra, being the daughter of a U.S. President, cursed her. She is never certain any of her accomplishments are of her own doing or because of her father’s famous influence.

Your person must have a personality that stretches beyond the story itself. She has to be bigger than life. Even somewhat flamboyant. What about her will a reader find attractive about her? Why is she different than anyone they know?

And let’s give her some quirks and faults while we are at it. She comes from an authentic grounding. She can be a bit extraordinary. In my Spider Green Series, Faydra is sometimes overconfident, impatient, and reckless. And she is sweet, intelligent, kind, generous, caring, and funny. These traits can add new dimensions to a hero and make them feel more relatable.

A believable character evolves as your story evolves. Just like real people, they adapt and respond to life’s events.

Consider where your person begins and how she changes along with developments in the story. We see Faydra overcoming obstacles by stepping back to gain a fresh perspective. Or when she decides to develop a friendship with a mob boss or an obnoxious CNN journalist. And in The Girl Who Knew Death, Faydra’s persona wins her the admiration of Azrael, The Angel of Death. Probably a hard thing to do?

Visual references and inspiration can help bring your character to life when writing a novel. It helps to have an image in your mind of how your person appears to you. Does she look like your aunt Jean? Jennifer Lawrence? or your lawyer, Sue Yu?

Do not give your person too much responsibility for the drama in your story. Begin to build your supporting cast who compliment and contrast the traits of your person. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My Faydra is so sweet she would not harm a spider, so I was tasked with creating a man so evil she had to kill him. While at the same time, justify her need to kill him in the reader’s minds as well. Again, to create an over-the-top despicable man was my challenge. Again, here is how a reviewer stated her feelings about this man, “I don’t think Faydra is prepared for Justine. I fear what is to come. He is a PIG…In her words, ’a perverted douchebag’, but I feel he is so much worse than that. Depraved and Dangerous.”

In the end, we have created your natural fictional person. Your friend! Did you have one of those imaginary friends when you were a child? When you start to make-believe with her, it will lead to the backstory and perhaps the story itself. Next, tell your spouse, partner, or real friend about your fictional person as if this is a new friend. Who is she? What does she like/dislike? What does she look like? Have a discussion about your person. What questions develop during your talk about your person? This conversation will help you know your person better and create this person in your mind as if they are real.

Fruit of a Poisonous Tree, Book 1

Navy SEALs, with the help of a former president’s daughter, hijack the Russian Guided Missile Cruiser Moskva to stop a North Korean missile crisis.

Navy JAG lawyer Faydra ‘Spider’ Green is the daughter of former President William Green. His power and influence plagues her every move and she contemplate if her achievements are from her own merits or his. Faydra is both nervous and eager as she undertakes her first homicide investigation —the brutal murder of a Navy SEAL. Faydra discovers the accused man, a Special Ops Marine war hero, may be innocent thanks to her astonishing deductive capabilities. The Navy is using her as a pawn in an intricate cover-up. Will Faydra play along or leak the cover-up?

Seasoned Navy Sea Captain Egan Fletcher struggles to balance his Navy career with raising a son alone after his wife died eight years ago. When the Navy purposefully pairs him with Faydra, the two embark on an adrenaline-laced adventure. The top-secret mission will propel them halfway around the world in an attempt to avert a catastrophic act of biological warfare.

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Puget Sound and the mystique of Asia, Faydra is a paradox: one minute she is pure as the driven snow and the next minute she thrusts herself into harm’s way, ignorant of the consequences. Determined to complete her mission at any cost, she defies logic and throws herself into dangerous situations. Will she succeed where everyone else has failed?

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree is book one in the riveting Spider Green Mystery Thriller series. If you enjoy razor-sharp dialogue, strong-willed characters, suspense, twists, and high-octane action, you’ll want to start reading this fast-paced adventure today.

Arid Sea, Book 2

Faydra “Spider” Green is a spirited Navy lawyer who wants nothing more than to do the right thing and see justice done. After reconciling with her father, former President William Green, Fay is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Alvin Joe, a retired admiral. He has vanished – seemingly into thin air – from his Florida home, along with secret files for a top-secret military weapon. Alongside her bubbly, quick-witted sister and a handsome, affable Sheriff, Fay sets out to track down Joe. But she soon finds herself embroiled in a deeper and far more sinister plot involving an unscrupulous corporation, the mafia, and a truly evil man who has his sights set on destroying her.

Deception Pass, Book 3

Faydra “Spider” Green has had a storied career as a Navy lawyer, all while juggling being the daughter of a former U.S. President. She has successfully navigated complex diplomatic situations, pulse-pounding legal investigations, and dangerous military missions, managing each time to save the day. But now, Fay finds herself faced with a task unlike anything she has ever tackled before: fierce mafioso Roman Justine, the man who had nearly cost Fay her life, has seemingly returned from the dead. Now, Justine, hellbent on revenge, poses a threat to Fay and national security. Fay will have to go to extraordinary lengths to stop him, even tampering with the bounds of time and space.

The Girl Who Knew Death, Book 4

Katrinka Lavrova is a young Russian espionage agent discovered by Russian Navy Captain Lavrov at the age of nineteen. Katrinka worked as both a spy and a sparrow since age thirteen to support her aged parents. Lavrov rescues the woman and becomes her guardian. Captain Lavrov introduces Katrinka to Fay. Fay asks Katrinka to help her steal the top-secret plans from Roman Justine’s office safe. Fay grows fond of Kat and offers her a fresh start in the United States. Katrinka dares to hope for a better life by accepting Fay’s offer.

Navy lawyer and former First Daughter Faydra (Fay) Green is no longer quite so haunted by the dark events of her recent past and is hoping for some well-deserved rest. But her world is once again turned upside down when a shocking secret about her adopted daughter, Katrinka (Kat), is revealed. But before Fay can help Kat make any decisions about her future, Kat is captured and thrown into an Egyptian prison. She manages to escape but must flee to safety across Europe, trying to stay one step ahead of several mysterious pursuers. Soon, Fay and Kat discover they are being chased by more than ordinary forces – Azrael, the Angel of Death, has taken a puzzling interest in their situation and a dangerous demon appears to be stalking Kat’s every move. It will take all of Fay’s strength and ingenuity to meet these and other challenges looming ahead of her, while Kat must ask herself what she truly wants out of life.

Enjoy an Excerpt from FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE

“The killer? But consider this,” Fay said. “Paul was a valuable piece of Navy property. A million-dollar investment. when you stop to consider all of the training those SEALs go through.”

“I see what ya mean, ma’am. It would be expensive to replace him. To kill him would be costly.”

“There would have to be a very compelling reason for someone to want to execute him,” Fay said. “An argument between Paul and Simon is not a compelling reason, given the circumstances. Otherwise, Simon would be in big trouble with whomever he reports to. And yet he doesn’t seem to be.”

“Yet, Sergeant Linn has a Get Out of Jail Free card,” Pearce said.

“Yes. The Navy knows why and how Paul died.”

“Sanctioned?”

“More than likely.”

“But why, ma’am, was Paul killed in such a demonstrative way? I mean, you’d think someone would just tag him and bag him and throw him in the trunk of a car. Takes him to a wreckin’ yard and then turns him and the car into scrap metal. Kind of like they did to Jimmy Hoffa.”

Fay wondered where Pearce came up with some of her facts. She felt tempted to ask but decided it would be better to just let it go for the time being. “I wondered about that too,” she continued. “Unless someone wanted to draw a certain amount of attention to his death. To set an example for others to see.”

“Like leavin’ a trail?”

“Accountants call it an audit trail. Paul was a man who lived his life in the shadows, a ‘shadow warrior,’ Towsley called him. But the way he died placed him center stage and in the spotlight.”

“I see what ya mean.”

“I do know my meeting with Andrew Lawrence the other night at the Pollywog was not an accident,” Fay said. “And I would have never interviewed Wu and De Vinsone unless someone allowed it to happen.”

“Admiral May?”

Fay nodded. “I did some checking on Admiral Brandon May, by the way.”

“And?”

“Nada. There are several Admirals named May. When I tried to access their records, all were classified. And no one was named Brandon May.”

“No surprise.” Pearce pondered for a moment and then said, “Interestin’.”

“Even more interesting, I did locate a V. B. May. A flag assigned to the Pentagon. His present assignment is classified, but his biography says he was, at one time, a Terminator.”

“NCIS!?” Pearce’s eyes widened in surprise. “You gotta be kiddin’!”

About the Author: Norm Harris’ first novel debuted on an Amazon bestseller list in 2002. It was a one-and-done, but now he’s back with a plan to publish a couple of sequels to that first mystery/thriller of days gone by. Except for time spent in military service, he is a second-generation Seattleite (that’s what they call those who dwell in the shadow of Mt. Rainier), with his legal beagle son, K-K, and five giant tropical fish. His upcoming release, Arid Sea, is the third book in what he hopes to be an award-winning Spider Green Mystery Story series.

Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Buy Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, Arid Sea, Deception Pass, and The Girl Who Knew Death from Amazon.

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Chandelier by Michael Leon


Chandelier by Michael Leon
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

CHANDELIER is the genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy-romance novel follow up of Michael Leon’s 2019 fantasy-romance book, PHANTOMS. A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Technology has advanced, and AI has evolved beyond human knowledge. They reside in a virtual Earth, free from the ravages of an environmentally damaged Earth where humans and post-humans live under AI’s qualified governance. CHANDELIER follows one AI sentient’s journey, Benny, whose loyalty for a famous opera singer, Madame D’Arenberg, sets him on a dangerous course, entangling him in The Phantom of the Opera’s deadly web.

This is a wonderful addition to the Phantom of the Opera pastiche-canon. It’s a sequel to the author’s previous work Phantom (see our review here), but can easily be read as a standalone. However, the reader will do themself a disservice if they don’t read them both. Any reader would definitely get a richer experience that way.

This author has a remarkable knack of drawing the reader into the story. There are many twists and turns and it was quite enjoyable to try to figure out exactly what was going on with Benny and Diva. I love the the way the author twisted the genres to bring us an amazing story.

Origin Story of Cloud Canyon by Rachel Kowert

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dr. Rachel Kowert PhD will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC or 1 copy each of the 3 Cloud Canyon books (available in November) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Origin Story

The initial inspiration for Tales from Cloud Canyon came to me in 2019 when my daughter was 4 years old. I was lucky enough to pick up about a hundred different paperback books at a garage sale of a former teacher and had started reading her a new book every night before bed. After a few weeks of this, I started to notice a theme: there were very few books with female protagonists and when there were, they were pigeonholed into a damsel in distress or only successfully navigated their challenges with the use of superpowers. While there is nothing wrong with a female superhero or a knight in shining armor, I wanted something different.

After a bit of digging, I realized there was a dramatic lack of representation in children’s literature. The Nielson 2018 book scan report found that of the top 100 best-selling children’s books, 1 in 5 did not feature a single female character, only 2 out of the top 100 featured a black, Asian, or minority ethnic character in a central role ( with 70% of the black, Asian, or ethnic characters were in non-speaking roles) and only 1 out of the top 100 featured a disabled child but they did not speak or have a key role.

Fueled with discontent, I called my friend who runs a small micro press and told her she needed to write or commission some books with strong female characters at the heart of them. She told me I should write them. At the time, this made me audibly laugh! However, after sitting with her words and fueled by her encouragement, I decided to open up my notes section in my phone and give it a try. In less than two weeks I had written what ended up becoming the first collection in the Tales from Cloud Canyon Universe: the 26 stories of Pragmatic Princess. In 2019, I successfully kickstarted these stories as the collection Pragmatic Princess: 26 Superb Stories of Self-Sufficiency and raised more than $25,000 in 30 days and earned an INDIES award for educational children’s picture books (so I guess I can write children’s books!)

Over the last few years, I have continued to write and expand the Cloud Canyon universe and am excited to announce that I am launching a second Kickstarter June 4 for a BRAND NEW collection of three topical short stories: Here, There, & Everywhere, Invisible Friends, and The Secret to Success. These stories were the ones that I felt were still missing from my children’s library.

As a mom and a psychologist, I feel like I had a unique perspective to bring when it came to crafting the actual building blocks of the stories. The fictional characters in childhood stories are some of our earliest teachers. We learn a range of things through the observation of these symbolic models, such as what is right and wrong, desirable and undesirable behavior, gender roles, norms, stereotypes, and more. The role of models is particularly influential in childhood as it can have a long lasting impact on intellectual, social, emotional and moral development. I am so proud of this new collection and hope you and your children find them inspiring too!


THE STORIES

Tales from Cloud Canyon is a series of character driven, topical short stories celebrating the everyday child, doing everyday things, with their everyday abilities designed for children aged 3+. Developed by a research psychologist and mom of 3, these stories were developed to be entertaining, educational, and celebrate the power of the everyday within our the beautiful, diverse world.

This Kickstarter collection features three topical short stories from the Cloud Canyon Universe: Here, There, & Everywhere, The Secret to Success, and Invisible Friends. Each of these titles are fully illustrated from artist Randall Hampton and are about 25 pages long.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE WRITING


The fictional characters in childhood stories are some of our earliest teachers. We learn a range of things through the observation of these symbolic models, such as what is right and wrong, a desirable and undesirable behavior, gender roles, norms, stereotypes, and more. The role of models is particularly influential in childhood as it can have a long lasting impact on development.

Each story in this collection was developed to not only be entertaining but educational as well, with the stories’ characters modeling a range of age-appropriate skills spanning four areas of human development: intellectual, social, emotional, and moral. The skills that are modeled within any particular story are displayed on the back cover of each book and explained in more detail on the last page of the book.

DIVERSITY, REPRESENTATION & INCLUSION


Tales from Cloud Canyon changes the narrative by reflecting and celebrating the beautiful and diverse reality of our world. The characters within the Cloud Canyon Universe were developed to represent a range of shapes, sizes, abilities and disabilities, and traditional and non-traditional families.

In the Cloud Canyon universe:


-More than half the characters are female

-More than half the characters come from an ethnic-minority background

-1 in 10 characters have a visible disability

-Characters come from traditional and non-traditional families

-Different body shapes are represented

-she/her, he/him, and they/them pronouns are represented

It was also equally important that these details were not the central theme of the stories themselves as our shape, level of ability, and what our family unit looks like are just some of the many parts of who we are and not necessarily the defining feature of our stories.



PRODUCTION AND RELEASE


All of the stories have been written and are currently being brought to life through the illustrative magic of Randall Hampton. The physical production of the books is expected to start in June 2022. Time from production to shipping is about 6 – 8 weeks (+/- 2-4 additional weeks due to COVID delays). Once Rachel receives the books, they will be shipped to backers. There is an expected arrival date of the books no later than November 2022.




Enjoy an Excerpt

Invisible Friends tells the story of Winnie and Yuna. On a playdate, Winnie finds Yuna is talking to strangers online and sharing personal information. which I know is an ever-present discussion in many homes. This story discusses the how’s and why’s of navigating online stranger danger.

Excerpt:

After a while, Yuna softly said to her friend,

“I’m sorry about earlier, down in the den

I just thought it would be fun to meet someone new.

I didn’t want to do something to upset you.”

Winnie smiled, “I know, it’s just I’ve seen the headlines,

We stay safe by not talking to strangers online.

You can’t see them, you don’t know who they really are,

and they don’t know you, it is all a bit bizarre.”

“It’s like when I venture off to play outside,

When I am online, all of the same rules apply.

I wouldn’t walk into a stranger’s house to chat,

Or invite the mailman inside to pet my cat.

If I don’t really know someone, I stay aware,

Of all the risks – I was upset because I care.”

“I like to make new friends, too, really I promise,

But you can’t tell if strangers are truly honest.

Online everyone’s invisible, it’s scary,

Because of that, it is best to remain wary.

With ‘invisible friends’ the risks are much greater.”

Winnie said she was a great de-escalator.


About the Author:

Dr. Rachel Kowert is a research psychologist, award-winning author and mom of three. In 2019, she launched her first Kickstarter project from the Cloud Canyon universe was a collection of female centered stories entitled Pragmatic Princess: 26 stories of self sufficiency and raised more than $25,000 in 30 days and won an INDIES award for educational children’s picture book.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

Randall Hampton is an author, illustrator, husband and father of 3. He is the Creator of “The Little Game Master” series of books and considers himself a story teller above all else. When he is not spending time with family and friends, Randall enjoys reading, video games, music, and table top games of all sorts.

Amazon Author Page | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Check out the Kickstarter Campaign and see how you can get the books.

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Papa the Shoemaker by Kyra Kalweit and Dayán Mantecón Roldán


Papa the Shoemaker by Kyra Kalweit and Dayán Mantecón Roldán
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Genre: Children’s
Rated: 4
Review by Rose

Hi there, my name is William and I have a question for you!

Would you like to know how your shoes are made?

I invite you to come inside my papa’s workshop and learn all the secrets of the ancient art of shoemaking and more.

Let’s embark on a creative adventure of fun challenges and life lessons along the way.

This is a very interesting look at how custom shoes are made along with a life lesson. Papa is very good at explaining things to his son in a clear and concise way. I do wish it had been a little clearer about what the shoe lasts were — I had to look that up, and I think it would have been interesting to know about that aspect of the process too…just where the last comes from. But, that did not take away my enjoyment from the book. The lesson was not as subtle as in the previous book I read from this couple, but still a book I would choose for my classroom or for my grandchildren.

A good book for the early reader.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge for June 22, 2022

Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

Today’s topic is: Your list of auto-buy authors

The Hardest Part of Writing by Tanith Davenport – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tanith Davenport will be awarding a $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.

The hardest part about writing is… the beginning and the end

I could argue that every part of writing has its own challenges, but there are two in particular that I always dread. Starting a new story and, of course, writing the synopsis afterwards.

Beginning a new story is always a nightmare for me. Not only do I need to introduce the characters in a way that will grab people, I also have to come up with an introductory scene that works as a good hook. Do I open with dialogue? Description? A surprise? And I have never liked finding a way to physically describe my heroine. We’ve all seen the cliché where the heroine looks at herself in a mirror – I try to avoid that, but always struggle to find a decent opening for it.

And then there’s the synopsis. Blurbs are fine – they’re designed to sell the story quickly and without ruining the plot – but the whole point of a synopsis is that it gives the whole plot and yet still has to grab the reader. Sometimes I feel like the synopsis takes more preparation than the entire story. It can be a humbling experience, as you try to prune your story down to its basic components and then instantly convince yourself that it sounds like crap.

Fortunately the fun part – writing the rest of the story – usually makes up for the bookended suffering. And for me it’s all worth it when I get to see my new cover art. There’s nothing quite like seeing an amazing cover for your new book, and luckily Totally Bound have a great cover art team.

Maybe next time I’ll start the book in the middle and write the beginning later.

Amber Blake is fleeing a terrible betrayal in her past by touring with rock band Puppetmaster as a make-up artist with her best friend Elyse. Knowing the band is struggling, she hopes to use her make-up skills to reinvent their image, but when a member of the crew drops out, Amber finds herself asked to contribute in a different way – in the form of heated sexual conversations with hot lead singer Cassian Marsh to put him in top form before every concert.

Despite her past, Amber is unable to resist Cassian’s charm and raw energy, and enjoys knowing she can drive him wild with just her voice – but their increasingly passionate meetings leave her longing for more. Can she move past the betrayal she suffered – and can she convince a man as commitment-phobic as Cassian to break his no-dating rule and let her into his heart?

enjoy an Excerpt

The music changed to a darker, heavier track and Amber felt goosebumps rise on her skin. If You’re Cold. This was one of their best ones.

Watching Cassian perform was definitely the best part of her job. During the day she never allowed her gaze to linger on him—at night was a different matter. At night she could hide in the shadows, no longer having to deal with the masks they wore every day.

Cassian behind his mask was just so…real.

But she had had enough musician boyfriends to know getting involved with another would be a bad idea, even if the men of Puppetmaster hadn’t been perpetually unavailable. Nate’s relationship with Elyse was considered a blip. Cassian hadn’t had a girlfriend in years.

And Cassian, she knew, was well out of reach.

But, God, was he worth looking at.

His lean, muscular arms exposed by his leather waistcoat, his slim hips, the tattoos that decorated his taut stomach, tempting her to follow their lines with her tongue. The way his sweat glistened on his skin as he moved, catching her eye with every motion.

But Amber knew, even if it were possible, it would be a very, very bad idea.

And she had had enough bad ideas to last a lifetime.

About the Author Tanith Davenport began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Her debut novel “The Hand He Dealt” was released by Totally Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.

Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.

Tanith’s idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.

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For Better & For Worse by Quint Emm Ellis – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Quint Emm Ellis will be awarding a $10 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.

These ex-lovebirds are busy building a nest for one. But can she be convinced to make room for him, too?

Despite attending the same congregation and university, Ashe and Stephen’s circles had never seemed to cross.

One class project changed everything…for the better; until secrecy and youthful indiscretion pulled them apart.

Will an unexpectant reunion in their adult years allow Ashe and Stephen to rewrite a history riddled with regret and heartbreaking choices?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“It’s open, Dear. Come on in. We’re all in the backyard,” she heard an unfamiliar woman’s voice say over the doorbell’s integrated camera and intercom system.

“Oh,” she responded, bending down a bit to look into the camera as she resettled the pan in both hands. Unsure if the ghost that’d just occupied the device was still there, she decided to err on the side of caution and manners. “Thank you.”

Rebalancing her offering on one hand, she wrapped her free hand around the cool, metal door knob. The scent of bar-b-que, the sound of laughter and an overwhelming sense of home and comfort greeted her as she took her first steps inside the cozy home. Her shoulders relaxed as she continued to follow the sounds of something sizzling on the grill and of voices that felt both familiar and foreign.

“Ashe?”

Though Ashe paused, the hairs on her skin slowly stood on end.

That didn’t sound like Josiah or Liam. And yet, she recognized that man’s voice from somewhere. She tilted her head to one side, blinking through a fog of memory.

“Ashe,” the voice insisted.

Recognition rippled down Ashe’s spine; she knew who was standing just a few feet behind her.

And if she could have just kept walking, she would have; but her body betrayed her— turning of its own volition to meet the source.

The world became dull except for the man who carefully stood from his chair, tossing his book upon the seat’s cushion before striding toward Ashe. He stood in sharp contrast against the scenery that seemed to have become a blur. When he stopped, he was so close she could catch a faint whiff of soap intertwined with a husky, sweet aroma.

He changed colognes, came the wayward thought in Ashe’s mind.

About the Author:

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
– Toni Morrison

Quint Emm Ellis enjoys penning plots centering around unabashedly nerdy, introverted, cinnamon-roll mantic, passionate, fallible women who happen to be black, who happen to be Christian, and who happen to love an uplifting and, possibly, inspirational story.

She enjoys listening to audio books, watching movies, finding great deals and spoiling her cat and dog rotten. Her dream is to be able to walk around in loose pajama pants all day and geek out while mastering niche crafts like music production, film editing and electro etching.

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I Am One with the Universe by Kyra Kalweit and Dayán Mantecón Roldán


I Am One with the Universe by Kyra Kalweit and Dayán Mantecón Roldán
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Genre: Children’s
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

This children’s book teaches young readers to reflect on a simple yet profound message: We are all connected to everything we see and experience in this world. The essence of God is within each one of us and in everything we see, touch, feel, taste and dream about.
With rhyme and playful illustrations, I Am One with the Universe will help children realize their unity with all things and that they are not separate from God or anyone else.

What a beautifully written story that’s perfect for early readers or for parents to read with the children. The illustrations are eye-catching; the rhythm and rhyming of the text make this a fun book to read aloud.

A wonderful way of showing children (and parents) how closely everything in the world is connected.

Definitely recommended for all families with young children.

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The Rise of the Last Beast Kingdom by One Who Loves GOD – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Loves GOD will be awarding a $75 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.

Enslaved by a system of its own creation, humankind desperately seeks to free itself from the Beast. Lacking the knowledge, having refused the truth, all hope is gone…or is it?

Examining our history from creation to the present, this book provides insight as to why we are where we are today. Using the Hebrew Scriptures as its guide, we are taken from the cause of our plight to the ultimate ending. Although the Hebrew Scriptures are used, this is not a book supporting any major religion. There are only a few people in the world today who actually follow and obey the WORD of God – YeHoVaH. Most of the world follows man made religious practices. This book explains how this came about and how the present day systems evolved. This book provides a means for hope for the world, something surely needed now and especially in the coming days.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The archeological evidence which is currently being discovered support what we are told in the Bible. The site Tel Eridu currently known as Abu Shahrain has been identified as the ancient site of Eridu. The findings in chronological order are consistent with the biblical narrative – Founded by the strong leader of the period who introduced the worship of a new god, came to dominate the region, began the building of large temple-Tower of Babel-to a new deity which was abandoned, as was the area and surrounding areas were afterwards abandoned. Archeologists have noted these facts.

It has also been noted by the archeological studies that what is known as “the Uruk expansion” began at the time Eridu was abandoned – at the time YeHoVaH confused the Language and spread the peoples out of the areas they had settled before the confusion. Archeological findings indicate a period of rapid decay occurring after the Late Uruk expansion and the rise of the cities throughout the Mesopotamian region.

After the Confusion of Language, Eridu was abandoned for hundreds of years.

This coincided with the Uruk expansion. Archeologists have found the spread of the Uruk and its successor culture Jemdet Nasr spreading from lower Mesopotamia (Shinar) to areas throughout Mesopotamia and beyond.

The descendents of Noah continued to spread out across the globe after the Confusion of Language, spreading and developing various cultures as they went. As we are told in the Bible, the sons of Noah and their descendants each spread in different directions, although it must be understood that there was mixing of the various clans from the beginning. Erudu was later reestablished after the 750 years absence.

About the Author:

As a child in elementary school, only attending church on Easter, the author did not feel strange when getting down on their knees and praying to GOD. Entering high school, the pull to understand GOD became greater and greater. A study of various religious books began – the Bible, Islam, eastern religions and thoughts were all examined. After reading the Hebrew Bible and particularly Isaiah 56:7 – “I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

The author determined that the GOD of the Hebrew Bible was in fact GOD. The author then began following the Hebrew traditions.

After earning an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League University and a law degree, the author began a successful law practice, joining the ranks of the millionaire’s club while living in Brentwood, CA near Beverly Hills. Life continued with marriage by a Rabbi and a family – until disaster hit. Business fell apart and bankruptcy left the author with nothing except faith in GOD which continued. A period of moving back and forth across the USA, 6 times in 8 years, finally resulted in settlement in the eastern USA. Upon finally deciding to stay in the east, one last trip was needed to the west by the author. During this trip, GOD brought an understanding to the author which changed everything and led to the writing of this book.

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