Light a Candle for the Beast by Echo Shea – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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Congratulations to Echo Shea on the release of Light a Candle for the Beast. This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. One randomly drawn winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card and ecopy of Light a Candle for the Beast. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

11_27 echo LightaCandle_CoverIf you’ve ever been caught in a riptide, pulled down into the water, then you know me. Or, more accurately, what I’m like when I’m angry.

Delia was beautiful, smart, and kind. He wasn’t. He said he loved her, but he didn’t know what love was. He was manipulative and cruel — more than a thief. A beast.

All she wanted was a rose…

These are the words on my sister’s grave. Her sadness, her obsession, forever a reminder I didn’t–couldn’t save her.

I’m not vindictive or cruel. I’m simply as the river–my memory is winding and my reach is long. I watched him steal her beauty, her essence. Watched him become a beast. He thought he’d get away with it, thought he’d go free.

I lay a rose upon my sister’s grave.

Light a candle for the beast.

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:

Silence casts a pall over the graveyard in the late twilight of evening as I glance down at the graves of row upon row of my ancestors. I’ve only known a few of them, my mother, father, and both of my sisters.

Errol, the crow that follows me day and night, and holds me to the land, preens its feathers as it sits atop my sister’s headstone.

“Delia Belle Adjour 1654-1734 All she wanted was a rose.”

I stare at it for a moment before laying the cut long-stem rose on her grave. I’ve thought so many times, I should use white roses for purity, for the childlike state she lived in during the time she was on this earth, but I can’t do it. Red is vibrant, dark, and passionate.

“I’ve always liked red,” she says from where she stands behind me.

At any other time, I might’ve jumped and screamed, clutched at her, begging her not to go again. But, not this time. I know she’s nothing more than the ghost of herself when she was at her best, before the incident that left her scarred and broken.

About the Author:Echo Shea is an Urban Fantasy writer. Known for fast-paced and sometimes chilling prose, she hunkers down at her desk with characters that not only enchant, but excite her. There’s something so freeing about writing beyond what seems possible.

Who says there’s not something more hiding in these Maryland woods?

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Facebook Author Page ~ Pinterest ~ Smashwords Author Page ~ Goodreads Author Page
Buy the book at  
Roane Publishing
Amazon (UK)

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Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton – Q&A

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A special thanks to Mary Burton to stopping by Long and Short Reviews to answer a few questions.


What inspired you to start writing?  
How I wish I had a fascinating and unique answer to this question! However, my irresistible pull to writing is similar to many other writers—a fact reinforced at the many conferences and reader events I’ve enjoyed attending this year.   Quite simply, I’ve always had stories buzzing around in my head. It doesn’t take much for me to get going—a random comment, a picture, a bit of research—and I’m off and running spinning the next tale.


How long have you been writing?  

I started when my children were babies (20 months and 5 months) and—though hard to believe looking back—I wrote during their nap times. They’re now out of college, which leads me to believe my math is correct and I have, indeed, been writing for just over twenty years Thankfully, they were both good “nappers” and I was able to grab two-three hours a day to work. I sold my first book when my youngest entered kindergarten, just as I settled into a new writing schedule dictated by the daily arrivals of the school bus. Even with my now empty nest, I to this day still have a tendency to take a break right around 2:30 p.m.


What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?  

Write every day.  You don’t have to write for long, but take a little time each day to work.  It’s amazing how five minutes at the computer can turn into twenty minutes or even two hours.  The pages add up quickly if you make writing a daily priority.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?  

I never have suffered from writer’s block and I really don’t believe in it.  It’s about sitting down at the computer and typing and trusting that if you keep pushing the words will come.  Granted there have been days when the words have not been inspired but I can go back later and fix those not so pretty words.  I can’t fix a blank page.


How do you develop plot and character?

I’ve learned to start with character.  I’ve tried to begin a novel with a gimmick but I always end up spending twice as much time on rewrites and finally circling back to character.  I like to dig into my character’s strengths and especially their weaknesses.  Frankly, it can be the weaknesses that make them interesting, and when I find their Achilles Heel I can really begin to put them through their paces.


Describe your writing space.

I realized early on that where you write can be incredibly important and that it is important to me that I have a dedicated space. My spaces have changed over the years. When I began the only empty space I had was the living room, which had no furniture at the time.  I finally was able to upgrade it with some second hand office furniture which I still have today. It was smack in the heart of the house, which was very important to me then as the kids were little no one could get in our out of the house or even to the street in front of our house without me knowing it. My office was pretty much the command center of the house while the kids were little.  Now, it’s a lot less cluttered and a little more decorated but it is basically the same.


11_27 book cover CoverYourEyes_280COVER YOUR EYES kicks off Mary Burton’s quartet of Nashville-set suspense novels exploring Music City’s dark side, pitting Detective Deke Morgan against Rachel Wainwright, the lawyer whose fight to free a convicted killer threatens the department’s and his father’s reputation.  Burton has been compared to Steig Larson**, Lisa Gardner*** and Lisa Jackson****, and was recently dubbed “the modern day Queen of Romantic Suspense” by Book Reporter.  She is the author of several national bestsellers, including  You’re Not Safe and The Seventh Victim, and her novels have been praised as “excellent” (Suspense Magazine), “compelling” (Publishers Weekly) and “deliciously thrilling ” (Fresh Fiction).  COVER YOUR EYES is being published as a paperback and eBook original.

DNA is at the heart of the controversial murder verdict challenged in Burton’s latest. The case, the killing of a rising star on Nashville’s music scene, was closed thirty years ago by Deke’s illustrious father, Buddy Morgan. Deke, protective of his colleagues and his father’s legacy, and Rachel, determined to reopen the case, are at odds & both hold out for their own interests, unwilling to share new information or potential evidence. Neither anticipates the decades-old killing to reverberate in the present, but it does when the seemingly unrelated beating death of a young, destined-for-success singer leads to a string of violent slayings linked by broken dreams and echoes of the past.

As brutality and fear escalate, the stakes rise.  Long-held beliefs begin to fray, including those of Deke’s siblings, all of whom follow in their father’s law enforcement footsteps. When anonymous clues, new evidence and continued attacks make it clear that no one involved is safe—especially Rachel, already assaulted twice—the time for secrets is clearly over, and  Deke and Rachel join forces, risking everything to stop the killing.

Once again, Burton blends forensic science, criminal profiles and human frailty to create a suspenseful tale of pursuit and capture, layering fact and fiction to build for a story of relationships, love, loss and the quest for justice.

Her next Nashville set novel featuring the Morgan family, BE AFRAID, is second son Rick’s story. Recovered from the gunshot that nearly killed him and now part of the homicide team, he and partner Jake Bishop pursue an obsessed killer ruled by fantasies. It will be published in May 2015. In October, her novella A Ranger for Christmas

will be featured in the trade paperback original holiday anthology OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS along with stories by

#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson, Mary Carter, and Cathy Lamb.


*Book Reporter **Publishers Weekly ***Library Journal ****Library Journal



11_27 mary burtonMary Burton is the author of twenty-two published novels and four novellas, including  her latest, CLOSE YOUR EYES, the first of four stories set in Nashville featuring the city’s preeminent law enforcement family, the Morgans, and her “Texas Ranger” books, You’re Not Safe, No Escape and The Seventh Victim.  Her earlier work includes I’m Watching You, Dead Ringer and Dying Scream, set in Richmond, her hometown, Richmond, and Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, set in Alexandria.  Mary’s intensive research has led to interviews with law enforcement, seminars and classes, and the firing range.  She is a graduate of the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and the Richmond FBI Citizen’s Academy, and has attended Sisters in Crime’s Forensic University program and the Writers Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina.

A Richmond native whose family roots run as deep as the nation’s, Mary has lived there for most of her life.  She graduated from Virginia’s Hollins University and had a career in marketing before committing to write full time. Her first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000. She is a member of Thriller Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She travels often for signings and other appearances.  She is a frequent speaker regarding writing and genre fiction, and continues to present her “Unraveling Romantic Suspense” workshop and her day-long program “Writing Your Book…The First Step.”

Mary is currently at work on her fourth Nashville-set suspense novel.



Rest Thy Head by Elaine Cantrell

Rest Thy Head by Elaine Cantrell
Publisher: Astrea Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (233 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

Running away from a fiancé who betrayed her, Peyton O’Malley finds employment at a beautiful mountain inn called Rest Thy Head. She didn’t expect to live in the haunted room or to fall for the inn’s owner, a fire-scarred, war veteran who uses the inn to hide away from the world. She didn’t expect her sister to show up at Rest Thy Head either, much less her formidable mother.

Now, thanks to the aid of a friendly ghost, Peyton has a shot at true love, and so does her sister Ashley, provided the guys cooperate of course!

If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a touch of mystery, Rest Thy Head might just be the book for you.

Not one, but two romances occur here, which was fun. I really liked Ashley. She’s determined and strong (she has to be after her mother all but disowned her for having a child outside of wedlock) and interesting. Peyton took longer to grow on me. At the start she’s weak and spineless and lets her mother and fiancé walk all over her and I was so incredibly frustrated with her. Her mother is horrible and I wouldn’t have been as forgiving as the sisters were at the end of this book. I found absolutely nothing redeemable about the woman. To be honest, had I not been reading this for review, I might not have continued. However, I’m glad I did.

The story is sweet and romantic if occasionally somewhat predictable. Petyon catches her fiancé in in a compromising position, but it takes more than that before she finally realizes he really is a cad, and runs away. She’s supported in this by her sister, and berated by her mother, but she stands by her decision and even finds a job at the inn where she decides to stay for a bit, Rest Thy Head.

There’s a lot going on here: a scarred veteran with confidence issues, an ex-fiancé who doesn’t want to be an “ex”, and even a ghost who is funny, sweet and hands down my favorite character in the book. There’s also enough suspense to keep you turning pages.

There were some things in the book that could have been cleaned up and tightened by better editing. Some awkward point-of-view violations and a few instances of narrator intrusion. These are pet peeves of mine, and may not bother another reader. Also, the dialogue didn’t always feel natural and, when I read it aloud, was stilted. Still, the author has talent for descriptions (I could see the inn and the setting clearly, as well as the horses, stables and more) and I enjoyed the fact this story didn’t rely on sex to drive the romance. The characters had plenty of attraction, certainly, but were allowed to build a foundation of friendship and respect instead of relying on that “zing” to start with and then do the rest in reverse order.

It’s a decent story and left me with a smile. Recommended to lovers of sweet romance.

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Deviation by Christine Manzari – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a cover reveal for the re-release of Christine Manzari’s DEVIATION. One randomly drawn winner will be awarded a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Being a Sophisticate of the Program seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal: a little genetic alteration and anyone can be smarter, faster, and stronger. It’s a dream come true. All you have to give up is your freedom.

Cleo is a Sophisticate and she has a bright future in the Program. But she has a secret. When she gets upset, bad things happen. Explosive things. Things she can’t control.

When her secret is discovered, she’s sent to the Academy to train in the military branch of the Program. She’s destined to be a human weapon in the war that’s been going on since Wormwood occurred nearly 30 years ago. She soon learns that although her ability is unique, there are others like her — other Sophisticates with lethal skills and odd code names like Archerfish and Mimic Octopus.

Immersed in a dangerous game of supernatural powers and dubious motives, Cleo doesn’t know who to trust. Ozzy, the annoyingly attractive cadet who has perfect aim in weapons class and deviant lips behind closed doors, begs her not to use her powers. He’s the golden boy of the Program, but can she trust him? Or will she find herself a target, caught in his crosshairs?

Enjoy an excerpt:

My hands were shaking. My blood was on fire and my skin was crawling as if my insides were actually boiling. Air. I needed air. I tried to crawl off the bed and get to the window, but the words from the email were blazing through me — a bellowing inferno of indignation.


Cease and Desist.






My hands covered my ears as the words screamed through my head. Or was I screaming?

Pressure was building inside me and I just wanted to let it go, to feel relief. It was too much. I was too hot.


The computer exploded, throwing flaming plastic and metal across the bed. The television answered with its own death, spewing its fiery innards onto the desk and floor, igniting the carpet instantly. The rage in my chest echoed like a heartbeat and with each pulse, something in the room burst into flames. In less than a minute, I was surrounded by broken and burning bits of my room, all of them melting or on fire. A small untouched circle of floor under my feet was my haven, my island in the disaster. Flames raced up the drapes, licking at the ceiling as shards of glass from the window fell inward with an eerie tinkling.

I stared in disbelief, unable to move, as the room burned around me and smoke curled to the ceiling like agitated ghosts. The goldfish flopped helplessly among the wet rubble of his shattered home. Pictures hanging on the wall curled up in the heat, catching flame and falling to the floor in large, ashy flakes.

What had I done?

About the Author:

The first thing Christine does when she’s getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She’s addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeine-laden bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.



Buy the book at Amazon, Smashwords, or Smashwords.

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Curious Stories by Gregory Eaves – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

MediaKit_BookCover_CuriousStoriesIf you like mysteries with a surprise twist at the end, then Curious Stories is for you. This is a small diverse collection of mystery short stories, ranging from the noir detective story to supernatural suspense. Neurotic characters and strange turns populate the pages of this quick and entertaining read.


He started to nod off to sleep, the rum still sloshing around in his skull. He laid the book on a heavy wooden table and stretched out on his sofa yawning, trying to remember his Uncle Jim. He had only spoken to him over the phone, as a child. Maybe his father’s side was friendlier, he mused, as the lights faded and his consciousness glided into sleep. The last image in his mind was of a phone ringing through a receiver, endlessly, with no one picking it up on the other end.


The southern California landscape outside his car window was new to Grover, and he liked it at first. It was filled with varying shades of green and tawny brown, and the air was still warm. The dry heat felt better than Indiana’s cool fall weather. The smell of car exhaust was strong on the freeway though, and the sunny brightness everywhere was starting to give the scenery a washed-out look, the way a photograph looks when overexposed. Then there were the Santa Ana winds that always came in October.

He hadn’t heard about the Santa Anas. When a San Jacinto weather report described them on the radio, how they whistled down through the canyons from the high desert, hot and dry, he wondered out loud if the grit could cause a gun to jam. He laughed and patted his side. The Walther PPK was snuggled close against his ribcage, but it wasn’t uncomfortable yet. That was a good sign. He had chosen that gun, of World War II vintage, from his private collection because it was smaller and easier to carry than his Glock. It didn’t have great firepower or accuracy, and it was old, but he wasn’t really expecting to need it. He just felt naked without a firearm.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_GregoryEavesGregory Eaves was born October 18, 1950, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Speedway High School and Indiana University. In his twenties, he traveled extensively throughout the United States, with an eight year stay in San Diego, California, where he studied and practiced meditation.

Gregory moved to Florida and completed a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Library school rekindled his interest in reading, which had been his favorite activity as a child growing up. Mysteries had been his first love, and he devoured his first mystery books with singular passion and zeal. Nothing else seemed to hit the sweet spot like reading The Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, and Poirot. He later enjoyed authors like Raymond Chandler, John D. McDonald, Graham Greene, Patricia Highsmith, and others.

SCHISM is Gregory’s first novel. His prior experience with writing included poetry and short stories. One of his short-shorts won runner-up in a contest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

He now lives on the east coast of Florida, and when he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing guitar and collecting vintage stereo gear and vinyl records. He is a member of American Mensa.

Website ~ Amazon Author Page

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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High Andes by Rolf Margenau – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Wylie Cypher, suffering from a mid-life crisis, decides to challenge fading youth by taking a trekking vacation across the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains) of the High Andes in Peru with his daughter, Mercy, just graduated from college. It is 1981.

While working with legal clients in Lima, he inadvertently acquires documents that contain explosive and damning evidence about the Peruvian government’s extreme interrogation techniques. He learns that something is amiss when police detain and torture him. He loses his little toe. A series of misunderstandings precipitate a heart-pounding chase across the high mountains as two sets of villains – government thugs and members of the communist guerrilla Sendero Luminoso – seek out the Cypher group with murderous intent. Combat in the thin air of the mountains, deceptions of numerous sorts, hairbreadth escapes, torture, action in underground caves populated with mummies, and unexpected plot twists fill the pages of this book.

It is in the United States’ national interest to observe the growing communist threat in its hemisphere, so C.I.A. agents are involved. While Wylie and his cohorts are running for their lives, the author also reports on international smuggling of historical artifacts, the fate of a 600-year-old child mummy, and the ancient spirit of the mountains, Pachamama.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The special child seemed almost weightless in his arms as he approached the niche in the rocks where he intended to place her. Ayar continued to gauge his ascent carefully, constantly scanning the path below and the horizon. Special concern was necessary, as the Chimu had not yet settled the war between their nations. They still sent out raiding parties even as far south as Huaraz.


The body of the four-year-old girl he carried was the daughter of Cuca, wife of Maita Capac. Cuca herself was now sick with the plague that lay like a dark hand on the people of the White Mountains. That disease had quickly taken the life of her firstborn, the lively and adored Cocohuay, named for the turtledoves kept in a dovecote outside her window.

The sickness spread almost faster than the noble runners could report. There was news about strange white people at Tumbes in the north. They wore silver jackets and sat on four-legged beasts three times the size of the largest llama. They had huge wooden houses that went on the sea, and sticks that carried thunder.

The plague began at Tumbes, and the wooden houses left two of the strange men there and sailed away. Huayna Capac sent to have them brought to him, but they were lost along the way. Now the ruler’s people in Chavín de Huántar were dying. The embalmer’s services were in high demand.

Cuca called Ayar when her little daughter died. As wife of the regional administrator, Cuca was highly placed and her demands took priority. Not that the embalmer would have denied her. Once he saw the frail little child carefully arranged on the low table among sweet-smelling grasses and flowers, and noted the florid flush of her face and body, his heart went out to the grieving mother. He would do all he could to prepare the little girl.

About the Author:

The author of Public Information has had a varied career. He has been a scrub nurse in an operating room, a professional photographer, a soldier during the Korean War, a correspondent for the Pacific Stars and Stripes, an attorney specializing in international corporate law, a volunteer executive running a not-for-profit dedicated to housing the homeless, a manager of large and small businesses and, lately, an author and Master Gardener.

He first published short stories as an English Major from Yale. Finding the double-digit pay for that work insufficient to support a wife and one and a half children, he went to law school in hopes of finding better paying work. Fortunately, that proved to be the case.

When the author discovered that his wife kept all the 300 plus letters he wrote her from Korea, he decided to use that material as the basis for a novel about the Korean War. It was a story he had wanted to tell for many years.

Public Information is based on his experiences as NCO in charge of a combat Infantry Division Public Information (hence the title) Office in Korea. It tells the story of Wylie Cypher, a hapless young soldier who arrives in Korea in the midst of bloody combat. Wylie manages to survive his sixteen-month tour of duty as Margenau recounts in gory, ribald, poignant and accurate detail. His adventures are recounted in military jargon and his sometimes abrasive involvement with the “Army way” describes the good, bad and incredible of life in the military. Along the way, Wylie manages to find and lose love.

Other veterans have found the story authentic and highly illustrative of the background and details of the Korean War. Publisher’s Weekly commented on the author’s ability to create a sense of time and place. During the summer of 2012, Public Information became an Kindle best seller.

Pistils and Poetry is the author’s second book. It is a compilation of Margenau’s favorite Elizabethan poems (Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and numerous others) juxtaposed with the author’s photographs of flowers. It is a rich and engaging poetry book, enhanced and complimented by luscious photos of flowers. The book is considered as an elegant way to tease reluctant poetry readers into an appreciation of the beautiful sentiments and language of long ago masters of the English language.

Encouraged by the reception for his first novel, Margenau published Master Gardener, his second novel, in March 2013. It is a story that explores conflicts between the benefits of engineered crops and their potential for ecological disaster. Wylie Cypher, the hero of Public Information, is now seventy-five years old. He uses his life and legal experience to defend one of the women in his life, Anne Proctor, against the machinations of malevolent BIG AG. Senior citizens band together as eco-terrorists to save the monarch butterfly, and Dick Geier, the ruthless and profane CEO of BIG AG, engages in corporate shenanigans that reflect current headlines. The story is set in Middletown, New Anglia, not too far from Philadelphia, and episodes along the Amazon River in Peru bracketed by episodes along the Amazon River in Peru.

His third novel, published in August 2014, is High Andes. The central narrative follows Wylie Cypher, in his mid-forties and suffering from a serious mid-life crisis, and his daughter, Mercy, as they try to elude various villains chasing them across the White Mountains of Peru. The story deals with armed insurrection by Maoist guerillas, smuggling ancient artifacts, “disappearances” of troublemakers, a five hundred year old child mummy, and the CIA.

Rolf Margenau lives in rural New Jersey with his wife, three dogs, a 1932 Chrysler convertible, and a flower garden favored by monarch butterflies. He is now working on his fourth novel. Tentatively titled National Parks, the story recounts what happens, in the near future, when Congress decides to nationalize America’s National Parks.

Buy High Andes at Amazon

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The Most Romantic City in the World by Arianna Giorgi – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Arianna Giorgi is guest blogging with us as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ariana will be awarding an original handmade Venetian mask from Venice to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Hello beautiful ladies, it’s a pleasure to be your guest. These days here in Rome the weather is awful and I’m now under a blanket, with my cat curled up in my lap and a piping hot cup of tea next to me. And I’m alone! No husband and no girls around. Well, of course I love my family but it’s nice to spend some time on my own every now and then.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read a romance set in Italy, but if you love the Venice scenario, you will love this story.

Have you ever to the most romantic city in the world? Have you ever enjoyed a gondola trip? This is your chance to experience Venice because in Unmask My Heart the city is a true character, like the protagonists.

And if that is not enough to convince you, let me invite you to Like my Facebook author page where I posted photos of the places mentioned in the book.

I was asked what kind of writer I am. To begin with, I’m a writer who would love to have more time to write. The ones of you who are full time workers like me, wives, mothers and cats’ official cuddler, can fully understand me. But I learned how to use every free minute.

I’m a writer who loves historical romance. I love when my readers can enjoy the times and places that I describe in my books. I like when they tell me they feel part of the story, do what my characters do and feel what they feel. And I like to be an honest writer, I want to write only about what I know. This is why I visit every place I write about. Because I believe that readers deserve a believable sense of space and time.

When I need inspiration or I need to collect my thoughts, I run away.

I have a beach house on the beautiful coast of Tuscany. That’s my refuge. When I’m there, I look at the sea, at the Elba Island rising from the Mediterranean Sea right in front of my windows, and I let my imagination go wherever it wants.

Right in the moment when I was just looking at the Elba Island I remembered there was Napoleon’s prison. Then I thought it would be a nice idea to open my book on an island.

Yes, ideas come to me when I am away from home. I wrote Unmask My Heart’s plot during a road trip around Tuscany. One day here, one day there. While visiting castles, walled cities, roofless cathedrals and swords in the stone, Unmask My Heart came to life.

Tuscany gave it life, Rome gave it strength, and Venice gave it magic.

I’m waiting for you on my Facebook author page to talk about Brando and Isabella and much more. Original Venetian giveaways are waiting for you. See you soon!

11_26 arianna CoverUnmask My HeartWhen Rome’s loveliest rose and Venice’s fiercest lion team up to win back the love of their respective spouses-to-be, the Serene Republic may expect a hilarious romp – and perhaps the most torrid love story to have ever bedazzled its gilded canals…

Survived a pirate attack on the Isle of Lina, Venice’s sturdiest outpost, Roman Princess Isabella Pamphili and Venetian war hero Brando Loredan escape from the island and arrive in Venice.

Isabella discovers her fiancé is a cheat, her bride dream a lie. Her future husband, the man she loves with all her heart is flirting in… Brando’s fiancée’s arms!

Shock. Disappointment. Anguish. Fear for her future. The rascal deserves a lesson he will not forget, because a princess of Rome doesn’t bow out so easily. Brando Loredan will not be that hard to convince for he is jealous, angry and vindictive enough to get some brilliant idea. So she joins forces with him to get back her fiancé and put together the little dream back on track. But while trying and insisting on regaining the dream, she discovers a new path of light and love. It is not a lie, like the first dream, but it may be even harder to win.

Unmask My Heart is a story of love and sweet revenge set in sparkling, sumptuous Casanova’s Venice where everything is possible and sins are concealed behind a mask.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Brando grabbed her by the arm and forced her to turn around. She struggled against him, punching her fists on his chest.

“Unhand me.” The princess looked like a puppy facing a lion. Brando dragged her in a hidden corner and pinned her between his body and the wall.

“Stop running away, Isabella.”

“Let me go.” She panted and refused to look at him.

“No. I’ll never let go.”

With a deep sigh, Isabella wiped away her tears that threatened to overflow, and collapsed into his arms.

Brando’s arms slid around her waist to hold her upright.

Isabella looked up at him. Brando drowned in her clear emerald pools. His knees were weak and, his desire to kiss her devoured him. He pushed her ermine soft hair from her face. That neck, that skin … his fingers tried, struggled in every possible way not to touch her. Brando wanted with all his heart to act like a friend. He sincerely wished to comfort her but his hands ached for her, his lips craved her kiss.

He wanted to scrub away the desire for her kiss. Isabella was here in his arms and he could never love her, or taste her as he wished. His face contorted with the pain in his heart.

Isabella stepped closer and wrapped her arms around his neck.

It was too much for him. Brando’s hands cupped her neck and her shoulder. His fingers trailed along her neck and she leaned her head back.

Isabella was there, she wanted love, consolation and passion.

About the Author: 11_26 arianna authorpicArianna Giorgi is a historical romance author and a journalist, a college graduate and an avid reader. She makes her home halfway between the Vatican City and the picturesque old quarter of Trastevere at the heart of the city of Rome in Italy, where Julius Caesar kept an apartment as a young man about town and from where a long list of artists gave the world some of its greatest masterpieces.

She has an intrinsic appreciation of beauty and everything eccentrically romantic, including a strong affiliation to the city of Venice which she visits at least twice a year.

Independent and curious, Arianna has travelled extensively around the globe, from America to Africa and back to Europe. Frankly, she never misses a chance to pack her bags and jump on a plane. Driven by a passion for European history and art, she wanders and investigates every hidden corner of the Old Continent, armed with a camera and a notebook, and looking for intriguing stories and settings for her books.

She loves history, astrology, gourmet cooking, and cats. She lives with her husband, her beautiful daughters and her red cat, surrounded by her own cultivated flowers and the magical grandeur of the Eternal City.

Facebook ~ Amazon Author Page

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An Amish Christmas Quilt by Charlotte Hubbard, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Kelly Long

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

11_25 Cover_An Amish Christmas QuiltA Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant

Seth Brenneman didn’t expect his holiday would include rescuing pregnant young Mary Kaffman and her two children…or having unexpected feelings for the still-grieving widow. But when they must play the leads in an impromptu live Nativity pageant to help his Amish community, will their roles reveal their hearts—and work a miracle for a lifetime?

A Perfect Amish Christmas

Anna and Felty Helmuth’s grandson, Gideon, plans to spend Christmas on a beach in sunny Mexico. But Anna is quite sure he’d rather be with them, snowshoeing, ice fishing—falling in love. And she knows the perfect girl. Not only is Dottie Schrock an excellent quilter and baker, she’s having a party. There’s just one complication—Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas—and true love-will change her mind, and her future …

Enjoy an excerpt from A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant:

Mary Kauffman clutched herself as another contraction ripped through her insides. Fresh tears sprang to her eyes as she somehow kept from screaming—somehow kept the lines in her hand while the horse and buggy continued down the unfamiliar road. Was she anywhere near Willow Ridge and Aunt Miriam’s? How much longer could she possibly keep driving, now that her water had broken?

“Are we there yet?” five-year-old Lucy whined from the back seat.

“Are we lost?” Sol asked in a testier voice. At seven, he was more acutely aware than Lucy of how their father’s death was affecting their family—and more critical of Mary, as well. “I’m pretty sure we should’ve turned left onto that last blacktop we crossed.”

Oh, but Mary wanted to scream—except Sol might be right. She was so frightened and in such excruciating pain, it was entirely possible that she’d forgotten which county road passed through Willow Ridge . . . because you’ve always been riding to Aunt Miriam’s rather than driving . . . always depended upon Dat or Elmer to get you where you needed to go.

Lucy’s two cats scuffled in the cardboard box on the seat beside Mary, and then a ginger paw poked through a breathing hole in the top of the makeshift carrier. When one of them yowled, Rowdy, their border collie, let out a disciplinary woof.

Lucy begin sniffling again. “Can I please let the kitties out to—”

“No!” Mary snapped more vehemently than she intended. “We’ll be at Aunt Miriam’s in just a few—”

“I don’t ever remember seeing those black and white cows before,” Sol remarked tersely. “We need to turn around and—Rowdy, no! You can’t get out and chase those cows!”

About the Authors: 11_25 AuthorPic2Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and the Forever After in Apple Lake series, set in two Amish communities in beautiful Wisconsin. She has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth, the two scheming Amish grandparents who try to help their grandchildren find suitable mates in Huckleberry Hill. Who would ever suspect two elderly Amish folks of mischief?

Jennifer has a degree in mathematics, which comes in handy when one of her six children needs help with algebra. After twenty-five years of being a chauffeur, cook, maid, and nurse, she embarked on a writing career. Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America and is represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and two adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten.

You can find out more about Jennifer and her books by going to her website: , visiting her Facebook page: Jennifer Beckstrand Fans or Twitter: @JenniferBeckst1.

11_25 AuthorPic1Charlotte Hubbard

Many moons ago—like, in 1983 while I was still a school librarian—I sold my first story to True Story magazine. This launched me into writing about seventy of those “true confessions” stories over the years, and I’ve been a slave to my overactive imagination ever since. My stories invariably take on a life of their own, different from the way I’ve proposed them: I love it when unforeseen characters and plot twists come along, because they keep me guessing right along with my readers!

I love touring historic homes, trying new recipes, crocheting, and playing with my border collie Ramona—although it’s humbling, having a dog smarter than I am! I’m an ordained Presbyterian deacon, and I devote a lot of time to singing in my church choir and to practicing/performing with our percussion ensemble. I’m celebrating more than thirty-five years with my husband, who—bless him—has never once suggested I get a real job! or Facebook

Buy the print book at Kensington Books, The Book Depository, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, B-A-M, Chapters, IndieBound, or Powell’s. Buy the ebook at Kensington Books, Kindle, Nook, or iBooks.

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10 Questions for Creating Great Characters by Brian and Juliet Freyermuth – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

10 Questions for Creating Great Characters

Your reader should have a new friend or enemy by the time they finish reading your story. Whether we’re writing a novel or short story, we want our readers to team up with our main character and plot the destruction of anyone who hurts them. Here are questions we ask ourselves as we create a new character.

1. What is their role in the story?
It doesn’t matter if they are the main character, the villain or the guy who gets the coffee, all your characters need to have a role in your story. The guy who gets coffee might wind up being a spy for the villain, have more of a role in the next book or simply make your characters stronger. Felix was a very minor vampire character in Demon Dance, the first book of the Sundancer series. He gave Nick a bag of blood and let Nick see a body in the morgue. In Mind of the Beast though, Nick needs to find out who killed Felix’s friend. Not only do we get to see more of Felix’s motivations, but we get to know his history and what makes him tick.

2. What are their strengths?
Everyone, even the coffee guy, should have strengths. It might not show up in the book, but it’ll help you when you write your character. You should know as much about your character’s strengths as possible. Thelma is a former police officer. She knows how to use a gun really well and has an eye for detail that made her a good detective. This knowledge helped us when we wrote Mind of the Beast. It made her a stronger character and she was able to help Nick when they went to the murder victim’s house to look for clues.

3. What are their weaknesses?
Characters need to have emotional, physical and ethical weaknesses. Otherwise your characters will be as interesting as a piece of white toast, unbuttered. Character weaknesses will help you define the parameters of your story. In Nick’s case, he has super speed, strength, heals quickly and heightened senses, but he gets a really awful fever. He needs to eat red meat to even move after the adrenaline wears off.

4. Where do they come from?
Are they aliens from outer space or from Iowa? If it’s a real place, make sure to do enough research to fully define your character. Sure Iowa has corn, but what type of festivals do they have? What are their landmarks? Have any celebrities or notable figures lived there? How would a local describe it?

5. What do they look like?
Taking in all of what you’ve learned so far, close your eyes and picture them. If you’re having trouble picturing them, ask yourself who would play the role if it was made into a movie. Then take that actor and change their face slightly, their hair, etc, until you have a clear picture of them. You could even combine two actors. What would a cross between Patrick Stewart and Harrison Ford look like?

6. What type of entertainment to they like? (Books, T.V., movies, Roleplaying, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, torturing, juggling, jazz hands, etc.)
Your evil character could like reading classics after a long day of torturing people in his dungeon. In Mind of the Beast, Felix is a vampire who likes to have his blood laced with drugs. He was a flower child living on a commune when he was turned and held on to that part of himself. He also likes to play role-playing games. In our world, vampires need a connection with humanity to keep their humanity. Playing these games is what keeps him sane.

7. What is that one thing they can’t say no to?
We all have that exception to the rule. In Nick’s case, he wants to be isolated and write his novels but can’t say no to a friend who needs his help. Thelma is disciplined but will do something rash to protect children or someone she cares about.

8. What is their purpose, what drives them to do what they do?
Let’s look at the coffee guy again. Why does he get coffee? Thelma is a barista who owns her own coffee shop and likes the pace of it. This is so far from being a police officer that she isn’t haunted by her past mistakes.

9. What are their biggest accomplishments and/or defeats?
Accomplishments and defeats can be the driving factor behind a character’s actions. Fay, a Norse Goddess turned librarian can’t help but be very cryptic when she is helping. This goes back to her days of being a goddess of foreknowledge and wisdom.

10. What is their name?
After you answer all these questions, this is when I recommend naming or renaming your character. Would Ingrid be a better name than Luna in Harry Potter? What about Margaret or Jacqueline? Once you know your character it’s much easier to name them.
We hope this gives you an easier time creating one of the best parts of planning a story. One word of caution: Once you create these characters, you might have to redo your story if they don’t want to do what you want them to do. If that happens, listen to them. It can cause an awful case of writer’s block if you don’t. But, if you listen to them, not only will you have more fun writing your story, but it will be better too.

MEDIA KIT MindofthebeastFinalWhen a vampire asks Nick St. James to investigate his friend’s murder, the answer should have been easy, right? NO. Okay, not so easy. How do you say no to a friend like Felix?

Besides, with Thelma by his side, what could go wrong? She’s got that, umm … cute pink backpack of Voodoo magic. Of course it hurts that she manages to look good even when she accidentally conjures and gets possessed by a drunk loa. No, it won’t be at all distracting to have her along.

Since no good deed goes unpunished, a crazy man with starry eyes jumps out of the shadows at the victim’s apartment and pummels them. Their attacker doesn’t just beat them up but also infects them with some bad mojo that’s killing Thelma and making Nick angry … angrier.

If the trail to the suspect—the Green Man—is any indication, they’ll be killed before the poison finishes the job. The old gods are more dangerous than helpful. The Watchers—even the one who seems to have a brain—are always a hazard. And what’s with the all the minions? Who has minions anymore? Not to mention the rapid progression of the infection that quickly upgrades Nick’s condition to ‘blind-rage-filled.’

Why couldn’t Felix have just asked Nick to help him move?

Enjoy an excerpt:

She shot him again, but he continued toward her. Two bloodstains formed on his ratty shirt. He swung at her, but she quickly shifted to the left.

It was my turn. I punched him from the side and sent him flying into the desk across the room. Sounds of the monitor shattering and wood splintering filled the air as I rushed toward him.

Another sound of gunfire rang out but didn’t stop him from getting to his feet. He barreled toward me like a freight train. The gunshots slowed him considerably, but it didn’t stop him. Pain radiated through my chest as his fist made contact, sending me into the wall between the two rooms. A crack traveled up the wall to the ceiling, and plaster rained down around us.

More shots sounded as I got back to my feet. Two more holes opened in the man’s shirt. He was almost to Thelma when I grabbed him from behind. I used all my enhanced strength to lift him and toss him toward the kitchen. His body flew through the open door, smashing the wood of the frame in the process.

On the counter was the third gnome, his hands covering his speak-no-evil lips. I grabbed it and swung for the man’s head. It contacted with a sick thunk, and blood splashed across the gnome’s face. The bastard wouldn’t go down! I snarled and swung again, but this time he grabbed my wrist in midair and twisted it before tossing me to the ground.

About the Authors: MEDIA KIT Author Pict ColorAfter 18 years of marriage, Brian and Juliet Freyermuth decided to try something crazy; write a book together.

Brian’s writing is not limited to print. For twenty years he wrote and designed games such as Fallout, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Epic Mickey 2 and Lichdom: Battlemage.

Juliet’s love for writing began with a fourth grade assignment. She has been writing ever since. Her writing took a new direction when she enrolled in journalism and met amazing people. Whether it is an article about anthropology or a hero’s journey in a magical world, she hopes to inspire readers to new possibilities.

When Brian and Juliet aren’t writing, they enjoy reading, watching shows like Persons of Interest and going on road trips with their son, Kyle.



Brian: @brianfreyermuth

Juliet: @julietfrey




Buy Link:

Demon Dance (Sundancer, Book 1): Amazon

Mind of the Beast (Sundancer, Book 2): Amazon

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What In the World do Writers Tweet? by Joan Curtis – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One winner, randomly drawn by Rafflecopter, will receive a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Click the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What in The World Do Writers Tweet?

I’ve been exploring Twitter for writers. Recently I’ve participated in several nice discussions among writers to figure out what they tweet and if they tweet. The variation is amazing, but there are some interesting tips we writers can learn from other tweeters in the writing community

•If you are always tweeting about your own books, you’ll lose followers. That does not mean you cannot toot your own horn, just don’t do it every five seconds. Twitter enables you to tweet frequently (as frequently as you wish). I use to help me line up my tweets. For Twitter, I release 8 tweets a day versus Facebook’s 3 and LinkedIn’s 2 posts daily.

•Second, you need to say who you are on your profile. Tell visitors what you write. For me, I have the following moniker to introduce me:” Mystery/suspense author of The Clock Strikes Midnight. Coming November 25! Blogging at JoanSays”. Here’s another good example by Ann Stampler: Writer of YA’s Afterparty & Where It Began (Simon Pulse) & PB’s, rep’d by Brenda Bowen, & blogger of Really Bad Writing Advice a t

•Third, tweet good content. I find blogs that I love, and I tweet them regularly. One is The Kill Zone. I also tweet my own blog, but I intersperse it with many other blogs my followers might enjoy. The kinds of content I’m looking for are tips about writing from other writers, grammar conundrums, ideas about character development, tips for fiction writers or for mystery writers, plot development, reviews on books, marketing tips for writers, publishing tips, to name a few. I search the web and constantly add this content to my tweeter feed.

•Fourth, retweet other tweeters. Many of your followers are tweeting good content, too. Retweet what their good tips and information to your own followers. That way you kill two birds with one stone, i.e., you make the initial tweeter happy, and you don’t have to search all over the place for good content.

•Fifth, be sure to hashtag your tweets. Even if the person you are retweeting didn’t use hashtags, you should add them. That way people who are looking for particular content can find your tweets. I tend to use the following hashtags a lot #writingtips #writing #grammartips #reviews. You can make up your own. If you are tweeting a book review, be sure to hashtag the author’s name and the book title.

•Sixth, I’ve been experimenting with tweeting flash fiction. Once a week I write a short flash fiction story of about 3 paragraphs. Then I tweet one or two sentences of the story every day till the end. The hashtags enable my followers to read the entire story at once (or they can do so on my Twitter feed). I have no idea how this will work, but it’s something new, and it keeps my creative juices flowing.

So, these are a few of the things writers can tweet. What about you? What are you tweeting? How have you managed to build a strong following?

11_24 clock Cover_The Clock Strikes MidnightThe Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.

If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.

Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.

Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Daddy, when I get my kitty, can I name him Davy?” she had asked, yanking Marlene’s Davy Crockett mug full of M&M’s from her grasp.

The colorful candy spilled all over the backseat of the car.

“Mama, tell Janie to—”

“Janie, behave,” Daddy said, admonishing her for an instant with his eyes from the rearview mirror.

“Malcolm, look out—!” Mom screamed.

Janie slammed into Marlene. Pain. The world tumbled topsy-turvy. The mug flew across the interior of the car, colors of the rainbow falling all around her.

Then, everything went black.

When she opened her eyes, Mom’s blood-streaked face rose in front of her out of the darkness.

“Wrap your arms around my neck, honey.” Mom lifted her from the wreckage.

Janie clutched her doll by the dress while the rain beat her curly hair flat.

Marlene stood on the side of the road.

“Try to walk,” Mom said, toppling her from her arms.

Her head pounded and blood trickled down her leg. She leaned on her good leg and limped in the direction of her sister.

“Mama, where’s Daddy?” Marlene asked between sobs.

Mom took Marlene’s hand and yanked her forward with Janie in tow.

Marlene lurched back toward the smashed Oldsmobile with smoke billowing from its hood and a big tree lying across the roof. The Davy Crockett mug lay shattered by the back tire.

“Daddy! We can’t leave Daddy!” Marlene yelled, picking up pieces of the broken glass.

They had left Daddy that day and piled into an old Chevy pick-up truck with a bashed in headlamp, belonging to a man with carrot-red hair. Mom pushed them inside the truck and ordered the man to get help. But by then it was too late for Daddy.

It was too late for all of them.

About the Author:11_24 clock Author Pic_The Clock Strikes MidnightJoan Curtis authored four business books published by Praeger Press. She is also published numerous stories, including:

• Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004
• A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003 and Flint River Review, 1996
• Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002
• The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997
• A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997,
• My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994

Her first place writing awards include : Best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants competition, best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition, and best story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.

Other Books:

Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.

The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA

Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.

Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, Greenwood Press.

“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ MuseItUp Publishing Author’s page
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