Portrait of Passion by Lynne Barron – Spotlight and Giveaway

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 On sale for $0.99 at  Ellora’s Cave!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What’s a Viscount to do when a mysterious lady with a secret past and a reputation frayed around the edges suddenly appears in London in hot pursuit of his naive young cousin, setting the gossips’ tongues wagging, stirring his family into pandemonium, and driving him mad with her irreverent ways?

If the Viscount in question is Simon Easton, the answer is quite simple. Seduce the beguiling lady. But Miss Beatrice Morgan isn’t your average tarnished lady. She’s lived a slapdash life wandering the globe like a gypsy, painting fantastical portraits of Duchesses as Sirens and landscapes featuring a crumbling old fountain, all the while harboring a secret desire to return to Idyllwild, the only home she’s ever known.

What Simon does not know is that Beatrice just might be willing to sacrifice her honor, her virtue, her very heart to reclaim Idyllwild.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Who is she?” asked Simon Carlisle, Viscount Easton.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” replied his cousin Henry Tinsdale, the Earl of Hastings.

She was beyond beautiful, Lord Easton thought as he watched her across the ballroom. She was mesmerizing. The willowy blonde had captured the attention of every person in the room as soon as she had entered on the arm of Viscount Moorehead only moments before. Simon heard whispers of conversation behind the fluttering fans of a group of ladies standing behind him.

“A scarlet dress, can you imagine?”

“Not so surprising, surely? They say she’s an artist, of all things.”

“Artist? Is that what they are calling them these days?”

While the ladies of the ton whispered and stared, the gentlemen silently watched and circled about her, gradually closing the distance. From Simon’s vantage point some twenty paces away, the men appeared to be involved in a slow dance whose moves were carefully orchestrated to appear subtle. They were anything but.

Moorehead had yet to introduce his beautiful companion to anyone in the ballroom. They simply stood off to the side of the cavernous room, framed by two potted ferns, as if waiting for the hordes to come to them.

With a gesture that clearly spoke of familiarity and affection, her escort placed his hand upon the small of her back and leaned in to whisper in her ear. She evidently found his remark amusing, for she tossed her head back and laughed. Even across the crowded room he Simon could hear the echo of that laughter, mellow and dark.

About the Author:Write About What You Know.

Every Creative Writing Teacher and College Professor said these words to Lynne Barron in one form or another. But what did she know?

She knew she enjoyed the guilty pleasure of reading romance novels whenever she could find time between studying, working and raising her son as a single mother.

She knew quite a bit about women’s lives in the Regency and Victorian era from years spent bouncing back and forth between European History and English Literature as a major in college.

She knew precious little about romance except to know that it was more than the cliché card and a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day.

Then she met her wonderfully romantic husband and finally she knew.

Passion, Love and Romance.

And she began to write.

If you would like to learn more about Lynne Barron and the Idyllwild Series, please visit her website at LynneBarron.com or follow her at Facebook or Twitter.

Buy the book at Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. ($1.99 at Amazon/BN)

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How I Did the Research for Bringing Up Mike by Mark Duncan – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

How I did the research for Bringing Up Mike.

The idea for Bringing Up Mike came from Dan Kaufman, Director of the Information Innovation Office of DARPA, who postulated the concept of a baby AI (artificial intelligence) that grows up with you, with whom you would have a two-way conversation, correcting and educating it over time—like raising a child.

I speculated that the breakthrough to achieve this would require out-of-the-box thinking by a genius, someone who had insights that were uncorrupted by previous learning, i.e. a young prodigy. So where and how might a teenage genius do this? My initial research found that Caltech, a top-ranked but very small university in Pasadena, California that is known for young prodigies such as Stephen Wolfram, would be a likely location.

The federal government funds much university research, so it seemed that the initial deployment of such an AI might be at a federal facility. The March 2012 Wired magazine had an extensive article on a NSA facility in Utah, so this became the location where Mike would be hosted.

I decided that Mike’s creator, Joe, would feel that Mike wasn’t property or a slave, but should be treated as a person. The government disagrees. They agree in a contract that if Mike can pass a six-month long Turing test during which if no one realizes that Mike isn’t a human that legally he is to be treated as a person. Caltech stipulates that Joe will be an observer during this test, to intervene in preventing Mike from causing harm to any of the participants. This meant that the Turing test needed to be done in a rural location, both to limit the number of participants and to insure that no one recognizes Joe.

Additionally, I needed a place where a mobster might be relocated in a witness protection program. My research suggested that a rural area such as Shelbyville, Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville, met this criteria. Research on this area indicated that music and horses were topics that could be woven into the plot.

In essence, the general / background research was driven by the initial character / problem. The stallion and George character arcs provided the means to explore horses and music that are integral parts of living in Tennessee, and facilitated using horses and music to illustrate some of the challenges for an AI to completely pass as human.

After two months, I had a timeline with five character arcs and several conflicts for each. At this point I started writing the scenes for each chapter. I found that each scene took four to five days to write. The first days of a scene were spent doing specific or spot research, and the last few days writing. For example, I would need to know what the weather was like in October, what trees lose their leaves, and what color do they turn, and when?

As I wrote each chapter, I adjusted the timeline and character arcs, and in some cases, did additional background research. For example, Zeke, a black classmate, is a NASCAR enthusiast that Joe works with in restoring a car and becomes his close friend; has a father who owns a salvage yard. NASCAR, car restoration and salvage yards—each required spot research.

The smells, colors, sounds, feelings, and details of a place add dimension to a story and help make its characters real. If you get the details of a story wrong, it draws readers who are knowledgeable about them, out of the novel.

In doing research, the author’s temptation is to provide TMI (too much information.) But when is it too much? It depends on your audience. For horse enthusiasts, it is hard to provide too much information on equines; for someone with minimal interest in animals, the less said, the better. In Bringing Up Mike, horses are used to illustrate non-verbal communication and other topics relating to AI, even though they are not explicitly stated as such. Good editors excel in indicating to authors where TMI occurs.

It is very useful to have a systematic method to organize your research. In past years, writers often collected everything in a notebook. For myself, the writing program I used, Scrivener, enabled collecting all the research information and notes that I made into one document. When I worked on a chapter, I moved all of the relevant research notes adjacent to the section I was writing. I also created separate documents for newspaper, magazines, and photographs, and filed them in topic folders such as NSA, horses, and Shelbyville.

Last, there are many sources for research. Interviewing experts and people that have lived in an area is particularly useful—but avoid relying on a single person. Photographs, blogs, Wikipedia, books, magazines, newspapers, and videos—all are useful, but again, cross-check your information. Many research sources will not be found by a Google search—reference librarians can be invaluable.

 

MEDIA KIT CoverWhat happens when Joe, a teen prodigy makes drastic changes to his life and attends high school incognito with Mike, an artificial intelligence? His plans take an unexpected turn when he buys a neglected former racehorse.

Bringing Up Mike is a tapestry of intertwined stories over the course of a school year: A teen genius who has grown up too fast, a neglected former racehorse, a bereaved couple morning the death of their son, a girl struggling to attend college, and a former mobster determined to be top dog.

Bringing Up Mike is about people given a second chance at happiness and success and how they become better people and mature.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Mike, what’s the Rebel going to look like?”

“Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…” said Mike in the voice of Josef Fischer in The Illusionist.

Sue looked at the first website. “That’s a bit gaudy. It looks like a coloring book. How about something with all the headings and text in black with white backgrounds?”

“Behind door number two.”

“That’s better. But I didn’t mean no color—rather, to reserve it for use in photos, graphics, maps, and clip art. Put one big visual at the top, and a small one elsewhere on the page. A feature story under the main headline, with room for two or three smaller stories to follow it. Some tabs for the various departments.”

“And behind door number three.”

“Yes, you got it.” Sue looked puzzled. “Mike, how can you possibly prototype a website so quickly?”

“My dear, a magician never reveals his secrets,” said Mike in the voice of Gypsy from A Bug’s Life.

“What are you, superhuman?”

“They’re just off-the-shelf WordPress templates. I selected a subset developed for online newspapers. You change the CSS and bibbity-bobbity-boo, presto-chang-o, a new website!” Now he used the voice of the fairy godmother from Cinderella.

About the Author:MEDIA KIT Mark Duncan Headshot (72dpi)(Web)Mark Duncan grew up in Pasadena, not far from Caltech. In high school he spent Friday and Saturday nights at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) and subsequently was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club. He received his BSEE from UC Berkeley. He has worked or consulted for numerous startups in Silicon Valley. He lives in Menlo Park, near Stanford and has written extensively on emerging technology topics. He enjoys photography, movies, theater, fine dining and has visited all 50 states and much of Europe. He is the author of Bringing Up Mike, www.askmarpublishing.com, mark@askmarpublishing.com

Book Website ~ Publisher Website ~ Author Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Buy the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

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Curve My Song by Sarah Gai – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Curve My Song is now free everywhere, so be sure and pick up your copy today!  Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC at the rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Follow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls? This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. The first book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in. This novella has a lot of laughs and a little drama and introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment. These novellas will appeal to plus size or curvy women everywhere, especially those who enjoy books in the BBW (big, beautiful women), chicklit and women’s fiction genres. It’s just one of those reads that busy women of today can enjoy while they relate to the curvy ladies who aren’t super models but representative of your average everyday beauty.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Okay, okay,” I grumble, reaching my arm out, blindly trying to locate my phone, my head still nestled beneath the covers, with no intention of surfacing any time soon.

Whoever is trying to call me better have a damn good reason for doing so. I’m enjoying my sleep in, knowing I don’t have to start work until seven o’clock tonight. The phone ringing is beginning to drive me insane.

‘Ah ha!’ I finally find it hidden amongst last night’s clothes haphazardly thrown on the floor. Pulling my hand back under the covers, I answer the phone. “What?” I grumble.

“Bree, tell me you’re not still in bed?”

“Of course I’m still in bed, it’s still morning,” I snap at Elise. I’m not a morning person, never have been. It takes at least two cups of coffee to get me going and, of all people, Elise should know that. Especially if she wants me to be a little nicer right now.

“No, honey, it’s one o’clock, and would you like me to remind you that it’s Friday?”

“Of course I know it’s Friday, I’m singing at Skyla’s tonight. Now, let me get back to sleep.” She’s still on the other end of the phone, but there’s only silence, and I know she’s waiting for something. But what?

Then it hits me.

About the Author:

Sarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you’re in kind of fiction.

Website- http://www.sarahgai.com

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/sarahgaiauthor

Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/sarahgaicurvy

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/Sarahgai

Get the book at Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, or Barnes and Noble.

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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
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

 

ABOUT MARY BURTON 

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.

 

www.maryburton.com    http://www.facebook.com/maryburtonfanpage    www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

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.

Donors.

Cease and Desist.

Property.

Punishment.

Indiscretions.

Revoked.

Trusted.

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.

Exhale.

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.

Website: www.christinemanzari.com

Email: christine@christinemanzari.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChristineManzari
Twitter: twitter.com/Xenatine
Instagram: instagram.com/xenatine
Pinterest: pinterest.com/xenatine/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Christine_Manzari

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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.

Excerpt from SECRETS OF THE DEAD

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

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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 Amazon.com 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

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22849599-high-andes?ac=1

http://www.frogworks.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rolf-Margenau/771835992839701

http://twitter.com/RolfMargenau

https://plus.google.com/b/113399859611224723680/113399859611224723680/

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rolf-margenau/12/674/679

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6166920.Rolf_Margenau

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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

Buy the book at “http://www.amazon.com/Unmask-Heart-Lions-Venice-Book-ebook/dp/B00N7AW9BS/ref=la_B00LT8GI7G_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412275144&sr=1-1″>Amazon

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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!

www.CharlotteHubbard.com 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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