How I Handled the Research for The Last Great Race by Mark Morey – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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How I handled the research for The Last Great Race

The story of Achille Varzi is well known some of us who follow motor sport. At the peak of his career he may have been the highest paid sportsman in the world, and certainly he was one of the top two or three racing drivers of his era. And then he became involved with Ilse Pietsch, the wife of teammate Paul Pietsch, who, apparently, was a morphine addict. Varzi in turn became addicted to morphine, and that ended his racing career just when he could have been European Champion. The source of most of this was from the Mercedes Benz team manager of the time, Alfred Neubauer, who never let the truth get in the way of a good story! Research posted on discussion forums indicated that the commonly held view of Achille Varzi’s decline from a national sporting hero to drug addict wasn’t accurate in a number of areas.

Fortunately for me I speak and read Italian, partly because it’s an easy language to learn. I bought a biography of Achille Varzi written in Italian and I also bought the memoirs of Tonino Brivio, who was a fellow racing driver and a friend of Varzi. In the memoirs Paul Pietsch was adamant that his ex-wife hadn’t taken morphine while they were married, while Varzi suffered from pain from a stomach complaint in 1935, and he had an appendix operation in early 1936. This led me to believe that Varzi may have been taking morphine in 1935 to ease the pain of his untreated appendicitis, and one of three things happened. He became addicted because of taking morphine as a painkiller, he took morphine after the infamous banquet at Tripoli in 1936, or he took morphine after he was nearly killed when his car was blown off the circuit by a strong wind two weeks later. Ilse subsequently became addicted to morphine, and its common enough for partners of drug addicts to become addicted themselves.

The memoirs of Tonino Brivo were enlightening as regards the deep and almost overwhelming love that Achille felt for Ilse, and I used a few examples that Brivio quoted in my story. Certainly the love they felt for each other was strong by any standards, and perhaps even self-destructive. Brivio also gave information about Achille Varzi’s companion Norma Colombo, who lived with Varzi for a number of years before he left her for Ilse, and later returned to help him with his rehabilitation. Varzi was a deep-thinking introvert while Norma was a free-wheeling extrovert, and I had to reconcile why these two opposites were attracted to each other. They didn’t love each other but they did have a strong attraction that lasted many years.

There are a number of websites which outline motor racing in the 1930s, subsequently regarded as a golden era of the sport, and I used those websites to gather information about the cars, the circuits and the races, and incorporated that information into my story where appropriate. I also use online resources to map the path towards World War Two, and used that in the story. My World War Two sequence is set in Naples, Italy, and I bought the memoirs of a British secret service agent who was stationed there when the allies took control of the city. I used online resources to map out the many air raids on Naples, and to describe the way that life in that city slowly ground to a halt. There were many little details such as the communal air raid shelters, or the way they picked flowers and weeds to eat, and even raided the town aquarium for fish to eat. The organised crime gangs of Naples, the Camorra, are the largest organised crime organisation in the world, larger even than the Mafia. They returned to the fore when the Allies moved in and their role had to be explained. And finally I used the Internet to map out the four-day uprising where the locals of Naples drove the German army out of the city, which was one of very few examples of citizens fighting back. During World War Two many millions were taken away in cattle trucks, but the inhabitants of Naples stole rifles and fought the German army to prevent that happening to them. I thought that was special.

There is a lot in The Last Great Race and the story covers a lot of ground. The story is so strange in parts that there is little need to embellish what really happened. My task was to convert those many facts into a flowing story with broad appeal, to tell a tale that seems too unbelievable to be true, only it is.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheLastGreatRaceThis story is based around the life of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sportsmen of his era, Achille Varzi: multiple race winner, twice Racing Champion of Italy and a hero to his many followers. Told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian racing journalist Paul Bassi, we follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi’s life: his passionate love affair with Ilse, his tragic morphine addiction, his recovery from his addictions, his marriage to Norma and his re-signing to race for Alfa Romeo.

Only war intervenes, and Paul and his wife Pia leave Achille to spy for the British at the naval base in Naples. Paul and Pia endure hundreds of Allied air-raids, they join the partisans who fought off the German army until the Allies could rescue them, and then they survive in a near-ruined city as best they can.

By 1946 Italy is still shattered but life is returning to normal, and no more normal is Achille Varzi winning the Grand Prix of Italy that year. Over the next two seasons Achille Varzi scores more successes, until he makes his only ever driving mistake and is killed in Switzerland in 1948. Even though he died too young, Paul and Pia know that Achille Varzi would never have lived in his life in any other way.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Achille crashed,” she said and drank some more. “I have never seen anything like it. He was the only driver taking the banked curve at the end of the straight flat-out. Each lap I heard the exhaust note of his car never wavering as he took that curve with his typical, stylish precision. And then on lap fourteen a sudden gust of wind came in from the desert, blowing dust and debris. I held my hat and glanced at the Englishman nearby, just as the wind caught the front of Achille’s car and lifted the front wheels from the track. The car rose higher and higher like an aeroplane, flying away from the track until the rear of the car hit the ground and then the front, and it rolled over and over with the most terrible noise. Over and over until it stopped on its wheels in the middle of an orchard. There were Arab men dressed in robes and they ran to the car. I was on the wrong side of the circuit and checked that nobody was coming before I ran to it as well, and so did the Englishman.” She drank more water. “I thought he must be dead, nobody could survive a crash like that, but he climbed out of the wrecked car and brushed dirt from his overalls. He looked around and saw me but I don’t think it registered.”

“Is he alright?” Paul asked, worried.

“He’s fine although shaken. He didn’t even light a cigarette, and then he fainted. The Englishman Raymond Mays helped him, and he drove us back here.”

Paul contemplated what he heard, and that would have been a terrible thing to see.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Pia repeated and Paul hoped that Achille really was alright. If he was taking that curve flat-out he must have been doing about 300.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheLastGreatRaceWriting technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades. Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in Russia had more potential. So much so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark place.

Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time. My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia’s contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story not well known, but should be better known.

Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life. It is a wonder his story hasn’t been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian. The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi’s motor racing career, and stays in fascist Italy during the dark days of World War Two.

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The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of Karen Harper’s newest historical novel The Royal Nanny. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheRoyalNannyIn 1897, a young cockney nursemaid takes her first train ride, leaving London for the lush and sprawling Sandringham Estate, private home to Britain’s royal family. Hired by the Duke and Duchess of York to help rear their royal children, Charlotte Bill is about to become privy to all the secrets families hide, and caught between the upstairs and downstairs worlds.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Truth was, I used to wish the widowed Dr. Edwin Lockwood, my former employer, would marry me, though I knew that was quite out of the question. But when I first went to work at his house as nursemaid, I was only thirteen and such a dreamer. People think I’m a no-nonsense person, but I still harbor flights of fancy in my head and heart, and to mean something to someone else is one of them.

But in the nearly ten years I worked in London, I knew it was not that I loved the doctor, but that I did love his two little daughters and hated to leave them, especially after I’d been promoted to nurse after five years there. Now his new wife didn’t want me about because her stepchildren doted on me. But the doctor gave me a good character, which the Duchess of York’s friend, Lady Eva Dugdale, had somehow seen. So here I was, headed to the Duke and Duchess of York’s country house to help the head nurse of two royal lads, one called David, nearly four years of age, the other, Bertie, a year-and-a-half; and a new baby to be born soon.

Beat down the butterflies in my belly and practiced saying, “Your Grace, milord, milady, sir, ma’am,” and all that. What if Queen Victoria herself ever popped in for a visit, for the duke was her grandson—well, there were many of her offspring scattered across Europe in ruling houses, but he was in direct line to the British throne after his father, the Prince of Wales. And since the Prince and Princess of Wales often lived on the same Sandringham Estate, so Lady Dugdale said, I wager I’d see them, right regular too, that is if the head nurse, name of Mary Peters, let me help her with the royal children when their kin came calling.

“Ticket, please, miss,” the conductor said as he came through the carriage. I had a moment’s scramble but handed it to him and had it marked. When he passed on, I put it as a keepsake in my wooden box of worldly goods, which sat on the floor next to my seat. The carriage wasn’t too full, not to Norfolk with its marshy fens and the windy Wash my papa had described to me. Oh, I was so excited I could barely sit still. I was to disembark at a place called Wolferton Station where someone was to meet me. I was just so certain everything would be lovely, and fine and grandly, royally perfect.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheRoyalNannyNEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper is a former university (Ohio State) and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. A rabid Anglophile, she likes nothing more than to research her novels on site in the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for DARK ANGEL, and her novel SHATTERED SECRETS was judged one of the Best Books of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. The author and her husband divide their time between Ohio and Florida.

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Take Me to the Willow by Shelly Brimley – Q&A and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Thanks for stopping by Long and Short Reviews. What group did you hang out with in high school?

– I didn’t hang out with any particular social group in high school. I got along well with most people and had a handful of close friends that I spent most of my time with.

What are you passionate about these days?

– Parenting and writing. I feel very driven to be a good mom, but it’s a challenge. I find that trying to know the needs of your children and then being able to meet them is a daunting responsibility and one that consumes the majority of my energy. I want my children to grow up feeling ready to meet the demands of life, and I want to make sure that we are providing them with all that they’ll need to be happy, responsible, successful, contributing people. I also feel passionately about writing. I look forward to the few quite moments I can find when I can put everything else aside and just write. As silly as it might sound, I am very connected to my characters and to what is happening in their world, and I feel a bit unsettled if I’m unable to resolve a conflict for them or complete a thought before being interrupted.

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?

– Part of me says I would submit to agents a hundred times until the right fit was found, but that is so exhausting and requires incredibly thick skin. The other part of me says I’d do it just the same. I guess I’m undecided… we’ll find out when I publish the sequel!

Ebook or print? And why?

– For me, print. I LOVE the feeling of holding a hard copy book in my hand while reading. There is no comparison. If I have to read electronically, I will, but I don’t enjoy the read as much.

What is your favorite scene in this book?

– This is really difficult to answer. It’s a toss-up between a few of them. But, I’ve read the book several times, and for some reason, I always seem to pause after the scene where Lawrence just can’t go on and they find him with Adelaide and Charlie. I like different scenes for different reasons, but this one captures a very raw and cruel reality that feels meaningful to me.

In defending his life-long friendship with Charlie, Will may have inadvertently had a hand in the growing chaos that leads to the horrifying night when his familiar world is shattered.

When Will Wright, the eighteen year old son of a small-town Arkansas sheep herder in 1905, begins reading his mother’s journal, he is inspired by its startling content to start putting his own experiences to paper for posterity. An unsophisticated but principled young man, Will is becoming increasingly aware of the hatred that exists in the world. When he begins his own journal, Will can’t know what events are to take place in the next five years – from his mother’s battle with a life threatening illness, to his embarrassments of learning how to be in love for the first time, to witnessing Charlie’s fate at the hands of the bigoted townspeople. While part of him wishes the pain in those pages didn’t exist, he knows that the original purpose for keeping the journal has been realized – to show his kin how he became the man he is. He will probably never go back through and read again the pages he’s written, but someday, someone will, and they will see that along with the hurt, Will’s life had been one that knew true joy, absolute love, and undying friendship.

Enjoy an excerpt:

I’ve only been in this cell for three days, but it feels like a might lot longer than that. I know what I did wasn’t considered proper by most folks down here in the South, but I don’t regret doin’ it. And I’d do it again, if I had the chance. Charlie never did anything wrong. He’s just colored. Not much he can do about that, and even if he could, I suppose he wouldn’t want to anyhow. I didn’t feel it right that Charlie be ignored when all he came to do was buy feed and tools like the rest of us. So when Eli Carver said he don’t take no “colored” money, I thought it best to point out that he must be blind as a bat since Charlie’s dollar and my dollar are both the same shade of green. And when I held the two right in front of Mr. Carver’s face and politely asked him to show me the difference, he later told Sheriff Coleman I was threatenin’ and causin’ a disturbance. When I heard that, it just made my blood boil, and I decided Eli Carver needed to be taught a lesson. I went back to that store, although Charlie tried to get me to leave it be, but the next thing I knew, I was holdin’ Eli a foot off the ground against the door to his very own supply store. If Sheriff Coleman hadn’t been right there, I might have been able to argue my side, but there’s no point arguin’ against proof and common sense. Besides that, Sherriff Coleman is known for his feelin’s about colored people, so I knew I was beat before I started. I suppose I just didn’t care.

About the Author:

Shelly Brimley was born in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived most of her life until moving to Mexico to study abroad. After graduation, Shelly did some volunteer work in Africa and completed her graduate degree while working in an adolescent drug treatment center. After acquiring her Master’s degree, she worked as a counselor at a residential shelter for children who had been smuggled and trafficked into the USA from different countries around the world. She also taught English to adult refugees before resigning to raise her children. Shelly wanted to use her experience working with others as a source of inspiration in her writing, offering a voice for those who are not typically heard or considered.

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The 60s and Now by G. Lloyd Helm – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. G. Lloyd Helm will be awarding 10 paperback copies of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. (international giveaway)

The 60s and Now

Serpents and Doves is about a very small slice of the 1960’s at a small church college in a small town in Tennessee.

The sixties–what a time. We baby boomers saw what was happening and tried to do something about it. War, hatred, racism, dishonesty in government. And how have those things changed? We are in another immoral war into which we were pushed by terror, but also by lies and greed from our own government. And, just like in Vietnam, we are really fighting the wrong enemy and fighting them the wrong way. We should not have ever gone into Afghanistan, that’s not where the builders of this whole jihad movement started. They actually started in Saudi Arabia, but certain people in our government have been holding hands with the Saudi royals for decades and were not willing to lose their lucrative deals with them.

Hatred and Racism went underground after the 60’s but it didn’t die as proved by everything that has happened in the last couple of years. There are not many lynchings, now. Instead we have police shootings, but the people are just as dead.

Dishonesty in government is rampant. We have a good and competent president who, because of his race has had nothing but grief out of the congress. He has done pretty well in spite of all that, but how much better off would this country be if the congress got off its rear and helped.

All this is tied into the economic mess that was created by the previous administrations who tried hard to cancel and roll back all the things that had carried over from the end of the Roosevelt years.

All the civil rights that were achieved back in the sixties by blood and sweat and marches and legislation, the current congress and many state governments are trying to erase those gains with exclusive voter registration laws. They are making it difficult if not impossible for people of color or poor people to vote.

Finally, I am sorry to have been so negative in this, but I have said repeatedly in the last few years that I am ashamed of my generation. We had something going back when we were young, but when we reached the age of real power we sold out to the corporations who promised comfort and pleasure, while not saying they were going to addict us to drugs (the so called legitimate ones) and take away our rights to make a living wage and to be citizens. I am hoping that my little book about this tiny slice of the 1960’s will in some way help to bring some justice back to this country.

Stephen Mitchell did not know what he was getting into at a small church college in Tennessee. Sex, protest, friendship, and Civil rights. The title “Serpents and Doves” comes from the warning Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to preach the gospel, knowing the dangers they were going into. He said “I send you out as sheep among wolves, therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Stephen Mitchell learns first-hand what that warning means when he goes to a Tennessee church college in the midst of the turbulent 60’s. He learns about friendship, war, protest, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Ethan’s suicide rocked the school, but not nearly as much as Stephen expected. The New Jersey and New York folks mostly didn’t know anything about Ethan or the BSU so they noted the suicide as a bit of news, but it didn’t effect them much. There was some anti-homosexual noise and the inevitable nasty jokes, but Ethan Patrick’s passing caused no more than a ripple for the most part.

There was some noise and protest from the Mason First Baptist Church when Billie Jo asked them to hold the funeral service, but finally they said they would bury him, but not in the church cemetery. They ignored the fact of his suicide and the reasons for it and held a small service. Stephen debated with himself whether he should go. He had about decided not to when Cathy Powell cornered him and asked if he would go with her. “I really don’t have the strength Steve,” she said. “I’m just a wreck. Can’t you please come with me?”

Stephen seriously thought about saying, Why don’t you go ask David Hall? But didn’t say it. “All right. I’ll meet you at the church.”

She smiled sadly, but Stephen thought he saw just the smallest glimmer of triumph in it.

The coffin was set across the aisle in front of the altar. Closed. It was silvery gray and looked more like a large tin can than a coffin. The congregation was small, mostly people from the BSU but a few from Beacon’s faculty including Dr. Conners and Dr. Marchant. Having the Pope there was no surprise. Probably here to make sure the sumbitch is really dead, Stephen thought, and then felt bad about thinking it.

About the Author:

G. Lloyd Helm has been writing for 40 years, having published poetry in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers including “The New York Poetry Anthology,” “Stars and Stripes News,” “The Los Angeles Times,” “The Antelope Valley Press,” and “The Antelope Valley Anthologies,” among others.

… Has published short stories and memoirs both in the US and in England in such journals as “Pligrimage” which published the memoir “Football” in spring 2005, and a second memoir “4 April, 1968” in the winter of 2008. He has published short stories in “Citadel” the literary magazine of Los Angeles City College,” “Delivered Magazine,” which is based in London, “Short Story Library,” The University of S. Illinois’ “Eureka Literary Magazine,” “Tales as like as not,” and London’s “Black Gate Magazine.” Recently published “Even Up” a Civil War Ghost story at www.ruthlesspeoples.com, an English on line magazine, and the short story “A Lovely Elephant” in “Delivered Magazine” an English fiction journal. “The Other Fellows Shoes,” Pulp Empire III, Metahuman Press, Cedar Rapids, IA Nov. 2010. Is being published in an on line experiment from Alfie Dog Publishing in England. May 2012.

…Has published three novels in the F&SF field, 1) OTHER DOORS, From MousePrints Publishing, and 2) DESIGN from American Star. 3) WORLD WITHOUT END from Rogue Phoenix Press, www.roguephoenixpress.com OTHER DOORS, originally published in 1997, was published electronically by Rogue Phoenix Press in July 2010. Also Published a literary Romance novel called SOMETIMES IN DREAMS, from Siren’s call. Most recently a volume of short stories called TRAIN WHEELS, FLYING SAUCERS, AND THE GHOST OF TIBURCIO VASQUEZ. Many of these stories appear on the Alfie Dog site.

…Is in process of publishing an adult literary novel called SERPENTS AND DOVES with Rogue Phoenix Press, which will be out in May 2016.

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On the Ironies of the Universe by Johnny Newport – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

On the Ironies of the Universe
What is the most amazing thing to me about our material universe is not that only a relative handful of people can make heads or tails from the hodgepodge of astrophysical knowledge we’ve managed to cobble together, but that nobody in existence—right now in this moment, in this space and time—understands it fully.

At the risk of digressing into a blog of cosmos mania (the gravitational waves news of a month ago has really thrown me for a loop and I’ve yet to fully recover), allow me to jump straight to the point:

My book, In Defense of the Moth or A Meaningless Dance in Blinding Heat and Light is (or was, I should say) for me a treatise on the nobility and honor of being an alcoholic, a drug addict, or someone otherwise afflicted with acute insanity. It was written by me as a grand justification to a code of ethics and behavior and is a Platonic (from the school of Plato, I should make clear) apology, or apologia, for my own particular flavor of hedonism (though I left the allegory vague for each individual to make their sense of their own flaws).

The great irony in all of this is not that though this book was written in the throes of my insanity and darkness, if not a critical darling, is being at least acknowledged for strong writing harkening the insanity of others predisposed with afflictions (e.g. Kafka, Camus, Hunter S. Thompson, DeLillo), for I think that is probably more luck than irony, but, that this book got its legs and publication post rehab and therapy, at fourteen (14) months sober.

True, even in sobriety, I must admit I posit a serious and sound philosophy worthy of consideration and discussion. But does that mean I advocate for a man to die in his cups? Good Question; I’ll let you decide.

What does that mean for the book and for me, its author, and its purpose? Good Question; I’ll let you decide.

Is my book, then, dangerous and something which vulnerable man should avoid? Good Question; I’ll let you decide.

Does the Universe, the indomitable and unrelenting power all around us, allow us from time to time some really humbling ironies? Hell yea!

The Moon…

It is said the moon’s spell can move us and nobody understands her pull like Johnny Gomez.

Johnny, a devil-may-care and fatalistic salesman, remains tethered to his privileged life by a love for his children, his career and the moon—and not necessarily in that order. In fact, it’s Johnny’s lifelong passion for the moon, through both obsessive, independent study and a communal involvement in an astronomy society, that serves as the only outward distraction as a life of standard struggles waxes into a burgeoning crisis.

Until one night Johnny finds that the moon—his preferred method of self-medication– no longer exists…but for him only and not anyone else.

Or so it seems, leaving Johnny’s continued marriage with reality to hinge on his rediscovery of the moon!

If you like allegories and/or philosophical apologies for acute insanity, grab “In Defense of the Moth or A Meaningless Dance in the Blinding Heat and Light” and join the eclipse.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“I walked past a block of shuttered buildings. Most I noticed had been shuttered for a long time, but the last office was a more recent failure. It was a beauty salon last I remembered. I reached the street corner where the tall street lamp was planted in the sidewalk and I gazed upward. A flutter of moths danced to the low hum of energy the light created. It wasn’t much and it wasn’t for long as they would be dead soon, but at least without the light of the moon they had the luck of having a substitute for their meaning, even if artificial, through man’s production.

They owe us one, I thought.”

About the Author:

Johnny Newport (The Moth) is carrying the consciousness of the oft-failed man native to 2016. Strictly from a visual standpoint he looks like he may be kept in a nice package, but this is not so. Johnny Newport has two feet on the warpath and probably smells like last night’s street tacos.

Johnny knows that his devil-may-care attitude is unfair—to himself and to others—but this is precisely the origin for the voice of an unbridled generation of privilege; the 21st-century-livers that intimately know they have squandered (squandered what? How can we say definitively and with any assurance despite knowing that a squandering has, indeed, befallen?), and will continue to do so, happily.

Otherwise about me, I studied at the University of Texas at Austin, have spent the last two years in The Writer’s Path program at SMU (Southern Methodist University, Dallas) and have applied to a handful of low-res MFA programs for fall of ’16.

Short story publications in 2015 were:

* Mr. Franklin’s Heartbreaking Sympathy (The Speculative Book, anthology)
* La Tortuga, (Limestone, University of Kentucky MFA journal)
* He, Who Controls the Spices (Euphemism, Illinois State University graduate journal)
* I Blame Lolita (Moth magazine, Ireland’s premiere literary review)
* Letter to the Jew’s Mom (The Vehicle, Eastern Illinois University online journal)

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Where Do Stories Come From? by Lisa Beth Darling – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Where Do Stories Come From?

Most of us have heard the phrase that “he or she” is “A Natural”. All of us are born with some innate ability or talent, some are natural leaders, others natural caregivers, more natural musicians, artists, poets, architects…you name it. Each and every one of us was blessed by the Gods with a talent—mine is writing. The trick, of course, is finding that talent, sticking with it, and honing it.

For me, it all started in the 4th grade when my teacher gave the class its very first creative writing assignment. The topic she gave us was the first flight of a baby bird. Nice happy little topic, huh? It was supposed to be a nice happy little story too but mine wasn’t. All of the other kids wrote about a baby bird spreading its wings and flying through the air happily chirping away. Me? My bird died.

The baby bird flew too high it struck an airplane, and fell to the ground dead. Mama bird cried. Poppa bird cried. Even God cried as He sent the rain down to Earth. My teacher took me aside and asked me why I had written my story this way and did I know about Icarus? I said I didn’t know any Icarus and that she’d asked me to write a story. So I did. That was the picture that came into my head. She said it was a good story and she gave me an ‘A’ but told me that I should write about happier things next time.

In Junior High School (7th-8th grade) I started writing longer stories. They were HOT and EXPLOSIVE and MEATY. We had murder, mayhem, demons, ghosts, group sex, rape, torture, and all kinds of goodies like that. Well, it was the 80s! B-grade horror movies were the ‘in’ thing!

My little stories were eagerly awaited upon by my classmates who would sneak them down to the Mimeograph Room (this is long before Xerox came along) where they would copy them and pass them around to anyone who wanted one. That lasted several months until one of the stories ended up in the hands of my math teacher who promptly marched me down to the guidance counselor’s office. I sat there nervously waiting what the counselor had to say when she finished reading part of my very first novel, “Save Me From the Roses”.

Her face turned white as she read. Her mouth dropped open several times. She stared at me over the top of her glasses disapprovingly and asked; How did you come up with this?

I had to look at her and say: “I don’t know. It’s just the pictures and the voice in my head when I pick up a pencil and put it to paper.”

The counselor told me I had talent and that my story was very good but it was too violent and I should try to write about happier things. I told her I’d heard that before but happy things weren’t the pictures in my head when I wrote nor were they what the voice in my head spoke of as the pictures flashed by.

Before “Save Me from the Roses” was finished, I was also called down to the guidance office several more times and so were my parents. The guidance counselor began insisting there was something wrong with me. She thought I was abused and if not then it could be the onset of schizophrenia. My mother and father, both distressed at this news but not wanting to blow anything out of proportion, told the guidance counselor so long as I wasn’t hurting anyone they didn’t care what I wrote and neither should she.

The guidance counselor called my English teachers to her office for their opinions. Lucky for me, they stood up for me as well. Like my parents, they understood that passing such graphic material around school wasn’t appropriate but I was the best writer either of them had seen in ages and they didn’t want me to be forced to stop because the guidance counselor didn’t like what I wrote.

As my teachers, my parents, and my guidance counselor had a loud ‘discussion’, for the very first time in my life I heard a phrase that made my heart soar and told me exactly who and what I was. One of my English teachers—Mr. DePeter– heatedly, and rather vehemently, asserted that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Instead, in his opinion, I was a ‘natural writer’ and then went on to claim the voice I was hearing and the pictures I was seeing were not ‘mental illness’ it was…THE MUSE. I looked up at him as though God Himself had reached out to touch me with his Divine Hand.

THE MUSE! YES! That was exactly what it was.

I continued writing and writing and writing and writing to the point my arm hurt and my parents finally bought me an electric Royal typewriter. I loved that thing! My fingers could finally keep up with my brain! I banged out two novels on that sucker before it up and died. By that time, I was in 11th grade and the poetry editor of my high school literary magazine. I wrote poetry, short stories, quick quips, and all kinds of things but my first love is novel writing. I love to tell a long involved story.

Writing isn’t something I chose to do. I didn’t wake up one day and say; Oh, I think I’ll try my hand at this writing thing, it looks easy enough. It’s my vocation. My calling. My God-Given Talent and the thing that connects (and sometimes disconnects) me from everything around me, I would be hopelessly lost without it and The Muse.

MediaKit_BookCover_SinsOfTheFatherAs Hannah recovers from emergency brain and heart surgery, memories of the past overtake her dreams with such clarity they cannot be denied. As the last of the painful family secrets come to light it’s up to her brother, Doctor Richard Mason, and his unconventional methods to help her confront the ugliness.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Running a hand over the side of his close-cropped gray head Frank tried to keep his cool as he pled his case, “Look, I just want to see Hannah, are you going to let me in there or not?”

Mason seemed to think about it for a second even though he really wasn’t. “Ummm…not.” He said finally. “She doesn’t want to see you.”

“She told you that? I don’t believe it.”

“Well, you could go and ask herself…oh, wait, that’s right…you can’t go in there. Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.”

“Yeah, like that’s worth anything.”

“Some people think it is.” Mason retorted as he held out his cupped hands, “Some people put their lives right here. Crazy, right?” From the look on the man’s face Mason thought he’d stand there and bitch all day long. “While you’re waiting for noon to come around, why don’t you do Hannah a favor?”

“What’s that?”

“Tell me about the two years between her accident and the birth of my pre-maturely deceased nephew.” He watched Frank’s mouth drop open. “Take a load off.” Mason said and gestured toward the chair opposite his desk. “In fact, why don’t you just tell me everything you know?”

“She told you about Little Ricky?” Frank asked as he leaned forward but the question was more directed to the air than anyone in the room. “She’s never spoken about him…ever.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SinsOfTheFatherIt was in the 4th grade when Lisa Beth Darling discovered she was a naturally gifted writer. For her very first creative writing assignment, the teacher asked the class to pen a story about a baby bird’s first flight and read them to the class. Putting pencil to paper, Lisa was instantly whisked away by a force she couldn’t explain. When they were finished, all of the children read their happy stories to the class. Not Lisa. She got up and told of how the baby bird flew too high, hit a plane, crashed to the ground and died. She told of how the mama bird and daddy bird cried of how even God was upset sending the rains pouring from the sky. The class was speechless when she finished all they could do was stare at her. The teacher kept her after class told her the story was very good but it was different from the others. She asked Lisa if she’d ever heard of Icarus and had she based her story on him. Lisa had yet to encounter Greek Mythology or hear a whisper of Icarus. As Lisa left the classroom the teacher again told her how good the story was but suggested she might want to write something happier next time. Perplexed, Lisa turned and asked her teacher: “Why?” The teacher had no answer. Luckily for us, Lisa never took that teacher’s advice.

Today she brings us complex multi-layered stories rich with the trials and tribulations that make up the world in which we live. Not one to be pigeonholed into any single genre, Lisa’s stories revolve around the intricacies of couples from range the intimacy of lovers, to mothers and sons, and brothers and sisters.

Lisa Beth Darling is 49 years-old, lives in her hometown of New London, CT with her husband of nearly 30 years, Roy. She is the author of more than fifteen novels along with several short stories and non-fiction books.

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History and Imagination by Jennifer Laam – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Jennifer Laam, author of the historical The Tsarina’s Legacy, which was released yesterday.

HISTORY AND IMAGINATION

Once upon a time, I was a graduate student who dreamed of teaching history by day and writing by night. My student days are over, and the job market for history professors almost non-existent, but I have made my dreams of publication come true. My first two novels—The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Tsarina’s Legacy–are both speculative historical fiction. The academic inside of me still thrives, and I conduct massive research for my novels. While writing, I find myself wide awake at three in the morning obsessing over details and which sources to trust.

Which brings me to one of the struggles of historical writing: what is a novelist’s responsibility to the facts of the past? I portray the atmosphere and personalities of historical settings and characters as authentically as possible. I write afterwards to make it clear which parts of my novels are documented and which are products of my imagination. I include bibliographies so that interested readers can investigate the lives of historical figures independently. Ultimately, however, I create fiction. I find fascinating tidbits in my research and let my imagination play.

I’m not suggesting that careless anachronisms are useful. I don’t think anyone wants to see Anne Boleyn texting. (Unless the plot involves time travel…and now I want to write that book.) To my mind, historical fiction is most intriguing when novelists use the past as allegory for current troubles. While women of prior centuries may not have been fluent in the language of contemporary feminism, I believe they experienced frustrations with their places in the world in a way that might feel familiar to women today.

If we limit ourselves to strict fact, we lose sight of people less visible in traditional political narratives of history. The academic must tread carefully when uncovering lives not documented as carefully as those of political leaders or so-called “great men” of the time. While historians have done important work in this field, the novelist can impart complex voices to those who were once unheard.

In allowing ourselves to explore the thoughts and emotions of historical figures, and experiment with how we present those emotions to our audience, writers and other artists create vivid works. On Broadway, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr rap. On film, Marie Antoinette luxuriates with her royal entourage to a new wave soundtrack. This is the ultimate intersection of history and imagination, and we are all the richer for it.

4_6 jennifer The Tsarina's LegacyThen…Grigory “Grisha” Potemkin has had a successful long association with the powerful Empress Catherine of Russia. But Catherine and Grisha are older now and face new threats, both from powers outside of Russia and from those close to them. Haunted by the horrors of his campaign against the Muslim Turks, Grisha hopes to construct a mosque in the heart of the empire. Unfortunately, Catherine’s much younger new lover, the ambitious Platon Zubov, stands in his way. Grisha determines that to preserve Catherine’s legacy he must save her from Zubov’s dangerous influence and win back her heart.

Now…When she learns she is the lost heiress to the Romanov throne, Veronica Herrera’s life turns upside down. Dmitry Potemkin, one of Grisha’s descendants, invites Veronica to Russia to accept a ceremonial position as Russia’s new tsarina. Seeking purpose, Veronica agrees to act as an advocate to free a Russian artist sentenced to prison for displaying paintings critical of the church and government. Veronica is both celebrated and chastised. As her political role comes under fire, Veronica is forced to decide between the glamorous perks of European royalty and staying true to herself.

In Jennifer Laam’s The Tsarina’s Legacy, unexpected connections between Grisha and Veronica are revealed as they struggle to make peace with the ghosts of their past and help secure a better future for themselves and the country they both love.

About the Author: 4_6 Jennifer Laam_credit Channa VanceJENNIFER LAAM is the author of The Tsarina’s Legacy, on-sale from St. Martin’s Griffin April 5th.She earned her master’s degree in History from Oakland University in Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. She has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, traveled in Russia and Europe, and worked in education and non-profit development. She currently resides in Northern California. Her first book is The Secret Daughter of the Tsar.

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Balancing Life and Writing by Erin Cawood – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Erin Cawood will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing life and writing

Although, I stopped defining them as separate entities a long time ago, I monumentally fail at balancing the real world with fiction world. Right now, it’s the day before the start of my book tour with GoddessFish Promotions and I’m still reviewing and writing guest posts and interviews for the tour hosts. This should have been completed a week ago. But last weekend I was updating my website, which turned into a fail of epic proportions and I lost 90% of the content on my website, and it blew my schedule to pieces. I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. But this past week has also been crazy because the real world has demanded so much more of my time, beyond the everyday activities that we all have to deal with. I’ve had interviews which have required a lot of prep time which would have normally been my writing time… and a migraine!

As a writer, the longer I go between writing fiction, the grumpier I get. But since the beginning of 2016, my fictionworld time has been sucked into the non-writing necessities of being an author. It’s all been about promoting Maybe Tomorrow, planning the upcoming release of Crossing Lines, and editing Cupid Moments: Life’s A Ball, but at least my creative cravings have been satisfied by the designing of social media graphics and production of book trailers.

There are some tips and tricks, I can share with you about how I utilize my time and multi-task, in order to keep ahead of the ever-growing to-do list.

1) Write everything down! Yes I’m a list maker. I suffer from Chronic Migraine and my short term memory is shot. The chances are if something doesn’t go on my to-do list, it doesn’t get done.

2) Utilize your smartphone to its fullest potential! I’ve had the Samsung S6 for around a year now, before that I had the Note II, and before that I had Blackberry devices for four years. Why?

a. You can get a basic version of Word (Or Google docs), both use cloud technology which means you can write on the go and pick up where you left off when you get back to your desk.

b. Not only that, but I have access to my emails; despite having word on my phone, I’ve long since been in the habit of emailing any ideas I have to myself and collecting them in a folder in my inbox.

c. No matter where I am, I can put in my earphones and submerge myself in the latest story I’m working on. I have an hour long commute to and from work, so this trip on the bus takes me to a whole new world, while I’m heading to work and back. The only issue is the blasted auto correct!

d. You have a camera. Capturing those physical triggers for inspiration to call upon them later is invaluable. But we’re also living in the Selfie age and being able to capture your day to day life and then share with your friends, family and fans, allows us writers to connect with our friends, and followers, in a way we’ve never been able to before.

e. The above point only emphasizes why you need to have your social media at your fingertips at all times!

3) Outsourcing: There are only so many hours in the day, and you have to prioritise what’s important, and decide what things on your to-do list you can outsource. If you’ve got the money to hire a virtual assistant or a publicist then go for it! If not, then fiverr is an invaluable source of low cost services. You can find anything and everything, from graphic design to promotional services. I recently paid $5 to have someone else post my book to the different Facebook groups. I gained 30 extra downloads of my free book that day. Money well spent! As with any new service provider, remember to check out the customer reviews and their average rating.

4) Scheduling: There are a number of online applications that will enable you to schedule social media posts, such as Hootsuite, and Buffer. Even Facebook has implemented a scheduler for pages. The beauty of these facilities this that you can do all of your social media posts in one go and spread them out over the day/week. I use this facility mostly when I have a promotion going on. Unfortunately, it’s not a post and go. You still have to monitor, react and response to what’s going on. Social media is all about engagement, so you have to be present to be involved in the conversation. But it does make your life a little easier.

5) The last tip I’d like to share, is switching off. This is probably the hardest this of all. I’m so much more productive without the distraction of the television, or the internet, or the mobile phone. There are times when you have to go dark and switch off all of the distractions. I usually leave my phone on silent and in another room. I share an office with my partner and will generally take myself away from there and work in the living room, or the bedroom, to avoid the temptation to chat, I also disconnect the internet and tick off each job on my to-do list as it’s completed.

My life is crazy hectic all the time, so if you’ve got anything to add to this list, I’d love to hear from you!

MediaKit_BookCover_MaybeTomorrowDoes a heart ever really heal from its first break?

On an unseasonably hot night in late September, Dr. Keon McGowan is called away from a family gathering to a hospital emergency. Amongst his patients that night is a blast from his past he’d rather forget. He’ll certainly never forgive butterfly hunter Darcia Davenport for leaving him alone as a single father while she chased butterflies through the Amazon rainforest.

Coming face to face with the woman who broke his heart after all this time, Keon realises that he has never fully healed from it. But any chance of finding closure is ripped away when Darcy chooses to end treatment and live her final weeks without regret. Can Keon let her go? Or will he fight for the tomorrow they might never have? Maybe Tomorrow is an emotional journey of love caught between fate and destiny.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Vibrations shot Dr. Keon McGowan’s hip as he placed a sterile gauze pad against the head of the frightened teenager sitting in cubicle nine. “I think there’s more blood than damage,” he reassured the youngster with a warm smile. Although the fifteen-year-old would need stitches, he’d been lucky on all accounts. Keon looked up at the boy’s parents and continued. “I’d still like a couple of scans. It’s routine with head injuries, and it’s likely the on-call neurologist will want to keep him overnight for observation just to be on the safe side.”

Keon gave them a nod as he removed his latex gloves, tossed them in the medical waste bin, and washed his hands. He didn’t want to cut their time short, but as the head of London’s largest trauma centre, Keon was acutely aware there were too many patients still awaiting first assessments, and there wasn’t a single cubicle free in the accident and emergency treatment area. He fielded calls between treating patients, unable to move more than ten feet without someone calling his name. It was all in a day’s work, except today, things were more hectic than usual, due to a massive traffic accident involving almost 200 people less than three hours ago.

“I’ll arrange for a porter to come as soon as possible,” Keon promised the parents of the fifteen-year-old at the end of the consultation. “But I’m sure you can appreciate they’re stacked out at the moment, as is the imaging department. I’m sorry it’s going to be a bit of a wait.”

They nodded, and Keon swiftly left the cubicle as his mobile vibrated against his hip again. Quickly, he glanced at the name on the screen. He wouldn’t normally take a personal call in the middle of a crisis like this, but this caller resided on the other side of the world. “I’m sorry, Sarah, but I can’t talk now.”

“Oh, hello, Sarah. How are you? I’m fine, Keon, thank you for asking.” Her sarcasm was not missed, but he was just too busy to acknowledge it. “But I thought I’d make this really important phone call to remind you the doctors at Mount Cook are still waiting for your call.”

“I’m sorry, but I’ve got seventy-three people who were in an RTA three hours ago. I can’t talk about this now.” He didn’t mean to be short, but the board had too many patients for his liking, and his staff grew weary. He didn’t need Sarah on his back right now. He returned to the nurses’ station. “Heather? Can you arrange for the patient in cubicle nine to have a CT scan and page neurology, please?”

About the Author:
Erin Cawood is a commercial women’s fiction author, with a taste for dramatic storylines and a passion for strong lead characters she really gets behind, cheering on right to the very end of their story. Her focus? Taking romance into the darker, edgier side of contemporary fiction.

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Grace After the Storm by Sandy Sinnett – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

MediaKit_BookCover_GraceAfterTheStormBrad’s brother recently found the love of his life, and now he too longs to find his one. No one seems to compare to his first love from years ago, though – the woman he left behind for money and a career. To remind him of her love, though, on what would have been their wedding anniversary, Brad writes her a letter. Never mailed. Never read…until this year, after the storm ends.

Hannah’s estate is in foreclosure – unable to keep her family’s estate after her parents’ death. Sparks begin to fly however after the estate is purchased and the new owner arrives. Not only was Brad the love of her life, but he’s also the man who walked out on her eight years ago. At first sight, Hannah’s grandmother believes their love still exists, and even as her health fades she works to help Hannah see the good in Brad.

Hannah must deal with painful memories from her past as she is forced to work with Brad and save her estate, but will her stubborn pride cause her to lose him again?

She begins to see Brad in a new light, and the love she felt for him long ago is reborn. When Hannah’s ‘little sister’ Clare discovers Brad’s secret, though, a storm of events will begin that may destroy their only chance for love, and may risk Hannah’s life in the process. Brad and Hannah will face both tragedy and loss as they rekindle their love, remembering that grace always follows the storm.

Enjoy an excerpt:

After suffering a devastating loss, Laci and Mitch take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest to find healing and renewal. It’s only a matter of time before their paths cross with Hannah Blake – owner and innkeeper of FoxHead Estates. Over the last several years, Hannah has lost most everything she once held dear, one by one. The love of her life walked away from her eight years ago, and although she hated to admit it, her soul still cried out for him even today. All that remained of him were painful memories, and a little wooden box containing a single letter he left her – never opened. Never read. Her parents died six years ago, and Hannah took in her 89 year- old ailing grandmother. Lois is the only family she has left, but Hannah knows it is only a matter of time before she would lose her too. Now, her family’s estate was in foreclosure; her world was crashing down and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Or was there?

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_GraceAfterTheStormSandy recently moved back to her hometown of Mt. Vernon, IL and lives there with her two youngest kids. She currently works in Marketing for a local Children’s Home and is busy working on another book.

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10 Things Most People Don’t Know About LD Towers – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. LD Towers will be awarding a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click to win the other stops on the tour.

10 Things Most People Don’t Know About LD Towers

I thought that I would do 10 things most people don’t know about me, since this is my first tour, there is a lot that most people don’t know! Is that the easy way out? It could be!

1. I don’t eat anything with scales or that comes from the ocean. It started out from a restriction diet in university to control migraines, but evolved from there. I’m a SCUBA diver, and I’ve been diving in places that are mostly fished out. Now it’s my bit to help the ecology.

2. From Oct 2014 to Oct 2015, I lived in five different countries- Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Belize. One of those was only for 6 weeks, but I didn’t know it at the time. I’m hoping 2016 will involve less moving.

3. I’m also a photographer and I have a Facebook page called ‘Blackbird’s Photography’. I also tweet my pics from time to time. I don’t really do people though. Mostly it’s all buildings and landscapes. There is the odd snap in there that I’m rather proud of.

4. I have a condition called Plantar fascial fibromatosis, or Ledderhose disease. It’s like fibrous tumour-like growths in the feet. My friends think it’s somewhat ironic that I lived in Germany, I write about Germans and I have something called Ledderhose disease. (only the iconic leather pants are lederhose.)

5. I’ve had Siamese cats in my life since I was six years old. My first one came from Santa and lived for 19 years. My parents are looking after another meeze of mine in his twilight years as my moving was getting too hard on him. His name is Shen and he just turned 21. I’m rather proud of that. Shen lived in Canada, France and Germany. Now I have the famous Niblet as my interspecies life mate! 🙂

6. Blue is my favourite colour. If I could, I would paint the world in blue.

7. Someone once asked me which of my ‘Teufel’ characters was me. I’ve always said that if I was a man, I would want to be like Hagen Kohl and if I had pots of money, I would probably be like Galiena. There is a lot of me in Galiena. While I was never assaulted by my grandfather, I had an occasionally acrimonious relationship with him. I think it was easy to make Meinrad von Steinberg a bad guy. Amusingly enough, now he’s one of my favourite characters, even though he’s thoroughly evil.

8. I’m a wine racist. Red wine all the way. I can’t stand white wine. I have a caveat. I like bubbly. As they said in the 30’s, ‘When we have bubbles, we have no troubles.’ I didn’t like rosé until I had a date with a Frenchman in a restaurant by the Louvre in Paris. We sat on the terrace all afternoon on a beautiful summer’s day and drank rosé by the glass in that amazing setting. To this day, I’m a fan. The Frenchman was fine, too, until he told me he was married at the end of it. Why do they do that? *shakes fists at the heavens*

9. I like Trekking. I did 275 kms/170 miles of the Camino de Santiago in 2014. I’m not a small woman, in fact, I’m a BIG woman. Don’t let size stop you from doing something like that. If I can do it, anyone can and it’s a life changing experience. I want to do the whole Spanish part of the Camino soon. After that, I want to walk the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome and then write about it. I think every young person should have to do the Camino after high school before they apply for university or further life. A plucky and thrifty person can do it for 10-15 Euros (about the same in USD at the moment) a day. I averaged 20. It’s not an expensive trip. I learned so much about myself doing it. If anyone needs Camino advice, drop me a line.

10. I’m an Apple. I went mac in 2008 and have never looked back. I had two toshiba laptops that didn’t survive a year and I was looking for a machine that would survive me. A friend said… go Mac… I had been a PC since 1988, so it was a BIG change. Now you couldn’t pay me to go back! Now if only they cost less…

So there is a little bit about me! 🙂

MediaKit_BookCover_NewAustrianOrder1938. Germany is moving faster than Standartenführer Hagen Kohl thought possible. Sent down to Vienna to investigate a potential threat to Hitler’s plans for Austria, Hagen is drawn in to an aristocratic world he’s never encountered before. Without Hauptsturmführer Eugen Friesler at his side, Hagen is in more danger than he could have imagined as he hunts for a shadowy organization called the New Austrian Order. Back in Germany, Galiena von Steinberg returns to Riesa and the von Steinberg Gesellschaft, but taking over the reins of her Grandfather’s empire comes with many challenges. Can she protect her family holdings while keeping true to the new sense of self she has worked so hard to find?

MediaKit_BookCover_TeufelAgainst the politically charged background of Nazi Germany’s police state, Standartenführer Doctor Hagen Kohl is trying to carve out a profession for himself in the SS. A middle class intellectual with a doctorate in Literature, Hagen is a an investigator who hunts criminals within the party apparatus itself. Hagen justifies everything by his personal code and patriotism, unable to see the flaws of the regime he serves. When he is ordered to investigate members of the army, he discovers patriotism is entirely a matter of perspective. His eyes are further opened by exposure to Galiena von Steinberg; an aristocrat whose own experiences bring him into the entanglements and intrigues at the highest levels of Third Reich society.

Enjoy an excerpt from New Austrian Order:

The parade ground was large, and all about there were people. The SS men, in their black uniforms, and the camp guards in their grey seemed drab on the sunny square. There were so many, trailing behind Himmler like a flock of crows. Galiena hated that analogy, but it seemed so appropriate. Here and there she saw people she assumed to be prisoners, in their black and white horizontal striped suits, and grotesquely shaved heads. They almost reminded her of larvae, their scalps so pale in the light. One man turned and stared at her, the bright splash of colour that she was, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. Then his face dropped back to his toiling in the black earth of the flowerbeds near the Administration building. The place was so dour. So grey. In her scarlet, echoed only in the swastika flag on the flag pole, she must look like a drop of blood on a piece of slate.

Himmler moved to intercept her, his eyes shining with something she couldn’t define. In this place he was a thousand feet tall, and his knowledge of his power emanated from him in waves. The men trailing after him followed his every movement and gesture. When he smiled, so did they, when he laughed, they echoed, and the moment he stopped, there was silence behind him. Galiena had never seen this Himmler. This was the Reichsführer-SS, and his power was consuming. His eyes met hers, as he clicked his heels and bowed his head before her. When the peak of his hat came up again, he was smiling; warmly and broadly. More the man of her acquaintance, but the look in his eyes seemed to mock her. This Himmler was a predator and he was in his lair with all his sycophants around to admire his magnificence.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RiesaSeriesLD Towers travels the world like a rootless vagabond! A military historian, she searches out places of conflict to find a deeper insight to the things she writes about. Presently enjoying the warm weather and azure seas of Central America, she has lived all over Western Europe, including 5.5 years in the incomparable Berlin.

Primarily working in Historical and Military Fiction, LD sometimes sneaks in the odd Dystopian or Modern Thriller piece. Also look for a series of novellas about the despicable yet intriguing Meinrad von Steinberg from the Riesa Series, coming in fall 2015.

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