Looking Back by Anne Clinard Barnhill

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Philippi, West Virginia, gazing at a truck-filled parking lot and watching the way the hill across the highway curves against the pale, spring sky. I grew up in this town; it’s where I went to high school and college, where I got my first kiss, where I smoked my first cigarette and where I fell in love with the rugged life in the mountains. I carry it with me always and am very excited about writing my next novel with this place in mind.

Though much is the same as when I left thirty-five years ago, much has changed. The junior high I attended is long longer in existence; in its place is a pharmacy. My old high school has doubled, maybe even tripled in size and the college is larger, too. Now it has a football stadium. Back when I was a student, the sport was soccer.

The old covered bridge is still there, having made it through floods and fires. Dating back to the Civil War, this bridge crosses the Tygart River. I used to love to walk across on the covered walkway for pedestrians and look down stream to where the water curved in a backwards “C” and wonder where the water travelled, where it would take me if I could follow it.

I’m here to give a reading and teach a couple of classes for creative writing students. And I’m here for research for yet another novel I have in mind set in West Virginia. But I’m also here to recapture the way I felt as a young girl—like the world was mine for the taking, like everything was possible and life beckoned to me with the seductive call of a siren. And I believed in all the hopeful things I suppose lots of young girls believe in—love, adventure, the chance to make the world more just, more fair, more like a place we’d all like to live.

But I fear those feelings are gone forever. I’ve seen too much, know too much to be that happy, young girl hiking in the hills. My old heart has many wounds, like most adults, I imagine. But on days like today, I long for the young girl I was, that cock-eyed optimist who believed, who cared about everything, who used to sing and dance in the yard when she thought no one was looking, the one who knew somehow everything was going to be all right. I do miss that girl but she’s not here in Philippi and she’d not at the beach where I live permanently. Maybe she’ll peek through in my writing one of these days.

About the Author:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been writing or dreaming of writing for most of my life. When I was a kid, I’d gather all the younger cousins around when we were visiting our grandparents and tell them scary stories. While in college, I discovered again my love of stories and began to write them myself. Flash forward 15 years, one divorce, one remarriage and three kids later and you’ll find me quitting my teaching job to write full-time. It was that or go crazy. That was in 1990. I started writing articles, book and theater reviews for money and slowly learned how to write a short story. A few were published in literary magazines. I kept going. In 2007, seventeen years after I started writing seriously, my first book was published, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ: Autism, My Sister and Me. Then, my short story collection was published, WHAT YOU LONG FOR. Finally, in 2012, my first novel came out, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN. And now, my second novel, QUEEN ELIZABETH’S DAUGHTER, has just been released. It’s been a long, hard journey but I’m glad I took it.

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>4_15 Queen Elizabeth's DaughterFrom Anne Barnhill, the author of At the Mercy of the Queen, comes the gripping tale of Mary Shelton, Elizabeth I’s young cousin and ward, set against the glittering backdrop of the Elizabethan court.

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

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Moral Dilemmas by M. Garzon

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding the entire trilogy on Kindle or Kobo (winner’s choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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Moral Dilemmas

For the past several months I’ve been trying not to buy anything made in China. Until people in that country stop skinning dogs alive in order to eat them, or boiling cats alive to pass off their fur as “fake fur”, I don’t want any of my money ending up in the hands of potential abusers.

People, do you have any idea how much stuff is made in China?! It’s been nigh impossible to completely honor my desire. Similarly for my plan to avoid palm oil (‘cause, you know, deforestation and endangerment of orangutans and elephants). At the grocery store every second food item on the shelves contains palm oil. Hot chocolate mix, ice cream, salad dressing – you name it, the evil is lurking.

Compounding this difficulty is the fact that I’m alone in supporting two kids. On a writer’s income. So, you guessed it, buying $10-dollar-a-bottle, locally-made organic shampoo (or anything, for that matter) is not an option for me. I face a moral dilemma every time I step out the door, along with the more pressing question of which is ‘more right’: Do I spend extra money on conscientious items, thus helping to preserve the planet but allowing for much less ‘stuff’ for my kids? Or do I save by buying whatever’s on sale, thus ensuring my kids are provided for comfortably, but potentially creating larger problems for their generation? Which option will my kids thank me for in the long run, and which will allow me to sleep better at night?

These are the kinds of moral dilemmas that fuel my writing, too. Small decisions can take on a very large import in the context of a story with well-developed characters. Once your readers truly know your make-believe friends, they’ll immediately grasp why, for instance, not sharing that apple with the begging pony haunts your main character for weeks. They’ll know because your character is like their neighbor, their best friend from public school, or their cousin. And because of that, they’ll care.

They’ll exclaim, “Share the darn apple already!” while they’re on the bus to work, reading your story on their phone. People will look at them funny, and it’ll give them a complex. And it will be all your fault… another moral dilemma to mine for next time.

4_4 Cover_BlazeOfGloryThe first book in the popular trilogy, soon to be a major new television series!

Some fires can consume you.

Last year, I had it all. Two jumpers on the show circuit, a lot of wins, and a lot of attention – the good kind. But now I have nothing. My life is circling the drain. The only spark of light that exists for me is my new, forbidden passion. If my stepfather finds out, he will kill me. My twin brother, my only blood relative in the world, has already begged me not to. But I can’t help myself. If it can’t be horses, it has to be this…

About the Author:4_4 AuthorPicM. Garzon rode horses professionally for ten years, until an injury prompted a career change. She returned to school and completed a BSc; then for good measure, an MBA. After several years of toiling as a business consultant, she turned to writing in a desperate bid to regain her sanity. A mom of two fabulous children, she lives in St Lazare, QC and considers herself extremely lucky to be a writer.

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Buy the book at Amazon (also available on Kobo, NOOK, and iBooks).

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah – Spotlight and Giveaway

Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of Fly Away (US only)

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As teenagers in the seventies, Tully Hart and Kate Mularky were inseparable. Tully, with her make-up and her halter tops, was the coolest girl in school. Kate, with her glasses and her high water jeans, was the geeky outsider. But chance and circumstance brought them together and through the decades they were devoted to each other. This was the story of Tully and Kate which began on a quiet street called Firefly Lane. Best friends forever.

But sometimes stories end, and we have to find a way to begin again.

Now, years later, Tully is a woman trying to deal with the loss of her best friend. She wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?

Kate’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan, is as lost in her grief as Tully is…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Tully’s mother, Dorothy Hart, is an unstable woman who abandoned her child too many times in the past and ultimately broke her heart. Now, when Tully is in danger of losing everything and is more vulnerable and alone than she’s been since she put those rough childhood years behind her, Dorothy returns once more, desperate for another chance to be a good mother. But can she be trusted this time? To help her daughter, Dorothy must face her darkest fears and reveal the terrible secret in her past—only then can she become the mother her wounded daughter needs.

In Fly Away, tragedy will bring these three women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way and they will need each other—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives…

Enjoy this excerpt:

September 2, 2010
10:14 pm
She felt a little woozy. It was nice, like being wrapped in a warm-from-the-dryer blanket. But when she came to, and saw where she was, it wasn’t so nice.

She was sitting on a closed toilet seat in a restroom stall, slumped over, with tears drying on her cheeks. How long had she been here? She got slowly to her feet and left the bathroom, pushing her way through the theater’s crowded lobby, ignoring the judgmental looks cast her way by the beautiful people drinking champagne beneath a glittering, nineteenth century chandelier. The movie must be over.

Outside, she kicked her ridiculous patent leather pumps into the shadows. In her expensive black nylons, she walked in the spitting rain down the dirty Seattle sidewalk toward home.

A bright pink Martini Bar sign caught her attention. A few people were clustered together outside the front door, smoking and talking beneath a protective overhang.

Even as she vowed to pass by, she found herself turning, reaching for the door, going inside. She slipped into the dark, crowded interior and headed straight for the long, mahogany bar.

“What can I get for you?” asked a thin, artsy-looking man with hair the color of a tangerine and more hardware on his face than Sears carried in the nuts and bolts aisle.

“Tequila straight shot,” she said.

She drank the first shot and ordered another. The loud music comforted her. She drank another straight shot and swayed to the beat. All around her people were talking and laughing. It felt a little like she was part of all that activity.

A man in an expensive Italian suit sidled up beside her. He was tall and obviously fit, with blond hair that had been carefully cut and styled. Banker, probably, or corporate lawyer. Too young for her, of course. He couldn’t be much past thirty-five. How long was he there, trolling for a date, looking for the best looking woman in the room? One drink, two?

Finally, he turned to her. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew who she was and that small recognition seduced her. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“I don’t know. Can you?” Was she slurring her words? That wasn’t good. And she couldn’t think clearly.

His gaze moved from her face, down to her breasts, and then back to her face. It was a look that stripped past any pretense. “I’d say a drink at the very least.”

“I don’t usually pick up strangers,” she lied. Lately, there were only strangers in her life. Everyone else, everyone who mattered, had forgotten about her. She could really feel that Xanax kicking in now, or was it the tequila?

He touched her chin, a jawline caress that made her shiver. The boldness of it, just touching her; no one did that anymore. “I’m Troy,” he said.

She looked up into his blue eyes and felt the bone crushing weight of her loneliness. When was the last time a man had wanted her? She couldn’t even remember.

“I’m Tully Hart,” she said.

“I know.”

He kissed her. He tasted sweet, of some kind of liquor, and of cigarettes. Or maybe pot. She wanted to lose herself in pure physical sensation, to dissolve like a bit of candy.

She wanted to forget everything that had gone wrong with her life, and how it was that she’d ended up in a place like this, alone in a sea of strangers.

“Kiss me again,” she said, hating the pathetic pleading she heard in her voice. It was how she’d sounded as a child, back when she’d been a little girl with her nose pressed to the window, waiting for her mother to return. What’s wrong with me? that little girl had asked anyone who would listen, but there had never been an answer. Tully reached out for him, pulling him close, but even as he kissed her and pressed his body into hers, she felt herself starting to cry, and when her tears started, there was no way to hold them back.
***
September 3, 2010
2:01 am
Tully was the last person to leave the bar. The doors banged shut behind her; the neon sign hissed and clicked off. It was past two now; the Seattle streets were empty. Hushed.

Traffic made the pavement hum beneath her bare feet. She made her way down the slick sidewalk, a little unsteady on her feet. A man had kissed her – a stranger – and she’d started to cry.

Pathetic. No wonder he’d backed away.

Rain pelted her, almost overwhelmed her. She thought about stopping, tilting her head back and drinking it in until she drowned.

That would be good. Drowning.

It seemed to take hours to get home. At her condominium building, she pushed past the doorman without making eye contact.

In the elevator, she saw herself in the wall of mirrors.

Oh, God.

She looked terrible. Her auburn hair – in need of coloring – was a bird’s nest, mascara ran like war paint down her cheeks.

The elevator doors opened and she stepped out into the hallway. Her balance was so off it took four tries to get her key into the lock. By the time she opened the door, she was dizzy and her headache had roared back to life.

Somewhere between the dining room and the living room, she banged into a chrome side table and almost fell. Only a last minute Hail Mary grab for the sofa saved her. She sank onto the thick, down filled white cushion with a sigh. The table in front of her was piled high with mail. Bills and magazines. Junk mail.

She slumped back and closed her eyes, thinking what a mess her life had become.

“Damn you, Katie Ryan,” she whispered to the best friend who wasn’t there. This loneliness was unbearable. But her best friend was gone. Dead. That was what had started all of it. Losing Kate. How pitiful was that? Tully had begun to plummet at her best friend’s death and she hadn’t been able to pull out of the dive. “I need you.” Then she screamed it: “I need you!”

Silence.

She let her head fall forward. Did she fall asleep? Maybe…

When she opened her eyes again, she stared, bleary-eyed, at the pile of mail on her coffee table. A Star magazine lay on top – a small, business card size photograph of her was in the upper right corner. Beneath her name was a single, terrible word.

Addict.

She reached forward, grabbed the magazine. It was a small story; not even a full page.

The Real Story behind the rumors.

Aging isn’t easy for any woman in the public eye, but it may be proving especially difficult for Tully Hart, the ex-star of the once phenom talk show The Girlfriend Hour. Ms. Hart’s goddaughter, Marah Ryan, contacted Star exclusively. Ms. Ryan, 20, confirms that the fifty-year-old Hart has been struggling lately with demons she’s had all her life. In recent months, Hart has “gained an alarming amount of weight” and been abusing drugs and alcohol, according to Ms. Ryan–

Marah.

The betrayal hurt so badly she couldn’t breathe. She read the rest of the story and then let the magazine slide to the floor.

The pain she’d been holding at bay for months, years, roared to life, sucking her into the bleakest, loneliest place she’d ever been. For the first time, she couldn’t even imagine crawling out of this pit.

She staggered to her feet, her vision blurred by tears, and reached for her car keys. She couldn’t live like this anymore.

Copyright @ Kristin Hannah 2013

About the Author: 4_3 kristen Hannah_72dpi (2)KRISTIN HANNAH is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels. A former lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Visit her at www.kristinhannah.com or on Facebook.

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#LastTimeISawYou @EleanorKMoran @QuercusUSA Giveaway

4_2 Final Blog Tour 2[9]

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Quercus Publishing. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book.

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

I often indulge writer’s block in the first half of a book. I start wondering why anyone ever paid me for a book, stuffing chocolate, watching The Good Wife on playback and feeling desperately guilty.

Then I realize how soon it is I have to deliver, and it’s like Clarke Kent going into the phone booth. I write like a maniac, 1000 words a day, 6 days a week, and then, miraculously there’s a draft.

There are a couple of things I do when I’m groaning about finding the muse. Alexandra Solokoff has a great blog and e-book about writing, Screenwriting Tips for Authors, and I find her incredibly concise and focusing. She recommends thinking about the characters who haunt you, and why they haunt you. This often makes me go back to books I love, like The Time Traveler Wife or The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, to connect with wonderfully written, complex characters.

What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?

My mum always dressed me in thrift store clothes, long before vintage became slang for cool. I was the schoolgirl fashion forgot. She’d also turn up to school in T-shirts saying things like “Nuclear Power No Thanks” and I’d cringe! I love her dearly.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Quite how many self help books I’ve read? I love uber coach Martha Beck’s work. I adore Brene Brown, her Ted talk on The Power of Vulnerability was a game changer for me. Tosha Silver, a crazy, brilliant astrologer lady in San Francisco. If I lived in the US again (I lived briefly in LA) I’d never get any work done!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I spoke to a US cop about the protocol around suspected vehicular suicide and exhuming bodies for this book. I felt quite creeped out! I’m also a TV drama executive, and I’ve sat in on a murder trial for a legal show I made, Lawless. Seeing the accused in the dock gave me nightmares.

If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?

my Ipad – if I could have my Entertainment Weekly app I’d be happy. It’s like my 5th limb. I’d have to have a kettle – I drink way too much tea. Am I allowed a phone? These are BORING! A bookshelf full of books I love – Rebecca, Eat, Pray, Love. A fridge, so I could have a cool glass of white wine.

4_2 LastTime_jacket_spot uv copyWhen Olivia Berrington gets the call to tell her that her best friend from college has been killed in a car crash in New York, her life is turned upside down. Her relationship with Sally was an exhilarating roller coaster, until a shocking betrayal drove them apart. But if Sally really had turned her back, why is her little girl named after Olivia?

As questions mount about the fatal accident, Olivia is forced to go back and unravel their tangled history. But as Sally’s secrets start to spill out, Olivia’s left asking herself if the past is best kept buried.

About the Author:Eleanor Moran, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson.Eleanor Moran is the author of three previous novels: Stick or Twist, Mr Almost Right and Breakfast in Bed, which is currently being developed for television. Eleanor also works as a television drama executive and her TV credits includeRome, MI5, Spooks, Being Human and a biopic of Enid Blyton, Enid, starring Helena Bonham Carter. Eleanor grew up in North London, where she still lives.

Social Media Links:
Twitter: @EleanorKMoran
Eleanor Moran’s Website: http://www.eleanormoran.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EleanorMoranBooks

The Cottage on Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts – Q&A and Giveaway!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a $25 B & N gift card and an eCopy of The Cottage on Juniper Ridge, awarded to one lucky commenter at the end of the tour. Click the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Now sit back and enjoy getting to know Sheila Roberts a little better.

1. What inspired you to start writing?

I wish I could point to one specific incident or person, but the inspiration has always been there. I love to write and have been making up stories since I was a kid. I would put myself to sleep telling myself bedtime stories. (I was surprised to learn that’s not normal!)

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

Learn a lot about the craft and business of writing. I still read books on writing. I don’t think you ever arrive as a writer.

3. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Memorable characters that readers will want to spend time with and root for and give them plenty of exciting/fun adventures. (I mean who doesn’t love Stephanie Plum?)

4. What comes first, the plot or characters?

For me, it’s neither. It’s an idea or theme. For example, my new novel THE COTTAGE ON JUNIPER RIDGE grew out of the question of what would happen if a group of friends decided it was time to simplify their lives?

5. Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

There’s a great forest fire scene in the book that was based on a real fire outside of Leavenworth, WA.

6. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?

I’m very excited to be putting the finishing touches on THE LODGE ON HOLLY ROAD, which will be out this holiday season and answers the question, What happens when Santa loses his holiday spirit?

7. What are you reading now?

I have just started a new Kristan Higgins book. Woohoo!

8. How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Sometimes friends suggest them to me, which was the case for MERRY EX-MAS. Sometimes I think them up, like I did with another current release, SMALL CHANGE. I love that title because the book is about girlfriends with money problems helping each other make a lot of small lifestyle changes (well, and some major ones, too) in their lives that add up to a big difference. So the title works on many levels. Many times though, my publisher wants to go a certain direction and then everyone puts their heads together to come up with a title. And, I have to admit, it’s not always the one I wanted. But that’s what teamwork is all about, right?

9. Describe your writing space.

I share home office space with my husband and business manager who is also a budding writer. My corner is a mess, with books piled on the floor, papers scattered all over the desk, stuff that needs to get filed. There’s usually a book or a coffee cup or a bunch of papers on the copy machine, too, which makes him nuts. But he deals with it.

10. What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Having to come up with more scenes if the book doesn’t turn out long enough. I usually plot so tightly that this can become a challenge.

11. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to read, play games, go dancing with my sweetie, and hang out with my girlfriends. I’m also a big tennis buff and am just taking up golf. Oh, and once in awhile I clean the house.

12. What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Chocolate, food of the gods. I bet I don’t have to explain why to anyone. Least favorite would be liver. Eeew, that stuff is nasty. When I was a kid growing up and I’d learn liver and onions were on the menu for the night I’d always call our neighbor and get myself invited over for dinner. One night I called next door though and found out they were having liver and onions too. Eeeew. I don’t remember what I wound up eating that night but you can bet it wasn’t liver.

13. Have you ever eaten a crayon?

Who hasn’t?

14. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a serious plotter. This flying by the seat of your pants stuff is for the birds.

15. How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

You know, that’s a good question and I’m not sure I can answer it. I do believe every author has her own unique voice. I guess the bottom line is it’s important to stay true to yourself, tell your own story in your own way and don’t try to sound like anyone else. If I find a writer I like I try not to read too many of that writer’s books in a row because I’m worried I’ll accidentally suck up some of her pet phrases and writing style.

16. If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?

A telephone (heck there may be cell reception out there somewhere), a fridge, a stove (we do have electricity, don’t we?!), my iPad, and a curling iron (I want to look good when I get rescued!)

17. Favorite place to read.

In bed. It’s just so cozy!

17. Favorite non-alcoholic drink.

Virgin piña colada. And I’ll have that while I’m reading in bed, thank you.

Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Her sister Toni is ready for a change, too. She has a teenage daughter who’s constantly texting her friends, a husband who’s more involved with his computer than he is with her, and a son who’s consumed by video games. Toni wants her family to grow closer—to return to a simpler way of life.

Other women in town, like Stacy Thomas, are also inspired to unload their excess stuff and some of the extra responsibilities they’ve taken on.

But as they all discover, sometimes life simply happens. It doesn’t always happen simply!

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sometimes we get so used to the status quo that we forget we can change it.
Muriel Sterling, author of Simplicity

Jen Heath hurried along the downtown Seattle sidewalk, hunching her coat against a freezing rain, her holiday to-do list dogging her every step, breathing down her neck. Trees along the street twinkled with white lights and store windows boasted displays of Santas, presents, and happy elves. A steel drum band had set up in the Westlake Mall and was playing Jingle Bells. Bah, humbug, she thought grumpily as she strode past them.

Anyone peering inside her head would think she hated the holidays. She didn’t. She loved them. She just didn’t love being so darned busy.

How had she gotten stuck in charge of planning the office Christmas party? Oh, yeah, Patty Unger, her supervisor, had volunteered her. Thanks, Patty. Not that Jen minded planning a party. But having to plan one this year wasn’t fun. It was just one more thing to add to a very long to-do list.

In addition to her full time job, she sold Soft Glow Candles on the party plan – all so she could whittle down what she owed on her credit cards, keep up her car payments, and make the mortgage on her First Hill condo that she could barely afford. The car she’d needed, but the condo? What had she been thinking when she bought it? Oh, yeah. She hadn’t been thinking. She’d taken one look at the granite countertops, the hardwood floors, and the view of the Seattle skyline out the window and condo lust had come over her like a fever. By the time the fever broke she was a homeowner. (Thanks to the bank and her parents.) And her charge cards were maxed out. (Because, of course, she had to furnish the new condo.) Now she was a stressed homeowner.

Who was never home. She had three candle parties booked this week and two more on the weekend. The following weekend she had another candle party on Saturday, and then on Sunday a cookie exchange at her sister’s followed by the church choir concert. Oh, she would be home later that evening, right along with the eighteen other people she’d invited to her place for the post-concert party. (This was the symptom of yet another fever – - new owner pride. She’d been dying to show off the condo, and hosting a party had seemed like the perfect way.) The day before she’d gone to see the gingerbread house display at the Sheraton Hotel with her mother, her sister, and her niece Jordan. She’d been pooped, but when she tried to wiggle out of going Toni had reminded her that this was a tradition and, anyway, she needed to spend time with her family. Guilt, it was the gift that kept giving. After that she’d visited her grandma, who was complaining that she’d almost forgotten what her granddaughter looked like. It seemed everyone in her family was giving guilt for Christmas this year.

Tonight she absolutely had to do laundry. But what she really wanted was to flop on the couch and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. None of her friends understood what she saw in that old movie but she’d been watching it with her family every year at Christmas since she was a kid. Well, except for the last couple of years. Between having her marriage fall apart and getting a divorce she’d been too busy for a wonderful life.

Those days were over now. No more fights about money. No more fights about how she mismanaged her time or how impetuous and irresponsible she was. No more fights about, well, you name it.

When they’d first married Serge had loved her spontaneity, her joie de vivre. After a year he developed a vision problem and saw only her flaws. They fought about everything from money to the amount of time she spent with her friends. “I don’t know what we’re doing together,” Serge had finally stormed one night, throwing up his hands.

Neither did she. So Serge had moved out and moved on. She’d run into him at The Last Supper Club six months after the divorce was final when she was trying to enjoy a night out with the girls. He’d been with a skinny tattoo queen with maroon hair and ear gauges. And he’d complained about how impulsive Jen was?

She’d wanted to hit him and his new woman, too. Instead, she’d buried herself in the crowd and danced until both her feet and her heart were numb. Good riddance, she’d told herself, but later that night she’d cried herself to sleep.

Now it had been a year since the big D and she was so over him and so moving on.

Now she was in charge of her own destiny, her own life, and that was fine with her.

Except so far this new life wasn’t exactly playing out as she’d envisioned it would. When a girl barely had time to wash her bra she was in trouble. When was she supposed to squeeze in things like dating? And if she didn’t even have time to date, well, what was that going to do to her sex life?

She scowled. Many of her friends were now having babies and she’d love to have one of her own. She sure didn’t see a bassinette on her horizon though. At thirty-two were her eggs giving up all hope of ever meeting a sperm?

Well, girls, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re just going to have to hang in there because right now I don’t have time to find a new man. Now, there was a depressing thought.

Sheila Roberts is married and has three children. She lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have appeared in Readers Digest Condensed books and have been published in several languages. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her her novel The Nine Lives of Christmas has been optioned for film. When she’s not writing songs, hanging out with her girlfriends or trying to beat her husband at tennis, she can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Readers can find me on:

http://www.sheilasplace.com

Facebook: Author Sheila Roberts

Twitter:_Sheila_Roberts

Buy link for Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Cottage-Juniper-Ridge-Icicle-Falls/dp/0778314545/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388790773&sr=8-1&keywords=The+cottage+on+juniper+ridge

Buy link for B & N:

14545/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388790773&sr=8-1&keywords=The+cottage+on+juniper+ridge

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About Elaine Cantrell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Elaine will be awarding a free ecopy of Return Engagement to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop and a Grand prize of a $50 gift certificate for Amazon or B&N to one commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me
1. My dog tries to root me off the bed every night.
2. I think chocolate is one of the major food groups.
3. After going ten years without drinking soft drinks, I recently caved in and had one. (Bad author. Bad.)
4. I don’t care if I have a cell phone or not because sometimes I don’t want to talk to anyone.
5. I’m looking forward to Christmas because my family has divided into teams to see who can create the best Christmas wreath. I should be able to come up with something in a year’s time.
6. My husband surprised me with a ruby ring for our anniversary.
7. I remodeled my bathroom in a retro style, and I love it. Everyone who sees it does.
8. I like to watch Love It Or List It on HGTV.
9. When I went to Alaska, my cousin and I went on a short cruise in the Pacific. We went upstairs to the top deck, and the wind blew so hard we almost couldn’t make it back inside the boat.
10. I love junk, er, antique stores.

About the Author: 3_10 AuthorPicElaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina where she obtained a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators, Romance Writers of America, and EPIC authors. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest. When she’s not writing or teaching, she enjoys movies, quilting, reading, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

3_10 Cover_Blue52“First Lady Kills President Lovinggood”
December 29, 2018

Thirty years later Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother’s innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, merciless enemy who’ll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whiskey Creek Press, or Smashwords.

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Ten Things People Don’t Know About Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar – guest blog and giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mohanalakshmi will be awarding a free ecopy of An Unlikely Goddess to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and a Grand Prize of a $50 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Ten Things People Don’t Know
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar
Many of my friends give me a hard time for having the phone in one hand and a baby in the other; usually something is being posted to a social media site. Now with integrated apps I can post the same content to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Here are things I haven’t ever posted online:

1. I don’t know how to ride a bike. It’s true by the time I sat down to try it was too late – 12 – I knew the power of gravity.

2. The longest I ever lived anywhere is my current city, Doha, for 8 years.

3. I was a psychology double major as an undergrad but should have known that English was my first love all along.

4. One of the scariest moments of my motherhood was when my son got stuck — in the changing table on the airplane. Now it’s funny but for the few moments he couldn’t move, I was terrified.

5. I never read any of the Harry Potter books. Not even the one. But I’m grateful for JK Rowling and what she’s done to revive reading for all ages.

6. My name means beautiful Goddess of Wealth (Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of wealth and can also be spelled Laxmi).

7. I will listen to anything on NPR over watching news on televion. BBC Worldservice is a close second.

8. Naming our children was harder than naming any of my books.

9. We flipped a coin to decide the eldest son’s first and middle name.

10. Our second son was called El Segundo (the second) all thorough out the pregnancy and even into the first week of his life because we were in a standoff (eventually my husband surrendered).

Enjoy the book video of An Unlikely Goddess:

About the Author:2_19 MEDIA KIT 2013authorphotoMohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published seven e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace.

Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day to day dynamics between housemaids and their employers.

After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.

2_19 MEDIA KIT UnlikelySita is the firstborn but since she is a female, her birth makes life difficult for her mother who is expected to produce a son. From the start, Sita finds herself in a culture hostile to her, but her irrepressible personality won’t be subdued. Born in India, she immigrants as a toddler to the U.S. with her parents after the birth of her much anticipated younger brother. Her father’s academic ambitions take the family all over the United States, as he chases grant funding at universities in several states. His financial challenges make life at home stressful for Sita, her mother, and younger brother – but the women of the family bear the brunt of his frustrations – both physically and emotionally. Hers is a South Indian family, from Tamil Nadu, one of the most conservative states in the subcontinent.

Buy the book at Amazon.

Books/Movies: How They Differ by Alana Cash – guest blog and giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alana will be awarding the winner’s choice of a Screenprinted Camisole – “What Happens in the Bedroom Stays in the Bedroom” or a Brass Nuts T-Shirt – screenprinted “Brass” with 2 brass hex-nuts sewn to collar, to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY) Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Books/Movies: How They Differ

I have worked in the film industry in Los Angeles and with major publishers in New York, so I have both an objective and subjective perspective on film versus novel. As far as the people that I’ve worked with, I’d say that publishing people are more intellectual and introverted, while film industry people are more geared toward trends and extraversion. Both the publishing and film industries are now equally about marketing as they are about creativity, which to me, sort of leaves them a bit too structured.

As for the actual comparison of a film versus a novel, the most obvious difference is depth. There’s a saying you hear a lot: The book was better. I don’t know anyone who wants to read the novel after seeing the movie because there’s nothing left to the imagination, and it’s the pull on your imagination that makes a book so much fun to read.

A novel usually has more characters and the characters’ personalities develop for the reader based on what they do. All that is more immediate in film – you see the person – their physical attributes, their body language, their facial expressions. Less of the story gets told in film because of time and financial constraints – characters and scenes have to be left out and it’s all over in a couple of hours.

Reading a book is so much more fulfilling. You get to savor moments and characters. You get to put the book down and come back to it. Give me a good book over a movie any time. And I like the read thing – paper pages that I can physically turn.

About the Author:Alana Cash is an award-winning author and filmmaker who used to spend summers on her grandparents farm at the foot of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. When she was ten, a red-headed stranger rode up on horseback asking her grandfather if there were horses needing to be broken. The cowboy wore spurs and a cowboy hat and was pretty exciting. Decades later, Alana wondered if any of the women living in that farming community got a crush on that wandering cowboy, and intending to write a short story about that romantic day, Alana ended up writing the novel TOM’S WIFE.

Website ~ Blog

PrintIt’s the Great Depression and 19-year-old Annie Huckaby is almost resigned to marriage with Tom. He works at a coal mine during the week, leaving Annie to take care of the house and their infant son. Tom’s Native American friend Jim takes care of the farm. Her best friend, Twila, visits every day and helps Annie make a little money selling eggs to the café on the highway. And there’s church on Sunday. Annie’s not always alone, but most times she feels like it…until one afternoon a peddler named Jake Stern steps onto the porch, tips his hat, and starts a world of trouble.

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon

Guest Blog and Giveaway: Where to Ideas Come From? by Ron Doades

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

Where do ideas come from?
I think ideas come from letting your subconscious mind freely interact with your conscious mind on a playing field of experiences and possibilities. If that high-sounding statement has not turned you, off, stay with me.

You may know that Disney’s creative sessions are based on the premise that there are no bad ideas. While some ideas are not really good ideas, even apparently bad ones—hysterically laughable—even the most incredulous ideas can open people’s minds to let in really game-changing thinking. Just imagine the thought processes of Steve Jobs and his associates in conceiving and designing Apple’s operating system, incorporating the visual characteristics that Mr. Jobs learned in a college art class.

It seems to me that authoring books follows the same ideation process. Really successful authors have the abilities to go where others dare not go. They are not afraid to risk looking foolish by putting their new ideas into books. We have examples galore of such successful writers. Are really successful writers good writers? By what and whose standards? While many successful writers may have learned grammatical rules in school, most of them have distinct writing styles that violate various rules.

For the purposes of this blog, I would like to conclude by asserting that successful writers are able to free their minds to create new ideas, while not being preoccupied with always getting the grammar right (at least in the creative writing phase). I believe that perfect grammatical expression is not their goal. Their goal is to express their creative thoughts in ways that engage and touch readers. Their ideas come from the freedom they give themselves to take creative risks.

About the Author: RON DOADES is president of Ronald Doades & Company, a consulting firm that, since 1977, has helped the people of large and mid-size energy companies improve their individual and corporate performance results by learning from the best-practice experiences of others. A popular speaker on the topic of managing change for optimal results, he holds an MBA from Columbia University and an MS in Psychology from The New School in New York City. Visit him at www.realizingyoubook.com

SUSAN SLOATE is the author of twenty published books, including STEALING FIRE, a #2 Amazon bestseller and Quarter-Finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, and FORWARD TO CAMELOT (authored with Kevin Finn), which in its first edition was a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for film by a Hollywood production company. She lives in Mount Pleasant, SC. Visit her online at http://susansloate.com.

1_7 realizing MEDIA KIT Realizing You Book CoverMeet Robby Aihn, the newest star in the self-help universe and author of the runaway bestseller, Realizing You, now struggling with his first taste of fame. Though his five principles for good living are changing other people’s lives, his own life is starting to fall apart. When Robby stages a lavish self-help conference in Dallas, he attracts others with their own secrets: his estranged wife and unhappy teenage daughter; the businessman pursuing his own agenda; the all-star pitcher facing the end of his career; and the shy co-author Robby never acknowledged, who is searching for meaning in her own life. Join Robby and the others on their journey toward understanding and fulfillment, in this truly novel approach to changing YOUR life.

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Like Mom by Cheryl Robinson — Book Blast and Giveaway

 


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cheryl will be awarding a $50 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Determined to lose weight, Nevada Pearson participates in a twelve-week clinical trial for a new diet pill. Nevada thinks if she’s slim, her life will be so much better. She won’t have to wear dark clothes to hide her big belly and can kiss the plus sizes good-bye. Her husband will stop ogling every skinny woman in sight, and she’ll stop accusing him of cheating. She won’t have to worry that he’ll leave her the way her dad left her mom. She can stop ranting on her YouTube channel about being fat. She’ll get promoted at work. Her fifteen-year-old daughter will want to lose weight, too, instead of staying holed up in her bedroom eating junk food and surfing the Internet for a cure to her social anxiety. But Nevada isn’t prepared for what happens next and how quickly her life changes—and it has nothing to do with her amazing weight loss.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Nevada

“This upcoming year is the year,” Claude said. “If I don’t get promoted, I’m leaving.”

“And going where?” I asked. I had a right to know, unless he planned on going alone, and then I truly had a right to know.

“I don’t care where: wherever I can get a job. What, you want to live in Indiana forever?”

I shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind. I mean, it’s what I know.”

He rolled his eyes dismissively at me. “Let’s dissect what you just said—”

I crossed my eyes after I turned my head to the side. No, let’s not. Sometimes, I just wanted to tell him to shut up with all of his change-your-life stuff. I had Oprah for that, and she was much better at motivating me than Claude was. Listening to her made me think I really could change my life. Listening to him made me think I’d made a mistake by marrying him in the first place, and that I’d messed up my life forever. But I’d felt the same way on our wedding day, so nothing had changed.

“I don’t want to dissect it.”

“But what you just said is how a lot of people feel. A lot of people stay with something just because it’s familiar. It’s what they know. May not even be something they want. Next year should be the year of the unknown. That could be the title for my first book; I need to write it down.” He searched the table for something to write on because once he sat down he wasn’t getting up until after he finished eating. “Do you have a pen and some paper?”

I got up and grabbed the first sheet of paper I saw and handed it to him along with a pen and then sat back down. Before he wrote on the paper, he turned it over. “Do you need this?”

“It’s just a blank sheet of paper, isn’t it?”

“It’s a shipping notice from Curl—.”

I snatched the paper out of his hand—close call; it was the shipping notice from Curl Junkie for the box of hair products UPS had delivered that day. Claude would have a fit if he saw that I’d spent over a hundred dollars on stuff for my hair. But I had to spend at least a hundred dollars to get free shipping, which made sense while I was filling my online shopping cart with more stuff, but the more I thought about it, I only wanted the Daily Fix and the Smoothing Lotion, which would’ve been forty-nine dollars, and the flat rate shipping was only seven dollars and twenty-five cents, so basically, I paid fifty-one dollars more to save seven dollars and twenty-five cents. But it made perfect sense to me at the time.

About the Author:

Cheryl Robinson is a native Detroiter currently residing in Central Florida. She started her literary career as an independent author, publishing two books before eventually landed a publishing deal with Penguin/NAL Trade. She published six novels with NAL Trade and two more novels as an independent author. She is currently working on her next novel. Visit her Website at CherylRobinson.com, where you can read her blog and enter her monthly blog contest.

Buy the book at Amazon.