The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Eve Makis as she celebrates the release of The Spice Box Letters.

9_14-eve-makis-cover-spiceboxlettersKaterina longs to know why her late grandmother, Miriam, refused to talk about the past, especially when she inherits a journal and handwritten letters stashed in a wooden spice box, cryptic treasures written in Armenian, Miriam’s mother tongue.

On vacation in Cyprus, Katerina finds the key to unlocking her grandmother’s secrets and discovers a family legacy of exile and loss. Aged seven, Miriam was expelled from her home in Eastern Turkey and witnessed the death of her beloved brother Gabriel, or so she believed.

Katerina sets out on a fact-finding mission across the island and solves a mystery that changes her life and lays the ghosts of her grandmother’s turbulent past to rest.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Sarah’s Key in this gripping family saga, set during the tragic start of the Armenian genocide in 1915 Turkey, spanning the ups and downs of a family separated by the devastating aftermath in 1985 Greece.

About the Author: 9_14-eve-makis
EVE MAKIS studied at Leicester University and worked as a journalist and radio presenter in the UK and Cyprus before becoming a novelist. Eve is a part time tutor in creative writing at Nottingham University. She is married with two children and lives in the UK and Cyprus.

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Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees by Jane DeVos – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Janie will be awarding a digital copy of Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees 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_beneathathousandappletreesAs the 20th century dawns, the world is transformed in dizzying ways. But nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a place, and a family, out of time—where one young girl will grow to face the challenges of each generation before her—and discover whether she has the strength to overcome them…

The eldest surviving daughter of Anna Guinn, Rachel rarely ventures far from her home in the Appalachians, aside from an occasional trip into town to trade a penny for a peppermint stick. Sometimes she yearns for more, but as much as she fears her mother’s unstable mind, she is anchored by the strength of her grandmother, Willa. Freed from an abusive marriage, Willa holds the family together through hardship, all the while fulfilling her role as keeper of her neighbors’ carefully guarded secrets—the most painful of which may be her own.

In this isolated, eccentric world where people depend on moonshine to put food on the table, hang talismans to chase away ghosts—and tragedy can strike as suddenly as a coiled copperhead—Rachel wonders what life has in store. Most of all, she worries whether she and her sister have inherited the darkness that lurks inside their mother. Her one respite is the town’s apple orchard, the ally she finds there—and the revelation that she can take her destiny into her own hands, decide what to leave behind—and what is truly worth carrying into the future…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

I wasn’t born with a bad right foot. Instead, I’d been dealt a bad hand when an accident at Papa’s timber mill crippled me. The man known as the off-bearer was busy stacking boards that had just been cut by the spinning, sharp-toothed saw and didn’t see me walk up beside him. With his mind a million miles away, he was simply repeating the tedious pulling-off-and-stacking motion of yet another board when he turned and dropped it on my foot.

It seemed to happen in slow motion. The off-bearer, who was a stoic Irishman named Rusty Flaherty, saw me standing there just a fraction of a second after he’d let the board go, and the look of horror on his face was one I would never forget, and which froze me in place. I was lucky, they said, because it had narrowly missed my head. But I wasn’t lucky enough, for even though Papa immediately threw me in the wagon and hauled me over to Doc Pardie’s house, my foot had never healed right.

The doctor wouldn’t operate because I was only four and “still had growin’ to do, and there ain’t any use but to wait ’til she’s done a-doin’ it,” he’d told my father. I heard Papa tell Mama later that he wouldn’t have let Doc do it anyway, since he smelled like he’d “dived into a bottle of one hundred proof. Maybe it’ll just straighten out on its own,” he’d said, without too much conviction in his voice. And it had healed, just not straight enough or strong enough, and there’d never been enough money to do anything to correct it.

About the Author: mediakit_authorphoto_beneathathousandappletreesJanie DeVos is a native of Coral Gables, Florida. She attended Florida State University, then worked in the advertising industry for over a decade, including radio, cable television, public relations and advertising firms. Though her career changed over the years, one thing didn’t—her love of writing. She is an award winning children’s author. Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees is her adult debut. Learn more at JanieDeVos.com.

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Karolina’s Twins by Ronald Balson – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ronald Balson whose newest book Karolina’s Twins released yesterday.

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Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.

Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.

Enjoy an excerpt.

About the Author:9_7 balson_r 300 DPI
RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator, and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Saving Sophie and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

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A Killer’s Grace and My Name is Wonderful by Ronald Chapman – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour to announce the release of two new books from Ronald Chapman being released simultaneously by Terra Nova Publishing: A Killer’s Grace and My Name is Wonder. The publisher commented, ““It is remarkable that these two books can be so very different but somehow speak to the same messages.” Ronald will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_AKillersGraceFrom the high desert of New Mexico comes a tale of mystery, murder and redemption. When journalist Kevin Pitcairn receives a disturbing letter from a serial killer, he is drawn into a compelling journey with profound psychological and spiritual implications, not just for the murderer, but for himself and society as a whole. As he tries to investigate and then tell the story, he finds himself battling his own inner demons and sordid history. Events conspire to propel an isolated matter to a national stage and audiences that are increasingly hostile. Forced to explore the roots of human psychology and sanity, Pitcairn must navigate moral and philosophical realms. What is the nature of evil? What powers of choice do humans actually possess? How may we be redeemed? And in the end, how do we reconcile with ourselves?

MediaKit_BookCover_MyNameIsWonderMy Name is Wonder chronicles the transcendent adventures of a little goat with big dreams. Join Wonder and his wisecracking guide, the mysterious crow Mac Craack, on a journey through the scenic landscapes of the American Southwest and into the heart of a mindful presence. Along the way, you’ll meet an unforgettable cast of creatures, each with an important lesson to teach.

Enjoy an excerpt from My Name is Wonder:

Oren turned back to Wonder and spoke gently. “First, little one, I must tell you that you are not Wonder.”

Wonder knew enough about Oren to know he spoke with the weight of the wisdom of generations. He had also heard that Oren was a philosopher. The gravity of the moment was not lost on the little goat as he considered this statement carefully. Somehow he knew that nothing but the truth would suffice.

“I don’t get it,” he said with a scrunched up face.

“Your name may be Wonder, but Wonder you are not.” He studied the kid, watching for any signs of dawning comprehension. Wonder cocked his head to one side, still puzzled, and the old buck continued. “The form you find yourself in is that of a goat, but you are not a goat. There is that which is, and then there is that which is truth. If you are to learn, you must learn to be absolutely clear about such matters.”

Oren fell silent, waiting.

Wonder blinked—once, twice—and then said, “Got it!”

The wise goat responded in an amused tone, “Do you now?”

“Yes, sir. My name is Wonder.” He grinned and then continued, “And I am not that.”

“Ha!” responded Oren. “I believe you do have it, young one, but let us see.” He almost, but not quite, grinned back at Wonder. It was hard to tell with the long, white beard. “What are you if not Wonder?”

The kid leapt at the answer. “Well sir, I don’t guess I know.”

“Indeed,” replied Oren, his yellow eyes dancing. “True wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.”

“Then I must be very wise indeed, sir.”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RonChapmanRonald Chapman is owner of an international speaking and consulting company, Magnetic North LLC. In addition to international accreditation as a speaker and national awards for radio commentary, he is the author of two novels, My Name is Wonder (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016) and A Killer’s Grace (Terra Nova Publishing, 2016 and 2012), two works of non-fiction, Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2008) and What a Wonderful World: Seeing Through New Eyes (Page Free Publishing, 2004) and the producer of three audio sets, Seeing True: The Way of Spirit (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2016, 2005), Breathing, Releasing and Breaking Through: Practices for Seeing True (Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2015), and Seeing True – The Way of Success in Leadership (Magnetic North Audio, 2005).

Website for other information from the author | Site for ongoing social media content including blogs, v-logs, graphical materials, etc. | Site for materials relevant to those in recovery from substance abuse | Facebook

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PRAISE

“…a book for the ages, with profound truths simply stated. First there was Jonathan Livingston Seagull and then Yoda—Now there is Wonder…”
-Beverly Molander, Minister and Radio Host of Activating the Power of Yes

“…an exploration of human nature and into the allegorical realm that shows us how to be wise teachers and guides…”
-Paula Renaye, Author of Living the Life You Love

“Clarity is an aspect of love, it is seeing clearly. Ron Chapman sees with those eyes. He pays attention as few do to the miracles around us.”
-Stephen Levine, Author and Teacher

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LASR Anniversary: Kathleen M. Rodgers

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

She’s Come Undone

Stepping out of the pool
wearing nothing but a dare,
she looks around.
No roofers in sight,
only the neighbor’s cat
curled under the Mimosa
and a gecko doing pushups on the fence.

She crosses her arms in front of her
covering herself like a shield.
It’s the Pilgrim in her you know.
Then slowly, she drops the facade,
lifts her arms wide
and does breaststrokes in the air.
The stars aren’t even out,
high noon howls at her back
as she glides this way and that,
barefoot in the sun,
pirouetting in grass that’s still green
until the scarecrows come out.

A hawk flies overhead,
his high-pitched keeee calling her
to join him.
She takes off across the yard
and decades fall behind her,
shedding the years until she is five
and running through sprinklers.

Diving into the blue,
she torpedoes through the water
propelled by an energy
she hasn’t felt in years.
When she comes up for air,
she spots two lily pads of cloth
floating nearby…the discarded suit.
Flipping on her back,
the buzz of a light plane catches her attention.
And she laughs at the moment
when she defied convention.

© Kathleen M. Rodgers

johnny come latelyJohnnie Come Lately deals with the repercussions of a heat-of-the-moment confession, an absent mother, a son’s enlistment during wartime, and second chances. Johnnie Kitchen battles insecurity and doubt but never lets failure win. She comes from a family that is good at keeping secrets. Her mom has been missing for years, and she doesn’t know why? Maybe the statue at Soldier’s Park knows the answer. Or, the bird that calls her name?

About the Author:Kathleen M. Rodgers’ stories and essays have appeared in Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. In 2014, Rodgers was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus. Three of her aviation poems from the book Because I Fly (McGraw-Hill) were featured in an exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, NY.

Seven Wings to Glory is Rodgers’ third novel. Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, has garnered four awards: First Place Winner for women’s fiction from Texas Association of Authors 2016 Best Book Awards, 2015 Gold Medal for literary fiction from Military Writers Society of America, Bronze Medal for women’s fiction from Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards, & 2015 Best Cover Awards from Southern Writers Magazine. The novel has been featured in Family Magazine, Stars & Stripes, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Southern Writers Magazine, and on “”The Author’s Corner”” on Public Radio. The audio edition is narrated by Grammy® Award-winning vocalist and Broadway Actress Leslie Ellis.

Rodgers is also the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times.

She and her husband, Tom, a retired USAF fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, reside in a suburb of North Texas with their rescue dog, Denton. The mother of two grown sons, Thomas and J.P., she is currently working on her fourth novel and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

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Lessons I Learned from my Heroine by Doug Howery – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Doug Howery will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon GC and an autographed copy of the book to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please note geographical restrictions apply. United States only for the physical prize. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons I learned from my heroine

Lessons I learned include:

• Patience

A writer must flesh out characters. Main characters to include the heroine or villain require that you, the creator, allow them to breathe like a fine wine. If you rush the process the grapes will wither on the vine our sour in the barrel.
Make them 3 dimensional. Give them a passion, make them want something so bad that the conflict is inherent to the premise of the storyline.

Make them talk like normal people talk. We hesitate in our daily dialogue. We say hum, um, we don’t answer directly and we trail off in our dialogue…keep it real.

• Character Development

Think about the main character or minor character’s role in advancing the plot. If, at anytime you write a scene that includes the main character along with a minor character, try & not allow the minor character to outshine the main character. The minor character should be there to advance the plot into the main character’s court. Minor characters can advance the plot in so many different directions, so be careful to keep the premise in mind.

• Believable Character

If you have done your research into the characters’ psyche, your character should be believable in any conflict, etc.

• Conflict

Did I say “Conflict?” If you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a fleshed out story, fleshed out characters, fleshed out premise or storyline. Conflict is central station; don’t let the train leave out of the station without someone being pushed off the dock onto the tracks; get my drift. Write bold. Don’t be scared at the beginning. You can tone it down later; edit later.

Conclusion:

The aforementioned lessons afforded me the opportunity to develop my heroine, Permelia Corn, alas, Smiley Hanlon into the ‘transgender’ full-rounded individual he/she became. Smiley wanted something so bad (to be a woman in 1950s Appalachia coal mining town) that he suffered physical and emotional abuse. But, he persevered and in the end became a lightning rod for social change—The historical Stonewall Gay Riots of 1969. Patience, Character Development, Believable Character, and Conflict breathed my heroine into a fully fleshed out fine wine.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheGrassSweeperGodSixteen-year-old Smiley Hanlon is a young woman tethered to a young man’s body. In the 1950’s Appalachia coal fields of Solitude, Virginia, Smiley is placed in the “Mentally Retarded Class” because he is effeminate and wears a blouse and saddle shoes to school.

Smiley is backed by his best friend, Lee Moore who protects Smiley from a father and many townspeople who hate him. Smiley has dreams of becoming an entertainer. Raised by his aunt in a juke joint, as a child Smiley sings and dances on the Formica bar top into the wee hours. Chosen as the female lead, Dorothy, in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, his dream is being realized. The triumph of the play and his dream is sabotaged by his father and classmate bullies culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that changes both Smiley and Lee, forever.

Smiley and Lee flee to NYC. They learn that prejudice is prejudice whether in the coal fields of Virginia or on the streets of NYC. Smiley suffers at the hands of his real mother who is a religious zealot. She tries to change who Smiley is because he is a boil on the body of Christ. Lee suffers at the hands of psychologists who practice Aversion Therapy-electric shock treatment to cure his homosexuality.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Both Smiley and Lee become forces of change as do countless others. In 1969, Smiley Hanlon and his friend, Lee emerge as leaders of a gay revolution, the historical Stonewall Riots. The riots are vicious but the real battle will be won or lost on another continent: Solitude, Virginia.

The Grass Sweeper God is a force of nature that flows through all things…straightens out that which is bent…which is sick…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

This godforsaken place was the backwoods of Appalachia coal mining country. And being sixteen meant a cultured age of about ten or twelve, really. Especially if you were retarded and rode the short bus. This meant riding a school bus designated specifically as the retarded kids’ bus, but it also meant boarding normal kids alongside retards at each bus stop. The only real specificity: If you were trapped inside the wrong body—if you were a young man who wanted to be a young woman—you were the bull’s eye in the kids’ cross-hairs because you were the biggest, retarded mongoloid excrement of ‘em all, really. Excrement being too proper of a word: Specifically you got the ‘cultured’ and ‘godforsaken’ shit kicked outtaya every school day by retards and rednecks. Proper language left this place along with any civility once branded as a retarded freak, really. Indifference to proper language and civility ruled the day, and brutality beat the night.

About the Author: DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press.
In many of his stories, as in “The Grass Sweeper God,” Mr. Howery’s true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced.
Author, Doug Howery penned the novel with insight into his own struggle for sexual identity and personal tragedy. His mother committed suicide in 1982, blaming her two sons’ sexual identity in a letter and declaring herself a martyr for intolerance and social bigotry. She referred to her own sons as “Gutter Rats that Could Rot in Hell” and represents the hate and mistrust that have plagued society.
Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers’ Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery: “What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end–hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter.”
Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 34 years where he is at work on his next novel.

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

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mark Morey 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.

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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