Curve My Song by Sarah Gai – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

8_5 curve Cover_CurveMySongFollow the amazing plus size trio, The Curvies, as they find love, drama, tears, laughs and a song to match every situation. Bree Carson loves her life, friends and little town, but something is missing. Taylor Cole returns home after ten years and old flames reignite. Can he break through Bree’s walls? This book is the first in a three novella set following the lives of three curvy best friends: Bree, Elise and Skyla. The first book follows Bree and her life as she fumbles her way through letting down walls and letting love in. This novella has a lot of laughs and a little drama and introduces the readers to the rest of the characters leading into the second book, which builds up suspense for the third and final installment. These novellas will appeal to plus size or curvy women everywhere, especially those who enjoy books in the BBW (big, beautiful women), chicklit and women’s fiction genres. It’s just one of those reads that busy women of today can enjoy while they relate to the curvy ladies who aren’t super models but representative of your average everyday beauty.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Forty-five minutes later, I rush through the front door of the shop. Tables and sofa seats are filled with customers, and people are lining up at the counter to place or pay for their orders.

I see Skyla running around, trying her best to keep pace, and looking flustered. Throwing my things under the counter top, I make my way to the cash register and begin working.

When Skyla sees that I have finally arrived, a look of anger and frustration floods her face. After staring me down for what felt like hours (okay, like ten seconds), the ‘I’m-so-mad-at-you’ face is suddenly transformed into a look of relief as she drops her shoulders and breathes a sigh”

Excerpt From: Sarah Gai. “Curve My Song.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=878373680

About the Author: 8_5 curve AuthorPicSarah Gai is the author of The Curvies series. Living in Victoria Australia. As a devoted wife and mother of three, when Sarah is not writing she will be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or out for coffee with her own real life Curvies. Being a busy mum she was always trying to find a quick and fun read to squeeze in and that is when the idea for the three novella set sparked into her mind. Wanting to write for all the women out there who want a good short read about strong friendships, romance and body positive, love the skin you’re in kind of fiction.

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Too Christian or Not Christian Enough? by Ginger Marcinkowski – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ginger will be awarding a $10 Starbucks Card + eBook copy of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Too Christian or Not Christian Enough?
A couple of years ago I found myself in quite the dilemma. I had completed my first novel and was beginning the search for a publisher. Not yet understanding the ins and outs of the publishing world, I began making pitches to publishers suggested to me by others. I thought I had done a decent job on my query letters and on the pitches I made to a few agents and publishers at the pitch sessions held during my M.F.A. program.

Those who read my work were complimentary about the quality of my writing, but suggested I take out the references to God I had made. That seemed a bit odd to me, as my main character, Emily Evans, had lived with the pain of her father’s abuse her whole life. In the story, Run, River Currents, I spoke of that abuse somewhat graphically in two particular scenes. In the rest of the book, I alluded to the godly influence her grandfather had on her, but mentioned little about the impact of her grandfather until the final two chapters. Close to the ending, I showed a scene where Emily finally gave in to the calling of God’s voice. It was a shadowed reference that had to do with her almost drowning in the Tobique River. No hallelujahs, no lightening strikes, just a realization that she could no longer fight the pain of her abuse and anger alone. In the final scene, she gathers with her family and shows a softer side of herself. Her family immediately understands her transformation.

One publisher said it seemed a little “too preachy” for her liking. One particular agent went so far as to say that “her” readers disliked when authors tried to “push” their beliefs on them. Her words stung, as I didn’t feel as though my novel had done that. The bottom line was that I didn’t care. I wrote a lot of truth into that novel and as a Christian, wasn’t about to apologize for doing so, so long as the work was well written.

Shortly thereafter I discovered the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Genesis Award Contest. The contest was for author’s that had not yet been published. Convinced I had written a decent book, I excitedly submitted the work for consideration. I joined ACFW and sent in my registration for the fall Conference. Even if nothing came of the contest, at least I knew I might have found a group of agents and publishers that would surely understand my novel.

In the meantime, I continued to submit my manuscript to various publishers hoping it would land in the place God meant it to be. It did thanks to a dear friend who loved my work and recommended it to her publisher, Booktrope.

Just before I was to leave for the ACFW Conference, I received the news that Booktrope had an editor who was excited about the manuscript. Shortly after, I was signed as an author and my publishing journey began.

Even though Run, River Currents had been picked up, I was curious to see if another publisher might be interested in another work I had, as I had not pitched to a Christian group before. I remember being a bit nervous as I approached the first of four agents or publishers I’d be pitching to at the conference. She was lovely, young, with a bright smile. I had ten minutes for my pitch and had learned long before to give a great hook and then let the agent ask questions. She did, grilling me like a bloody steak. She asked to read the first couple of pages and did so while I looked on.

I watched a coy smile cross her face.

“You know, in Christian fiction, the writer cannot say ‘vodka.’ It should be alluded to,” she said. “And you can’t mention any character having sex of any kind. Christian readers don’t like that.” I was stunned. I had sex. I like sex and I’m a Christian. I even enjoy a glass of wine now and then. Besides, I didn’t talk about the sex; I just made an innuendo about a married couple enjoying each other. She took that as sex.

Table after table, appointment after appointment, the cutting words continued. Each of these people were lovely and very kind to me, but I was actually amazed that none of them believed that Christians do not read about issues that plague the world or their past lives.

I stumbled through the rest of the conference disenchanted with what I had learned; yet there, among all of the Amish romances, and cozy mysteries was my dark novel, now listed as a semi-finalist in the Genesis Awards! How could that be? Learning that it would not move up to finalist or winner because my new publisher, Booktrope, was not an “approved” Christian publisher, I became disillusioned with the Christian market.

Not long after the conference was over and Run, River Currents was published, reviews began pouring in. I was featured in blog after blog, both secular and Christian alike. Most reviews were very complimentary, but one was quite hurtful. It was from a young Christian woman who failed to review the work itself, but instead called my Christianity into question. She felt that “if” I were a Christian, I would not write such things, claiming that what I did write was not edifying to the body of Christ. I let it go and thanked her for taking the time to write a review. I was not too foolish to think everyone would like this dark story, but I also could not apologize for the truth I had written.

In the end, God worked His way. Run, River Currents went on to become a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. It opened the door to renewed relationships in my family and with the people of the town where I grew up. I received many emails from women who, for the first time in their lives, were able to share their own dark stories. I was able to encourage them, give them hope, and I sold books.

I guess the lesson here is to write truth, no matter what the truth is. I fictionalized my story adding details only I knew were real or not. Booktrope liked my work so well they created a Christian imprint named, Vox Dei, under which my works are published. It is now an “approved” publisher for ACFW. That imprint is now giving other Christian authors an outlet for works that are not labeled by the prejudices of others. God had a plan. I’m just glad I was a part of it!

8_1 Cover_The Button Legacy Emily’s InheritanceBased on the true story of one family’s spiritual saga revealed through buttons that have been secreted away in an antique box, and that ultimately hold the key to each generation’s salvation.

Ginger Marcinkowski’s first novel, Run, River Currents featured Emily Evans, who as a girl shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk. Despite the scars of her father’s abuse John taught her to look to the future in faith, promising Emily God’s grace can be seen even in the simplest thing—a button.

Years after her grandfather John’s death, the unexpected delivery of a decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons is delivered to Emily. The reappearance of the family buttons unlocks joyous memories and guides Emily to realize a secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of that worn button box; the healing power of prayer. In The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance each button connects one generation to the next as their interrelated stories unfold across the timeless landscape of their spiritual journey.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Grampy!” The girl’s thin figure stood in the living room doorway, her hands placed firmly on her hips. Her face was stern, crinkled, as though she were about to give the old man a scolding. “Look!” she said, uncapping her hand to reveal a white button that looked like it came from the blouse she was wearing. “Someone nailed my windows shut! I tore the button off my blouse trying to open them. Look!”

She walked toward John, hand open. He plucked the small, pink, pearl-like button from her palm, rose from the chair, and moved toward the oak hutch. Retrieving the button box, he opened the tin container and dropped the button inside.

“Then I guess we won’t have to worry about you going to the Legion anymore, will we?” John watched his granddaughter’s face as it soured. But in seconds, her eyes began to smile and her head tilted back. A laugh unlike any he had heard come from her in years warmed the air around him. The wrinkles in his face turned upward, and he, too, began to laugh.

“That will be a good story someday, Grampy!” Emily said between her giggles. He opened his arms and enveloped her, closing his eyes tightly. He praised God in a whisper for moments like these. He had held his own daughter this way many years before she’d left home and married. He often prayed that Maureen would finally humble herself and give the remainder of her days to the Lord. He knew he might never see that day arrive, but holding his granddaughter, he prayed that she might someday remember this moment and realize that God had been there with her all along.

About the Author:8_1 Author PicGinger Marcinkowski was born as one of eight siblings in northern Maine along the Canadian border, a setting that plays a prominent role in her novels, Run, River Currents and The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance.

Her debut novel, Run, River Currents, was published in August 2012, was a 2012 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards and a 2013 Kindle Book Award Finalist. The Button Legacy-Emily’s Inheritance, will be released in July 2014. An interesting fact about Ginger is that she is a million-mile flier with United Airlines and had been a multi-million dollar travel agent in the past. Her travel experience will be the catalyst for a new series of mysteries whose main characters are travel agents.

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Author Interview: Martha Woodroof

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Martha Woodroof as she promotes her debut novel Small Blessings which is being released August 12. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US only).

Like many authors, Martha can’t remember not writing. She started her first novel when she was in her early teens.

“It was called Benjamin J. Beenbracker, Bigamist, and the first line when something like ‘May Ellen was thirty, but looked forty trying to look twenty,’ which I still think is a pretty good first line,” she told me.

She started with bad poetry (although she did get a personal rejection letter from the Atlantic Monthly poetry editor when she was twelve that she wishes she’d hung onto), wrote some short stories and progressed to writing a lot of personal essays and a short book about her personal experiences with the Twelve Steps (she’s a long-term recovering alcoholic and pill-popper).

“I started writing novels maybe twenty-five years ago, and learned to write a good (hopefully) novel mostly through working with Arts Desk editors at NPR,” she explained. “Boy, howdy, do those people get story. I could do character, setting, dialogue pretty well on my own, but the art of driving a story eluded me until I worked with Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr, Laura Bertran, and my great friend Loretta Williams — who actively helped me whip the plot of Small Blessings into shape, mostly by asking me such hard questions as: What, exactly, is going on in this scene?”

“What inspired you to write?”

“I think it was the sound of my mother’s voice when she read aloud to my sister and me. She was an English professor, and loved words almost as much as she loved me. I would lie on the floor, listening to her, and turn the words she read aloud into vivid, other worlds. Dickens, Shakespeare, the myths of many countries, The Tales of Robin Hood — those and many other imaginary ‘word worlds’ still dance in my head. I suppose I started writing to turn my own imaginary worlds into words, hoping others will take as much delight in them as I do.”

She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the fifties and early sixties, at which point she left for boarding school.

“My hometown was part of the Civil Rights struggle, and, as a young teen, I was a proud (albeit brief) participant in the Woolworth sit-in. My great fiend Allen Troxler’s mother, Eunice Troxler, ran a tutoring program for African American children struggling to keep up in integrated schools after generations of ‘separate but equal’ education. I was a volunteer with this program, and I’m proud to say a planning session held in the country, merited a KKK cross-burning. Wow, did those guys look silly in their sheets! Growing up in Greensboro taught me not to be afraid of having beliefs and standing up for them!”

Martha’s novels always start with a first line.

“As for the characters and plot, the characters come first. I am most definitely a people person. The characters and plot just show up in my head and start doing things together,” she said. “That’s usually it for the first draft. At that point I show my work to someone whom I trust as a savvy plot doctor (my friend, Loretta Williams; and my agent for the last couple of years, Kate Garrick) and then I go to work installing some pace and discipline into the doings of my new imaginary friends.”

“Tell us about your writing space,” I said.

“The aforementioned mother was also a rigid neatnik, so I am a rebellious mess-nik. I write in a room with a view of Little North Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, that is piled high with books and stuff that’s connects me to the people I love, places I’ve been, and the adventures I’ve had.”

Martha writes for three hours every morning, before her brain gets wired with the day’s busy-ness, and her husband keeps her coffee cup full. After that, she usually goes into her office at WMRA public radio.

“How do you do research for your books?” I wondered.

“I’ve lived a long, adventurous, rule-busting life that has sometimes worked beautifully and sometimes been a train wreck. It’s brought me into contact with many different kinds of folks, which has pretty much taught me that people are people and we’re all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got to work with. I write kind of the same way Miss Marple sleuths; take bits and pieces of people I’ve crossed paths with and stir them up into fictional characters.”

Finally, I asked, “If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?”

“This is a risky thing to say as a first-time published novelist, but I am writing a series — a la Maeve Binchy or Alexander McCall Smith. The novel I’m working on now has some of the same characters as Small Blessings, and I’m planning a third novel with some overlap as well. The main characters and setting will be mostly new, however.”

8_1 woodroof small blessings jacketTom Putnam, an English professor at a Virginia women’s college, has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than ten years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in, a fragile and frigid woman whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law, Agnes Tattle. Tom considers his unhappy state self-inflicted, since Marjory’s condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess. But when Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the campus bookstore’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to dinner, her first social interaction in a decade, Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon. And when Tom returns home that evening to a letter from the poetess telling him that he’d fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry, now ten, will arrive by train in a few days, it’s clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.

About the Author:8_1 Martha Woodroof November 18 2012 017MARTHA WOODROOF was a regular contributor to NPR news programs, and now writes for npr.org. She has also written for Martketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her husband in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Us by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Anne and Kenneth will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops on the tour.

Ten Things You Might Not Know about Us
1. We love to travel. Recently, we have visited ancient sites in Turkey (Ephesus and Troy) and Egypt (the pyramids at Giza and the Valley of the Kings at Luxor). We are planning a trip to Rome and Venice in the fall, then a cruise to more ancient places along the Adriatic and the North Coast of Africa. You may be seeing a pattern here.

2. Our family is very important to us. We have three children whom we adore and of whom we are very proud. Our eldest son is an actor who also conducts tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn. His younger brother is a teacher of high school English and drama in the New York City public schools, and also writes and directs plays. Their even younger sister is a tutor for many high-end tutoring companies and is an actress and singer. Did we mention how proud we are of them?

3. Ken has been a lawyer for almost forty years in New York City. Anne was an editor and since then a full-time mom. Both Anne and Ken never stopped writing. Ken would do his in fits and snatches on weekend mornings, and Anne found time here and there and anywhere during the week. The experiences both have gained from being parents, as well as while working in publishing (she), and in law (he), have found their way into the novels.

4. We have lived in New York City for over forty years. We have enjoyed the museums, theatre, opera, orchestras, movies and restaurants, and all the rest that New York has to offer. It is a fascinating place where we can walk around the same neighborhood again and again and always count on seeing something different. Kate and the Kid is set in New York City, and much of the action occurs in Central Park and the various playgrounds nearby in which we spent a lot of time with our own children. New York plays a big part in three of our other books, including Mind Me, Milady (a mystery/suspense novel), Things Are Not What They Seem (a ‘tween suspense/fantasy story), and Praise Her, Praise Diana (a suspense novel). An intimate knowledge of this complex place helps us to ground the plot incidents.

5. Cape Cod is a favorite spot of ours. For several years we went to Wellfleet, which is one of the prettiest towns anywhere. During the last few years we have moved north on the Cape to Truro and rented a house in the dunes that is wonderfully peaceful and beautiful and that allows us to hear the surf every night before we drift off to sleep. We have read our books for children at the Truro and Eastham libraries and also displayed photographs of local picture stones there.

6. Even though there are loads of restaurants of all kinds in New York, we enjoy cooking and have tried with varying degrees of success to imitate the variety of styles that we enjoy – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, North African and Middle Eastern.

7. We go to the gym three mornings a week together, usually arriving at 6:00 a.m.. Anne supplements the gym time with yoga and aerobics classes. Ken likes to play tennis whenever he can. We also enjoy many long walks through the City’s various neighborhoods and take in all the arts that we can. Never a dull moment!

8. Photography is a major interest of ours. While on the beaches of Cape Cod we looked closely at stones and saw that many had beautiful miniature pictures on them, which we photographed and put together in a book that is available on the iBookstore. We also have published a book containing images of hearts that we have photographed on the streets and sidewalks of New York City and which is similarly available on the iBook store. Examples of these and other photographs can be seen on our Pinterest page.

9. We have used photography and the wonders of Photoshop to illustrate a book for children called Stone Faces, which is about a young girl, Alice, whose parents are getting a divorce. Alice is feeling lonely and depressed until she finds a stone on the beach at Cape Cod that begins to talk to her and becomes her friend. Through a series of adventures she starts to come to terms with the divorce.

We have also planned a picture book called Country Mouse, which has images from the sidewalks of New York City and another book called Splotch!, which will rely more on text with some pictures appearing as necessary throughout.

10. We are also interested in the history of New York City, and in our novel Mind Me, Milady, one of the main characters, Susan, seems to be remembering an earlier life when she was an indentured servant at the time of the Battle of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War. McGown’s Pass, in the northern section of Central Park, is the site of a culminating scene in this book.

MEDIA KIT Cover Kid 6 x 9KATE AND THE KID is about a young woman (Kate) who has just lost her job and had a major fight with her boyfriend (also arising from the trauma of being fired). At this very low point in her life, Kate is tricked into taking care of a sweet but emotionally damaged six-year-old girl (Jenny) who only communicates with adults through a doll she calls “Miranda.” As a result of an eventful night of babysitting, Kate begins to bond with Jenny, which causes a whole new set of complications with the people in Kate’s and Jenny’s lives. This book tells the story of how Kate and Jenny help each other to heal, grow, and navigate the difficult and sometimes dangerous world of New York City.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Like any kid sleeping in an unfamiliar place, Jenny was up at first light. She crept into the living room and sat cross-legged within a few inches of Kate’s sleeping form. When Kate stirred, Miranda’s plastic face was pressed gently against her cheek.

Smack.

“Hi, Katy!” Miranda said in her high-pitched voice.

“Hi, Miranda!” Kate replied in the deepest basso tones she could manage without harming her vocal chords.

Jenny giggled. Miranda danced with delight on the mattress.

“Say it again!”

Kate sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

“Hi, Miranda! Wasamatta?”

Jenny giggled harder than before, but Kate noticed that Jenny had changed her clothes again. Her pink shirt had a bright yellow flower on it, which matched smaller yellow flowers on her pink shorts. Miranda wore a new matching outfit also, yellow with a touch of pink.

“Girls,” Kate said very seriously now. “You didn’t go out on the fire escape again, did you?” The answer was obvious, both from the downcast look on Jenny’s face and from the fact that Miranda also turned away in apparent shame. “Please, no more walking on the fire escape? Okay? Please? Will you promise me that?”

“Yes, Katy,” Miranda said sweetly. “And Jenny promises too.”

About the Author: MEDIA KIT Melange pic 2Anne Rothman-Hicks was born in New York City and, except for a brief exile to the suburbs imposed by her parents, she has lived there all of her life, the latter part of which she has shared with her co-author, Kenneth Hicks, and their three children.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

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Today, our reviewer, Thornapple, has offered up her “Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From”. Welcome, Thornapple!

Thanks for having me! When I signed on to do this post, I thought I had a pretty good idea of who would make my top ten list. One thing I should explain is that I collect vintage paperbacks. So, I have some large collections of some of my all time favorite authors. I couldn’t decide if I should leave those out or include them. I decided to add a few of the collections but mostly these are authors I have on my kindle or have saved my favorite books by them. Some the authors that made the list was surprising to me. I had no idea I had that many books by some of these authors.

So, without further ado: Starting at number ten…

10) Martha Grimes. I have the entire Richard Jury Series!

09) Barbara Michaels. ( aka Elizabeth Peters) I have a huge Gothic collection and Barbara was one of the best, I also have a large collection of her Amelia Peabody novels written under the Elizabeth Peters name

08) Dick Francis. One of my favorite British Mystery Series. I don’t have all of his work, but I have most of them.

07) Christina Dodd. Now this was a surprise. Christiana has written quite a few historical romances, as well as paranormal and romantic suspense. I have saved quite a few of her historical novels. I do not have the infamous 3 armed cover–check that out-it’s legendary.

06) Stephen King. Okay, no surprises there except that I guess I haven’t actually saved many of his books.

05) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is a collection and I’m still working on it, but I have quite a number of Sherlock Holmes books, some are in a very nice collectors volume my son got me for Christmas one year.

04) Julia Quinn. Another head scratcher. I didn’t know I had kept so many of these. Julia is, along with Eloisa James one of my favorite regency period authors.

03) Sherrilyn Kenyon. If you have not read Sherrilyn Kenyon you might not get it. But, trust me when I say this is one popular author. If you manage to keep all the books she has written and try really hard to keep them in mint condition, you might have a small fortune on your hands. One of the best in Paranormal Romance.

02) Rex Stout. Sort of a surprise to me. I have collected Nero Wolfe novels for awhile, but I has no idea my collection was so large. I am really pleased to see I had so many because unless you want to pay a fortune for them on Ebay, they are really hard to find.

And the winner is…Drumroll please… A tie!! I know, what a rip off. However I have to be honest and this may be a little anti climatic, and no surprise to most…

01) Nora Roberts/ J.D. Robb. I have nearly all of the Eve Dallas “In Death” series and many, many, many Nora Roberts novels. I have collected the older Nora Roberts and still have quite a few of her paperbacks but I mostly have these in digital because I love her stories but simply do not have room for a collection of her books. Nora is the queen of romance–she can write anything: contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, and even science fiction.

So, there you have it folks- the strangest top ten list in history!! What’s on your bookshelf?

Baseball and the Third Reich by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Baseball and the Third Reich

I have always been captivated by the fact that a madman nearly took over the world during the 1940s. I’m not sure what grips me most about this concept—the idea that he nearly succeeded or the notion that it really wasn’t so long ago. The world has changed a great deal since Adolf Hitler began selling his toxic ideology to the masses, but it hasn’t changed all that much. There are still madmen in it along with sheep who readily subscribe to various caustic philosophies. This is one of the many things that keep me awake at night.

But I digress…

My first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, is a fantasy baseball memoir set during World War II. It follows the exploits of a U.S. counterintelligence agent as he attempts to thwart a diabolical Nazi assassination plot.

The target: President Roosevelt
The setting: The 1942 All-Star Game.

Sound far-fetched? It actually isn’t.

There is no evidence to support the fact that Hitler knew anything about baseball, but he was aware that sports appealed to the masses. He used the 1936 Summer Olympics as a political platform to advance the Nazi cause. Seeking to showcase a “New Germany,” the Fuehrer pledged forty-two million Reichmarks to the construction of a 325-acre sports complex outside of Berlin. When the Nazi party’s official newspaper—the Volkischer Beobachter—published a treatise on why Jews and blacks should be excluded from the games, other nations threatened to boycott. Hitler backed down, adding a token Jewish participant to his own team—a woman named Helene Mayer.

With some of the greatest athletes in the world, the Germans dominated the Berlin Olympics, capturing eighty-nine Gold Medals. Only the United States came close to matching that total (with fifty-nine). Hitler hated Americans and all they stood for. The idea of a long-range strategic bomber for the German air force was first proposed in the late-30s. By 1942, advanced plans for the bomber’s design began to appear. Five prototypes were built, though none ever became functional. Had the so-called “Amerika Bomber” project ever come to fruition (along with the Reich’s atomic program), the Germans would have been capable of wreaking havoc upon the U.S.

That’s a frightening concept.

Here’s another: German U-Boats were spotted off the American coast on multiple occasions during the war. More than a dozen were lost in U.S. waters. In June of 1942, one of them came close enough to allow four saboteurs to paddle ashore at Amagansett, Long Island carrying a large cache of explosives. Two of the saboteurs ended up in New York City while the other pair went to Chicago. One of them, a German nationalist named George Johann Dasch, had been a U.S. resident for many years and was married to an American woman. He spoke perfect English.

In regard to baseball and counter-intelligence, the two are historically linked. Moe Berg spent fifteen seasons in the majors as a catcher for several different teams. Though he was never more than an average player, he was intellectually gifted—making several successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please. A graduate of Princeton University, he was fluent in multiple languages. In 1934, Berg was selected to play on a major league All-Star team that toured Japan. During the trip, he took films of the Tokyo industrial landscape that would later be used to plan bombing raids during World War II. When his playing days were over, he worked for the Office of Strategic Services—precursor to the CIA. On one of his assignments, he traveled to Zurich, Switzerland to evaluate the status of the German atomic program.

The facts I have presented here are the building blocks of my novel, The Bridgeport Hammer. If you find the subject matter interesting, you might want to pick up a copy. I have tried very hard to establish a sound historical base while keeping the narrative exciting and fun. Those who are partial to non-fiction can obtain a copy of my book, Mudville Madness, which was recently released by Taylor Trade Publishing. Spanning three centuries of baseball history, the book provides a generous sampling of the sport’s most unusual occurrences. For folks who prefer their baseball history in smaller doses, you can check out my weekly postings at jonathanweeks.blogspot.com. The blog is called Cellar Dwellers (named after my first book).

>MEDIA KIT The Bridgeport Hammer eimage“As you would have the right to expect from any book about a baseball-playing spy narrated by the all-time record holder for most passed balls in a single game, The Bridgeport Hammer is a delight. Jonathan Weeks’ tale of baseball during wartime lovingly gets all the details of the old ballgame right, and does so while spiriting the reader through a fascinating tale of journeymen, espionage, and one unforgettably goofy pitch. Add “the bumpus” of the mysterious rookie Emmett Drexler to the great notions in baseball lore, and add The Bridgeport Hammer to your shelf of baseball classics.” – Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods

Enjoy an excerpt:

I couldn’t let Buddy investigate alone, so I followed him out of the club. I remember the scene clearly. The door opened on a cobblestone alley. It had rained at some point and the street lamps were reflecting off of scattered puddles. I spotted several mangy-looking cats eating out of a dumpster. The buildings were fairly close and you could have jumped across from one fire escape to another. A sewer grate was breathing steam into the air. The door closed behind me with a dramatic WHUMP! I checked to see if it was locked. It was.

“Great,” I said to Buddy. “Now we’ve got to walk all the way around. They’ll probably charge us to get back in.”

The two suspicious looking men were standing about twenty yards up the alley conversing in a foreign accent. It sounded like German. I didn’t see Drexler anywhere.

“Looks like we’ve got us a couple of Krauts,” said Buddy.

“Try not to make ‘em mad,” I advised.

There was a brief stare down between our two parties before the Germans (or whoever they were) advanced on us. They were walking side by side. In a move that seemed almost choreographed, they reached into their coats at the same time and pulled out what looked like Luger pistols. My stomach did a little somersault. I was about to die in an alley outside my favorite night club—And I hadn’t even gotten to see Carmen O’Day’s second set!

There was a glint of steel from above as two objects struck the gunmen one right after the other. FWUP! FWUP! It was like something out of a movie. The gunmen grunted in pain and surprise then teetered on their feet for a few seconds before toppling face first to the cobblestone. The daggers in their backs were stuck all the way up to the hilt. A noise on the fire escape captured our attention as a dark figure scrabbled through a window into one of the buildings.

We stood in dumb silence for a few seconds then Buddy grabbed me by the arm.

“We better get out of here before somebody blames us for this,” he said.

There was no debate. We ran as fast as we could.

About the Author: MEDIA KIT Author Photo #3Weeks spent thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures ever since. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era) is being released in the summer of 2014. He writes about the game because he lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or lay off the high heat.

Link: Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com.

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Author Interview and Giveaway: Author Bill Blodgett

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bill Blodgett, whose newest book is Unrequited. One of you will win an autographed copy of it along with some gourmet coffee! Check out the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter.

Bill has actually been writing for years, but not until his youngest daughter entered college did he have time to take the writing seriously.

“Before that I’d only find bits and pieces of time to actually write. Sometimes it’d be weeks or months between pages but this was by choice,” he explained. “I guess I enjoyed watching dance recitals, high school theater productions, baseball games and all of those other important moments that go along with being a dad. As a matter of fact it took me so long that I didn’t even tell my family for the longest time that I was writing because I never thought I’d finish that book.”

Once he typed “The End” for the first time, however, he thought of himself as a writer.

“It was an extraordinary feeling and one I don’t think will ever be topped. Even when I got the call from a publisher who wanted to publish my first book didn’t top the feeling of accomplishment and pride I got when I wrote those two simple words,” he told me. “It was years before I finally got a book published but I always considered myself a writer.”

The hardest part of writing for Bill is actually sitting down to do it, especially when he’s working his day job.

“Maybe it’s because when I’m done for the day I’m mentally fatigued or maybe the grass needs to be mowed or my grandsons have a baseball game or my granddaughter wants to play with play dough or maybe I just want to chill with my wife and watch a favorite show,” he said. “Priorities. We all have priorities and those priorities don’t mesh well. Nevertheless I get the job done and am happy that I did actually did sit down and take my characters along on their fantastic journey.”

He’s a construction inspector for an engineering company, so a lot of his work is seasonal–during the cold and frozen-solid months of the Northeast winter months, he doesn’t work the day job–that’s when he sits down to write daily like it’s his job.

To date, he has three published books, but his newest release is actually the first book he wrote and is his favorite.

“Unrequited is a story I couldn’t let go. I’ve always believed that it carries a deeper meaning on many levels to the readers. Thankfully my family also believed in me and this story so they continued to encourage me to bring the characters to life. Even while I was writing my other books my mind kept going back to Unrequited. As with most authors I began a couple of other books early on but never completed them. I was either too young or inexperienced or uncommitted to the stories to finish them. I think most authors have a few unfinished manuscripts to their credit but I don’t plan on going back to them as I really want to follow this path of writing that Unrequited has brought me to.”

One interesting thing about all his books is he always works the word diamond into them as a shout out to his critique group “The Diamonds.” The group is named after the Herkimer Diamonds that are found near where they meet.

“When I write ‘diamond’ in the book, it’s like saying hi to Alee and Janine just like when Carol Burnett tugged at her ear in order to say hi to her grandmother. I guess I said hi to them both a few times here!” he said.

When Bill’s not working or writing, he enjoys kayaking with his wife, Janice. They prefer to paddle on backwoods streams where they don’t normally encounter other kayakers.

“It’s almost like exploring and sometimes we happen upon wildlife in their natural habitats,” he explained. “We’ve seen deer drinking from the edge of the stream or munching on some delicate fresh greenery and once we paddled up to a doe resting under an evergreen next to the stream. She looked at us and we at her, my wife took a photo or two and then we paddled on without disturbing her. We’ve seen water foul up close and personal, and have been treated to some of the most majestic panoramic views of mother nature at her very best. My wife loves to take nature shots and on my website I’ve put up some pictures she took of some very special visitors to our own backyard.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked him.

“The scariest time of my life is when I thought I was trapped inside a steel tool shed with an escaped murderer. I was at a friend’s house doing a little fix-it-up project when she got a call from her sister, Margie, who was babysitting at a nearby house with a friend. Margie said she thought she heard noises outside so I went over to investigate. At the time there was a manhunt going on for an escaped multiple murderer. It was on the news for days with possible sightings reported all over the area. When I got to the house where Margie was babysitting I found a grizzly man crouched between the house and a one of those steel storage sheds. When he started to move I charged him and he charged me. After wrestling around for a moment we ended up crashing through the flimsy steel doors of the shed. When I realized we ended up inside the tool shed with axes and hammers and stuff all around I thought that maybe this wasn’t the best place to be with the escaped murder, Robert Garrow! When I started to pull away to get into the open with him he began to pull me back into the shed. I was sure to kill me. We wrestled around a little more until we ended up rolling around on the blacktopped driveway. I looked up to see Margie and her friend watching so I yelled out, ‘Margie, call the police!’ What I didn’t expect was Robert Garrow’s response, ‘That’s right, Margie. Call the police. And then even more unexpected was Margie’s friend yelling out, ‘Why are you beating up my father?’ It seems both girls called home about the noises. We were both battered, bruised and scraped up but we kind of laughed about it, shook hands and thanked each other for watching out for the babysitters.”

One talent Bill admitted he doesn’t have but wished he did is dancing. Janice loves to dance, and Bill tries when they go out but said he gets all hot and sweaty when they do.

“I’ve got like two steps when dancing fast and a single tight circle when dancing slow, but I do try. We’ve taken Ballroom dancing lessons and I’m more than a little stiff in that department. I did enjoy Square Dancing and did that kind of good,” he said. Why, you might ask can I square dance and not be comfortable with other types of dance? Simple. Square dancing is a series of prescribed steps called out by someone and consequently I know every move I had to make several seconds before I had to do it! We’ve long since stopped square dancing but we did have fun while we were doing it.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Join a writers group and/or form a critique group. It’s so difficult writing in a vacuum. Being with other writers can free you up to express your thoughts and fears about the process. Not to put down the good intentions of family and friends who love to encourage you toward your goal but writers truly understand your position and all the issues that come with being a writer. For instance, if you’re suffering from writer’s block your family will surely sympathize with you but other writers will fully understand and jump right in with how they overcame it and suddenly you’re not alone.”

7_7 Unrequited-quoted version2Unrequited is a story of everlasting love, heartbreak, addiction, and courage of the human spirit to fight back against all odds.

Travel back in time to this peaceful New England community during the simpler days of the post WWII era of 1955, and join Joe on a reminiscent walk down Main Street America to the Five and Dime where he’ll ask Kathy out for the first time. Visit the Connelly’s home as Kathy and her family gather around their potbellied stove and trade stories of family values and of Chester, the fabled family protector.

It’s the picture-perfect family Joe’s always wanted and when he calls on Kathy, he’s welcomed with open arms. When he proposes and she says yes, their future promises them an idyllic lifetime together, but fate breaks that promise and Joe’s plans are turned upside down. Suddenly the peaceful 1950’s become his prison and the keys to his prison are hidden away in the true meaning of life and love as told to him by Riggs, an elderly black man with roots in slavery. Riggs shares his three truths with Joe as they’ve been handed down for generations, but there’s more to Riggs and his three truths than meets the eye.

About the Author: 7_7 bill240x200Bill still lives in the community where he met and married his lovely wife, Janice. Actually, she lived around the corner from him and they both ignored each other until their teen years when the hormone thing kicked in and they suddenly realized that the cute little girl skipping rope and that goofy boy riding a bike had both grown up.

They are the proud parents of April and Lindsay; both of whom are now married. April married Darren and they have two beautiful boys, Brian and Owen. Lindsay married Tim and they have a beautiful little girl, Kailyn.

Bill enjoys hiking, kayaking, camping with his family, golfing, making candles, and restoring his antique European sports car, a 1972 MGB.

They say to write from what you know, so he does. He writes of love, life and relationships.

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The Milestone Tapes by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro – spotlight and giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ashley will be awarding The Book Bag, a Glass Fishing Float, a Keychain, Cassette Tape Note Cards, Mug, Paperback & a digital copy of The Milestone Tapes (US only) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Cover_The Milestone TapesThe only thing Jenna Chamberland ever wanted in her life was to be a good wife and a good mom. In death, she’ll find that she still wants the same things.

With stage-four breast cancer, a terminal diagnosis and six months to live, Jenna fears what awaits her family after she is gone: Her husband, Gabe, will be left to raise their daughter alone, and Mia, only seven years old, will be forced to face a world without her mother.

Ten blank tapes to teach her daughter everything she’ll ever need to know. Dead before Mia ever really got to know her, Jenna exists now only in pictures and watercolored memories, and Mia finds herself struggling to remember her mother in a way that feels real. But on the ninth anniversary of Jenna’s death, she will return to her daughter through a series of audiocassettes. One tape each of the milestones of Mia’s life, and with them, a letter explaining that Mia should only listen to the tapes when the time is right.

With the help of her mother’s long-gone voice, Mia may just learn how to embrace the challenges and triumphs of her ever-changing life with humor, grace and a lot of hope.

Rereleased for its second anniversary, the novel that book bloggers have called “beautiful” and “unforgettable” returns with new content and tapes never before read.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Today she would untie herself from the last filament of hope that had kept her tethered to the fight. She would watch silently as it away like a balloon slipped from between her fingertips. Today would be what some called the beginning of the end and others called the long goodbye.

Gabe. She could his back, long and warm, thought the thin cotton of his undershirt pressed against her upper-arm as he slept beside her. He was where the story of her began, where the chapters of her life had started to matter. Of course she wouldn’t untangle herself from motherhood now; given the change; it was the same as imagining herself suddenly without her sight or another comfortable, almost given, attribute. Life without Mia was entirely unimaginable. But those childless years they’d once had still made her heart flutter. The lilt of it, the way it had been so simple, so easy. Now that she was facing the end, she’d become a necromancer of the past, dredging it up just to delight in what she saw.” – The Milestone Tapes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Mackler Paternostro is the author of The Milestone Tapes and the Amazon Best Selling novel In The After. Her shorter works can be found in Holiday Wishes – An Anthology for a Children’s Charity and on the blog www.onepagelovestory.com Ashley lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and their three dogs.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AshleyMacklerPaternostro

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AshMP

Website: http://www.ashleymacklerpaternostro.com

Tumblr: http://www.ashleymacklerpaternostro.tumblr.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Milestone-Tapes-Ashley-Mackler-Paternostro/dp/1468150065

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-milestone-tapes-ashley-mackler-paternostro/1108951583?ean=9781468150063

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Ten Things You Might Not Know About Quilting, Queen Mary and Liz Trenow, author of THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS

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Download the pattern for Maria’s quilt

Ten things you might not know about quilting, Queen Mary, and the author

I had a lot of fun discovering some of these things myself!

1. The oldest example of a quilt is in a museum in St Petersburgh, Russia and is a quilted linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave. Quilting was introduced in Europe by Crusaders in the 12th century who wore quilted garments under their armour.

2. The US Quilters Newsletter stated in 2010 that there were 21 million quilters in the US alone, mostly women and with an average age of 62.

3. According to the Guinness Book of records, the world’s largest historical quilt is 11,390 square feet and depicts the state of North Dakota.

4. Queen Mary of England’s real name was Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, but she was informally known as “May”, after the month of her birth.

5. In 1891 she was due to marry the heir to the throne Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence but six weeks after the announcement of the engagement he died of pneumonia. So she married his younger brother instead, who became King George.

6. Her eldest son Edward became King of England but abdicated later the same year in order to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

7. Her youngest son, Prince John, was housed in a private farm on the Sandringham Estate to hide his epilepsy from the public.

8. Liz Trenow comes from a long line of silk weavers. The company, Stephen Walters & Sons, which is still going strong today, was started 300 years ago in Spitalfields, London.

9. Trenow is Liz’s married name – it’s Cornish for ‘new house’. She, her husband and two daughters are the only Trenows in the whole of the United Kingdom. We are a real rarity!

10. Liz once earned her living as a ski instructor at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. Brrr.
Thanks for reading! If you want to find out more about me and my books, please visit www.liztrenow.com.

In 1910 London, a remarkable young seamstress is noticed by Queen Mary and given a position in the royal household. A century later, Caroline, a struggling designer, discovers a mysterious hand-me-down quilt with a curious verse embroidered into its lining. When Caroline learns that the fabric in the quilt is rare royal wedding silk and begins to dig deeper, she uncovers the extraordinary story of two women whose lives collide with devastating consequences. But that secret pales in comparison to the truth Caroline finally learns about herself.

Advance Praise for The Forgotten Seamstress

“The characters are strong, caring and well developed, and the descriptions of the handmade quilts will appeal to those who also have passion for quilting. Trenow has written a spellbinding story that will keep readers up late to find out what happens next.” – RT Book Reviews

“The two narratives are seamlessly woven together, forming a heartrending tapestry of tragedy and resilience.” – Booklist

“A page-turner with eye-opening details about the conditions of mental hospitals in the 20th century, as well as the provenance of royal fabrics, the art of quilting, and the vagaries of modern interior design.” – Publishers Weekly

“Weaving together Caroline’s and Maria’s journeys, Trenow meticulously stitches each piece of this engrossing story into a unified—and heartwarming—whole.” – Kirkus

You can receive a free preview (first four chapters) of the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

About the Author: 5_6 liz trenowFor Liz’s website go to www.liztrenow.com
For Liz’s publishers go to www.sourcebooks.com

Liz Trenow’s family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions.

It was the recollections of Liz’s father about how, during the Second World War, the mill worked night and day weaving parachute silk, that inspired her first novel, The Last Telegram. It is the story of Lily Verner, a young woman who has to grow up very quickly and learn to manage the stresses and trials behind the Home Front in the Second World War.

The love story at the heart of the novel is also based on real life events and characters. In 1939, when war was imminent, Liz’s family were so concerned about the plight of their many Jewish friends and business colleagues in Europe that travel to England and work at the mill. One of them fell in love with a local girl and, after internment in Australia and fighting for the Allies in Burma, returned to work at the mill, married and had a family, and lived a long and happy life. Unfortunately the story in The Last Telegram is not quite so straightforward!

Liz says: ‘It is a coming of age story, a tale of love and loss, and how we come to terms with the mistakes we make.’

Balancing Life and Writing by Eric Rill

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

Balancing Life and Writing: The Writing Process

Just as in doing research, there is no balance in my life when writing my novels.

It usually takes me three months from when I first sit down at the computer until I am ready for the editing process.

My days are pretty much the same. I wake up very early, around 5:30 or 6:00, and either go for a run or go to the gym, depending on the weather. I put classical music on my iPod—not the best for aerobic activity, but it serves as a quiet background as I gather my thoughts from the day and night before. After a quick breakfast, I collect the scraps of paper that I jot notes on, that are scattered throughout the house. Then I stop back in my bedroom and try to make out the scribbles that were written the night before in a semi-comatose state.

Most nights, ideas come to me as if they are channeled from somewhere. Now I am not one of those people who believe that channeling is possible, but I really have no explanation for what presents itself in the middle of the night, that prompts me to pick up the flashlight on the bed table, grab for the pad and pen, and write what will sometimes take a while to decipher, if at all, in the morning.

After making the rounds of the house and gathering my notes, I sit down at the computer and begin to write. Some days I look at my watch and it’s time for lunch. Some days I look at my watch and it’s time for dinner. I am so immersed in the book that unless I am interrupted, which is not often as I turn off my cell phone, the first hint I get that it’s time to quit, is when the writing starts to get stale. Sometimes I try to force it, but then realize that all that will accomplish is bad writing.
At that point I am ready for a glass of wine and a light dinner. When I do go out for dinner, which isn’t often, my friends are polite, but they know my mind is not there and they forgive me, waiting until my real life gets back to normal—after I am finished with the editing process.

MEDIA KIT An Absent MindA riveting new novel from Eric Rill, author of Pinnacle of Deceit and The Innocent Traitor, is about a race against time. The ticking time bomb is Saul Reimer’s sanity. His Alzheimer’s is going to be the catalyst that will either bring his family together or tear it apart.

About the Author MEDIA KIT Author Photo Eric RillEric Rill was born in Montreal and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts, and from UCLA with an MBA. He held several executive positions in the hospitality industry, including president of a global hotel group. His hobbies include trekking, scuba diving, and collecting antique carpets. Eric has two sons and divides his time between his residence in Panama and international travel. You can reach him at his website at: www.ericrill.com

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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