Scattered Ashes by Dona Sarkar and Unraveling the Pieces by Terri DuLong – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of the books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

scattered-ashesSCATTERED ASHES by Dona Sarkar

Sometimes facing the future means saying goodbye to the past.

A remarkable story of love and loss, Dona Sarkar’s latest novel explores the timely subject of cultural diversity and the timeless matters of trust, faith, and grief through the eyes of one extraordinary young woman.

Mars Alexander is the girl who has everything—the right clothes, the perfect boyfriend, the best grades. But when her military father is declared dead, Mars refuses to believe it—and refuses to say goodbye. With no body to bury, she’s convinced her father will return from Afghanistan, and she’s determined to make him proud. But when she meets the young Middle Eastern instructor of her essay prep class, a door to a whole new world opens.

Zayed Anwar has lived a life Mars can barely imagine, or understand. But as he challenges both her intellect and her emotions, she finds herself making bold new choices, and looking at everything through a new lens. Falling in love is as frightening as it is exciting, until she realizes that Zayed is keeping painful secrets from her—secrets that could shatter her all over again.

unraveling-the-pieces UNRAVELING THE PIECES by Terri DuLong

New York Times bestselling author Terri DuLong casts on her newest tale of heartbreak and hope in Ormond Beach, Florida, a sun-dappled haven where one woman finds the comfort she’s always needed…

Petra Garfield has no real attachments tying her down to one place. She’s ready for an adventure, so what could be better than an extended stay at Koi House with new friends and old in enchanting Ormond Beach. Having recently lost her mother, Petra is riddled with questions about the father she never knew. She certainly never thought she’d begin to find the answers in a tiny town in Florida…

As much as she wants to search for the truth, Petra knows she can’t spend all her time wallowing in the past, and her friends at the Dreamweaver yarn shop aren’t about to let her. The ladies encourage her to volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she hits it off with a young boy—and his handsome father. Tangled in secrets she didn’t even know she had, Petra must learn to stitch her life back together even as she unravels lifelong mysteries—and perhaps she’ll find unexpected happiness along the way…

Enjoy an Excerpt from Scattered Ashes:

“What’s happened out there?” I asked. “There’s so much chaos.” The woman did an eye-roll. “Some war protesters. They set fire to a garbage can or something around the corner.”

“Thanks.”

As I ran across the street to avoid the smoky air, I saw a slight movement, like the fluttering of a giant bird’s wing, in the window alcove of my favorite coffee shop.

I stopped. It wasn’t a bird. There was a guy sitting in my usual spot, flipping rapidly through the pages of a book.

The guy in the window seemed completely unaffected by everything going on outside. He was nineteen, twenty at the most, with hurricane-colored eyes, the most incredible I had ever seen. His knife-like cheekbone ridges were even more distinct.

He was a stranger to me, yet I couldn’t stop staring at him. I stood paralyzed on the sidewalk. The crossing signal flickered, and I couldn’t persuade my feet to move.

He was reading a book with a familiar-looking burgundy cover but must have sensed someone staring and looked up. Saying that our gazes met was an understatement. In one incredible, heart-stopping second, he seemed to commit to memory every aspect of my face. His abundantly large eyes, too wide-set, seemed out of place in his sharp, tawny-colored features.

The sidewalk activity seemed to dull into the background as we stared at each other. Without a smile or any other expression, he returned to his book, as if the exchange had taken place only in my mind.

I felt the ridiculous desire to knock on the window to get his attention. I wanted to see the color of those eyes again.
This was insane. Snapping to my senses, I crossed 45th Street and headed to my car, not daring to look back at the coffee shop. . . .

About the Authors:

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Dona Sarkar wishes she’d been born as a cat so she could have had 9 lives. Since that didn’t work out, she decided to live 9 lives in this one. She spends her days making holograms at Microsoft, celebrates diversity in STEM fields as a fashion blogger at Fibonacci Sequins and is launching her first fashion line called Prima Dona Style this year.

She is also the published author of three novels and one non-fiction book.

Dona lives in Seattle with her really patient husband and her muse, a very bossy tabby cat named Ash.

Website | Twitter | Facebook
Buy the book at Kensington Books

 

 

Terri DuLong

dulong-terriBorn and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was a previous resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs and two cats. A retired Registered Nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in over forty articles with a fictional canine narrator. Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels.

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Buy the book at Kensington Books.

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A Regular Day in My Life by Phillip Cornell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

A Regular Day in My Life

My days are mostly generic. I got this girl I text. We have what I call a flirtationship, but there is always tension between us. It goes like this; first we text back and forth, then I offer to link up with her, she agrees and makes plans, then she manages to ruin the plans by canceling abruptly. I respond to the cancelation by getting mad. We do not talk to each other for a week or so, then we make up. So depending on the day, I am either in an OK mood or frustrated with the inconsistency in my dating life.

This situation I just explained happens throughout the week. So on a typical week day, I wake up and try to figure out how I am going to deal with this girl. I stop at my mom’s house, and pick up my work uniform. I keep my uniform at my mom’s house, because my sister, who lives with her, washes it for me. After I pick up and put my uniform on, I head to work.

Once I show up to work, I drink a Mountain Dew Kick Start, then proceed to do an excess amount of work. The work is excessive, because the company I work for, wants to see how much work we can do with the least amount of man power. Me in return, I just accept the situation, and do the best I can to do a good job.

Somewhere during the course of the day, I create snaps on snapchat. Because work is stressful, I do snaps on the way to work, and during my lunch break. My snaps consist mostly of me talking about how I am either late to work, or how I do not want to be at work. In between my complaining, I post very appetizing food pics of the food my sister cooks at home.

When work is over, I run out of the building. I stop by my mom’s house again, eat a meal, and then drop my uniform off to be washed. After that, I talk to my niece and nephew for bit then take a nap. The nap last about 45 minutes to an hour, so I head home after I awake from my slumber.

While at my house, I either text the girl I mentioned earlier, or watch TV and make snaps about what I am watching. I then do 50 push-ups, and write in my notebook until I get tired. Some writing days never get under way, others go well into the night. I can never tell until I start writing, and establish flow and rhythm in my writing.

Lastly my eyes get droopy, and I go to sleep. I wake up, and start all over again the next day. This happens on repeat until the weekend. On the weekend I sleep in on Saturday, and have the option of getting drunk.

mediakit_bookcover_vacationtogracelandA man, his mother, his sister, his granny, his niece, and his nephew make a trip to Memphis Tennessee for a family reunion. During the course of the trip, the family encounter a series of circumstances that mold the trip into an unforgettable experience. Through the arguing and internal bickering within the group, they come together and strengthen the blood bond they share with each other. Reflecting on each and every situation encountered, the man realizes the trip is an overall social, emotional, and educational journey.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The idea of a family trip started, when my mom devised a plan to take my granny on a weekend trip. This was difficult because my granny was on a weekly dialysis schedule, so my mom had to come up with a way to keep her schedule and transport her from one city to the next without any problems. My grandma had been on dialysis for the past 2 ½ years, and with her increasing age and decreasing health, she needed more attention from care givers and family members.

The living arrangement in my mom’s house was setup like this. My mom, my sister Brandi, and my granny all lived there constantly. My other sister Crissy and her children did not live there, but they would visit often. I myself would visit quite often also. My job was 2 miles from my mom’s house, so it was nothing for me to visit on my lunch break or when I got off work. My granny anticipated me coming over many times. She would cook a meal for me, and place my name on the plate. It was not the perfect living arrangement, but it definitely had a strong family feel tied into it.

My granny kept close tabs on what my mom and sister were always doing, because that is just who she was. She still liked to get out the house ever once in a while. Her favorite pastime was people watching. If there was one thing that she enjoyed, it was talking about other people. This is a trait that has been handed down from generation to generation, and I myself am guilty of doing it also. Discussing people in a humorous light, that downgrades their physical appearance or personality, is second nature to me now. I can easily do it without any effort or stress. The thoughts just come to my head, and I let the mild form of slander flow. I have never been embarrassed of this, and like me, my granny has never been either.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_vacationtogracelandPhillip Cornell is a college graduate. He gained his degree in Biological Sciences, and currently works at a local pharmacy. He is the only son of Harron and Connie Cornell, and the youngest of 3 children. In 2006 his father passed away due to colon cancer, and his mom became an inspiration to him and his family in the way she supported everyone. He has a passion for all types of competitive activity, with sports being the favorite. Overall he lives for different experiences to stimulate the mind, and firmly believes that life is something that has to be lived, read about, and dissected. His biggest weakness is beautiful women, and the thought of being a failure. Firmly believing everyone deserves their moment no matter how long or short it is, Phillip listens to anyone who has something to say. The more he writes. The more he realizes what he creates, is something that needs to be shared with someone other than himself.

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Why I Wrote The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Maddie Dawson, whose latest book The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, releases today. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book.  See our review here.

Why I Wrote THE SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS
by Maddie Dawson
I remember the precise moment I knew I needed to write The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness. I was writing a feature story for Connecticut Magazine about adoptees who wanted to be allowed to see their birth records, which are sealed in Connecticut. I interviewed a woman in her sixties who told me, her voice halting, about how she had always searched strangers’ faces, hoping she’d find out where she belonged.

She ached for the whole experience that so many of us take for granted: to know our birth story.

One day she actually found her birth mother and wrote her a letter, asking if they could talk on the phone. And her mother called her! They had a giddy, excited phone call, weeping at their surprise at finding one another. They agreed to meet.

But the mother didn’t show up.

I got that prickly, goose-bump feeling that a novel was nearby, and slowly, a character came into my head—a younger, fictional character named Nina—who had that same longing to know who her birth parents had been and who felt she had been thrown away.

I talked to other adoptees, people who said they’d had good lives and that they didn’t care to know the people who’d given them away.

A novel always comes from what-if questions. What if, I wondered, Nina had a sister who didn’t want to know the past? What if these two sisters finally do come across their mother, and then she’s nothing like they pictured?

The story that unfolded is about how families can form from attachment instead of DNA, and how in the end, it’s the power of love that comes to save us all and show us we belong.

10_25-book-cover-survivors-guide-to-family-happinessA woman’s quest to find her birth mother takes her in an unexpected direction. Nina Popkin always wondered where she came from, but after her adoptive mother’s death and her own recent divorce she feels more untethered to the world than usual. Before she died, Nina’s mother was only able to provide her with three clues regarding her origin: the names of the orphanage and a potentially helpful nun and an allusion to a mysterious photograph squirreled away somewhere in the house. Unfortunately for Nina, her adoption records are technically sealed, though Sister Germaine doesn’t exactly follow the rules. She finds out that she has a younger sister who was also given up for adoption, and the orphanage arranges a meeting. Turns out, Nina already knew her sister: they went to grammar school together. Though sharing her vibrant red hair, Nina’s sister, Lindy, does not share her enthusiasm for putting her birth family back together. After finding out more about her early days than she wanted to know, Lindy storms out of the office and Sister Germaine follows, leaving Nina alone with all her records. She learns both her mother’s name and the fact that she was only 15 when Nina was born. But from there, her mother’s story gets a bit more complicated: she had been moderately famous, the lead singer of a girl band in the ’80s. And when Nina decides to contact her, it appears at first that she wants nothing to do with the daughters she gave up so many years earlier. Told from the perspectives of Nina, Lindy, and their mother, Phoebe, the novel navigates their often twisting paths back to one another, as all the women realize that the bonds of family develop both by choice and by DNA.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Last week he’d said to her, “We’ll get married when I finish college. We’ll have a lot of money, and we’ll make more babies,” and A.J., sitting beside them at the time, had snorted and given Phoebe that look again.

The guys pushed the car out of the O’Malleys’ garage so the engine noise wouldn’t wake Tilton’s parents.

“You have to drive,” Tilton whispered to her. “We’ll push while you pop the clutch.”

She stared at him, but he went in and out of focus.

“Can you do it, Pheebs?”

She got in carefully, ran her hands over the soft leather seats where they had made love so many times. It always smelled like money, this car.

“Do you hear me? Pop the clutch!”

The car was moving, and she slammed her foot on the pedal, and the engine roared to life, and in an instant the boys were piling into the car, sweating, laughing, slamming the doors, Tilton in her ear hissing, “Drive! Go! Go!”

She drove slowly, like she was maneuvering a parade float, but he was saying, “Go faster! Christ, there’s a car coming! Floor it!”

She looked at him, stunned by a miraculous thought. What if they simply . . . left town? Tonight! They could leave tonight! She felt like this thought had been traveling to her from across the universe for so long and had only now arrived, in the nick of time. They could run away! Yes, the three of them—they’d head to the beach and then keep on going, up to Maine, maybe to Canada. She’d arrange for Kate to come; Phoebe’s sister would gladly send her.

She said, “Tilty, listen,” and his eyes were looking directly into hers so deeply he might have been able to see where the hate and the hope were fighting to the death.

He said, “Baby, can you drive faster?” and there was a loud crash and bright, spinning lights, and screaming—so much screaming—and then it was as though somebody had pulled some giant power cord to the world or something, because everything just turned . . . off.

About the Author:

(Peter Casolino-New Haven Register) Guilford author Sandi Kahn Shelton, who also writes under the pen name of Maddie Dawson. 3/31/14

(Peter Casolino-New Haven Register) Guilford author Sandi Kahn Shelton, who also writes under the pen name of Maddie Dawson. 3/31/14

Maddie Dawson lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal. Her fifth novel The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, will be published on October 25th by Lake Union.

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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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