What Casts the Shadow? by Seth Mullins – Spotlight and Giveaway



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A troubled young rock musician, a mystic mentor, and a generation of lost souls longing for a new voice to emerge from thewilderness…

When an altercation outside of a performance venue nearly proves fatal, Brandon Chane begins to realize how far his life is spinning out of control. His efforts to channel his pain, frustration and thwarted loves into his music may not suffice to save him. Then he meets Saul, a crisis counselor with the soul of an ancient medicine man, and a far-reaching journey of healing – one that may teach him how to steer away from the very edge of the abyss – begins.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Saul’s office was arranged much like others I’d seen: A dark cherry desk, glossy clean; plaques, proclaiming his education and other achievements, hanging on the wall behind. All the prominent names in the field of psychology cluttered his bookcase. Most of the titles that Tommy had found for me at the library made an appearance there. Saul invited me to sit in a brown leather recliner. I didn’t want to tilt it back; but I kept feeling like I was about to fall out of that chair when it was in the upright position.

Saul leaned forward and smiled like he harbored a secret. “I’d like to start, Brandon, by assuring you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. You have no ‘problems’ per se. You aren’t evil, because there is no such thing. And if you’re ignorant, then you are no more so than every other human to ever walk the Earth. Now, is any of that reassuring?”

It almost sounded like he was trying to provoke an argument. Yet his manner and tone implied that he meant every word he said in the most literal sense.

“Of course,” he went on, “that’s all true only from a perspective that you may have to work hard to arrive at. When you’re suffering, it definitely feels like something is wrong with you; and the seeming causes of that suffering are problems. They are the embodiment of evil. And every smiling person you see must be privy to answers that have totally eluded you.”

About the Author:

Seth Mullins draws upon the great sweep of human soul-journeying to weave his tales. He’s inspired by music, shamanism, dreams and the mysteries and miracles of our inner life. His greatest love as a writer is for fiction that depicts a journey towards self-awareness in the deepest sense.

“Probably the most valuable thing that I learned throughout my spiritual journey in this life is the importance of trusting in one’s self. Many of our cultural lessons encourage us to ignore or even fear our inner reality. And yet it is this realm that really does hold the answers to all of our questions, and can point the way towards the most fulfilling life experiences possible for us.”

Mr. Mullins has lived in Maine, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont.

http://www.humanityswayforward.com (Humanity’s Way Forward – website)

http://frontiersofconsciousness.blogspot.com (The Edge of the Known by Seth Mullins – blog)

Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/sethmullins

https://www.facebook.com/seth.thomas.37454

http://twitter.com/SethMullins1

https://www.facebook.com/WhatCaststheShadow

Buy “What Casts the Shadow?” (The Edge of the Known) on Amazon

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Balancing Life and Writing by EJ Hanagan – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. EJ will be awarding a $50 Starbucks GC to a randomly selected winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops.

Balancing Life and Writing

When I decided to leave my day job and focus solely on writing, I envisioned a world with endless amounts of time where I could just sit in front of my laptop and dream up characters and plot. I fantasized about getting comfy with a cup of coffee and creating, as the hours would pass by in a cozy cafe.

One thing that non-writers may not know though, is that with writing comes research. And depending on your story, that could mean lots and lots of research. It could mean traveling countless miles to interview someone for a topic, or it could mean that you spend hours on Pinterest searching for the perfect 60s wedding dress for the main character in your next scene. So, with that said, writing is just never simply “writing” alone and the hours of pounding the keys that I dreamed of, turned out to be a bit different. I squeeze in writing and marketing time while my one year old daughter naps and often times I’m cut off mid-sentence when I hear a sweet little squawk erupt from her room down the hall. Also, while my dogs tend to spend most of their time sleeping, it’s not rare for me to be interrupted by a barking fit every now and then. It’s usually a squirrel trying to break into our backyard or something harmless like that, but it usually gets me out of my chair to assess the situation, thus taking away from more of those endless writing hours that I dreamed about.

Another balance issue is the whole reading thing. Every writer knows that in order to get better, we need to READ. It’s basically like creeping on other author’s to enhance our own work. So, since most of my time at home is spent writing, marketing, mommying and taming my wild dogs, I use my gym time to read. Thanks to my handy little kindle, I can climb the Stairmaster or run on the treadmill while I study the work of my fellow authors. Music can be blaring in the background and weight lifters all around me may be grunting, but I love to read so much that I manage to block it all out and escape into a story while I sweat.

Like all jobs and hobbies, if you love it enough, you manage to squeeze it all in. I’d rather congest my life with a million little things that I love and be fluttering around searching for more time, than do one thing that I only semi-like all day long. Maybe that is why my days go by so fast.

11_17 Cover_Saving JasonJason Barnes is a free spirit. Underneath that fun-loving surface lurks a severe case of PTSD, his personal souvenir from the war on terror. After his young marriage breaks up, he bounces from girlfriend to girlfriend, never allowing himself to get too close, all while maintaining a friendship with his ex-wife, Samantha Colton.

Everything changes when he meets Abby Jacobsen, a smart and sassy artist – but with love comes jealousy, and Abby doesn’t stand for Jason’s cozy friendship with Samantha. Two hours after a heated argument causes Jason to storm out of their apartment, Abby receives a phone call from the intensive care unit of a New Hampshire hospital. The hospital walls close in on Abby and Samantha as they are forced to make tough decisions while trying hard not to kill each other. The two form a rare bond when Emma Jane, Jason’s mom, arrives on the scene. Three weeks after Jason’s accident, Abby is left alone and hovering over a handful of positive pregnancy tests. During her pregnancy, Abby works with Samantha to dig up clues of Jason’s past. As the truth is discovered, their worlds are irreversibly changed.

An emotionally-moving look at PTSD and the intersection of three lives, Saving Jason is a riveting glimpse into unexpected friendships and the ripples we leave without our knowledge.

This book is currently only available through Amazon.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Jason pinned his body as tightly as he could against the rigid edge of the climbing rock at Heartbreak Park. Fingers clenching the pointed edge, he raised his right leg, feeling for a protrusion to rest his foot. He looked down at the ground twenty­five feet below, where the mix of leaves coated in a fiery red and orange served as a bed for his rock climbing gear. It was the first time he’d attempted a free climb without the safety of a harness attaching him to the side of the boulder. A rush of fear passed through him when he took his next step. Putting all of his body weight into that step, he was no longer supported by the ledge; instead he was falling to the ground, face scraping against the serrated boulders along the way. Time stood still for the thirty seconds that his body descended to the ground. Silence softened his busy mind and the world was calm until he landed in a pile of leaves on top of his gear. The last thing he saw was a set of piercing silvery blue eyes flashing across his vision like lightning in the midst of a storm.

About the Author: EJ Hanagan is a fitness fanatic, obsessive reader and animal lover. She currently lives in a sleepy little beach town just outside of Boston with her husband, their new daughter, and the family’s two giant Newfoundland dogs. After spending four years in the Air Force, she put her fire for fitness to good use and worked as a personal trainer while attending college. EJ credits the amazing, brave people she met in the military for giving her the passion and focus to raise awareness for veterans with PTSD. Her hope is to bring the invisible scars of war to the surface through her writing and community involvement.

You can learn more about EJ, her books, and her charity work at her website or connect with her online at Twitter and Facebook.

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One of My Own Writing Quirks by Benjamin DeHaven – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a $50 Amazon/BN gift card or 1 of 5 signed hardcover copies of Confessions of a Self-Help Writer. (US only) Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

One of my own writing quirks
I have to write with a legal felt tipped pen and after I have the long hand version I usually use dictation software to read the story out loud. It’s amazing how many problems you will find when reading something out loud. Its funny, because I type quickly, but, just can’t think clearly when typing
My weirdest quirk is-I don’t like people to look at me when I am writing. I feel like an asshole. But I don’t feel weird editing in public. Which seems strange-because how in the world would the people watching know the difference. I guess I feel like I am “wide open” when in the groove and don’t want to let too many people see that.

MEDIA KIT Confessions_updated_highResA ghost, a philanthropist, a con man, a devout Catholic, a gigolo, a savior, an heir, a common man, and an addict are just some of the words used to describe Michael Enzo, who some sources credit with ghost-writing more than 108 self-help books on behalf of celebrities, politicians and business leaders. After failing to make what he considered to be a positive impact on society he began to destroy those closest to him including Benjamin DeHaven, the author of this book, and former collaborator. Defrauding an industry for almost 20 years by exploiting people’s insecurities and profiting from them, more than likely these friends contributed more to the field of self-help, while profiting from it, than they will ever know. Believing they could only understand people’s problems by suffering along with them, they lived on the razor’s edge. If you’ve ever picked up a tell-all biography of a celebrity or a title from the self-help section at the bookstore, certainly you would question the source.This is an inside look at the mind of Michael Enzo and it is the author’s hope that people will start helping themselves again after reading it. Discover what turns someone from preaching salvation towards seeking its destruction. You won’t believe this could be true.

About the Author:A Graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, Benjamin DeHaven keeps his heart in Chicago and his soul in New Orleans. He holds a MBA from Tulane and a film degree from Columbia. Once ejected from a community college for arguing Frost cried out for acceptance in Birches, he has since written screenplays, traded futures in Madrid, and was Editor in Chief of the Nola Shopper Newspaper, a free art newspaper and the 2nd largest monthly paper in the New Orleans, MSA. . He also has a “shout out” in a Jay “Z” Song.

DeHaven, who currently resides in Las Vegas began his writing career with Stone United, a Chicago based Film Company, which works primarily in independent film. As an unknown fiction writer, he feels the best description of himself, is a sarcastic one and is as follows:

Benjamin W. DeHaven was born on a pool table after a Waylon Jennings’ concert in 1977. His personal success is outweighed only by his stunning good looks and adherence to unwritten moral guidelines. He has been described as a thinking man’s Tucker Max as well as an idiot’s Hunter S. Thompson. His goal is to die from an unwavering commitment to be more like Hemingway.

He and Michael Enzo were friends.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ YouTube ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Goodreads
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The Lessons I Learned from my Hero by C.C. Humpheys – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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THE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY HERO

- A blog post by C.C. Humphreys on his novel THE FRENCH EXECUTIONER –

 

This is a good question. Slightly hard one to answer as I have to take my time machine back to the writing of this novel, my very first. And then to separate Jean Rombaud – the executioner and saviour of Anne Boleyn – from all the characters I’ve lived with since.

Lesson One: A man (and a character) reveals himself slowly.

– Jean is surrounded by colourful friends and enemies. Haakon, the huge ax-wielding Viking. The Fugger, with his one hand and madness always a reach away. Beck, the girl dressed as a boy. Archbishop Cibo, the classic debauched churchman and villain. These were all easier to write as they were so extreme. Jean – well, I was dealing with an executioner to start with. Many people would not sympathise with his profession. So I wanted to make him very closed off to the world. He lost his wife and child to plague. So he took up a trade he was good at. He’s not in any way a sadist. He does a job. But his vow to Anne Boleyn – to take her six fingered hand at the same time he takes her head and then get rid of the famous relic – begins a journey of redemption. He comes alive again. Hard to show that, fascinating to try.

 

Lesson Two: Courage is being terrified and still leaping into the darkness.

– Jean has to go through so much – battle, enslavement, torture. But faith in his vow keeps him going.

 

Lesson Three: Love conquers all.

– Eventually you have to stop mourning a relationship that is over and open yourself up again to the possibilities of love. Jean does this, and see his love of Beck as a reward for being true to his cause.

 

Lesson Four: Don’t throw your sword at someone unless your certain you’ll hit him. Otherwise he has two swords and you have none.

 

10_27 the french executioner

The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.

In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life—and saved her legacy.

“Humphreys has fashioned a rollicking good yarn that keeps the pages turning from start to finish.”—Irish Examiner

“A wonderful saga of magic and heroism. If you can find a first impression, hoard it and wait till it rises in value like a first edition of Lord of the Rings. This is as good.”—Crime Time, UK

“A brilliant, brutal, and absorbing historical thriller on the real-life figure of Jean Rombaud, the man who beheaded Anne Boleyn.”—Northern Echo

“An entertaining read—a charming page turner.”—Edmonton Journal

“Lightning paced.”—Publishing News

About the Author: 11_22 image003C.C. Humphreys is a novelist, fight choreographer, and actor who played Jack Absolute in The Rivals for a six-month run in London in the mid-1980s. When he became a full-time writer a decade ago, he decided to transform his leading man into a title character. Humphreys has written seven historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, which was runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. The Jack Absolute series features three books: Jack Absolute, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, and Absolute Honor.

Good Faith by Liz Crowe- Spotlight and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Prizes will be awarded via Rafflecopter as follows:

GRAND PRIZE: Kindle Fire pre-loaded with all Liz Tri-Desitny titles
FIRST PRIZE: $50 Amazon Gift Card
SECOND PRIZE: $25 Amazon Gift Card
THIRD PRIZE: full ebook set of STEWART REALTY SERIES up to Good Faith (8 books in all including the prequel House Rules)

*****Book is on sale for $0.99*****

Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

That morning his father had roused him from a sound sleep. He’d blinked, confused, by the angle of the sunlight. He rarely slept much past eight since he usually had some sort of training or the other.

“Let’s go son. Time for lunch.”

Brandis had dragged himself up, his limbs feeling like they weighed a thousand pounds each. His brain buzzed with a strange sort of energy, his typical state, and not at all welcome considering it normally didn’t hit him until later in the day. The conversation his father began as soon as they were seated at their usual diner did not help.

“So, listen, Brandis. These girls…Katie’s friends from college….”

Brandis sipped his ice water, waiting for his father to finish the thought. His heart pounded, and his face flushed hot with embarrassment.

Jack sighed, as if exasperated that Brandis didn’t pick up the thread on his own, leaving him to carry on with the awkwardness about to ensue. Then he leveled his gaze, his face open, not angry or judgmental. “I think that you may be in for some…I mean, they’re…shit.”

“If you are gonna tell me where babies come from again,” Brandis said, after deciding to ease his father’s obvious distress. He cocked an eyebrow and half a smile. Jack seemed to relax somewhat as Brandis continued. “Don’t bother. I already know.”

He flashed his brightest smile up at the middle-aged woman who stood at their table, coffee pot in hand. She blinked rapidly at him, and at that precise moment, Brandis got his first flash of…something…about his power. Up until now he’d merely been “Brandis the trouble maker, the causer of strife.” Suddenly, he felt strong, amazingly so, stronger than even the man sitting across from him, a taller, older version of himself. His body tingled all over, as he tested the smile out again on the woman, making her slop some coffee out onto the table. His father frowned, but then chuckled as the woman walked away after they gave their orders.

“Son,” he said, leaning back and cradling the coffee mug to his chest. “Your adventure has only just begun.”

“Huh?” Brandis picked up his cup but didn’t drink any. He hated coffee, but had ordered it in a burst of need to be more like Jack. As he sipped the bitter stuff, he was transported back years before when he and his dad would spend every single Saturday morning together, eating breakfast at this very diner. He had adored the man, he remembered distinctly. His chest hurt at the simplicity of their relationship then. He looked away from Jack’s deep blue, knowing gaze.

The subject changed of its own accord, and Brandis let it. Although part of him wanted to ask for advice, a much bigger part would not allow the words past his lips.

They ate, discussing the upcoming football season and Brandis’ part in it. The recruiting company Jack had contracted last year to video his every move would start up with the first game. He’d made varsity again, technically as backup quarterback to a senior boy. Brandis didn’t see this as a setback and had every intention of starting under center by the second or third game.

Finally, when they pushed their empty plates back and sat looking at each other, Brandis felt more comfortable in his father’s presence than he had been in a long time. Jack said, “I am pretty sure at least one of those girls sleeping in the basement is determined to change the status of your virginity for you probably as soon as tonight.”

Brandis choked on the last sip of lukewarm coffee. His face burned, and his body tingled again. “I’m…it’s…uh….” He clutched the napkin in his lap unable to meet his father’s eyes.

“No need to say anything. Let’s just say your mother is an astute reader of female intent. While I was busy admiring your sister’s friend’s ass, she apparently read the girl’s mind or something.” Brandis’ face flushed even hotter.

He resisted the urge to protest, to proclaim his innocence of such things. Because he wanted it back—those mornings between them, father and son, man and boy, not this awkward, man and almost-man bullshit. Because while the thought of one of his sister’s college friends popping his cherry remained a pleasant fantasy, it also made him feel older than he wanted to be right then.

“So, I bought a box of condoms this morning,” Jack went on. “Put some downstairs in the side table drawer and the rest in your room. Use them please.” He sipped the last of his coffee, looked as if he were about to get up, then leaned forward, touching Brandis’ wrist. “Have fun. Don’t be an asshole to women. Let every experience teach you…something. Because you are nothing as a man if you don’t learn from every woman you…love.” Jack looked out the window onto the nearly empty parking lot. Then he turned back, tightened his grip on his son’s arm. “God, you are so…young.” His face fell a moment, then he perked up again, his eyes twinkling. “Okay, so, your mother told me to tell you not to let them corrupt you. But all I’m gonna say is this: always wear protection, no matter what, no matter how much you don’t want to. And don’t let your mom catch you in the act. I’ll handle her otherwise.”

Then he let go, stood and smiled, draping a friendly arm around Brandis’ shoulders as they exited the restaurant.

“You really didn’t tell me you were admiring Katie’s friend’s ass, did you, Dad?”

“No, son. I most certainly did not. You obviously misheard me.” Jack winked as he stood by the passenger’s side of his classic Corvette convertible and tossed the keys to Brandis. “Remember what I told you. Don’t ride my clutch.”

About the Author:

Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe lives Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

www.lizcrowe.com
www.brewingpasssion.com
www.facebook.com/lizcroweauthor
www.facebook.com/groups/lizcrowefans
www.twitter.com/beerwencha2
www.a2beerwench.com

www.amazon.com/Liz-Crowe/e/B00573TC7M

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes

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One of Your Most Valuable Writing Tools by Sandra Hunter – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding a Losing Touch mini book necklace and mini book charm to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

ONE OF YOUR MOST VALUABLE WRITING TOOLS

The trick for the writer is to find a combination of good friend and clear-eyed critic.

Where I am now

Last Thanksgiving, a highlight was a thread of funny, warm, emails from my writing group. They included descriptions of a walk with friends, drinking mint mocha, a dry rub recipe for turkey. We discovered, awestruck, that one of us owns a porringer. One had a houseful of guests but stopped to send hugs. We congratulated one whose new daily writing habit had reached the 100-day mark. We were jubilant to find out that one had work accepted for publication.

Many different stories from many different places, but one thing remained constant: each of us sent love and gratitude that we knew one another and, as one put it, that we filled each other with generosity.

Where I was

Rewind.

Until 2011, I did my writing in a guilt-ridden, hidden rush. I’m a mother and part-time professor, so any writing time is shoved into the parking zone: between 10pm and 6am.

Of course, I’d read about writers’ groups and retreats. But I was skeptical about spending the money. How beneficial were they?

Enter: A Room of Her Own

New Year 2011: a friend casually mentioned the A Room of Her Own> women writers’ retreat. Initially, I was appalled. It was in New Mexico? In August? But I read the description on the AROHO website and looked at previous participants’ reviews. They seemed well, quite sane really.

Into the wilds of New Mexico

Night one of the retreat, melting in a room with no air-conditioning, I was scared that I’d made a huge mistake.

But in the morning, I listened to the conversations in the breakfast line: What are you reading? What are you writing? How’s your blog? I’ll link to you on mine. Oh X just published a memoir, you should talk to her. Y runs workshops for abused kids, too: I’ll introduce you.

And that’s when I knew it wasn’t a mistake: these were my people. Okay, some of them weren’t exactly my people, but from among them I found my current group of nine stunningly supportive and talented women writers.

Why we need support

Writing is a weird, solitary activity. That’s why we need other writers who understand what we do and why we do it.

Alone, you are one writer with some connections. Add yourself to a group and there are immediately more opportunities. The more writers you connect with the greater the arsenal for publishing, blogging, reviewing, teaching, work-shopping, oh — and reading. When any of my writing group suggests a book, I’ll look it up. I wouldn’t necessarily do that with other friends.

Online vs. In-flesh

Online groups are enormously successful, such as the excellent SheWrites that offers a broad spectrum of opportunities.

But, for me, nothing beats an actual group of writer friends who may take forever to agree on a meeting date, but bring wine and cookies, and then sit down and share work. There’s nothing like laughing so hard that you’re holding each other up in the kitchen, like being moved to tears by a piece that reaches into the place you’d forgotten was sore, like being transported by watching someone read their poem, like having people who really listen to your work.

What good writing friends do:

• love you into facing yet another blank page
• don’t take I didn’t have time for an answer
• make you sit down and rewrite even if you’re still smarting over numerous rejections
• encourage you to keep submitting

How do you create your own Circle of Love?

Check out the retreats listed at Poets & Writers. Some are juried (manuscript submission required), while others are open (just sign up). They range in genre and length.

For example, Clarion at UC San Diego runs a 6 week summer fantasy/sci-fi workshop. For memoir writers, Wild Mountain runs a weekend retreat in Washington State.

Costs

If you think of the retreat as a vacation, you may end up resenting what you spend.

This isn’t a “break”: it’s a deliberate choice to expand the quality and productivity of your writing life for years to come.

The short and the long of it

The weekend option may be a good start for those who are shyer or more socially resistant. You can spend just enough time with people to see if you want more.

However, for your money’s worth, take the plunge into the longer retreat. You’ll have the chance to make more sustainable connections. After two weeks of sharing meals, morning yoga, and participating in evening readings you’ll know, with absolute clarity, the names you want to add to your Circle of Love list. And, of course, the ones you don’t.

And finally

Do a little digging. Spend the money. It’s an invaluable long-term investment for your success as a writer. You take risks in your writing: take a risk on behalf of it. The dividends are endless.

MEDIA KIT losing final frontAfter Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate. His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem. As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new. But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws. In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sometimes she goes to stand at the bottom of the garden, pretending to tidy up the compost heap, and allows the forbidden thought to come: divorce.

She can only whisper it. It’s a bad word. Bad people do it. But in the Woman’s Own magazine at the doctor’s office, she read that Elizabeth Taylor had done it. She’d done it so many times that it was just part of her normal routine. Get up, put on face cream, divorce Richard. How daring it sounds, so chic. Sunila practices. Get up, put on Johnson’s Baby Lotion, divorce Arjun. I’ll just divorce him and he can take his disapproving face and jump in the lake.

About the Author:MEDIA KIT hat shot3Sandra Hunter’s fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines and received awards including the 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, 2012 Cobalt Fiction Prize, 2011 Arthur Edelstein Short Fiction Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her debut novel, Losing Touch, was released in July (OneWorld Publications). She lives in Simi Valley, CA, with her husband and daughter, and is always on the look out for the perfect gluten-free cupcake.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

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Revenge has never been such fun by Sarah Rayner – Guest Blog

Revenge has never been such fun
Sarah Rayner
We authors get our inspiration in the strangest of ways. When my cat, Othello, jumped on my bed in the middle of the night a few years ago, he gave me the idea for Getting Even, my latest novel. But rather than simply rewrite Shakespeare’s tragedy (and let’s face it, the playwright did it rather well first time round) I thought I’d twist events and characters to my own end.

‘Write about what you know’ is advice often given to struggling novelists. It was then I had a Eureka moment. ‘Aha!’ I said to the cat. ‘Advertising is highly social, dynamic, political and often bitchy, it would be the perfect backdrop for a revenge story.’ Othello looked nonplussed, but it was a world I knew well – I joined my first agency many moons ago (a small, unglamorous wing of Saatchi and Saatchi), and just like Ivy, the wicked anti-heroine in my novel, for many years I worked as a copywriter, crafting ads for clients as diverse as Anchor Butter and Zurich Insurance.

It’s the convention for a copywriter to work hand-in-hand with an art director – not only do copywriters and art directors come up with concepts together, but the best teams often swap roles, so writers come up with visual ideas and art directors devise tag lines. They tend to be on a par with one another in terms of kudos and power, and even though advertising is cut-throat, teamwork is the key. It’s this relationship – at the start of the novel Ivy is paired happily with art director Orianna – that is at the heart of Getting Even. Thus having shifted the action from sixteenth century Italy to contemporary London, this is the second major edit I gave Shakespeare: I made his male protagonists (Othello and Iago) female.

Given the mutuality of the relationship, you can imagine that it’s not the ‘done thing’ for an art director to get one over on her copywriter, but that’s exactly what happens in Getting Even. Early on in the novel it’s revealed that Orianna has been having an affair with an influential colleague behind Ivy’s back, and then when Orianna is offered promotion, all hell breaks loose. I won’t reveal more of the plot, I’ll simply confess that writing Getting Even was probably the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on. Actors often say they enjoy playing villains, and now I understand why. Creating vengeful Ivy was a blast – because she could say and do all the things I’d like to say and do, but don’t. We all have to keep a lid on voicing our innermost thoughts much of the time, and to have a character who can just let rip was very cathartic.

I hope the finished novel gives readers a similar thrill. Meanwhile I’d like to thank my cat, and Shakespeare, for giving me the inspiration.

Getting Even was published by St Martin’s Griffin on 23 September.

To find out more about Sarah or get in touch, please visit her website at www.TheCreativePumpkin.com.

10_3 sarah rayner GETTING EVEN_FC[1]Revenge has never been such fun. How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Won a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do? For Ivy there’s no choice. The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there’s only one way forward: revenge.

Ivy’s campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she’s determined to get even with the woman who has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?

About the Author: 10_3 Rayner Sarah_CREDIT Photographed by JOHNKNIGHT CO UKSARAH RAYNER, international bestselling author of One Moment, One Morning, was born in London and now lives in Brighton with her husband and stepson. She worked for many years as an advertising copywriter and now writes fiction full-time.

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Jenny and Her Doll

As the novel opens, Linda has recently asked Sally, who lives across the hall from Kate, to take care of her daughter, Jenny. The “few days” that Linda originally requested have turned into weeks, and there is no definite end in sight. Sally is not the worst person in the world, but she has a temper and lacks the patience needed to take care of a kid like Jenny, whose mother has an alcohol and drug problem that resulted in Jenny living in various homes and shelters in New York City, many of them shared by addicts and assorted undesirables.

At this point, Jenny does not trust adults at all anymore and communicates by either talking to her doll or by having the doll talk for her. Jenny also puts up a fight every time she has to take a bath, and has a habit of trying to run away. One afternoon, Kate is sunbathing on the roof of her apartment building while Sally hangs some laundry up to dry, and Jenny is playing by herself on the building stairs, slamming the door to the roof again and again but not coming outside. Kate falls asleep and when she awakens she finds that Sally has left Jenny with Kate for the rest of the day and suggests in her note that there is peanut butter in the refrigerator for Jenny’s dinner.

Kate’s first thought is that she will simply drop Jenny off with Mrs. Morley, an elderly lady living in an apartment on the first floor who, in the past, has taken care of Jenny also. But while Kate is calling Mrs. Morley on the telephone, Jenny seems to be strangling her doll, Miranda, and Kate realizes that if she dumps Jenny off now the girl will believe she did something wrong that made Kate not want to be with her. Unwilling to be the cause of such negative thoughts in the child, Kate decides that one night of babysitting would not be such a bad thing.

They end up having a nice time together on a picnic in Central Park, which is marred by a drug dealer who inexplicably starts following Kate and Jenny until they are able to escape in a taxi. Jenny stays with Kate overnight because Sally does not return until the next morning. When the drug dealer appears at Kate’s apartment building and announces that he is Jenny’s father and is taking her away, Kate is horrified. The next day, on a whim, she stops by the decrepit apartment where the father lives. He is dying of an overdose, and she finds Jenny and Miranda huddled on the roof. Kate calls 911 anonymously and takes Jenny home. And so begins the process by which Kate forms a bond with Jenny, and both she and Jenny teach each other about commitment and what love means.

It was important for us to make clear that we never think that Linda does not love her daughter – she does. But she is in a state of mind in which her own selfish needs take precedence. Kate also is self-centered in her way, and taking care of Jenny forces her to see the choices that a person makes every day whether to be selfish or not. Essentially, Kate and the Kid is a novel of the transforming effect of love on the life of Jenny, on Kate, on Kate’s boyfriend, Roger, and even on Linda who has a revelation of her own as the book comes to a conclusion.

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:

She began to press all the buzzers on the panel in the building’s foyer, one after the other, hoping that some kind soul among her neighbors would let her in. The headache that had started in the cab settled in for the night, pounding just above her right eye. At that exquisite moment, Kate saw the kid — that ghostly, smudge-faced kid — sitting on the staircase inside. A one armed Barbie doll was on the step beside her.

“Hi, Sweetie!” Kate said through the wired glass, exaggerating the enunciation of the words to make her meaning clear. “Would you come and let me in, honey? You remember me, don’t you? I live on the third floor?!”

The girl did not budge, apparently still trying for the grand prize in a zombie look-alike contest. At first, Kate felt a twinge of concern for the girl. Why on earth was she out in the hallway so late in the evening? Kate leaned her forehead against the cool glass and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, Jenny took the doll into her lap, whispered something into her plastic ear, walloped her twice across the bottom, and started up the stairs.

“Hey! Hey, where are you going?!” Kate shouted. “Hey you better come back here you little… Hey! Hey, did you hear me?!”

And with the little darling thus doubly emblazoned on Kate’s mind, if not yet on her heart, their second encounter ended.

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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Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers – Spotlight

Welcome to Randy Susan Meyers, who has stopped by to celebrate the release of her newest book, Accidents of Marriage.

 Can you tell us a bit about the book and the relationship between the characters?

Accidents of Marriage asks what is the toll of emotional abuse on a family.It’s an account of life inside a marriage that seems fine to the outside world, an account of emotional abuse, traumatic injury, and how a seeming accident is really the culmination of years of ignored trouble. It’s the story of an unexpected gift of clarity making the difference between living in hell and salvation.

For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben is her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming, Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. She kept a fragile peace by vacillating between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their three children, until a rainy drive to work when Ben’s temper gets the best of him, and the consequences leave Maddy in the hospital, fighting for her life.

Accidents of Marriage, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, takes us up close into the relationships between all family members. The children, lost in the shuffle, grasp for sources of comfort, including the (to them) mysterious traditions of their Jewish and Catholic grandparents. Emma and her grandparents provide the only stability for the younger children when their mother is in the hospital. Ben alternates between guilt and glimmers of his need to change, and Maddy is simply trying to live. Accidents of Marriage reveals the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

 How many different titles did you experiment with before deciding on Accidents of Marriage?

My first working title was A Thousand Suppers (which comes from a line in the book, but ultimately made no sense out of context.) The title I used when I presented it to my editor was simply Maddy & Ben. After many long sessions with poetry books, anagrams of words, and other methods that I use, I came up with Accidents of Marriage.

 How has working with batterers and victims of domestic violence influenced your writings?

Working with batterers taught me far more than I can put in a paragraph, but here is my version of the most important take-away: Never underestimate the hatred some men have of women. Never think that people (other than the truly damaged) ‘snap’. If they chose to find it, people can access at least a sliver of decision-making. We have agency. We do not choose to hit and scream at our bosses. We choose to hit and scream at people in our homes. The hierarchy of power always comes into play.

Women (and men) do not choose abusive people as their loves—they pick the charming folks they meet in the beginning of a relationship. There might be signs to look out for, but abusers keep those traits in check until the relationship has solidified, when breaking up is more difficult.

There is not a black and white line between being abusive and not being abusive. There is a continuum of behavior, and most of us fall on the wrong side of the best behavior at some point—whether is be yelling, silent treatment, or some other hurtful conduct. Learning that this can be controlled is a job for everyone.

Batterers can change; we can all change our behaviors, but most often we choose not to do the difficult work that change requires. This is something I hope I bring to my writing.

 Can you discuss the role of Maddy and Ben’s daughter in the book?

Emma is an average teenager who is thrown into very un-average circumstances. She becomes the stand-in mother, a role she takes on without credit or even being noticed. She is also the keeper of secrets, an impossible position for her to take on. In every stage of her family’s trauma, she is the silent absorber, who ultimately will break or find strength.

 How did you portray someone with a traumatic brain injury so well?

I did an enormous amount of study. Luckily I find medical research fascinating. My shelves are crammed with memoirs of those with TBI and caretakers of those with TBI, workbooks for those with TBI, and medical texts—as well as spending time on line reading medical information for those in the field and information for those affected by brain injury. I had someone in the field read the novel and am also lucky enough to have a doctor in my writer’s group.

 Did you have any say in choosing the cover for the book?

Yes! The final cover was the fourth one presented. It was tough finding the right ‘mood’ for the cover, but I was very pleased with the final version. Of course, most authors (including me) would love to actually design the cover, but my guess is our final products would not be the graphic success we imagine.

 What made you choose a car crash as the tragic turning point between Ben and Maddy?

Abusive and bullying behavior very often plays out in driving. Road rage is a real problem on our motorways and seemed the logical vehicle for demonstrating how Ben’s bad choices result in devastating consequences.

 Parts of this story make the reader begin to empathize with Ben. Why did you choose to do this?

I don’t believe books that present characters as all good or all bad can adequately capture life’s totality or experiences. It’s important for me to tap into how we are all the stars of our own show and how we often convince ourselves why it is ‘okay’ to act in awful ways. Ben is not all bad, despite doing awful and bad things. The question I explore about Ben (among others) is can he change? Is he, are we, capable of change, and if so, how does will and can that change manifest?

 Is Maddy modeled after anyone that you know?

Maddy is modeled after about a thousand people I know—including myself and my friends and family. Most of us have some Maddy in us, at least at some point. We close our eyes to the worst, or we use drugs or alcohol or food or something else to tamp down our feelings. We live in a maelstrom of problems and pretend it’s all okay. We deny and lie to ourselves. Until we can’t anymore.

 What do you hope readers will take away from reading Accidents of Marriage?

Abusive behavior is wrong, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal or any other type of hurtful behavior. It overwhelms a family. Raising children with verbal and emotional violence is harmful and the ramifications last forever.

Most important, we can control our behavior.

But, most of all, I hope readers take a page-turning story from my book. I don’t write to lecture; I write to tell the stories that mesmerize me, and thus, I hope, fascinate others.

 

9_5 Randy susan ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE REVISED USE COVERThe latest page turner from Randy Susan Meyers, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE (Atria Books; September 2, 2014) never lets go of the reader from the first page to the last. For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben was her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. When Ben was in a conciliatory mood they worked on techniques for communication and anger management but on the day of the accident, nothing seemed to help. He was furious at having to drive Maddy to work, the road was wet, and that SUV was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ben never meant for them to go off the road or for Maddy to go flying through the windshield.

Now she’s on a ventilator in intensive care and no one knows if she’ll reawaken from her coma and, if she does, whether she’ll ever be her old self. Maddy’s family blames Ben. Maddy’s friends blame Ben. The children blame Ben. Ben blames Ben—and he is sick to the pit of his soul over the fear of losing his one true love. Fourteen-year-old Emma sees things a little differently. She desperately misses her mother but misses being a teenager more as she’s forced to pick up the slack from Ben and parent her younger siblings Gracie and Caleb. On the cusp of coming of age, she needs Maddy so she can discuss the hard decisions she’s being forced to make. And her confrontations with her volatile father are growing more heated by the day.

Exploring emotional abuse and traumatic brain injury with unblinking honesty, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is a blindingly clear and immediately engaging account of life inside of a marriage and the choices that can make the difference between living in hell and salvation.

About the Author:RANDY SUSAN MEYERS is the author of The Comfort of Lies and The Murderer’s Daughters and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Her writing is informed by her work with batterers and victims of domestic violence, as well her experience with youth impacted by street violence. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center. She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post.

Free Book: A Guitar With Too Many Strings by John Mellor – Spotlight and Giveaway



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. John Mellor be awarding a autographed copy of the original paperback version of the A Guitar With Too Many Strings to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“Madness dances with brilliance” – a wild rock singer, a lonely white dolphin and other unworldly misfits emerge from their strange stories to challenge a young boy as to why. A gaunt tree leans wearily over them, like a guitar with too many strings. And the Angel leans on her gate, watching. – “Never seen anything quite like this”; “A unique & wonderful manuscript”.

– see goodreads.com/book/show/21855007-a-guitar-with-too-many-strings for 57 reviews and ratings

“This is not a normal book with a normal story…”

It is the story of a rock singer and the unearthly harmonies plucked from a strange 13-string guitar; and of a bumptious honeybee encountering a strange little man on a planet that isn’t there; and a tired, cynical old philosopher conducting a strange debate with a stone in the woods.

It is the story of a shipwrecked sailor, whose pet egg hatches into a strange seagull; and a worn-out, unworldly old lady dying in a strange land where no-one dreams; and a sad, downtrodden gardener tending a Wise Woman’s strange, disquieting weed.

It is the story of a lonely white dolphin, and a tree – curiously shaped like a guitar with too many strings.

And of a young boy who discovers – with a little help from an Angel – The Seven Gifts – that came to Earth

“A most unusual and beautiful story”

“This is a book to make you think”

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