Icarus Over Collins by Hector Duarte, Jr. – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Hector Duarte, Jr. 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.

After her friend Sandy Mangual tragically falls to his death, Bailey Cohen discovers images of his grisly corpse have been uploaded and shared through social media, by someone very close to her.

Fed up, in a stagnant relationship with an emotionally-abusive boyfriend, Bailey enlists the help of quiet, unnoticed, underappreciated Bernardo Castillo, who works the luxury Miami Beach high rise in which she stays.

Bernardo will have to dredge up the shady past he’s long worked to tamp down in order to set off on a journey of vengeance that will reshape and morph each person engulfed along its way.

Icarus Over Collins is a short, punchy revenge story as cracked and slivered as hot Miami pavement.

Tras la trágica caída accidental de su amigo, Bailey Cohen descubre que imágenes del cadáver han sido clandestinamente descargadas a redes sociales. Por alguien muy cercana.

Bailey contara con la ayuda de Bernardo Castillo, empleado del condominio lujoso en Miami Beach cuya Bailey habita.

En nombre de su amigo fallecido, Bernardo y Bailey tendrán que excavar sus pasados umbríos en camino hacia la venganza. Un viaje que reformara a todos envueltos.

Icarus Over Collins es un cuento de venganza tan caluroso y rajado como las aceras bordeando todo Miami.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

We’re actually talking about it.

Conspiring voices confirm and finalize the plot in a whirring background buzz as I look across the street to Las Brisas. Gabe’s window is closed. Has been the last two days. Why the fuck do I keep checking?

I’m listening but there’s a persistent hum in my ears. Like I’m stuck inside a tunnel with a persistent buzz. Might be my conscience, Amaury Sambrano tapping my shoulder from beyond the grave, nudging me forward, yelling at me to quit acting like such a scared baby.

I ticked all the boxes after high school. College, check. Bachelor’s degree, check. Moving out of my folks’, check. Established independence, check. Nothing shook Amaury’s ghost off my back.

I had a good gig on my own. A steady part-time in the evenings while I built a client list during the day. A small efficiency way out west, a stone’s throw from The Miccosukee reservation. I loved it, every night crossing from the glitz and glamor of the beach to settle in The Everglades’ quiet swampiness.

About the Author:Hector Duarte, Jr. is a writer/educator out of Miami, Fl, where he lives with his wife, son, and cat. His fiction has been published widely online and in print, like the recent anthologies Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico, and Shotgun Honey Presents Volume 4: Recoil. In September of 2018, Shotgun Honey Books published his full-length short story collection Desperate Times Call. He welcomes you to follow him on Twitter.

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When Writing a Flawed Protagonist… Use Humor by Allyson Rice – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Allyson Rice will be awarding a $20 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.

When Writing a Flawed Protagonist… Use Humor

When writing protagonists, you want them to be flawed. You want your protagonist to be human, and since none of us humans are perfect, the fact that your protagonist isn’t perfect either makes her relatable. You want your reader to feel for your character and her struggles and root for her throughout your book.

In the case of Jesse, one of the three siblings in my recently released novel The Key to Circus-Mom Highway, I wanted to add another wrinkle. One of the themes within the book is how we often make snap judgments of others based on the way they look, or speak, or act, and they’re not always accurate assessments of the person. They’re usually more about our own preconceptions. It takes getting to know them a little before we see beyond what made us initially judge them.

Personally, I love the character of Jesse. I think she’s hilarious. But… she starts as a bartender in a strip club, has arms covered in tattoos, she swears a lot, and presents herself in “an aging tough-girl, you-wouldn’t-hire-her-to-babysit-your-kids kind of way. Like if Joan Jett and Reese Witherspoon had a love child…” I knew the tattoos and particularly the swearing were going to be off-putting and make some readers judge her negatively. (The strip club job she quits right away with relief once she receives the call from the lawyer about her deceased birth mom and the inheritance). I knew that the process of making readers root for her was especially important since among the three siblings, Jesse is the one that leads the action.

There are two ways I attempted to do this. First, little by little I let the reader in on Jesse’s backstory–the difficult things that have happened to her that have made her act the way she does. Since we’ve all had difficult things we’ve been through in our lives, how can you not respond compassionately to someone else once you know the struggles they’ve been through? Second, and this was key for me with Jesse’s character, was to use humor. She’s smart, funny, and sarcastic at times. As I wrote dialogue for her, it often made me laugh out loud. She has no filter. It felt like the lines were coming from her, the character, and not me, the author.

When the BookLife review in Publisher’s Weekly came out and said of Jesse, Refreshing in her underdog melancholy and snarky repartee, she’ll have readers cheering as she gains wisdom along the back roads of the American South. Her irreverent humor lightens her anger at her birth mother, even as she faces new family challenges,” I felt like I had been successful!

If you get a chance to read the book at some point, drop me a line through my website http://allysonrice.com and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear whether your views about Jesse (and her two siblings, Jennifer and Jack) changed along the way.

In an attempt to secure an unexpected inheritance—and hopefully find a few answers—two estranged sisters and their newly discovered brother embark on a comically surreal trip through the Deep South to retrace the life of the mother who abandoned them as infants.

On a Tuesday afternoon, sisters Jesse Chasen and Jennifer McMahon receive a phone call notifying them that their birth mother has died, leaving behind a significant inheritance. But in order to obtain it, they must follow a detailed road trip she designed for them to get to know her—and that includes finding a brother they never knew existed.

For the next week, this ill-assorted trio treks across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to meet their mother’s old friends, from circus performers to a juke joint owner, each of whom delivers a shocking vignette into the life of a young mother traumatized by loss and abuse. Along the way, these three siblings—Jesse, whose fiery exterior disguises a wounded, drifting musician stuck in a rut; Jennifer, whose carefully curated family life is threatened by her husband’s infidelity; and Jack, whose enigmatic Jackie, Oh! persona in the New Orleans drag queen scene helps him escape the nightmares of Afghanistan that haunt him at night—must confront their own demons (and at least one alligator). But in chasing the truth about their real mother, they may all just find their second chance.

This uproarious debut novel is a reminder that sometimes, the family you’d never have chosen may turn out to be exactly what you need.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Westley re-entered with five boxes of food that said Zunzi’s on the side. “Best sandwiches in Savannah! We’re going on a traveling picnic. There’s a young couple, just got married, staying here tonight too, so they’re going to join us. I hope you don’t mind.”

Duke and Ivy Parker had met at the Monster Truck Destruction Tour in Lubbock, Texas a mere two weeks ago. Christian Rock radio station KZOL was having their annual Monster Truck ticket giveaway to the first two callers who could answer these two questions correctly:

1) What former WrestleMania star has driven a Monster Truck in a movie and has also founded a church? (answer: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson); and,
2) According to Wikipedia, what Christian Grindcore band has said that their band name was inspired by Revelations 3:15-16? (answer: Vomitorial Corpulence)

Complete strangers, Duke and Ivy had been the first two correct callers, at number fourteen and number thirty-one, respectively. When they both showed up at the Monster Truck event wearing the same vintage edition Bigfoot Monster Truck t-shirt, they were convinced that it was The Lord that had guided them to each other in Section 104 Row 25 Seats 16 and 17. They knew it was literally “a match made in Heaven,” and so they eloped.

Right on cue, Ivy and Duke, an excruciatingly gung-ho couple in their early twenties dressed in color-coordinated NASCAR gear, entered, holding hands.

About the Author:Allyson Rice is the author of the novel The Key to Circus Mom Highway. (“Fans of family drama, road trips, and non-stop laughs will love this cross-country adventure.”–BookLife/Publisher’s Weekly). She’s an award-winning mixed media artist, and a producer with Atomic Focus Entertainment.

After spending many years as an actress on stage and on television, she left acting and spent the next decade running yoga/meditation retreats, women’s retreats, and creativity retreats around the country. After that, she pivoted to focus once again on her own creative work. In addition to her writing and art, she’s also a photographer (her work was most recently seen in an exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in NYC).

Some random bits of Allyson trivia: 1) She’s been skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, ziplining through a rainforest, and scuba diving with stingrays; 2) she has an extensive PEZ dispenser collection; 3) she played Connor Walsh on As the World Turns for seven years; 4) she’s been in the Oval Office at the White House after hours; 5) she’s related to the Hatfields of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud; and 6) her comedic rap music video “Fine, I’ll Write My Own Damn Song” won numerous awards in the film festival circuit and can now be seen on YouTube.

Also available from Allyson Rice is her line of women’s coloring books (The Color of Joy, Dancing with Life, and Wonderland), and The Creative Prosperity PlayDeck, an inspirational card deck about unlocking and utilizing your creative energy in the world. She’s currently at work on her second novel and her fourth women’s coloring book. But she is most proud of being mom to musical artist @_zanetaylor.

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A Reservoir Man by L.J. Ambrosio – Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. L.J. Ambrosio will be awarding a signed copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on a tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. See our review here.

What would I tell a new author?

Listen to yourself and get advice creatively, learn formatting, and understand the industry you are entering.

The hardest part about writing is

Spelling, run on sentences, the physical appearance, clothes, and haircuts of my characters. I don’t want them to look like someone I know unless I want them to…

Important Elements

Get a great cover design; don’t get too heady getting a title or silly; stay away from sexual implications in title design. Don’t let people read your book until you are finished, but you should have one person that you can trust that you can share with. You must get an editor – don’t be cheap; spend money here. If you are self-publishing know the field and know how to advertise. Release the book to critics before the public by three months. Reviews are important; get them. They are very important as is their posting on Goodreads and Amazon. Be a gentleperson; don’t be pushy and be humble. Do tours, blitzes, and interviews – anything to get your novel out there. Believe in yourself; you are the artist. Sex is important, but it doesn’t make it your novel. Your story is, and the relationship of your characters with life and themselves.

A Reservoir Man, critics have hailed this explosive and timely work as “a must-read coming-of-age story of 2022.” Twists and turns further pull the reader in to Michael’s action-packed tale, with powerful themes, from betrayal and family to secrets and identity. “Be sure not to blink because you just might miss a pivotal moment in Michael’s rousing, larger-than-life story.” — R.C. Gibson, Indiestoday.com. “This book is a dream, a gamble, a utopia, even.” — Kalyan Panja, Bookmarkks.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Michael had now become, after these last six months, a little more world weary and worse for the wear. Sitting on his bench, entering his last year at college. Michael still had not found his soul or his truth. His emphasis on sex was unfulfilling and empty. He wandered in the shadowy corners, the lightless streets, leading to a dead end and the darkness of an empty truck. Loneliness had become a fixture of Michael’s being. He longed for a few hours to be with Carol, Claire, or Raphael.

One day, while sitting on the bench, Michael heard in the distance Otis Reading’s “The Dock of The Bay” playing on a portable radio. The music came closer and closer and then quickly turned to the Four Tops’ “Reach Out (I’ll be There).”

Picking up his head, Michael saw this extremely attractive ethnic guy standing right above him. Michael said ‘hello,’ and the young man answered.

“My name is Nick. Do you dance?”

Michael said, “Sort of, but I do not have much of a chance to go dancing.”

“You want to go tonight?” Nick asked with a smile, and he started to sing “Baby I Need Your Loving” by the Four Tops.

Michael became a little concerned about the message of the song, so he suggested that they might talk over coffee before they venture out dancing. Michael decided to cut his next two classes and have coffee.

They spent hours talking about their lives. Nick was older than Michael by nine years. Nick said he had to prepare for graduation as did Michael. He was in the school for Education and would be graduating that year.

He was first generation Greek from Cyprus and spoke fluent Greek. His family lived in Harlem on 137th Street off Broadway. He had siblings, a brother and sister. Michael was taken by him. He made him laugh and feel amazingly comfortable. Nick invited Michael to dinner Saturday night. His mother would make Doimadakia, Humus, Tzataki and Moussaka. Michael agreed to go.

Nick’s parents were great. His mother was shy, his father a little less. They spoke with a broken accent, which Michael loved. They had a great dinner and talked a lot. Michael learned a lot about Cyprus.

Nick said after dinner, “Dancing, right?”

About the Author: Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theaters for eight seasons. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career. He taught at 7 universities in the United States.

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What Kind of Writer Am I? by Noel Plaugher – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Noel Plaugher 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.

What Kind of Writer Am I?

My background is in music, and I think I approach writing from the same perspective. In music, you learn the fundamentals, drill them until they are second nature, and then promptly forget them when you are playing. Musical structures can have introductions, outros, sparse or lush instrumentation, and a variety of rhythms. The melody can be complex or simple. There can be dissonance or consonance, and both are acceptable. The choices are up to the musician.

Well, that was a lot on music, I know, but I think it illustrates my approach to writing. There is no such thing as always do this, or never do that in any art form, as far as I’m concerned. At least not in the context of expression. And I consider writing an art. I think of the piece as a whole and follow my instincts. That said, I am not a pantster. (Had to look that up) I admire that style though. That is sort of the Ornette Coleman method of writing if you ask me (check out “Free Jazz”). I use an outline, but freely deviate when in the process of writing the actual text. I love to write out of sequence too. In my second book, “Revenge” in “The Lady Dragon of Chinatown” series, I wrote the climactic scene first, and then the story revealed itself. I wrote the outline and then started filling it in and expanding as I went. When you write a song, sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the melody, and sometimes the whole darn thing plops onto your instrument and comes out of you.

It is important not to be too technical. The easiest, and most boring thing an artist can do, is do everything perfectly. In classic, if not iconic, recordings by Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, to name a couple, you can hear many “mistakes” in the recordings. There are slight timing issues between instruments, fingers slipping off strings in guitar solos, and other anomalies. They are imperfect. They are flawed, and so they are gloriously human. Anyone can nitpick the technical. However, when the spirit, or chi, for lack of a better word, can be felt from the page, you are on to something. Jascha Heifetz the brilliant violinist once asked his quartet before playing, “And what is most important?” They all looked at each other searching for some technical response, as he was a technical maestro, but his answer was, “Making music.” If it doesn’t have any feeling, it is useless.

I love all types of music, from the thunderous power chords of metal to the delicate melodies of a violin sonata. In a story, I am trying to bring the reader along with me, and hope that they are tapping their foot. If they put it on repeat, I know I’ve succeeded.

Maggie Long has only ever wanted to study martial arts, but it was forbidden. She found a teacher, Sifu Chang, to teach her in secret and she became a Kung Fu master.

After years in self-imposed exile, Maggie has returned to Chinatown to pursue her dream. The forces that govern Chinatown are working against her, and she’ll have to fight for her school and her life. Is she strong enough to withstand all the forces against her?

A martial art story set in a neon-soaked Chinatown of the 1970’s. The first book in a new series.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The sifu stepped forward. Maggie and the teacher stood opposite each other in the center of the school, on the red matted surface. The class encircled them and waited silently and still. Both fighters were in their fighting stances and studied each other expectantly. Maggie and the sifu eyed each other like two gunfighters waiting for the telling moment, a twitch, or a breath held too long, that would signal that the other was about to make the first move. With their gazes locked, the sifu’s body started to tremble and vibrate. At first, slightly and then violently, his body appeared to build up with rage as if he was preparing to explode. In an instant, the sifu yelled his fury and launched his body at Maggie. A fierce flurry of kicks and punches streaked toward her as he crossed the floor like a locomotive, his powerful body driving the attack relentlessly toward her.

About the Author Noel Plaugher grew up in the San Francisco bay area of California. (1968- ) He planned on becoming a musician but things changed in 1990.

Noel was a victim of violent crime. He started studying martial arts in 1990 as a way of coping with the post-traumatic stress and as rehabilitation.

After attaining his black belt in Shou Shu Kung Fu he started studying various methods of Qigong and Xing Yi Quan. He completed his Xing Yi Quan certification in 2005.

“The power of the mind over the body is amazing and has always fascinated me. Xing Yi Quan is a deceptively simple style, and I have found that it benefits my health and martial arts.”

Noel edited the book “How To Be A Champion” by world champion fighter Richard Trammell.

Noel’s first book “Standing Qigong For Health and Martial Arts” was released in March 2015.

“This book has both martial and health postures. It is my hope that practitioners of other styles as well as those seeking an internal form of exercise will try it out. I think martial artists will be surprised by the great results they get from such a simple practice. If you are a Yoga practitioner, this will be a great addition to your current study.”

Noel is an avid martial arts practitioner and writer, and lives in the USA in Atlanta, Georgia with his family.

“Noel has been studying martial arts since 1990 and writes about Qigong and martial arts-oriented material in both fiction and non-fiction.”

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Winter Blogfest: Dawn Turzio

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of F.D.N. Wives. 

The Mango Crème Brûlée That Blew Her Away ​​By Dawn Turzio

Gail looked on as Leonard sipped his drink. “A nice, retired fireman who likes restoring things and has a proclivity for preparing fancy meals? It definitely won’t get any better than this.”

Leonard gazed in her direction, their eyes connecting. “We are two very lucky people.”

The fever she was experiencing caused her to turn away.

“Hey, do you like mangoes?” Leonard asked, whisking away the bare dinner plates.

“I’ve only tried mango sorbet. Does that count?”

Leonard pulled a small porcelain bowl from the refrigerator and put it where Gail’s supper had been. He took a dessert spoon and sat again. “It’s crème brûlée,” he said, cracking the hardened sugary shell with a careful jerk of the utensil. “Under the vanilla custard are bits of fresh mango sprinkled with rum.” He scooped up the white and orange mixture and held it out to Gail.

The silverware glistened as it moved. Gail parted both lips, allowing it to enter. The creamy filling was an explosion of flavor. Leonard slowly pulled his hand away. She kept her jaw loose, chewing the soft fruit, sights fixed on his, and swallowed. She readied her mouth for more. Leonard grinned and carefully dipped his serving tool into the dessert, seemingly eager to please. As the spoon came close, she licked at it and took it in a little faster this time then swallowed, eye contact strong.

By the fourth bite, Leonard dropped the tableware and rushed to her. His kiss was firm, filled with pent-up tension, urgent for release. Gail pulled away, breath heavy, and then pulled him closer.

​​​Leonard’s Mango Crème Brûlée

Ingredients

¾ cup mango, diced
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ Tbsp sugar (for topping)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Place 4—3 oz. ramekins in a baking dish (9×13 works best). Fill the baking dish with water so it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
3. Distribute diced mango evenly among the ramekins.
4. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup (the spout here makes later steps easier), whisk together egg yolks and sugar.
5. In a small saucepan, mix vanilla and cream. Heat over medium heat until the cream just begins to smoke and a film appears over the top. Note: You do not want the cream to boil.
6. Very slowly, pour the cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
7. Pour the egg mixture into the mango-filled ramekins, covering the mango chunks.
8. Bake until the custards have set, about 35 minutes.
9. Transfer custards to a wire rack to cool completely. Then, refrigerate, uncovered, until well cooled (3-4 hours or overnight works well).
10. Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each ramekin with roughly 1 tsp of sugar.
11. Caramelize the sugar with a blow torch, or preheat your broiler to high and broil for 2-3 minutes.

Bon appétit!

 

The New York City Fire Department is the most prestigious and well-respected in the world. F.D.N. Wives is the sisterhood behind the brotherhood of that infamous department. The camaraderie among four profoundly different women, Megan, Erin, Gail, and Deirdre, coupled with men who run into burning buildings to save lives, illustrates their support during moments of elation and in times of despair. Battling blazes to fighting breast cancer, this fierce group of ladies exemplifies the very essence of what makes the fire department so unique.

 

Dawn Turzio, award-winning writer and former Howard Stern intern, is armed with interesting insider background to all things FDNY, NYPD, USMC, the Navy, and the Army. Dawn’s essay, “A Year After Hurricane Sandy, A First Responder’s Wife Reflects,” was selected as the feature story for national firefighter magazine New York Firefighters Now, where her family was photographed for the issue’s cover. Her work has also gained exposure from the television show Inside Edition, which contacted her for an episode about women’s dating preferences based on an article she’d written titled, “Why Are Women Attracted to Men in Uniform?” published by YourTango.com.

Dawn’s work has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Salon, MSN Lifestyle, Yahoo!News, Parents Magazine, Brain, Child Magazine, TheGood Men Project, Entropy Magazine, Hello Giggles, New York Press, New York Firefighters Now, WittyBitches.com, Skinny Dip City, Cupid’s Pulse, The Write Life, and The Staten Island Advance. She spearheaded a feature column, Fire Wives, which detailed the implications of “uniformed living” in Jersey Firefighters Now Magazine.

The first woman to graduate from the television and film studies program at St. John’s University, Staten Island campus, Dawn has worked in production for E! Network on The Howard Stern Show, AJ Afterhours, and E! News Daily, which has been recognized by The New York Times.

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Winter Blogfest: L.B. Griffin

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a personalised carry about thermos mug. If you can provide a clear image, name or idea it can be transferred onto the mug. Or you can just have it plain. These super mugs keep fluids hot or cold in throughout the day, whichever you choose to put inside.

A Few Christmas Wishes by L.B. Griffin

 

It was just after Christmas 2020 when I finished my novel and was brave enough to submit to a publisher. It was something I never thought I would ever do as I didn’t have the confidence. That was until a friend said, “do it before you pop your clogs mate!”

It was the push I needed, after all, did I really want my epitaph to read, “shoulda, woulda, coulda?”

Then the Big Bad Wolf was at our door and life turned upside down.

The following Christmas our government told us we were allowed to bubble with six people only. It was so very difficult. My daughter was pregnant and going into labour, yet I had other family who I needed to help and to see. What to do. The dilemma was there for everyone.

I know I’m not the only one to have a story around this part of our lives, some tragic and I’m so sorry. I consider myself wish I could give everyone around the world a big hug. It wontmake anything better but the sentiment is that during that period of emotional turmoil, grief and terror we pulled together.

We pulled together as a nation. We pulled together as humans across the world. Those world divides and barriers started to fall away. Life took on totally different meanings to so many. One of survival. Acts of caring. Offering to help. Speaking to one another, albeit from a distance and across the road. I have never been through a war. This was a war that we fought together. The Invisible Big Bad Wolf still lurks at our door, but we are survivors. My books are about survivors, love, careand those characters that are evil, but shine because you love to hate them.

My wishes for Christmas are considered pie in the sky?

Wars stop.

Humans continue to look after one another.

The leaders of the world unite.

And our beautiful earth that we only live on for a nanosecond is looked after and nurtures in preparation for the next generation of everything that grows.

Christmas is a time for sharing, a time for giving. The world has gone a little mad again, but when I reflect on those early days when The Big Bad Wolf was at our door – people opened their eyes and looked at the world in in wonder. They saw trees of green, skies of blue, flowers and bees and said I love you….

 

Kathleen Gray—talented, a little wild, at times rebellious, but always popular—has a fun, easy life in rural Somerset, with a doting family.

Suddenly, they are gone, everything is changed, and she has only Uncle Jack. Try as he might, he cannot be father and mother to her—he has a business to run and his own life to manage.

Kathleen takes a chance and becomes Kate Westfield, fending for herself in London, with a new life built on her hopes and dreams and new friends. She could hardly have imagined that one of those friends has a shoebox full of answers.

L.B. Griffin, born and raised in Bath UK, absolutely loves writing fiction. She is happily married and surrounded by her family in Wiltshire. She has always written around the full-time paid job and pays tribute to everyone she has taught and met. They have been her inspiration to write.

Whilst her stories are a complete work of fiction, they touch upon social issues, the reality of life. They are filled with gentle hints of romance. Her women are strong, courageous, they are survivors. Though they don’t necessarily see themselves that way, they certainly are. Her debut novel, Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox was released world-wide mid-2021. It immediately received rave reviews. The sequel, The Twenty-One-Year Contract, also a standalone, also continues to receive excellent reviews. These are complete works of fiction.

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Last Chance Town by Ron Kearse – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ron Kearse will be awarding a $15 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.

In this, the Further Adventures Along the Road Without End, we fast forward from where the story left off in 1983, to Vancouver, BC, in 1988. Warren Givens has completed his second jail sentence four years previous, after which he’s vowed to lay low and stay clean so there’s no return to “Clown-College,” as he calls it.

A chance meeting at a pub one night introduces us to Daryl Kellerman, at first as Givens’ one night stand, which quickly develops into a love and live-in relationship between them.

Warren’s distant past comes front-and-centre in the form of his birth mother, who lost him to Social Services before he was ten years old, and has been looking for him ever since.

We get to know Warren’s past and what’s made him the way he is.

This, along with some other drastic life changing occurrences, propel Warren into a life he never thought he would live.

Later, we get to know what life was like living with Givens through Daryl’s eyes as he reminisces over the years since their initial meeting.

Last Chance Town is the third book in the Road Without End Trilogy.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

We take a cab to where Hastings-Sunrise meets Grandview-Woodlands in East Vancouver. We get out of the cab and go up the front walk to his place. It’s an older house, two storeys, blue and grey. Looks like it could use a little TLC as far as repair work goes. We enter the front hall. There’s music coming from the kitchen.

“Ah, the roomie’s home,” he says pointing at the pair of runners in the front closet. “You want something to drink?”

“Sure.”

We take off our shoes.

“This way,” he says as he leads me into the kitchen. Somewhere Tom Jones is singing “Kiss” as part of the Art of Noise cover.

We pass a large, framed poster on the wall in the hallway. I stop to have look at it. It’s square and features a red background with a black bull within a circle of words that read, Transcend the Bullshit. Makes me chuckle.

In the kitchen, we’re greeted by a guy in his underwear doing what looks like ballet moves. Daryl glances at him. “You’re drinking red wine again?”

“When have I stopped?” His roommate answers as he twirls across the kitchen floor.

“Givens, this is Hunter,” Daryl says pointing at him.

“Good to meet you.” I wave as he twirls out of the kitchen into the dining room, and that’s when we hear ka-THUNK!

Daryl sprints into the dining room with me right behind him.

“You okay?” Daryl asks.

Hunter gets up from the floor, laughs then shakes my hand. “Good to meet you too.” Then he twirls around and out of the room then bolts upstairs.

“Christ,” I say, “I want some of whatever Hunter’s been smokin’.”

“Yeah,” says Daryl with a wry smile, “you’ve entered another universe. But don’t worry about it, you’ll fit in just fine.”

About the Author: Ron Kearse had a nomadic upbringing and finds inspiration in traveling, art, friends, reading, and photography. He’s written reviews and features for local periodicals, co-hosted radio programs, conducted interviews on-air and in print, and has a colourful and varied resumé. He’s hosted art exhibitions of his works and has had his photographs displayed in public showings. He presently lives in Victoria, BC, with his partner, James.

Website | Goodreads

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Where Do Ideas Come From? by Marina Hill – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Marina Hill will be awarding a $15 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.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Ideas come from desires. A most impactful quote is by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” The desire for these books intensifies for writers in marginalized communities. Many of us wish to tell write ownvoices tales—stories inspired by the writer’s own experiences surrounding their identity—and many wish to write tales that feature characters of our respective backgrounds. Personally, my relationships with my main characters are very intimate. Most of them are branches of who I am, who I want to be, who I was, or who I would or could be in a brand-new world. The main character of my current work in progress is braver than I will ever be. She rides dragons without fear and gives attitude to a cruel king. Me? I tremble with anxiety on the balcony of a high-rise building. I hate confrontation. This main character has traits I want to have—which is why I believe ideas come from desires. Desires don’t have to be world-changing. A friend of mine, Zoe Sivak, wrote Mademoiselle Revolution (an absolutely phenomenal read that I cannot recommend enough!). This book is, like the title, revolutionary. It is about uprooting what you know and balancing and new perspective. Sivak’s desire is to restore history and she does so exceptionally well. My desire, with Little Writer specifically, is to provide comfort and a space for girls who look like me to forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made. Little Writer is a warm hug of a novel for every reader, but is warmest for Black girls.

A retelling of the classic coming-of-age story Little Women through the intimate lens of Jo March.

It’s 1862 and fifteen-year-old Jo March would rather be fighting in the war, like her papa, than improving her knitting skills on the home front. But societal conventions for the “gentle” woman-and her steadfast adoration for her three sisters-force Jo to stay behind and support the family, all the while rolling her eyes at Aunt March and daydreaming of becoming a famous author.

At home, love abounds in the March girls’ lives in the form of family, friendship, patriotism, religion, and-to Jo’s chagrin-romance. As each sister navigates their ascent into adulthood, Jo unwittingly ventures down a path of self-realization, using her gift of written prose to craft her voice, and thus, her truth. Perhaps, just maybe, she can strike balance between the freedom of independence and the warmth of partnership…

In this visionary adaptation, Little Writer tells the March sisters’ timeless journey to womanhood with a multiracial cast of characters, reimagining history to include diverse communities without elaboration.

Enjoy an Excerpt

When spring rolls around, my sisters and I love to stay outside.

One blossoming afternoon, while I’m in the coop to feed the chickens, I spot Laurie, Beth, and Amy around the redbud tree. Laurie latches onto a branch to shake the tree loose of any lingering magenta petals. Flowers begin raining on Beth and Amy, who lock hands and spin together. Their skirts fly about them and I smile at their girlish laughter.

Once I return to feeding the animals, Laurie appears behind me. “What d’you have there?”

“Teddy! Come in. I want you to meet my chicken, Aunt Cockle-top.” I point to her and, though Laurie enters the coop, he says far from the roaming animals.

“Please keep that from me,” he says, shaking some magenta flower petals from his curls as he skirts away.

“Don’t be afraid,” I exclaim, cleaning my hands on my linen apron before scooping up Aunt Cockle-top. She flaps her wings.

Teddy stumbles backward. “Jo!”

“She’s just a chicken. Face your fears!” I haul Aunt Cockle-top into the air toward him.

He yelps and loses his footing without trying to catch her. My chicken falls on top of him and he screeches, “She bit me!” to send me into a deep laughing fit.

“Josephine!” Marmee’s scolding voice startles me. My laughter is slow to dissipate as she brings a whimpering Laurie inside.

About the Author: Marina Hill is a writer with a keen interest in all things undiscovered. She grew up in the New Jersey side of Philadelphia, watching Eagles games and roughhousing with her plethora of older brothers. She attended Baruch College in NYC and has over a dozen publications of her other works. If she isn’t daydreaming about her next story, she’s studying history or yearning to dash into the forest, build a farm, and never look back. Marina never lives in one spot for too long and loves to travel with her dog.

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Silhouette by Paul Swingle – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Paul Swingle will be awarding a $15 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.

On the night of a blue moon, while walking his dog, middle-aged widower Jim sees Gladys on the roof of a neighboring apartment building and is inspired to speak with her. There’s just one problem: she can’t hear him.

Indeed, Jim isn’t even sure that Gladys truly exists—that she isn’t just a rooftop patio umbrella silhouetted against the moon. Hampered by debilitating social anxiety, he cannot work up the courage to even wave.

Yet Jim returns to the same spot night after night, and Gladys—who is indeed real—sees him and becomes equally interested. She even contributes to their “conversation,” though he cannot hear her either. And while Gladys struggles with her own demons—self-loathing and depression—she is lifted by Jim’s attention, even as she describes how difficult her life has been.

Two characters, driven by sadness and a longing to connect. Will they?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Tonight, I saw a rooftop patio umbrella move. Or was it a woman? It’s May 31, the night of the blue moon. I was taking my dog Gus for his nightly walk. On the rooftop of a building across the street from my apartment, against the light of the huge moon, I saw the silhouette of a patio umbrella. I’d been seeing that umbrella on that roof for weeks—months, maybe. Every time I walked the dog or snuck a puff on my cigar, it was there. Immobile and static. Always in the same place, always visible against either the daytime sky or the city-lit night. I had thought nothing of it, other than wondering if anyone ever used that patio. But tonight, I saw the umbrella silhouette move. “Son of a bitch,” I said. “What the hell is that? Was it the wind?” Startled, I tried to shake off an eerie feeling. Had the umbrella really moved? I don’t care for rooftop patios myself. I’ve been to 4 a few. You have to drag yourself up the stairs, hoping no one else is there when you arrive, so you can have a bit of solace. I always forget something downstairs.

About the Author:

Dr. Paul G. Swingle can be considered one of the founding fathers of Clinical Psychoneurophysiology, one of a select few, directly responsible for bringing Neurotherapy out of university labs and clinics to the general populace in the 1980’s.

His academic positions include, Professor of Psychology at the University of Ottawa from 1972 to 1997, Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School from 1991 to 1998, Associate Attending Psychologist at McLean Hospital (Boston), Head of the Clinical Psychophysiology Service McLean Hospital (Boston). Professor Swingle was also Clinical Supervisor at the University of Ottawa from 1987 to 1997 and Chairman of the Faculty of Child Psychology from 1972 to 1977. Dr. Swingle is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia and is Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurotherapy. He is actively involved in research and practice. His numerous publications include nine books and numerous peer reviewed journal publications.

Amazon Author Page

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Ten Concepts a New Author Needs to Embrace by Edward Hochsmann – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Ten Concepts a New Author Needs to Embrace

Dunning-Kruger Effect. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is an established psychological principle stating that people with low ability in a given task area tend to overestimate their prowess significantly and, conversely, that people with high ability tend to underestimate their abilities dramatically. What this means to a writer: if you feel super-confident or super-pessimistic about a piece you have written, you’re probably wrong. Act accordingly.

Red-Team (a.k.a. Editors). In my day job, we submit a finished analytical report to a group of peers whose job is to pick it apart and reveal any flaw, however small. We call these people a “red team,” and going through one hurts. A lot. It is the same with editors, but something you must put yourself through. If you don’t have editors finding and pointing out faults, rest assured you’ll have readers who will, quite publicly.

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job (at least, not yet). Fact: a fiction writer is an artist. Question: What’s the difference between an artist and a large pizza? Answer: the pizza can feed a family of four.

Let’s Exchange Reviews – NOT! I made this mistake once. It’s not so much your risk of getting a bad review. It’s the risk that you are obligated to someone who has just handed you a piece of trash. Before you agree to this, at least get a sense of their quality from other works.

Causality Dilemma. This is better known as the “Chicken or the Egg?” In our context, it is the big lie that creating a significant social media presence will sell your books. In my opinion, HAVING a significant social media presence MAY help you sell a lot of books, and selling a lot of books may get you a significant social media presence. However, a plan to build a significant social media presence as a marketing strategy for your book is a sure loser. Full Disclosure: I am one of those curmudgeons who believe social media platforms are graveyards for careers, reputations, and the human mind.

Caveat Emptor. There are many people out there who are very happy to take your money, and relatively few of them deliver any value in return. The Alliance of Independent Authors has prepared a fabulous database of self-publishing services ratings here:
Before pressing the “send money” button, this should be your first stop, and the second stop should be an Internet search with the terms “[name of vendor]” and “scam.”

Return on Investment-Part 1. If you pay someone to publish a book, you are not paying them to sell your book; just put it in print to be sold. I get spammed by the same company (who shall remain nameless) every time I register a copyright who insists I would be a fool not to use their service—their intimidation line is: “you wouldn’t cut your own hair, would you?” Folks, if you can write a good novel, you have the chops to publish it FOR FREE on Amazon, Draft-2-Digital, and Ingramspark. Now, if you want to spare yourself that work, it might be worth a little investment, but don’t believe for a minute you have to pay someone to self-publish. The best advice is to roll up your sleeves, go through KDP, D2D, and Ingramspark, and save your money for advertising.

Return on Investment-Part 2. Beware of people pushing promo-stacking. It’s quite true that not investing anything in advertising will almost certainly net zero sales. Likewise, you will likely not double your reader exposure by doubling your investment (many, if not most, subscribers are probably covered by both services). I’m not saying one and done, just that there is a very steep curve of diminishing returns.

I Will Review Your Book—NOT. Again, once your name gets out there, you’ll get spammed. JUST DON’T DO IT, even if it is for free. I have a similar opinion of bookstagrammers offering paid reviews—if they stiff you, what will you do, complain? See what kind of review THAT will get you! If you want reviews, go with Netgalley, Hidden Gems, or a legitimate vendor (consult the Alliance of Independent Authors database). Then if someone offers to review, you can direct them there.

Arrrr, Mateys! Know this: if you have a book that is not trash you are offering online, it WILL get pirated, guaranteed. Your chances of preventing that or taking effective action in response are essentially zero. If you want to identify where the leak came from, hide a tracer (a different word, punctuation, phrasing, etc.) somewhere within the text that you can use to identify the specific source. If it’s from one of the bigs like Amazon, there’s a chance they might be interested in applying some of their vast resources to crush the host pour encourager les autres. Pass it to them and then let go. You are not losing sales—the scumbags who grab books off pirate sites won’t pay for a book they can’t find for free.

An aging Coast Guard patrol boat is all that stands between the world and nuclear annihilation!

The world is on the brink of war, with NATO mobilizing to counter a Russian threat to Poland and Lithuania and leaders openly discussing war options. In the midst of the crisis, a Russian bomber collides with a U.S. fighter off Florida causing the accidental launch of a nuclear-tipped hypersonic missile.

A Coast Guard cutter on a routine patrol finds a drug-laden sailboat smashed and adrift north of the Florida Keys. The boat’s damage is from a near miss by the Russian missile which has not harmlessly flown deep into the Gulf of Mexico as initially thought, but crashed somewhere in the Keys.

The Coast Guard crew is in a race against a vicious and powerful international crime syndicate to find and recover the Russian nuke before its discovery can trigger a nuclear war.

Exploring the friendship and teamwork of a typical ship’s crew, in the face of unexpected and hazardous challenges, Dagger Quest provides a fast-paced, taut story – excellent fare for both sea adventure and military thriller fans.

Mission: Five days to destroy the enemy in the Caribbean before a catastrophic weapon is unleashed—but all he can think about is the woman he left behind…

The deadliest nerve gas ever made has fallen into the hands of a murderous Caribbean drug cult. The criminal 252 Syndicate has the gas in a secret lab on an oil rig servicing ship, but the ship has been taken for ransom by the Salinas Cartel in a violent drug war. The U.S. can’t use airstrikes and calls on Coast Guard Officer Ben Wyporek to lead his crew through a risky covert raid on the Salinas cult’s fortified island base. He accepts the assignment, but remembers a previous lethal encounter with the 252s and struggles to say goodbye to the love of his life, Victoria Carpenter.

Ben and his crew aboard the stealth-equipped Cutter Kauai must sneak into the harbor and tow the ship away. But if Kauai is detected and defeated, death by gas or at the hands of vicious adversaries will follow. Now, every decision Ben makes will determine the fate of his entire crew—and the chances of reuniting with Victoria.

This second book of the series builds on the friendships and teamwork of Kauai’s crew, this time in the face of several challenging missions and one potentially lethal encounter. It is a worthy sequel to Dagger Quest that sea adventure and military thriller fans will enjoy.

Young Coast Guard Lieutenant Haley Reardon has not even gotten her feet on the ground on her new patrol boat command when she finds herself and her crew supporting a dangerous covert mission. They must insert and retrieve a Defense Intelligence Agency operations team trying to seize a transnational criminal syndicate boss from a small Caribbean island controlled by a front company of the Chinese government and protected by a superior military force.

A honeymoon period would be lovely, but, as always, the world gets a vote.

Can Haley avoid leaving the DIA team to their fate, when attempting to rescue them could destroy her crew and boat and lead to war?

This third installment of the series conveys the humor, friendships, and teamwork of Kauai’s crew from the previous books, with a new series of exciting actions from search and rescue to combat. The crew and their new skipper must come together for the toughest mission they have ever faced.

Enjoy an Excerpt from Dagger Quest

Ben had already spent one magazine and slammed another into the carbine, resuming fire. His pistol was also charged and ready. Suddenly, there was a pause in the firing, and all the targets were out of sight. Ben glanced left along the barrier and froze in shock. Bill was sprawled out face up behind Simmons, eyes open and blood leaking from a hole in his forehead.

“Eyes front!” Simmons whispered urgently.

Ben whirled back to peer at the SUVs and whispered, “What are they doing?”

“Retasking,” Simmons said, pulling a small package out of one of his pockets. “They’ll try to take us now for interrogation.”

“What do we do?”

“Don’t get taken.”

“Thanks.”

“No, I mean, whatever you have to do, DO NOT get taken by these guys.” He looked Ben in the eyes. “Nothing would be worse, believe me.”

“Right.”

Some activity behind his SUV attracted Ben’s attention. There was a “whump” sound, and a grapefruit-sized object sailed overhead their position.

“FACE DOWN!” Simmons shouted.

Ben turned and buried his face in the sand when a loud “pop” sounded overhead, followed by a “whir” and a stabbing pain in the back of his right leg. A severe muscle cramp-like pain spread over his body within seconds, and he could not move. He tried to shout in terror, but all he heard was, “Ahhhhhh!” He felt another prick in his neck, and the pain subsided, although he still could not seem to get his muscles to work.

“It was a micro-flechette with a tetrodotoxin derivative. I’ve given you the antidote, but it’ll be about thirty seconds before it’s fully effective,” Simmons whispered as he pulled the now empty syrette out of Ben’s neck. “Fight it! They’ll be rushing us in a few seconds—you need to be shooting.”

About the Author: Edward Hochsmann is the pen name of a retired U. S. Coast Guard search and rescue and law enforcement professional. The veteran mariner, aviator, college professor, and defense analyst has added “author” to his list of experiences. Ed likes reading, police procedurals, contemporary music on the road, and classical music in the office. After a career traveling from Australia in the west to Italy and Germany in the east, Ed has settled into a quiet life in the Florida Panhandle to focus on writing (and not shoveling snow!)

Ed has two novels published right now (plus one launching in August 2022) in the Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures series about a Coast Guard patrol boat assigned to “special” missions. Dagger Quest takes place in the Florida Keys and involves an aging Coast Guard patrol boat dragooned into a search for a lost Russian nuclear weapon in a time of international crisis. The second, Caribbean Counterstrike, features the same patrol boat and crew, now with equipment and training upgrades, sent to recover a deadly nerve gas from a murderous Caribbean drug cartel. Bravely and Faithfully has Kauai, under a new captain supporting a covert raid on a Caribbean island held by the Chinese.

Ed’s second series, C6S: Patrol Force deals with a combined defense establishment and constabulary for a galactic economic empire called the Confederation of the Six Systems (C6S). Ed has published two novellas and a novel-length collection late last year.

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