Spring Blogfest: Velda Brotherton

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Historically Spring
By Velda Brotherton

Writing historical romances set in the west means making sure people live in the way that was proper for the day. What did spring mean in those days?

Bathing: Through the winter everyone had the same bathing habits — they didn’t — so they probably couldn’t tell each person carried a certain odor, in fact, they stunk. Don’t you imagine it was a great relief to be able to take a full body bath?

Eating: Poke comes up. This an edible and tasty green that emerges from the ground as the last of the snow melts. Though usually best known in southern menus, anyone living in the wild watched for the first green shoots. Those spears could be cut and eaten like asparagus, or one could wait till the plant leafed out well before cooking it in two waters, rinsing in between, then frying it in a pan of grease and seasoning with vinegar.

Clothing: Long underwear is shed. Men most especially wore longjohns and they were seldom removed from November till March. Imagine wearing the same set of drawers for five months out of the year. That’s why the old joke, don’t wash above your wrist bone till summer. It was as high as men could reach when washing their hands all winter. Women wore long cotton stockings and several layers of skirts most of the time. On the plains women tended to shed all but a cotton dress in the hot summers, unlike their city cousins who dressed in Victorian fashion year round into the 20th Century.

Cleaning: Airing mattresses and pillows in the sunshine, hanging rugs outside and beating the dirt out of them, wading about in shin-deep mud, banging soot from the stove pipes.

Gardening: Most important of all to these western settlers, spring meant planting seeds that would grow and provide food for them during the coming winter. Plows were pulled by mules, horses or men, depending on the wealth of the gardeners. Some could not afford animals because of the food it took to sustain them all winter, so the man would pull the plow and the woman would guide it across and back, turning up furrows in which to plant.

Because few had calendars, planting was done by signs provided by nature. Earliest plantings consisted of onions, lettuce and other greens, and garden peas. Then potatoes followed by green beans and corn planted when tree leaves were the size of squirrel’s ears. When the ground was warm enough to sit on with a bare bottom and not be cold cucumbers and squash seed went in the ground. Last of all came the tender tomato plants which had been grown from seed indoors during the early spring months. They were once known as love apples.

So when writing your western historical romances, be sure to get spring right as well as romantic.

VELDA final front coverLeft behind in enemy territory for nine years, tortured beyond endurance, Navy pilot Glen Tanner survives for one reason. To return home and destroy the wife who deserted him. Instead he meets Katie Kelly, who coaxes him back from hell and teaches him to love and trust again.

About the Author: Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

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Spring Blogfest: Janine Donoho

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Grouse Eggs & Kestrels and Seedlings & Soil
(as sung to ‘My Favorite Things’)

In this remote conservation area of Washington State, vernal equinox triggers messy chasms brimming with snowmelt. Summer’s alkaline dust transforms into muck capable of entombing my 4-wheel drive eco-diesel up to its wheel wells. Days collect into weeks of treacherous roads.

I wait to plant seeds until after mid-May, since hard frosts shrivel tender cotyledons. After years of starting seedlings indoors, I reverted to direct sowing into compost enriched soils. The hardening process for young plants is fickle, and planting seeds works just as well.

Still the promise of spring causes me to excavate lighter clothing and bury the thick layers of winter. I begin to wake earlier with a curious lift to my spirits. It’s the fragrance of spring that starts me along this path.

When wild grasses poke through the drying crust of alkaline silt in this high desert, I move into the bliss zone. Yes, these are the same grasses that require vigorous slashing to maintain defensible space around our home as fire season roars into being. Yet at this stage, the verdant color and lush bouquet—well, it makes me ridiculously happy. I breathe more deeply.

JANINE Dusky Blue Grouse eggsSpring is also when the dusky blue grouse male begins to court his harem, drumming Oot, oot, oot from his air sacs while he struts his stuff. Not long afterward, his hens lay buff colored eggs beneath Ponderosa pines and sagebrush. Incubation takes almost a month before hatching in late May.

This is the sweet time, when my drip system is optional and yellow jackets aren’t dive-bombing me in the gardens. Native arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagitatta) splashes the steppes with festive yellows as raptors freewheel along thermals. My particular favorite, the kestrel, sets up housekeeping in our nesting box. By late summer, the fledglings scream their fear and excitement as they take their first flight from one branch to another, then one pine to another before departing to establish their own territories.

But today, it’s the scent of spring, the promise of lush Mediterranean gardens, and the quality of light that fills me with hopefulness. Daylight hours have gone from winter solstice’s threadbare eight to nearly twelve. By summer solstice we’ll enjoy sixteen hours of light. For now, I wander the forests and sagebrush steppes, cherishing eggs tucked into grouse nests.

JANINE Soundings for TRRIs there hope for a grieving mother’s heart?

Ecopsychologist Dr. Margo Updike loses herself in a shadow life after her daughter’s tragic death. When a century storm deposits a young girl on Maggie’s secluded beach in Puget Sound, a miraculous renewal begins. Then the apparent orphan exhibits signs of neglect and worse, prompting Maggie’s vow to protect and heal her–no matter the cost.

The arrival of a mysterious man claiming to be Sorcha’s father upends Maggie’s life. She finds Morrissey strangely irresistible even as her friend Sheriff Ajax Smith questions the man’s motives and odd behavior. As a serial killer’s victims begin surfacing in Seal Cove, Jax must curb his suspicions to enlist Maggie as a profiler.

Will Jax and Maggie find the murderer before he strikes again? With Morrissey’s secrets trapping Maggie on destructive shoals between reality and legend, can she grasp his true nature before losing her chance to rebuild a life worth living? To what depths–and heights–will she go for a daughter, a beloved man and, ultimately, her humanity?

About the Author:Award-winning writer Janine Donoho grew up navigating extremes–perhaps due to the ups and downs of her San Franciscan birthplace. That Escher landscape primed her to embrace imaginary worlds. With one foot planted in fuzzy science and the other in invented realms, she occupies the land of What If. Published in novel-length and short fiction, along with essays, Janine pursues the thumps that echo in the night–and writes about those, too.

With her intrepid husband, Italian greyhound, and tuxedo cat, Janine makes her home in the spectacular Okanogan Highlands of Washington State. Mountain lions, coyotes, and bears–oh, my!

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Spring Blogfest: Juliet Waldron

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What’s up with the Rabbit and those Eggs?

I’ve always wanted to come to the bottom of this particularly odd imagery which goes hand in hand with Easter. When I was little, back in the early fifties, I received an Easter basket, usually complete with a fluffy toy bunny. We had festive posters on the school room walls of cheerful looking rabbits with candy baskets. Bunnies=Easter—that was simply how it was. Nothing to do with the awe-full Christian story of agony and resurrection, a mysterious tandem.

As I grew older, I was fascinated by mythology and with history. Following both back to the long ago age where they merge, I came upon a Saxon goddess named Eostre whose arrival brought spring to the British. Like others of her regenerative earth goddess kind, flowers sprang up where she walked. Eggs are laid in spring, and so perhaps, I thought, the basket is actually a nest, containing eggs, and the eggs and new born rabbits and all the other creatures who begin their life cycles at this time have simply become conflated in a mash-up of imagery.

This worked to satisfy me for a very long time, until this year, in fact, when I think, with input from British scholars, (Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm) I think I’ve finally come to the bottom of the rabbit and eggs conundrum. Long ago, in England, before the Romans introduced rabbits to the island, there were related creatures called “hares,” decidedly not the same animal as “silly rabbits.” For one thing, they are larger, relatives of the white Arctic Hare. They thrived in the extensive, grazing-created grasslands, sharing them with Neolithic people. Hares do not sleep in burrows, but in “forms,” which their neatly tucked up bodies make in the long grass.

julia walden 6406_Lapwing eggs in nestxxA British bird, the lapwing, shares this habitat. She lays her speckled eggs on the ground, like the American whippoorwill. She even does a similar “my wing is broken” routine to lead predators away from her eggs/chicks. Sometimes the lapwing made use of a hare’s abandoned “form” for her eggs—and presto!

Ancient people saw the forms, sometimes containing the pretty speckled eggs of the lapwing, and a magical image was born. To put a cap on it, at least from a long-ago Britain’s point of view, both these animals were sacred to the earth goddess, Eostre, the sweet goddess who brings fertility, green grass and flowers in her train, so welcome after winter’s frozen time.

juliet Waldron-RoanRose2 2014 coverxxxxxROAN ROSE ~ English Medieval/Wars of Roses
Loyalty Binds her! From childhood, maid-servant Rose bears witness to the passions, betrayals, battles and the reversals of fortune which shape Lady Anne Neville’s life—and, for better or for worse–her own.

About the Author: Juliet Waldron has lived in many US states, in the UK and the West Indies. She earned a B. A. in English, but has worked at jobs ranging from artist’s model to brokerage. Thirty years ago, after her sons left home, she dropped out of 9-5 and began to write, hoping to create a genuine history/time travel experience for her readers. She’s a grandmother, a cat person, and a dedicated student of history, Herstory, and archeology.

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Spring Blogfest: Judith Works

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Spring in Rome is the most beautiful time of year.

In my mind the season begins on March 8, International Women’s Day, when all the women wear springs of bright yellow mimosa flowers. The trees lining the streets are laden with the small fluffy blossoms, and florists display small branches mixed with colorful tulips and fragrant freesia.

photo (18)-001The pre-Lent celebrations of Carnival are usually over by this time. The event is much-changed from the bawdy and often cruel entertainments of the past. Now there are parades of costumed children all dolled up to look like not-very-fierce pirates and sweet princesses. The children toss confetti until the cobblestones are covered with the bits of colored paper. Carnival has its own favorite food – a fried pastry called frappe.

Not long after this celebration workers bring out large terracotta pots filled with blooming azaleas. They are placed on the Spanish Steps making a sea of pink to delight the eye. The steps are a favorite for film settings like Roman Holiday and The Talented Mr. Ripley. The steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to the beautiful church called Trinita dei Monti where I once attended a spectacular wedding conducted by a Cardinal who conveyed the Pope’s blessing. At the reception in an old villa on the Appica Antica the groom opened the champagne bottles by popping out the cork with a sword.

In anticipation of Easter, shops are filled with football-sized chocolate eggs covered in bright foil that dazzle the eye and cause children to beg their mammas, or better yet nonnas, for a treat. Grandmother never says no. Shelves are lined with boxes of the dove-shaped cake with almonds called Colombe Pasquale.

On Good Friday the Pope leads a torch-lit procession from the Colosseum to the Palatine Hill with prayers at each of the Stations of the Cross that have been set up for the occasion. Easter Sunday is notable for the huge crowds gathering in front of St. Peters to hear the Pope give his message of hope and peace in many languages. After church, families gather to dine on the traditional lamb often accompanied by the tiny and tender spring artichokes.

Easter in Italian is Pasqua. The day after Easter is called Pasquetta or little Easter. That is the traditional day for the first picnic of the year. Traffic is a nightmare as cars laden with family and food head for nearby parks or the hills to find a patch of grass to put down a blanket and enjoy the spring flowers that bloom profusely under the umbrella pines and next to old chunks of marble left over from some ancient temple.

When the Rose Garden is opened in May I know that spring will soon turn into summer. The beautiful garden has 11,000 varieties in bloom. The setting on one of the Seven Hills, the Aventine, overlooks the Circus Maximus and the Palatine Hill. Roses and ruins – an early summer treat.

CityofIllusionsSMcover smallA job in Rome! With her life going nowhere in gray Seattle, Laura’s dream of adventure has finally come true. Husband Jack is on board so he can use the year to take a break and begin painting again. But they soon learn la dolce vita is far more complicated than expected as they are catapulted into a world full of intrigue, deceit and infidelity lurking behind the seductive fool and win, sunny piazzas and crumbling ruins. When Jake dabbles dangerously in Rome’s underground corruption, Laura feels free to search for the key to happiness she desires. Sometimes change can solidify a marriage, and sometimes it can rip it apart. Which will it be?

About the Author: Life was routine until mid-life when a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office nearby – where she worked as an attorney in the Human Resources department and entered the world of expat life in Rome. After four years she and her husband returned to the U.S. But they missed life in Italy with its great food and wine, endless history, and their many friends. The gods smiled and another opportunity came along. Six more years in Rome, again working for the UN, followed. The many happy and sometimes fraught experiences are the subject of her memoir, Coins in the Fountain, published as an e-book on Amazon. Booktrope has recently published her novel about expats in Rome, City of Illusions, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and i-Tunes. She continues to travel in her spare time, having fitted in over 100 countries. And, when she is in Rome, she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure another visit.

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Interview: Carla D.E. Godfrey

Carla D. E. Godfrey has stopped by Long and Short Reviews to chat with us. Her newest release What Happens Inbetween releases on March 25. She also has another book coming out this fall, Into the Woods.

What Happens In Between is all about family. It tells the story of two men who, on the face of it, just seem like a normal employer-employee but, as the story goes on, you realize that they have more in common than was previously thought.

“I think it’s grittier than anything I’ve ever written,” she said, “because I normally write chick-lit and I suppose it is up to a point, but I wanted this one to be more down to earth. The e-book is available to pre-order on Amazon.”

She uses Carla D E Godfrey for her paperbacks and just Carla Godfrey for e-books because, she said, “It sort of felt right to use those names as a mark to distinguish between my e-books and paperbacks.”

She has been writing since she was eight, as a hobby. She grew up watching period dramas on television, then reading the books– falling in love with them, especially Jane Austen.

“I was praised for my imagination at school and then I started writing little four-paged stories; they were mostly about me and my family, although I did attempt a short period drama of my own before settling on contemporary fiction.”

She finds it easier to begin her books with the plot, then the characters are defined by the plot. Once she’s decided where the plot is going, she can focus on character traits and personality.

“I think about my characters personalities and where the plot is going and then I try to intertwine the two. It’s really important the nature of the characters and the plot go together,” she explained.

If she had the stamina, she’d love to do a massive family sage.

“I think the most interesting stories happen within families where people assume that they know everything about one another,” she told me. “There’s more room for the element of surprise.”

3_20-author-photo-225x300About the Author: Carla was born and brought up in Norfolk and has been writing as a hobby for nearly twenty years. She moved to France when she was twelve and a half and lived out there for eight years and can speak fluent French, she loved any excuse to use her imagination, as a result, she did very well with regards to essay writing. She graduated and started working at home, she then returned to England. She was quite a solitary child, choosing to keep to her own company. She started writing after reading Jane Austen and watching adaptations on TV. At first, they were about herself but then she began to develop different characters and finally settled on contemporary fiction. She currently lives in Norfolk with her family.

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3_20 what-happens-in-betweenOne affair

One big mistake

One consequence

With everything to live for; a brilliant job and beautiful fiancée, Gregory’s pretty much got it made. When he develops a close friendship with his PA, Peter; secrets are exposed and hearts are broken, leaving Greg with a race against time to try and mend his already fragile family.


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The Background of City of Illusions by Judith Works – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Judith will be awarding a $25 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.

The Background of the Book

The physical background for City of Illusions is Rome; the emotional background is marriage – how it can become routine and what happens when one partner realizes that there can be more to life and makes an effort to change.

Laura is stifled. She works as a freelance editor, so bored with her existence she sometimes works in pajamas. Her weekends are reduced to a round of reading and watching movies, a life of an on-looker. Despite her desire for children, her husband Jake resists, and what had been an exciting relationship has become dulled by day-to-day concerns over the last seven years. In between editing she begins to follow blogs written by women who seem to have exciting lives. She decides to search for her own change of scene in the hopes that she and Jake can make a new start. And then she finds a one-year job in Rome. The plot unfolds as she and Jake are catapulted into a life that neither of them had prepared for. Laura alternates between love and hate but settles on love. Jake is a trailing spouse adrift in a world he doesn’t understand.

The story begins in Seattle but the action takes place in Rome, a city where I lived for ten years and where I return to visit regularly. Rome can be all things to all people: a city of chaos, a city of beauty, a city of religion, romance, food, art and architecture. And all of those elements feature in the story told through scenes set in restaurants, churches fountain-filled piazzas and villas.

Some of the events that occur are taken from my experiences like the food and wine, the scenery and the typical experience of expatriate living. Some of the scenes take place in one of my favorite restaurants in Rome, others describe apartments I have known, and another recounts a horrible luncheon I hosted. I still shudder to think of it. But the drama of the plot with both Laura’s and Jake’s entanglement with unsavory characters is from my reading intertwined with my imagination. One theme is antiquity theft, a huge problem in Italy. Just before I wrote these lines I read about a number of arrests and recovery of stolen items from Pompeii. Last week another arrest was made and the recovery of over $50 million worth of artefacts.

The epigraph of the book is taken from a 13th century painter. He said Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning. My characters find those words to be true.

A yearning for change puts Laura on the road to Rome but her marital problems, muted in cool Seattle, become magnified in the glare of the Roman sun. Will she find happiness in the Eternal City or are her dreams only an illusion?

Read an excerpt:

She recognized the inertia of their marriage had been roiled by the move to Italy, although it wasn’t in the manner she intended. Instead of coming closer, a centrifugal force had whirled them into seldom- intersecting elliptical orbits, hers energized, his wobbly. Whatever the difficulties of living in Rome were, she was becoming increasingly sure that she would find a more fulfilling life in Rome rather than Seattle. With or without Jake.

She turned back to her work, but the day passed slowly as she worried about him and her parents’ visit. As she expected, the evening wasn’t any better. Jake watched another inane spettacolo with bouncing babes on TV while they ate dinner. In an effort to appear as if married life was normal, after the dishes were done Laura said she was going to get ready for bed. Jake ignored the hint. She was washing her hands when she heard him come into the bathroom. She looked in the mirror to see his face hovering over her shoulder.

“It’s not what you think. I delivered stuff to a gallery for sale. We might even get a cut of the profits. It’s interesting to be a part of the action. I’ll be helping restore a few old artworks so others have a chance to enjoy them. Otherwise they would just rot in some moldy old church or castle. You should be proud of me instead of picking all the time.”

Laura tried a smile. Then she gave him the bad news. “Well, we’ve got a small problem: my mom and dad are coming in February for ten days. They expect the weather to be warm and that you will take them around the whole time.”

“Are you kidding? No way – I’m not a tour guide. What were you thinking to agree to this? We don’t have a car. And I’m busy. This is insane.”

He marched off to his spot in front of the television, leaving Laura holding the toothpaste, squeezed in the middle instead of from the bottom as she liked. She carefully rolled the tube, flattening the used portions.

About the Author:

Life was routine until the author decided to get a law degree. Then a chance meeting led her to run away to the Circus (Maximus) – actually to the United Nations office next door – where she worked as an attorney in the HR department and entered the world of expat life in Rome. The ten years of happy and sometimes fraught experiences are the subject of her memoir, Coins in the Fountain. She continues to travel, having visited over 100 countries in between many journeys to Italy where she always tosses a coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return to Rome. Judith and her husband now live near Seattle where she is working on her second novel.

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Writing Advice from Eileen Carr – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

Writing Advice from Eileen
Someone very dear to me once told me if you can’t be a shining example, be a terrible warning. In that spirit, here are ten lessons I’ve learned along the way in no particular order.

Lesson One: Write from your heart.

Not every book can be the Book of Your Heart, but every book can come from a real and authentic place inside you. That will show through in your writing, just as much as not writing from an authentic place will.

Lesson Two: Be a student of your work.

Writing is a craft. You can constantly improve. There’s always something more to learn. I’m currently enrolled in an MFA program in Creative Writing. It’s challenging and lots of work, but it’s also crazy fun. I still love reading craft books. I still love attending workshops. It’s rare that I don’t learn something. One of the abiding pleasures of being a writer is that there’s always something more to learn, always room to grow. I hope I’m still doing this when I’m eighty.

Lessons Three: Patience is a virtue.

The road to publication is long and arduous and fraught with heartbreak. If you don’t have the legs for it, you’re going to have a hard time finishing the race.

Lesson Four: Find your voice.

This is unbelievably important and unbelievably satisfying and it’s a matter of trial and error. It’s a little like pornography. You’ll know it when you see it on the page.

Lesson Five: Stay focused on your work, not your dreams.

I originally heard this one from Pat Warren. I know it sounds completely different from what everyone tells you. Dream big! Set goals! Aim high! I’ve met too many people who can talk all day about how they’re going to write a book and how it’s going to be great and then never set a word on paper. Don’t just dream about it, do it.

Lesson Six: Put yourself in a bubble and zip it up.

This one is from Roxanne St. Claire who told me she got it from Linda Lael Miller. No matter where you are on the ladder there will be people above you and people below you. Some of the people above would just as soon stamp on your fingers, but some of them will be reaching down a hand to help pull you up. Some of the people below wouldn’t think twice about leaving stiletto marks on your back as they walk over you, some will want to help buoy you up. No matter what, there are expectations and fears and people constantly sizing you up. You can’t let it get to you. People will say things to you and some of those things will be hurtful. I firmly believe that most of the people mean no harm. It’s important to self-protect anyway. So zip up that bubble.

This is important in another way, too. You need to do this with your writing as well. You will never please everyone. You need to write your story the way you want to write it (remember finding your voice?).

Lesson Seven: Never believe your own press.

This career is a roller coaster ride. You will have ups and downs. If you let yourself believe everything that’s said or written about you, you will lose your ever-loving mind. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid. In fact, it’s impossible, but you have to do it as much as possible.

Lesson Eight: Friends help you move. Good friends help you move your plot.

Surrounding yourself with other writers is a huge favor you can do yourself. They understand your weird twisted mind in ways that non-writers never will. They can help you when you’re stuck. They can inspire you when you’re down. They are sounding boards and reminders that you are not alone.

Lesson Nine: Don’t be too damn gentle with yourself.

I love the Desiderata. A copy of it hangs in my bedroom. It’s full of great life lessons, including: Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Well, don’t take that one too far. Don’t be afraid to criticize yourself constructively. I don’t mean to beat yourself up, but don’t be afraid to push yourself in new directions and to notice your failures and learn from them.

Lesson Ten: Enjoy the moment.

I have spent the majority of my career worried about the next step. I had to cut bangs in my hair because my forehead had wrinkled from constantly being creased. I’ve learned I have very little control over a lot of things. Worrying about what might go wrong doesn’t change anything.

When a Muslim high school student is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, her school counselor gets involved to clear her record in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel.

When Lily Simon finds cops in the lobby of the high school where she’s a guidance counselor, she’s not surprised: cops and adolescents go together like sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. But when the cops take Jamila, a Muslim student, into custody for a crime she didn’t commit, Lily’s high school becomes a powder keg.

Police think Jamila is responsible for a hit and run, and since she’s not talking, they have no choice but to keep her as the main suspect. And since the victim—a young soldier recently returned from Afghanistan—is lying unconscious in the hospital, the whole town is taking sides on whether or not Jamila’s arrest is religious persecution. Determined to find the truth, Lily teams up with a reporter to uncover what really happened the night of the hit and run.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Lily read Daniel Richardson’s article with a horrible sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. She brought up Facebook on her computer and started searching.

She found the “Jamila Is a Terrorist” Facebook page by following a fairly long line of comments among other students. Despite being incredibly computer savvy, it surprised Lily to see how few kids had much regard to their privacy online. Even the ones who had made their profiles private didn’t seem to realize that if they commented on a page that wasn’t private, someone could have limited access to their information.

She felt physically ill when she found the page. Scrolling through it made her feel even worse.

“Cast your vote! Which one of these Darby High students is the most likely to bomb the place to the ground?”

Lily’s stomach dropped when she saw the poll. At this moment, Lily wasn’t sure what horrified her the most. Was it the fact that someone had created a poll like that on Facebook? Or that so many of the kids at school had already voted on who they thought was most likely to commit an act of terrorism against the school. Two hundred and seventy-nine votes had already been cast.

Four of the five choices were Muslim students. Jamila, of course. Then Hakim Massoud, Abdul El-Sayed, and Fareed Bahri. The fifth choice was SpongeBob SquarePants.

SpongeBob was trailing by quite a few votes.
About the Author:

Eileen Carr was born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne.

Eileen’s alter ego, Eileen Rendahl, is the award-winning author of four Chick Lit novels and the Messenger series.

Website: www.EileenCarr.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/EileenRendahl

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My Turn: Achieving the American Dream by Jonathan Williams – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jonathan Williams will be awarding $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.

Silicon Valley is home to several large Technology and Pharmaceutical \ Biotech corporations. Chris moved to this area in early 2000. He has been handling data for prestigious companies for well over ten years. His work ethic and morals have kept him employed. During his tenure at a Fortune 100 company, he is offered a position at a small Biotech. It is not too long after taking this new position that he is promoted to Management. The IT Directory who Chris reports to gives him the choice of playing the corporate game or getting fired. Chris must either choose being ethical and getting fired or keeping his job by being unethical. After much thought, he realizes that honesty and integrity have kept him from achieving the American dream. Tired of living paycheck to paycheck he decides to play the corporate game. This decision will not only affect his professional life but his personal life as well.

Enjoy an excerpt:

From an early age, Chris understood that data was the key to everything. He didn’t need a 9/11 incident to tell him that certain systems needed to talk to each other. He also didn’t need a Wikileaks incident or an NSA leak to tell him that access to any kind of data must be reviewed with scrutiny.

About the Author: Jonathan Williams has worked in Information Technology for over twenty years. He has spent most of his career working in the Financial and Pharmaceutical \ Biotech sectors. He specializes in Database Management Systems.


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A Peek Inside Author Lauren Clark’s Office – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lauren will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A Peek inside Author Lauren Clark’s Office

I have a 70-year old cottage in a quiet Mobile, Ala. neighborhood; every room has wood floors and tall ceilings. The office, on the east side of the house, has built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves, three large windows, and gets lots of light.

My office necessities include photos of my children, my Macbook, and my 15 year-old desk and chair from Pier One. I often have my coffee nearby—it’s a daily staple! Today, I have some LaCroix water with lemon. I always keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas, and usually record them later on my Mac.

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My trusty bookcases haven’t buckled yet under the weight of books from my favorite authors—including Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Jodi Picoult, Stieg Larsson, and Alice Hoffman. The other shelves are filled with writing and reference books, as well as cookbooks, yearbooks, and photo albums.

My favorite writing reference or craft books are those by Stephen King (On Writing), James Scott Bell (Plot & Structure, Write Your Novel from the Middle), and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat is always fun.

If you’re setting up your own writing space, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be large, and you don’t need a massive oak roll-top desk or expensive framed prints to decorate the walls. Your “office”—whether it’s a closet, or a corner in the laundry room, or a space you share with your spouse—should reflect what you love and what makes you feel comfortable. Happy Writing!

I’d love to hear about your writing space and what makes it special. Or, if you prefer, ask me about my latest book, Pie Girls. xx, Lauren

12_16 Pie Girls CoverPrincess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s is thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Are you sure that the baby’s mine?”

I feel faint and the room starts to tilt and swim. “Whatever are you talking about?” I demand, doing my best to sound indignant. “Of course it’s ours.”

Alton turns his body to face mine. “I’m asking, because it’s impossible,” he explains.

My lips part. I try to form words. What is he trying to tell me?

“Searcy,” Alton leans closer. ” I had a vasectomy. Six months ago.”

“What?” I squeak. “How? When?”

“You were in California with Phillipa.”

My hands begin to quiver. I brace myself on the sofa.


Six. Months. Ago.

I feel sick. I want to throw up. Or launch myself out the window.

My husband’s gaze doesn’t waver. He’s serious.

“You see,” Alton continues gently. “The baby can’t be mine.”

I can’t speak or take a breath. All at once, I am furious. How dare he do this to me? Of all of the underhanded, rotten, selfish things to do to a wife. How could he take this away from me? From us?

Usually, I’m a calm, rational person. But without another thought, my right hand clenches into a fist. My fingers curl tight and the tips press into my palm. My arm bends at the elbow and I draw my body back, gathering momentum.

I take aim.

As my first jets through the air, cutting a path straight for my husband’s gorgeous face, everything screams to a slow-motion finish.

His face registers a mix of doubt, surprise, and then…in the last second…out-right terror.

I punch Alton square in the mouth.

About the Author: 12_16 pie AuthorPicLauren Clark writes contemporary Southern novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

She is the author of four award-winning novels, Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, and Pie Girls, as well as a short story, A Very Dixie Christmas, published in the Merry & Bright holiday collection. Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mobile Writers Guild. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.

Blog: www.laurenclarkbooks.com/blog
Twitter: @LaurenClark_Bks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauren-Clark/235315706518284
Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/laurenclarkbks/

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Tale of Treasures by H.F. Parkhurst – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a grand prize of a $50 BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour and a second winner will win a $25 BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A four hundred year quest for a mysterious lost treasure; bloodthirsty Pirates; plundering Conquistadors; noble Indians; and a sinister and secret religious Order are the tantalizing ingredients stirred together in the turbulent, steamy, and exotic Spanish Main, of yesterday and today.

To the rhythmic background of classic R&B soul music, Harry Carlton and his new love Helen are unexpectedly thrust into a violent encounter with ruthless and malevolent forces and a rogue’s gallery of dastardly villains. These two, near their fifties, are not kindly white-haired grandparents ready to sit sedately in rocking chairs. Instead, they confront danger with bravery, and battle dishonesty and injustice with valor. They discover a priceless, lost artifact treasure of the ancient Indians of South and Central America. In the struggle to return the treasure to its rightful owners, they must outwit the assortment of murderous villains, and stay alive.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Aye, Capt’n.” Nate demonstrated their devious attack plan with tankards and bowls from the table. “By the time them Spanish scum be figuring what to do, we be attacking from three directions, be raking their sails and rigging, and be a blasting their ships into submission.”

The Sea Dragon crew had gathered around the three captains, and peered on silent and expectant. Always thirsty, many hoisted tankards of ale as the discussion lengthened, and Captain Nate fought the sea battle on the tabletop.

Mary pointed to the bowl representing Alonso’s ship. “This be your chance to show the fancy Spaniard who be the better man, and grab ye a share of rich booty?”

Goode scratched his beard and his broad belly. He squinted and with an intent eye peered at the layout of tankards and bowls. First, he gazed with skepticism in one direction, then another. He reached for his tankard and took a long swallow. With a broad grin, he lifted his tankard. “We sail me hearties.”

“Hoorah!” yelled the boisterous crew. They swilled drinks and trooped for the docks and Sea Dragon. On the evening tide, the pirate ships raised anchors, hoisted sails, and raced like lethal sharks across a moonlit sea to Old Man’s Cove, a thirst for gold singing in their blood.

About the Author:

H.F. earned double finalist honors in 2011 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. Born and raised in the northeastern United States, he’s lived in the south, southwest, and mid-west of the US, as well as Asia, Australia, and Europe. A student of traditional Chinese martial arts for the last sixteen years, he practices daily. After forty years as a successful, international architectural interior designer of offices and hotels, he sought a new creative outlet.

In a turbulent time of global conflict, he seeks to be an ardent voice of reason speaking against illogic and the darkness of injustice, violence, and hatred pursued by the irrational and fanatic zealot faithful, worldwide.

An Objectivist, his novels reflect his commitment to logical thinking and the right of free people to rationally choose a destiny in their own best self-interests. He enjoys spinning outrageous tales based on his fertile imagination and real life experiences. Married, he lives with his wife in Florida. Currently projects are two novel series: an Epic Fantasy and an Action/Adventure. Also in the works are sci-fi novels and short stories.

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