Lessons I Learned from my Heroine by Dana Ford – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dana Ford will be awarding a $50 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.

Lessons I Learned from my Heroine

The main lesson that I learned from my heroine Constance, is that assumptions are not facts. It is important to follow our instincts and go down the paths of truth even though we may think we already have the answers. Also, there is always hope. Often times, people do not have the courage to pursue hope because they are not presented with the opportunity of reconciliation or forgiveness. We really don’t know what a person is thinking, unless we ask them and then listen – really listen. One thing that I truly love about Constance is that she never gives up. Her determination to not only uncover the truth, but to have truth impact others for their good, is admirable. I think she has used her natural curiosity for good; to help lift up other people and to give them second chances.

In this mystery fiction novel, Georgia Richards lost hope of ever seeing her husband again since he disappeared over a year ago. On a Saturday afternoon, she thought she saw him at a play; on stage at the Oaksdale Playhouse. But, Georgia didn’t have the courage to find out if it was really him. Constance McCauley was empathetic to Georgia’s faint of heart and decided to offer her investigation services to find the true identity of this mysterious man. Would Constance be able to track down Georgia’s estranged husband? If he was found, why had he been missing for over a year? As Constance pursued this case with a combination of faith and persistence, she witnessed the power of forgiveness unfold before her eyes.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Why weren’t there more lights backstage? I felt like a mouse in a maze. It was difficult to tell if the hanging costumes were people or if the shadows were hanging costumes. There he was! “Excuse me sir! Sir!” He turned around and caught my eye. I managed to hold his gaze for a moment. He was nervous, almost frightened. His eyes a deep brown, he seemed to want to say something, but instead he fell into the low lighting and disappeared. I picked up my pace to try and catch him. “Wait!” I briskly walked and then ran past racks and racks of costumes and odd set design items like furniture, tall plants, and a fake standing bear.

“Wait! Please, I want to talk to you!” The backstage door swung open and blinding light flooded me where I stood, and hindered my view. He was gone. I quickly looked to the left and then to the right and no one was there. I looked to the left again and then began to run along the backside of the theatre. I slowed down, because I realized that he was in fact gone. Why would anyone run from a perfect stranger unless they had something to hide or something to lose? Turning around, I walked back towards the backstage door. I again waded through the racks of hanging costumes and walking shadows of actors and busy people. Why would he run? I found myself back in my seat.

About the Author: Dana Ford has enjoyed writing stories since she can remember. She has penned several books and has found a new love in writing mystery fiction. Her favorite hobbies besides writing is watching old movies, volunteering in her community, and spending precious moments with her family.


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The Good Spy Dies Twice by Mark Hosack – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mark will be awarding a $30 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 Good Spy Dies Twice,” the cryptic final words from a condemned death row inmate draw Jake Boxer, the one-time king of cable news, out of retirement, setting him on a collision course with a deadly global conspiracy involving his secretive wife, a depraved New World Order, and the “guests” at a posh Alaskan ski resort. Everyone is a suspect. Part spy thriller, part whodunit, “The Good Spy Dies Twice” is the first book in Mark Hosack’s explosive new thriller series, Bullseye. Called “an undeniably spry and rousing espionage tale” by Kirkus Reviews.

Enjoy an Excerpt


He heard it…he finally heard it!

Well, he thought he’d heard it. He couldn’t be sure. His head was still ringing from a massive—and quite unexpected—electrical shock.

One minute Brody had been climbing an old chain-link fence that encircled the mountain—listening intently through his headphones—the next he was flailing backward, thrown by an electrical jolt that had struck like lightning.

Only it wasn’t lightning.

The shock had most definitely come from that fence.

Brody had landed flat on his back on the frozen earth, and the impact had knocked the wind out of him.

Now gasping, he sucked on the cold Russian air, his body desperate for oxygen, but his mind racing for something else.

The sound he’d heard while climbing the fence—the one that had practically vibrated the headphones right off his head—that hum…it was real! And it was right there on his—

Audio recorder.

Oh, shit.

Where was it? His recorder?

His headphones were still on his head, but his audio recorder had bounced out of its satchel. It had been a short fall, just ten feet or so. It couldn’t have gone far, and so long as it wasn’t damaged…

His heart sank into his guts.

What if it was broken? After traveling thousands of miles to Russia? After stealing away from his sleeping fiancée in the dead of the night and driving for nearly twenty-four hours, nonstop? After sneaking into an abandoned Soviet-era military installation?

About the Author:Mark Hosack is the author of THE GOOD SPY DIES TWICE (Book 1: The Bullseye Series), and IDENTITY (Simon & Schuster). He also wrote on the web series SEQUESTERED for Sony Crackle, the screenplay for GIVE ‘EM HELL, MALONE (Thomas Jane, Ving Rhames), and he both wrote and directed the award winning independent film PALE BLUE MOON. Mark lives in Los Angeles with his wife and a brood of gremlins that insist on calling him Dad.

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Character Creation and Setting by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens 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.

Character Creation and Setting
SALLY AND JEAN write mysteries. That’s what we do for a living. For fun, we watch movies and television and read books by other authors, oh, and travel—we love to travel. So we find ourselves carried away vicariously to great places we’ve visited ourselves, places we’ve seen in movies or read about, or places we’ve fabricated out of a clear blue sky (or the murkiness of our minds)—places full of great characters pieced together with bits of people we know, bits of people we’ve barely met, and of course bits of people with traits we make up.

DIGBY SLOAN? We saw him in a movie once—we’re sure you all remember the manly yet sweet countenance of Heath Ledger—and then we thought of what traits a good Aussie man would have: smarts, strength, honesty, loyalty (to friends and family), ethics, and—OMG, can’t forget—humor, lots and lots of humor.

And since there’s nothing to hamstring a hero quite like being a fish out of water, we picked up our hero and flew him to London, catching him in the middle between society’s titled well-heeled lords and ladies and always suspicious and stick-to-business-please police force.

And then we gave him a sidekick to bounce things off, a sidekick who’s every bit as useless as Wilson from Cast Away and as fun as Ron Weasley.

LONDON? Well, why not choose a location for our first Digby Sloan Mystery every bit as cosmopolitan, diverse, and steeped in tradition as London? The place is an awesome, yet confusing combination of old ways and new ways, a perfect location for a traditional art museum, and a great place for us to populate with a delicious cast of colorful characters. London, its architecture, traffic, cuisine, and unpredictable weather are as much an element of Kangaroo Dreaming as Digby himself.

Digby Sloan, Aussie private eye, loves his mum, and is loyal as a Queensland Heeler. Now he’s in London handcuffed to a kangaroo.

Kangaroo Dreaming, a valuable aboriginal totem, must make it safely to a London museum for exhibition, and Digby is the one in charge. But within hours of his arrival, the roo is stolen and the curator is murdered.

His bosses blame Digby for the theft and insist he stay to help London Metropolitan recover Kangaroo Dreaming. That’s all well and good, except the lead cop keeps getting in Digby’s way. The case puts everyone in peril, including Digby Sloan, who might not make it back alive to the Land Down Under to find out if he even still has a job.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Collins handed Sharkfella a couple of lethal- looking darts. “There you go, little Aussie.”

Sharkfela took them and looked at them a long time. He shook his head. “Better if you go first, Sydney.”

“Nah.” I waved him away. “Give her a shot. I’ll go later.”

He squinted and looked at the target. “All right.”

Collins moved over by the board, put his hands on his hips, and turned to face the target. “All right, Sharkfella, let’s see what you gents from Down Under can do. Let her fly.”

Sharkfella aimed, aimed again, then let her fly he did.

The dart sailed straight, fast and sure—right into one of the fleshy cheeks of Collins’s enormous bum, where it stuck, quivering.

Collins shrieked and grabbed at the mini missile impaling his backside.

Sharkfella’s eyes were huge. A look of pained disbelief spread across his face, the same look I figured was on mine.

“Oops,” Sharkfella said. There was genuine regret in his voice, but that didn’t make it any more of an understatement. “Sorry.”

Collins rounded. His big face was all scrunched up and red as Ayers Rock. “You meant to do that, you scraggy little wanker. I’m gonna freaking kill you.”

About the Authors:

Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

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It Hurts So Good by Anna Willett – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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It Hurts so Good
Almost everyone can write, but writing something good is the hard part. So assuming one has the knowledge, knowhow and skill to actually put something good on the page, all that’s left is the myriad of other challenges writing a novel presents.

For some, the hardest part is starting. Facing the blank page and trying to focus a maelstrom of ideas into an attention grabbing first chapter is far from easy. Putting aside the self-doubt and stepping into the unknown takes courage. While for others, finishing a novel is the challenge. Putting in the time and effort necessary to wrangle a ninety thousand word beast into submission can be an overwhelming task. Or some might say creating believable characters that readers are willing to invest in their time and money in, is the stumbling block.

Then there’s those pesky parts we all hate. For me, it’s writing the synopsis. What could be worse than trying to condense ninety or a hundred thousand words into one page? It’s enough to send me screaming from the room or wincing with agony. Whittling a novel down to say five hundred words is like squeezing all the joy and beauty out of the text.

The plain truth is, they’re all right. Everything about writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and bleed”. Even for a giant of the literary world like Hemingway, writing was painful. Tearing the scab off long buried emotions and pouring your heart onto the page is not for the faint-hearted. Some days, sitting down and plugging away, one agonising word at a time is a writer’s lot.

But with all that said, the question then becomes, why do it? If it’s so hard, painful even, why write? For me, the answer is simple. I write because I love everything about it, even the pain. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating something out of nothing that’s incomparable. The thrill of building characters and situations born of one’s imagination that then take on a life of their own. There is nothing quite like listening to readers discuss people and situations from your novel, as if they’re real.

The other irresistible lure of writing comes from the days not when you’re bleeding, but when everything’s flowing. The words and ideas come thick and fast. Your fingers are flying over the keyboard and you’re a million miles away from the mundane. In On Writing, Stephen King wrote, “I did it (writing) for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it for ever”. A great deal of joy comes from being fortunate enough to spend your time dreaming up outrageous or terrifying situations and then putting them down on paper. Then sending those pages out for others to read and hopefully enjoy. It’s the best job in the world.

So, what’s the hardest thing about writing? The answer is everything. What’s the best thing about writing? Everything. Strange but true. It’s okay to experience the pain of writing. To sit down at the keyboard and bleed is fine – normal even, as long as there is also joy. Because if you aren’t feeling the joy, it’s going to show in the work. If you didn’t enjoy writing your novel, why would anyone enjoy reading it?

For Milly Birdsworth and Her sister Judith, a two day trip in an isolated area of the National Park seems like an ideal way to mend their tattered relationship. With Milly’s best friend Harper along for moral support and experienced hiker Lucas as their guide, it seems nothing can go wrong.

But when everyone has something to hide, it’s difficult to know who to trust. What starts out as an adventure to bring two sisters together quickly becomes a terrifying ordeal where old wounds are exposed and a deadly tragedy is brought to light. One thing is clear, someone is seeking retribution and won’t stop until the guilty are punished.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Milly reached for her hand under the sleeping bag. It felt icy. “Anything could be happening. We don’t know it was Harper screaming.” There was so much she wanted to say. So many things she needed to tell her, but now wasn’t the time.

“What’s that?” Judith jumped and squeezed her hand tight enough to cut off the circulation. “In the trees, I… I thought I heard something.”

Milly followed her sister’s gaze. Three metres beyond the fire lay only blackness. It was impossible to see anything, human or animal. Suddenly Milly wondered if the fire was a good idea. If there was someone out there, the light would make the two women clearly visible to anyone watching. They’d be easy targets. Targets for what? Her mind raced in a dozen half-formed directions, all of them ominous. She shuddered and leaned against her sister.

“I don’t hear anything,” Milly whispered. “Maybe it’s an animal. A kangaroo or something.”

About the Author:Anna Willett is the author of Backwoods Ripper and Retribution Ridge. Raised in Western Australia Anna developed a love for fiction at an early age and began writing short stories in high school. Drawn to dark tales, Anna enjoys writing thrillers with strong female characters. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her husband and two children.

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Casket Girl by Maggie Mae Gallagher – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Godess Fish Promotions. Maggie  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.

All he wants is to find a killer…

FBI Special Agent Josh Blake has seen some bizarre cases in his day. His latest case is one for the record books. He has multiple homicides, corpses drained of every ounce of blood, and no suspects. When rumors surface that the French Quarter may be hiding an insidious monster bent on drenching the streets in dead bodies, he must suspend logic and place his trust in the mystical.

She wants a fresh start…

Isabelle Toussánt left her family home in the bayou five year ago, cutting all ties with her abusive whiskey swilling stepfather, to forge a new life in the French Quarter. Now a successful business owner of Madam Toussánt’s Mystical Gifts in Jackson Square, and a Seer with voodoo roots. The foundation of her new life shatters when one of her employee’s winds up dead and she is dragged into a deadly game where she becomes the target of a serial killer.

A passion neither expected…

Determined to stop the brutal slayings, Josh must rely on the beautiful Isabelle who makes him question everything he has ever known about life and death all while surrendering to a desire hotter than a Bayou night. When Isabelle disappears without a trace, with tourists flocking to the party capital for Halloween, and the body count continues to mount, Josh will be forced to push beyond the boundaries of what he thinks is possible and rescue the woman he loves before it’s too late.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Miss Toussánt.” Captain Tremayne addressed her above the din and chaos.

She swung around, her long dark hair, the silky wave of it, shimmering and rippling as she faced the captain. Josh took one look at Miss Isabelle Toussánt and felt like a thoroughbred had just kicked him in the stomach.

She was exotic, with caramel skin and looking taut and lean in her formfitting tank that displayed delicate arms. He sucked in a sharp breath when she glanced at the captain. Cat eyes. The mahogany color reminded Josh of his chestnut mare as a child, Daisy. They were framed by black brows. One of them was currently raised in his direction as she spoke to the captain.

“Yes, Captain Tremayne? Can I interest you in a cup of coffee?” Her voice reminded him of a shot of smooth, single malt whiskey.

“Miss Toussánt, this is Agent Josh Blake with the FBI. He has some questions, if you’re up for them.”

A wounded shadow passed through her magnetic eyes for a moment before she shifted her gaze toward him. The unabridged effect of her stare was electric and compelling, until he found himself immersed in her eyes. Unexpected lust zinged along his spine, not that he would give in to the temptation she presented, but his body resonated with the siren’s call her body echoed.

“Agent, can I interest you in some coffee?” She held up a glass carafe of steaming brew, already half empty.

“Not right now, Miss Toussánt. Thank you for the offer, though,” he murmured gently but firmly. It smelled like heaven, but he didn’t want to coddle her. She needed to understand he was in charge and would dig into her background no matter how sweetly her hips swished as she walked.

“Please call me Isabelle,” she offered with a slight smile, but it didn’t spread to her eyes. No amount of coffee or alcohol would erase the vision of death. He knew what that first time was like, though, the horror of it, the way it twisted your insides. Seeing for the first time how fragile life truly was made you face your own mortality. And, more important, you began to understand that some individuals just wanted to watch the world burn.

“Is there somewhere we can talk privately?” he asked, assessing her response, both verbal and non-verbal, ignoring the intense desire churning in his gut as he studied her. If there was one thing Miss Toussánt was, it was off-limits. It didn’t matter how long it had been since he’d done the horizontal tango. If there was one thing he was strictly by the book on, it was that he never blurred the lines in a case. The evidence either convicted a person or set them free. As it was, she was a witness to a horrific murder, possibly more.

There was something off about her that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. The way her eyes darted nervously around, and she kept wetting her pouty bottom lip. It could be signs of trauma and shock from discovering the body, or it could be she was hiding something. Perhaps she’d witnessed the incident and feared the killer would come back for her if he knew.

“Certainly, follow me.” Isabelle returned the carafe to the coffeemaker, wiped her palms along her skirt and nodded toward a doorway in the far corner.

He would have followed her into hell if it meant listening to her sultry voice some more and siphoning whatever information she had on this case.

About the Author:Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

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Don’t miss these exciting titles by Maggie Mae Gallagher!

The Mystic Series

The Cantati Chronicles


And if you like your romance with a bit of spice and kink be sure to check out Maggie Mae Gallagher writing as Anya Summers!

The Dungeon Fantasy Club Series

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Gone But Not Missed by A.R. Kennedy – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Lillian Brannon wakes up on Valentine’s Day in an exact replica of her bedroom but the only item that she believes is authentic is her dog, Laude. She is held captive in her kidnapper’s basement apartment, summoned upstairs once a week for a chaste dinner. But will his kindness last, and more importantly, why isn’t anyone looking for her?

Lillian’s story is interwoven with that of Nathan, a NYPD officer, who is intrigued by Lillian’s disappearance- how can a young woman be gone for two weeks before a Missing Person Report is filed? Local police believe Lillian has voluntarily abandoned a life she didn’t like. Lillian’s best friend convinces Nathan the authorities are wrong. With no jurisdiction, no resources, and no witnesses, he is compelled by the pictures of Lillian with her sweet smile and sparkling green eyes to obsessively take up the case. Armed with Lillian’s keys and personal information, he spends hours, then days in her home trying to find clues that will lead him to her.

Enjoy an Excerpt:


I woke with a terrible headache. The pounding reminded me of the night Annie and I discovered the potency and, the next morning, the after effects of martinis. The smile that thought brought to my face quickly faded when the throbbing intensified.

I feared opening my eyes. Not sure if that would make my head hurt worse and scared what I would see. I tried to recall my evening. I didn’t remember going to bed. Truth was, I didn’t remember coming home.

No. I remembered getting on the elevator. And, arguing on the phone with Annie, before getting on the elevator. And hanging up on Annie as I got on the elevator. But that was it. No getting into my apartment; no getting into my bed. I was trying to remember more when I remembered the most important thing, Laude.

I gradually opened my eyes and there she was. Sitting right next to me, staring at me. Her ears, which usually stood straight up, were down. Her head was down, too. Not exactly cowering but not the usual morning, happy to see you posture of my puppy. It was a bit disconcerting to see those two dark eyes fixed on me, never mind not knowing how long they had been staring at me.

About the Author:This A R Kennedy’s debut series.

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A Minor Deception by Nupur Tustin – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nupur will be awarding a a free print copy of the book (Open to US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist, Bartó Daboczi, the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso.

But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job.

Before long Haydn’s search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt:

Did Barto leave of his own accord, or was he . . . ?

Haydn began to pace the floor, needing the rhythm of movement to clear his head. He was aware of his brother’s eyes following him as he walked to and fro, head bent, hands clasped behind his back. He stopped at last.

“There are some minor details that make Rosalie’s supposition entirely plausible. Bartó’s constant fear that he was being spied upon. His suspicion of his colleagues. Of Lorenzo, in particular. And the little I picked up from Maria Anna last night about his extreme dread. Of what exactly, I know not. I can only suppose he was making some clandestine plan. To desert his post, perhaps. It is entirely in breach of his contract, so it would have to be clandestine.”

“As to Lorenzo.” Haydn paused, making an effort to collect his thoughts. “This cannot be the first time that Bartó, instead of being in the Rehearsal Room leading the orchestra, is elsewhere. Yet, Lorenzo seems absolutely certain Bartó has left. Never to return.”

Haydn dragged his hand through his wig, unwilling to follow his train of conjecture any further. “Bartó seems to possess a peculiar talent for rubbing people the wrong way. But I am afraid, the animosity he and Lorenzo have for each other could…” He hoped his brother would understand. He could not bring himself to name his fears.

Johann regarded him for an uncomfortable moment. “It was but yesterday that the Estates Director promised dire consequences unless you dismissed Bartó,” he quietly reminded the Kapellmeister. “It would be as plausible to suspect he had some hand in Bartó’s disappearance.”

About the Author: A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

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Winter Blogfest: June Summers


This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a
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A Christmas Poem
My Christmas focus now will be
On what makes life so grand,
And hopefully you all will see
How living on this land
Is God’s great gift to all of us,
To cherish and adore.
For in our hearts and hands He trusts
Its safety evermore.
Just take a look around and see
The wonders to behold,
Your friends and your dear family-
They’re worth much more than gold:
A mother’s tears of pride and joy,
No words can e’er express,
A love none ever can destroy,
Her newborn at her breast.
As children to adults they grow,
So proud of them are we.
Our faces happy and aglow
To see their destiny:
A graduation, wedding day,
Success in their careers.
And happiness for them we pray
Throughout their coming years.
Let’s not forget the wisdom learned
From those who’ve gone before,
For with their knowledge and concern
There’s more world to explore.
We won’t forget our dear grandpa,
Or father, friend now gone.
They taught us well, the rules, the law;
They’re our top echelon.
And we could never do without
Our pets that we hold dear,
For animals, there is no doubt
Bring us great joy and cheer.
They listen to our every word
As we unload our cares.
No back-talk from their mouths is heard;
They look at us and stare.
But in that stare they comfort us.
They do not judge our ways.
Accepting what we say in trust-
Their look their love conveys.
We cannot let a day go by
Without a special prayer
To soldiers who we so rely,
Our country’s in their care.
They risk their lives for us each day;
They are a special lot.
May God protect them on their way.
They give all that they’ve got.
Now let us look around our land
At other miracles:
The mountains, oceans, hills, and sand,
To God we do extol;
The beauty of a setting sun,
What joy to us it brings;
The rising moon when day is done.
God’s gifts are all these things;
A peaceful night beneath the sky,
Or walking in the rain;
A Christmas day with apple pie,
Or strolling down a lane
With fragrance of a new mowed lawn
Adrift in open air;
Or fishing in a sparkling pond
Without a single care;
The changing seasons, winter’s snow,
So crisp and cold at night;
The summer heat as soft winds blow,
The sun so warm and bright;
The colored leaves of autumn trees
As coolness fills the air;
And springtime with the birds and bees,
And flowers everywhere.
So this year Christmas is a time
To let our anger go.
And as the distant church bells chime,
Let love and patience grow.
Let’s try to live in harmony
With both our friend and foe.
Remember Jesus is the key.
He is the King, you know.
His birthday is a sacred time
For us to celebrate.
And Christmas cheer to yours from mine.
Let peace to you await.

Were they prank telephone calls in the middle of the night, or was it a desperate cry for help? The calls eventually force Ken Driscoll, a young accountant, to examine what was important in his life. His job? His relationship with his fiancée? Or the life of the boy at the end of the telephone line? Let Freedom Ring deals with two very different lives and their unique intersection in time. Because of a quirky twist of fate, Avery Archer, an eleven-year-old boy, telephones Ken and pleads for help in escaping from his kidnappers. Ken thinks that the boy is playing a sick prank on him, but after several phone calls, Ken truly believes the boy is in danger. When Ken contacts the local police for assistance, he learns that Avery Archer had been abducted sixty-seven years ago and eaten by alligators in a nearby lake.

About the Author: We were a mother and daughter team, collaborating on the writing of this manuscript. June is a mature lady of seventy-six living in rural Orange County, Florida, with her second daughter and family, four dogs, fifteen chickens, five Nigerian Dwarf goats, a horse named Pearl, and 50,000 Italian honey bees. Graduating summa cum laude from Youngstown State University (when it was still Youngstown College), she was an art teacher for several years and now is a part-time staff accountant for a CPA firm, working primarily from home. Wendelin Saunders, June’s daughter, passed away from cancer in 2009. She was a graduate of Illinois Benedictine College with a major in mathematics. She worked for several years at Disney’s Epcot. Before her death she and June ran an animal shelter in their home, which included the forever home for forty dogs, twenty-two cats, and four rabbits.

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Winter Blogfest: A.K. Smith


This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book version of the new release, A Deep Thing, by A. K. Smith..

10 Ways to Get In the Holiday Spirit
By A.K. Smith, debut author of A Deep Thing (12-19-2016)

Every year, without fail, Christmas and New Year come barreling in at the speed of light. It’s inevitable, we know the date–it never changes–and thanks to retailers across the world, we know it’s coming before the kids start putting on their Halloween costumes. If this is true, why does the “I can’t believe it’s Christmas ALREADY syndrome” happen to me every year? Life happens. NO matter what is looming ahead of us on the calendar, daily routines, and appointments keep piling up. Before we can think about wrapping the presents, we realize, the holiday is already here and whizzing by. Here are ten ways to slow down, enjoy it, and get in the holiday mood.

1. Plan. On December 1st. Get out the calendar, schedule in one hour every day to do something in preparation for the holidays. Write it on your phone, your computer or your paper calendar. When that hour comes, think Holiday.

2. Play holiday music starting December 1st (during your planned hour would be awesome), 25 days of music will get you in the spirit. Pandora, Amazon Music, Spotify all have free Christmas playlists!

3. Watch holiday movies at night or in your spare time. My favorites in case you need suggestions: The Holiday, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Serendipity, Love Actually, 12 dates of Christmas. I also love the Hallmark Channel movies and record them.

4. Decorate your home. Find/buy or borrow a tree, hang ornaments on it (size does not matter when it comes to trees, look at Charlie Brown’s tree). Hang up a few lights around your home or bedroom, light a candle, and at night twinkling lights will bring the holiday spirit inside your home.

5. Attend a Holiday service. Whatever your religion, try a holiday service at a local church, synagogue or temple. The message is all the same: peace, love and remembrance.

6. Get cold. If you live near snow, try something wintery, sledding, ice skating, snowman building. If you don’t, find out what event is having fake snow near you. (I live in Phoenix, and the local shopping area has fake snow!)

7. Go Caroling. When’s the last time you tried this? If you haven’t, round up the family, friends or, join a group. The spirit of holiday songs will make you alive.

8. Start a tradition with yourself, your partner or your family. It’s as easy as a special meal, watching a certain movie, or playing a game. Simple is best, repeat it every year.

9. Think of a few special people that may be spending the holiday sick or alone and would enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas card. Spend 15 minutes of your hour to write them a meaningful note the old-fashioned way. Snail Mail and the written word are very special.

10. Light a fire, make a hot beverage (hot chocolate, hot tea or hot toddy,) up to you if you put something in it and grab a good book. Need an idea? Try out my Christmas week release, A Deep Thing, and be taken away to an island, beach and a mysterious jungle to warm up.

What was her husband hiding in the jungles of Mexico?

Rocked by her husband’s tragic death, Kendall Jackson strives to put her life back together. But Ryder, her nineteen-year-old stepson, is bitter and wants nothing to do with her. And she can’t keep the grief at bay. Sometimes, it’s so strong, she wonders if life is worth living.

A call from a cave diver in Mexico gives her hope of mending the relationship with her stepson. Before his death, her husband arranged a diving expedition as a birthday gift for his son. Kendall persuades Ryder to honor his father’s last wish.

From the campus of Western Maryland College to the woods of Camp David and the caves of the Yucatán, Kendall and Ryder take a journey to discover what her husband worked so hard to hide, and to protect his treasured secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The choices they make will decide their fate and the future of others. Will they risk everything for the truth?

About the Author: Mexico has a special place in her heart; it’s where she escaped after walking out on Corporate America and where she fell in love on a sailboat. She is a graduate of Shippensburg University (BA) and has a Master of Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A.K. has written for various national and international publications and blogs including Flight Network, Examiner.com and has been a monthly travel columnist for Rocky Point Times Newspaper for the last six years. Published in various print publications including two cover features in Mexico Living Magazine she continues to trek the world to experience off-the-beaten-road destinations.

A.K. loves seeing the world; Her goal is to step foot on every continent on Planet Earth (maybe even the moon)—she’s slowly getting there. She treasures her family, friends, and kindness.

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Winter Blogfest: Peggy Chambers


This post is part of Long and Short’s Review Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Secrets of Sandhill Island..

BaaBa’s Snickerdoodles

Mistletoe hung over the front door – fresh from the woods where my grandfather hunted. He found it high in the trees and brought it down with one crack shot; then bundled it for the house, with plans for Christmas kisses.

In the living room stood the fragrant evergreen with silver icicles draping from bough to fragile balls frosted with spray-on-snow from years gone by. My grandfather’s baritone voice sang carols by the wood burning stove as the tea kettle on top spewed steam to moisturize the air.

The kitchen smelled of cinnamon, oranges, and pine. In the tiny house in northeast Arkansas the kitchen was always the hub of the family gathering. My grandmother baked her famous Snickerdoodles – moist in the middle and crisp on the outside. The coffee pot perked on the antique stove for the adults, a bent and scalded pan heated hot chocolate for the kids. Sometimes she had cinnamon sticks to stir the chocolate – never marshmallows. I don’t know why.

BaaBa’s Snickerdoodles
Mix together:
1 Cup soft shortening
2 eggs
Sift together and stir in:
2 ¾ Cups sifted flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
½ tsp salt

Chill at least two hours (overnight is better). Roll into balls the size of a small walnut (black walnuts, English walnuts don’t grow in Arkansas). Roll in a mixture of 2 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly brown but still soft (8 – 10 minutes) in 400-degree oven.

My grandparent’s home was a haven of love and security especially at the holidays. What they lacked in material goods they made up for in family love and hospitality. Family was everything and all were welcome. Merry Christmas wasn’t just a phrase – they meant it for everyone.

Wishing you the joy at Christmas my family felt. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and those you love.

On a tiny island in a ramshackle beach house, Meg, an heiress, is hiding from her family’s dubious past. Her true love, Evan, died thirty years ago in a storm at sea, she thought. Did her father really have her lover killed and if so does everyone on the island know about it but Meg?

Alex must try to befriend Meg’s son Jon if he is ever to win Meg over. And with his past problems with women, he wonders why he even tries. After all, he is just a starving artist and has little to offer her.

Now that Alex has warmed her heart again, Meg realizes she has friends and a life outside her vegetable garden. But, who is blackmailing her?

About the Author: Peggy Chambers calls Enid, Oklahoma home. She has been writing for several years and is an award winning, twice published author, always working on another. She spends her days working in an office and her nights and weekends making up stories. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives with her husband and dog. She attended Phillips University, the University of Central Oklahoma and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the Enid Writers’ Club, Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., Oklahoma Women Bloggers and Ozark Writers’ League. There is always another story weaving itself around in her brain trying to come out. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

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