Sick Like That by Norman Green – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Norman will be awarding an digital copy of Sick Like That to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

PI Marty Stiles was shot and paralyzed and is now in rehab, trying to decide whether to fight to recover. Meanwhile, his agency is being run by two women: the street-smart and savvy Alessandra Martillo, who’s the muscle, and Sarah Waters, a naïve, single mom, new to the job but who quickly becomes the brains. Though the two women grew up only a few miles from each other in Brooklyn, it might as well have been worlds apart. Now they’re partners, and for all their differences, are committed to their joint venture. When Sarah’s deadbeat ex-husband gets into trouble, Al would rather let him suffer, but she agrees to help Sarah figure out where he is and why another man has ended up dead.

This follow-up to The Last Gig features a tough and edgy, one-of-a-kind heroine—an entirely fresh take on the hardboiled women private investigators who dominate so many crime fiction classics.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Alessandra Martillo did not like Marty Stiles, she thought he was a pig, but if so he was a pig with many useful skills and she had learned a lot from him. In short, she owed him, and she hated that, which was why she sat on the hard plastic seat of a southbound A train that was headed for Coney Island where Stiles slumped motionless in a wheelchair and waited for death.

Death, it seemed, was taking her own sweet time.

Please, his sister had begged, tears in her eyes. Please . . . I flew all the way up here from Valdosta, he won’t even look at me, he won’t even press the call button for the nurse when he makes a mess in his . . .

Oh, Jesus, Al told her, uncomfortable under the weight of obligation. I ain’t trying to hear about that.

Please, oh God please, I’ll pay you what ever you charge, please just go talk to him, I can afford it . . .

All right all right all right, Al told her, not too graciously, but she knew it was something she needed to do. I’ll go. I’ve got business this afternoon, but I’ll get down there after I’m finished. About nine- ish.

Thank you, thank you, the sister told her, sick with gratitude. I’ll call ahead, I’ll make sure they let you see him, they won’t care if it’s late, I’ll make sure . . . How much do I owe you?

Don’t worry about it, Al told her.

Christ.

And they got hospitals all over town, Al thought, but no, they have to send Marty’s fat sorry ass to some rehab all the way down in Coney Island, God ever decides to give Brooklyn an enema, here’s where the bone goes in . . .

About the Author: Norman Green is the author of six crime novels, most recently Sick Like That. Born in Massachusetts, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife.

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Deception by Samuel Jay – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Samuel Jay will be awarding a signed copy of Deception to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lieutenant Jack Morro has just days to go before being sent home from the war in Vietnam. But after inadvertently learning of evidence of a conspiracy involving his captain, he is hit by the captain’s ‘friendly fire’ in the midst of battle. He is left for dead but is only wounded, captured by the Viet Cong, and imprisoned. When Jack is reported killed in action, his fiancé, Diane – a rising New York journalist – plunges into alcoholism. A media giant named Vidal helps her recover, and Diane falls in love with him. But Vidal has secrets – including a connection to Jack’s supposed ‘death.’

However, Jack is alive, and after a year of imprisonment, he manages to escape. But he comes home to find Diane married to Vidal and his life still in peril from the information he learned in Vietnam.

Vidal, Jack, and Diane find themselves wrapped in a web of romance, deceit, and danger – and none of them will escape unscathed.

Read an Excerpt:

Manhattan, November 1971

Standing in the men’s department at Macy’s, Diane Gannon smiled as she enthusiastically fingered her way through layers of folded sweaters to find one for her fiancé, Jack, who’d soon be coming home from the war in Vietnam. Alongside her was future mother-in-law, Grace Morro, also smiling as she held a shopping bag in both hands. Out in the center aisle, heel-clicking women shoppers marched along on their way to Ladies’, some of them peeling off near Diane and Grace into other rows and racks of men’s clothes. Brightening the scene, broad paths of sunlight flowed through the large windows on Seventh Avenue, revealing rows of appealing merchandise as saleswomen stood behind glass counters, chatting with customers or placing clothes in gift boxes.

Diane stood in low heels, wearing a brown suede jacket over a white sweater and black slacks, her dark, reddish hair pulled back in a ponytail, her sculptured face of fair skin and striking eyes heightened by a cleft in her chin. Holding up a light blue sweater by its shoulders, she looked over at Grace and said, “What do you think, Mom? Wouldn’t this look great on Jack?”

Wearing a gray overcoat open down the middle, Grace nodded. “Yes, it would. It really would, but I can’t stop feeling nervous about him. Him still over there. Won’t stop ’til he’s home. Two years of worrying. Sorry, hon.”

Diane lowered the sweater and arched her eyebrows at Grace. “Thirty-five more days and all our worries will be gone! He’ll be home just before Christmas!”

Grace nodded. “Meantime, he’s still over there, in the fighting.”

About the Author: The author and his wife, Joan, live in Hunterdon County, NJ. As a public relations professional he and his firm successfully handled major public issue campaigns, including raising $68 million to build Liberty Science Center, now the nation’s fourth largest hands-on science museum. He is also president of a family-owned water utility. Deception is his third novel.

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Drama Luau by Joe Cosentino – Character Interview

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino with an interview with Noah Oliver from the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance series, Drama Luau. 

Welcome, Noah Oliver. Thank you for chatting with us today about the fourth novel in your popular Nicky and Noah mystery series.

Thank you for letting me out of the books for a while. It feels good to stretch out. 

Does Joe Cosentino tell you and Nicky everything to say.

We tell Joe everything to write. He has a soft spot in his head for us.

Before Joe became a college professor/department head and novelist, he was an actor working in film, television, and theatre opposite stars like Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Bruce Willis, Charles Keating, Jason Robards, and Holland Taylor. If there is a TV series version of the Nicky and Noah novels someday, who do you see playing you?

Liam Hemsworth. He fits my description perfectly. Though Nicky says I’m cuter.

Who would play Nicky?

Joe Manganiello. Though Nicky is cuter.

Is he as well-endowed as Nicky?

You’ll have to ask Sophia Vergara.

How about your parents, Bonnie and Scott Oliver?

Rosie O’Donnell and Nathan Lane. Joe worked with them, so hopefully he has an in.

Do you think the novels would make a good TV series?

The best! Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make your offers to Joe (who by the way never stops telling Nicky and me how much he wants to play Martin Anderson our department head)!

Why did Joe write a gay cozy mystery/comedy/romance series?

The Nicky and Noah mysteries are the kind of books he likes reading: funny, theatrical, sexy, wild, and wacky with a solid mystery full of plot twists and turns at its center—and a surprise ending! There aren’t a whole lot of books like that out there if I do say so myself. The ending in book four is especially shocking! 

For anyone who hasn’t read them (and they should!), tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.

Our mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. The clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Nicky (Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza) and me (Assistant Professor of Acting). In the first novel, Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015), college theatre professors are falling like stage curtains (while Nicky directs the college play production), and Nicky and I must figure out whodunit and why. In the second book, Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Nicky is directing the college’s bodybuilding competition, and bodybuilding students and professors are dropping like barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which Joe and his spouse also did). Nicky and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring other college theatre professors including me. Complicating matters are our both sets of parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. In each book Nicky and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book. 

Have your mysteries been well received so far?

They like us! They really like us! Reviewers called the books hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. One reviewer wrote it was the funniest book she had ever read. Who am I to argue?

Since Joe is a college theatre professor/department head, is Martin Anderson in the series based on Joe’s life?

Joe’s faculty colleagues kid him that if anybody at the college ticks him off, he’ll kill him/her in the series? Hah. Don’t believe it. Joe likes his colleagues and students too much to murder them in his books. Almost as much as he likes Nicky and me. Martin Anderson, our department head, is based on Joe though. He’s a loyal, hardworking department head and professor who fully supports his faculty colleagues, office assistant, and the students in his department. Like Joe, Martin is also a little bit, well quite a bit, of a gossip. His spouse, Ruben, is based Joe’s spouse. Joe’s knowledge of theatre is also very evident in the series. The other characters came from Joe’s head. That’s probably why we’re so entertaining.

Why did you like being in Hawaii for the fourth novel?

They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. The white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians were amazing. Nicky and I marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing. Of course we also went to the luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis (no pun intended), flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano. It was a blast working with them on the show and getting to know them. That is until they were murdered one by one. 

Tell us about the storyline in Drama Luau. But no spoilers please!

In Drama Luau Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort. He and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In addition to the sexy hula dancers, we meet a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife who give new meaning to the term family values, and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar. Nicky and I have the time of our lives solving this one, and also find our relationship in for quite a change.

And your and Nicky’s parents make a brief appearance in book four.

They’re absolutely hilarious. Nicky’s mama and papa are pretty outspoken on just about everything. I love my mother’s fixation with taking pictures of everything, and my father’s fascination with seeing movies. I also love how my dad is an amateur sleuth like Nicky. As they say, men marry their fathers. Also, both sets of our parents accept their son’s spouse as part of their family. Kudos to them. 

Who is your favorite character in Drama Luau?

Nicky of course! He’s smart, handsome, strong, affection, and my partner for life. I love how he cares so much about everyone, and tries so hard to solve the mysteries. Our favorite new character in book four is Mark Iona, the Maui Mist Resort waiter who desperately wants to become a hula dancer in the luau show. I also like his secret crush on hunky island detective John Nohea. 

Martin and Ruben are an older couple in love. You don’t see that very often in modern literature.

I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward Nicky and me, sense of theatricality, and his inquiring mind. I also like how Ruben keeps Martin in line. Finally, it’s wonderful to see how Martin and Ruben can read each other like a book—no pun intended. I hope Nicky and I grow up to be just like them. 

Which character do you like the least in book four?

The hotel owner and his state senator wife are quite vocal about their religious freedom, in their case meaning their right to discriminate against gay people. Religious freedom means you are free to practice whatever religion you like, not take away someone else’s civil rights. But as is always the case in the Nicky and Noah series, everything is not always what it seems, and Mano and Joanna Kapena offer lots of humor and surprises. 

Tell us about Joe’s Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.

Nicky and I aren’t in them, but they’re still really good. Joe created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.

Joe’s Dreamspinner Press novellas (An Infatuation—Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were so well received, the first two winning a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?

I’d ask them to give Nicky and me a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about asparagus omelets (now one of my favorite foods), “Just try it, you may like it.” 

And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?

Nicky and I aren’t in that series either! NineStar Press published Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. Joe spent his summers as a kid on the Jersey Shore, so it’s a special place for him. The first novel was a Favorite Book of the Month on The TBR Pile site and won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. I love the intertwining stories so full of surprises. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island. Maybe Nicky and I will check in there one day. 

How can your readers get their hands on Drama Luau, and how can they contact you?

The purchase links for Drama Luau are below, as are Joe’s contact links, including his web site. Joe loves to hear from readers. You can get to Nicky and me through him! 

Thank you, Noah, for sharing with us today.

It is our joy and pleasure to share my stories with you. So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau!

DRAMA LUAU (a Nicky and Noah mystery)

a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO

Theater professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers—before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!

Praise for DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, Contemporary Novel of 2015):

“This fast-paced, hilariously funny, entertaining novel will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out who-dun-it!” Joyfully Jay

Praise for DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention):

“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino’s writing is absolutely flawless. He’s a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle’s highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine

Praise for DRAMA CRUISE, the third Nicky and Noah mystery by Joe Cosentino from Lethe Press:

Joe Cosentino does it again with Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery. I loved the humor, drama, and theater work inside. Plus, the romance and murder investigation keep readers turning the pages. Absolutely, must read this latest book in the series.” Urban Book Reviews

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt of Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino

The olive-skinned, barefooted muscular men wore loincloths (malo), coconut necklaces, shell bracelets and anklets, and flower (lei) head garlands. With the powerful emerald mountain behind them, the dancers (‘olapa) aerobically executed hand signs, knee sways, and foot stomps toward the turquoise sea (makai), as their deep, full voices chanted to the goddess of the ocean (Namakaokahai). The lead dancer (alakai) and the dance captain (kumu) moved front and center executing their tree in the breeze hand gestures. The dancer helper (kokua) made gestures to the ocean waves behind them.

“Stop!”

The ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and bass accompaniment ended. The dancers slouched and looked toward the rows of tables and chairs facing them.

“Kimu, stand further upstage.”

“Nicky, they don’t know what upstage and downstage mean.”

“Thanks, Noah. Kimu, stand behind the other dancers, so Kal and Ak are the focus of the dance.”

That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, an Edwardian style private college in the quaint state of Vermont. My husband and the love of my life, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, Noah Oliver, is by my side, right where I like him. Why am I directing a luau show at the Maui Mist Resort in Hawaii? Our honeymoon in Maui was a gift from our parents. But when the customers of my parents’ bakery in Kansas became glucose intolerant, and the clientele of Noah’s parents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin found themselves lactose intolerant, Noah and I were left tolerating the bill. So my department head and his husband hit the internet and found this luau show directing job, which came with free airfare, hotel, and food for two. Enticed by the gorgeous tropical location and the gorgeous luau dancers, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management at Treemeadow College, and Ruben Markinson, director of one of the top gay rights organizations in the country, decided to tag along and keep us out of trouble. Since Martin and Ruben are our best friends, that was more than fine with Noah and me.

Since you can’t see us, I am thirty-six, tall, with dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, cleft chin and long sideburns. Thanks to the gym at Treemeadow College (named after Tree and Meadow, the gay couple who founded it), I am pretty muscular. One minor thing. Actually, it’s pretty major. I have a nine and-a-quarter by two-inch penis, which causes Noah to tell everyone we are “going clubbing” when we have sex.

Noah is handsome with wavy blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, porcelain skin, and hotter and sweeter buns than any found in my dad’s bakery. Martin is short, thin, and bald. As an incredible gossip, he resembles an alien looking for a good piece of news to bring back to his home planet. Ruben is tall, thin, distinguished-looking, with salt and pepper hair and two large eyes watching over Martin. Though Ruben would never admit it, like his husband, Ruben revels in the dish too.

I said to the dancers, “The opening (ho’i) number will be fine. Let’s move on.”

Whereas the first dance was an introduction to the dancers, the second number, in honor of the creation gods (Kane and Lono), is a sensual dance, where the muscular dancers get to flex, grunt, and gyrate.

Sitting next to me at the front table opposite the stage, Noah rested a hand on my knee. “Did my character work with the dancers pay off?”

I nodded. “They all seem like characters to me.”

Noah squeezed my hand as the five dancers came on stage, now wearing grass skirts. Kal (short for Kalani), at twenty-five, is tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, the leader of the pack, and he knows it. Ak (Akamu), at thirty-five, was once the stallion of the troupe, but a receded hairline and wrinkles had transformed Ak to dance captain. As leaders, Kal and Ak take focus in the dance numbers, either dancing downstage center or up center on the platform in the shape of a volcano. Pretty ironic since Kal and Ak are ex-lovers and ex-friends.

Current lovers Keanu (dancer helper), at medium height with a growing paunch, and Ahe, young, small, and cute as a button, took their places midstage and looked at each other adoringly.

Finally, Kimu, at medium height with a bull dog face and protruding belly, stood farthest upstage. The only straight member of the troupe, Kimu, said, “Are you girls ready to dance?”

Keanu left his lover, Ahe, and approached Kimu. “What a surprise, Kimu. Liquor on your breath.”

Leader Kal added, “Yeah, Kimu, during the last number you were wavering more than the palm trees near the stage fan.”

Kimu answered, “Hey Kal, is it true that you gave Keanu a pity lei?”

These guys are worse than the divas I work with in the theatre. “Can we please start the number?”

About the Author: Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau; In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015! Coming next: Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.

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The Devil Orders Takeout by Bill A. Brier – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author is awarding a randomly drawn commenter a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A tax attorney with integrity…a powerful mobster determined to bend his will…

Grayson Bolt isn’t about to compromise his integrity to help a notorious crime boss escape the cross-hairs of the IRS. But there’s a steep price to pay for defying The Man–Grayson’s beloved wife and older son.

There’s only one way for Grayson to prevent his younger son, Jim, an innocent golf prodigy, from also being taken out: play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And what will Jim be forced to do when the woman he loves gets ensnarled in a web of betrayal and deceit?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“I’m afraid you’re going to get it hard, Mr. Bolt.” Costanzo had that fatherly tone of this will hurt me more than you. “Did you ever stop to think that there’s only one way of being dead, but many ways of dying?”

Grayson felt something cold touch his spine, all the way down. “I don’t follow.”

“Take your man Stockard. He killed two of your beloved family members, wife and eldest son. Isn’t that right?”

A strangling tightness gripped Grayson’s throat. “That— that’s right.”

“Wouldn’t you say a part of you died too?”

“What’s your point?” Grayson’s voice erupted in suppressed panic.

“You don’t have to die to feel dead. I’m going to kill your other son. That’ll be your punishment.”

The blood drained from Grayson’s face. Just like that. Most people held the basic principle that no man should be punished for the deed of another. Costanzo was not one of them. Grayson would be cut right to the bone, and his son would be the sharpest knife Costanzo could use. Costanzo had spelled out the thought in invisible brushstrokes. It was there and Grayson had tried not to see it.

About the Author:Bill grew up in California and went to Hollywood High School, then served in the Air Force as a combat cameraman.

After hiring on at Disney Studios as a film loader, he soon advanced and moved on to other film studios.

He earned a master’s degree in psychology. A big help when working with Trumpish Hollywood producers. You’re fired!

During his more than twenty-five years in the movie business as a cameraman, film editor, and general manager, Bill worked on everything from the hilarious, The Love Bug, to the creepy, The Exorcist, to the far out, Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica.

Eight years ago, Bill switched from reading scripts to writing thriller/mysteries and driving racecars. After completing three award-winning novels, he signed with Black Opal Books. His first novel, The Devil Orders Takeout, is about a devoted father and husband who makes a deal with a real-life devil to protect his golf-prodigy son after his wife and older son are killed in a mysterious accident — and pays hell for it.

Bill’s second mystery, The Killer Who Hated Soup, is Book One in the 1950s The Killer Who series, and it launches this Summer. The Internet? Never heard of it. Smart phones? Who you kiddin’?

Energetic and eager to make his mark on what Time magazine called the next great boom town, Bucky Ontario leaves his daddy and little sister in Louisiana and rides a bus to Defiance, Oklahoma, a town not particularly adverse to murders, just the embarrassment of them when committed by high officials.

Book Two, The Killer who Wasn’t There, will be on bookshelves this fall.

Bill writes every day and golfs infrequently (that damn right knee!). His five children and eight grandchildren keep him busy going to birthday parties, and he never misses a one!

The Brier Patch is Bill’s wildly entertaining blog about his shameless early days in Hollywood. It’s on his website along with a contest linked to The Devil Orders Takeout, which will award the grand prizewinner $1,000.

Bill is a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Bill’s USA Today revealing interview

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How To Handle Negative Criticism by Loulou Harrington – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $50 Etsy GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How To Handle Negative Criticism
Hi there, everybody, I’m Loulou Harrington, and I want to thank Long and Short Reviews so much for hosting me today to celebrate the release of Happy Homicides 5: The Purrr-fect Crime. This is the first anthology I’ve been a part of, and the experience has been completely amazing.

I don’t normally write short fiction, but when I was invited to be part of an anthology of short mysteries that featured cats and was being released for Mother’s Day, I waved my hand in the air and yelled “Yes!” figuratively, of course. Then I had to figure out how to squash a book-length mystery idea down to fit and add a cat I don’t have in my current series. But that part turned out to be a breeze—a breeze and a challenge that I have enjoyed tremendously. And I now have the beginning of a new, second series that has two cats and is a spin-off of my first cozy mystery series.

Then just as I was taking a deep breath of relief and patting myself on the back, I realized we were doing a blog tour! My panic was short lived, however, because I almost immediately saw “How to Handle Negative Criticism” as a suggested topic for this post, and my hand went up again as I yelled “Yes!”

After years of writer’s critique groups (for whom I am eternally grateful) and dealing with a multitude of editors and proofreaders, I have learned to take criticism, good or bad, and make it my own. Learning from criticism is essential to a writer.

Sure, everyone wants to hear, “I loved your book, and I couldn’t put it down.” Personally, that’s my favorite response. And, as a writer, I need to know what I’m doing right. I need to know which characters you love, what relationships you want to know more about, what made you laugh, and what made you hungry (there’s a tearoom in my Myrtle Grove Garden Club series where murders are frequently discussed while brunch is being served.) I started adding recipes to the back of my books when readers kept saying how they could smell the food while they were reading.

But let’s be honest—it’s not the things we do right that we learn from the most. It’s the mistakes we make, the corners we shouldn’t have cut, and the “oops” we didn’t catch. And no matter how hard we try, there will always be the very nice lady who gave me a low rating because she really enjoyed my book but was disappointed because my heroine Jesse didn’t get together with the local sheriff by the end of the book. I know you can’t please everybody, but it’s a mystery, not a romance! And she said she liked it!

Then other people (critique group, brother-in-law of all people—go figure) admitted they were also getting impatient. So now I’m picking up the pace on Jesse and the sheriff. I’m also trying to work in more background on my characters even though I’m several books into the series and didn’t I already mention this in another book? I’m remembering to include the tearoom atmosphere and aromas because apparently people like feeling hungry. I’m striving to keep a balance between the people and the mystery (for me the mystery comes first, but for some of my readers, they want it all.)

And the negative criticism? I try not to think of it as negative. I listen to it. I analyze it. I try to find the kernel of truth in it, and I make tweaks to future books to give that one reader just a little more of what they felt was missing. I know you can’t please everyone all the time. But I write for my readers, and I care what they say. And when a reader leaves a review, whether it’s praise or criticism, I am grateful for it.

But the real payoff is that reader who shares her heart. The most wonderful critique I ever got was from a woman who said that it was the friendship between my characters that she liked the most. She explained that she was getting older and most of her friends were gone now. When she was feeling lonely, she thought of the laughter they had shared, but what she missed most were the hugs. When she read my book, she said she felt like she was with her friends again.

I can’t tell you what a review like that means to a writer except to say that it’s why we write. So, if I get the occasional reader who wants less about the people and more just plain mystery, I’m really sorry, but it’s not going to happen. My cozies will stay cozy, because there are people who need the hugs as well as the mystery, and I listen to my readers. All of them.

The purr-fect way to meet your new favorite author! This collection of traditional mysteries will be like catnip for feline-friendly readers. It’s paw-sitively the best Mother’s Day gift ever. Plus, you can email us to get a FREE Bonus File with recipes and holiday craft ideas. You’ll enjoy stories by these bestselling and award-winning authors: Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, David Bishop, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to www.HappyHomicides.com

Enjoy an Excerpt from THE NAMING OF CATS: A Rosalie Hart Mystery by Wendy Sand Eckel

Editor’s Note: The quaint little town of Cardigan on Maryland’s Eastern Shore seemed like the perfect spot for Rosalie Hart to open the Day Lily Café. A flat stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is home to crusty watermen, dug-in farmers, and people who are fiercely proud to call it home. Rosalie has enough on her plate running the restaurant. But when her Maine Coon uncovers a mystery, the cat has been let out of the bag.

“Your cat is up to something,” Tyler said as he walked into my kitchen. I set a steaming cup of coffee next to him and watched as he scrubbed his hands under the faucet.

“I think Sweeney Todd is happy to be outside.” I lifted my coffee mug and blew over the surface to cool it. “This is the first day it hasn’t rained in over a week.”

He dried his hands and turned to face me. “Thanks for the joe.”

Tyler Wells leased the farmland of my new home, Barclay Meadow. It wasn’t really my choice to move here. Three years ago, when my dear Aunt Charlotte bequeathed me this two-hundred-year-old house and the vast land surrounding it, I was happily immersed in my married life in Chevy Chase. But all that changed when my husband of over twenty years pronounced his love for a much younger and blonder version of me.

The sun streamed through the windows, warming the honey wood floors. Tyler and I had fallen into the habit of sharing a cup of coffee every morning before we started our days. I checked the clock. I would be leaving soon to go to the restaurant I recently opened, the Day Lily Café, currently serving breakfast and lunch five days a week in the sleepy little town of Cardigan.

Tyler brushed his sandy blond hair off his forehead. “Sweeney is digging pretty close to the vegetable gardens. You might want to stop him.”

“I’m on it.” I set my coffee down and headed outside.

My shoes squeaked on the grass as I rounded the house. A dense mist rose from the Cardigan River at the end of the sloping lawn. It was a beautiful spring morning on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

I spotted Sweeney by an old Sycamore tree. Its trunk was gnarled and twisted looking like something out of Sleepy Hollow. He was digging furiously at the ground with his front paws.

My adopted Maine Coon cat was originally named Sweetie Pie. But on the first day I brought him home, he slaughtered four goldfinches in under an hour. That’s when Tyler suggested the name change. At the precise moment I started to disagree, Sweeney dropped a fifth lifeless bird on my peep-toe pump.

I knelt down next to him. He had dug so deep almost all nineteen pounds of him were immersed in the hole.

“Hey, what are you . . .” He swiped one paw with a particularly vigorous motion and a clump of dirt launched onto my black skirt. “Sweeney, for goodness sake.” He stopped digging and let out a long, guttural mmrrrow. He pushed back out of the hole and eyed me intently. My stomach tightened with dread. “What have you found, baby?”

About the Authors: Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime authors include Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to www.HappyHomicides.com or visit us at Facebook. To read a free sample, get your copy of Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart here

Joanna Campbell Slan: RT Reviews has called Joanna Campbell Slan “one of mystery’s rising stars,” and it’s easy to see why. She’s the award-winning and national bestselling author of three mystery series. Her first series, the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery series, was an Agatha Award Finalist, and features ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein. Previous to writing fiction, Joanna penned seven scrapbooking technique books and wrote for Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, and PaperKuts. She has taught scrapbooking online, on cruises, and in Europe, as well as here in the US.

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Linda Gordon Hengerer: Linda was a football widow during her first marriage, and she wrote American Football Basics (original title Football Basics) because she thought more women would enjoy football if they understood it. She is also interested in food and wine, and has written an easy guide to food and wine pairings.

New Jersey native turned Florida resident, Linda moved to Vero Beach in 1996. She writes the Beach Tea Shop Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in an area suspiciously like Vero Beach.

Amazon Author Page
LouLou Harrington: Writer, traveler, and nature enthusiast Loulou Harrington is the author of the Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery series. Originally a native of northwest Arkansas, Loulou now resides in the Tulsa area and spends frequent weekends wandering among the lakes and foothills of northeastern Oklahoma, the setting of her cozy series and an area she hopes her readers will enjoy as much as she does.

Beginning her career as a romance novelist, she published nine contemporary romances with Harlequin, writing as Ada Steward, before succumbing to the lure of her first love: the mystery novel.

First discovering Nancy Drew as a child and continuing with Miss Marple and Travis McGee as an adult, Loulou learned to appreciate the puzzle and suspense of the mystery combined with the familiar characters and settings of the recurring series. So while she still believes that into each life a little romance should fall, she has come to the opinion that it should trip over at least one dead body along the way.

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Neil Plakcy: Neil Plakcy is the author of the Mahu Investigations, mysteries which take place in Hawaii. They are: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice, Mahu Blood, Mahu Men, Zero Break, Natural Predators and Children of Noah.

His M/M romance novels are GayLife.com, Mi Amor, Love on Site, Love on the Web, Love on Stage, Love on the Pitch, and the Have Body, Will Guard series: Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, Dancing with the Tide, Teach Me Tonight, Olives for the Stranger, The Noblest Vengeance and Finding Freddie Venus.

He has also written the golden retriever mysteries In Dog We Trust, The Kingdom of Dog, Dog Helps Those, Dog Bless You, Whom Dog Hath Joined and Dog Have Mercy.

He is co-editor of Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog (Alyson Books, 2006) and editor of many gay erotica anthologies. A journalist, book reviewer and college professor, he is also a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.

Mahu Books
Teresa Trent: Teresa Trent writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee but with her father in the military, didn’t stay for long. She’s lived all over, but likes to call three states her favorite homes. Colorado, Illinois and of course, Texas. Being a fan of the Andy Griffith Show and Murder She Wrote she loves creating quirky small towns and colorful characters. She decided to feature a character with Down syndrome in the Pecan Bayou series because after giving birth to her own son with DS, she discovered there were very few people like him in the world of cozy mysteries. If you’re wondering which book to start with in the Pecan Bayou Series, start with #1 A Dash of Murder. Many of Teresa’s mysteries occur before or during a holiday and A Dash of Murder is her Halloween book.

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Terry Ambrose: Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed.

A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.

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Amy Vansant: Amy specializes in fun, comedic reads about accident prone, easily distracted women with questionable taste in men. So, autobiographies, mostly.

Amy is the former East Coast Editor of SURFER Magazine but the urge to drive up and down the coast interviewing surfers has long since left her. Currently, she is a nerd and Labradoodle mommy who works at home with her goofy husband.

She loves interacting with fans when the dog isn’t laying on top of her, so stop by her blog or Twitter and say hi!

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Randy Rawls: I’m Randy Rawls, author of mysteries and thrillers. I grew up in northeastern North Carolina, then did a career in the Army. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and have tried to incorporate what I learned from the best into my writing. While I live in South Florida, my heart resides in Texas. I’d love to hear from you at RandyRawls@att.net.

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Christina Freeburn: Reading has been a part of Christina’s life since she can remember and soon developed into a love of writing.

Read about her writing process, her hobbies, and the heroines she believes are a self-rescue princess at her blog The Self-Rescue Princess.

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Wendy Sand Eckel: Degrees in criminology and social work, followed by years of clinical practice, helped WENDY SAND ECKEL explore her fascination with how relationships impact motivation, desire, and inhibition. Combined with her passion for words and meaning, writing mystery is a dream realized. She lives in Maryland where she enjoys family and friends, two cats, and living near the Chesapeake Bay.

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Karen Cantwell: Karen’s novel, Take the Monkeys and Run was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (under the original title of Monkeys in My Trees)and has gone on to be a Kindle bestseller on Amazon. She has written three more books in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series: Citizen Insane, Silenced by the Yams, and Saturday Night Cleaver.

When she’s not writing, Karen loves gardening and spending time with her family. She is currently working on the release of Keep Me Ghosted, the first book in the new Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance Series, as well as beginning the draft of Kiss Me, Tate, part of the upcoming Barbara Marr spin-off, Love in Rustic Woods Series.

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THE BOOK IS ON SALE FOR $0.99 DURING THE TOUR

The authors are supplying a bonus gift for readers. They can receive it by sending an email to HH4Bonus@joannaslan.com

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A Step Beyond by John Molik – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. John Molik will be awarding a $10 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.

Dr. Brigitte Sheen, an ambitious scientist, and her colleague develop a gene therapy system to extend human life spans. Money owed by a Chinese investment conglomerate for bearer bonds taken from the shadow government known as the Horsemen never gets paid—but for good reason. The Chinese want the anti-aging system, but so do the Horsemen. In a fierce battle of East versus West, the future of mankind is at stake. Pursued by a crazed super soldier with enhanced physical abilities, Dr. Sheen, with help from her husband, Jeremy Hughes, Nikita Patel, and others, must overcome dark intentions of unseen powers… But are those intentions really that evil?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Brigitte had a look of wonder and astonishment. It was as if all the world stretched before her like the open palm of her hand.

Again, they silently gazed at each other for a reaction.

Brigitte spoke first. “Look, I know how this might sound…” She looked at Gerald for assurance. “But we’ve decided that the treatments, the anti-aging system, will be offered at a reasonable and affordable price so that the largest amount of people possible can benefit from it.” She paused for effect, then looked at the webcam. “We’re looking at two thousand dollars for the initial epigenetic therapies, with an additional five to seven hundred dollars per year for the maintenance, which is my piece of the puzzle and contains the mRNA anti-glycoxidation boosters.”

Gerald nodded his head in a spastic manner. His thick neck flapped in and out like Jabba the Hutt scarfing down chicken nuggets. “Yes, yes. This is our mission, Mr. Faber. Like my esteemed partner here, I would have it no other way.” He took a quick look at Brigitte, and with straight faces they both nodded in confirmation.

Ken, the astute lawyer, thought for a moment and got up from his desk. He stood, placing both hands on the desk. Peering straight down into his MacBook Air’s webcam, he sighed and then said, “That’s all well and good, guys. Honestly, I think your intentions are admirable, to say the least, but”—he paused—“and it’s a big ‘but’, not as big as, say, Kim Kardashian’s, but it’s a big ‘but’ nonetheless.” He looked up. “Like I said, there will be some real heinous opportunists that are going to be coming at this thing like leviathans afloat. So, I’d watch your backs if I were you.”

Gerald gulped while Brigitte nodded.

“Look,” replied Brigitte. “I think you know that I am quite capable of defending myself.”

Ken waggled his eyebrows. “You got that right.”

“And, well, I’m just saying that as long as we can maintain tight control of TSS, and thoroughly vet each and every one of our potential investors, then I see no reason why we can’t get these therapies out to everyone at the best possible price. In fact, I see TSS actually lowering its prices as new and
improved methodologies come into place.”

“And competition,” reminded Ken, “but, until there is another fundamental breakthrough, any me too systems will need to pay you royalties. That patent is good for twenty years.”

Brigitte smiled. “I have a feeling that both you and Roger will be quite busy in the next few years assisting us getting our baby off the ground.”

Ken nodded. “I look forward to it.” He paused and smiled. “Today marks history. The beginning of an entirely new way of thinking about our lives, our futures and on what we can accomplish.” He hesitated. “The legal issues and eventual opportunists, some with spurious agendas, well, these challenges will not take away the magic that is this moment, for you two, and for the rest of the world.”

He picked up his MacBook and brought it up to eye level. “Congratulations, guys! Now, go make us all live to a hundred!”

“Two hundred,” replied Brigitte in an unblinking stare.

About the Author: John grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and has worked in numerous corporate finance and project management positions in the consumer electronics and IT industries. In 1990, he took an extended backpacking trip of the South Pacific before attending graduate school. He met his future wife in New Zealand, and they were married in 1991. They settled in Laguna Niguel, California. In 2003, John and his family (now with two kids in tow) relocated to Christchurch, New Zealand.

John’s interest in writing began when he was a student at UC Davis and worked as a feature writer for the California Aggie newspaper. Possessing the desire to write again and with a goal on his bucket list to eventually try his hand at thriller novels, he took the plunge and began writing his first novel, The Fiduciary Delusion, in 2014.

John’s interests also include science, existential philosophy, health, and both Western and Eastern holistic medicine. John also plays guitar, piano, sings, and writes music. In addition, a self-confessed “gym rat,” John can be regularly found lifting weights, trudging up hills, sea kayaking, and getting out and about enjoying the beautiful wild outdoors.

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Rik’s by dhtreichler – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author 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 entire affair began with sheep brains and falafel — Saddam Hussein’s favorite dish.

It is 1990 and in Baghdad two lovers are separated by the impending First Gulf War. CIA operative Rik Bogart is desperately seeking television correspondent Ingrid Johannson — but is instead picked up by Saddam’s Secret Police and thrown into Abu Graib — the Prison of the Dead. Ten years later, he must make a fateful decision after finally reuniting with her — one that may keep them apart forever. How far would YOU go for your true love?

This iheart-pounding thriller is written by a former international defense contractor who brings incredible realism and thrilling insights into the days leading up to Saddam’s brutal regime downfall and provides a chilling account of life inside the infamous Prison of the Dead.

“It’s as much a love story as it is a runaway thriller.” Midwest Book Review

Enjoy an Excerpt

Baghdad, 1989 — The Eve of Saddam’s Invasion of Kuwait

The waiter appeared within seconds and poured the glass of water for Tariq.

“Do you study the desert, Rik?” he asked as soon as we were seated.

“I try to learn its lessons.”

“Then you know sands shift quickly, often for no apparent reason.”

“It seems there is usually a wind somewhere.”

Tariq seemed genuinely delighted. “Ah! You not only observe but seek to understand why.”

I answered, “It’s one of my gravest faults,” as Tariq took a sip of water.

Looking at me as if trying to judge me, Tariq finally responded, “There is much about the desert one cannot fathom. Trying to understand everything is fruitless.”

I finally had a glimmer of where he wanted this to go. “But you seem to understand more than most, Tariq. Perhaps for the right price you can enlighten me?”

Tariq seemed to consider a series of memories. “We have indeed exchanged many valuable things over the years,” he observed.

“How valuable is this one?” I inquired.

He motioned to the waiter, who arrived instantly. “Lamb kebobs and falafel.” Tariq motioned so the waiter knew he ordered for both of us. When the waiter disappeared inside, Tariq answered, “I understand you are not a connoisseur of sheep brains.”

“Hasn’t made my list of favorite foods yet,” I responded.

He nodded his happiness that he had another piece of information about me correct and could display it for me.

About the Author: As a defense contractor, award-winning screenwriter and novelist, dhtreichler has wandered the world, visiting garden spots and more. Having lived and worked with our intelligence agents and soldiers, witnessing the conflicts and the turmoil of recent decades, he paints vivid backdrops for his stories. Like him, the men and women he portrays attempt to make sense of our fast-changing world. He has held a lifelong interest in the profound influence of rapidly changing technology on our lives and relationships. Exploring that power (what has changed and what might come) forms an insightful theme of his novels. His stories also reflect the universal desires and fears of real people everywhere.

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Remnants by Carolyn Arnold – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carolyn Arnold will be awarding a paperback copy of Violated by Carolyn Arnold to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops.

FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher and his team are called to Savannah, Georgia, when body parts belonging to three separate victims are recovered from the Little Ogeechee River. As the case takes one dark turn after another, Brandon finds himself embroiled in a creepy psychological nightmare.

Enjoy an Excerpt

PERIMETER MALL, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 11:30 AM EASTERN

THE TIME HAD COME TO select his next victim. He had to choose carefully and perfectly—he wouldn’t get a second chance. The mall was teeming with life, and that made for a lot of eyeballs, a lot of potential witnesses. But he supposed it also helped him be more inconspicuous. People were hustling through the shopping center, interested solely in their own agendas. They wouldn’t be paying him—or what he was doing—much attention.

He was standing at the edge of the food court next to the hallway leading to the restrooms eating a gyro. The lidded and oversized garbage bin on wheels that was behind him would ensure that anyone who did notice him would just think he was a mall janitor on his lunch break.

The pitchy voice of a girl about eight hit his ears. “Daddy, I want ice cream.”

Trailing not far behind her were a man and woman holding hands. The woman was fit and blond, but his attention was on the man beside her. He was in his twenties, easily six feet tall with a solid, athletic build. He’d be strong and put up a fight. Yes, this was the one. And talk about ideal placement—he was across from the Dairy Queen.

He wiped his palms on his coveralls and took a few deep breaths. What he was about to do wasn’t because of who he was, but rather, because he had to do it.

And he had to hurry. The family was coming toward him.

“It’s almost lunchtime,” the woman said, letting go of the man’s hand.

“Daaaaaaddyyyyy.” A whiny petition.

The man looked to the woman with a smile that showcased his white teeth. “We could have ice cream for lunch?”

The little girl began to bounce. “Yeah!”

“Really, Eric?” The woman wasn’t as impressed as the girl, but under the man’s gaze she caved and smiled. “All right, but just today…”

“Thank you, Mommy!” The girl wrapped her arms around the woman’s legs but quickly let go, prancing ahead of her parents and toward the DQ counter.

“Brianna, we wash our hands first.” The woman glanced at him as she walked by and offered a reserved smile. Had she detected his interest in them?

Breathe. She thinks you work here, remember?

Smile back.

Remain calm.

Look away and act uninterested.

About the AuthorCAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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Drama Muscle, the audiobook by Joe Cosentino – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Joe Cosentino as he celebrates the recent audiobook release of Drama Muscle, book two in the Nicky and Noah series. Post a comment about why you like listening to audiobooks. The one that tickles our funny bone the most will win an audiobook of Drama Queen, the first Nicky and Noah comedy mystery, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Michael Gilboe, published by Lethe Press.

DRAMA MUSCLE, the second Nicky and Noah mystery, now an audiobook
by Joe Cosentino and performed by Chip Hurley

When a novel sells well and it’s time for an audiobook version, the author feels like a parent leaving a child at the first day of school. You are entrusting your “baby” (that took you nine months to produce) to a total stranger. The author offers instructions (and lots of prayers) while the performer records the novel. When the process is completed, you hold your breath while listening to each chapter for any notes to the narrator. After any corrections are made, the audiobook is submitted and hits the market. Again, the author wrings his/her hands waiting for reviews and sales information.

I have been incredibly lucky to have only worked with the best audiobook performers in the business. Award-winning Joel Leslie performed my The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, A Home for the Holidays, and the upcoming In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press). Talented actress Charissa Clark Howe narrated my Paper Doll and the upcoming Porcelain Doll, Jana Lane mysteries (The Wild Rose Press). The versatile Michael Gilboe did my Drama Queen, first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press). In each case I was incredibly satisfied with how well those performers brought my words to life.

So when it came time to search for someone to perform/produce the audiobook version of Drama Muscle, the second Nicky and Noah mystery, I searched until I found Chip Hurley. What impressed me about Chip’s clips from his audiobook work was his crisp diction, warm and sexy voice, spot on comic timing, creative character voices, and crystal clear connection to the Nicky and Noah style of humor. So I contacted Chip and asked him to do the audiobook, and I was thrilled when he said yes. Next, I gave Chip a character biography for each character, and we discussed the humor, mystery, and relationships in the series. Then Chip went to work on his state of the art equipment to record and edit the audiobook. When he sent me the audio files for approval, I was overjoyed. Don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself. Chip does an amazing job bringing out the sweetness, comedy, mystery, and romance in the novel. It’s laugh out loud funny. His character voices are spot on, and his timing is perfect. And I was elated when the listeners and reviewers agreed with me!

Do you need to have read or heard Drama Queen (book one) before enjoying Drama Muscle (book two)? No. They are separate stories. However, why not start at the beginning and hear both?

The Nicky and Noah mysteries, published by Lethe Press, are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. It is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. Along the way, Nicky and Noah fall in love, as I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them.

In the first novel, Drama Queen, college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains, and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit.

In book two, Drama Muscle, Nicky is directing bodybuilding students in Treemeadow College’s annual Bodybuilding competition on campus. Bodybuilding students and faculty drop faster than barbells until Nicky figures out the identity of the murderer, as well as Noah’s secret revolving around Van Granite, one of the bodybuilding professors. Noah’s hysterically funny parents visit from Wisconsin and are drawn into the action, and Nicky and Noah reach a milestone by the end of the novel.

I am currently contracting an audiobook of book three, Drama Cruise, where Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard a cruise to Alaska, and dead college theatre professors pop up everywhere from the swimming pool to the captain’s table. So stay turned for more on that!

It is my joy and pleasure to share this audiobook with you. So take your front row seat. The curtain is going up on young bodybuilders at Treemeadow College. Lights (and weights) up!

It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!

Length: 6 hours

Praise for Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention):

“reading these books is like watching a fabulous comedic, murder mystery, action, adventure, romantic film.” “I was giggle snorting and laughing so much I had to stop reading. Joe Cosentino’s writing is absolutely flawless. He’s a master storyteller and will keep you guessing and utterly riveted until Drama Muscle’s highly satisfying ending. This is an absolute gem of a book, and series.” Divine Magazine

“Joe Cosentino has done it again! He has created another brilliant masterpiece for us all. A cozy sleuth mystery combined with humor and attractive themes.” Urban Book Reviews

“Book 1, Drama Queen was always going to be a hard act to follow with its belly ache laughter approach but in this “smirkathong” – yes I was smirking throughout the book, my top lip still aches – the author succeeded in delivering another comic classic!” Three Books Over the Rainbow

“a perfect balance of humor and romance into a continuously twisting plot.” “Cosentino will keep you entertained and guessing until the very end.” 3 Chicks After Dark

“If you like a fast-paced, humorous mystery with some quirky characters, lots of twists and the hot, sensual, man-sex, this is definitely for you. I promise you a laugh a minute!” Cathy Brockman Romance

“As with the first book, there are laugh out loud, completely funny sections. And enough of the mystery and suspense that keeps me reading” “I look forward to the next story” The TBR Pile

“laugh out loud funny” “Readers will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the killer to be revealed.” “As a romance, readers will love seeing Nicky and Noah settling in to living together in their Victorian home.” “I highly recommend this series.” Joyfully Jay Reviews

“Such a well woven story that is literally laugh out loud funny.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

“Joe Cosentino offers his readers something original and very different to the generic contemporary M/M romances out there and because of that I can’t recommend Drama Muscle enough; it is another moment of genius by Joe Cosentino!” Kirsty Loves Books
“This is a wonderful addition to the series! I fell in love with Nicky in the first book and he just gets better. Filled with humor and action. Noah evolves in this story, his character grows into a more mature yet still adorable sidekick to Nicky. They are perfect together, in detective work and in family situations. I hope that there are more to follow.” Crystals Many Reviewers

“This book is a comic romp that simultaneously celebrates and lampoons a mash-up of genres: the bloodless murders (in this case six) of Agatha Christie and her ilk, the screwball movie mysteries of Nick and Norah Charles (it’s Nick and Noah here), and the simile-rich voice-overs of film noir– all updated for a gay context.” Elisa Rainbow, Rainbow Awards

“Everything about this story is wonderfully over the top! The murders, the hilarious romances, each scene funny as the body count gets higher….Need a dose of slapstick and romance in your life (and at the moment who doesn’t)? Make your acquaintance with Nicky and Noah and their Mystery series. You could start here. It certainly works as a stand alone but starting at the beginning (with DRAMA QUEEN) is so much fun. Grab up both and read them together. And let the chuckles ensue!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

About the Author: Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); the Dreamspinner Press novellas In My Heart: An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland; the Cozzi Cove series Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Jana Lane mysteries Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015. He has won many Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions, including for Drama Muscle. Upcoming is Drama Luau (the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery).

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A Staged Murder by Jo A. Hiestand – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jo will be awarding a handmade lapis lazuli necklace on a bamboo cord to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour – International giveaway. The cord is adjustable and the necklace is comprised of three stones ranging in length from 1 5/8″ to 2 1/8″. (It’s like the one Brenna Taylor in the book wears). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Bonfire Night! The four hundred-year-old tradition of burning the straw effigy is beginning in Upper Kingsleigh, England. The torch extends… But it’s no mock figure at the end of the rope; it’s the body of a man, an American tourist. Brenna Taylor, Derbyshire C.I.D., is assigned to the case on a team of detectives under Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham. It is the chance Brenna has been waiting for, and she is anxious to impress him.

Most villagers suspect an outsider as the killer. But when the frost-covered body of a resident is discovered, apprehension shifts and suspects multiply. Among them are the American’s brother-in-law, still angry over his sister’s death; the husband, who fears his wife will desert him for the American; the inebriated, penniless uncle, who clings to his nephew’s fortune tighter than a cork in a wine bottle. Then Brenna becomes the target of a series of frightening pranks–the work of a harassing male colleague, or a deadly warning to leave the case? Her hunt is personal now.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Talbot’s cottage lay in a thick pocket of the woods, at the end of an earthen track driven clean of grass through hundreds of trips. Tree branches and leaves littered the edges of the lane, barely allowing room for my passage. Once I had to stop mid-point, the engine of my Mini idling in the quiet as I got out to drag a large tree limb from the road.

There was a rustling in the undergrowth to my left, as though I had disturbed some animal’s evening foraging. But no eyes glared at me, no angry retort came. I heaved the limb into the woods, the leaves—crisp from frost—crunching under my feet. I wiped my hands on my trousers and glanced at the sky. Stars seemed to balance high overhead on bare branches, as tips of fairy wands. I got back into the car and turned up the heat, the scene seeming suddenly desolate. Minutes later, Talbot’s house emerged from the gloom.

It was of gray stone, half submerged in Virginia creeper, and half hidden by elderly oaks. A kind of witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel, with a large wood pile leaning against the southern side to protect it from winter’s blast. A curl of smoke seeped from the stone chimney that sat in the middle of the slate roof. Two windows, like giant eyes, stared into the woods from either side of the front door. Below the windows was the remnant of a small flower garden, its wizened stalks and leaves barely visible above the forest’s castoffs. The door glistened bright yellow in the glare from the car’s headlights.

About the Author: A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folksinging stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of the Peak District mystery series.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy–from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area–has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.

In 1999 she returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, she also enjoys photography, reading, creating recipes, and her backyard wildlife. Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.

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