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

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

Balancing Life and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book is currently only available through Amazon.

Enjoy an excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He and Michael Enzo were friends.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ YouTube ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Goodreads
Buy the book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon

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Good Faith by Liz Crowe- Spotlight and Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy an excerpt:

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

“Let’s go son. Time for lunch.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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The background behind Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper by Zangba Thomson – Guest Blog and Giveway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Zangba will be awarding a print copy of Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper or a Bong Mines Clothing T-shirt (winner’s choice) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. (US ONLY) Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The background behind Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper

 Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper is about three teenagers that spring into dangerous action to obtain financial aid for an uninsured Indian immigrant—who desperately needs a liver transplant to stay alive. The boys go on a dangerous mission to obtain the quarter of a million dollars needed for the woman’s surgery, but subsequently, little do they know that they will encounter huge obstacles and experience more than they have ever experienced before.

Three Black Boys originally started as a Hip-Hop song, and people wanted to know—what was the story behind the boys’ robbery attempt? At the time—I didn’t have an answer, but an idea sprung into my mind and months later I began adapting the three-minute-song into the short story—Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version. It’s not easy adapting songs into books, so I didn’t know what to expect, and after getting a good book review from Kirkus, I knew I had to get Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version in stores. That’s when I began to do a market analysis on the book industry, and it wasn’t until I read The Ten Awful & The Ten Wonderful Truths about Book Publishing that things began to make sense.

You see—independent authors have to go out there and make it happen because no one will make it happen for us. So, with my Industry Analysis’ knowledge taken into consideration, Craig Green (Captain of BME LLC Street Team) and I decided to test the street market first. So, we took a trip to Harlem, U.S.A., the Mecca or Capital of Black America, with 200 copies of Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version in the trunk of our vehicle. Questions were asked, and after hours of networking, Hue-Man Bookstore paid us in advance for several copies, and Black Star Music & Video Store and a prominent Harlem street distributor took many copies of Three Black Boys on consignment.

A week later, Black Star and the street distributor were sold out. The distributor asked me to do an outdoor book signing at one of his bookstands, which is currently located on the corner of 125th street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, across the street from the legendary Apollo Theater. Many books were sold that day on the street corner, and a new relationship between Harlem and Three Black Boys was established. And not too long afterwards, Hue-Man Bookstore set up an official in-store book signing for me, introducing me as a new voice in Literary Fiction. A month later, Molloy College in Long Island, New York, hosted my first successful college “Meet & Greet the Author,” in which I got the chance to perform the original Three Black Boys song in front of an intrigued English class.

Within a month’s time, we sold approximately 1,500 copies of Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version in the streets of Harlem—for $10 a copy. Three Black Boys was on every street vendor’s table in Harlem. Consumers, mostly women who had purchased the book, said they cried after reading Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version. That’s when I knew we were on to something big. But a week later, the street distributor told me that Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version was too small in page count to compete in the long run with The Coldest Winter Ever, Push, True to the Game and other full-length Urban Fiction novels. He said, “My customers want more for their buck!”

So, I went back into my creative shell and began writing my debut novel—Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper. The result was great! What started out, as a song—that was adapted into a Street Lit short story—was now an action-packed and multi-cultural novel—filled with drama, surrealism, and dark fantasy/thriller; and at that time—I didn’t know I was mixing genres together and establishing my own lane.

So, in conclusion, I want to end this guest blog with Mel Blanc’s famous catchphrase, “That’s All Folks!” And I want to thank Long and Short Reviews—for hosting this wonderful blogging event, and also I want to thank Goddess Fish Promotions—for organizing this magnificent “Virtual Name Before the Masses Tour” for Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper. (PEACE) and always remember that (P) Positive, (E) Energy, (A) Always, (C) Creates, (E) Elevation.

MEDIA KIT 3_Black_Boys_COVERTeenagers spring into dangerous action to obtain financial aid for a woman who has only a month to live. The setting is Queens, N.Y., home to Babita Harris, an Indian immigrant plagued with the deadly black fever disease. With a couple of months to live, Babita only hope of survival is a costly liver transplant. But with no health insurance, the chance of a surgery is slim. What she needs is a quarter of a million dollars in cash. Barnes, her only son, along with his two friends, Demus and Baker, spring into dangerous action to get the money. Although their road is paved with good intentions, the brothers in arms will experience more than they have ever experienced before.

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Our front door is always open if you change your mind,” says Ojal.

“I know, Mama,” replies Babita, before laying the bluebird chime down on the table. “I think I will take this last opportunity to go outside and revisit the new addition to the back yard.”

The blue bird chime shakes without any assistance and Babita is startled.

“Better hurry up before the clouds begin to cry,” says Ojal with a smile.

Babita nods her head in agreement and makes her way into the back yard. There she sees a beautiful garden with assorted color roses. Out the corner of her eye, she spots a red rose positioned behind several thorny bushes. With caution, she reaches for the delicate flower, not knowing a parasitic sandfly is traveling unnoticed in her direction. The sandfly bites Babita’s outstretched arm. “Ouch!” she grimaces softly, and quickly retracts her hand back to her bosom. Immediately, she notices a small swelling forming on her arm, and in no time, blood oozes from her tiny wound. A strong wind blows and many dandelions fly in her direction. Lightning strikes, thunder roars its ugly voice, and light rain begins to fall. Babita, afraid of her hair getting wet, quickly retreats into her parents’ home.

About the Author:MEDIA KIT ZangbaThomsonZangba Thomson is the Creative Director at BME LLC, the author of Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper, co-author of Do Right Do Good (a self-help guide book towards vision fulfillment and entrepreneurship), a recording artist, and New York Life Coach Examiner. Zangba balances his career and family time on the scale of hard work and dedication, and his main areas of focus include his real life experiences, metaphysics, and spirituality. Zangba’s work reinforces the basic idea that goals are fulfilled when right decisions are made. Please visit his website at

Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

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The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from The Beautiful American as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeanne will be awarding a photo/postcard collection from the 1920s (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920’s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will their reunion give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

Enjoy this exclusive excerpt:

Lee sneezed and coughed into a handkerchief. “Wretched cold,” she complained. “Had it for weeks. So what did you think of my photos?”

I came back to the moment, to the teacup in my hand, the plate of cakes with their sensual promise of cream and vanilla. Lee wanted me to praise her photos. It was easy to do.

“They were magnificent. Dozens of gray tones.” I had remembered that much about photography. A rich photograph had as much color as the real world, except all the colors were some variant of gray. In some ways, perfumes were like black and white photographs. Most people will say of a scent “That is floral” or “That is citrus” when, in fact, the perfume has dozens, perhaps a hundred, different components. Art is all subtle variation.

“You remembered our discussions. I’m flattered.” Lee preened slightly, tilting her head and smiling more broadly, still dabbing at her nose.

“And the light in the photographs,” I said. “You made natural light seem precise, even staged, like in a painting.”

“Light,” she said quietly. “That’s always the most important element, isn’t it?” The smile disappeared. She looked out the window at the wet, dismal street. “During the blackouts I thought there would never again be enough light in the world, that it could never fall with a promise of grace instead of a threat. Have you seen Pablo’s Le Charnier – The Charnel House? All black and white and gray, like Guernica. For a while the whole world seemed black and white and gray. Even the battlefields. The blood turned gray. Did you see the exhibition in Paris, Art and Resistance? How come I didn’t see you there?”

Lee’s fingers tapped nervously on the table.

About the Author:

Jeanne Mackin is the author of several novels: The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press). She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton), and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in upstate New York.


Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Penguin.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Lunch Visitors!


Special thanks to our reviewer, Foxglove, for her input today.  You can see a sampling of her reviews, here.

It’s Back to School time, and I’m thinking about just who I’d like to share my lunch table with. You know, those ten intriguing and attractive people everyone wants to be around. My favorite genre for reading is paranormal romance, so my ten folks may be a bit…off the norm, shall we say. But just imagine the conversations to be overheard there. I will list in no particular order, as each person brings something unique to my table.

1. From Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters – Acheron Parthenopaeus…an eleven thousand year old Atlantean god, Ash has seen and done more than almost anyone else at the table, and the stories he can tell are fascinating.

2. From Jeanienne Frost’s Night Huntress – Mencheres, an ancient Egyptian vampire of unimaginable power, he could regale with tales of the golden days of Egypt and the Pharaohs.

3. From Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series – Secret McQueen, half-vampire, half werewolf, I’d love to get her perspective of life from both sides of her heritage, and how she stays strong when things are going crazy around her.

4. From J. Morgan’s Southern Werewolf Chronicles – Madison Lee, a Southern Deb who learned the hard way that what happens in Europe doesn’t always stay hidden or secret, and one night stands can have serious repercussions when your one night stand is with a sexy werewolf.

5. From J.D. Robb’s In Death series – Eve Dallas, the consummate cop of the future, determined to right the wrongs committed on her turf, and being strong enough to know when to be soft (with luck, her sexy Irish husband may stop by occasionally, and that would a big bonus)

6. From Dana Marie Bell’s Heart’s Desire series – Zachary Beckett, thought to be the weakest wizard in the cursed Beckett family, it would be hilarious to listen to him tell about his misadventures in magick, till he discovers his true heritage as one of Hecate’s Own, one of the most powerful of the generation.

7. From Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series – Charley Davidson, grim reaper and all around kick butt heroine, currently engaged to the son of Satan.

8. From Dana Marie Bell’s True Destiny series – Jordan Tate-Saeter, former human PI, now the more than human mate to two Norse gods, Loki and Baldur, and one of the sassiest females I’ve read so far.

9. From Dana Marie Bell’s Halle Puma series – Belinda ‘Belle’ Campbell, mate of Rick Lowell, alpha of the Poconos pack, and luna of the pack, the only puma to ever be in a position of power in a pack of wolves. I just know Belle would be the ‘class clown/joker of the group. Just watch out for the air horn, she’s deadly with it.

10. Again, from Dana Marie Bell (sensing a trend here?) from her Gray Court series – Robin Goodfellow, that tricky, sexy and very cunning head of Oberon’s Blades, leader of the high kings assassins and enforcers. Robin is a master at never being predictable.

I can guarantee that with this group, lunch time would never be boring.

Author Interview: Virginia McCullough

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Virginia McCullough, whose latest release Greta’s Grace was recently released.

Last year, Virginia celebrated her 40th publishing anniversary and, in many ways, writing is all she knows. She began writing when she was very young and at home raising her preschool-age daughter and son in the ’70s.

“Unlike so many of my women friends, I hadn’t prepared for any particular career. My mother was a librarian, however, and later worked in a text book publishing house, and we were a household of readers, and ideas kept popping into my head,” she explained. “Then my family moved to an island on the coast of Maine, where we had some friends who were ‘back to the landers,’ sort of. We didn’t know the first thing about growing so much as a row of lettuce, but we were young and yearned for an adventure. I began to write family living articles for secondary markets—denominational magazines, even though we didn’t practice any of those denominations. If the subject matter fit, the editors didn’t care! I worked in a small town library and wrote articles about children’s literature, too.

The next adventure took us to the sea, literally, and while still in Maine we moved aboard a sailboat and for the next 7 years I wrote articles about living aboard and sailing an old, classic wooden sailboat. We ended up in Annapolis for a couple of school years and then we lived in St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I. for a couple of years. Only later, in the 1980s, when my life changed drastically again, did I begin to make my living ghostwriting and editing nonfiction books and I coauthored a few, too. My time to write fiction came in fits and starts and it wasn’t until I moved to Wisconsin in 2001, that I began carving out enough hours here and there to seriously try to teach myself to write fiction.”

She started considering herself a writer after a magazine bought her first article, about a year after she started writing.

“That article sold on its 13th trip out, by the way,” she said. “But I was wrong to wait. I should have considered myself a writer when I first starting writing with the intention of making writing my career. Now I believe writers write, and publishing and how and where work appears are other issues, part of the profession, of course, but they don’t define us.”

Growing up, though, Virginia wanted to be a dancer, and she studied classical ballet with a Russian-trained teacher who was very strict and structured.

“She also wanted her students to be prepared to be dancers in operas or musicals, for example, so she taught ‘character’ dancing and tap, too. I learned to play the castanets and still find myself drumming my fingers to the pattern and repeating the words to a movement, ‘roll, roll, roll, right, left,’ and ‘both, left, roll, both, left roll.’ This teacher also required her students to study music and I took some piano lessons, but didn’t practice much since we didn’t have a piano—so I took up the violin for a while and studied with a very old man with tufts of white hair and incredibly thick glasses—and he lived on Mozart Street, not far from our apartment. That’s probably one of the reasons I’ve never forgotten him or the experience of playing the violin—badly!” she remembered. “For various reasons I didn’t pursue dance as a career, one being that I didn’t grow much over five feet tall, but the discipline developed while studying dance absolutely carried over to writing. And I still want to learn to play a musical instrument before I leave the planet.”

Virginia is from the mid-north side of Chicago.

“It was probably one of the best possible places to grow up in the ‘50s and ‘60s—certainly for a young girl who wanted to be a ballet dancer and needed a serious teacher,” Virginia told me. “My sister and I—and our friends—had such freedom, too. At very young ages (shockingly young to people today) my sister and I rode the bus and the elevated trains downtown and to distant movie theaters. I can trace my entire life in Chicago to stops on the old Ravenswood line.

“The best part about my childhood in the city was coming of age in the midst of all the great social movements of the day. My parents were activists and my husband and I were, too, and I’ve always felt that my life in the city gave me an immediate sense of my time, my era. Like living the history, in a way. Of course, there are many ways to do that, but being in the thick of it was one of the great privileges of my life.

“I always loved Lake Michigan, my primary landmark. After my time of living and cruising on a boat came to an end (along with my marriage), my kids and I left the Caribbean and moved back to Chicago. For several years I walked along the lake nearly every day, even when the lake was frozen and snow piled up on the rocks and in the parks. I used to walk the miles of lakefront and through the Lincoln Park Zoo and on downtown to appointments with clients. I later moved to Asheville, North Carolina and now I live in Wisconsin, but I still visit family in Chicago.”

“What is your most embarrassing moment?” I wondered.

“When I was about 14, I dressed up in a hand-me-down two piece dress that my sister had just outgrown. I put on white pumps to feel extra sophisticated and headed downtown on the subway to the Drake Hotel, on Walnut Street off Michigan Ave, and near the old Water Tower in Chicago. All this finery, by the way, was for an appointment with our dentist, whose office was in the hotel. But I felt very important strutting around in my grown up clothes. After the appointment, I planned to get a chocolate milkshake at my favorite soda fountain, and I headed down Michigan Avenue, walking amidst all the
‘beautiful people’ going about their business. But then I tripped, bad enough, but my feet had tangled in my own skirt. The hook and eye closure had come undone and the skirt fell down, exposing me in my slip! Nothing to do, but pull it up and keep on going. I’ll never forget feeling my face heating up and catching glimpses of people trying not to laugh at a hapless teenager pulling up her skirt. But I lifted my chin and walked on—and enjoyed the milkshake, too.”

Virginia’s newest release, Greta’s Grace is about a professional speaker, Lindsey Foster.

“That part of the book was fun to develop, especially exploring the concept of a speaker’s ‘signature story,’ which in Lindsey’s case is about the death of a friend. I’ve worked with so many speakers as an editor/ghostwriter and I belonged to the National Speakers Association for about 17 years and went to many chapter meetings and national conferences,” she said. “I’m fascinated by what these individuals do. Much like being a writer, being a speaker is a way of life. Those who are successful stay fresh and up on trends and they market themselves to bureaus and meeting planners—the equivalent of writers marketing to agents and editors.

“Lindsey’s life becomes especially complicated when she develops a fear of flying and tries to hide it. That means driving to speaking engagements when she would normally fly. Eventually, of course, her secret comes out and the reasons for it begin to piece together.”

She’s currently working on Island Secrets, book 2 in the St. Anne’s Island series, bringing Virginia back to her Georgia island setting, involving the Hadley family, another prominent St. Anne’s family (the Saint family was the focus of Island Healing. The search for a biological father drives the story and it deals with uncovering secrets. She’s also working on another book set in the same town where Greta’s Grace takes place, Simon’s Point, Wisconsin. It deals with fertility-infertility issues and a woman finding her artistic voice. She’s also putting finishing touches on a lighter book, The Jacks of Her Heart, a second chance romance, which includes a nostalgia café and other ‘60s and ‘70s elements.

“It still surprises me how real the characters become, and how much I care about them,” Virginia told me. “The characters become like my friends even before I start the actual writing. It also surprises me how much I enjoy writing fiction. I’ve always considered myself fortunate because I like to write and when I was first building my nonfiction business decades ago, I’d tell people how lucky I was because my work was my play. This is how I now feel writing fiction—I still need to make my living with editing/ghosting and coaching, but I spend more time with fiction than in the past. And I feel like a kid with a bunch of crayons or paints when I start working on my stories. The only thing that interferes are ‘voices’ telling me it isn’t very good or otherwise attempting to discourage me. But overall, I can’t believe how much I love the writing process itself.”

“Tell us one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you,” I challenged.

“For some reason almost everyone I meet, clients/readers/new friends, are surprised to learn that I was once a very heavy smoker. I think it’s because I’m generally known as a ‘sensible’ sort of person. So, surely I wouldn’t have taken up such a habit. Ah, but I did, and my secret that’s not really a secret is that I liked it so much.

“I quit many years ago, but smoking was a kind of theme in my life. I was raised in a family of smokers and it was something my mother started as a young woman to show her independence—family lore has it that she taught my father to inhale. But I also ‘blame’ authors like Grace Metalious, Carson McCullers, and Lillian Hellman who posed for their cover pictures holding cigarettes—so, yes, in my eyes, cool women smoked. Independent trailblazing women puffed away on cigarettes. Intellectually, I know that’s not true, and that image is part of a bygone era, but the association is still very strong.

“Like millions of other people I realized I had to quit. But it wasn’t because I wanted to or because I was sick of it. I joke that yeah, smoking is a filthy habit, blah, blah, blah, but I loved every minute of it. I had a terrible fear that I wouldn’t be able to write without smoking, and I still wonder how I would have managed without the nicotine patch—I put it right up there with the Salk vaccine as one of the great advances in recent times. The patch allowed me to break the psychological addiction to the rhythm of smoking and writing. And I’m really grateful. But politically correct or not, I still enjoy seeing people smoke in movies and in books.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“With rare exception, most of us need to accept that we don’t know how to write articles, essays, novels, short stories, and so forth. We have to learn how to craft a lead for an article, for example, and we soon figure out that description, dialogue, and pacing aren’t always so easy and for most of us, require practice.

“I was never praised for my writing in school—in fact, I was stilted and afraid to express myself for fear of misplacing commas and whatnot. Unlike so many colleagues and clients, I was never burdened by messages from other people about being a talented writer, which made it easy to understand that I had to teach myself to write. And I read and read and read good writing and learned from it.

“Many years ago, at the end of a workshop I was presenting, someone asked me to sum up what I’d learned about writing that I could pass on. My answer popped out of my mouth: ‘Discipline really is all it’s cracked up to be.’

I know I couldn’t have made my living as a writer without that ‘lunch bucket’ kind of attitude. It’s my business, my job, so I show up. Some days are better than others, for sure, and days get away from me, too—I end up bemoaning that I’ve spent all day putting out client fires or dealing with email and whatever. But that’s the writer’s life, too. I love the independence that working for myself has allowed, but showing up is the price of admission. And I don’t think I’m unique in any way. Talented or not, we still have to learn and do the work and go through as many drafts as it takes.”

9_2 GretaGrace FRONT FINAL-5-13-14Professional speaker, Lindsey Foster, inspires her audiences with her presentations about the healing power of women’s stories, but her heart aches over her inability to heal her emotionally distant relationship with her daughter, Greta. But now, Greta is ill, and desperate to be closer to her, Lindsey heads to Greta’s new hometown, Simon’s Point, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

During the many months of Greta’s treatment, Lindsey finds herself drawn to her blustery ex-husband, Brian. But Sam, Greta’s father-in-law, a quiet, reflective man, soon becomes her refuge in this time of crisis.

Willing to do anything to make her daughter happy, Lindsey makes questionable decisions and keeps secrets from Greta, causing more heartbreak. Feeling exiled once again, Lindsey is soon forced to decide between what she believes will make Greta happy and following where her own heart leads.

About the Author:9_2 Publicity PhotoVirginia McCullough’s award-winning titles include her recent release, Greta’s Grace, an Amazon bestseller; and Island Healing, Book 1 of her St. Anne’s Island Series; The Chapels on the Hill; and Amber Light. Her stories speak to hope, healing, and plenty of second chances.

Virginia broke into publishing in the 1970s with articles on family living, sailing-cruising and children’s literature. In the 1980s, she began writing books with healthcare experts, professional speakers, therapists, and others. Her most recent medical book, The Oxygen Revolution, was coauthored with Paul Harch, M.D., a pioneer in hyperbaric medicine. Virginia has served as a ghostwriter for well over 100 books, including 12 titles written for neurologist Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., the creator of the weight loss program, Sensa.

An experienced speaker and workshop presenter, Virginia and her colleague, Lynda McDaniel, cofounded The Book Catalysts, a book writing coaching service. They coauthored Write Your Book Now: An A to Z guide to unleashing your creativity, starting your book, and finishing strong and other titles. Visit Virginia on LinkedIn and Facebook. Website:

Welcome to Uncial Press!

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Uncial Press offers a variety of fiction genres, including Regency, historical and contemporary romance, mysteries, thrillers, and unusual fantasy, both romantic and epic. Occasionally we add a poetry collection or an interesting (and usually humorous) nonfiction work. We’ve been around since 2006 and plan on offering extraordinary ebooks far into the future. Find us at, or look for our titles at most ebooksellers.

Now enjoy a taste of their summer themed story, Summer Heat.

SummerHeatElectra Hamilton is expecting to welcome a lover. What she gets is his annoying, nerdy brother. The man has always made her uncomfortable, always disapproved of her and, frankly, drives her stark-staring crazy. Yet all her friends seem to think he is perfect husband material.

Drew Bolinger knows that courting the woman he has secretly loved for years will be his toughest challenge yet. She thinks he’s an interfering know-it-all. She also happens to be his brother’s best friend. But when the sleepy town of Little Creek becomes a hotbed of intrigue and murder, Drew not only has to fight hard to keep a skeptical Electra safe, but convince her, at the same time, that he is her true hero.

Buy Summer Heat from Uncial Press.

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Welcome to Camel Press!

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Based in Seattle Washington, Camel Press is an imprint of Coffeetown Enterprises. Camel Press publishes genre fiction: romance, mystery/suspense, science fiction, and mystery. We publish the books that grab you and hold you in their grip long into the night.

We’re featuring one of their summer themed stories today.

SleepingDogsIt’s early August in Rosedale, Tennessee, and July December Powell is alone at the historic Booth Mansion, putting the finishing touches on the Showhouse room she designed for tomorrow’s grand opening. A loud noise draws her to the nursery, where a man lies dying. Not just any man, but Tom Ferris, the love of her life, who she hasn’t seen since he disappeared with no explanation some fifteen years earlier.

Who shot Tom in the back? What drove him away in the first place and made him stay away, even after his parents were killed in a car accident? What was he trying to tell July with his last breath?

The gossip mill is in high gear in the small town of Rosedale, and July is the sister of Mae, a dog breeder and kennel owner who happens to be dating the sheriff, Ben Bradley. Ben’s close relationship with the December family has thrown a wrench in his investigation, forcing him to rely on Detective Wayne Nichols, his deputies, and his office manager Dory to do most of the legwork. Meanwhile July’s marriage is imploding, and Mae already has too much to deal with—including a new corgi puppy and Ben’s four-year-old son. Mae is torn between loyalty to her boyfriend and her sister as she does her darndest to get the bottom of a case that just seems to involve more and more of their friends and neighbors.


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50 Shades of Fur by Missy Barkalot – Spotlight and Giveaway

This stop is part of a tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.  The author will be awarding a signed copy of 50 Shades of Fur by Missy Barkalot, as told to Belinda Stevens to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post during the tour.

A delightful, yet somewhat bawdy “tail” about Missy Barkalot, a petite rust-colored long-haired Dachshund and the apple of her eye, Humphrey B (aka “Hump”), and the other characters, both dogs and cats, who are frequent guests at Doggie Bath. Missy is pursued by Ralph the Bulldog, but she only has eyes for Hump, who was seduced by the glamorous toy poodle, CoCo. It turns out CoCo was a victim of her environment, as her owner had some kinky habits using a gray tie. Bondage with leashes, bite marks, jive-talking cats and cross-dressing Dobermans – not to mention a Doggie Blues band – keep the story rolling as Missy Barkalot uses her feminine wiles to woo Hump away from CoCo. DoggieBath has a little bit of everything – sexual intrigue, rock-n-roll and blues – canine style, and of course, a little weed. This fun romp through the world of Missy and Hump make a “furfect” read! If you love animals, you will love “50 Shades Of Fur.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

You would think it was Valentine’s day, the way the romances were emerging among the guests at Doggie Bath. It was obvious something was going on between Roxie and Bubba. She followed him around without her herd of Spaniels and Bubba didn’t seem to mind. The two spent hours softly growling, licking each other’s faces and of course, you know. Everyone was happy they were an item, not to mention the welcomed end to cougar stalking. Without their leader, the over-the-hill gang disbanded. Those females started looking for fur separately.

Even Lance found love with a two-year-old German Shepherd. They shared a water bowl, and wore matching pink and purple outfits. Lance’s new love fit right in with the Blues Dogs. His name was Mozart and he was musical. It wasn’t long before he joined the group. Those paws of his could bang out some serious R & B on the ivories.

Belinda J. Stevens was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the gateway to the Mississippi Delta, in 1948. She grew up in the turbulent sixties, and has a true appreciation for the difficulties experienced Katherine in her first novel, “Just Out of Reach.” A radical departure from her first novel, her lastest effort is a fun parody, “50 Shades of Fur by Missy Barkalot, as told to Belinda Stevens.”

An attorney by profession, Belinda tells the story of young love and dark secrets in the world of the Doggie Bath. Canines, cats and even a skunk with a prestigious lineage converge for a bawdy “tale” that will keep you laughing.

Belinda is a graduate of Belhaven University and earned a Masters in Social Science and a Law Degree from Mississippi College. From 1987-1997 she served as Special Assistant to Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore. She resides in Brandon, Mississippi with her dog Humprey B., and practices law in Yazoo City where she is a Public Defender.

Learn more about Belinda at, or follow her on Facebook at

You can order her book at

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