What would I tell a new author? by Aiden Ainslie

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

What would I tell a new author?

The first thing I would tell them is, if you are writing because you want to be on the New York Times bestseller list and see your books made into movies so that you can be rich and famous, I suggest you rather buy lottery tickets. The chances of making it big time in writing are pretty slim. But if you have other motivations for writing then “Go for it!”

Of course, I’d love to be a bestselling author, but the writing process in itself can be immensely rewarding. Creating characters in a story is probably the closest a man can get to understanding how a woman feels about giving birth to a child. I nurture my characters for months through the whole writing process to shape them into decent human beings. And I am super protective of them. I want readers to understand my characters, root for them, and like them despite their frailties.

So, aspiring author, be prepared to give up a lot of your headspace to your story. The characters are going to be bouncing around in your head whether you like it or not.

The next thing to address with the new author is the tricky question of marketing. There’s no way around it. It’s time-consuming and takes you away from the creative process. All I can say is, find help if you can afford it, or else embrace it. But don’t let it suck the life out of you. Be selective with your precious time and advertising dollars.

One of the things I learned about marketing the hard way is that you must be really, really clear about what your genre is and who your audience is. It’s one thing to write your memoirs, which will (maybe) be read by your family and five good friends. But if you want to be commercially successful, you should know exactly whom you are writing for and what they expect. That is why people like Colleen Hoover, Louise Penny and Geoffrey Archer are as successful as they are. They stick very tightly to a genre, and readers get exactly what they expect from these authors.

So, think big! Don’t just think about the one book you are going to write. Think about the ten books you are going to write. By book five you’ve got your readers so hooked that they are panting for the next release. And that, my friend, is when you get onto the New York Times bestseller list and Netflix sends a limo for the premiere of the movie based on your latest book.


After years of hard work and training, I finally have the chance of fulfilling my lifelong dream of winning the Tour de France. Nothing can be allowed to distract me from this mission, especially not Gabe O’Reilly, the adorable art student from San Francisco.

But he looks so vulnerable – all alone in France.

I would be failing in my patriotic duty to a fellow American if I didn’t take care of him, wouldn’t I? And what possible harm could come from spending twenty-four hours with him on the shores of the Mediterranean? I deserve that little break, don’t I?


I have never seen a human specimen as perfect as Clifford Du Frey. During our fleeting encounter in Paris, I saw a man who was funny, caring, and tender – so very different from the way the media portray him. He is everything I could ever dream of in a boyfriend.

But in what universe will an international sports superstar pay any serious attention to me?

Do not get involved, my brain yells; you can only get hurt again. But my heart is thrumming to a different tune.

Enjoy an Excerpt


In my line of work as a professional cyclist, me-time was rationed like the tiny, individually wrapped squares of chocolate my mother would give me as a reward for good school results. Of course, once I had found her secret stash, I used to help myself and haughtily decline her miserly tokens of approval.

But there was no secret stash of time. I had to live with the given rations to deal with my anxieties. I knew what none of the team even suspected – this was do-or-die, my last attempt at finally pulling off the big win that had eluded me throughout my ten-year professional career. I knew that I would not be able to muster the hunger for another Tour – to withstand the hundreds of hours of training rides in extreme heat and the Alps’ arctic altitude. This was it. But if my cycling career was at an end – then what? It was all I had ever done. My grueling schedule had not allowed me to attend college. At twenty-eight, I stared into the chasm of obscurity, a has-been, yesterday’s hero discarded with yesterday’s trash.

I nursed a coffee and was about to spiral into a pit of self-doubt and anxiety when I noticed a young man at the restaurant entrance. His indecision was palpable. He had a camera on a strap around his neck. Who still used cameras? Didn’t everyone have a smartphone? And he held a copy of the Lonely Planet in one hand. He wore cargo shorts, a UC San Francisco T-shirt, and leather sandals. There was something so open, innocent, and vulnerable about him that it tugged at my jaded heart. He might as well have had “American student – rip me off” tattooed on his forehead. Physically he was gorgeous – average height with sun-tanned skin and the perfect proportions that come from working on a farm or construction site. The soft curls of his dark hair shone in the midday sun and fell in unruly waves over his forehead. I had the fleeting, insane urge to push my fingers through that hair so that I could get a good look at his eyes. A few well-heeled ladies in the bistro were giving him the once-over, but he was utterly oblivious.

The man bit his lower lip as he studied the menu, and it was as though I could read his mind. The hand in his pocket was no doubt assessing how many euros he had and whether he could afford the expensive bistro which the Lonely Planet recommended as a “must-do.” Again, his eyes scanned the packed restaurant, and the waiters were too busy to notice his dilemma.

To this day, I do not know what made me do it. I, who had wanted anonymity, to get away from the oppressive togetherness of a competitive sports team in a foreign country. I, who desperately needed time to straighten out my head. I, who definitely did not need any distractions in my life. I rose from my seat and beckoned for the stranger to join me at the intimate table with its white tablecloth, the vase with lavender, and the table-setting for two.

About the Author:Aiden Ainslie lives in the Diablo foothills, east of San Francisco. He grew up in various small towns and loves to draw on that small-town feel for his romances: the sense of community but also the petty grievances, intrigue and rivalries. “An author has to draw on personal experience to create authentic stories.”

According to Aiden, setting and mood are critical parts of a romantic story, hence he is always taking pictures of romantic settings to be used in future novels. Check them out on his website.

When Aiden is not writing or listening to audiobooks, he likes to cycle and hike. During those solitary pursuits, he dreams up the characters and plots for his MM Romance novels. He also enjoys zipping around town on his motor scooter, drinking coffee at the local coffee shops, and watching people to get inspiration for his writing.

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A Bold Third Act by Marcia Rosen – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Marcia Rosen will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

NO! I do not want to retire because I’m a senior. Absolutely not!

More than ever, seniors are living full and engaging lives. More than 45 million Americans are over the age of 65 and millions of them still work— some by choice, some by necessity.

In what I consider my BOLD THIRD ACT, I’m writing mysteries. I’m bringing my passion for writing together with my rather unusual upbringing. In doing so, I am writing with more insight and purpose. As seniors, we can use our life experiences—whether failures, challenges or successes—to bring about enjoyable and productive lives filled with doing something we relate to and love. This is why the seniors in the mysteries I write are strong, smart and active main characters.

Mysteries and crime are in probably in my DNA. It never occurred to me my father and his friends were doing anything illegal. The environment I grew up with seemed perfectly natural to me. It’s what I saw everyday: My father was a bookie. He also owned a gambling hall where the men played pool in the front and poker in a private back room. My father and his partners would count the take from sports bets at our kitchen table. Once there was a raid on his partner’s apartment, which was right across from ours!

My father’s close friends had names like The Gig, Gimp and Doc. So, it makes sense that I’m fascinated by slightly shady characters, and crime and mystery stories. Once, I wrote a memoir story and referred to my mother as my father’s “gun moll.” Believe me, she was a character as well!

I’ve been a business owner for more than 40 years, which includes having a successful marketing and public relations agency for more than 20 years. I used to explain to clients that I was a “business detective,” finding solutions to problems that seemed a mystery to them. Of course, people and life in general are often a mystery.

My kids have encouraged me to, “Go for it!” They do not want me to slow down, sit around and dream of days past. They don’t want me to use age and going to doctors as a social outlet as so many elderly people do. They don’t even want me to have grey hair!

To those who do not agree: Sorry! I think I still have much to offer and enjoy. Positive aging is important to me, and writing is my way of showing it.

I used to tell friends that I was too old to see my dreams and ambitions to be a successful author come true. Yet, I refused to give up trying, and now my new mystery series The Gourmet Gangster: Mysteries and Menus has been published and more are on the way with my publisher, Level Best Books.

When I was doing consulting and public speaking, I’d often ask business and professional women to ask themselves: “What voices in your head do you need to eliminate? Get rid of the negative voices that say, ‘Who do you think you are?’ and ‘You can’t do it.’ ”

Now in my senior life, I’m reminded through conversations over a cup of coffee with my friends, my age and some younger, “We all matter.” What you want and who you are matters. We can make a difference at any age. Moreover, as we grow older, we can also share our experience, knowledge and, even at times, a good bit of wisdom.

In my mystery series The Senior Sleuths my senior characters represent my beliefs with energy and enthusiasm. These characters are my voice and reflect my truths.

A body is tossed into the lion’s habitat at the zoo where Miranda Scott is the senior vet. She and Detective Bryan Anderson join forces to unravel that mystery and several more murders. A fan since childhood of Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Sherlock Holmes they seem to live in her head frequently telling her what to do…and not do. Murders, family, deceit, revenge and a gangster father and godfather often get in the way of a fine romance between Miranda and the Detective.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Miranda, get to the zoo! Visitors are pointing at a human arm in the lions’ enclosure.”

“Hmmm. This is intriguing. A body in the lions’ den. What are the facts?”

“Agatha, Raymond, facts if you please,” Sherlock demanded.

“All of you shut up!”

It was not the first time Miranda shouted to the voices in her head. Sometimes they seemed so real to her. She had read nearly every book of every famous mystery writer and had seen movies made from them many times. She was often absorbed and obsessed by the stories and the characters.

Miranda loved their ways of thinking, analyzing problems, finding solutions, and delving into the dark spaces hidden in humanity: Raymond Chandler’s tough Detective, Philip Marlowe, who always found a dame he could lust after and distrust and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and her Tommy and Tuppence. Their gossip and ways of finding clues and uncovering secrets swirled in her head, while the famous Sherlock Homes demanded facts and attention to the tiniest of details.

There were other geniuses of mysteries who stopped by to give Miranda their “two cents” at times, especially when Agatha, Raymond, and Sherlock were disagreeing with each other. Miranda was sure they would have plenty to say about the murder at the zoo.

About the AuthorMarcia Rosen (aka M. Glenda Rosen), award winning author of eleven books including The Senior Sleuths and Dying To Be Beautiful Mystery Series and The Gourmet Gangster: Mysteries and Menus (Menus by her son Jory Rosen). She is also author of The Woman’s Business Therapist and award winning My Memoir Workbook. For 25 years she was owner of a successful national marketing and public relations agency, Marcia has frequently been a speaker and/or program moderator at organization meetings and conferences, bookstores, libraries and Zoom Programs. Topics she has taught and presented over the past twenty years include: Encouraging the Writer Within You, Marketing for Authors, Writing Mysteries…Not A Mystery, Writing Your Memoir and recently “Anatomy of Writing A Murder.” Many articles on these topics have been published on mystery reader blogs and in newsletters and magazines including “Mystery Scene Magazine” and “Mystery Reader International Journal.”

She is a member of Sisters in Crime National and New Mexico (Croak & Dagger), Southwest Writers, New Mexico Book Association, Women Writing the West, Public Safety Writer’s Association, and National Association of Independent Writers and Editors—for which she is also a board member.

“Marcia Rosen’s new book is hard to put down! The characters are engaging and you enjoy getting to know them as you read this mystery. I enjoyed discovering the world and people in Murder at the Zoo and can’t wait to read more from this author!”

Buy the book at Amazon.

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Jane Austen Time Traveler by Rachel Dacus – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Lonely Regency romance writer travels to the future, meets her fans, dips into a pearly swimming pool, and falls for its owner. Can she ever go home again…

If Jane Austen’s novels had never ever existed, would we have rom-com movies and women’s fiction? But the young writer is discouraged by a publisher’s rejection and ready to give up writing. And an unwelcome marriage proposal she has rashly accepted spells her doom.

Someone must save history and Jane Austen! When a stranger calls and claims to be an interested publisher, a desperate Jane agrees to go with him to his office. That office turns out to be in the future. And it’s not an office, but a bookstore in southern California in 2024 where fans of Jane Austen gather every month to discuss her works.

Jane greets the Jane Austen Superfan Club, only to find that superfans can be super picky. Discouraged by their critiques, Jane wants different adventures. Even deadly, dangerous ones. And oh, yes! Romantic ones.

Her “publisher” had hoped to inspire Jane’s writing by showing her a book club devoted to her writing. But when she meets a tall, handsome superfan, Jane decides to chart her own course. She disappears with her new friend, and history may have to save itself …

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from the book:

Jane sat up and looked out of the wall of glass. It overlooked the pool they had walked beside last night. Will was swimming with a most peculiar stroke, like a butterfly spreading its wings. He leapt from up the water and then disappeared under again, doing a stroke she had never seen, even at the seaside when the boys played in the ocean.

Jane lay still, contemplating the day and the swimmer.

She should get dressed and join him at the pool, to watch from nearer. Having only her new, silky outfit from last night, Jane wondered if she could wear it for another day. The idea of returning to the hotel and lacing up the layers of her old life returning made her shiver with dread.

Will had left George a message, Ubering their whereabouts, he had said. George would have to rest content with her absence for at least another morning.

Will’s rhythmic swimming mesmerized her as she listened to the sound of his hands and feet slapping the water. He changed to a smoother stroke, swimming quickly back and forth the length of the pool.

Jane dressed and joined him. The day’s warmth was beginning, so she was glad she had left off her jacket.

Will swam over to the side of the pool, dripping like the statues of Attic gods in fountains in Hyde Park.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked. When she nodded, he said, “I made breakfast for us, if you’re ready.”

“Breakfast would be wonderful.”

He swam to the far end of the pool, walked up the steps. Drying off with a blue towel, he wrapped it around his hips, which made Jane look up and around at the sky and gardens, anywhere but at the living statuary that was Will Fleming, a man who had kissed her last night.

RACHEL DACUS writes about history, love, family, and art — with a touch of magic. Rachel is the author of both prose and poetry. When she’s not writing or reading, she listens to music and walks through the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her architect husband and a lively Silky Terrier. She blogs about books and the writing life.

Website: https://racheldacus.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rachel_Dacus
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/racheldacusauthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelDacusAuthor

Buy Link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Austen-Time-Traveler-Timegathering-ebook/dp/B0BDVXLXC1

Gnome Alone by Kirsten Weiss – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Christmas is coming… and so is murder…

It’s holiday season in small-town Doyle, and the town is pivoting from UFO tourism to Bigfoot Days. For Susan Witsend, the owner of a UFO-themed B&B, this presents a conundrum.

But when Bigfoot is blamed for a mass garden gnome theft, control-freak Susan is drafted to track down the kidnapped gnomes. And then the holiday season hits another sour note with the murder of a member of her caroling group. Are Susan’s organization skills up to juggling missing gnomes and tracking down a killer in time to ring in the festivities?

Because as Susan unwraps motives and alibis, she finds herself adding more names to the naughty list. She may have to face some hard truths about her own limits and about just how far a not-so-jolly killer will go…

Gnome Alone is book five in the laugh-out-loud Wits’ End mystery series. A fast-paced and funny cozy mystery, packed with quirky characters, pets, and murder, it’s perfect for fans of Jana DeLeon, Janet Evanovich, and Donna Andrews. Beam up this hilarious cozy mystery and start reading today.

Susan’s Bigfoot Investigation Protocol at the back of the book!

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Bigfoot’s been messing with our garden gnomes.” Mr. Gomez’s brows drew down in a glower.

I studied the three elderly men, bundled in parkas and fur-lined boots. Bracing one mittened hand on Mr. Gomez’s mudroom wall, I knocked more snow off my boots. “Ah… I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that.”

Mr. Gomez’s frown deepened, his round face crinkling above his red scarf. His snowy hair stuck up in fierce licks, like an incoming mountain blizzard. “You’re a detective, Susan, aren’t you?”

“No, I’m really just nosy.” Okay. I was being modest. I was a crack amateur detective, and I’d helped our local sheriff solve several murders. But I don’t like to brag.

Though news about my prowess as an investigator had clearly spread through small-town Doyle. After so many successes, it was bound to happen. And we were going to be late for caroling practice if we didn’t move soon.

“Garden gnomes should be no problem for a bright young thing like you,” Mr. Gomez said. “This is serious. What if Bigfoot was the one who broke into that house last month on Sequoia Street? That’s only six blocks away.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose. Bigfoot. Of course. In a fit of madness, our small town had decided that decorating for the holidays wasn’t enough. We had to layer something called Bigfoot Days on top of the season. If I saw another Bigfoot Santa hat, I thought I might scream.

About the Author:

Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop. Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page…

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The Resistance and What We Wore by Jeanne Mackin – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

The Resistance and What We Wore

When I began writing The Last Collection – A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, I immediately began to see connections between clothes and politics. Clothing is our secret self – made visible. What we wear expresses so much about ourselves, and how we fit into the world.

Pink pussy hats may be one of the most recent example of clothing worn as political statement, but they are only the latest in a long line of fashion meant to express resistance and rebellion. Consider the always-inventive women of Paris who, during the German occupation of their city during World War II, used fashion to mock and oppose the invaders. Some French Gentile girls made extra-large yellow stars and wore them to make fun of the German-ordered anti-Semitic badge and in support of their Jewish friends. (Some of them went to prison for this.) Married women wore maternity dresses under which they hide piles of leaflets and pamphlets for the resistance. The clothes themselves, in defiance of strict rationing laws, grew more outré rather than subdued, with wide skirts, longer hems, and bright prints.

In her autobiography, Shocking Life, designer Elsa Schiaparelli describes war fashions as “towering turbans in which one could have hidden three lovers, hats like storks’ nests, and shoulders as wide as the streets.’ She herself designed suits with huge pockets so that women could grab and carry what they needed on their way to the bomb shelter. Coco Chanel stopped designing completely during the war, and closed her couture salon rather than sell to Germans. By the end of the war, fashion had been so distorted by politics and violence that it had to be rebuilt from the ground up, like many cities and institutions.

But France was up to the job, of course. Viva la couture Parisian!

An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.

When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.

Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.


“Sophisticated couture wars and looming world wars take center stage in Mackin’s latest, with a plot that buzzes with love triangles and political intrigue. A gorgeous meditation on art, fashion, and heartbreak. Stunning.”

–Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

“Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.”

–Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end.

–Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach

“A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!”

–Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

“As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read.”

–Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

Enjoy an Excerpt

Of the three primary colors, blue is most suggestive of paradox: it is the color of longing and sadness, and yet it is also the color of joy and fulfillment. On a ship, at night, blue water merges into blue sky, so blue is the color of places with no borders, no edges.

If you throw salt into a fire, the flames will burn blue. Salt rubbed into a wound renews the pain, intensifies it. Seeing others kiss and embrace was salt in my wound, a blue flame burning the length of me.

Blue best represents the contradictions of the heart, the need to be loved and cherished at the same time that we wish for freedom.

Blue, the color of the Worth gown that the little girl Elsa Schiaparelli found in her Roman piazza attic, the color of the covers of the penny romances Coco Chanel found in the orphanage attic.

Blue is what made Elsa Schiaparelli’s daring color, shocking pink, so special: it is pink infused with blue, turning a demure blush into an electric surge. Schiaparelli turned girlish pink into the color of seduction by adding that touch of blue.

And always, there is the blue of the Paris sky on a June day.

Listen. I’m going to tell you a story about fashion, and politics. And, of course, about love. The three primaries, like the primary colors.

About the Author:Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.

Her historical fictions explore the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level. She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.

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The Voices Inside our Head by Michelle Davis – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Voices Inside our Head

Practicing yoga impacts me in more ways than I could ever imagine. It assists my stiff body in making baby steps towards being more limber, it quiets my monkey brain, it occasionally helps me enter the state of bliss, and it provides me with a wealth of knowledge that actually transitions into my daily life. Sure, sometimes I don’t want to make that effort to be on my mat, for some reason I believe that more pressing items exist. But whether I go willingly or out of obligation, I know that when the class is over, I will feel better – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Last week during one of my favorite yoga teacher’s classes, she shared two terms that intrigued me greatly… the street level you and the higher level you. I’ve heard of the second term, but never did I hear anyone mention street level you. At first, I thought she was talking about the bad and the good, the duality that we all possess. But, the more she explained, the better I understood. This is not about purity vs. evil. Rather, this metaphor is meant to show our humanness and our godliness.

As humans, we are not all light or all dark; we possess both qualities, each revealing itself in multiple ways throughout our day. For example, my being human, or my street level self, may entice me to arrive at yoga early so that I can place my mat in my favorite spot. That is not a good or a bad action. One might say that I know where I perform best, so why not secure that space. While another person might view this action differently. Perhaps they see this behavior as competitive or even selfish. Regardless, this conduct represents my street level self in action, not my higher level self. In contrast, my higher level self would arrive in time, but without a care as to what space is available. This higher level self would welcome the opportunities provided by any location in the room, most likely embracing a spot that my street self would never choose.

Street Level You – “If it is in the back and I can’t see anything, I’m going to topple during the balance pose. If it is next to the heater and I start sweating a lot, I’ll slip all over the place.”

Higher Level You – “If it is in the back and I can’t see anything, I’ll learn to trust my inner balance to help me through the poses.” If it is next to the heater and I start sweating a lot, I’ll detox the impurities in my body, allowing me to better assimilate the benefits from the class.”

Do you see the difference?

These two dualities constantly dance back and forth, often creating an internal tango where both partners try to lead. While the higher level you guides your dreams of becoming the best version of yourself, the street level you constantly sends reminders of failed attempts, clinging onto old patterns and behaviors. I like to think of our higher selves as seventy-five year-olds, ripe with wisdom, experience, and perspective while our street level selves act more like nine-year-olds, barging full steam ahead, doing what we want, at that moment, without thinking about the impact it has on us and others.

So, what does this all mean and how is it relevant? Can we dismiss our street level self, telling him or her to go away and let our higher level self rule the show? As appealing as that sounds, I don’t think it’s possible. However, we can become more aware and consciously listen to what’s happening inside. Should we honor the persistent and perhaps belittling voice that nags at us, chipping away our self-confidence… the one that pumps us up, proclaims that we’re right and the other person’s wrong? Or, should we consider the quieter whisper, the voice that proposes another perspective that guides us, but refrains from sharing a road map, forcing us to do the work? Honestly, I’d like to choose the one that tells me what to do and when to do it; but I know that’s usually my street level self, jumping up and down, saying whatever’s necessary to gain my attention. Instead, I need to dig deep, be present, and listen to the soft voice, the one that presents me with the more challenging path, the one that dares me to be a better person. When I am brave enough to listen my higher self, when I can check my ego, trusting in the unknown, that is when I find my biggest growth, my happiest moments. It so much easier not to listen, to give the nine-year-old the attention she craves. But I know in my heart that she does not have the answer… rather, the wise woman, the one how knows the real me, she’s the one I want to follow.

Jenna Moore’s flawlessly orchestrated life and engagement to Ben Kelly, “the perfect man,” vanish when she discovers a controlling side of her fiancé. Confused and unsure of who she is without Ben, Jenna decides to uproot from her safe, predictable life in Boston and move to Bend, Oregon, hoping to find her answers there. It’s when she meets Jackson, a former Navy SEAL who battles demons of his own, that Jenna finds the courage to let go of being perfect and embrace uncomfortable risks, transforming her life through forgiveness, compassion, surrender and acceptance. Yet the rewards from discovering her true self exceed Jenna’s expectations – not only does she find the greatest love of her life, but she also understands what’s kept her from learning to bend.

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Yet, at that moment, there is a subtle shift in my being. As devastated and lost as I feel, a small part of me unfolds, almost releases. I can’t describe the feeling as it’s something I’ve never before experienced. I breathe, inhaling Ben’s scent, knowing it’s most likely the last time I am going to be this close to him. Then Ben moves his hand to the back of my head, pulling me towards him, passionately kissing me as we momentarily return to who we were. My body instinctively takes over as I languish in his taste, surrendering to him, if only for a few seconds. But I come to my senses and pull away. We are no longer the Jenna and Ben who are about to be married in two months. No, that couple is gone. It’s then that I do the unavoidable – I slowly remove the ring from my left finger and press it into Ben’s hand. After all, this is a family antique. It no longer belongs to me. I call for Sam, give Ben a final goodbye kiss on the cheek, and leave.

About the Author: Michelle Davis, whose career path includes banking, teaching, and college admissions consulting, holds a B.S. in Finance from Lehigh University and a M.S. in Education from St. Joseph’s University. Through her blog, elevate, Michelle’s goal is to inspire others to shift their perspectives and welcome change as they realize their life purpose. A Pennsylvania native, Michelle and her husband enjoy visiting their sons in Boston and spending time in Bend, Oregon, the settings of her debut novel, Learning to Bend. To learn more about Michelle and how to elevate your life, visit her website.

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Vivi’s Leading Man by Emily Mims – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Emily will be awarding two prizes each containing ebooks Mist and Smoke, the first two books in the Smoky Blues series, to randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



The marriage was one of convenience. She had status and he had money. But… there was something there, and both of them felt it. After three years of him working long hours and her spending too much time at the Durango Street Theatre, Miguel Abonce and Vivienne Heiser called it quits. One year later, they are forced to work together to save or sell the theater. In the process they discover things they never knew about each other and they learn there’s more between them than burning up the sheets. They might really love each other after all.

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For a moment, he looked like she’d shot him through the heart with a sawed-off shotgun. Then he straightened. “You don’t love me, either, Vivi. Marriage is like any other business arrangement. It’s all about assets, querida. Who is bringing what to the table.”

“You know what? I just lost the thing in this life that I love with all my heart and you’re standing here giving me a Wharton Business School lecture. I don’t want a business deal. I want a husband I love who loves me back. I deserve that much out of life and I’m going to get it.” She pulled the ring off her finger and pushed it into his hand.

He turned away and walked to his car. Her hands trembled as she beeped open her car. She heard him pull out of the parking lot as she slid into her seat. As she started the engine and got the air conditioner going, fat, sloppy tears ran down her cheeks.

About the Author:

The author of over thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons, she and her husband split their time between central Texas, eastern Tennessee, and Georgia visiting their kids and grandchildren. For relaxation Emily plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele for two different performing groups, and even sings a little. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman—if she’ll just let it.”

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Eyes Behind Belligerence by K.P. Kollenborn – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. K.P. Kollenborn will be awarding a physical copy of Eyes Behind Belligerence to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Told in five parts, this novel unravels the challenges between two unlikely Nisei friends, Jim and Russell, into adulthood during the Second World War. As restrictions are imposed, (even in the safe, rural community of Bainbridge Island,) as harassments escalate, (including the F.B.I. invading their homes and deporting their fathers to Montana for espionage trials,) the fated day arrives: evacuation of all Japanese civilians. Rounded up like cattle, tagged, they are hauled to the fringes of Death Valley: Manzanar. Together they must survive racism, gang violence, and the harsh elements of the environment. Together they must prove their loyalty, especially after a tragic riot on the eve of Pearl Harbor’s anniversary. While Russell enlists in a segregated army, becoming part of one the most decorated units in U.S. history, Jim is sent to a different camp for the “No-No” boys: those who are marked disloyal. Removed from their families, they are forced to reevaluate their identities and discover, most importantly, what it means to forgive.

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Russell hit the ground, pushing the bottom wire up. Naomi rolled under. He turned to look behind. Tomiko spun around and ran back to the shed.

Horrified, Russell hollered, “What are you doing?”

Naomi grabbed his neck and collar, yanking him forward. His arm snagged on the wire, ripping his favorite sweatshirt. “Guard!” she panted.

Panicking, he fumbled to his feet, scuffling away from the fence. Naomi snatched his hand, pulling, running. He darted across, but tripped and fell near the edge of one of the barracks. For a second, he thought he felt a bullet stab inside his ribs. He looked up. An internal police officer stood in front of him. Blinking and refocusing, he realized the officer was his brother-in-law, Osamu. He carried a flashlight and wore a white patch on his left arm that had “POLICE” painted in black. Dressed in jeans and a brown, corduroy coat, he frowned at Russell and Naomi.

“If I didn’t know any better,” Osamu firmly remarked, “I’d think you two were up to no good.” Crossing his arms and leaning to one side, he maintained, “Care to tell me why the both of you are out of breath?” They didn’t respond. A guilty expression smeared on their faces. “I didn’t think so.” He then peered past the fence to investigate the shed. Russell finally rose, still holding Naomi’s hand. They kept their eyes to the ground. Returning his attention to them, Osamu stated, “You two need to stay clear of the fence. I really don’t want to know what you were doing. Kiotsukete, kudasai. This is a warning. Next time I may not be so nice, Russell. Don’t make me have another conversation with your mother.”

Stunned, Russell and Naomi blinked. They couldn’t leave their friends behind.

“Scat!” he ordered.

Naomi tugged on Russell’s arm, quickly walking away. Panic and guilt drilled inside his chest. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t abandon them just like that. Without food or water. Without toiletry. For how long? Until it got dark? Until the camp fell into a deep sleep? What if one of them got bit by a rattler or stung by a scorpion? How could he help his friends? What were Jim and Tomiko going to do for the next eighteen hours?

About the Author:

Currently I have three books published, two historical fiction and one children’s book. Although I’ve been writing since childhood, I have a BA in History. I love studying history as much as wanting to evoke stories. I like to believe that after decades worth of introspection we have learned, hopefully more wisely if not conscientiously, what happened yesterday with a critical eye. Aside from a history degree, I also have a graphics art degree. My husband and I once owned a music store, a pizza delivery business, and several internet businesses. I also have dabbled with real estate and am grateful I got the heck out right before the crash! Sadly, history tends to repeat itself in important ways. Currently my family continues to live outside of Kansas City and will always have roots tied to Kansas. I am in the process of working on two more books, another historical fiction and one non-fiction.

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