A Living Grave by Robert E. Dunn and Chills by Mary SanGiovanni – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

a-living-grave_final-copyThe first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…

BODY OF PROOF

Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.

The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…

*****
chills-copy“True Detective” meets H.P. Lovecraft in this chilling novel of murder, mystery, and slow-mounting dread from acclaimed author Mary SanGiovanni . . .

It begins with a freak snowstorm in May. Hit hardest is the rural town of Colby, Connecticut. Schools and businesses are closed, powerlines are down, and police detective Jack Glazier has found a body in the snow. It appears to be the victim of a bizarre ritual murder. It won’t be the last. As the snow piles up, so do the sacrifices. Cut off from the rest of the world, Glazier teams up with an occult crime specialist to uncover a secret society hiding in their midst.

The gods they worship are unthinkable. The powers they summon are unstoppable. And the things they will do to the good people of Colby are utterly, horribly unspeakable…

Enjoy an Excerpt from A Living Grave:

“I know your Uncle Orson,” he said. “Been fishing with him more times than I can remember.”

I crouched to be close to the ground and kept poking around the body with my stick, then sketching things in the pad. Clare’s talk was actually soothing to hear. Normal, even though he was doing it to keep his mind off of something not normal in his life at all.

“Your daddy too. Way back when.”

I think I nodded, reacting more to the sound than his words. Tossing my stick aside, I stood, then circled the body. Each time I stopped I added to my sketches. I had to force myself to look into the face. Into where the face had been. I sketched. Then I looked away. I sketched her hair. Then I looked away.

“There are monsters in the woods,” Clare said, his back still to me. I was listening then. “It used to be a joke. When I was a kid, people talked about Momo, the Missouri monster. It was like a local Bigfoot. But the real monsters are people, aren’t they?”

I didn’t answer him.

“Perverts.” He spit the word out. “Monsters that do that to children. There isn’t hate big enough for them nor a hell deep enough. This will rile some people up. He lives in one of those piece-of-crap mobile homes in that big development off of F Highway. You know, over by the McKenna farm.”

“Who does?” I had stopped writing and was paying very close attention to Mr. Bolin at that point.

About the Authors:robert-dunn
Robert Dunn is the author of the novels The Red Highway, The Dead Ground, and Behind the Darkness. He can be found online at robertdunnauthor.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @WritingDead.

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*****
mary-sangiovanniMary SanGiovanni is the author of the Bram Stoker nominated novel The Hollower, its sequels Found You and The Triumvirate, Thrall, and Chaos, as well as the novellas For Emmy, Possessing Amy, and The Fading Place, as well as numerous short stories. She has been writing fiction for over a decade, has a masters in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University, and is a member of The Authors Guild, Penn Writers, and International Thriller Writers. Her website is marysangiovanni.com.

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Where the Lotus Flowers Grow by MK Schiller – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

9_29-3_where-the-lotus-flowers-growEven in darkness, love can bloom…

Heir to a multinational hotel empire, Liam Montgomery thinks business is everything—until he goes undercover to check out their locations throughout Asia. As cosmopolitan as Liam is, from the bright lights of Mumbai to the tranquil beaches of Goa to the bustling streets of New York, he’s never met anyone like lovely Mary Costa. He can’t understand why this delicate, educated woman works as a maid. Or how she is reigniting his long-buried desire to be an artist. They are apart in so many ways—especially in the things Mary won’t tell him. But more and more, Liam can’t imagine his life without her…

Mary knows this unexpected desire for Liam must end. It’s true that his gentleness and sense of fun inspires her and makes her hopeful for the first time in her life. But she has a grim promise she feels compelled to keep—and painful experiences she fears he could never understand. And with secrets soon reaching out to separate them for good, can they dare risk a future together if it means confronting the scars of the past?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

I focused on the shining figure standing next to the fountain. It looked like every ray in the sun was pointing at her and reflecting off her at the same time. That was until I realized that her long white skirt and scarf had tiny mirrors patched into the embroidery. She moved with grace despite the large pot balanced on her hip. She placed the pot on the ground. From within, she took many small silver bowls. Ten, to be exact. I counted as she placed them around the fountain, occasionally swiping the tiny broken stones gathered on its ridge. The strike of a match against the box cut through the air as if even the birds had decided to be silent out of respect for her. She lit each bowl. Who lit candles in the daylight? Was it some type of religious ceremony?

When she was done, she fell to her knees in front of the fountain and removed her scarf. Her hair cascaded in dark waves. A soft echoing music filled the air, the melody haunting. She looked toward the sky.

Whatever she prayed for, I wanted her to have it.

Her gaze drew back to the fountain.

“What’s so interesting?” I asked, as if she could answer me. I didn’t know what was so interesting for me either. I blamed it on a combination of sleep deprivation, curiosity, and bad bourbon.

Whatever it was, I couldn’t look away.

About the Author: 9_29-3_mk-schiller-smallM.K. Schiller is a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. In the dark of night, she sits by the warm glow of her computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is! She started imagining stories in her head at a very young age. In fact, she got so good at it that friends asked her to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. She hopes you enjoy her stories and find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor. M.K. Schiller loves hearing from readers.

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Dalir’s Salvation by Nina Crespo – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nina will be awarding a digital copy of Dalir’s Salvation to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

To be with the man of her dreams, she’ll have to face her worst nightmares…

Ari is looking to live a normal life. But after she hits her head, normal is no longer an option. A mysterious, rugged man appears, whom only she can see… each night he fulfills her fantasies and leaves her begging for more. She’s sure he’s a figment of her imagination—until she finds out the hard way that he’s all too real. Now, to truly be with him, Ari will have to embrace the parts of herself she’s been desperately keeping at bay.

Dalir’s been burned by love before, yet he can’t resist Ari’s beauty and charm. And all it takes is one kiss to spark nights of passion. But there’s danger on the horizon that only Dalir and his friends in the band Thane’s Redemption can deal with. And the longer he stays with Ari, the greater the peril to them both. Will the two of them be strong enough to fight for their newfound love—and their lives?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Colby jogged up the stairs wearing tennis shoes, shorts, and a sweatstained T-shirt. His damp blond hair clung to his forehead. “Wouldn’t go down there if I were you. They’re moving furniture out of the sunroom.”

“For what?”

“They’re changing the back wall into a built-in bookcase.” Why couldn’t they just read the damn books instead of turning everything fucking upside down? “Where’s Thane and Reid?”

“They made themselves scarce early this morning along with Mace and West.”

Of course they had. Thane and Reid had led the team to stop rebellions, disasters, even a super virus from destroying humankind, but they couldn’t control their fiancées. The flush spreading over him and supernatural energy expanded in equal proportions.

A buzz emitted from the light switch.

“Whoa. Chill.” Colby raised his hands. “You’ll fry the circuits again. No electricity will only prolong the agony. Just do like the rest of us and leave.”

“You’re still here.”

“Not for long. I’m on recon duty.”

At least someone was getting some real work done. “Do you have a lead on Kell?”

“Possibly. The police in New Jersey are looking for a slasher. The victims’ wounds may have been caused by a sword.”

Knots tightened in Dalir’s gut. Since his escape, Kell had killed a woman scientist, kidnapped Lauren, and tortured Reid. Those were the incidents they knew about. Was he responsible for these murders, too?

About the Author: Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, kick boxing, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing. Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel. Curiosity about people and places, including what’s beyond the stars, fuels her writer’s imagination. This wellspring of inspiration allows Nina to create sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales, which she hopes will feed your own addiction for love, romance, and happily ever after. Current must haves include cupcakes with frosting and lots of sprinkles, and red wine chocolate blends.

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The Lizard’s Tale by Kurt Kamm – Q&A and Giveaway

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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. Kurt Kamm has stopped by to answer a few questions!

What are your favorite TV shows?

There is certainly nothing on network television worth watching. I watch the Bloomberg financial programs and like many of the BBC series, including Poldark and Downton. Ray Donovan and Homeland are also favorites. Now for a confession. If I am working out in my gym and need a distraction, I turn on Game of Thrones. What a crazy show. I have no idea what the plot is, but I can watch 15 – 20 minutes of any episode from any year and be entertained. None of it makes any sense, but there is always a great sword fight, a poisoning, people speaking strange languages, or a horde of warriors riding horses. Brainless entertainment, but entertainment for sure.

What is your favorite meal?

I’m big on carbohydrates because I exercise a lot. Every meal must have pasta, potatoes, or rice. Also, fresh/raw vegetables—snow peas, artichokes and avocados—are favorites. I don’t eat red meat, but seafood, fish or chicken is good. Barbequed lizard is not on the list for obvious reasons. Love desserts. Give me any dessert, I’ll eat it.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

There is no author I idolize because of his/her personal life, but James Salter is my favorite author for his ability to write beautiful, simple but elegant prose and create haunting tales. He has been called “an author’s author,” and I fully agree. I think he’s underrated and under-read.

How did you come up for the title of this book?

Part of the book deals with Jorge’s (the Mexican orphan) obsession with geckoes. Geckoes and most other lizards can lose their tails and grow them back. This is a defense mechanism to distract predators—the reptile can release its tail, which keeps twitching and draws the predator’s attention while the creature escapes. The Guatemalan Beaded Lizard, a much larger reptile, is itself a predator and cannot release its tail. From the very beginning, I liked the tail—tale pun and for a long time the name of the novel was The Tale of the Lizard. My editor shortened it to The Lizard’s Tale and it is a perfect name.

What would you like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

I would like to have several major publishing houses bidding on my next book. After signing a seven-figure contract (excluding decimal points), the New York Times Book Review will devote not a single review, but an entire edition to my work. After that, Oprah will select my book and it will be a bigger seller than the Bible…..oh, sorry, I dozed off at my computer and just had a short dream. What would I like to accomplish next year? I have modest ambitions—start a new novel, have fun researching and writing it, and have at least one person tell me how much she liked it.

mediakit_bookcover_thelizardstaleKurt Kamm has written a novel that’s a literary crime novel, with a strong thread of non-fiction running through it. The Lizard’s Tale is a tale of crime—with an a wide-ranging cast of characters.

When the DEA goes up against the Sinaloa Cartel, an orphan and an endangered lizard are caught in the conflict. The action moves from Guatemala to Mexico to Catalina Island off the coast of California.

Alejandro, a middle class Guatemalan, wants his share, and makes a deal with the cartel. Now he’s risking his life to deliver the goods.

El Dedo, a brilliant financier, is the Sinaloa Cartel’s banker. He worries about what to do with the billions of dollars collecting dust in his underground vault.

Ryan, a DEA Special Agent, needs to make a high profile case to get a promotion. Is the big yacht headed for California carrying a Mexican drug shipment?

Kate, a wildlife officer on Catalina Island, smells smoke. When she heads out in the middle of the night to investigate a fire, she makes an astonishing discovery.

Jorge, an orphan from the streets of Mexico, is abandoned in the United States. Will he find his way back home and track down his mother’s killer?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Dedo was one of the few outsiders at the top of the cartel hierarchy. He came from a different background than most of the drug lords, who had grown up in poor towns in the Sierra Madres where people suffered a hard existence living in hovels made of cinderblocks. Dedo had no poverty to escape. He grew up in Mexico City and lived a blessed childhood. His father owned a small Mexican chemical business that grew large when it began to supply the Cartels with the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. His mother was Swiss, and had worked for a chemical company in Basle when she met his father. Dedo inherited his intellect and business sense from his father. His grey eyes came from his mother.

When his father brought him to the State of Sinaloa for the first time, Dedo stood in the dust and blasting heat and felt the moisture evaporating from his skin. “Those mountain highlands,” his father had told him, pointing off into the distance, “are ideal for growing poppies. All they need is sunlight and moisture.” Then he turned and pointed in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, and continued, “And out in those valleys between the mountains and the coast, the climate is perfect for growing marijuana.” Finally, his father looked at Dedo and told him, “Fortunately for us, sunshine and water don’t produce methamphetamine. For that, they need chemicals—a lot of chemicals—and that’s why we’re here.”

About the Author: mediakit_authorphoto_thetaleofthelizardMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels, which have won several literary awards. His newest novel, The Lizard’s Tale, provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them.

Kurt has used his contact with CalFire, Los Angeles County and Ventura County Fire Departments, as well as the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. He has attended classes at El Camino Fire Academy and trained in wildland firefighting, arson investigation and hazardous materials response. He has also attended the ATF and DEA Citizen’s Academies. After graduating from the DEA Citizen’s Academy in 2014, he began work on The Lizard’s Tale.

Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

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Sins that Haunt by Lucy Farago – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lucy will be awarding a digital copy of Sins that Haunt to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

sins-that-hauntThe glitz and glamour of Las Vegas hide a multitude of sins. And in Lucy Farago’s show-stopping series, a lawyer and an FBI agent take a walk on the seedy side, where greed breeds a deadly desperation…

Civil attorney Shannon Joyce walks the line of law and order, but she learned from day one how to put up a good front—thanks to her con man father. Thirteen years ago, she left the east coast and her life of crime behind. Her high school sweetheart, Noah, was collateral damage, but some things can’t be helped. But now there’s no escape when her past comes roaring down the Strip—in the oh-so-tempting form of the man she left behind…

Special Agent Noah Monroe has Shannon exactly where he wants her—in the back of his car in handcuffs. Her grifter father has been murdered, and the FBI needs Shannon to keep one of his scams in play to bag the big bad guy who was financing him. Once again a pawn in someone’s else game, Shannon will have to trust her instincts to survive both the peril threatening her—and the passion Noah reignites…

Enjoy an Excerpt:

They eventually stopped at the last place she’d expected. The airport. Noah got out of the car and got in the backseat with her.

“What’s going on?” She should be sitting in an interrogation room, not visitors’ parking at the airport. “Is my father really dead?”

May God have mercy on her soul, but she hoped so.

Noah nodded once.

“How did he die?”

He lifted a dark eyebrow.

“Cut it out. You know damn well I didn’t kill him.” She didn’t lie, not anymore. “Am I glad he’s gone to a far worse place?” She shrugged. He’d not only screwed up her life but countless others’. His victims were in the thousands, if not more. “But when I left him, he was alive.” Not very happy but alive.

“When would that be?” he asked.

She considered telling him to go take a swim in shark-infested waters, then thought better of it. She had nothing to hide. “Two days ago.”

“What did the two of you discuss?”

“The weather,” she said. Jerk. No way would she admit to her father extorting money from her. Thirteen years ago she’d have told Noah everything. Thirteen years ago he hadn’t been a special agent assigned to a task force that could put her behind bars.

“Shannon, even if you and I didn’t know you hated the guy, the only time he ever talked to you was to coerce you into one of his schemes. So what was it this time?”

About the Author:lucy-faragoLucy Farago knows there is nothing like a happy sigh at the end of a good book. With the encouragement of her loving husband, she wrote her first manuscript. An unpublished historical, it sits in a file on her computer, there to remind her how much fun she had learning the craft and becoming part of an industry whose books make you believe anything is possible. A big fan of Agatha Christie, she set out to write her first romantic suspense novel. Thrilled to be a published author, Lucy also teaches yoga, enjoys cooking, and saying what other people are thinking. In her fantasy world, her beautiful Siberian husky, Loki, doesn’t shed and her three kids clean up after themselves. Alas, that fantasy will never see fruition.

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The Joined Realm by Robert Vane – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Robert Vane will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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“Control the water, control the world”

From inside the lush expanse of the Inner Realm, the Ghosbane family and their fellow waterlords rule the Joined Realm through their mastery of the ancient aqueducts that feed the vast Drylands beyond their domain. After being accused of a terrible crime, Arlon Ghosbane, the inheritor of a secret legacy of the vanquished overlords of the Joined Realm, is forced to flee from his family and the only life he has ever known. Guided by a renegade howler intent on freeing his race, Arlon discovers that a world far different than one he had been taught about lies beyond his water-rich homeland. The fate of humanity will be determined by the decisions of a young fugitive and a former slave as they fight for the future of the Joined Realm.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Tattered banners displaying the sunflower sigil of this dusty frontier holding hung behind the lord and his men, all of them pressed together like a clutch of hens. The chamber’s walls looked like they could crumble at any moment, but at least they kept Raz’s pounding light at bay. Sand infested the rough-cut limestone of the floor, but Bellamy supposed that was inevitable in such a water-starved place. He busied himself trying to dislodge the bits of filth ensconced beneath his fingernails as Lord Lowen droned on. When Bellamy finished his manicure and looked up, he noted with annoyance that Lowen and his meager retainers did not have sand strewn in their hair or stuck in the crevasses of their fingernails.

“That’s quite enough, Lowen,” Bellamy declared, his tone as dismissive as that of a disappointed tutor. “Scribble your excuses on some parchment to send to our Lord Idris. I’ve heard enough of them. You are responsible for every drop of water that flows out from this portion of the aqueduct. That is your oath. You retain your holdings, and your life, only so long as you uphold that oath. You have failed.”

About the Author: Robert Vane has been writing stories since he was eight. It’s been his full time job for two decades – but not the stories he wanted to write.

Inspired by a lifetime of reading, beginning with “classics” like Privateers, the Amtrak Wars, Darkover, and the Belgariad to name a few (yeah, he’s old), Rob has been pecking away in his spare time. The Joined Realm isn’t the first full length novel Rob has written, but it’s the first that he felt ready to share. Big thanks to Amazon!

Keep reading and writing.

The Joined Realm is available on Amazon.com and will be $0.99 during the tour.

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The Truth She Knew by J. A. Owenby – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. J.A. Owenby will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

mediakit_bookcover_thetruthsheknew Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me.

For eighteen-year-old Lacey, life at home is a rollercoaster. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be good enough to truly deserve Mama’s love.

But when Lacey enters college and meets Walker, everything starts to change. Suddenly, Lacey is face to face with the realization that maybe what she’s always seen as normal really isn’t. Her entire life—and everything she’s ever believed about herself and her family—is abruptly hanging in midair.

Lacey is left facing two paths, and she has to make a choice. The first means walking away from everything she’s ever known. The other means never really knowing the truth.

The Truth She Knew offers an honest and powerful glimpse into mental illness, the meaning of true love, and the psychological waltz that a daughter dances as she endures her mother’s unpredictable emotions, manipulation, and abuse.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me. She reminded me of this on a consistent basis, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t change her mind. Finally, I had to make a choice: her or me.

My heels clicked against the cold tile floor of the hospital and my heart fluttered as I searched the room numbers.

I rubbed my clammy hands against my jeans as I saw the ladies’ restroom and hurried toward it. I needed a minute before I reached her room. I pushed the door open and scanned the bathroom for anyone else. It was empty.

My purse landed with a thud on the bathroom counter. I turned the cold water on, splashed it on my cheeks, and wiped my face with a paper towel.

“Breathe,” I muttered. “She can’t hurt you anymore. You’re grown.”

My pep talk wasn’t working. Fear was gnawing at my stomach.

I reached into my bag, grabbed my powder compact, and touched up my makeup. My green eyes shone brighter against the redness left from my tears. I ran a brush through my long, blond hair and dabbed a hint of gloss on my lips, more out of habit than need.

“Let’s do this, Lacey. Suck it up,” I said to my reflection. I released a slow, deep breath and headed out of the restroom and down the hall toward the ICU.

About the Author: J.A. Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She’s a published author of six short stories, and she is currently working on her second full-length novel. She also runs her own business as a professional resume writer and interview coach—she helps people find jobs they love.

J.A. is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult, and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and good wine. And call her crazy, but she loves the rainy Pacific Northwest; she gets her best story ideas while listening to the rain pattering against the windows in front of the fireplace.

You can follow the progress of her upcoming novel on Facebook and on Twitter.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Siri Paulson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

My take on critique groups
Siri here on behalf of Kit Campbell and myself. Thanks so much for having us!

I’m a big believer in critique groups, as long as they’re helpful and not toxic. Learning how to critique someone else’s story will teach you a whole lot about analysing what works and what doesn’t, about separating your personal reading preferences from objective quality, and about your own writing.

It’s much easier to see problems in other people’s writing than your own. Conversely, it’s much harder to see what needs fixing in your own story. Having other people you trust to tell it like it is? Invaluable.

I’m lucky enough to be part of an in-person critique group that works really well. Here are some reasons why…

We’ve learned to check our egos at the door. Separating your writing from your heart is a hard thing to do. It’s tough to take critique – to sit there and listen while people tell you what’s wrong with your story. But it’s a really important thing to learn, because sooner or later it’s going to happen to you (editor? agent? review?), and you’d better know how to handle it with grace. On the flip side, it’s also important to learn how to give criticism without making it personal.

We’ve learned how to deal with the feedback. I’ve learned that there are some times when I just should not submit a story. It’s still too close to my heart, or too early in the process. For example, when I’m in the middle of a novel draft, I should not submit early chapters – I’ll get defensive (not out loud) and also start second-guessing everything I’m doing. But other people find it so helpful to get feedback with plot problems along the way. Figure out what works for you! I’ve also had to learn how to filter the critiques, to pick and choose what’s helpful for the direction I want for the story.

We trust each other. Part of this is because we all write in the same genres, and most of us are at a similar stage in our careers (published a few books or just on the cusp of publishing). Part of it is because we’ve learned how to give a balance of positive and negative feedback, with specific issues identified and specific solutions suggested. Part of it is just familiarity – we’re not friends, exactly, but we’ve been meeting a long time. And we tease each other and just generally keep a sense of humour about the whole thing.

We have an established process. Here’s how we do it: Meetings are once every two weeks and usually run about two hours. We have two victims, er, critiquees per meeting, submitting up to 10,000 words each – either a short story or some novel chapters. Submissions are emailed around the previous week so everyone can read them twice and make notes (ranging from broad strokes to line edits, depending). Sometimes the author includes specific questions about how certain aspects are coming across, or a synopsis of earlier chapters if relevant.

During the meeting, the critiquee takes notes and doesn’t talk much, although they’re allowed to ask questions or clarify their intentions. We go around the room, more or less, taking turns giving a verbal critique – it might cover plot, character, pacing, worldbuilding, logic gaps, stuff that doesn’t ring true, whatever’s relevant. Sometimes a meeting turns into a free-for-all where everyone’s contributing to the discussion at the same time, other times we stick to talking in sequence. We don’t dwell on the more nitty-gritty line edits during the meeting – the critiquee can go over those on their own time. At the end of the session, the critiquee can ask further questions. Finally, we give the author our copies of the submission with our edits marked (either by hand or with the comment function in MS Word).

This method is really helpful because it’s detailed but not too detailed. We get feedback from multiple people on every scene and every plot/character development, which usually doesn’t happen if you email your entire novel to beta readers. Not to say betas aren’t useful! Getting a reader’s broader impressions is important too. On the flip side, there’s no point in getting hung up on the sentence-level writing if the scene isn’t working…plus if you get too much feedback on that level, you run the risk of losing your unique voice. But personally, I find it much easier to write pretty prose than to write effective scenes, so that’s where I need the help.

So there you have it – everything I know about critique groups! Over to you. Love ’em, hate ’em, wish you could find one?

mediakit_bookcover_cityofhopeandruinEvery night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could help Briony protect her family from the Scarred. Each woman sees in the other a strength she lacks—and maybe something more.

All they need to do is find a way across the dimensions to each other before their enemies close in.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Dean Prosody was pacing in her cramped office when Theosophy arrived. Her bayonet and whetstone lay forgotten on her desk.

Theosophy stopped just inside the door. “Sir?”

“He’s not in his quarters, and he took his spear,” said the dean, not looking at her.

Theosophy reached into her belt pouch and pulled out her double crystal, tuned to her partners. One side had gone dark, of course, but the other pulsed weakly. She could feel the direction of the pull—toward the ruins—but that meant nothing, surely he wouldn’t be such a complete…

“What did you say to him?” Dean Prosody demanded.

Theosophy shrugged.

“Nothing about avenging Rhetoric?”

“I should hope not,” she said. “I was a little busy fighting for my life. With one partner gone and the other just standing there…”

The dean gave her a look, blue eyes snapping.

“What? I let him mourn after. But he still let the third one get away, and almost got me killed. I had to say something.”

The dean sighed.

“There’s a reason I’m the longest-serving fighter. And it’s not because I’m nice.”

“About that, Theosophy…maybe you should consider stepping down.”

She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

“I know you’re the reason a lot of these kids are still alive. But you’re turning sour. It’s not healthy.”

Theosophy grimaced. The thing was, staying alive the longest wasn’t any kind of mercy. It just meant everyone you used to know was dead.

About the Authors:

It is a little known fact that Kit was raised in the wild by a marauding gang of octopuses. It wasn’t until she was 25 that she was discovered by a traveling National Geographic scientist and brought back to civilization. This is sometimes apparent in the way that she attempts to escape through tubes when startled.

Her transition to normalcy has been slow, but scientists predict that she will have mastered basics such as fork use sometime in the next year. More complex skills, such as proper grocery store etiquette, may be forever outside her reach.

Kit can be found cavorting about the web at her blog  or website, on Pinterest , and even occasionally on Twitter.

Siri Paulson writes all over the fantasy and science fiction spectrum, including (so far) secondary-world fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, Gothic, historical paranormal, and YA with spaceships. She is also the chief editor at Turtleduck Press. Siri grew up in Alberta, Canada, but now lives in an old house in Toronto. By day, she edits non-fiction for the government. Her other current passion is contra dance, a social/folk dance done to live Celtic and roots music. Her favourite places in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a little valley in Norway.

Siri’s short fiction and the anthologies she has edited can be found on Turtleduck Press. She blogs at https://siripaulson.wordpress.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/Siri_Paulson.

Multi-region buy link for ebook: http://authl.it/B01DYSR7QE

 

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The Sweetheart Racket by Cheryl Ann Smith & One Week in Your Arms by Patricia Preston – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour and is organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cheryl and Patricia will be awarding digital copies of both books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

the-sweetheart-racketThey used to be on the sidelines. Now they’re out in the field…

Two years ago, Taryn Hall was a pro football cheerleader—until she left her lecherous boss with a bloody nose and a faceful of Mace. Now she’s part of a different kind of squad. An elderly billionaire named Irving has hired and trained Taryn and her two best friends to work as private investigators…

Taryn loves the job, though it sometimes involves boring stakeouts, dog bites—and listening to Irving talk about his golf shoes. Then tattooed, steely-eyed, straight-up gorgeous undercover DEA agent Rick Silva walks into the office and shakes things up…

Rick needs help finding the con artist who’s taken his lonely mother for all she was worth. With multiple aliases and multiple victims, it will be a challenge to track down the coldhearted gigolo. And Rick insists on accompanying Taryn on the hunt, working closely, day and night.

This could be dangerous. And the case might be kind of risky, too…

*****
one-week-in-your-arms_blueIT STARTED WITH A FLING…

Six years ago, ambitious med student Marla Grant gave into temptation with a gorgeous man. Now a busy doctor and a loving single mom, the only thing that matters to Marla more than her adorable daughter is the Lafayette Falls Community Clinic. When its funding is threatened, Marla is determined to find out why—until she learns the person responsible is none other than the powerful, persuasive man of her long-ago fling and the unsuspecting father of her child…

Carson Blackwell has never forgotten bright, beautiful Marla. When he discovers that she runs the clinic his grandmother’s foundation funds, it’s the perfect chance to put an end to his ongoing infatuation—and use his leverage to cement a new business deal. He needs a fake girlfriend for one week in Hawaii, and Marla is just the woman for the job. It’s a win-win situation, until they realize the attraction between them isn’t feigned, and the heat has never died down. Only the secrets they’re both keeping stand in the way of a future together—and a love that could last a lifetime.

Enjoy an Excerpt from The Sweetheart Racket:

“I need a PI.”

She was just tired enough to make a sassy comment about his good fortune of stumbling into a PI firm, but profit margins danced fresh in her mind. Why chase off a perfectly good client with a smart comment?

“Come to my office.” The stranger followed her. She was convinced he was checking out her butt. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. She hadn’t had a date in ages, and was beginning to feel a bit withered. Either way, she needed to keep her mind on business and not how good he looked in his jeans.

He settled into a chair before her desk and looked around the space. He had a strong jaw, a semi-straight nose, and a small scar that dissected his right brow.

“What can I do for you, Mr.—?”

“Silva. Rick Silva.”

“Yes, ah, Mr. Silva. What brings you to Brash ?” Despite a professional outward demeanor, it proved difficult to concentrate on anything but his gorgeous gray eyes. They were a stark contrast to his dark brown hair and tanned face.

The man was all alpha male. She’d be shocked if he’d ever eaten a bean sprout on purpose or ordered a vanilla mocha latte with lite whip and cinnamon sprinkles.

Add the tattoos peeking out from beneath his t-shirt sleeves and she wondered if he’d done time.

“I’m searching for someone. His name is Teddy Brinkman.”

His voice had gone hard. There was danger in his expression. A chill trilled through her. She leaned forward and knitted her fingers, forcing herself not to show fear. “Are you going to kill him?”

Silva’s eyes widened at her bluntness. “And if I did?”

Damn. She’d hoped for a new client, not a murderer looking for an accomplice. “Then I can’t help you.” She stood. “We are not in the business of playing intermediaries to murder. You’ll have to find him on your own.”

And she’d have to call the cops ASAP.

About the Authors:

cheryl-ann-smithCheryl Ann Smith became hooked on romance at age fourteen when she stayed up all night to read The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her own writing journey happened much later, when one afternoon she ran out of books and decided to write her own. Previously, she has published five sexy Regency novels and one novella with Berkley in her School for Brides series.

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Buy The Sweetheart Racket from Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.

patricia-prestonPatricia Preston is a Southern author whose dream come true would be living in the French Quarter. Besides writing, she loves music, history, taking road trips, and anything containing chocolate. Having fun is her objective when it comes to storytelling and she hopes her readers will find her amusing, feel-good romances entertaining.

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Buy the book at Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.

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Writing Ideas – Where do they come from? by M. Kate Quinn – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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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.

Writing Ideas – Where do they come from?

I’m often asked where I get ideas for my stories. The answer is both simple and complicated – life. The ideas come from life.

I’d venture to say that writers tend to be people watchers. We can’t help it. We look for the story in everything and in every place. The beach, the grocery store, the park, the mall, when visiting someone in the hospital, even at a funeral. Story ideas abound in these places.

For me, it starts something like this: In an elevator going up to the top floor in a medical building a woman is riding along with me in the cab. Her arms are folded and her mouth is pulled into a straight line. I ask myself why. Is she late? Is she angry? Nervous? The door opens and a man in a lab coat steps in and pushes the button for the top floor. I think his stab of the button was a bit heavy handed. Is he cranky? Why? Is it just that everybody’s in such a frenzied rush these days? The man and woman exchange a glance at each other and she quickly turns away. Ah, I think. And the magic two words float into my head: What if?

What if they know each other? What if they’re lovers? Why the standoffishness? Maybe he cheated on her, or she him. Or, what if they had gone out on a date and he was supposed to call her the next day and didn’t? And, if that was the case, why didn’t he call?

And so it goes. While I sit on a leather arm chair in my doctor’s office waiting for my annual exam my mind is building a story about a couple in an elevator, bit by bit, idea by idea.

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Why has no place in what the heart knows for sure.

On the eve of their wedding Victoria Gliden and fiancé Owen Walker call it quits. He accuses her of not being able to get over her deadbeat father’s vanishing act when she was a child and she and her cold feet run and don’t look back.

An interior designer, Victoria, has an important meeting on Cancun that could garner her a promotion and the plan was to incorporate her presentation with the honeymoon cruise that’s journeying to the island. Since she’s sure Owen is on his way to Portland to escape the aftermath of their ruined wedding, Victoria takes the honeymoon cruise anyway. Only Owen has the same idea and they’re stuck with each other for six days, five nights.

Tony Gliden, Victoria’s father, dies in a freak accident and is sent back to earth disguised as a crotchety old man with the mission to convince his daughter to believe in love. So, he, too boards the ship.

At sea, destiny takes a detour when Victoria befriends the quirky old man with kind eyes and together they join forces with a quartet of unabashed women in their fifties who drink pink martinis and flirt with the wait staff but are wiser than they look. While trying to dodge Owen, Victoria’s new acquaintances help her face old wounds and confront new fears.

Most of all, Victoria and Owen both realize it all boils down to one word—why?

By journey’s end will two broken hearts get their answer?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Words spilled from Owen’s lips before he had the chance to think. “I don’t know, Vic, maybe on some level I was meant to be here on this ship.”

She didn’t respond, kept her tooth locked down on that lip. But, her eyes were windows to some distant place he longed for. So, he and his glass of vodka let more words tumble free. “Sometimes I still can’t believe you really did this.” He gulped his drink in an effort to shut himself up, but it was fuel to his fire. “That you did this to us.”

“Don’t.” Victoria grabbed the fancy clutch that she’d squeezed into a misshapen blob of sparkly fabric.

“You know what?” He couldn’t stop and suddenly he didn’t want to. “It’s just too bad you’re so ridiculously afraid of veering off that rigid path you’ve carved out for yourself. That’s got to be a tough trek, Victoria. You must be exhausted.”

She stood up from the bar stool, chin held high, eyes swimming.

“You’re leaving.” It wasn’t a question. Owen knew the answer too well.

“Um, yes, I uh, promised my friends that I’d meet them.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you back at the suite then, huh?” Pent-up energy raced around in him banishing every urge he had to stroke her hair, pull her to him, make them right again. His tone was caustic and it felt good and lousy both.

For each millisecond that he held her gaze, Victoria squirmed, her hands wringing that now pretty ugly evening bag, that tooth all but drawing blood as it pressed the pink flesh of her lower lip. She broke the stare and darted away as though she were being chased.

Owen’s heart squeezed like a fist had wrapped itself around the muscle. A tear pricked his eye. Victoria could run all she wanted, but for the first time in almost two days something finally made sense. She loves me.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_victoriaatseaBorn to a feisty Italian mother and a gentle blue-eyed Irishman, I was given the name “Marykate,” inspired by Maureen O’Hara’s character in the movie, The Quiet Man, an old-time favorite love story that co-starred John Wayne. With a grandmother Catherine and an Aunt Mary the name was an obvious choice.

I’ve been writing stories all my life. There’s an old Macy’s box in my attic filled with my writings from childhood, now smudgy-looking pages produced on my portable Olivetti Underwood typewriter, an eighth-grade gift from my Grandmother Catherine.

I am a recent First Place winner of a short story contest sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine and write a column entitled “Boomer Humor” that appears monthly in my neighborhood newspaper.

My husband and I are our own love story. We have a slap-happy middle-aged second marriage with a combined total of six grown children, one delightful granddaughter, another precious little baby on the way and one ridiculously spoiled, amazingly handsome cat named Sammy.

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