Pondering the Muse by Eden Monroe – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Pondering the Muse

When I thought about writing Who Buried Sarah, my first step was to decide on a provocative title and then write the story to fit that title. Next I briefly considered time periods in which to set this story, and quickly settled on the 1920’s, my source of inspiration very quickly coming into focus. First of all 1926 when the story begins as well as 1927 as it continues are important family milestones for me, as are the settings of Gondola Point and the neighbouring village of Rothesay. Both are very dear to me because my mother spent her formative years in that area, a poor girl and youngest child of a widowed mother who worked as a live-in maid. That meant Mum had to go to school with the sons and daughters of the Rothesay elite. Given my mother’s obvious economic and social limitations she naturally felt ostracized, and her natural inclination toward melancholy, which I inherited, did not make for an easy time.

Sarah and Fanny in Who Buried Sarah shared similar life circumstances, although I choose to help them rise above it. They would not suffer as my mother once did.

My father also briefly lived in Gondola Point, a small farming community on the Kennebecasis River, and met my mother selling strawberries door to door. So how could I have anything but a romantic heart?

My inspiration for Sarah’s fiancé, Connor McLagen, the son of wealthy businessman Pritchard Mclagen and his wife Agnes, is again a throwback to old-money Rothesay and the privilege of affluence. At one time Rothesay was a summer haven for the well-to-do of nearby Saint John, but following the great fire in June of 1877 that destroyed a major portion of that city, many who had summer homes in Rothesay chose to relocate there on a permanent basis – social standing intact.

Of course placing McLagen & Son Ltd. on the Saint John waterfront during Prohibition was a natural fit. I simply could not resist the easy pickings offered by this venerable old city, incorporated in 1784: the salty tang of ocean breezes, the bustling harbor and stately stone buildings – architectural triumphs – that rose in defiance from the ashes of the great fire. A story set in Saint John is certainly worth telling.

To help breathe life into my characters I cast their roles from the ranks of TV and cinema to star in Who Buried Sarah. Going about it that way, as I always do, helps dialogue flow more easily while I get to know everyone better. When the characters are fleshed out so to speak and I hit the groove, it makes for a much more relaxed experience. I become the spectator, or however they wish to put me to good use to get their story told. But even those stars who’ve been cast must continue to inspire me, or I will find someone else to play the part. It has certainly happened before.

I’m also heavily influenced by music – inspired by a song I hear on the radio or wherever. If I am greatly moved by a song, if it touches that spot deep within me, a book idea is immediately born. I don’t even have to write it down. I will never forget the emotion it evoked in me. Emotions are one of my best inspirations, as are passions. For example, my passion for roses became Sarah’s passion for roses in Who Buried Sarah, her independent spirit my own battle cry.

Sarah, the only child of Rev. and Mrs. Cranston Estey, was betrothed to Connor McLagen of the affluent McLagen family. The McLagens were socially revered, although there were rumours of nefarious underpinnings to their substantial wealth, and the God-fearing Esteys were not in favour of the marriage.

Three days before the June 1927 wedding, Sarah disappeared. Her note said she’d changed her mind and decided to leave town.

A week later she was found, buried in a rose garden, the gruesome and sensational discovery knocking New Brunswick prohibition wars out of the headlines.

There were many with secrets to keep…

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“Then stop playing with fire. Look, I like it that you want to … go further … but not now, darling. We have to wait for the right time and I promise to live up to your expectations. There will be nothing holding us back then, but I promise I will be gentle.”

Shifting away from him slightly, she gazed out across the river. “I understand that. I’m not exactly inexperienced about such things, Connor.”

Had she really just said that aloud? She was aghast that the secret she knew she had to share with him at some point had spontaneously bubbled to the surface. This was probably the worst time for such a revelation, but there was no turning back now.
There was silence as she waited for the fallout from the bomb she’d just dropped, not daring to look at him.

“Excuse me?” he asked after a moment, his voice gone hard. “What did you mean by that, Sarah?”

Apparently this had unexpectedly become the time for truth telling. She was as surprised as he was it was happening, but she loved him too much not to be completely honest. She’d just thought it would somehow be easier to do. “What I mean is … I’ve … ahhh … been with a man before.”

He was deadly calm. “In what way?”

About the Author: Eden Monroe writes about real life, real issues and struggles, and triumphing against all odds. A proud east coast Canadian, she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, and a good book.

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Futility of Defense by Bryan Cole – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bryan Cole will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Paladins are nothing but trouble. When Krell, an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea, hears the call from ReckNor, the capricious god of the seas and skies, the attention of the rich and powerful turn their gaze toward him. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don’t worship their deity.

When Krell stands against the might of the sea devils and emerges victorious, concern and interest turn to fear—fear of their secrets and plans being revealed and exposed, of the ruin that often follows in a paladin’s wake. Now he stands in defense of a pitiful town at the edge of nowhere, even as the sea devil menace grows more dire for each day that passes.

For as deadly as the sea devils are to Krell, his past choices and the consequences of his actions may be deadlier still . . .

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“Petimus told us that you were unlike any paladin we have met before, but I must say, I am surprised nonetheless. Greetings, Krell of ReckNor. My name is Naerdra Smithforge, stonesinger of Talcon. Here to build a fortress to protect your small town from the sahuagin, I understand.”

Krell smiled, looking at her. She wore woolen leggings and a linen shirt, with a mantle of fine cloth embroidered with gold sigils. A red sash with a gold pin was her only other adornment.

“I am most pleased you are here, Naerdra. The town sorely needs your aid.”

“Hmm. Perhaps I will see one of these sea devils for myself.”

Krell’s expression darkened. “If you remain in Watford for any length of time, you certainly will.”

He gestured. “My trusted allies and companions, Verbena and Dahlia, who have stood with me against the sea devils and saved my life more than once.”

Naerdra nodded at them, and they both inclined their heads while bowing slightly. Krell stared at them for a moment. Their bows had been identical in both timing and depth.

“You’re certain you are uninjured, Krell? You have blood on your face,” said Petimus, his voice concerned.

Krell turned toward him and grinned. “As Olgar will tell you, some lessons can only be learned a single way, at least for me. I am ReckNor’s blade, and he wants it sharp. That means that I will be pressed against the grindstone at times. Unpleasant, but necessary. Still, his gifts are many, and the grace of ReckNor has healed my wounds already.” Krell stood and stretched.

Naerdra looked at Krell, then at the tree in front of the temple, then upward to the sky. “I have heard also that you are dragon friend, Krell of ReckNor. Is this so? May I meet your mighty companion?”

Krell nodded, smiling. “Of course, Naerdra. Fortis is currently hunting, though I think he does it because it amuses him more than because he requires food. He dislikes it when I… uh…” Krell glanced at Verbena.

“Query, Krell. When you query him.”

Krell nodded. “He dislikes it when I query him while hunting. He will return when he is satisfied with himself.”

About the Author:

Bryan is an avid reader, and has loved the fantasy genre since he was a child. His love of stories of mighty knights, terrible dragons, and noble steeds has inspired him for decades.

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Voices of Cancer by Lynda Wolters – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lynda Wolters 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.

“I don’t know what to say” and “I don’t know what to do” are common responses to a life-threatening diagnosis. Voices of Cancer is here to help.

Every cancer story is different, but there is one commonality: both patients and the people supporting them often struggle to properly articulate their wants and needs through particularly challenging and in many cases, uncharted territory. Lynda Wolters knows firsthand: she was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal mantle cell lymphoma in August of 2016.

Voices of Cancer offers a candid look into the world of a cancer patient, informed by Lynda’s own story and conversations had with dozens of patients weighing in on their needs, wants, and dislikes as they navigate the complex world of diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. With comprehensive and accessible insight from people who’ve been there, Voices of Cancer helps educate, dispel fears, and start positive conversations about what a cancer diagnosis truly means, while shining a light on how best to support a loved one on their own terms.

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Voices on Thoughtless Words

There is no perfect thing to say to someone with a devastating disease, but honest conversation and true statements are better than fluffy words that are best suited for use as a slogan. It’s okay to let the patient know you don’t know what to say. It’s okay to let them know you are afraid of offending them or making them feel sad with your words or your personal fear of what they are going through. And it’s okay to just sit with them, cry with them, listen to them vent, or just share space.

Some of my most comforting times were when people just shared space with me. Every time I was hospitalized, my dear friend Michelle would bring all her “gadgets”—cell phone, laptop, etc.—and work from my hospital room. Sometimes staying an hour or more, often not speaking but just sitting with me and working on her laptop, she shared space and her love.

About the Author:

Lynda was born and raised in a tiny farming community of 400 in northern Idaho. She worked on the family farm, with her first job being picking rocks out of the fields and ultimately graduating up the ladder to driving a grain truck and combine during harvest. Following high school, Lynda continued her education in Las Vegas before she moved back home to Idaho to raise her three sons.

Lynda still resides in Idaho with her husband and their peekapoo, Max.

Lynda has worked in the legal field for 30+ years and enjoys ballroom and swing dancing, horseback riding, kayaking, and river rafting. She has a heart for people and enjoys regularly volunteering. She spends the bulk of her spare time reading and writing.

Lynda was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) in August 2016. She touts herself as being a thriving warrior of the disease.

Lynda has completed two books of nonfiction: Voices of Cancer, released in October 2019, and Voices of LGBTQ+, released in August 2020.

The Placeholder, Lynda’s debut novel, was released in November 2022.

Lynda has published the following articles: Navigating the Workplace with Chemo Brain, February 23, 2020, Elephants and Tea. and When Masks Weren’t Popular, March 24, 2020, Patient Power. She has spoken on several podcasts, been a guest on a local talk show regarding Voices of Cancer, and given interviews for other outlets and print.

Jane Brody wrote up Voices of Cancer in the New York Times, her article entitled What to Say to Someone with Cancer, on January 13, 2020, with a follow-up on January 20, 2020, entitled, When Life Throws You a Curveball, Embrace the New Normal.

The Chinese translation rights of Voices of Cancer have been purchased by a grant to offer the book to medical students in Tawain.

Lynda donates Voices of Cancer books and a portion of its proceeds to Epic Experience, a nonprofit camp for adult survivors and thrivers of cancer located in Colorado.

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What Scares Me the Most by Nick Wilford – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nick Wilford 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.

What Scares Me the Most

As an author, what scares me the most is running out of ideas. It probably won’t ever happen because I believe there’s an infinite variety of ideas out in the universe, so maybe what I’m more scared of is not doing justice to a great idea. Or, which is perhaps worse, repeating myself with similar themes. In this post I’d like to take the opportunity to share some tips on dealing with these issues for anyone who’s interested in writing, or perhaps you’ve already taken the plunge and have run into such challenges.

One of the hardest things to deal with for any writer is when what appears on the page doesn’t match up with the vision in your head. It’s probably true for any form of art – music, film, painting. You have that initial flash of inspiration and then must spend many months chipping away at the block of marble to try to get to the shape you had in mind. And sometimes, you hit something at the wrong angle and it seems like there’s no way it can be fixed.

One way of dealing with this problem is remembering that the reader is in pretty much every way a lot more important than the writer. Without a reader, your story is just a record to yourself of your own thoughts and inclinations. Is it a piece of art? Certainly, but it hasn’t embarked on its trajectory yet. Once it enters the mind of a reader, then it’s begun its journey. And crucially, the reader doesn’t have the burden of the vision you had before beginning writing. There are no preconceived expectations. The reader is free to take the story and appreciate it any way they like, and they will take their own vision from it. The original one that the author experienced is just space dust at this point. Trust in the story on the page becoming its own entity.

So, you’ve got to reconcile that idea of what comes out on the page not living up to the image in your head, but once you’ve accepted that it should become a lot easier to move forward. There are things that help you chase that vision, of course. It’s always said that a writer should carry pen and paper to capture any ideas that occur, but you should also do the same to write down any developments in your work in progress that come when you’re away from your desk. Or you can record them on your phone and take voice notes. Many writers have a plan that they stick to point by point, or a bulletin board with milestones they must hit in the story. Those are all fine. But the best approach for me is simply to follow where the characters want to go. They might have things in mind that you never thought about, and certainly for me I can’t know their desires, weaknesses and motivations in any depth until I start writing about them. Although you might have started with a grand vision in your head, what the writer wants out of the story ultimately isn’t really relevant. It’s what the characters want that counts. You are merely a conduit.

Harica is gifted with the ability to defuse conflicts using her mind. When she is recruited to assist in resolving a war via an arranged marriage, she discovers that the reluctant bride-to-be has similar powers. Princess Jasmila doesn’t use her powers for good and when Harica arrives to help with the marriage arrangements, she fights back and sends Harica into a coma.

It is through this comatose state that Harica discovers a mysterious liminal space populated by others who share her gift. In this new realm, she learns to do things she never believed possible, but soon things spiral out of control.

In the face of a terrifying and seemingly unstoppable adversary, Harica wrestles with the decision to come to terms with the dark side of her gift.

Will she take ownership of it or turn her back on it forever?

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I tried to get a handle on the energy and interplay between the two minds. Jasmila’s was, as I’d expected, much stronger, practically drowning out Narbert’s signals by sheer force, but that didn’t put me off. There would be something I could latch onto, a vulnerable side, even if it was buried deep. Obviously, I would have to concentrate on Jasmila first.

The princess’s complacency was what I was counting on. If she already thought she had me beat, hopefully her guard would be down.

Subtlety wouldn’t be the watchword here. I didn’t want to give her time to sense her own plan hadn’t worked because then she would fight back all the more. I charged like a battering ram but quickly realized this wasn’t going to work. Pulling off something like this was a delicate operation that needed both parties to play along. The “bull in a china shop” approach wasn’t going to cut it. Although there was a bit of give from Jasmila at first, once she rumbled my attack, her mind turned into a brick wall that I bounced off like a tennis ball. I tried to come back for more, attempting a more measured approach, looking for a crack somewhere, even a hairline one, but it was hopeless. It was like trying to tunnel under a mountain with my bare hands. Somewhere in the vicinity I sensed Narbert, bobbing haplessly about, buffeted by the slipstream caused by the battle between me and Jasmila. I couldn’t help him. And we were both caught up in her orbit now, spinning helplessly.

About the Author:
Nick Wilford is originally from Brighton, England and now lives in a quiet town in Scotland with his wife, three daughters and six rescue dogs. Wanting to make a career from writing, he trained in journalism, but soon realized that the fictional realm was where his true passion lay. He enjoys writing speculative fiction, exploring the things that cannot be seen and “making the impossible reality.” Nick is the author of the Black & White YA dystopian series and has also published a collection of shorter fiction as well as curating, editing and publishing a fundraising anthology featuring a diverse array of talent. By day, he works as a freelance editor, and he also enjoys travelling to inspiring locations with his family, listening to music and helping unwanted dogs find loving homes.

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An Eye for the Highest and Best by Dr. Nancy-Angel Doetzel- Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dr. Nancy-Angel Doetzel 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.

Living in this world of such disruption and uncertainty can result in us facing despair. How can we attune to the rainbow after a storm, and create hope and happiness? How do we develop an eye for the Highest and Best, when faced with what appears to be the worst? What steps should we take to reconnect with our ability to be resilient?

In this book, Dr. Doetzel shares some important insights gained from her own experiences of teaching university, battling cancer, being a journalist, travelling worldwide, dealing with grief, and facing the global pandemic. Along the way, she introduces her readers to fresh ways of viewing their lives, by applying an Appreciative Inquiry lens that inspires the practice of a more conscious way of living, resulting in discovering serenity.

Readers may start to re-examine their own challenges, while discovering their own gems that warrant gratitude. The reflective questions and stories suggest ways of removing blocks to happiness and constructing healthier relationships.

The book is also an ideal tool for educators to apply to teaching Appreciative Inquiry as a qualitative research methodology.

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While attending a church service in a Mexican Cathedral, Angel’s phone had fallen out of her purse. Reaching for it later, intending to make a call, she suddenly notices it was missing. Frantically, she rushed to the hotel front desk to inquire how she could contact the Cathedral. When she arrived, the hotel clerk was holding her golden cell phone, while still looking for an identification on it.

After identifying her cell phone, the clerk told her the story of the person who had turned it in. The lady had picked up the phone in the Cathedral, under a bench. She then noticed a hotel key in the phone case slot, which matched her own hotel key. So, when she returned to the hotel after mass, she gave the cell phone to the front desk attendant.

Angel believed having her cell phone returned by someone staying at the same hotel and attending a common church service, was a miracle in action, and she was tempted to share the story with the police officer, after he checked for her phone.

About the Author:

Dr. Nancy-Angel Doetzel has been teaching in the Sociology Faculty of Mount Royal University since 2006, and as a seasonal sessional instructor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary since 2005.

An award-winning scholar, journalist, and musician, she won a Distinguished Dissertation Award for her doctorate dissertation, leading to the publication of her two books: Cultivating Spirituality in Education: Synergizing Heart and Mind and Old Heart Child’s Eyes: A Diary of Miracles.

In 2017, her students at Mount Royal University honoured her with a Teaching Excellence Award. In 2018 her students also acknowledged her for promoting wellbeing and good health within the classroom, and for being a good mentor. She received her MA, HBA, HBSW, and BA degrees from Lakehead University.

She received her PhD from the University of Calgary in 2004. She studied Intuitive Medicine in Vancouver and received a professional certification (I.C.A.D.C) from the Canadian Council of Professional Certification. She also was awarded a Broadcasting Radio and Television diploma from Confederation College. She encourages her students to examine the world through different lenses, exercising altruism, promoting social justice, and learning to be a good sociologist.

Her Mount Royal University blog is titled, Debunking Deceptive Myths. In addition to her recently published books, she has also authored and published eight scholarly articles in her field.

In February 2020, the Calgary Herald, rated one of her books (a pre-amble to this one) as a local best seller. She is currently conducting research about complementary medicine and continuing to teach at Mount Royal University.

Aside from teaching and conducting research, Dr. Doetzel has hosted a radio show “From the Heart,” airing on AM 1140 High River, for the past 10 years. She has recorded four albums of her own original songs.

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Welcome to Wonderland by Bobbie Candas – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bobbie Candas will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A recently fired biologist with mommy issues, a successful entrepreneur with a dead wife, and an immigrant hiding from gang violence…These three have only one thing in common.

They’re all screwed up

Biology researcher, Violet Hill, was just let go and is devastated. She found the solitary lab and long hours the ideal respite for her anxiety issues–doing meaningful work while avoiding people and conversation. Now unemployed, with diminishing finances, Violet is forced to face the enemy, her mother.

For years, Turner Cooper was consumed with building his company’s client roster, until the sudden death of his wife throws him totally off kilter. Now, instead of work, Turner’s guilt and alcohol issues consume him.

Living a reclusive life in Dallas, Rosario Guzman is hiding from a Mexican cartel while working in the shadows at three part-time jobs. Finally, the item she covets the most, a Green Card, arrives in her mailbox. But Rosario quickly realizes the paper card doesn’t solve all her problems.

While navigating social issues, private demons, and nightmare memories, these three lives collide as they find each other at a place none of them ever imagined they’d be working at. As their mutual relationship evolves, Violet, Turner and Rosario lean into each other and unexpectedly find their lives unfurling in remarkable and magical ways.

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Violet is Blue
Violet Hill

Mother considers me awkward, graceless, and socially challenged, but always has hope for improvement. I disagree and think of myself as critically shy. Is there such a diagnosis? I’ve learned I do best when I can control limited social encounters. That’s why I’m better working alone, in a world I’m comfortable and familiar with, the study of soil, seeds, and grasses.

I’ve been working as a research assistant with Dr. William Hirshfield. After finishing my masters at UT in Austin, I gratefully found my hidey-hole at the UT School of Environmental Sciences. After being hired, I realized it was the perfect job for me. For a year, we’ve been running experiments and collecting data on soil absorption, attempting to come up with a microbial substance that will turn arid lands into potential blooming fields of agriculture. All well and good for keeping me in my cozy, solitary research lab, but with the added bonus of working toward saving a warm and crowded planet.

Then yesterday happened.

Dr. Hirshfield called me unexpectedly to meet in his office. We normally only met every two weeks for consultations on experiments. I sat down across from his desk, with my sweating palms gripping the arm rests of the chair. The meeting opened with congenial small-talk. I said, “Hello.”

As with most people I conversed with, I found it difficult looking at Hirshfield when he spoke. Today I found his floorboards especially interesting. Wide wood panels which had me wondering, were they deliberately distressed or actually marred from age? As he shuffled papers on his desk I reached down and touched the floor. Definitely faux distressed.

He nervously coughed and then continued, “Violet, I must say, your work has been exemplary, but…”

Oh shit… The proverbial but. I shuddered slightly.

As I pretended to be intrigued with the floor, Hirshfield said, “I’m afraid I have some bad news to share.” He coughed again. “I’ll just get right to it. I hate to tell you this, but our next year of NIH funding has been cut. They haven’t renewed the terms of our project at the previous level and claim our results are not going as quickly as we initially projected.”

He seemed to be talking to himself now, explaining his problems to the ceiling as my eyes nervously flitted up occasionally to watch. “Seems our study is on the low end of their priority scale regarding research grant money. But our idea has so much merit! It dovetails perfectly with climate change issues and food production for overpopulated areas. Anyway…it’s probably all politics. Therefore—” He coughed a third time. Nervous tick or avoidance? Either way, not a good sign. “I’m having to cut most of my research staff, including your position.”

Please no. Had I heard correctly? I was praying he’d single me out as too good to let go. But of course not. My eyes became moist and my body went cold. I had finally found my place in this chaotic world, my comfy, musty den. Where I could reach my fingers deep into sandy soil and disappear into another world within my microscope. I’d clock in for hours of uninterrupted work, eat a sandwich over my work station by myself, needing to only interact with others regarding information I was knowledgeable about.

Now apparently all that was gone.

And what remained? Going home to Mother? I was devastated. I felt like laying down on those faux floorboards and curling up in a ball.

“Dr. Hirshfield, p-perhaps p-part-time. Tw-Twenty-five hours a week?”

In case you missed that, I have a noticeable stutter, which seems to come into full bloom during times of stress.

“I only wish that were possible, Violet. The grant has been downgraded to include lab equipment, supplies, and compensation for only a few key personnel. I’m so sorry. This has all come as quite a surprise. So, we’re making adjustments immediately; I can keep you for another two weeks. I wanted you to hear it from me, personally.”

I mumbled, “Th-Thank you,” then stood up, wrapped my arms across my chest, and meekly asked about a possible reference letter. He went back to shuffling papers and nodded, agreeing to my simple request. I quickly walked out with my head down, making my exit before he had the chance to shake my perspiring palm.

I spent the next few weeks desperately attempting to find a position with another research team within the department. There were several available for volunteer and credit work, but all paid positions were fully staffed. Although my educational credentials were excellent, my interviewing skills were a little shaky. I considered customer service positions, but they never seemed a good match, and I truly wanted to continue within my field of study.

At the end of the two-week period, I decided to call in for financial reinforcement. Via email, I sent my mother news of the change in job status, then requested funds to keep me in Austin while I continued to look for work, but instead of an electronic deposit, she offered this:

Dear Violet,
So sorry to hear about your job loss. I know you’ve been happy with your little research position. Sometimes these minor hiccups work out for the best. I think you need more stimulation and interaction in your work. When I visited, your lab job seemed so sterile and lonely. I’m sure I can line something up for you through my contacts in Dallas. Come home, darling. The guest house was recently redone and you’re welcome to use it. It’ll be fun hanging out together again. I believe I’ll call Lexy and see if she can revise her schedule and set aside sessions for you. What day should I expect you? Can’t wait to catch up! –Mother

She was not going to be sympathetic to my cause. I made a second stab at job hunting, knowing it was only a delay tactic. Was I being an ungrateful little bitch? Sort of. But I knew I’d have to deal with my mother’s incessant smiling face, popping in without warning, spewing false cheer, urging me to conform to her standards, and always sending out subliminal messages regarding her underlying sense of disappointment in me.

It had been five years since I’d lived at home. My first year in the dorms had been a disaster. I was happier on my own, renting an apartment for three years while earning my bachelor’s and another two for my masters, comfortably surviving in my small, quiet efficiency.

In contrast, Mother’s home was palatial, but for me it was a luxurious prison sitting on a green oak-studded hill overlooking White Rock Lake in Dallas.

I dragged out my move. I felt no incentive to rush home knowing what lay ahead; struggling through painful interviews, going through clothing issues and social events with Mother. Yes, still a tender issue at age twenty-four. Then, once again, I’d start sessions with my speech therapist, Lexy.

Unfortunately, research assistant’s pay was low, Austin rents were high, and the guest house at Mother’s was free. Economically, it made sense. Emotionally, I was an unhappy wreck.

And who could I complain to? Call 911 — My mother is inviting me to move into her newly renovated guest quarters. Put her on trial? — She insists on buying me new clothing suggested by her personal shopper at Neiman’s. Lock her up? — She’s offering me therapy for an affliction which admittedly has recently become worse.

I was a pathetic whiner. Time to get up, pack it in, and get moving.

About the Author:

Bobbie Candas lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Mehmet Candas, a stray gray cat, and a jealous tabby who does not enjoy sharing affection with the interloper. Bobbie attended The University of Texas in Austin, earning her degree in journalism. She took a detour with a career in retail management, and found her happy place when she returned to writing fiction about nine years ago.

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Mind Expressions by Alysha Potente – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alysha Potente will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

This poetry book has a total of over 130 poems, and most feature alongside: beautiful photography art. All of the poems are different from the next, in meaning and technique.

Analytical in nature, each poem dives into various topics. With this are also syllable counts, where the number of syllables per line are counted and arranged. This brings forward a technical side to poetry writing, where it is precise and balanced.

It is a skill that requires practice, where you hear the word for what it is, using mathematics while rhyming words together. All of the poetry features different rhyming forms.

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In your mind you visualise..
Something you can’t see with your eyes..
Something that’s found in fable pages..
Something that is known throughout the ages..
All are in folklore features..
Named ‘Mythological creatures’..
What do we analyse for a start?..
Maybe their quite unusual body parts..

A half horse and a half man..
Named a ‘Centaur’ that’s in Roman..
He’s also in Greek mythology..
The ‘piercing bull’ in etymology..

With flying wings that breathes fire..
Named a ‘Dragon’ as an entire..
Making a mention in Fairy tales..
Usually with castle’s as the details..

A lion and an eagle..
Named a ‘Griffin’ that looks regal..
In myths of Roman and Egyptian..
Guarding treasures is in description..

With hooves and a single horn..
Named a ‘Unicorn’ since it’s born..
In European literature and art..
It’s a symbol of pure grace and of heart..

Just a few creatures mentioned..
Next time I’ll make the list lengthened..
For there are many popular that’s known..
All of which we have heard of since we’ve grown..

Syllables: 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10, 7, 8, 9, 10= patterns.. (7, 8, 9, 10 repeated).
Every two lines rhyme together.

About the Author: Alysha has been a self- taught creative writer, since the age of 16, in her hometown of Perth, Australia. Her passion for it developed on its own, the need to express herself in a different way other than verbally, was what motivated her to keep up this passion. The use of words was captivating for expression and the love of rhymes was also heard by ear.

Alysha’s first poetry book that she read was actually in Primary School and it was called ‘Revolting rhymes’, which was a retake on nursery rhymes but in a humorous way. This book started this creative side in her at a young age, that, and also her love for art in general.

In 2015 she studied a short course at Berklee, where she was introduced to the notion of syllable counts. In fact, though she had actually been doing syllable counts unconsciously with her poetry in general. By using the same measurement of lines going off of sight, had in turn created similar syllable counts/patterns in her work.

Her book ‘Mind Expressions’ is a technical side of poetry writing that’s come to life. It’s the use of mathematics, along with creative writing. She wanted to give the reader a breakdown of each poem within, in order for them to delve into each poem further and analyse it using a different set of eyes. The poems are analytical in nature, along with syllable counts (some perfect) and perfect rhymes. This really showcases poetry at the highest skill.

Alysha is multi-talented in Art itself and is also a perfectionist. For where her passion lies in different artforms, is where she crafts her skills to a perfection standpoint.

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Theo and Sprout by Joseph Gergen – Q&A 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 $25 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If you could go back in time, who would you have dinner with?

At first I was think some deep thinking philosopher like Sarte or Voltaire, but I think that would just be too serious. So I’m thinking Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin. Get a few drinks in her and then let her excoriate everyone else in the room. Then we’d invite the others over later and laugh about how she had made such fun of them.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

Maybe a gorgon who I could send to answer the door when unwanted persons rang the doorbell and turn them to stone. Just kidding. That would be terrible. Maybe a winged fairy instead. I imagine it being like a cat that can fly and verbalizing all the witty and sardonic things you know a cat would say.

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

“Theo and Sprout” is somewhat of a magical realism story since the reader is asked to accept the existence of Sprout. What I tend to do is tell the story as straight as possible even when the most fabulous or surreal events are occurring. I think of it like a channeling a deadpan standup comedian. So the writing turns out very not flowery. In fact, while it’s not quite terse, Earnest Hemmingway would be proud of the economical prose.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

Worst advice was about word counts and trying to write a certain number of words every day. While that might work for some people and practice makes perfect I suppose, I was never going to do that. I could have tried but it would have been tortuous and ruined writing for me. Best advice was to read. To read a variety of genres, old and new. Read and let yourself be inspired by the story to want to be able to create the world the author created. Read and admire the craft and the style and the wonderful words.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Many of the normal aspects of story are based on my family life as a child and some events stolen from other families. Those helped shape the main character and who he is, and made it personal for me and hopefully made it personal for those who could relate to those experiences. Then with that personal touch on the main character, we threw him into the more surreal parts of the story and we watch those worlds collide.

While Theo longs for some guidance through the perils of adolescence, the guidance he knew his family wouldn’t give him, he isn’t prepared for Sprout, his inner Divine Feminine, to present herself and offer it to him. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have a choice since Sprout, sassy and confident about her presence, won’t go away.

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SPROUT. My brother had no idea the impact the nickname he derisively gave me would have. Neither of us knew how unwittingly appropriate it would become. Was it destiny or self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t know. Memories and dreams and possibilities like to mix together. As far as my past is concerned and the makeup of who I am and what shaped me, I can make no distinction between memory and reality and dream. I usually don’t try.

While I certainly don’t remember all of my childhood, and many aspects are densely foggy, I remember with clarity the day my life changed. I was preparing for school in the basement bathroom—the small, cramped bathroom that seemed more like a large porta-potty with a shower than an actual bathroom. Wet towels covered the floor and almost all available surfaces. Countless toiletries jumbled themselves wherever space allowed them to balance or stack. Most of these did not belong to me. They belonged to my collection of brothers and sisters. I had a toothbrush. I knew that. Usually, I found toothpaste. If I absolutely needed a less common toiletry, I picked through a baffling array of products, many of which I had no understanding, until I found something useful.

About the Author: Author of “Theo and Sprout”. Born and raised on the plains of North Dakota. Moved to Twin Cities because it’s actually warmer. Enjoy creating in whatever form it takes, including writing, painting, and furniture making. The enjoyment is in the doing. Looking to add a little magic to the world through art.

Other books include “Without a Pang” and “Methane Wars.”

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Happiness Mountain by Amal Indi – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Happiness is the most important experience that we as human beings seek throughout our entire lives. Yet there is no one clear definition of happiness in the world today.

How, then, can we expect to be happy to our fullest if we do not know what happiness is?

Everyone has happy moments in life. Suppose you are awake sixteen hours a day after eight hours of sleep—how much time are you truly happy in these sixteen hours?
If you are happy only 20 percent of your day, you will not feel truly happy in life.
If you are happy 50 percent of your day, you will feel like you have an OK life.
If you are happy 60 percent or above, you are living a happy life.
If you are happy 80 percent and above, you’re living a phenomenally happy life.
What if you could change the times that you are not happy to happy moments?

If you want to get better at something, you must study and become proficient in that subject. You do not know what you are missing if you do not learn. The same principle applies to happiness. If you want to be happier, study what happiness is. If happiness is important to you, master it.

By knowing happiness, you can consciously live a happier life. You can minimize the external factors impacting your happiness. You can get happiness under your control.

Irrespective of where you are in life today, by reading this book and following the happiness definition, philosophy, and methodology, you or anyone can live a happier life.

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The Happiness Philosophy

We as human beings find happiness in different ways: money, family, travel, meditation, exercise, material things, alcohol, pets, work, etc. We look for happiness from various activities while living busy lives with work, family, and other responsibilities. We all have times when we are unhappy and suffering while doing daily activities. We tend to look at happiness and daily activities as distinct moments of life.

Daily life is a collection of experiences from when you wake up to when you go to bed. By changing the philosophy of happiness to make every experience a happy experience, you can genuinely live a happier life. If you make every experience happy, naturally your whole day will be happy. If you focus on happiness daily, your entire life will be happy. You do not need to wait for something to happen or some future activity to be happy. You set the intention to be happy in the present moment, in every experience.

To live in this new happiness philosophy, you need a good understanding of happiness. Happiness Mountain’s happiness definition, philosophy, and methodology will help you with that. Why is a methodology critical? A methodology can be followed by anyone, and they will gain results. You do not have to reinvent a methodology for happiness. Instead, follow the Happiness Mountain methodology with ease. Irrespective of where you are in life today, by reading this book and following the happiness methodology, you or anyone can live a happier life.

About the Author:

With over 20 years of experience working for financial institutions as a Solutions Architect, Amal set out on a mission to find true happiness. After researching happiness for many years, he is ready to share a definition, philosophy, and methodology for happiness so that anyone can follow and find true happiness with inner peace, joy, and fulfillment. He has written an incredible book called “Happiness Mountain – Make every experience a happy experience”. Amal is also a father of two kids and lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Amal’s mission is to heal the world and allow everyone to enjoy true happiness.

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by Melanie Bell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotion. Melanie Bell will award a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to Handle Negative Criticism

If I took every critique of my writing personally, I’d curl up in bed sobbing and stop writing forever.

Fortunately, I’ve worked on tempering my response to criticism. But it’s been a process!

Critique is important for a writer. It helps us see what aspects of our writing others connect with and what we can improve. It’s useful to get input from readers who can pinpoint what’s confusing, boring, or enthralling.
Keep in mind, though, that while people offering critique can offer insight on things that aren’t working, they usually won’t have the answer for how to fix them.

Yes, they might have an idea of what they think would work better. But they’re not the one writing the story – you are. It’s helpful to take their suggestions for “what to change” with a grain of salt. Spend some time doing your own reflection on how to solve the problem in a way that works for your story, intention, and style.

Keep in mind, too, that tastes are different. Maybe you’ve written a lyrical novel full of digressions because you love reading books like that. You might want to seek out readers that also enjoy these stories. If your readers prefer a fast-paced plot, they might not like your book at all, no matter how well-written it is. And they might suggest that you change your story into the story they want.

It’s important to separate yourself from your work. Your story isn’t you. It’s something you’ve created – only one of many tales you might craft. No matter how much of yourself you put into writing it, your readers don’t have direct access to your soul, only to the words you wrote. So, people offering critique aren’t criticizing you at all. They’re simply critiquing your story.

Know yourself and how you handle criticism in general. If you’re very impressionable, be mindful of that and don’t let yourself be pushed around when it comes to the integrity of your writing. If, on the other hand, you tend to react defensively, work on being open and willing to listen. Take feedback for the sometimes dubious, sometimes helpful gift that it is.

A refreshing YA debut from Canadian author Melanie Bell, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Becky Albertalli, and Nina LaCour.

Melanie Bell has created a compelling coming-of-age story, featuring a bisexual protagonist, for those that can relate to the search for untapped potential. Told in alternating timelines on Prince Edward Island and Vancouver, Chasing Harmony reminds us of the exhilarating feeling that comes with hearing your heart’s song.

Piano prodigy Anna Stern is used to having all eyes on her. As she becomes a teenager, Anna struggles to find her identity without the soundtrack of sonatas and concertos. There’s also the worry that comes with the crushing expectations of her musical gift and her parents’ imploding marriage.

Anna finds refuge in her best friend, Liss, who is full of magic and escape plans. However, now their relationship is changing and Anna is starting to fall for her. Adding to the complicated status is new kid Darien, who is always vying for Anna’s attention.

As the haunting spectre of burnout lurks close by, an upcoming performance with Liss will determine both of their futures. With everything building to a crescendo, what follows is an authentic life in the making.

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She blows out the flame, crushes the poster into a ball as bits of ash flake off. She can’t let them catch this.

Another voice: “I swear I didn’t burn anything!”

She grabs the stack of old band posters from the file shelf and stuffs them in her bag. No one else working at The Green Staircase cares about these posters. It was Anna’s idea to keep them.

“Maybe it’s the radiator.”

All those bands, her pride and joy. Who was she kidding?

“I think it’s coming from over there—”

Quick! Into the alley, garbage bins reeking. What bin should burnt paper go in—recycling? Compost? She tosses and runs wildly down the street. Her shift is over. She’s done her job.

Out of habit, she stops at the community center on the corner. It’s late Friday evening, still open, no floor hockey games or beading club for underprivileged youth. No one at the pool tables or arcade.

She rushes to the piano.

No one is there to clap as she launches into the band’s last number, a tender little piece sung by Mustache Man whose burnt face now graces a compost bin. She hasn’t played it before, but that isn’t a problem. Her fingers relish the slick feel of keys, the quick acrobatics of motion. She riffs on the melody, improvises, and adds a solo section. For those lyrics she remembers, she sings along, not powerfully but perfectly in key.

About the Author:Melanie Bell is a Canadian multi-genre writer living in the UK. Her books include a short story collection, Dream Signs, a nonfiction title, The Modern Enneagram, and the YA novel Chasing Harmony. She has written for several publications including Contrary, Cicada, The Fiddlehead, and Huffington Post. She loves music, art, and nature, and aspires to see as much of the world as she can.

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