Frisk Me by Lauren Layne – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win a copy of Frisk Me.

Favorite vacation destination
This is going to be more of a theme than an actual place, but I love mountain/forest getaways. Bonus if there’s a lake nearby. When I hear “vacation,” I don’t see palm trees or beach. I don’t think site-seeing or swanky hotels. It’s all about the “escape.” I suspect it’s because I’m so thoroughly a city-girl. I’ve lived in downtown Seattle. Midtown Manhattan. I’m currently in the heart of Chicago with a stunning view of the Hancock tower. But as much as I love this, sometimes my mind craves a retreat, where I want nothing but nature and quiet, coffee in the morning, wine in the evening. I crave a place where I can hear myself think. And now I’m annoyed with myself for picking this particular question to answer, because all I want to do is go plan a vacation :)

7_27 Layne_Frisk Me_MMAfter a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York’s most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the “American Hero,” Luc’s boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn’t mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who’s been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.

Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC’s lead anchor-but to get there, she’ll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava’s doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York’s finest …

About the Author: A long-time romance reader, Lauren Layne thinks the only thing better than reading about happy endings is writing them. She now pursues a full-time career in Happily Ever After, a job she’s naturally suited for after marrying her high school sweetheart. A bit of a nomad, Lauren’s lived everywhere from Orange County to Manhattan, and currently lives in the Seattle-area. Her hobbies include coffee by day, wine by night, and lots of writing in between. She’s also a total website nerd and insists you check out her website!

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, or BAM!

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Where Do Ideas Come From by R. L. King – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $40 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.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

One of the most common questions that most writers are asked is “where do your ideas come from?” For me, the question is more like, “Where don’t ideas come from?”

I think those who’ve never written a book (or never wanted to) believe that there’s some mystical source of ideas out there that writers tap into, but for me, there’s nothing mystical about it. Ideas come from everywhere. I’ve gotten pieces of novels from internet news articles, discussions with friends, movies, TV shows, other books, and random snatches of conversations overheard from strangers. Some of the best are “bolts from the blue” that hit me at most unexpected times: two of the best smacked me in the head while I was watching movies in a theater and I had to duck out into the lobby to capture them on my smartphone before they flitted away.

Here are some of the “mystical” sources where I’ve gotten ideas for bits in the novels I’ve already written:

• A small, odd shop in a nearby town
• A preview commercial before a movie
• A Chuck Palahniuk short story
• An internet writeup about Burning Man
• Doctor Who
• Two shops and some supernatural legends from my home town
• A tabletop roleplaying game
• A really bad early 90s science fiction show

None of these things gave me whole plots—those are a bit harder, and usually end up as a synthesis of several of the ideas as they start to come together into something bigger—but each one provides part of the story and before too long I’ve got a book brewing.

For me, the hard part isn’t getting the ideas—it’s keeping them straight. I used to think, “Oh, that’s a great idea! I’ll have to remember it!” and of course, because my brain is full of squirrels, the idea wandered off and got lost among the rest of the detritus in there. These days, I always write them down. Even if it’s just a tiny snippet of an idea, I stop what I’m doing and get it down. If I’m away from home, I email it to myself from my smartphone (which I’m never without). If I’m home, I have a little box full of half-size 3×5 cards where I write the snippet down and file it. Some of them are big (the basic plot of a full novel, or even a multi-book arc for the series) and some are very small (a single scene, maybe, or even a joke). Some are silly, and some are deadly serious. But all of them are there for me next time I want to start a novel: I just pull them out, look through them, and figure out which ones will fit with what I want to do.

At this point, I’ve got so many ideas for Stone Chronicles stories that I not only have the basic series arc in place but I also have the skeleton plots for about the next five books, along with several short stories and novellas. That’s a good place to be for me, because I tend to get stressed out if I don’t know where my next plots are coming from. Also, it leaves me plenty of room to slot in other ideas—and because I spend time every day on the internet reading weird news, Twitter, and the odd stories friends post on Facebook, I’m sure those other ideas will keep coming.

So the bottom line, at least for me, isn’t where ideas come from—but how to find time to use all the ideas that never stop coming! If you’re a new author and you’re worried about inspiration, just let yourself be open to the world around you. Don’t limit yourself to things in your own genre, either. Part of the fun is taking something that might have nothing to do with what you write and molding into something you can use. Rom-coms inspiring horror novels, or vice versa? A news story about sports inspiring an urban-fantasy story? It could happen, if you let it—and it could be your next big thing!

Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor, powerful mage, and snarky British expat now based in Palo Alto, California, does his best to keep his academic and social lives separate from his increasingly frequent brushes with various malevolent forces from the supernatural side of the street. A little horror, a little humor, but mostly straight-up urban fantasy.

Stone-and-a-Hard-Place-new-face-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalStone and a Hard Place

Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor and powerful mage, has his hands full trying to keep the two sides of his life separate as he trains a new apprentice, deals with a malevolent entity trapped in the basement of a wealthy old woman’s massive home, and battles dark mages intent on enslaving it for their own ends.

Debut novel of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.

MediaKit_BookCover_Bk2_AlastairStoneChroniclesThe Forgotten

Dr. Alastair Stone is back, this time teaming up with Jason Thayer, a young man hunting for his missing sister. Embroiled in a web of odd homeless people, a growing conspiracy, and deadly danger, they soon realize that even if they find Jason’s sister, they might not be able to help her.

What do you do when you discover an extradimensional plot that threatens the safety of the entire world, but you can’t tell anyone about it because literally anyone on Earth could be part of it?

Book Two of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.

Enjoy an excerpt from STONE AND A HARD PLACE:

“Dr. Stone?”

The voice was trembling, female, and sounded terrified. It took him a moment to identify it. He stared as Megan stirred again, draping her arm back over him. “Mrs.—Bonham?”

Whoever was on the other end sounded like they were on the verge of hysteria. “Dr. Stone, is that you?”

“It’s me, Mrs. Bonham. What’s wrong? Is something wrong?” He sat up a little, propping himself up on his pillows. Megan’s arm slid down over his stomach, but he didn’t even notice that she was there.

“Something’s here,” she quavered. “Something’s…happening.”

He was fully awake now. Carefully, he moved Megan’s arm and sat on the edge of the bed. “Calm down, Mrs. Bonham, please. I’ll help you if I can, but you have to tell me what’s happening.”

“I don’t know,” she sobbed. “It’s like the whole house hates me. Noises—cold winds—things slamming—”

“Is Iona there? Can you put her on for a moment?”

There was a shuffling sound and then a different voice spoke, sounding almost as frightened as Adelaide Bonham had. “Dr. Stone? This is Iona.”

He took a deep breath. “Iona. What’s going on? Is Mrs. Bonham—”

“She’s not imagining things, Dr. Stone,” the woman said. In addition to sounding frightened, she sounded like she couldn’t believe what was going on. “I can hear them too. The noises. The feelings. It’s horrible, Dr. Stone. Something’s going on.”

About the Author: R. L. King is an award-winning author and game freelancer for Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the popular roleplaying game Shadowrun. She has contributed fiction and game material to numerous sourcebooks, as well as one full-length adventure, “On the Run,” included as part of the 2012 Origins-Award-winning “Runners’ Toolkit.”

Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, Borrowed Time, was published in May 2015.

When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can. She is an active member of the Horror Writers’ Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

Writer Website | Publisher Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Buy Stone and a Hard Place (book 1) at Amazon and The Forgotten (Book 2) also at Amazon.

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Create a Book Trailer for Free by C.C. Koen – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C.C. Koen 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.

Create a Book Trailer for Free by C.C. Koen

Don’t think you can handle creating your own trailer? Wrong! There are many user-friendly, video generators available that make the task easy to accomplish. If you add images to your FB or Twitter page, then you can handle these web-based programs.

Stupeflix

If you haven’t created a video before, Stupeflix would be a good introduction. The interface is quite simple and you won’t be bogged down with a lot of extra features. The free account is sufficient for authors.

• Themes: sixteen themes are available to provide uniformity. There are two free themes, others cost $5.00, and a few are available only for PRO accounts. Stupeflix forces you to choose a theme for each video.

• Soundtracks: over 100 songs are provided, covering a variety of genres to suit any story. One-click is all it takes to add it to your video. If you want more than one soundtrack, it is possible, but capabilities are limited. Either choose a single song to play for the entire video or select music to play per slide.

• Sharing: many options available, including: email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and posting to a blog or website.

• Format: the ease of use is attributed to the slide format. Once you select a theme, you click a plus sign to add a title, image, or a video slide. To edit, select the pull down arrow that is provided when you hover over the slide (top right corner). Select from: edit, duplicate, delete, add text overlay, add audio overlay, add text to speech (Pro), or insert custom transition. The features are as simple as 1, 2, 3.

If you use Stupeflix for your book trailer, consider using my referral code.

Kizoa

If you want to add creative transitions, animations, and effects to your trailer, then Kizoa is the way to go. The interface is simple to use as well, but provides numerous options that go above and beyond any other free program.

Themes: there is a vast collection of templates available or you can create your video from scratch. If you choose to work from a template, music selections are also recommended. You can scroll through the songs in their library to select one that fits your theme.
Soundtracks: their library contains approximately 500 titles, including a wide range of options: holidays, ambient, soundscapes, classical, hop-hop, love, pop, rock, metal, folk, country, R&B, jazz, etc. A vast collection that will suit most authors. If you want to download your own music from another source, that option is available as well. Just make sure you are aware of the copyrights for any songs you use. If you decide not to use the Kizoa library, then search for Creative Common songs, and check the FAQs or terms and conditions so you are aware of how to cite the music, and who to give credit to in your video.

Sharing: a variety of options are included based on the type of account you have (i.e., free vs. premium): e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, burn a DVD, download, and embed in a blog. If you have a free (basic) membership, you are permitted to share via email, Facebook, Twitter, or a blog. With premium memberships you can burn to a DVD or download.

Format: Kizoa formatting is better than any other program. The features include: my images, slideshow maker (video maker), collage maker, my slideshows, and order prints. Videos can be created from a template or scratch. Either option you select, the development is simple drag and drop. Once you upload images, you drag them to the slide strip located at the bottom of the screen. If you want to add transitions, there are approximately 40 to choose from. Again, drag and drop into the “T” for transitions box. If you want to add effects like snow flurries, fireworks, glitter, sprouting flowers, etc. you drag and drop it onto the image and it is automatically applied. There is a sample screen that allows users to test any effect before making a selection. You can also add text, animations, and music to the slides.

Other Book Trailer and Video Generator Options

Fiverr

Still not convinced you can create your own trailer? Fiverr has designers that can help you. Fees range but most have reasonable pricing under twenty dollars.

Animoto

Animoto has varying membership and feature options.

Free: permits a 30 minute video, provides web quality, the styles are limited, and the music selections include over 300 options.

Plus: five dollars a month permits a ten minute video, provides web quality, 64 video styles to choose from, and the music selection includes the same number as the free account.

Pro: thirty-nine dollars a month permits a twenty minute video, HD quality, 87 pro styles to choose from, and the music selection includes over 2,000 options.

WeVideo

I’m a somewhat savvy computer user, but even I found this program to be a challenge. Perhaps it’s my learning style or my preference for a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWIG) platform, but after ten minutes of confusion, I gave up on WeVideo. If you are up for a challenge, then give it a try. You may have more success.

The membership options and features include:

Free: 10GB cloud storage, 7.5 minutes/month export time, video resolution of 720p, a music selection that includes 50 titles, publish to YouTube, Google Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Daily Motion, WeVideo, and free downloads.

Premium: four dollars per month includes the same as the free membership, plus: 30GB storage, email support, free WeVideo branding, and premium editing features.

Pro: fifteen dollars per month includes the same as the premium membership, plus: 100 GB storage and a reseller license.

Whichever direction you take, book trailers can be made on a low budget depending on how savvy you are. Even if you don’t use it for your novel, at least you’ll develop a new skill that can provide hours of entertainment.

What happens when a single mom’s four-year-old daughter falls in love with Mr. Right and she doesn’t?

Maggie Tyson’s rule: no bad boys. Her incarcerated ex-husband broke her of that attraction. Needing to escape his threats and the scrutiny of the people in her hometown, Maggie relocates to New York City. Determined to not make the same mistakes, she has a mile-long list of dos and don’ts. Unfortunately, her daughter, Cecily, doesn’t like to follow them. When Cecily wanders away from her and right into Rick Stone’s office, Maggie knows he’s the exact type she’s been trying to avoid. Can she resist him or will she succumb to his willful charm?

Rick Stone’s rule: bed them don’t wed them. Running a multi-billion dollar business doesn’t leave him with much time to do anything else, particularly with an overbearing grandfather breathing down his neck. But when a man works hard, he needs to play even harder. Voted America’s most eligible bachelor, Rick doesn’t have any problems getting women into his bed—except one.

Two auburn beauties stumble into his life.
One will break his heart.
The other—heal it.
Will he love or leave them?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“This place is packed. Why’d you pick it?”

Lodged in her brain for several weeks now, Mr. Stone’s guttural tenor replayed in her daydreams and in her sleep. She inched around performing a mental countdown from ten to zero, which helped cool her off when Cece pushed her buttons, and by some miracle she hoped would work in this instance too.

A steel gray oxford, no tie, and slim-fit pants with the same sheen as his button-down vest produced an unnatural reaction. Her tongue rolled to the roof of her mouth and withheld the groan his arousing professional attire and fresh-air scent planted in her head.

“Uh…” Mr. Stone narrowed his eyes at Matt and clamped a hand on his shoulder. His flushed face resembled the cherry red that often tinted joggers’ cheeks. “Buddy, you didn’t tell me Maggie would be here. Thought you said this was a business lunch.” He waved a folder and tossed it on the table.

Matt’s grin flashed toward her and then to his friend. “You do realize she’s cooking, right?”

Just then Mr. Stone’s gaze drifted across her chest, becoming transfixed for a while on the crisscrossed fork, spoon, and knife emblem at her left breast and then darted up to her face. If possible, his skin reddened even more as he dropped onto the wooden stool, an impact that scraped the chair back a few inches, rocking him into Matt’s shoulder.

“Let’s order. I’m starved.” An elbow shot given to his buddy, Matt knocked Mr. Stone’s bent arm off the edge of the table and pointed to the menu. “Pick something, fast. I need to get to dessert before it’s all gone.”

Using a similar mocking tone like Matt had earlier, Mr. Stone scanned the room while he spoke. “You realize we’re in a restaurant that has loads of food.”

She got a chuckle out of the amusing banter. Normally, she and Kat rubbed each other the wrong way. It was good to see the ribbing happening to someone else for a change.

“No, smart ass. Maggie’s extra special, sweet treat. There’s a limited amount.”

The menu forgotten and dropped onto the table, Mr. Stone set his chin in his hand and repositioned his arm where it had been before Matt knocked it down. In a seductive murmur he asked, “What sinful goodies do you have for me, Maggie?” Extended across the counter, his hand cupped hers from underneath and gripped it like a beggar pleading for anything and everything she could give.

About the Author: C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing.

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Shadows by Stella Barcelona – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

BookCover_ShadowsCataclysm. Now. Run.

A cryptic, urgent text message turns the peaceful life Skye Barrows has created for herself and her sister into chaos. She must follow her father’s instructions to the letter, but Sebastian Connelly is blocking her way. Telling Sebastian what she must do is not an option.

What He Doesn’t Know Will Get Them All Killed

When a prison break in the midst of a security system upgrade threatens to destroy the reputation of Sebastian’s company, Black Raven Private Security Contractors, he goes on the hunt for escaped prisoner Richard Barrows – a delusional and paranoid computer software genius.

Sebastian’s mission: find Richard Barrows and return him to prison, but stonewalled by Skye, who refuses to give him answers, and with the added complication of her special needs sister, Sebastian finds himself always a step or two behind vicious killers.

Nothing About This Case is Normal

For Sebastian, it should be simple, but this case will test him in ways he never imagined. As probing interrogation becomes urgent protection, the search for Barrows forces Sebastian and Skye into a murky world of shadows and illusions.

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:

Cataclysm. Now. Run.

Her father had taught her to act first, worry later. A simple idea, and one with value, although he had the luxury of living in grand schemes and high ideals.

He’d left her to contend with the real world, and to say it was a damn inconvenient day to have to run was an understatement.

She shredded the paper where she’d written his message, put the pieces in her mouth, almost gagging on the wad of pulp. With all that was inside of her, she knew that chewing and swallowing paper as a means of destroying the message was ridiculous. Yet she was committed by blood and loyalty to following her father’s instructions, no matter how off-base, so follow them she did. She walked over to retrieve her personal ditch kit—cash, loose diamonds, gold medallions, and weapons—all packed in a backpack that was tucked in a locked trunk in her closet, under spare linens.

The location where cataclysm prompted her to run—a lake house on Firefly Island in Hickory Lake, near Nashville, Tennessee—had more supplies. For now, she just had to get there. Fast. She checked her backpack, put it by the bedroom door, and tried to calm herself by deep breathing. This first step of the cataclysm scenario—getting to the lake house within twenty-four hours and awaiting her father’s next instruction—would be a no brainer if she were alone. But she wasn’t alone.

AuthorPhoto_ShadowsStella Barcelona has always had an active imagination, a tendency to daydream, and a passion for reading romance, mysteries, and thrillers. She has found an outlet for all of these aspects of herself by writing romantic thrillers.

In her day-to-day life, Stella is a lawyer and works for a court in New Orleans. She lives minutes from the French Quarter, with her husband of seventeen years and two adorable papillons who believe they are princesses. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Southern Louisiana Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, DECEIVED, was inspired by New Orleans, its unique citizens, and the city’s World War II-era history.

Her third novel, JIGSAW, a Black Raven novel, will be released in 2016.

www.stellabarcelona.com

https://www.facebook.com/stellabarcelona

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0996018514/

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The Last Dreamgirl – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

For every man there’s a girl who grips his imagination and his heart as no other girl ever did or will. She may be in her teens or a mature woman. He responds to her as a boy to a girl. Whether she comes early in his life or late, there is a throne in his subconscious that she takes possession of, without trying, often without wanting to.The image he forms of her reigns there in perpetuity, even if she has left his life, or this life. Her enchantment never fades or fails, and he is never immune to it. She may not be for him the last wife or paramour, but she is the last dreamgirl.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Traffic was light enough that Ron could pull out and follow Bower, a car or two behind. Bower drove to a local Acme supermarket, parked, grabbed a pushcart, and went in to shop.

Ron did the same. While he avoided trailing Bower through the aisles he effectively followed him by going down aisles that Bower was coming up, and sometimes pausing near Bower to search for products on one side of the aisle while Bower was scanning the shelves on the other side. Viewing the man’s features at close range Ron had no doubt that this was the Vulture. Ron got so close to him in the drug and cosmetics aisle that he made two notable observations. First, from a sharp side angle Bower’s deformed eye-placement could be seen under his dark glasses. Second, he was working from two shopping lists—which seemed to be in different handwriting. At a glance Ron perceived one as a small neat feminine hand, written in blue ink, and the other as a larger, though equally neat, hand—probably masculine—in pencil.

Ron’s heart leaped at the thought that the penned shopping list had been written by Sandra Moore. But he knew how much he wanted to find evidence of her being alive in Bower’s house and feared he might have seen what he wanted to see. Seconds after the observation, when he had moved down the aisle, he began to question it.

The fact that both lists were so neatly written made him doubt that they were done by different hands. The pencil versus ink could have created that illusion; and sometimes one’s mood and the size of the paper can prompt one to write smaller than usual….

Ron’s doubts about handwriting were resolved when he made his next pass of Bower’s cart near the feminine hygiene shelves and saw in it a box of women’s sanitary napkins. Why in God’s name would Bower be buying Kotex if he lived alone? There had to be a woman there and a menstruating woman at that. Ron couldn’t check but would be willing to bet that the Kotex had been written on the blue-ink shopping list in what had first struck him as a feminine hand. It was a feminine hand, and he would lay odds that it was Sandra’s.

Ron got right behind Bower in the checkout line and noticed that he had also bought a woman’s scented bath powder, a feminine underarm deodorant, and a supply of hairpins. Ron had to resist an impulse to cry out in joy and triumph. None of the female items were things a young man would bring to a girl he was dating. None was the equivalent of a bouquet, a box of candy, or a bottle of perfume. These were things a man would typically pick up for his wife or mistress, a woman he was living with. Or a girl he held captive.

About the Author:

A native Philadelphian, Shane Hayes earned his bachelor’s and his law degree from Villanova University, and studied for a year at Princeton Theological Seminary. He worked as a writer/editor for Prentice Hall and an attorney for the federal government. He is married, has four children, and lives in suburban Philadelphia. His nonfiction book The End of Unbelief: A New Approach to the Question of God was released by Leafwood Publishers in the fall of 2014.

Two young men meet on ship when both are recently out of college. They share a flaming ambition. Each aims to write novels that will be internationally acclaimed and win him a place in American letters. One of them, Paul Theroux, achieves the dream in all its glory: becomes world famous, writes over 40 books, and three of his novels are made into films. The other, Shane Hayes, fails completely, but keeps tenaciously writing, decade after decade, plowing on through hundreds of rejections. Then almost half a century later, Shane contacts Paul, who remembers him, reads three of his books, likes them, and praises them with endorsements.

In writing to agents and publishers Shane could now say, “Query for a novel praised by Paul Theroux.” No one offers a book deal because of an endorsement, so rejections keep coming. But more people let him send at least a sample and are predisposed to see merit in it. At his age, time is crucial. In the month he turns 75, Shane receives contracts on two of his books from different publishers. He will always be grateful to the literary giant who remembered ten days of friendship half-a-lifetime after it ended.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Buy the book at Amazon (print)/(digital) or Barnes and Noble (print)/ (digital).

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Pondering the Muse by Jeanne Mackin – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

Pondering the Muse
by Jeanne Mackin, author of A Lady of Good Family

“You couldn’t ridicule me into going into the box,” Joni Mitchell said in a recent interview. She is Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane’s new muse and I say amen! Mitchell has been my musical hero for a while, both for the unwavering femaleness of her fabulous voice, and the powerful poetry and honesty of her lyrics. I don’t think the muse could wear a better face than Joni Mitchell’s, at any age.

In fact, I thought of Joni Mitchell quite often when I was developing the character of my protagonist in my latest novel, A Lady of Good Family. Beatrix Jones Farrand, a privileged woman of the Gilded Age, could have married well, supported her husband’s ambitions, and raised a family. That was what her society expected her to do. But she outwitted them and made her own plans, fulfilled her own ambitions. She wouldn’t be boxed in, either.

For a woman artist, invoking the muse has special meaning because the muse, traditionally, is a woman, the semi-divine being who inspires men to do their most creative work, or to simply keep working. Muses, like boats and until quite recently storm systems, were female. When you think about it, those three have a lot in common – they float, they disturb, they keep you off balance. But for a woman to invoke another woman? That can be difficult because whether anthropologists admit it or not, women can be pretty competitive and uncooperative sometimes. When I call upon my muse, I am always aware that I am calling upon a part of myself, to work better, to work harder…sometimes to work at all. The muse isn’t something to tame or train or rely upon but to become. As did Joni Mitchell. As did Beatrix Farrand, the muse of American garden design. As should we all, whatever our chosen endeavor.

Raised among wealth and privilege during America’s fabled Gilded Age, a niece of famous novelist Edith Wharton and a friend to literary great Henry James, Beatrix Farrand is expected to marry, and to marry well. But as a young woman traveling through Europe, she already knows that gardens are her true passion. How she becomes a woman for whom work and love, the earthly and the mysterious, are held in delicate balance is the story of her unique determination to create beauty while remaining true to herself.




Enjoy an excerpt:

1920

Lenox, Massachusetts

My grandparents had a farm outside of Schenectady, and every Sunday my father, who worked in town, would hitch the swayback mare to the buggy and take us out there. I would be left in play in the field as my father and grandfather sat on the porch and drank tea and Grandma cooked. My mother, always dressed a little too extravagantly, shelled the peas.

A yellow barn stood tall and broad against a cornflower blue sky. A row of red hollyhocks in front of the barn stretched to the sky, each flower on the stem as silky and round as the skirt on Thumbelina’s ball gown. In the field next to the barn, daisies danced in the breeze. My namesake flower.

I saw it still, the yellows and red and blues glowing against my closed eyelids. The field was my first garden and I was absolutely happy in it. We usually are, in the gardens of our childhood.

When I opened my eyes I was on a porch in Lenox, a little tired from weeks of travel, a little restless. My companions were restless, too, weary of trying to make polite conversation as strangers do.

It was a late-summer evening, too warm, with a disquieting breeze stirring the treetops as if a giant ghostly hand ruffled them. Through the open window a piano player was tinkling his way through Irving Berlin as young people danced and flirted. In the road that silvered past the inn, young men, those who had made it home from the war, drove up and down in their shiny black Model T’s.

It was a night for thinking of love and loss, first gardens, first kisses.

Mrs. Avery suggested we try the Ouija board. Since the war it had become a national obsession.

“Let’s,” I agreed eagerly.


About the Author:

Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, A Lady of Good Family, explores the secret life of gilded age Beatrix Jones Farrand, niece of Edith Wharton and the first woman professional landscape design in America. Her previous novel, The Beautiful American, based on the life of model turned war correspondent and photographer, Lee Miller won the CNY 2015 prize for fiction. She has published in American Letters and Commentary and SNReview and other publications and is the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in Ithaca.

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BMW’s Excellent Adventure by Brett Matthew Williams – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

BMW’s Excellent Adventure

Time travel is a double edged sword of awesomeness and disaster. The idea of stepping outside of it, while tempting on the outside, would be nothing but a miserably (if not gooey) inside of bad decisions and wrong turns. Much like life, the notion presents its good and its bad, the yin and the yang, of how to prioritize the responsibility and wants of such a vast undertaking. I have often dreamed of taming a pair of velociraptors to keep as pets, but the actual idea of doing that is so ridiculous it isn’t even workable. Call me a skeptic but until recently I have always thought of time travel as best left to fiction authors. But then I started doing this tour, and when (inevitably) every interview question ended up being ‘What time would YOU travel to?’ I actually gave the matter some thought to surprising results.

It has always bothered me that we as a civilization lost what came before written recorded history. Scientists estimate that human beings in our current form have been walking the Earth for near 100,000 years, yet we have but 6,000 years of recorded history to our wall of fame. Notice any discrepancy here? Most historians will give you the dull, dry answer that before written history, we as human beings were nomadic, or simply told stories and lessons via oral traditions. This leaves a wide berth for speculation.

How many empires were built, to what extend did they reach, and how did they each fall? Were there legendary heroes, long forgotten to time due to the passing of all whom whispered their names? What of villains, or warlords, or conspiring kings, queens, or whatever the leadership called themselves; how did they solve issues that we as a species still struggle with in the 21st century, like monogamy, crime, or religion. And speaking of religion, how many have been lost to the ages? Gilgamesh gave scholars so much to dote upon that few have bothered to ask what possibly could have been its competition. It’s been suggested to me that I’m not writing correctly unless at least ten percent of those who read it absolutely hate what I create. So, by that theory ten percent of ancient Sumerians were looking elsewhere for entertainment than the Epic of Gilgamesh. But where?!

I have received my share of correspondence with those who disagree with my quest on religious grounds. While I respect your right to practice your religion in its own space, I will fight tooth and nail to deter the ignorant, fear based culture that certain individuals champion behind the banner of ‘religion’. Too often the price of progress is paid with the suffrage of those who go against the grain of widely held, yet little verified public thought.

That being said, it would be amazing to walk, all alone, within the confines of a time before mankind inhabited the Earth, or visit the Library of Alexandria before it burnt down. Regardless of the when, the ultimate dream for any historian is to catalogue the unknown in an attempt to make amends with the fragmented pieces of mankind’s past so that it may better understand its shared history moving forward. It’s not always pleasant, but it is necessary, and I fear in our 21st century world of science and technology taking precedent above all else, an often overlooked subject.

MediaKit_BookCover_TimeIsRelativeForAKnightOfTime Meet Rolland Wright – a seventeen year old orphan living out of his car in rural Woodland Hills, California. Aside from grappling with the fact of being abandoned by his drunken father two years previous following his mothers mysterious murder, his life mostly revolves around finding a warm place to sleep at night. When one day he is attacked by men claiming to have killed his father, Rolland discovers a strange ability to slow the flow of time around him, beginning a journey that takes him to places outside of time, space, and eventually to the early 19th century to fight the sinister General Andrew Jackson. With the help of a rag-tag group of historical and mythical figures with various supernatural abilities of their own (Joan of Arc, Jesse James, etc) known as the Knights of Time, Rolland solves the mystery behind his mother’s murder, falls in love, battles the evil Edward Vilthe – reaper of souls, and finds a home of his own in the paradise known as Eden.

The Time is Relative series chronicles the origin story of the mythical figure Father Time, beginning with the award winning first novel, Time is Relative for a Knight of Time. All dates and events are historically accurate. The participants… maybe not.

Enjoy an excerpt:

It was a muggy, humid morning when U.S. General Andrew Jackson woke to the sound of tribal horns. Immediately identifying their purpose, he quickly gathered both his wits and his pants, grabbing his sword and sidearm as he left his tent.

Known to be tough as hickory, Andrew Jackson was a moderately tall man for his time, standing at six feet, one inch. In this and in his military rank he was often compared to George Washington among elite society in Boston, Washington, and New York, despite his humble beginnings.

Jackson’s rigid demeanor was only matched by his sharp attention to detail. His crisply, pressed uniform was such that it demanded the attention of all the company’s men. Each stood at full attention, showing perfect respect for their commanding officer as Jackson made his way through the columns slowly, careful to catch each and every pair of eyes.

“Today we fight like dogs, and live like kings!” Jackson roared to his men, who cheered loudly in response. Their gusto and appreciation for their General’s bravery in the face of danger was not unnoticed by his adversaries on and off the battlefield.

A slave, brought directly from Africa on Jackson’s orders, walked Jackson’s horse to him around the hustle and bustle of preparing for the day’s campaign. A light rain began to fall on the heads and shoulders of every soul under the barely visible sun, uniting them in nature. They all felt the soft droplets as they landed on both white and brown skin alike. Lightning struck diagonally across the gray sky, followed shortly by an attention-stealing clap of thunder that rocked the previously dry Florida landscape.

About the Author: Brett Matthew grew up with a passion for both film and history. He began his career fresh out of high school as a Production Assistant/ football player on NBC Universal’s television series Friday Night Lights (of which he can often be seen in the first two seasons as a member of the championship team – Go Panthers!). He quickly moved on to serve as an Original Series intern with the USA Network in Studio City, California. Following work on shows like Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice, Brett returned home to Texas to continue his education, graduating with his degree in History from Texas State University. A proud Master Freemason, Brett thoroughly enjoys fantasy fiction, watching Netflix, running, baseball, Shakespeare, and spending time with his family and critters.

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Welcome to Paradise by Heidi Lynn Anderson – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 Starbucks gift card 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_AvasAwakening_HiResWhen Ava stumbles into Paradise and comes face-to-face with her dream man, she has a feeling she’s standing on the precipice of something life-changing. Not to mention, she couldn’t be more surprised to learn her supposedly prim and proper aunt Julie was actually part owner of the premier sex club in Miami and a top-notch Dominatrix.

Navy SEAL Logan Turner always knew he needed more out of life than the next mission. That’s why he opened Paradise with his best friend Julie. It didn’t hurt that he could reap the benefits of owning a BDSM sex club. But when a sexy, doe-eyed woman walks in, his control slips for the first time ever.

MediaKit_BookCover_MaggiesLongingWho would have thought a plan to get the attention of one man, would have Maggie Blake taking two men to her bed?

Maggie Blake has one desire, to experience what the way too sexy Brian O’Malley has to offer in bed. Too bad he thinks of her as an annoyance and not as the hot, willing woman she is.

Brian O’Malley has one rule in life. Never let a woman too close, but club Paradise’s sassy little bartender threatens to change that rule and wiggle her hot little ass into his damaged heart.

MediaKit_BookCover_Julie'sSurrender_HiResMistress Julie has worked to gain control of her life and overcome a tragedy from her past, and as a co-owner of Paradise, Miami’s premier BDSM club, she thought she had everything. But the truth is she longs for something more—something like the happiness her closest friends have found with their new partners.

Nick’s sexual specialty is playing “guest star” as the third in his friends’ ménage encounters. He’s especially good at reading a situation and adjusting accordingly, and giving and receiving pleasure—and then moving on. But once he meets Julie, Nick begins to rethink his ideas on relationships.

Nick and Julie get along great outside the bedroom, but Nick will need all his skills at discerning a woman’s deepest desires to show Julie that what she thinks she wants isn’t exactly what she needs.

Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!

Enjoy an excerpt:

“You must have done something wrong. A dozen girls under your tutelage got themselves pregnant, shamed the school and ruined its impeccable reputation.”

When the tight-knit group of students wound up expecting within three months of one another, someone’s head had to roll. It made sense it was hers. Ava wasn’t a nun, wasn’t married and was low man on the totem pole.

Being the sole guidance counselor at an all-girls high school, she was well versed in the workings of overactive hormones and the complications of the teenage mind. Ava doubted the pregnancies happened by accident. She thought there might be some kind of pact going on but had no proof. It was pretty bad when seventeen and eighteen-year-olds were having more sex then she was.

The students went home and had lives, apparently more exciting ones than she had. There was nothing she could say to change the priest’s mind.

“Well, Father Donavan.” Ava stood and walked to stand in front of the old man. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to clean out my office.”

He rose. “I’ll send Sister Mary Elizabeth in to oversee you.” He pushed past her and out of the room.

What am I going to do, steal the picture of the Pope hanging on the wall? She slammed the door behind her, stomped back to her desk, picked up her cell phone and dialed.

“Nick’s House of Pleasure.” Her roommate and best friend answered.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_AvasAwakeningBy day, Heidi Lynn Anderson is a wife, mother, and owner of a small Green-Cleaning company. By night, she spins erotic tales featuring hunky heroes and the women they love. When not working or writing, Heidi likes spending time with her husband and son, doing what Florida has to offer.

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Hungry as a Wolf by Elizabeth Einspanier – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

MediaKit_BookCover_HungryAsAWolfWolf Cowrie is back in his second adventure! In the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory in 1865, tensions run high between white settlers looking for gold and the Sioux people who consider this region their holy ground. When Wolf is hired to find out what happened to the workers of a mining outpost in the area, the general theory in Goldwater is that they were slaughtered by the Sioux. Wolf discovers something far more sinister lurking in the Black Hills, an ancient evil whose unending hunger drives sane men to ghoulish extremes.

Enjoy an excerpt:

It was a young woman of perhaps nineteen years of age, with auburn hair and brown eyes. She was well-dressed in a white blouse with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a narrow column of ruffles down the front. A dark blue skirt respectably covered her ankles and black boots, and her hair was pulled back in a style he could not readily see from this angle, with wisps curling delicately around her face. She was a pretty little thing as well, and Wolf wished he could have made her acquaintance under better circumstances—like, say, fully-clothed, rather than stark naked with only his hat to conceal his shame.

The two of them stared at each other for maybe half a minute—him in a state of poker-faced, heart-pounding embarrassment, her in open-mouthed shock. Wolf’s heart and his stomach had lurched in opposite directions when he saw her—his heart upwards to lodge in his throat, his stomach downwards to gurgle in low panic somewhere around his knees. He swallowed hard to try to clear the lump of nerves behind his larynx. Somehow, Wolf was the first to find his voice.

“Ordinarily, miss, I’d be the first to tip my hat to a lovely young lady like yourself,” he said as politely as he could manage, with a glance down at the hat in question. “But I don’t think either of us wants that right now.”

She blushed bright scarlet and whirled out of the bathroom without a word, revealing the bun that secured her hair and slamming the door behind her. Wolf put his free hand over his face.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_HungryAsAWolfElizabeth Einspanier is the self-published author of the Weird Western novella Sheep’s Clothing and the upcoming sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel. Her short stories have been published in Down in the Dirt and Dark Fire Fiction. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and an associate member of the Horror Writers of America. She lives in St. Louis, but frequently spends extended periods in worlds of her own creation.

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Ten Things About Maggie Adams – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Maggie will be awarding $25 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.

 10 things most people don’t know about me……

1)           I could knock out three individually right now, but I’ll lump them together here…my age, my weight, my true hair color.

2)           I am the eldest of three children. My younger brother was killed in an auto accident in 1984, when he was 16. My youngest brother survived with minor scratches. I miss him every day.

3)           I wish Santa and Mrs. Claus were real. Just the thought of spreading goodwill, giving children a gift to make them smile, working really, really hard only one day a year, yep, that would be awesome. My husband and I would definitely sign up.

4)            My favorite dessert is cheesecake. My favorite drink is American Honey. My favorite chocolate is Dove’s milk chocolate and caramel. My favorite snack is buttered popcorn. My favorite meal is steak, medium well, wild rice and broccoli. My favorite flower is the pink peony. My favorite color is red. My favorite sexual position is none of your business.

5)           My bucket list consists of learning to belly dance, visiting the Vatican, meeting a friendly ghost, buying a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, being a featured author at a major book event, visiting every state in the US, and tracing my ancestry from Scotland.

6)            This is who I’ve pictured so far as the characters of my books:

Mac Coalson – Joe Maganiello

Dixie Coalson – Hayden Panitierre

Hank Coalson – Tom Selleck

Ginny Coalson – Goldie Hawn

Sam – Charlie Hunnan

Angel – Blake Lively

Chance – Henry Cavill

Georgia – Kate Upton

7)           If I was stranded on a desert island, (no people), I would bring these books:

The Joy of Cooking – because I’m going to need to know how to cook all sorts of fish.

The complete works of Alexander Dumas – because, well, it’s Alexander Dumas.

A comprehensive first aid reference – because I’m a klutz.

A book by Lexi Blake, Shayla Black & Cali Mackay – because I’m a horny klutz who likes to laugh.

The Boy/Girl Scout Guide – I’ve seen what these kids can do. It’s impressive.

The Bible – because there is something new to discover in it every day.

8)           I don’t read my reviews (good or bad), look at my rankings, or check my sales figures. Authors make themselves crazy doing that stuff. I make my husband do it. He’s already crazy.

9)           I thought I had a horrible childhood, and to many, I guess I did, but what I hear on the news today, see in the schools and on playgrounds…it makes me so sad. Children should be cherished for the beautiful, brilliant gifts they are.

10)          I am grateful, everyday, to be able to do what I love to do. So, I ask God to bless each and every one of my fans for allowing me to make you smile, or laugh, or give you hope for a happily ever after.

Sam Coalson, ex-Navy SEAL, has returned to Grafton for the wedding of his brother. After being run out of town fifteen years ago for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s determined to claim what is rightfully his and take on anyone crazy enough to try and stop him.

Angel Devereaux is smart, sexy and definitely on Sam’s blacklist. After siding with Sam’s enemy fifteen years ago, Angel can’t help but wonder what if….what if Sam had never left? What if he could forgive her now? She had her reasons, but he won’t listen. So enough with words, sometimes action is exactly what’s called for.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Sam continued to advance on her. “And you don’t even want to know what he was gonna do to you if he could’ve gotten a chance.” Sam’s good eye began to twitch at the thought of the danger she had been in. She had no sense, but by God before the night was over, she would know to never put herself in danger again. He’d see to that. Apparently, she’d been flying wild these past fifteen years. Well, that was ending now.

Angel threw her arms up in exasperation. “Oh that’s just great. Just swell, dandy, fine. I try to save your miserable ass and you’re accusing me of being unfaithful. Well, of course you would. You can’t trust me, remember? I turned against you once, right? So therefore, I’ll do it again, right?” she screamed at him as tears ran down her face. It was just too much! She couldn’t stand his mistrust anymore.

“I had everything under control. There was no need for your ‘help’ as you call it,” he growled at her. He kept seeing the lecherous looks of those men and the hands reaching out to touch those perfect breasts. She was his, dammit! No one touched his Angel.

“Oh yeah, right. I can tell you had everything well in hand. You were locked up, beaten up, and completely outnumbered. Oh, and the FBI was considering you an accomplice in the whole mess. They didn’t care if you were dead or alive. Yeah, you had them shakin’ in their shoes, all right.” She’s wiped her tears. “I was sick and scared for you, yet you’re so stupid you have the audacity to question my loyalty to you.”

Hi! I’m Maggie Adams. I live near St. Louis, MO with my high school sweetheart, Ned, and my wonderful kids, Katie (Kyle) and Ross (Valerie). My life is like a walking, talking sitcom from I Love Lucy, but I love it, although people do tend to keep their distance from me! Writing has always been my dream, with reading my favorite hobby. I try to include a little bit of my life in everything I write, so when you read my books, keep your eyes wide open – I’m in there somewhere! Happy reading!

You can reach me at http://www.maggieadamsbooks.com

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/maggieadamsbooks

Twitter -@authrmaggieadms

Good Reads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9867300.Maggie_Adams

tsu – https://www.tsu.co/maggieadamsbooks

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/maggieadams

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