Character Interview: Adrian Xerxes Cranford by A P von K’Ory – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Character Interview: Adrian Xerxes Cranford
I‘m Dr Cedric Chamberlain, the so-called “head doctor” for the lads and lasses here at Her… I mean His Majesty’s most elite 45 Royal Marines Commando of the Royal Navy. These elite warriors have served the Crown globally for more than three and a half centuries. I’ve had sessions with the elite fighters before, during and even after their engagements with the Royal Marines Commando.

Today’s special session is with Commander Adrian Xerxes Cranford.

Commander Cranford ranks in the top tier. To get there he must have at least three exceptional medals of honour.

Dr. Chamberlain: To get straight to the nitty-gritty, what are you most proud of, Commander Cranford?

Adrian Xerxes Cranford: Now, this might sound rather curious for a man like me. You’re no doubt aware of that, Dr Chamberlain. Possibly the reason you’re asking this particular question. But my mother was and still remains the one person I’m proud to have known and loved. (The psychiatrist in me scribbles on the notepad, finding this answer indeed unusual. I’m curious about where this will lead.) She’s the reason I became a Royal Marines Commando. I think my deep affection for her affects how I feel about and treat members of our so-called fair sex.

Dr: Indeed. Would you like us to talk about your mother, Commander?

Adrian: Beyond telling you I’m most proud of her? No.

Dr: (I nod. Perhaps indirect questions?) Can you tell me if there’s anything you consider your biggest regret?

Adrian: Dr Chamberlain, with all due respect, you know my story. This is not the first time we’re clashing swords here. Or should I say the first time you’re picking my mind instead of clashing swords?

Dr: (And there it was again, that coiled inner tension bristling to spring free but still held in tight reigns) It’s this internal tension we’re trying to loosen, Commander. Do you find it hard to talk about your story, as you refer to it?

Adrian: No, not hard. Just bloody repetitive. We’ve been here from the very beginning. You already know what you need to know.

Dr: (I lean forward to reduce the personal space between us. The Commander remains seated with an ankle casually draped over a knee, laid back. He lost his mother at age 15 and blames his father for her death. But beyond that revelation, he refuses to talk about the matter. The key to unlocking that coiled tension.) You’ll agree you can’t be the judge of what I need to know. (He works hard not to roll his eyes at my words, then nods but remains silent) Okay. Right now you’re in a relationship you feel you can’t quite sort out. Has this to do with memories of your—

Adrian: Leave her out of this. I’m here because regulations require me to do so at regular intervals, Dr Chamberlain. Let’s keep it there, shall we?

Dr: (He obviously isn’t ready to admit any associations of mother-son to man-girlfriend, which in itself says it all) Does she fit the bill, if I may use that expression? I mean is she someone you can consider being with for longer? (A sigh while he rubs a hand at the back of his neck)

Adrian: With the both of us so damaged, as you know, I believe it will be a tough journey. But we’ve gone beyond the first hurdle, mentally and physically. She still has trust issues. But she gets her pain from me instead of cutting herself up. That’s a major step forward. And yes, we’re both still battling with our demons.

Dr: I’m happy for you both. I presume you no longer feel caged. (I make it a statement and he smiles)

Adrian: We’re still battling. We’re both complicated characters, Dr Chamberlain.

Dr: Have you opened yourselves up to each other about your relationships with your parents? (Parents played a huge part in his life, I knew.)

Adrian: I’m not discussing that with you.

Dr: (The Achilles heel for both of them. Part of the damage and the demons they’re warring with) Commander, who is the most important person in your life right now, and why?
(Without hesitation…)

Adrian: My mother. Always. Because she was, is, and will be.

Dr: Does Ms Boswell remind you of your mother in any way at all? (The ankle leaves the knee and he sets his foot firmly on the floor, leaning forward, and clasping his hands between his knees)

Adrian: In strength of character and stubbornness, yes. The latter often makes me want to drape her over my knees and take a firm palm to her arse. But I love that she’s a challenge. Our demons and dark pasts are still taboo to talk about. Part of our internal struggles. She still has trust issues as I just said, and I still struggle with secrecy. But our more than mere sex is an entirely new territory for both of us. It’s glorious and often laced with pain. The pain I love to give her and she loves to get from me. We both love to hurt, if you get what I mean.

Dr: And that bothers you?

Adrian: Yes. I never felt like that with any woman.

Dr: Okay, so where do you think all this will lead to? Would a break hurt or heal?

Adrian: A break? We aren’t anywhere near that, Dr Chamberlain. Not even close. We’re at least progressing. Definitely not retreating. So, if you don’t mind, let’s take a break. I’ve had it for the day, Doc. (He slaps his palms on the top of his thighs, a couple of inches away from his kneecaps, and gets up. He offers his hand even before I rise to shake it in goodbye. We shake firmly, as usual, with me smiling, him shaking his head with a grim mien.)


A three-letter word made me a murderess at the age of eight years. But having experienced the curses of that word, I was done with men as I grew up. All men. Except to outplay them in the New York financial arena. Then Crowned Sex enthroned in gorgeous velvet charm and lustful gallantry storms into my life. Spewing volcanic lava on my monumental arctic ice block. With the unapologetic fierceness of a savage god. Wearing crackling thunderbolts straight from the god Zeus. Explosive has nothing on it.

Adrian isn’t hot, he’s fucking hellish. He embarks on melting my ice block at the speed of lightning. But I was done with men. I was done with sex. For ever. I. Was.

I scented her darkness from the moment I was told about her. The sight of her sealed my decision. She was the woman created for my own darkness. I set off to protect her even from herself. Protect her to claim.

Fuse her darkness with my own. For. Myself. I’d fended women off me with bazookas when I was done but they weren’t. I wasn’t prepared for the battle I soon fought. Not only with her but also with her family. And New York’s billionaire gangsters who own entourages of corrupt cops and politicians. With every battle I won, she started new darker wars around me. You ate or you were eaten. Not even starving was an option.

NOTE: Although the blurb is in the first person, the story of Leo and Adrian is written in the third person. This story contains adult material including explicit sex and violence. You’ve been warned.

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He caught both her flying arms, used her momentum to spin her around onto her back on the couch and landed over her.

Smack bang between her legs.

Pinned her hands above her head and every f****** struggle she tried only forced her to rub against his hard body.

Furious, her thighs tensed but with nowhere to go except around his hips. He planned this. She f****** bet he planned this to the last minute detail.

“You double-faced bastard, get off me!”

“No. You put yourself here. Right here under me, Leo.”

“Get the f*** off m—”

He slammed his crotch right against hers and ground in.

She screamed as some unknown force kindled her center and the sensation rushed simultaneously south to her soles and north to her scalp.

She stiffened, trembling. Then whimpered. Then—

About the Author:


P von K’Ory writes the kind of books she herself would like to read and is passionate about, whether romance, psychological thriller or nonfiction. She is the winner of six awards from four continents, the last one being the Achievers Award for Writer of the Year 2013 in the Netherlands. The Selmere Integration Prize was awarded her in 2014 for her engagement in helping African Women in the Diaspora cope with a variety of domestic and social problems. The Proposal, a short story, won the Cook Communications first prize in 2010 and is published in an American anthology Africa 2012. In 2012, she won the Karl Ziegler Prize for her commitment to bring African culture to Western society in various papers, theses, and lectures. Again in 2012, her book Bound to Tradition: The Dream was nominated for the 2012 Caine Prize by the Author-me Group, Sanford, and in 2013 she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Von K’Ory is married to an aristocrat and politician of Franco-German descent, has a large extended family. She lectures Economics and Sociology in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. She’s migratory and – weather willing – lives in Germany, France, Cyprus, and Greece.

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Love Tools by Isobel Reed – 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 $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What are four things you can’t live without?

Books. I think it would seriously affect my wellbeing if I couldn’t read. They are not only a much-needed escape sometimes, but they are my main form of relaxation. Travelling. At least once a year I try and go somewhere I’ve never been before. Home. My home is my safe space. It’s where I write, read, and spend time with the man I love. Chocolate. I feel like this one is self-explanatory.

What is your favorite television show?

Hart of Dixie. It’s everything I look for in a TV show. It’s got the romance, humor, and it’s against my favorite back drop – a small town!

If you could be any character, from any literary work, who would you choose to be? Why?

Probably Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia series. Like me she’s the youngest sibling and she’s the first one through the wardrobe. Having spent most of my childhood making up imaginary worlds, I definitely dreamed of finding one. Also, who wouldn’t want a talking lion as a bestie and to get crowned Queen of Narnia?

What have you got coming soon for us to look out for?

Love Tools is book one of the Bluestone series. It’s the first series I’ve ever written, and I must admit I got really attached to the place and the characters. If Bluestone County existed in real life, I would pack my bags and be over there in a heartbeat. My favorite characters (and hopefully the reader’s) of course got treated to their own love stories. In total there are four books in the series, and you don’t have to wait long for book two. Expiry Dating will be released in February 2023. Book three will be published May 2023 and book four in August 2023. I’m also in the midst of writing a brand-new series which will be published later on in 2023.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

It makes sense that I write contemporary romance because it’s my favorite genre and what I spend most of my free time reading. Maisey Yates’s small-town romances are a strong influence as is anything by Tessa Bailey and Sarina Bowen. Even though I don’t write romantic suspense, authors like Susan Stoker and Riley Edwards are also an amazing source of inspiration. All of these authors, like myself, enjoy writing strong female character leads and pairing them with often overbearing alpha male leads.

What happens when the king of casual meets the queen of picking the wrong men?

Lily is running. From a dead-end job, a neurotic mother and all the losers she dared to date. Moving halfway across the world to Bluestone County seemed like a good idea at the time. So did reopening her estranged father’s hardware store. But now she isn’t so sure.

Small town living has its perks though. Wide-open space, clean air, and sexy cowboys. Well, one sexy cowboy. Jake. Who also just so happens to be the new bane of her existence. At least when he’s not talking, she can admire the view.

Jake is the king of casual. The love of his life has always been his ranch, and that was fine with him. He never really saw the point in long-term. But all that changes when a mouthy, blonde sasses him into oblivion. He should have known she’d be trouble as soon as he laid eyes on her. Now it’s too late. She’s all he can think about. All he has to do is convince her that he’s finally the right man.

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Lily stared at the boarded-up windows and took a deep breath. There was no turning back now. Pulling the keys from her handbag, she unlocked the door and followed the creaking sound of the floorboards into the dimly lit store.

To her surprise the shelves were still stocked and brimming with power tools, each item covered in a layer of dust that had already started to make its way up her nostrils.

“What the hell are you doing here Lily?” she muttered to herself as she ran her fingers across the counter.

To get this place up and running, it was going to be more work than she ever imagined. She just hoped the apartment upstairs was in better condition.

After exploring the shop floor, she went to find out. She followed the beige hallway into the living room, taking a seat on the squeaky leather sofa and looking around. The space was depressing. Habitable but depressing nonetheless.

How could he have lived here for so long, and it still feel so empty?

Furniture was sparse, and other than the chair she sat in, the only other items that remained were a flatscreen TV, a scratched wooden coffee table and a small shelving unit scattered with a few books and a couple of picture frames.

She looked over at the kitchen adjoining the living room and noticed some basic appliances. It felt strange to be in his space. His home. Surrounded by his things. Was there a right way to feel?

About the Author: Isobel was born and raised in London. She still lives along the River Thames with her husband and her substantial book collection. Ever the hopeless romantic, she fell in love with the genre from a young age and was inspired to write her own stories. When she’s not feasting on romantic comedies or binge reading her hoard of contemporary romance novels, Isobel is writing.

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Light, Dark, and the Electromagnetic Spectrum by Scott Benjamin Gracie – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Scott Benjamin Gracie 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.

Since the dawn of time, electromagnetic energy has permeated through the universe, surrounding and interacting with everything it touches, illuminating, destroying and giving life.

The colourful section of the electromagnetic spectrum we see in the form of visible light, rainbows and other phenomena is tiny when compared to its vast entirety. Using many parts of the electromagnetic spectrum have become common everyday occurrence for the majority of people on Earth, as it’s been integrated into our lives in ways that we don’t even think twice about it.

This book illuminates many parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and its effects, the endless ways we have harnessed its energy, and how we interact and live with its influence.

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Wave-Particle Duality of Light

Many years of research have led us to now understand that light behaves either as a particle or as a wave and each behaviour is dependent on the amount of energy a photon has. High-energy photons (like X-rays) act like particles, while lower-energy photons (like radio) act more like waves. This is called ‘wave- particle duality’.

In the early 1800s, Thomas Young, an English scientist, was experimenting with light by shining beams through two narrow slits. The result was a classic interference pattern that would normally be found if light were a wave, as seen in the interference pattern below. However, in the late 1800s, Max Planck, a German theoretical physicist, proposed that light could only be emitted in small chunks. It turned out to be that they were both right.

In the 1920s, physicist Louis de Broglie suggested that because light has momentum, energy and a wavelength, perhaps matter has the same. It turned out that he was also correct.

Matter sometimes acts like a particle and sometimes like a wave, just like light, so both light and matter are considered to be made of waves and particles.

Speed of Light

The speed at which photons travel is called the ‘speed of light’. That speed is 299,792 kilometres per second or 186,281 miles per second, and it’s the maximum speed light can travel.

The fact that light has a speed was first realised in the late 1600s by Danish astronomer Ole Rømer while he was studying one of Jupiter’s moons Io and observing an irregularity with the timing of its eclipses.

In the mid-1800s, physicist James Clerk Maxwell discovered that changing electric fields can create magnetic fields, and vice versa. He showed that waves of electricity can create waves of magnetism, which make waves of electricity, back and forth capable of propagating through space.

Other scientific revelations were revealed when Albert Einstein applied his theory of special relativity to James Clerk Maxwell’s equations and found the speed of light to be the constant between space and time. When light passes through some mediums such as glass or water, it slows down due to the photons interacting with atoms as it travels through. In water, light slows to approximately 225,000 kilometres per second, in glass to approximately 197,000 kilometres per second and in a diamond to approximately 124,000 kilometres per second.

When exiting the medium it travelled through, light again moves at 299,792 kilometres per second.

To better comprehend this extraordinary speed, if light could travel in a circle around the Earth, in one second it would travel 7.5 times around, or from the Sun, light takes 8.3 minutes to travel to Earth.


About the Author: Scott’s passion for light and the electromagnetic spectrum began in his early teens while tinkering with electronics as a hobby. He was formally introduced to the lighting industry while studying Electrical and Electronics in Sydney, Australia, and in 1998 he started his career making custom light fittings and lamps in his dad’s garage. Formal lighting design qualifications expanded his opportunity to help project-manage and design on many industry levels.

Twenty-two years on, and Scott has worked on many major infrastructure, commercial and architectural lighting projects. He is a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia & New Zealand, the Colour Society of Australia, the International Dark Sky Association and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

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Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette – Spotlight and Giveaway

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Vanessa Jared, a 40-something divorcée, decided that the best way to pull herself out of their post-divorce slump was to form The Savvy, Sexy, Singles Club and start the “Do Me” portion of her and her friends’ lives.

But on the two-year anniversary, a sexy sheriff shows up on Vanessa’s doorstep wanting her to help him keep his little sister from marrying her no-good ex. Vanessa is not down for this at all. She wants nothing to do with her ex…until she spots a photo of her ex’s new fiancée wearing her grandmother’s ring—which he clearly stole from her. So now it is on. Vanessa is ready to take this trifling (fill-in-the-blank) down. What she does not expect is to fall in love along the way.

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She turned around to face him, and he damn near missed the bottom step by focusing on her instead of his feet. She was wearing a tuxedo that fit every curve she had and made him ball his hands into tight fists for fear he wouldn’t be able to keep them to himself.

Her sleek bob had been curled into beach waves with one side pinned back, exposing the elegant curve of her neck. Her jacket was open, and the sight of her plump breasts essentially standing at attention for his viewing pleasure made his tuxedo pants more uncomfortable than the stiff material usually would.

“That bad,” she said with a playful grin. She knew damn well there was nothing remotely bad about her look or her outfit. Every- thing about it said Sexiest Boss of the Year.

“Yeah,” he choked out. “Perhaps we should stay in and discuss my thoughts on what you’re wearing.”

She walked closer to where he stood, pushing both hands in her pockets, which gave him a better view of the beautiful brown skin of her chest and bosom. She was definitely not playing fair.

“Really?” she questioned, lifting her brow in mock confusion. “What exactly are your thoughts?”

He somehow found the strength and focus to make his legs and feet work to step down off that bottom step that led into the living room. “I’m afraid what I have to say might offend your delicate nature. Getting slapped right before an event may depreciate the value of the goods I have to put on display to get people to part with their coins.”

“And if I promise to keep my hands to myself?”

He stepped closer until they were almost touching. “That’s the problem.” He looked her up and down before bringing his gaze back to hers. “I don’t want you to keep your hands to yourself.”

He waited to see if she would back away. If she showed even the slightest bit of hesitancy, he’d pause this game they were playing. Yes, he wanted her again. But only if the desire was mutual. His ego couldn’t take it if he didn’t see the exact same need in her eyes. “You see that as a problem?” She shrugged her shoulders and folded her arms, pushing her tits impossibly high, making the de- licious vee of her cleavage more pronounced and tempting. “I see it as a goal.”

“I keep telling you you’re playing with fire.”

“And I keep telling you, I like the heat. What’s the problem, Sheriff?”

About the Author:2021 Vivian Award finalist and DEIA activist in the romance industry, LaQuette writes bold stories featuring multicultural characters. She crafts dramatic, emotionally epic tales that are deeply pigmented by reality’s paintbrush.

This Brooklyn native’s novels are a unique mix of unapologetically sexy, stylish, & sensational characters who are confident in their right to appear on the page.

She is the 2016 Author of the Year Golden Apple Award winner & the 2016 Write Touch Readers Award winner. Writing—her escape from everyday madness— has always been a friend and source of comfort. At the age of sixteen, she read her first romance novel and realized the genre was missing something: people that looked and lived like her. As a result, her characters and settings are always designed to provide positive representations of people of color and various marginalized communities.

She loves hearing from readers and discussing the crazy characters that are running around in her head causing so much trouble

Latoya Smith at Arthouse Literary Agency
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inquiries to .

Keisha Mennefee at Honey Magnolia Co Publicity
Please send all press and or publicity inquiries to

Please send all conference speaker and teaching inquiries to
LaQuette at
Brooklyn Girl Ink, LLC
412 N Main St Ste 100
Buffalo, Wy 82834 USA

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Where Do Ideas Come From? by Marina Hill – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Where Do Ideas Come From?

Ideas come from desires. A most impactful quote is by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” The desire for these books intensifies for writers in marginalized communities. Many of us wish to tell write ownvoices tales—stories inspired by the writer’s own experiences surrounding their identity—and many wish to write tales that feature characters of our respective backgrounds. Personally, my relationships with my main characters are very intimate. Most of them are branches of who I am, who I want to be, who I was, or who I would or could be in a brand-new world. The main character of my current work in progress is braver than I will ever be. She rides dragons without fear and gives attitude to a cruel king. Me? I tremble with anxiety on the balcony of a high-rise building. I hate confrontation. This main character has traits I want to have—which is why I believe ideas come from desires. Desires don’t have to be world-changing. A friend of mine, Zoe Sivak, wrote Mademoiselle Revolution (an absolutely phenomenal read that I cannot recommend enough!). This book is, like the title, revolutionary. It is about uprooting what you know and balancing and new perspective. Sivak’s desire is to restore history and she does so exceptionally well. My desire, with Little Writer specifically, is to provide comfort and a space for girls who look like me to forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made. Little Writer is a warm hug of a novel for every reader, but is warmest for Black girls.

A retelling of the classic coming-of-age story Little Women through the intimate lens of Jo March.

It’s 1862 and fifteen-year-old Jo March would rather be fighting in the war, like her papa, than improving her knitting skills on the home front. But societal conventions for the “gentle” woman-and her steadfast adoration for her three sisters-force Jo to stay behind and support the family, all the while rolling her eyes at Aunt March and daydreaming of becoming a famous author.

At home, love abounds in the March girls’ lives in the form of family, friendship, patriotism, religion, and-to Jo’s chagrin-romance. As each sister navigates their ascent into adulthood, Jo unwittingly ventures down a path of self-realization, using her gift of written prose to craft her voice, and thus, her truth. Perhaps, just maybe, she can strike balance between the freedom of independence and the warmth of partnership…

In this visionary adaptation, Little Writer tells the March sisters’ timeless journey to womanhood with a multiracial cast of characters, reimagining history to include diverse communities without elaboration.

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When spring rolls around, my sisters and I love to stay outside.

One blossoming afternoon, while I’m in the coop to feed the chickens, I spot Laurie, Beth, and Amy around the redbud tree. Laurie latches onto a branch to shake the tree loose of any lingering magenta petals. Flowers begin raining on Beth and Amy, who lock hands and spin together. Their skirts fly about them and I smile at their girlish laughter.

Once I return to feeding the animals, Laurie appears behind me. “What d’you have there?”

“Teddy! Come in. I want you to meet my chicken, Aunt Cockle-top.” I point to her and, though Laurie enters the coop, he says far from the roaming animals.

“Please keep that from me,” he says, shaking some magenta flower petals from his curls as he skirts away.

“Don’t be afraid,” I exclaim, cleaning my hands on my linen apron before scooping up Aunt Cockle-top. She flaps her wings.

Teddy stumbles backward. “Jo!”

“She’s just a chicken. Face your fears!” I haul Aunt Cockle-top into the air toward him.

He yelps and loses his footing without trying to catch her. My chicken falls on top of him and he screeches, “She bit me!” to send me into a deep laughing fit.

“Josephine!” Marmee’s scolding voice startles me. My laughter is slow to dissipate as she brings a whimpering Laurie inside.

About the Author: Marina Hill is a writer with a keen interest in all things undiscovered. She grew up in the New Jersey side of Philadelphia, watching Eagles games and roughhousing with her plethora of older brothers. She attended Baruch College in NYC and has over a dozen publications of her other works. If she isn’t daydreaming about her next story, she’s studying history or yearning to dash into the forest, build a farm, and never look back. Marina never lives in one spot for too long and loves to travel with her dog.

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Heal Your TMJ by Dr. Haissam Dahan – Spotlight and Giveaway

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TMJ clicking. Jaw locking. Headaches. Migraines. Ear pain. Stiff Neck. The evidence is overwhelming: the roots of these issues may be caused by your TMJ! TMJ is the name of the joint of the jaw, and groundbreaking research has now revealed that it may be the cause of many chronic pains we suffer. TMJ is the second most common musculoskeletal pain, and as many as 1 in every 3 people will experience TMJ pain in their lifetime. For the longest time, people suffered in silence with TMJ pain, but new breakthrough advancements in research and treatment reveal that you can life a life TMJ-pain-free!

Drawing on his private practice, where he works with people suffering with TMJ, Dr. Dahan reveals in this book his 6 steps to eradicating chronic TMJ pain from your life. He will draw experience from his years working with TMJ sufferers to teach you how to heal your TMJ and live your best life ever!

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After years of studying, treating, and learning about chronic pain, I know one thing for sure: Pain is a mask of something else. Pain is a thermometer of your life. Pain is a warning that your life is heading in the wrong direction. Essentially your body is saying, “You’ve made some stupid decisions, and I’m not happy, so I’m going to let you know.” So your pain isn’t a curse but is, in fact, a blessing.

About the Author:

Photo by CHRIS MIKULA, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Haissam Dahan became a dentist in 2005, and furthered his education by completing a clinical fellowship in orofacial pain at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He conducted TMJ research, earning a PhD from McGill University in 2014. He has lectured at Harvard, McGill and Tufts University, and has spoken at national and international conferences. He has a successful private practice in Ottawa helping patients who are suffering with TMJ pain.

Dr. Dahan lives in Ottawa with his wife, and has two young boys and a girl. He enjoys running, cycling, and spending time outdoors with his family and friends.

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Silhouette by Paul Swingle – Spotlight and Giveaway

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On the night of a blue moon, while walking his dog, middle-aged widower Jim sees Gladys on the roof of a neighboring apartment building and is inspired to speak with her. There’s just one problem: she can’t hear him.

Indeed, Jim isn’t even sure that Gladys truly exists—that she isn’t just a rooftop patio umbrella silhouetted against the moon. Hampered by debilitating social anxiety, he cannot work up the courage to even wave.

Yet Jim returns to the same spot night after night, and Gladys—who is indeed real—sees him and becomes equally interested. She even contributes to their “conversation,” though he cannot hear her either. And while Gladys struggles with her own demons—self-loathing and depression—she is lifted by Jim’s attention, even as she describes how difficult her life has been.

Two characters, driven by sadness and a longing to connect. Will they?

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Tonight, I saw a rooftop patio umbrella move. Or was it a woman? It’s May 31, the night of the blue moon. I was taking my dog Gus for his nightly walk. On the rooftop of a building across the street from my apartment, against the light of the huge moon, I saw the silhouette of a patio umbrella. I’d been seeing that umbrella on that roof for weeks—months, maybe. Every time I walked the dog or snuck a puff on my cigar, it was there. Immobile and static. Always in the same place, always visible against either the daytime sky or the city-lit night. I had thought nothing of it, other than wondering if anyone ever used that patio. But tonight, I saw the umbrella silhouette move. “Son of a bitch,” I said. “What the hell is that? Was it the wind?” Startled, I tried to shake off an eerie feeling. Had the umbrella really moved? I don’t care for rooftop patios myself. I’ve been to 4 a few. You have to drag yourself up the stairs, hoping no one else is there when you arrive, so you can have a bit of solace. I always forget something downstairs.

About the Author:

Dr. Paul G. Swingle can be considered one of the founding fathers of Clinical Psychoneurophysiology, one of a select few, directly responsible for bringing Neurotherapy out of university labs and clinics to the general populace in the 1980’s.

His academic positions include, Professor of Psychology at the University of Ottawa from 1972 to 1997, Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School from 1991 to 1998, Associate Attending Psychologist at McLean Hospital (Boston), Head of the Clinical Psychophysiology Service McLean Hospital (Boston). Professor Swingle was also Clinical Supervisor at the University of Ottawa from 1987 to 1997 and Chairman of the Faculty of Child Psychology from 1972 to 1977. Dr. Swingle is a Registered Psychologist in British Columbia and is Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurotherapy. He is actively involved in research and practice. His numerous publications include nine books and numerous peer reviewed journal publications.

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Under the Cloud by B.R. Erlank – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. B.R. Erlank 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.

They call themselves The Settlement Bureau. A faceless, soulless organization coercing individuals with threats to expose their improprieties and vulnerabilities. Inhumanely persistent, they’ve secretly driven hundreds of victims into bankruptcy, despair – and several even to suicide.

But when this organization tries to blackmail IT expert Terry Reynolds, they make a serious mistake. Terry is down on his luck. He is penniless, divorced and in a dead-end job. Yet, the abuse of his personal information stirs Terry out of his lethargy and he fights back. He embarks on a digital game of cat-and-mouse with the cold, calculating minds behind The Settlement Bureau – and in doing so, uncovers a sprawling criminal conspiracy.

Under The Cloud is a chillingly plausible new thriller by B.R. Erlank. With a plot ripped straight from the headlines, advance readers warn, “this book delivers a roller coaster ride right up to the final pages.”

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Charlie’s canine senses were on high alert. He growled and stared across the street. There was a commotion in the shadows of a tree. Then Terry heard a frail, plaintive voice, “No, no, leave me. That’s mine. Let go!”

Terry knew that voice; it was Joe. What sort of low-life attacks an old homeless man? There was a thud and a howl of pain. Charlie was the first to react; the dog raced across the street with Terry behind him. Under the streetlamp, Terry could make out the old man’s face, bleeding and distorted with fear, as he shouted, “You imbecile, you don’t know…”

The attacker was dressed in black and was at least six inches taller than Joe. The assailant pushed Joe hard, then his fist smashed into the old man’s face. Joe slumped against the tree, and the thug pulled back his fist for another punch.

Terry shouted, “Hey! Leave him!”

The man briefly turned and hesitated. Then, before he could plant the fist again, Charlie lunged and sank his teeth into the man’s wrist. The attacker cursed, and a knife appeared in his other hand. The blade glinted in the streetlight, and Charlie’s bark turned into a surprised yelp, then a whimper. The attacker ran.

For a split second, Terry’s rage commanded him to follow, but the sight of Joe and Charlie, both crumpled and bleeding, stopped him in his tracks. He knelt by the old man, whose face was smeared with blood, one eye beginning to swell. His breath was coming in desperate rasps.

About the Author: Boris Erlank grew up in Southern Africa. He has lived and worked in places as diverse as Luanda, Cape Town, Singapore and San Francisco. Boris recently gave up his job as Global Privacy Manager with a Fortune 100 company to focus on writing full-time.

He has an extensive background in IT, data privacy and cybersecurity, and has drawn on that experience to craft his latest novel, Under the Cloud. His previous novel, Catch You Later, is a murder mystery set in Cape Town.

Boris lives with his family and two dogs in the foothills of Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco. He likes to cycle and hike. “Those solitary pursuits give me time to dream up the characters and plots for my novels,” he says. Boris also enjoys choir singing, travel, and listening to audiobooks.

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The book is on sale at Amazon for $0.99 until November 22.

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Body Snatched by Ana Diamond – Spotlight and Giveaway

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What’s worse than losing a body from a funeral home? Losing two. But mortician and amatuer sleuth, Lily Reynolds has a hunch. The new visitor in town, Rick Drakon, may have charmed his way into her life but she’s not fooled by his smooth talking ways. Problem is, Rick is a long-time friend of Lily’s new husband, Detective James Rivers. While James is busy convincing her to look elsewhere, Lily embarks on a dangerous path toward uncovering the truth. Will this case come between the couple or will Lily find herself closer to evil than ever before?

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She sprinted toward the ambulance with James inside. Her heart leaped into her throat. She didn’t want to alarm the others, but she didn’t really know if he was going to make it. Antonio had not. And what would she do if he didn’t? Images of her life with James flashed before her eyes.

From the moment when she’d first laid eyes on his silky black hair and tattooed biceps in the basement of her funeral home to their wedding day when he told her they would be together forever, this could not be the end. She would not want to go on. Tears flooded her eyes, clouding her vision as she ran toward the ambulance James had been loaded into. Yanking the back door open wide, she propelled herself inside.

His eyes were closed but his body had been hooked up to monitors that beeped incessantly. Intravenous fluids ran down the tubing and into James’s arms. And there was blood—lots of blood on the floor of the truck and on the linens of the stretcher. She willed herself into tunnel vision to avoid seeing nothing but red. The paramedics sat on opposite sides of the ambulance monitoring the machines hooked up to him.

She stood at the foot of the stretcher watching for any movement. Was he unconscious? Had he slipped into a coma? Was he only minutes from death? She’d stopped breathing altogether until she touched his leg and his eyes popped open.

“You know, this is the first time I’ve ever been shot.” His eyes sparkled with mischief.

She released the air from her lungs and chuckled at him. Her heart could beat again. “Congratulations. I’ll tell you what you’ve won later. Now work on not dying.”

He smiled and laid his head back on the pillow. “Yes, ma’am.”

About the Author:When Ana Diamond isn’t writing about tough gals finding love in unexpected places, she’s at work by day in the medical field. She writes romantic cozy mystery novels with feisty strong women and alluring men who can’t resist them. Her books are fast paced, entertaining and heartfelt all at once.

Ana is a 2020 Tara Contest Finalist for Body Conscious and 2015 Melody of Love contest finalist. She lives in New York with her husband, two children and two needy but wildly entertaining kitty cats.

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How to Write Realistic Female Characters by Bryan Cole – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

How to Write Realistic Female Characters
One of the overriding goals that I had for myself was to ensure that I included female characters in Beginning of Arrogance. Including them is easy but making them meaningful and realistic is something altogether different. As I researched this subject, I learned a great deal about not just the predominant archetypes for female characters that exist today, but also how flawed those representations can be.

The existing categories that exist can be broken down into five major groups: the damsel in distress, the sexy one, the child-like silly one, the maternal one, and the macho tough-girl. It isn’t even that any of these categories are wrong, per se, but rather that they define entirely who the character is. Having a sense of childlike wonder at the world does not preclude someone from also being tough or maternal (or both!). Likewise, having an awareness of their own sexuality does not limit them in any way either.

One of the common solutions to the problem of too few female characters or characters that have only a single narrative role is to take a male character and turn them into a female character. This can work, but often reads strangely on the page for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Often when I read these characters, imagining them as a man makes them click much more with their dialog and narrative choices, which is a sure sign they started out that way and were swapped later. These dialog options are most common in the macho tough-girl persona. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read female characters saying things like “Don’t be such a girl!” or “No time for rest, princesses!” or something similar. Big Hero Six had a subtle subversion of this when Go Go said “Woman Up!” to the team.

Identifying things to avoid is one aspect of writing female characters, but how do you identify what you should write? For that, I simply looked at the various women I know in real life and took attributes from their personalities to flesh out my characters. I came up with the major themes of who the various characters are – Dahlia being very private, for example – and found real-world examples of those attributes and how they manifest.

By far the best example I found was my wife. She is the most complex, beautiful, and dynamic person I know (warning: I may be letting my personal bias show). Aspects of her personality are found in many of the female characters I wrote, but particularly the three ladies introduced in Chapter 16. Each of them has a core identity of who they are, inspired in no small part by my wife.

Using Dahlia as a case study, she dislikes being the focus of attention in social situations. This personality trait influences her skillset and behavior, as well as her interactions with others in the story. She’s content to be in the background, but that isn’t the same as being unable to stand up for herself or inject her opinion when it matters. Some of my female friends here in the real world have very clear ideas about when something is important to them, and that is when they engage in the conversation. On those subjects that matter, the strength of who they are should shine through.

This takes us to the subject of femininity. One concept that I disagree with is that women should only have feminine interests, and men should have masculine interests. Part of the reason I made Krell the way he is was so that he could look at these areas with clear eyes and discover that he enjoys aspects of living that others may mock him for. As an example, he’s never really slept in a comfortable bed before. Likewise, the female characters can have likes, preferences, and desires that need not align with any gender stereotype. One of the recurring themes with the three ladies is that they are all competent warriors. That means, as a rule, they are not going to wear impractical footwear or dresses when trudging through forests or swamps, but it also doesn’t mean they are going to ignore their appearances either. They take pride in their appearance because that is who they are, and the practical application of self-care in-story is something I hope people resonate with. Magic is awesome, and people in fantasy literature don’t use it casually often enough.

Strength without masculinity, femininity without weakness, and their own likes, dislikes, interests, and passions, just like every other character – this is how I approached writing female characters in Beginning of Arrogance!

Paladins are nothing but trouble. Stories about paladins are everywhere, noble warriors riding magic steeds into battle against terrible foes. Champions of their gods. Heroes to everyone, except those who already have everything. Paladins are notorious for upsetting the balance of power, to the detriment of any who don’t worship their deity.

So when Krell is called to service by the capricious god of the seas and skies, ReckNor, those with wealth and power can’t help but be concerned. ReckNor hasn’t called a paladin in years, and his nature is ever-changing and erratic. The fact that Krell is also an uneducated nobody with a stubborn streak as wide as the sea turns their concerns into fear.

All of which matters less than the threat clawing its way from the waves, ready to turn the ocean red with spilled blood…

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Krell’s sword struck the pell.

His heavy breathing couldn’t disguise the dull thunk from the blade as it hit, bits of wood breaking off. Krell twisted his wrist and pulled, disengaging the blade. He struck again, the blade sliding along the wood, leaving a fresh scar. Once again, he failed to cut through the post.

Krell recovered his stance, his shield raised as Olgar taught him while his sword moved back into proper striking position. His next strike was high and carved another sliver of wood. Without waiting, Krell swung again. The sword hit lower than Krell wanted. He pulled back into the proper stance, and his next strike was on target, carving deep into the wood.

“All right, lad, I think we’ve seen enough,” a voice said from somewhere ahead of him.

Krell took a step back from the pell. An unsteady step, he was forced to admit. The sun was still high in the sky. Sweat ran into his blue eyes, causing him to blink in irritation. He glared at the wooden post. No more than halfway through. His chain mail armor was heavy on his shoulders.

He looked over at the town council, seated at a long table under an awning. They had comfortable chairs for the most part, and were sipping on what looked like cool drinks in the shade. Krell wondered how much attention they were actually paying to this test.

Amra Thort was the leader of the town council, and owner of one of the largest fishing fleets in Watford. She was a formidable- looking woman with steel gray hair, whose hands bore the signs of hard work done many years ago. People in the town respected her, Olgar had told him.

Seated next to her was Daylan Plintform, a wealthy merchant who owned many trading and fishing vessels. His long face was handsome, but he always looked irritated, even when he wasn’t. Olgar detested him, but refused to explain why. He was popular in town, since he paid for numerous festivals and banquets when the catch was good.

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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