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

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

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.

Enjoy an Excerpt

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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Silhouette by Paul Swingle – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

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?

Enjoy an Excerpt

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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Ten Concepts a New Author Needs to Embrace by Edward Hochsmann – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Ten Concepts a New Author Needs to Embrace

Dunning-Kruger Effect. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is an established psychological principle stating that people with low ability in a given task area tend to overestimate their prowess significantly and, conversely, that people with high ability tend to underestimate their abilities dramatically. What this means to a writer: if you feel super-confident or super-pessimistic about a piece you have written, you’re probably wrong. Act accordingly.

Red-Team (a.k.a. Editors). In my day job, we submit a finished analytical report to a group of peers whose job is to pick it apart and reveal any flaw, however small. We call these people a “red team,” and going through one hurts. A lot. It is the same with editors, but something you must put yourself through. If you don’t have editors finding and pointing out faults, rest assured you’ll have readers who will, quite publicly.

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job (at least, not yet). Fact: a fiction writer is an artist. Question: What’s the difference between an artist and a large pizza? Answer: the pizza can feed a family of four.

Let’s Exchange Reviews – NOT! I made this mistake once. It’s not so much your risk of getting a bad review. It’s the risk that you are obligated to someone who has just handed you a piece of trash. Before you agree to this, at least get a sense of their quality from other works.

Causality Dilemma. This is better known as the “Chicken or the Egg?” In our context, it is the big lie that creating a significant social media presence will sell your books. In my opinion, HAVING a significant social media presence MAY help you sell a lot of books, and selling a lot of books may get you a significant social media presence. However, a plan to build a significant social media presence as a marketing strategy for your book is a sure loser. Full Disclosure: I am one of those curmudgeons who believe social media platforms are graveyards for careers, reputations, and the human mind.

Caveat Emptor. There are many people out there who are very happy to take your money, and relatively few of them deliver any value in return. The Alliance of Independent Authors has prepared a fabulous database of self-publishing services ratings here:
Before pressing the “send money” button, this should be your first stop, and the second stop should be an Internet search with the terms “[name of vendor]” and “scam.”

Return on Investment-Part 1. If you pay someone to publish a book, you are not paying them to sell your book; just put it in print to be sold. I get spammed by the same company (who shall remain nameless) every time I register a copyright who insists I would be a fool not to use their service—their intimidation line is: “you wouldn’t cut your own hair, would you?” Folks, if you can write a good novel, you have the chops to publish it FOR FREE on Amazon, Draft-2-Digital, and Ingramspark. Now, if you want to spare yourself that work, it might be worth a little investment, but don’t believe for a minute you have to pay someone to self-publish. The best advice is to roll up your sleeves, go through KDP, D2D, and Ingramspark, and save your money for advertising.

Return on Investment-Part 2. Beware of people pushing promo-stacking. It’s quite true that not investing anything in advertising will almost certainly net zero sales. Likewise, you will likely not double your reader exposure by doubling your investment (many, if not most, subscribers are probably covered by both services). I’m not saying one and done, just that there is a very steep curve of diminishing returns.

I Will Review Your Book—NOT. Again, once your name gets out there, you’ll get spammed. JUST DON’T DO IT, even if it is for free. I have a similar opinion of bookstagrammers offering paid reviews—if they stiff you, what will you do, complain? See what kind of review THAT will get you! If you want reviews, go with Netgalley, Hidden Gems, or a legitimate vendor (consult the Alliance of Independent Authors database). Then if someone offers to review, you can direct them there.

Arrrr, Mateys! Know this: if you have a book that is not trash you are offering online, it WILL get pirated, guaranteed. Your chances of preventing that or taking effective action in response are essentially zero. If you want to identify where the leak came from, hide a tracer (a different word, punctuation, phrasing, etc.) somewhere within the text that you can use to identify the specific source. If it’s from one of the bigs like Amazon, there’s a chance they might be interested in applying some of their vast resources to crush the host pour encourager les autres. Pass it to them and then let go. You are not losing sales—the scumbags who grab books off pirate sites won’t pay for a book they can’t find for free.

An aging Coast Guard patrol boat is all that stands between the world and nuclear annihilation!

The world is on the brink of war, with NATO mobilizing to counter a Russian threat to Poland and Lithuania and leaders openly discussing war options. In the midst of the crisis, a Russian bomber collides with a U.S. fighter off Florida causing the accidental launch of a nuclear-tipped hypersonic missile.

A Coast Guard cutter on a routine patrol finds a drug-laden sailboat smashed and adrift north of the Florida Keys. The boat’s damage is from a near miss by the Russian missile which has not harmlessly flown deep into the Gulf of Mexico as initially thought, but crashed somewhere in the Keys.

The Coast Guard crew is in a race against a vicious and powerful international crime syndicate to find and recover the Russian nuke before its discovery can trigger a nuclear war.

Exploring the friendship and teamwork of a typical ship’s crew, in the face of unexpected and hazardous challenges, Dagger Quest provides a fast-paced, taut story – excellent fare for both sea adventure and military thriller fans.

Mission: Five days to destroy the enemy in the Caribbean before a catastrophic weapon is unleashed—but all he can think about is the woman he left behind…

The deadliest nerve gas ever made has fallen into the hands of a murderous Caribbean drug cult. The criminal 252 Syndicate has the gas in a secret lab on an oil rig servicing ship, but the ship has been taken for ransom by the Salinas Cartel in a violent drug war. The U.S. can’t use airstrikes and calls on Coast Guard Officer Ben Wyporek to lead his crew through a risky covert raid on the Salinas cult’s fortified island base. He accepts the assignment, but remembers a previous lethal encounter with the 252s and struggles to say goodbye to the love of his life, Victoria Carpenter.

Ben and his crew aboard the stealth-equipped Cutter Kauai must sneak into the harbor and tow the ship away. But if Kauai is detected and defeated, death by gas or at the hands of vicious adversaries will follow. Now, every decision Ben makes will determine the fate of his entire crew—and the chances of reuniting with Victoria.

This second book of the series builds on the friendships and teamwork of Kauai’s crew, this time in the face of several challenging missions and one potentially lethal encounter. It is a worthy sequel to Dagger Quest that sea adventure and military thriller fans will enjoy.

Young Coast Guard Lieutenant Haley Reardon has not even gotten her feet on the ground on her new patrol boat command when she finds herself and her crew supporting a dangerous covert mission. They must insert and retrieve a Defense Intelligence Agency operations team trying to seize a transnational criminal syndicate boss from a small Caribbean island controlled by a front company of the Chinese government and protected by a superior military force.

A honeymoon period would be lovely, but, as always, the world gets a vote.

Can Haley avoid leaving the DIA team to their fate, when attempting to rescue them could destroy her crew and boat and lead to war?

This third installment of the series conveys the humor, friendships, and teamwork of Kauai’s crew from the previous books, with a new series of exciting actions from search and rescue to combat. The crew and their new skipper must come together for the toughest mission they have ever faced.

Enjoy an Excerpt from Dagger Quest

Ben had already spent one magazine and slammed another into the carbine, resuming fire. His pistol was also charged and ready. Suddenly, there was a pause in the firing, and all the targets were out of sight. Ben glanced left along the barrier and froze in shock. Bill was sprawled out face up behind Simmons, eyes open and blood leaking from a hole in his forehead.

“Eyes front!” Simmons whispered urgently.

Ben whirled back to peer at the SUVs and whispered, “What are they doing?”

“Retasking,” Simmons said, pulling a small package out of one of his pockets. “They’ll try to take us now for interrogation.”

“What do we do?”

“Don’t get taken.”


“No, I mean, whatever you have to do, DO NOT get taken by these guys.” He looked Ben in the eyes. “Nothing would be worse, believe me.”


Some activity behind his SUV attracted Ben’s attention. There was a “whump” sound, and a grapefruit-sized object sailed overhead their position.

“FACE DOWN!” Simmons shouted.

Ben turned and buried his face in the sand when a loud “pop” sounded overhead, followed by a “whir” and a stabbing pain in the back of his right leg. A severe muscle cramp-like pain spread over his body within seconds, and he could not move. He tried to shout in terror, but all he heard was, “Ahhhhhh!” He felt another prick in his neck, and the pain subsided, although he still could not seem to get his muscles to work.

“It was a micro-flechette with a tetrodotoxin derivative. I’ve given you the antidote, but it’ll be about thirty seconds before it’s fully effective,” Simmons whispered as he pulled the now empty syrette out of Ben’s neck. “Fight it! They’ll be rushing us in a few seconds—you need to be shooting.”

About the Author: Edward Hochsmann is the pen name of a retired U. S. Coast Guard search and rescue and law enforcement professional. The veteran mariner, aviator, college professor, and defense analyst has added “author” to his list of experiences. Ed likes reading, police procedurals, contemporary music on the road, and classical music in the office. After a career traveling from Australia in the west to Italy and Germany in the east, Ed has settled into a quiet life in the Florida Panhandle to focus on writing (and not shoveling snow!)

Ed has two novels published right now (plus one launching in August 2022) in the Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures series about a Coast Guard patrol boat assigned to “special” missions. Dagger Quest takes place in the Florida Keys and involves an aging Coast Guard patrol boat dragooned into a search for a lost Russian nuclear weapon in a time of international crisis. The second, Caribbean Counterstrike, features the same patrol boat and crew, now with equipment and training upgrades, sent to recover a deadly nerve gas from a murderous Caribbean drug cartel. Bravely and Faithfully has Kauai, under a new captain supporting a covert raid on a Caribbean island held by the Chinese.

Ed’s second series, C6S: Patrol Force deals with a combined defense establishment and constabulary for a galactic economic empire called the Confederation of the Six Systems (C6S). Ed has published two novellas and a novel-length collection late last year.

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The Lost and Found of Green Tree by Bobbie Candas – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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

Both heart-warming and gut-wrenching, the merging stories of Mariah and Nanette reveal their grit and determination as they attempt to carve out a better life for themselves during one the twentieth century’s most arduous decades.

Growing up in the rural village of Green Tree, Nanette is convinced she’s meant for a bigger life, perhaps in the spotlight of Hollywood. But selling popcorn in a Minnesota movie theater is a far cry from the glamor she dreams of; nevertheless, Nanette is undaunted by challenges.

Mariah, living just outside of Green Tree, yearns to move off the family farm and take on a modern job in a bustling city, but she’s sidetracked by love. By eighteen, she finds herself married to her high school sweetheart, giving birth to twin daughters, and living only a few miles from the home she grew up in.

As the economy worsens during the Great Depression, Nanette’s and Mariah’s lofty goals are forced to change as early tragedies confront both women. Brought together by a mutual friend, Nanette extends a generous offer to Mariah, but in time she exacts a frightening price.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I had no idea how long I laid in bed, but the pain was so severe, sleep was impossible. Something had to be wrong. I had drenched both sheets with my sweat. I eventually grabbed a shoe by the bed and began flailing it against the floor.

Clarice came quickly up the stairs and turned on my bedroom lamp, asking, “What is it?” She reached over to touch my head. “God, Nanette, you’re still on fire. Something’s wrong. I’ve never seen anybody this sick or feverish. I think we should consider a doctor.”

“What about your mother?” I asked breathlessly.

“I don’t think her stuff would fix this. We need the real thing and we need to hurry. You may have an infection. We need to get you to the hospital.” I stared blankly as Clarice paced back and forth, running her hands through her hair, genuinely concerned.

She stopped pacing, looked at her watch, and announced. “My neighbor has a car, but it’s four in the morning. I don’t think I can ask her. Besides, she hates me. The kids are always running through her garden.”

I whispered, “Does she have a telephone?”

“I think so.”

As she headed to the door, I called out, ““Wait—tell her it’s an emergency. Call the police. Ask for Officer Olsen; I know him.”

About the Author: I’m a Texas girl: grew up in San Antonio, went to school at UT in Austin where I earned my degree in journalism, and settled in Dallas where I raised a husband, two kids and a few cats. My husband, Mehmet, and the cats will probably disagree on who raised who, but I’m a sucker for a robust discussion.

For years I was involved in retail management, but have more recently focused on my writing, taking deep dives into the lives of my characters. When you can pry my fingers off the keyboard, I enjoy entertaining, sharing food and drink with friends and family. I enjoy shopping, usually on the hunt for apparel, with a special weakness for shoes, and will frequently jump at the opportunity of an unexpected trip to a far-away place.

And I always make time for reading. I keep a stack of novels ready and waiting on my night stand, with a few tapping their toe in my Kindle. I bounce around genres, and I’m always ready for a good recommendation.

Novels by Bobbie Candas:
The Lost and Found of Green Tree
Imperfect Timing
Luck, Love and a Lifeline

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Sources of Discrimination by Glenn P. Booth – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Glenn P. Booth 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.

Sources of Discrimination

A key topic in Them Days is the discrimination that Sofiya and other Ukrainian immigrants experience at the hands of the English Canadians in the early 1900s. During WW1, many Ukrainians had their civil rights suspended and over 5000 of them were interned in work camps across the country. Many of my readers have expressed surprise, especially given that this discrimination occurred between different groups of ‘white’ Europeans. How and why did this happen they ask?

I have no formal training in the area but, in thinking about this, it seems to me that there are three general causes of discrimination.

1. The Tendency to Want to Feel Superior to Others

It’s a natural tendency for humans to compare ourselves with others and to feel better or worse, depending on the comparisons. Are we prettier than so-and-so, smarter, stronger, etc? Our feelings of self-worth are integral to our happiness and feeling better than others is, sadly, a way of improving that sense of self-worth.

If one group can identify another group to whom they can feel superior, then they can feel better about themselves without having to improve their character! Thus, we have seen discrimination throughout the ages between different classes, ‘races’, and social groups where one group feels superior to others simply by being a member of that group; e.g. Brahmins in Hindu society or Europeans comparing themselves to Africans.

In Them Days, when Sofiya is of school age, she happily interacts with children from a mix of eastern European countries – the Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany – and they all get along without any need to feel superior to each other. However, when she moves to Winnipeg, she quickly experiences the condescension of the English Canadians. She is shocked and unsure how to respond. On some level, she feels inferior because the English are clearly wealthier and better organized. But at the same time, she senses that it is unjust – she is confused because she simultaneously admires and resents the English.

At its root, the compulsion to compare ourselves to others must spring from a sense of insecurity or we wouldn’t feel the need to compare. So the ‘cure’ to this need to feel superior through comparison is to understand that our self-worth is inherent and should be dependent upon our moral character, not on superficial comparisons between ‘our group’ and members of other groups. Easy to say – much more difficult to do!

2. Fear of Loss of Our Way of Life

Another source of discrimination is our fear that another group somehow threatens ‘our’ way of life. This manifests itself in the fear/hatred of immigrants that we perceive to be different to ourselves. For example, England’s Brexit was largely instigated because many English felt their way of life was being threatened by an influx of other Europeans, especially poorer eastern Europeans. It is also clear in the backlash (or whitelash) in the US against many immigrants, particularly Muslims and Latinos.

In early 1900s Canada, English Canadians felt that ‘low life’ eastern Europeans would degrade the superior English way of life. As the Canadian Encyclopedia on the internment of the Ukrainians states: “They were subjected to racism from White society, which generally viewed them as dirty, indecent, inferior peasants who resembled animals.” In Them Days, Sofiya is told by her English boss that she should “sit straight and not eat like some ravenous animal.”

The cure to this type of discrimination is increased contact between the groups, which usually results in two things: first, both groups realize that the differences between them are not as great as imagined; and, second, the behaviours of the two groups are modified to some extent so that the differences are in fact diminished. This can be seen as so many immigrant groups, for example, become ‘Americanized’ or ‘Canadianized’. This normalization eventually happens in Them Days as many Ukrainian women marry English Canadian men and the dividing lines between the groups are blurred.

3. Fear of Economic Loss

A fear that is sometimes real but more often imagined is that immigrants will steal our jobs and leave us worse off, and perhaps even destitute. This fear manifests itself in Them Days when the returned soldiers get angry at the ‘Bohunks’ who they believe are taking their jobs. Sofiya’s love, Mikhail, is beaten up by some soldiers simply because he is Ukrainian and they’re unemployed.

History tells us that in the long run, immigrants generally do not take the good jobs and put the residents out of work. Immigrants need to eat, obtain accommodation, buy clothes, etc., so their demand for goods creates new jobs. The huge influx of European immigrants into the US and Canada after WWII did not result in unemployment for residents; rather, the economies of both countries boomed and there was plenty for all.

There are times, of course, when there is high unemployment and immigration may worsen the situation in the short term. This was the case in Canada after WWI when the economy fell into a deep recession.

Most professional economists who study the issue agree that immigration is not a cause of economic recession; rather, the causes are tied to economic cycles. In short, better education about the causes of recessions would take the spotlight off immigrants. In Canada, when the economy rebounded during the Roaring 20s, everyone quickly stopped pointing their fingers at the Ukrainian immigrants, and they were soon being sought after as reliable workers.

Discrimination is clearly a complex topic and I don’t pretend to be an expert. However, while the causes of discrimination are deep-seated, I think they can be largely overcome through understanding of the causes, increased contact, and education. History can help us learn and I hope that these ideas are illustrated in Them Days.

“This heartfelt story grabs the reader from the very start and doesn’t let go. Fans of historical fiction are in for a treat.” – The Prairies Book Review

Discrimination, war in Europe, a pandemic. . .

Sofiya, a young Ukrainian immigrant, experiences all of this and more. It could be 2022, but it’s Manitoba in the early 1900s.

Sofiya is the third consecutive girl born on a poor homestead near Gimli in 1903. She is bright and feisty but nothing more is expected of her than to be a domestic, and at age thirteen she is sent to be a maid to a wealthy family in Winnipeg. There, she experiences the condescension of the English towards the ‘Bohunks’, while her half-brother is interned during WW1, deemed an enemy alien.

While the Great War is raging in Europe, an undeclared war between the classes is being fought at home. This conflict comes to a head in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 when the working classes rise up against their English masters, shut down the city and demand a better deal. The city is divided and everyone must choose a side.

Them Days takes you on Sofiya’s journey, as she discovers what it means to be an immigrant and a woman, struggling to find love and her identity – at the same time that Canada is breaking free from Mother England’s apron strings.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“In them days, we wuz poor but happy.”

You’re probably laughing at how trite this is. But I’ve heard my sister Helen, and several other members of my family, speak those exact words more times than I care to remember. And it’s exactly how they remember “Them Days.”

For us, Them Days goes back to growing up north of Winnipeg on marginal farmland at the turn of the 20th century. Like tens of thousands of Ukrainian and other Eastern European immigrants, my family had come searching for a better life in Canada, lured by the promise of free land.

For the most part, the promises were kept, although, as it would turn out, a few “extras” were thrown into the deal. Unfortunately for my family, like many Ukrainians, they had requested land with wood on it. Back in the old country, they had often frozen through long winters on the Steppes because of a lack of wood for building fires. The Canadian government’s land agent obliged, and they were given some scratchy stony ground near Gimli, Manitoba, where the fertile prairie gives way to swampy Boreal forest. But it had wood!

With this endowment, it was bound to be a hard life. But my sister still remembers it as a time of happiness.

Memories—how they play tricks on us—and how they vary from person to person. It never ceases to amaze me how my family members remember the same events so differently.

It was a warm June day in 1982, the last time the seven of us who had survived to late adulthood had gotten together for an informal family reunion. We were sitting in my youngest sister’s trailer, which was parked on the old family homestead. None of us were regular drinkers, but the occasion had inspired my brothers to have a little whiskey, and my sisters and I were sipping some white wine.

Sure enough, whether it was the heat, the alcohol, or just our age and the occasion, my siblings waxed maudlin. And it didn’t take long before Helen spoke those familiar words, “In them days…,” and my brothers nodded in agreement. Soon, happy stories of Them Days came pouring out like a prairie river spilling over its banks in the spring.

About the Author:Glenn was born and raised in Winnipeg, where he lived with his Ukrainian grandmother, Helen Lesko, after he and his brother were orphaned just before his fourteenth birthday. He grew up listening to Helen’s stories about ‘Them Days’ growing up on the homestead near Gimli, and life in Winnipeg in the late 1910s and 1920s.

Glenn attended the University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta where he respectively obtained his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts (Economics) degrees. Among other jobs, he subsequently worked with Canada’s National Energy Board, where he held positions including Chief Economist, Executive Director of Corporate Planning and External Relations, and Executive Director of Communications and Human Resources.

Glenn has published one other novel, Demons in Every Man, a murder mystery set in the Calgary oil patch, published by Friesen Press in 2019.

The author lives in Calgary with his Brazilian-born wife of 36 years, Elisabeth. Glenn and Elisabeth have two grown sons who are now successfully making their way in the world. Glenn enjoys returning to Winnipeg every summer to visit with his cousins and old friends, and to enjoy cottage life on Lake Winnipeg. While in Calgary, he loves scrambling and hiking in the Rockies, as well as mountain biking and X-country skiing with friends. Of course, Glenn is also an avid reader.

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Go with the Flow by Rob Roy O’Keefe – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rob Roy O’Keefe, who is celebrating the recent release of Small Stones. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Go with the flow

One of the more common challenges that authors are asked about concerns writer’s block. That’s not the topic for today, however. What I find more interesting is the opposite state, something known in psychological circles as “flow.”

Here’s a somewhat clinical definition: flow refers to a state of mind which brings together cognitive, physiological and affective aspects. Flow is characterized by high levels of engagement or immersion in the particular activity you’re involved in. It’s sometimes discussed in context with sports, when it is usually referred to as being “in the zone.”

Whether I’m engaged in short format writing, like this article, or long format writing, it’s not unusual for me to experience this state of flow. The good part about it is that ideas seem to come out of nowhere, not just while writing, but when I’m involved in other activities like taking a long walk, working in the yard, or taking a really long walk so I don’t have to work in the yard. They’re usually the kind of ideas that feel like I’ve caught lightning in a bottle. I want to write them down immediately. They don’t always work out, but there’s a good chance they do.
I can attribute the development of some of the more interesting character traits in my book, Small Stories, A Perfectly Absurd Novel, to being in this state. Early on, I had decided to write one of the characters, Walt, as someone with a lot of anxieties, but I wanted him to express those in more unusual ways. The solution? When he’s anxious, he sneezes. By itself that might not seem all that unique, but Walt sneezes in languages that he doesn’t speak – Mandarin, Swedish, Farsi, and a host of others.

The downside is that when I’m in this state, I’m much more internally focused, which comes off as seeming distant or aloof to other people. It’s nothing intentional, it’s just hard to shut it off. Keep that in mind the next time someone doesn’t seem to be paying attention to what you’re saying. Sure, maybe they’re just being rude, or maybe they’re working on the next great novel.

Here’s an excerpt from my current novel, Small Stories, A Perfectly Absurd Novel

“First question,” announced Wanda. “Who are you and why are you running for Town Council? We’ll start with you, Mr. Small.”

“Wait!” Sasha interjected, catching everyone off guard.

“What’s wrong, Sasha?” Wanda asked.

“I just wanted to say this is very exciting!” Sasha exclaimed, keeping with tradition.

“Yes, I suppose it is,” Wanda acknowledged. “Okay, Duncan –”

“Wait!” Sasha was obviously still excited.

“What is it now. Sasha?” Wanda inquired, hoping to get back to the task at hand.

“I hope I win! No, I hope Duncan wins! Maybe we can all win!” Sasha was gushing enthusiasm, kind of like the verbal equivalent of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser, dependable and dramatic.

Duncan decided to move on with the debate. “As you know, I’m Duncan Small, and –”

“Ha!” interrupted Walt.

“What do you mean ‘ha’?” asked Duncan.

“You’re using a classic Post Hoc fallacy,” Walt announced.

“I am? I don’t even know what that is.”

“You’re putting forth a premise that you are Duncan Small simply because you say you are,” Walt almost explained.

“But I am who I say I am,” Duncan asserted.

“We need proof.”

“Everyone here knows who I am!” Duncan countered, borrowing an exclamation mark from Sasha.

“Now you’ve simply inserted an Appeal to Authority fallacy. Ad verecundium,” Walt finished in Latin.

“Stop showing off,” Wanda pleaded with her brother. She then offered some background. “Walt was the top student in his Logical Fallacies class at Welcome Wagon University.”

Sasha jumped in. “I know all about fallacies! We learned about them in CIA training – Obfuscation 101! I’d tell you more, but I’m only allowed to describe it in misleading terms!”

Engaging in a debate seemed to profoundly change Walt. Suddenly he was calm, credible, and commanding. As for Sasha, in some way Duncan couldn’t quite grasp, she was making sense.

Duncan’s brain felt like it was under assault. While it tried to sort through all the layers of improbability just encountered, his mouth stepped in. “Huh? Welcome Wagon University??” was the best it could manage.

“Grata illustratio, receperint mundi,” Walt recited proudly. “‘Welcome enlightenment, welcome the world.’ Our class motto.”

Duncan’s brain hit reset and after a brief pause, came back online. “I think I need a break.”

A little tale of trial and error. Okay, mostly error.

Duncan and Maya Small have just moved to an out-of-the-way town filled with odd characters, quirky customs, and a power-obsessed local official who one day hopes to be declared emperor. Duncan is sharp enough to know something needs to change, and delusional enough to believe he’s the one to make it happen. The only thing standing in his way are feral ponies, radical seniors, common sense, and Duncan’s inability to do anything without a list.

Small Stories: A Perfectly Absurd Novel, is a tale of power, bake sales, manipulation, the Welcome Wagon, and diabolical forces at work in the shadows (mostly because they can’t afford to pay the light bill), although the Smalls soon discover nothing is at it seems. One thing is certain, however – there’s something funny going on.

About the Author:Rob Roy O’Keefe was raised in the Antarctic by a colony of emperor penguins, which explains both his love of fish and his intense anxiety when in the company of sea lions. At the age of 12 he left to go on walkabout, but upon learning that Australia was over 3,000 miles away, he took the more expedient route from Cape Melville, Antarctica to South America’s Cape Horn.

He wandered north through the Andes, accumulated an abundance of practical knowledge, such as how to convince a hungry condor that you are not carrion. He eventually stumbled upon the hut of an Incan shaman who took him on as an apprentice. After a decade of immersion into the mysteries of the unseen world, Rob departed, fully prepared for his eventual success in the fields of talking, commuting, and sitting behind a desk.

Today, Rob resides in New England’s Merrimack Valley, where he lives in a tree house made of Good Humor popsicle sticks held together by the discarded dreams of retired sailors.

Buy the book at Amazon.

What would you tell a new author? by Kenneth B. Little – Guest Blog and Giveaeway Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kenneth B. Little and Helen Davies 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.

What would you tell a new author?

I have just written my own first novel and it was quite a learning experience.

Before I scare the heck out of you aspiring authors, let me assure you that writing and publishing a book is extremely gratifying. Long after you are gone, people will read and enjoy your creation.

Now for my free fatherly advice…

1) You should have access to a steady flow of funds for at least 12-18 months, depending upon the scope and scale of your first book. If you are forever cold and hungry, you might feel quite creative but it will be hard to stay focused on the task.

2) Writing the first draft of your book will hopefully be fun and engaging. Going back over the entire manuscript to edit and revise the book 2-3 times is a tedious and agonizing process. Be prepared and commit to the pain!

3) As brilliant as most of us are in our own eyes, having dedicated access to one or more helpful editors will result in a much better book. Even if you have wonderful and talented family and friends, you should set aside funds for a professional review at the end of the process.

4) Don’t assume that a major publishing company will have any interest in your first book unless you are related to the owner or a senior manager.

5) Once you have published the book you will have to be the driving force in promoting sales. Your self-publishing company can help you for a fee, but you must do the work. Strong social media skills will help a lot but you must also beat the pavement to get into local retail outlets. This endeavor will keep you busy for years.

6) If your goal is to ultimately earn living writing books, you should consider writing a series so success from the first book will create a market for the second and future books.

I began writing my first book after I retired. I highly recommend this to seniors who still feel that they have a lot to contribute. You will never be bored!

Humans are on the brink of disaster…

In the United States, President Samuel Cummings has taken the reins of a deeply divided country at a time when nuclear, chemical, biological and cyberthreats loom.

Things look bleak until God’s emissary Sarah, a composite of 40 million female souls from Heaven, arrives on Earth with the message that God is intervening in human affairs to save the human race from itself. God, she explains, is the life force of the universe, the only intelligent form of energy. People who help others grow their own life force will join God in Heaven. However, many humans are more inclined toward hatred, intolerance and greed and so God is intervening to course-correct them.

The first thing Sarah does is to announce God’s edict of ‘thou shalt not kill’ to the world. Anyone who tries to kill another person—or who enables someone to do so—will die instead. As commander-in-chief, Cummings must call back his military troops or risk his life. He must then deal with both the fallout and benefits of the dissolution of America’s military-industrial

Sarah’s mission is to establish a new world order that is kinder, better and united. As she guides the world through this evolution, President Cummings begins to notice a depth in his own soul that makes him both a better man and a better leader.

Sarah remains on Earth for one year to help the world come together, and leaves behind a legacy of hope—a second chance for humankind.

Enjoy an Excerpt

It was 9:02 p.m. on a Friday evening in late April, and American President Samuel Cummings sat alone in the Oval Office. He was tired. He had been watching the progress of the North Koreans with horror as they launched their first military satellite into space, and as usual, he was brooding about the state of the world, the events that had led up to this moment, and the jeopardy that his country was currently facing.

Cummings was awaiting the arrival of his Chief of Staff, Bradley Northrup. It was customary for them to meet on Friday evenings for a weekly ‘round-up’, a discussion of the past week’s events, so they could plan for the upcoming week. Northrup was running a little late, and President Cummings did his best not to be annoyed. However, he was getting hungry, and he wished he was in the White House living quarters, having dinner with the First Lady, his wife, Lorena.

He stared at his briefing notes, scanning them for the latest policy to do with North Korea, and then rubbed his eyes with fatigue. When he focused again on the paper he held in his hands, he was surprised to note the glaring whiteness of it. It suddenly seemed much brighter than normal, and the words appeared to swim nonsensically on the page. He blinked a couple of times, wondering if his eyes were playing tricks on him, and made a mental note to book an appointment with his optometrist. Then he shook the paper and tried once more to focus on the typed text, but it was no use; The letters started moving again, appearing disturbingly three-dimensional, almost as if they were going to jump off the page. He frowned, thinking, I’m tired . . . where is that damn Northrup?

Then suddenly, an unearthly light, so bright he had to shut his eyes, filled the room. It’s finally happened, he thought in shock. The Russians have nuked us. But there was no explosion, and when he opened them, he was clearly still alive. He was also beyond startled to see a woman standing in front of his desk.

About the Author Kenneth B. Little is a 72-year-old retired business executive who is unhappy about how the state of the world has deteriorated during his lifetime.

The human population has ballooned from one billion to nearly eight billion, and people have moved off the land into massive cities where they have no ability to survive on their own. Instead, we rely on massive electrical grids energized by power plants largely burning fossil fuel; we’ve developed industrial complexes and global transportation systems that also rely on fossil fuel; we’ve created corporate farms that promote animal cruelty and destroy the soil by overusing chemicals; we’ve decimated our ocean marine life by dragging the ocean floor; we’ve created plastics that pollute land, rivers, lakes and oceans; and, of course, we’ve created nuclear, chemical, biological and cyber weapons that are now in the hands of unstable countries and terrorist organizations.

In short, we are racing headlong into a series of mass extinction events.

At seventy-two, Ken felt motivated to try to create a better world for his grandchildren by writing a fiction book full of non-fiction ideas that could potentially correct many of the world’s problems. Realizing that the only two avenues toward this were themes of divine intervention or mass extinction, he chose divine intervention as the solution, creating a scenario where God could step in to save humankind.

Ken wrote his initial manuscript during the Covid-19 lockdown, a 70,000-word overview that his wife told him read like a textbook. Deciding to see professional help, he engaged Tellwell Publishing to do a critical edit, which was performed by Tellwell editor Helen Davies.

Helen was intrigued by the storyline but, like Ken’s wife, felt it needed a lot of work to develop the characters and make it more engaging. With Tellwell’s blessing, Ken then contracted Helen to do just that. Thus began a most unusual and successful collaboration!

Says Ken:

Helen and I are completely different people. She is a writer, musician, and farmer. I am the grumpy old man who watches European business news when I get up at 3:00 a.m. We live as far apart as possible in Canada. She lives in Victoria on the West Coast, and I live in Fredericton on the East Coast. We have never met, yet we talked for nearly two hours on our first phone conversation. Usually, I never talk for more than five minutes with anybody on the phone. What unites us is that we share a passion for this story, and for the idea of a better, more united world.

During the writing process, Helen routinely sent me edited chapters, one at a time, always with the tagline, “I hope you like it.” I like it very much; the story I wrote that sounded like a textbook now brings tears to my eyes.

God’s Intervention: A Second Chance for Humankind is a story of hope.
We hope you like it.
Kenneth B. Little and Helen Davies

Website | Goodreads

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The Final Crossing by Vince Santoro – Q&A and Giveaway

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


What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?

My story, The Final Crossing, is both character-driven and plot-driven. The blend approach relates to my writing style, an attempt to write a rich and satisfying story.

A plot-driven story focuses on action while a character-driven story focuses on the portrayal of a character or characters. Many believe, the publishing market included, that a plot-driven story is better. And so, we hear of stories being a “page turner”, one filled with “tension” or “conflict”, concepts usually attributed to a plot-driven story. Think of The Da Vinci Code and Jurassic Park as examples of plot-driven stories.

Character-driven stories, such as The Catcher in the Rye and most recently Where the Crawdads Sing, are heavy on emotions and what the character is thinking. There must be a change to the character, the character arc.

Most writers tend to lean to one style. I sought to balance the two. The main character, Nenshi, starts at point A, then something happens, not by accident, but because of the choices he makes influenced by his inner world. This plot-driven approach continues throughout the story whereby the events are laden with tension, conflict, snap decisions, etc. The character-driven approach comes into play as we see Nenshi grow and change ultimately ending up at point B.

Regardless of the approach a writer chooses, I believe the story must have both character and plot.

If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The hero/heroine, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?

All my characters are made up of parts of me. So, I look at it differently. Not which character from my story would I be, but which character would I like to be.

You might think it would the protagonist Nenshi or his best friend Hordekef. Not so. I would like to be Soreb, Nenshi’s sagacious tutor, whom we never see because he has long been dead. But his presence through his teachings, words of wisdom, and guidance are often remembered. They anchor Nenshi on his journey as he redefines who he is.

Do people you know end up as characters in your book? Be honest…

The people I know, per se, don’t end up in my book as characters. But their personality, temperament, integrity or lack of, strengths or weaknesses, etc. do become part of the essential qualities of the characters I have created.

For example, there are people that I have met in life who are deceitful and selfish. Some of the characters in my story certainly exhibit such qualities. I have also met people with high moral standards, are kind and generous. These qualities are also embedded into some of my characters.

If you could meet a literary character, who would you most like to meet?

I would like to meet Atticus Finch, from the story To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus is a widowed father and middle-aged lawyer who lives with dignity, humility, courage, and honesty.

He is consistent with his beliefs and true to his conscience, exemplified when he decides to defend Tom Robinson, an African American accused of raping a white woman. When his young daughter asks him why he supports Tom, Atticus replies, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

So, what makes this man tick? What was his childhood like that shaped his character, traits of compassion, thoughtfulness, honesty, and morality? What influenced him to become a strong advocate of equality regardless of people’s background and skin color? These are just some of the questions that would help me to get me to know Atticus more, a literary character I would most like to meet.

Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy?

Before I had sent my draft to an editor, I had made numerous changes. The beginning had changed, the middle as well, and the ending had changed – several times. Chapters were added, some deleted. All that is normal for a writer.

I do recall one scene that remained throughout my revisions until the final copy. It’s a scene when the protagonist, Nenshi, is among desert Bedouins. In the scene, during a festive meal, a dancer lures Nenshi away. I think you can imagine what happens next.

But my editor suggested I delete the scene. As he put it, it didn’t move the story forward. I thought long and hard about, objectively. He was right. I deleted the scene.

How much research went into your last book?

Writing historical fiction has its challenges. The story may be about a period that some readers know very little about or they may know more than the writer. Regardless, the historical facts of the story need to be researched and then used to help tell the story.

My story is set in the Ancient World – Egypt, the Middle East, Mesopotamia, Persia. There’s plenty of information about these lands and it can be at times overwhelming. My researched focused on a specific timeline, 1800 BCE. I chose this for a couple of reasons. First, it coincides with the beginning of a declining state of Egypt, which played a big part with the protagonist’s status as a servant and his request to be set free. Secondly the timeline coincides with the historical accounts of the Biblical character, Abraham (Abramu in the story).

I considered the facts that I researched and then utilized all five senses and weaved them into a story that made both facts and senses real. I used historical accounts and based on other lesser-known facts, used them to conceptualize an event or situation. The purpose was to make the story readable, believable, or spark thought-provoking alternatives to traditionally known facts.

It was important for me not to write a history book and I had to be careful that all those interesting pieces of information, unearthed in research, did not end up as “info-dump” in the story but rather became an integral part of the story that kept the momentum moving, that brought characters and settings to life.

Can you tell us what prompted you to write your latest release?

I have always had a fascination, a curiosity, for ancient civilizations. After graduating with a degree in History and a minor in Behavioural Sciences it occurred to me that the two were interconnected.

Behavioural Science deals with several disciplines: sociology, social and cultural anthropology, psychology, etc. History is the study of the past; the events that have changed over time.

Historically, what has caused man to change and why? What has caused man not to change? Events related to their history are influenced by the conditions of the time – socially, culturally, etc.

And so, I chose one of the most well-known ancient civilizations and its surrounding lands to tell a story about what I believe have been man’s quest since time immemorial: freedom, love, and the guiding hand of a god.

As we strive for the same goals, we question our beliefs, we change our behaviours, we hold on to what has served us well, we redefine ourselves and our world, for a better life.

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m working on a second book, also historical fiction, which takes place in Italy and North Africa during WWII, titled Letters of Redemption.

The story is told through a dual point of view, from the protagonist Antonio and from the protagonist Maria. It’s a story of Antonio’s search for reconciliation from his transgressions and of Maria’s hunger for independence and apprehension over newfound love.

During the war Antonio writes letters on behalf of another soldier, Roberto, to Maria. Roberto had never learned how to write. Maria didn’t know this because she had just met him before he was sent to the front lines of North Africa. The secret is well hidden and even after Roberto’s death in battle, as the war continues, so do the letters. They become Antonio’s own expression of love that ultimately leads to guilt and a search for how to end the dishonesty. In the meantime, Maria has moved from her hometown in Taormina to Rome to find work to help her parents in poverty-stricken and war-torn Sicily. It’s also an opportunity to be independent. And she doesn’t know about Roberto’s death.

As the letters continue to reach Maria in Rome, Antonio’s dishonesty leads to guilt but the relationship he had created and nurtured over time prevents him from telling the truth. He has fallen in love. As the war comes to an end, Antonio must find Maria, plea for forgiveness and declare his love for her. Maria, who has also fallen in love with the man behind the letters, must decide whether to follow her heart or let Antonio go.

In this tale of self-discovery and adventure, we are connected with a history we’ve come to know as the cradle of civilization.

Nenshi, an Egyptian house servant, raised in nobility, is well-schooled, a master huntsman and hungers to be free. His master agrees to grant his freedom but while the petition is set to be heard, Nenshi’s indiscretion gets in the way. He is caught in a secret love affair with a woman above his social status.

As punishment, he is exiled to labour in the Nubian gold mines. His life turns upside down as he is thrust into a world for which he had been ill prepared. He escapes from the mines and vows to return to Thebes, but his attempts push him farther and farther away on a journey that redefines him – a journey mired with cruelty, bloodshed, and the discovery of a new deity.

In the end Nenshi learns his freedom has been granted and must decide whether to return to his homeland or start a new life.

“I greatly enjoyed this well written story by Vince Santoro. He takes us across the Ancient World through the protagonist, Nenshi, an exiled Egyptian servant who struggles with class structure, both around and within himself. Santoro weaves a story of ideas – a sense of belonging, monotheism, and the human soul – told through Nenshi’s rite of passage through to his final crossing. The setting is visually evocative of “spirit of place” as the novelist and travel writer Lawrence Durrell called it. It’s a story worth reading.” – Terry Stanfill

Award winning historical fiction author of The Gift from Fortuny, Realms of Gold, The Blood Remembers and other works.

“Vince Santoro is a gifted storyteller. I found The Final Crossing difficult to put down because it is well written. As an historian and author of non-fiction books, I am impressed with the amount of research that Santoro has done to prepare this story of adventure and romance set in the ancient Middle East. The customs, the beliefs and even the character names are all authentic to that region and era. With so many plot twists and turns, Santoro will keep you guessing about what might happen next to the protagonist until the very end!” – John Charles Corrigan

Author of The Red Knight and “Love Always”

Enjoy an Excerpt

Nenshi and Hordekef meandered through the passages, some narrow, some wide enough to parade animals for sale. There was a different mood among the merchants. Nenshi noticed the acrid atmosphere. An unsettled sensation lingered, like a haunting image from a nightmare. The acrimony spread like the annual flooding of the River Iteru – the sorrowful tears of Isis for her dead husband Osiris.

But Nenshi could not let things go unsaid. At the very least to make sure Hordekef was aware of it all.

“Something is very different today,” Nenshi said.

Hordekef surveyed the surroundings. “All I see is the same greedy merchants selling the same worthless merchandise to the same rude buyers.” He grinned and then pushed a short man aside who stood in his way. The man turned and raised his hand to strike but realized the difference in size and strength. He casually submitted to the titan and moved aside.

“Look around,” Nenshi said. “Tehuti may be right, the heqa khasewet may be closer than we think.”

Hordekef laughed. “You are obsessed with this notion of invaders.” He refused to let Nenshi’s preoccupation ruin his day. “If they’re as close as you suggest, the marketplace would be empty.”

“Don’t you see there aren’t as many merchants.”

“That doesn’t mean an attack is imminent.”

Even though there were fewer merchants, the market was still busy. A sea of sellers and buyers overflowed the narrow paths. Merchandise of every kind, from near and far, strewn on tables, hung on ropes, were on display to attract customers. Merchants added their own special calling, chanted or yelled, to solicit a sale.

Nonetheless, Nenshi remained vigilant. Unlike raids, common in small towns, he knew attacks in Thebes were never anticipated. And like many others, he had been lulled in the belief that the Walls of the Prince, there to protect the people, were impenetrable.

“This is the perfect stage for an attack,” he said. “A large unsuspecting crowd is fodder for mayhem.” But he was hardly heard, drowned by squealing flutes, competing with thunderous drumbeats.

About the Author: Vince is an Italian-born Canadian who grew up in Toronto, Canada, and now lives in Pickering, a suburb of Toronto.

In his youth, education and sports became a priority. A private boys’ school, St. Michael’s College in Toronto, provided the opportunity for both. He graduated from York University, Toronto, with a degree in history and a minor in behavioural science.

Vince was always up for new challenges. After completing his studies, he set his eyes on Europe and played professional basketball in Italy. When he returned home, he shifted gears and worked in the aerospace industry in several capacities. The most rewarding was managing internal communications for a large aircraft manufacturer. It was during this time he decided to hone his writing skills by studying journalism at Ryerson University, Toronto, and he had several articles published.

His career in communications along with studies in history and journalism prepared him to take on his next challenge: to write a book. His debut novel, The Final Crossing, has been a labour of love, one he worked on for many years. It reflects life experiences, woven into a story that inspires and entertains, and perhaps even show the world in a different way.

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Diamonds n’ Roses by Vogue – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

After battling through the highs and lows of an intense and often dramatic relationship, fashion designer, Carmen Davenport, and business mogul, Jay Santiago, are finally ready to plan their most anticipated event to date – their wedding. However, before they can get down the aisle, they must endure a few unexpected surprises, twists, and turns.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Finally hearing her voice, Jay set the pencil on the desk. “I’m serious about this wedding. Lately, I haven’t been showing that side of me, but I promise, all that is going to change. I’m going to be more involved like I should’ve been in the beginning.”

“You better,” Carmen replied, rising from her chair. “I don’t know what’s going to happen if we have this conversation again.” She picked up the rest of the papers, organizing the documents into a stack, which she set on top of her laptop. “Everything will be right here if you want to look at it. I’m gonna head upstairs. I’m done for the day.”

Jay didn’t pressure her into staying, but he did make sure to get a kiss before she left. To him, the kiss served as confirmation he was officially in her good graces. He still had a lot to prove, but at least he was off to a start. The only thing he had to do now was play catch up.
Once she left, he reached for the stack of papers. He reviewed each one until he was up to date. For Carmen to be the only person majorly contributing aside from the planners, she had put a major dent in the planning stage. There were still things which needed to be decided upon, which led Jay to grab a sheet of paper from the printer. He started jotting down ideas and by the time he was there was hardly any white space on either side of the page.

About the Author:Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Vogue’s journey through the world of creative writing first began in middle school with poetry and songwriting. However, it was her discovery of prose that opened the door to a world of endless possibilities.

A graduate of Winthrop University (Rock Hill, S.C.), possessing a bachelor’s degree in social work, Vogue, first birthed the idea of The Diamond Collection in the halls of her alma mater. In 2003, she put pen to paper and thus was created, Diamonds in The Rough, part one of The Diamond Collection series.

By 2010, Vogue had written drafts of the entire ten book series and in June of 2010, Diamonds in The Rough, was published. Soon followed by Diamonds Are Forever in October of 2010, The Ace of Diamonds in February of 2013, and Black Diamonds on July 4, 2015, Vogue joined a league of other writers, determined to make her mark in the literary world.

Vogue released the fifth book in the series, Diamonds N’ Roses, on December 25, 2016. She took a hiatus to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from Queens University in Charlotte, NC, but released parts six and seven of the Diamond Collection series, The Diamond Tiara and Dirty Red Diamonds, on June 7, 2022.

When she isn’t writing, Vogue enjoys cooking, blogging about food (Instagram: Miss Black Foodie), attending concerts, festivals, and traveling.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Choosing Charity by Sara Zavacki-Moore

Thanks for joining us on our 15th anniversary scavenger hunt! There are two ways to enter to win and it’s easy to play– first read the blurb below, then answer the question on the first Rafflecopter. You might win a $100 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC (along with other prizes). Follow and visit authors’ social media pages on the second Rafflecopter and you’re entered to win another $100 Amazon/BN GC (along with other prizes)!

Straight-laced and anxiety-ridden Anna never expected to save someone’s life. When she sees a woman standing on the ledge of a bridge, she can’t help but intervene.

The unexpected kindness from a stranger changes the course of Kylie’s life. Only now, she has to figure out a way to tell her creepy boss that she can’t exactly dance around a dimly lit pole with an ugly cast halfway up her leg.

Kylie’s scars are inked upon her body, while Anna can’t go a whole day without popping painkillers. Determined to make her therapist proud, Anna takes a chance on opening her heart and her home to someone who seems to need a friend even more than she does.

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