Top Five Things Literary Fiction Must Have by S.S. Turner – 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.

Top Five Things Literary Fiction Must Have

Here’s my top list of five literary fiction must-haves:

1) Compelling characters – Good characters are important in all genres but I believe they are particularly important in literary fiction because there aren’t as many smoke and mirrors to play with. I liken literary fiction to Acapulco singing in that there generally isn’t a murder, romance, or political scandal to center the story around. As a result, the characters need to carry more than their fair share of the reader’s interest.

2) Multiple layers to the story – One of my favorite literary fiction novels is Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. It’s a great example of a multi-layered story which the reader can interpret as they see fit. For me, this is why literary fiction is such an exciting storytelling genre. They enter the novel’s world and then choose how to read the book. It’s a far more fulfilling reading experience than a more prescriptive genre.

3) Strong voice – A strong voice is equally important as compelling characters, and is equally exposed in a literary fiction novel. Some would argue the main reason The Catcher in the Rye is such a compelling read is because of the unique and memorable narrator’s voice. As you read the novel, you feel as though the narrator is sitting next to you as he tells you his most heartfelt truths and secrets. It’s a great example of how a strong voice can make a literary fiction novel great.

4) Unique/different storylines – Literary fiction travels where the other genres don’t or won’t go. This presents a wonderful freedom for writers to create truly unique and different storylines which inspire and challenge their readers. Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a great example of a unique storyline which takes the reader to a place they’ve never visited before.

5) A reason to read through to the end – Without an unsolved murder mystery or the like to maintain a reader’s interest all the way through to the end of the book, good literary fiction novels give their readers a compelling reason to make the full reading journey. Whether it be a mysterious character with a dubious motive, a journey which needs to be completed, or a relationship which needs to be healed, readers deserve a reason to make it to the end.

As Freddy gazes at the majestic river gushing past him in the depths of a Scottish winter, he’s ready to jump in and end his life. But what happens next is not what Freddy expects. From the moment he enters the river, Freddy starts a journey which is more beautiful, funny, and mysterious than he could have imagined. And through this journey Freddy’s story becomes interweaved with a cast of unforgettable characters who are equally lost and in search of answers. Eventually they all unite in their quest for an answer to the biggest question of them all: will the river take them where they want to go?

In the tradition of inspirational works of fiction like The Alchemist and Life of Pi, Secrets of a River Swimmer is at once a profound exploration into living with meaning and an affecting story of people on the cusp of change.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I dip my toe in.

It’s f****** freezing.

I sit and watch the majestically sinister Scottish river hurtle along below me. I’m not sure whether to be in awe or terrified, but that was always going to be the case today, my last day. The idea of jumping into the river reminds me of the feeling you experience when you arrive at the beach, and you’re thinking about jumping into the sea, but you know it’s going to cause you grievous bodily harm from your nether regions up. For some reason, your legs are the one part of your body which can handle intense cold without too much stress. But all body parts above your legs are a whole different story. My voice just rose an octave, and I’m not even talking.

So you sit and watch the sea while contemplating your next move, as if this thinking time will give you the required mental strength to leap into the cold blue water. However, this thinking time just gives the water an opportunity to look you in the eye with laughing menace, because the water knows the questions you are grappling with deep in your soul. The water understands it is strong and you are weak—the eternal power imbalance at play.

The waiting period only makes it worse, of course. All it does is allow you to hand more mental power over to the cold water than a short and simple jumping-in maneuver would have done. Why do we employ such counter-productive strategies in our lives?

About the Author:S.S. Turner has been an avid reader, writer, and explorer of the natural world throughout his life which has been spent in England, Scotland and Australia. Just like Freddy in his first novel, Secrets of a River Swimmer, he worked in the global fund management sector for many years but realized it didn’t align with his values. In recent years, he’s been focused on inspiring positive change through his writing as well as trying not to laugh in unfortunate situations. He now lives in Australia with his wife, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and ten chickens.

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I Don’t Have a Six Figure Contract with “The Big Five” So Why Should You Read My Books? by Robert W. Smith – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Robert W. Smith 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.

I DON’T HAVE A SIX FIGURE CONTRACT WITH “THE BIG FIVE” SO WHY SHOULD YOU READ MY BOOKS?

We’d all love to have a three-book, six-figure deal, but we won’t. Thousands of agent rejections daily include the phrase, “…but there’s no current market for…” If an author wants to make a living writing historicals or thrillers, conforming to the market is the smart and sensible course, especially if he or she is young. I suspect that things like market trends and bestseller list work to deflect readers from thousands of great books by Indie publishers and self-published authors. I’m not young and I’m fussy about my words. I’m often told “there’s no current market for that style,” but a fair number of folks like what I write and I like it too. Well, go sit on a fence post. I like my writing style. Besides, if my book catches fire with readers, maybe I’ll help start a new trend and crack a bestseller list.

In my youth I read everything I could get my hands on that interested me, from WWII histories to anything in historical fiction and intelligent, thoughtful thrillers. By senior year of high school, I’d focused primarily on writers like Graham Green and Len Deighton when my unruly streak triggered not one, but two expulsions. In those days, if a boy didn’t go to college, he had three options: Army, Navy or Air Force.

By the time I caught up with my contemporaries, I was an old man of twenty-seven with a degree in Political Science and needing to earn a living. So I found myself in law school, nights. It wasn’t my first choice and just kind of happened. I mean nobody could hang out a shingle as a novelist and expect to make a living, especially with no formal education in creative writing. Still, I was a pretty good criminal lawyer for a long time.

Some years into my career I started to write a book about something I understood. John Grisham was the hottest thing in print then and what the hell did he know about defending murderers? So I wrote about crime and corruption in Chicago. It was slow going because I was working and pursuing an Abe Lincoln-style creative writing education, not by the light of a fireplace, but you get the drift.

My first book was a legal thriller, “Immoral Authority,” published by a wonderful 2000 startup small press. Of course, there was no self-publishing then. One review said it “read like a first novel.” I think the woman was right. The next book was better, but I had no interest in writing more legal thrillers. My head was in the clouds somewhere with Len Deighton’s two heroes of “Goodbye Mickey Mouse,” brothers in all but blood, one mortally wounded, both waiting for the moment the sea would take him. Two simple salutes and an exchange of smiles across P-51 cockpits told a tale I could never forget, brought it to life without a single word and made me cry, bringing me closer to an understanding of brotherhood than could expertly crafted pages of conversation or narrated reflections.

That’s when I recognized my mission, bringing my commentary and observations to life in compelling stories of memorable characters in history. Deighton and Graham Greene, Solzhenitsyn, even the early Twentieth Century author, Joseph Conrad, had all along been writing consistently with a theme, some exploration of humanity, inhumanity, brotherhood, colonialism, war, ant-war. It was always there and it’s what drew me to them in the first place. Hello? So, after getting the rights back on my legal thrillers, I renamed them and cleaned them up.

Since then I write what I want when I have something to say and can find a way to say it and always including an off-beat romance. My reward has been hundreds more rejections by agents, with one brief exception, and almost no access to major publishers. But I’m cool with that because I have a good publisher who knows the game and loves books. I found there are book people out there looking for more than the “style de jour” i.e. “Gone Girl.” Besides, I think my books get better every time out and that’s what I care about.

It’s not my intent to sell sour grapes, I’m not bashing popular styles or series or genres and not giving advice to other writers, simply pointing out to readers there are thousands of good writers out there writing important, compelling books with little or no mass commercial appeal. It doesn’t mean an author won’t get lucky and the possibility is exhilarating. I won’t quit because there are readers looking for my work.

All this gibberish is simply a defense of any writer who chooses not to conform to the mandates of agents, chooses to write what’s in his or her heart because that’s where your best work lives. Readers are always looking for great stories. Publication by one of the “big five” shouldn’t be the standard of measurement for a writer because it hurts the reader.

An author isn’t likely to get rich this way, especially if he’s old like I am, but he will make ends meet. Draw from his or her trust fund, marry a rich man or woman or live a frugal, happy life on a park bench at a Florida beach. But she’ll also bank indescribable moments of joy and satisfaction, leaving the most important part of herself in a permanent record for anyone who loves books and cares to take a peek in a hundred years.

On the run from a hangman’s noose, a young man joins the army in search of anonymity, but lands in the Philippines in the closing phase of the war (1901), where his life intersects with a beguiling and mysterious young Filipina, a disillusioned Catholic priest and an American “Negro” deserter. They join forces, each in his or her own way, to hold back the tide of greed and colonial barbarity from a ravenous Eagle. At great cost, the young soldier will find his place, his people and himself. But to end his running, he must endure the last battle and the dark jungle beyond that holds the key to his fate and future.

One will die in the fight. One will learn that truth wears no flag and must be pursued and safeguarded, no matter the price. The other two will live forever, legends in the minds and hearts of the Filipino people.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A sick feeling churned in his stomach, like that of a man who’d blindly taken his first step over a cliff in the dark. The unfortunate soul could almost feel the soft blades of grass drooping teasingly over the ledge, only inches from his outstretched hand as he mourned a fatal mistake, but the inevitability of his fate cruelly mocked the effort.

With his coat buttoned up and the saddlebags over his shoulder, the man reached for the old newsboy hat on the table before leaving. The wavy, chestnut hair would be a dead giveaway for anyone searching by description, and he tucked it in the best he could under the cap. In the same instant, the flimsy door to his room imploded from its hinges as a parade of uniformed police poured in behind it, and the man with no name faced his rendezvous with destiny. With two friends surely facing a hangman’s noose, surrender equaled slow suicide. In a split second, he chose the cliff over the noose.

Just maybe, he thought, he could fly. The window was barely large enough to accommodate his slender frame, and he proved it the hard way, headfirst through shattering glass. Like the man grasping in vain for the ledge, he reached instinctively back for the window, knowing this was his last mistake and praying only for instant death.

About the Author: Bob was raised in Chicago, enlisting in the Air Force at age eighteen during the Vietnam War. Following a year of intensive language training at Syracuse University, he served three years as a Russian Linguist in Security Service Command, a branch of the NSA. Upon return to civilian live, he attended DePaul University and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago on the G.I. Bill while working as a Chicago Transit Authority Police Officer. Thirty-odd years as a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago ensued. His first book was Immoral Authority (Echelon Press, 2002) followed by Catch a Falling Lawyer (New Leaf Books, 2005) and The Sakhalin Collection (New Leaf Books, 2007, hardcover)

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The Crossing by Ashby Jones – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ashby Jones will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Crossing is a powerful and haunting love story of surprising discovery set in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen during Prohibition. Its mission seeks to reconcile love and guilt, grief and promise. Set apart from other stories, it combines history, fact, surrealism, and reality into an ever-recycling boost of the human spirit.

Irish-born Johnny Flynn, a former British soldier, is banished from his homeland and sent to America on a ship so riddled with disease that he realizes the voyage was meant to murder him. When he survives the trip, the captain forces him to walk the plank into the Hudson River. Miraculously, Johnny is rescued by a rumrunning Irish gang, the Swamp Angels, and given a job running whisky in Hell’s Kitchen just as Prohibition makes liquor a hugely profitable, dangerous business.

Fighting for his life and livelihood amid the denizens of the Manhattan piers, Johnny is plagued by the memory of his lost lover, Nora, whose father, the famed Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, met his death through a firing squad that included a reluctant gunman named Johnny Flynn. Nora’s last words to him, when she learned of his betrayal and left him, “I love you, Johnny Flynn”, echo in his heart, leaving him pulsing with guilt, yearning, and the hope that she might yet forgive him.

Johnny drinks hard. One night, drunk on the floor of Hailey’s speakeasy, he encounters a seeming apparition on stage, the ghostly Esme, an Irish singer who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of the British Black and Tans. Johnny is dazzled by her. She is not only a singer but a healer, teaching poor and afflicted children to sing and gather hope at an old theater called The Woebegone. From Esme Johnny learns how to overcome the desire for revenge, only to discover that she, too, clings to her own dark dream of retribution.

Hell’s Kitchen, Johnny discovers, is thronged with people whose damaged hearts ache for revenge, repentance and love. As he grapples with taking responsibility to help others resolve this overwhelming dilemma, he learns that Nora is coming to New York to advocate for Irish independence. As he confronts her and soon thereafter receives a piercing love letter from Esme, the story comes to a turbulent climax.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Roughly a mile from the Statue of Liberty, Johnny Flynn stood trembling on the bridge of the ship called The Pestilence. His hands were rope-bound at the wrists and a rucksack filled with heavy stones was strapped to his back. His executioner, seaman Bile, named for the Celtic god of Hell by Johnny’s long-gone friend and fellow prisoner, Seamus, had tried in vain to kill Johnny every day on this voyage from Ireland, and now he would have his way. The vessel from which Bile would send Johnny to his death was the recently recovered, ancient famine ship found in the Bay of Kinsale. The ship still contained the skeletons of the three hundred dead who’d tried to escape the Great Famine by taking passage to America but whose journey had been ended by typhus, cholera and tuberculosis. In hopes of hiding their humiliation, the Irish had returned The Pestilence to its parting pier unannounced and mothballed it in what soon became a drying, wooded alcove south of Kinsale, leaving the three hundred bodies to rot in the hold.

The ship was discovered by a group of young Irish campers shortly after the Treaty with the victorious Brits was signed, ending the War of Independence. Soon thereafter, in the fall of 1921, the Rebels filled the arid tributary with fresh water, freeing the ship and setting it on a crossing to America to test its sea-worthiness. The next step in purging their embarrassment for the deaths was to cleanse the ship’s hold of the bones and restore its ability to make money for the Emerald Isle.

About the Author:Ashby Jones has been writing historical novels for 50 years. With degrees in Literature and Clinical Psychology; Creative Writing at UCLA under the guidance of Leonardo Bercovici. Jones previously published: The Angel’s Lamp in 2017 which was well received and reviewed by the Irish Times. Jones’s passion is writing literary fiction that attempts to understand mankind’s never-ending battles with irony, tragedy, blatant contradiction, and the anomalies of love. Such is the focus of ‘The Crossing’, a stand-alone sequel to ‘The Angel’s Lamp’, his first novel. He studied under such notables as William Hoffman, a best-selling author, and years later at U.C.L.A. under Leonardo Bercovici, a highly regarded screenwriter.

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Flower Girl by Merida Johns – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Merida Johns will be awarding a $30 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.

Everyone wants to believe they can hold on to their anchor, the light of their North Star, and live their truth . . . Suzanna Jordan did too until she fell for a man with a movie-star presence and a dark alter ego. Losing hope of salvaging her life and gaining her freedom, an unlikely source serves up a platter of just desserts that even Suzanna’s treacherous abuser might not evade.

Enjoy an Excerpt

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 1984

It’s five o’clock in the morning. A waterfall of worries washes over me, but one remains, one I cannot ignore, one that means my life or death—do I have the courage to stop this nightmare?

I hear muffled voices and hasty footsteps fading away in the distance. My crisis, already old news to them, cataloged on a forgotten document. They have abandoned me and left me alone with my fear.

Rolling to my side, my legs dangle off the bed, and gravity pulls my five-foot-five, slender body toward the floor. My feet rebel. They scream and cramp in pain as they hit the cold cement. My insides shake, and my body wobbles. My eyes blur, and my hands reach out to find the bed. I steady myself and count under my breath, “One, two, three . . .” The agonizing muscle spasms in my feet start to unwind.

My world plays in slow motion. My eyes drift across the brackish-beige walls, swamp-green curtain, stainless steel instruments, and electronic gadgets—my stomach knots, my heart falls, my mouth goes dry. Helplessness hits me like an animal in a snare.

I spot my possessions, swathed in clear plastic, in the chair’s seat in the corner of the room. I hobble over and open the bag and poke through it—a Victoria’s Secret midnight-blue lace bra, an OSU red T-shirt, a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt denim pants, a Coach purse, and white Reeboks. I loosen the ties of the rumpled steel-gray gown; it slips off and falls to the floor. Dressing in fancy lingerie is absurd, so I toss it on the chair and throw on the shirt and jeans.

I look down at my sneakers and stop. In my mind, I see my husband’s squinting eyes and hear his haunting disapproval. Quit wiggling your feet over the counters of your damn shoes, Suzanna. You’ll ruin them! I shake my head, clench my jaw, and disobey.

I have no strength to bend over and tie the shoelaces. Jonathan would have a nasty comment about this, too. I ignore him. My eyes close in victory. “Cherish every step. Each is a grand slam toward deliverance.”

My fingers run through my disheveled hair, soaked with sweat—my muscles loosen, my brain fog lifts, and the ache behind my forehead fades.

I pull back the curtain circling the bed and grimace—the overhead lights jar me. I pump myself up—One, two, three, go. I take off.

I shuffle through the corridor between the beds bordering the room and reach the doorway to the waiting area. If people are here, I do not notice them. My eyes fix on the escape at the end of the room—the pulsating red exit sign. The floor-to-ceiling doors open, allowing my aching body to limp toward daybreak. The heavy morning breeze hits my face, and the sickening, sterile scent covering me blows away. I clutch my heart and silently sob, Thank God I’m alive.

But the joy vaporizes into the humid air. The war has only begun. Clutching for courage, I console myself. You’ve gotten this far. You can make it! You can live your truth.

I look up above the horizon, and I see it! There’s my North Star, its five points shimmering in the dawn and guiding me toward my purpose—But before I can help others be their best, I must help myself be my best.

Outside the sterile walls of a hospital emergency room, I hold my own. I put a stake in the ground. I swear that the fight to flee my abuser’s snare, save my life, and follow the guidance of my North Star is worth it.

About the Author:Merida Johns writes about the human experience—that often is messy—and how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, but despite this, gather the strength to act on their aspirations and achieve flourishing lives.

“My insight into the power of fiction came during a conference call in late 2017 with a group of fellow life coaches when I asked, ‘What would it be like to help people achieve a flourishing life through storytelling instead of another self-help book?’

After that phone call, I got started answering that question. Almost three years later, the result was my debut novel Blackhorse Road, a heartfelt story of womanhood and the power of choice, gratitude, and forgiveness that was published July 21, 2020, by Coffee Cup Press. Now, I’m thrilled about the upcoming release Flower Girl—a story of a woman who must make sweeping changes in her life to live her truth.

Before writing fiction, I was a professor and author of health informatics and leadership textbooks. Later, I put my experience to use as a leadership coach, focusing on helping women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential.

My husband and I reside in the beautiful Midwest countryside. This is where I find the serenity and space for bringing to life the stories about everyday people who face and overcome extraordinary challenges by finding and following their North Star.

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Winter Blogfest: Christy Nicholas

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one free ecopy of Legacy of Truth, book 2 in The Druid’s Brooch Series .

Happy Holidays

Ah, December. The ringing of jingle bells until you want to smash the little buggers whenever they appear, the mad dash for holiday gifts, the dreaded anticipation of hordes of relatives appearing at your doorstep.

And yet, it is a time of serene beauty and joy. It is a time of solitude and dark nights, a time to contemplate the love in your life, and all your blessings.

Nights are made bright with blankets of pristine snow sparkling in the sublime moonlight. Days are made sweet with the ringing of children’s laughter in the snow. And the food… oh, so much food! Candies, cakes, roasts and eggnog. How can we keep from singing?

 No matter what your beliefs, no matter what your religion, December is a month of peace and joy. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Joyful Yule, and Happy Kwanzaa. Enjoy those things in life that you hold dear, now and throughout the year. Hold them tight and fierce, for tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities and possibilities.

Be of good cheer!

Why do I say ‘happy holidays’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas?’ Not because I hate Christmas or Christians, or want a war on any of them. Because there are many different holidays in this time, by many different religions. Here are just a few of them!

Some December festivals:

Advent (Nov 29-Dec 24)
Boxing Day (Dec 26th)
Chanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights)
Christmas (Dec 25th)
Hogmanay (Dec 31st)
Hogswatch (From Discworld – fictional)
Krampusnacht (December 5th)
Kwanzaa (Pan-African Festival)
New Year’s Eve (Dec 31st)
Saturnalia (the Roman Winter Solstice)
St. Lucia’s Day (Dec 13th)
Yule (Pagan winter festival/Solstice)

 

When the magical secrets of The Emerald Isle beckon, will she survive answering the call?
Pittsburgh, 1846. Valentia McDowell wishes she could rest. Plagued by nightmares of her grandmother’s mysterious brooch lost in Ireland, the well-off woman grows more troubled when a fire ravages her family’s business. But as she buries herself in the rebuilding efforts, she can’t shake the sense that a powerful inheritance awaits her across the ocean… if she can weather the treacherous journey.

Horrified when the voyage claims her brother’s life and afflicts her with malaria, Valentia believes her grief will be for nothing if she returns from the famine-struck island empty-handed. But as she nears her gran’s birthplace and the last known location of the heirloom, the determined woman draws ever closer to a force beyond her imagination… and a battalion of deadly danger.

Can Valentia uphold a destiny she doesn’t yet understand without losing everyone she loves?

Legacy of Hunger is the sweeping first book in The Druid’s Brooch historical fantasy series. If you like compelling female characters, immersive authenticity, and a dash of magic, then you’ll love Christy Nicholas’s transatlantic quest.

Buy Legacy of Hunger to trace a family treasure today!

 

Celtic Fairies, Fables, and Folklore!

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, is an author, artist and accountant. After she failed to become an airline pilot, she quit her ceaseless pursuit of careers that begin with ‘A’, and decided to concentrate on her writing. Since she has Project Completion Compulsion, she is one of the few authors with NO unfinished novels.

Christy has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she’s a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were.

She wants to expose the incredible beauty in this world, hidden beneath the everyday grime of familiarity and habit, and share it with others. She uses characters out of time and places infused with magic and myth, writing magical realism stories in both historical fantasy and time travel flavors.

Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

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Winter Blogfest: Fredrick Cooper

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of my debut, award-winning novel – Riders of the Tides. The same prize will be awarded to anyone providing a review of my soon-to-be-released novel, The Grotto.

Family Holiday Stories

Family stories are important to recall and be told during the holidays. One that I shall always remember was told to me by my father.

In October 1929 the stock market crashed and it was the beginning of the Great Depression. Earl, my future father, would turn fourteen in three months. There were no millionaires in his family at the time so there was no wealth to lose. They lived from payday to payday. But like millions of American working families, jobs disappeared. His family lived a hardscrabble life on the coast of Washington State where jobs were pretty much limited to fishing and logging. One day Earl’s father announced that he would try to find work on the docks of the Seattle waterfront. Earl never saw him again, but years later learned that he survived the Depression and ultimately became a Union boss when laborers organized.

The holidays of 1929 and for eight ensuing years were hard times. His mother began working as a cook in a logging camp, toiling long hours over a wood-burning stove, baking and preparing meals for hungry loggers. She had little time to see about Earl’s upbringing. He and his cousin William were left to be raised by an old Indian whose name was Unck. In a way, it was a good match. Unck was a self-sufficient person. If he needed food, he hunted or fished for it. If he needed certain items to survive, he made them himself. He passed these skills on to Earl and William. When not in school, they paddled canoes up North River to fish, crept through the tidelands of Willapa Bay to hunt for ducks and geese, and walked for miles on the broad beaches and tide-flats digging razor clams or collecting oysters to sell for a few dollars. Because of everything Earl learned from Unck, there were a few additional dollars to support the family and there was always food on the table.

One year, the day before Thanksgiving, Earl’s mother called him into the kitchen. “Earl, we have no money to buy a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. I need you to go hunting.” Earl readily agreed as he had become a good shot and knew he could get what they needed. His mother added to her request. “There will be ten people to feed. So, bring me five large ducks.” Earl went to get his shotgun and discovered that he only had one shotgun shell. He had no money to buy any more ammunition. So, he took his gun and went to find Unck. The two of them set out for the marshes near his home not knowing how they would meet his mother’s request.

The annual water foul migration had begun and the ponds in the marsh were resting locations for thousands of ducks. Unck picked out a likely pond and they hid in the reeds and waited. They waited for hours as ducks flew in and landed on the pond. When Unck gave the word, Earl jumped up and fired his one shot. Dozens and dozens of water foul rose from the pond and flew away but when the scene became quiet, the bodies of five ducks lay floating on the surface of the pond. Earl and Unck gathered up the ducks and headed for home. It would be a fine Thanksgiving dinner of roasted duck, oysters, and fresh-baked apple pie.

Brooklyn never knew her father. But when Vince James, a down-on-his-luck, Tlingit Indian shows up and pleads for Brooklyn’s mother to help him, her mother unwittingly agrees to go with him and then disappears. Brooklyn, with a strange group of friends that include Tony, a Tlingit boy she once loathed, an Alaskan sourdough named Luther Calhoun, and Bingo Bob, who is considered the town drunk, sets out to find and rescue her from a person set on vengeance.

Fredrick Cooper was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and lived in Alaska for many years. Before obtaining a doctorate in civil engineering and pursuing a professional career, he worked as a road surveyor, longshoreman, commercial fisherman, cannery worker, and even as a technician and news anchor for a cable television station in a small community in Alaska. He is of Coastal Salish and Lower Chehalis Band descent and is enrolled with a Northwest Indian Tribe. In addition to his second career in writing fiction, he is a master woodcarver, specializing in Native American artifacts such as canoe paddles and ceremonial items. He is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Willamette Writers and his novels have received several awards. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon and is working on another story.

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Winter Blogfest: Vicki Batman

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card and an e-copy of Sommerville holidays.

Christmas Prep, Crunch Time, Holiday Movies

I was determined to get ready super early for the holidays. For too many years, I felt crunched and crazy. I knew “staying ahead” would help me enjoy my time and not feel like “I have to do that.” This year, I hosted four small parties in ten days and took a trip with girlfriends. So, instead of stitching or reading, Icooked and did other preparations.

I addressed my Christmas cards. I made cheese logs. I dipped the fruitcake in chocolate for a dessert tray. And because I didn’t host Thanksgiving this year, I even decorated early, too.

Since I bought gifts throughout the year, I had a huge pile to sort. Once done, I commenced wrap-a-thon—lots of gift wrap, bags, ribbons, and gift cards.

And finito!

Oh, some last-minute stuff will pop up; however, I won’t be all “I have to get that done” and could spontaneously do other fun things when they popped up. I had parked in the back of my mind, I would have to help Handsome as he epitomized Mr. Last Minute.

Which meant I had time to relax over holiday movies. For example:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

The Holiday

Home Alone

Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas in Connecticut

Love Actually

Every Christmas Eve, I watch “White Christmas.” As a youngster, “White Christmas” aired on Christmas Eve. What a thrill to be able to stay up late and see the movie and sing the songs–“Sisters” anyone?—with my three sisters.

When my boys came along, I pleaded and bribed to get them to watch with me, learn the songs, and sing them. Perhaps, what I wanted was too girly or maybe too shmaltzy as they weren’t interested. So, I did all the above by myself.

Seriously, who doesn’t love a good feel-good movie?

What is your favorite Holiday move (I’m not sure “Die Hard” qualifies)?

I hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?

Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are full of her hallmark humor, romance, and will delight all readers. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.

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Winter Blogfest: L.B. Griffin

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle version of Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. 

The Promise of Christmas Eve

Christmas eve is full of promise. Snow scenes. Christmas cards exchanged. Traditions old and new are made. Excited children putting the finishing touches to the Christmas tree. Sparkling lights and the last baubles hung. The fairy a century old, placed at the top of the tree holds a tiny star. She watches the new generation of children with bright innocent faces and inquisitive minds. The scent of pine drifts on air. Lists written. Hot chocolate, soft lights, warming toes by a toasty fire, and Santa’s gift of milk and cookies on the hearth. Now we are all snuggled up. This new family of mine. We take on another tradition. This time from Iceland. Join us and read a story to the family. A story that allows us a moment to think about others. To send a message of hope and joy. Please remember your childhood. How wonderful it would be if all the world could enjoy just one moment of peace and joy.  It is said it is a time for forgiving, a time for living, and a time to give. One act of kindness to another is a gift that is free and can be shared and transport itself around the world. What will your kindness be this year?

When Harriet Laws loses her grandmother and her job, her happy life in London seems over. Alone, grief-stricken and penniless, she thinks wildly of ending it all. Fate steps in as Tom Fletcher saves her, gives her hope, and guides her to new employment. He takes her to dinner, and she finds him attractive. He’s older, but she doesn’t mind. Does he?

Tom, a quiet, hardworking man, is unsure of Harriet’s feelings, but he’s also very busy building his business interests. So it’s no wonder a suave, sophisticated fellow walks off with Harriet right under Tom’s nose.

What follows, no one could have predicted, as Harriet not only loses contact with all her friends but must again fight for her very life…will she ever see Tom again?

Raised in the UK, proud grandmother of five. Loves strawberries and writes historical fiction acknowledging courage of survivors between the lines.

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Winter Blogfest: Craig Hastings

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of MOOSE RIDGE:ENDING TO BEGINNING .

Christmas in Bavaria

When you’re stationed overseas, it can be expensive for a young family to make it home for Christmas, but you still want to make it special for your young children. One Christmas, while stationed in Germany, we had the opportunity to spend the Christmas holiday in Bavaria. There were many wonderful activities for all. One the boys especially enjoyed was going sledding on Christmas Day. They provided the sleds and snow suits and there was a bus to take us to the area. I expected it to be a nice-sized hill. Imagine my surprise when we ended up on the Austrian border at a sled run that was over two miles long if you went to the top. The boys had a blast, but mom and dad stayed at the bottom most of the time.

But it was Christmas Eve which sticks in my heart the most. We attended an outdoor celebration in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. The village where “Silent Night” was written and first performed on Christmas Eve, 1818. The church where this happened is no longer there, but the village has built a chapel on the spot where it was. Each year they celebrate on Christmas Eve and visitors come from all over to join in. The entire village is involved and the folks dress in period-style clothes and havebooths for drinks and treats. It’s the perfect Christmas Village.

We had fun touring the village and sampling the treats available until it was time to gather at the chapel. The chapel sits on a slope in the village and isn’t big, so everyone finds places around it outside. There was a local choir and a few words spoken about the song and its heritage. Space here doesn’t allow me to explain it all, but the website https://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/silent.htm does a good job.

With all the preliminaries done, it was time to share the song. Aguitarist accompanied the choir as this was the instrument the song was originally written for. The crowd stood quietly as the silence around us was overcome by the choir’s masterful singing of “Silent Night”. At the end of the first verse, the crowd was invited to join and as the voices were raised in multiple languages, large snowflakes began to fall and slowly blanketedthe area. It was a scene even Hollywood couldn’t replicate. You just had to be there.

As we made our way back to the bus for the ride back to ourhotel, I knew this was a Christmas memory I would never forget.

All beginnings lead to endings, but some endings bring beginnings.

Attending Harvard was the first positive thing in Jazmine’s life in a long time. While a member of an affluent New York family, her mother died when she was five and her father went to jail when she was twelve. Jazmine lost everything, leaving her a ward of the state and becoming a foster child.

Meeting Michael, a medical student was the second positive experience. Now she’s looking forward to the perfect life she dreamed about. Leaving Boston and New York behind, the only cities she’s ever known, she’s on her way to join Michael and start their new life together in Wyoming where he will complete his neurosurgical residency. She’s had a lot of hard blows, but now all her hard work and dedication are going to pay off. The day has arrived for her and Michael to start the beginning of their future life together. Jazmine just knows, for once, everything is going to be exactly how she always dreamed it could be.

Then she’s handed the letter.

Born and raised in Muncie, IN, Craig is about as typical middle-America as they come. His 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, followed by another 15 as a DoD contractor, allowed him to live in several places in the States and overseas. After over 20 years in German and the UK, Craig hates moving, he and his wife settled in Oklahoma City where their 3 miniature Dachshunds allow Craig and his wife to live with them. He continues working for a major computer company under contract with a major airline manufacturer, which keeps him busy during the weekdays. Leaving his evenings and weekends for his writing and maintaining their home and yard. Oh, and his major job of taking care of the pups.

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The Jug and the Hare Bathhouse by Graham Williams – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Graham Williams will be awarding $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The book deals with a timeless subject, which is as relevant today as it was at the time of King James – the abduction and sexual abuse of children. It is handled sensitively and a distinction is drawn between same-sex, loving partnerships and the cruel use of children bought and sold for the sexual gratification of often wealthy “clientele”.

The story and plot are exciting and well-balanced, with the right amount of tension to make you want to keep on reading. There is a real sense of being in London in the reign of King James and an atmospheric feeling about the taverns, shops and streets as well as the bathhouse itself, all linked to the river Thames and famous theatres of the time. The characters are great and very believable and the action scenes well-written and full of high adventure. It also comes to an uplifting and optimistic conclusion, with some surprising and joyful twists.

Read a sample from the book on Amazon.

About the Author: Being retired, I have the time now to write and tell stories
I am registered as blind, and I am profoundly dyslexic, and I rely on the wonders of technology to bring out my stories, and to live.
I spend many hours walking around London, as this is where I find most of my inspiration from. The places; sounds and smells of the city, I have a love for. To know one’s history is to know one’s self. I hope you enjoy them.

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