When We Return by Eliana Tobias – Spotlight and Giveaway

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Who should be held responsible for public wrong? By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens after the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.

Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager to have their pain and suffering acknowledged. But they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.

Things begin to look up however when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggled his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia’s feelings. Together, Otilia, Jerry and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma. And through it, find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves to love and companionship.

Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, this novel examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when out past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.

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The email came late one night as Jerry Gold lay at home in his bed. He rubbed liniment on his right knee before applying an ice pack and, a little apprehensive, asked himself if he should consider giving up jogging at his age. Jerry didn’t make it a habit to look at his messages this late, but the pain kept him awake. When he reached for his cell, he noticed an unfamiliar name. Jerry almost deleted the message, but for some reason, opened it.

Mr Gold, my name is Dario Alvarez and I’m reaching out to you, wondering if you could be my relative. I was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1949 to my mother Soledad Figueroa. When she was close to her death, my mother confessed that I was not the son of the man I lived with and called my father, but of a foreigner she had known by the name of Milan Goldberg. If you have any information about Milan Goldberg, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for your help.

As Jery lay in bed, he remembered how, at the end of his life, his father began to talk more about his time in Bolivia. Jerry tried to remember what his father had said about his time as a refugee, when he had been known as “Milan” but Jerry hadn’t paid much attention. At the time, he thought it was best the old man dream about his romantic entanglements rather than what he would have faced had he remained in his homeland in Eastern Europe. Jerry’s father had rambled on about his relationships with Latin women in Bolivia, extolling the virtues of one in particular named Soledad. He said he’d had a serious relationship with this Soledad, who lived in a sheltered environment and had to lie every time she sneaked out of the house.

But had his dad fathered a child? This went ‘round and ‘round in Jerry’s mind. Would communication with Dario expose a family secret? He wondered if he should ask Dario for more information before committing to becoming involved. Young adult relationships came and went, and sometimes tough choices had to be made, but Jerry hadn’t really believed his father was in an intimate relationship with Soledad. Not in Jerry’s wildest dreams had he thought the. relationship his father had described had, in fact, taken place.

About the Author:Eliana Tobias was born in Santiago, Chile, to immigrant parents who escaped the Holocaust. She graduated from the University of Chile then completed
other degrees in early childhood and special education in the United States and
Canada. After working in this field in various capacities, including teaching at
the National University of Trujillo in Peru, she moved to Vancouver, where she
has lived for thirty years and where she discovered her love of writing.

Her rich experience of political turmoil, of listening to stories of the Holocaust when
Jewish communities in Europe were shattered, of losing family in Chile under
military dictatorship, and living in Peru during a time of intense civil conflict
fueled her passion to write about the ways in which people caught in devastation
rebuild their lives.

Eliana Tobias lives in Vancouver, B.C.

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Benevolence of New Ideas by Carmela Cuttuti – Spotlight and Giveaway

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The satisfying conclusion to Angela Lanza’s story which began in Between the Cracks when she loses her entire family in the earthquake on Sicily following the 1908 eruption of Mt. Etna and continues in The Ascent as she adjusts to life in the United States as a new bride and Italian American immigrant. Now, in the final installment in the trilogy, The Benevolence of New Ideas, thrusts Angela and her family into the heart of the Vietnam War and the turbulent times of the 1970s. As the family matriarch, Angela guides her niece, Marie, through these challenges and the era’s limiting structures of education and organized religion, helping Marie to embrace new ideas and expand her intuition and relationship with the unseen world. Angela’s compassion and wisdom has an exceptional impact on Marie’s life and those around her. A fulfilling ending that celebrates Angela’s wisdom in all things along with her well lived life from tragedy to triumph and from heartbreak to the enduring love of family.

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Angela had cared for Franco during his long illness, and now she was free. The relief she felt made her cringe. How could she so easily feel relief when Franco had suffered? She grieved but was thankful there would be no more concerns about leaving him home alone, or trips to the doctor, or Franco insisting he could perform a task when he couldn’t. He had emigrated from Sicily at age twelve 12 in the early 20th century full of energy and promise. Now, in 1968, Angela looked back and felt he had been successful in fulfilling that promise. Franco had brought Angela, at age eighteen, from the convent orphanage in Palermo, where she had lived since the 1908 earthquake, to a new life in Nelsonville, New York, about forty-five minutes north of Manhattan. It was not the life she thought she would have in America, but what she had created in America she never would have had the opportunity to experience had she stayed in Sicily.

Angela kissed Franco several times on both cheeks and on the lips. The doctors had said it was a matter of time until he would pass away. She could see death hovering and begin to slowly drape his body from his head to his feet as if giving Angela time to say good-bye.

“Adio mio caro,” whispered Angela. “Grazie di tutto.” Tears rolled down her face onto Franco’s cheek and mouth. His eyes were open and fixed, as if peering into the world beyond. She put her hands on the sides of his face and with her thumbs closed his eyes.

About the Author:

Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write this homage to her great-aunt, who survived the earthquake and eruption of Mt. Etna and bravely left Sicily to start a new life in America.

Between the Cracks and The Ascent began the story, which now concludes with the final book in the trilogy.

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The Hardest Part About Writing by Patricia S. Gibbons – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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The hardest part about writing is:

Perseverance, just sitting down at the computer and following on from where you last left off.
Generally, I am on a roll, and when I finish up after following the ideas in my mind, I need to just get back into the flow again. I guess that is the hardest part, but when the ideas come again and the fingers start their typing, it is a great feeling.

Sometimes it is a matter of continuing on from where I left off the story, but other times, it requires a new perspective, an outcross from the story line, or even a new avenue to drive my thoughts through.

It is the hardest part of writing, but also so challenging and exciting when a story line changes course and becomes another story line of its own.

Occassionally I need a new character in the story, and I need to go back through my work to decide where and when the new character should appear. That also becomes difficult to make that all work together and end up in my mind as I saw it.

After all, that is writing. Creating characters who fit into a story line that needs telling, and one that readers can relate to and follow without too much effort.

Sometimes it is hard, and you do need perseverance, but most times it is so enjoyable and fills you with pride when the book is completed and you get good reviews.

Penelope, aged 9, and her family emigrate from the UK to Australia. This book covers her journey onboard the ship and her family’s friendship with a Greek family. This friendship continues in Australia throughout their life’s journey.

The book includes the life effects of being interfered with as a child, and the ups and downs of adopting children. Along the way there is mystery, murder, love and disappointment.

Patricia Gibbons keeps you intrigued and in wonder of what is to come.

An exciting read!

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September 19th, 1951, was my ninth birthday. The P&O Liner Ranchi pulled away from Tilbury Docks in the United Kingdom, bound for an unknown future in Australia, its engines roaring through the water, drowning out the singing from our friends and family gathered at the dock to bid us farewell. I could hear them singing and attempting to harmonise their favourite Vera Lynn war tune, ‘We’ll meet again’ as well as ‘Good night, Irene.’ The sights and sounds will stay in my memory forever.

My name is Penelope (the family calls me Penny), and the immigration of the family to Australia was a sad day for me, but a day of excitement and wonder for my mother Ada and my two sisters, Shirley, who was sixteen, Kate, fourteen, and my elder brother John, who was eighteen.

Dad had made the journey to Australia two years before, and mum longed to see him again on our arrival in Melbourne, Victoria. It was not long before this when Dad returned to the United Kingdom from the war. The family had been evacuated from our house in London when the Germans bombed it. We had so many unpleasant memories of the bombings in London, the air raid shelters, the Germans bombing our school, and finally having to evacuate to the country. After the war, when Dad arrived home, he decided there was a better life for us all in Australia.

Being in the Royal Air Force, it was not a difficult thing for Dad to ask for a transfer to The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and make the trip to Australia to set up house for us all in this new land. Dad had met several Australians while fighting in the war, and he grew to like their sense of fun and their outlook on life. They painted a picture of Australia in Dad’s mind as a land of opportunity, a great place to start a new life. As a number of his mates were stationed at the Point Cook Air Force base in Melbourne, he applied to be posted there, and it was granted. So on September 19th, 1951, we were on our way.

The trip to Australia took six weeks. We travelled through the Suez Canal, and it was an adventure for all the family. The giant liner was a huge playground for us. There were immigrants from the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, and other countries on board, and one of the Greek families – The Papadopoulos family – became good friends with us all. They had three sons and a daughter. The boys were Sebastian, ten, who became my first boyfriend; Alex, who was just the right age at eighteen to be a friend for John; Theo, a good looking dark haired typical Greek boy of seventeen years, who was to become Shirley’s onboard romance, and last but not least, was a fifteen-year-old girl called Mia who was the right age as a friend for Kate who was very outspoken, Mia was quite shy and Kate bossed her around. It seemed to work out fine between them, and they became inseparable.

About the Author: Patricia writes under the fictitious name of Patricia Gibbons. She has lived a busy life and some of her adventures are in her new novel, Life’s Journey, but not all:

In her teenage years singing and dancing were also one of Patricia’s loves and she appeared in a number of stage performances.

Patricia successfully bred Rottweilers for 42 years, and wrote her first book The Rottweiler In Australia about the first 20 years. She published this book back in the mid-1980’s. After becoming an All Breeds Dog Judge, Patricia judged Championship Dog Shows all over Australia, and she travelled overseas to judge in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Malaya, the Philippines and China.

Patricia has a Diploma in Classical Homeopathy and Bach Flower Remedies.

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About the Book by G.S. Boarman – Guest Post and Giveaway

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


I would, firstly, like to point out the coincidence of April 1870 (the time in which the book takes place) and April 2022 being exactly the same: they both begin on a Friday, Easter is the 17th in each year, and there is only one day’s (or night’s) difference in the full moon. One April After the War: Louisville to Cumberland is structured so that each chapter corresponds with one day in April. In this way, and in this year in particular (2022), the reader can read a chapter a day and follow the characters in “real” time across the month of April. I have appended a copy of a calendar designed specifically to reflect both the coincidence of April 1870 and 2022 and the chapter-a-day structure. If this interests you, have a copy in hand on April 1.

Speaking of April, the title reflects several influences. First, it is a nod to Irene Hunt’s Across Five Aprils (1964), a novel that was an assignment for my 8th grade history class. April, of course, marked both the beginning and the end of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln died on April 14, 1865, and this is significant for my novel because of the last thing he did before going to Ford’s Theatre that night: he signed a piece of legislation authorizing the organization of a new federal detective agency, the Secret Service. The two primary male characters in One April, Merritt and Argent, are operatives of this division of the Revenue Department. There is one other historical fact that occurred in April, but that is not revealed until the third book, though it is revealed obliquely in the second book, One April After the War: Cumberland to Washington.

The work of the Secret Service is prominent in the books. The Secret Service’s original mission was to combat counterfeiting, a constant problem all through the history of the United States, but once the federal government decided to print national currency, counterfeiting became the federal government’s personal problem. Before a national currency was established (during the Civil War), people relied on hard currency (gold and silver) or bank notes, issued by individual banks. These bank notes were not universally accepted as legal tender; it could simply be denied by anyone for payment of any kind. It was the phrase ‘legal tender’ that finalized April as the month for the first two books. Originally, I had imagined the book opening on a glorious late March day, but during research, I found that the steamer Legal Tender left Cincinnati (where Merritt and Argent were wrapping up a counterfeit case) on April 1. Being Secret Service men charged with protecting the legal tender of the nation, I thought it was a sign that these men were ordained to travel on this steamer, to leave Cincinnati on April 1. I had already decided that Merritt and Argent would make an assumption about Mary Warner that would set the tone for their relationship. That they would take Legal Tender to Louisville and meet Mary Warner under a confused assumption on April 1 seemed too good to pass up: Merritt and Argent would be the embodiment of April fools on April Fools Day. So, the book would begin on April 1, and I then determined that it would end on April 30 (except for a kind of epilogue covering a few days in May).

One April After the War: Louisville to Cumberland is the first novel in the M. Warner Annals (Books II and III are already written; Book II will be available on March 15; Book III will be available in late summer or early fall). M. Warner is the protagonist, a young woman from Louisville summoned to Washington. Her name is Mary, a name she shares with all her sisters and her mother; only her mother was known as Mary, all the daughters were called by their middle names. M. Warner was therefore known as Lally, a diminutive of Eulalia, her middle name. I came across both this name and the family policy of naming several, if not all, daughters Mary and referring to them by their middle name in a family ancestry book. I immediately knew, years before I wrote the books, that Mary Eulalia would be the name of any female protagonist I might create. I named our only female dog Lally. There were four boys in her pack, and we referred to them as Lally and the Boys. (We just said goodbye to Lally a few weeks ago, after 15 years; Jack and Fry preceded her by two years and 6 months, respectively; only Morty remains. Jack and Morty are M’s pet dogs in the books, and in later books, play important parts.)

Another female character name has an interesting history. Miss Carrie was named for a woman I had never met, but about whom I had heard occasional comments from older brothers, many years ago; I never learned her last name. I only knew that Miss Carrie was somehow connected to my grandmother’s farm near Bardstown, KY and that she “put up” all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I particularly remember the phrase “Miss Carrie’s pickles.” In preparation for this blog, I asked my oldest brother about the mysterious Miss Carrie. I was astounded to lean that she had been the daughter of a slave (she was in her 80s, my brother thought, in the mid 1950s when he knew her). She had lived on the farm not very far from the farmhouse in a much smaller ramshackle house. This house was in serious disrepair and was torn down in the early 60s. I have no memory of this house, but very well remember the root cellar near where the house is said to have sat. I was very afraid of that root cellar. I regret that I never thought to ask my mother, before she died, about Miss Carrie. My mother was reportedly very fond of Miss Carrie’s pickles.

When Mary Warner is requested to attend a meeting with her estranged godfather, President Ulysses S. Grant, she quickly finds that an invitation from the office of the President is an offer she can’t refuse.

Fresh from concluding a counterfeiting sting in Cincinnati, Secret Service agents Merritt and Argent are tasked by the President to convince Miss Warner to return with them to Washington, D. C. For the two Treasury agents, this simple assignment to escort the socially awkward and willful young woman on an 800-mile railroad journey from Louisville, Kentucky to the White House proves far more interesting and difficult than the men could have ever thought possible. And, in the face of danger, it may just turn out that Mary is more of an asset than a problem for the two agents.

For Mary Warner, the trip begins to take on a sinister meaning as she finds herself virtual prisoner to Merritt and Argent. Madness, morality, and murder all swirl in a strange April storm at midnight turning this odd odyssey into something so much more than a mere trip between cities.

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She was always slow to realize the magnitude or importance or sacrifice of any kindness or gesture, and now she realized, years too late, that in the middle of a war, with sons dying and stretched between the demands of both the farm and his duty to the Union, her father had stopped for a moment to collect this picture for her. More and more, with each year added to her age, she was beginning to see herself as perhaps others had always seen her – selfish and ungrateful and incapable of natural feelings.

About the Author:After the death of G. S. Boarman, a great niece cleaned out the old Kentucky family farmhouse and in the attic, amid the rusting coffee mill, the rickety outdated furniture that was still awaiting repairs, and the stacks of vermin-eaten Harper’s Weekly’s and Police Gazette’s, she found a curious box marked simply “M”.

On the kitchen floor, the metal hasps were flipped back and the top pried off. Lying on the top of a very neat and orderly collection of things was a scrapbook and lying loose inside the scrap book was a note that said simply, “Please finish the story.” The scrapbook itself contained a rough outline of a narrative with sometimes undecipherable glosses and cryptic references to mysterious sources.

From letters and notebooks, ledgers and calendars, train schedules and stockholders’ reports, the story was slowly extracted and pieced together, and the small treasures, carefully wrapped and preserved in the box, took their place in the narrative.

Boarman’s will had already been read, probated, and executed, but the niece, as executrix, felt obligated to fulfill Boarman’s last wish — to breathe life into the long-ago story of a woman who held some importance to Boarman.


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The Hardest Part of Writing by Julia Merritt – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

The Hardest Part of Writing

The hardest part about writing is trusting in yourself. It has taken me a decade to write my first novel, in large part because I didn’t trust myself, and it took most of that decade to find my stride.

When I was a child, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I asked my mum to teach me to read before I went to school, and she did. She read me stories every night, and bought me workbooks so that I could learn my letters and practice how to write. By age 5 I was reading chapter books, and by the time I was in Grade 4, I was writing all kinds of stories. The unused backs of school notebooks and empty binders with lined paper were my prized possessions.

And then, through the smallest of actions, my confidence was washed away. A couple of my stories were read without permission, and I received unsolicited feedback that sounded like negative judgment. An email story-chain writing club was squashed by one of the member’s parents who thought we were being too fantastical. By Grade 9, I had given up writing, and nobody noticed or encouraged me to do otherwise.

High school, university, master’s degree, job. The normal progression of schooling took place, followed by my entrance into the working world and self-sufficiency. Only a year after I had begun to work full-time, the idea for horse/man arrived. It is perhaps fitting that I was sitting in a conference session about self-publishing and printing books at library-owned presses at the time, as self-publishing is the eventual route that I took for this novel.

After the idea, came the halting process of writing. Every few months I would try to write a short scene. Occasionally I would read a history book that added more context and allow the development of a new plot point. Writing was difficult to prioritize amid the process of building the career that was paying the bills. And I was terrified to show the work to anyone, or to ask for help.

From what I can tell, so many creative people have abandoned creativity in favour of stability and safety. We lose confidence in ourselves, and feel stuck and dissatisfied, although we may not be able to articulate why.

But I believe it is true that art does not just “arrive” in the world following a period of consistent inspiration. Mastery requires practice, and practice requires commitment. So get ready. Refuse to schedule commitments on your Saturday. Feed the dogs, use the bathroom, get some water. Open the computer, turn on some music, set the timer for ten minutes. Procrastinate through the first ten minutes, take your five minute break anyway, and set the timer for ten minutes. Write a few sentences. Take a five minute break. Start the ten minutes again. The sentences will start to come easier. Maybe the characters will speak to you and their actions will become clear. And even if they don’t, you are practicing. This builds trust, and confidence. Eventually, the practice becomes easier. You can see where the writing is good. And if the writing needs work, it doesn’t hurt so much, because you can trust that you will show up for it tomorrow.

So trust yourself enough to get started. Keep starting every single day that’s available. When you show up, so does the trust, and so does the story.

What happens when your entire identity revolves around a way of life that is becoming obsolete?

In the 1920s, as Canada progresses through the Industrial Revolution, horses are still the rural engines of survival. As a child Adam lives this reality on his family’s farm in the Ottawa Valley, planning to take over one day and have a family of his own. When his parents die during the Great Depression, nineteen-year-old Adam is disinherited in favour of his brother and is forced to move to the city to find work. Without a formal education his choices are few, yet he finds a place to use his horsemanship skills in the dwindling forces of the Canadian cavalry based near Montreal. There he finds pride in being a mounted soldier, and friendship with his fellow dragoons. But the cavalry units are mechanized by the beginning of World War Two, and when Adam is sent to Europe, he must abandon his equine partners for trucks and tanks. In the catastrophic experience of war, he will lose everything once again.

Broken in body and spirit, he returns to Canada where he must confront the question of survival in a world that doesn’t seem to have a place for an injured soldier. Full of poetic reflections on what it means to work with horses, horse/man is a powerful story about a man searching for dignity and connection in the face of a rapidly shifting world.

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“Trot on, Jack! Git up, Pete! Git UP! Good.”

The driver called out orders and sounded gruff, even in praise. The reins slapped the broad chestnut backs lightly, then loosened. It was the end of May, and planting had finished. Today, they were going to town. Freed from their heavy collars and the deep wet soil, the horses danced down the dirt road, shaking their heads as they pushed through the harnesses. Their efforts were rewarded with an easy silence.

Seven-year-old Adam sat in the back of the wagon, his skinny legs anchoring the sacks and baskets his mother had given him for dry goods. He was small for his age but wiry and strong. His face was still childish, heart-shaped and snub-nosed, with sandy brown hair and eyes. His father, Ciaran, was alone on the front seat, driving the horses with his back to Adam. Adam was grateful for the rest.

The horses picked up speed, and Adam bounced from side to side on the planks. The percussion of the horses’ hooves and the squeak of the wagon on its struts was all he could hear. The wind from the wagon’s movement had a chill. He turned his head to face it, letting the tears from his watering eyes stream along his cheeks. He inhaled the sharpness of spring, undercut by the heaviness of soil and vegetation that was not quite yet alive. Travelling along, further details unfurled — the patches of mud in the potholes, the freshly tilled soil in the fields, the shades of green emerging from the ditches and the trees.

About the Author:Julia Merritt has been captivated by horses ever since she could see out of the car window. Then she grew up and became a public library CEO and certified animal bodyworker. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her thoroughbred horses and smooth collie dogs. This is her first novel.

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One Helluva Gig by Kevin R. Doyle – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Rob Jeffers has it all: fame, money, and the life of a rock and roll star. Frank Peters is a regular guy, a newspaper reporter who just happens to have a passing acquaintance with the Great Jeffers. As Jeffers’s career shoots up, Peters’s fortunes follows in his wake.

And when Jeffers passes away at the height of his fame, Peters’s life begins a steady unravelling. Until a chance encounter on a minor story gives him a new outlook on the celebrity lifestyle, and new hope for his own future.

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Off to my right, a slight, average-sized guy came running along. He was wearing the pants and vest of a denim leisure suit, a garish, flowered polyester/Hawaiian shirt with the first five buttons opened up and sandals. Skidding to a stop in front of me, he looked about as confused as I felt at the moment.

“’Scuse me,” he said, “is this the place for the concert?”

I looked around at all the people flocking in our direction, listened to the squealing of the collection of cuties on the other side of the door.

“Yeah,” I said, “but good luck getting in. The place is packed.”

“Really? Cool!” He took off his mirrored sunglasses, and for the first time, I saw the eyes that, in years to come, would stare out from a billion or so album covers.

“Hey,” he said, “you a student here?”

“Yeah, but…”

“You think you can show me how to get in? Like there’s a service entrance or something, isn’t there? I’m with the band, and I’m running late.”

I clenched up. One of the oldest con lines in the world is “I’m with the band.” But something in the man’s look told me to take a chance.

“I think I can get you in, but I need something in return.”

“Yeah?” Now the “guy with the band” seemed uneasy. “What’s that?”

“Well, you see,” I said, “I’m with the student paper…”

About the Author A high-school teacher, former college instructor and fiction writer, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of numerous short horror stories. He’s also written three crime thrillers, The Group, When You Have to Go There, and And the Devil Walks Away and one horror novel, The Litter. Recently, he’s begun working on the Sam Quinton private eye series. The first Quinton book, Squatter’s Rights, was nominated for the 2021 Shamus award as Best First PI Novel. The second book, Heel Turn, was released in March of 2021, while the third in the series, Double Frame, is due out March of 2022.

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Lady Wild Fowl by Ivana Hoxha – Spotlight and Giveaway

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Lady Wild Fowl is an unusual, self-developing story, that analyzes the deepest repressed feelings and emotions, narrated from the romantic mindset of a twenty-six years old lady, who has never had a man in her life.

Nicole has been raised in a society that teaches her nothing about the value of the woman and her feelings, and she leaves home to accept a job offer in China, where she meets Benjamin. In the messy, unpredictable, and, at the same time, exciting Shanghai, Nicole and Benjamin see life from another perspective. While Nicole is facing the lies on which she based her life, revealing secrets she had kept hidden, embracing all the new unknown feelings blooming in her heart; Benjamin has to face the loss of important relationships and fight not to lose himself along with them, as he discovers how stubborn and deep love can be.

Discovering other perceptions of life and love, facing the unknown feelings that come along with them, and fighting the patterns of the social definitions on relationships, will they be able to discover who they really are? And maybe, experience love on the way?

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“We realize time after time, – I spoke to fill that deafening silence, – how small and powerless we are. When we think we have it all figured out, something happens to change everything we know. And we lose balance and we lose control, and there is nothing we can do, but surrender. And this is what hurts the most. Knowing that you would be able to do anything for that love, but seeing that the other person doesn’t have the same intention with you. And you realize that this is your battle only, because the feeling is only yours.”

I wiped a tear off my cheek because that period still hurt, and I got the pillow he handed me. This had become a ritual. It was our therapy session; his understanding and my healing.

“Oh my God, Nicole, – I saw his eyes were filled with tears as well, and I hated witnessing his vulnerability. – How can you find the words for everything?”

His hand was trembling as he put it above his heart. I had never wished to see him like that.

“Because I’ve felt it Gem,” – I had no courage to look him in the eye because I didn’t want to make him feel guilty, but it was true.

I knew it all because of him.

About the Author My name is Ivana and I am from Albania, but I am a citizen of the world. I have studied languages and literature, and I currently speak 5 languages.

3 years ago, I decided to move to China and I lived there until Covid started. After that, I transferred to Bali, where I lived for almost another year. Currently, I am traveling around Europe.

As you can see, I love traveling, and this is where I find my inspiration to write. I write about experiences, people I meet, and everything that impresses me. People become my characters, and places I live in, become the book’s environment because there is nothing more beautiful than finding meaning in the everyday life. I have combined my love for writing with my experiences and brought to life “Lady Wild Fowl” which is the book I am publishing right now in the women fiction genre.

I have also published two books in the Albanian language some years ago, titled “Nje mengjes ndryshe” (A Different Morning) and “Nen shiun e vjeshtes” (Under the Autumn Rain) both of them in the genre of teenage fiction.

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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

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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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