Hide and Be by Gary L. Stuart – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a print copy of Hide and Be and its immediate sequel, My Brother, Myself to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Twin brothers Arthur and Martin suffered horrible abuse as children, forcing them to survive by seamlessly assuming each other’s identities. Living each other’s lives provides protection from the trauma of their past. But when tragedy strikes, one of the brothers plummets into a dissociative crisis that leads him down a murderous path.

As the body count rises, two cases end up in the courtroom, where judges, lawyers, and psychiatrists try to piece together which twin is the suspect and which is the victim. Everyone in the courtroom strives to bring the victims to justice–but how can justice be served when no one is sure who the defendant truly is?

Enjoy an Excerpt

United States Magistrate Judge Eli Hightower’s entrance into the courtroom had instantly hushed the small group of lawyers huddled near the podium. A plain but hardly simple man, he always walked to his bench without the usual pomp attached to the comings and goings of judges. As he climbed the single step up to the clerk’s platform and then the second step up onto the judge’s bench, everyone in the room could hear him wheeze. At two-hundred and fifty-five pounds, Judge Hightower was a force to reckon with, both physically and intellectually. His long-standing battle with cigars accounted for the wheeze, and his fondness for Snickers bars and A&W Root Beer mocked his daily promise to lose weight.

“Take your seats, please,” he said in a voice that softened the scowl on his face. “I thought, with sixteen years under my belt, or should I say under my robe, I’d heard it all. But the docket calendar says we’re here to conduct an identity hearing. Whose identity is at question here? And better yet, why is there nothing in my bench book that lends the slightest clue as to what an identity hearing is? My clerk tells me that this is a joint request by the government and the defendant.

“Your Honor, we are here because we are not in agreement about the identity of the defendant. If I might, Judge, maybe I could summarize the situation. I represent the government in its case against Martin Cheshire on the arson murder of his brother, Arthur Cheshire. Martin Cheshire was initially arrested by the FBI in Portland, Maine, seven weeks ago on an embezzlement charge. His statement in that case led the FBI to open a second investigation. The defendant denied he was Martin Cheshire. He told them he was Arthur Cheshire, Martin’s twin brother. But Arthur Cheshire died, as we contend, in an arson fire in Mexico, fifty-six miles from here eight weeks ago. The FBI believes that Martin Cheshire killed his brother, Arthur, to cover up the embezzlement in Maine. But before we can proceed with an indictment, Mr. Kemper and I agreed that the confusion and doubt about exactly who the defendant is warrants this court’s intervention. We’ve discussed it in chambers with Chief Judge Sharp, to whom this case is assigned. He sent us to you. We need this court to order a psychiatric evaluation to establish the actual identity of the defendant. That’s why we agreed with the defense that the first person you should hear from in this case is Dr. Lisbeth Socorro.”

About the Author I am a retiring lawyer, a working author, and a preserving blogger. I was a full-time trial lawyer for thirty-two years in a large Phoenix firm. I was a part-time law professor for the last twenty-nine years. As of summer, 2023, I am writing, publishing, and blogging full time. My first book was a textbook published by the Arizona State Bar Association. My first novel was published by the University of New Mexico Press. I’ve written ten novels and eight nonfiction titles as of July 2023.

From the day I entered law school, I’ve been reading cases, statutory law and writing about legal conundrums and flaws in our criminal and civil justice systems. I’ve always read novels, nonfiction, and historical fiction by great authors who were never corrupted by the staid habits of trial lawyers. I write long-form, interspersed with the occasional blog, op-ed, or essay. One of the unexpected benefits of reading the law is learning how to write about it. Somewhere along the trajectory from a baby lawyer to a senior one, I became intoxicated with blending nonfiction with fiction in books, rather than legal documents. After spending thirty years in courtrooms trying cases, I started writing about them. That led to writing novels while borrowing from famous historical settings and lesser-known characters. My courtroom days were chock full of ideas, notions, and hopes about ultimately becoming an author. I organized and memorized critical information for judges, juries, and clients. Now I use that experience to write vivid fiction and immersive nonfiction. I moved away from trial practice to teaching law students how to use creative writing techniques to tell their client’s stories, in short form.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” The same could be said of my transition from trying cases to writing crime fiction. I’ve been holding my breath for twenty years waiting for galley proofs and book reviews. Anais Nin spoke for all of us when she said, “We write to taste life twice.”

My first novel, The Gallup 14, won a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. I won a Spur Award from Western Writers of America in 2004 for my first nonfiction book (“Miranda, The Story of America’s Right to Remain Silent”). I won the 2010 Arizona Book of the Year Award, The Glyph Award, and a Southwest Publishing Top Twenty award in 2010, for “Innocent Until Interrogated—The Story of the Buddhist Temple Massacre.” My third nonfiction title (“Anatomy of a Confession—The Debra Milke Case”) was highly acclaimed. My nonfiction title “CALL HIM MAC—Ernest W. McFarland—The Arizona Years” was widely and favorably reviewed. My latest nonfiction crime book, “Nobody Did Anything Wrong But Me, was published by Twelve Tables Press, one of America’s most distinguished publisher of law books about important legal issues. No New York Times bestsellers, yet.

Facebook | Twitter | Email | http://www.garylstuart.com

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Thoughts about the Book by Dean L. Hovey – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dean L. Hovey will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Thoughts about My Book

I made a research trip to the Black Hills and visited the sites where “Western Justice” is set. Seeing the Vore Buffalo Jump and visiting with the non-profit chairwoman was exciting and interesting. Our visit to the Aladdin General Store was fun and funny. The two women working there were overflowing with information and suggestions.

If you’ve never heard of me, you should check out the reviews of my books on Amazon and Goodreads. My books have good reviews. The Doug and Jill Fletcher characters are engaging and fun. I spend a lot of time researching the technical and geographic details, adding texture to the plots.

As for a muse, Jill Fletcher speaks to me, often dragging me out of bed at ungodly hours of the morning, insisting that I record the upcoming events. My wife often finds me at the computer, with a cup of coffee, when she gets up. Her usual question is, “How long have you been up?” I often answer, “About twenty pages.”

As for criticism, I know that people have different interests, tastes, and tolerance for violence and profanity. The criticism I hear most often is, “Bad guys don’t use proper English.” Another is, “Why do you end the romantic scenes with the closing of the bedroom door?” I write in complete sentences, and yes, even my bad guys use proper English. As for the end of romantic scenes, I’ve decided not to invent the new genre of “Mystery Erotica”. I prefer to let my readers imagine what happens after the door closes, rather than writing salacious sexual scenes.

When human remains are found at the Vore Buffalo Jump, the short-staffed local sheriff’s department requests assistance from Park Service Investigators Doug and Jill Fletcher.

ATV tracks lead the investigators to the victim’s boots and a hunting blind constructed on the edge of the Black Hills National Forest. With more questions than answers the Fletchers find themselves pulled into the community dynamics of tiny Aladdin (population 15) where the café and general store are the hub of information for the county.

The surprising identification of the victim only opens more questions about him, and his connection to the location of his murder. When the Fletchers follow up on the few leads provided by John Doe’s identification, they unwittingly open a can of worms.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Drawing a sharp breath, she reached into her back pocket for her cell phone. Punching 911 into the keypad, she waited two rings before the dispatcher answered. “Crook County emergency services. How can I assist you?”

Having not considered what she was going to say when the phone was answered, Peggy stated what came to her mind. “I’m looking at a dead body. Could you send someone over to fetch it?”

“Is the body human?”

Peggy cocked her head to examine details that became clearer as he eyes adjusted to the shadows behind the building. “It appears so.”

“You can’t tell?” The dispatcher asked.

“It’s complicated. It’s kind of tangled in some brush partway up a hill.”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“No, this soul is well past the ambulance stage.”

“Where are you, ma’am?”

“I’m standing behind the Vore Buffalo Jump Museum building.”

“Where exactly is that?”

“It’s along the interstate, between the Beulah and Aladdin exits.”

“I’ll dispatch a deputy to your location. The nearest officer is in Hulett, so it might take him the better part of a half hour to get there, if he’s through with lunch.”

“There’s no rush. Whoever this is, isn’t going anywhere.”

About the Author:Dean Hovey is a Minnesota-based author with three mystery series. He lives with his wife south of Duluth.

Dean’s award-winning* Pine County series follows sheriff’s deputies Floyd Swenson and Pam Ryan through this police procedural series.

Dean’s Whistling Pines books are humorous cozy mysteries centered on the residents of the Whistling Pines senior residence. The protagonist is Peter Rogers, the Whistling Pines recreation director.

In Dean’s latest series his protagonist, a retired Minnesota policeman, is drafted into service as a National Park Service Investigator after a murder at a National Monument.

* “Family Trees: A Pine County Mystery” won the 2018 NEMBA award for best fiction.

Website | Amazon Author Page

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My Take on Critique Groups by Curtis Maynard – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My take on Critique groups

I am in several groups on social media and have long learned that if you have a hundred people in a group, You can ask them for an opinion and you will get at least thirty differing opinions. I basically just group all the opinions together and try to go with the most popular ones. This actually happened recently when I asked for opinions on the cover of my latest novel. I ended up with a similar cover that most liked.

Critique is a good thing to a point. You have to balance out all the differing opinions and find a medium that works best for you. In my cover for example, All of the opinions, and all of the debate, a 5 minute modification made nearly the whole group happy. I wonder if I had started with that cover, if the same situation would have happened but reverse.

In the end I realize that most people love to critique even if it’s a minor thing. I try my best to listen and be open for ideas to improve. Sometimes you can make the majority happy and sometimes you can’t. In the end you have to be happy with the end result yourself.

When the Riggs family in Mobile, Alabama, faced the mysterious death of their adoptive daughter Shantel Thompson, they never imagined her ghost would linger for decades…

In Curtis Maynard’s heart-stopping paranormal thriller, ‘The Ghost of Shantel Thompson,’ a new family, fifty years later, grapples with a haunting legacy where the line between life and death is hauntingly thin.

Just as they begin to settle into their new life, their own young daughter is gripped by chilling visions of Shantel. It’s not just fleeting shadows—she’s entangled in a vengeful spirit’s relentless quest for justice, a quest that spans generations.

As whispers from the grave reveal long-hidden secrets, this new family faces a terrifying truth: some ghosts refuse to be silenced. Now, they must confront the mystery of Shantel’s death before her ghostly agenda consumes them all.

Dare to uncover the truth? ‘The Ghost of Shantel Thompson’ awaits to send shivers down your spine

Enjoy an Excerpt

Hours drifted away as they immersed themselves in the accounts of the murder day, meticulously examining interviews with the neighbors. It was during this exhaustive search that Sarah stumbled upon an article that sent a shiver down her spine. Her face turned pale, and she repeated the word “no” in disbelief.

Concern etched on his features, Damian inquired, “Honey, what’s wrong?” His worry grew as he witnessed his wife’s deteriorating condition.

Handing him the article, Sarah whispered, “Read it. It’s about the little girl who was murdered. She was adopted, just like Alicia. And look at the name. Shantel.”

Damian’s trembling hands held the article as he absorbed its contents. Shantel had been ten years old, the exact age their daughter had been when they had adopted her and moved to this very town. The uncanny similarities between the two girls sent a chill down his spine.

“D-Damian?” Sarah attempted to regain her husband’s attention, her voice quivering. “Damian?”

“I’m sorry,” he replied, placing the article down. “It’s just… It hits too close to home. I mean, what are the odds that we would move into the very house where she was killed?”

“And the name, Damian. Shantel. How could Alicia possibly know about her? We never disclosed the fact that a murder had occurred in our home,” Sarah lamented.

“Do you think she found out from someone else?” Damian posed the question, searching for answers.

“Who, Damian? She hardly leaves the house, except to go to school. Yet somehow, she learned about Shantel. Unless… never mind,” Sarah dismissed a fleeting thought, her anxiety evident. “I’m letting my imagination run wild again. I’ve watched one too many horror movies,” she chuckled nervously, masking her unease.

About the Author: Curtis Maynard is an independent filmmaker, screenwriter, and author passionate about suspenseful storytelling. Enthralled by the paranormal, his mysteries and thrillers feature everything from hauntings and visions to cryptic messages from beyond the grave. Curtis currently resides with his wife and son in Alabama, a setting rich with inspiration for his novels and short films. He hopes his stories will leave you spellbound, disquieted, and suspicious of the slightest shuddering shadow.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | TikTok | Facebook | Facebook | Instagram

Free at Amazon.

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Winter Blogfest: Susie Black

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an electronic format copy of Death by Sample Size.

Why Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas by Susie Black

​​What makes the holiday eason most special are the traditions we create and share; and in that way, make them uniquely our own. Even those of us who do not celebrate Christmas have still found ways to participate in the joy of the season. For us Jews, eating Chinese food on Christmas day has become an international tradition that started in New York in the 1930s. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Jews looking for a special way to celebrate a day off on December 25th in afriendly place with a welcoming atmosphere featuring exotic food they didn’t normally eat were hard-pressed to find any restaurants open except those whose proprietors did not celebrate Christmas either. In most neighborhoods, Chinese restaurants were the only ones open on Christmas day. And so, as many things in life come to be, out of necessity or by process of elimination, a delightful tradition was born.

My maternal grandparents were married on December 25th and every year celebrated their anniversary by following this tradition. They in turn, passed it down to my mother who continued it when she married and had children, and passed it down to us. I cannot recall any Jew I knew who did not go out for Chinese food on Christmas day.

Chinese food was the first foreign food I was introduced to as a small child. I spent the early years of my childhood in Linden, New Jersey a bedroom community southwest of Manhattan. One particularly cold and snowy Christmas day my father was under the weather, so rather than go out to eat in a Chinese restaurant like we normally would, my mother brought in takeout Chinese food instead. We ate Chinese food often throughout the year, and my mother frequented a neighborhood Chinese take-out. We got to know the owner, a kind and generous older Chinese man who always paid me special attention. That evening, I accompanied my mother to pick up dinner. When it was our turn to order, I told the owner I didn’t want to eat his food any longer because he put worms in it. He wasn’t offended, but he asked me to show him the worms. I pointed to some translucent squiggly-looking worms in the chow mein he was about to put into a container as part of our order. He asked my mother if I could come back to the kitchen with him. She said yes. We went into the kitchen and he sat me on a stool next to him in the preparation area. Heshowed me how he cut the onions and how he cooked them. When they were done, he explained they were not worms, but the same thin onion strips he just cut that when cooked, only looked like worms to me(I was about 5 years old). When I was still not completely convinced, he gave me one to taste, and then I was sold. He and I were BFF’s after that…I always got extra fortune cookies and almond cookies.

Since this holiday tradition was such an important part of my life, I was interested to learn more. If you are the curious sort like me, click the link and read a more in-depth history of the love affair we Jews have with Chinese food. https://blog.judaicawebstore.com/why-jews-eat-chinese-food-on-christmas/

The good news is you don’t have to be Jewish to eat Chinese food on Christmas….but it helps.

However you celebrate the holiday, may your traditions bring you and yours the joy that comes with the sense of belonging that binds us humans together.

 

Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies’ apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.

 

Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

Website |  Facebook | Twitter 

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Winter Blogfest: Wendy Kendall

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the book Kat Out of the Bag, OR another of the author’s books if the winner would prefer another book instead.

Xmas Legend of Turkey Purses by Wendy Kendall

There was an ancient town of Myra, now called Demre, located in the country of Turkey. From this town there comes an ancient Christmas legend of The Three Purses –

A noble man had lost his fortune. He could no longer afford food and clothing for his family of three daughters. His daughters were of an age to marry, but the father could not afford their dowries. The family grew desperate. 

Saint Nicholas, the bishop of Myra heard about the plight of this family and decided to rescue them. He did not want to approach the nobleman and offer him help, as he knew that such an approach would be politely turned down. He made up his mind to help anonymously and secretly.

One night St. Nicholas visited the house and threw a silken purse filled with gold on the eldest daughter’s bed. The next morning when she found it, the family was overjoyed and bought some food and clothes for themselves. The eldest daughter could now marry. 

A second night, St. Nicholas threw another silken purse of gold on the bed of the second daughter. The family was delighted, and she also married. 

The nobleman wanted to track down their secret patron. He hid beneath window, the third night and waited. When St. Nicholas came to throw the third silken purse of gold, the nobleman leaped out and thanked him for his kindness. St. Nicholas requested the nobleman not reveal his good deeds to anyone. He told him it was his duty to help the needy.

As this story evolved it was told that St. Nicholas passed silken purses of gold through the kitchen chimney which landed in the stockings of the daughters. The stockings were kept under the chimney for drying.

St. Nicholas, came to be known as Santa Claus. St. Nicholas/Santa is a generous person, known for his charity and benevolence.

What bag are you wishing for this holiday season?

Here are four contemporary Turkey’s purse designers – 

Güneş Mutlu founded handbag brand Mehry Mu in 2009. Mehry Mu was created from Mutlu’s love of fabrics. Eastern design is very much part of the brand’s aesthetic, and influences from colorful Istanbul and Morocco.

Sisters Beste and Merve Manastır founded Manu Atelier in 2014 to promote handicrafts and pay tribute to their father, who is a renowned leather goods craftsman.

Sanayi 313 launched in 2015. The label offers a ready-to-wear line designed by Serena Uziyel; every piece is handmade by skilled artisans, in processes that can take around 100 hours. Uziyel previously worked for luxury brands including Alberta Ferretti before teaming up with interior architect Enis Karavil, who set up Sanayi 313 in Istanbul.

Meb Rure founded Mlouye in 2015 in Turkey and has excellent quality and design at its heart. The Lantern bag was inspired by a classic lampshade and is made of smooth, sturdy Italian leather. The label’s sculptural bags are connected to Rure’s background in industrial design.

Pursuing a Killer

Her must-have creations made Katherine Watson the purse designer for fashionistas, influencers and celebrities on both coasts. Tiring of fame, she’s giving back to her Washington State hometown by launching the Purse-onality Museum, a one-of-a-kind collection of historical purses. But at its glittering gala opening, Kat’s best friend and town mayor, Brenda, is found strangled by a Chanel-style purse chain. And with investigating officer Jason Holmes and his K-9 Hobbs uncovering a stack of circumstantial evidence against hapless Historical Society employee Michael, Kat is determined to cut to the truth.

As Kat clashes with likely suspects, she also finds plenty of murderous motives from which to pick and choose. Faced with bitter political and personal rivalries, decidedly unfashionable secrets and an exclusive selection of lies, she’ll have to stop a cunning killer before they knock off another innocent victim.

 

The result of Wendy Kendall’s passion for purses, mystery and romance is the intriguing In Purse-Suit Mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press. Kat Out of the Bag introduces Katherine Watson purse designer/sleuth, also published by Harlequin at Harper Collins, available February 20, 2024. As Katherine moves from designer bags to body bags, she’s uncovering clues to a murder. The prequel, Purse-Stachio Makes A Splash delves into a chilling cold case. Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense at Killer Nashville, Snow Kiss Cookies To Die For creates a tangle of mystery and love, raising suspicions about a teacher’s romantic new sweetheart. A summer romance read that will keep you on the edge of your beach towel, Cherry Shakes In The Park blends danger, divas, and frothy delights. And ribbons of love run through the holiday season romance, Heart of Christmas Cookies and Dreams. Wendy enjoys investigating the Pacific Northwest life, and she leaves a trail of her own clues as a blogger, YouTube podcaster, speaker, and syndicated columnist.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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The Jig is Up by M.K. Scott – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. M K Scott will be awarding a $50 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.

I looked forward to sipping tea and exploring Mark’s ancestral roots in Ireland, but oh, what a twist of fate!

My life as owner of The Painted Lady Inn hardly prepared me for this. With my detective husband by my side, we embark on a journey filled with mayhem, murder, and mischief.

As I savor every bite of Irish stew and soak in the breathtaking scenery, little do I know that our vacation will turn into a whirlwind of sleuthing.

Who could have imagined the secrets hidden behind Mark’s family tree? And what dark secrets lurk in this picturesque village, threatening to shatter the tranquility?

The jig is up, and it’s up to us to untangle the web of intrigue.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The rain-slicked windows made it hard to see the fast-approaching landscape—but not impossible. The blue splash of the Atlantic hugged the coastline while roadways and houses grew visible as Monopoly-sized squares when the plane eased into its final approach. The acrid scent of burned coffee filled the coach cabin resulting in Donna Tollhouse Taber, a compact blonde on the other side of fifty with eyes that missed little, wrinkling her nose. “Someone needs to tend to that coffee pot. It might as well be me.”

Her husband, Mark, a small-town detective whose crow’s feet could morph from charming to threatening depending if you were a citizen or a lawbreaker, grasped her arm. “Leave it. We’re landing. Didn’t you hear the announcement?”

“Yes,” Donna grudgingly admitted, twisting in her seat as if to find the offending coffee pot. “It’s just having a sensitive nose makes me notice burned coffee more than most. It could be the flight attendants are too busy making sure everyone is ready for landing rather than attending to the coffee pot.”

Knowing his wife’s antics, Mark shook his head, resulting in a lock of his salt-and-pepper hair catching on his bushy, graying eyebrows. “You’d be the one they’d be urging to stay seated and belted. We’re on vacation. Relax. You’re not back at the Painted Lady Inn serving guests. Before that, you slaved away in a post-operation ward for almost three decades. Have you ever truly relaxed?”

The question rendered her speechless for a few seconds—a rare state, indeed. While Type A personalities were known to be driven and focused, Donna considered herself an A-, goal-oriented, but open to side adventures, especially mysteries. “There was that cruise. Remember? It was going to be so romantic. You missed the boat,” she teased, then grimaced as she continued. “Then that rich guy died under mysterious circumstances.” Her shoulders went up in a shrug. “I guess I can’t count that one as relaxing.”

Her eyes rolled upward and to the right as the plane tires kissed the tarmac, jostling the passengers. “Wait! There was our honeymoon. We went to Arkansas to get away from the stress of your job. Some place quiet we’d both agreed, then we stumbled over that murdered crystal mine owner.”

“Well,” Mark exhaled audibly. “This trip will be different. No murder. No dead bodies. I read up on Ireland, it’s an incredibly safe place. No bears, wolves, coyotes, or even snakes. The website listed feral cats as their worst predator.”

About the Author

M. K. Scott is the Morgan and Scott cozy mystery writing team of The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries, The Talking Dog Detective Agency, The Way Over the Hill Gang, Cupid’s Catering Company, and The Tenacious Librarian series. Morgan pens the tales, while Scott serves as first editor and webmaster. Daughter Sarah handles the social media and Jane the Lab supervises digging in the garden.

Amazon Author Page | BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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Welcome to the Writing World by Mike Nemeth – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Welcome to the Writing World

Writing isn’t a vocation you can choose like deciding to be a lawyer or a doctor. People who “try” writing to see if they like it generally fail. Writing is a vocation that will choose you, if you are compelled to put your thoughts on paper, if you can’t help but imagine emotional or exciting scenes in a story, if you must communicate your ideas to people you don’t even know.
If writing is a compulsion and you’ve been chosen by the vocation, you have entered a world in which you are naked and everyone else is wearing clothes. Through your writing people will learn your deepest thoughts, your closely-guarded secrets, and all the information necessary to form opinions of you, your craft, your style, and your entertainment value. When art is released to the public, it becomes fair game for relatives, friends, agents, publishers, critics, reviewers, social media trolls, and readers to criticize (or praise). Get ready, because to write is to be judged.

As a result, well-meaning people advise writers to grow thick skin and/or stay true to their craft and vision and ignore criticism. The urge to embrace positive input and ignore negative feedback is powerful but it leads to Einstein’s definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we don’t listen to criticism, our craft will neither improve nor evolve.

My advice to a new writer is to accept all feedback as potentially instructive but to analyze the criticism carefully to find the useful nuggets.

Friends and relatives are prone to be nice so probe them for deeper reasons for their praise. Why did they like your book?

Agents and publishers occasionally include provide insights beyond “It’s not right for me” or “Keep trying.” When they do, take heed. If they don’t provide anything useful in their rejections, claim them as a badge of courage. Agents and publishers aren’t infallible, and they usually have reasons for a rejection other than the quality of your writing or the quality of your story. Legend has it that Stephen King pegged rejection slips on a nail in his wall and when the nail could no longer support the weight of all the rejections, he replaced the nail with a railroad spike.

Professional reviewers are most likely to provide valuable advice about your craft, your style, and storytelling expertise. Believe them and adopt their advice when compatible with your style and genre.

Social media trolls can safely be ignored unless they have something nice to say about your work. In that case simply thank them and hope their post goes viral.

The last group, readers with verified purchase reviews, provide the input to which I am most sensitive. These people were attracted to my work—the good news—and took the time to provide a reaction after reading some or all of the story—the possibly good news and possibly bad news. If an audience for your thoughts and ideas is your goal, these are the people to whom you should listen. You may find that they “just didn’t get it” and that’s on you as the communicator. On the other hand, they may have liked facets of your work that you can leverage in future works.

The bottom line is, don’t be afraid of criticism, use it to improve your craft. But do as much input-gathering before publishing as possible. Once published, the input can only be used in the next book. So, a final word of advice is to surround yourself with the members of a prepublication critique group, an excellent developmental editor who can furnish advice on content and continuity, and trusted beta readers. The work you do after finishing the manuscript but before publishing it will save the anguish of negative criticism after publication.

Framed by cops and chased by crooks, a white ex-con and a rebellious black woman become fugitives. They didn’t plan to fall in love.
After serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, Parker and his wife, Paula, hide from an old enemy in an Atlanta suburb. Their fresh start is disrupted when his new boss demands his involvement in a fraudulent scheme that will replace thousands of white collar American workers with artificial intelligence and offshore labor. Parker unfortunately suspects his secret and elusive birth father is mixed up in the fraud. Then a body is pulled from the Chattahoochee River and Parker believes Paula has murdered his enemy, but the police think Parker did it. He and his brilliant colleague, Sabrina, a woman who can trace her roots to Virginia slaves, steal the “smoking gun” that will expose the fraud and go on the run, pursued by cops and crooks. After a violent showdown in a frightening New Orleans cemetery, they connect the dots between a murder, fraud, and a man from his mother’s past. Parker’s loyalties are torn, but he must choose.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The terror Parker felt was what an antelope feels when it is about to be eaten alive by a pride of hungry lions. He took shallow breaths through his nose to mask the sound of his breathing as he listened to the blood coursing through his carotid artery—whoosh, whoosh. Where the hell is my backup?

In the crepuscular light, Parker saw her then. She emerged from her hiding place in the boathouse and assumed the shooter’s stance she’d been taught at the gun range. She gave the hunter no warning, just fired her compact Beretta once, and the man crumpled onto the Cool Crete surface with a thud and a rush of expelled air. That hadn’t been the plan. She was only supposed to balance the threat Parker suspected Meredith had posed. She wasn’t supposed to shoot anyone. It’s so easy to get these things wrong.

A scan of the house’s back windows revealed no sign of Meredith. Parker put a finger to his lips—don’t talk—and motioned for the woman to hurry into the shadows. The wounded man moaned softly, and Parker’s quick check confirmed that he was semi-conscious and neither moving nor watching. Parker took the woman’s pistol and shoved her toward the neighbor’s property. The snowbirds who owned the place were away enjoying the mild Canadian summer during the Florida off-season.

“Run,” he whispered.

She loped into the darkness. He counted to twenty—one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi—then he dialed 9-1-1.

About the Author:Mike Nemeth, a Vietnam veteran and former high-tech executive, writes love stories tucked inside murder mysteries highlighting America’s social issues. THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY won the Beverly Hills Book Award for Southern Fiction and the Frank Yerby Prize at the Augusta Literary Festival. The novel inspired singer/songwriter Mark Currey to compose the song Who I am. PARKER’S CHOICE won a Firebird Award for thrillers and American Fiction Awards for Diverse and Multicultural Mystery/Suspense, and for Romantic Mystery/Suspense. Other credits include The New York Times, Georgia Magazine, Augusta Magazine, Southern Writers’ Magazine, and Deep South Magazine. In 2018, I was named Atlanta’s Best Local Author by Creative Loafing magazine. Mike lives in Villa Rica with his wife, Angie, and their rescue dog, Scout.

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Legacy of Evil by James Peyton – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

A banished detective. A body drained of blood. Mexico’s vampires are all too human.

After graduating from Harvard, Artemas Salcido is determined to transform Mexico’s justice system and joins the federal police. He begins solving crimes committed by the rich and powerful and is banished to the village of Bustamante.

On a college field trip to Bustamante’s nearby caverns, the daughter of a US senator is brutally murdered. The FBI, the international media, and a Mexican hit squad tasked with making the problem go away descend on the village. When Mexico’s attorney general tells Artemas his career depends on his cooperation, Artemas realizes his life is at stake.

As other grisly murders occur, Artemas’s investigation uncovers an ancient blood cult connected to a powerful financial cabal that stretches from mediaeval Europe to Mexico’s most influential politicians and businessmen. When he disputes his violent colleagues’ bogus solution to the crime, Artemas is marked for death.

Can Artemas’s determination to bring fairness to Mexico’s justice system prevail against the overwhelming power of his government—or will it prove fatal …?

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Once the handcuffs brushed his shirtsleeve, Artemas slid forward with the lighting speed he’d practiced hundreds of times in the dojo. A front snap kick connected with Raymundo’s pistol, sending it spinning toward the ceiling. Right foot midair, Artemas repeated the kick, driving his foot into the PGR man’s crotch with a satisfying thwack. As Raymundo gasped and bent over clutching himself, a third snap kick to his face lifted him off his feet and dumped him onto his back.

Artemas caught sight of the other man closing in from behind. He uncoiled his body and delivered a powerful reverse side kick to the man’s solar plexus, doubling him over. He followed up with a snap kick to the face. Like his colleague, the man landed on his back, choking and groaning with pain.

About the Author:

Award-winning author James Peyton’s intriguing settings and memorable characters in his thrillers come from his years of international work and travel. The first two editions of his four-part thriller Artemas Salcido series are now available on Amazon; Legacy of Evil and Terror Crossing, to be followed by La Buchona and Not For Sale. Peyton’s stand-alone adventure thriller, The Royal Fifth, was released in 2022. James has had five acclaimed books published on Mexican cooking, history, and culture. Peyton’s writing reflects a depth of understanding and a unique perspective that sets his work apart.

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Method to Madness by Thomas Grant Bruso – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Thomas Grant Bruso will be awarding $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.

Five years ago, Jack Ballinger was a police officer.

He has since moved from the small upstate New York town of Black Falls for greener pastures and a peaceful life alone in the Green Mountain State. Time has changed Jack — he is no longer the man he used to be. A significant challenge for him has been the heartbreaking loss of his boyfriend, companion, and one true love, Steve.

Now alone, Jack has yet to deal rationally with the immediate changes of his new life. After losing his partner, Jack drank heavily to numb the pain and forget his life-changing loss. Now, he must find a way to move forward without Steve and the life he built for himself. Joining an Alcoholics Anonymous group helps quiet the voices that still keep him awake at night. But something much darker has followed him to his life in the quiet corners of Vermont.

When Jack thinks he has buried the scars of his past, a new nightmare emerges. How far will Jack go to end the imminent evil in his life and kill it for good?

Trigger warning: this story addresses suicide and suicidal ideation.

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My work boots clipped across the newly polished floor, squeaking with each determined step toward the security guard’s office in the back of the mall. I didn’t usually get frightened, but after the week’s events of Jacob Adler’s murder and my recurring hallucinations, I was on guard twenty-four-seven. The wall I’d built after Steve died sent me into a tailspin. I lost my self-confidence to “live on — move on,” as Steve had put it. Getting out of bed was the most challenging part of the day, getting started. But not as difficult as being a suspect in somebody else’s murder.

I locked up in the office, hung my jacket on the wall peg along with my badge, fastened my uniform hat on top of my coat, and secured the building. I walked around the side of the shopping center to get to my truck, which was parked near the auto shop garage in the adjacent lot. My keys clanged against the side of my uniform work belt.

There was a crispness to the air as it gusted across my face.

When I reached my truck, I stopped and glanced at the imposing three-floor structure of the Rushford Shopping Mall. It had been a game-changer, I told myself. When my life was at its lowest, the job as mall security had saved me. Moving from upstate New York to Vermont and being hired at a stone’s throw distance from where everything had bottomed out of my life, life could not be better. I had to keep reminding myself that I was lucky. This was meant to be.

I was living. No – I was surviving the best way I knew how. The sharp gust of wind filled my eyes with a deep sadness.

I slipped my key into the driver’s side door. I jumped inside, cranking the station to a country song I knew Steve would roll his eyes at, but his enthusiastic expression brightened my mood. I sat in the quiet interior of my truck, my head falling against the headrest, my eyes closing to the welcoming solitude. I drummed my hands on the bottom of the steering wheel.

About the Author:
Thomas Grant Bruso knew he wanted to be a writer at an early age. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since childhood.

His literary inspirations are Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Jim Grimsley, Karin Fossum, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Bruso loves animals, reading books, and writing fiction, and prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.

In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he won the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes and publishes fiction and reviews books for his hometown newspaper, The Press-Republican.

He lives in upstate New York.

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A. R. Grosjean – Interview and $0.99 Pre-order

Long and Short Reviews welcomes A.R. Grosjean who is celebrating the upcoming release of Hidden Agenda, available for pre-order for only $0.99.

She began writing as Amber Rigby because that was who she was. She thought that when she finally got published, that was the name she’d use so people would see the name and know it was her. That way, she could prove she did it when everyone else said she wouldn’t. When she finally got her first book traditionally published, she was married and her husband asked if she would use their last. So, she decided to use both her maiden and married names: Amber Rigby Grosjean, and she published a few books under that name.

“After a while, I decided the name was too long and it was a constant reminder of what my family put me through. So when I began publishing books myself, I shortened the name to A.R. Grosjean. So in a sense, it is my real name and a pen name at the same time. I only use this combination for the writing world. Otherwise, I’m just Amber Grosjean,” she said with a laugh.

Amber never really thought much about writing when she was a child, even though books where always around the house.

“My mother and little sister always had a book in their hands. I had turned 11 a few months prior. My grandparents, my little sister, and I were on a trip to see my uncle. Since the trip was going to take a few hours, my sister and I brought paper and pens to color and draw. On the way home, I was looking up at the clouds for an idea to draw and a story popped into my head instead,” she remembered. “I began writing as if it was something I’d done a thousand times before. The love that came with it stayed and has only grown since that summer day. To this day, I have no idea where the idea for that first story came from. It was like it was given to me to begin this long journey of being a writer—like it was my destiny.”

She continued, “There was something about creating something out of thin air that had me hooked. I considered myself a writer from that moment on. I couldn’t see into the future so I’m not sure how I knew that I’d be published someday. Maybe it was just hope that had me, but growing up I thought I did know I was a writer. I was writing a book or a story, so in my mind I was a writer. People kept telling me I wasn’t going to get published and I wasn’t a real writer. It was only a hobby, they would say. But I didn’t listen to them. I was too busy proving to them I was.”

To date, she has 23 books published, one coming out next month, and two still in the works. She has three favorites: 1. Fairytale’s Truth 2. Murder Through Time 3. Peterson Estate #1 Birth of a Witch.

Fairytale’s Truth: This is a children’s fantasy adventure. I used my first granddaughter as the MC. Her personality and some true events she’s done has been added to the story. It made her live forever. Of course, I did get permission from her parents before writing the story. My granddaughter had a rough beginning in her life and almost didn’t make it. She has a pacemaker. She’s seven now and has had that pacemaker for quite a few years (she was just over a year old). This is the first book in a series called Fairytale Adventures.

Murder Through Time. I love time travel and this story is probably my best written story. I love the detail and had so much fun moving through time. I thought it was interesting how one person could be killed multiple times and the reason for her murders was actually clever, I think. I can’t take credit for it, the character came up with it.

Peterson Estate: This was my original top favorite story because it had been with me since I was a kid. It was the first finished book I ever wrote and the third book that was traditionally published. Emily Peterson, the MC has been with me almost my entire life and has helped me through a lot of things growing up. I actually lost this story once and Emily kept coming to my dreams demanding I told her story. I rewrote it from memory which turned out making it even better!

One of the stories she’s currently working on is called A Mother’s Pain (women’s fiction/inspirationatl). There are a few true events in this story that happened to her, but she fictionalized it so there are also added elements that didn’t happen. Anna went through a lot as a young mother and wife. She struggles and she is forced to live with her parents twice (husband included). The second time around, her mother pushes her away and finds a way to be the children’s mother instead of Anna. Now Anna must find a way to become strong and fight for her children. This story will be dedicated to all struggling mothers.

“How do you come up with the titles to your books?” I asked.

“I begin with the idea for the story and think of something clever for the working title. Once the story is written, I may change the title or keep it. It just depends if I like the title or not. It also depends on how many other books use that title. I’ve learned that there are a lot of books that use the same titles. It may cause confusion when mine comes out. The title also has to say something about the book, the story within it. I always have something before the story is written. That gives me a chance to start sharing information about the book so I can begin the marketing phase.”

Amber has an entire room devoted to her writing, something she’s always wanted. Her desk in black and small with a shelf. On the desk is a lamp, a Nana mug with pens, a paperweight for decoration, a few pads of stickers, two planners (2023 and 2024), a notebook with all her stories’ notes, her laptop, and a lot of sticky notes. Around the desk, she has two bookshelves (one short, one tall) with books, cleaning supplies, bathroom stuff (because other things are in this space), more mugs that she doesn’t use for drinking, and various other things. There is also a printer, charging station, and drawers filled with whatnots and more pens.

“I have a lot of pens!” she said.

I asked her to share her most embarrassing moment.

“I was in the zone while writing one of my books and I reached a scene that was funny so I laughed. I had no idea my husband was standing over me, watching, until he said something. I jumped. Then we both laughed. I had to tell him what I was writing, and it made him laugh that I had laughed. At the time, I was in a room that didn’t have much light, and my desk wasn’t facing the door at the time. It was easy for him to sneak up on me anytime he wanted which caused me to move the desk,” she explained with a laugh. “Today, I have a room that is well-lit and the desk faces the door, sort of, so I can always see when someone enters the room through the corner of my eye, even when I’m in the zone. No more surprises! My husband has caught me yelling at my characters too, by the way.”

When Amber’s not writing, she likes watching TV shows or movies. She also enjoys crocheting and making clothes.

“I have made blankets for my grandchildren when they were born. And I made two stuffed animals. One was a bear for my granddaughter with a pacemaker to match hers and the other was a unicorn bear for my youngest daughter. I also like to doodle and make other crafts. And I like to play games online. Those are addictive. I do have a part-time job cleaning rooms for a hotel. My husband and I have gotten to know the owner and the manager there (we lived there for two years). My husband also does security for them. And I do other things like computer work and printing. I call myself the secretary,” she said with a laugh. “If the manager needs a form, I create it and print out copies he needs. I save the forms in case he needs more later: ‘No sitting on the steps’, ‘out of order’, the form they fill out when getting a room, etc. I’ve gotten creative on some of the signs I’ve made using pictures for a visual effect.”

I asked, “What would we find under your bed?”

“I thought this question was funny so I had to answer it. When my husband and I lived at the hotel, we didn’t have much space so we had to utilize every inch we could including the space under the bed. At the hotel, you would find out out-of-season clothes, extra food, and pans under the bed just because of the lack of space. Then we moved to the house and gained four rooms and a closet (living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and office). Now we don’t need the space under the bed as much so there isn’t much under it. But you will find a suitcase with my husband’s out-of-season clothes, an empty duffle bag to take our clothes to the laundromat, and Christmas stuff so our kids don’t see it. And maybe some dust.”

I was curious how Amber came up with her characters’ names.

“I’ve gone through a lot of different methods. First, I used only the names of people I knew or knew of. But that was making things harder on me,” she explained. “I bought a book called “Creating Characters” by Readers Digest and there was a section on character names. It said you could just make up the names based on personality, their job, or whatever. So I tried that when I wrote Murder Through Time. A last name—Guilnet (not guilty). When the narrator did this book, hearing the name being spoken sounded so cool. It sounded French and make it appear more real. I thought this concept was cool, but I didn’t want to overdo it. I also get some names online on a name builder site. That’s fun.”

Finally I asked Amber if she had a question for our readers.

“There is a fine line between the fantasy and science fiction, and sometimes I have to guess because the two ran side-by-side. You can have a story about witches and depending how the story is told and what’s in the story, it can be either/or, so it’s hard. All things in outer space is science fiction. Time travel is science fiction. That much I do know. Someone once said that science fiction is ‘it could be true but probably not’, but I believe Superman is science fiction, and I know it’s not possible for people to fly without any assistance. So that’s confusing. Maybe a reader on here could set me straight. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on it.”

Two lives are forever changed when a virus sweeps the nation.

Thomas stole a serum, trying to better his life. When someone steals it from him, it leaves him questioning the people who hired him. What is the serum? Did he just help them release a deadly virus?

Rick was just a janitor. During the outbreak of a deadly virus, his wife speaks her mind and gets the two of them kidnapped. Now she’s dead.

Thomas and Rick separately search for answers. They join a group searching for the same thing as they are. The group knows who released the virus. Did this man do it? Or was it someone else? Why would someone intentionally release a deadly virus? And how does Ming and Rick play into this? Did Ming know the truth?

About the Author I was bullied my entire childhood and through high school. It ended when my family and I moved to Fort Wayne, IN during my junior year in high school. By then, my life and choices had already been affected. I tried to commit suicide when I was ten years old. I’m thankful today that it wasn’t successful. A year later, I discovered writing and knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I read everything on writing and did everything on my own, not knowing what I didn’t know. It took me twenty years to get my first book accepted by a traditional publisher. I’d say another ten years later, I changed my publishing routine to self-publishing and rewrote all of my books and changed my pen name to A.R. Grosjean, which is what I write under now. To this date, I have 23 books published in various genres including fantasy, science fiction, romance, paranormal, thriller, mystery, children’s books, YA, and more.