World of Stars by Seyoum Nigussie – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

World of Stars is a collection of poetry that portrays the beauties of nature and human experiences in the world. The poems enumerate various places, events, personas, notions and conditions that deserve poetic attention. A portion of the poems are made for tributes and gratitude to great personas who make this world as adorable as it is.

The poems are on varied topics and distinct from each other. Abstract and subjective ideas are woven into the poems to highlight the degree of transcendence. All the poems are metrical composition. By illustrating the good side of the world and nature within it, the poems aim to elevate people to a good way of looking at life as beautiful and meaningful.

 

 

Enjoy an Excerpt

Big Apple Tree

There will always be big apple tree

Big apple tree heralds of being free.

Greatest city where fortunes redouble

Graceful city where everybody is noble,

And also a city where doves are humble.

New York City is the one of Big Apple.

People so far use cars or planes to travel

When next generation begins to shuffle,

Visits to New York is by space shuttle

And create centre of galaxy if possible.

As humans grow to feel a living glory

Instincts will remerge just as in priory.

To chant on around Big Apple Tree

The world will convene so as to agree.

Big Apple Tree as City of New York

And there is much stamina on every dock.

There are persons with stripes of zebra

And there are varieties in every single aura.

When musicians play pulling their strings

Big Apple Tree contents behave like kings.

About the Author: The world and life in general was promising to me until I was 17 years in my native country of Ethiopia. While a high school student in 1974, the world around me came crashing down when communist military Junta took state power and soon started a killing spree, at times committing mass murder. This was very traumatizing and the start of Stalinist ‘Red Terror’ on the ground. It was bad enough to hate being in life. From this, I quickly learnt life in the world is about taking on adventures.

With six of my school friends and one of our teachers, we formed an alliance to take action against the Junta. With 2 years of preparation we had managed to inform the public and get the local police headquarters on our side. Then, in April 1976 we staged a rebellion without violence in Nekempte, provincial capital of Welega. The revolt was short-lived, nothing lost with little gain. Amidst media control of the Junta, the news of rebellion was heard across the country. After that, my friends and I vowed to individually take on challenges for democracy as a life-long mission. We split apart and I went underground. When the security situation became harsh, I left the country for Sudan.

Despite traumatizing news and the realities around me with the ‘Periods of Gloom and Doom’, I took refuge in reading classical poetry which became my long time passion.

After a long journey through ups and downs, I suffered a car accident in Sudan, and left Africa all together – migrating to Canada in 1990. Through my journey in life, I looked around for a drug of relief from grief and nostalgia. Poetry reading had become my choice for entertainment and to delete bad memories and traumas. Soon after I realized that positive poetry is as good as drugs, music and paintings are, I decided to write one and here I begin with World of Stars.

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Pondering the Muse by Susan Merson – Guest Blog and Giveway

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

PONDERING THE MUSE

Oh boy. I’ve been at this art thing a long time. I got the tickle very early on when, as a little one, I used to hug the barking elm in front of our house and lean into the stories that the sap chattered. “Come closer! Listen!” As the gush and babble flowed up and around its magical network.

Then, there were the lily of the valleys that hid under the spreading evergreen on our front lawn. If I crawled under the branches, I could see an entire village of perfectly shaped wonders, little clanging bells, announcing my arrival to the other occupants of the secret village.

Theatre came naturally. And classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where I wandered before and after, through the galleries, getting lost in the depth of Mark Rothko’s layers of color or Diego Rivera’s murals of the working men and women who I knew. They lived all around me and their stories were mine, too.

Years of letting the stories and the characters run through me. That’s been the journey so far. And, getting clearer and clearer at how and when to bring them from my internal creation chamber to the world.

Sometimes they show up as characters I inhabit, or maybe as plays or poems, even sometimes in the quilts and clothing that come together from scraps of this and that seeking seams to make them whole.

The muse runs through me. And all of us. If I had to say what I wished most for the planet right now, at this time of extraordinary change, it would be my grand and embracing hope that everyone can begin to feel the tickle of larger understanding, the nuance of color and character, the cratering of self-serving systems that cannot be sustained.

I am blessed with a direct connection with dimensions up and down, and I am practiced now in the bringing of that word to the world. So, too, is that gift there for everyone. And the more we all embrace more than ourselves, the more we understand that our concept of ourselves alone in a dead landscape just won’t stand.

Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.

Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now. Vivi reclaims her life, — with the help of a couple different dimensions– saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.

Enjoy an Excerpt

They have settled into their chairs and Tara is tossing some cards, shuffling them and getting a feel. She flips over three cards.

“Oh, my dear. Some bleak times, past, yes?”

Vivi is startled by this pronouncement. “Well, it’s been a time of change, I’d say.”

“Change?” says Tara. “You betcha. This Tower card is about the whole thing coming crashing down. But it’s in the past position. See here? This is the present,” she shows Vivi the 7 of cups. It’s a picture of a man taking a look at a whole gallery of possibilities. “Look at him”, Tara says. “He’s got lots of things to choose from.”

“Well, that sounds good,” says Vivi tentatively.

“Not bad. Don’t get over infatuated with the possibilities. And the last one… here. The Hermit. Yep.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Oh it’s fine. Just a time to go inside and let things percolate. Inner wisdom and all that. Not a bad sentence!” Tara laughs again. “Now. Anything specific on your mind?” Tara continues to flip cards. “So,” she says. “Who is this guy? This King keeps showing up. King of Cups? He fell out of the deck twice while I was shuffling. “Who is this guy who won’t leave you alone?”

Vivi is mystified. “How did you…?’

“Oh, it’s not magic. The cards just know, that’s all. They pick up what you bring. Who is this guy?”

About the Author: Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series. Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms. As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUT NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT. OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21. She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy. Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City.

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Buy the book at Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or Amazon.

The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):

1: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores Tarot to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #1: INTRODUCTION

An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.

**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack.

2: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/Amazon), explores TAROT cards to jumpstart your writing, TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE

Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing.

3: Author/ teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/ Amazon) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER.

A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure.

4: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT cards to jump start your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS #4: WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY

On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story.

5: Author/teacher Susan Merson (OH GOOD NOW THIS/AMAZON) explores TAROT to jumpstart your writing. TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS

Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather.

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Addiction to Poetry by Trevor Muir – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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

This book is a compilation of all the poems I have written in my life. Each one comes from a very personal place within me. Some of the poems truly show me at my most fearful, sad, and lonely moments in my life, and others are examples of how I was feeling at a time when I was desperate and lost all hope.

Some are of love, hope, a general wonder or curiosity, and accomplishment, and others came from the experiences of people closest to me.

I have added a page that briefly describes where the inspiration for the poem(s) came from, to help better tell the story. For me, poems and writing became a personal outlet. They have given me a safe way to express my thoughts and feelings.

I hope you enjoy them. If they are at all relatable than that’s even better. I hope that those who read these, and identify with them, will see that no matter how rough life may seem at any given time, it can get better if you just keep going.

Although the poems within these pages may be a bit random and unorganized, as is my life sometimes, they are raw and real. They are as I wrote them at that time.

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read any or all of them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I am sure my Mom will.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

When you look into a mirror

This was a bit random. I was reflecting on a time in my life when I couldn’t bear to look at my own reflection. I just had such low self-esteem. I was full of fear and shame, and guilt had become my norm. I did some things to change my life and overcome those feelings, and one day I realized I was looking into my own eyes in the mirror without the negative emotions I had felt most of my life. This prompted me to write the poem. – Trev

When you look into a mirror, do you see your face?

Or has someone unfamiliar seemed to take its place?

Can you look the person in the

mirror directly in the eyes?

Or do you have to look away because

they know your lies?

Does the person in the mirror look

at you with disrespect?

Is there shame and sadness in their

face that you seem to detect?

Do you ever turn the lights off when

you’re looking in the mirror?

With the hope that when they’re on

again, the face will disappear?

Do you ever fear the morning most and feel quite

insane, because the person in the mirror

wants to haunt you once again?

If you look into a mirror and do not see

your face, because someone unfamiliar

has seemed to take its place,

Just stare at the reflection, and say I’m proud of you,

And I’ll always love you very much,

no matter what you do!

Say this every morning and every afternoon,

Then the face that’s unfamiliar

will disappear quite soon.

Just focus on becoming who you really want

to be, and the face that’s in the mirror

will be the one you want to see.

About the Author Trevor Muir grew up in Elmworth, a small farming community in Northern Alberta. He learned at an early age the importance of family, friends, and community.

He also learned that working hard and being kind were essential to getting ahead but giving back to others was truly what life was about.

His life has led him down many paths that he could have never imagined, and he has had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people on the planet.

He strongly believes in sharing experiences in the hopes that it will help others to see they are not alone, and inspire them to become the best version of themselves.

Website
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Addiction to Poetry by Trevor Muir

Addiction to Poetry

by Trevor Muir

Giveaway ends July 04, 2021.

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High Country Justice by Nik James – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nik James who is celebrating the recent release of High Country Justice. Enter for a chance to win the May releases from Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Fans of William Johnstone will love this unique and riveting historical western series. A perfect gift for Father’s Day, birthdays, and holidays for the men in your life.

It will take all this lone frontiersman’s skills to save his only friend from murderous outlaws.

Caleb Marlowe carved out his own legend as a frontier scout and lawman before arriving in the Colorado boomtown of Elkhorn. Famous for a lightning-quick draw and nerves of steel, he is mysterious, guarded, and unpredictable. Now, he wants to leave the past behind. But the past has a way of dogging a man…

When Doc Burnett, Caleb’s only friend in town, goes missing, his daughter Sheila comes seeking Caleb’s help. Newly arrived from the East, she hotly condemns the bloody frontier justice of the rifle and the six-gun. But this is outlaw country.

Murderous road agents have Doc trapped in their mountain hideaway. To free Doc, Marlowe tracks his kidnappers through wild, uncharted territory, battling animals and bushwhackers. But when Sheila is captured by the ruthless gunhawks with a score to settle, Marlowe will have to take them down one by one, until no outlaw remains standing.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Elkhorn, Colorado, May 1878

Caleb Marlowe watched the embers of the fire throw flickering shadows on his new cabin walls. Outside, a muffled sound drew his attention, and Caleb focused on the door at the same time Bear lifted his great head. The thick, golden fur on the neck of the dog rose, and the low growl told Caleb that his own instincts were not wrong.

In an instant, both man and dog were on their feet.

Caleb signaled for the big, yellow animal to stay and reached for his Winchester ’73. The .44–caliber rifle was leaning, dark and deadly, against the new pine boards he’d nailed up not two hours before. If he’d had time to hang the door, whoever was out there might have gotten the drop on him.

Moving with the stealth of a cougar, Caleb crossed quickly to one side of the door and looked out, holding his gun. The broad fields gleamed like undulating waves of silver under the May moon between the wooded ridges that formed the east and west boundaries of his property. Down the slope from the cabin, by a bend in the shallow river, he could see the newly purchased cattle settled for the night. From this distance, the herd looked black as a pool of dried blood in the wide meadow.

He could see nothing amiss there. Nice and quiet. No wolves or mountain lions harrying the herd and stirring them up. The only sound was a pair of hunting owls hooting at each other in the distant pines. Still, something was wrong. His instincts were rarely off, and he had a prickling feeling on the back of his neck. He levered a cartridge into the chamber.

Caleb slipped outside into the cool, mountain air and moved silently along the wall of the nearly finished cabin. Bear moved ahead of him and disappeared into the shadow cast by the building blocking moonlight. The crisp breeze was light and coming out of the north, from the direction of Elkhorn, three miles away as the crow flies.

When Caleb peered around the corner, he was aware of the large, yellow smudge of dog standing alert at his feet. Bear was focused on the dark edge of the woods a couple hundred yards beyond Caleb’s wagon and the staked areas where the barn, corral, and Henry’s house would eventually set. Bear growled low again.

Caleb smelled them before he saw them. Six riders came out of the tall pines, moving slowly along the eastern edge of the meadow, and he felt six pairs of eyes fixed on the cabin.
He had no doubt as to their intentions. They were rustlers, and they were after his cattle. But this was his property—¬his and Henry’s—¬and that included those steers.

If they’d been smart enough to come down from Elkhorn on the southwestern road, these dolts could have forded the river far below here and had a damn good chance of making off with the herd. It must have surprised the shit out of them, seeing the cabin.

“Bad luck, fellas,” Caleb murmured, assessing the situation.

He needed to get a little closer to these snakes. Standing a couple of inches over six feet, with broad shoulders and solid muscles, he was hardly an insignificant target, even at night. His wagon was fifty yards nearer to them, but with this moon, they’d spot him and come at him before he got halfway there. It’d take a damn good shot on horseback from a hundred and fifty yards, but they could close that distance in a hurry. And Caleb would have no cover at all. Beyond the wagon, there were half a dozen stone outcroppings, but nothing else to stop a bullet.
Just then, the cattle must have smelled them too, because they started grunting and moving restlessly. That was all the distraction he needed.

Staying low, Caleb ran hard, angling his path to get the wagon between him and the rustlers as quickly as he could.

He nearly made it.

The flash from the lead rider’s rifle was accompanied by the crack of wood and an explosion of splinters above the sideboard of the wagon. A second shot thudded dead into the ground a few yards to Caleb’s right. Immediately, with shouts and guns blazing, they were all coming hard.

About the Author: Nik James is a pseudonym for award-winning, USA Today bestselling authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick. They are the writing team behind over four dozen conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under various pseudonyms. They make their home in California.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Bookshop, or BAM.

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Lessons I Learned from my Villain by Michael Ross – Guest Blog and Giveaeway

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

Lessons I Learned from my Villain

As the first story in my anthology, “A Nice Easy Steal”, evolved I found myself more and more judgemental about my main character.

It was one of those stories with no pre planning, just a vague idea about a likeable rogue going about his day to day business. He was modelled on quite a few characters I had met during my business life; people living on the edge, fairly decent humans overall but always willing to push open the envelope a bit further than they should. People who had done me no harm, but people I would rather keep at arm’s length.

So in the story, by a stroke of good fortune, he comes across a once in a lifetime opportunity and within the context of the story no-one got hurt, no-one lost out; just a bit of good luck that came his way and he took advantage. I typed ‘The End,’ and got on with other bits and pieces. However, over the months it niggled away at me and I felt a guilt for letting get away with ‘one.’ I started thinking about him and the more I thought the more I disliked him – taking advantage of a poor old lady and her family. What was I thinking? He needed to be taught a lesson; so I tried to imagine a different outcome, a way for him to get his due rewards. When I realised the truth behind the story; that he was not as bright as he thought, I had to go back and play around very slightly with some of the previous scenes. But in the end I got him and taught him a lesson he will never forget.

Why can time consumed reliving memories provide enough motivation to carry on? Why keep a diary if you don’t want people to read it? Why let prejudice cloud your judgement? Why do the most simple of smells bring memories back to life? Why is it possible to believe the impossible? What does it feel like to take another person’s life? Will the good deeds we do come back to us in different forms?

These are of some of the questions posed in this imaginative collection of short stories involving, amongst others; a private detective with super powers, a loveable car salesman, a dour public health inspector, a vicar’s daughter with a dark secret, a sculptor with a destructive obsession, a young man with a passion for language, a reluctant public executioner, two sisters whose petty disputes hide something deeper, a job hunter with an unusual skill.

There are so many diverse characters and in this intriguing and imaginative collection of stories everyone has a tale to tell.

A collection of stories that will surely leave its mark on the reader.

Enjoy an Excerpt

From my window, I spot my fellow students grouped in excited conversation, circling around, probing each other with thoughts and words, questions and answers. After two years, we know each other well. I know they all wish they could play the violin as well as me, and in my turn, I wish I could be as happy as them. I wind down by running through scales for twenty minutes, and then I hear the old grandfather clock in the hall strike eleven—my other life beckons.

In Chinatown, it is easy to find a restaurant where you can spend £100 a head on a meal. At my parent’s place, six people can eat like kings for less money.

The walk from the rehearsal rooms takes the best part of an hour. I cast aside my musical mantle as I walk, so that by the time I reach Uncle Wong’s, I am prepared for my twice-weekly four-hour shift. This is the only payment my father and mother have ever asked of me. It is nothing.

Two years ago, my parents ushered me into the tiny lounge area above their restaurant, and wordlessly, my mother passed me my gift. My eyes moved to my father and then back to my mother. I could not speak. It was beautiful. Feeling its dark ebony grain, I turned it tentatively through my fingers, tilting, and twisting—gazing, unsure of my breath.

“Baba. Mamma. It’s beautiful, but you cannot afford it.”

“Shush, my son.” The look on my mother’s face said that my joy was all they required.

About the Author:Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent my adult life in business, the majority of that time marketing cars. I eventually owned the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a divorce put an end to that part of my life.

This led me to leave Bristol to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh Valleys; start a part-time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attend creative writing classes in Cardiff. My interest in English literature flourished and I have since won several prizes for my short stories. My first book, ‘Twenty Short Stories – Settling a score,” reached No 1 in the Short Stories Best Sellers and is still available, as is “Twenty-One (more) Short Stories,” and “Another Twenty-Two Short Stories.”

Also available are the first 5***** crime thrillers in the Tanner and Pin-up series:

Hand over Fist
Hand in Glove

Plus a 5***** light hearted rom-com “Chasing What’s Already Gone.”

I still live very happily halfway up that mountain in the Welsh Valleys with my wonderful partner, Mari, and our two rescue dogs, Wavy and Wenna.

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The book will be free.

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Rainbow of Emotions by Djehane Hassouna – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

 

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Djehane Hassouna will be awarding a $20 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.

Rainbow of Emotions is a culmination of Djehane’s life experiences. It is a map guiding the reader through the confusing labyrinth of life, unravelling the complicated pattern of her intricate journey through poetry. Djehane writes poems about nature, events, and feelings, about life as a whole. She expresses her hopes and fears, her triumphs and failures, her gratitude and resentment. Every poem is linked to her soul! Every poem is a masterpiece in its own right!

 

 

 

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

Merging with Nature

The Desert beckons and I respond! Sifting the golden
Sand through my fingers, I go from mirage to mirage,
Imagining an oasis in the parched landscape, dreaming
Of green trees with lush foliage, contemplating fields
Of red hibiscus flowers and golden wheat, envisioning
An abundant and inexhaustible source of water
Green gardens beckon and I respond! I follow butterflies,
Fluttering my wings, going from one flower to the next,
Pleading for more sweet nectar… My dance is a rainbow:
Cherry, tangerine, lemon, emerald, sapphire, amethyst…
Birds beckon and I respond! I interpret the meaning of
Their chirpings, becoming their herald or their spokeswoman.
As their sweet songs reach my ears, I imagine what
They’re trying to say what they’re wishing to convey…
The blue sky beckons and I respond! Flying like a bird
In the firmament, I flap my newly acquired wings among
The stars and the bright crescent, whether navigating
Up and down the clouds or riding on golden sunbeams!
The clouds beckon and I respond! “What do I see?
I see a ship, a camel, a rabbit and a duck; perhaps
I also see an elephant.” And I float in the sea of clouds,
Bathed in sunlight, and listening to the music of Angels…
The rain beckons and I respond! I remain covered
With droplets, unable to move in the stillness.
Of the humid weather, I savor the raindrops,
Quenching my thirst for the taste of Heaven.
The snow beckons and I respond! Mesmerized by a continuous
Flow of snowflakes descending from the sky above and
Covering the ground with a soft, immaculate carpet.
I tightly shut my eyes and my mouth to keep the cold,
Fine, white particles out of my freezing soul…
The sea beckons and I respond! I float endlessly,
On the crystal-clear surface, embracing the waves,
Pushed by the wind as I become salt and sea foam or
Even fish, shrimp and seashell, scattered on the shore…

About the Author:Djehane Hassouna grew up in Egypt where she received her formal education in French. Her fascination with French poetry and fairy tales has always inspired her writing. Djehane also speaks Arabic, Italian, and a little Spanish.

Djehane received her BA in French from the Catholic University of America, her MA in Comparative Literature from Vermont College, and her PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout her life, Djehane has continued to express her feelings through poetry in both French and English. As she writes, and as her emotions take shape into verse, Djehane becomes one with her poetry.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Mirakee | Allpoetry | Goodreads
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If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book? by Cheryl Holt – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cheryl Holt will be awarding an autographed print copy of the book (US ONLY) to 10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book?

I’ve written over sixty novels now, so I think I’ve finally got novel “writing” figured out. I was actually at maybe Novel #15 or so before I actually felt I knew what I was doing when I started writing the first page of the rough draft. It’s a complex artform that eluded me for a long time.

I’m a very slow learner, so it took me forever to get competent at it. I wrote constantly for four years before I got my writing into a condition where I could actually sell a manuscript to a publisher. I had wanted to be a suspense writer, but that market has always been so competitive, and for a very long time, I wasn’t very good and I couldn’t sell any of my pathetic attempts. After several fruitless tries, I switched to writing historical romances.

I wasn’t much of a romance reader, but it’s such a massive market. So I thought I’d write a couple of romances, sell them quickly and easily, make a name for myself, then I’d go back to writing “real” books once I got famous. Life has a funny way of whacking us alongside the head though.

For some bizarre reason, the universe has given me an incredible knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories. Who knew? All these years later, I’m still stunned by this turn of events! So I was originally published in historical romance, and I’ve mostly stayed there since then.

I write dramatic, fun stories filled with drama, heartache, betrayal, and everlasting love. I’m renowned as the “International Queen of Villains” too, so I always have the best (or the worst) villains—depending on your point of view. My plots are very involved, with complex issues and gripping action scenes. But mostly, I’m hailed for my snappy dialogue and marvelously-crafted characters. When you read one of my books, you feel as if you’re “there” in the story.

In my new book, A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn, I actually wrote something different for a change. I had time in my writing schedule last year to add another book to my rotation, so I decided to try a contemporary women’s novel—and to shoot for readers who like authors like Elin Hilderbrand and Jennifer Weiner.

I used the techniques for which I’m renowned: fast-pacing, devious villains, breezy dialogue, and fascinating characters. And of course, I write love stories, so everyone who should fall in love by the end does fall in love by the end.

My books are can’t-put-it-down reads, so don’t start it at 10:00 at night and think you’ll just read for a few minutes before you fall asleep. If you try that, you’ll be up all night!

From New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, comes a sparkling, fast-paced novel about the complexity of family—and all the ways they can drive us crazy.

The lavish Layton-Benjamin wedding promises to be an event to remember, and the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to impress their guests by hosting it at the exclusive Cross Creek Inn, a private mountain retreat tucked away in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. But the bride and groom are from completely different backgrounds, and they’ve only known each other for a few months, so it’s been a ‘hurry-up’ engagement that has everyone worried.

When the groom arrives late and tempers start to flare, it’s clear the wedding is a minefield that has to be carefully navigated. As parents and friends begin taking bets over whether the happy couple will make it to the altar, secrets are revealed, new loves emerge, and true happiness is finally found.

Book your visit to the Cross Creek Inn! A witty, fun summertime story about family, friendship, and finding out what matters most—that only Cheryl Holt could tell.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“It’s so beautiful here!”

Jennifer Layton spun away from the stunning scenery out the window of her hotel room, and she smiled at her father, Greg.

“I suppose it’s all right,” he replied.

“You suppose?” she asked. “Don’t injure yourself by exhibiting too much enthusiasm.”

She had three siblings, but she’d always been his favorite. It was an open and established family fact about which they all joked. On hearing her remark, he was instantly chastened.

“I’m sorry, peanut. It’s marvelous, and I’m delighted by it too.”

She grinned. “That’s more like it.”

From the minute she’d phoned to tell him she’d gotten engaged and was planning a quick wedding, he’d been slow to exhibit the attitude a girl ought to expect from her only parent. He was a widower and carpenter whose wife died of cancer when his four children were very small. Jennifer had just been eight at the time.

He’d spent his life providing for them as best he could. He was sensible and pragmatic, with strong views about the world and his place in it. He’d never been the type to reach out and grab for more than he’d been given, but he’d wanted more for her and her siblings than he’d ever been able to supply. In that, he’d been very generous.

He’d encouraged her to spread her wings, to go to college and move on to a great future, and she’d done exactly that. She’d fled their home in Portland, Oregon, to attend college in Eugene, then she’d flitted off to sunny, exciting Los Angeles.

In the process, she’d fallen in love with Eric Benjamin. He was disgustingly rich and had grown up in an environment so different from hers that he might have been raised on the moon.

About the Author:CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published over fifty novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans. Visit her website.

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Gumbeaux Love by Jax Frey – Q&A and Giveaway

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

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

I’m writing for women over forty who appreciate the value of their women friends and their support. My intention is to offer a place where they can go and expect to find joy, peace, friendship, and great humor. I’m not afraid to tackle life’s harder problems, but I do so with a loving heart. I want my readers to feel that.

How did you come up with the title of book or series?

The Sistahs are a group of close women friends (thus the sisters) who love and support each other. As many people in Louisiana are, they are very fond of gumbo and are highly competitive with each other about their recipes (thus the gumbo). The gumbeaux spelling is in homage to the setting of the book in Louisiana where Cajun French has a great deal of influence. Changing sisters to Sistahs was just jazzing things up a bit! The new book is called Gumbeaux Love because it’s all about the many flavors of love in our lives and how it affects the Sistahs in particular.

Tell us a little bit about the cover art. Who designed it?

The paintings on the covers of The Gumbeaux Sistahs and Gumbeaux Love are both my work. I’ve made my living as an artist for many years. My art website is www.artbyjax.com

Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book or series.

Every single person in the book is based on a real-life person that I know. Every sistah. Even the villainess. Even the pug!

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

That’s easy – if you enjoyed the book, please leave a review for it on Amazon and Goodreads. And tell your friends. The Sistahs and I thank you!

The adventures of the Gumbeaux Sistahs continues. Five, fiery southern women wage wars against their unique problems using their improbable friendships, hilarious evil-genius schemes, strategy sessions with oh-so-many cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

Single, Southern artist, Judith Lafferty, casually confesses to her Gumbeaux Sistahs that she is occasionally lonely and would like to fall in love again. Seriously – you’d think she would know to keep her mouth shut around these women by now. The sistahs tackle her problem along with their own with their usual unreasonable, extreme plots and schemes, including a kidnapping, a cupid costume, trying out pick-up lines at the cheese counter, and blind dates from hell. In helping out their friend, the sistahs help each other out as well and bring to light the many flavors of love in all of our lives. Be ready for twists, turns, laugh-out-loud times, and heart-wrenching moments. You’ll be sure to recognize yourself and your best friends in the unstoppable sistahs.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Judith rinsed her juice glass in the kitchen sink just as the doorbell rang.

“Who in the world at this hour?” she thought, shaking her head and glancing at the clock on the wall. “It’s not even eight o’clock.”

She walked to the front door and started to open it, but before she could swing it open all the way, a hand clutching a paper coffee cup shoved its way inside, barely missing her face.

“What?” she yelped. Then she laughed. “Oh no, are you kidding me?” She opened the door to five Gumbeaux Sistahs, including Bea, Helen, Dawn, Lola, and Trinity who stood on her front stoop holding coffee. It was especially a surprise to see Trinity there since she lived across the lake and had a long way to come. But the most unexpected thing of all was Dawn, who stood there looking embarrassed as all get-out, wearing a big, red Cupid costume.

“Not again!” said Judith, rolling her eyes and remembering that this was exactly the way that the sistahs had originally kidnapped her and become her best friends in the world.

Dawn grimaced and said, “I don’t know why I’m always the one who has to wear a stupid costume.”

About the Author: Born in New Orleans, Jax came into this world with a sense of celebration of southern culture, food, family and fun. Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling. Her colorful art depicts everything from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings of southern icons. Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist from the World’s Record Academy. Jax art and gifts can be seen at www.artbyjax.com.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her loveable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy.

The Gumbeaux Sistahs’ series of novels is a work of love for Jax After painting the Sistahs for many years, she finally gives voice to these women characters who have something to say and constantly make Jax laugh when she writes about them.

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Blackhorse Road by Merida Johns – Q&A and Giveaway

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

Tell us about yourself.

I like to view myself from the perspective of the constellation of positive strengths that impact my behaviors and how I feel and think. My calling has been to devote my personal and professional life to help people fulfill their potential and be their best selves. Beyond my work as a college professor, life coach, and small business owner, I’ve taken my calling and applied it to writing women’s fiction. I like to write about the human experience, showing readers how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through sorrow and betrayal, struggle with doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives. I hope that stories help my readers be their best selves too.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

My first recollection of writing fiction was when I was about ten years old. What inspired that effort was a picture that hung in the dining room of my parents’ home. It was a moon-lit lake scene that screamed out that mystery lurked among the shadows cast from the trees on the shoreline. At the time, like most young girls in the 1950s, I was into Nancy Drew books. So, my first attempt at fiction involved some type of scary adventure along the shores of a secluded lake. Although I had minor attempts at writing short stories in high school, my fiction writing career was interrupted by authoring nonfiction works related to my career in health information systems and leadership.

What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?

Although I enjoy reading mysteries and biographies, my favorite genre is women’s fiction and nonfiction. I love women’s diaries and letters, published and unpublished. A sampling of women’s nonfiction on my bookshelf: Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart, Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife 1871-1881 by Frances M.A. Roe, Covered Wagon Women, Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1850, and Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel. One of the favorite women’s historical fiction I’ve read the past year is My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

Is your book for adults, young adults or children?

At first, I thought Blackhorse Road was for adult women. However, my Beta readers and the feedback I’m getting from readers say that the story is for everyone age fifteen and older. The following is an email I received from a grandmother who read the book with her seventeen-year-old granddaughter:

“I’ve been wanting to get back to you to tell you how much my granddaughter enjoyed your book. We’ve had a little time to discuss it, and I know that she especially enjoyed the fact that the main character was a young woman – strong-willed, like my granddaughter, dealing with a difficult parent, falling in love. She has passed it on to one of her friends.”

And a grandfather wrote: “Blackhorse Road should be required reading by every teenage boy and girl and the parents of every teenage boy and girl. Blackhorse Road not only entertains, it teaches. It shows how beautiful and how special young love can be, what true friendship is and the importance of having supportive friends, that setbacks in life can be overcome . . .”

What is your current release or project?

The current release (2020) is Blackhorse Road. My focus in writing fiction is to tell a story of a protagonist’s journey toward a fulfilled self and flourishing life. I introduce strong secondary characters that are as memorable as the protagonist, and the villain must be a worthy opponent—no sissies or milk toasts for my heroes!

Tell us about the key characters.

As I wrote the story, I formed a relationship with all the characters in Blackhorse Road. I was amazed at how the characters surprised me as they evolved from my computer keyboard. I found myself challenging them with questions. Luci, you did what? What were you thinking, Chris? Berry, that was heavy! Sean, you were brilliant! Marie, how could you go so low? I also fell in love with characters I would never have anticipated, and I was unpredictably torn between love interests—pure satisfaction that made me smile as the words tumbled across the computer screen!

The character who fascinated me the most is the protagonist’s mother, Marie, who is the most complicated. There is a mystery about Marie that engaged my developmental editor and my beta readers as well as myself. In the focus group with my beta readers, Marie is the character that took up the most space and intensity of the discussion. She fell on the extremes of the spectrum between compassion and disgust.

Several of the characters stole a piece of my heart—I call them Luci’s informal therapists and guardian angels. These are Lucinda, Sam, Barry, the gang of Nerds, Chris, and Genevieve. It’s often said that it takes a village to . . . . These characters are Luci’s village. I hope that my readers don’t just read how Luci grows, but, through the help of the supporting cast, feel and see her maturation as she faces her life’s challenges.

Do you have a favorite scene?

One of my favorite scenes is when Luci transitions from her “black moment” and allows herself to forgive a grave transgression that caused her to lose something precious that she can never recapture. Forgiveness and mercy are not my top strengths! So, to write about forgiveness, I had to go beyond writing about what I know. I needed to know about what I wrote—and that meant doing a lot of research on what forgiveness is and what it is not. In the end, Luci taught me so much about forgiveness, and to give readers a hint, I’m happy to share the following scene from the book, modified a little to not give the story away. Hopefully, it will help others struggling with forgiveness too.

I keep asking myself, what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is not pardoning. It is not overlooking or justifying someone’s transgression and the hurt his actions caused. I am relieved that I don’t have to condone, excuse, reconcile, or even forget his behavior to forgive him. What is forgiveness . . . forgiveness is choosing to reject resentment and embrace compassion.

What advice would you give a beginner?

When I started writing fiction, I took two pieces of advice before pounding the keyboard—write about what you know and know what you write. Blackhorse Road blossoms from my imagination and is influenced by my experience, perspectives, and observations to give the story authenticity and sensitivity, helping readers connect with the characters and feel their joy, disappointment, sorrow, and happiness.

But Blackhorse Road is enriched by the backstories that set the context for the characters and events in the story—historical incidents, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology that influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions. I uncover these backstories from usual fact-checking and readily available historical references to know about what I write. The sources that I like best to enhance my novel’s pallet are diaries and letters and mementos from special events such as graduations, weddings, and funerals. These provide a personal perspective to establish a context that helps form a relationship with the reader.

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?”

Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction.

Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.”

“Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”

* * *

Barry put his arm around Luci’s shoulder, pulling her closer. He felt like beating his chest and announcing to the world he had the most beautiful girl in his arms. The lengths of their bodies touched each other, and Barry took in Luci’s scent. No girl had ever had such a powerful effect over him. In the past, emotion and sex had fueled his excitement. Now, those feelings mingled with wanting mutual fulfillment and creating an enduring relationship filled with love, joy, hope, amusement, inspiration, and even awe.

About the Author:For three decades, I was a university professor who taught classes and wrote textbooks on “nerdy” subjects centering on computer systems in healthcare.

But a decade ago, informed by my experience in a male-dominated area, I started my practice as a leadership coach to help women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. Consequently, during the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

About a year ago, I was on a conference call discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life with fellow life coaches. Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, I thought, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great prophets fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers. No! They got their message across through stories.

Motivational books and textbooks give frameworks, theories, and ideas, but they don’t immerse us in the human experience. They don’t show us how others face challenges, embrace their passions, overcome sorrow, celebrate achievement, quash self-doubts, develop positive emotions and relationships, handle betrayal, or act on aspirations.

Storytelling ignites our imagination and emotion. We experience being part of the story rather than being served up a platter of facts, exercises, and information.

This eye-opener was enough for me to take on the challenge of novel writing. My passion is to help people catapult beyond concepts and theories and jump into the wonderment of imagination in designing a flourishing life for themselves. Storytelling does this best.

Happily, as a fiction writer, I have jettisoned learning objectives and test questions. Ah…the freedom makes me feel as light as a balloon on a summer breeze.

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Rise and Fall of My Beloved by Utanu Maa – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $20 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.

Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a collection of poetry and prose about resilience—about the experience of stigma and rejection, disease and suffering, love and care, loss and grief—and also a testimony of gratitude, forgiveness and togetherness. Each of its three parts is a journey through life’s struggles, pain and loss, all of which require an inner force to overcome, build, rebuild, succeed and heal: resilience. It expresses an undercurrent to an imposed destiny or stigma.

Based on the life experience of my late brother, Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a tribute to mankind’s resilience to overcome adversities. The book takes readers from his vulnerable childhood as a neglected orphan set to die, through a childhood in which he was bullied, to his rise as an accomplished engineer, and sadly to his fall as a dying patient of HIV/AIDS. Each poem depicts the essence of unconditional love and care, the dignity of dying of AIDS, forgiveness, and family bond. This book is a manifesto of my brother’s exceptional resilience, the best memory of him that will live forever. It is an invitation, an inspiration, a reflection that, when mankind encounters struggles, disease, pain, death, loss, grief, we have to grieve and heal, and rebuild.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

The Price of Denial
A body’s compromised immune response, a great opportunity

To ward off two deadly opportunistic infections in the case of

HIV:

Tuberculosis and Cryptococcal Meningitis,” said the doctor.

Zola persisted in denial, but constant and symptomatic coughs,

Colds and fevers, extreme fatigue and skin eruptions, loss of

weight

Had considerably worsened his health and weakened his body.

His body’s immune response was severely compromised.

He collapsed one morning, his entire body shaken up

In uncontrollable convulsions and forceful stretching,

His neck stiff on one side, his eyes bulging and widened,

His mouth spitting out white foam like a volcano.

This was something severe and life-threatening,

Epilepsy or stroke, seemingly, but too uncertain.

Frenzy, panic, worries, cries, screams, and prayers

To an invisible Omnipotent God rose from every witness.

The resilient man looked defeated, near demise.

About the Author:I am Utanu MAA. I live in Toronto and work as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where I studied French Literature and Law before migrating to Canada in 1991, and thereafter studied Fashion Marketing, Paralegal and Law (1year) programs. In 2004, I was a recipient of a prize for the Poetry contest organized by Canada Heritage during the celebration of the Francophonie. “Couleur d’une langue” (The Color of a language), my unpublished poem about the diversity and different accents that give rhythm and power to a language to become an umbrella of one identity. “Rise and Fall of My Beloved” is also my own journey into unconditional love and care, and the resilience to deal with pain, loss, grief, to grieve, heal and continue with life after my brother’s death.

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