Murder at the College by P.H. Turner – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. P.H. Turner will award a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A detective has a smooth-talking heartbreaker for a client, but there’s a problem.

Quinn has scorch marks from her last relationship and plenty of chemistry with Ben, but he could have killed his twin brother. He demands to work the case with her, claiming it’s his life on the line.

A partner is the last thing Quinn wants. What she wants is to prove him innocent. But she’s finding plenty of evidence he isn’t.

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Suddenly, thunder cracked so loudly that she felt the wall tremble beneath her hand. As the rumbling faded, she heard the soft scuff of a shoe and felt that awful sensation of being watched.

Even the building seemed to be holding its breath.

There, a scrape. Then, a rustle. Somewhere in the dark, someone was moving. Fear skittered down her spine. Inside the heavy drapes, she couldn’t discern whether it came from behind her or below her in the trap room.

Suddenly, the air was heavy with a malevolent presence.

Now, a rush of air from behind her. Then a hard shove, and Quinn tumbled down the stairs, whacking her head on the first curve, picking up speed as she rolled pell-mell, spiraling toward the bottom. Her left shoulder crashed into the unforgiving steel when she rounded the second turn. Sharp pain took her breath away, but she grabbed a rail, righted herself on the bottom step, and waited until her eyes grew accustomed to the dim light in the trap room.

Creak, shuffle.

Someone was hurrying across the wood-floored stage above her head. She stood and scanned the ceiling, tracking the footsteps moving above her.

With a few more steps, the person would be over the trap door in the center of the stage.

A shuffled step above her, then another. Quinn held her breath, waiting in place under the trap door.

Now! She yanked on the steel drawbar, dropping the trap door with a bang.

A screaming figure landed in a heap on a stack of old blankets at Quinn’s feet.

About the Author: P.H. Turner (Pat) writes contemporary mysteries spiked with long-held grudges, secrets, and murder. With roots in a Texas farm homesteaded in the 1850s, she calls Austin home. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking for family, or taking care of a pair of hairy mutts, or in her garden coaxing roses to bloom in the Texas heat.

Pat is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America.

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Toasted by Isobel Reed – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Isobel Reed will award a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to Woodvalley Pines…where hunky firefighters save the day! It’s time to turn up the heat and hope this smokin’ hot fireman can control the blaze.

Libby hadn’t even been in Woodvalley Pines a day and she was already freaking out. Her kitchen had just set on fire. From toast of all things! That’s right, she was the victim of the elusive toaster fire. Yes, a toaster. Who knew they could just spontaneously burst into flames? She certainly didn’t. If that wasn’t enough to ruin her day, a swarm of hot firefighters seeing her in her pink pajamas would do it.

Zach tried his hardest not to laugh as the woman in the Disney pajamas accused him of keeping toaster fire safety a secret. He didn’t know where in the world this angry green-eyed princess had come from, but he had to admit that he was intrigued. After all, if she had this much passion when it came to talking toasters, what other kind of flames could he stoke in her?

Libby and Zach’s spark was instant, but will the fire burn out or can they keep the flames blazing?

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How does a frigging toaster just spontaneously combust?

Was this a thing? How was it possible she’d gone thirty-one years of her life without knowing toasters could just set alight whenever they damn well felt like it?

People should really talk about this. Spread the word far and wide. Beware of the toaster. It may look innocent, but it will burn your house to the ground when you least expect it. Why the hell weren’t more people talking about this?

It was starting to get smoky now. She needed to get herself together. Quick. At least she’d stopped screaming. Well, externally, anyway.

“Get your sh** together,” she mumbled before stumbling back into the living area behind her. The front door was just to the left of the main room.

Time to go. Come on, move Libby. Move.

She didn’t move. Her feet were glued to the floor. Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. Was it a neighbor? Or was it the firefighters? Did firefighters knock?

She clearly didn’t react fast enough because the next thing she knew, a battering ram had made its way into her living room.

As men in uniform descended, she was still yet to move.

“Ma’am, you need to come with me, it’s not safe in here.” As she lifted her head, she realized the man’s fierce blue eyes were directed her way. Boring into her. Oh dear. He did not look happy.

Probably ‘cause you stood here staring at the fire like a freak instead of getting the hell out like the nice lady told you.

Jolting in awareness, she quickly nodded and allowed herself to be led outside by the big, strong man.

Once he’d steered her through the front yard, he gestured for her to sit on the curb. She did so without question, wincing as her bare legs grazed the cool concrete. Internally, she cringed as she looked down at what she was wearing.

They probably see women in pajamas all the time, right?

About the Author:

Isobel was born and raised in London. She still lives along the River Thames with her husband, her son, and her substantial book collection. Ever the hopeless romantic, she fell in love with the genre from a young age and was inspired to write her own stories. When she’s not feasting on romantic comedies or binge reading her hoard of contemporary romance novels, Isobel is writing.

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Our Lives In Between by Billie Kowalewski – Interview and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $25 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What are your favorite TV shows?

I just binged on the Facts of Life recently and now I’m binge-watching Friends. I love that one. I also love New Girl, Derry Girls, Good Girls, stuff like that. Snarky comedies and Old fashioned sitcoms with laugh tracks are the best.

What is your favorite meal?

Anything with lobster or bacon involved pretty much. Cheese is a big deal at my house too.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

Well right now I am currently writing reincarnation fiction. After this I am planning a little something involving witches. Not sure beyond that.

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

Stephenie Meyer. That woman had a great idea for a story and worked very hard on it. If my stuff turns out to be half as good as hers, I’ll be happy.

How did you come up for the title of this book?

My kids helped me. We went back and forth with a few ideas based on what the story is about.

It had been five years since the accident that derailed Veronica’s life, which left her suffering from a strange flu-like illness ever since. Thanks to a barrier set in her mind at birth, she can’t remember her name is Harmony and that this is not her real life. She has no memory of the many lives she had lived before this one and how several of those lives had been cut short. How she must uncover the reason why those lives had ended so early, and how this moment may hold the key, or she risks losing herself and Earth forever.

As Harmony, she wants to uncover the reason why her lives keep ending so soon. As Veronica, she wonders how much longer she has to live like this? What could possibly be left for her? Little did she know, she was about to get her answers…

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My world is your world—only you can’t remember any of it. A barrier exists between what you think is real and what you know to be. It had been put in place during the transition into the world you currently know and will be removed upon your return.

In other words, this is not your real life.

My name is Harmony, and I am going to let you in on a little secret. I am a student at the biggest, most famous school ever known. And so are you! It’s called Earth.

Yep. Earth is a school. Are you shocked? If you are, it’s okay. That is the most common and expected reaction to this news. I will give you a moment to let that sink in…

Just kidding! Based on the fact you’ve chosen to read this; I am going to bet that you’re a lot like me. You’re probably fine, and not shocked by this at all. If you do, however, find this news to be at all surprising, perhaps it would be best if you stopped here. This story may not be for everyone, and I am not looking to upset anyone’s beliefs. Our extreme diversity is an important part of what makes us who we are. So, this may be where we will agree to disagree and possibly part ways. Hopefully as friends.

For everyone else, I will move on.

Yes, life is about learning, and Earth is our school. I’m sure you have heard someone on Earth say this before. I know when I am there, I hear this often. Some people know, but it’s not because they remember it is. They know because people cannot get through a single day there without learning something, somehow. On Earth, learning is unavoidable.

About the Author Billie Kowalewski grew up in a small town along the Connecticut shoreline. She’s always had a wild imagination and spent her childhood dreaming up stories. This would often lead her to the library or whatever bookstore where she would be combing the shelves for books that closely resembled what was in her head at the time. A lot of the time she would come close and would be satisfied with what she found. However, there was always this one story she could never find. It was in 2010 that she decided to write it herself. In whatever spare time she has left, she enjoys listening to pretty much anything that rocks, like 80’s hair bands, metal, etc. She also has a gift for finding the strangest movies and shows ever (according to her children) and loves spending time with her family.

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Conflict of Interest by Dean L. Hovey – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dean L. Hovey will award a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When the body of a missing cheerleader is found in a ditch, the local police turn the investigation over to the Pine County sheriff’s department, fearing that the girl’s relationship with the son of a local politician could compromise their objectivity.

Upon arriving at the scene, Sergeant CJ Jensen quickly finds herself embroiled in the politics of the girl’s murder and kidnapping. Calling in Pam Ryan to assist with the investigation, the two veteran officers dig into the girl’s obvious relationship with the politician’s son. While the boyfriend’s shaky alibi seems paper thin, their interviews with the victim’s friends have them questioning other aspects of her life.

A missing laptop computer piques their interest, making them think the murderer’s motive may be buried in her on-line activities.

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Deputy Teddy Lawrence, recently appointed Field Training Officer and senior Kanabec County night shift deputy was on patrol with the county’s newest hire. Teddy, a homebred Mora boy, was now in charge of showing the ropes to the sheriff department’s rookie, Kayla Peterson. She was fresh out of Alexandria Technical College’s nine week “skills” training course, and she was eager to be patrolling northwest of Ogilvie.

Kayla stretched and asked, “Why do we even check this dead-end road to Ann Lake Wildlife Management area? No one drives out here this time of year. There’s not even access to the lake from this side.”

“I’ve caught high school kids drinking, smoking dope, and necking out here. It’s also the perfect place to ditch a stolen car or to dump an unwanted appliance or garbage,” Teddy replied. Noticing a rolled-up carpet lying in the ditch, Teddy pulled the unit over.

Kayla looked around, trying to discern the reason they’d parked. “Why did you stop? All that’s here is some old carpet the road cleanup people will bag up when they come through. It’s not a police issue.”

Teddy got out of the car and led Kayla to the ditch. “Life out here is boring, Kay. You might as well check this out. Maybe the owners rolled a piece of mail inside with their address.”

“Yeah, right. Maybe they left a note admitting they were littering.” The rookie hesitated at the edge of the ditch, looking at the dirty water trickling down the gully. When she realized Teddy wasn’t following her, she asked, “You’re not coming with me?”

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.

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How to Handle Negative Criticism by Ann Chiappetta – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ann Chiappetta will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How to Handle Negative Criticism

Many years ago, when I was still in college, the mother of my son’s friend discovered we both liked to write poetry. I shared a few poetry reviews, encouraged her to submit her pieces. She looked horrified, saying, “Oh, I would never do that, if they rejected my poems I’d be devastated,”

Her reaction is understandable; I still feel the uncomfortable tickle of imposter syndrome creep in, especially when I submit to the most popular and reputable literary publications.

The payoff for the discomfort is gaining more confidence each time I submit, even if a rejection is the end result. Don’t give up, I tell myself. Don’t take it personally.

Does being rejected suck? Yes. Does it keep me from submitting? No way. All the “thanks but no thanks” notes help me stay focused one submission at a time.
Once in a while when I need some assurance that I am making progress and the rejection bug bites, I open the submission tracking sheet and find the acceptance column. The word ‘yes’ appears more frequently than the previous year proving I am pushing past the fear of rejection.

Harsh criticism is even harder for most artists and authors to deal with in a positive manner. Whether verbal or written, it is paramount to remember it is subjective, is built upon opinion and comes from people with varied experiences and walks of life. The key here is you have the choice to accept it or reject it. I often separate the objective from the subjective, if it is possible. A two or three paragraph review from a reader who isn’t also into the finer elements of the writing craft is one type of criticism and a professional review from an editor is quite another.

Some of the most awkward situations regarding negative criticism for me is within a critique group, either in person or via telephone or video conference. Keeping my composure is a challenge, I do not want to give away too much, especially if the person is trashing a piece of my writing. It’s taken years to play the role of a grounded and open person during those rough critiques. Once the call or the reading of the negative feedback is done, I talk to my husband and let it all out or call a trusted friend and let it all go.

Here’s another thing about negative criticism, we need it to grow past our fears. Believe in your work and do your best to hear what is being said about your creation and discard the rest.

Finally, what if you are the one providing the feedback and find the poem, story, or memoir lacking? Be direct, be kind and ratio the negative comments with positive ones. 1:1 helps an author ease into it. Give feedback the way you would like it.

For Lainie, feeling unwelcome is only the beginning of her struggles. Her mom is addicted to painkillers, her stepfather is a felon, and her dad traded her in for a new family.

So what if she’s kicked out of high school? Determined and attractive, Lainie sets out to make her own path.

Shane, the young man she begins dating and believes is trustworthy, transforms into a possessive and cruel boyfriend. When Efren, Shane’s older cousin, enters her life, Lainie grasps onto a shred of hope, falling in love. Shane’s obsessive and abusive treatment of her, however, casts a deep shadow over Efren and Lainie’s chance to find safety and a future free of the fear of Shane’s sadistic retribution.

Will their love persevere, or will Shane’s pervasive and negative influence push Lainie and Efren apart, forcing them to love secretly?

Enjoy an Excerpt

I located the main office and handed the secretary the messily folded bunch of papers from Mom.

“Where’s your parent or guardian?” she asked, making a point of glancing around the office as if she hadn’t known I came in alone.

“My mom’s at work by now,” I said.

She tut–tutted and rose from behind the reception desk. “Well, we need her to come in and sign some papers. She must have forgotten to do that before giving them to you.”

Embarrassment flushed through me. I knew I’d have to make excuses for her again.

“Can I take them home and bring them back tomorrow?” I asked.

I endured her tiny eyes boring into me. She pulled a pen from the iron–gray frizz near her ear and tut–tutted again.

I thought, how many times a day does she make that sound?

“Is your mother a single parent?” she asked, pulling a file from the cabinet beside the desk.

“Uh–huh.”

She sounded disapproving. “I suppose you can fill out most of it. I’ll see what I can do. Have a seat. I have to print you out a class schedule.”

An hour later, I left with my classes and a campus map.

“Welcome to eleventh grade at Campbell High,” I mumbled, searching for the way to my next class.

By the end of the day, I had realized a few things: I had the wrong clothes, the wrong shoes, the wrong accent, and came from the wrong state.

About the Author:Ann’s award-winning poems, creative nonfiction, and essays have appeared internationally in literary journals, popular online blogs, and print anthologies. Her poems have been featured in The Avocet, the Pangolin Review, Plum Tree Tavern, Magnets and Ladders, Oprelle, Western PA Poetry Review 2024and Breath and Shadow. Ann’s short story, The Misty Torrent appeared in the Artificial Divide anthology published by Renaissance Press (2021).

Ann is the recipient of the 2019 GDUI Excellence in Writing award and the WDOMI 2016 Spirit of Independence award.

Independently published since 2016, the author’s seven volume collection includes poetry, creative nonfiction essays, short stories and contemporary fiction.

Diagnosed in 1993 with a rare form of progressive retinal disease, Ann accepts vision loss as part of her life but doesn’t let it define her as a whole person.

The author resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband, retired guide dog pet dog and cats, striving to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with her assistive technology.

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No Good Deed by January Bain – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. January Bain will award a randomly drawn winner $25 PayPal. click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A gripping tale where good deeds intertwine with hidden crimes and a quest for truth…

Katie Kelly finally has the career and house of her dreams, but it’s a life built on a shaky foundation. Everything she holds dear could be stripped away in a split-second if the truth were to become known and her secrets exposed. Her best friend, Sadie, is also involved in hiding the past. The pair have managed to move on since that day of reckoning that occurred when they were just teenagers, by helping others to escape bad situations.

When a young woman runs to Katie and begs for her help, Katie is compelled to come to her aid and hides her in a safe room, locked away from her abusive boyfriend.

But then the past rises up and threatens to derail her best efforts to help the young girl, exposing her and her best friend to the vulgarities of fate as the girl is discovered to have an unexpected agenda, harboring secrets of her own. Katie is left with few choices. With her entire life crashing down around her ears, she must act to save not only herself, but her dear friend as well. Can Katie stop the past from destroying all hopes for a future?

Discover the chilling consequences of one woman’s altruism in the face of hidden crimes. Join Katie Kelly as she navigates the shadows of her past, compelled to make a choice that could change lives forever. Grab your copy now.

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I’m doing it all over again. A shocking thing that should never be done once in a lifetime, let alone twice. I’m making a body vanish in the dark. And I’m praying like mad my actions will never see the light of day.

As I dig the hole, struggling with the spade to cut into the cement-like soil we call prairie gumbo, I keep asking myself why did it happen again? Why? I’d tried so hard to live my life aboveboard since that terrible time nine years ago.

The droning chorus of insects hidden in the trees provide no answer to my mental query. My mind drifts back into the past, reliving a nightmare that never goes away.

It was just before I graduated from high school, finally free to leave my hometown behind, when everything had come tumbling down around me like the famed walls of Jericho. Now I’m all too aware of how guilt eats at you, leeches all the color out of your day. Your life. I’ve tried to be a good friend, a good wife, helped my family whenever I could, and yet here I am, in a worse situation than the first time it happened.

My thoughts are scattered now, like the disturbed soil laying all around the freshly dug grave. The body is wrapped up, laying still nearby, a testament to my doing what I had to do to survive. My body’s tired, dead tired, breaking down, bleeding from the gunshot wound. But I have to persevere, protect those I love until my last dying breath. I swipe at the sweat beads breaking out on my forehead, blinking against the sting of salt dripping in my eyes.

Who should I blame? A young woman thinking she can change a man for the better? The foster system throwing innocents to the wolves long before they’re ready because they aged out? Or the whole of society for allowing abuse behind closed doors and not appearing to give a damn?

No, I blame me.

My spade hits another rock left over from the last ice age, jarring my entire body. I can only hope my wound doesn’t open up again. I have to ignore the burning pain in my side which is growing more insistent with each movement, each memory, echoing the one lodged in my heart.

False dawn is about to arrive in the east and I know I must hurry this along. But my mind stays focused on memories of another night, so eerily similar to this one it defied the odds. I can still smell the stench of bodily fluids, see the dark waters of the fast-flowing Red River, and hear the sounds of the body splashing into the cold depths before disappearing forever below the oily surface.

What’s the most important thing to have in life? I’ve asked myself the question many times since that fateful day that forever changed my world. When I was with my husband, it was security, to be kept hidden safe and sound, removed from the world. And look how that turned out. It was a fantasy, an unrealistic life that collapsed around us all too soon, with my secrets pushing him away and into the arms of another woman. Or at least that’s how he tells it.

When I’m with my best friend, it’s to support each other, to have a place to weather the inevitable storms of life, have a mutual understanding. Respect.

And when I’m alone, without anyone to focus on, my greatest need is for courage. The courage to forgive myself.

About the Author: January Bain is an award-winning author who firmly believes that stories unite us, that good stories help us to discover the commonality of the human experience by supporting values, empathy and understanding. She writes with her heart, mind, and soul, hoping that her novels will touch your life, giving you moments of freedom as you fly with her to other worlds.
Bain has had the pleasure of select novels being turned into games, and her work is also available in different languages.
January and her husband live in rural Canada on peaceful acreage where a variety of wildlife comes to visit regularly and expect to be fed and paid attention to.

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Exiles by L.J. Ambrosio – Launch Day and Giveaway

 

Welcome to the Launch Day Book Blast for EXILES, a Literary Fiction/Coming of Age by L.J. Ambrosio, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC, an autographed copy of the book, or a dragonfly necklace to three randomly drawn winners. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In this final chapter, Ron’s story concludes from Reflections on the Boulevard (2023). Michael’s wish was for Ron to exile himself in the heart of Paris with its beautiful culture and citizens as they protest and fight for the soul of the city. Ron’s journey is met with life-affirming friendships and lessons along the way. The final book in the Reflections of Michael Trilogy, which started with A Reservoir Man (2022).

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A cool autumn breeze, in the twilight, wrapped around our exile who sat on a bench in front of a bookstore that resembled a place we might find in a Tolkien novel. On this street, rue de la Buccheri, was the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. The store itself was famous for housing the books of many great literary artists on their shelves. They also supported any young or old artistic vagabonds by allowing them to sleep in the aisles of the bookstore on makeshift beds when finding themselves homeless.

Ron, who managed the store, sat on this bench every evening thinking of Michael. Ron thought of things he remembered and how much he learnt from Michael. He felt the emptiness in his soul, yearning to have that connection just one more time. He had lived in Paris for six years now, a brief time for an exile, yet he was free from a society drowning in untruths; his refuge was the bookstore.

Just like every night, as Ron prepared to close the store, he occasionally checked the front of the store, looking for his friend. Then, he noticed another young man still looking at books on the outside shelves.

Ron moved outside to get a closer look at the late customer under the guise of moving the outdoor book bins back inside. He suddenly noticed that the young man was putting a book down his pants.

Ron raised his voice and shouted for the thief to put the book back on the shelf. The young man, caught in the act, ran away.

The young man sprinted and tripped while running past the café. In this stumble, he decided to turn the corner and make his way rapidly toward la Seine.

About the Author:

Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theaters for eight seasons. Ambrosio taught at 7 Universities. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career.

One Take Jake: Last Call by Jay Hall – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jay Hall will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Avenging the death of his sister, Lance, a once successful musician turned vigilante killer, has never denied his guilt…but knows now he could’ve handled things differently.

With dwindling hope after two years in the joint – and three life sentences ahead of him – Lance seizes his one opportunity for a life out of chains. With the help of loyal friends – straight-laced Reg and ex-druggie Jenny – Lance busts out of prison. He then begins his journey with Jenny to New York, where her street-wise Uncle Dusty will provide a safe hiding place, fake IDs, and a plan to get across the Mexican border.

However, it isn’t long before Jenny’s bad habits resurface, bringing heat on them both. They lose Dusty as an ally after he’s tortured by gangsters over money Jenny had supposedly stolen. In a strange country with Feds and gangsters on his tail, Lance is forced to lead the rapidly deteriorating journey south.

Just above the Mexican border, the two are cornered at a motel, their chances of survival slim. Still, Lance has hope. That is, until he learns the awful truth – a truth that leaves him alone in his final, desperate fight for freedom.

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Waking up in my six-by-eight cell this morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d have the balls to go through with it.

But with everything to gain and nothing to lose, I’d be a fool to pass up the one chance I have at freedom.

Strategy, patience, and timing are everything. There are always eyes watching, especially when you’re a convicted murderer.

* * *

The bell chimes for chow-time, but I stay in my bunk. It’s all part of the plan. A couple of bulls stroll past my door and casually glance at me, then continue on down the cell block.

I close my eyes and drift into the safe rooms of my mind. I’ve had this interesting riff playing on a loop in my head for weeks. I grin and tap my fingers on my chest.

The only rhythm in this soul-sucking institution is the hum of electricity that seeps from the industrial lighting overhead.

A sudden pain stabs my eyelids. In the arid chill of my cell, the headaches coupled with nosebleeds are a welcoming reminder that I can still feel.

I turn to the brick wall and use my imagination to draw another line, marking another day spent in this hell hole. I’ve managed to survive two years and a month toward my life sentence. Keeping track of time is like throwing stones into a bottomless pit and waiting to hear them hit bottom – they never do. Still, I refuse to accept that I’ll live out my days in this institution, watching my body rot and my soul be slowly absorbed into the cold cement walls to join the poor bastards who’ve succumbed before me.

I’ve only got one hat-trick. A one-off scheme that others have tried and failed at repeatedly. But I’m nothing like my fellow inmates. Granted, I butchered three people and left a hell of a mess – too sloppy. I was careless and made mistakes. But for the most part I’ve navigated life with logic and forethought; the same approach I’ll be using to execute my plan.

About the Author: Jay Lang grew up on the ocean, splitting her time between Read Island and Vancouver Island before moving to Vancouver to work as a TV, film and commercial actress. Eventually she left the industry for a quieter life. She fell in love with creative writing and spends her days hiking and drawing inspiration for her writing from nature.

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Elements Every SciFi Should Have by Vyvyan Evans – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vyvyan Evans will award a randomly drawn winner paperback copies of both book 1 and book 2 on the series. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Elements Every SciFi Should Have

I write in science fiction. First and foremost, every work of science fiction starts from a “what if?” question, a hypothetical question that both ignites the imagination, and allows the consequences of the “what if?” to be worked out. In the case of my Songs of the Sage book series, of which The Dark Court is book #2, the ‘what if?’ asks: what if language were no longer learned, but streamed on demand to brain implants from internet in space, for monthly streaming subs?

This leads, in turn to an unfamiliar setting, that is nevertheless, and paradoxically, strangely familiar, and a requirement for innovative technology. In the case of my book series, the setting is the near future, where language streaming technology has transformed society in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. In The Dark Court one consequence of this premise is that human brains can be hacked more or less in the same way that a computer can be, leading to catastrophic consequences.

A further requirement is that relatable or believe characters are essential. These characters, while sometimes fantastical or even superhuman, must resonate with readers, and hence be grounded in our shared lived experience. They must have all the similar strengths, weaknesses and the flaws the rest of us have, and equally experience moments of success and failure, whether in terms of the action-dynamics of the story world or in terms of their emotional experiences.

And finally, the sine qua non is that the work must develop and explore themes concerning humanity. After all, the raison d’être of science fiction is to grapple with the great complexities of the human experience and the human psyche. And the driver for this is the “what if” question, that leads to a book-length laboratory to explore potential consequences for humanity, set up by the premise.

A genre-blending dystopian, sci-fi mystery-thriller that will make you think about communication in a whole new way.

Five years after the Great Language Outage, lang-laws have been repealed, but world affairs have only gotten worse. The new automation agenda has resulted in a social caste system based on IQ. Manual employment is a thing of the past, and the lowest soc-ed class, the Unskills, are forced into permanent unemployment.

In a world on the brink of civil war, a deadly insomnia pandemic threatens to kill billions. Lilith King, Interpol’s most celebrated detective, is assigned to the case.

Together with a sleep specialist, Dr. Kace Westwood, Lilith must figure out who or what is behind this new threat. Could the pandemic be the result of the upskilling vagus chips being offered to the lowest soc-ed class? Or are language chips being hacked? And what of the viral conspiracy theories by the mysterious Dark Court, sweeping the globe? Lilith must work every possible angle, and quickly: she is running out of time!

While attempting to stop a vast conspiracy on an intergalactic scale, Lilith also faces shocking revelations about her origin, coming to terms with her own destiny.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Her father then turned back to Lilith, gazing at her with the kindness she loved. “I have to go away.” He gulped. “You must be very brave, Lily. Because what I’m doing is for you. You’re very special. I believe you will change everything. Not just here, but everywhere.” With that he reached into his jacket and pulled out a small bracelet from inside his breast pocket. He handed it to Lilith.

“Another gift?” she asked, with cautious excitement. Lilith turned it over in her hand. It was silver, with a small, strange-looking screen on the outer side. The screen was narrow and black, and numbers were spinning in iridescent green, fleetingly across the screen.

“I guess it is. This is a SwissSecure bracelet. It will live with you, expanding as you grow.”

“Is it alive?” Lilith asked.

Her father chuckled. “In a way, I suppose it is. When you’re older, after you’re chipped, the numbers will stop spinning. And then you’ll receive a message from me—two, in fact.”

“Memoclips?” Lilith asked, confused. She knew that was what the chipped adults called them.

Her father dipped his head. “Actually, faceclips. They will explain things … when the time is right. For one thing, where the music comes from, the Nunciature Evangelion—the Tower of Songs.”

“Music?”

“It will come to you, later today. This music will help you become your potential, but it will also be your one Achilles heel …”

About the Author:Dr. Vyvyan Evans is a native of Chester, England. He holds a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and is a Professor of Linguistics. He has published numerous acclaimed popular science and technical books on language and linguistics. His popular science essays and articles have appeared in numerous venues including ‘The Guardian’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘New York Post’, ‘New Scientist’, ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The New Republic’. His award-winning writing focuses, in one way or another, on the nature of language and mind, the impact of technology on language, and the future of communication. His science fiction work explores the status of language and digital communication technology as potential weapons of mass destruction.

Book Website | Author Website | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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I Think It Might Rain by Rick Marchand – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rick Marchand will award a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Meet Bartholomew, a curious, kind and sweet third grader. One day, Bartholomew wakes up and is convinced he sees a black cloud forming in the clear blue sky. “I think it might rain,” he proclaims. But what happens when his family, friends, and classmates don’t believe him? Will he be able to stand up to the bullies who call him names? Will he hold firm in his beliefs?

enjoy an Excerpt

As the sun beamed brightly through his bedroom window, Bartholomew pulled on his tee shirt – the one with his favourite Pokémon design. As his head popped out, he noticed a small black spot far in the distance. That doesn’t look good, he thought.

Grabbing quickly for his telescope, he pointed, focused the lens, and peered out through its long-extended tube to see just what the small black spot might be.

His imagination scaring him a little, he thought out loud: “Could be an assault helicopter? Maybe even a stealth bomber? Are we being attacked by aliens?”

Bartholomew raised the telescope. Refocusing the lens, he decided to have another look. What if it’s just one of those huge hot air balloons?

Straightening back up, scratching his head, a puzzled look now on his face, he thought, No way; I’ve never seen one of those around here.

Taking one last look, squinting as he focused out towards the black dot, “I GOT IT!!” he yelled out, loud and proud. “That’s a storm cloud and it’s heading our way. I think it might rain!!!”

About the Author: Richard Marchand and Nicole Herbut are a father/daughter, grandfather/mother, author/illustrator team creating picture books for young boys and girls. Their stories centre on a young boy named Bartholomew and his family and friends. They are designed to convey a simple yet meaningful message that can help young children learn from and grow with. Rick’s stories were developed with his own daughters who at a very young age wanted him to “read a story from his mouth” and not a book.

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Join Bartholomew’s journey of belief and courage! Enter to win a e-copy of ‘I Think It Might Rain’—a heartwarming tale of kindness overcoming doubt.

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I Think It Might Rain by Rick Marchand

I Think It Might Rain

by Rick Marchand

Giveaway ends May 20, 2024.

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