Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Interview, Spotlight, women on July 26, 2016

Trophy Life Cover

Synopsis

Meet Amy, the world’s most improbable trophy wife.

She has a degree, ambitions and something resembling a mind of her own. The trouble is, she just doesn’t use it anymore. Married to handsome aristocrat, Harry Green, Amy’s world is a whirlwind of luxury, labels and lunches.

But amidst the peerages and polo of the privileged few lie wolves in minks’ clothing.

Before she knows it, Amy’s perfect existence is plunged into chaos by the poshest of plots. Ominous heiresses, simpering starlets and a terrifying mother-in-law abound as Amy faces up to some harsh realities.

So, can Amy survive life in the upper crust? Or is high society an all new low?

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Excerpt

‘You are a Green my dear and Greens must represent the family.’

Ah yes, ‘The Family’. Andrea saw herself as the matriarch of a great dynasty, one whose reputation had to be constantly tended and elevated, not unlike the Windsors or perhaps the Kardashians. It didn’t help that Andrea Green preferred to be known by her title, Lady Andrea, bestowed upon her when Harry’s late father had himself received a knighthood.

As if in solidarity, Sir Steven’s eyes stared down at Amy now from the portrait which hung on the wall behind Andrea. His expression, a mix of petulant reluctance and mournful resignation, combined with his drooping jowls and ill-fitting medieval outfit to give him the air of a grumpy toddler at a fancy dress party.

Steven Green had been made Sir Steven, a Knight of the Order of the Bath, in honour of his work in the sector of banking. He had been the head of a prestigious private bank by the name of Hodders. Of course, in the light of the banking crisis, it did transpire that Hodders’ one-time spectacular success in the investment and currencies markets had been courtesy of some less than above board – but equally spectacular – strategies, but Sir Stephen had had the good grace to shed his mortal coil before he could be the subject of anything so vulgar as being held to account for this. What’s more, this was never discussed, either within the family or otherwise.

For Andrea’s part, she saw herself as a member of the aristocracy if not minor royalty, with a duty to the people of Britain and, of course, the world. Her ambitions were nothing short of stratospheric, particularly for her children. It was clear that she considered Harry’s older brother, James’s match with Giselle, whose family had connections to the royal German line, suitable. Quite what she made of the middle class roots of Amy from Totteridge, North London was another thing. She imagined that Andrea felt she had much in common with the tribulations of the royals themselves, having welcomed the less than regal ‘Kate’ into their midst.

Q & A With Elli

Elli Lewis drew upon her experiences as a lawyer to the stars to write her novel, Trophy Life. Here, she lifts the lid on some of the experiences that inspired the story.

DESCRIBE TROPHY LIFE IN A NUTSHELL

Amy is an accidental trophy wife who must survive the very peak of London high society. It’s tongue in cheek, unapologetically glamorous chick lit choc full of strong characters, but it’s also about lost love and learning to cope with whatever life throws at you.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE A STORY SET IN LONDON’S ARISTOCRACY?

Quite frankly, I couldn’t resist. To me, reading is an escape and I wanted to create a world filled with luxury and glamour. It’s something I’ve thought about ever since my time as a lawyer in the City, when my clients had the kind of wealth and fame that’s usually restricted to films or magazines. Having seen that world, having been on the inside of it, I wanted to bring the reader down the rabbit hole with me.

TALK ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER, AMY. HOW DOES SHE BECOME AN ACCIDENTAL TROPHY WIFE?

Amy has so much potential, but she allows life to happen to her. She doesn’t take control or make decisions. I think we can all be guilty of that sometimes, just falling into this or that. I wanted to explore what could happen if you took that to an extreme and poor Amy was my guinea pig.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE BOOK?

It has to be Amy’s sister-in-law, Giselle. She’s beautiful and enviable, but she’s also smart, funny and kind. I like that she’s not what she seems, nor what society wants her to be.

About the Author

elli lewisFor Elli Lewis, the path to becoming a novelist was paved with 90’s pop, celebrity clients and pitta chips. Each step of her journey has imprinted on her work.

Elli Lewis grew up in North London, the second of three sisters and, consequently, in a home that was bursting at the seams with shoes. As a teenager in the 90’s, she experimented with Sun In, wore a standard uniform of combat trousers and vest top and shed tears over the breakup of Take That.

She soon recovered and went on to study law at university and qualify as a solicitor. In the course of her career, Elli has worked for some of the UK’s most prestigious law firms, representing a host of A-list clients.

Her time in the City gave her a unique insight into the depths of high society, the height of fame and the biggest of fortunes. It was a world where multi-million pound mansions housed pampered pooches and ruthless spouses determined to wreak revenge, experiences that would later inspire her literary career.

In 2008, she went on to found a successful copywriting agency, with clients including national newspapers and media brands, including the BBC.

The books came later. If you ask Elli why she started writing novels, she will glaze over and look thoughtfully into the middle distance. This is not because she doesn’t like you – well, probably – but because Elli has literally no clue how it happened. Sufficed to say that, one day she started typing and then never stopped. In fact, Elli wrote Trophy Life, The Lottery Club and The Anti-Natals in the same year and published the first of them in 2016.

Elli can now be found back in North London in the house she shares with one tired husband, two boisterous boys and a colossal Siberian cat. She relies on coffee and chocolate to keep her awake and has a mild addiction to pitta chips.

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Literary, Spotlight on July 26, 2016

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Shadows of an Empress cover

Title: Shadows of an Empress
Author: Carole Waterhouse
Publisher: Anaphora Literary Press
Pages: 310
Genre: Literary Fiction

Synopsis

After the death of her mother, Sylvia is sent to live with her grandmother on an isolated piece of farmland, where she and a nymph-like companion run through the woods creating an imaginary world where her mother is still alive. When Sylvia marries Dan, everyone sees her life moving from tragic to fairy tale.  But when a recurring dream about a city she can’t identify leaves Sylvia feeling especially unsettled, she goes into her living room on a sleepless night and finds the Empress Elisabeth of Austria waiting for her.

Suspecting their lives are somehow linked, the empress helps Sylvia sort through her past and question her present.  She and Sissi, Elisabeth’s younger version, embark on a whirlwind tour of places related to the empress’s past where the Archduchess Sophie tries to arrange a courtship between Sylvia and Franz Joseph, a heart-broken Heinrich Heine laments the empress’s tendency to credit him as the inspiration for her awful poetry, and Sigmund Freud offers commentary on their journey.   As they travel, Sylvia becomes more aware of the empress’s faults. As their paths begin to separate, Sylvia learns from Elisabeth’s mistakes and comes to realize that the answers she has been searching for need to come from within. In a mock ceremony in Vienna, Sylvia is crowned the empress of herself and returns home to start a new life with Dan. She understands then that the city she has been haunted by all this time is the life the two of them built, the one they are finally ready to enter together.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

2002

Sylvia turned up the radios in all three rooms—the kitchen, the bedroom, the workshop—the different locations making it sound as though there were three people talking, one an echo of the other.  Still, it was his voice surrounding her completely, a sound that always gave her comfort.  Dan, Dan, the music man.  Her husband never realized the most intimate words he ever spoke to her had nothing to do with love.

The radios were turned up so high, she wondered how far his voice actually carried, for miles maybe, certainly as far as Zoe’s house.  She came down once, laughing, turning them off, one after the other, diminishing the last to a faint whisper.  “Why do you make him shout so?”

When Sylvia told her the reason, that she loved surrounding herself with the sound of his voice, wanted not to just listen but to be able to feel it in her bones, Zoe stopped and looked at her.  “Don’t tell me after all these years you’re still in love.”

Sylvia could hear the envy in her voice.  She suspected that Zoe, too, listened to Dan’s voice, knew what it was like to have it pulsate through her veins.

Dan, Dan the Music Man.

They had laughed at the name he was given, the repetition meant to sound lyrical, like one of the tunes circling in his head.  Neither of them had ever expected that a radio show about music boxes would become nationally syndicated, even in a niche area like NPR.  He was a celebrity in some circles, even if most people had no idea who he was.  Zoe called him the most famous man no one had ever heard of, and, given the way Dan laughed when she said it, Sylvia wished it had been her comment instead.

“Music boxes can change lives.  There’s no doubt.  I’ve witnessed it many times.”

It was the voice she listened to more than the words, although she sometimes felt his comments were a secret code meant only for her.  At the moment he was describing one of their own antiques, a real treasure they had acquired just a few weeks ago, the one Dan called the music box of his dreams.

It was actually a large automaton with rows of horses that would race across the front as the music played, the device designed so that the winning horse was randomly selected. She knew why he prized it, that it wasn’t just the box itself, as exquisite as it was, but the way it represented their lives together, fitting in perfectly with the Victorian farmhouse, the real horses she loved so, a true home where husband and friend were never far away.

About the Author

Carole WaterhouseA professor of creative writing at California University of Pennsylvania, Carole Waterhouse has an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in 20th Century Literature from Ohio University.  She’s the author of three novels, Shadows of an Empress, The Tapestry Baby, and Without Wings, as well as a short story collection, The Paradise Ranch.  Her short stories have appeared in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Horses and the Women who Love Them, and numerous literary magazines, including The Massachusetts Review, The Artful Dodge, The Ball State University Forum, Crack the Spine, Blue Lake Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Crossconnect, Spout, The Styles, Turnrow, Half Tones to Jubilee, Potpourri, The Baybury Review, Arnazella, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Seems, The Rockhurst Review, Oracle,  and The Griffin.  She has reviewed books for The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press and The New York Times Book Review.

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Giveaway

Carole Waterhouse is giving away an autographed copy of THE TAPESTRY BABY!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one autographed copy of The Tapestry Baby by Carole Waterhouse
  • This giveaway begins July 5 and ends on July 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Literary, Review on July 25, 2016

Banner The Lark

THE LARK

by

Dana Glossbrenner

Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction

Publisher: Boldface Books

Date of Publication: June 7, 2016

Number of Pages: 270

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synopsis

The Lark Cover

 

You’re never too old to learn—or too young

Good-looking, good-hearted Charley Bristow’s the most sought-after hair stylist in five West Texas counties. He’s an expert on the dance floor and sharp at the pool tables, too—but when it comes to pick­ing cars, dogs, and women, luck hasn’t quite gone his way lately. And there’s the ever-present worry over his mother, whose own trailer-park plight he’d just as soon steer clear of.

Just when he’s sworn off temptation of the female sort, an evening at the local honky-tonk drives two prime targets right into his path. Weighing the sudden wealth of options in his love life, while also searching for the right choice of wheels to suit his needs, Charley stumbles upon a long-hidden secret and an unforeseen road to re­demption.

The colorful denizens of the Wild Hare Salon, Jarod’s Automotive, and Hopper’s nightclub, along with those of the Briargrove First Methodist Church and the Sulfur Gap Centennial Celebration, will two-step their way right into your heart, to music as familiar as Willie Nelson and Charley Pride. And you just might start to fall in love with an old Johnny Mercer tune, too, as Charley Bristow faces his past and embraces the challenge of his future.

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Praise for The Lark

“Good-time Charley” Bristow is a popular twenty-something West Texas hairstylist who’s already dodged two bullets with two failed marriages (the second time, literally). . . . The Lark invites us to join Charley’s friends, the rural cosmopolitans of Sulfur Gap, and ride shotgun alongside this rogue with an honest heart . . . on a journey into his past.  Dana Glossbrenner has crafted a totally engaging quest for happiness, set it in a totally genuine contemporary Texas, and delivered up great characters for a great read.  — Cliff Hudder, author of Splinterville and Pretty Enough for You

Charley Bristow takes some things seriously–work, dancing, pool-playing, and women, but maybe not in that order. He finds the true importance of friends and family.  — Rick Smith, San Angelo Standard Times

Review

When I started this book I thought it was going to be a romance book from a guy’s perspective which would have been a little different, or at least how this story seemed to start. But as I continued to read it became evident that this was much more than just a romance. It is a story about family, friendships and finding true love.

Charley is a hotshot hair stylist/barber in his small Texas town. He has been married twice and is only 25. He seemed to feel pressured to be in a relationship, but that pressure only came from within himself and not from anyone else. He has a good relationship with his mother, who has become something of a recluse so he checks in on her and picks up groceries and such for her each week.

I felt like this story could happen in any small town. There is the gossip that runs rampant, but also the citizens of the town really watch out for one another. There are times when you really feel for Charley and his childhood, but all is not as it seems. I can’t give away too much, but suffice it to say that Charley is in for a journey that will change his life forever. Charley learns who he really is and what he is capable of and what really matters in life.

We give this 4 paws up!

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about the author

Glossbrenner PicDana Glossbrenner’s debut novel, The Lark, features Charley Bristow, a successful young hair stylist in a small West Texas town. His misadventures provide humor, intrigue, and catharsis, as he discovers a lost family history. Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers, a historical work, recounts the lives of women who helped settle the area around San Angelo, Texas.

Glossbrenner taught high school and university English classes and worked as a guidance counselor. She grew up in Snyder, Texas, earned degrees from Texas Tech, Angelo State University, and Texas State University. She now lives in San Angelo, Texas.

She cites Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, and Elmer Kelton as major inspirations for writing about Texas.

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3 WINNERS EACH WIN SIGNED COPIES!

(US ONLY)

   July 25 – August 8, 2016

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

7/25    StoreyBook Reviews– Review

7/26    The Librarian Talks – Author Interview #1

7/27    Texas Book Lover – Excerpt #1

7/28    Reading By Moonlight — Review

7/29    It’s a Jenn World – Author Interview #2

7/30    Country Girl Bookaholic – Review

7/31    The Crazy Booksellers — Promo

8/1       Missus Gonzo – Guest Post

8/2       Byers Editing Reviews & Blog – Excerpt #2

8/3       Kara The Redhead — Review

8/4       The Page Unbound – Author Interview #3

8/5       Margie’s Must Reads — Review

8/6       Books and Broomsticks — Promo

8/7       Forgotten Winds – Excerpt #3

8/8       My Book Fix Blog – Review

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on July 25, 2016

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ADDRESS TO DIE FOR

Address to Die For (A Maggie McDonald Mystery)
New Series
Cozy Mystery
Lyrical Underground (July 19, 2016)
E-book – 320 pages

Synopsis

For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list . . .

Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn’t confined to her clients’ closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house her husband, Max, has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she’s shocked to discover the house’s dilapidated condition. When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it’s the detectives who end up moving in. What a mess! While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large—exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can’t help but clean up . . .

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Review

This is a new cozy series that I think will be a winner. Set in a small town in CA, Maggie and her family has just moved to this town and it is not starting off very well when they find a dead body in their home. It only goes downhill from there.

I thought this book had some really interesting characters and it was different from other cozies I have read. From the start, Maggie’s husband has to fly to India for work right as they move to this new town, so we get a peek at their email correspondence during the fiascos that occur.

There isn’t a large collection of characters to try and decipher who the killer is and I have to say that the author did a great job of leading me down some wrong paths! When the killer was reveals I was quite shocked. I would never have suspected this person. There were plenty others that I wanted to pin the murders on just because I didn’t like their attitudes.

I liked that at the beginning of each chapter there is an organizational tip. Many of them were actually quite helpful and I hope to incorporate a few into my life.

I will be interested to see what happens in the next book (and we got a sneak peek at the end of this book and it sounds really good!)

We give this book 4 paws up!

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About the Author

Mary FelizMary Feliz has lived in five states and two countries but calls Silicon Valley home. Traveling to other areas of the United States, she’s frequently reminded that what seems normal in the high-tech heartland can seem decidedly odd to the rest of the country. A big fan of irony, serendipity, diversity, and quirky intelligence tempered with gentle humor, Mary strives to bring these elements into her writing, although her characters tend to take these elements to a whole new level. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and National Association of Professional Organizers. Mary is a Smith College graduate with a degree in Sociology. She lives in Northern California with her husband, near the homes of their two adult offspring.

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Giveaway

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Check out these other blogs on the tour

July 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW
July 19 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
July 20 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
July 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &,Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Sleuth Cafe – REVIEW
July 22 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW
July 23 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
July 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
July 24 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – REVIEW
July 25 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
July 25 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST
July 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
July 26 – Tea and A Book – REVIEW
July 27 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW  
July 28 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
July 28 – Bookjunkie’s Book Blog – INTERVIEW
July 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
July 29 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW, GUEST POST
July 30 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
July 31 – Book Babble – REVIEW
August 1 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
August 1 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW
August 2 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
August 2 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

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Posted in 5 paws, fiction, Review, suspense on July 24, 2016

the last one cover

Synopsis

Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Sophisticated and provocative, The Last One is a novel that forces us to confront the role that media plays in our perception of what is real: how readily we cast our judgments, how easily we are manipulated.

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Review

I saw this book while I was at BEA and almost picked it up but didn’t. Something brought it my attention again and I got a copy from Netgalley. I am so glad that I did! This story had me on the edge of my seat and I could not put the book down. It was like Survivor meets Hunger Games.

There are 12 people that agree to do this reality TV show and they had to survive out in the wild with little help from modern technology. What they don’t know is that the winner is the “last man standing”. Each of the contestants are doing this for a myriad of reasons and it isn’t all about the money. Each one has their own skill set/strengths and weaknesses and at times they band together and other times it is each man for itself. you will find that you like and hate various characters and some you will just shake your head – like the one they call the Exorcist since he claimed he exorcised demons from people.

While there are 12 main characters the focus really is on Sam (or Zoo as she is called) and the story does not follow a straight time line, it does jump back and forth in time but that is what held my interest – reading what they went through during the show and what happened to her during a certain point in the show until the end.

I will admit the ending seemed to have stopped abruptly and certain things are not wrapped up…but I’m not going to tell you what, you will have to read the book to find out. Maybe it was left that way for a follow up book? Just a guess on my part but not sure how there could be a sequel.

We give this 5 paws up!

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Guest Post, Middle Grade, Spotlight on July 24, 2016

Banner Summer Vacation

SUMMER VACATION

The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen

Book One, Second Edition

by 

Belinda Everette 

Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction

Date of Publication: June 12, 2016

# of pages: 70

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synopsis

Summer Vacation cover

It’s the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!

Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun.  Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.

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PRAISE FOR SUMMER VACATION

“I read Summer Vacation by Belinda Everette.  I thought it was educational regarding the true history of Juneteenth and portrayed realistic events in the lives of the characters.  I did pass it on to one of my daughters with a special interest in children’s books.  This seems to be a good moment for this kind of story, with increased interest in African-American history with readers of all ages.”   — Ronne Hartfield, Co-Chair, Harvard University Arts Education Council, Executive Director, Art Institute of Chicago, Author

Summer Vacation is very good.  This book is entertaining and informative.  The author has given us a unique way of presenting history to our children.  This book should be published in Spanish and other languages to share this history with other cultures.”  — Irma P. Hall, Academy Award nominated American Actress,  Poet, Author, Language Educator (ret), Dallas Public School System,  30 years.

 

guest post

 

Wanting to hone my craft and give more substance to my writing, I enrolled in a “Beginning Short Stories” class at Rice University, the fall of 2014.   Sitting in class, I was feeling a bit intimidated, largely because the majority of my classmates had experience with the instructor, having taken a class he offered the previous semester.  Discussions and lecture points invariably had references to concepts and ideas made in some prior class, and I consistently felt like I had just walked up to a group in the middle of a conversation.  I felt like I was constantly trying to catch-up to the rest of the class, or worse, I felt like perhaps it was something I should have known and I was too embarrassed to ask for clarity or more information and went off to research on my own.

Suffice it to say, for my first assignments in the class, I felt compelled to write about subjects that I was familiar with or had a great deal of experience. The objective was to be viewed as a subject matter expert on or an SME. (An acronym from my Corporate America days. The use of acronyms in that environment was so prevalent, we used to joke that we were bilingual.)

I chose to write about the African-American holiday, Juneteenth, from the historical beginnings through the current day observance and traditions.   It felt like a safe topic for me, and the critique, I hoped, would not be too harsh; after all, I was the only minority in the class and how much would anyone else know? I anticipated providing an educational yet entertaining essay for my classmates by sharing the thoroughly researched facts of this Texas holiday and the celebrations that acknowledged its significance.  Juneteenth is the celebration of the end of slavery and it never occurred to me that anyone other than African Americans celebrated or were aware of the Juneteenth holiday.

After the critique and discussion of the story was over, after I took notes and incorporated the commentary from my classmates, and after I collected the twenty-one edited copies of my story, I listened to a fascinating story of a Juneteenth celebration steeped in history, tradition and rites of passage, that happened annually right here in Houston.

Our instructor would, on occasion, pepper his lectures with stories from his youth, tales of growing up as an only child, and of course, a bit of family drama here and there.  It helped us with data retention and kept mundane subject matter interesting.

Throughout his childhood, his family belonged to a country club.  He recalled many summer afternoons at the club, but one event, prominent in his memory, was the annual carnival held at the club every June.    The carnival, he explained, was a very big event, complete with Ferris wheel, assorted rides, popcorn, cotton candy and everything one would expect to see and experience at a festive carnival.   It became, he explained, a family tradition, to go to the club in June for the carnival.

He told us his earliest memory of the annual carnival at the club, was around the age of six. After a few years he began to wonder about the reason for the big party, the big carnival.   Finally, at the age of eleven, he asked one of his parent’s friends, in passing as he enjoyed the carnival one Saturday afternoon.   He remembered walking toward the Ferris wheel, when he saw his dad’s friend and recalled tugging at the hem of his shirt tail to get his attention.

“Mr. Bob,” the little boy asked, looking up at the older gentleman. “Why do we have this party every year?  Why do we have all these rides and this carnival?”

His father’s friend looked down at him with a big smile, and answered, “It’s Juneteenth son!  We’re celebrating Juneteenth!”

Our instructor paused for moment, as he told his story.  He looked down at the floor for a moment and the classroom was very quiet.   You could almost see the inner turmoil his mind was processing.   The muscles in his jaw area twitched slightly, as if he was trying to reconcile what he saw with what he knew about the holiday.

The moment passed and he looked around the classroom before he started to speak again.  He explained that by that age, he knew what the meaning of the Juneteenth holiday was.  He learned about the holiday and its meaning in school.

The instructor went on to tell us that after his father’s friend answered his question and walked away, he stood there and looked around at all of the activity at the carnival. He saw that the only people enjoying the carnival were white, and black people were working, serving drinks, operating the rides, passing out food, or picking up trash.

I thought about the irony in that story for a very long time.  Long after I completed the assignment, long after I finished Rice, long after I celebrated the next Juneteenth holiday.   I thought about telling that story.  I considered how I would explain that story to a child, how I would explain the dynamics of the carnival, the people working, the people celebrating the holiday.

By the end of 2015, I wrote the first three books in my children’s series, The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, and the first book, Summer Vacation, was inspired by that story.

 

about the author

Belinda Everette PicLike most people, when life throws lemons, you make lemonade and that was certainly the case  for Belinda Everette, the author of The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen book series.   After twenty-six years as a Senior Vice-President for several Fortune 500 financial institutions, life circumstances required a change.  Belinda put down her briefcase, enrolled in Rice University’s creative writing program, and began to pursue her lifelong dream of writing.

When not writing, Belinda supports several of her favorite charities which focus on providing housing and improving living conditions for those in need, including Houston’s Star of Hope, Covenant House, and Houston Achievement Place.

“Family is my greatest joy,” Belinda adds “nothing is better than a houseful of family and friends with lots of children running around, enjoying a delicious meal and good Christian fellowship.”  Cooking, entertaining, and music along with daughter Ashley, son-in-law Ron, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Evan, keep live full and happy.  Belinda and her constant companion, a four-year old Shih Tzu, reside in suburban Houston, Texas.

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Signed Copies of Summer Vacation  and It’s Just A Song, plus a tote bag

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Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

7/20    Hall Ways Blog         – Review

7/21    Country Girl Bookaholic – Excerpt #1

7/22    Reading By Moonlight  – Author Interview #1

7/23    Margie’s Must Reads           – Review

7/24    StoreyBook Reviews           – Guest Post

7/25    The Crazy Booksellers  – Excerpt #2

7/26    Missus Gonzo – Review

7/27    Byers Editing Reviews & Blog  – Author Interview #2

7/28    The Librarian Talks  – Promo

7/29    My Book Fix Blog – Review

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Posted in nonfiction, Spotlight on July 23, 2016

Banner Kineno's Journey

A Kineño’s Journey:

On Family, Learning, and Public Service

(Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest)   

 

by Lauro F. Cavazos & Gene P. Preuss

Genre: Memoir / Education

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: June 30, 2016

# of pages: 352

synopsis

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On September 20, 1988, the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Lauro F. Cavazos as the fourth Secretary of Education in President Ronald Reagan’s administration. A sixth-generation Texan and Kineño—a descendant of Mexican citizens who accepted work on Texas’s King Ranch in the 19th century—Cavazos was the first Hispanic appointed to a position in an American Presidential Cabinet.

The story of Cavazos’s journey leading up to his cabinet appointment is a portrait of a life devoted to the principles of education. In 1954, Cavazos married Peggy Ann Murdock; the couple had ten children, all of whom were educated in public schools. To enhance their children’s education, the Cavazoses traveled extensively, living out the principle that a holistic education includes exposure to others’ worldviews. During his service as Secretary of Education, Cavazos insisted that all children in America be educated to their fullest potential. A key tenet of Cavazos’s service was an emphasis on educating minority students—a passion Cavazos formed early on in his career, first as a faculty member at the Medical College of Virginia, then as a professor and Dean at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and later as President of Texas Tech University.

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email: ttup@ttu.edu

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From the book

My father told me when I was a young boy that he had three expectations of me. Dad said that I was expected to educate myself, serve my country, and never disgrace the Cavazos name. These three simple admonitions formed the bedrock of my future life, the foundation upon which my father told me to stand firm.

AboutTheAuthors

 

Cavazos_LauroFormer Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos was born on the vast King Ranch in South Texas, where his father was the foreman. He received an M.A. in zoology from Texas Tech University and holds a doctoral degree in physiology from Iowa State University. He taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at the Tufts University School of Medicine, where he was Dean for five years. Cavazos returned to Texas Tech University in 1980 to become its tenth president—the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold that office. He is a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife divide their time between Concord, Massachusetts and Port Aransas, Texas.
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 Gene B. Preuss is an associate professor of history and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Houston-Downtown. He is the author of To Get a Better School System: One Hundred Years of School Reform in Texas.

 

 

Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

7/15    Country Girl Bookaholic – Review

7/16    Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

7/17    The Page Unbound

7/18    Missus Gonzo – Review

7/19    Texas Book Lover

7/20    My Book Fix Blog

7/21    Forgotten Winds – Review

7/22    It’s a Jenn World

7/23    StoreyBook Reviews

7/24    Hall Ways Blog – Review

 

 

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Posted in Book Release, e-books, mystery, Sale, Spotlight on July 23, 2016

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~* NOW LIVE! ONLY $0.99*~

TITLE: Orphan Flowers

SERIES: Conquering Series (Book 1)

GENRE: Contemporary Mystery / Suspense

AUTHOR: J.C. Rochford

RELEASES: July 23rd, 2016

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Synopsis

Lily-May, wife of NYPD Detective Murray and mother to beautiful Callie, tragically goes missing, with her daughter witnessing the ordeal, but unable to save her mother from the captor’s grip. Will Callie be able to live with herself?

A mystery as to where she is or how she got there and to stay alive, Lily begins a new life pretending to be someone else. Will she ever be found, or will her captor carry out the unthinkable when he learns her true identity?

Back home, Lily’s husband and daughter have been left to pick up the pieces. While both suffer immeasurable pain and emptiness, Callie believes she has seen her mother on a number of occasions but has been too scared to tell her dad who, unbeknownst to her, has witnessed his own sightings of this same woman.

Has Lily returned, or is it her ghost back to haunt her daughter and husband?

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Not sure if this novel is for you? The first THREE chapter of Orphan Flowers is on Wattpad, check it out and discover the suspense this novel brings

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About the Author

J.C. Rochford was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Besides being half Canadian, she is also half British with many family members still residing in England. J.C. began her writing journey in her early teens writing poetry and song lyrics. Currently, you may find J.C. Rochford titles under the young adult and contemporary fiction genres.

‘Orphan Flowers’ is J.C. Rochford’s debut novel, and was written over the course of two years before setting it to release to the world on July 23, 2016.

J.C. Rochford holds additional interests in photography, graphic design, and jewellery design. She also enjoys the outdoors and visiting rural Ontario with her family during the summer.

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Posted in Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on July 22, 2016

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Planted (The Penningtons Investigate)

1st in Series
Cozy Mystery
Asdee Press (July 22, 2016)
Print Length: 309 pages

Synopsis

Planted is book one of the new mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate, from award-winning author C. T. Collier. The Penningtons, Lyssa and Kyle, are both PhD’s, and when their clever minds start asking questions, clever killers can’t hide.

It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?

The Penningtons’ canvass of their quiet neighborhood turns up disturbing secrets about the family who lived in their house for decades and another ill-fated family a few doors away. No one seems to know how to contact the only sons of either family. The few facts they have about them don’t add up and, since the gun was buried about the time both young men disappeared from Tompkins Falls, the Penningtons feel compelled to find them and make sure all is well.

Lyssa follows the money story and finds twenty million dollars, a neighbor who’s not what he seems, and a long-buried rivalry. Kyle goes after homicide data in six states and finds a body. Their next surprise is a murderer who will go to any length to conceal the crime.

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About The Author

KATE COLLIERC. T. Collier grew up in Seneca Falls, NY, left the area for college and jobs, and always wanted to return to the Finger Lakes. Today she lives in a beautiful small city on one of the prettiest of the Finger Lakes, not unlike fictional Tompkins Falls on lovely Chestnut Lake. Most days you’ll find her writing in her tiny office looking out on a woods populated with fox, deer, wild turkeys, and songbirds. In her career as a tech-savvy college professor she has been endlessly fascinated with campus intrigue. Entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college.

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JULY 22, 2016

Babs Book Bistro – Review

Sleuth Cafe – Review

Author Annette Drake’s blog

The Book’s the Thing

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Reading Is My SuperPower

The Power of Words

StoreyBook Reviews

Queen of All She Reads – Review

3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!

Back Porchervations – Review

Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my!

Socrates’ Book Reviews

Thoughts in Progress

Celticlady’s Reviews

Cozy Up With Kathy

Brooke Blogs

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Bookjunkie’s Book Blog

A Blue Million Books

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T’s Stuff

Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Science Fiction, Spotlight on July 21, 2016

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The Pirates Cycle

About the Series

Title: The Pirates Cycle Series
Author: Chris Gerrib
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Genre: Science Fiction

When eighteen-year-old Janet Pilgrim’s boyfriend was killed in a training accident at the space academy, she thought she was going to be thrown out. Instead, she soon found herself shipping out as a junior astronaut on the forty-year old spacecraft Windy City bound for Mars.

But freighters and passenger ships aren’t the only craft plying the spaceways. When the Windy City is attacked by pirates on the way to Mars, Janet finds herself in more danger than she could ever have imagined.

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The Pirates Cycle series is available at Amazon.

Excerpt

A very solid clunk on the outer bulkhead awoke me from my after-watch nap.  This was immediately followed by the general alarm.  The ship’s Voice was reporting all sorts of problems, and as I rolled out of my rack the lights flickered off, and a second later about half of them came on again.  As I listened to the Voice, I heard three alarms, any one of which was serious.  First I heard a “loss of communication” alarm, then a “ reactor coolant leak #2 radiator” and finally a loss of pressure alarm for the #3 greenhouse.

The reactor coolant leak scared me the most.   Our reactor was a pebble-bed unit, so it couldn’t melt.  But if it got too hot, it would automatically shut down.  No reactor meant no propulsion which meant we’d sail past Mars and out of the Solar System.  Some uncounted tens of thousands of years later some unknown alien would find our bones.  Maybe.

I jumped into a pair of coveralls and raced to the greenhouse.  Everything seemed to be in slow motion, but it was really only a few seconds before I was at the pressure door to the greenhouse.  As I looked in through the observation port, still struggling though sleep and shock, I couldn’t understand at first what I was seeing.  Maybe I didn’t want to understand.

Practically all the plants had been sucked out of the compartment, and what few remained had been sucked clean of leaves.  A couple of the water sprays were running, and the water coming out was boiling and freezing at the same time.  I looked shipdown towards the outer hull.  Something had cut a gouge almost the entire length of the compartment, slicing through the twin hulls like a hot knife through butter.  There were scorch marks along the edges of the gash, which must have immediately vented the compartment to space.

A flash of red caught my eye.  I blinked and saw Kate, drifting lifelessly against the far bulkhead.  I stared at her in disbelief.  There was a red streak of blood down her face from her nose, and her hair was matted with blood, whether from her ears or a skull wound I couldn’t tell.  There was nothing I could do.  I only hoped that she had passed out quickly from the loss of pressure.  I pounded on the hatch for a minute, out of frustration more then anything else.

“Kate, where are you?”  Alex said, his voice booming out of the announcing system.

I picked up the nearest ship’s phone and dialed the pilothouse.  Ken answered.  “Kate was trapped in #3 greenhouse.  The aft bulkhead and hatch holding.”  It took me a minute to notice that there was no answer.  “Ken, status?”

“You’d better get up to the pilothouse fast, Janet.”

About the Author

Chris GerribChris Gerrib admits to being a bit obsessed with Mars, but in a healthy way.  Chris still has a day job as the IT director at a Chicago-area bank, and holds degrees in history and business from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University.  He also served in the US Navy during the First Gulf War, and can proudly report that not one Iraqi MiG bombed Jacksonville, Florida while he was in the service.  In his copious free time, Chris is a past President of and currently active in his local Rotary club.  His three-novel series set on Mars, The Pirate Cycle, is being reissued by Cincinnatus Press.

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Giveaway

Chris Gerrib is giving away one complete paperback set of The Pirates Cycle (3 books) and two complete ebook sets!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one paperback set and two winners will be chosen to receive one of two ebook sets.
  • This giveaway begins July 5 and ends on July 29.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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