Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Spotlight on June 21, 2017

Synopsis

Truth Seeker Kuntza faces challenges above and below the sea’s surface, fighting deadly misinformation   as well as a bizarre and complicated plot to wipe out most of   the Sky Fairy Tribe.  Under his instruction, lightning   machines are constructed to overcome a terrible  snowstorm.   But what of the grave threat from the Water   Fairy Tribe—Kuntza’s tribe—to the surface tribes?

Admiral Constance Kimberlite and Prince Cambrian Bijou and the young Historian Rolf Warner accompany the Seeker beneath the waves to assist him in his efforts to overcome his tribe’s fears of an impending invasion.  Meanwhile Amber Bullierd, daughter and heir of the rebellious Count Bullierd, threatens to block their success through intrigue and a terrifying coup  attempt.  With the fate of Fairydom hanging in the balance, there is no room for error.

Excerpt

As Prince Oliver followed his father from Arnold Mosley’s elegant hotel suite, he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of one eye.  The long hallway was lined with statues and ornate paintings, and dotted with recessed doorways that lead to other suites.  Curiousity getting the better of him, Oliver signaled for the marine behind him to continue flying forward no matter what.  When they reached the next doorway, Oliver slid into it.  Careful to stay hidden, Oliver turned back towards Mosley’s suite and sank soundlessly into the plush carpet between the beautifully carved planks that framed the doorway.  Dropping first to his knees, then down to lie flat, he stifled a chuckle at the idea of trying to explain himself to the hotel guest if the door beside him should abruptly open.  Carefully, he inched his face towards the edge of the doorframe.  The small party that had escorted him and his father to Mosley’s hotel faded away, the sharp click of a window—locking behind them—the last sound he heard.  One eye finally clear of the doorframe, Oliver held perfectly still.  And waited.  The hallway was so still that he thought he could hear the paint on the walls fading in the bright afternoon sunlight.

The motion he saw might have belonged to anyone—a chambermaid, another guest…  Oliver was beginning to give in to the feeling of foolishness when a slightly built man-fairy peeked out from behind one of the statues at the far end of the hall.  Mosley had dismissed his servants when the king first arrived, which meant the suite should still be empty, Mosley having also gone off to take care of personal business.  Oliver’s right eyebrow lifted fractionally when the man-fairy slipped over to Mosley’s door and glanced furtively around before he produced something from the inner folds of his scribe’s robe, and let himself in through the locked door.

More than curious now, Oliver came silently to his feet.  Decades of playing hide and seek with his younger siblings contributed to his swift, but soundless flight down the length of the hallway, where he arrived just in time to slip between Mosley’s door and its frame.  He quickly dropped to his knees in a shadow before it swung shut behind him.  From there, he was able to watch as the scribe began searching single-mindedly for something on Mosley’s desk.

It was all so absurd that Oliver nearly gave in to the urge to laugh at himself.  He had just assisted his father in interrogating Mosley—and unless Mosley was an even more masterful manipulator than the Wood Fairy Minister of the Interior, he had been telling the truth when he denied any involvement in the delay of the winter storms.  Now he, Oliver Bijou, Crown Prince of the Sky Fairy Tribe, was hiding in the shadows?  Sleuthing was the specialty of his younger brother, Prince Cambrian.  Still, Oliver could not shake the feeling that something was amiss here.  Mosley might have given a scribe a key to his suites, but…scribe!  Another piece of the puzzle fell into place, bringing Oliver to his feet precipitously.  Cambrian had recently brought evidence to them that a scribe was involved in the conspiracy.

Startled by Oliver’s movement, the scribe jerked to one side.  His elbow struck one of the taller stacks, knocking it over in an avalanche of blue, white, and yellow papers that fluttered to the floor.  Some fell quite a distance.  Others struck the hem of the frozen scribe’s robe and landed about his feet.

“Harold Scroggins,” Oliver casually scooped up a small volume of poetry from the entryway table beside him, “I arrest you in the name of the crown.”  As he had expected, Harold flew towards the nearest window.  Oliver’s arm came up and snapped forward, hurling the hard-bound book towards Harold’s back.  “Well, that is a first,” Oliver murmured to himself as he watched the scribe crumple to the floor, temporarily stunned.  “I do not recall ever seeing a book drop a scribe before.”

Tugging the window sashes free, Oliver bound his prisoner securely.  As he was about to begin searching the desk himself, Harold stirred.  Weak blue eyes stared up through his tousled blue bangs, full of unanswered questions for his assailant.

About the Author

I enjoy reading and writing, but not arithmetic.  Which is to say that I love math, but it hates me.  So I don’t usually count the days or hours spent reading, writing, or watching television, I just enjoy them.  I write because that’s the gift I’ve been given.  I read and watch to store up idea seedlings, which sometimes spring, fully-formed, to mind.  Sometimes that’s because I loved what I’ve been consuming and other times because I loathed it.  Experiencing both (as little as possible of the loathe, of course) helps me define myself as a writer and plays a huge (yet subconscious) role in my work.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, Spotlight on June 20, 2017

Synopsis

To what end would an exiled princess go to regain her rightful throne?

Lady Dawn, Hoffnung’s princess, brutally learns what it’s like to have everything unexpectedly stripped from her after Lord Waxxon’s coup kills her half-elf mother, Queen Taube, and he assumes the throne. Before Dawn’s plight, her mother’s bloodcurdling screams are etched into Dawn’s memory, giving her the resolve to somehow build an army, kill Lord Waxxon, and reclaim the throne. However, the odds of such an undertaking are far greater than a princess can overcome alone.

Unable to find Lady Dawn after scouring the castle and the kingdom, Lord Waxxon places a bounty on her, sending his ruthless henchmen across Aetheaon to locate and kill her. But Lady Dawn has disguised herself as a lowly squire, chosen by one of her late father’s Dragon Skull Knights, who doesn’t know her true identity. Alongside her knight, they seek other Dragon Skull Knights to gather forces to bring Waxxon’s reign to a quick end. Yet, her identity must remain secret, even to the knight she serves, until they have accumulated the necessary masses to storm Hoffnung.

Dawn is not without hope, as warriors, a wizard, and rulers of all races seek to find her before Waxxon does. Unexpected aid comes in another astonishing way. Although dragons have long been thought extinct, three dragons sisters use this belief to their advantage, veiling themselves as human warrioresses through magic. Traveling through hamlets, townships, and cities, the sisters hire mercenaries and armies with the caches of gold, silver, and gems from their lairs while they diligently search for Lady Dawn. And once they find her, they will rally beside her as she fights to reclaim Hoffnung’s throne.

A Cinderella story? Hardly. Quite the opposite in many respects. No longer pampered as a princess, Dawn discovers she’s more than royalty. She assumes the role of a servant in order to gain the necessary skills to fulfill her vendetta. She’s a fighter, a survivor, and a woman with the heart of a warrioress. Enduring a squire’s training hardens her, the loss of her mother and the kingdom forces her to seek vengeance, and her biggest fear when she takes the throne is that she will become a calloused ruler and lose her compassion for mankind.

Excerpt

Prologue

When Boldair awakened, his stubby muscular arms were shackled above his head to a cold wet wall. He looked around the small dark prison cell. A torch flickered outside the tiny barred window on the thick iron-braced wooden door. Overhead at the highest reach of the ceiling, the bright yellow moon spilled through the grated hole. He guessed it was the dead of night, but it could be closer to dawn for all he knew.

His stomach growled from hunger. He didn’t know how long he had been locked in the cell or how he had even wound up there.

The last thing he recalled was drinking ale at the Bridgebarrow Tavern with other dwarves while swapping tales of adventure and treasures they had found. Strong drink tended to draw out his need to brag and exaggerate about his discoveries.

A half dozen muscled Legelarid knights dressed in chain armor had been seated across the room, but they had paid he and his Dwarven friends no mind. The knights focused their attention more on the dark-haired female warrior wearing her snug gilded breastplate that cut short of her midriff than anything else. Her metal belt, which had a decorative dragonhead across her navel, covered most of her abdominal region. Gold-plated leggings and boots protected her lower extremities. Her winged helm rested on the stool beside her, and her round shield, adorned with sharp dragon’s teeth, was propped against the side of the bar.

The female warrior sat at the bar, staring down at the silver flask before her. Although she sat in a near trancelike state, Boldair assumed her concentration was attuned to take in all of the conversations and interactions around her at the same time. At the angle from where he sat, he was unable to see her face clearly.

With a rigid coldness, she ignored the knight leader’s drunken lewd comments and suggestive offers of gold to hire her to join their company during their journey back to Legelarid. Something Boldair understood to have double meaning, and had the insulting remarks been to a woman less capable of holding her own, he would have stood and challenged the half drunken knight. Instead, he chose to continue spinning his tales while awaiting the woman’s reaction to the knights, which seemed inevitable.

She kept her right hand tightened on the jeweled hilt of her short sword. The black blade was different than any sword Boldair had ever seen before. It wasn’t made of any metal he’d ever crafted, and the blade was cylindrical shaped and sharply curved.

The armored female sat with her head slightly cocked to the left, and she seemed to be listening to what Boldair and the other dwarves at his table discussed, so they lowered their voices. A barmaid brought fresh tankards of Bridgebarrow Stout and placed them on the table. Boldair smiled, downed the strong ale, and wiped the froth from his black beard with the back of his hand before telling his next tale of treasure hunting. His Dwarven brethren had sat eagerly and wide-eyed to hear what else Boldair had collected from the deep dark caverns and added to his stashed riches.

Tugging against the prison chains, Boldair shook himself from the daze and fought hard to remember more.

Boldair winced and groaned; thinking of what had happened after the night settled when he and his brethren had left the tavern to travel north to Damdur. However, more than that, he couldn’t recall anything else. The base of his skull ached and burned. Pain radiated through his head and pulsed behind his eyes. Perhaps someone had welted him from behind with a blunt object and dragged him to this tiny prison. But why?

After his eyes slightly adjusted to the darkness of the cell, he glanced around. Less than four feet away was the shadowed outline of another shackled prisoner.

Boldair attempted to rouse his confined neighbor. “Hey! Been ‘ere long?” Boldair asked.

Other than the whistling dank breeze that smelled of ocean spray, dead fish, and burnt flesh flowing through the barred door window, the room remained silent. In the faint light, his cell companion didn’t move or reply.

“Sleeping, eh?” he asked, still hoping to stir the man awake. Nothing was worse than being imprisoned without someone else to talk to. Total isolation was the purest torture. Hell without the flames.

The man didn’t move, and from his overall silence, he was not breathing either.

“Damn,” Boldair said. “T’would be me luck. Come to Bridgebarrow and get locked inside a prison with a corpse. Bah!”

Wind flowed downward from the grated ceiling opening. The smell of charred flesh drifted from his dead cellmate, causing Boldair to gag. The tight chain restraints prevented him from covering his nose. The stench forced him to hold his breath until the air grew still once more.

“You’ve been here for some time, I suppose,” he said, coughing.

Boldair glanced at the small barred window on the door and wondered if a guard stood outside.

“Wonder why I’m stuck here, do ye?” he asked the dead man, hoping his continued conversation caught the attention of someone in the outer hall. “Aye, I’ll tell ya. No secret be wasted with ye anyways. This ol’ dwarf is the best treasure hunter in all of Aetheaon. Aye, but it be true.

“No, I’m not a thief. Never stolen one single solitary thing. I hunt treasures. I do. Since the demise of the dragons of Aetheaon, the treasures are much easier to take, providing you happen upon one of their long forgotten lairs. No fire-breathing lizards guarding the dark caverns makes it—”

“You boast too much.”

Boldair straightened his back against the cold wet wall. He squinted, trying to see where the cold stern voice had come from. It wasn’t in the direction of the dead prisoner closest to him, and it wasn’t directly outside the door, either. The voice crept from the darkest corner of the rock-walled cell.

“Who be there?” he asked in a hoarse whisper. His eyes widened as he awaited an answer.

“I’m one who wants her treasure back.”

 

About the Author

Leonard D. Hilley II grew up a quiet, shy kid with an inquisitive mind. Learning to read at an early age, he fell in love with books. He read every book he could get his hands on and stacks of dark comics about ghosts, monsters, and creepy things that stalk the night.

Like a lot of boys, he caught beetles, wooly bears, butterflies, and had an ant farm. When he was ten, his interests in science increased even more after seeing a professor’s insect collection. He started an insect collection and learned to rear butterflies and moths to obtain perfect specimens. After learning more about botany and gardening, he set his goal to become an entomologist.

At eleven, he saw Star Wars. His imagination soared and he started writing. Six months later he had written the first draft of a novel. A novel he later discarded, but the characters stuck with him. Years later, these characters came to life in Shawndirea, which Hilley had intended to be a novella for Devils Den. The characters, however, refused to be ignored and took the opportunity to unveil Aetheaon in their first epic fantasy. Lady Squire: Dawn’s Ascension was quick to follow.

Shawndirea was Hilley’s farewell to butterfly collecting, and those who have read the novel understand why. He has taken Ray Bradbury’s advice to heart: “Follow the characters.” He does. He follows, listens, and take notes—often never knowing where they’re going to take him, but he’s never been disappointed in the results.

Hilley earned a B.S. Biology and an MFA in Creative Writing to combine his love of science and writing.

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance on June 20, 2017

Synopsis

“My dog didn’t like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn’t like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).”

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

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Review

I’m a sucker for any book that has dogs within the pages.

Jenni and Millie are quite tight for a dog and her owner, but I can see where Millie was a great source of support and unconditional love for Jenni especially after she lost her father. But Millie has some up side to her, such as knowing what people are not good and Jenni really should avoid…of course like any person, she doesn’t always make the right decisions.

There are several men that enter Jenni’s life and Millie has something to say (or bark) about them. She does not like Neil (and for good reason as you will find out later in the book) or Mark (he seems alright but lives too far away). Now she does like Scott – the substitute vet, but he has some issues of his own to work through.

I enjoyed the language of this book. That may sound like a strange thing, but it is set in England and while they speak English some of the terminology is different than the English I speak in America. Thank goodness for the dictionary on my Oasis for a few of those words! I also enjoyed the descriptions of the towns and landscape, it sounded very picturesque and a place I wouldn’t mind visiting.

There are also ghosts in this book – but not the scary kind. There is the owner of the property that died, Cecilia, and her ghostly efforts to push Jenni towards her future (which she does successfully but that is all I am saying). There is also a dog ghost which seems very real to Jenni.

The story tugged at my heartstrings nearer to the end when Millie is diagnosed with some health issues and the story that ensued after that. I am not ashamed to admit I was teary eyed because it reminded me of what I went through with one of my dogs not quite a year ago.

A very enjoyable story with a little bit of everything within the pages.  We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!

She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…

When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing  borrowing her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

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Posted in Adventure, Children, excerpt, Giveaway on June 19, 2017

THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4

by

Don M. Winn

  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Date of Publication: June 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations

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Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

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PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies

 

Excerpt from Chapter Three

The Eldridge Conspiracy

by Don M. Winn

Beau woke me in the gray light before dawn. “It stopped raining,” he said. “Let’s go.”

My stomach felt so empty, it tied itself into knots, but I kept quiet and saddled my horse. I was tired of hearing myself complain, and I’m sure Beau was too.

As we rode, the birds sang themselves into fits of joy over the coming day. The sky grew pink and golden, and the birds fell silent as the tiniest sliver of sun like molten steel peeked over the edge of the world. Then it popped up into the sky all at once, the birds so wild with excitement that you’d never think it happened every day.

Beau whistled a cheery tune and I rode up alongside him. “I’m sorry I was grouchy yesterday,” I said. “I was wet and worried about Kaye.”

“You’re still wet and still worried,” Beau said. “What’s different now?”

“The sun’s up, I guess. I can see where I’m going. And you promised a fire and maybe a bed later at the abbey.”

He nodded. “And soup. At least, I hope they have soup. There’s a cold spot inside me that only hot soup will fix.”

“I was thinking about hot cider last night,” I said with a laugh. “It’s almost fall. Look at the trees.” Tiny patches of orange and yellow edged a few clumps of leaves in the trees along the road.

Soon we came to a crossroads in a village with an old gray church. People moved about, stopping to eyeball the strangers riding through.

“Pardon me,” Beau asked a man nearby. “We’re looking for the abbey. Can you tell us how to get there?”

The man grunted. “Most boys would be helping with the harvest these days, not traveling about to abbeys. We barely got the wheat and barley under cover yesterday before the rain came to spoil it.” He yawned. “And now there’s threshing to do.” He yawned again. “Wislett Abbey is the closest. Keep following this road and you’ll find it.”

“Thank you,” Beau said. “Good day to you, sir.”

As we passed the old church, I heard a familiar neigh. “Wait. That sounds like Kadar,” I said. Sure enough, Parsnip whinnied back, as if greeting an old friend.

We rode behind the ancient building and found Kaye’s fine warhorse Kadar grazing under an apple tree at the edge of the churchyard. He nickered to our horses like they had been parted for months and sniffed at Acorn, which is what I had named Birket’s roly-poly brown horse. Then Kadar went back to munching the apples littering the ground.

Kaye sat under the same tree. He held a parchment in one hand and a half-eaten apple in the other. “What took you so long?” he asked. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

I scowled at Kaye. “Why didn’t you just take us with you in the first place?”

“Because you would have tried to stop me,” he said. “And just so you know, I’m not going back. I’m going to find my father and warn him that he and the king are in danger.”

“We know,” Beau said, sliding off his horse.

I stared at Kaye’s hand. “Are you eating apples from the churchyard?”

He took a bite. “Why not?”

I swept my hand around the yard, which seemed empty except for a few flat stones. “There are people buried here!”

“It’s public land, and anyway, they’re not eating them,” Kaye said. “These are good apples. They shouldn’t go to waste.”

I shook my head at Kaye.

He shook his back at me. “Look, I found something important. This was nailed to the church door.”

Click to read all of chapter three and its illustration!

 

about the author

 

don-winn

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of ten picture books and three children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, and Legend of the Forest Beast. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others.

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic himself, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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6/14 Book Trailer Chapter Break Book Blog
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Posted in Dystopian, excerpt, fiction, Guest Post, Science Fiction on June 19, 2017

Synopsis

In Christopher David Rosales’ first novel, ‘Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper’, he creates a completely unique vision that seamlessly blends tropes of magical realism and dystopian fiction in a portrait of power in America that we’ve never seen before. Imagine it as the communal love child of Marquez, Bolaño, and Orwell, a child who inhabits an America that resembles Pinochet’s Chile, and yet feels uncannily (and frighteningly) familiar to present day Los Angeles. A world in which street assassin Tre, a young and much beloved brother and son, finds himself caught in a city where all its citizens, even its most dangerous, are potential targets in the on-going power struggle between an authoritarian military regime and a not-so-community friendly guerrilla force. As Percival Everett says, “This novel treats revolution, love, betrayal and magic with equal adeptness and intelligence. In a world that is at once ours and foreign Rosales makes characters that will be remembered when the novel is done.

Guest Post

Action & Suspense in Literary Fiction

I did not submit a whole chapter. It stops somewhere before we know the main character’s fate. Why?

In all of my stories and books I challenge myself to give my readers everything. You want love? You got it. Horror? Action? Crime? Yep. Even camp and melodrama, and especially sex. Who doesn’t want sex?

But this gets real messy, real fast. Not the sex; the writing.

Because readers approach reading with expectations, and much of the time those expectations are based on popular genres that are strictly defined. The hardboiled detective vs. the armchair detective. The mystery (whodunnit?) vs. the thriller (look at them doing it!) vs. the suspense (what are they going to do and when?!). There’s the chest-heaving romance that’s all passion and pecs and no penetration, and then there’s the quasi-eroticism in which the BDSM stands for Bored and Dying for Something to Masturbate to.

And let’s not forget self-serious: (she wasn’t sure why she did it, or even what exactly one could call what she did, and she never would be sure, would she? But surely she’d have to live through this day knowing she knew nothing. Or did she?).

None of what I’m saying about this balancing act we call writing and reading fiction is new. It remains, however, hard.

Brief interruption: I’m going to use the word literary soon.

When I write “literary,” I don’t use it as an evaluative word. It doesn’t mean better. It means I wasn’t relying on my own or a reader’s preconceived expectations for a popular genre, but rather was relying on character alone. Genre fiction often relies heavily on character–too–but it rarely relies on character–just. For a definition of “literary”-crap, see above: “self-serious”.

So how do we use elements of popular genre fiction, like Action and Suspense, in “literary” fiction. I chose today’s excerpt from my first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper, because it is a chapter in the middle of a “literary” project in which I try to provide action and suspense. I want bullets to fly, sure, but I want hearts to pump out of sympathy instead of spectacle. So I do what Ron Carlson tells us all to do in Ron Carlson Writes a Story, a must-have craft book for every writer. I try to stay close to the character. I take inventory of the objects, people, and location, and stay close to them, return to them, round them out. What I don’t do is make the bad guys bad and the good guy good. The “good guy” has just stolen from these “bad guys” in my scene. His motorcycle isn’t great, it’s ragtag and rusty. There are civilians populating the scene by living everyday lives with each other; they’re not propped up to take a bloody shot to the gut to demonstrate the “bad guys” mean business. In fact, the scene doesn’t try to “mean” anything.

But by sticking to details, I hope to remind readers it’s in their nature to observe. As the main character rides his motorcycle in an attempt to escape, his spit hits his helmet’s visor, a stop sign takes a bullet, he hardly notices but can’t help notice the hot sun reflected in the puddle in the road. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him as I collect these details about his environment. And that means I am engaged in action and suspense.

That’s it, after all. Action is a collection of concrete definable terms happening to or being happened to by a character. Suspense is the delicate distance between our prediction of what will happen and our knowledge of what has. By writing in both those states, I hope my reader will read in both those states. By abandoning a preconceived notion of what should happen in a plot, I hope I give my reader something new. It’s unpredictable to them because it’s unpredictable to me.

Excerpt

Tre leaned his bike into the turn and wound his way through the frozen traffic. We always said he leaned into everything that way. He didn’t ever seem to be trying too hard at anything at all.

He flipped up the visor of his helmet and checked his watch. Tapped it once or twice. “Piece of shit.” When he flipped the visor down the sunset shimmered pink across it.

Slowing each time he passed a luxury sedan, he’d crane his neck to see the plates. He stopped behind a long brown car with dark windows, checked the license number scribbled on the back of his hand against the license plate on the sedan. The scribbles across his hand had smeared with sweat, but they were clear enough to see they didn’t match.  He rode on, calling different curses for each different rich man’s car he passed. Passat equaled pussy. Fiat equaled faggot. Benz equaled bends over and takes it in the ass. He laughed, fogging his visor, and relished the blindness. When the fog retreated and revealed the crowded street, he closed his eyes—his right elbow clipped hard against a sideview mirror but he kept them closed. Since his parents had begun to pawn the family keep-sakes he’d felt invincibly dead. Like the elimination of personal property was a slow and steady lowering of the coffin of their hope.

A horn honked twice and his eyes opened wide on a jeep changing lanes right in front of him. He swerved around it, barely, and a woman inside shouted, “You’re going to kill someone.”

“I hope so.” He shouted spit onto his visor, and flipped her off.

The traffic was heavy in the intersection, and everyone was honking but no one going anywhere. Thankfully, this included his target in the brown sedan. Using the balls of his feet, Tre stepped his bike up alongside the rear window, took the .38 from his waistband, and shot three times through the closed backseat passenger window.

Inside the white starburst of glass a bloody head slumped out of sight.

The driver kicked his door open and peeked his head out. Tre cut a mock salute across his helmet. The driver left the door open when he ran, looking back only once, and casually. He slowed to a jog, and then a walk three cars down.

Tre set the kickstand, left the bike running. He opened up the rear door and ducked inside over the dead man. He felt around for wallets. A lot of these guys kept two, one just for these sorts of occasions and a real one… here, right along the warm inner thigh. Something shiny caught Tre’s eye even through the dark visor. A wristwatch—Rolex—and he traded the man’s watch for his. He took the time to put his broken watch on the man’s wrist, laughing, and to adjust the thick-wristed man’s watch to his own. Then he removed all the cash from the wallets, but not the cards, and put them back too. It was important that the hit not look like a robbery. Whoever had hired him wanted to send some kind of message. But, still, all dude needed now was a coin on each eye—he wouldn’t miss the paper money.

Outside, the horns honked when he mounted the bike. No sirens yet. He heeled back the kickstand and lurched forward, then rolled, easing his way through the maze of metal. A few people inside the cars he passed ducked their heads. Most of them watched, heads tilted out their windows.

Tre lowered the kickstand, dropped the remaining cartridges into his pocket, took off his helmet, and tucked it with the pistol into his backpack. Then he made sure he’d brought the right romance flick. On the cover, a man and woman faced each other across a wide night sky, and a carrier pigeon hovered between them, pinching in its beak a bannered note reading the title.

He zipped up his backpack and went to the door of the girl’s house. There was no one around. And beside that, none of the streetlamps worked so no one could see him anyway. He checked the Rolex, pressed it to his ear and listened. He couldn’t hear the watch’s delicate turnings over the sounds of the naked-bellied children playing like faint shadows in the street, the neighborhood dogs whining from a safe distance for him to feed them, or the music on the radios inside all the windowless houses.

From the porch, he stared at his red motorbike parked alone in what was left of the street mostly dirt now. The occasional tuft of grass or chunk of asphalt. The bike looked strong on roads like this. Rode over them with ease, after the mods: the stolen tires, the halogen bulbs. Sure it was used up. Scratched. Frankensteined out of junkyard parts and spray-painted bright red to hide the bolts and stitches. Sure it had seen better days. Still, around here, Tre was somebody because of that thing.

She opened the door, wearing a peasant style blouse that made a wing of the arm blocking his entrance. Her pink tongue licked her lips, not horny but hungry. “You’re late.”

“So long as your period ain’t.”

“That might be how you talked to hoodrats before but that ain’t how you talk to me.”

“Okay, okay.” He kissed her dark cheek, unzipping the bag as he did so, and then tugged out the VHS tape. He’d got it out of someone’s house just this week. They’d had DVDs but no one he knew had a player, and he hadn’t had room on his bike for something that big. “I brought popcorn, too.”

She smiled, showing white teeth; rare, anymore. Kissed him again.

He licked his lips. She was wearing that peppermint lip-gloss he’d gotten her.

“Where’d you get the money for popcorn?” she asked.

“I got a job.” He knew she wanted to ask him for more details but would stop herself. Girls had to, around here. Love didn’t require good men and good women; just men, and just women. “Are you going to let me in, or what?”

“Where’d you get the money, I said.”

So this one was different.

“Give me a chance to explain?”

About the Author

Christopher David Rosales’ first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper (Mixer Publishing, 2015) won the McNamara Creative Arts Grant. Previously he won the Center of the American West’s award for fiction three years in a row. He is a PhD candidate at University of Denver and has taught university level creative writing for 10 years.. Rosales’ second novel, Gods on the Lam releases in June, 2017 from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Word is Bone, his third novel, is forthcoming 2018 from Broken River Books.

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Posted in Book Release, fiction, Historical on June 18, 2017

Synopsis

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network.” All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

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Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, Review, Romantic Comedy on June 17, 2017

Romantic Comedy
Self Published
Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
ASIN: B06XTSHJHB

Synopsis

I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it. Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business. Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

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Review

This author has a way of taking a serious topic (body shaming) and making it where many could relate to the main character (Evie/Everly) and perhaps even understand why the character feels like she does.

I really enjoyed this book and chuckled through most of it. The book was a fast read (to me!) and I hated putting it down to go do other things (like cook dinner). I could identify with Everly but to be honest she wasn’t that overweight. In the notes afterwards the author shares she was about 5’4″ and from comments the character made about wanting to lose 50 lbs and weigh 110 we know she was around 160. That really isn’t that bad but it comes down to that topic that almost all women deal with – feeling inadequate about our bodies thanks to the media and the pressures it puts on us to be thin. But despite the fact that she wasn’t that overweight, she still had a body image/self esteem issue.

There is romance in this book too – the ex- Josh that started her journey at the gym; Gabe, her personal trainer who is also a “player”; and finally Carter, a geek but a famous one and rich to boot. As her interactions with the different men ensued I knew who I was rooting for..just call me Team Carter.

Besides the men there is a team of supportive women friends – Blaze who is her best friend and holds Everly the most accountable. Everyone needs a Blaze in their life! Lily, a co-worker that is supportive in many ways especially when it comes to work and how that job plays out. Then there is the group of ladies from Zumba who are a hoot and a half.

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was some of the language. There is a disclaimer that there was bad language, I just think some of it could have been cut out and not affected the moment in the story. Also, Charise (one of the friends from Zumba) called everyone bitches. It was funny the first few times but then it got old fast for me.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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June 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 13 – Bookworm Cafe  – GUEST POST

June 14 – Back Porchervations -REVIEW

June 14 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

June 16 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 17 –   StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 17 –   Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

June 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, mystery, Review on June 16, 2017

Killer Music: A Cooper Harrington Detective Novel
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Lone Mountain Press (April 7, 2015)
Paperback: 212 pages

Synopsis

When private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington meets record label mogul Grayson Taylor at a swank gathering of country music artists and politicians he never imagines he’ll be investigating his brutal murder less than twenty-four hours later.

The suspects are plentiful. More than a handful of people could have wanted him dead. Retained by Taylor’s widow, Coop works alongside his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. The investigation leads Coop and Ben to visit the luxurious mansions of recording industry magnates, navigate the murky undercurrents of the political world, and probe complicated family matters. Scandalous indiscretions, secrets, and hints of corruption swirl in the midst of their pursuit of the killer.

Coop’s faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, both lend a hand during the investigation. Even his Aunt Camille mines the local gossip mill to unearth potential killers with motive. Yet the case seems hopeless until a crucial piece of evidence emerges that sends Coop and Ben on a race to catch the killer before someone else dies.

Review

I love a good mystery and this book did not disappoint! Grayson Taylor is murdered at a party and there are really no suspects in site. Sure there are tons of people at the party but it doesn’t seem like anyone has a motive to kill the music executive despite the fact that he was cheating on his wife and planning to start his own music label.

The author does not really lay out any clues for you to guess who the killer is, which is a good and bad thing. I followed along and wondered if it was this character or that character but never really knowing why. It is crazy what breaks the case wide open for Coop…that and some PI work that had unexpected benefits. Once that clue comes out the book moves at a faster pace and really kept me hooked until the end.

I think this will be a good series and I wonder if Coop and his office manager, AB (Annabelle) are destined to become love interests for each other. They have a good chemistry and I could see it happening.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Tammy L. Grace is the award-winning author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

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Check out the other blogs on this tour (some have giveaways!)

June 12 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 12 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

June 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 13 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 13 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW

June 13 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 14 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

June 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

June 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 16 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 –  Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 17 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

June 18 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

June 18 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW

Posted in Giveaway, nonfiction, teaser, Travel on June 15, 2017

THE SWIMMING HOLES OF TEXAS

by

Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy

  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming

Publisher: The University of Texas Press

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos

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Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.

Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs 

Come and Take It, Gonzales

Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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6/8 Book Trailer Syd Savvy
6/9 Review My Book Fix Blog
6/10 Sneak Peek CGB Blog Tours
6/11 Promo Texas Book Lover
6/12 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
6/13 Guest Post Books in the Garden
6/14 Review Missus Gonzo
6/15 Sneak Peek StoreyBook Reviews
6/16 Excerpt Reading by Moonlight
6/17 Review Books and Broomsticks
6/18 Promo Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
6/19 Sneak Peek Forgotten Winds
6/20 Review The Librarian Talks
6/21 Promo Hall Ways Blog
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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight, suspense on June 15, 2017

Fatal Facade (An Allison Campbell Mystery Book 4)
Cozy Mystery/Suspense
4th in Series
Henery Press (June 13, 2017)
Paperback: 278 pages

Synopsis

Allison Campbell accepted a dream assignment: a visit to the Italian Dolomites to help Hollywood socialite Elle Rose reinvent herself. A guest cottage on the grounds of Elle’s historic castle promises to be a much-needed respite from Allison’s harried life on the Philadelphia Main Line, and the picturesque region, with its sharp peaks, rolling pastures, and medieval churches, is the perfect spot from which to plan her upcoming wedding.

Only this idyllic retreat is anything but peaceful. There are the other visitors—an entourage of back-biting expats and Hollywood VIPs. There’s Elle’s famous rock star father, now a shadowy recluse hovering behind the castle’s closed doors. And then there’s Elle’s erratic behavior. Nothing is as it seems. After a guest plummets to her death from a cliff on the castle grounds, Allison’s trip of a lifetime turns nightmarish—but before she can journey home, Allison must catch a killer.

Books in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series:

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About the Author

Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs.  Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.

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June 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

June 14 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

June 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

June 16 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 17 –  Nadaness In Motion – INTERVIEW

June 18 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 19 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

June 20 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 21 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

June 22 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

June 23 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW

June 24 – Lori’s Reading Corner – SPOTLIGHT

June 25 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT