Thursday, January 30, 2014

#Fantasy #Excerpt - Promised Land: A Galatia Novel (The Galatia #Series) by C. D. Verhoff

The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.

After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. 

Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?

May not be suitable for younger readers. 
Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. 

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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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#Author N.S. Wikarski Shares Her Tips for Creating a Great Work Area - #AmWriting #AmReading

How to Create a Great Work Area for Inspiration (Using Feline Accessories)
by NS Wikarski 
"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." -Mark Twain 
Writing, as everybody knows, is a solitary occupation. An individual sits alone in a room frowning intently at a blank screen while waiting for inspiration to strike. It stands to reason that if you can make your surroundings do the heavy lifting of inspiring you, it will cut down dramatically on the length of time you have to spend staring vacantly into space and muttering to yourself.
An inspiring work area is very much a matter of individual taste. Since I, myself, enjoy nature, I try to work in a room with a spectacular view. Eight months out of the year, I toil away in my sunroom which happily faces onto a woodsy paradise of cedar groves and cherry orchards. The other four months, when I’m forced to flee the arctic tundra that I call home, I rent a beach house on the Gulf of Mexico. My deck overlooks the ocean. As I once told a friend, “If a person can’t get inspired to write in an atmosphere like this, then that person can’t write period!”
However, I should add that these natural settings, stimulating as they are, still lack the one essential decorative element to beckon a writer’s inner muse. This decorative element is quite cheap (the cost of a can of tuna), portable (can be stuffed inside a carrier and taken anywhere) and tends to center the imagination in a way that nothing else can. I refer, of course, to Felis Catus or the not-so-humble house cat.
The affinity between cats and writers has been noted so often that it has become a cliché. I’ll rattle off a short list of authors, all of whom were uncommonly attached to their felines: Edward Gorey, T. S. Eliot, Jack Kerouac, Jean Cocteau, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Joyce Carol Oates, Doris Lessing, Patricia Highsmith, Ray Bradbury and, of course, Ernest Hemingway. The descendants of Hemingway’s six-toed cat lounge about the grounds of his museum in Key West to this day.
Lest any dog fanciers reading this post take umbrage, don’t get me wrong. I love animals on principle and dogs make wonderful companions. However, I feel about dogs the way most grandparents feel about their grandchildren. It’s great to play with them, pet them and spoil them all day long but come night fall, I feel compelled to hand them back to their primary caregivers and say, “Take them home. I’m exhausted.”
Cats do not drain one’s energy with their hyperactivity because they have spent millennia learning how to sleep twenty hours a day without excuse or apology. In contrast, most writers with any talent suffer from fevered brains. It’s a blessing to be able to spin a story out of nothing at all but it’s also a curse when imagination kicks into hyperdrive and the inside of one’s head feels like the large Hadron collider at Cern. That’s where cats make their contribution to the creative process. It can be highly therapeutic for a mentally overstimulated author simply to watch a cat sleep. As I write this, I raise my head from the keyboard long enough to regard my feline companions draped languidly over their favorite pieces of furniture. One of them blinks at me in lazy self-possession as if to say, “Chill. It’s all good.” That single gaze imparts an immediate sense of calm. He’s right. It is.
My sympathies to any writers out there who are allergic to pet dander. You simply can’t be any good as an author without a cat in your work space.

THE ARKANA SERIES: Where Alternative History Meets Archaeology Adventure
Volume Four - Riddle Of The Diamond Dove
"From Kindle Nation fave N. S. Wikarski comes the long-awaited fourth book in her fascinating seven-part Arkana archaeology thriller series -- with more of the wonderful characters, sly humor, intrigue and mayhem that come together to create the absorbing world of her intricate, fast-paced mysteries." (Kindle Nation Daily)
Global Treasure Hunt
Where do you hide an ancient relic that has the power to change the course of history? As Cassie Forsythe and her Arkana team discover, you scatter clues to its whereabouts across the entire planet. Five artifacts buried among the rubble of lost civilizations point to the hiding place of a mythical object known as the Sage Stone. Thus far psychic Cassie, bodyguard Erik, and librarian Griffin have succeeded in recovering two of those artifacts.
Opposing Forces
Cassie and Company find their lives threatened at every turn by agents of a religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. The cult's leader, Abraham Metcalf, wants to exploit the power of the Sage Stone to unleash a catastrophic plague on the world. The quest for the next piece of the puzzle has led both sides to Africa. They must comb an entire continent--their only lead a riddle carved onto a mysterious dove sculpture. Even as the Arkana team struggles to decipher the clue, new dangers hover over their colleagues at home.
Other Dangers
Metcalf's child-bride Hannah has taken refuge at the home of the Arkana's leader Faye while mercenary Leroy Hunt creeps ever nearer to her hiding place. His search for the girl brings him dangerously close to the secret location of the Arkana's troves--a collection of pre-patriarchal artifacts which confirm an alternative history of the origins of civilization itself. While Hunt closes in on Hannah, Metcalf's son Daniel dogs the footsteps of the Arkana field team in order to claim the next artifact before they do. Daniel recruits a clever ally along the way who might be more than a match for the opposing side.
Collision Course
When the forces of the Arkana and the Nephilim converge on a ruined city in a forgotten corner of the dark continent, the shocking outcome is beyond even Cassie's powers to foresee. The quest for the Sage Stone will veer in an unexpected direction once both sides solve the Riddle Of The Diamond Dove.
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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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The Soul of the World (Legends of Amun Ra #2) by Joshua Silverman @jg_silverman

*   *   *

Kem dives to the ground in desperation, covering his head and neck from the rocks raining down. I didn’t see that coming. I thought I was quiet, he thinks.

The announcement of Cadmus’ elimination booms over the intercom. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about a vengeful brother.

The dust and debris settle from the crumbled wall. Find Kesi. Kem trots towards the end of the path. Before he gets there, he sees a shadow along the wall.

Dio turns the corner and spots him. She’s already throwing blue spheres before he knows what happened.

Kem hits the floor hard, dodging the first two. Dio hurls more at him.

His heart beats like a jackhammer in his chest. He is covered in dirt and sand. Kem swerves left, then right, ducking from a shot aimed at his head. He looks back at Dio, who walks with determination, shooting at him. Will she not let up a little? Got to slow her down.


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Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG-13+

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Author Interview – Ian Truman @iantruman

Image of Ian Truman
Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
I’m from the working class, so I have absolutely no friends in the industry. I have graduated with a few people who are starting to get jobs and positions, but nothing big so far. There’s this one guy, Benoit Lelièvre, who we met because I did an interview on a Scottish blog. He’s got his masters in comparative literature and he’s sort of a social media specialist but that’s as far as it goes in terms of connections.
The only people I’ve met who are doing anything artistic had to work hard to get their jobs or names out there and they still work hard every day and I feel lucky to have met so many of them in Montreal. Just to name a few (and google them if you’re curious about up-and-coming artists) : my spouse, Mary Lee Maynard, Amy Blackmore from Mainline Theatre (Al and Emoli too), Sterling Pache from Romantic Child Studios, Olivier Carpentier and Gauthier Langevin from Front Froid/Studio Lounak etc…)
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
Standard 8 hours. I do write better if I’m rested but I’d what’s more important to “be my best” is to be stress free of all things of life (food, bills, work etc…) I can only write well if all the general details of my daily grind are actually taken care of.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
Benoit Lelièvre from He’s into the whole noir stuff and we somehow met because of an Interview I did with a blog in Scotland and he commented on it and we got in touch after that. He edited A Teenage Suicide a few months later and I can safely say that the novel is much, much better thanks to him,
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
I’d like to make a living out of this, and I don’t necessarily mean become rich, but just make a decent living. I’d probably still work some other job because I fell I need to do something with my hands as much as I need to do something with my mind, but making a living out of writing would be a success to me.
I guess I’m a bit selfish about writing. I really do it because I have these stories inside of me that need to get out. If I put it out there and it happens to me meaningful to somebody else, then I’d be happy about that, but the original drive behind my writing is all about what I have inside of me and that needs to get out.
That’s why I can’t really write for a newspaper or ghost write anything. If I don’t feel the story in my guts I won’t see it through. So far I’ve been lucky enough to have jobs that pay the bills and allow me to write at the same time. I guess that success would be to only write things that I really care about for the rest of my life.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
It is vital and it is hard. Marketing is also one of the things I hate the most. I have a hard time selling myself or selling my stuff. I do enjoy interviews and such because you actually get to talk about this or that and develop an idea. If you talk with someone long enough, there’s almost always a point when you’ll get into more interesting stuff like philosophy or how to write better stories, how to be more compelling visually, etc…
I like blog tours because you get to touch a bit of that but if someone put a camera to my face and say, “Sell us your shit.” I’d probably be terrible at it.
That said, the reality is that if you don’t look for your readers, they most likely will not find you so I have a few things going on. I have a blog tour, do a little bit of social networking (I’m not a fan of social networks, but I upkeep the necessary few like Facebook, Goodreads or WordPress). Also, since A Teenage Suicide is rooted in punk rock, I have the support of a few friends who have spent over a decade in various punk bands. They are starting a new label in Montreal, Sabotage, and they agreed to carry the paperback on their webstore. That’ll help me reach people who usually don’t buy that many books.
Aside from that, I do a few literary/artistic events every year. They add up to a few sales and some press in the local arts/college papers.
Anything helps in the end, so I do as much as possible.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
The novel is titled A Teenage Suicide and it’s the story of a group of friends who are growing up in a one factory town. As the economy collapses and the factory closes, their outlook on life is challenged and the cluster of friends dissolves, leaving them to find their own paths and answer some tough questions.
In that sense, it’s very much a “traditional” coming of age story, very realistic. But since my background is close to punk rock and hardcore music, I wanted that aspect to be well developed as well. I’d like to think that anybody can read the novel and love/hate the characters without knowing anything about punk or skateboarding of hardcore. Maybe readers will get to understand why these kids spend so much time in shows and all.
The end result I was going for, what I was hoping that young readers would gain from the novel, is “the will to ambition.” You have all these characters who are starting to take different paths and they are all making decisions for better or worse. They are making these choices while friends and loved ones make different choices and question everything. Is it worth it to burn bridges? Is it necessary? Some friends are suffering, some are dying, are you going down the same path? Which path will you take as a person after you’ve read this?
If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many good friends, so I’d say I have that diner party nearly every week…as long as I’m cooking. (Except for Sterling Pache, that guy can cook like a motherfucker!)
Maybe add Tim Barry. I’d like to meet Tim Barry someday.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
Coffee and videogames. I read only when I’m already relaxed (and somehow coffee relaxes me) and like most people my age, there are a few videogames I like to play but I wouldn’t call myself a “gamer”.
There’s also this one park near the St-Lawrence in the east end of town (It’s actually the only park in the city where you can get to the shore of the river). When I’m really at the end of my roll, I can sit there and look at the water for an hour or so. Water is always relaxing.
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
Find yourself a river and a good cup of coffee. A flannel shirt helps. It gets cold on the shore.
How often do you write? And when do you write?
I have to write every day. I get angry if I don’t. If I don’t come up with new pages, I’ll write a blog post. If I don’t feel like doing that, I’ll edit some new project or Il translate my old books if I’m really bored. I try to get some work done every day regardless of what it is.
I mostly write in the morning because by 10 AM, life’s unrelenting bullshit keeps dragging me down. The regular (“real”) job is piling up, trucks are waiting, paperwork gets mixed up, people are asking for things I don’t really care about. I try to get some more work done on my lunch hour. We get a full hour for lunch so that’s good. After work I got to pick up the kid from school make supper, clean up the cat shit form the litter, give baths and then I’m too tired to do anything else than watch one episode of Game of Thrones and go to bed.
A Teenage Suicide
“All they really wanted to do was fuck around, be creative, listen to music, skateboard or go to shows. People kept telling them growing up was supposed to be tough but it’s not like they didn’t know that already. Timmy had listened. Timmy had finished school and got himself a job. That didn’t stop him from running his van into a pillar one night so what was the fucking use? Nobody seemed to have an answer.“
Conor and his friends are growing up in a one factory town where the most likely employment prospect is the assembly line or the farmer’s coop. Aiming higher than the local college, Conor finds himself spending more and more time in downtown Montreal, discovering himself through punk and hardcore music. But as his girlfriend wants nothing to do with the city and his friend Jake loses his brother when the factory closes, Conor’s ambitions could require him to burn bridges he might not be ready to burn.
With A Teenage Suicide, Ian wanted to write a story about kids making decisions and kids making mistakes. Stylistically, it is fair to mention influences of Truman Capote and Mordecai Richler. Imagine of the “cold-hard-fact” descriptions of In Cold Blood mixed with the realistic and witty dialogue of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
Ian Truman is a hardcore kid turned writer. He proudly claims to be from a working class family and has been straight edge and vegetarian for at least a decade now. He hopes to bring the passion, verve and dedication of hardcore into the art form of the novel. Born and raised in Montreal, he is a graduate of Concordia University’s creative writing program. A Teenage Suicide is his third novel.
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Genre - Literary, Coming of Age
Rating – PG13
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The Jonas Trust Deception by A.F.N. Clarke @AFNClarke

The Jonas Trust Deception

by AFN Clarke

AFN CLARKE is the author of 8 books, including the best selling memoir CONTACT, that was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  His latest novel, The Jonas Trust Deception, is a Thomas Gunn thriller and follows the success of The Orange Moon Affair.  Readers have called it “classy, complex and cunningly compelling” and a “powerful force in the thriller genre”.  In solving the mystery of an ongoing conspiracy involving his old friend Morgan, Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, takes an action so shocking and bold, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is, has he?  To get a taste of things to come, here’s an excerpt from the book.  And for more information visit or the Amazon Kindle store.

There is something so totally desolate about sitting in a prison cell staring at the blank grey walls that, unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. There is a finality and hopelessness that is almost beyond comprehension. A despair that sucks at your soul. My salvation was that I knew that my stay here was going to be short-lived, but what the future held was one big question mark. I had the distinct feeling somebody had put a ring in my nose and was leading on a mystery tour with more questions than answers.

Left alone with just the usual sounds of dissatisfied inmates, clinking keys and slamming doors for company, I thought back to the frantic last few days.

Confusion would be an apt description of my state of mind.

What facts could I scramble together?

Several dead bodies at Morgan’s ranch.

A small but ruthless Mexican Mafia gangbanger, with the unlikely nickname of ‘El Cobra Poco’, who seemed as if he could be a strange ally.

And the mysterious Robert Sutherland.

What other questions remained?

There were many, starting with who would have wanted to kill Morgan? Everything went back to my request for her to investigate the financial dealings of the Griffin Trust and its Chairman Ted Lieberman.

How was the Mexican Mafia involved if what Sutherland said about Morgan working for him was true?

I could just lie here all night long and create imaginary scenarios, but that wouldn’t supply any answers, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on emptying my mind.

Sleep was what I needed.
It must have been two hours after the jail cell lights went out, that the goons came for me. Dragged me off the bed and frog marched me down the corridor to the back of the jail and down narrow stairs to a basement garage without saying a word. There was a nondescript cream coloured painter’s van waiting with the rear doors open, and I was unceremoniously bundled inside.


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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-13

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#Free #Kindle #ebook - Defying Age with Food by Freda Mooncotch @Kindleexpert

Reclaim Your Health, Energy & Vitality! 
It's What You Eat, Not How Much You Exercise 

In a society that spends billions of dollars annually in seeking better health and appearance through pills, powders, drinks, hormones, exercise obsession, gym memberships, and medical drugs, Freda Mooncotch is making a very bold proclamation with the title of her new book Defying Age With Food: Reclaim Your Health, Energy & Vitality. It’s What You Eat, Not How Much You Exercise! Can we really defy the aging process with what most of us take for granted each day — our food? Freda says we most certainly can in fact dramatically slow our inevitable passage of life while attaining superior health and vitality.

The pages of her new release are not filled with theories, conjecture or speculations; they tell the riveting tale of a woman’s plight to regain her health. In describing her story, Freda literally runs the gauntlet of healing protocols from both the orthodox medical and alternative health fields. What the author accomplished in her success not only gave back her health and beauty, but fired a few heavy artillery rounds across the bows of a good number of our “sacred cows” such as excessive exercise, fad dieting, mega-dosing on supplements, and a pharmaceutical drug reliance that has forged the industrialized world.

This is a must read for anyone wishing to seriously upgrade their nutritional knowledge.

Media celebrity, Kathy Hart said:
“What an eye-opener! I learned more about the effects of food on our body from Freda and her book, Defying Age, than I’ve learned in months of interviewing health experts! Her passion, knowledge and energy are a true inspiration … and those pictures of her in the book are absolute proof of how the right diet can give you a rockin’ body”.

Randy Roach of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors wrote:
“This is a story of tenacity where a strong determination saw Freda through a fight to reclaim a healthy mind and body while ridding herself of a number of addictions plaguing so much of our society.”

Along with her amazing story and nutritional revelations and tastefully done photos of Freda, this resourceful book also contains recipes that she promises will nourish one back to health, strength, and vitality.

Defying Age with Food by Freda Mooncotch
Rating – PG
Genre – Non-Fiction
4.7 (25 reviews)
Free until 28 January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Survival of the Fittest by Robin Hawdon @authordebate #Detective #AmReading

The questions are always with us. Does God really exist? Are science and religion incompatible bedfellows? Charles Darwin shook philosophy to its foundations with his theory of evolution, yet strangely, he himself refrained from commenting in depth about the religious implications for fear of adding to the furor.
But suppose that he did in fact write down his conclusions as a secret addendum to his seminal work, Origin of Species. And suppose his beloved wife, Emma, who kept her own secret journal, was the only other person to know of this hidden postscript.
The novel Survival of the Fittest is the modern day story of the search for these two hugely significant works. An eccentric and endearing London antiquarian book dealer is hired by an equally eccentric American billionaire to track down the documents for his world famous collection of original manuscripts.
The complex investigation ranges across England, from historic towns and stately piles to prisons and Darwin homes, and involves a series of encounters ranging from the criminal to the romantic and the revelatory. Along the way, it explores the spiritual struggle within the extraordinary Darwin household, and the effects of that same struggle on the creators of the atom bomb and on modern terrorists.
Do we want to know the answer, or will it stir up a hornet's nest?
This dramatic investigation of man's spiritual dilemma occupies the spaces between authors Dan Brown and Richard Dawkins.
About the Author:
Robin Hawdon is one of Britain's most prolific playwrights. His plays have been seen in over forty countries. At any one moment there may be over a dozen productions running across the USA, Europe, and elsewhere. This is his third novel.
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Genre – Detective, philosophy, religion, historical
Rating – G
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Absolution (The #Vampire Alliance) by Angela Louise McGurk @Angela_McGurk #PNR #AmReading


Eve Blakethorn can barely remember what it was like to be unaware of the vampire world around her. Many years have passed since she met the stranger, the man who saved her life, gave her the world and promised her immortality. Unfortunately for Eve someone in power had not wanted her to have the world. Within days of her marriage her life is shattered. Everyone Eve cares for, vampire and human, is taken from her and she is left alone to fend for herself in a world she neither understands nor fits into.

How can she hope to survive her dark and lonely existence while still plagued by the horrors she witnessed when her husband died? How can she avoid becoming prey to the monster who stalks her footsteps, the devil she has long suspected to be the one who brought about her husband’s downfall?
Desperation drives her every move, leading her into the darkness where monsters wait. Can Eve discover the truth about how her world came to crumble and who was really responsible? Is there another stranger out there capable of bringing her some sense of peace? And just what is the vampire government, The Senate, hiding in the dark tunnels under the city?

Praise for Absolution*: 
“I enjoyed every chapter haven't stayed up so late for a book in so long I just couldn't put my phone down. Great book.”

“Wow! It's a nice change to read something in the vampire category with a more mature storyline. Your story was interesting and had me captivated from the beginning until the end. It was beautifully written, and falling in love with with the characters was easy. Great job absolutely loved it!”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this book! I think this has been one of the most original, mature vampire stories I have ever read... The lives of your vampires are fully realised, their abilities are believable, and the twists in your story are sublime.”

*All comments are from readers.

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Genre - Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Rating – R
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#ReviewShare #AmReading - Making Wishes by Marilyn Holdsworth @m_holdsworth

Making WishesMaking Wishes by Marilyn Holdsworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was not sure what to expect when we started discussing this book.

From the book description it looked a little sketchy and I was anticipating some kind of “chick-flick”. I was wrong. The story has a lot more substance and really drags you in to the anguish felt by the protagonist. Marriage, parenting, family, love, separation are all key elements of the story. And then of course, there is the need to be who you are. Which one wins?

There’s drama and a real sense of reality that makes you continue reading until you get some resolution. I felt a great deal of empathy with the storyteller and followed the internal struggle she was dealing with.

A genuinely sophisticated read, that is well structured and clearly written with passion. It examines the powerful emotions of a real life dilemma and really puts you, the reader, in a position to fully appreciate what is going on. The only thing that prevents me from giving it a full 5 stars is that I felt the story dragged more than it should have. Other readers may not feel the same.

I really enjoyed the novel and will read more from this author. Highly recommended read.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

The Forgotten Child by Lorhainne Eckhart @LEckhart

“Please sit down, Emily.” He extended out the flat of his hand, very much in control.

“Ah, thank you.” She perched on the edge of the soft leather seat across from a man who was too damn good to look at—a man obviously comfortable in his own skin.

Hardness set his jaw as he studied her. The tick of the wall clock seemed to echo in the silence, and Emily squirmed in her seat. Why was he looking at her like that? Maybe it was her outrageous entrance and he was wondering what kind of kook she was, whether he could entrust her with his child. Yes, that had to be it.

She swallowed hard. “I’m Emily Nelson; I talked to you yesterday on the phone about the job.”

He blinked before closing those exquisite eyes, as if he’d forgotten the reason she was here. When he opened them again, his hard judgmental expression seemed to have softened a bit.

Again he extended his large hand, taking hers in a firm grip. Just the touch of his solid calloused hand and the secure squeeze was enough to teeter her nerves back to that awkward woman at the door. She wondered what it would be like to have a man like this run his hands over you. She snatched her hand back before her face burned any brighter. Finally, he introduced himself. “The name’s Brad Friessen.” Emily kept quiet. He didn’t run on with his words. He must be a deep thinker, a doer. She could relate to that… but not to him. Her sly eyes glanced down at his left hand: no gold band, no white line, no wife or significant other. Or maybe he was one of those arrogant guys who wouldn’t wear a ring, a lady’s man. He had the looks and the attitude. Now was the time to ask about the woman who answered the phone when she called. Who was she?

“This is a working ranch I run, and I need a woman to look after my son. I’m old fashioned in my values. Children should be at home, not stuck in daycare. I’m looking for someone who’s comfortable in a kitchen and looking after children: a role that should come natural to a woman. I don’t want someone who’s got the phone stuck to their ear half the day. It’s a decent job and good pay; $500 a week, room and board, and includes all your meals.”

Her heart sank about the same time the bottom dropped out of her stomach. It was too good to be true. She wanted to cry. “But I… I have a little girl, I didn’t realize–”

His face hardened and he looked away. For some reason he was angry with her… no, furious. Emily didn’t know what to say when he let out a heavy sigh. He closed his eyes, rubbing his hand over the light brown shadow that appeared over his jaw. Then he faced her again, with those deep brown eyes now turned to steel. Emily saw that he could be a hard man.

Lorhainne Eckhart

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Genre – Contemporary Western Romance

Rating – PG

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward by Caroline Kennedy @StephenWardBook

FBI director, J.Edgar Hoover, was convinced that British society was riddled with whores, pimps, sex maniacs and Soviet agents. His conviction was given a boost on Sunday, 16th June, when an article by British solicitor, Michael Eddowes, appeared in the Journal-American. In it Eddowes told of his meeting with Yevgeny Ivanov during the Cuban missile crisis. Eddowes described Ivanov as highly aggressive and full of blustering threats to wipe out England and to drop an atomic bomb in the sea 60 miles off New York. According to Eddowes, Hoover immediately ‘instructed’ him to make further enquiries into the security aspects and report back to him.
Washington was now buzzing with as many rumours as had swept London during the height of the scandal, so what happened next was not entirely a surprise. The White House became involved. The most likely explanation for President Kennedy’s sudden interest in the affair is that his brother, Attorney-General Robert Kennedy, told him of the long report from Hoover.
There were then both political and personal reasons for the President’s interest. One was that the scandal could provide Kennedy’s opponents in Congress with ammunition to attack his plans for a multi-nation NATO nuclear force. If Britain was so leaky, why should the US share it’s defence secrets? Another was a call in the Washington News for Kennedy to cancel his scheduled visit to London because it would provide moral support for the foundering Government of Harold Macmillan. ‘We can think of no better time for an American President to stay as far as possible away from England.’
And a third reason, a personal one, was that given Hoover’s animosity for the Kennedy family, the President became concerned that Hoover would somehow use the scandal against him….The only feasible reason for this widespread fascination is that all these people feared that the President of the United States was about to be dragged into the scandal, not on a political level, but on a sexual one…..The reason was that Robert Kennedy was worried that Christine or Mandy, or even both girls, might have slept with the President during their recent visit to the United States and he needed to know for certain so that he could protect the President from the scandal that would follow if the girls blabbed. It would have been simpler for Robert Kennedy to ask his brother if he had slept with either of the girls. But, as we now know, John F. Kennedy’s sexual appetite was so prodigious and so indiscriminate that he would not have been able to remember.
How The English Establishment Framed
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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
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Sunspots by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

* * *
As I lie in bed with these thoughts, I finally notice that Marina has quietly come back into my room and is sitting in the armchair watching me. She offers me some more medicine and I shake my head, “no.” I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t want to be awake. There is no comfort in anything. She says, “Come. We’ll have a nice cup of tea.” And I follow her downstairs and into the kitchen, zombie-like. I watch her with dull eyes that do not see her movements as she opens cupboards and finds a teapot, cups, and tea bags. I listen with deaf ears to her hum a Russian tune. I sit patiently with no patience sipping the tea I cannot taste. In silence, we sit. In silence, we speak without speaking. Marina’s life force wills me to feel her love.
And then she tells me her plan. “Maybe, I’ll stay with you awhile. Nothing back in Brooklyn right now.” I answer, mouthing words that I want to feel and yet cannot feel because I have closed myself off to the emotions of life, “Oh yes, please stay, Marina. I couldn’t bear all this alone.” I’m overwhelmed by her generosity, my loss, and the hidden truths lurking under the surface waiting to be revealed. Then the cordoned off person inside me breaks through all my controls again and unwonted tears erupt in a torrent of suppressed anguish. I am enveloped in her arms and her soothing voice whispers calming words as I try to regain the safety of stoicism.
Marina and I, sisters of a sort, sit together in my huge kitchen, in my huge house, sharing the huge hole in my heart as my tears pour down my face, flowing as if someone has turned on a spigot. Two small souls in a too-big kitchen of a too-big house silently wondering about the business problems of which his lawyer spoke using carefully chosen words somberly executed while his eyes burned with deep meaning. Problems that would have to be sorted out after I finished sitting “Shivah.” How can one cope with all of this? When will I wake up from this nightmare?
Eventually, it is dawn and I must sit on the wooden bench that signifies my mourning as memories cloud the present and I relive a life that is no more.
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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism
Rating – PG-13
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lauren Linwood on #Writing & A Game of Chance @laurenlinwood #Romance #TBR

*Can you share a little of your current work with us? A Game of Chance is a western with a twist. It doesn’t have any cowboys in it. It doesn’t take place on the Great Plains. Instead, it’s set in the very cosmopolitan city of San Francisco, which rivaled large European cities of the time. It’s the story of twins separated at birth, with the father taking the boy that was born and leaving the mother to die. After he leaves, she gives birth to a second boy before her death. Many years later, these twins will come across each other in California. The novel revolves around mistaken identity.
*Can you tell us about your main character? My hero Jed was raised by a midwife after his mother died in labor, but what he doesn’t know is that a baby was born just minutes before him and taken away by his father. He’s a Civil War veteran and now a gambler who’s made his way to San Francisco, a very cosmopolitan city back in 1870. My heroine Lily is the daughter of the most famous whorehouse owner in the city, and she’s been kept isolated away from that life, first with a governess and then attending boarding school back east.
*How do you feel about self-publishing? I’m not interested in it at this time. I’m happy that it’s opened up avenues for many writers to get their work out to the public, but I’m happy that my publishing house (Soul Mate Publishing) handles things for me such as editing, formatting, and cover design. That way I have more time to concentrate on the writing part. Those in self-publishing have to divide their time more between those activities.
*Do you find the time to read? I will always make time to read. Reading takes me to new places. I have adventures. I learn. I laugh. I cry. It challenges me. Informs me. Guides me. There will always be a place in my life for reading.
*Who do you admire? First responders and those who serve in our nation’s military. I believe those are the most noble calling.
*What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? It’s by Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher—“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” This quote really speaks to my heart. As a writer, I could be overwhelmed thinking about producing an entire novel, but something like that doesn’t happen overnight. Every book ever written started with that first word, then first sentence, then first paragraph. Alone, those few words don’t seem like very much, but together, putting paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter, taking your time crafting plot and characters—it all adds up to a wonderful whole. Breaking down any difficult task in life into smaller, more manageable steps is the best way to accomplish your goals.
*What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? My daughter is, and always will be, mine and my husband’s greatest accomplishment. She’s creative, passionate, nurturing, intelligent, humorous, and caring. To see I had a small hand in the person she’s become is simply breathtaking.
*What genre are you most comfortable writing? Right now, I’ve only written romances. That’s a very comfortable fit for me. Someday I would like to stretch and try other genres, though.
*Who or what influenced your writing once you began? Stephen King is a master at creating believable characters, and I try to do the same. Romance novelists such as Amanda Quick, Karen Robards, and Mary Jo Putney inspired me with their stories and characters, as well.
*Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? I had to research a lot about poker! My hero Jed is a gambler, and he’s very good at what he does. I learned about all kinds of poker hands. Now would I make a great poker player? Probably not. My face is an open book and would probably advertise what I held in my hand.
*What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think my stick-to-it-ness is my strongest quality as a writer. I’ve stayed with writing for a long time and no matter how down I got or what the odds were, I kept persevering. I knew one day that stubbornness would pay off!
*Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I have experienced writer’s block and have found the best thing to do is simply walk away. Close the file on the computer and don’t come back to it for a long time. Start a new project with new characters. Eventually, ideas for the problem begin to formulate, and inspiration can come in mysterious ways.
*How did you come up with the title? Since it’s about a gambler, I thought A Game of Chance was an appropriate title. The hero takes lots of chances throughout the novel, and his best bet winds up being one about love.

Lily Frontiere returns from a costly European trip to find her mother has accumulated large gambling debts. Things grow worse as her mother’s health deteriorates and she can no longer run Lucky Lil’s, the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco. Though Lilian shielded her only child from house life by sending her away to boarding school, Lily takes over and poses as Madam Lil. Her intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help, but she’s entering a world she knows little about. Lily tries to extract the house from impending financial ruin until a handsome stranger turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand.

Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, he is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. Jed escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires Lucky Lil’s in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win. Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business. 

Lily clashes with the new owner over ways to make the establishment profitable, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker at the same time. Jed is fooled by Lily’s charade until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love. But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice? 

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Genre - Western Historical Romance
Rating – PG
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Along The Watchtower by David Litwack @DavidLitwack

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. In less than a minute, I found myself in physical therapy. Like the rest of the hospital, the room was green-tile sterile, but someone had made an effort to cheer it up. Porcelain clowns lined the windowsill. Stuffed circus animals—lions and elephants and a family of monkeys—surrounded the rack that held the free weights. And a variety of fresh-cut flowers had been set in mugs in the cup holder for each exercise bicycle and treadmill. Later, I’d learn from Ralph that Becky kept them fresh, paying for them out of her own pocket. He said she’d deny it, but he’d seen her sneak in on more than one Monday morning with an armful.

Fresh-cut flowers. Mom used to get them every Monday as well, to brighten up the gingerbread house. But after Dad died, she started leaving them too long, not replacing them until they’d decayed so badly they smelled. After Joey died, she stopped buying them altogether.

The girl I met in the courtyard stood over a rolling aluminum table, organizing things I didn’t much like the look of. She was sufficiently absorbed that she didn’t notice us until Ralph called out.

“Afternoon, Becky. Brought you some fresh meat.”

She turned and grinned. “Always love a new victim.”

“Great. I’ll leave you two alone. Sounds like you need some privacy.”

After he left, she went back to finishing her preparations, making me wait. Finally, she came over and extended a hand.

“We already met, but let’s make it official. You’re Lt. Williams, but I can call you Freddie. I’m your worst nightmare, but you can call me Becky.”

I reached out and shook her hand. She didn’t seem scary.

“Ralph says you’re the best, that if anybody can bring me back, you can.”

“Ralph’s wrong. I’m just the guide. You’re going to do most of the work.”

“But are you the best?”

“Let’s say I haven’t lost one yet.”

“So I’ll be back on the basketball court in no time.”

Her grin vanished. She grabbed a chair, dragged it over and sat next to me.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, Freddie, so we need to be straight with each other, right from the outset. My goal is to get you back to as normal a life as possible. If you work hard, I’ll have you out of that wheelchair and on crutches in a month. A month after that, maybe a cane. Beyond that, we’ll see. I make no promises other than to work as hard as you will.”

She stared at me. I stared back, captivated by my reflection in her gray-green eyes. She blinked first and went back to the rolling table.

. . . . . . .

She sat down again and undid the Velcro from my brace.

I winced. I hadn’t looked at my leg much since my peek the week before. The incision was less angry and the oozing had stopped. But what shocked me were the muscles. Where once I had bulges, now there were hollows. Not the leg of an athlete or soldier. Not the leg of a guy who might someday dunk. The leg of an invalid. Becky’s words rattled around in my brain. Crutches, then a cane. After that, we’ll see.

“It may not be pretty,” she said, as if she’d read my mind, “but it’s yours. Take a good look. Let it motivate you when you start making progress. And trust me, you will make progress.”

She squeezed some ointment from a tube onto her hands and rubbed them together.

“This will feel a little cold.”

She spread the ointment, swirling her fingertips over what had once been my quad. When she started the e-stim treatment, I felt the muscle spasm and contract involuntarily, a strange but not entirely unpleasant feeling. As she slid the wand around, humming along to its buzz, I noticed her touch more than the current.

She spoke out of nowhere. “I read the report. Says you have no family.”

I kept staring at her making figure-eights on my leg.

“Is that right?” she said.

I nodded.

“What happened?”

“I was born an orphan.”

She turned off the e-stim and looked up at me.

“Want to talk about it?”


“Ralph said you don’t talk much.”

“I talk when I want to. I don’t want to talk now.”

“Fine with me.” She resumed the treatment, hummed a few more bars, and then spoke without looking up. “Ralph was right about another thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are a hard case.”

She was quiet after that, going about her job while I focused on the clowns at the windowsill. Every now and then, I’d sneak a look at her. A beautiful, happy optimist. But she’d never lived my life.

Crutches and a cane. After that, we’ll see. I was different from her—a realist. I knew what “we’ll see” meant. I’d need more than physical therapy to bring me back. I’d need a miracle.


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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#Author Brandon Overall on #Writing #SciFi

Can you tell us about your main character?
-Neil is a character I feel that a lot of people can identify with.  He doesn’t have a super personality, he is just a regular guy with super powers who doesn’t really know how to deal with them.  I feel like Neil captures the struggle a lot of people would face if they were placed in a similar situation.  What would you do if you had all the power in the world?  Would you use it for good or evil?
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
-I remember really enjoying writing in school.  I loved having the ability to create a story from my imagination and turn it into something that someone else could read and remember.  I didn’t really start writing as a hobby until very recently, and that just sort of happened all at once without much reason other than extra free time.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
-I still don’t know that I can, but it’s looking promising.
What inspires you to write and why?
-I like the idea of thousands of strangers reading my work and talking about something I came up with to their friends.
How often do you write? And when do you write?
-While working on my book I wrote a lot.  I wrote the first draft in a month and spent 3-4 hours per day writing.  I usually write best in the mornings or in the evening while listening to music.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
-I love science fiction, and I have a decent knowledge base to pull from with my Computer Science degree and an interest in science/physics.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
-Definitely writer’s block.  When I’m on a roll, I can knock out thousands of words in a single day, but when I get to that part of the story where I just don’t know exactly what I want to happen next, I can spend several days without writing more than just a few hundred words.  It’s tough, but you just have to push through it.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
-It taught me that what you want the story to be might not necessarily be the best way to write it.  You aren’t writing it for yourself, you’re writing it for your readers.  You have to let the story unfold the way they want it, even though you might rather have it play out differently.  At the end of the day, they are the ones you are trying to satisfy.  You have to write something other people will want to read, not just yourself.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
-Not a career, but definitely a lucrative hobby!
How did you come up with the title?
-The title is a combination of several ideas that come together in the story.  The first, and most obvious, is the fact that the story is about a character with superhuman powers, and talks about the nature of those powers.  The second meaning is a kind of play on words in reference to the “human nature” that is often cited to be the source of many problems in society.  The main character’s flaws as he deals with his extraordinary abilities are sort of a reflection of his “superhuman nature”.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
-A lot of the story and characters were actually improvised as the story progressed.  I went back a few times to reshape the earlier parts of character or plot development to allow something that I thought of later on to occur.  I knew what the major plot points and characters would be, but the journey from point A to point B was mostly improvised.  That way, writing the story was just as much fun for me as reading it is, because the story was unfolding in front of my eyes, and each new advancement in plot was a surprise to me.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
-I want people to put themselves in the shoes of the main character of my book and imagine what they would do with that kind of power.
Superhuman Nature is Brandon Overall's first novel. It was written and published during his first deployment to Afghanistan as a 2nd Lieutenant in late 2013.
Neil Hitchens was a senior ROTC Cadet in college. He was just weeks away from graduating and becoming an Officer in the United States Army, until a strange dream set off a chain of events that would twist his life into something he could have never prepared for.
In the days following his dream, several strange happenings occurred that he began to suspect were the result of his own actions. Before long, he discovered that he had the ability to control the world around him with his mind.
What started out as an unpredictable ability quickly evolved into an extraordinary power that had the capacity to change the world. It didn't take long for the government to find out what Neil could do.
They knew having such limitless potential on the side of the US Military could give them limitless political influence, and they would stop at nothing to get Neil to do their bidding. They would find out what happens when you back a dangerous animal into a corner.
Neil spent his whole life believing he would amount to greatness, but he never expected how greatness could corrupt even the most innocent of minds.
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Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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