On Sale!! Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon (guest post, spotlight)

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by author Eliza Gordon

When you sit down to read Must Love Otters, I’ll bet you aren’t expecting to learn something along the way. I’m not a writer who seeks to hide secret messages in the material. Readers are smarter than that. The savvy writer works to infuse meaning and subtlety in their words without smacking folks over the head with an unspoken agenda.Elfin VanAqua August 2013

But a book isn’t a success unless the reader, who grants the writer the privilege of time, walks away with something. And with this book, I wanted that something to be more than a smiling face or a filled heart—I wanted to share a little love with the animal kingdom.

I know, I know—you’re reminding me that Hollie Porter is not a fan of Yorkies. Sorry, pups. No offense. You’re cute enough and lots of people love you. But what about the endangered sea otter? Enhydra lutris has three subspecies: the Southern sea otter (found in California, concentrated in the Monterey area), the Northern sea otter (Washington, Canada, and up into Alaska), and the Russian sea otter (off the coast of eastern Russia with reported sightings as far as Japan). We’re not talking huge numbers, though—the temperate central California coast iKatmai and Tanu DSC_2394s home to only about 3000 otters. While the Pacific Northwest boasts a healthier population of 65,000 to 78,000 critters, we’re talking about close to 3000 miles of coastline. When you do the math, that’s a lot of beach, and not a lot of otters.

Since Must Love Otters hit the digital shelves (and some wooden shelves for our diehard fans!) in October 2013, folks have shared their otter pictures, memes, and stories on our Facebook and Twitter feeds—which is awesome. I follow Friends of the Sea Otter, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium, SeaOtters.org, and Michael Yang Photography (he specializes in photographing California’s otter population) and I love hearing news like what came through this morning—two orphaned and rescued pups, rehabilitated by the folks at Monterey Bay, have found their forever homes in Oregon. The Oregon Coast Aquarium welcomes Otter 649, now Elfin - DSC_2453named Oswald, and the Oregon Zoo welcomes little Juno, just six months old and ready to meet her adoring fans.

If writing a silly love story about a girl who loves otters means more people take notice of the plight of the beloved sea otter, then mission accomplished. Awareness is the first step toward conservation—and I’m proud that Hollie Porter is doing her part.

Thank you for reading!

Note: Pictures of the otters were taken by Eliza Gordon and are of Elfin (male) and Katmai (female) who live at the Vancouver Aquarium

Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon is an adult romantic comedy that released in October 2013.Must Love Otters cover

About the book: Hollie Porter is the chairwoman of Generation Disillusioned: at twenty-five years old, she’s saddled with a job she hates, a boyfriend who’s all wrong for her, and a vexing inability to say no. She’s already near her breaking point, so when one caller too many kicks the bucket during Hollie’s 911 shift, she cashes in the Sweethearts’ Spa & Stay gift certificate from her dad and heads to Revelation Cove, British Columbia. One caveat: she’s going solo. Any sweethearts will have to be found on site.

Hollie hopes to find her beloved otters in the wilds of the Great White North, but instead she’s providing comic relief for staff and guests alike. Even Concierge Ryan, a former NHL star with bad knees and broken dreams, can’t stop her from stumbling from one (mis)adventure to another. Just when Hollie starts to think that a change of venue doesn’t mean a change in circumstances, the island works its charm and she starts to think she might have found the rejuvenation she so desperately desires. But then an uninvited guest crashes the party, forcing her to step out of the discomfort zone where she dwells and save the day … and maybe even herself in the process.

 

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Eliza Gordon is a husband-and-wife team of controlled chaos who writes stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: The Romeo Club by Rebekah L. Purdy (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

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The Romeo Club 1600x2400The Romeo Club
written by Rebekah L. Purdy
published by Swoon Romance

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: THE ROMEO CLUB is Hitch meets The Secret of My Success.

What happens when you agree to help your brother “de-nerdify” so he can catch the attention of the popular Chloe Anders, and to everyone’s surprise, he actually lands her?

And what if his equally geeky friends come running with girl wish lists of their own, offering money for your services?

Well, if you’re sixteen-year-old, Delyla Denson, then you start The Romeo Club. A secret club where she’ll teach these guys how talk, act, and be cool around girls. It’s a win-win situation.

She’ll get enough money for the awesome prom dress she’s had her eye on, and the guys, well, they’ll get dates and maybe learn how to do something other than beat the next level on their video games.

There are only two problems with this plan. One, her quarterback/track star boyfriend is getting jealous of how much time she’s spending away from him and decides to try and figure out what’s going on. And two, Delyla is kind of falling for her brother’s BFF, Trey who she’s been hanging out with a lot more. And who thanks to her help, has caught the attention of the beautiful, perfect, and popular, Portia Rickard. With Portia and Trey heating up, Delyla realizes that maybe the person she’s meant to be with has been in front of her all this time.

But falling for Trey means she’ll have to take drastic measures including sabotage, with a capital S.

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It’s all about the playlist

As most authors can tell you, it helps to have a great playlist when writing a new book (or editing a one). It kind of sets the mood/tone for certain scenes. You have your upbeat “fun” music for your regular or funny scenes. The love songs for those moments when your characters might be sharing a first kiss, or sizzling look with their crush. We have the sad songs for when the character(s) are going through a rough time or broken heart or someone close to them has died. And we have angsty/hardcore music to help get those fight scenes just right.

Sometimes it’s the beat of the music that pushes our scenes, other times it’s the perfect lyrics that help us get into the head of our characters. Either way music inspires and enables me to really mold a story.

For The Romeo Club, because it was such a fun, light, fluffy kind of story, I had a lot of pop music. And I have to say, that #17 on the list, was totally for C.C.’s character (LOL). So here’s my list:

  1. The Little Things by One Direction
  2. Hello-Goodbye by The Beatles
  3. Stranger by Secondhand Serenade
  4. Rumour Has It by Adele
  5. The Last Time by Gary Lightbody & Taylor Swift
  6. Hold You in My Arms by Ray Lamontagne
  7. Hung Up by Hot Chelle Rae
  8. Echo by Jason Walker
  9. My Sharona by The Knack
  10. I Should Go by Levi Kreis
  11. Between the Raindrops by Lifehouse
  12. Live While We’re Young by One Direction
  13. Kiss You by One Direction
  14. Last First Kiss by One Direction
  15. Say by One Republic
  16. The Mess I Made by Parachute
  17. Killer Queen by Queen
  18. A Drop in the Ocean by Ron Pope
  19. Your Call by Secondhand Serenade
  20. Pretend by Secondhand Serenade
  21. Goodbye by Secondhand Serenade
  22. Check Yes Juliet by We the Kings
  23. Romeo by Dolly Parton
  24. Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s

rebecca purdyAbout the author: Rebekah Purdy grew up in Michigan, where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. When not hiding at her computer and getting lost in her stories, she enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games and hanging out with her kids. She loves the unexplainable like Bigfoot, the Dogman, and the Loch Ness Monster (lots of good story material)! She admits to still having all the books she bought throughout her childhood and teen years, and she may or may not have an obsession with anything chocolate…

Find Ms. Purdy here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: Raising John by Jennifer Lesher (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

raising johnRaising John
written by Jennifer Lesher
published by Cavu Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: How do you go on living when you have done the unforgivable? How do you love a mother you barely remember? John is an orphan who misses the mother he hardly knew. Robert is the drunk driver who killed her. As the story opens we meet 4-year-old John, who wonders why his mother had to die. Robert wakes up in lockup, expecting to sleep off a blackout and go home, until he learns of the accident he caused.

John grows up under the care of his devoted maternal grandmother, who grapples with guilt over her daughter’s past. Just as John is on the cusp of manhood, he must confront his mother’s death anew and question everything he has come to believe about himself and the people he loves.

Robert is sentenced to 4 years in state prison. His incarceration begins a journey that will have a profound effect on not only himself, but on the life of the boy he orphaned, and on the legacy of the young mother who died.

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Traveling, Writing and Following Your Dreams

Some people know where they’re going in life from a very young age. When I was in first grade, I planned to be a Roller Derby queen, as soon as I was grown up, which, at the time, I believed would be around my 7th birthday. Then, later, when I was 11, I wanted to be a famous rock star. Inspired by Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good” I imagined zooming around in a Maserati in between gigs at sold-out arena shows.

So, okay, we don’t always know exactly who we’re going to grow up to be, but Roller Derby and rock-and-roll fantasies aside, I always knew I would travel, and I always knew I wanted to write. I grew up in a small town in Indiana, and while there is something to be said for living in a town small enough that you know nearly everyone, I always itched to get out into the big world, and I itched to tell stories.

At first my travel ambitions were modest. I dreamed of being a city girl. I wanted to see what was beyond the seemingly endless corn and soybean fields that surrounded my home. But, I was always a bookworm, and as I got older and learned more about the world, I wanted to see it all. I dreamed of backpacking across Europe, of exploring the Alaskan wilderness, and of seeing the animals of Africa.

I saw Alaska several times, first as part of the crew of a fishing boat and then later, as a self-supported backcountry biker. To this day, Resurrection Pass on the Kenai Peninsula stands out as the most magical and beautiful place I have ever seen (the inside of the pollock fishing boat, not so much).

By the time I made it to Europe the first time, I had outgrown backpacking, but I’ll never forget the excitement of entering Paris on the bus from Charles de Gaulle Airport to my hotel near Rue la Fayette, or the bittersweet knowledge that never again would I be able to see Paris for the first time.  I went back to Europe a few times over the next several years, and have always enjoyed it, while at the same time recognizing that visiting Western Europe doesn’t require much of a cultural stretch.

Then, in 2005 I had the chance to go to Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, India for a mixture of work and vacation. I came home convinced that I could spend the rest of my life exploring India and still come away understanding only a fraction of it. I loved it. I hated it. I was exhausted by the constant hustle and harassment on the streets, but energized by the burgeoning flow of humanity. I want to go back, because I didn’t even scratch the surface of the surface of that amazing and complex country.

Since then, I have visited Southeast Asia a couple of times, and experienced a 10-day overland trip through the African countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The Africa trip came about as one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for adventure that I find irresistible: A friend asked me to help move her car from Kampala, Uganda, to Maputo, Mozambique, after she had moved her family by air.

Of course I signed on immediately, and with the car owner’s brother (who is also a good friend), made the 3000 mile drive in late 2012. Generally when Americans visit Africa as tourists, they see a lot of wildlife parks. We saw roads. Red dirt roads, roughly paved and deeply potholed roads, surprisingly smooth and well-marked roads. Along the roads we saw village after village, often assembled and supported almost entirely from materials that were taken directly from the local land – small huts made from homemade bricks; beehives made from hollowed out logs, a diet of local produce and meat and dairy from individually owned animals.

We saw scores of women and girls in every town, carrying 5-gallon buckets of water on their heads; we’d often see them a mile or more outside their villages, walking from some central water source, spending the better part of the day just acquiring that one necessity. It made me realize how little we all really need. Yes, I am glad that I have water piped directly to my house, and I’m glad that if I need shelter I don’t have to build it from bricks that I had to form by hand and fire in a kiln in my backyard. And, I’m very glad for modern sanitation. All that aside, my experiences in less developed countries has made me realize that a lot of us could do with a lot less, and maybe that would allow others to have a little more.

I was asked how my travels have influenced my writing. The answer isn’t obvious, because while I do write about my travels in my blog, my fiction doesn’t directly incorporate travel stories. However, I believe that what shows up in my writing is the sum of the my experience. All the experience goes into my subconscious and gets ground up and processed and spit out again, not immediately recognizable, but containing bits of all the raw material. I think travel has made me grateful for the life I have, and appreciative of life in general – it’s made me see that while the world can be a harsh place, there is beauty and grace everywhere, and even when the story is sad, life is still good, and life is still worth living.

jennifer lesherAbout the author: Jennifer Lesher is an author, mountain biker, travel junkie, non-sufferer of fools, and graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Recently Jennifer left her job in the high-tech industry to pursue certification as an airplane mechanic. She will complete her schooling in the spring of 2015 and, FAA willing, will be certified shortly thereafter. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Find Ms. Lesher here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens (spotlight, guest post)

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Then Like the Blind Man 7Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story
written by Freddie Owens
published by Blind Sight Publications

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

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A Less Than Easy Experience With Author Freddie Owens

Orbie Ray Tells All…

Then Like The Blind Man is a book about me – Orbie Ray – when I was nine and didn’t have nobody to play with; when I put dents in Granpaw’s hubcaps with a ball peen hammer and killed a bunch of flies on Granny Wood’s back porch. It’s about when Daddy got killed at Fords and Momma had off and married his boss, a slick talking man with a snake tattoo; it’s about all the god awful sum bitchin things that followed – like the insides of a Frankenstein storm, geechy witch doctor rain, Elvis and Johnny and nig.., I mean, colored boys galore! It’s a goddamn good story, Blind Man is, but I been told not to cuss about it. I try not to, at least not in front of Momma, but sometimes I cain’t keep from it ’cause of how Freddie Owens made me. Freddie Owens lives above the keyboard there. He’s the one sent down the words what turned into things – like lightning and bad breath; like a sand papery beard on smooth skin.

At first I didn’t know how it would turn out. I mean I was real worried at first ’cause Freddie killed off Daddy and had Momma marry that man and dumped me off on a dirt farm in Kentucky with all those hillbillies gawking about – colored people too, at church, crying and jumping together like something electrocuted and handing out snakes – and me just a city boy from Detroit, about to pee in my pants watching it all. He put me in a bunch of bad places, Freddie did, but I showed him; I had to, to make the story come true. And it did, I figured it out; it wasn’t Freddie at all; and don’t let him tell you it was either. It was just me, and me alone; fact was, I had to whisper it in Freddie’s ear; I had to let him in on the secret, that there was something special here, something nobody had tried, something I had to find out about myself first – in all the mess Freddie had made.

I probably knowed Freddie better than Freddie knowed Freddie. I mean I was the one got him to keep writing even when he was – after so many years – about to give up on the thing. I think it was ’cause of what a weird kid I was turning out to be, looking at things in ways what made them walk off the page – like if you was to watch a picture show or something and the people on the screen all of a sudden started going every which way, coming out in the audience, touching your face and smelling like body odor.

I kept telling Freddie not to give up on me; I kept telling him I had a bunch of things to tell about and I could do it real good cause I could see and feel things like nobody else could see and feel things and it’d be so good and people would love it and him too for writing it all down. And I told him he had to keep on even after he was done with writing the thing, even after nobody wanted to make it into a book you could buy at a for real store. I kept saying to him, Look Freddie, people will love me, you’ll see, you got to keep trying and he went on and did what I told him; put it all down in this book he made all by his lonesome and then them people who read things for a living, they came and said it was just a goddamn good book – and there I go cussing again – and anyway other people came too, what bought the book and liked it and wrote about it on Amazon – what made Freddie and me go Hot Damn!   You should read it, it’s good.

 

Freddie Owens 7About the author: A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from NaropaUniversity in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Find Mr. Owens here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: Mounting the Whale by Colleen McCarty (spotlight, guest post, excerpt)

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Mounting-the-WhaleMounting the Whale
written by Colleen McCarty
published by Cloud Cover Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: “Cartel got me, tell mom”

The siblings, drowning in their own problems, are forced to focus on the task at hand: a half-cocked rescue mission that involves a borrowed yacht, a favor from a notorious drug kingpin, and a shocking reunion none of them expected.

When the family decides to sneak into Mexico, mother Cybil is forced to deal with a rival CEO whom she’s developed feelings for in secret. Her only son, Tom, is willing to risk bodily harm to save Janine while his other sisters, Carlyle and Valerie, suspect that the kidnapping is less than legitimate.

The long sea voyage tests the limits of the family’s already frail bonds. Dark secrets of infertility, drugs, gambling and extreme taxidermy begin to float to the surface. But nothing compares to what they begin to learn about their missing sister.

If they’re going to make it out alive, they have to recognize they’re fighting the same battles and facing life’s greatest challenges: love, loneliness, and the struggle to find a place in the world.

Amidst all the chaos, the Pierce family is brought face-to-face with the ugliness of Janine’s addictions, the truth about their mother’s fortune and the most terrifying question of all: Can you really save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

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“Tommy, are you still there?” Carlyle said in her most kind, sisterly voice. “We’ll meet you at Mom’s house in a little bit, okay? We’re going to try to get a handle on this.” She hung up, even though he was still trying to form words. “What are we going to do?” She directed her attention towards her mother. Even though she made a thousand decisions per day, she left the really hard ones to the woman in charge, and this was no different.

“Simple. Find out if it’s real. If it’s real, pay them. If it’s not, then clearly Janine needs to go back to rehab.”

Carlyle fought the urge to laugh. How ridiculous it all sounded when her mother broke it down like that. The problem was that figuring out if it was real wouldn’t be all that easy.

“Well, I’ve had Marius playing detective. He was able to find one man who is connected to a cartel in Progreso. His name is El Toro—er, Diego Malecón.” Carlyle told Valerie and Cybil about Malecón and

with each word their eyes got bigger. She left out the part about the mystery blogger.

“So you mean this could really be… well… real?” Valerie questioned.

“It looks like it might be. We can’t get any information off the email address. They probably created it just to send this email. I have Marius looking for a connection between Janine and El Toro. If we find anything there, we can assume she works—or worked—for him. That either means it’s fake—they’re in collusion—or she worked for him until she pissed him off and now he’s keeping her against her will. It probably wouldn’t have been too hard to find out that her family has money.”

“Wow—looks like you’ve made some good headway.” Cybil was clearly impressed with her daughter’s P.I. alter ego.

 

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Hey…tell me something.

The woman sitting alone eating her lunch, what do you notice about her? She has plain, straw-like hair—stiff and unforgiving. She’s probably around fifty-five. She doesn’t wear a wedding ring, and yet she looks up from her plate every few minutes bursting with something to say. She buttons back up when she remembers no one is there.

She seems, at first glance like someone who’s just lost her husband—struggling to acclimate to an oxygen-free world, when he was the air she breathed.

Look again: she’s drinking champagne. She’s just ordered the Lobster Rolls with Asian Pear sauce—the most expensive thing on the menu. Her neck is adorned with a chiseled porcelain ankh, the Egyptian symbol for everlasting life.

When her head bobs up again, in response to some imaginary conversation, she touches her ear. Her eyes shoot to the corner of the room. She adjusts her bejeweled clutch so that it’s perpendicular to the table edge, smoothing the tablecloth beneath it.

Is she celebrating—a black widow, satisfied at another successful web weaved?

Is she bereaved—toasting a lost soul and honoring him with his favorite delicacies?

Or is it neither? She’s a CIA Operative running an op. There’s a camera in that clutch and a voice in her ear. She’s doing surveillance that will secure the proof to put a dangerous man away.

Thanks for playing! You just got a peek at what it’s like inside a writer’s head during a nice lunch out!

 

colleen mccartyAbout the author: Colleen McCarty is a graduate of the University of Tulsa and an entrepreneur. She and her husband own Tulsa restaurant Mod’s Coffee and Crepes. She’s been featured onEntrepreneur.com, and in the Wall Street Journal. This is her first novel. Though Colleen has ghostwritten books for CEOs and New York Times Bestsellers, this is her first foray into publishing her own work. Colleen lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and two large dogs. Follow her writing at colleen-mccarty.com.

Find Ms. McCarty here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Release Event: Coming Home by Priscilla Glenn (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

Coming Home CoverComing Home
written by Priscilla Glenn
published by Priscilla Glenn

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: Leah Marino hasn’t been on a date in two years. After discovering the man she loved had manipulated and deceived her, she refuses to even entertain the idea of a relationship. Instead, she focuses her attention on taking care of her family, a role she’s assumed since the death of her mother and the one place she knows her kindness won’t be taken advantage of again.

When a nostalgic trip back to her childhood home results in a chance encounter with Danny DeLuca, a smart-mouthed mechanic who’s as attractive as he is mysterious, Leah’s carefully cultivated walls begin to crumble. She finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Danny, despite his unreliable behavior and mixed signals.

But Danny has a secret…

One that could shake Leah’s already precarious foundation and bring her world crashing down around her. Suddenly, she’s faced with an incredibly difficult decision–is she willing to risk everything for the chance at finding the love she’s always wanted? Or are some obstacles just too big for the heart to overcome?

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Creating Chemistry

By Priscilla Glenn

            To be honest, I’ve never given much thought to creating chemistry; it’s usually something that develops naturally as my characters begin to reveal themselves. But this question got me thinking, and looking back on Back to You, Emancipating Andie, and Coming Home, there does seem to be a common thread in the chemistry I created between Michael and Lauren, Chase and Andie, and now Danny and Leah. So I’m going to try and break it down and hope I don’t make it sound too clinical 😉

Most people associate chemistry with sexual tension, and that’s part of it, but not all – at least not for me. If you have sexual tension in isolation, that’s lust, not chemistry. Of course you want your characters to be attracted to each other. Of course you want them to flirt – to make each other squirm, in the good way. And the author can simply base that tension off of physical attraction, but in my opinion, the best kind of sexual tension has an emotional component too – which brings me to the next piece of the puzzle.

Part of having chemistry is being emotionally invested in someone else. I think the characters have to connect on a level beyond physical attraction – either they share a common flaw or hurt like Leah and Danny, or they learn and grow because of each other like Andie and Chase, or they offer each other support and security, like Lauren and Michael. For me, to truly have chemistry, there needs to be something that transcends sexuality – the characters have to connect on a deeper level so you can feel and believe their relationship.

And then there’s the cherry on top – humor and wit. Nothing stirs the pot and gets your blood flowing like a little sarcasm and snark, especially when it comes from someone you’re already attracted to. In all of the relationships I create, there’s a healthy dose of humor. It adds playfulness and fun, which can balance out the intensity of the emotional connection. Plus, a sense of humor is inherently attractive to most people, which then leads us right back to sexual tension.

So there you have it. If I had to break down how to create chemistry, I’d say it goes a little something like this:

sexual tension + emotional connection + humor/wit = great chemistry

 

Priscilla GlennAbout the author: Priscilla Glenn lives in New York with her husband and three children. She has been teaching English at the middle and high school levels for the past twelve years while moonlighting as a writer, mom, coach, student, and professional laundry-doer.

If you catch her when she’s feeling sophisticated, she’ll tell you her favorite things are great books and good wine. In the moments in between, she’ll admit her love for anything Ben and Jerry’s, UFC fights, and Robert Pattinson.

Glenn is the author of the contemporary romance novels Back to You, Emancipating Andie, and Coming Home.

Find Ms. Glenn here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: The Hole in the Middle by Kate Hilton (spotlight, guest post, excerpt)

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the hole in the middleThe Hole in the Middle
written by Kate Hilton
published by HarperCollins Canada

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

About the book: Sophie Whelan is the epitome of the modern superwoman. When she operates at peak performance, she can cajole balky employees, soothe her cranky children, troubleshoot career disasters, throw a dinner party for ten and draft an upbeat Christmas letter — all in the same day.

But as Sophie’s fortieth birthday looms, her seamless life reveals disturbing web-like fractures. Conflict with her boss, blossoming jealousy of her husband’s femme fatale business partner and her feelings of hopeless inadequacy as a mother and daughter are cracking the edifice of her life.

Rescue may be at hand when Lillian Parker, a wealthy widow who befriended Sophie during her university days, makes Sophie an irresistible offer. Why, then, does Sophie hesitate? The answer is the reappearance of Lillian’s nephew, Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of Sophie’s life. As she remembers the vivid drama of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?

The Hole in the Middle is a heartbreaking love story, a laugh-out loud portrayal of the twin demands of work and family and a fresh take on the hot debate about having it all.

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I show up at Sara’s house around eight, and book club is in full swing. I’ve come straight from the office, and my prescription is still in my purse. I’d say that I haven’t had time to fill it, but even I know that for once, lack of time isn’t the issue.

I ring the bell. Zoe answers and steps out onto the porch with me for a moment. “I was hoping it was you,” she says. “I’m not ready to tell anyone else about what’s going on with Richard, OK?” She gestures toward the house, where the rest of the book club is waiting.

“Of course,” I say. And in any event, I feel a little fuzzy on the details of Zoe’s marital crisis. Lunch feels as though it happened a week and not six hours ago.

“How are you feeling?” I ask.

She shrugs. “It helped to see you at lunch,” she says. “But I think this is one of those situations where it’s going to keep feeling worse until something big changes. I’m just not ready to think about what the something big is.” I give her a hug, and we go in. “Look everyone,” she calls. “It’s a special guest appearance by Sophie!” She drags me into the living room, where the rest of the book club bursts into enthusiastic applause.

“I haven’t read the book,” I say.

“Don’t be silly,” says Laura. “No one ever reads the book.”

“I do,” says Sara pointedly. “And it would be great if we could make a tiny effort to talk about it once in a while, even for five minutes. Hi, Soph.” She pauses. “What did you do to your arm?”

“I sprained my wrist,” I say. “It’s nothing.”

“What was the book again?” asks Laura.

Sara raises an eyebrow. “Are you really interested, or are you just trying to humor me?”

Laura laughs. “Was it good?”

“Not especially,” says Sara. “We can stop talking about it now. What’s Megan going on about?”

Like Sara, Megan is one of my old friends from the student newspaper, and I’ve caught her in mid-rant. Nora is leaning back slightly to avoid Megan’s violent gesticulations, which are, as usual, aimed at hapless, absent Bob: “And then he looks into the stroller and says, ‘I’m starting to get to the point where I remember that he’s around. Do you know what I mean?’ And I think, ‘What kind of fucking question is that? It’s kind of hard for me to forget that our baby isaround when he’s hanging off my tit 24/7, but I guess you don’t have that problem, do you Bob?’ Honestly! I just looked at him and said ‘I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.’”

Megan takes a breath, looks around, and realizes that she is the main attraction. “Hi, Sophie,” she says. “Good to see you.”

I wave. “Still married?”

Megan snorts. “Barely,” she says, but she smiles a little before turning back to Nora to continue itemizing Bob’s shortcomings as a husband and father.

“What can I get you to drink?” asks Zoe. “Prosecco?” I nod, and she disappears into the kitchen. I sit down next to Sara.

“How have you been?” she asks.

“Bad day to ask,” I say. “I’d say I’ve been stressed to the point of hysteria, while at the same time struggling to find enough meaning in my work to justify my level of anxiety. I mean, shouldn’t you have to care about a job to get this worked up about it?”

“Of course not!” Zoe reappears with my glass and plops down on the sofa with us. “Do you remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are working on an assembly line at a chocolate factory? No? You know the scene inPretty Woman where Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts up to the penthouse for the first time, and they have a fight, and then they make up, and then they stay up late watching TV?”

“Oh, yeah,” says Sara. “Right before she gives him the blow job.”

“Exactly. That moment where you think, am I really supposed to be rooting for these two to get together in the end?”

“Totally.” Megan and Nora have finished with Bob and rejoin the group. “But they aren’t watching the chocolate factory episode,” Megan says. “They’re watching the wine-making one, where Lucy runs around in a giant barrel and throws grapes at everyone.”

Zoe rolls her eyes. “The point I’m making,” she says, with the deliberate enunciation of a woman who has had too much Prosecco, “is that the chocolate factory is a perfect example of a job that is both stressful and meaningless. The chocolate starts coming faster and faster and they can’t wrap it quickly enough, and by the end they are stuffing the chocolates down their shirts and in their mouths and looking completely panic-stricken, but to no real end.”

“And this relates to Sophie’s job how?” asks Laura.

Zoe waves her hand vaguely. “Email, voicemail, staff meetings – the whole tedious routine is a modern-day, white-collar version of the conveyor belt.”

“Well, that’s a pretty bleak assessment,” I say.

“Only if you plan to be stuck beside the conveyor belt for the rest of your life,” says Zoe. “But since you don’t actually work in a chocolate factory, you have a few options. And if you would admit that you are having a midlife crisis, you could start looking at ways to change it up.”

“I’m not having a midlife crisis,” I say.

Laura laughs. “Everyone’s having a midlife crisis, Sophie,” she says. “You might as well join the club.”

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Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Self-published writers say that they are better able to market their work to an audience than a traditional publisher could.  Traditional publishers say that they’ve cornered the market on quality.  I’ve been on both sides of the publishing fence, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.

There is no question that it is very difficult to break into traditional publishing these days, and that self-publishing offers an inexpensive and democratic alternative. My debut novel, The Hole in the Middle, was originally self-published. I’d attempted, and failed, to acquire an agent, and eventually decided to join Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Program.

My self-publishing experience was incredibly positive.  I promoted the book through social media, and I was amazed at how generous people were about sharing information about The Hole in the Middle with their own networks.  I made friends with online communities of authors and bloggers who gave me great advice and support.  Ultimately, it was through this digital networking process that the book fell into the hands of Toronto agent Beverley Slopen, who loved the book, signed me onto her roster, and sold the novel to HarperCollins.

Self-publishing gives you a lot of freedom (much more that you would ever have in traditional publishing) over things like cover art, pricing, free downloads, giveaways and marketing and promotion more generally.  Done properly, self-publishing is also a lot of work.  In order to distinguish your book, you will want to ensure that it is the very best it can be before you put it out into the market. Here are some of the essential steps that I recommend to all writers considering self-publishing:

  1. Research the self-publishing environment and decide what platform is right for you;
  2. Make a plan, working backward from when you want to launch your book;
  3. Send the manuscript to a copy-editor;
  4. Hire a cover designer, or set aside time to create one yourself and test it with prospective readers; and
  5. Build your presence on social media, so that you will be ready to market your book when launch day arrives.

I’m often asked why, if self-publishing is so easy and satisfying, authors should even bother trying to land a traditional publisher?  There are many reasons, the most important being that traditional publishing offers incredible reach into new audiences that don’t yet have confidence in electronic publishing.  Traditional publishing is also, unsurprisingly, incredibly good at producing books.  The Hole in the Middle benefitted enormously from the editorial and production process at HarperCollins Canada.  And while I continue to do a lot of my own publicity, my efforts are hugely enhanced by my status as a HarperCollins author.

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Finally, there is simply no substitute for the feeling of walking into a bookstore and holding your novel in your hands. It is a dream well worth chasing.

 

kate hiltonAbout the author: Kate Hilton has worked in law, higher education, public relations, fundraising and publishing.  She has an English degree from McGill University and a law degree from the University of Toronto.  She holds down a day job, volunteers for community organizations, raises two boys, cooks, collects art, reads voraciously and likes her husband.  In her free time, she writes. On good days, she thinks she might have it all.  On bad days, she wants a nap.

The Hole in the Middle is Kate’s first book.  Kate is represented by Beverley Slopen of the Beverley Slopen Literary Agency in Toronto.

Find Ms. Hilton here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: In Retrospect by Ellen Larson (spotlight, excerpt, guest post)

In-Retrospect-193x300In Retrospect
written by Ellen Larson
published by Five Star

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself.

The year is 3324. In the region once known as Turkey, the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders.

Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans work secretly to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert their control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection.

Merit, though reinstated to her old job by the despised Rasakans, knows she is only a puppet. If she refuses to travel back in time to identify Zane’s killer, her family and colleagues will pay the price. But giving in to Rasakan coercion means giving them unimaginable power. She has only three days to make this morally wrenching choice; three days to change history.

As the preliminary investigation progresses, Merit uncovers evidence of a wider plot. How did the Rasakans defeat the technologically superior Oku? Why did the Oku surrender prematurely? How did the Rasakans discover her true identity? Merit realizes she will only find the answers by learning who killed the traitor, General Zane.

In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future.

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Prologue: Three Days Later

Monday, 17 April 3324, 1:10 PM

A stately room. Black-lacquered cabinets flank a massive desk. Maps and oil paintings hang on pale green walls. Burgundy woodwork. Globe, grandfather clock, and fireplace with brass andirons cast in the shape of lions, teeth bared. A room steeped in the past. Except in the sunny east bay, where a closet-sized polyhedron floats a handsbreadth above the carpet.

Three men in sage-green uniforms will stare at the Vessel. One, a sneering rat of a man, will peer through the open hatch and see the sole of a boot.

“Is she dead?” he will ask, hopping closer to get a better look.

“Back off, snitch!” The man with the sentry’s insignia on sleeve of his beefy arm will step in front of the hatch and shove him back.

The snitch will stagger against the clock, but he has seen enough. He will grin as he straightens the curved blue half-shield that covers his forehead and eyes. “I knew she’d botch it. I told her—I warned her! Skank. Who’s a heap of dung now?”

A choking sound will escape the throat of the red-head at the comm. His mouth will work as he looks pleadingly at the sentry.

The sentry will shake his head and glance at the thing on the floor of the Vessel. “She’s gone. Torrified.” He will take a deep breath, hold it, then exhale explosively through clenched teeth. “Get the Marshall. Now!”

Blinking away his tears, the red-head will remove his comm-set with shaking hands and stumble away.

“Hey!” the snitch will cry. “That’s my job! I get to tell the Marshall, not you! Hey!” He will follow the red-head through the door and down the stairs beyond.

The sentry will wait for the tap of footsteps to fade, then squeeze through the hatch.

Above the console, the mission chronometer will show all zeros. The lower panel will be mangled, as if someone has bashed it in with a heavy object. He will glance at the pilot’s chair, unclamped and upside down.

He will kneel beside what is left of the body.

Except for the black pendant on its silver chain, pillowed in the ash that had been her neck, there will be nothing there to remind him of the woman he had known. He will ease the plasma gun from her holster and note that two bolts have been fired. His brow will furrow and his gaze will dart from the canted walls to the crumpled sage uniform. Then he will grunt and replace the gun.

“Thanks, Reb,” he will whisper.

The sound of running feet will remind him he has no business being in the Vessel.

He will clap the ashes from his hands as he rises. “I guess you got your wish.”

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This is the ninth stop on the virtual book tour for In Retrospect, my new sci-fi murder mystery (Five Star Dec 2013). I’ve talked about worldbuilding the future, post-apocalyptic Earth society that forms the background for the book, and about the character of my investigator, Merit, an idealistic fighter who must decide whether or not to work for her enemies to solve a murder she would happily have committed herself. I’ve written about the genre question—at least in terms of how hard to categorize In Retrospect. But I’ve never talked about the pitfalls of choosing to write science fiction in the first place.

To start with, the science fiction/fantasy genre represents only about six percent of the trade book market (left in the dust by the ever-popular romance genre and well below mystery and inspirational). Then, you have to recognize that the “fantasy” element of the team is more popular than the “science fiction.” So now we’re down to less than three percent of the market. So when people tell me they don’t read science fiction, the way they might say, I don’t eat sushi, I believe it. And finally there is the killer issue: science fiction is a male universe, a place where women are still ignored and sometimes resented.

In Retrospect was one of the books mentioned in the recent Publishers Weekly article, “Women Reach for the Stars,” a review of women in science fiction and fantasy [http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/59201-women-reach-for-the-stars-science-fiction-fantasy.html]. That article revealed that only ten percent of science fiction writers in the top 100 are women. How’s your math?

So why am I, a woman and not a scientist, writing a book that I willingly call cross-genre science fiction? No wait, let me rephrase that: What am I, a woman and not a scientist, doing by encumbering a perfectly reasonable murder mystery (a genre that has broad appeal and welcomes women writers) with the label of cross genre science fiction?

As any writer will tell you, sometimes a story idea will take you to a strange place if you let it. The particular story idea in In Retrospect–the twisty plot that Kirkus Reviews liked–doesn’t exist without the post-apocalyptic and the time-travel elements. You can listen to received wisdom of the industry professionals such as agent, editors, reviewers, publishers, librarians, and bookstore owners who tell you to pick a good genre and stick with it—or not.

But here’s my contribution to the Great Genre Debate: As far as I’m concerned, “science fiction” and “murder mystery” are not alternative genres. “Mystery” is a genre, promising that the plot will revolve around a crime or death and highly likely involve some combination of sleuth, suspects, murderer, clues, and solution.

But what of the science fiction elements in In Retrospect? They include the fact that the story is set in the distant future in a completely different society, with a different language, a crippled Earth, with seas moved and whole continents disappeared, and most obviously, the introduction of time travel. That list seems to outweigh the mystery elements of crime, suspects, sleuth, solutions—or at least equal them. but in fact there is no overlap (no cancelling out of some science fiction element by a similar mystery element). The mystery material defines the action and the role the characters will play, whereas the science fiction material is simply the setting, in terms of both locale and the props.

For example, it is easy to summarize the psychological elements of the plot without getting close to science fiction: Merit, my protagonist, is a professional sleuth, a top graduate from an elite conservatory who works for a law enforcement organization called the Civil Protection Force. When war erupts between Merit’s city state, Okucha, and the Rasakans, she joins the militia, fighting for her beliefs and way of life. When Oku General Zane prematurely surrenders, Merit joins the resistance, fighting to the bitter end. Captured at last, she is blackmailed into resuming her old job—working for the Rasakans. Her first case centers on the murder of General Zane—a murder she would gladly have committed herself. Because they do not trust her, the Rasakans team her up with a high-level Rasakan operative who happens to be her former lover from happier days. Together they investigate, visiting the scene of the crime and meeting the suspects: The Prioress, Zane’s partner and a mystic; the Steward, Zane’s pacifist right-hand man, and Thad, ex-resistance op who was once assigned to assassinate Zane. Merit must decide whether or not she will in fact turn over the culprit to the Rasakans if she finds him or her, an act that would go against everything she believes in.

Of course, it is true that Merit does her detecting via a time machine that takes her back to the moment of the crime, a clear science-fiction device, but that fact does not play either an emotional or an intellectual role in the solution. Time travel is just the unique ability my sleuth has, much as other sleuths have special knowledge of botany or handwriting or blood spatter patterns.

So in the end, I think In Retrospect is best described as a mystery with a speculative setting. This is supported by the fact that the book found a home with a mystery publisher (the worthy Five Star, a division of Cengage). And the science fiction question? I guess in a perfect world, the book would interest both mystery and science fiction readers. Or maybe just people who like good books.

About the author: Ellen Larson’s first story appeared in Yankee Magazine in 1971. She has sold stories to AHMM (Barry Award finalist) and Big Pulp and is the author of the NJ Mysteries, The Hatch and Brood of Time and Unfold the Evil, featuring a sleuthing reporter. Her current book is In Retrospect, a dystopian mystery (Carefully crafted whodunit -PW starred). Larson lived for seventeen years in Egypt, where she developed a love of different cultures. She is editor of the Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint. These days she lives in an off-grid cabin in upstate New York, enjoying the solitude.

Find Ms. Larson here: web, blog, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: Folds in the Map by Jeff Bauer (spotlight, guest post)

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Folds-in-the-Map-7-194x300Folds in the Map
written by Jeff Bauer
published by Inciteful Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Folds in the Map is a collection of essays and stories by emerging author Jeff Bauer. In these pages, he embarks on an earnest, touching journey to discover the places where we feel most connected as human beings – to each other, to nature, and to the world around us. From the bottom of a bomb crater in Laos, to a refugee camp on the Sudanese border, to the side of a Panamanian volcano, and back home again to the frozen January streets of Minnesota, Folds in the Map is a moving, intensely personal exploration of shared experience and unlikely intersection.

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“Aflame” by Jeff Bauer

Over the past few weeks, the maple down the street has changed from dingy, faded summer’s-end green to splendorous burnt orange and crimson, like blood and fire against the azure autumn sky. Every year it sparks in me a memory, or maybe something deeper than a memory; an image emblazoned in the archives of my past, filed away but far from forgotten.

There was a massive maple tree just like this one on the winding avenue that led up the hill to the house where I grew up. Every year it would ignite with the same impossible colors before yielding its leaves to the unrelenting autumn winds. I biked past it hundreds of times as a kid, returning from some friend’s house or some adventure deep in the woods, then drove past it hundreds more as a teenager, coming back from some keg-strewn bonfire in some gravel pit outside the city limits, racing to get home before curfew.

It isn’t just the image that has lingered with me, though, but all of the longing and turmoil spilling over at every moment in those days. I used to wear an old canvas army surplus jacket in the fall, full of rips and bloodstains and cigarette burns – each one hard-earned. I walked its threads like tightropes, dancing while they frayed beneath my feet. We were all so close to the edge back then and we wanted to be – to see just how close we could come, how much we could feel, how much beauty and pain and inspiration and heartbreak we could take.

I always felt those things the most in the fall, when somehow the world dying all around made me feel like I was being reborn.

But those flames have turned to embers now, glowing faintly beneath the years and layers of habit and routine. I’m not sure it’s possible to ever feel anything as intensely as we do when we’re young – or if we do, maybe it’s us who can’t last. After all, we’ve already said goodbye to some friends who tried to walk that edge for too long.

Last time I was back in the old neighborhood, I saw that they had chopped that old maple down, removing the last landmark by which I had tried to navigate my way back to the wild heart that used to beat in my chest. I sat at the stop sign blinking slowly, trying to make it reappear, until the honking of the cars behind me tore me from my reverie. For a split second, I swear I could see its jagged outline in the rear view mirror as I drove away.

This autumn is warmer and later than it should be, with the leaves in my neighborhood just starting to change and clinging tenaciously to the trees. All except the maple down the block, that is. It hasn’t been willing to wait for the colder weather to set itself aflame. It glows and burns like a personal protest against the slow death of winter it knows will come far too soon.

Though I know it, too, I just can’t seem to burn like that anymore. But I’ve still got those embers glowing somewhere inside of me, and I’ve still got a chance… 

Jeff BauerAbout the author: Jeff Bauer is a community organizer, public policy advocate, and writer based in Saint Paul, MN. His blog, onlybiggerthinking.com, has been read by nearly 10,000 people from over 50 countries. Folds in the Map is his first book. In addition to his work as a writer, Jeff recently lead a successful advocacy effort, in his role as Director of Public Policy at The Family Partnership, to pass a nation-leading Safe Harbor law in Minnesota to protect children from sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. He lives in a tiny house on St. Paul’s West Side with his wife, Diane.

His latest book is the inspirational/essay book, Folds in the Map: Stories of Lifes Unlikely Intersections.

Find Mr. Bauer here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Book Blitz: Full Steam Ahead by Valerie Chase (spotlight, guest post, giveaway)

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full steam aheadFull Steam Ahead
written by Valerie Chase
published by Valerie Chase

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Seven days aboard a luxury cruise. The perfect getaway from it all.

At least, that’s what Georgia Cantwell was hoping for.

Georgia wishes she could run away from the nightmare that has consumed her life, but she can’t. With her inbox filling with menacing emails, all she can do is try to get through her sorority’s winter break cruise without anyone realizing how wrecked she is. So she really doesn’t need Jace McLaren seeing through her tacked-on smile when no one else seems to notice.

Growing up with a father in jail, Jace knows from experience that if you’re going through hell, there’s no way out but through. He has always steered away from girls like Georgia with her ice-queen attitude, but she’s in real trouble, and despite himself he pushes past her walls.

As much as Georgia tries to ignore it, Jace won’t let her pretend with him. But she can’t risk telling him the truth. Her past would ruin his trust, her family, her future—everything.

But out on the open ocean, there’s nowhere to hide. And when Georgia’s secrets come tumbling out, it might take more than Jace to save her.

efcguestpost5 Things You Didn’t Know About Full Steam Ahead

 

1. Why did I set Full Steam Ahead on a cruise ship? Well, I live in the rather un-tropical city of Washington, DC and so I thought it would be awesome to live vicariously through my characters!

2. I guess you could say that Full Steam Ahead was born at the Olive Garden. During lunch with a good friend, I told her about an idea I had for a book—an NA romance set on a cruise. We spent the rest of our meal brainstorming plot ideas and character motivations!

3. The character of Yasmin, Georgia’s best friend, was so much fun to write. I initially intended her to be a minor character but I fell in love with her voice. Not surprisingly, my next book will be Yas’ story!

4. I love coming up with my character’s names. I chose Georgia because I wanted a name that was sweet and southern. And I chose Jace because it simply sounded sexy.

5. I’ve always wanted to be a writer but it took me a long time to complete my first book—which is Full Steam Ahead. I hope you enjoy it!

About the author: I’m Valerie but please feel free to call me Val. I live in the Washington, DC area; and I write New Adult romance. I’m hoping to publish my first novel (set on a cruise ship!) in late 2013.

As for my writing, I love sexy banter and guys whose hearts are in the right place, even if their heads sometimes aren’t. I love discovering strong, awesome characters, putting them in entertaining situations, and watching them argue their way to love.

Subscribe to Val’s Mailing List: http://blogspot.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=78efc236b72dd1f3c03837d4d&id=b31b9806a2

Find Ms. Chase here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest

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