Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Your Kid, Not A Gerbil by Dr. Kevin Leman Giveaway at Tyndale Blog

Do you sometimes feel like a gerbil running on a wheel inside a cage as you scurry from place to place, chauffeuring your children from one endless activity to another? What if, for one moment, you could just step off of the wheel . . . and relax? How would you feel then? And what if that single moment could stretch into an hour, or even a whole day? In his new book, It’s Your Kid, Not a Gerbil, Kevin Leman will provide practical solutions and helpful insight to get off the activity wheel so that you can put your time and energies where they really count: in establishing strong character and a love for home and family that will serve your kids well for a lifetime.


A well-known media personality, speaker and columnist, Dr. Kevin Leman has appeared on programs including Oprah, CNN, Good Morning America, CBS’ The Early Show, LIVE with Regis and Kelly, Today and The View. He is a charter faculty member of iQuestions, an online resource where experts provide answers to life’s toughest questions, and the founder and president of Couples of Promise, an organization he created to help couples remain happily married.


Dr. Leman, whose professional affiliations include the American Psychological Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology, and the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology, earned his Doctorate degree in psychology from the University of Arizona. He lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife, Sande, and they have five children.

Visit Dr. Leman online at http://www.drleman.com/

Tyndale is giving people chances to win some great prizes. For details, visit Tyndale's blog at http://www.tyndale.com/blog/?p=1243

Dr. Leman is the author of more than 30 books and a dozen audio and DVD video titles.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crime Fiction Special Feature: The Chill of Night by James Hayman

Some Crimes Can Never Be Forgiven.

Lainie Goff thought she had it all. The ambitious young attorney was brilliant, beautiful, and on a fast-track to a lucrative partnership at one of the top firms in New England. But then, one cold night, a dark and ugly secret comes back from Lainie’s past and she pushes things too far. Soon her body is found, frozen solid in sub-zero temperatures at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.

A mentally ill woman named Abby Quinn witnesses the brutal crime. But when she tells what she has seen, nobody will believe her. Not until she too mysteriously disappears.

In The Chill of Night, Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe finds himself finds himself fighting memories from his own past as he races to find the killer before another life is lost.

James Hayman once again tells a gripping tale of evil and deceit and creates characters so real and so human, we want to meet them again and again.

Read an excerpt!

Abby looked up and saw a low dark thing moving toward her. A black form, now visible through the whipping snow, now obliterated by it. With each step it grew clearer and bigger. At twenty feet it began to take shape. Animal. Not human. A large dog, gray fur glistening under crystals of snow, cruel icy eyes shining through the night, more wolf than dog. She stopped but the animal kept coming. She could hear its rumbling growl. Low. Menacing. Commanding. Her heart beat against the walls of her chest so hard she was certain it would break through. She knew what the creature wanted. She knelt on her hands and knees. It bared a fang long enough and sharp enough to penetrate the soft flesh at back of her neck. She lowered her head and waited for release. But release didn’t come. Finally, after a minute or two, she looked up and it was gone. She could see nothing in front of her but the snow-covered street and the wind-swept flakes still hurtling down through the night sky. She stayed where she was, kneeling in the snow. She could hear a child crying. She listened. After a bit she realized the sound was coming from her. She got up and started walking again.




Read the reviews!

"Hayman once again takes the readers into a complicated web, masterfully woven and delightful to read through. As before, Hayman’s characters are realistic and as with Detective McCabe, flawed, making them all the more realistic. The Chill of Night will keep the reader up long into the night, as this is one book that the reader will not want to put down. I highly recommend The Chill of Night to anyone looking for an extremely well written suspense novel.”

–Rundpinne

“I loved this book! James is such a talented writer. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading. Two thumbs up!”

–Readaholic

"The Chill of Night strikes a great balance between the development of characters and the unfolding of the investigation. Hayman brings an attention to detail to the investigation that is often overlooked – or flat out gotten wrong – in crime fiction...James Hayman is the real deal, and the Michael McCabe series is one to put on your “buy on release day” list."

--Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
"The Chill of Night was a great addition to a series I am very excited about. I'll certainly be on the lookout for Hayman's next book."

--The Book Connection



Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city. He dropped out of NYU Film School and joined the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the top homicide cop at the Midtown North Precinct. I graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, rising through the ranks to become creative director on accounts like the US Army, Procter & Gamble, and Lincoln/Mercury.


We both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.


Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a year later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.


There are other similarities between us. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants. And we both live with and love women who are talented artists.


There are also quite a few differences. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.
Visit James on the web at www.jameshaymanthrillers.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mystery Special Feature: N.H.I.: No Humans Involved by Ray Ellis

Half of Treasure City is controlled by a violent street gang. The other half is controlled by fear. A rookie detective, Nate Richards, is thrust between the two. Abyss, a mysterious street gang moves into the valley and people have started dying. Nate’s girlfriend suddenly disappears and the gang is being targeted as the cause. With his partner fighting for her life – the result of a vigilante’s bullet, political pressure from above, and time running out to find his missing girlfriend, Nate has to overcome the darkness that has taken over the city and threatening to consume his soul. Forced to fight to stay on the case, he has to work against his command and the elements of the streets while trying to hold on to his faith that seems to make less and less sense as details unfold. With darkness growing and evil seeming to swell, will Nate have enough time to solve the murder and discover the identity of the new gang leader before his girlfriend becomes the latest victim in the growing violent total? Will he succumb to get the job done by any means necessary, or will he become part of the problem and prove that there are No Humans Involved?


Read an excerpt!

Chapter One


The body of the teenage boy lay face down in the gutter, his bandana, his colors, still clenched in his fist, floated in the water beside him. Blood mixed with rain raced in a gurgling stream down the drain splashing noisily as it made its way to the river.

What had it gained him? What had he proved? These were a few of the questions that flashed through Detective Nate Richards’ mind as he studied the crime scene. Summer rain washed over Richards’ lean frame, soaking his loose brown curls to the scalp. Flexing a muscle in his jaw, he lifted a hand to wipe water from his face. The street light reflected off of his cocoa-colored skin twinkling in the early morning darkness. “Who’s calling the scene?” Nate asked the group of four uniformed officers standing near a row of patrol cars, their overhead lights casting a rainbow effect on the wet pavement.

Three of the four uniformed men walked toward Nate. He looked between the men, and finding the corporal stripes directed his comments to them. “What d’ya’ got, Benson?” he asked, reading the name tag that went along with them.

“Another one down. One less to worry about shooting me in the back,” Corporal Chad Benson muttered under his breath while using his hand to squeegee rainwater from his short blond hair. He chuckled to himself as he walked past the body headed for his patrol unit. He glanced at Nate as he passed.

“Does the phrase crime scene integrity mean anything to you, Benson?” Nate said.

“What’s your problem?” Benson said in a harsh whisper. “It’s not like it means anything. They breed like rats down here. Who cares if they kill each other off? We’ll have two more by week’s end. Mark my word. And it won’t even make a difference.”

The two uniformed officers with Benson smiled at their team commander’s remarks. One of the men stared at Nate, holding his gaze for an extra heart beat longer than necessary before turning away. Nate made a mental note to remember the men’s names.

“Stow it. Now.” Nate cut his gaze to a woman sitting on the curb rocking and hugging herself. The dead teen’s mother. Grabbing Benson by the shoulder, Nate pulled him off to the side. “You can’t see?”

Benson snatched his arm from Nate. “What?”

“You okay, Bens?” one of the other officers called and stepped toward Nate.

“Johnson, right?” Nate asked, making sure he had the man’s name correct. “Is this the way you run a crime scene?” Nate had directed the question to Benson.

Looking down the desolate street, Nate pointed to the nearest intersection. “Block that off and get some cones out in the street to keep paramedics and everyone else from driving through my crime scene.”

Johnson looked at Nate but didn’t move.

“You got a problem with that, Patrolman?” Nate asked.

“Go ‘head,” Benson said, stepping between the two men. “Look, Detective, we do just fine. You take care of your stuff and I’ll take care of mine.”

Without responding Nate turned away from the officer and approached the woman, hoping she hadn’t overheard Benson’s comments or noticed the patrolmen’s cavalier attitudes.

Shielding his notepad from the rain with his arm, he checked the comments he’d recorded there. He cleared his throat. “Mrs. Fuentes? I’m Detective Nate Richards, Treasure Valley Metro Police Department. I need to ask you a few questions.”

The woman raised her dark eyes, like dead pools, lifeless and cold, to meet Nate’s expectant gaze. “What does it matter? We breed like rats anyway, right?” She pulled her jacket collar tight around her neck and turned away from him.

So much for her not having heard, Nate thought. He stooped to meet the woman’s gaze. “Mrs. Fuentes…”

“Miss. I’m not married. But, I guess that’s okay when you’re only a Cricetomys emini, huh?”

Struck by the woman’s beauty, Nate thought she didn’t look much older than a teen herself. “Miss Fuentes,” he began again, “A what?”

“A pregnant rat,” she said, anger coloring her voice.

Nate broke eye contact for the briefest of moments, but watched her, gauging her movements. “I apologize for the officer’s crudeness. There’s no excuse for his behavior. I also assure you that his is not the general attitude of the police department.” Nate was sincere in his response, but knew avoiding an officer complaint was a good idea as well.

The woman stood abruptly. She looked again at her son lying dead in the street, took a breath and seemed to gather herself. “Can I take him now?”

“I’m sorry Mrs.—Miss Fuentes, but the body can’t be released until the coroner has been called and finishes his examination.”

“You gonna cut up my baby? You gonna cut him open and play around inside him? For what? We know what killed him. The bullets killed him. Just let me take him and put him to rest.”

Nate looked over the woman’s shoulder at Officer Benson sitting in his patrol unit out of the rain and wished that it was Benson standing in the rain having to explain the bad behavior instead of him. Benson sat leaning back in the passenger’s seat stuffing the last of something into his mouth.

“Miss Fuentes, I’m sorry, but certain things have to be done and then—”

“I don’t care. You want to assure me you don’t see my son as some kind of second class citizen? You find the man who killed him and you make him pay.” She walked away, her shoulders heaving as she struggled against the sobs shaking her entire body. Stopping a short distance away, she leaned against the wall and stood there absorbed by the shadows.

Nate stormed over to the patrol car and pulled open the door. “Benson, you’re a pig.”

Benson looked up, a smear of mayonnaise stuck in the corner of his mouth. “What? What’d I do?”

Nate looked in the direction the woman had disappeared. “You couldn’t see the mother sitting not fifteen feet from you? What were you thinking?”

“NHI, man. Why should I get all bothered over nothing?”

Nate clenched and then relaxed his fist. He inhaled and blew out his breath in one explosive sigh, water vapor springing from around his lips. Without speaking he turned and walked away. Kneeling beside the body, he began his investigation while fighting to control his anger at Benson’s callous behavior.
 
Read the reviews!
 
"Nate Richard is a great character and I’m really looking forward to more books in this series! I definitely enjoyed Ray Ellis’ writing I’ll be looking forward to book 2 which is D.R.T. (Dead Right There).”


--Life in Review

"This debut novel is fantastically written, gripped me and pulled me into the midst of chaotic street gangs, and rookie detectives. I love crime novels, I love the awesome suspense that comes with them, and this book is definitely overflowing with the suspense and the crime."

--Reviews by Molly

PURCHASE N.H.I. AT AMAZON!


Ray Ellis began his law enforcement career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Orange County, California. After working for a number of years in the maximum security facility, he transferred to patrol working along Orange County’s coast as well as the inner canyons and barrios. After 8 years he moved to Idaho and continued his law enforcement career, serving as an instructor for the Idaho POST Council.


Ray was first ordained into the ministry while living in Orange County and now serves as the Associate Pastor in his home church in Nampa, Idaho. A former United States Marine, he is a public speaker, communicating to groups of all sizes on the topics of community and personal safety. Since 1999 Ray has been a primary instructor for the Idaho POST Academy – Police Training Institution for Idaho- instructing on subjects of Arrest Control, Cultural Diversity and for the last five years exclusively on the topic of Instructor Development, where he teaches other officers to be POST certified instructors. He is currently serving as the lead sex crimes investigator for the agency where he works. He has been married to the same woman for 27 years and has three children; two sons and a daughter. Ray lives with his family in Idaho.


Ray’s debut novel, a work of urban fiction, N.H.I.: No Humans Involved, was released in March of this year.
You can visit Ray online at www.urbanfictionunleashed.webstarts.com or connect with him on twitter at www.twitter.com/RayEllisNHI or Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ray-Ellis-Author/116322698426928.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Counting Our Blessings Again!

Hurricane Irene blew through here today. We were fortunate not to need the provisions we purchased or the gas powered generator that we couldn't find anywhere. Our area of town is very soggy, but we didn't lose power. Our basement took on some water at one end, and some large branches fell, but that was the worst of it for us.

Other areas of Massachusetts weren't so lucky. Flooding is a major concern right now. The Berkshires took a big hit. Also, the swollen Deerfield River flooded Route 2, which is reportedly closed, as are parts of Route 20 in Westfield.

Our beloved Outer Banks in North Carolina seemed to take the hardest hit from Irene. Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Collington got a good beating. Below is a picture that someone posted on the Facebook fan page of Miller's Waterfront Restaurant in Nags Head. Believe it or not, underneath all that water is their parking lot. This is on the sound side of the Outer Banks. They have a pier in the back that leads out to a gazebo where you can watch the sun set. They often have live entertainment outside. There is a mini-golf course nearby, and we often see people on watercraft when we stop by for lunch or supper.


I found this video on CBSNews that shows Irene slamming into Kill Devil Hills: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7378522n&tag=mncol;lst;1. We stay in this area when we visit each year. To give you some perspective, this video is taken on Beach Road, which runs parallel to Route 158. These are the houses and business that are closest to the beach. When you cross the bridge into the Outer Banks you start off in Kitty Hawk, then traveling down 158 you end up in Kill Devil Hills, and then Nags Head. So, KDH is sandwiched between two of the harder hit areas of the OBX.

The video opens with a shot of the strip of beach our family plunks down chairs and toys on each summer. At around 35 seconds you can see American Pie Pizza & Homemade Ice Cream on the left. I think we had ice cream there once. At around 2:44 you'll catch a glimpse of the other Miller's Restaurant, which is on Beach Road (actually named South Virginia Dare Trail).  I'm not sure how our friend's house in KDH fared, but we'll check in with him this week.


Our prayers go out to all those affected by Hurricane Irene. Let's hope Mother Nature gives us a break for a bit.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gearing Up for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene has already been blamed for at least six deaths and leaving around a million people without power along the East Coast. The website for The Weather Channel reports as of about an hour ago that it is feared the Outer Banks will be come isolated from the rest of the state--not surprising if you saw the bridge in and out of the Outer Banks and how even a hard rain floods their roads. In addition, power is out in all of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

Here in Western Mass, and specifically in our town, we sustained damage from a tornado in June and a microburst in July, where we lost power for at least a couple of days each time. We're still in the process of rebuilding, so even though we're not a coastal town, there is concern about widespread power outages and fallen trees and downed power lines.

Everyone impacted by Hurricane Irene remains in our thoughts and prayers. We also hope you'll keep us in yours. I will updated this blog once I am back online--which hopefully, God willing, is tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mystery Special Feature: Merry Acres Widows Waltz by Nan Arnold

They say retirement kills. And it looks that way in MERRY ACRES, a planned community in South Florida for the over-fifty-five crowd. Husbands are dropping fast. Georgiana Duncan wonders who will next wear the black veil of widowhood. Should she be worried....or happy about such dire prospects? Perhaps, like Georgiana, other wives in Merry Acres have secrets, too. Skeletons rattling around personal closets that so mar the gloss of happily-ever-after that only murder can make amends.


Read an excerpt!

I recognized him as that unmarried detective Augusta introduced in the Indian restaurant. I called the waiter over and ordered coffee and the sweet. Maybe I could work up enough nerve to approach the detective about my theory on The Gazette hit and run, and the resent spate of Merry Acres deaths.


When he ordered the salad, I looked in his direction. I glanced his way now and then, but my feet refused to move. Instead, I accidentally emptied an envelope of sugar into the coffee and stirred and stirred. When I put the spoon down, I took a breath, and walked the couple of feet to his booth.

He looked up. “Yes?” His salutation was brief and impatient.

“Hello. I was wondering if I could talk to you a minute about some odd goings on in Merry Acres.”

“I suppose so.” His dark eyes appeared glazed. He blew his red, bulbous nose.

I stood well back. “Cold?”

“Allergies.”

“Melaleuca blossoms?”

He nodded.

“A South Florida curse. For some.”

“Sure are.”

“You don’t remember me, but I was in Punjab Palace a while ago. I was having lunch that day with Augusta St. James of the—”

“I know who she is.” The waiter appeared and held a salad in the air as if uncertain what to do. “Your coffee is getting colder by the minute, and I’m hungry.” He looked at the waiter. “Why don’t you serve me and bring the lady’s coffee and dessert over here. Frees up a table for you, too.”

“Thanks.” I slid into the booth across from him and watched the waiter comply with the man’s directives.

I looked down, averting my gaze when he stabbed a forkful of salad so as to not watch him eat. “I’m sorry to invade your privacy.”

He hitched his shoulders. “How can I help you?”

I felt my neck and face light up in a raging blush that extended to my hairline.

“Relax, the only thing I’m biting today is this salad. The baklava here is good. Eat yours.”

His comment made me a little less nervous so I cut the tip from the diamond shaped sweet and forked a tiny bite, savoring the nuts and flaky phyllo dough. I wiped my mouth with the new napkin the waiter provided. “How much is left on my face?”

“It’s all gone. You’re safe, at least until the next bite.” He winked.

That put me more at ease. “I live in Merry Acres. You know about Mr. Mendez, of course. That business with the tire iron. Well, I was wondering about—”

I stopped talking because the man’s expression changed. He wasn’t kidding around or winking now, that was certain.

“About what?”

“You’ll think I’m crazy, but I was wondering if maybe the recent deaths that looked like natural causes or accidents, and ruled that way, really were…accidents or natural causes.”

“I have no idea which deaths you mean, but nothing on my desk, and I work homicides, pertains to that planned community, except Mendez.”

“I’ll just go.” I felt foolish. “Sorry to have bothered you.”

“Wait a minute. Finish your coffee and dessert.”

Since it was more a command than request, I took another tiny bite. I’d ruined the coffee by adding too much sugar.

“I have a question for you in return. I’m not sure Ms. St. James introduced us, if so, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.”

“Mrs. Daniel Duncan. Georgiana.” I actually gulped. This was ridiculous. I was almost a decade older than this guy, but he made me feel as if I were six years old. “What’s your question, officer?”

“You’ve forgotten my name, too. It’s Detective Morgan. Mike Morgan. And, for the record, I hate the name ‘Mikey'. Where’d you hear about a tire iron?” He continued eating.

I stammered. “I-I read it in the papers, didn’t I?”

He put his fork down. He looked hard at me. “No, you didn’t.”

Read the reviews!

"...I enjoyed the witty dialogue and wonderful characterization as much as trying to figure out, who did it."

--Night Owl Reviews

"Well-written, fast-paced, and clever, Merry Acres Widows Waltz is a must-read for anyone who enjoys curling up with a good mystery."

--The Book Chick


PURCHASE MERRY ACRES WIDOWS WALTZ AT AMAZON! ALSO AVAILABLE IN A KINDLE EDITION!

A native Texan, Nan Arnold worked for a life insurance agency and it was here she garnered her first commercial writing success. She created an office procedures manual which the home office issued to all its agencies. For that Nan got a bonus, and the writing bug.



A move to Florida landed her a position as assistant purchasing agent for a petrochemical engineering firm. Later she tried out the other side of the negotiating desk and went to work for a manufacturer's rep-whom she married.


Nan joined Romance Writers Of America and started writing novel-length fiction. Her work finaled in several RWA chapter-sponsored contests as well as back to back finals in The PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRITERS ASSOCIATION’S annual literary competition, adult genre and romance genre respectively. She is published is women’s fiction, romance, and mystery.


Nan, hubby, and cats recently moved to Georgia upon her husband's retirement. Nan is taking a year off from the nine to five life to write full time while doing the "for better, for worse, and for lunch thing".


You can visit Nan online at www.nandarnold.com/.

Book Review: Peter: Rock Star from Galilee

Peter: Rock Star from Galilee is the latest guided Bible study for teens from Sherree Funk.

This eight-week Bible study for teens combines music, Bible learning, and modern-day applications. Each week begins with a playlist of songs that are a mix of contemporary Christian music and traditional hymns. Various aspects of Peter's life are covered: his calling by Jesus, his stepping out onto the stormy sea, his denial of Jesus after His arrest, the miracles he performed in the name of Jesus, his legacy, and more!

Readers get a preview of the week's study to help spark initial discussions. There are questions and exercises along the way. The "Chew on This" moments give teens time to consider things like their blessings, while the "Christian Reality Challenge" blurbs cement learning. The "Jam Session" at the end of each week includes questions to get teens thinking about how the Bible applies to them today. Then the replay wraps the week up for them to round out discussions. Also included are maps and historical photos.

As a Sunday school teacher, I am always on the lookout for engaging new materials for our young people. Peter: Rock Star from Galilee definitely has what it takes. With sound Bible learning and music, this Bible study will meet kids where they are today. I've already shared it with our youth group leader and she's excited about it. If you are in youth ministry, you'll want to take a peek into this one.


Title: Peter: Rock Star from Galilee  
Author: Sherree Funk
Publisher: WinePress Publishing
ISBN-10: 1414119836
ISBN-13: 978-1414119830
SRP:  $16.99
Also available in eformats



The author paid me to promote this book through a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no monetary compensation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Guest Blogger: Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Author of Black & Orange

Our special guest today is Benjamin Kane Ethridge, author of the award-winning dark fantasy horror novel, Black & Orange.

Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the Church of Midnight hidden from the world. Every October 31st a gateway opens to a hostile land of sacrificial magic and chaos. Since the beginning of civilization the Church of Midnight has attempted to open the gateway and unite with its other half, the Church of Morning. Each year they’ve come closer, waiting for the ideal sacrifice to open the gateway permanently. This year that sacrifice has come. And only two can protect it.

Martin and Teresa are the nomads, battle-hardened people who lack identity and are forever road-bound on an endless mission to guard the sacrifice. Their only direction is from notes left from a mysterious person called the Messenger. Endowed with a strange telekinetic power, the nomads will use everything at their disposal to make it through the night alive.


But matters have become even more complicated this year. Teresa has quickly lost ground battling cancer, while Martin has spiraled into a panic over being left alone. His mind may no longer be on the fight when it matters most… because ever on their heels is the insidious physical representation of a united church: Chaplain Cloth.

WHY BOOKLOVERS NEED GOODREADS.COM
by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read since my late teens. I’ve also assigned ratings to them. Why did I do this? Well, I don’t really know, to tell you the truth. I have no doubt that people are just salivating for the chance to see how I rated their favorite books. Sure they are. Wink.

Nevertheless, I’ve been cataloguing my reads for a number of years. Now I can transfer all that data onto a website-- what’s more, I can also add books to my “to-read” list, and communicate with other readers about books I’ve read or haven’t read. This seems an especially simple concept, but until http://www.goodreads.com/ there really wasn’t a website that did this in a particularly organized fashion, or with a fun interface for that matter. LibraryThing, bless its bookish heart, possesses some of these concepts but looks archaic next to Goodreads. And Amazon, for all its head-start in the book industry, has not made a sociable interface for reviews and discussions, which super-sucks because that’s where we all go to check out the goods. Case in point: I currently have 27 reviews on Goodreads and 9 on Amazon. I know for a fact that most people buy my novel on Amazon, so… huh?

My praise of Goodreads doesn’t mean it’s completely without faults. I’ve experienced glitches here and there, but most are promptly fixed though. I’ve also noticed the home page takes a long time to load. This might be due to my amount of friends on the site or it might not. Either way, it needs to be addressed, and I’m sure it will if the site continues to grow in popularity.

As a social media site, bibliophiles absolutely need to jump onto Goodreads. There’s no real comparison right now. Facebook is a ship too flooded with its own ego to keep afloat on the waters of serious book discussion and exploration. In Zuckerberg’s domain, conversations are not always bright, lengthy or plentiful. Most users would rather opine on whether Sarah Palin is a Queen or a Quack, a series of rhetorical orgasms and battle royales.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be discussing why Dan Brown shouldn’t be famous, and why Daniel Quinn should be. If I started a conversation like that on Facebook, I might get a “like” or two, perhaps a comment agreeing or disagreeing, but it would soon drown in a million dribbles of pop culture and media.

So if you’re a literary fiend, go to Goodreads, pick a book and add to the discussion. You’ll soon see where your time is better spent.


Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel Black & Orange. He also wrote a master's thesis entitled, "Causes of Unease: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film." Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter, both lovely and both worthy of better. When he isn't writing, reading, guitaring, he's defending California's waterways and sewers from pollution. His official web presence is http://www.bkethridge.com/ and you can Facebook him here, www.facebook.com/benjamin.kane.ethridge and Tweet him here, www.twitter.com/#!/bkethridge. He’s on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/benjaminkaneethridge.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Mystery Special Feature: Broken but not Dead by Joylene Nowell Butler

When Brendell Kisêpîsim Meshango resigns from the university and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime. However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days inflicting a sadistic captivity, the intruder mysteriously disappears.


Taught to fear and distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will keeping quiet keep her safe?

Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened — and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.

Read an excerpt!
 

I could barely remember the first time. Agnostine had towered over me, her frizzy black hair fanned out in a witch-like style while she shrieked that drunken shaman spiel until I believed the pain and bruises were a fair exchange for my mother’s final fatigue-induced silence. Exhausted from inflicting another beating on one more unwanted child, Agnostine would wobble to the chesterfield where she’d pass out until evening. Or until the desire to beat another child overcame her. Later when her snores filled the tiny house, Jules lifted me off the floor, sat me on the edge of the basin outside the back door and washed away the grime and the dirt and the rye whisky smeared into the welts across my cheek. In soft whispers, he urged me to cry. “Tears are a good thing, baby sister. They seep into your skin and clean away all the wickedness that’s touched you.”

But despite Jules’ urging, I could not cry. Holding the evil inside had felt good.



Read the reviews!

Joylene Butler’s protagonist, Professor Brendell Meshango, is a complex and uniquely Canadian character. She is a strong woman, but neither her Aboriginal childhood, her adult success as an academic, nor her fierce loyalty to her own child prepare her, or us, for the terror that strikes when she becomes the victim of a, seemingly random home invasion. The action in “Broken But Not Dead” is gripping; the characters are rich and the climax riveting.

--Gail Bowen

Joylene Nowell Butler, Métis Canadian, has been writing for 28 years. A retired emergency responder, she was born in Manitoba, moved to Maple Ridge, B.C. as a child, attended Douglas College and Simon Fraser University. She and her husband moved to Pr. George in 1979 where they raised their five sons. In 1992 they built a cottage on Cluculz Lake, near Vanderhoof.

In her spare time, Joylene teaches Tai Chi.

Copies of Joylene's books are available online at:

theytus.com
Books & Company
Amazon.ca

blog: http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/

webpage: http://joylene.webs.com/


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Special Features Coming Soon!



I hope you've been enjoying Mystery and Crime Fiction Month. I want to keep special features going through the end of the year, so here's what I have on tap:

September - Product and Movie Month

Since my focus is usually books, I want to provide more posts about products and movies that our family uses and enjoys. I've been requesting some free samples, so hopefully they will be in on time. If you would like to have your product or movie featured, please contact me via email at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com. Please put Product and Movie Month in the subject line.

October - Horror Novel Month

I have to admit to liking Stephen King. I'm not fond of the gore, but the man can certainly tell a story. While I don't read a lot of books in this genre these days, I think celebrating the month of Halloween by featuring horror novels will be fun.

If you would like your book to be featured in October, please email me the following information:

  • Book blurb in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Short Excerpt in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author's bio in third person in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author photo in jpeg format

  • Cover art in jpeg format

  • Up to three review blurbs in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Links to your website and/or blog

  • Links to where your book can be purchased


Email this information to me by September 20th at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com. Please put Horror Novel Month in the subject line.

November - Women's Fiction Month

I read and represent a fair amount of women's fiction. With so many readers and bloggers being women, this is a genre I couldn't forget. If you would like your book to be featured in November, please email me the following information:

  • Book blurb in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email 

  • Short Excerpt in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author's bio in third person in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author photo in jpeg format 

  • Cover art in jpeg format

  • Up to three review blurbs in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email 

  • Links to your website and/or blog 

  • Links to where your book can be purchased 

Email this information to me by October 20th at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com. Please put Women's Fiction Month in the subject line.

December - Seasonal Titles Month

Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm fairly certain you've heard that I love Christmas. It surprised no one when my first children's book was a retelling of the Christmas story. Well, maybe my friends were wondering why it took so long. Actually, when I was a teenager, one of the first stories I wrote was also set around Christmas. See, it's been in me all along.

Part of my family is also Jewish. We used to have a mixed celebration in the middle of December when all the kids were still young. This allowed us to honor traditions of both faiths. Now that most everyone has grown up and are living in various states, we don't get a chance to do this.

I am interested in featuring books that are set during Christmas or Hanukkah. If you would like to have your book featured, please email me the following information:

  • Book blurb in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Short Excerpt in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author's bio in third person in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Author photo in jpeg format

  • Cover art in jpeg format

  • Up to three review blurbs in Word .doc or .docx format or copy and paste it into the body of the email

  • Links to your website and/or blog

  • Links to where your book can be purchased

  •  

Email this information to me by November 15th at cg20pm00(at)gmail(dot)com. Please put Seasonal Titles Month in the subject line.

Thank you for your interest in Books, Products, and More! As always, we love to receive comments from our readers. Feel free to email me anytime.

 

Book Spotlight: The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen by Joel Andre


All around her Lauren Bruni is faced with destruction. Her marriage has ended, and her professional life is at the breaking point. For Lauren, this is only the beginning of her pain.

In the small town of Cottonwood, AZ everything seems to be headed in the same direction. A serial killer is on the loose, and his trail of victims holds no connection. His rampage escalates and becomes far more brutal with each murder he commits.

As Lauren attempts to prevent her own life from collapsing down around her she must stop a killer with supernatural strength. But there is something far more sinister in the works than she could ever imagine. In the end it is up to Lauren to make the ultimate sacrifice to save a community from the purest form of evil.

Read an excerpt at http://www.joelmandre.info/!

Read the reviews!

"I highly recommend picking up The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen. You won't be disappointed. The blend of horror, dark humor and dark subject matter will have you flying through pages."

--Cafe of Dreams

"I VERY highly recommend this book! The writing is fabulous! This story is very mysterious, ominous, full of suspense and danger. It is a horror story and there is some bloodshed and gore. There are also some humorous moments here and there. I really enjoy his sense of humor! There's a strong theme of good vs evil. Joel has really become one of my very favorite authors and I will be anxiously awaiting his next book!"

--Life in Review

"If you like paranormal dark mysteries and suspense/horror I suggest you go pick up this book."

--The Bookshelf Review

"The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen is an incredible novel! This is horror at its best. Written in spectacularly vivid detail, I was able to imagine the story as though it was a movie playing in my head. The author weaved the story together like a master craftsman, I was mesmerized from beginning to end."

--The Write to Make a Living

Purchase Cry of the Fallen at Amazon!

Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981. At a young age he was fascinated with the written word. It was at fourteen that Poe blew his mind, and Andre began to dabble with darker poetry.

Between the years of 1999 and 2007 Joel was featured in various poetry anthologies and publications. In 2008 he released his first collection,Pray the Rain Never Ends.

Knowing there was something deeper and darker inside of his soul, Joel decided to take a stab at commercialism. Releasing the dark tongue in cheek, A Death at the North Pole, created a dark world among the death of Kris Kringle. Ultimately providing a tale of redemption.

October of 2008 saw Joel release his second book, Kill 4 Me. A tale in which a woman is haunted by a vengeful spirit through text messages and instant messaging.

Taking some time off and doing a lot of soul searching, Joel took things in a new direction and dabbled in the Fantasy Genre with, The Pentacle of Light. The tale dealing with five major races battling for control of Earth, and the acceptance of their God.

Finally, after missing his detective Lauren Bruni, he released the book The Return in October 2009, this time moving the action from the North Pole and placing it in the small Arizona community he was raised in.

Andre’s latest book is The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen about a dead man who seeks revenge on the woman that tormented him in peaceful Northern Arizona.

Currently, he resides in Chandler, AZ.

Visit Joel online at www.joelmandre.info.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mystery Special Feature: Sunshine Boulevard by J. Q. Rose

Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies.

Who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard? Follow Jim and Gloria Hart, snowbirds who annually migrate to Florida for warm sunshine, fun, and games in snow-free winters. However this season, Jim Hart, a volunteer First Responder in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge, is drawn into the investigation of the mysterious deaths. Even in the midst of the unfortunate demise of the residents on Sunshine Boulevard, the Harts try to enjoy the winter with friends. They don't realize that their friends are getting together for their own kinds of affairs with each other. The neighbors are in a dither over the deaths, but perhaps more intrigued by the gossip about the affairs and why the naked lady was found lying in the geranium bed.

Read an excerpt!

“Hi, Gloria,” Pamela yelled waving to her from across the large room. As usual, Pamela’s make-up was perfect, and today she wore a matching pink outfit with coordinating tennis shoes and socks. Pamela took off her jacket revealing a slim, tanned figure to match her perfect make-up.


Pamela gave Gloria a big hug as if she hadn’t seen her all season when they actually spent game night together the evening before last. Her big smile flashed her perfect teeth…all her own…and she stepped back to include Gloria in her conversation with four other women.

At her age, Gloria thought she was done with role models, but Gloria admired Pamela as if she were the head of her high school clique. Not only was Pamela beautiful, but she was also gracious and self-confident, friendly and kind. Gloria wanted to be just like her.

“Did you hear about George McDonnell? Did Jim hear anything yet?” Pamela’s best friend, Rosemary, asked. Joining the group took Gloria back to eighth grade memories of best friends, gossip, and popularity contests.

“Is he sick?”

“No, he’s dead.” Rosemary waited a beat, watching Gloria before going on. “I thought since Jim is one of the First Responders for the park, he may have been called to the scene.”

Gloria looked at each of the women. It took her a minute to process the news. Many of the residents mistakenly assumed Jim attended every call because he was the volunteer co-captain of the First Responders Unit, but Jim wasn’t on call yesterday. They had shopped most of the day at the flea market and ate dinner at their favorite restaurant in the evening.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. George has been ill for a while. I know after his wife passed, he didn’t want to live any longer.” Gloria dumped her car keys in her bag setting it along the wall. She unrolled her mat next to Pamela’s on the floor, and placed the dreaded barbells nearby with a quick prayer that the instructor wouldn’t make use of them today. She didn’t mind stretching and moving, but the bar bells were just too much.

“Oh, no, it wasn’t his heart that killed him, Gloria,” Bonnie, another woman in the group, announced. Gloria was puzzled as she saw the looks exchanged by her friends.

“What happened?” Gloria widened her eyes with concern.

Bonnie puffed up her chest and pulled her elbows back as she leaned forward to deliver the big news. “His neighbor, Lottie Carpenter found him. She smelled him rotting in his house.”



Read the reviews!

"This story blends humor with mystery and death very cleverly, making it a book I had to keep reading. Even after I found out the answer to the above question, I was still hooked and had to read on to find out what happened next.

I would like to compliment Ms Rose for writing a book which is extremely pleasant to read, but grabs the attention at the same time."

--Sue's Book Reviews

"What a page turner and full of surprises! I couldn't put this book down."

--Roseanne Dowell, author Stranger on the Shore

"J.Q. Rose creates a suspense-filled story that keeps you reading to find out what is claiming the lives of people in Citrus Ridge. I won't give away any secrets, but I will reiterate my review title: I'm NOT moving to Florida...ever ever ever."

--Ginger Simpson, author of Hurricane Warning

PURCHASE A COPY OF SUNSHINE BOULEVARD AT MUSEITUPPUBLISHING.COM AND AT THESE ONLINE RETAILERS:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Sunshine-Boulevard-ebook/dp/B004PYDI9C

Barnes and Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunshine-boulevard-jq-rose/1030490355 

Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/46612

OmniLit - http://www.omnilit.com/product-sunshineboulevard-513486-241.html

J Q Rose, author of Sunshine Boulevard, is an avid reader and photographer. She is addicted to Facebook and enjoys blogging about growing a vegetable garden and writing. Janet and her husband are snow birds spending winters in Florida. Summer finds her up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her grandsons. She spends time with her two year old granddaughter reading a book and having pretend tea parties together.


Visit J.Q. online at http://www.jqrose.webs.com/ and her blog at http://www.jqroseauthor.blogspot.com.

Mystery Special Feature: Dead Man's Gambit by Frank Scully

A game of real life Monopoly between bitter rivals becomes deadly as one side ups the ante and plays for keeps, but even death can’t stop the game.

Detective-turned-Assistant DA, Mike Johnson finds himself living in a comfortable rut. That is, until Warren Rogga, a friend he helped convict is murdered in prison, leaving only a last request: Protect his family.
Mike owes Warren more than he can repay but is about to find out what it will cost him. It had been an ugly case and is going to get uglier as it draws Mike back into its tangled web of sex, politics, greed, big money and cold hearted killers.

The evidence against Warren, a rich and powerful man, was overwhelming. His mistress and illegitimate child were murdered. He was there that night. They had argued. The murder weapon was found hidden on his property. An open and shut case. Mike couldn’t ignore the evidence he had collected and Warren went to prison.

When he starts to look into the case again, the justice system turns on him. Forced out of his job as a DA, investigated by the police, hounded by the media, and manipulated by powerful people, Mike and his family and friends find their lives in danger as Mike becomes a player in the elaborate game of real life Monopoly played by a masquerade ball coterie of rich men, political power brokers, and an assortment of other crooks and criminals. There is only one rule in the game. Winner lives, loser dies.

Read an excerpt!


For more than seven years he sat in a prison cell, counting each day, planning each measure of retribution for each and every person who had a hand in putting him there. Seven years of waiting, knowing that death could be just around the corner; that the next person who jostled him might stick a knife in his ribs. He carried a scar from a sharpened spoon that just missed vital organs. There was never one moment in those seven years when he felt safe. But he survived in a jungle full of lethal predators. Prison society has its own rigid set of rules. The penalties for not obeying, or even for not knowing, are serious and sometimes fatal.

If he could make it just eight more months and get past the parole board, he might get out. But that wasn’t going to happen. They weren’t waiting.

He knew who they were, even if he had no proof. That didn’t matter. He would mete out his own punishment in his own way.

A shoe scraped down the hall. His stomach tightened. He took a deep breath. The fear could not be denied, but it could be conquered.

And if he didn’t get out, well, he made arrangements for that, too.

Read the reviews!

"Frank Scully crafts a clever whodunit. I could not put the book down. The ancillary characters are as interesting as the main characters. And the twists and turns as he searches for truth and justice make one want to get in there with him and ferret out truth and justice. Wonderfully written! Enjoyed it totally."

--FMAM, reviewed by Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D. MHt.

PURCHASE A COPY OF DEAD MAN'S GAMBIT AT MUSEITUPPUBLISHING.COM OR THESE ONLINE RETAILERS:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

OmniLit

Frank Scully was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with Phi Beta Kappa Honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from the University of North Dakota. He then served more than five years as a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer in the U. S. Army in the U. S., Vietnam, and Thailand. After that he attended the prestigious Thunderbird School and received a Masters in Business Administration with honors. In his professional career he has worked as an executive with large aerospace and defense manufacturers and also owned his own small business.

Depending on the vagaries of the universe, he has been well off at times and broke, but never broken, at other times. Blessed with an understanding wife who gave him twin sons, he has remained through it all a dreamer whose passion is writing stories that will entertain readers.

Visit Frank online at www.frankjscully.com.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Spotlight: My Dearest Friend by Hazel Statham

Robert Blake, Duke of Lear, is a man of intense emotions who loves deeply and protects fiercely. Devastated and wracked with guilt by the death of his younger brother, Stefan, in the Peninsular War, he readily agrees to aid Jane Chandler to bring her seriously wounded brother back from Portugal.

Much against Jane’s wishes, he decides to accompany her and together they embark on the hazardous mission to retrieve the young soldier. However, the journey holds many revelations, not least of all the abiding friendship and growing love between the two travelers.

That special love is put severely to the test by the treachery that awaits them upon their return to England, when a tenant of Jane’s former home invades their lives, maliciously creating jealousy and misunderstandings for his own nefarious reasons.

Can their friendship and love conquer the emotions that threaten to tear them asunder.

Read an excerpt!

Their arrival at the inn that night went quite unnoticed, the sound of the horses’ hooves clattering over the cobbled yard exciting no more interest than had done their predecessors’ during the day. Once they were halted, the duke hurried Hannah and the sleeping Sophie from the vehicle and into the private parlor. He had hoped to find Jane within, but the room was deserted and he knew a moment’s disappointment. Just as he was about to go in search of her, Eaves pushed open the door and stopped in some surprise.




“Your grace,” he beamed coming into the room. “We had given up hope of you arriving today.”



“Where is Miss Chandler?” the duke demanded, making toward the door.



Eave’s countenance sobered. “She’s with the major, sir. I am afraid he took a turn this morning and she has not left his side since. The doctor has been called and says that despite it being but a momentary setback we must delay our return journey for a few days. Shall I fetch her for you, sir?”



“No need, I will go to her directly,” the duke said. “However, I would be grateful if you would arrange suitable accommodation for my ward and her nurse and make sure they are well nourished before they retire. It has been a very long and tiring day.”



With that, he strode from the room and took the stairs two at a time to the second landing. Eagerly pacing its length, he came to a sudden halt just as Jane stepped out of Harry’s room and quietly closed the door behind her. In the dimness of the corridor, she did not immediately perceive him standing but a short distance away, awaiting her notice, and was startled when he softly called her name from the shadows.



“Robert,” she cried, involuntarily pressing her hand to her throat, unable to move, as a new shyness overcame her.



For an instant, they stood thus until the duke moved forward into the pool of moonlight that filtered through a small window and slowly opened his arms to her. She did not hesitate but ran to him and buried her face in his neck. Words were not necessary for the moment as they both rejoiced in their reunion. Indeed, if she had tried to speak she would have found her words crushed into oblivion as, bending his head, he fiercely kissed her, demanding a response.



Finding in herself no resistance to his embrace, she welcomed it as if to be loved by him was the most natural occurrence in the world.



Eventually pulling apart and capturing her hands in his the duke gave a low chuckle, “I see you have missed me as much as I have you, my love.”



“That is unkind of you, sir,” she replied dropping her eyes before his fiery scrutiny, thankful that the shadows hid the warm glow his embrace brought to her cheeks.



“But oh, how I have longed for you, my dear friend.”



He smiled mischievously, once more drawing her to him, the better to study her features. “So, you will still insist on calling me your dear friend, sweetheart. I had hoped for something more.”



“You will always be my dearest friend,” she replied meeting his gaze openly. “Whatever else you may become, you will still be my friend.”



“Tell me then, my little friend, do friends marry?”



“Of course they do,” she replied without hesitation.



“Who else would tend me when I am nauseous and become a burden?”



He laughed, his green eyes dancing with delight, his face transformed. “If that is to be my role in life, then I must bear it with what fortitude I can muster, imp. Then sobering slightly, “Does it matter to you that we have known each other so short a time, for to me it seems an

eternity?”



“Not a whit,” she replied cradling his hand against her cheek. “For me the seed was set when you so obstinately refused to desert me to my fates on The Mistral. It showed an unparalleled fortitude and a kindness I will never forget.”



“I wish you would, my dear,” he said, attempting to hide his smile, “for I can see you regaling our grandchildren with it in years to come and it will do nothing to enhance the superior image that I would cultivate.”



“I assure you your image is quite safe, sir, for will I not tell them what a true and faithful friend you are and how I have come to love you?”



He would have taken her in his arms once more but the sound of a door opening at the further end of the corridor drove them guiltily apart and instead, he clasped her fingers securely in his and led her to the stairs.



“In my eagerness I have become remiss in my duties,” he said. “You are no doubt impatient to know the results of my journey and to see the babe, and you must tell me of Harry and what is to be done. We have so much to arrange. I must warn you, however, that we are increased in numbers. When we set out on the journey we were two, anticipated four, and now we become six. We will present quite a cavalcade on our return.”



She smiled, returning the pressure of his fingers. “I care not however many we become as long as I have my dear friend, for without him I am disconsolate.”



This did not go unrewarded and having achieved the first landing, he found it necessary to quickly catch her to him.



“My love, I can see you will be an enchanting wife,” he chuckled before briefly kissing her upturned face.

Read the reviews!

“My Dearest Friend is an historic romance in an unusual but undoubtedly moving style…”

–The Long and The Short of It


“My Dearest Friend is a very tender love story about two people who are dearest friends first before marriage. The characters are likeable and their expressions almost dance across the pages. The reader cannot help but be caught up in their life. Ms. Statham blends all the right elements that breathe life into this well-written classic that I recommend.”

–Cherokee, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

“My Dearest Friend is an intricately woven tapestry of life and death and shows us the inner workings of the nobility. The story starts off well and continues to build momentum to the last page.”


– Robyn Once Upon a Romance

Hazel read her first Regency Romance, Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer, when she was seventeen and knew that at last she had found her era.



She had been writing since she was fifteen and had mainly been influenced by authors like Austen, the Brontes and Sabatini, but Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance of the eighteen and nineteenth century and she fell head over heels in love with it.

She devoured her books in very quick succession and wanted nothing more than to recreate her own Regency world. History had always been her favorite subject at school and it was just one small step to portray it in her work.


However, despite today’s trend to produce ‘hotter’ novels, she writes ‘traditional’ Regency Romance and closes the door on her characters when they retire. So much emotion can be conveyed by a mere glance or a single word that she doesn’t feel it necessary to leave the metaphorical door open to convey the emotions of the moment. The merest hint is often sufficient to stimulate the reader’s imagination and to go into detail is totally unnecessary.


Hazel has been married to her husband since 1969 and they share their home with a lovely Labrador named Mollie. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, Hazel’s other ruling passion is animals and, until recently, she was treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.


Hazel loves to hear from her readers and promises to answer all mail. My Dearest Friend is one of two books Hazel is touring with this month.


Visit her online at www.hazel-statham.co.uk.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Mystery Special Feature: Connections of the Minds by Roseanne Dowell

Strange, realistic dreams and visions disrupt Rebecca Brennan’s life, especially when she actually feels someone’s pain. Determined to find who shares her mind, Rebecca takes a leave of absence from work to search for her mind connection. Her search leads her to a small town filled with Victorian homes and interesting people.


Read an excerpt!

After a quick breakfast of toast, orange juice, and coffee at the Coffee Mug Restaurant, her nerves too frayed to eat more, Rebecca went in search of the police station. Now to formulate a plan that explained why she needed Jeremy’s address. Several ideas came to mind. One, she wanted to interview him for a small magazine, but not without credentials. Darn, she hated lying. It wasn’t in her nature. But the truth was so off the wall. They’d probably throw her in the booby hatch. She snapped her fingers and came up with an idea. If she could just sound convincing.

Victorian houses and shops lined the streets. The quaint little town resembled a postcard from the late 1800s. The only thing missing were the long dresses, horses, and carriages. Although modernized, the town square had managed to keep the quaint elegance of the Victorian era. Too bad she didn’t remember to bring her camera. Whatever happened with Jeremy, she’d definitely explore the town before she left.

She turned onto River Drive and drove up the hill. It didn’t take long to find the police station. She pulled into the lot and parked, opened the door, and got out. This is it, kid. Hopefully the last step in finding Jeremy. It’s now or never. Rebecca walked into the office.
The chief, himself, greeted her.

“Hello there, little lady.” He smiled and extended his hand. "Chief Dan Casteel, and you are?"

Rebecca shook his rough and weathered hand and looked him over. Mid-fifties, quick smile, and no nonsense attitude. She liked the gray-haired man, especially his drooping, gray mustache. Something told her he had a great sense of humor. Not sure what made her think that. Maybe it was the mischievous twinkle in his dark eyes, or his attitude.

"I’m Rebecca Brennan. Hopefully you can help me." She gave him her brightest smile, even flirted a little.

"My cousin, Isabelle Winters, is a friend of Jeremy Marlin. I told her I was going to be in town, and she asked me to look him up. She said he works for the police department."

Chief Casteel leaned against his desk, crossed his arms over his chest, raised an eyebrow, and grinned at her. Of course he didn’t believe her. Everyone and their brother must be talking about her by now. They knew she went by the newspaper office. Knew she inquired about Jeremy at the hospital. What a dumb story to come up with. She could have done better than that. Oh well, the damage was done. Now what was she going to do?
"So, your cousin’s Jeremy’s friend.” He rubbed his chin as if pondering her story. “So how’d they meet?"

Heat burned her face. What could she say? She knew nothing about Jeremy. Well nothing that a friend of his would know that is. “Can I be frank, Chief?" Best to tell him the truth. What was the worst that could happen? He could send her packing.

"Can we talk someplace, uh...?" Rebecca looked around the large open office. Though the secretary appeared to be working, she had one ear glued to their conversation. An officer sat at the other desk, openly staring at her. It wouldn’t take long for her story to spread all over town.
“Sure. Come on.” The chief led her into a private office, motioned her to take a seat, and leaned against the edge of the desk, arms and legs crossed.

Not a good sign, Rebecca thought. This might be a short conversation.
"Okay," she said in a weak voice. "This is going to sound strange. I mean I find it hard to believe myself. I don’t have a cousin Isabelle, and I don’t know Jeremy personally, but I know a lot about him. I know someone shot him a couple days ago." She paused, tried to still her trembling hands, and looked at the chief’s uplifted eyebrow. If he didn’t believe her, she’d have to think of something else. Right now the truth was the best way.

"Somehow my mind is connected to Jeremy. I see visions. I experience his pain, accomplishments, even his contentment." Rebecca rushed on, trying to make the chief understand this strange phenomenon.

The chief stood up, went behind his desk, and sat down. "Go on," he spoke in a kind voice. “I’d like to hear more."

Encouraged with his calm, serious attitude, she explained the series of events leading to her search for Jeremy, ending with the newspaper article identifying him.

"He’s in grave danger. I don’t know if I can help him, but I need to see him, to warn him.” Rebecca sat back, exhausted from the remembered emotions.

Chief Casteel leaned forward, scrubbed his hands over his face. "That’s quite a story,"

Great, he thinks I’m a nutcase. He’s not going to help. She knew there were other ways to locate Jeremy. The local phone directory listed several Marlins, but no Jeremy.

The chief stood up. "I’ll take you to Jeremy. I want to see his reaction when you tell him your story." The smile playing about his lips told her he wanted to outright laugh.

He opened his office door. “Carolyn, call Julia Marlin and tell her I’m on my way over to see Jeremy.” He glanced at Rebecca. “Tell her I’m bringing a guest with an interesting story.”

Rebecca followed him into the chief’s car, feeling a little tentative. If he wanted, he could take her to the loony bin, and no one would find her. That was ridiculous. When had she become so distrusting?

“Jeremy’s like my own son. I watched him grow up these past twenty-eight years,” the chief told her. “His father was my best friend.”

Rebecca wondered if Jeremy was married, but decided not to ask.

“His father got kilt in the line of duty. Came as a big shock. Not many murders or such around these parts. Pretty peaceful here most the time, but every onct a while." The chief’s hands turned white on the steering wheel. His jaw tightened. His eyes held sadness when he looked at her
“I’m sorry.” Not much of a comeback, but what else could she say?
"Remember the day well. It happened three years ago, right after Jeremy joined the force. Ours ain’t a big force, and we added Jeremy after Old Norb Tyler retired. It happened down on the highway. Mike, Jeremy’s father, tried to stop a speeder. He called for backup when the driver wouldn’t stop.” The chief shook his head.

“By time we got there, Mike’s car lay in a ditch, wheels still spinning, the motor running. They must have shot from their window. Bullet hole went clean through the windshield, hit Mike right ‘tween the eyes. Yes sir, we never did catch who done it."

Rebecca squirmed in her seat. Fortunately, the car slowed and came to a stop, and she didn’t have to comment.


COMING SOON FROM MUSEITUP PUBLISHING!

Roseanne Dowell is an avid reader and writes various types of romance - paranormal, contemporary, and mystery. She has several books published as well as over 40 articles and short stories published in magazines such as Good Old Days, Nostalgia, and Ohio Writer and several online publications. Besides teaching writing courses for Long Story School of Writing www.lsswritingschool.com , she also taught two writing courses for the Encore Program at Cuyahoga Community College. You can find most of her books at MuseItUp Publishing http://bit.ly/roseannebooks.



Roseanne lives in Northeast Ohio and where she enjoys life as a wife, mother of six, grandmother of fourteen and great grandmother of one. Besides writing, Roseanne enjoys embroidery and quilting, especially combining the two.


Visit Roseanne at her website http://www.roseannedowell.com/ or her blog http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Spotlight: Black Widow and the Sandman by L.L. Reaper

Children in Cuba are suffering an agonizing death. The cause, a toxin released by a terrorist organization hell bent on genocide. The scientific community is at a loss, and the Cuban government can no longer hide the truth from its citizens. Cuba’s only chance lies in the capable hands of a reclusive scientist from the country they believe is behind this terrorist attack, the United States of America.

Roman “The Sandman ” Tate is the most sought after mercenary in the world. When he is ordered to protect scientist Jeanette “Black Widow ” Mason, he finds she is much more than scientific equations. The two join forces to create an antidote and stop those responsible for the mysterious illness before more children die and Cuba follows through on its promise to retaliate.

Read an excerpt!

Twenty minutes later, Roman and Jeanette entered The High Note Jazz Club. The three-story club was as well known for its live jazz band as it was for its tender steak dinners. Each floor had its own jazz band and full bar. The top floor featured a renowned steak restaurant as well as a band. All four walls of the top floor were gigantic windows, providing a great view of the Miami skyline.


After finishing off their steak dinners, and a slice of strawberry cheesecake, Roman watched Jeanette sway in her seat to the band’s cover version of Sade’s “Smooth Operator.” He stood and took her hand. “C’mon…dance with me.”

“No…uh-uh! No, Roman, I don’t want—”

He smiled at her as she protested with her voice, but followed with her body. “Shhhh…” He placed his arm around her waist and pulled her close. “We’re supposed to be relaxing, right?”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled. “Okay, Mr. Sandman.”

The band seamlessly transitioned from “Smooth Operator” into Sade’s “No Ordinary Love.” Roman and Jeanette left all thoughts of child victims, genocide and running out of time behind. For the first time since they’d partnered up, they both let their emotional guards completely down.

While dancing next to the gigantic Christmas tree beside the stage, Roman rubbed his hand between her shoulder blades down to the small of her back. In return, she lightly thumbed the back of his neck. You couldn’t have slipped a sheet of paper between the two as they danced. For a brief moment, they locked eyes and forgot they were on a mission. The tiny scar beside her eye continually drew his attention, not in a negative way, in a baiting way. He traced the scar with his finger, glad she didn’t pull away.

After dancing her over to the wall-sized window, he looked into her eyes and saw the same desire he felt flowing through his body. He placed his hand behind her head and drew close to her desirable lips. For that moment, they remembered they were a man and a woman.

Fuck! Roman saw a red dot appear on her cheek. They each instantly pulled the other down to the floor, alerting Roman to the fact that Jeanette must have seen a similar target dot on him. Glass shattered from two high-powered rifle shots that came in simultaneously.

He gave her a quick inspection. “Are you okay?”

She sat up and shook glass off her arm. “Yes…you?”

Shaking glass off himself, he jumped to his feet, knowing the snipers would be on the run instead of chancing another shot. He instinctively looked for the natural place a sniper would use for such a shot as the crowd scattered in panic. He helped Jeanette to her feet and pointed to the roof of the four-story office building across the street. “I bet the shots came from over there!”

Read the reviews!

“As genocide looms, hope may come in what you believe to be the enemy. “Black Widow and the Sandman” follows Roman Tate, a mercenary called the Sandman, as he protects Cuba’s only hope against a deadly biological weapon, an American scientist Jeanette Mason. A riveting novel of action, adventure and terrorism, “Black Widow and the Sandman” is a fun read that will be hard to pit down.”

– Midwest Book Reviews


"An excellent book for lovers of great suspense, mystery, medical terrorism and sizzle. Black Widow and the Sandman is a must read!"

--Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

“What an incredible story of two tough fighters who are up against a deadly toxin that is causing harm to children in Cuba.”

--Community Bookshop

PURCHASE BLACK WIDOW AND THE SANDMAN AT:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books-a-million

Indie Bound

L.L. Reaper is two multi-published, award-winning authors who decided to write under a pen name for their dangerously sexy suspense series, Black Widow and the Sandman. You can visit their website at www.llreaper.com or connect with them at Twitter at www.twitter.com/llreaper and Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorLLReaper.