Thursday, April 30, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Martha Cecilia Rivera



1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

Writing has been a life-time passion and also a compelling necessity. I wrote my first short story at the age of seven, while attending an arithmetic class in my elementary school. The teacher caught me writing it and expelled me from class!! I kept writing through my teenage and young adult years. In fact, some of the short stories of my collection about to be published, “Opera of a Seeker,” were written 20 years ago. I became more disciplined and devoted to my writing about 8 years ago, when I was able to connect with the many insights that came to me in my daily life, particularly from my interactions with people and their stories.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

Gabriel García Marquez, Nobel Prize Award winner is one of the many authors that have influenced my writing. I have read his works over and over again since I was little, for years striving to develop my own writing style, different than his, yet many people recognize his strong influence in my work. I must say I enjoy reading contemporary literature instead of contemporary fiction. Some authors that come to mind are Patrick Modiano, Mircea Cartarescu, Le Clezio, Cees Noteboom, Gunter Grass, Philip Roth, Karl Ove Knausgard, Toni Morrison.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Ghosts For Long Nights?

I once went to a flower shop that was near a cemetery. The seller, an old woman of peculiar appearance, looked straight at me as soon as I entered and said to me that my aura was pale. She recommended I put on a special ointment, made of herbs, all over my body to restore its natural color. It was such an unexpected, intriguing statement! I asked her various questions about the ointments and little by little the story began developing in my mind. At some point Rebecca revealed herself as a powerful character with deep insights for readers, and that was how I decided to pursue it until completing the novel.

4. Will we ever see Rebecca again in the future?

We might. Right now I do not have plans for a sequel but I am aware there is much more behind Ghosts for Long Nights’ characters and I’d like to see what else they have to tell us in the future.

5. Did you have to research witchcraft for the book or has it always been an interest of yours?

I engaged in tons of research after my encounter with the flower shop seller. Something I found very surprising as I began to ask around about this particular subject was that many people have experienced, in several capacities, contact with the supernatural!

6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?

Yes, but not directly or completely. Some aspects were inspired from some people but other aspects simply appeared as a natural reason or consequence of what the character was doing.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I am very interested in what I call psychological disconnection from reality in a way that is simultaneously entertaining and insightful to the readers. By that I mean that I want to keep writing about characters that manage to live in a distorted, fantastic view of reality and yet are as normal as everyone else. “Opera of a Seeker,” for instance, is about a man pursuing artistic success with such degree of disconnection from reality that you can think of him as a sane lunatic, as much as Rebecca can be seen in Ghosts for Long Nights.

8. What would you do if you were Rebecca?

I think that for a woman who truly believed her husband was a victim of witchcraft, she did the right thing, don’t you?

9. In the book, Rebecca wants to make an adult life opposite of her childhood. Why did you decide to have those life choices in the novel?

I think human lives are all full of regrets. The question “what if” is a permanent source of anguish for the contemporary human being. As everything evolves, you are more aware of the many choices and you know you can’t avoid taking some and discarding others. Each choice implicates winning or losing something. The question whether it was the right decision or not is an ethereal ghost that floats around you, sometimes forever!

10. Would you like to see Ghosts For Long Nights as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?

Yes, I would love to! Do you have a friend in Hollywood that you can introduce me to? Just kidding.
I would think of Jennifer Lawrence or Paz Vega for Rebecca, and Eddie Redmayne for Manuel Hidalgo.

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

My short stories volume “Opera of a Seeker”, my second novel “The Fatal Destiny of the Hen”, and my third novel “Let’s Play to Voices” would be published and at least one of them would have been made into a movie. I would have had the opportunity to spread my voice to all continents and people of all kinds, generating deep insights in them.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Playing the piano professionally. I must confess though, that I do not own a piano or have any piano skills. In fact I have never taken a piano lesson!!

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

“Let’s play to voices” is the temporary title of my third novel, which is the one I am currently working on. I take my view on people who manage to live in an imaginative reality one step further, including different fantasy elements to shape the story…I am so excited about this work!

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

Amos Oz, who is a well-respected Israeli author that proposes forgiveness and harmony in the Midwest region.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

* Ghosts for Long Nights was originally written in Spanish. I translated it to English myself
* Once a year I travel to the Andean Mountains to retreat and recharge my earth-energy. It is a unique experience of solitude in a place where nearly no human has been in. This reminds me that our cosmic connection is what gives us insights and understandings…
* I am a tango fan! I take classes, I listen to tango songs, and I memorize lyrics. I find it so romantic and seductive!






Find Ms. Rivera online via:

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BOOK SALE: "Unblocked Episode One" by Marni Mann

Unblocked Episode One (Book One of the Timber Towers series) by Marni Mann is now FREE via the following ebook retailers!


Derek Block seeks revenge. Frankie Jordan seeks professional dominance. He wants her, she wants him. Lines that can’t cross begin to blur. Things start heating up as real estate gets real… This is episode one of the five-episode novella series Timber Towers.


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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BLOG TOUR: "The Benighted" by A.M. Dunnewin


Dark Fantasy / Romance
Date Published: November 25, 2013

The King was dead. 

His body was found slain in his room, only months after his son had been brutally murdered. Skylar Mandolyn, his daughter, has now become the last heir to inherit the throne. But instead of becoming Queen, she has been imprisoned for helping in the escape of Sir Harlin Brien, her knight who was framed for the King’s murder. 

Confined to darkness, Skylar's captors have given her no choice but to yield to a new kind of enemy: a kingdom that has advanced in both technology and warfare. It's when she refuses that the prison uses its other means of persuasion, and although unmerciful, the whip lashings and isolation can't suppress the memories of her family's downfall. Pulled between her subconscious and reality, Skylar already knows who the true enemy is, because even the darkness can't hide the deceptive hands that have destroyed them all. 

With two kingdoms on the brink of war, Skylar's only hope is in the person who has gone missing—Harlin, the knight who was sworn to protect her. The memory of him surrounds her when the darkness screams louder than the prisoners, and when Death smiles a faceless grin in between the cracks of the stone. While the tremors start to rise from the deep, crawling up through the prison's walls, Skylar doesn't realize that she will soon see why he's one of the Benighted. 

The mystery was never how Harlin escaped. It's how he'll return.




A. M. Dunnewin inherited her love for mysteries and thrillers from her family, which motivated her to pursue a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Although her stories cover a wide range of genres, she primarily writes historical fiction and thrillers. An avid reader at heart, she's also a passionate collector of both antique books and graphic novels, and has been known to search for stories in the most random places. She lives in Sacramento, California.







Purchase Links




My Review:

A story of good and evil and where the line between the two blurs.
The Benighted is dark, fantastical and beautiful, focusing on the heroine, Skylar, and her plight for honesty and what is right in her kingdom.
She helped the knight who murdered her father escape, and is now being punished for it, instead of taking her rightful place as the queen of the kindgom. She is tortured, beaten and broken, facing her own nightmares along with the horrors festered upon her daily in prison.
As kingdoms go to war, the reader discovers why the knight, Harlin, escaped and why he is a Benighted, and how he could save or destroy the kingdom.
With a straightforward plot that has a few surprising twists, meeting technology with fantasy, this is a book unlike any other, and is now going to be put in my "re-read list". And you, reader, should put it on your TBR list!

5/5--a great take on fantasy!

BOOK REVIEW: "Shady Miss Grey" by Sid M. Brooks



When college student Andy Irons interviews the rich young entrepreneur Pagan Grey, Andy discovers a perfect woman.. The innocent Andy is startled to realize that he wants this woman. Grey admits she wants Andy—but in her own way.

We should've expected satirical posts about Fifty Shades Of Grey. I, personally, never read the book nor saw the film, so I think some of the humor in this parody was lost on me. But not all of it. While this is extremely short (sixteen pages), it makes its point: no matter how you look at it, this is ridiculous and wrong on all levels.
There isn't much to say beyond that. If you want a quick, good laugh at Christian Grey's expense, you should definitely check this out. You won't regret it.

4/5--funny and fast.




Purchase Shady Miss Grey on Amazon.

BOOK LAUNCH: "Gone For You" by Jayne Frost

headerA debut novel from Jayne Frost... For Cameron Knight, guitarist for Caged, women are simply an itch you have to scratch sometimes. Fun and casual is the way he likes it, and it's saved him a lot of heartache. Until he meets Lily...
Get it on Amazon.
About Gone for You As the guitarist for the rock band Caged, I know the rules: no relationships. No complications. Leave ‘em smiling when you go, but always go. Besides, it’s not like I’m ever in one place for more than a few days at a time. As the next hottest thing out of Austin, the band and I are riding the wave, and the music is all that matters. Until her… Lily Tennison has “complication” written across her beautiful face. But I can’t get involved. The timing’s all wrong. But she’s under my skin, and I can’t resist her troubled eyes and sweet smile. And I do have a little time to kill. Not much, just a few days in Dallas. So I’ll scratch the itch and move on, like I always do. Simple, right?
Add Gone for You to your TBR list on Goodreads!
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Special sneak peek:
Ch 2: When Cameron Knight Meets Lily [The band has arrived at their hotel, a special arrangement due to over-eager paparazzi.]
My gaze fell on the figure that exited through the wooden doors a few yards away. Her blond hair swung from side to side, mimicking the sway of her hips. A smile played across her lips, crinkling the corners of her piercing blue eyes. My heart nearly stopped. “Dude, close your mouth.” Sean knocked shoulders with me when he stepped to my side. Giving him a sidelong glance, I saw Logan smiling appreciatively at the girl, looking her up and down. No way. Stepping away from them, I nearly knocked her over in my attempt to reach her before she got caught in Logan’s crosshairs. Startled, she looked up at me, tucking a wisp of hair behind her ear. Fuck me, the girl was hot. Taking off my sunglasses, I gave her the most seductive grin I could muster.
Nothing. “Mr. Noble?” She glanced down at the paperwork in her hand without acknowledging my lame attempt at flirtation. “Knight, actually.” I was hoping for a glimmer of “Knight, actually.” I was hoping for a glimmer of recognition Her brows knitted together, causing an adorable little crease to form on her forehead. I was Cameron Noble. At least that’s what my birth certificate said. But I dropped that shit as soon as Caged had a single on the charts, changing my name to Knight. My old man, Tyler Noble, the drunk that chased fame his whole life, was not going to get a nod of acknowledgment from me for anything I achieved. “But you can call me Noble.” Not to be deterred by her cool demeanor, I quirked a brow and leaned in. “Or anything else you want, as long as you say it with a smile.” Laughing nervously, she stuck out her hand. “I’m Lily Tennison. I’ll be your personal events coordinator while you’re here.” Taking her hand, I squeezed it gently. “I like the sound of that.” She took a step back, slipping her hand free. “Your brother explained the situation. If you would follow me to my office, I’d be happy to go over a list of the amenities and services we offer here at The Mansion. I’ll also take care of any special requests you might have.” Looking over my shoulder at Logan and Sean, she gave them a cheery smile. “Gentlemen, welcome to The Mansion.” Turning, she walked briskly toward the building, ignoring the snickers that erupted from our group. “Special requests?” Logan chuckled, lowering his tone to nearly a whisper. “I’ve got her special request—right here.” He grabbed his crotch, waggling his brows at me. Slapping him on the back of the head, I followed her into the lobby, putting some distance between me and the two asshats I was with. The guys couldn’t hold it together for one fucking minute without acting like horny teenagers.
My cock stirred when the slit up the back of Lily’s pencil skirt opened as she walked, showing a nice expanse of her silky thighs. Scowling, I looked down at my boots. Logan and Sean might have been acting like horny teenagers, but I was the one sporting a hard-on. Perfect. The lobby was decorated with huge vases of freshly cut flowers and cushy, leather chairs with side tables made of rich, dark wood. Following Lily past the polished marble front desk, I noticed a number of guests staring in our direction. “Over here we have our lounge and our steakhouse.” Lily looked over her shoulder, giving a nod in the direction of the dimly lit space. “They are open for dinner only. Per your brother’s request, I’ve secured a chef to take care of your meals, en suite. However, you can order anything off the menu and have it delivered, if you prefer.” Nodding, I kept my eyes trained on her face, hoping my cock would go into hibernation. Lily’s tongue darted out, sweeping her lip when she looked down at her paperwork. A perfect, pink tongue. Caressing the softest, pinkest lips I’d ever seen in my life. She disappeared ahead of us, turning down a hallway where the executive offices were housed. I took the opportunity to stick my hand in my pocket and adjust my erection. “You got a problem there, son?” Logan clapped my shoulder as he strode past me. “Mind your own damn business,” I muttered, moving to his side. “And stop with the fucking sex jokes.” Logan gave me a sidelong glance, peering at me over his sunglasses. “Dude, I’m not the one with the semi.” Rolling my eyes, I stepped through the door of Lily’s large office. A leather sofa was pushed against the wall. Three winged chairs with rich upholstery sat in front of the large cherry desk. Oil paintings and other artwork hung on every wall. I wandered over to a group of four charcoal sketches next to the window. A large “L” with a small flower dotted the right-hand corner of each one. The gritty cityscapes didn’t match the rest of the office’s motif.
“These are really nice.” I nodded appreciatively, leaning in closer to examine the details before turning to her. “Um, t-thanks,” she stammered. The crease in her brow grew more pronounced when she noticed me looking at her. She dropped her eyes to the paperwork on her desk. I grinned, ambling over to take a seat in the winged chair in front of the desk. “I’ve taken the liberty of contacting a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus.” She lifted her gaze, taking in our tattered jeans and t-shirts. “If you could provide me with your sizes, I’ll have some things brought over for you until you can retrieve your luggage from the Omni.” “Is there something wrong with the way we’re dressed?” Logan removed his sunglasses, leaning forward and propping his elbows on his knees. “Absolutely not.” She shifted in her seat. “I assumed since you didn’t have any clean clothes, you might want to order a few things. It’s totally up to you. There’s no dress code on the property, with the exception of the hotel dining area.” Clasping her hands on top of the paperwork on her desk, she gave us a sincere smile. “Look, y’all, I’m here to help. I’m sorry to hear about your friend.” Her gaze fell on mine, holding it for a second. “Is he all right, if you don’t mind me asking?” “Fine,” I said, studying the blue depths of her irises. “Just a little banged up.” She nodded sympathetically. “Let me get this paperwork out of the way. I’m sure you’ve had a trying day.” Turning to the computer on the side table, she punched in the information from the sheet of paper on her desk. A few minutes later she stood, handing each of us a fat envelope. “It was nice to meet y’all.” She extended a hand to Logan, and then to Sean. “Please let me know if I can be of any assistance during your stay. The bungalows are out back, at the far end of the property. Would you like me to call for a cart to take you there?” “I’m sure we’ll manage,” Logan said with a chuckle, giving her a wide grin. “Thanks for all your help.”
He nodded at Sean, who thanked Lily as well before following Logan out of the office. She stepped around the desk and clasped her hands in front of her. I waited until the guys were out of earshot and closed the distance between us. “So what do you do for fun around here?” That perfect, pink tongue darted out again. I assumed she wasn’t aware of what she was doing, but I couldn’t tear my gaze from her lips. An arc of electricity flowed between us, drawing me to her like a magnet. “Um...” She trailed off, seeming unsure of her words. “I’ve enclosed this brochure in the envelope I gave you. We have—” “I mean, what do you do for fun, Lily?” Placing a hand on her arm, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Definitely electricity. Staring at me for a moment, her arm dropped limply to her side. “I work.” She smiled up at me. “And I go to school. I don’t have much time for fun.” With that, she stepped toward the door, holding it open. Nodding, I shoved the envelope in my back pocket, leaning toward her on my way out. She smelled just like the freshly cut flowers in the lobby. Like a spring day. “That’s a shame, Lily. Everyone could use a little fun.” It took a shitload of self-control not to look back when I sauntered down the hallway. Before I made it five steps, the door clicked shut behind me.
Want more Cam and Lily? Get your copy of Gone for You here!
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The Cast of Gone for You Cam Lily Logan The Playlist Tunes make writing a lot easier! Well, sometimes. Here's a few that inspired me while I wrote Gone for You!  
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About Jayne Frost
So…who is Jayne?Cropped 2 As a writer, you would think that would be a simple question…but it’s not. I spend so much time living in my characters heads, listening to their voices, that sometimes I forget about my own. I guess I should start with the basics: the backstory. I was born and raised in California. At this point, I’m usually asked what it was like to grow up near the beach, but sadly, I don’t know. I grew up in the “other” part of California. Perfect for an aspiring writer, if you ask me. You learn a lot about keeping yourself busy when the nearest house is a mile away…and it belongs to your grandparents. I spent all my time with my nose in a book, living vicariously through the characters, until I wrote a book of my own. I was ten at the time. It was a scintillating piece that cast the family pet as the protagonist.By the time I went to high school, I moved on to romance. Why? Because I met my very own prince charming. I wrote love poems in my journal about the green-eyed boy who stole my heart. He promised, the way all storybook heroes do, to sweep me away and take me on a grand adventure. And he did.We picked up and moved to the Lone Star State and began the story of us. The best stories begin without a road map or a compass. Veering off course makes the journey so much more interesting. True to form, just when I thought my life was set, we started the next adventure. I traded in my cowboy boots and followed my green-eyed boy to Las Vegas. My home will always be in Texas, but my heart is anywhere that he is. Our beautiful daughter made the journey with us. Our son stayed in Texas, to write his own story. Somehow, in the midst of the chaos that is our life, I find time to write. Writing is what I love. I might stray from romance every now and then if that is what moves me…but I always come back. Some of the stories don’t seem romantic at all. They are gritty stories about flawed characters that find each other and hold on tight. Those are the stories that speak to me. Because that’s life. I believe that every story should have a happy ending—even the difficult ones.You can find me at Twitter at @jaynefrostbooks, Facebook, Pinterest, and my website. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

RELEASE DAY BLITZ: "Omega City" by Diana Peterfreund

  Coming this April 28th, Diana’s first book for readers eight and up is a thrilling adventure story, perfect for people who like their books with a side of rocketships and hidden treasure. Find out what secrets are hidden beneath the Maryland countryside in...

Omega City

OmegaCity
Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War-era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced the family to move to a cottage in the sticks, but Gillian knows he’s right, and plans to prove it. When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Unerberg’s diary in her father’s mess of an office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle–a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off into the ruins of a vast doomsday bunker, deep within the earth. But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. Now Gillian and her friends must race to explore OMEGA CITY and find the answers they need. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried...forever.
 

GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

  • “With seamless writing, a thrilling plot, lots of engaging science puzzles, and remarkable characterization, Peterfreund's exciting tale keeps the adventure solidly in the foreground. Young readers looking for a page turning quest should get into this planned series on the ground floor." — Booklist *Starred* Review "Peterfreund's focus on character development is complemented by the equal attention she gives to the vast underground city itself. Gillian’s instincts to protect her friends and clear her historian father’s tarnished name are admirable, but Peterfreund gives every character the opportunity to grow, revealing themselves for who they really are."Publishers Weekly “With nonstop action, sly humor, and nothing short of the end of the world at stake, Omega City is the alpha book in a new series that mashes up mystery, scifi, and action/adventure into a thrilling novel you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I did, and I can’t wait to read what comes next!”Peter Lerangis, New York Times Bestselling author of the Seven Wonders series “Peterfreund’s boundless imagination takes on a new and exciting adventure!”Jessica Day George, New York Times Bestselling author of Tuesdays at the Castle” “Diana Peterfreund takes us to an underground city that’s utterly mind-blowing, yet disturbingly possible. A knockout of a story that will have readers cheering straight through to the final, shocking, twist.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman
  DPeterfreund-smallpic Diana Peterfreund has published ten novels for adults, teens, and kids, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampantand Ascendant (Harper Teen), For Darkness Shows the Stars (a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’sPersuasion), and Across a Star-Swept Sea (inspired by the classic series The Scarlet Pimpernel). Her newest novel, OMEGA CITY, is a contemporary adventure novel for younger readers set in a secret bunker city somewhere under modern Maryland. Her works have been named to the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list, the Capitol Choices (metro DC-area) reading list, and the Texas Lonestar List, as well as having been named to Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about popular children’s literature. Diana lives outside Washington D.C., with her family.
   

Monday, April 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Ghosts For Long Nights" by Martha Cecilia Rivera


Based on an unbridled passion, the beautiful Rebecca Hidalgo managed to create for herself a life that was dramatically different from that of her childhood. Now, when the right moment to enjoy what she has accomplished has arrived, she faces a series of inexplicable events that slowly, yet surely, get her into an inescapable labyrinth. Every new step seems to entangle Rebecca with an absurd and terrifying rope that would end up shattering her deepest foundations. Witchcraft and denial converge in this highly psychological, vertiginous novel, a mirror where unresolved anguish of modern life unsuccessfully fights to not be reflected. Readers will find in this first, hallucinatory and challenging novel by Martha Cecilia Rivera, the strength of impeccable writing while holding their breath through the end with eyes that look around for an unknown presence....

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fantasy. Who doesn't prefer it to reality? I myself have often said that I prefer living in my own fantasy world than reality if I can. But main character Rebecca takes it much further than I ever did. She lived a difficult childhood and wanted to escape it.
From the first page you're drawn in by Ms. Rivera's descriptive language and eye for detail. You get to know Rebecca, and you get sucked into her strange, dangerous world.
I find it very difficult to review this and NOT give spoilers, so forgive this for being brief. I just don't like books being spoiled for prospective readers.
What I can say is that, not only will you be entering a crazy and malicious world (that is not as fantastical as you might think), but you will find yourself entering Rebecca's mind. Rebecca isn't just a fictional character. If you can't relate to her, you can sympathise with her. All of us, at one point in our lives, have wished to exit reality and enter a fictional world.
Ms. Rivera is a very talented writer, creating one of the best novels of this generation, something people will be reading and discovering decades from now.

5/5--innovative and enchanting.

Purchase Ghosts For Long Nights via:

Amazon

RELEASE BLITZ: "Crossing Danger" by Colleen Helme



Mystery
Date Published: April 27, 2015

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Shelby Nichols isn’t your average soccer-mom turned private investigator. She’s more on the quirky side with a little wild thrown in. That’s because a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head left her with the ability to read minds. This lands her in all kinds of trouble, and this time is no exception. Helping a reporter, Billie Jo, get the low-down on a case is just the tip of the iceberg. When her best friend’s niece goes missing, Shelby is pulled into a conspiracy that involves the police and the leader of a violent drug ring. Add to that a stranger in town with ties to the mob-boss she works for, along with a known assassin out to kill him, and Shelby is crossing danger at every turn. Will she find the answers in time? Or will this be her last adventure?




EXCERPT

I stood inside the small women’s locker room dressed in white drawstring pants that ended several inches above my ankles, and a robe-like top that crisscrossed to close in front. Luckily, I wore a black tank top underneath, since there wasn’t anything besides a white belt to hold it together.
I tied the belt in a knot and let out a breath, hoping I’d done it right. The white training uniform was a bit stiff, and worse, felt like a poufy marshmallow around me. I let out a disgusted huff, knowing that I looked like the womanly version of the Pillsbury dough-boy.
Billie Jo waited just outside the door, but it was hard to step out there dressed like this. Did I really need to do this? Especially since I’d know what everyone was thinking about me? Reading minds often came in handy, but not in situations like this.
Of course, the fact that a serial killer had recently taken me hostage and nearly killed me certainly helped. It was time to learn some self-defense, so nothing like that could ever happen to me again.
So what if I looked silly, and that with my ‘superpower’ of reading minds I’d know what everyone thought of me. I could take it. Besides, I had to start somewhere, right?
I took a calming breath and opened the door.
Billie smiled encouragingly before glancing down at the way I’d tied my belt. Her brows drew sharply together, and she was thinking it looked like a disaster. No way did she want me out on the mat looking like that. “Here…let me help you with that. Tie it this way…” She demonstrated how to do it, then pulled it tight. “Okay. Now you’re good to go.”
“Um…thanks,” I said.
She didn’t miss the embarrassed flush creeping up my neck and was thinking I should just suck it up and be grateful she was there to keep me from looking like a dork. With an indulgent smile that contradicted her thoughts, she turned and led the way to the mat.
Swallowing my pride, I followed behind, noting that her black skirt-like pants with the waist-high belt looked ten times better than my outfit. Compared to her, I looked like I was still in my underwear and had forgotten to put my pants on.
A vision of getting out there and everyone laughing at me crossed my mind but, given how Billie made sure my belt was right, I didn’t think she’d let me embarrass her like that. Still, once we got to the mat, I let out a relieved breath to find I wasn’t the only one wearing white training pants.
Billie did a quick bow before stepping onto the mat, so I bowed as well. I followed her to stand in a line before the teacher, or Sensei, as everyone called him. He wore the same black pants as Billie but, on him, they seemed more dignified and masterful. He was also a big, tall and brawny kind of guy. With his long, gray-black hair pulled back into a ponytail, he intimidated the crap out of me.
He caught my gaze and nodded a cool greeting while I tried to hide my jittering nerves. After he introduced me to the rest of the class, we began with a few stretches and warm-ups. Then he taught us that the most important part of Aikido was learning how to fall safely and then roll around to get back up.
Besides Billie, there was only one other woman in the class. Her name was Melissa, and she was a second-degree black belt like Billie. With the two of them paying special attention to me, I began to relax and actually started to enjoy myself. Even the rolling-around part didn’t seem so bad. They showed me some basic techniques, and my confidence grew.
Near the end of class, Sensei asked if I had any questions, so I blurted out the one thing I’d been thinking about all night. “Yeah. I was just wondering…if someone was to get me in a choke hold with his elbow around my neck and started dragging me backwards, would I be able to get away?”
His gaze caught mine, and his eyes narrowed. He was thinking that, from the fear in my eyes and the tone of my voice, it probably wasn’t a rhetorical question. No. I had the look of someone who’d been there, and a spike of anger rushed over him. He’d seen it more times than he liked, and it always made him furious.
“Yes you can. I’ll show you how.” He turned his gaze to Melissa and asked her to help him demonstrate the technique. Since she was about my size, and he was huge, I was interested to see how she could possibly take him on and come out on top.
He stood behind her and clamped his elbow around her neck beneath her chin. “The first thing you do is tuck your chin down so they can’t choke you.” She did this, and Sensei proceeded to explain how she needed to pull down on his elbow and step back, then grab his wrist and forcefully push outward with his elbow still bent. “At this point, you will break his arm.”
Whoa! That sounded pretty awesome, and I couldn’t help smiling with wicked delight. He demonstrated the technique a few more times, adding different variations to the attack, and then asked me to practice with him. Him! The biggest guy in the class!
I nervously licked my lips and, as he put his arm around my neck, that feeling of helplessness washed over me. But he patiently talked me through the moves and, after breaking his hold a few times, confidence replaced my fear. I even forced him to the mat once. Who would have thought? By the end of class, I was pumped. This was the right place for me, and I could hardly wait to come back and learn more.



About the Author

As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. "Definitely," she says. "Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be." Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby's adventures. "I love getting Shelby into trouble...I just don't always know how to get her out of it!" Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

Author Links

Twitter: @ColleenHelme


Purchase Links



Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card


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BOOK SPOTLIGHT: "Wash Me Away" by Wendy Owens

 
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Monsters have a way of following you. Immersed in a new world at boarding school, Addy Buckley learns she’s not the only one with secrets. While trying to navigate the minefield of painful lies that seem to be rattling around her family’s past, she meets soft on the eyes and heavy on the heart, Napoleon Blake. When faced with the darkness, Addy must decide to cling to her new life and friends or let the monster carry her away. The choice is hers, sink or swim.      
About Wendy Owens
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Wendy Owens is a 34 year old author, born in the small college town, Oxford Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went onto a career in the visual arts. For several years she created and sold her own artwork. In 2011 she gave her true love, writing, a try. Her first novel flowed from her in only two weeks time, as though it had been fighting to get out. That moment was when she knew she had found her calling. Wendy now happily spends her days writing the stories her characters guide her to tell, admitting even she doesn’t always know where that might lead. Her first series, The Guardians, will be concluded with the fifth and final book in 2013.
When she’s not writing, this dog lover can be found spending time with her tech geek husband, their three amazing kids, and two pups, lovingly nicknamed stinks and chubbs. She also loves to cook and is a film fanatic.
For more info on Wendy’s young adult fiction visit http://wendy-owens.com/
If you want to follow her on social media you can visit:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1QxDMQ6 iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wash-me-away/id978814968?mt=11 B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wash-me-away-wendy-owens/1121502681?ean=2940046645316

Friday, April 24, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: DU Okonkwo


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I decided to come a writer when I first had my idea for RISE - that was several years ago!

2. What authors inspired you when you were young? What books do you enjoy reading today?


I loved books by Judy Blume, Roald Dahl and many authors who wrote under the 'Point Horror' labels. Today I mostly read historical non-fiction and fiction, and romantic suspense. 

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Rise?
The idea for RISE popped into my head during a lunch break from work. I was in a bookstore, and the idea came to me later that day.

4. Will we ever see Ria again in the future?
I may do a spin off novel which has Ria in it, yes. Stay tuned.

5. Why did you write about an artist? Does sculpture have a particular significance to you?
I've always appreciated artists and the amazing talents that they have. Writing about Ria's talent was fun, but also challenging. I liked the aspect of perfection that Ria brings to her sculpting. But that aspect of perfection is more about her own insecurities about herself. I wanted to weave that into the book. 

6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?
The characters are all invented. Naturally there are some influences from people you hear about or those around you, but I doubt anyone I know would see themselves in one particular character of the book. 

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
I'm now writing a four book series, and while the basis of that is also literary fiction, it has elements of action and adventure, and survival skills. This is due to the nature of the story. 

8. What would you do if you were Ria?

What would I do if I were Ria? That is a very funny question. I can’t ever imagine being like Ria. I can’t draw a straight line for a start!

9. Was there any intended symbolism behind the fact that Ria is too self-conscious to be seen in public? What would you have to say to others who might feel the way she does?


There is much symbolism to the fact that Ria doesn’t want to be seen publicly, as the artwork she creates is lauded publicly. But Ria has believed a lot of lies, and so I’d say to anyone, as Ria had to find out through the course of the book: get truth.

10. Would you like to see Rise as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?

Oh, I’m sure every author would like to see their book made into a film. The actress to play Ria? I think Lupita Nyong’o would be fab.

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?


I see myself having a wide catalogue of work, under different genres, but always with the same themes as Rise running through them. These themes are universal, and which everyone can relate to.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Perhaps acting. I’ve always enjoyed that.

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
Yep. I’m working on a 4-book series at the moment. They’re due to come out later this year.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
This is a difficult one I honestly can’t think of anyone!

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?


Three things: I can count to ten in Japanese. I got to purple belt in Karate when I was a kid, and I was fortunate to live in Spain for nine months as part of my university degree course.  




Find Ms. Okonkwo online via:

NEW RELEASE: "Flavor Of The Week" by Candy Caine





Attorney, Raven Gould, is tired of defending scumbags and fending off the advances of her boss. So she decides to quit her high-powered career and take a job at a popular ice cream parlor. Her aunt is alarmed at Raven’s decision and secretly convinces psychologist, Lucas Lusk, to check out her niece’s mental state.

Reluctantly, Lucas agrees. But after meeting the dusky beauty, he realizes he wants to do a lot more than check out her mental state. The problem is, Raven has a thing against psychologists and if she discovers why he keeps running into her—seemingly accidentally—she’ll never give him the time of day.

Raven soon finds herself intrigued by the tall, quietly sexy doctor, completely unaware of his relentless pursuit, or his determination to have her at all costs. And when a dangerous enemy from Lucas’ past wreaks havoc on his career, Raven must choose between guarding her heart or standing by the man she thinks betrayed her trust.



Changing the subject, Raven said, “I want to thank you again for taking me to the theater tonight. Our seats were practically on stage. I felt as if I was part of the show.”
“I’m glad you had a good time and that the show lived up to its reviews,” Lucas said before sipping his Manhattan. “I really enjoyed the show, too.”
“Music is so powerful. It has a way of bringing people together. I came away with the feeling that we should hold fast to our dreams. That made me think of your mother and her fierce desire to live in the United States, no matter what.”
“I thought of her, too. You would’ve definitely liked her.”
Raven sipped her drink and dabbed at her lips with her napkin. “I’m certain I would have. Is your father still alive?”
“No. He died several years before my mother. Heart attack.” Lucas looked away a moment.
Raven touched his hand gently. He turned back toward her. “I’m so sorry.”
“At least my brother Michael and I had them both around while I was growing up.”
“Okay. Official change of subject to a happier topic,” Raven declared sensing his melancholy.
“Like what?” Lucas asked.
“Like I’d love to pick up the cast recording of the show,” Raven said.
“Here you go,” Lucas said, removing a CD from a pocket in his coat.
Raven’s eyes widened. “When on earth did you get that?” 
“During intermission while you went to the ladies room.”
“Don’t you mean when I got on that mile-long relief line?”
Chuckling, Lucas said, “Yes, then.”
“I can’t believe this. How did you know? Thank you ever so much! You’re so thoughtful!”
“I know,” Lucas replied.
“And so very humble, as well.”
“Now, now, be nice. By the way, do you piss off Santa, too?”
Raven laughed until tears filled her eyes. When they cleared, she said, “Sorry my sarcastic side sometimes overpowers everything else.”
“We’ll listen to it together,” Lucas suggested.
“Fabulous idea. I second it.”
They finished their drinks and enjoyed another round. There seemed to be no limit to their conversation until a band consisting of a pianist, drummer and guitar player began to play a lively rendition of All You Need is Love.
“I had no idea this place had a band,” Lucas admitted.
“And they’re quite good.”
“I know you love music, but how do you feel about dancing?” Lucas asked. A big grin occupied most of his face.
“Would love to!”
The song ended and the band started to play Unchained Melody. Lucas reached across the table for Raven’s hand and led her to a small area where several other couples were dancing. Raven slipped into Lucas’s arms. His closeness was so male, so bracing and she soaked in his unique scent. A familiar shiver of awareness rippled through her, as if emerging from a long sleep. Her heart hammered in her chest foolishly.
Was this an indication that Lucas had already breached her defenses? Had she already cast her fate to the wind? It would certainly appear so. Especially since the thought of being alone with him—skin touching skin—was suddenly crowding her mind and allowing no other thoughts to enter. The sensations Raven now felt were not the usual ones she’d have whenever she desired to have sex with some guy she was attracted to. These feelings were similar to those she once had when she thought she was in love with Gordon White. That made sense, she reasoned. It definitely wasn’t casual sex she now desired to have with Lucas. No, not in the least. She wanted to make slow, sweet love with him—again and again.
Lucas nuzzled her neck. Oh, yeah. She wanted him all right. And if that hard object pressing into her thigh was what she thought it was, the feeling was quite mutual.
The band launched into their rendition of I Will Always Love You, and Raven continued to enjoy his closeness as she casually slipped her arms around his neck. She gave into the desire to run her fingers through the back of his hair. In response he kissed her neck sending a fresh sensual thrill straight to her sex. Raven moved closer continuing to soak up that uniqueness of him that was making her heady. The urge to run her hands up and down his body under his clothing was nearly overwhelming. Her logical mind was running scenarios of them having sex.  Some were so hot she thought the circuits in her brain would overheat. She hadn’t felt so sexually charged in ages and began to fear what might happen if she didn’t sleep with him.
When the song ended, the band played a rendition of She’s a Maniac, before taking a well-earned break.
Lucas led Raven back to their table and got them another round of drinks.
Raven took a sip of her drink. “You seem to know your way around a dance floor.” 
“My mother and father loved to dance. I guess I caught on watching them.”
“Well you obviously paid close attention.”
He grinned at her impishly. “Most girls liked boys who knew how to dance. And I liked girls.”
“Good to know. Perhaps after we leave here tonight we can listen to the CD from the show. ” Raven hoped he’d take the hint.
“It should sound wonderful on my Bose system,” Lucas said.
Raven’s heart fluttered as she began to anticipate what was going to happen.
After they finished their drinks, Lucas said,” if you’d like another drink, Raven, that’s fine. As for me, if I have another, we’ll have to take other transportation home.”
“No. I’m fine. In fact, I feel great!” She attempted to rise to prove her point, but never quite got to her feet. Gravity won the battle and she sat back down.
Lucas stifled a chuckle. “You seem to have gotten a real buzz on. Perhaps, I should get you home.”
“Nope. The night is still young. And the last time I checked, so are we... Or is it the other way around? Who cares? We’re in the greatest city in the world and should enjoy ourselves,” Raven said, as she nearly slid off her chair.
“Okay, happy girl, let’s go,” Lucas said as he came around to help Raven into her coat. He bent to kiss her tender neck. She made a purring sound of contentment.
They walked the short distance to his car and he helped her inside. As he drove out of the lot, he glanced at Raven. Her eyes were closed, but there was a smile on her face. It looked like she was just resting her eyes a moment, but by the time they were back on the expressway, the sound of her soft snores filled the car nearly making Lucas laugh. He fought valiantly to stifle them, not wanting to embarrass her. It wasn’t exactly the way he imagined the end of the date would go, but shit happens as they say.
Raven woke up when Lucas cut the engine in front of her house. Disoriented a moment, she asked, “Where are we?”
Lucas smiled at her. Her cheeks were flushed with sleep making her look adorable like a little girl. “At your place.”
“I thought we were heading to yours to listen to the CD?”
“That was the original plan.”
“Uh-oh,” she said quietly.  Was I asleep?”
“Yup. You slept all the way home.”
“You’re kidding. Please say you’re kidding. I’m so embarrassed. That never—
I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. You’re adorable when you sleep,” Lucas said, unbuckling his seatbelt.
Raven rolled her eyes. “That won’t happen again. I promise.”
“You know we can keep doing this until we get a perfect,” he said. “Same time, next Saturday?”
A yawn snuck past Raven’s defenses and she apologized quickly, but not before Lucas chuckled. “I’d better get you inside while you’re still awake.” He leaned over the console and opened her seatbelt. Then he got out, walked around the car, and opened her door.
Smiling down at her, he asked, “Would you like me to carry you to the door?”
“Heavens no! What would my aunt think?”
“That I wore you out of course,” he said, offering his hand.
Raven took it to steady herself a moment before they walked to the door together. She had removed the keys from her purse and Lucas took them to unlock the door. Then he encircled her in his arms, drawing her closer to him. He kissed her gently. “Shall I pick you up at seven next Saturday?”
She nodded and placed her arms around his neck. “I’m truly sorry about tonight. I’ve never fallen asleep on a date before.” Her lips covered his, intending to be a sweet good night kiss. But instead of parting, their lips were pulled together like electromagnets coming together in an attraction of savage harmony. Both had totally forgotten that her aunt might be up and about. They were too engrossed with each other to think of anything else but kissing and touching one another.
Raven’s back was against the door as Lucas leaned into her, first devouring her mouth and then her neck. She grabbed handfuls of his hair, pulling his face close to hers. Their lips came together again in a fury, their tongues meeting in a tangled heap while they breathed as one.
Closer still, Raven rubbed against his straining cock. A soft moan escaped her lips. Lucas cupped her breast through her silk dress as he planted hurried kisses down her neck. His other hand inched up her dress toward her drenched panties.





Whether she’s writing a short story or novel, Candy Caine will make her interracial romances hot and spicy. Always striving to entertain her readers, Candy tries to breathe life into her characters, making life often interesting for her husband, Robert back in their home on Long Island, NY. And both are trying to teach their fifteen-year old yellow Lab, Sammy, new tricks. 

Candy loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at candy@candycaine.com.

Visit her website at www.candycaine.com.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "The Find" by Gregg Bell


She found a watch. A monster found a plaything. 

Looking for love is the last thing on single mother Phoebe Jackson's mind. She's desperate to find a way to make enough money to help her sick child and will do anything to save her. Finding an expensive bejeweled watch is just the lucky break she needs, and her need to save her child overwhelms her ethics and she decides to take it.
Unbeknownst to her, the watch belongs to the mobster Michael "Fingertips" Contini. Within days Contini discovers she took the watch and confronts her, and soon Phoebe's lured into his world of wealth and power, and finds much much more than she was looking for...
Former cop Brent Greer, Phoebe's ex-husband's best friend, knows Contini's history all too well and knows that Phoebe is blind to how much danger she's really in. Her problems may be none of his business, but he can't stand by and watch her fall in deeper. Extricating her from the vicious gangster is harder every day she spends with him—yet if Brent can't convince Phoebe to get out, a deadly end can't be far off.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

A story that could've been very (very) predictable, The Find was a...well, a pleasant find! From the very beginning of the story, you feel for Phoebe, a woman whose husband left her and who has to children she loves more than life. One of those kids is ill, and Phoebe's job doesn't give her health insurance.
As a child of a single mom who was always sick, I immediately felt for her, but stopped when I saw her go down the road so many people do: lured by more wealth than she knows what to do with when she gets involved with a mobster.
Brent is a very typical do-gooder ex-cop who probably likes Phoebe as he tries to save her. But, also typical, she doesn't listen and is blinded by shiny things as she falls deeper and deeper into the mobster's trap. I liked Brent, despite his simple facade. He is handsome, honest and a real hero.
The story does not follow the traditional path a romantic suspense novel takes. It doesn't completely deviate from the path, but it veers off-road just enough to have kept me entertained through the end and made me want to know what other ideas there are floating around Mr. Bell's mind!
A great read that many will find entertaining and exciting.

4/5--a dark and exciting story.




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