Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Secret Lives of Royals VBT

Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.

Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?

Confessions of a Shopaholic meets The Adjustment Bureau, this contemporary fairytale is both relatable and aspirational. Taking a look at the current balance of media and power with a healthy dose of humor, fashion, food and wanderlust.

Connor cleans up nicely in dark jeans, a black blazer paired with a white shirt and, shockingly for him, no tie. He’s shaved for the occasion to reveal perfect skin that appears baby smooth. I want to reach out and touch it to see if it’s as soft as it seems, but I resist. Actually, Connor is hot. If you like that smolderingly handsome type. It’s so annoying because he is such a difficult person. I try to ignore the attractiveness because I find his personality extremely abrasive, but I’m being nice because I need to follow his lead and learn as much as I can about what it is exactly that we do.

“Shall we?” asks Connor, offering me his arm in an annoyingly chivalrous move, one he will soon live to regret. I begrudgingly take it, discomfited by the fact that he can be equally charming and exasperating and that I never quite know which to expect.

“A host shows us to our seats and we meet our dining companions. One I recognize as Gloria, the daytime TV talk show host with the ability to change anyone’s life with a wave of her hand, and an army of assistants; and the other is some sort of political big-wig whom I don’t recognize at all. Gloria air kisses all of us and promptly decides Connor and I are a couple.

“Young love is soooooo sweet. I just love it! Don’t you just love it? I could eat you both up,” she exclaims until Connor can’t take it anymore and cuts her off.”

“We’re not together,” he informs her brusquely. There’s a beat of silence as Connor’s tone kills the conversation.

“We’re colleagues,” I helpfully add to try to soften the atmosphere, “at Le Salon.” Gloria seems shocked, and not just a little offended, momentarily silenced in what I’m sure is a very rare occurrence for her. Although, whether it’s because no one has ever cut her off before or by the way Connor seems so hostile about the fact that we are not together is not clear. I, too, do not care for Connor’s tone. To ease the tension and to bug Connor, I give her a women-in-cahoots smile and tell her, “We’re on a break,” and add in hushed tones, “Connor isn’t taking it well but since we work together, we both got roped into attending this event.” That explanation seems to satisfactorily explain Connor’s behavior and Gloria moves on to more pressing matters.

“Oh men! Who makes your dress, darling? It’s to die for!” Sophia has not briefed me on my outfit. I must remind her about that next time. I’m not clear if she works for me or vice versa and what, if any, authority I have over her, so I decide I’ll just be super nice about it but firm. My new strategy is fake it till you make it because, well, I’m not exactly sure what else to do.

“I was styled by Sophia Garcia,” I respond and leave it at that.

Gloria and Senator Broughton, as I learn, know each other from various events. They exchange pleasantries about their families, lives and pets before Gloria gets bored and turns her attention back to Connor and me.

“Tell me about your story, honey.” She seems really fascinated by ‘our story,’ which I suppose makes sense as that is what she does for a living and it’s probably hard to turn off. And I, encouraged by my first glass of wine on a relatively empty stomach, get a bit carried away and keep fabricating details.

“Well, we met in a Starbucks when we both ordered the same obscure secret menu drink.” I look fondly over at Connor. “When our fingers touched and our eyes met for the first time, I just knew.” I put my hand on his arm. Connor squirms uncomfortably and goes a bit red. I can’t tell if it’s from anger or embarrassment.

“Oh My God. What happened? You sound perfect for each other!” I wonder if Gloria always thinks she’s being filmed, presenting to a live audience. I sigh.

“We’re on a break. I got hired at Le Salon and Connor couldn’t put his professional life aside for our love.” I dab at my eyes with my napkin for effect. This is fun. Maybe I should try acting, but it’s getting to be a little too much for Connor.

He finally interjects and sort of quietly yells, “We are not together.” At this point, and I’m not sure what prompted this, I burst into full-fledged tears and then, get this, he grows redder still and tries to comfort me, probably because I’m making a scene.

Gloria eats this up, and by the time the first course, a delightful butternut squash and lobster soup spiced just right with hints of cinnamon and red pepper, is served she has become my best girlfriend and protector for the evening, giving me lots of helpful, if generic, relationship advice, like,

“You don’t need a man, darling.” Though, it’s unclear why not. And “You’ll find yourself a better man.” Although, I am pretty convinced I don’t need one at this point, and now I’m confused.”

Shalini, thanks so much for stopping by. How did you get started writing?
I actually didn’t want to be a writer. I was more interested in visual mediums as I come from a long line of artists. My Dad is great at sketching and painting so, naturally, I thought I’d inherited the talent. When I tried my hand at painting, it turned out that particular skill had skipped a generation. I’ve always written so I started to develop that muscle as a creative outlet and once I started I couldn’t stop pouring out the ideas rattling around in my head.

What was the inspiration for your book?
The Secret Lives of Royals, has been rattling around in my head for years. Inspired by school history lessons, my travels and wanderlust for places I haven’t yet managed to visit, and by my love of food and art; Olivia’s story is a culmination of my journey thus far and the daydreaming I’ve done along the way. This novel is self-published, so I hope you will look past its raw state and enjoy the magic in this contemporary fairytale world.

What’s a genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?

Are there any genres you won’t read or write in? Why?
I’d give anything a chance when it comes to reading. I don’t think I could do Sci-Fi justice as a writer.

What are you up to now? Do you have any releases planned, or are you still writing?
I am working on a follow up to this novel. In the follow-up Olivia gets deeper into this world and it’s almost like she was born and bred for royalty, but this type of life comes with responsibilities that she may not be ready for.

I’m also working on an entirely different novel about a haunted circus. I’m working on a script for a tv series and I’m working on a poetry collection.

Alright, now for some random, fun questions. Favorite color? Purple/Black

Favorite movie?
La La Land/Two Weeks Notice

Book that inspired you to become an author?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

You have one superpower. What is it?
The ability to fly

You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jon Lovett

Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
Olivia, she’s based on me to some degree. I gave her all of my passions, food, travel, writing and reality tv.

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Author Bio and Links:
An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her unglamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits.

The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini’s debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

A Promise Remembered Review Tour

Two souls entangled in an eternal echo of true love…

Rowan and James have been drawn together in every existence since the beginning of time. But love's sweet promise is cut short after an unthinkable tragedy strikes two young families, shattering the bond in this lifetime.

Is love stronger than death? Can Rowan and James find another way to each other? Against all odds, a forgotten promise is remembered and kept, reuniting two souls destined to be together.

Rowan opened the closet door, jumping back as the hinges squeaked, and gazed around the empty space. It was an old fashioned small closet with a single hanging bar and a shelf on top. There were no visible signs of rodents.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

The sound was coming from under the floor, it seemed. She knelt carefully, keeping her can of compressed air at the ready, as she examined the wooden floorboards. Looking closer, she furrowed her brow. The blemish was nearly seamless, but she could tell the floorboards had been cut. Despite her fear of the rodents, her curiosity was piqued. Was there actually a secret compartment hidden in the closet floor?

Rowan used her fingernails to pry up the end of one of the floorboards, peering down warily in case the mouse decided to jump out at her. After removing two more boards, she used the flashlight on her phone to examine the dark hole. No beady red eyes stared back her. The secret compartment in the floor contained only what appeared to be a dusty shoebox.

Rowan sprayed some compressed air around to be safe, then pulled it out the box marked Airwalks, men’s size twelve. Carrying it closer to the window, she sat down on the floor to lift the lid.

There wasn’t much in it. A crumpled pack of Marlboros, so old the tobacco had fallen out of the cigarettes. A lighter. Several baseball cards. A pencil drawing of a large tree, drawn by someone who was by no means an artist. A well-worn Playboy magazine with Pamela Anderson on the cover. Rowan glanced at the date—1997.

A wave of sadness washed over her. She must have found the secret stash of Bella’s long-dead brother. Poor kid. It seemed oddly intrusive touching the private things of a dead boy, and Rowan hastened to put everything back where she found it. But the sound of something rolling in the box caught her attention, and she peered in.

A stick? A small twig half the size of her pinkie was in the bottom of the shoebox. Why had the dead boy put a stick in his secret shoebox? Despite herself, she reached in to pick it up.

A wave of energy prickled through her body, like a shot of expresso, quickening her pulse and her breathing. She heard a noise behind her that sounded like a gasp of surprise, and turned sharply to find she was no longer alone in her bedroom. Rowan screamed as she leapt to her feet.

A man stood in the middle of her bedroom, blocking her only exit. Tall, dark haired, lean yet muscular, he was nearly naked, wearing what appeared to be bicycle shorts. How had he gotten in her room? What was he going to do to her? With a sick sense of panic, Rowan remembered Bella saying her ex had been a crazy stalker. Had he returned to kill them both?

“What the . . .?” The man’s voice was deep and grumbling as he glared at her with displeasure. “How the hell did you get in my house, Rowan?”

Rowan backed up, still gripping the stick, and desperately looked around for a weapon. “How do you know my name?” she squeaked.

He stepped closer, his broad shoulders and naked chest now very close to her face. She got a whiff of aftershave as she peered up into angry green eyes that seemed startlingly familiar. Blinking in confusion, she dropped her gaze for a moment, which unfortunately landed on his ripped abs and the trail of fine hair that lead down toward the low waistband of his bike shorts.

Oh, they weren’t shorts. They were underwear. An angry man who somehow knew her name was standing in her bedroom wearing nothing but a tight pair of boxer briefs.

“How do I know your name?” he echoed unbelievingly. “Are you on something?” Confusion lanced his face as he looked around the room. “What did you do to my bedroom?”

He took another step in her direction, reaching out as though to touch her. Rowan screamed, dropping the stick, and bent to pick up the discarded can of compressed air with the intention of bashing him in the face with it. But when she looked up, he was gone.

My Review:
4 stars

I’ve read several books in this series and so far, this is one of my favorites. I loved the premise of soul mates throughout time and even alternate realities. I was afraid that this could get confusing and it was a bit jarring at first, but the author handled the story well, keeping the flow going and pulling me deeper and deeper into this world. I enjoyed the characters and getting to dig into their psyches and the issues they’re dealing with due to their losses, as it made the ending even more satisfying.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Author Bio and Links:
Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology, a graduate degree in clinical counseling, and is a board-certified lactation consultant. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing suspenseful, complicated love stories that take the reader on an emotional journey and end in happy tears. Erin is the author of the Sons of Odin Series: Odin’s Shadow; A Flame Put Out; and Oath Breaker; as well as a paranormal romance, A Promise Remembered.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

The Clock Flower Book Blast

Mackenzie Yarborough, one of the three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—finds herself facing a terrifying death of an ancient evil dragon while in China working on a secret research project and trying to discover the truth of her birth parents.

Carolina Lovel tearfully watched the plane carrying her girls away as it nosed into take-off position. She slowly lowered the sign she had made for the occasion—SEE YOU IN 108 DAYS. 

Her girls—

Dara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother.  Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art.  Orphan. 

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they were called at Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women, probably couldn’t even see the sign, but holding it made Carolina feel slightly better about everything. It kept them connected just a little while longer.

As the plane began picking up speed down the runway, Larry squeezed her hand, sensing how she must be feeling. “They will be fine,” he reassured her for the umpteenth time since early that morning. Even though it meant getting one of his teacher’s aides to take over his morning classes at the university in Chapel Hill, he had volunteered to take Carolina and her three students to the Raleigh-Durham airport and be with Carolina to see them off. She had been completely stressed out for days thinking about the FIGs leaving Wood Rose and each going her separate way—to different universities, in different states, and beyond her protective eye. He knew the FIGs were just as stressed out for the same reason.

Carolina watched the plane lift off the ground and point toward the sky. On an impulse, she waved and once again held up her sign until the plane disappeared from view. Then she burst into sobs. Larry knew it was coming. He wrapped his strong arms around this woman he loved, his soul mate that destiny had brought into his life, and held her, realizing that was all he could do. As the son of a Gypsy King, he knew that words simply wouldn’t help.

The past year had been an unbelievably strange journey for them beginning when Carolina was hired to be totally responsible for three “incorrigible,” as the headmaster described them, teenage girls their final year at Wood Rose, all three orphans with intelligence quotients in the genius range. FIGs they called themselves, along with everyone else at Wood Rose—Females of Intellectual Genius. Being only a few years older, however, Carolina immediately filled the role that was more than a mentor and teacher; she became a big sister and friend to the incorrigibles, not finding them that way at all, even if they did occasionally need to express themselves creatively in the middle of the night.

As far as the FIGs were concerned, she was their Carolina; she was one of them—a kindred spirit. And with everything that they had experienced in that brief time they had been together, a permanent bond of love had been forged between them that would intertwine their lives forever. 

It all started with Carolina learning that she had been adopted, and then later discovering her birth mother in Italy—a gypsy. Then there was the deadly curse that was placed on Carolina, which eventually led to the connection between a letter she had inherited from her biological father and the most mysterious document in the world—the Voynich Manuscript.

And then, only a few weeks later, they located Dara’s mother in New York City, hiding underground beneath Grand Central Terminal where she lived in some sort of secret subculture with three homeless men. It was remarkable, really, and something that only the FIGs, with their genius and special talents, and Carolina, with the blood of a choovihni—a wise woman who possessed the knowledge of all things through all times running through her veins, could have accomplished. Through it all, Larry had been there for them, offering his support and using his innate instincts as the Gypsy King’s son to gather information that would help them.

Larry held Carolina tighter as her sobs quieted. He would tell her later what Mackenzie had asked him to do just before boarding the plane. After he had a chance to see what he could find out. Meanwhile, Carolina pulled out her phone, thinking about the pact she and the FIGs had made the night before. If any one of them got into serious trouble, they would text the word “Thurgood”—the given name of Wood Rose’s headmaster—to all of the others. That meant no matter what, they would all return to Carolina at Wood Rose, because whatever was going on, Carolina and the FIGs would be able to straighten it out. Together.

Leaving the protective walls of Wood Rose and uncertain about how they could function in any other environment had created a tremendous amount of anxiety for Carolina and the FIGs. So much so that even their creative expressions in the middle of the night had brought little relief to the FIGs in spite of the fact they had caused serious havoc by completely upsetting the natural rhythm of the entire orphanage, not to mention the order of things.

The whole idea of having a pact before leaving Wood Rose and going their separate ways had started out as a silly game to help relieve some of that anxiety—at first. Deciding on the so-called secret code word they would use, however, became a challenge. Dara suggested using a word from Sanskrit, which Mackenzie simply could not pronounce. Mackenzie wanted to use a mathematical term, which Jennifer said she would never remember. And Jennifer wanted to use an obscure musical notation which Dara said sounded more than a little vulgar. It was Carolina who came up with the idea of using the headmaster’s given name “Thurgood.” After all, it was a name none of them could ever forget. With the secret word chosen, the seriousness of what the pact actually meant became more evident and more real; a desperate attempt to keep them connected even when they were apart. And when the three FIGs left Carolina’s bungalow and returned to their dormitory suite that night, knowing what was facing them the next day when they left
Wood Rose and would no longer be considered student-residents there, they were glad Carolina had come up with the idea.

As the plane reached cruising altitude, shoulder bags placed under the seats in front of them within easy reach, Dara, seated between Mackenzie and Jennifer, as usual was the first to say out loud what each of them was thinking. 

“OK, this is what I think we ought to do.”  Arching her right eyebrow, she glanced at her two best friends to make sure she had their attention. “We will give this so-called pursuit of advanced studies a try, even though it means being separated. “But if things don’t work out by winter break—for any one of us—then I say we come up with another plan. A plan where we can be together.  Deal?”

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Author Bio and Links:
Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history.  In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service.  In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books where she is involved in acquisitions and day-to-day operations and oversees book production.
Ms. Casey's two middle-grade/young adult novels, Leilani Zan and Grandma Jock and Christabelle (James C. Winston Publishing Co., Trade Division) were both nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award.  Shyla's Initiative (Crossquarter Publishing Group), a contemporary adult novel (occult romance/mystery), received a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and also an award of special literary recognition by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.  The Coach's Wife (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a novel for adults (contemporary/mystery), was semi-finalist for the 2005 Dana Award for Outstanding Novel and listed on the Publisher’s Best Seller List.  The House of Kane (ArcheBooks Publishing), released in 2007, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination.  Another contemporary novel for adults, Just Like Family, was released at Christmas 2009 when it received “Special Recognition from the 7-Eleven Corporation,” and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary novel written for adults, received a 2013 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction.

The Cadence of Gypsies, a novel written for young/new adults, was released in 2011 and was reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute for its List of Most Notable Books.  In 2012, The Cadence of Gypsies was expanded into a four-book mystery series called THE FIG MYSTERIES: The Wish Rider (2016), The Clock Flower (2018), and The Nightjar’s Promise (to be released in 2019).

Ms. Casey also writes book-length nonfiction for adults. Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly was released in 2016 and has been optioned for a major movie. In 2018 her book Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave was released and it has been signed for a major movie.

Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies.  Ms. Casey's essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation). Other award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story.  A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.

Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist.  She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003.  She is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences around the country including the SCBWI Regional Conference, the Harriett Austin Writers Conference in Athens, SIBA (Southeastern Independent Book Sellers Association), Florida Writers Association, and the University of Auburn, Montgomery. 

In 2018, Ms. Casey received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and Benton, a hound mix who adopted her.

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Aries' Red Sky Book Blast

The Confederation of Man believes all Humanity should be under Terra’s rule.

The Spartan Republic has spent seven centuries preparing to resist Earth’s tyranny.

The stars will burn as these two mindsets come into brutal conflict in Aries’ Red Sky, the newest novel by award-winning author James Young.

The problem with making plans is sometimes the universe feels the need to remind you that it has a sense of humor, Nathan thought to himself.  He glanced once again at his watch, then at the single wooden door at the end of the long, narrow room.  It did not help his mood that the room was gloomy, the only light provided by the floating holograms of ancient documents.  These lined the red, carpeted walkway that led through the surrounding blue carpet like a scarlet runway.

The Magna Carta.  The American Declaration of Independence.  The American Constitution.  The Freebooter Articles.  All forbidden by the Hassan Empire. 

Nathan turned to look at the final hologram hovering above the legislative chamber’s entrance.

All also located here with The Acts of Inception to remind a waiting Executive that they are far from all powerful. 

“Mr. President, that door’s not going to open until the Chief Parliamentarian is damn well ready to have it open,” Andrews stated dryly.  Despite the security officer’s laconic comment, Nathan could tell the man was not impressed with being in the darkened room.

Three Presidents have died in this location and its predecessor, Nathan thought.  Sure, one of them was a heart attack, but no one ever says to the head of security, ‘Oh you poor dear, how could you have known his heart was going to explode?’

“I still can’t believe Porter was the easier of the two of them to find,” Nathan said, giving Andrews a wry look. 

“Porter has always been very good about his itinerary,” Andrews stated.  “Nikephoros, not so much.”

The Chief Parliamentarian had finally been found with the help of a couple local kibbutzin.  He and his two female companions had been far from the beaten path, having discovered a high mountain lake to avail themselves of.

Polyamory should be lethal at his age and that altitude, Nathan thought uncharitably.  In either case, I’m sure that’s part of the reason we’re waiting—so he can remind me I’m not the boss of him.

The Spartan Republic’s Acts of Inception incurred a certain…tenseness between Executive and Legislative branches by design.  First and foremost was the fact that the former served one six year term, period.  Add to that no individual could serve in either branch for more than ten years combined, and it became readily apparent why the latter did not really give much of a shit what the former thought.

Walthers, Brown, and Menoit were no Washington, Marshall, and Madison, Nathan thought.  But they got the job done.  Longest any Republic has lasted in history.

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Author Bio and Links:
James Young is a Missouri native who escaped small town life by attending the United States Military Academy.  After being set free from the Hudson River Valley, Mr. Young spent the next six years of his life in the Army repaying his education the proverbial “nickel at a time.”  Along the way he collected a loving, patient, beautiful spouse…and various animals that did not fit that description.  Leaving the Republic’s employ, he returned to the Midwest to pursue his doctorate—a process which took twice the time planned but is finally concluded.  Having now concluded two of the prerequisites to be a super villain, Dr. Young spends his time waiting for the inevitable origin story, winning writing awards (2016 United States Naval Institute Cyber Essay Contest Winner, among others), and writing an alternate history (Usurper’s War) and military space opera (Vergassy Chronicles) series.  His latest book is Aries Red Sky, the first in a new Vergassy Universe trilogy.  

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Freaking Fast Review Tour

The city is Asheville, North Carolina, and the year is 2066. As renowned mathematician Alexandra Martin travels in her self-driving car to assassinate the love of her life, she reminisces about how they met and fell in love fifty years earlier in middle school when she was a thirteen year old poor math whiz and he a wealthy teenager. Alex recounts her struggles to be admitted to the best private school in the county, her happy teenage years running track, and her close relationship with three handsome and charming boys: Xavier, the intellectual; Andrew, the golden boy; and Vitali, the suave foreigner. One by one, she visits the three boys of her youth, now successful professionals in their sixties, one of whom is her intended victim.

Year 2066
8:30am. Asheville, North Carolina

Today I’m going to kill the love of my life.

This deliberate act should not to be misinterpreted for what the sensationalistic media will surely call a crime of passion, because it isn’t. There’s nothing passionate in what I am about to do. My action is premeditated, has been planned for a long time, and will be executed for the benefit of our city, our country, and our crumbling world – as well as for my own peace of mind.

I know people say things they don’t mean all the time, especially when they are stressed out, upset, or angry. People lie either to hurt others or to protect themselves or simply because they like to lie. I swear that every word written here is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. May He also forgive me for this murder I’m about to commit.

I have chosen this date for a reason. Today is my birthday, and the anniversary of our first kiss, fifty years ago. I turn sixty-three years old today. Five decades ago, I would have been considered an old woman at this age, gray-haired and wrinkled, and possibly overweight. But that was then. Nowadays, thanks to the medical advances of the past fifty years, of which I have partaken freely – they’re there, right, so why not make use of them? I’m in the prime of my life. I look and feel not a day over thirty and have the sculpted body, the vigor, and the mental acumen of a highly intelligent woman in her twenties.

When I was a teenager, there was this beautiful model named Cindy Crawford, who in her sixties looked like she was in her late thirties and was an example to women all over the world. She was to me. But the world has evolved, and that was then, and this is now. Were Cindy Crawford alive today she would look like my older sister or maybe my young-looking mother, even though we would both be about the same age.

But I digress. I have, perhaps, too much on my mind. Images of the past keep streaming through my head. I think of the love of my life, him, and wonder what could have been but wasn’t; what was and shouldn’t have been.

I feel like crying as I see my life play out, in black-and-white like an old movie, on the screen of my mind.

My Review:
4.5 stars

I don’t really know how to describe this book except to say OMG. This story was trippy, engaging, and just plain fun to read. The characters were interesting and realistic, and the balance between teenage angst and the action plot was well played. The only downside was that some of the characters’ reactions and the time jumps were disorienting and confusing, and didn’t seem to fit. Other than those bumps along the way though, this story was a fast-paced adventure that I would recommend to anyone looking for an unusual, intriguing YA read.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Author Bio and Links:
David Pereda is the award-winning author of nine novels, including Havana Blues and However Long the Night, as well as the Havana Series of thrillers featuring the dashing Doctor Raymond Peters and the beautiful but deadly Cuban assassin Marcela. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Forbidden Fires NBtM

When Ellen Douglass saves the Union officer from the cold river, she doesn't think this one action will so alter her future. But as Price holds her is his arms, they try to forget that they fight on opposing sides and will be kept forever apart.

April, 1865
Vicksburg, Mississippi

The newly freed Union soldiers trudged up the gangplank of the steamboat Sultana in seemingly endless numbers. Although the memories of their ordeal at Andersonville Prison Camp were painful, their mood was jubilant. The war was over.  They were going home!  

Onboard, a tall Yankee officer stood at the rail grimly watching the loading.  Captain Price Richardson was frustrated and angry. He’d witnessed many acts of incompetence during his time in the army, but what was happening today was beyond belief. Price was enough of a river man to know it was foolhardy to challenge the Mississippi this way. Going upriver against the flood was hard on a steamboat, but on one seriously overloaded, it could be suicide.

Furious, Price turned to his friend, Lieutenant Jericho Cooper. “Don’t they have any idea of what they’re doing?”

“Do you think they’re overloading it?” Coop remarked sarcastically.

“They could load men on the other two steamers.”

Coop smiled wryly, as they watched column after column of men file aboard. “You have to remember the Department of the Army is in charge of this.”

Realizing they weren’t going anywhere soon, the two men sat down on the deck to await their departure.

As evening came, the Sultana, which should only have been carrying about 400 passengers, finally began her trip north against the swollen river with over 2,300 passengers and crew onboard.

Publishing A to Z
I’ve taught many workshops over the years, and my favorite was “Publishing A to Z.” Here are the basics. Hope you enjoy them! J

A – Author! You’re an author whether you’ve sold your book or not! Just keep going and follow your dream!
B – Book! It’s yours and yours alone. Finish it and get it published. There is no greater joy for a writer than to see your book out there for sale! Wow!
C – Characters and Conflict! I believe these are the two most important parts of your story.  You want your readers to fall in love with your characters, and you want your characters to overcome whatever conflict they face in your story.
D –Discipline! Discipline in your writing life is essential. You must be strong enough to sit down and write, even when you’d rather be outside having fun or shopping or napping or whatever. No one can write your book but you! So go for it!
E – Electronic! That’s where things are these days. Ebooks are a large part of the market now.
F – Finish! Get it done! You can’t sell it if you don’t finish it!
G – Go For It! Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you. 
H – Hero/Heroine! They are the center of our stories. Make them wonderful!
I – Income! There are authors who take off on their first book and make millions. Good for them. Then there are authors who earn a decent income and have a faithful following of readers. It’s not an easy way to make a living, but if you are called to write, do it!
J – Jealousy! Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Do your own thing!
K – Kiss! Oh, yeah. We need romance in our stories.
L – Love! Your love of books and your love of writing will keep you going!
M – Market! Know the market for your story.
N – New Ideas! Always be open to new ideas and be ready to adjust to market changes
O – Online! Yeah! That’s where a lot of publishing is now.
P – Passion/Pseudonym/Promo! Have a passion for your work! And put passion in your story! I used a pseudonym when I wrote my faith-based books so my readers would know they were not my usual Western romances. Promote your books as much as you can. Get the word out. 
Q – Quit! Don’t!
R – Research! Make sure your research is accurate. It’s important to the readers.
S – Story! Your story is what publishing is all about. Make it the best story you can! Hook your readers on page one and don’t give them any excuse to stop reading your book!
T – Timely! If you are writing for a publisher, make sure you meet your deadline. 
U – Unlimited Possibilities! As an author you can create your own worlds and make sure everyone lives happily ever after! 
V – Value! Make sure your stories are good ones. People are spending money to buy your book. 
W – Writer! That’s what you are whether you’re published or not!
X – Sign Your Contract! When you get your contract from your publisher, sign on that line!
Y – Yes! You can do this! Write that book!
Z – Zip! That’s what you’ll get if you never finish your book and get it out there. 

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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
After working as a department manager for Famous-Barr, and briefly as a clerk at a bookstore, Bobbi Smith gave up on career security and began writing. She sold her first book to Zebra in 1982.

Since then, Bobbi has written over 40 books and 6 novellas. To date, there are more than five million of her novels in print. She has been awarded the prestigious Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year Award and two Career Achievement Awards. Her books have appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

When she's not working on her novels, she is frequently a guest speaker for writer's groups. Bobbi is mother of two sons and resides in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband and three dogs.

You can follow Bobbi on Facebook in the group Bobbi Smith Books.

Bobbi has been awarded the prestigious “Storyteller of the Year” Award from Romantic Times Magazine (New York) and has attained positions on the New York Times Best Seller List, the USA Today Best Seller List, the Walden’s Best Seller List, B. Dalton’s List, and the Wal-Mart and K-Mart Best Seller Lists.

The foreign rights to Ms. Smith’s books have been sold to China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Russia and Sweden. Smith’s current publisher is Amazon. Bobbi has written two faith-based contemporary novels - Haven and Miracles - using the pseudonym of Julie Marshall.

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