Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just Released: Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction



About the book:

Goose Pimple Junction is just recovering from a kidnapping and a murder, its first major crimes in years, when trouble begins anew. Life is turned upside down in the quirky little Southern town with the arrival of several shifty hooligans: A philandering husband intent on getting his wife back, another murderer loose in town, a stalker intent on frightening Martha Maye, and a thief who’s stealing the town blind of their pumpkins, pies, and peace. Together, they’re scaring the living daylights out of the residents and keeping the new police chief busier than a set of jumper cables at a redneck picnic. Suddenly, he has his hands full trying to apprehend a killer, stop a stalker, and fight his feelings for the damsel in distress.

Heroes & Hooligans is the second book in the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series.


Excerpt

Chapter 1


Marry in haste, repent in leisure. ~Southern Proverb


Lenny drove to his neighborhood bar with the windows wide open and Johnny Cash blaring on the radio, but he was oblivious to both. He was thinking about the phone conversation he’d just had with his ten-year-old daughter Carrie. It made him crazy the way her mother’s family called her “Butterbean.” What kind of a name was that for a child? But today he was crazy for a whole new reason. Jealousy and anger tore through him faster than small-town gossip. His daughter had spilled everything, and just when he thought he’d finally gotten a break, she said, “Mama kinda had a boyfriend but not anymore.” And: “Mama was kidnapped, but she’s back now.”

He pulled into the parking lot of the bar thinking, Boyfriend? We literally aren’t even divorced yet and she had a boyfriend? He pounded his fist against the steering wheel. He knew she’d been cheating on him. And now she’d done it right in front of their daughter. No doubt about it, he was going to have to do something about this Martha Maye situation.

Pulling into a primo spot at the front door, he looked up at the old rusty sign that had been over the entrance for years: TEETOTALERS AIN'T WELCOME HERE. He winced at the loud screech announcing his car door opening, followed by the same screech when he slammed it shut. He glanced around the parking lot and saw the same cars that were there every night. His feet crunched on the gravel as he walked, and he remembered waking up three months earlier and slowly realizing his wife and daughter weren’t there.

The familiar bacon and coffee smells were gone. Cartoons weren’t blaring on the TV. His wife’s clothes were missing, along with his daughter’s, her teddy bear, and her dolls. The bookshelves were dotted with bare spots where Martha Maye’s favorite knickknacks and paddywhacks had been. And then he saw the note on the kitchen table that said she was divorcing him and that he shouldn’t try to find them. The realization that she’d left him in the middle of the night and taken their daughter seared through him like a red-hot poker.

Pretty stealthy for a woman who could literally be outwitted by a jar of marshmallow fluff. If she thinks she can literally run out on me and then humiliate me by going out with some scumbag before we’re even divorced, she has another think coming. I’ll show her. I’ll put on the charm and win her back.

Country music blasted as he opened the door, turned his head, and spit in disgust. She literally can’t be let her out by herself. Just look where it got her: kidnapped and almost killed.

His daughter had told him they’d been staying at his mother-in-law’s house. He should have figured. He’d always known Louetta to be a meddlesome old biddy. She lied to me when I called looking for my wife and daughter. She aided and abetted a woman leaving her husband. She allowed nefarious suitors to court my wife. Both of them must have literally stopped to think and forgotten how to start again.
And then there was his no-account, good-for-nothing brother who, upon learning of the impending divorce, wanted to know if Lenny would mind if he dated Martha Maye. Boy, I’m gonna slap you so hard, when you quit rolling your clothes’ll literally be outta style. My baby brother and my wife. Yeah. Over my dead body. How could he even ask such a thing? Both of them were nothing but a bunch of backstabbing traitors.

He hitched up his jeans under his overflowing beer belly, swaggered into the bar, and ordered a Colt 45. The jukebox was playing, “I Want a Beer as Cold as My Ex-Wife’s Heart,” and he thought that was pretty darn perfect for his life at the moment.

Looking around the room, he spotted a hot blonde giving him the eye. He sucked in his gut—a move that didn’t yield the desired result—and looked back, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. She brazenly smiled back at him.

How dare Martha Maye leave me? I can literally get any woman I want. And two on Saturday.
A football star in high school, homecoming king, and voted best looking his senior year, Lenny was used to women coming onto him, not leaving him. He put the bottle to his lips and downed half of it.

That woman was literally lucky to have me. Sure, I’ve put on a little weight, but only in the gut. I practically have to fight women off with a stick. Looking around the room again, he saw female eyes on him from several tables in the room. Yessirree, sir, I still got it.

Lenny started to lift his bottle to his mouth again but halted midway when two men sat down heavily on barstools on either side of him; they looked capable of eating their young. Both men were muscular and tough. One was as tall as a telephone pole. One was as short as a gnat’s tail. The taller man had black eyes under bushy eyebrows, and the other man wore aviator sunglasses on a flat, wide nose. He pushed the glasses to the top of his head to give Lenny his best glare.

“We’ve been looking all over Hell and half of Georgia for you, boy.” Eyebrows scooted his stool in close, crowding Lenny.

“Shoot.” Lenny’s hand automatically moved to his ankle holster, checking for his knife. “That don’t surprise me none. You literally couldn’t find oil with a dipstick.”

“Solly says he’s had about enough of you,” Eyebrows said.

“Yeah,” Mr. Gnat joined in, “he’s had about enough of you.”

Lenny snorted. “You can tell Solly to blow it out his butt,” Lenny said boldly, more boldly than he felt. He shelled a peanut, popped it in his mouth, and threw the shell into Mr. Gnat’s face.

“Solly says not to let you off the hook this time.”

“Yeah, not to let you off the hook.” Mr. Gnat’s left eye twitched.

“What’s with Mr. Echo over here?” Lenny pointed his thumb at the short man.

The telephone pole ignored him and said, “Solly says you’ve screwed him over for the last time.”

“Yeah, the last time.”

“I didn’t screw him over the first time.” Lenny drained his bottle. He felt like his mouth was full of cotton. “Solly wouldn’t tell the truth to save his life from dying.” Lenny tried to stand up, but the men had him penned in.

“You can’t talk about Solly that way.”

“Yeah, not that way,” Mr. Gnat echoed.

Eyebrows looked behind Lenny to his friend. “This boy has the mental agility of a soap dish, Joey.”

“Yeah, a soap dish.”

Lenny leaned in real close to Joey, who said, “Whatta you think you’re doing?”

“Just wondered if I got close enough if I could literally hear the ocean.”

“Boy, what you need is an education,” Eyebrows said.

“Yeah, an edj-ee-cation.” Gnat strung the word out.

The men grabbed Lenny’s arms, lifting him off his stool. The song on the jukebox had ended, and Lenny heard the crunch of peanut shells as the men propelled him toward the door.

“Boys, y’all best not be messing with me,” Lenny snapped, trying to break free.

“That’s mighty big talk for a punk like you.” They stepped aside as someone came through the door, and then they threw Lenny through it. He landed on the ground but sprang right back to his feet, his dukes up, ready to fight.

Eyebrows was fast. He knocked Lenny to the ground again with a left hook. Joey followed up with two kicks to the ribs.

Lenny pulled himself into a ball, both to protect himself from further harm and to have better access to his ankle holster. But Joey saw the knife and kicked it away as Lenny drew it from his pants leg.

The men both grabbed Lenny by an arm again, pulling him upright, and Eyebrows punched him in the gut, causing him to double over. They double-teamed him and left him on the ground bloody and beaten, as cars whizzed past on the road in front of the bar.

Right before Lenny passed out, he thought: Tomorrow I’ll pack up and head for Goose Pimple Junction to reclaim what’s rightfully mine. I’ll literally be a devoted husband and father and get my family back. I ain’t gonna let that woman leave me. Nobody leaves Lenny Applewhite.



About the author:

Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two sons. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Facebook or Pinterest, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Connect with Amy:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Guest Post by Connie L. Smith




About the book:

Preston and Nick endured the breakup of all breakups when Nick accused her of cheating on him. He insisted, and she denied while the rain pounded against her driveway and thunder roared in the distance. Then they both ran – Preston to a life of Rock and Roll, and Nick to a career in the Army. 



Over four years later, they’re damaged and broken almost beyond repair. He’s carrying baggage from his military days, and she bears the scars of living a lifestyle she’s grown to hate. 



When Preston’s label forces her to take time away from music, their paths cross in a parking lot not twenty-four hours after her hometown return, anger and sparks flying in a confusing blend. But regardless of the feelings neither has been able to shake, too many lies and secrets stand in the way of the one thing they need in order to recover. 



Each other.


Guest Post by Connie L. Smith

Sometimes people get so caught up on their dreams that they don’t take the time to figure out all the steps that are involved in seeing that dream come to fruition. That overall concept has been a piece of my life since I first published Essenced back in July 2013. There was a lot I didn’t know about publishing, and many more things that I’ll probably learn along the way. One thing I’ve learned is that building a career in this field can be a long, drawn out process. If you want to see good book sales, you might have to do more than just write a book. It’s okay to want your book to be a hit immediately. . . But don’t be too surprised if it takes more time and effort to reach your goals in this business.

As important as that lesson has been for me, that’s not the point of this guest post. Instead, I’m writing this to comment on something that I noticed very vividly while going through CreateSpace to prepare a paperback version of Enscrolled, this last book in my Division Chronicles trilogy. What is that something?

Nervousness has yet to go away.

With my first book, I was anxious and excited, wanting to see my book do well but also experiencing a vulnerability that I hadn’t dealt with before. When you construct an entire story with characters you’ve made and a plot you had enough confidence in to create the novel, you’re really offering readers a view into your mind by putting the book for sale. It’s from your head, and it’s ideally been polished to the point that you’re willing to put your name on it and let people know it’s your product.

When the final product is something like 90,000 words of you, there’s room for a whole lot of you to end up on the pages.

So I was concerned that maybe I hadn’t built a story worth reading, that maybe people would just hate my writing style. Did I rush things, or was the pace so slow that people would lose interest? What if it was an idea that few people would even care about?

Then came a novella, In Your Wings. This was the first time that I’d written something that was primarily romance, and I was concerned that I’d completely botch the attempt. There’s something particularly revealing in writing romance, because you’re dealing with deep emotions and toeing the line of cheesy, and it was an odd moment when I finally published it for the first time in December of last year.

Then Emblazed, the second book of The Division Chronicles. This time, I worried about sophomore slump for my trilogy. Sure, some people seemed to like Essenced, but what if I ruined everything with the second book? The plot, the approach… What if it didn’t do justice to the book that came before it?

Then, with the end of the trilogy, I still worried. Would the ending be fulfilling to readers? Would the characters’ plights and actions flow with the previous books? Did it conclude the trilogy with quality and satisfaction?

And now, Tail Lights – my first attempt at publishing contemporary romance. And New Adult. Did I do the story justice? Is it compelling? Can you actually fall in love with these two characters in a way that would make an author proud?

I leaped away from the fantasy world I’d been involved with. Was it worth the risk? Did I create a good final product?

With another work waiting for its turn at publishing, I can tell you that the feeling of nervousness isn’t going anywhere. And, maybe, it shouldn’t. Maybe that would mean that I’m not pushing myself as an author, or that I’m not putting decent effort into what I’m penning.

There are plenty of lessons I’ve learned about writing and publishing, and this is one that really sticks. Every book might very well be a different piece of me, and publishing it for the very first time might always be nerve-wracking experience.

But… it’s so worth it :)


Excerpt from Tail Lights

Surprisingly, he was leaving his apartment when I reached his floor, and he smiled at me like no animosity existed between us. “Hey, Preston.”

“Hey, Preston,” I mocked, then held up the figurine and fastened a glare on him. “Take it back.”

He had the nerve to smirk. “How do you know I gave that to you?”

“Who else would leave a dolphin on my doorstep besides the guy who knows I love dolphins and wants to suddenly fix four years’ worth of betrayal?” His smirk disappeared, and I shoved the object closer to him. “Take it back.”

He shook his head. “I don’t want it back.”

“Well, I don’t want it ether.” When he arched a brow, I rolled my eyes. “Okay, it’s cute. It’s absolutely adorable, and it would look fantastic on my end table, but I can’t take this.”

“Why not?”

“Because I know what it means! You made a mistake, and you’re trying to make up for it. But it’s too late, Nick. And if I take this, it’s like saying that you have a chance to make things right, and you don’t.”

His brow again lifted. “You sure about that?”

I frowned. “Which part?”

With a grin, he shrugged in an almost casual manner, far too comfortable in a conversation that made me anxious. Evidently he’d meant what he said about mending things between us, and he wasn’t about to let my reservations ruin his determination. “You’re absolutely right about what the dolphin means, but are you sure I can’t make things right?”

“I’m so far beyond sure that sure isn’t even in my line of sight anymore.” I held the dolphin farther out, hoping that he’d take it. “I can’t keep clinging to things that weren’t good for me in the first place if I want my next four years to be any better than the last four years.”

Then he scowled. “And you think I wasn’t good for you in the first place?”

“I know you weren’t. If you were, you wouldn’t have believed Dad and dumped me, and. . . " Sighing, I waved the figurine in his direction. “Take it.”

“Your sentence trailed off,” he pointed out, a small smile forming on his lips. “That’s a good sign for me.” Eyes on me, he stepped closer, completely invading my personal space and causing the hand holding the dolphin to fall back against my stomach. After a moment of silently looking at me, so intense and needing, he pointed a finger at my face.

“That’s exactly why I can’t take it back,” he whispered. His finger moved to brush my hair behind my ear, trailing along my jaw before tracing my lips. I knew I should move, slap his hand away, something. But I couldn’t. I just stared, my mouth gaping in shock, my mind consumed with Nick and his caresses. “That was the biggest mistake of my life. And you are my life.”

His index finger exchanged for his thumb, outlining my bottom lip over and over. “I should’ve fought for this, and I’m not making the same mistake twice. I’m getting my life back.” Then he stepped away, gesturing at the dolphin. “That’s only the first step.”
Turning, he walked to the stairway entrance at the other end of the hall, leaving me standing – still gawking where he’d been and suddenly holding the dolphin figure much tighter.


About the author:

Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Her music of choice is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and is currently working on her MA.



Connect with Connie:


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Dirty Dozen with Stuart Anderson


About the book:

Restaurant Management: First Hand Lessons from the King of Steak Houses
Black Angus Beef Chain Founder shares business tips, food recipes and personal memoir



Stuart Anderson had led a fascinating life for the past 90 years. He built Black Angus, America's #1 restaurant chain of the 1980s, and ranched on a 26,000 acre spread where he raised cattle. His circle of friends has included Hollywood stars and corporate bigwigs. You'll discover his personal history is a lot like the man - larger than life!



Anyone seeking to go into the restaurant business or moving into a food industry management position will benefit from the lessons offered in this book as Stuart Anderson shares both his success and failures. Told with wit, simple cowboy logic and clever business savvy, there are numerous vignettes included in this memoir to include tales from World War II, Business Startups, Management Feuds, Love Affairs, Community Service and semi-Retirements.



Aside from the personal story and professional information, readers - especially those who ever ate at a Black Angus restaurant in the past - most notably in the 1980s - will enjoy such recipes like the BLACK ANGUS POTATOES AU GRATIN, ORIGINAL BLACK ANGUS RANCH BREAD, BREAKFAST STIR FRY and BAKED STEAK WITH MUSTARD SAUCE just to name a few.



Note: The author, diabetic himself, also offers menu ideas for "special" diet needs.



In addition, reader benefits:
•    Discover the ins and outs of profitable restaurant management as imparted by a master entrepreneur

From initial ideas, failed startups and a relentless pursue for success, Stuart Anderson outlines how he went raising and eating Black Angus beef to building one of the most famous and successful restaurant chains in America voted #1 by consumers numerous times during the 1980s. But not everything remained rosy once Stuart Anderson sold his empire. The author offers his opinion on how a corporate takeover changed his business and ultimately why he retired ... at least the first time.

•     Delight in "bone head" mistakes Anderson made early in his career


Like the case of the "melted chocolate" or "bitter pills for bulls"

•    Get a backstage look at celebrity friendships and news-making events

John Wayne fans will enjoy some "cowboy" fun when the star of Western Movies stops in for a surprise visit.

The Dirty Dozen with Stuart Anderson

1.     What’s one thing that drives you crazy? 
I’ll give you two. Gum chewing and a bad night’s sleep.

2.     What is your guiltiest guilty pleasure? 
Eating a Snicker’s Bar, as I’m diabetic.

3.     What is your most embarrassing moment? 
Key note speaker and couldn't remember my speech. Actually, eating a Snicker bar before was my problem because it gave me very high blood sugar and caused total confusion to my brain.

4.     What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done? 
Too many to name.

5.     What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? 
In my youth it was ski jumping. Later in life, it was opening a restaurant.

6.     On what life choices would you like to have a re-do? 
Selling the last portion of my ranch.

7.     What makes you nervous? 
Heights and public speaking.

8.     What makes you scared? 
Snakes.

9.     What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? 
I did not have sex with that woman! (to my 1st wife)

10.  What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? 
Opening a seafood restaurant.

11.  When was the last time you did something for the first time? 
Took up golf late in life.

12.  One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off? 
N/A  It’s non fiction, and I don’t want to be sued.

About the author:

Stuart Anderson was the founder of the Number 1 full-service restaurant chain in the nation. He grew his original concept of a one-price steak dinner from one restaurant to 122 before he retired in the 80's when these polls were taken that made them No. 1. The chain still exists primarily on the West Coast. He was also a rancher for over 30 years with a beautiful ranch in Central Washington State where he raised Black Angus cattle and Clydesdale horses. 

He spent most of his life in Washington until moving to the beautiful desert in Southern California. He has two wonderful daughters, two grandsons and about to have his first great grandson. He and his wife traveled extensively over a good part of the world and around America in their motor home. They especially loved train travel and enjoying retirement. Stuart is currently 91 years young!



Connect with Stuart on Facebook.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Featured Author: Madeline Wynn





Title: Daughter of the Fallen

Author: Madeline Wynn

Publisher: Book Baby

Pages: 250

Genre: YA paranormal

Format: Paperback

About the Book:

Most sixteen-year olds aren't worried about the fate of their immortal souls. May Krieg should be.

Typically, honor student May's biggest problems have revolved around her super-hot arch-rival, Jack. But when a school project takes them ghost-hunting in a local cemetery, she discovers that an ominous force roams in the darkness around her.

And it follows her home.

It claws its way into her life, burning messages into her wall and imprinting them onto her body. Even worse, she can't tell if it's trying to possess her... or protect her.

May's thoughts soon become actions, causing the target of her anger severe physical pain and giving her a rush the likes of which she has never experienced.  She quickly realizes that she needs to find a way to reign in this power before she kills someone. May hates the pleasure it gives her, hates herself for hurting others, but she can't stop.

As her entire world shatters around her, she is forced to ask what her soul is worth-- and who would she risk losing her soul to save?

(For readers who enjoy: teen paranormal romance, teen horror, teen romance, nephilim, demons, YA, YA horror, YA paranormal, YA romance, ghost stories.)



Book Excerpt:

This is New England. And in New England, a town without a good witch hanging or ghost story just, well, isn’t considered to be a real town. So when I walk past the iron gate of the cemetery and feel the urge to bolt riding up my legs like a herd of football players bum-rushing the food counter on taco day, I set my shoulders and do my best to cowboy up.

 Set between imposing stone walls and punctured by large granite fists, Hillside Cemetery definitely looks like it deserves its sinister reputation, making my attempt at bravery rather brief.  “This place sucks. Maybe we should just go.”

“Here, watch your step,” Cay says and holds out his hand to help me over the uneven cobbles just on the other side of the entry. Once we make it over the stones, he drops my hand and pulls the recording equipment out of the duffle.

We’ve been friends ever since kindergarten, when some boy taunted me for living in a “little troll house.” Cay, the kickball king, told him that it was actually a gingerbread house, and everybody knows that only fairy princesses live in gingerbread houses. 

He was wrong, of course; it was witches who lived in the gingerbread houses, a fact I pointed out to him later, but I gave him props for the effort.  We’ve been “Cay and May” ever since, but the whole dating thing still feels . . . awkward.

“Is this all from school or is Jack bringing some of his dad’s?” I swipe an errant curl of hair out of my face and cringe at my surroundings as I reach for the big videocamera.  Why does it have to be so dark? Why can’t people ghost hunt in the daylight?  You can still supposed get sound bites and whatever in the daytime, right? It’s not like ghosts go anywhere or sleep or, you know, whatever.

“Well, the big stuff is the professional gear with night vision from school. And then we have my stuff.” Cay stops in front of a wide tomb, laying his multiple cameras and his mini video recorder along the top like they are the most precious things in the world. “Weird that Mr. Dowd put both you and Jack on my team.” 

“Yeah, weird.” And a nightmare. If it wasn’t for Jack, I’d be ranked first in our year, and, unlike Jack, if I don’t earn a ton of scholarship money for college, then I can’t go. 

Cay fumbles with the equipment, his breath rising in great grey puffs of frost, lingering in his dark bob of curls.  I shiver.  

A BMW pulls up in front of the entry gate, looking sleek and new and out of place.
I run an unsteady hand through my untamable hair . . . right . . . Jack.

He gets out of the car and strides towards us, stepping out into the camera’s lights: short blond hair, high cheekbones, and a long neck leading to strong shoulders.  Everyone at school, except for me, that is, adores him because he’s rich, intelligent and supposedly lost his virginity to a Victoria’s Secret model.

Watching the god-like way he strides across the cemetery, you can almost believe the hype. He lifts his eyes to meet mine as he nods a greeting. My heart flips.  

Of course, it would be easier to dislike him if he wasn’t so damn ... hot. I shake my head. I hate that about him, too.

“You’re late.” I grab the sound gear from Cay and hand it to him, eyeing the orange-clad harpy of a girl trailing after him.

“I had to pick up Alicia.” He indicates the thing as he straps on the professional sound gear. “And respond to your post on the AP History board about gun control.”

I huff. “You think we should arm everyone with a credit card?”

“What I think is irrelevant, Mason.” Jack’s the only one in the universe who calls me by my full name. “It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted that matters.”  He holds out his hand to help me navigate my way over a broken tomb.  I ignore it.  He smirks, “Or do you not support the Bill Of Rights?”

God, please keep me from throttling him tonight. Cay clears his throat.

“WTF, losers?  A graveyard?” Alicia Impestio. Wearing her designer hoodie unzipped so that she reveals way more skin than she has to, her straight brown hair is bleached at the tips and held off of her over-tanned face by some rhinestone-studded catastrophe. I grit my teeth. 

“Hey Alicia, glad you could make it.” Cay holds the minicam out towards her and helps her onto the cobbled path of the graveyard.

“Whatever.” Alicia grabs the mini and swats at Cay’s hand as she struggles to gain a foothold. A challenging endeavor, I’m sure, for someone wearing flip-flops in November. 

She gives me the once-over, lips curling. 

“You really wore that?”  She asks, mouth open with disdain. 

“Alicia . . .” Jack’s voice is low, menacing.

“I mean” –she gives me the once-over and sneers- “Aren’t the Kardashians some of you people? They at least know how to dress.  But, then again, they also know who their daddy is.”  


That’s Alicia: hitting where it hurts. I blink through the stinging at my eyes as my mind races to find something snarky to say...something to…

“Alicia,” Jack snaps. “Stop.”

“Fine, but tell Clay Aiken over there to hurry it. I’m cold.”

Jack makes a motion with his head to indicate that Cay should ignore her as he adjusts the weight of the portable boom on his back.

“Okay, I’m filming.” I say and catch the low-hanging harvest moon before panning down to Cay. “In three, two, one ...”

“This is Cayden Robison of Chase Hills High Broadcasting reporting on site at Hillside Cemetery. In 1734, three witches were reportedly hung just up the road, on the town green and buried, here, in this cemetery, in unmarked graves.”

“Then, in 1864, three men were arrested for grave digging, and ever since, people have reported strange things not only here, but especially out behind the burial grounds, in the woods.” Cay runs his hand along the top of a worn tombstone.

“Reports of paranormal activity really began to pick up in the past thirty years.” He pauses, and I pan the camera over to the creepy oak and the broken bench beneath it, hands a little unsteady. “Some people claim to hear voices, others see full-body apparitions, but most convincingly, in the 1980s, some kids back here partying say that they found satanists performing rituals in the woods.  They watched as the group made a make-shift temple of one of the half-buried barite mines in the woods, and claim that the men actually raised a demon.”

He stops, looking intently into the lens of my camera. I flex my fingers, my breath rushed, like I’ve been running.

“Tonight, we’re going to dig for the truth and see if Hillside Cemetery is actually haunted.” Cays smiles.

Deep breath, May.  It’s just a story. Fairytales. There’s no such thing as demons, or ghosts. 


About the Author:


Madeline Wynn holds a master's degree in procrastination. When she's not writing, she can be found ghost hunting, gardening and parading around her home state of Connecticut with her husband, dog and two kids.

Her latest book is the YA paranormal, Daughter of the Fallen.

Connect with Madeline:
Website | Facebook | Twitter 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Once Upon a Wedding Release Day Blitz


About the book:

Once Upon a Wedding (One Day at a Wedding – Book One)

Genre: Contemporary Romance – Novella

Published by: Forever Red Publishing, L.L.C.

Release Date: December 12, 2014

Length: 67 Pages

Cassie Anderson, bridesmaid extraordinaire, is tired of attending her friend’s weddings either solo, or with her best friend, Thad. Finding a real date is simply too much work. Especially when she sees an old acquaintance from high school, Dan, at her friend Shelley’s wedding.

After the spark shared between them, Dan has become the object of her affection. Too bad he has a nasty habit of having a date on his arm at every turn. Stealing another woman’s date is against the rules, but if she could just catch him alone…well, that would be fair game!

Unfortunately, timing is everything, and she and Dan seem to have the worst. Always the bridesmaid, walking away with nothing more than a dreadful dress, Cassie is committed to changing her luck and getting her man!



Excerpt

“Cassie. Cassie, did you see who’s here?” Shelley tugged at her skirt, trying to get her attention directed toward the back of the church.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked Shelley and then turned to face the back of the church. “Ohh, now I see what you mean.”

“And yet, you ignored me,” Thad said from the other side.

She just blew him off with a wave. He would get over it in two seconds or less anyway.

There he stood, looking as dapper as a GQ cover. His suit was a very nice shade of blue, with a white shirt and what appeared to be a pinstripe tie. By the time Shelley had gotten her attention, he had already selected a pew and scooted by people for a seat. The most important thing Cassie noticed was his lack of a date.

Who doesn’t take their fiancĂ©e to a wedding?

This could be a good sign. Of course, she would have to do some more investigating before she determined whether he had a single status at this point, or remained affianced. It then dawned on her that she, herself, had brought a date to the wedding. She took her eyes off Dan long enough to glance over at Thad, currently very busy staring at the legs of the woman next to him.

Boy, can I pick ‘em. Even my pretend boyfriends are losers.

“Thad, do you think you could be a little more discrete about your appreciation for our neighbor there?” she asked through gritted teeth, trying to keep her disdain to a low roar.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry Cassie. But did you see her calves? I swear, it’s just a professional thing,” he said this with the gigolo grin, his specialty, one that hardly ever worked on Cassie. Hardly ever.

“If this is where you tell me how you’re a critic and you were just admiring her legs in a professional manner, don’t bother,” Cassie uttered in her most stern, yet quiet, voice. “You critique the arts, Thad, her legs are not performing.”

“I could argue that point, but seeing how your face is scrunching up at me, I won’t. You’re right, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Thad did his best to appear remorseful and even went so far as to kiss her forehead and squeeze her hand. She did not squeeze back.

To Cassie’s way of thinking, the fact that he had been holding her hand the whole time, including while checking out the lady’s legs next to them, made it a little worse. What could she say, though, considering she had been waiting and hoping for the appearance of another man?

She turned her head and caught Dan glancing in her direction. His mouth immediately curved up into a smile and he waved in Cassie’s direction. Cassie returned the smile and raised her left hand to reciprocate the wave, realizing she’d brought Thad’s hand along with her. Making it obvious that she had brought a date to the wedding, she immediately dropped Thad’s hand. Too late. She knew Dan had seen already.

Damn it!

About the author:

Kelly Rae is mom to an amazing young man. Everything else is just a way to keep busy between laughs with her son, or a way to pay for his sports equipment and growing feet. When she was twelve years old, she hit the big leagues by winning a Young Authors Award. (Okay, okay, it was only within her school district. Shh.) Although she has been unable to duplicate this success in her adult writing, she is giving it her best shot. Kelly, her son, and their chocolate lab, live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy the sun when it shines and the snow when it falls. When they aren’t dancing in the rain or singing at the top of their lungs in the car, they are planning their dream vacations…which they might even get to take some day.



Connect with the author:
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest Post by Nancy Cole Silverman


About the book:

When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in the bathtub of her home suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. When a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from being tried in courts of public opinion.

But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised, and when a Hollywood psychic shows up in Carol’s studio one night and warns her there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge both her friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is the killer is still out there and the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.




GUEST POST

THE STORY CHOOSES THE WRITER


When I was girl my mother used to tell me, if you want make something happen you’ve got get out of the house and mix it up. She wasn’t a big believer that opportunity was going to suddenly show up on our doorstep and success and happiness would follow all your live-long life. And being that I grew up in Arizona, in the middle of a grapefruit orchard, on the outskirts of Phoenix in the sixties, I’m pretty certain she was right.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure that’s the way it works with stories.

I’m a big believer the story picks the writer. Not the other way around.  I’ve no doubt that some of us are a little riper than others for the pickin’. Perhaps it’s because writers are more perceptive, or sensitive, or just plain better listeners. But whatever the cause, in my opinion, the story picks the writer.  

Read on.

My first book The Centaur’s Promise is a story about a woman who meets a centaur in her dreams after she nearly hits a runaway horse on a busy southern California freeway.  This story came to me shortly after I founded The Equestrian News, a southern California equestrian newspaper.  I was sitting in my office one day, when a nervous caller called in to report a near fatal accident. Fortunately, no one, horse or driver, was harmed, but the story did prompt me imagine; what if?

What if, it weren’t an accident and some driving (forgive the pun) force, wanted to grab this woman’s attention?  Several days later, after I had just finished a training exercise with my horse and we were cooling down in the arena, a vision came to me. It was a centaur, a mighty half-horse, half-man creature, holding a spear in his hand above his head and saying, “We will leave this world, but we will take with us the hearts of your best women and through them, we will rule your world for eternity.”

Was I crazy? Or was I pulling from some force beyond a story inspired by the accident I’d just covered.

You decide.

My second book, When in Doubt, Don’t! was inspired by a real life experience I had with a group of rightwing extremists that moved into a house I was renting and refused to either pay rent, or leave. Their response to my numerous eviction notices was that my home was no long part of the United States, but was now headquarters for their new nation.

What?

Yes, this really happened. And it took me being part of a federal investigation and better than ten years before I was able to put it in perspective and write a book about it.

When in Doubt, Don’t! was the prequel for my new Carol Childs’ mystery series. I self-published it and then took it back when Henery Press offered me a chance to do a series with Carol Childs as the heroine. My first book with Henery Press, Shadow of Doubt, debuted December 2. I’m very excited about it. This new series just clicked for me and was easy to write. It was an opportunity for me to share my experiences from within a busy news/talk radio station via my character, Carol Childs, who is easily my alter ego. I’m already at work on book three in the series and anticipate - with reader enthusiasm – many more. And yes, When in Doubt, Don’t! will be available as a prequel sometime in the near future.

Meanwhile, in sticking with the idea that stories pick the author.

The other day I came home to find a FedEx package on my front door step. It was addressed to a Tod Silverman. Nobody I know. And no one my husband knows either. In fact, there is no, nor has there ever been, a Tod Silverman in residence at our home. I write that because it’s important you know. . . we don’t know Tod Silverman.

But somebody does.

And that somebody was trying to use FedEx to send Tod Silverman a substantial amount of money.

Of course I didn’t know this at the time. And when I picked up the box, I assumed it was something my husband was expecting from a client.

My husband, Bruce, does a lot of expert witness work and frequently packages arrive during the day containing copies of depositions, etc. Without thinking about it, I placed the box in his office in his office and left.

Moments later, I hear his call.

“NANCY!”

The tone in his voice was that of concern. Like that reserved for serious discussion.

“What?” I hollered back. I hadn’t ordered anything. I had no reason to think something in the package concerned me, or that he might be upset. But he continued.

“Nancy!  Come here. Now!”

I returned to his office to find him standing across the room, arms folded across his chest, a look of distress on his face. He pointed at the box, now on his desk.

“Look inside,” he said.

“Why?” I didn’t like his tone. Was it something dead? Something poisonous? Why wasn’t he standing by the box?

“Just look.”

Slowly I approached the box. There, sitting on top of stack of three manila envelopes, was a clear plastic bag containing hundreds of one hundred dollar bills!

“Oh, my God! What is it?”

He didn’t know. I didn’t know. But we both knew it was trouble.

I’ll close and tell you we called the police. The story? You’ll have to read the Carol Childs’ mysteries. I promised to include it. Very soon.

Until then, Stay Tuned,
Nancy Cole Silverman


About the author

Silverman believes her twenty-five years in radio help her to develop an ear for storytelling. In 2001 she retired from news and copywriting to write fiction fulltime. Much of what she writes she admits is pulled from behind the headlines of actual events that were reported on from some Los Angeles busiest radio newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes some of which have won awards &/or been picked up for publication. Currently she has three audio books with MindWings Audio. Her first novel, The Centaur’s Promise, was published by Eloquent Press in 2010. In December, Henery Press rolled out the first of Silverman’s new Carol Childs Mysteries, Shadow of Doubt.


Connect with the author:
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Featured Author: E.J. Simon



About the book:

Some of the most powerful people in the world want to kill Michael Nicholas. Only his brother, Alex can save him - the problem is that Alex is dead.

It's been almost a year since Alex Nicholas, a Queens based underworld Boss, was gunned down. After Alex’s brutal murder, Michael inherited not only his brother’s business – but his enemies. Michael is now a key player in a world he once feared. By day, he is the head of a Fortune 500 company by night, the CEO of Tartarus, one of the worlds largest illegal gambling operations.

Before his death, Alex invested heavily in breakthrough artificial intelligence software so that he could live forever. It worked. In his virtual form, Alex can communicate with Michael and monitor information - and people - in ways the NSA would envy.

It is Alex who discovers Michael’s life is in danger. He detects plots that reach from the darkest corners of Queens, to the highest officials in the Vatican - and they all want Michael dead.

Michael is now in a race to save his life, but he is never alone - Alex is there to help him navigate through this maze of life and death. Also protecting Michael from the forces closing in around him is Sindy Steele, a beautiful - and lethal bodyguard.

How far is Michael willing to go to save his own life – and that of his family? Guided only by a familiar face on a computer screen, will the information Alex discovers allow Michael to go from being the hunted to the hunter?

Interview with E.J. Simon

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
Death Never Sleeps is the first book in the series. Death Logs In is a sequel and a continuation of the story – but it’s free-standing – you don’t need to read the first book beforehand.

Where’s home for you?
Home is Westport, Connecticut – a lovely community on Long island Sound.

What do you love about where you live?
In some ways it’s a small New England coastal town – yet it’s only an hour from one of the greatest cities in the world, New York.



Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Queens, New York. It’s one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. It was a great place for me – I met such interesting and diverse characters. It not only helped shape my personality – but my stories as well.

If you had $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Books, or a nice restaurant meal. Ideally, a book, dinner, and a glass of wine.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
There were so many. Probably a lawn mower.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Be nice to people, show them all respect and focus on the good  - not only in people but in life.

Good advice. Who would you pick to write your biography?
Ken Burns.

What dumb things did you do during your college years?
These are too numerous to mention in a short interview. Let me just say this – I spent six years at the University of South Carolina. It was during the late sixties and early seventies when the country – and particularly college campuses were in utter turmoil.  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, students were killed by National Guard troops at Kent State, drugs were everywhere, racial conflict was widespread, and Vietnam, the draft, and the protests against the war loomed over everything. Despite the bleak picture I just painted – it was a terrific time to be in college which is probably why I was there for six years.

Have you been in any natural disasters?
No. Hurricane Sandy did hit our town pretty hard, but my wife and I were in Turks & Caicos at the time. I’ve been very fortunate.

What is the most daring thing you've done?
I don’t do daring things. I have no desire to jump out of airplanes, swim with sharks or climb mountains. I do, however, enjoy the challenges of business, writing books that sell, and changing careers. Maybe some people would define those things as daring. To me, daring means serving in the military or with the press in the Middle East, joining the French Resistance in WW II. Or fighting for unpopular causes on the front lines.


What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Putting regular gasoline – instead of diesel - in our rental car in France last year. The car had to be towed, we needed to take a taxi quite a distance back to the hotel in Messanges but instead the driver understood Meursanges, which is an hour in the opposite direction. . . it cost us a thousand dollars before it was over. That’s one of the most recent stupid things I’ve done. There are more.

Ouch! I feel your pain. What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
Who won the Preaknesses, Super Bowls, and World Series for the last few decades. On a more serious level, I think it’s the knowledge of whom you really are – not that I’ve totally solved that. I think as you mature though, you begin to get a better understanding of yourself and you learn to be comfortable in that knowledge and in your skin.

What makes you bored?
Repetition, doing the same thing over and over. It’s why I don’t play golf.


What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?

I let myself lose contact with close friends and relatives. Writing a novel has enabled me to reconnect with many of these lovely people. On my most recent book tour down South, I met many relatives and friends that I simply never took the time to stay in touch with. It’s been a big loss not only for my wife and me, but it denied our daughter the benefit and warmth of those relationships. In some cases, of course, the people I lost contact with have now passed away. There’s no reconnecting with them, just memories. If I had to do it over, I would have not only cherished the memories, which I did – but carefully nurtured and maintained those relationships.

What makes you nervous?
The fragility of our lives.


What makes you happy?
Being with my wife and daughter, eating out with friends, sitting by a pool with a glass of wine, listening to music.

What makes you scared?
Not much, really, but I do have a snake phobia.

What makes you excited?
Getting on a plane to go to Europe, settling in my seat, getting out my iPod, putting on my earphones, waiting for my dinner to be served – and knowing that I’ll be able to dine, listen to music, read, write, and think for several uninterrupted hours. This only works well in the front cabin.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Not at the moment, I’ve been pretty picky lately - but I probably will again soon. I think the interaction with the real world – and being around people as they work to earn a living  - helps my writing. Otherwise, an author can be in an artificial bubble. I also enjoy the business world.

What are your most cherished mementoes?

A piece of Greek marble that my mother gave me when we visited the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York, a glass paper weight of King Arthur’s sword from an old friend, a brass cup with the address engraved from when I lived in Columbia, South Carolina, my father’s gold cufflinks, a tiny red wallet that my daughter made for me when she was a child.

I don’t know if it qualifies as a memento, but I have a scale model under glass of the Titanic. There is something about it that draws me in. It’s a daily reminder that things can go wrong and that life is a gift that can be taken from us without warning - and once that happens it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the upper deck or in steerage.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?

The insurance policy.

What brings you sheer delight?
A good meal in a nice restaurant with a small number of friends or family. Or, sitting on the beach in Turks & Caicos and gazing at the sea. Actually, I enjoy gazing at a swimming pool just as much. I like to be able to see what’s in the water around me.

Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?

I’d definitely rather be a lonely genius. I do cherish some time alone. Being a genius is another matter. I fear that comes with a lot of complications. In any case, I wouldn’t know.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
I’d spend a few months each year in France; I’d love to live in Paris in the winter and the South of France in the summer. I suspect I could also be very happy living near the water on a Greek island like Santorini.

What would you like people to say about you after you die?
I’d like them to say, “He’s actually alive and quite well. The obituary was a mistake.”

Great answer! Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Most of the characters in my books are inspired by – or are – real people. Many of these characters have done bad things, so I can’t say who they really are or they’d be in trouble - and I’d probably get sued.

Is your book based on real events?

No, unless we have successfully duplicated someone on a computer. Some of the scenes, however, are based on actual events.

Are you like any of your characters?
There may be a similarity between myself and one of the protagonists, Michael Nicholas. This is one of the reasons I got a bit upset when my daughter read an early draft of Death Never Sleeps and said that the character needed more of an edge.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
I would be having dinner with that character in Mario’s restaurant in Westport, Connecticut. I’d be enjoying the spaghetti and meatballs. I’d have a large glass of Chianti too. I’d be halfway through it. The character would have watched The Godfather many times. I forced him to. He’d excuse himself and go to the men’s room where he would have previously hidden a gun. He’d come out, approach my table, and begin firing. I would try and get one last bite of the meatballs but wouldn’t make it. Unlike in The Godfather, however, my character would have the decency to pay the dinner bill before exiting.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck with in a bookstore?
I’ll define “real” as people who are alive. Sofia Coppola, James Patterson, Steven Spielberg, Stephen Hawking, and Elton John.

That's quite a list. Who are your favorite authors?
As far as fiction goes, I tend to read commercial fiction. My favorite authors are Stuart Woods – I love his Stone Barrington series. Also, Dan Brown, and Daniel Silva.
But I read mostly nonfiction works – American and WW II history, and biographies. I love to read books on my favorite statesmen: Churchill, Jefferson, and John F. Kennedy. I’m also fascinated with understanding some of the leading Nazis like Albert Speer and Reinhard Heydrich. I also love to read and, mostly, look at cookbooks. Occasionally, they inspire me to cook. More often, they inspire me to eat.


Me too. Which writers have influenced your writing style?
Stuart Woods and James Patterson have influenced my writing style.

I consider myself a “blue collar” writer. I’m not trying to write “literature” – just great commercial fiction. Most commercial fiction writers don’t dwell on their manuscript for years. Often, it’s a job. I don’t consider my writing to be “art.” It strikes me to be too elitist. I’m trying to entertain and hope I inspire my readers to think about their life and life’s issues.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m currently reading The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis in the hardcover edition. It is an insider’s view of the Vatican.

I love books – hardcovers and softcovers. I collect them and keep most books after I’ve read them. I have an entire library of books that‘s in storage from the first thirty-five years of my life. I ran out of room and bookshelves, so I took my entire library at that time and packed it away. It’s with the Santini Brothers or something like that now. It’s my time capsule. One day when I expand my current library space, I’ll get it back so I have all my books together. It will be an exhilarating – but strange - experience, I’m sure.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Long books - when the subject matter doesn’t call for it. I also tend to dislike long chapters. It could, of course, be a short attention span issue.


Do you have a routine for writing?
I try and write very early in the morning. I get up between 5:30 and 6:30, have my coffee, read the New York Times, feed my dog, and then go into my library and begin writing on my Apple desktop.

Where do you prefer to do your writing?
I prefer to write in my library at home. It’s a beautiful room, and I have a jukebox with thousands of tunes and colored lights. I’m surrounded by books and many cherished objects, family photographs, and art. From my desk I also have a great view of a scale, detailed model of the Titanic. It’s a constant reminder that nothing is perfect and life is short.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
One reader said that she was reading Death Never Sleeps on a plane when the aircraft hit major turbulence and suddenly began shaking and losing altitude. She never put the book down and, finally, her husband looked over, astonished that she appeared to be oblivious to what was happening – while he was scared out of his wits.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
An obituary for a good friend.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
My favorite library is the one in my hometown, The Westport Library (Westport, Connecticut). It is one of the best in the country. It’s modern and open – and it actually has two robots from France – Vincent and Nancy. I believe they’re now teaching kids how to write code. It’s another example of the increasing role of artificial intelligence in our lives.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

James Bond. I hope by “one day” you also mean an evening or I might choose someone else.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
A few reviewers have complained about the many scenes in my books over dinners or in restaurants. I feel strongly about those scenes – our dinners are where a lot of things happen in our lives. For many of us, too, restaurants are an important part of our culture. We live in a privileged society. Also, I’ve found that most people enjoy the restaurant scenes, especially since they are real. We all love eating out in great restaurants around the world, even if we experience them inside a novel. This also has the added effect of “lightening” the story. My novels aren’t dark, but added light does help alleviate the tension I’m, hopefully, causing the reader. Moving the action around the world in places people tend to enjoy – or want to visit – allows me to deal with serious issues without burdening the reader. I like my fiction to be an exciting, maybe nerve-wracking – but enjoyable – escape from life’s problems.

What would your dream office look like?
It would have tall, ceiling to floor windows and look out over the Place Vendome in Paris. I’d have a large semi-circular desk made of a fine wood. It would have a huge white board that would come down from the ceiling with the flip of a switch. Hanging on the walls would be photographs by Helmut Newton, Harry Benson, and Annie Leibovitz. I’d have a jukebox in the corner and music would be playing, maybe the Rolling Stones or movie themes. The room would be soundproof. The temperature would be a constant sixty-five degrees whether the fireplace was burning wood or not. The carpeting would be a soft, thick deep wool. There’d be a ten-line phone with lights constantly blinking, because I’d never answer it. I’d have a special comfortable chair and matching ottoman where I could relax when I wasn’t at my desk. My dog, Tazmania, would occupy it most of the time.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third novel in my series. The first two are titled Death Never Sleeps and Death Logs In. The third one – due next year – will be titled Death Logs Out.

I’m also coauthoring a true-crime book, Rogue Town 2 with private detective and former undercover cop Vito Collucci, Jr. about the Martha Moxley murder.





About the author:

E.J. Simon is the author of Death Logs In, (October 15, 2014) and Death Never Sleeps. Prior to his writing career, Simon was the CEO of GMAC Global Relocation Services (a division of GM) and the Managing Director of Douglas Elliman, the largest real estate company in New York.

He is a world traveler and food enthusiast. Simon lives in Connecticut with his family.


Connect with the author:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble  






Saturday, December 6, 2014

Featured Author: Tammy L. Grace

About the book:

Spend Christmas in Friday Harbor this year surrounded by the friends you know and a couple of special deliveries from the Hometown Harbor series.

In between holiday activities, friends of Linda and Max are helping plan their Valentine’s Day wedding. Regi is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fortieth birthday and the fulfillment of the promise she and Cam made over twenty years ago.

As she anticipates the reunion with Cam, she’s oblivious to the signals the local delivery man, Nate, is giving her. She and Nate work together helping a newcomer open an art and antiques shop. While spending time together, she discovers she has feelings for Nate and bonds with the new shopkeeper over their past losses. 

As Regi’s contemplating her choices, she’s dealt a blow that brings her to her knees and reconnects her with the past. In the pursuit of her youthful fairytale promise, she’ll risk the only chance she’s encountered for true happiness and a home. 

The Dirty Dozen with Tammy Grace

1.    What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Must I pick only one? I would say inefficiency. I have very little – make that no patience for this quality in systems or sadly, people.

2.    What is your guiltiest guilty pleasure?

I’m guilty of eating rocky road ice cream as a meal. There’s a wonderful ice cream shop about 30 miles from my home, and I’ve been known to drive to it for lunch!

3.    What is your most embarrassing moment?
I worked in a junior high school, and on one of my first days at work, I slipped on the stairs (wearing new school shoes, of course) and bounced all the way down the flight in front of a group of seventh and eighth graders. Not fun when you’re in junior high and even less fun when you’re an adult.

4.    What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?
I backed into a car parked behind me in my own driveway.

5.    What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? 
I’m not much of a daredevil, but would have to say parasailing over Lake Tahoe.

6.    On what life choices would you like to have a re-do?
I would dedicate more time to spend with the important people in my life. When people die or get ill, or even move away, you realize you could have made different choices and spent more of your days with them.

7.    What makes you nervous? 
I’m a bit of a worrier, so many things! Airport security, traffic, anything from the IRS, driving in fog, going to the doctor ~ dare I go on?

8.    What makes you scared?
Watching the news scares me about the future – I used to watch it faithfully, but quit a couple of years ago and substituted classic television shows.

9.    What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
When my son was little I convinced him that I had access to an evil babysitter, Mrs. Neusbaum. So, if he got out of line, I threatened to call her to come over and take care of the situation.

10.    What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
I trusted a colleague and later learned she was only using me to climb the ladder.

11.    When was the last time you did something for the first time?
I love to bake and try new recipes, so that happens often (maybe too often)!  As an author, I find myself doing new things with social media and promotion all the time. 

12.    One of your main characters has to die. Which one would you kill off? 
Oh, that’s a tough one.  I’d hate to do it, but I’d choose Jeff. He came close to death in the second book, and I actually thought about taking him out, but my mom convinced me to let him live.

About the author:

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing. 

When Tammy isn't working on ideas for a novel, she's spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

Connect with Tammy:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon author page 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guest Post by Susan J. Kroupa




About the book:

Who knew chasing a rat in the middle of a Christmas pageant could cause so much trouble? Certainly not Doodle, the obedience-impaired labradoodle who works for “the boss,” Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection, nor Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter. But then Doodle’s the first to admit he doesn’t quite get Christmas.

Doodle’s antics during the pageant draw the attention of a popular video-blogger, who asks to do a feature his on sniffer-dog skills. But when the blog airs, pretty much the opposite of what Molly and the boss expected, the boss’s phone rings off the hook with distraught customers who think Doodle’s bed bug “finds” can’t be trusted. Molly, searching for a way to set things right, befriends the blogger’s son, a boy alienated from his mother who wants only to go live with his father.

Throw in a handful of threatening letters, some lost dogs, and a devastating fire, and Molly and Doodle have their hands—well, in Doodle’s case, his paws—full finding out just who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

A charming cozy for all seasons and for dog lovers of all ages.


Labra—whaaaat?

Okay, I’ll admit it. I didn’t invent Doodle, the wise-cracking, bed-bug-detecting narrator of the Doodlebugged mysteries, out of whole cloth—or, um fur. It happens that many of Doodle’s more eccentric traits came from observation of Shadow, a labradoodle we adopted as a filthy, flea-bitten puppy on a frigid November afternoon in 2008. For me, finding Shadow was the culmination of years of what I can only call labradoodle lust, which struck me when I first began reading about Australian labradoodles.

Developed by Wally Cochran (beginning in 1989) specifically to be non-shedding and mostly hypoallergenic service dogs, Australian labradoodles were crosses of Australian Labrador retrievers (generally calmer and smaller than American Labrador retrievers) and standard poodles. They were designed to be service dogs for people who are allergic to golden retrievers and German shepherds and other typical service breeds. The goal was to get a hypoallergenic coat on a dog who would be happy, if not thrilled, to be a service dog.
At this point, you might say, “Hey, poodles already have the hypoallergenic, non-shedding coat. Why go to all the trouble to create a new breed?”

You would think this only if you’ve never lived with a poodle.  Dog-behaviorist Stanley Coren, who ranks different breeds of dogs by order of intelligence in his aptly named book,  The Intelligence of Dogs, places poodles second from the top as far as intelligence. (Labrador retrievers aren’t slouches in the in the smarts department either—Coren rates them seventh.  Naturally, those over-achieving border collies come in first.)   But about the poodle personality, he says something to the effect that poodles are born thinking they’ve won the grand lottery of life.

Smart, yes. Clever, definitely. Self-esteem? Can we say entitled? In fact, poodles have so much self-esteem that they often don’t see the need to take advice or instruction from anyone else, particularly the humans in their lives.

Other adjectives frequently used in regard to poodles: reserved, aloof, independent. Not, as you can see, your basic service-dog personality. (Now, before you poodle lovers rush to your keyboards, let me say, first, that I know there are many exceptions and I’m sure your dog is one of them, and second, that I love poodles myself. Heck, I practically own—well, live with— one, but more on that later.)

Reserved, aloof and independent certainly describes Shadow. Later, I would learn that a term for dogs with these traits, used by Jane Killion in her excellent training manual, When Pigs Fly. The term is non-biddable.  Killion defines biddable as “having an inclination to both work with and take direction from man.” (Or, of course, woman.)  She goes on to say, “If you laughed when you read the definition of biddable you definitely do not have one of those dogs.” What can I say? I laughed.

So the Labrador part of the labradoodle equation was to make the breed more user-friendly. The Mac version rather than the PC. Or the PC version rather than the Linux, depending upon your software biases. That’s what Wally Cochran was looking for in 1989 when he began crossing the two breeds in search of a hypoallergenic service dog.

Calm, clever, biddable, and an added bonus thrown in for free: cute. Really cute. Okay, I got the clever and cute part in my labradoodle bundle. Calm? Let’s just say for the first two years of his life we called Shadow “the barkster.” Biddable? Excuse me while I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes.

 As Doodle puts it, labradoodles are supposed to have, “All the warmth and bonding of a Labrador retriever combined with the intelligence and the hypoallergenic coat of a poodle.” Only in Doodle’s case—and not uncoincidentally in our own—it didn’t quite work out that way. In Bed-Bugged, the first book in the series, one of Doodle’s service dog trainers claims Doodle seems to have missed the Labrador part. “Too much doodle. Not enough labra,” is how he puts it.

That line, stolen from a neighbor’s observation about Shadow and shamelessly used in the book, pretty much says it all.

Of course, Shadow is not Doodle, in the same way that human fictional characters are generally composites rather than clones of real people. For one thing, Doodle has skills. Actual money-making skills. After flunking out of service-dog school for his above-mentioned attitude issues, he ends up having a “career-change” and gets trained as a bed bug dog. Adopted into a new family, Doodle helps the “boss,” Josh Hunter, find bed bugs and helps the boss’s ten-year-old daughter, Molly, solve mysteries.

Shadow, on the other hand, most likely can’t tell a bed bug from termite or cockroach, and most certainly doesn’t care. Of course, we love him anyway. His keen intelligence, his grand sense of humor, and his ever-amiable personality have made him a cherished member of our family. Admittedly, the first year of his life was a difficult one for all of us as we had to learn how to deal with a high-energy, high drive pup, and he had to learn he couldn’t be the emperor of the world. But now we’re one big happy family. Don’t you just love a happy ending?

For more happy endings and a chance to meet Doodle, check out the Doodlebugged mysteries on Susan's webpage or her Amazon author page.  

About the author:

Susan J. Kroupa is the award-winning author of the Doodlebugged mysteries, which have been called, “. . . the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and laugh-out-loud doggy observations” by best-selling author Virginia Smith, and which feature Doodle, the irrepressible canine narrator of the series.
She is also a dog lover, currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons, and who just happens to be the inspiration for some of Doodle’s more obedience-challenged behavior.
She now lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia, where she’s busy taking photos and writing the next Doodlebugged mystery. You can see samples of both on her webpage, www.susankroupa.com.

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