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Excerpt & Giveaway: Embolden by Syrie James and Ryan James


Hi, dear readers. It’s that time again to welcome back to the blog Syrie James, but this time, she’s got an excerpt from her second novel in a series she’s writing with her son, Ryan James. The first novel, Forbidden, will be up for grabs after you hear about Embolden, which will come out Oct. 30 but is available for pre-order now.

About the Book:

The world is trying to tear them apart.
Will they stand together and fight back?

After a season of psychic visions and super-powered drama, Claire Brennan and her angel-gone-AWOL boyfriend Alec MacKenzie can finally be together. Under the protection of Claire’s grandmother, they are trying to lead a normal life, going to high school at Emerson Academy and hanging out with their friends.

But jealous teenagers, vengeful enemies, the city’s new Watcher, and even the school play threaten to break them apart. Not to mention Claire’s surprising second power, which could sabotage the trust of everyone she holds dear. And just when they need to stick together, they finally get a lead on where Claire’s missing father might be.

The threats, which come not only from without but also from within, will test the strength of Alec and Claire’s relationship. Is the love they share enough to keep them safe? If they want to stay together … can they learn to fight together?

Here’s an excerpt from book 2 in the series from Chapter 6:

Six

“I wish Brian would get his head out of his ass.” Claire was standing with Alec by his vintage car in the junior parking lot, his arms around her.

“Is that what you really want? The two of them together?”

“She’s my best friend. I want her to have what she wants.”

“If it’s right, it’ll happen.”

“Since when did you become Dr. Phil?”

Alec smiled into her eyes. “I’m not. But I’m learning. Slowly.” He kissed her. Also slowly.

It was a lovely kiss. As always, Claire’s heart fluttered. When the kiss ended, she gallantly opened the door to his Mustang and waited until he was seated inside. “Drive safe.”

“You too. We’ll talk tonight.”

As Alec drove off, Claire crossed the lot to where her own car was parked, unable to hold back her smile. Having Helena in their lives had certainly come with some great benefits.

Besides having her long-lost Grigori grandmother around all the time, which Claire loved, money was no longer a problem. Claire’s tuition was paid in full (no more stressing about her grades to keep a scholarship), and they’d moved into a luxury condo in Brentwood, just a five-minute drive from school. That meant a little extra sleep every morning, which Claire really appreciated after her late-night video chats with Alec.

And with Helena’s seemingly limitless bank account, Claire could at last have a car of her own, like everybody else at Emerson. But not just any car. It was a brand-new Acura hybrid with a garnet metallic finish, a top-notch sound system, and all the bells and whistles a girl could want.

Claire unlocked the door, heaved her backpack into the rear, and settled on the smooth leather seat behind the wheel. The space was so snug and the instrument panel so cool, it felt like she was in the cockpit of her own private airplane. The car—her car—made her feel grown-up, which was both exciting and intimidating.

As she stuck her key in the ignition, the sound of a man clearing his throat beside her was so startling, she shrieked. She turned her head to find a man sitting in the passenger seat. A man who had definitely not been there a second before.

“Holy shit!” Claire’s stomach jumped in fear as her hand moved to the door handle. “Get out of my car!”

“I’m sorry if I frightened you, Miss Brennan. I’m not going to hurt you. There’s no need for a fuss.”

Claire hesitated, some instinct making her think he was telling the truth. Maybe it was the man’s eyes: they weren’t menacing, but rather appraising, reassuring, and very, very tired.

She struggled to control the beating of her heart as she studied him. He was slender, with a long, smooth face augmented by a hint of a goatee, and everything about him was pale, from his white skin, to his blond hair, to those eyes, which were the gray of an overcast sky. He wore a white turtleneck with a beige blazer and washed-out jeans. His legs were so long that they looked cramped in her car.

“Damn right, there’s a need,” Claire said. “Who are you? What do you want? How did you get in here?”

“Locks aren’t a problem for me.”

That wasn’t exactly an answer to her questions. “You weren’t here when I got in the car.”

“Oh, but I was. I’ve been waiting for you for the past half hour.”

“That’s impossible.”

He gave her a small smile. Suddenly, all the color drained from his body, until it looked like he was made of ice, at which point he faded entirely from view.

Claire gasped, staring at the empty space where the man had been. He had totally, utterly vanished. Yet she sensed that he was still there. Definitely some Fallen witchcraft. “You’re one of them! Did Celeste send you?”

He reappeared. “No, child. I fight for the other side. I am the Watcher for this city.”

Claire nodded slowly. She remembered hearing Alec talk about the Grigori who watched over Los Angeles, policing its Fallen, and initiating newly awakened Nephilim. The one Vincent had temporarily replaced during the horrible events of last fall, when she had awakened. The authority figure Helena had to constantly check in with to confirm that Claire was walking the straight and narrow.

But far worse: the person most likely to discover Alec and ship him back to their Grigori brethren. When Claire spoke again, her voice was no more than a whisper. “You’re Zachariah.”

“So, you’ve heard of me.”

Claire’s heart pounded, but she just shrugged her shoulders, hoping to appear casual as she carefully chose her words. “Helena may have mentioned you once or twice.”

“I see.” Something buzzed in Zachariah’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and began texting as he spoke. “Please forgive my dramatic greeting, Miss Brennan, but as Emerson is a closed campus, I had little alternative.”

Claire studied him, aware that she had to keep this man on her side. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not at all. I’ve had you on my mind ever since I resumed my post, but this is the first time I’ve been able to fit you into my schedule. I’ve been meeting with Helena telepathically with regard to your progress, which is all positive. Well done.” He glanced at her. “But I thought it important that I meet you for myself, face-to-face.”

“Why? So you can see if my grandmother’s been telling the truth about me the past three months?”

Zachariah silently resumed texting, his expression betraying nothing.

I guess that answers that. Claire sighed. Clearly, he’d cornered her in her car so he could give her the third degree without Helena there to influence or protect her. “Okay. Great. We’ve met. Now what?”

He put his phone away and rubbed his eyes wearily. “Let’s take a little ride. I hope you don’t mind if I accompany you home?”

Claire’s jaw clenched. This was the last thing she wanted. A cold fear gripped her as she thought of all the times Alec had come over since Zachariah had returned to L.A. Thank God Zachariah had been too busy to worry about her until now. Otherwise, he could have been lurking (invisibly!) at school, in her old apartment, or the new condo. He would have recognized Alec on the spot and busted him. Good thing Alec hadn’t made plans to come over today.

Aloud, she said, “Do I have a choice?”

GIVEAWAY: 1 ePub copy of Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James; please comment by Oct. 30, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

About the Authors:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels translated into eighteen languages. Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things English and 19th century. Her books have been Library Journal Editor’s Picks and won numerous awards including the Audiobook Association Audie for Romance, Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, B&N Romantic Read of the Week, Best Snowbound Romance (Bookbub), Best of the Year (Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews), and Best First Novel (Library Journal). Syrie thoroughly enjoyed working with her son Ryan on Forbidden and Embolden, her only forays into novel co-writing. Syrie is a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and JASNA, and has addressed audiences as a keynote speaker across America and England. A theater enthusiast, she has also written, directed, and performed in numerous stage productions. Her new Dare to Defy series of historical romances are now available from Avon Impulse.

Ryan M James has enjoyed co-writing not only Forbidden and Embolden with his mother Syrie, but also two screenplays as well. By day he works as a performance director, lead editor, and co-writer for the video game industry, recently being honored by the Writer’s Guild of America award for his work on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. By night, he conjures stories for print, screen, and web, including an independent feature, a handful of short films, and the machinima webseries A Clone Apart. He, his brilliant wife, and their vertically-challenged corgi live in Los Angeles within walking distance of Syrie.

Syrie and Ryan both welcome visitors to their websites syriejames.com and ryanmjames.com, and invite you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Forbidden:

When Claire Brennan begins to get psychic visions and mysterious warnings that she’s in danger at the start of her junior year, she isn’t sure what to think. But the truth is stranger than anything she could have imagined.

Alec MacKenzie has fled his duties as a Watcher angel and come to L.A. in search of normalcy. He never dreamed he would find a half-angel at his school, or that he would fall in love with her.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Denver’s Progressive and Colorful Past by Elaine Russell

Today, I have a guest post from Elaine Russell, author of Across the Mekong River (my review) and Montana in A Minor (my review), who has a new novel forthcoming this month, In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

About the novel:

In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the complexities of bonds between sisters and family at the start of the 20th century when women struggled to determine their future and the “New Woman” demanded an equal voice. Three sisters are reunited in 1901 Denver following a family rift many years before. Each sister faces critical decisions regarding love, work, and the strength of her convictions. The story is set against the backdrop of the fight for women’s rights.

Doesn’t this sound interesting? I love books that have roots in history, and this sounds dramatic.  Please give Elaine a warm welcome and stay tuned for a giveaway:

The increasingly shrill discourse and events of 2018 have heightened political divisions and revealed the distasteful behavior of many men in America. As a result, women are speaking out, running for political office, and fighting for social justice in greater numbers than ever before. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back over a hundred years to write about another generation of brave women, who fought for women’s suffrage and other basic rights for women and children. These progressive advocates faced incredible opposition from men in power and moneyed business interests—just as women do today.

The inspiration for my new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, originated with my paternal great grandmother, Dr. Elizabeth B. Russell. In 1907 she became one of the early women doctors in Denver, Colorado. In researching the era, I discovered Denver’s rich and colorful past, full of outspoken and accomplished women, along with others involved in more unsavory activities. A number of these famous and infamous women stood out, demanding a role in my story.

I chose to set the novel in 1901 at the start of a new century, a time of tremendous change and promise. More and more women were earning college degrees and entering male-dominated professions—not without considerable resistance from the men, of course! This mirrored the mounting fight for the women’s vote and major reforms to protect women and children from the grave injustices of the time. The industrial revolution had brought a number of time saving inventions for the home, such as washing machines and electric lights. Middle and upper class women had more free time and turned their attention to other endeavors. Women’s clubs thrived, organized for everything from literary and music appreciation to providing aid to the needy and advocating for social change.

Colorado led the charge on many fronts. Denver had transformed itself from a rough and tumble, Wild West center for Rocky Mountain mining towns into a mostly civilized city, known as the Queen of the Prairie. Progressive women from the three major political parties banded together to win a stunning victory in 1893, convincing a majority of the State’s men to approve a constitutional amendment granting women the vote—a full twenty-seven years before passage of national suffrage in America. Only the Territory of Wyoming had preceded Colorado in this bold move in 1869.

By 1901, the rest of the country watched with interest to see how women’s suffrage was playing out in Colorado, challenging women leaders to defend their accomplishments since obtaining access to the ballot box. I found it particularly heartening to learn how Republican, Democrat and Populist women continued to work together for national suffrage and social reform, often in opposition to their political parties.

In June 2016, I made my first ever visit to Denver. At the History Colorado Center’s Research Library and Denver Public Library’s Western History Section I poured through everything from newspapers, city directories, magazine articles, theater programs, and restaurant menus to individual collections of well-known women leaders, such as Ellis Meredith and Minnie Reynolds. What a thrill to read the original letters to Ms. Meredith from Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucy Stone. I visited the Molly Brown House Museum (the Unsinkable Molly Brown of Titanic fame) and toured neighborhoods where houses from that era are still in use.

My research revealed a treasure trove of fascinating people, places, and events, a wealth of material for my story. Denver had a booming red light district with houses of ill repute run by notorious madams like Mattie Silks. Denver police and city officials turned a blind eye after receiving generous “donations” from the madams. Denver’s Chinatown was known for its laundries where many Denver residents brought their washing. But the small community was better known for Hop Alley—hop being a term for opium—attracting many of Denver’s well-to-do men and women to opium dens and gambling parlors. Denver’s more refined side included, among others, the grand Tabor Opera House (unfortunately long gone), the still popular Brown Palace Hotel, and the Union Railroad Station.

The biggest task was figuring out how to integrate the diverse elements of Denver’s past into a story that painted an accurate picture of the era and the lives of my characters. For me, the writing process is a bit of magic, as pieces suddenly fall into place in ways I never anticipated.

About the Author:

Elaine Russell is the award winning author of the novel Across the Mekong River and a number of children’s books, including the young adult novel Montana in A Minor, the Martin McMillan middle grade mystery series, and the middle grade picture book, All About Thailand. Her new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, comes out this month. Elaine lives with her husband in Northern California and part time on the Island of Kauai. See her website.

GIVEAWAY:

Please leave a comment below with an email so I can contact you. Leave your comment by Oct. 24, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST. You can win 1 Kindle copy of In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

**For another chance to win, visit Diary of an Eccentric.

Guest Post: Curiosity in Writing and Medicine by Dr. David Sklar, author of ‘Atlas of Men’

About the novel, Atlas of Men:

Dr. Robert Thames, an infectious disease specialist who travels the world in search of new antibiotics, has just learned that his government job is about to be cut when three boxes are unexpectedly delivered to his home in Washington, D.C. Inside them are files of a long lost secret research study conducted at his prestigious prep school when he was a student there. Robert has repressed all memories of this degrading “study,” particularly the naked photos. He learns that the research intended to explore the relationship between body type and leadership qualities–and it shocks and infuriates him. He decides to track down his four closest friends from Danvers Academy, and together they uncover the terrible truth of what was buried by the faculty, the school, and the boys themselves.

Please welcome, Dr. David Sklar, author of Atlas of Men.

Whether I am working in an emergency department or writing, I feel like I am walking along a beach noticing the shells, rocks, broken glass and pieces of bones that have washed up onto the sand. I will bend down and pick up the most interesting objects and examine them more closely. I am curious about the forces that brought them to me, transformed them into their current state and the journey they have taken.

In medicine, the object of my curiosity is a person with an illness or injury. I use my curiosity to delve into the medical history and understand what pathology has disturbed the previous health of the person in front of me, what information I need to find the answers and how I can best help. In writing, the object of my curiosity is usually a problem that has caused confusion or differences between people.

I allow my curiosity to take me where it will, and describe what I see and what it means to me. I write editorials for a medical journal every month and try to find some resolution to the questions and problems I pose at the beginning because I know that the readers of the journal are looking for some guidance and have a limited amount of time to do their own investigation of the problem. I often incorporate a personal story in my essays to provide context for the readers and authenticity so that they know where I’m coming from when I provide suggestions or recommendations at the end of my essay.

When I am writing fiction, I am less concerned about finding a resolution to a problem I have posed and instead encourage the reader to engage and pursue the questions I raise. I am also an entertainer providing pace, tension and surprise. I want the readers to come along with me on the journey and do not want to lose them. I want them to relate to the characters and be able to share their emotions.

In my current novel Atlas of Men, I begin with an actual event, the taking of nude photographs of myself and my classmates when we were 14 and 15 year old students at a New England prep school. The event was disturbing and asking why it happened could have been an interesting non-fiction investigative story. But I chose to use the event to understand the culture and philosophy of life that supported the event and other related events, some real and some imagined through the eyes of characters who would be memorable to the reader.

I asked myself the question, “what if,” as I was writing rather than “what happened and why” which would have been my driving question if this were a non-fiction book. In Atlas of Men, the photos of the boys show up years later when the boys are now grown and assessing their lives and in some cases facing illness or death. They have to put the photos and why they were taken into the context of their lives and the decisions they made along the way, about who they would become what sacrifices they would make to get there and what they meant to each other.

Writing fiction for me was both liberating and terrifying because I had the freedom to pursue the various threads of the story but I was never sure where I’d end up. I felt like I was driving a train down a mountain and adding additional cars ; the train was becoming increasingly difficult to control as we added the cars and picked up speed. It was exhilarating and in the end I did make to the station, though it was not where I thought we’d end up when I started.

About the Author:

From 1965 to 1968, David Sklar attended a prep school where he was the unwitting subject of a research study that attempted to link body type to leadership potential. This disturbing experience inspired Atlas of Men (Oct. 16, 2018). Sklar’s previous book, a memoir, explores his experience as a volunteer in a rural Mexican clinic prior to medical school and how it shaped his later career in healthcare. “La Clinica” was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2008. An emergency physician, researcher, editor of a medical education journal, and a Professor of Medicine at both Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico, Sklar currently lives with his wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit his website. Find the book on Amazon and add it to your GoodReads shelf.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Syrie James’ Summer of Scandal

Today, Syrie James has stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Summer of Scandal. And there will be a giveaway at the end of the post for her first novel in this series.

First, about the new book, Summer of Scandal:

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

Here’s the excerpt from the new novel, Summer of Scandal, Ch. 10, in the Dare to Defy series:

Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.

“Miss Atherton!”

Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.

This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.

He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.

“Collecting seashells?”

“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”

“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.

Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.

He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.

She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”

“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”

“That was thoughtful of you.”

He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”

“Thankfully, no.”

He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.

“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”

“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”

“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.

“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”

“And so we did.”

“And so we did,” she repeated.

Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.

“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.

“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”

“How do you know? Did he say something?”

“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”

“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”

“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”

“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”

“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”

“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter.

Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.

“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Runaway Heiress to U.S. mailing address; comment by Sept. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST

About the Author:

Syrie James is the critically acclaimed author of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance including the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel, Library Journal); Nocturne (Best of the Year, Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews); Dracula, My Love; The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen; Jane Austen’s First Love; Forbidden; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the Harrison Duet (Songbird and Propositions). Her work has been translated into 18 languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves all things 19th century. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and England.

About Runaway Heiress:

When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.

Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.

Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.

Guest Post: ‘Set Europe Ablaze’ by David Gilman, author of Night Flight to Paris

War Through the Generations has been a bit dormant in the last couple of years, but I still read WWII related fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. There’s a new one that just hit the shelves and it has everything a reader could want from codebreakers to one man’s determination to save his family.

Today, we have the pleasure of a guest post from the author. Please welcome David Gilman, author of the new book Night Flight to Paris.

‘Set Europe ablaze.’ Churchill’s order in July 1940 when he gave the task to the Minister of Economic Warfare to form the Special Operations Executive. It was to be broad in scope, daring in its planning and execution, and created initially to specifically harass the Nazis in occupied Europe.

Night Flight to Paris was inspired by the men and women from all walks of life who volunteered for some of the most dangerous missions in the Second World War. Few had military experience, many did not. They were landed by Lysander aircraft at night or parachuted in on a supply drop from a Halifax bomber, and when on the ground they operated alone in hostile territory. Their life expectancy was short. Most were usually sent to organise, and often train, locals for resistance against the occupiers.

The French Maquis was riven with jealousies and differing political ideology and these conflicts made the life of an agent even more tenuous. And, of course, there were informers and traitors. Men and women betrayed members of the Resistance, agents and wireless operators because of fear of German reprisals, from being tortured or for personal gain. Letters of denunciation against a neighbour sent to the authorities were not uncommon. France was a nation turned in on itself in bitter rivalries, and the Nazis played to that. They used French gendarmes to round up Jews, and other undesirables for deportation and the French paramilitary unit the Milice was formed to fight against the French résistants. The French considered these men more dangerous than the Gestapo because they could operate in their communities, were familiar with the countryside where the Maquis operated and could quickly pick up an accent or dialect unfamiliar to that specific area. These units worked closely with the SS, and the feared SD (the Nazi Sicherheitsdienst – the SS intelligence agency). All these elements appear in Night Flight to Paris, making challenging demands on Harry Mitchell and the people around him.

Obituaries in contemporary newspapers recount men and women of that generation who fought the silent war behind enemy lines. Many did not speak of their exploits during the remaining years of their lives. There were only twenty-one years from the end of the Great War and the beginning of the Second World War. Young men and women who had served in the first were veterans by 1939, too old to serve for active military service (in the case of soldiers) but who could face their enemy in the most dangerous circumstances by joining SOE. When writing my books, I prefer flawed characters to make the challenge they face even more difficult. In Night Flight to Paris, I chose Harry Mitchell, a middle-aged, quiet, studious code-breaker at Bletchley Park, the British government code-breaking centre fifty miles north-west of London. He was no man of action given that he had once served as a rear echelon junior officer in the First World War. It was during this time that he was caught up in the heart-stopping horror of that conflict and became unable to inflict violence.

Not, it seemed, an ideal candidate to be trained in violent tactics and sent into France to uncover a traitor and rescue his family.

Mitchell taught at the university in Paris before it was occupied in 1940, and he and his wife had helped set up escape routes for downed airmen and those civilians persecuted by the Nazis. His contacts in Paris made him a valuable asset to SOE, and they bring pressure to bear. Mitchell carries the burden of knowing that he and his wife and daughter were separated when they attempted to escape and, for the past three years, he has been unable to make contact with them. The SOE give him the terrible news that his wife and daughter have recently been captured by the Gestapo. He has the opportunity to return clandestinely in an attempt to save them and unmask the traitor who betrayed them and others in the Resistance. Mitchell’s conflicting emotions about inflicting violence are soon put to the test when the flight to Paris goes terrifyingly wrong.

Research for Night Flight to Paris was aided somewhat by my time spent in the Parachute Regiment. The experience of jumping from a perfectly serviceable aircraft and the fear it instilled at the time is something that is easy to remember and write. Thankfully, though, what happened to Harry Mitchell was not part of my experience.

I had also reconnoitred the French countryside to seek out locations for my medieval series Master of War, and this helped take Mitchell on his journey north to Paris. Books written about code-breakers were invaluable as were autobiographies of those who had served in SOE. And for anyone interested in digging deeper into these exciting times, there is a vast amount of recently released material at the Public Record Office where information about both personal and training details of the men and women is held.

Thanks, David, for sharing the inspiration behind the novel. To think of ordinary men and women in these situations and making decisions that could affect everything in their lives is scary.

About the Book:

Paris, 1943.

The swastika flies from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Soldiers clad in field grey patrol the streets. Buildings have been renamed, books banned, art stolen and people disappeared. Amongst the missing is an Allied intelligence cell.

Gone to ground? Betrayed? Dead? Britain’s Special Operations Executive need to find out. They recruit ex-Parisian and Bletchley Park codebreaker Harry Mitchell to return to the city he fled two years ago.

Mitchell knows Occupied Paris – a city at war with itself. Informers, gangsters, collaborators and Resistance factions are as ready to slit each other’s throats as they are the Germans’. The occupiers themselves are no better: the Gestapo and the Abwehr – military intelligence – are locked in their own lethal battle for dominance. Mitchell knows the risks: a return to Paris not a mission – it’s a death sentence.

But he has good reason to put his life on the line: the wife and daughter he was forced to leave behind have fallen into the hands of the Gestapo and Michell will do whatever it takes to save them. But with disaster afflicting his mission from the outset, it will take all his ingenuity, all his courage, to even get into Paris… unaware that every step he takes towards the capital is a step closer to a trap well set and baited.

About the Author:

David Gilman has had an impressive variety of jobs – from firefighter to professional photographer, from soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon to a Marketing Manager for an international publisher. He has countless radio, television and film credits. From 2000 until 2009 he was principal writer on A Touch Of Frost. He has lived and traveled the world gathering inspiration for his adventure series along the way.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing as Surgery by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Last year, I read one of the most well-crafted short stories collections out there, and it was written by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, who many in the blogging world know for her marketing savvy for indie authors.

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts is one year old today. It was on my best of list last year, and I still love it today. It is a collection that is poetic and holds imagery to a higher standard as each story is pregnant with emotion, particularly different forms of grief. Read the full review.

After reading short stories by Chekhov this year, I’m beginning to think that Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov.

We often have guests talk about their writing process or their writing spaces, but we rarely hear about the after-publication process. In honor of this book’s anniversary, I asked Caitlin if she’d like to write up a guest post about her after publication experience as a short-story writer.

I think you’ll love this guest post and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Please give Caitlin a warm welcome:

Recently, in work correspondence, a reviewer let me know that she had wanted once to work in publishing or to be a surgeon. What came to my mind was how much surgery and creative writing have in common: they share a focus on precision, on cause and effect, on getting to the root of things. I imagine, though I cannot know, that there is an artistry in performing surgery that echoes the artistry in writing.

I have never wanted to be a surgeon, but I do believe in the power of stories to heal and connect, to make us empathize and reconsider.

In the year since I published my first book, a collection of short stories called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, I have received a number of reviews that speak to the root-level emotional engagement the stories provide, to how deeply-felt they are. One reviewer said my stories made him/her feel less alone. I’ll never forget that review or cease to be overwhelmed by it.

I do write straight from the heart, and this is where I think many readers live, too— valuing stories that get to our very cores, get to the heart of the matter. We want characters we love as much as we want a gripping tale. We want to connect.

One year past publication, with reviews and interviews still coming in, with events still being offered, I am deeply grateful—for the connections with people I will never know over matters of the heart that are shared in my stories, written like a surgeon might operate, carefully excavating through each character the love and forgiveness that gets them—and us—through the days.

Enter the Giveaway by Aug. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST.

About the Author:

Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, and Long Story, Short. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Our Heroine Elizabeth Bennet by Ann Galvia


Welcome to the What’s Past Is Prologue blog tour!

We’re the first stop on the blog tour, and I’m very excited to welcome Ann Galvia to talk about her version of Elizabeth Bennet. Stay tuned for the giveaway details at the end of the post, and don’t forget to comment.

First, I wanted to share a bit about the book with you. I hope to find time to read this one someday soon. It sounds wonderful.

About the Book:

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Please welcome Ann Galvia:

I want to thank Serena for kicking off the “What’s Past Is Prologue” blog tour here at Savvy Verse and Wit! This is a particularly auspicious place to start because I want to focus today on WPIP’s heroine and central character, the witty Elizabeth.

And by talk, I mean….break out your pen and paper, folks, it’s time for a pop quiz! It’s not for a grade. You don’t even have to turn it in (but I think the comments section will be more fun if you do) because no one is taking attendance. It’s all essay questions (boo!), but you can use the book (yay!), Jane Austen’s incomparable “Pride and Prejudice!”

1. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s greatest virtue, and why?
2. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s largest flaw, and why?
3. How does growing up with such role models–wait, that is too  respectful–with such “ “ “role models” ” ” as Mr and Mrs Bennet affect the perspective of someone who grew up with them and a questionable amount of experience beyond their neighborhood?

Now, your answers may vary (and really, that’s what makes this an interesting exercise) but when you go playing with someone else’s toys, first we have to look at how they set up the shelf. Gotta put ‘em back when we’re done.

Me, I think Elizabeth’s greatest virtue is her compassion. She has an incredible ability to just not care about her own problems. The entail? She feels no urgency to try and secure her future through a marriage. Losing Wickham to Mary King? She doesn’t feel too bad, decides that means she never loved him and breezes forward. Elizabeth doesn’t start losing any sleep until she’s lost Darcy and Lydia both in the span of an afternoon. Now, other people’s problems? Other people’s problems hurt. She made herself sick over Jane’s heartbreak.

“The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine’s being rather displeased by her staying at home.”

Charlotte cautioned her to not make an enemy out of Darcy over Wickham, but damn if her righteous indignation on Wickham’s behalf didn’t lead her to try!

He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton? She answered in the affirmative; and, unable to resist the temptation, added, “When you met us there the other day,
we had just been forming a new acquaintance.”

The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,” replied Elizabeth with emphasis, “and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.”

Refusing Darcy wreaks havoc on her.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour.

And, of course, we know she’s someone who doesn’t think twice about walking through three miles of mud because her sister has a cold.

Now, what leads her astray?

Well, she tends to do this Thing where she formulates a snap judgement and refuses to re-evaluate after learning new information or hearing the opinions of other people.

Consider, for example, the clues that Darcy liked her that she simply never picked up on…

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Yes, Elizabeth, men stare at women because they are reprehensible.

More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions — about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins’s happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.

Sure, Elizabeth, he wants to hang out at your favorite places and talk about you and the things you like — and also let’s rate how happy your married friends are and fyi, next time you visit, you’ll stay with his family, probably — because someone else wants to marry you.

Which leads me to the Elizabeth we find in What’s Past Is Prologue. She made a choice rooted in compassion — marry Darcy instead of turn him away a second time. She knows her ideas of who he is were wrong, but has not had much opportunity to replace with it with something better. She has only his own account to go by. How does he describe himself to Elizabeth?

“No,” said Darcy, “I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding — certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”

So she’s compassionate; he’s resentful, and once you’ve lost him, you’re not gonna get him back. Not that he has anything to resent her over —

His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

Oh.

Oh, right.

And she jumps to inaccurate conclusions without folding new information into her ideas until really forced to do so.

And she comes from a family where the husband regretted his choice.

Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.

What is a girl to do when her future happiness and respectability lies in the hands of husband who owns he is resentful, and has been verbose in the past about some reasons why you might incite his ire? Elizabeth loves to ignore a problem, but this is a big one and she’s gonna have to solve it…

About the Author:

Ann Galvia started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks of What’s Past is Prologue

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good LUCK!

Rest of the Blog Tour Schedule:

August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Fear of Being Eaten by Ronald J. Wichers

Welcome to today’s stop on the spotlight book tour for The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart by Ronald J. Wichers.

What if you married a man who didn’t care about you? What if there was a child in the neighborhood for whom you developed a special fondness but was nine when you were nineteen and twenty when you were thirty with two children and a husband who still didn’t care? And what if you were a boy whose only happy memories were a few soft words uttered now and again by a beautiful neighbor ten years your senior and whose voice and face and figure, back-lighted by the golden light of the setting sun, were all that would sustain you when your life was threatened every minute of every day in the mire of a squalid war nobody wanted?

This is the story of Jacqueline and Tommy, their lives stubbornly paralleling with no convergence in sight until one cold night she sees him starving to death on a crowded street filled with happy tourists.

What would you do if you saw him there almost unrecognizable, just another mass of neglected, invisible wreckage? Turn the pages of The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart and find out what happened to Jacqueline Rhondda and Tommy Middleton.

To follow the tour, please visit Ronald J. Wicher’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Please welcome Ronald as he shares a bit about his Vietnam War connection and how it inspired his book:

“Writing about the Vietnam War” by Ronald J. Wichers

I don’t want to bore anyone with too personal a perspective but I wrote this one to give myself something meaningful to do at a time of grief so deep as to be threatening. Since the year 2000, there had been, in my life, an uncanny string of deaths of significant others, ending with those of my wife and my father.

It seemed the whole world was dying. I had no one to care for, nothing to do but read, write, maintain my property.

I felt as if I were floating in space, literally. The weave of stories created in The Fear of Being Eaten -A Biography of the Heart are episodes in my life and those of old friends that I had wanted to describe for many years but were of a type too dark to attempt. How I could put it together at a time so painful is a mystery to me. But it helped.

The Fear of Being Eaten – A Biography of the Heart. It is biographical and autobiographical, written mostly from memory and cast as an imaginary construction, a simple episodic novel.

With the exception of Lotus in a Sea of Fire by Thich Nhat Hanh, I haven’t read any books about the Vietnam War. I’ve written honestly and I don’t concern myself with how different The Fear of Being Eaten might or might not be. I have no control over that.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the book trailer.
Meet the Author:
 
 

Ronald J. Wichers was born in Lake Ronkonkoma New York in 1947. He attended Catholic School until 1965, studied History and literature at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas until being drafted into the United States Army in 1970. He was assigned to a rifle company in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and, after sustaining severe wounds in a gun battle, including the loss of his left arm, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism and the Bronze Star Medal. He later studied theology full time at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California. He has published several short stories about the Vietnam war. The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart is his fifth novel.

Connect with the author:
Enter the Giveaway!
Win an ebook copy of The Fear of Being Eaten (open to USA & Canada – 2 winners)
Ends July 28, 2018

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, on Rescued Women

I want to welcome Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, to the blog today to talk about the theme of rescuing women in women’s fiction. Stay tuned for a giveaway.

But first, let’s read a little about the book:

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

Hi Serena. Thanks for having me visit, and thank you for suggesting the topic of “Rescuing in women’s fiction.” It sparked all kinds of ideas for me.

I think it can be problematic in romance and other traditionally “female” genres if the female protagonist is always in need of rescue. It’s a common trope; I can’t tell you how many romances I’ve read in which the heroine is kidnapped and must be rescued by the hero. There are legitimate reasons why this trope works. Good stories need conflict, suspense, and high stakes; being kidnapped or threatened with violence creates a suspenseful, high-stakes environment that keeps the reader turning the pages. Also, romance readers generally like their heroes to be strong and forceful; when the heroine is in danger, it gives the hero a chance to show his skills and courage. That’s why so many of today’s romantic male protagonists are cops, spies, SEALs, etc. who encounter dangerous situations as part of their jobs.

However, it puts the female protagonist in a weaker position if she is frequently in need of rescue. She can appear helpless, lacking in strength and skills, and even stupid (if she does something dumb to get herself into the situation). This may not bother all readers, but I prefer stories in which the male and female protagonists are on a more equal footing, which can be a problem in a genre where the men are always taller, older, and richer than their female counterparts. This is particularly true in a story like Pride and Prejudice where Darcy always has the upper hand because of his wealth and the greater power afforded to men in the Regency time period.

And yet, I still wrote a story called Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. However, I intended the title to be a bit ironic. The premise is that Elizabeth accepts Mr. Collins’s offer of marriage. When Darcy hears about this, he rushes to Longbourn to “save” her from the engagement by offering his hand instead. In other words, Darcy casts himself in the role of rescuer. But when he arrives at Longbourn, he discovers that Elizabeth does not like him and has no desire to be rescued by him. Darcy resorts to trying to break up the engagement by subversive means, but he only makes Elizabeth’s situation worse and must work to clean up the mess he has made. The situation looks dire, and Darcy is in danger of losing Elizabeth forever. He needs Elizabeth to rescue him from a lifetime of loneliness.

I think my slight subversion of the tradition of rescuing women fits in well with the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. Austen does not usually put her heroines into physical danger—eschewing the haunted mansions, shipwrecks, and dastardly villains of many of her contemporary colleagues. Instead, their plights tend to be more societal—facing the loss of reputation or heartbreak. The only rescuing Darcy does in P&P is to “save” Lydia from the consequences of her own stupidity—a mission which is only partially successful. He does help to isolate the Bennets (and Elizabeth) from imminent scandal, but this is a much more indirect kind of rescuing that retrieving the victim of kidnapping or saving someone with a gun to her head. Indeed, Darcy’s primary motivation for rescuing Lydia is to correct his own faux pas when proposing to Elizabeth. In effect, he is rescuing himself from a lifetime of loneliness. I’d like to think that my rewriting follows in Austen’s very big footsteps.

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing this story with us.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY by leaving a comment on your favorite unconventional rescue story by June 30 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to U.S. residents only. One audiobook.

Guest Post: Nicky Blue, author of Escape from Samsara, on Writing and Meditation

Welcome readers. Today’s guest is Nicky Blue, author of the novella Escape from Samsara.

He will share with us a little bit about his writing process, but first check out the book!

Barry’s been patient, but after twenty-seven years of trimming hedges for people he hates, he’s had enough. All he wants to do is to find his missing father and to discover his inner ninja. But life’s not done with throwing him curveballs.

A fatal mistake catapults Barry into the adventure of a lifetime. With talking hedges, samurai ghosts, meddling psychotherapists, and an inexplicably non-linear time pattern conspiring against him, Barry must do battle to save his hide, unleash the ninja within, and rescue his father from an ancient army, a dark sorcerer and a raging inferno.

What is the mysterious Prophecy Allocation Department?

Where is The Before and After?

Even more importantly, Will Barry’s underwear hold out until he has saved the day?

Sounds like a fun ride; add it to your shelf on GoodReads.

Please welcome Nicky:

For me it’s vital to dedicate time to developing creativity in my life, without this my writing becomes quite dry. Meditation is a big part of this process, I have been practising for around 20 years. I go on meditation retreats every year and find it a great way to deepen what’s going on for me. I find 20 minutes in the morning a great way to build calm and spaciousness.

Without wanting to sound like a massive hippy, I also try to tap into the unconscious as much as possible. The unconscious is always working in the background. Studies in the fields of both neuroscience and psychology are refining and illuminating how this process works but I find just by asking myself a question before going to sleep i.e. How will my protagonist get out of this corner?  I often wake up with the answer. I think it was Thomas Edison that said ‘Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.’ This seems to work well for me.

With my first novella Escape From Samsara. (Prophecy Allocation Book 1) The idea began with a gardener I knew, who was always complaining about something, the rain, the sun you name it. I had the sense it would be great fun to take him on a cosmic adventure. I love the interplay between the every day and the magical. I have just completed book two in this series which is called ‘Hot Love Inferno’ and it sees the main character Barry Harris as a younger man engaging in a most dangerous adventure, that of falling in Love. You can get Escape From Samsara for free at my website www.nickyblue/freebie

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Nicky, I am from Brighton in England. I grew up fascinated by books like Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected and t.v. shows like The Twilight Zone. For years I played and wrote songs in an alternative rock band before going back to university and studying English Literature and Philosophy. I now have a passion for writing fantasy and dark comedy fiction. I love stories that dig beneath the surface of everyday life and play in the shadow worlds that we all have.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Catherine by Sue Barr

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying their first week of June. Today, we have the wonderful Sue Barr as a guest and a giveaway for her new book Catherine, which is the second book in her series. The first book was Caroline.

Please read the book details below and check out today’s special guest post.

About the Book:

Some secrets are not meant to be shared.

Catherine Bennet, known as Kitty to close friends and family, knows this better than anyone. She also knows that she will never marry and it never bothered her before she met Lord George Kerr at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding. He’s determined to breach the walls of defense she’d
carefully constructed around her heart, and she’s just as determined to stay the course.

Some secrets cannot be shared

Lord George Kerr knows this better than anyone. For five years, as a spy for His Majesty the King, he played the part of a Rake, concealing his espionage activities beneath a blanket of brothels, drink and loose women. Even though he’s forced to resume his regular life within London’s finest society, he still must keep some things hidden.

One thing he does not hide is his attraction to Miss Catherine Bennet of Longbourn. Enraptured by her beauty and warmth of character, he plunges headlong into winning her heart, only to find it carefully guarded and she’s unwilling to give him even a small pinch of hope.

Some things are beyond your control

When circumstances bring Kitty’s secret into the open, she fears the tenuous bonds of friendship she’s forged with Lord George will be lost forever along with whatever love he proclaims to have for her. With the very lives of England’s vast network of spies working undercover in Bonaparte’s France hanging in the balance, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare.

Her secret is laid bare, can he love her enough to overcome what he learns?

Please welcome today’s guest, Sue Barr:

When an author begins to write their story the words that make it on to the page is not the WHOLE story. Every character has a history, even if it’s in the author’s mind. Today I thought I’d share a few highlights of some of the characters (without giving away any spoilers).

Catherine (Kitty) Bennet

We all know her as the fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. The one who Elizabeth dismissed by saying, ‘and wherever Lydia goes, Kitty is sure to follow’. In CATHERINE, the reader is re-introduced to her at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding breakfast and by this time she’s been out of Lydia’s shadow for about six months, maybe more. This is all according to canon.

What I did was create a backstory for her, complete with a secret that no one besides Mr. Bennet is aware of. The burden she carries from this secret makes her believe she will never marry, so, when Kitty meets Lord George she wants to indulge in daydreams, like any girl of ten and eight would, but forces herself to rein in her emotions and not allow her heart to become involved.

Lord George Kerr

Lord George is the next eldest brother of the Duke of Adborough. The reader is introduced to him in the very first chapter. He is a spy for the Crown and has been for over five years. What the reader doesn’t know is that George rescued Evangeline, the Countess of Anstruther (his espionage counterpart) in a daring rescue from France. Evangeline will get her own story – An Elaborate Ruse – but not until Georgiana’s story is complete. George is a master of disguise, adept at many languages and trades, an expert marksman and superb horseman. He is above all, a gentleman. I lurve him. He and his two brothers have a close relationship and family is very important to him. His good will and protective streak also has him taking care of those who enter his life in interesting ways.

Mary Bennet

Mary is the middle daughter and according to canon is annoyingly pious and boring. I wanted her to have her own secret, which is revealed in a fun way when she and Kitty have a lovely sister moment early on in the book. I decided to write Mary as being clever. Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia all cast long shadows with their various personalities and it was time for Mary to step out into the light. The reader will find that she plays beautiful music, having learned some skills from Miss Darcy, reads novels and has a sly sense of humor. I enjoyed expanding Mary’s
character and I hope the reader comes to like her as do I.

Phillip Sheraton

My favorite new character is Phillip. If you don’t fall in love with this cheeky boy…

EXCERPT:

With an agitated whinny, Buttons suddenly reared, unseating George who promptly landed in the ditch filled with water. He fully expected the horse to bolt, but all his patient training kept the handsome steed close, albeit a little skittish by whatever spooked him.

He pulled himself from the water and scrambled onto the road, snagging the horse’s halter in case he changed his mind and decided to make a break for Keswick Manor.

“What is it, boy? What has got you all fired up?” George spoke in a soothing voice and ran an experienced hand over the horse’s flesh, checking to make sure there wasn’t some unseen injury. He paused when his fingers ran across a small welt on the horse’s right hind quarters. At that exact moment he felt a sharp sting on his neck.

“What the…?”

His hand flew up to swat whatever had bit him. Within his peripheral vision he caught sight of a boy, seated in a tree by the side of the road. He pretended he hadn’t seen the little blighter and spoke to the horse in a louder than normal voice.

“Well, there must be some wasps out now that the rain has stopped. I hope they don’t interfere with my digging for gold.”

As he suspected, the boy lowered the device he’d used to sling tiny rocks, clearly intrigued by the thought of gold. Thank goodness it hadn’t been anything more sinister. His mental musings about Catherine had dulled his senses. Had this been France, he’d be dead.

He swung up into the saddle and flicked the reins. Buttons obliged by moving off at a slow walk. Now that he was aware of the child, George clearly heard him clambering out of the tree and trying to follow in the rain-soaked underbrush. The boy was going to become very wet.

Good.

He continued past the drive to Keswick Manor and headed for the small house where their groundskeeper took lodging. He stopped in front of a small barn, slid off Buttons and tied him to a post, then strode around to the back of the house and waited for the lad. He didn’t have to wait
long. No more than five minutes passed before he heard shuffling behind the stone fence that encircled the small yard and garden.

When he judged the boy was passing by his location, he stood and with a quick hand reached over the low fence and grabbed him by the shirt collar.

“Oi. Wot do you want wif me?”

The grimy faced urchin kicked and wiggled in vain.

“I would like to know why you attempted to injure my horse.”

“I dunno wot yer yabberin’ about.”

George hauled the boy over the fence and plunked him down, keeping a firm hand on his neck.

“You launched a rock and hit my horse on his flank, which I know you thought was funny as I fell arse over tea kettle,” – the boy sniggered – “but what if the horse landed into a rut and broke his leg.”

“I never thought of that.” The boy stopped struggling and lowered his head. “Wot you gonna do wif me?”

George paused and thought about his options. By the amount of filth encrusted on the child there was a good chance he didn’t have caring parents. Or at least parents who could afford to keep their children clean. He seemed slightly malnourished, given how he could feel fragile
bones through the threadbare shirt.

No, the punishment had to fitting, yet fair.

“What is your name?”

“Phillip.” The boy dared to glance up at him.

“That is a good strong name. One you can live up to.” George glanced toward Keswick Manor. “I have a task you can do which is quite fitting for the crime.”

At the word ‘crime’ the boy began to squirm again. He tightened his grip, trying not to bruise the frail child. “Settle down, Phillip. I am not turning you over to the magistrate.”

The young lad stopped struggling.

“Seeing as you nearly caused irreparable harm to my horse, I believe I shall have you water, feed and care for him while I’m here in Cambridgeshire.”

“I cain’t feed yer ‘orse. Ain’t got no money fer that.”

“I shall provide everything you require. Your job is to take care of Buttons.”

“Buttons?”

Phillip grinned, showing a gap between some of his teeth, which made George think he was only about eight or nine years old. At least that was how old he’d been when all he had to show for a smile was his two front teeth and nothing on either side.

“Yes, my horse’s name is Buttons. Are we in accord you will look after him?”

“I dunno. I’m supposed to help me mum and there ain’t no pay lookin after yer ‘orse.”

What a sad state of affairs that a child had to worry about bringing money home for the family.

“What would you say if I paid you a half guinea for a job well done.”

“A half guinea?” Phillip squeaked out, his eyes wide.

“For a job well done,” George stressed. “You must do a good job in order to receive the full amount.”

He already knew he’d pay the boy a half guinea even if the job was incomplete, but Phillip didn’t need to know that.

“I can help you hunt fer gold.”

George had to swallow a laugh. He’d forgotten about mentioning gold, clearly Phillip had not. Smart lad.

“I am not here for gold. That was a ruse to entice you behind the house.”

“You talk pretty fancy fer a git.”

George crouched down so he could look Phillip face to face.

“Take care how you speak to me, Master Phillip. This ‘git’ is the one who will pay you a good wage for honest labor.” Assured he had Phillip’s complete attention, he rose to his feet.

“We shall settle Buttons and then you can commence with the job at hand.”

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, and her blog.

GIVEAWAY:

Three winners will receive a copy of Catherine. Two winners will receive eBooks and one winner will receive an autographed paperback book of “Catherine.” All giveaways are open to international winners.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook or paperback book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

The rest of the tour:

May 28 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Launch Post & Giveaway
May 29 / From Pemberley to Milton/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 30 / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post & Giveaway
May 31 / More Agreeably Engaged/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway
June 1 / So Little Time… / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 2 / Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway
June 4 / Diary of an Eccentric /Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
June 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
June 7 / Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review Post & Giveaway
June 8 / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy / Book Review & Giveaway
June 9 / My Love for Jane Austen / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 11 / Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway

Guest Post: Top 5 Tips on Promoting Your Book of Poetry by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Last week, I posted my review of Jeannine Hall Gailey’s latest book, PR for Poets, and if you haven’t check out that review yet, just click the link.

I love her poetry, and I love this book just as much, if not more. For a poet like me, who has no advanced degrees and no money to get any, this information is incredibly helpful. As an additional note, my firm Poetic Book Tours is mentioned as well

Today, she’s stopping by to provide us with her Top 5 tips to get you started marketing your own poetry. Please give her a warm welcome.

I’m happy to write this. It’s kind of hard to cram everything in the book into a top five tips, but these are the things I wish I’d known when I first started out.

1. Your marketing and publicity efforts should be authentic and align with both your personality and your book.

This is a tough and wide-ranging piece of advice, because it involves having to know yourself and know your book. If you write a book of comic book/fairy tale poems and are an extrovert in her early thirties (like I was for my first book,) then it’s a great idea for you to do a little book tour, a few ‘Cons, three separate parties in three different towns, visit colleges and do lots of readings. If you are an introverted nature poet who lives in a small town, however, your authentic path will be different – and unique to you.

For me, it was great to work with other creatives when the book came out – an artist who did comic book/fairy tale art and musicians who wrote fairy-tale-based songs and other people who aligned with my ideals and values. Some of that is luck or fate, some is going to depend on who you hang around with, what you like to do, and where people seem to be receptive to your type of work.

There is no right or wrong way – there is only the way for you and your individual book at the time it comes out. If you try things and they don’t feel right for you, follow those instincts. Not everyone’s going to be an Instagram star or a college-reading-circuit champion. Maybe you love visiting local book clubs, or you’re a star at reading on the radio. Maybe you’ll start a podcast. Everyone’s path is going to reflect them. I know a poet who was invited to mermaid festivals to read about mermaids. It was a very authentic choice for her.

2. Do as much as you can ahead of time and expect the life of the book to be long, not short.

One of the things I talk about in the PR for Poets book is doing as much as you can before the book comes out – because you’re going to be stressed and overwhelmed when the book comes out and you’ll be happy that “past you” did the work. And remember that for poetry, the best sales might be in the second year of the book, not the first. Poetry can be a slow burn, and a lot of the sales might be through good word-of-mouth. Maybe your book gets taught after someone sees you read at a festival a year after the book is published. You never know going in.

3. Find your audience. The weird thing is, unlike a fiction or non-fiction book, with poetry you won’t really know exactly who your audience is until your book comes out. Friends and family may be willing and want to support you, but they are not the main audience for your book. It’s interesting to remember this because it’s hard to think about the real audience for our work – imaginary beings that are out there and will be impacted positively by your poetry. So don’t be discouraged if your friends don’t line up at your readings and buy twenty copies of your book to hand out to strangers. You will connect with your audience eventually. They might be a different audience than you imagined.

4. Social media is important for sales, but it is constantly changing, so spend your time wisely. The same could be said of book publishing and book sales. All these games are changing all the time. We have to be willing to update and learn as we go along. Just be flexible and stay aware of how the book world is changing. I spend quite a bit of time covering social media in PR For Poets, but be sure to keep in touch with your younger, more tech-savvy friends and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s what.

5. Manage your own expectations. Don’t knock yourself out for your book; similarly, don’t despair if it doesn’t shake the world when it comes out. No matter how sales go, remember that you can and will keep writing. Don’t drag yourself to all fifty states to sell the book – choose a few places that you love and make those events special. Decide on a time, energy, and monetary budget that you’re willing to spend promoting your book and try to stick to it. It’s so easy to get burned out with that first book, when you don’t know what’s happening yet and it’s so easy to say “yes” to everything even when that isn’t a good idea. Try a few things, see what you’re good at AND what you enjoy and see what happens. Pajama party poetry readings? I’ve had friends who’ve done that. Poetry reading at a comic book convention? I’ve done that.

OK, so, as a final note and reminder, if you want more specifics and more details, I’ve written a 200+ page guide with just that called PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing, which contains wisdom not just from my own experiences, but the advice of publishers, librarians, public relations experts, and more. I hope this was helpful!

About the Author:

Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award. She’s also the author of PR for Poets: A Guidebook to Publicity and Marketing. Her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and The Best Horror of the Year. Her work appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, Notre Dame Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter: @webbish6.