Thursday, July 29, 2021

Book Tour & Giveaway: Strange Gods by Alison Kimble


Strange Gods
by Alison Kimble
Genre: YA Fantasy

Don't get too close to the edges of the world. Gods and monsters are waiting.

Spooky arrives at a wilderness boot camp for troubled teens with two suitcases and an ultimatum: either she keeps her head down over the summer or she won't be allowed home at the end of it. All she wants to do is survive the pyros, bullies, and power-tripping counselors, get through senior year, and start her life somewhere new.

But when an encounter with another camper goes awry and ends with Spooky hiding in the woods, something else finds her. Something ancient and powerful has sent out feelers, hoping to catch a human alone. For its purposes, even a delinquent teen will do.

If Spooky wants to survive to see any kind of future, she will have to figure out how to gain leverage over a god. And as if the one wasn't bad enough, a pantheon of dark entities are lining up between her and the life she's always wanted...

For fantasy fans, comes one girl’s journey through dark worlds of magic, gods, and monsters.

Alison Kimble began writing because she loves stories and believes in their power to shape our world and ourselves. Her writing blends the real and the fantastical and crosses genres of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Now that her debut novel, Strange Gods, is in your hands, she is working on her next novel and a short story anthology. She lives in the Greater Seattle Area with her husband and spends her time walking in the woods, going to the movies, and seeking adventures large and small.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Win a dark fantasy gift box with bookish accessories and swag! (US only)
$15 Amazon giftcard (WW)
 – 1 winner each!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Chatting with Susie Black, author of Death by Sample Size

I'm excited to have Susie Black with me today, chatting about her fun and funny cozie mystery Death by Sample Size. Plus, she shared an intriguing and humorous excerpt. Let's dive right in...

How did you come up with the concept and/or characters for the book?

My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The plots and premises of my stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies' apparel industry.

What’s your favorite genre and why?

The cozy mystery genre is my favorite because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL).

Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.

As a sales exec in the ladies’ swimwear industry, I am a trained observer of human nature. Over the course of my career, I have encountered many interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people and witnessed the crazy situations they get themselves into and out of. A combination of people watching, solving puzzles, and asking what if was the perfect mixture of ingredients to writing humorous, cozy mysteries.

Death by Sample Size
Holly Swimsuit Mystery #1
by Susie Black

The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.

Grab your copy today!


When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come-to-me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.

Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.

I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? The disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?

I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob. It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?

About the author
Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she's telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn't be worth living, she's a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she's also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Looking for more? 

Keep in touch with Susie
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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Chatting with Steven J. Kolbe, author of How Everything Turns Away

Everyone loves a good mystery, and I'm thrilled to have mystery writer Steve Kolbe with me today. He also shared an excerpt from his book. So without further ado, I'll dive right into the interview.

Please share with us something about your writing.

The heart of this story for me, what drove me throughout, was the initial attack. I wanted to create something worthy of my detective. A student-teacher is found unconscious in the snow beside a bell tower, an electrical burn on her neck and a thin noose around her neck. Her phone data follows her to the bell tower, but the phone is nowhere to be found. What happened? The most likely suspects have solid alibis. The school teems with rumors, but none of them agree. I wanted to force my detective to discover the only logical explanation.

What books stayed with you?

Reading F. Scott Fitzgerald and J. D. Salinger in high school had a profound effect on my intellectual and emotional development. I first read The Great Gatsby while attending a private school in New Orleans, a setting that informed the setting of my novel, although I moved it from New Orleans to Chicago. What I have taken and incorporated into my work from Salinger, especially his Glass stories and novellas, are the complexity and quirks of his characters. The Glass children hurl their massive intellects at the universal problems of happiness and meaning, often with abysmal results. My protagonist, Ezra, runs up against the same issue.

Can you tell us something about you>

I'm definitely a language nerd. My mother was born in Panama, my father's father emigrated from Germany, and my older sister went through a lengthy Francophile phase. In the process, they exposed me to a number of different languages early on. By the time I graduated from college, I had formally studied four languages other than English and informally studied a handful of others. This love of languages frequently creeps into my writing.

How Everything Turns Away
Author: Steven J. Kolbe
Genre: Mystery


Ezra James used to be a big deal: Harvard graduate, FBI agent, beautiful wife. After being accused of fabricating evidence in a serial killer trial, he finds himself suspended, on the verge of a divorce, and working security at a posh Catholic school in Chicago. Then something out-of-the-ordinary happens: a young student-teacher is attacked during a Christmas pageant and left for dead in the snow. She has a noose around her neck, an electrical burn, and she’s pregnant. Ezra, along with up-and-coming police detective, Lucia Vargas, and school pastor, Fr. Remy Mbombo, must work fast before the culprit returns to finish the job.

Grab your copy!
Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Goodreads


     Gorecki raised a hand. “I’m sure you’ve seen a lot, Mr. James, underage drinking, detention duty, and such, but this here’s serious.”

     “You’re a cop, you said? Not in Evanston PD. What precinct?” Vargas asked. “I’m a special agent, actually.”

     Both detectives raised their eyebrows.

     “DEA?” Gorecki guessed.

     Now he did produce his badge. “FBI, Chicago field office.”

     Gorecki inspected it. “Special Agent James,” he said mostly to himself. Then a glimmer of understanding came over his face. “I—” he started to say but stopped abruptly. This happened sometimes. Ezra would be having a perfectly normal conversation with somebody, but then a headline would flash through their mind, and their whole demeanor changed. For an entire year, Ezra’s name appeared in the Chicago Tribune, sometimes making the front page.

     Eventually people remembered seeing one of those headlines.

     His jaw clenched as he waited for Gorecki to continue.

     “You’ve helped a lot,” the detective said, biting his lip. “You can rejoin your friend inside.” Ezra didn’t move. As an FBI agent, he technically outranked them both, but that didn’t mean they wanted or needed his help.

About the author:
Steven studied at NOCCA and LSU in Louisiana before earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Kansas State University. He started his writing career as a lowly student worker for the prestigious literary journal The Southern Review. If you received a formal rejection letter in the mid-2000s, he probably sealed the envelope. He has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in various newspapers, magazines, and journals since that time.

He lives in Southwest Kansas with his wife and three children. His debut novel How Everything Turns Away is forthcoming from The Wildrose Press.

Stay in touch with Steven
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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Book Tour & Giveaway: Rorik by Mary Morgan

The Wolves of Clan Sutherland Book 2
by Mary Morgan
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
The Dark Seducer is known throughout Scotland as a man who charms many women into his bed. Pleasure is his motto as he obtains information for his king. Yet Rorik MacNeil harbors one secret buried beneath his heart of steel. An unfulfilled conquest plagues both man and his inner wolf, and Rorik would rather suffer death's sharp blade than confront his greatest fear.
As the Seer for the Orkneyjar Isles, Ragna Maddadsson confronts an unknown destiny when she travels across the North Sea to Scotland. In her quest to deliver a message from a powerful vision, she fears the warrior will not listen. If Rorik ignores her warning, Ragna must find a way to forestall his impending death. If unsuccessful, she risks having her heart cleaved in two.
To unravel their true fates, Rorik and Ragna must trust in the power of the wolf.
The Wolves of Clan Sutherland Book 1
Known as the Barbarian, Magnar MacAlpin is a fierce ruler for those under his command. As leader of the Wolves of Clan Sutherland, his loyalty and obedience lies with Scotland. However, the king’s last demand is not something Magnar will tolerate.
After Elspeth Gunn’s brother the Chieftain of Castle Steinn is murdered, she flees with her nephew, and finds safety amongst a band of men who are rumored to be part wolf. When the king forces her to wed a heathen Northman, she fears losing her heart and soul not only to the man, but the beast as well.
In order to restore peace to a shattered clan, Magnar and Elspeth travel a treacherous path that challenges their beliefs. When evil seeks to destroy ancient traditions, will Magnar be compelled to restrain his wolf or allow him free to protect those he loves?
Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$25 Amazon gift card and a signed print copy of RORIK

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Fairies and Frosting by Christina Bauer

Fairies and Frosting
Christina Bauer
(Fairy Tales of the Magicorum, #7)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: July 20th 2021
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

At last, Elle (never call her Cinderella) is reunited with Alec, the Prince of Le Charme Jewelers. Yay! But the pair soon discovers that Alec’s gemstone empire is about to go bankrupt. Boo. So our favorite couple devises a kick-ass scheme to save Le Charme. To announce their plan, Elle and Alec will hold a Glass Slipper Festival complete with music, dancing and cake. Lots of cake.

There’s only one problem. The Unseelie fae have returned.

Talk about bad news. No one combines lovely looks with dark intentions better than the Unseelie. Now, those nefarious fae want to destroy Elle, Alec and any hope for Le Charme. It doesn’t end there, either. The Unseelie are also targeting Elle’s stepsister, Agatha, as well as her old friend, Jacoby. And when will the Unseelie launch their deadly schemes? The Glass Slipper Festival.

Because fairies and frosting don’t mix.

“I thought the Angelbound series was my favorite, but Fairy Tales of the Magicorum may have stolen my heart.” – Smada’s Book Smack Blog

1. Wolves And Roses
2. Moonlight And Midtown
3. Slippers And Thieves
4. Shifters And Glyphs
5. Bandits And Ball Gowns
6. Fire and Cinder
7. Fairies and Frosting
8 Towers and Tithes

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #7


“It’s a tricky thing about living by the so-called Cinderella life template,” I explain to Elle. “Everyone knows that the Cinderellas have it rough. That evil stepmother alone is enough to break even the strongest person.”

Elle raises her hand. “Testify.”

“But guys like me? The princes? It’s never easy for us, either. I’ve looked into the lives hundreds of Prince Charmings. Here’s the bottom line. If your parents are forcing you into a choosing a random bride at a ball, then something is wrong.”

“I never thought of it that way.” Elle fixes me with a look that overflows with understanding. This is hard stuff to talk about, but with Elle here, anything is possible. “What about your mother and father?”

“The funny thing is, my parents actually got their happily ever after. Not with each other, though. They were both deeply in love with Le Charme Jewelers. The name… the money… the glamour… they couldn’t get enough. My parents met as strangers and stayed that way.”

Elle frowns. “I don’t get it. If they cared that much about the company, then why is the company in such rough shape?”

“They treated Le Charme the way they treated themselves. As long as things looked right, they didn’t have to be right. Does that make sense?”

“It does. They just took out more loans and kept going.”

“My father always had these grand schemes, like building the L Center. Those weren’t real business opportunities that he mapped out and researched, though. He just thought it was fun to have a huge building named after you in the middle of Manhattan.” I shiver. “And everyone around them played by the same rules or they were fired. I was surrounded by a world of beautiful illusions… and I was the only one who saw the truth underneath.”

I take Elle’s hand in mine. “Then I saw you at the loading dock for the L Center. You were all things gorgeous and bright. That Rae light from your mother shone all around you.”

Elle blushes. “I was a sweaty mess dragging a broken wagon of knickknacks.”

I pull her closer on the bench, guiding her legs across my lap. “You were perfect in your imperfection. Same as when I saw you later on the security cameras, un-stealing jewelry from my office. For me, Le Charme is a responsibility… a broken machine that I inherited and must fix. I’d sell it off if I could, only there’s too much debt.”

“And too many dwarves.”

“Yes, I can never forget the dwarves. They’re my family.” I set my knuckle under her chin. “But you? You’re my dream. And not because you’ll magically make everything better, either. It’s more that I trust you to my marrow. You’ll fight at my side to make everything the best it can be.”

Elle blushes. “And I love you, too, Alec Le Charme.”

—end of excerpt—

BUY NOW: Amazon / Apple / GooglePlay / Kobo / Nook

Author Bio:

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Of Gilded Flesh by Gordon Gravley

Of Gilded Flesh
Gordon Gravley
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Clockmaker Josef Kronecker makes more than just clocks.

In his study in Salzburg, he crafts lifesaving clockwork appendages for clients, including a famous pianist, a count who loves to dance, and his very own assistant, Anna, who suffered a harrowing attack before coming to work at Kronecker’s Timepieces.

When Josef meets Klara, a beautiful party attendee, he’s entranced and soon becomes unknowingly entrapped in a web of lies. His infatuation positions him as the victim of a royal bully, who presents an impossible challenge and requests an unthinkable sacrifice should Josef run out of time.

While Josef falls for Klara and is held to a deadline he can’t possibly make, Anna keeps the shop afloat as she faces her past trauma, proving that the number of limbs does not make a person whole, but rather the will to live.

Sustaining life is Josef’s calling, but now it’s his life on the line. As the clock ticks down, he realizes that while infatuation is a powerful thing, love is deeper and sometimes goes unseen, and it seems adopting Anna’s unwavering will to live is the way to survive.

Honest, inventive, and both heartbreaking and heartwarming, OF GILDED FLESH is a captivating story about resilience and how much we have to live for.

Goodreads / Amazon


The clinking of tools and the orange light of candles trail from the workroom in the back of the shop. Anna enters the space through the open curtain. Expecting to see Josef hovering over Duke Brunner’s artificial heart, she’s surprised to find the clockmaker tinkering with the mechanical boy, Joop, instead. Josef inserts the Rainbow Moonstone-and-marble balls into its vacant eye sockets.

The clockmaker leans back and moves a burning candle from one side of Joop’s head to the other. “Come see,” he says.

Anna moves to Josef’s side—close to him, but not too close.

“They catch the light with such brilliance,” he says. “Thank you, Anna.”

He reaches for her hand, yet she finds herself pulling away. Piano music comes from the other side of the shop and hovers between the two of them. Josef gives a curious look.

“Pascal is here already?”

“He came by last night…and never left.”

Josef turns to her, taking in the warmth she emits like a gently burning hearth. “I see.” He turns away and disappears into the darkness of the shop.

Anna moves closer to Joop and rests her left hand beside him. She lowers herself to a stool.

“Oh, Joop. What have I done?”

The boy stares vacantly back as a tear rolls down her cheek.

“I killed a man. He was so very horrible—a demon—but who am I to pass judgement and execution? My vengeance has made me no better.”

Another tear falls.

“I’m worse, even. For I’ve gone and lain myself with a man I do not love.”

Joop’s hands slips from his lap and rests upon hers. The comforting, humanlike gesture from the unhuman boy sparks a faint grin to her lips and then a flood of tears.

“And worse still…I want to again.”

Author Bio:

Gordon Gravley has been making up stories all his life. As a child, they would take the shape of rudimentary comic books, and Super-8 movies. As he was drawn to stage-acting in high school his stories became one-act plays, and then feature-length screenplays - none of which ever saw the light of the big screen.

It wasn't until his thirties that he finally decided to take the plunge, and like a real writer he made his stories into, well...stories. And just like a real writer, his efforts garnished multiple rejection letters. Twenty years later, those efforts would culminate into his first self-published novel, Gospel for the Damned.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Gordon moved around - California; Colorado; Alaska; Northern Arizona - before eventually settling in Seattle, Washington. Having called the Northwest his home since 1998, he doesn't expect to be moving elsewhere anytime soon. There, he continues to make up stories, write novels, and live with his wife and son.

Subscribe to the author's monthly newsletter, "from...Another Writer", via his website

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Chatting with Diane O'Neill, author of Saturday Night at the Food Pantry

I'm excited to have Diane O'Neill author of this charming picture book with me today. This charming picture book has a big message. But I'll let Diane tell us more. So without further ado, I'll dive right into the interview.

What inspired you to write this book?

I grew up on food stamps, and I remember my surprise and hurt when I learned that my classmates looked down on "food stamp people," that their moms would look in our carts and complain if they saw anything as frivolous as a sweet roll. One classmate said, "I guess I just think they should be more humble." 

In December 2019, I read a letter to the editor that complained about people on SNAP buying energy drinks. All my adult life, I've been able to work and not need benefits, thank God, but I still felt that childhood pain. 

I wrote a letter to the editor in response, and it was published. I expanded it into an op-ed, which was also published. I shared my good news on the Illinois Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) listserv, and Andrea Hall, Albert Whitman and Co. editor, reached out: Did I have any ideas for picture books about food insecurity?

No, none at all--until I did. I remember my mother feeding us chili for weeks, I remembered us going to the Wonder Bakery thrift store, as old baked goods were filling and cheap. I remembered a visit to a food pantry, running to the dessert shelves and my mother's embarrassed "No!" She said "they" would want us to take sensible food. 

So I wrote SATURDAY AT THE FOOD PANTRY, whose main message is that everybody needs help sometimes, and that that's perfectly OK. And that everybody deserves a treat now and then, too.

What book stayed with you long after you finished reading it.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, has been my favorite book since I was fourteen. It had a profound impact on me--it was the first book I'd read that featured an imperfect family with problems--the dad deals with alcoholism, and they are poor. I love the book's messages: Every "tree" is important and beautiful, no matter how poor. If you climb out of poverty, remember where you came from. The characters don’t feel like fictional creations to me, but like friends I’ve known all my life. 


Tell us something about you.

I grew up as an only child but met five half siblings in adulthood. I'm so happy that we're part of each other's lives and that I can be an aunt to nieces and nephews! I have a wonderful son who's a school social worker--he's my first reader for most of my stories, and I dedicated SATURDAY AT THE FOOD PANTRY to him. I love when he and his fiancé visit and we enjoy Harry Potter movies together!


Author: Diane O'Neill; Illustrator: Brizida Magro
Genre: Picture book

Blurb: Molly has never been to a food pantry before. It's different than a grocery store: Molly and her mom have to wait in line, check in, and there are signs posted everywhere. Then Molly sees her classmate Caitlin. But Caitlin isn't happy to see Molly--she doesn't want anyone to know she gets food from the pantry. Molly begins to wonder if there's something wrong with accepting help.


"Help me put food in the cart." Mom sighed.

Just like Caitlin, Mom looked like she wanted to be invisible.

But none of them were doing anything wrong!

"Everybody needs help sometimes," Molly whispered to her mom. "Remember?"

Mom smiled. "You're right."

About the author: Diane O'Neill is a Chicago writer who fell in love with books at age eight, and like Molly, she went to a food pantry as a child. She holds an MFA from National University, and her works have appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, LADYBUG Magazine, the South Side Weekly, the Journal of Modern Poetry, Solstice Literary Magazine’s blog, The Chicago Tribune, and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure.

Social media links:
Twitter  |  Instagram  |  webpage

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Christmas in July First Look

(I know I'm a little early, but I was too excited to wait.) 

In the spirit of Christmas in July, I'm sharing a sneak peek and first look at the cover of my upcoming holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz. I'm impatiently... er, I mean patiently waiting to find out the release date and for eARCs. I'll keep you post!

Merry Little Wishing Spritz
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
by Cherie Colyer


Modern-day witch Cassie Moore's cozy life turns upside down when her friend foresees the wrecking ball that threatens to destroy Cassie’s home and workplace. But Cassie isn't giving up without a fight. She casts a well-intended spell meant to save her apartment and her job. But magic is unpredictable, especially when her friend casts a little charm of her own that has Cassie lusting after the man she desperately wants to despise.

Jack Quinn has had his eyes on Lakeside Books for years, and he couldn't be happier the owner is finally ready to sell. He has big plans for the cozy waterfront property, but he didn't expect to care about the store or its employees. And he never imagined he'd be drawn to a certain brown-eyed saleswoman.

Almost as if by magic.

More on this title coming later this year!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Chatting with Patricia McAlexander, author of Shadows of Doubt

I'm thrilled to have Patricia McAlexander with me today. But first, let's learn more about her new book Shadows of Doubt.

Shadows of Doubt
Genre: thriller-romance
Author: Patricia McAlexander

Former grade school bully and, later, amateur drug dealer Jeff Hudson turns his life around and is pursuing a degree in agriculture. His future, as well as a budding relationship with fellow student Sandy Harris, is threatened when a former dealer threatens to expose Jeff's past to university authorities if he doesn't rejoin the ring.

Realizing that Jeff is no longer an angry, misunderstood boy, Sandy must take a stand against her family and friends who swear he is no good and will only cause her unhappiness. Together, can they escape the past in order to forge a future?

Get it today

Please help me welcome Patricia McAlexander.

How did you come up with the concept and/or characters for the book?

My characters are in part based on real people—including myself. Sandy, the protagonist of Shadows of Doubt, has some of my traits: I like photography and an alternate career for me would have been as a journalist. I based Jeff and his uncle at least in part on a family who owned an upstate New York dairy farm near my parents’ lake house—an intelligent, strong, practical father and his sons. And Sandy’s mother is partly based on my teacher mother, who turned for support to my sister and me when our father died—and who sometimes did not approve of our boyfriends.

Favorite genre and why?

One of my favorite genres or themes is romance. Why? Because love is something most of us need and hope for in our lives—look at the themes of songs, movies, literature. Also, romance can involve personal growth, something I’m interested in as a teacher. In my fiction, I portray individuals further developing their own values and identities as they discover love. But genres can be hybrids. Both Stranger in the Storm, my first published novel (actually a novella) and Shadows of Doubt combine romance with the thriller genre. There is also often romance in works of historical fiction, as in Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose or Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoi’s Dear Hamilton--to mention just two.

Tell us something about yourself and how you became an author.

I think being a writer was in my genes. My father, a teacher, let me type on his typewriter when I was five years old. He never got it back. My sister and I co-authored stories as children, and my high school and undergraduate college friends read stories that I wrote for fun. Then I went to graduate school, earned a PhD in English, and taught in college. I had no time to write fiction during those years, but when I retired, I wrote Stranger in the Storm. Not wanting to go through a possibly lengthy process of finding an agent, I went the small press route, submitting it to the Wild Rose Press. Editor Kaycee John thought it had potential and suggested I read James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication and revise. That book gave helpful advice that I took—and my next draft was accepted. I learned much about writing fiction during the editing process with Kaycee. So I guess all these stages are how I “became an author.”

Shadows of Doubt Excerpt

Sunday night in Bill’s sports car, Sandy found him intense. “I want you to stop going out with Jeff. I want us to be a couple.”

“He and I are a couple now.”

“Give me a chance. I’ve known you so long, and this summer I realized you’re the only girl I’ve ever felt anything for.”

“Surely you’ve been with girls at the University of North Carolina.”

“It wasn’t the same with any of the girls there. When I first saw you again after those four years away, I knew you were the one…the one I should marry. But I want to wait for marriage before…you know…sleeping together. That’s special to me. It’s the guys who don’t want to wait that you have to watch out for.”

“I don’t think that’s necessarily true.”

“So have you and Jeff…?” He did not finish his question, but she felt he knew the answer. He finally said, in a choked voice, “You’ve just met him. You don’t know anything about him.” He looked over at her. “You know it won’t last, don’t you?”

Sandy’s heart skipped a beat at that, but she made herself answer in a calm voice. “Right now, I just know he’s the one I want to be with.”

“Sandy—I need to tell you something about him.”

“I don’t want to hear it. You’d better take me home.”

Bill abruptly turned around in a parking lot he was passing and headed back toward her house. His expression was grim, almost angry. “I’d be better for you, Sandy. Your mother thinks so, too.”

Anger replaced her anxiety. “How do you know what my mother thinks? I hope you and she didn’t discuss this!”

“Just a little, last night before you came downstairs. She didn’t say much, but I could tell how she felt.” He pulled up in front of her house. “We both worry about you with Jeff. It’s not just that we think this won’t last…”

“Why else should you worry?”

Bill hesitated. “For one thing, he has a temper. He may physically hurt you. Remember how he was even as a kid.”

Her anger notched up higher. He was sounding just like her mother, expressing unfounded, outdated fears. “It was years ago that he got in those fights. He’s not like that now. I’m sorry, Bill, but I think it would be better if you and I don’t see each other for a while.” She got out of the car and slammed the door.

Bill started to pull away, then stopped, lowered the window, and called out to her. “Just remember, if you ever need me, I’ll be here.”

About the author:

Patricia McAlexander earned a bachelor's degree from The University of New York at Albany, a master's from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English. After moving with her husband to Athens, Georgia, she taught composition and literature at The University of Georgia. Now retired, she has edited local newsletters and enjoys hiking, travel, and photography. But most of all she enjoys writing novels. Her first thriller-romance, Stranger in the Storm, set in upstate New York, was released by Wild Rose in June 2020. Shadows of Doubt, set in Athens, Georgia, is her second.

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Author chat & Giveaway: Natalie Rompella, author of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

Natalie Rompella is the author of over 60 books and materials for children. She's a member of SCBWI and enjoys visiting schools and libraries. (There's more about that on her website, links below.) Plus, she's giving away a copy of Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners to a lucky winner.

Please help me welcome Natalie. (And be sure to tell your friends about the giveaway!)

What research did you do before writing this book?

I traveled to Alaska! I had won a grant and used it to attend the start of the Iditarod. It was wonderful. I had the opportunity to ask mushers questions, observe racing dogs, and even ride in a sled.

My main character also bakes, so I had to try making the recipes I made up, including dog treats. My family (including my dog) didn’t complain.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I recently became interested in science fiction. I’ve always loved Ray Bradbury’s short stories (favorite: “A Sound of Thunder”) and just discovered Robert A. Heinlein (author of Stranger in a Strange Land). The Door Into Summer was written in 1957 and takes place in 1970. The protagonist pays to be put into a cryogenic sleep and wakes up in 2000. It is amazing what these sci fi authors predict accurately.

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

I have become obsessed with playing pickle ball. I find that I do need to do something active to start my day and get into the right (or write) head space to begin my day. Walking, running, or playing pickle ball have been my go-to’s.

Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners
Author: Natalie Rompella
Genre: middle grade


Ana Morgan is excited to begin middle school. She and her best friend Lily plan to create a cookbook for the school’s Explorations Fair, but when Ana is assigned a new partner, things quickly go sour. As Ana’s life gets out of control, so does her anxiety. Germs bother her and make her wash her hands. A lot. And then she begins her Explorations project with the new girl…on sled dog racing—something she’s never even heard of. But when life gives her lemons, can she make lavender lemonade?

Read it today!

About the author:

It all began with a cover of a National Geographic magazine in 1998 that got Natalie interested in insects and resulted in her attempting her first picture book. She has been writing ever since. And she’s gotten to do all sorts of fun stuff for research: test out cookie recipes, talk to cantaloupe farmers, interview an astronaut, go on insect hunts, and even travel to Alaska to see the start of the Iditarod.

Natalie Rompella is the author of more than sixty books and resources for children, including an insect picture book: The World Never Sleeps (Tilbury House) (a 2019 IL Reads selection); a #OwnVoices middle grade novel: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners (Sky Pony Press); and her newest—a writing workbook: Secrets of Storytelling (Rockridge Press). She is a former elementary and middle school teacher, as well as a former museum educator and curriculum coordinator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

Natalie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her two kids, husband, and dog where she enjoys playing pickle ball, baking, and taking Zumba classes.

Find out more at

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Jukebox by Nidhi Chanani

Nidhi Chanani
Published by: First Second/Macmillan
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Time-Travel

Grab some coins for the jukebox, and get ready for a colorful, time-traveling, musical tale about family and courage

A mysterious jukebox, old vinyl records, and cryptic notes on music history, are Shaheen’s only clues to her father’s abrupt disappearance. She looks to her cousin, Tannaz, who seems just as perplexed, before they both turn to the jukebox which starts…glowing?

Suddenly, the girls are pulled from their era and transported to another time! Keyed to the music on the record, the jukebox sends them through decade after decade of music history, from political marches, to landmark concerts. But can they find Shaheen’s dad before the music stops? This time-bending magical mystery tour invites readers to take the ride of their lives for a coming-of-age adventure.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Sneak Peek...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:

Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India and raised in California. She creates illustrations that capture love in everyday moments which are often featured at Disney Parks. In 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. She’s the author of Pashmina, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, and illustrator of I Will Be Fierce. Nidhi draws and dreams in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kid.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A Quick Chat with C. Becker author of Finding Euphoria

 Hi everyone!

Today I have C. Becker, author of Finding Euphoria. 


What research did you do before writing this book.  

I spent many hours researching acetylcholine and dopamine receptors in the brain when I wrote this novel. I researched not only the addiction aspect, but also how neurotransmitters are linked to OCD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. Research brings new information every day, and scientists have found many new discoveries since I had gone to college. Although the research was time consuming, I enjoyed learning. I also studied how pharmaceuticals design drugs from different plants. I was surprised when I read some spices like nutmeg contain a drug called myristicin, which in higher doses will cause adverse effects on the sympathetic and central nervous system. Deciding it was best not to target a certain plant or spice, I made up a shrub from the Amazon Rainforest and had Euphoria refined from the plant. 

Another part of the research was Parkinson’s disease. My great-uncle had Parkinson’s and died in the 1970s. I feel this disease is often forgotten, so I created a character with Parkinson’s, too.


Can you tell us about a book that stayed with you long after you finished reading it. 

I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett twenty years ago. Although he added a lot of graphic violence in the medieval story, it was believable because of the historical setting. I’ve never seen a book with so many subplots woven in a story. I later watched the mini-series and read one of the sequels. It still rates as one of the best books I’ve ever read. 

What is your favorite comfort food? 

Anything Chocolate

Any exciting news to share? 

Finding Euphoria is available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Losing Euphoria, the second book in the Euphoria series is under contract with The Wild Rose Press. This story takes place 6 years after Finding Euphoria ends. I’m currently writing the third book in the Euphoria trilogy.

Finding Euphoria
Genre: Romantic Thriller
A spicy PG13 read


Hailey Langley refuses to be a victim and has moved on from her traumatic past. But her marriage problems worsen when a deadly illicit drug threatens to draw her into the life she left behind.

Mark Langley has allowed his job to interfere with his marriage, but he never suspected the secrets in Hailey’s past might hold the key to solving both of his current investigations.

Together, they must unravel the mystery of the drug called Euphoria and find a way to save not only their marriage, but countless lives, before it’s too late.

Buy links


They hurried to the wall and began sliding books across the shelf. One of the books would open the latch, but which one? She worked swiftly.

A whiff of his aftershave stirred her senses. It was an earthy scent. Their gazes met, but she broke it off. She tested another section of books across the shelf and felt him studying her. Her heart fluttered. Focus, Hailey. Why had he kissed her the previous night? She was a married woman. “We need to work fast. Security cameras are all over this place.”

A soft click sounded near Parker and she rushed over, following him through the doorway.

He turned on a light. “Hurry.”

The small chamber smelled like leather and cigars. A computer rested on top of a writing desk. Parker headed straight to the computer and turned it on. He began rifling through the files in the filing cabinet next to the desk. “It’s booting. Find what you can. We’ll only have a few minutes.”

Hailey hurried to the rear of the room and rummaged through a pile of letters spread across a cherry wood desk.

Parker turned back to the computer and typed on the keyboard. “I’m in!” He shoved a hand in his pants pocket and pulled out a jump drive.

“Already?” She glanced up. “How did you figure out the password?”

He inserted the jump drive in the computer. “I took a shot at Euphoria.”

She searched through a stack of files. A large desk calendar shifted, exposing a tan envelope. “This might be what we’re searching for.” She pulled a packet from the envelope. On the top corner of the cover page was the word EUPHORIA. The page below had an image of a chemical structure. “Bingo!”

“What did you find? Can you identify the drug?”

“Give me a minute.” Hailey flipped through the packet. “I need to study this.”

“There’s not much time.”

She opened her purse. “Stefan gave me a camera. I’ll take some photos of the…Oh, shit.”


“The camera’s missing!”

“What do you mean?”

“It must have fallen out while I was in line for the bathroom.”


“It’s okay. I’ll use my cell phone.” She took out her phone and pressed the button.

“Keep snapping.” Parker typed on the keypad. “The files are downloading.”

Quickly, she worked, turning page after page of the packet. Her phone beeped. A text message appeared on the screen: ABORT MISSION.

“Oh, no. Parker, we have to get out of here.”

“I need a couple more minutes.”

She tilted her head. Footsteps thudded down the hall. “Now! They’re coming.”

Dammit! Parker jerked the drive from the computer and shoved it in his pocket. He grabbed Hailey’s arm, and they darted from the room. With his free hand, he drew a semiautomatic from his pants.

“Hurry. They’re almost here,” she whispered.

They raced to the sitting room window. Parker climbed out the opening and stepped on the stone ledge. He offered a hand to Hailey. “Careful.”

She lifted the bottom of her dress and swung around. As she grabbed his hand, the cell phone dropped. “My phone!”

“Leave it. They’re coming!”

Ignoring him, she leaned over and stretched her fingers. The door swung open, and she raised her head. Two men bolted into the room. She left the phone on the floor and turned. A strong hand grabbed her arm and threw her on the floor. She kicked as a wet cloth pressed over her face. Gunshots blasted, and the darkness consumed her.

About the author:

A native of western Pennsylvania, C. Becker earned a B.S. degree in Medical Technology and MT (ASCP) certification. She has worked in clinical settings analyzing body fluids and testing drugs of abuse. As an author, C. Becker has published multiple stories in various genres.

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