July 8 2016

Vengeful Vows Virtual Book Tour

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#newrelease #christianfiction #romance #novel

Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: eLectio Publishing (May 25, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1632131889
ISBN-13: 978-1632131881

About the Author

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Parker J Cole the author of Dark Cherub and the Sins of the Flesh series; this includes Many Strange Women, The Other Man, and Vengeful Vows. She is also host of The Write Stuff, which showcases Christian authors worldwide and the Parker J Cole Show interviewing guest, news, and commentary. When not writing or hosting, she spends most of her time reading, knitting, cooking and concocting new ideas for stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and dog, Sarah.

About the book

Vengeful Vows book cover

Daffodil Simmons knows how the world works. She’s the spider, all the world is a fly. She has spent her life spinning webs, using people for personal gain. And now, she’s about to spin her biggest one yet – for vengeance. She’ll do whatever it takes to get revenge on the two men who abandoned her: her father, and her former lover. When she blackmails her half-sister Leah Westwood’s ex-lover to do her bidding, she tightens her fist around his will and brings him into submission to her plans.

Vincent Miller hates that Daffodil has a noose around his neck, forcing him to do whatever she wants. But he’ll do anything to steal Leah back from Jacob Westwood, the man who destroyed his life, even if it means making a deal with a blue-eyed spider. Yet as Daffodil spins her web, he finds himself entrapped by a silk of a very different kind and intrigued by a woman who only sees him as expendable prey

Everything is going according to plan until another spider, a ghost from Daffodil’s past, begins to interfere with their web. It’s a battle of wits against a powerful foe. When it comes time to make the ultimate choice, can Daffodil lay aside everything she’s ever known… for something even greater? Can Vincent set aside his need for revenge to go after what’s in front of him?

connect with the author

Website: http://www.parkerjcole.com/

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/ParkerJCole

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/parker.j.cole4125

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Book A Tour

 

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June 29 2016

Fibers Virtual Book Tour

Fiber

by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!

 

GENRE: Science Fiction

 

About the Book

Anna Reynolds is caught up in the middle of a secret interdimensional government agreement… and she doesn’t even know it. There’s a medical anomaly loosely dubbed Morgellons disease afflicting a number of people. Symptoms include open sores that produce colorful string-like fibers, fatigue, and nightmarish visions of shadowy figures. No one knows where it came from. No one knows what causes it. There is no cure. When Anna begins having nightmares and waking hallucinations of the shadow people, her uneasiness about her condition grows. Enlisting the help of her doctor and some friends, Anna is determined to find out what’s really going on and why Morgellons is such a mystery. With her health declining and doubts about whom she can trust, is Anna doomed to become a slave to her condition? Or will she and her unlikely group of would-be heroes come through, saving her… and, ultimately, the world?

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Excerpt

Standing slowly with her palm pressed to her eye, she spotted a tiny clump on the counter not far from the tweezers. It looked like balled up blue and red string wrapped in eye goo. But when she touched it gingerly with her fingertip, it felt hard, similar to rock or crystals. She turned off the water.

Not wanting to leave this cluster of strange unattended, she picked up the tweezers again and pinched the whole mess between the tips. Cupping her left hand underneath, she took it to a kitchen counter and turned on the overhead light.

Squinting her hazel eyes, she poked at the tiny mass with the tip of the tweezers, suddenly wishing she had another pair.

“What the hell are you…?” she muttered under her breath, trying to keep her breathing shallow so she wouldn’t accidentally exhale it away and lose it. She noted that her eye felt perfectly fine. A little sore, but not bad. She decided to get a toothpick from the silverware drawer and pinched the balled up fibers in the tips of the tweezers again. Just in case.

As she loosened the tweezers and brought the toothpick closer to the tear duct excretion, she watched the blue string she had pulled on stretch itself slowly toward the wood.

“No way,” she muttered, moving the wooden toothpick closer. She moved it left, then right… each time she moved it, the tiny string followed. She saw the red one poking out from the tangled mass, too, and she dropped the tweezers and the toothpick, stepping back and taking a deep breath as she cupped her hand over her mouth.

What is that?

 

Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Jennifer-Crystal Johnson, author of Fibers, to Room With Books!

And it’s my pleasure to be here! Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog; I look forward to your questions. 🙂

Please tell us about yourself.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I’ve wanted to be two things my entire life: a writer and a musician. Although music still plays a large part in my life and I look forward to composing and playing the piano again regularly at some point, right now I’m very focused on writing fiction and am hoping to earn enough money with my books to immerse myself in music again in the future.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing since I can remember and it always just came naturally. I have always loved reading, too, which is probably part of what inspired me to write, but I have a massive imagination and people have always told me that I’m good with words, so writing is one of my oldest and truest friends.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I have two jobs, actually; three if you count being a single mother of three. My job outside the home is one I just recently began (I hadn’t worked outside the home for almost 10 years) and is only part time. I work as a home care aide for a really awesome quadriplegic man, helping him get things done that he can’t do on his own. On top of this, I’m still a freelance writer, editor, and publisher, helping authors and business owners self-publish their books for a fee. Then of course there’s being a single mom of three wonderful kiddos and everything that entails: taking care of a household, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, delegating chores, and being there for my kids when they have a problem or need some advice. 🙂

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Anna battles Morgellons disease and, inadvertently, an interdimensional conspiracy, wreaking havoc on her life… and our world.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I considered myself a writer in about third or fourth grade because that was when I started having ideas for original stories and writing them. When I was 12, I added journaling to my daily routine and I got my first freelance writing job online when I was 13. At that point, it wasn’t just me considering myself a writer – it was also an employer, which made it official. 😉

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first book didn’t take long to get published at all, but I went with a publishing company that was on the Writer Beware list, which I didn’t find out until years later. It wasn’t a horrible experience for me, but it was discouraging and a bit disappointing, especially when I found out that it essentially wasn’t the real deal. After I left an abusive marriage around the same time the book was published, I didn’t give up – it just took me a few years to get back to seeing writing as a business and finish a sort of memoir about my experience with domestic violence (this is unpublished; it was more for therapy than anything else).

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

That all depends on how much time I can devote to writing and what type of book it is. Nonfiction such as personal development is fairly easy because I simply write my thoughts down – the outlining process is simple, factual, and practical. Poetry was always easy for me because it was simply another way of journaling (I don’t write poetry very often anymore, unfortunately, but I think that’s partially because I don’t journal enough), so I would go through my journals and see what I was comfortable publishing and what I wasn’t. Poetry is very personal to me… my soul on paper, that sort of thing. Fiction tends to be a little more difficult for me because I worry about forgetting an important detail or accidentally leaving holes in the plot, so I tend to do a number of revisions and re-evaluating of the draft before I feel comfortable even sending it to beta readers. Fibers took me five years; I’m hoping that the second book in the trilogy, Numbers, will only take me about a year or a year and a half. That’s the goal, anyway. 🙂

What can we expect from you in the future?

You can definitely expect more sci-fi conspiracy thrillers! Once I finish writing and publishing this trilogy, I already have another series in mind that was inspired by a dream I had. As a general rule, you can expect very unique, intelligent, and well-researched novels from me. 🙂

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

I absolutely love a strong female lead character, especially if they have to grow into their strength. However, in the Infiltration Trilogy, I’m not entirely certain who my favorite is yet because the story isn’t finished. We’ll see how everything turns out after the final book and then I’ll know which character I consider my favorite. 🙂

What is your routine for writing?

Right now I don’t have a set routine, and I generally don’t work well under strict scheduling (which is why I was never able to keep a job outside the home for longer than nine months or so). Let’s just say that the words, “free spirit,” tend to be used to describe me a lot, and this could be perceived as a wonderful or detrimental quality depending on whom you talk to about it. I tend to go through phases, so while I may write every single day for two or three hours for a few months, I may only write for clients for weeks or months after that. It all depends on what my client workload is, what I have going on with my family and other job, and whether I have the energy to write fiction or not. Sometimes not writing has opened doors for opportunities and knowledge that wouldn’t have been there if the timing hadn’t been perfect, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 🙂

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I tend to choose a title first that encompasses the premise or idea; then I start writing various different aspects of the idea down and working on the draft as I can. Nothing is set in stone, so things can always be changed or adjusted to fit the completed work; I’m open to that. However, I tend to have ideas and then the titles come to me, and oftentimes the titles themselves are key to remembering the premise of the whole story, at least in the outlining and drafting phase.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

Of course! What better way to illustrate a message than by telling a story as opposed to just stating an opinion? That doesn’t always mean that people will draw the same conclusions or even notice or understand the message, but it is there for those who like to get into discussions and conversations about various books and their concepts and ideas… as well as whether other people see things the same way or not.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I personally prefer paperback to any other type of book. The reasons are simple… paperbacks give you a physical, solid overview of what’s there and I can mark and dog-ear pages for whatever purpose, highlight important parts, and write notes in margins fairly easily. When I really, fully read a book, I tend to be completely immersed and people to discuss certain parts of it may come to mind, so I like to be able to mark my place(s) and jot down ideas. I know there are many people who would consider this an abuse of books, but as someone who has used and abused and studied my own journals for emotional healing and therapy, I like to absolutely know that the book has served its purpose for me, whether that be entertainment, learning, or otherwise. Besides… a few “scars” and coffee stains add character. 😉 My books wind up perfectly imperfect and proudly damaged, just like me. Nobody can say that those books haven’t lived a full life.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

I cannot say that I have a single favorite book; however, there are two that rank at the very top and have for a long time: Phantom by Susan Kay and Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. I’ve read both of these books at least three or four times, and they’re my favorites because they’re very interesting to me. Phantom is the life story of the incredible man behind the mask (Phantom of the Opera) from birth to death and all of the adversity and hardship he had to endure and overcome before becoming the Phantom of the Opera. Lost Souls has many characters whose stories are sad but adventurous and breathtaking, and I love being reminded that, despite whatever cruelties life may throw at you, it’s still beautiful and worth living to the fullest, even if your choices aren’t always perfect or you go through a period of pain.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Absolutely! They’ve all been positive for Fibers, but if readers say anything negative – especially if it’s said by more than one – I take it into consideration for future books if I can. No one is perfect, and if I can use what I’m told to learn from it and improve my writing, then I consider it an honest gift from readers. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to do at first, so I had to learn to take criticism gracefully… but I’m not one to be ashamed of little mistakes. 😉

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

Sounds awesome; let’s do it. 🙂

What is your favorite food? Oh, I love a lot of different kinds of food… sushi is definitely in my top five, along with salade nicoise with either tuna or salmon, teriyaki, and grilled tri-tip steak, shrimp, schnitzel, and corn on the cob. 🙂 Cooking is a very therapeutic hobby for me and it’s also productive, so I love making great food for my family.

Who is your favorite singer or group? I definitely can’t choose just one here, either, because I go through phases and adore a lot of different types of music… I will say that NIN helped me through a lot of struggles in life when I was younger, so Trent Reznor will always have a special place in my heart. I also absolutely love Imogen Heap and have been following her music since I was about 12 or 13. Currently, I like listening to Rob Thomas, Imogen Heap, Celldweller, Ellie Goulding, Mumford & Sons, Skrillex, and a few others. I have a couple of Pandora stations that get a LOT of play, and all of these artists are included. 🙂

What is your favorite color? Purple. Burgundy comes in at a very close second, but pretty much any shade of purple is a purple I love.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? Anywhere with water… oceans, lakes, rivers, I just adore water. Can’t swim well at all, but I love the water!

What final words would you offer to our readers?

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my sci-fi conspiracy thriller series, buying & reading it, and showing such awesome support for authors! It is absolutely appreciated, and I hope to see you again next week at the next tour stop. 🙂

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book. I hope you will come back again!

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Meet the Author

Jennifer-Crystal Johnson is originally from Germany, but was raised an Army brat. She has published one novella under her former last name, The Outside Girl: Perception is Reality (Publish America, 2005 – out of print as of 2013), a poetry book, Napkin Poetry (Broken Publications, 2010), and a collection of poetry, art, and prose called Strangers with Familiar Faces (Broken Publications, 2011). She’s also published a collection of short creature horror stories called If You’re Human Don’t Open the Door (Broken Publications, 2012), a personal development book called The Ten Pillars of a Happy Relationship (Broken Publications, 2014), and a collection of more horror stories (no creatures this time, just people) called Our Capacity for Evil (Broken Publications, 2015). She has several poems and short stories published on Every Writer’s Resource and has recently published a science fiction novel called Fibers, the first book in the Infiltration Trilogy. Jen owns and operates Broken Publications (http://www.brokenpublications.com/) and publishes an annual anthology to raise awareness about domestic violence called Soul Vomit (www.SoulVomit.com). When she isn’t writing or editing, she enjoys playing games with her three kids, watching crime shows on Netflix, or reading. She lives in WA State with her three children, three cats, and a crazy puppy named Thor.

Connect With the Author

http://www.JenniferCrystalJohnson.com

http://www.twitter.com/brokenpoet

www.Facebook.com/JenniferCrystalJohnson

Amazon

Video excerpts – watch the author read!

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https://youtu.be/1GPYG1A5OKw

 

Giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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June 22 2016

The Last Great Race Book Tour @markmorey5 @GoddessFish

The Last Great Race

by Mark Morey

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages you to follow the tour and please leave comments!

 

GENRE: Historical Fiction

 

About the Book

This story is based around the life of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic sportsmen of his era, Achille Varzi: multiple race winner, twice Racing Champion of Italy and a hero to his many followers.  Told partly through the eyes of Varzi and partly by fictional Italian-Australian racing journalist Paul Bassi, we follow the many triumphs and tragedies of Varzi’s life: his passionate love affair with Ilse, his tragic morphine addiction, his recovery from his addictions, his marriage to Norma and his re-signing to race for Alfa Romeo.

Only war intervenes, and Paul and his wife Pia leave Achille to spy for the British at the naval base in Naples.  Paul and Pia endure hundreds of Allied air-raids, they join the partisans who fought off the German army until the Allies could rescue them, and then they survive in a near-ruined city as best they can.

By 1946 Italy is still shattered but life is returning to normal, and no more normal is Achille Varzi winning the Grand Prix of Italy that year.  Over the next two seasons Achille Varzi scores more successes, until he makes his only ever driving mistake and is killed in Switzerland in 1948.  Even though he died too young, Paul and Pia know that Achille Varzi would never have lived in his life in any other way.

 

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Excerpt

The porter nodded slowly.  “My name is Ludwig Broder and I was a journalist once.”

“What happened?”

“It’s the way of things.”

Paul wondered the way of what things, until he realised.  He looked around and nobody was close.  “Persecution?” Paul asked quietly.

Herr Broder nodded slowly.

“I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune, Herr Broder.”

“It was only a newspaper in Koblenz, but….”

Paul was sure that persecution would get worse.  “Should you leave?” Paul asked quietly.

“To where?  My family has lived in this region for more than four generations.”

“If you leave, one day you can come back when it’s better.”  Paul thought about options.  “You speak good English.  Go now, while you can.”

Herr Broder demurred.

“I was born and raised in Australia and I moved to Italy two years ago,” Paul said.  “Because I spoke Italian, Italy became my home.”

“Where are you staying Herr Bassi?”

“Hotel Ringhaus.  We can take our luggage; it’s not far.”

Her Broder nodded and Paul opened his wallet and took out a twenty mark note.  “Thank you for your trouble, Herr Broder.”

“Thank you,” Herr Broder said before placing the note in his pocket.

Paul picked up his case and bag and Pia, looking baffled, grabbed hers.

“One day it may be too late,” Paul said.  “Goodbye and good luck.”

“Enjoy your racing Herr Bassi.”

Paul headed towards the hotel with Pia alongside.

“Che cosa?” Pia asked.

“He’s Jewish,” Paul said in Italian.  “I told him to leave now, while he can.”

“People shouldn’t have to leave their country just because they’re Jewish.”

“If you were Jewish; what would you do?”

“I would leave.”

“He used to work for a newspaper, but as you know….”

“No public servants, no teachers, no writers, no academics, no journalists.”

“I’m sure it will get worse.”

Pia shrugged her shoulders and Paul wondered how much worse it could get.  But he was sure it would get worse.

 

Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Mark Morey, author of The Last Great Race,  to Room With Books!

Hello, Mark! Please tell us about yourself.

I am in my fifties and I have been writing for about 10 years now.  In real life I am an information technology analyst and have been now for many, many years.  My hobbies include writing of course, travel and motorcycle riding.  My philosophy for life is to do it now because you never know what the future may bring.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Writing came later in life, and remains beyond my career of information technology analyst.  I actually fell into information technology by accident when the industry was young, and it suited me at the time and I was good at it.  A lot of what I do in my job is writing, and writing for pleasure came from that.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

I wrote my first novel 11 years ago and it was published 4 years ago.  I have always liked reading good books, and one day I went to the local library to borrow a book, but I couldn’t find one. Particularly the books by male authors had stereotyped, cliche characters, the loner who eventually rights all wrongs but never finds love or companionship.  I thought I could do better than that, which became the inspiration for that novel, The Red Sun Will Come.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I am an information technology analyst, which means liaising between system users and technologists to design the best and most cost-effective solutions for business problems.  It’s a job dealing with people in a variety of scenarios: workshops, focus groups and one-on-one, and then documenting and agreeing outcomes.  It also involves writing specifications, reference manuals and training materials.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

This is a fictionalised account of a real-life story that seems too incredible to be true, only it is.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

I decided to start with genre fiction and write a crime novel, but to make it different I set it in Moscow, Russia.  That was a particularly good setting with government corruption and the Russian Mafia, and with many re-drafts I got it to a state where it was suitable for publication.  In 2012 Club Lighthouse picked up The Red Sun Will Come and the sequel, Souls In Darkness.  The latter is a dark mystery set in Siberia and is a great story.  I find the more I write the easier it is to produce a polished, complete story.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I considered myself a writer when The Red Sun Will Come was published in 2012.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

I finished the first draft of The Red Sun Will Come in 2006, and revised it over the next 18 months including getting it professionally edited.  It was published in 2012.  This shows that patience is an essential attribute for new authors.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

I researched and completed the first draft of my latest novel, The Adulterous Bride, in four months.  It needs a beta reader or two, a revision from there, and then it may be ready.  In the meantime I am concentrating on publicity for The Last Great Race, which really prevents me from writing.

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

The Adulterous Bride remains in the realm of historical fiction being set in Venice in 1428.  After that I don’t know, but I will do something that’s not historical fiction.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

The fictional journalist Paul Bassi who’s able to turn his obsession into his career, and who completely and totally adores the gorgeous Pia Donati.  He’s a good man who has it all.

What is your routine for writing?

If I’m going well I will write for three or four hours a day for a number of days in a row, and then when I feel stale I will take a break for a day or two.  When I’m writing historical fiction I have to pause and do additional research like the clothes they may have worn, the price of goods and a myriad of other details.  I don’t believe in writing every day because what may come out of that is often unusable.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I always write the story and then struggle to find a title for it!

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

I always choose a theme and write to that, and the theme will be embedded in the story.  In the case of The Last Great Race the theme is ‘pride comes before the fall’, which summarises what really happened.  There are other messages like the ability to romantically love two people at the same time, something many don’t believe is possible but I know it is.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

With the advent of eBooks and print on demand, the traditional publishing model of offset printing an initial run, flooding retail stores and then pulping them after a few months has become obsolete.  Instead these stories are now always available, either by download or in hard-copy, and can be sold months and even years after first publication.  Print on demand is for those who want a traditional hard copy in their hands, doing away with the need for offset printing.  High-quality, low cost and readily available on-line.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

My favourite author is Paolo Coelho and I have everything he has written.  All of them are my favourites.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

I always read all the reviews of my books.  I take on board any positive criticisms, but I also appreciate that every reader has their preferences and my stories may not be what they prefer.

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? I have too many favourites to name!  I always eat healthy food and I never eat so-called junk food.

Who is your favorite singer or group? The Italian singer Laura Pausini

What is your favorite color? My favourite colour is blue.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? We always visit places we haven’t been to before, staying in apartments and living like locals while we’re there.  It may be Paris or it may be Moscow, but we keep away from tourist hotels and do it the hard way, and come home with great memories as a result of that.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

I hope you buy and read my story because I’m sure you will enjoy it.  It’s set mostly in fascist Italy but it also travels to Germany just as the Nazis have taken power, while over-arching that is one of the most tragic love stories that has ever, ever happened.

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books, Mark. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with The Last Great Race. I hope you will come back again!

 

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Meet the Author

Writing technical documentation and advertising material formed a large part of my career for many decades.  Writing a novel didn’t cross my mind until relatively recently, where the combination of too many years writing dry, technical documents and a visit to the local library where I couldn’t find a book that interested me led me consider a new pastime. Write a book. That book may never be published, but I felt my follow-up cross-cultural crime with romance hybrid set in Russia had more potential. So much so that I wrote a sequel that took those characters on a journey to a very dark place.

Once those books were published by Club Lighthouse and garnered good reviews I wrote in a very different place and time.  My two novels set in Victorian Britain were published by Wings ePress in July and August of 2014. These have been followed by a story set against the background of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front, published in August 2015. Australia’s contribution to the battles on the Western Front and to ultimate victory is a story not well known, but should be better known.

Staying within the realm of historical fiction, one of the most successful sportsmen of the 1930s, Achille Varzi, lived a dramatic and tumultuous life.  It is a wonder his story hasn’t been told before, beyond non fiction written in Italian.  The Last Great Race follows the highs and lows of Varzi’s motor racing career, and stays in fascist Italy during the dark days of World War Two.

Mark Morey http://markmorey.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter @markmorey5

GiveawayMark Morey will be awarding a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

June 21 2016

This Madness of the Heart Book Tour @blair-yeatts @GoddessFish

This Madness of the Heart

by Blair Yeatts

 

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GENRE: gothic mystery/thriller

 

HELLO! ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!

 

About the Book

Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm. When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice. With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread. This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

Purchase Links

This Madness of the Heart e-book will be free during the tour.

AMAZON

SMASHWORDS

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Excerpt

The night turned around her, until, in the darkest watches before dawn, she rose from her knees, abandoning the bloody altar with its guttering candles. A queen entranced, she paced slowly down the hill toward the sleeping house, her eyes blind with visions. Through the front door she walked, into the hall’s center, to the foot of the great staircase. There she raised her bloody hands and cried aloud in a high-pitched wail, sinking at last to a low hissing hum.

“Guede-z-araignee! Come a-hungered! Drink di lifeblood o’ dis evil man! Drink he mem’ry away! Tak he woman int’ di night, Tak’ he chillun, tak’ dem all! Tak’ dem int’ di darkness! Tak’ dem all—tak’ dey lives, tak’ dey bodies, tak’ dey souls! Gi di blood o’ di murderer no rest, not in dis life, not in di next. Spill dey blood on dis bloody land! Come, Guede-z-araignee! Come an’ drink!”

Like a snake swaying on its coils, a tendril of smoke emerged from the darkness, swelling and growing, rising and twisting toward the upper floors of the plantation house. Tiny rainbow-hued flames licked at the polished floor. Then, with a screaming roar, fire like a spider’s bloated body engulfed the great hall, swallowing the keening woman and gathering the curving staircase to its tumid breast. A billowing inferno exploded into the long upper halls, curling and crisping the fine imported wood, sealing bedroom doors with sucking flame, feeding on the agonized cries within: a holocaust offered to a vengeful deity, sated at last with the charring bodies of the landowner’s family… the whole family, save one, a tiny boychild, carried sleeping from his father’s house by an old black nurse, terrified by the fiery havoc she had witnessed in her dreams.

 

Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Blair Yeatts, author of This Madness of the Heart, Room With Books! Hello, Blair! Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a retired college professor, with special interests in unusual religious/paranormal phenomena and how/why people have these experiences. I live with my husband, two cats, and a dog in wooded hill country near the Appalachian Trail, where I walk 2 miles every morning before I start to write. I come from an academic Virginia family, but I was born and raised in Kentucky—which is where This Madness of the Heart is rooted. The next two books in the Miranda Lamden series also take place in the Kentucky/Tennessee hill country. I love wild forests and mountains—and deserts, too—partly because in their silence I sometimes think I can hear the voices of an Earth far more ancient than the muffled presence most of us know.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes and no! LOL When I was just six years old I used to make up stories about my collection of little stuffed animals, which I was invited to share with other primary students in my grade school: that might be an early clue. But I don’t recall saying, “I want to be a writer!” I do remember saying “I want to be a cowgirl!” (grade school) . . . “a park ranger!” (middle school) . . . “an ambassador!” (high school) . . . and then finally “a professor of religion!” (graduate school). I stuck with that last one for quite a while before I started to write.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to write?

If you don’t count my dissertation, I started to write about 25 years ago. I’d finished my degree and decided that I wanted to take some time off and make sense of my life with an autobiography. I wrote like a maniac for a year or so. I even got a grant to pay for my expenses. All I can say is that I’m immensely grateful that none of the hundred or so queries I wrote bore fruit! It was an appalling book, and I would have been mortified to have it in print. The lessons we learn in life . . . But the many rewrites I did of that book taught me a lot about hands-on writing, so when I finally got around to really writing, I had some idea what I was doing.

Do you have a job in addition to writing?

I taught college-level religion for a number of years, as well as doing first-hand research into obscure religious phenomena, along with some consulting work. I have that much in common with the main character of This Madness of the Heart. But the similarities mostly stop there. I enjoyed teaching, but not enough to put in the long hours for little pay with mostly unmotivated students. Creating a semester’s lectures is a huge amount of work, and if you use the same set of lectures over and over again, it’s deadly boring, which left me faced with more huge piles of work. I didn’t like my choices. Since teaching as a day job didn’t pay much anyway, switching to writing (which I dearly love) was a no-brainer.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Appalachian religion professor Miranda Lamden explores bad religion and paranormal phenomena in a hair-raising new gothic thriller.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

First of all, I need to say that “Blair Yeatts” is a pen name. I’ve published three books already (with a fourth in the works) under a different name in a different genre. I wanted to branch out from the genre I’d begun with, and I decided that my readers might be alienated by a drastic switch, so I chose a pen name . . . I guess I really began to think of myself as a writer when I published my first book, and people bought it!

How long did it take to get your first book published?

As I mentioned above, I tried to go the traditional route with my autobiography 25 years ago. I set myself a goal of 50 queries to publishers and 50 to agents before giving up, which I met, and then gave up. Madness is actually the next book I wrote—while I was teaching—but for many reasons I set it aside without trying to publish it. In part I sensed that I was too personally engaged and needed to give it some space before even considering publication. That was a good call. It’s pretty much an entirely different book now than when I first wrote it. Then when I finally settled down to serious writing, about 10 years ago, I decided that self-publishing was the way to go, so I had very little difficulty. Learning the formatting and publicity skills were the biggest challenges.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

I’d say 9 months to a year. I consider a book a good length if it comes in at somewhere from 70,000 to 90,000 words. That takes a while, and I do my own (obsessive) editing. Of course, some books are less obliging than others!

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I plan to continue with the Miranda Lamden Mysteries for some time. I have drafts already completed for books 2 and 3 (Blood on Holy Ground, and The Gorge Runs Red—possible title). I’m doing edits on Holy Ground now and hope to have it out by the fall. I think each book is better than the last, as they should be!

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

I think my favorite character from Madness is Elmus Rooksby, the aging pastor of a small holiness church in the hollers of Appalachia, and the founder of a small college that has been taken over by the book’s villain, Jasper Jarboe, DD. It’s very difficult to create a “good” character (as in virtuous, kind, loving, etc.) without making him smarmy, or weak, or boring. I think I succeeded with Elmus. He’s a passionate man, driven by his faith, yet truly loving toward other human beings. He struggles with rage and hate in the face of JJ’s appalling nastiness, but he finds a way to deal with himself—and JJ—without descending into the sewer. He comes through as a wily and righteous man without self-righteousness . . . which in my experience is a very rare thing.

What is your routine for writing?

I have my own office, with cats, in my home. I sit at my Mac, often with a cat in my lap trying to help, and tap away. I write every available minute for as long as the muse is working—and when she shuts down, I work on the other stuff. But what, you might ask, is “every available minute”? Well, it means after I’ve walked my mile or two and had enough coffee to be conscious . . . but before I start nodding out over the keyboard in midafternoon. It’s in between household chores and bills, errands and cat-box cleaning, and time invested with my husband. So, for real? Four – five hours early in the day and two – three in the evening, unless I’m really on a roll, and then everything gets jettisoned, including the husband and the cat boxes.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

The title definitely comes later. I’ll start jotting down possibles as I write, so by the time the first draft is done, I usually have a firm “maybe.” Like the 3rd book, The Gorge Runs Red. That’s only a possible, because I know I still have time to mess around with it.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

I’d say no. I don’t like morals or messages in fiction. I truly dislike being preached at. My characters often have opinions and beliefs, and they live by them, and at times my opinions are obvious. But they’re not hidden.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I’m a Luddite, I fear: I like the feel of a printed book in my hands—hardback or paper doesn’t matter, although I might have slight bias toward paper, because they’re lighter. I enjoy the musty smell of well-thumbed pages. I like to be able to close the book and look at the cover. And best of all, I like to be able to handle it without it running out of battery juice, or having it fling me into some alternate universe because I tapped the wrong part of its little electronic torso.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

Everyone always asks that question, and I never know how to answer it. I’m terrible about “favorite” questions. Do I like raspberries or strawberries better? I don’t know—they’re different. Blue or green? Ditto. I guess I’ll go out on a limb and pick my favorite recent read (this year). Since I’ve already read it three times, I guess it qualifies: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls. It’s not new, but it was new to me. She wrote about a woman in midlife, which was a plus for me. I went through enough teenage angst of my own without seeking it out in my reading. I loved her concept of deity: the four common faces of godhead—Mother, Father, Son, Maiden—plus the Bastard who picked up all the broken leftovers. But best of all I liked her description of the main character’s relationship to deity, specifically the Bastard: it was earthy and painful and unpredictable, without formula or neatness—yet ecstatic and earth-shattering and healing. Of course, Bujold threw in numbers of rampaging barbarians, demons, sorcerers, and undead to keep the reader on her toes. It was a fantasy, after all. I loved it. I wish she’d stop writing science fiction and write more books like the Chalion series.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Yes, for better or worse. I know many authors don’t, but I want to know what people are saying. What puzzles me is why so many people who write to me to tell me how they love a book don’t write a review that anyone else can see!  I suspect readers don’t realize how crucial reviews are to self-published authors. Without a huge corporate name commanding high-visibility reviews, self-published authors really need reader reviews (especially if they’re good!)

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Ah, more favorite questions! The fun never stops. OK, I got it: Shaker lemon pie with lots of rind and lemon juice! Fresh-caught fried cod is right up there, too.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Sting, definitely, but I miss his older-style releases. I enjoyed Symphonicities and The Last Ship, but not like I did Sacred Love.

What is your favorite color? Teal, or blue-green

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? A camping trip in Utah’s high desert in spring.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

I’d like to hear from you! If you enjoy Miranda, let me know!

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books, Blair. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your books. I hope you will come back again!

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Meet the Author

Blair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Connect With the Author

Blog/website

Facebook

Twitter:  @blair-yeatts

Booklife

Goodreads

Linked-In

 

Giveaway

Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

June 15 2016

Homicide in the House Virtual Book Tour @cshogan276 @GoddessFish

Homicide in the House

by Colleen J. Shogan

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!

 

GENRE: Cozy Mystery

 

About the Book

During a government shutdown, Kit’s congresswoman boss is found standing over the dead body of a top staffer she tangled with in front of the press. The police are about to name her as the prime suspect. The weapon was the Speaker’s gavel, an item entrusted to the congresswoman the previous night. The killer knows Kit is on the case. Can she solve the mystery in time to save her job and her life?

MediaKit_BookCover_HomicideInTheHouse

 

Excerpt

Smartphones are great time wasters. I fiddled with various apps as I waited. The next level of “Angry Birds” was within my grasp when I heard footsteps and voices across the hallway. I got up and stood in the doorway to greet my boss.

From the look on her face, she was not pleased. She charged like a linebacker to the exit of the Speaker’s lair with Jack Drysdale on her heels.

“Stop, Congresswoman Dixon. You’re not listening to reason!” From behind, Drysdale placed his hand on Maeve’s left shoulder in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the suite.

Maeve had impressive reflexes. She turned her body toward him and grabbed his wrist with her right hand. “Don’t touch me! Is this how the Speaker’s staff treat members of the House?” Her voice was loud and filled with vitriol.

The gaggle of reporters who had been relaxing inside the anteroom trailed behind me. This was better than a boring pen and pad session. One of them murmured, “I think that’s Dixon from North Carolina.”

This was not a good development, but Maeve didn’t know that the press had a front row seat to her implosion.

Maeve clutched Drysdale’s wrist for several seconds until she let it go. Apparently her physical assault didn’t intimidate him. He ran ahead and stopped directly in front of her.

Stretching his arms out wide to slow her down, Jack made his last stand. “I apologize. I shouldn’t have done that. Please come back in the office so we can sort this out. You’re a valuable part of this caucus and the Speaker wants to work with you on this deal.”

Maeve shook her head. “You guys in House leadership are typical politicians. You can’t take no for an answer. I’m not ready to make a decision. Now get out of my way.”

Unmoving, Drysdale locked eyes with Maeve. She didn’t look away and squared her shoulders. I could almost feel the tension around me as the reporters anxiously waited for the outcome. What was Maeve going to do? Knee him in the groin if he didn’t back down?

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Drysdale gave in and stepped aside. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and hurried into the hallway to catch up with her. As we exited the corridor, I glanced back to the doorway where I’d been standing. Every reporter was on his or her phone, ostensibly calling in the most salacious story of the shutdown thus far. A junior member of Congress and the Speaker’s top aide had nearly come to blows in the Capitol. A high school reporter could make that story fly.

 

Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Colleen J. Shogan, author of Homicide in the House, to Room With Books!

Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Colleen Shogan and I’m a part-time writer. My “day job” is at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I’m a political scientist by training, and formerly worked in the United States Senate. I live in Arlington, Virginia with my husband and rescue beagle mutt, Conan.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, but fiction is a fairly recent enterprise for me. As a political scientist, I’ve mostly written nonfiction, including a book on the presidency. I always knew I wanted to be involved with politics. It makes sense that as a fiction writer, I pen books with politics as the backdrop.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing fiction for four years now. I went for a walk one day in my suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood and conceived of the story for my first book, Stabbing in the Senate. I went home and told my husband about it. He said, “You have to write that book!” So I did. That’s how the Washington Whodunit series began.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I’m a senior executive at the Library of Congress. I work in our outreach division, which is responsible for many of the Library’s public programs. It’s a terrific job. I get to work on initiatives such as the National Book Festival, the Center for the Book, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Library’s exhibits program, the Kluge Center for Scholars, and our Visitor Services operation. There’s never a dull day!

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Kit Marshall, now working in the House of Representatives, must save her new boss’s political career when she’s accused of murder.

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

I’ve been a writer for a long time. Perhaps when I published my first book on the presidency in 2006. Every job I’ve ever held involved writing. If a day goes by and I haven’t written anything, I consider it not a productive day.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first fiction book took a while. After I finished the draft, I worked with an editor to improve it. Then I joined an online review group. When I was satisfied with it, I searched for an agent. Once I found an agent, she had to find a publisher. The whole process of securing a publisher probably took about two years.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

I’m currently writing the third book in the series and I’m almost done with the first draft. This one took me about nine months to write, which isn’t too bad considering I only write for short intervals most evenings and then on the weekends.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I plan to write more books in the Washington Whodunit series. I have ideas for several more stories with these characters. They’re popular and people enjoy them, so if I can keep coming up with interesting premises for mysteries, I will keep writing.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

My main character Kit is probably my favorite, but I most enjoy writing about Meg, her best friend. Meg is very unpredictable. You never know what she’s going to say or do. She also tries to get Kit to misbehave. She’s like a devil sitting on her shoulder.

What is your routine for writing?

In the evening, I will write for about an hour. I come home from work, get into comfortable clothes, give my dog Conan a treat, and then try to write. On the weekends, I always have coffee when I’m writing in the morning.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I always choose the title before I write the book.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

There’s no hidden partisan agenda in my book. The only message is that people who work in government in Washington, D.C. usually want to do the right thing for our country. Politics gets a bad rap these days, and there are many reasons why we don’t always see good results. But that doesn’t mean those who work for our government aren’t trying their best. I hope the books convey that positive theme.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I read almost all books on my Kindle these days. I love being able to buy a book at any time on my iPhone, computer, or iPad and then immediately enjoy it later on my device. I’m at the point now where I don’t enjoy reading in paper as much, unless I’m marking up a book because I’m doing research for something at work.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

Absolutely. You have to be honest about your writing. Honest feedback is important in any job. But sometimes critics are needlessly negative and picky. The scene in Academy Award winner “Birdman” in which Michael Keaton goes off on a critic is legendary! All frustrated writers should keep that scene burned in their brains.

That’s enough of the serious business.

How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Pizza.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Poison. I love Bret Michaels!

What is your favorite color? Red.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? We love going to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. But I’d really like to see Ireland and Scotland someday.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

We’re in the midst of a very negative political season. Homicide in the House might be the brightest spot of the summer!

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with Homicide in the House. I hope you will come back again!

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Meet the Author

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She writes the Washington Whodunit series published by Camel Press. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Connect With the Author

Twitter @cshogan276

Website ~~ Facebook

Amazon ~~ Goodreads

 

Giveaway

Colleen J. Shogan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

June 13 2016

Friend of the Devil Virtual Book Tour @GoddessFish

Friend of the Devil

by Mark Spivak

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and please leave comments!

 

GENRE: Thriller (Culinary)

 

About the Book

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe. Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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Excerpt

He perused Chateau de la Mer’s large and mostly incomprehensible menu. Changed every few weeks, handwritten in Avenzano’s elaborate cursive before being photocopied, it closely resembled an annotated Medieval manuscript. Finally, he acceded to the staff’s offer to prepare a tasting menu for him, accompanied by the appropriate wines.

He was presented with a sculpture of dried vegetables in the shape of a bird’s nest, filled with a combination of wild mushrooms and chopped truffles, bathed in an intensely reduced demi-glaze. The carrots, zucchini and peppers had been cut into paper-thin strips, intertwined and allowed to dry, yet retained a surprising intensity of flavor.

He consumed a dish of tomato, basil and egg noodles, bathed in a light cream sauce, perfumed with fresh sage and studded with veal sweetbreads.

He ate an astonishing dish of butter-poached lobster, remarkably sweet and perfectly underdone, flavored with sweet English peas and garnished with a ring of authentic Genoese pesto.

He was served a slice of Avenzano’s signature Bedouin-stuffed poussin—a turkey stuffed with a goose, in turn stuffed with a duckling, in turn stuffed with a poussin, or baby chicken, with a core of truffled foie gras at its center, covered with an Etruscan sauce of chopped capers,

raisins and pine nuts. This dish had been the source of much controversy over the years, since it bore a close resemblance to a Louisiana terducken. It predated the terducken, however, and was supposedly inspired by a creation first served to the French royal court. For good measure, Avenzano had added influences from the cuisine of the Middle East.

 

Author Q&A

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

The one that intrigues me the most is bilocation, or the ability to be in two places at once. It’s a multitasker’s dream, and would definitely save a great deal of time.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I’m painfully shy, to the point of being antisocial. I also hate public speaking, even though I do a lot of it and have become proficient over the years.

When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?

If I don’t start with a mental concept of what the character looks like, I allow the action to define him or her and fill in the physical description later on, after I have a grip on the character’s behavior.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I definitely fly by the seat of my pants. I prefer to let the story tell itself. This is far more exciting and much more fun, but also dangerous—if you’re not sure where you’re headed in terms of plot, the story can easily blow up in your face.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?

I learned a great deal about the nature of spirituality: how people define it and experience it, and how to cope with many of the inherent contradictions in the quest for a spiritual life. Obviously this journey is different for everyone, but just as obviously you never really know what you believe until those beliefs are challenged.

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_FriendOfTheDevil

 

Meet the Author

Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com. He is the holder of the Certificate and Advanced diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. He is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is published by Black Opal Books.

Connect With the Author

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Author Page Link

 

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

June 7 2016

Leaving Shangrila Virtual Book Tour @IsabelleGecils @GoddessFish

Leaving Shangrila: The True Story of a Girl, Her Transformation and Her Eventual Escape

by Isabelle Gecils

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments!

 

GENRE: Memoir

 

About the Book

Leaving Shangrila: The True Story of A Girl, Her Transformation and Her Eventual Escape by Isabelle Gecils, is the captivating memoir of a charmingly complex heroine.

Isabelle paints a colorful world as she tells the tale of how she forged her own path in the midst of turmoil. The story, set in Brazil where she grew up, is populated with fascinating characters, both good and bad. From a narcissistic mother to her perpetually flawed lovers to three resilient sisters, Leaving Shangrila’s motley crew make for an endlessly intriguing storyline. Leaving Shangrila begins with young Isabelle, trapped in a hellish world. Surrounded by lies, manipulation, and abuse, Isabelle is desperate to escape the adversity of this place. Filled with tremendous strength and an unyielding drive to survive, she begins her journey toward freedom and self-realization. Through the trials and obstacles along the way, Isabelle goes back and forth to balance who she is with what she must do to survive.

With themes of perseverance, self-reliance, and the resilience of the human spirit, Leaving Shangrila: The True Story Of A Girl, Her Transformation and Her Eventual Escape highlights the important character traits one discovers on the path to finding their self. Truly empowering and inspirational, readers everywhere will relate to this coming of age story.

 

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Excerpt

My entire class staged a school play, except that, unlike everybody else, I watched it rather than act in it. Joining the theater troop required almost daily rehearsals at one of my classmates’ lavish colonial homes near school. I was not invited to join the group. They already knew I would not come.

At the school grounds, my classmates cracked jokes about what happened during their afternoons together. They perched on one another as they traded stories and exchanged hugs. I heard about the English classes they took after school, their boat trips around the bays of Rio de Janeiro, the excited chatter that accompanied field trips I was never allowed to join. When the entire class decided to spend a lightly chaperoned weekend in Cabo Frio, a town with white, sandy beaches and coconut trees lining the boardwalks, my jealousy meter spiked. For two months, that is all anyone talked about. Since I did not even receive an invitation, nobody spoke with me.

I felt lonely observing them. I longed to be as adored as were the two most popular girls in my class: Isabela and Flavia. Isabela, despite the discolored white spots all over her skin due to type 1 diabetes, was the reigning queen. The boys swooned over Flavia, two years older than the rest of us although she repeated third and fifth grade due to her poor academic performance.

I observed these two girls, searching for what it was about them that made them special. Yes, they were both beautiful. While their beauty may have helped with their popularity, it surely was not the main factor, as there were other pretty girls too. I decided that what they had in common, what nobody else had, was that they were the best athletes in my class, even perhaps the best in all of the school.

Isabela and Flavia were always the ones everybody wanted to have on their team and as their friend. They were either team captain or the first pick. They seemed to try harder than everybody else. So I thought that if I truly focused on sports, then I could be just like them. If only I could excel on the handball field—as girls did not play soccer, despite the madness surrounding the most popular sport in Brazil—then maybe, just maybe, my social standing could change too. I made a plan. One day, I would be just as great as these two. One day, I would be chosen first.

At the beginning of each week, the P.E. teacher assigned two captains. They, in turn, each picked a team for the week. We played handball on Tuesdays, volleyball on Thursdays. And every week, for the past three years, I was the captain’s last, grudgingly chosen pick. I knew why. Had I been captain, I would have chosen myself last too.

I did not score any goals in handball. My throws were either too weak or out of bounds. Knowing this, my team did not bother passing the ball to me. I spent the game playing defense, barely succeeding at blocking the other team’s powerhouse players as they demolished the team I was on. When an opponent charged towards me dribbling the ball, I got out of the way. In volleyball, I removed my thick glasses for fear they’d be broken, and as a result, I could not see the ball coming to hit me in the face.

I did not particularly enjoy playing sports. However, to change my standing in the team-selection pecking order, I practiced with a purpose. During games, I became more aggressive. I wore my glasses. I reached for the goal, whereas before I simply stood on the sidelines. I blocked more aggressively too—even if it meant pulling my opponent’s shirt or hair—no matter that this often led to a penalty against my team. During these early weeks, I returned home with two broken eye glasses, earned a couple of red cards, and made my teammates angry.

At home, after completing my homework, I begged my two sisters to play ball with me. They did play, but not for long. When they grew tired, I threw the ball against the wall, attempting to increase my arm strength. When my arms felt tired, I ran around the farm to increase my speed and reflexes by dodging a pretend ball. At night, as I drifted to sleep, I prayed silently so that my sisters would not hear me plead: “God, please, make me be chosen first.”

As weeks turned into months, I became quite adept at catching the ball as it ricocheted from the wall towards me. I was no longer chosen last. That horrible fate was bestowed on a shy and almost as awkward classmate who had the extra disadvantage of being overweight, which slowed her down compared to me; I was slight and scrawny. Yet, despite months of effort, I did not score any more than before, did not throw the ball any harder or more accurately, and hardly touched the ball at all. Since I often increased the penalty count with my new, more aggressive tactics, the coach had me sit out whenever there was an odd number of players.

A year into this futile attempt, I felt a deep sense of disappointment but realized the foolishness of pursuing an utterly impossible dream. Maybe one had to be content with their lot in life, I concluded. Any attempts to try to change who one was, or what one wanted, were futile. Feeling defeated and deflated and knowing that, despite any effort, the sports court was not a place for me, I talked myself out of my goal. I stopped practicing in the afternoons. I removed my glasses again during games. I accepted that I was not meant to be popular and that the world where my classmates lived did not belong to me.

I hated my life. I hated going home where there was nothing to do and nobody to play with. I hated how different we were—with our round house, with our religious meetings, with our inability to do anything other than go to school. Not knowing what to do to change any of it, I returned to my routine, finding friendship in books and getting all my validation from my grades.

Two months later, I felt sick.

My head and muscles hurt; my nose was running; and I coughed uncontrollably. I barely slept. My mother suggested I stay home. No matter how sick I felt, I would never choose to stay home with my stepfather lurking around. Anywhere was better than home. Despite my illness, I dragged myself to school that day. It was a Tuesday, which meant handball day. That morning, I walked to the handball court, hoping my swollen eyes and drippy nose would help me avoid playing at all.

“Coach, I am sick,” I said with narrowed eyes. “Can I sit out the game today?”

“Being sick isn’t enough reason not to play,” the P.E. teacher said, not even bothering to look at me. “So, go play.”

Although students never questioned the decisions of a professor, I protested feebly.

He dismissed me again, treating me as a little pest who could not be taken seriously.

“Here is what you will go do,” he told me. “Your team needs a goalie. Go defend it,” he said, pointing towards the goal. The regular goalie was also sick that day, but unlike me, she had the good sense to stay at home.

Off to guard the goal post I went, grateful at least that I did not have to run or be pushed around on the court. I hoped that a strong team defense would prevent me from having to exert much effort. My teammates groaned and shook their heads in disbelief as they saw me standing in front of the goal, mumbling that the team had already lost. The opposing team congratulated themselves before the whistle blew. “This will be easy,” they bragged within earshot, ensuring I knew they considered themselves to have already clinched victory. Having me guard the goal was the same as having no goalie at all.

A surge of anger and despondency bubbled up within me upon hearing their snickers. I felt tired of always being at the bottom of the totem pole, tired of feeling ridiculed and different. I puffed my chest as if this would make me larger, ignoring how painful it felt to take deep breaths.

My team’s defense did not keep its end of the bargain. The balls from the opposing team flew towards the goal at unreasonable speeds, from what appeared to be impossible angles. Yet, I blocked them out. I blocked every single ball that came towards me. I shielded that goal as if my life depended on it. At the end of the game, my team won by a landslide.

Not used to the taste of victory, I did not distinguish the elation I felt from the confusion at this unexpected turn of events. My dumbfounded classmates looked at me as if they saw me for the first time, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

They, and I, were in awe.

My feat as the goalie made the gossip circuit and by the following week, despite some lingering doubt about my abilities, I was picked third in the line-up. I had jumped seven places in one week! This was better than an improvement; it was a major victory!

At the sound of the whistle, the players moved. I tried to concentrate. Not feeling as angry as I did the previous week, my confidence waned even before the game started. But I wasn’t playing for the game. I was playing for my dream, my rank in the social pecking order, and my desire that for once, people would pay attention to me.

Nobody pierced my defense of the goal. My team won again.

Two weeks later, the captains planned the team selection for the school’s annual Olympic Games. The teams played together for two months in preparation for the week-long competition, held at a sports complex where all the parents—and the large, extended families that most Brazilians had—watched the games. The Olympics was the talk of the school.

My class split the girls into teams; these teams would play both handball and volleyball. The P.E. teacher selected the team captains. To my utter surprise, Isabela was not one of them. Thus, there was a possibility that Flavia and Isabela, the two best players, could be on the same team together. And that, I was sure, would lock in victory for whichever team they were a part of. I hoped that I would be chosen, even if last, to the better team. It was obvious to me that the opposing team would have no chance and would simply be crushed.

There was an air of excitement and nervousness at the school playground as the captains readied themselves to make their picks. Flavia was one of the captains. Ana Cristina, a strong but not stellar player, was the captain of the opposing team. After a coin toss, Ana Cristina was first to select players.

 “I want Isabelle,” she said pointing at me.

She clearly meant Isabela, with an “a”, and not me, with the French spelling of a name most Brazilians did not get right. It made no sense to me that she would have chosen otherwise. So I did not budge.

“You heard her, Isabelle,” the coach said, tapping me on my shoulder. “Hurry up and move to Ana Cristina’s side.”

I was too stunned to hear the loud murmur emanating from the cluster of the other girls at this unexpected choice. This could not be right. I thought Ana Cristina had been crazy to select me. This choice guaranteed that Flavia would pick Isabela next. Ana Cristina’s team would be decimated. No team could win against the two stronger players.

I looked at Ana Cristina with panic in my face and shook my head. “Don’t do it,” I whispered. “Pick Isabela first.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

“Why?” she asked

“Get the next strongest player. Don’t let them be on the same team. Worry about the goalkeeper later!” I stated, with a modicum of desperation in my voice.

She stared at me with a serious frown on her face and gestured impatiently, beckoning me.

“Isabelle, just come over here.”

As I walked, she spoke loudly enough for all the other girls to hear. “If I do not choose you, Flavia will. Then my team will not ever have the slightest chance. Nobody can score when you are defending that goal. You are the most important player here and the one I want on my team.”

Still stunned, I moved next to Ana Cristina as the selection continued until all girls were sorted into teams. Once I got past my horror that we would now face Flavia and Isabela together, I remembered my wish made months earlier, the one I gave up so easily, about being chosen first. Yet, even in my wildest dreams, I had never expected that it would happen during the most important and visible athletic event of the school year. I felt an unfamiliar feeling of elation fill my chest. I felt I could burst. A broad smile spread across my face. I went home, screaming with joy: “I was chosen first! I was really chosen first!”

And for the first time in my life, I believed I was good at something.

Guest Post

By Isabelle Gecils, Author of Leaving Shangrila

“What was it like for you to remember the details of your journey and write your memoir?”

Writing a memoir is a process.  I easily remembered all the major events and important turning points. The challenge was remembering the exact order in which they occurred, who was actually there, and what was said.  That was particular important as a lot of the feedback in early manuscripts was the tried and true advice “show, don’t tell.”  It is infinitely more challenging to write a scene with dialogue of something that happened decades ago, and capturing emotions of those involved, rather than just say what has happened in summary form.

Also, in early versions of the manuscript, I omitted a lot of what turned to be significant information.  Some of it was not even consciously. For example, I did not explore my sisters’ role because I felt their story was not mine to tell. I also omitted mentioning my stepfather, who was the primary cause of a lot of our hardships because I had erased him from my life, emotionally, but in truth, physically he was there. This is where having a critique group became so instrumental to ending up with a comprehensive and well thought out story arc.  My group questioned the “why” of things.  What made my mother be so strict? Where were my sisters during the toughest parts of growing up? What had happened to them? And how did leave Shangrila? And the only way to answer these questions was to revisit what I had included or excluded and then reconsider everything.

There was also the challenge that what I remembered, was not necessarily aligned with what others remembered.  I had to interview family members (when they were amenable to these talks) as part of the process of writing the book.

The biggest learning – and gift – of this process was learning about events and occurrences I did not know about my past. For example, I was unaware that my grandparents threatened to reveal family secrets if my mother and stepfather succeeded in forbidding us to go to school.  That is, my own understanding of what happened in the past had to evolve along with the information I collected along the way.  That was truly the most rewarding part of writing Leaving Shangrila.

Meet the AuthorMediaKit_AuthorPhoto_LeavingShangrila

Isabelle Gecils grew up in Shangrila, a remote farm in a lush jungle in Brazil. But who really knows where she hails from? Her immediate family hailed from 6 different countries: France (dad), Egypt (mom and grandma), Turkey (grandpa), Lithuania (grandpa) and Poland (grandma).  There is a freedom in belonging nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

Leaving Shangrila is the story of Isabelle’s journey from a life others choose for her to one she created for herself. To support the writing of this memoir, Isabelle completed the Stanford Creative Nonfiction Writing certificate program. She currently lives in Saratoga, California, with her husband, four sons and two territorial cats.

Connect With the Author

Isabelle_gecils@yahoo.com

http://www.isabellegecilsauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/IsabelleGecilsAuthor/

@IsabelleGecils

http://www.isabellegecilsauthor.com/

 

Giveaway

Isabelle Gecils will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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May 30 2016

Hand Over Fist Virtual Book Tour @mikerosswriter @GoddessFish

Hand Over Fist

by Michael Ross

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments.

 

GENRE: Thriller

 

About the Book

When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems… Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around. Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.

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Excerpt

“Good morning. L & J Windows. How can I re-direct your call?”

“Hi. Can I speak to John please?”

“Which department is John in, please?”

“Sorry. John Staples.”

“Is Mr. Staples expecting your call, sir?”

It had been hard enough dialling the number, and at that point, Martin seriously thought about putting down the phone, but he managed a garbled response. “My name’s Martin Russell. I used to know John quite well. We were friends.”

Her tone made it clear that she was looking forward to advising him that Mr. Staples was otherwise engaged. “I will see if Mr. Staples will take your call, sir.”

Martin felt a knot in his stomach and convinced himself that he should put down the phone. Maybe give it five seconds. Then,

“Russ, you old bastard! How are you?”

Just to hear the warmth in his old friend’s voice was enough to make the call worthwhile.

“Just been keeping my head down.” Martin looked at the scribbled notes he had made earlier and continued, “You probably know everything went pear-shaped for me.”

“Yeah, sure. I heard about the bitch taking your boy and milking you dry. They say the banks fucked you big time. You never, ever, deserved that. Let’s meet up.”

It was typical of John Staples, and it was how Martin remembered him. How could Martin have blocked him out of his life? He spoke quickly before he lost his nerve. “You’ve probably guessed I’m ringing you up for a favour, haven’t you? Pretty damned shitty, I know, after more than three years.”

“You’ve got it, Russ, whatever it is.” There was hardly time for the businessman to draw breath before he offered his old friend an invitation. “Hey, Russ, come to the game tonight.”

There was no questioning on any details of the favour Martin wanted, but the thought of mixing with a group of successful business people filled Martin’s head with dread. “It might be a bit awkward tonight, Pin-up.”

Staples. Pin-up. It was a silly nickname, but all John’s close friends had used it for years. There was a thoughtful silence at the other end of the phone.

“Just two stand tickets, Russ. You and me on our own.”

John’s immediate grasp of his fears left Martin feeling utterly choked and unable to respond, so Pin-up filled the space for him.

“That’s agreed, then. Meet you outside The Feathers at seven. Oh, and the favour? It’s done, whatever it is.”

HAND OVER FIST purchase

 

Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Michael Ross to Room With Books!

Please tell us about yourself. Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

No, only in the last 7/8 years. A successful businessman.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

Eight years – going to my fist creative writing class and discovering I had an ability

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

Very much committed to my writing nowadays

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Martin has hit rock bottom before Hannah re-enters his life, but one night she disappears and life turns upside down

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author. When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

When I produced and self-published my first short story anthology

How long did it take to get your first book published?

To find a publisher – three years

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

Four months

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

Three more books this year; a follow up thriller to Hand Over Fist, entitled Out of hand, another short story anthology and first of all, in July, a feel good romance Chasing What’s Already Gone.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

All three main characters Martin, Pin-up and Bobby have large chunks of me in their DNA

What is your routine for writing?

Get up – walk the dog – catch up on News 24 – then write.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

Write the book and wait for the title to jump out at me during the writing process

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

Somewhere in all of my books there is a character who has hit rock bottom, survived and is making their way back in the world. Never give in to the fates.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

Easy going on that one.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

I would be disappointed with myself if I could answer that one, I would like to think my tastes and desires were constantly changing.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

I do, every now and then it might hurt to read something I do not agree with- but what hurts us makes us stronger.

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

What is your favorite food? Sea bass

Who is your favorite singer or group? This week Ben Folds

What is your favorite color? Yellow

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? Gdansk – I LOVE Poland – glorious country.

What final words would you offer to our readers?

Never stop reading

Thank you for spending time with us at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book. I hope you will come back again!

Patricia, Room With Books

 

 

 

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About the Author

It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.

Connect With the Author

Facebook

Twitter @mikerosswriter

Website

Blog

Goodreads    Mike Ross

 

Giveaway

Michael will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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May 10 2016

Hope Virtual Book Tour @griercooper @GoddessFish

Hope

by Grier Cooper

Indigo Ballet Series

 

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ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments!

 

GENRE: Young Adult

 

About the Book

Indigo is living the life she’s always imagined at the famed New York School of Ballet. Or is she? Although she hopes she’ll be chosen for the company, her ballet teachers aren’t talking and their silence is confusing.

When Indigo is singled out for a coveted solo she feels her dreams are finally within reach, until she finds out she’s dancing with Felipe Gonzalez, the school’s smolderingly hot rising star. In the days that follow, Indigo questions everything she thought was true and finds herself making surprising choices.

After a fateful piece of paper reveals the truth, Indigo must ask herself the hardest question of all: can she take control of her own future to create the life she wants?

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Excerpt

Someone grabs my elbow firmly and I turn to find the new guy leading me to get a spot in line. I scowl at him and then at my elbow. “Um…hi? That’s my elbow.”

“You do not wish to dance?” he says, eyes wide. His accent is silvery, melodic. Also hot.

“Um, no–I mean yes–I mean, you’re grabbing my elbow a little too tightly.”

He drops it like he’s been scalded, holding up both palms in defense. A stray lock of brown hair curls along his temple. “My apologies. Sometimes I forget myself.”

I look at him as I try to appraise whether or not he’s making fun of me, but his face is unreadable. Also I can’t look at it for long or I might get hypnotized. “Riiight,” I say.

We wait in silence, watching the other dancers ahead of us. When we reach the front of the line I see our two reflections–dark and light–in the mirrors that run along the entire front wall of the studio and decide they are complementary. At least it’s nice to have a tall partner for a change; my opportunity to dance with someone my size is limited because I dwarf several of the other boys in the room.

I start to move and feel his hands firmly on my hips. His breath warms the back of my neck and I feel myself flush. Normally I’d take a glimpse in the mirror to make sure my alignment is perfect, but I don’t dare. For reasons I don’t want to admit to myself, I feel nervous and jittery. We face each other and he offers his hand as I come into arabesque. He starts the slow promenade and I chance a quick glimpse at his face. He smiles and I catch my breath. I switch my gaze over to his shoulder and notice that my palm is slick with sweat. I’m so embarrassed I feel heat in the tips of my ears. I pray my face isn’t bright red.

He slides a hand around my waist for the dip and I close my eyes. “Relax,” he says into my ear. “I’ve got you.”

 

Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Hope by Grier Cooper for the purpose of an honest review.

I haven’t (yet) had the pleasure of reading the first book, Wish, of the Indigo Ballet Series, but I intend to remedy that oversight during my upcoming vacation at the beach!

Hope is a wonderful, painfully wonderful book to read and to learn about life in a performing arts school and also about ballet. Ms. Cooper generously defines the technical terms associated with the ballet at the back of her book, and without the glossary I would’ve been lost past the first mention of barre!

Indigo is a beautifully written young woman with surprising (to her) talents and a spine of steel that allows her to navigate her way through the snares and dangers of dance. It is truly remarkable to watch her grow throughout the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hope by Grier Cooper. It is a pleasure to relax, read, and learn something new at the same time.

I recommend Hope by Grier Cooper and give it four steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee.

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©May 9, 2016

Patricia, Room With Books

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Author Q&A

It is my pleasure to welcome Grier Cooper, author of Hope, to Room With Books!

I’m happy to be here…thanks!

Please tell us about yourself.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I always kept a diary; the kind with a small lock on it. Trust me, growing up in a house with three younger brothers who got into everything made this necessary. I also loved reading; I devoured books and the library was and still is a favorite place. But I didn’t think about being a writer back then because my head was completely wrapped up in ballet–especially after I taught myself how to do a double pirouette. I would practice in the halls at school whenever I had a spare moment, and my mom had to constantly throw me out of the kitchen because she got tired of me practicing in there…but it was the only uncarpeted floor in the house with enough space to dance.

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you to write?

Like every other kid in school, I wrote all the time; essays, book reports, short stories, and of course, the aforementioned diary. I’ve also always been a voracious reader…books have been a source of entertainment, knowledge, and escape; a sanctuary, really. Eventually the love of books translated into feeling like I had stories to tell, too. I’ve always enjoyed kids and realized I wanted to write for them, especially after I became a mother.

Do you do a job in addition to writing and would you tell us more about it?

I also give talks about themes I touch on in my books, like how to overcome self-doubt. It’s fun visiting schools and ballet studios, and meeting young people. I like to share personal stories and offer insight. I still teach dance and yoga from time to time, by request.

How would you summarize this book in less than 20 words?

Dancer hopes she’s chosen for the company…paired with distractingly hot partner…makes surprising choice. Is it the right one?

Now, let’s talk about writing and how you came to be a published author.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

It wasn’t until high school, when my short story won first prize in the school literary contest (and a fifty dollar check!) that I began to think I might have a future as a writer, but my first “real” title (a full book) was published many years later, in 2010. Signing a real contract made things feel official.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

I began writing books in 2009 and my first non-fiction title was published in 2010. But it wasn’t the one I was talking about before, the story that I really wanted to tell. That book, called Wish (the first of the Indigo Ballet Series) came many years later, published at the end of 2014.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to “The End”?

That depends! It took a long time to write Wish-–more than a year–because I was working on it while writing a bunch of other stuff. It was also my first full-length novel, so there was a huge learning curve. Since then I’ve written a couple of other titles, including one that I wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November–check it out all you would-be writers!) where you have 30 days to write an entire novel. Sounds kinda crazy, right? But I thought, hey, why not give it a try and see what happens? You know, I managed to write an entire book in less than 30 days! (I think it was 28, total). That was just a first draft, of course, and it’s far from ready to publish, but it showed me it was possible. I’d say the average time to write a book is at least a few months, and that’s after I’ve finished researching and outlining. I’m one of those plan-ahead people.

What can we expect from you in the future? More of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

I am currently working on Dream, the third book of the Indigo Ballet Series. I’m also currently working on audiobook versions of the series, which will be available later in the spring, through Audible.

Contemporary young adult will always be a favorite for me. Close friends insist I have an obsession with high school, and they are probably right. I didn’t go to a normal high school; I went to a performing arts high school with models, actors, musicians and dancers who needed a flexible schedule in order to pursue their careers. Sadly, this meant we missed out on some of the fun stuff, like prom. I live it vicariously through my books, with real characters set in the real world. I like YA because it focuses on a time in life where huge change occurs. It’s a dynamic and exciting time of life, a time to figure out who you want to be.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why are they your favorite?

Indigo is the main character in the series and also my favorite. She’s strong, but not in the way that a character like Katniss is strong. Indigo is emotionally strong, yet sensitive at the same time. I think it’s a great balance.

What is your routine for writing?

During my years as a professional dancer we started every day with an early morning ballet class. I still like to begin the day with exercise, because it gets the energy moving in my body and starts those gears inside my brain spinning. My workday is confined to the hours of nine a.m. until 3 p.m., when my daughter is in school, and I often squeeze in some brainstorming sessions while she’s at practice after school.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

The Indigo Ballet Series has been a planned trilogy from the very beginning and I had a specific vision and titles in mind. Other times the title comes last, although I always have a working title.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?

I tend to work with broad themes; things like friendships, family, or perseverance, and keep them filed away in the back of my mind, while the story evolves.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I’ve never been a big fan of hardbacks. They’re cumbersome and way too hard to read in the bathtub. Also, they make my hands cramp when I read them. I’ve always preferred paperbacks because I like the way they feel in my hands. I didn’t think I wouldn’t ever be an eBook fan until I got a chance to try out my daughter’s Kindle and found I had serious envy, so I got one for myself. I love that I can load tons of books on something the size of a small paperback (so handy for travel) and backlighting makes it easy to read at night.

What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite? How many times would you estimate you’ve read it?

There are too many good books out there to name one as a favorite. I love The Arabian Nights because there are tons of stories woven together in one novel. I have a really cool edition with an embossed blue leather and gilded edges. It’s beautiful, as well as fun to read…great to read aloud, too. I’m a huge Gabriel Garcia Marquez fan–I’ve read Love in The Time of Cholera several times–the only book I’ve read cover-to-cover more than once.

Do you read all the reviews of your books?

No way! I always hope that people enjoy my work, but it’s impossible to please everyone. Other writer friends advised me years ago to always make sure to put out the best work possible and leave it at that. However, I think it’s important to get feedback from other writers; they know the intricacies of what makes a good book better than anyone else.

That’s enough of the serious business. How about a handful of fun questions?

Sure. Lay them on me.

What is your favorite food? Sushi. Absolutely.

Who is your favorite singer or group? Billie Holiday. She’s amazing. One of the best to listen to on a rainy day.

What is your favorite color? Black. Much to my husband’s dismay.

What is your ideal getaway dream vacation? A quiet beach with fine-grained, white sand and clear turquoise water. And no traffic.

Thank you for spending time at Room With Books. I appreciate your time and wish you the best with your book, Hope. I hope you will come back again!

Thanks so much for having me!

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_IndigoDreams

 

Meet the Author

Grier began ballet lessons at age five and left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. She has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.

She writes and blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of the Indigo Dreams ballet fiction series for young adults and The Daily Book of Photography.

Connect With the Author

Website: http://www.griercooper.com

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00LPUJWSK

Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/c/grier-cooper

Twitter: http://twitter.com/griercooper

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/griercooper

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/grier-cooper/1a/63/357/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/griercooper/

 

Giveaway

Grier Cooper will be awarding a $20 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

May 4 2016

Musings of an Earth Angel Virtual Book Tour @musingsofanEA @GoddessFish

Musings of an Earth Angel

by Suzanne Adams

 

VBT_MusingsOfAnEarthAngel_Banner copy

 

ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments!

 

GENRE: Young Adult/New Adult

 

About the Book

Twenty-two-year-old Samantha Kingston had the perfect job, perfect boyfriend, and perfect Friday nights. When disaster strikes she loses everything and is propelled into a journey where evil and good, dark and light are battling for her destiny. Will the Demon Brigade viciously destroy her? Or will her Angel team and the Divine help her to elevate and see her real truth as an Earth Angel?

9781504339605_COVER.indd

 

Excerpt

I looked at my reflection in his rearview mirror; my eyes wide with my pupils dilated, my face a sickly looking yellowish hue. Sweat continued to stream down my cheeks. Please, please just let me get back home. I did my best to hold in the hideous noises that wanted to escape my body. After Peru I thought the worst was behind me, but now I wasn’t so sure. I could feel my organs flailing around inside of me and felt a huge knot of pain on the inside of my throat.

My phone dinged with incoming texts.

The first was from Rose. Hey, what is going on, and do I need to come home now?

Absolutely not! I texted back. Stay and enjoy your birthday.

Ken, sweet Ken, also sent me a message. I hope you feel better and let me know if I can do anything or if you want company.

He was the polar opposite from Lucas. Rose had tried to get us together after Lucas and I split up, but I could never see him as more than a friend no matter how hard I tried. Another wave of cramping overcame my body, and I had to lay down across the back seat of the cab in the fetal position. Finally, we pulled up to my place. I threw twenty bucks at the cab driver and staggered out of the cab. The hail had given way to rain, and I was drenched by the time I got into my condo.

I stumbled through the doorway and barely made it into my kitchen, where I began to scream, releasing harsh, wretched noises. The foreign sounds were loud and nasty and came from a place of dark, deep-seated pain. They were unlike anything I had ever heard and did not feel like anything I had ever experienced before. I’d had episodes of uncontrollable sobs, random bouts of back pain, and massive unexplained waves of nausea for a while now, but this was different. This pain was magnified tenfold, as if a strong man had reached inside my chest and was ringing my heart out like a wet towel. I hunched over and a hollow, high-pitched shrill forced its way out of my mouth.

I felt as though I had an entity inside me, something dark and desperate, something that clearly wasn’t me, something fighting for its life within my body. I could feel my heart beating faster and faster and faster and even faster. I thought maybe I should have gone to the ER instead of coming home. But I knew that would have given my Uncle Bill all the ammo he needed to prove his theories about me true.

 

Spotify Playlist

 

Meet the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_MusingsOfAnEarthAngelSuzanne Adams is an author, motivational speaker and Life Purpose

consultant from Atlanta this is sharing her zest for life with audiences around the globe. She believes that having fun and following your passion are the keys to finding true happiness and she’s passionate about helping unlock what that means for you.

Suzanne’s purpose is to teach people how to live a life of fulfillment and joy. She does this through teaching you her proven 5 step process to attract happiness and freedom into your life. Her first book, Musings of an Earth Angel, was just published this fall. You can connect with Suzanne here. (http://www.suzanneadamsauthor.com/)

Connect With the Authorhttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009032734848

https://twitter.com/musingsofanEA

http://instagram.com/samanthakingstonea/

http://www.musingsofanearthangel.com/

 

Giveaway

Suzanne Adams will be awarding an autographed copy of Musings of an Earth Angel (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway