Thursday, October 31, 2013

Meet Linda Bennett Pennell, author of 'Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel'

Please give a warm welcome to Linda Bennett Pennell! Check out her work and then leave her your own comments and questions below.

What was the inspiration behind this book?
When my parents and I moved to Lake City, we stayed at the Blanche Hotel for a few nights waiting for our furniture to arrive. Later I learned about its history. Al Capone really did stay there at least once in transit between Chicago and Miami. The hotel is also supposed to be haunted by a woman who killed herself over love gone wrong and children who died there for reasons that I don’t know. Wish I could report having had a close encounter with the supernatural, but alas it didn't happen. Very credible people, however, have reported hearing a woman crying and the sounds of children running and playing when there was no one else in the place at the time. Over the years, the county has had its share of difficulties with moonshining, prostitution, and gambling. Knowing these tidbits of history sparked my imagination and Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel is the result.
What kind of research did you have to do?
Having lived in the town and visited the Blanche on many occasions, I didn't have to research the hotel itself. In addition, I am very fortunate to have had a mother-in-law from a family that had lived in the area for generations. Although none of her stories are in my novel, her voice played in my memory as I wrote. The hardships of the Depression and little tidbits about the county that are not generally known now did find their way into the plot via all the conversations she and I had over many years. The novel is a great deal of fiction and a little history.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using such a well known historical figure, such as Al Capone, in a work of fiction?
The advantages of using a well known figure is that of instant recognition. The downside is that you better have your facts straight or have a ready explanation for why you changed history. People can be touchy about what might be seen as poor research.
I grew up on property that was adjacent to some formerly owned by one of Al Capone's buddies. He often used to stop there on his trips to Chicago. As a kid, as we were studying the gangsters in American History and American Literature, we researched other local places frequented by these gangs. For me, it was learning about history literally where I grew up. Why do you think others are drawn to these stories?
I believe it is because people are fascinated by those who choose to live outside the law and by the mystery that surrounds them. We don't necessarily want to emulate their choices, but we seem to get vicarious excitement from seeing bad guys act out and then be brought to justice. Just think about all the cops and robbers movies, books, and TV shows. Law and Order and its spinoffs have been some of the most successful franchises in the history of television. Of course, some people enjoy darker entertainment where the bad guy doesn't always get his in the end. No Country for Old Men comes readily to mind. But whether the good guy wins or loses, we humans seem drawn to the edgier side of life, if only in the safety of our own living rooms.
Please tell us about your next book, due out next year.
My next book due out in 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing is entitled Confederado do Norte. Here is the back cover information: Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Confederado do Norte tells the story of Mary Catherine MacDonald Dias Oliveira Atwell, a child torn from her war devastated home in Georgia and thrust into the primitive Brazilian interior where the young woman she becomes must learn to recreate herself in order to survive.

In 1866, Mary Catherine is devastated when her family immigrates to Brazil because her father and her mother’s brother, Nathan, refuse to accept Reconstruction. Shortly after arrival, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. Nathan hates Mary Catherine because he believes her childish mistake led to his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan killed her father rather than share an incredible secret. At fourteen, Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to get rid of her as well and flees into the wilderness. Finding refuge among strangers, she ultimately marries the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family at age seventeen. Happiness and security seem assured until civil unrest brings armed intruders who have a mysterious connection to Mary Catherine. When the thugs murder her husband for failing to meet their demands, she directs the intruders to her uncle and his secret in order to save the remaining family members. Once they are free from danger, however, her powerful in-laws accuse her of complicity in her husband’s death. Mary Catherine’s survival now rests in her own determination, wits, and courage.
Are you working on any other projects?
My newest project is a World War II romantic suspense set in Casablanca in 1943. It is tentatively entitled Assignment: Casablanca. It involves an OSS officer, an army nurse, and a plot to disrupt the war's first Allied conference.
What do you find appealing about writing historical fiction?
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
How do you get yourself out of a writing rut?
To get out of a rut, take a break from writing when frustrated or the ideas just won't come. It is a trick my grandmother taught us. Although she didn't write novels, she was a wonderful seamstress and made clothes for all of her eleven children. It was definitely a creative pursuit for her because she sewed clothes that looked ready made without using patterns. She always said that when one became frustrated with a project, one should take a break from it and do something completely different. When one picked up the troublesome project again, a solution would present itself. So far, it has worked every time!
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
Most people are surprised to learn that I have had close relationships with real gangsters. Sadly, they were young people lured into present day street gangs, primarily Crips and Latin Kings. Such is the life of a secondary public school administrator.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for hosting me, Andrea. It has been fun answering your questions. If there are readers who are also contemplating a career in fiction, I would suggest the following. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend."
Thank you so much for your time!

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel
by Linda Bennett Pennell



Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan's self-righteous vigilantism. Jack's older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.

Read an excerpt:

August 15, 2011
Gainesville, Florida

Liz Reams glanced at the caller ID and grimaced. She didn’t have time for this, but guilt wouldn’t let her put the conversation off any longer. Sighing, she pressed the talk button and prepared to listen with forbearance and humility.

“Hello, Roberta. I’m so glad to hear your voice. I was beginning to think we were going to play phone tag forever.” Internally, Liz squirmed. Her conscience yelled, liar, you returned calls when you figured you’d get her voicemail.

Roberta’s reply made Liz cringe. While she endured the diatribe pouring through her cell phone, Liz eyed her purse, book bag, and laptop case huddled together on the sofa. She couldn’t afford to be late today of all days. Her eyes narrowed as her gaze paused on her laptop. She had paid more than a month’s rent for the thing, but as much as she loved its power and speed, it was also a constant reminder of her dereliction. It only compounded her guilt that everything Roberta said was true.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend."

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband, one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl, and one striped yellow cat who knows she’s queen of the house.

Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire



Twitter: @LindaPennell

Linda will be awarding a $15 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn host. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

'Garrison's Creed (Titan series #2)' by Cristin Harber

Garrison's Creed 

by Cristin Harber

Nicola is an injured CIA agent on the run from a failed undercover operation. Her escape plan shatters when she slams into the man who buried her a decade ago. Cash Garrison. Her first and only love. Now, sexier than her best memory and cradling a sniper’s rifle, he has questions she can’t answer. Why was she alive? And armed?

Cash is an elite member of a black ops organization, The Titan Group. He thought Nicola died his senior year of college and swore off love to focus on a decade of military missions. But when she shows up behind enemy lines, bleeding out and wielding a weapon, his heart and mind are unsure how to proceed.

Titan and the CIA join forces to uncover a mole hidden in a network of international terrorists and homegrown mobsters, teaming Cash and Nicola again. They fight old wounds and re-ignite sparks while closing in on a double agent. When disaster strikes, Nicola’s hidden past makes her the hunted target and Cash’s best kill shot may not be enough to save them.

**My thoughts**

This second installment in the Titan series is another hot one! I like it when you are introduced to characters in one book and then they get a chance to tell their own story. 

We met Cash in the first book, Winters' Heat. He has made himself into somewhat of a playboy, because the love of his life died. So, imagine his surprise when one day he runs into her during a mission! It's a good thing that he recognized her ... 

The two of them have instant chemistry, because they have a history together. It's a little easier to buy their relationship than the one in the first book in the series. Cash and Nicola are also very different. Cash is the bad boy and Nicola is an alpha female type, who can stand up for herself.

Rediscovering a smouldering love after ten years isn't the easiest thing in the world, and this couple definitely has their share of ups and downs. They also have some super hot sex scenes together! If you thought the first book was hot ...

And I will say that for those who don't like to read explicit scenes and a lot of foul language, this book will not be up your alley. It isn't always my favorite thing to read in a book, but every once in a while I don't mind mixing it up! This series is a fun departure from my usual romances, because of the hotties mixed with the action of being a Titan.

We are also introduced to some more new characters, who look like they will appear in later installments of this series. It will be fun to check those out, as well!

Buy on :

Amazon | Paperback | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | All Romance

Meet the author:

Cristin Harber is an award-winning romantic suspense author. She lives outside Washington, DC with her husband, toddler, and English bulldog. Coming fall 2013, she’s expecting a baby and will debut her Titan series. Couple that with the holidays, and it’ll be a busy time of year. There’s a special place in her heart for the men and women who serve and protect. Since she can’t save the world alongside them, she’s content to write their happily ever after stories.

Follow Cristin on FaceBook | Twitter | Goodreads | Literary Addicts | Website

Sign up for Cristin's Newsletter for series info


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Read an exclusive excerpt from 'Cardinal Desires' by Linda Nightingale

Cardinal Desires
by Linda Nightingale



How can Katy McCaully resist Sterling Fox?

At fifteen, she fell in love with a man in a painting, and he looks exactly like that Novgorodian knight. Even though he's got the keys to her chemistry set, she mustn't succumb to his charms. She's a forensic psychiatrist working with Scotland Yard. He's a high-profile journalist who invades the underworld for a story or broadcasts live at the scene of the world's worst tragedies.

Police and media do not mix. They are both trying to capture the same animalistic killer whom newspapers have dubbed The Vampire Slayer. Modern London doesn't know that the Slayer has also killed four vampires. Katy doesn't know that Sterling is a vampire until too late—after she's fallen in love with him.

Read an exclusive excerpt:
A strong hand closed on hers, and Katy knew how the sea felt at tide-turn, how a tree felt when lightning poured from the sky, and at once its roots quivered with glory and death. In the comfort of Sterling’s embrace, his body heat warming her, the need for him was hot as a fever.

“I’m on your side.” He squeezed her hand. “We’re not enemies.”

Common sense presented its case. “We don’t have to be enemies. We can’t be friends.”

“Good. I don’t want to be your friend.” He wound an auburn curl around his finger and touched her hair to his lips.

An electric charge sizzled through Katy. Throw your heart over and follow it. Tuesdays, she had riding lessons with a wiry Scotswoman. When she balked at jumping her horse over a six-foot fence, Dority had given her that sage advice. “Throw your heart over and follow it, lass. You'll land fine on the other side.”

“We'll take my car. I'll drive you home.” He shot her a sexy wink. “If you want to go home.”

The arrogance of the man! Handsome devil expected women to tumble into bed with him. She shrugged off his embrace. “Taking a lot for granted, aren’t you, Mr. Fox?”

“I'm kidding, okay?” He frowned. “Give me a break, sweetheart.”

Sweetheart. Her heart sailed over that six-foot fence.

“I know you were kidding.” She grimaced. “So was I.”

Katy could no longer resist. She rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. He smelled of leather and a faint trace of herbal shampoo. Never had she been more aware of her body, her emotions, the wind and rain. In the shelter of his arm, she felt safe and complete.

Suddenly, she was flying.

Sterling seized her in one arm, balancing the umbrella above them, and swung her over the rain gushing across the sidewalk. He set her on her feet in the dry but didn't release her from the one-armed embrace. She gazed into his eyes as if he’d appeared from nowhere, and, in a way, his appearance was a miracle. Her warrior had stepped down from the canvas into reality. She imagined his beautiful body naked, wrapped around her, legs and arms entwined. Her heart thumped a hungry beat, echoing between her legs, her trigger tingling. Willful eyes wandered to the tantalizing shape beside his zipper.

“Katy,” he released her, took her chin in his hand, “you can’t hold this line much longer.”

The cold truth drilled through her heart. “You’re too accustomed to getting your own way.”

“Wrong again.” The passion in those smoky green eyes would have knocked her socks off had she been wearing socks.

Her breath froze in her lungs. He didn’t seem to be breathing. The world jolted along its way as two strangers stood in the rain and tried to deny the most natural of human needs.

“Sometimes,” the thought escaped her, “I feel as if—”

“We know each other.” Lips parted, he bent to kiss her.

If he kissed her, she was a goner.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Atlanta and Houston. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for thirteen years.

Linda began writing in high school when her favorite English teacher, Mrs. Burriss, allowed her to submit a short story instead of a book report. She also wrote very dark poetry brimming with teenage angst. These she showed to an editor at the local newspaper and was promptly shot down. Thereafter, she put her pen away until 1992 when she began a vampire novel which became Sinners’ Opera.

With Cardinal Desires, she won the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and received a call from Berkley. The publisher didn’t publish vampires (at that time) and asked if she had anything else. Novice that she was, she said “no” rather than asking what they wanted!

She works in the legal field and has two wonderful sons. She loves Andalusian and Lusitano horses, her snappy black convertible and her parlor grand piano—and writing, of course. Visit her web site for a free vampire story starring Morgan D’Arcy, the hero of Sinners’ Opera and a member of the supporting cast in Cardinal Desires.

Other Works: Gemini Rising (, The Night Before Doomsday, Black Swan


Web site:

Twitter: @LNightingale



Linda will be awarding a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon/BN Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. An autographed Cover Flat & Gemini Rising Pen (US ONLY) will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour and another randomly drawn commenter during the tour will be awarded Trading Cards of Characters from Sinners Opera (US ONLY). Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Visit Karen Dove Barr and Skidaway Island, GA

Please welcome author Karen Dove Barr to Andi's Book Reviews today. She has crafted a beautiful book about Skidaway Island in Georgia.

What was the inspiration behind this book?
I’ve been an outdoors person most of my life and thought I was pretty knowledgeable about Georgia’s plants and animals. I was riding my bike one morning with my shih-tzu when I stopped at the edge of the marsh to check out a large bird with black feathers on the top of his head. I remarked to another person, also out to catch the sunrise, “the early bird gets the worm.”

I was really surprised when he told me I was mistaken; this bird, a black-crowned night heron, has infrared night vision and was coming in from overnight fishing, not getting started.

I thought if there was that much I didn’t know that my neighbors, mostly new to the island, would also be interested in learning about our wildlife. Nycticorax nycticorax, about the black-crowned night heron was my first nature story.
What story is your favorite?
I love and hate all my stories, depending on how easily the words are coming. I think the story about the oak tree that fell next to my house made the biggest impression on me. All my stories are true and I was terrified when the tree started coming down. I didn’t know which way to run.

My story began appearing in local publications a few weeks later, allowing time for me to write it, and for the newspaper and magazines to publish it. By then the public works people had done a fantastic job in removing most traces. I was amazed to have a long line of cars passing in front of my house each day when the story was published. People were looking to see the tree.
Do you have any plans for follow-up books?
Amazing events involving wildlife continue taking place on Skidaway Island. I’ve published at least ten new stories since Wild Times on Skidaway Island went to Strategic Media Books. One resident video-taped a duel to the death between a possum and a red rat snake in his back yard, another surprised three otters in her swimming pool, a baby owl hatched in a pine tree about to be removed for new construction.

I’m getting more proficient with my camera. I hope there is enough interest in Wild Times on Skidaway Island to justify a sequel.
Thank you so much for your time!
Thank you for having me. I hope your followers enjoy the book.

Wild Times on Skidaway Island

by Karen Dove Barr


Wild Times on Skidaway Island, Georgia's Historic Rain Forest, details life in a unique Audubon-designated, ecologically friendly refuge. There, golfers pitch balls around endangered great blue herons, mama raccoons march their babies across backyard decks where once Guale Indians trapped ancestors of the same raccoons, and residents dodge alligators and rescue snakes.

Even the vegetation is wild. Three hundred-year-old oaks dripping Spanish moss and poison ivy surmount an under-story of wax myrtle and holly. Carolina jasmine, Cherokee roses, and endangered orchids grow wild in the rain forest. The book examines choices residents make when stared down by a bald eagle, when a red-tailed hawk mistakes a golf ball for bird food, when wakened at midnight by deer munching hibiscus. Wild Times on Skidaway Island educates about the species that residents must adapt to on this historic island.

Read an excerpt:
When Walt and Carol Culin topped their house at The Landings with a coated metal roof they were confident the roof would be problem-free for a hundred years. Walt’s contacts as head of an industrial coating company helped him get the latest technology. Even a hurricane shouldn’t destroy their unusual–looking roof.

But nothing in Walt’s Princeton-educated background prepared him for dryocopus pileatus, the pilated wookpecker.

Male pilated woodpeckers are fixated on the notion that female woodpeckers are attracted to the stud with the noisiest pecker. Usually the woodpecker has to be content with drumming on a hollow tree to resonate his sound. Walt and Carol’s metal roof, however, raised the bar for the local woodpecker population. Walt and Carol were regularly awakened by mate-seeking woodpeckers as soon as they moved into the house.

Walt ended up having to make a run to Toys ’R Us for rubber snakes. Glued to the chimney alongside a big fake owl, the snakes allowed Walt and Carol to catch some winks in the early morning during woodpecker mating season.

**My thoughts**

The love that Karen has for Skidaway Island is evident in all of the hard work she put into this book. The pictures are stunning, with only a couple of them a little blurry, at least in my review PDF. But you know that some of those creatures are difficult to capture! I can appreciate that from my own photography attempts with wildlife and children! Each chapter is well-researched and provides a wealth of information about the flora or fauna being discussed. I also liked reading about the different activities that people enjoy on the island. It definitely sounds like a place I would like to visit the next time I head south. This is also a book that would look nice on my coffee table.

Book links

Also available from Strategic Media

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Karen Dove Barr, Attorney, was recently recognized by the Georgia State Bar for providing legal assistance to military families and service members. She has practiced in the field of family law in Savannah for 34 years.

Karen will be awarding a $25 Walmart gift card to FOUR (4) randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and a Grand Prize of an Apple iPad to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Monday, October 28, 2013

'Just Out of Reach' by Belinda Stevens

Just Out of Reach

by Belinda Stevens


When high school freshman Katherine Boyd meets David, her life is forever altered. Their romance experiences the turmoil of Mississippi in the sixties, family relationships that keep them apart, and political differences that threaten to destroy them. Through the death of JFK and James Meredith’s admission to Ole Miss, Katherine’s growth means being progressive in a traditional Southern family, accepting the loss of those closest to her, and learning to cope with her family’s darkest secrets. Just Out of Reach is the story of a young woman forged in desperate times and a love that changes her life forever.

Read an excerpt:
I was numb from the news. As I listened to Dr. Pierce, my mind seemed to separate from my body. It was like my family doctor, the same doctor that had delivered my girls, was talking to someone else. I thought I had been so careful but, obviously, not careful enough. I was pregnant, and Tom was not the father! I thought about my last pregnancy. This time I knew I would not abort. Other than that, I didn’t know what I was going to do. As I drove home, I thought about the events that had lead to my present state; all the things Tom did wrong and the things I did wrong as well.

After Birmingham, things settled down somewhat. For the girls’ sake, Tom stopped drinking. But we still fought over everything from civil rights to how I raised the girls, especially Katherine. She was her father’s favorite, and Tom felt she could do no wrong. My youngest daughter was very independent and had a strong, stubborn streak in her. No matter how I tried to force her to behave, she fought back. It always led to tantrums, tears, and eventually spankings. As my daughter grew older, the fighting between me and Katherine worsened, with Tom acting as a referee. The fact that my husband sided with Katherine enraged me. This, of course, widened the gulf between me and Tom. We were like strangers living under the same roof, barely speaking to one another. There were days and sometime weeks of silence between the two of us. Things rocked along unchanged until the fall of 1958.

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Belinda J. Stevens was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the gateway to the Mississippi Delta, in 1948. She grew up in the turbulent sixties, and has a true appreciation for the difficulties experienced by Katherine in Just Out of Reach, which is Belinda’s first novel. She is an attorney who currently practices law in Yazoo City and resides in Brandon, Mississippi with her dog, Humprey B.


Twitter: @BelindaSteven20


Belinda will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Meet Kim Headlee, author of 'Morning's Journey (The Dragon's Cove Chronicles Book 2)'

Meet Kim Headlee, author of The Dragon's Cove Chronicles. Please feel free to leave her some of your own comments and questions below!

What was the inspiration behind The Dragon's Cove Chronicles?
I have been interested in the Arthurian Legends since I was 8 years old, when my parents took me to see "Camelot" in the movie theaters (1967; yes, I'm dating myself but I don't care :). At age 9, I read a modern-English translation of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur cover-to-cover, and wrote my first adaptation shortly thereafter. As I performed more research over the years I became increasingly drawn to Guinevere's side of the story, so I've rather made it my mission to invent a version of her legend that doesn't give her a bum rap--as her male chroniclers, and a good many of her female chroniclers, have done down the centuries.

As far as the name of the series goes, early on in the development of DAWNFLIGHT I hit upon the idea of tribal tattoos representing the different Pictish clans, and I chose the mourning dove for Gyan's clan because it's the fastest of all birds in level flight. And Arthur is, of course, the dragon.
Morning's Journey is the second book in the series. How many more do you anticipate? When can we expect the next installment?
I am planning at least eight installments in the cycle. RAGING SEA is the sequel to MORNING'S JOURNEY and will be followed by ZENITH GLORY, EVENING SONG, and SUNDOWN OF A DREAM. Then I will go back in time to tell the story of Gyan and Arthur's parents in NIGHT'S DESTINY, and wrap up with BURNING JEWEL, which will describe Arthur's adolescence, rise to power, and his battle against Gyan's people which leads to the treaty & other events described in Volume 1, DAWNFLIGHT.

While it's rather unusual for an author to write =two= prequels to an existing volume, I decided upon this approach for two reasons: 1) Almost everyone dies in SUNDOWN OF A DREAM (c'mon, it's the Arthurian Legends--you =know= everyone's gotta die by the end!), and 2) This approach illustrates the cyclical nature of the epic literature.
Can you tell us anything about what's yet to come, without giving spoilers for this book?
RAGING SEA will concentrate on the story of Angusel (Lancelot) as he struggles to regain his name, honor, and position in society because of the events that transpired in MORNING'S JOURNEY.

Now that MORNING'S JOURNEY is available for sale, I have another writing project to wrap up & get into retail channels before returning full attention to RAGING SEA. I'm about 80 pages into the manuscript and hope to get RAGING SEA into readers' hands sometime in the next 6 months.
Which character speaks to you the most?
I have always felt a strong association with Gyan, and I'm sure this “bond” will remain even though she will take on lesser roles in subsequent books.
What is one of your favorite things about this series?
Last year, when I began to take a hard look at the MORNING'S JOURNEY manuscript in preparation for publication, I realized that one of the things I needed to fix was the pluralization of terminology that I had invented, based on Scottish Gaelic words. Adding an "s" to form plurals is an Anglo-Saxon construct, not a Scottish Gaelic one! This research inspired me to expand my terminology into entire sets of specific language the characters use to refer to themselves and to each other, endearments, insults, and even mythology.

I like to think Professor J.R.R. Tolkien would have been proud of me.
What drives you to write?
I write because my characters' stories are embedded in my head and stay there until the words are committed to the page! And then some. :)
You have lived in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and now rural Virginia. Which has been your favorite? Would you ever want to move back to one of these places?
Seattle, hands down. I love the juxtaposition of ocean and mountains! It's absolutely gorgeous. And yes, I would move back. In half a heartbeat.
Your grandmother was a childhood friend of the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. What kinds of stories did she share with you?
Nothing, due to a longtime family rift. All I know is what my Dad has been able to tell me over the years, which is precious little, unfortunately. That his mom and Anastasia were friends is all I can say about the relationship with any degree of certainty.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I have "channeled" Mark Twain to write a sequel to one of his novels; this is the other project I mentioned earlier. In addition, I have written three screenplays: an adaptation of his work, an adaptation of my sequel to his work, and a completely original screenplay to complete the trilogy. That's all I'm willing to say about the project until the novel is much closer to publication, but a savvy reader who is familiar with Twain's corpus can probably guess which of his novels I've selected. ;-)
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In the coming months I also plan to release historical romance novels written under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson," including LIBERTY (originally published by HQN Books, 2006, featuring a female gladiator), and an as-yet unpublished novel titled SNOW IN JULY (post-Norman Conquest). There are a lot more stories brewing under the Kimberly Iverson brand, but these two will be the first out of the hopper.
Thank you so much for your time!
And thank you, Andrea, for this opportunity!

MJnewcover213x340Morning’s Journey

The greatest threat to Arthur & Gyan and their world is the enemy within.
In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.

But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.

Morning’s Journey propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.

Available for purchase via:

kimheadlee-headshotAbout the Author

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins -- the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century -- seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of 20th century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles. She also writes other romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."

Follow Kim: Goodreads / Amazon Author Page / Website / Book Website / Facebook

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

'Stern Desire (Love Redeemed)' by Leah Shay

Stern Desire (Love Redeemed)

by Leah Shay

Her love can heal him; his love can set her free.

The moment Kyra walked into billionaire Jared Stern’s hospital room and introduced herself as his nurse he knew that this paragon of loveliness was what he needed to mend his damaged soul. Jared knew he had to have her. They shared an instant mutual attraction. Drawn together by some irresistible force they stirred emotions in each other that neither had felt in years.

But, Jared’s dark inescapable secrets plagued him, and they were a constant reminder why he was not right for her. Kyra’s trust in men had been severely destroyed and for years she felt nothing but mistrust and anger towards them. Jared’s mysterious nature reminded Kyra why she had built a fortress around her heart protecting herself from men like him.

Reluctantly, Kyra gave way to Jared’s relentless pursuits. Will she jeopardized her career knowing that anything other than a nurse-patient relationship could be risky and lead to her losing her job or even her license? Will Jared’s secrets smother their hot steamy love affair, or will he do the unthinkable to trap Kyra into the relationship?

One thing about secrets they rarely stay in the dark.

Buy on Amazon | Smashwords

About the author:

Leah Shay grew up on a small beautiful carefree island in the Caribbean. With the warm blue Caribbean Sea as her backyard she loved to walk the white sandy beach and got loss in the stories unfolding in her head. She had always been an avid reader and spent all her free time nose-deep in a book, or telling stories to enthused listeners.

She loves reading, dancing, traveling, and music. As a child she would read anything she could get her hands on. Her local library was her favorite place, and looked forward to every weekend her mom would take her there. Her dream was to become a teacher, but fate led her down another fulfilling career path. She is currently a part-time registered nurse with a whole lot of stories to tell.

To relieve her cluttered mind of the many stories floating around in her head she finally decided to put them down on paper, hence the first book in the Stern Desire series was born.

Currently she lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two children. She just can’t be away from year round summer and beautiful beaches.

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Osservazioni Linguistiche Su Iscrizioni In Futhark Antico: Da Elliott A Nielsen by Fabrizio Gentili

The present volume is not intended to be a normative introduction to Germanic philology, but a somewhat descriptive one, should a definition of such work be required. The work contains the drawing up of the author's master's thesis in European and American Languages and Literatures (according to Italian Ministerial Decree 207/04), and was discussed on 6 February 2013 under the supervision of the thesis supervisor, Paola Mura, and the co-supervisor, Marcello Meli.

For the realization of such a thesis, the graduate student based his research on texts and materials suggested by the supervisor. For a comprehensive discussion of the subject, the second edition of Runes: An Introduction by R.W. Elliott (1989) was used and complemented by the Italian viewpoint in Alamannia Runica by Marcello Meli (1988), the latter having taught Gentili at all levels of his 'academic' study. It was later decided to extend the tractation to writings not essentially inherent to Scandinavian runes and, therefore, works by Christoph Bernard Rüger, Rudolph Heizmann and Hans Frede Nielsen were introduced for the analysis of the Scandinavian runes and the work of Robert Nedoma for the Alemannic (that is, those essentially of the German area) ones.

The expositive clarity of both Elliott and Meli greatly helped the author in approaching the writings of Rüger and Heizmann, as well as those of Nielsen (whose English is so correct that itt is comparable to that of a British academic author, which would presuppose a base of medieval English for the vastness of the concepts treated). On the other hand, the German of Robert Nedoma turned out to be as aulic as it is complex, in particular for the historical-technical language used. It is interesting to note how Nedoma himself at the end of his interpretations of the Schretzheim fibula relies on Meli's reasoning for the translation of the same inscription.

An aspect of Rüger's work that is particular worthy of consideration is that it is implicitly based on a parallelism between Germania Inferior (in Bayern), Vindolanda (in England) and Naples, in an attempt to determine the origin of runic writing. Without this premise, the part inherent to Rüger would have proved difficult to understand.

The reader is invited to remember that although there are three main uses of runes - magical-apotropaic, religious and merely alphabetical - these purposes are not mutually exclusive. They coexist and can be interpreted variously, according to the uses and customs of the area in which they are found.

The author does not want to impose a one-and-only interpretation. On the contrary, he thinks that the 'magical' interpretation has favoured the curiosity of some of the authors who have accompanied him in the exhaustive process of drawing up the thesis itself, and invites the reader, based on the works by Elliott and Meli cited above, to deepen the issue of the 'magical' interpretation from reliable sources. The thesis has been subdivided into two chapters. The reader is invited to read the first in order to determine which type of interpretation to prefer. This is not intended in any way to be an imposition; rather an attempt to supply a wide and neutral general overview. The second chapter revisits earlier interpretations in the light of this new work, such as Rüger's view on the spread of literacy through the military at the time, Nedoma’s and Meli’s descriptions of tombs, and Nielsen's contribution to research on Scandinavian runes, their syntax and structure, and the spread of Germanic proper names.

24/05/2013 18:46: 51
The book is only available at, and comprises a full chapter about Nedoma’s findings concerning the Schretzheim fibula, as well as a 22-page final chapter in English dealing with the various view-points of every author discussed within the book: Elliott, Nedoma, Flowers and Nielsen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Stardust Summer' by Lauren Clark

Stardust Summer
by Lauren Clark



Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.

Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.

Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.

Read an excerpt:
Chapter 14

Grace woke to the sound of the lake lapping against the pebbly shore, as comfortable and familiar as a pair of old shoes. Morning light streamed in through the edges of the blinds covering the windows.

She noticed the dark tufts of Evan’s hair peeking out of the covers and smiled. He was breathing deeply, one arm slung over his head. Despite being eight and more grown-up, he still took every opportunity to climb into bed with her.

Carefully, she lifted her side of the sheets and pulled them back slowly. It was a new day and Grace was glad. It had been a long and weird afternoon yesterday, topped off with her stepmother’s performance at the funeral.

Grace sighed long and deep. She slipped on her robe and shut the bedroom door behind her carefully, so as not to wake Evan. If she had to guess, her stepmother was probably awake an hour ago. She peeked around the corner into the living room, expecting her to be standing there.

It was empty, and the door to Kathleen’s bedroom was open just a crack.

"Hello?" Grace said in a loud whisper.

No answer.

Grace let her shoulders relax. Kathleen was probably outside walking or gardening, maybe talking to one of the neighbors. Her father always said that her stepmother could never stand still.

Grateful for the reprieve, Grace decided to make coffee. As expected, everything inside the kitchen cabinets was stacked neatly and labeled. Grace inhaled the nutty aroma as she measured out a few scoops of dark brown granules, added the water, and flicked the switch.

As the coffee pot began to gurgle, Grace inspected the living room. It looked completely different without a crowd of people. The space was clean and white, with a sofa and loveseat in the corner, both set an equal distance apart from the coffee table. The floor, wide-planked and wooden, was aged to mellow golden color.

Framed pictures hung on the walls. There were lovely panoramic shots of Keuka Lake, two of her father and his Sailfish, and several snapshots of Evan.

The majority of photographs, however, were of Henry and Kathleen. Grace moved closer, studying the details, and found herself mesmerized by the similarities. In each one—location aside—her father and stepmother were smiling. In Italy, in China, and France. On the campus of the college where her father worked, on the shore of the lake, and inside the house where Grace was standing.

Every time the shutter clicked open, Henry and Kathleen had their heads bent together and arms entwined. They glowed with happiness and love.

Grace stepped back and turned away, feeling her throat choke with emotion.

It hurt to look too long at her father's face.

Grace slid open the heavy glass doors to the outside porch and stepped out onto the sturdy wooden planks, wishing the coffee would finish.

She shivered when the cool breeze hit her face and tugged the robe around her tighter. A tiny ant ran across the top of the wood, clinging for dear life in the breeze.

The chairs on the porch were empty. She looked further, down along the shoreline, for signs of life. The deck and pebbly beach were empty too.

Out of the corner of her eye, familiar blue and white stripes came into view across the aquamarine of the water. It looked hauntingly like her father’s sailboat. The trees near the deck bent in their branches, leaves rustling noisily.

The Sailfish was her father's prized possession, the boat he’d bought in college for only three hundred dollars. Henry had lovingly taken care of it over the years, sanded carefully and painted the brightest white at least a dozen times.

Grace kept her eyes focused on the tall mast, bobbing slightly as it made its way across the water. She could make out a single figure in an orange life vest. One person on board. It could be Kathleen, but she wasn't sure.

Then, the wind slowed, gusted once again, and sputtered. As the sun rose about the hilltops, the air became absolutely still.

Grace waited for the breeze to pick up, anticipating the brush of air against her bare skin. Her heart began to beat faster. She glanced around for other boats in the area—a fishing boat, a rowboat, anything.

The lake was empty. The sail hadn’t moved.

Shading her eyes, Grace held the boat in view, starting to walk toward the dock.

Another agonizing minute passed.

The boat’s mast teetered, causing the sail to shake from side to side. Grace blinked to make sure what she was seeing was real.

It was Kathleen.

**My thoughts**

I was quickly drawn into this book, simply because of its location. I live in Rochester, NY and spend a lot of time in the summers on the Finger Lakes. They really do lend themselves to a perfect romantic setting. I especially loved toward the beginning when Grace quoted her father about the water being healing. There is something refreshing and soothing about the Finger Lakes, and Keuka is particularly beautiful.

I also just lost my own father two years ago, though we didn't have a rocky relationship like Grace and Henry did. Still, I fully understand the sense of loss, and appreciate the difficulty of living so far away from parents. Perhaps that helped me to better relate to the characters than others will.

The characters are all likeable, despite their flaws. You may still want to shake them from time to time, especially the stubborn Grace, but are forgiving as the relationships between everyone develop and mend. With romance also in the air, this book is a relaxing way to spend an evening, or perhaps even a day sitting out by the lake.

Book links

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association, the Mobile Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to Parents & Kids Magazine's Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition. Check out her website at

Lauren Clark Books Website

Lauren Clark Books BLOG

GoodReads Lauren Clark

Twitter Lauren Clark!/LaurenClark_Bks

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