Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review of The Patron (Emerson Pass Contemporaries #2) by Tess Thompson

She’s afraid to take risks. He’s an incurable daredevil. When tragedy throws them together, will it spark a lasting devotion?

Crystal Whalen isn’t sure why she should go on. Two years after her husband’s death on a ski trip, she’s devastated when a fire destroys her quiet Colorado mountain home. And when she can’t keep her hands off the gorgeous divorcé who’s become her new temporary housemate, it only feeds her grief and growing guilt.

Garth Welte won’t be burned again. After his ex-wife took most of his money, the downhill-skiing Olympic medalist is determined to keep things casual with the sexy woman he can’t resist. But the more time they spend with each other, the harder it is to deny his burgeoning feelings.

As Crystal’s longing for the rugged man’s embrace grows, she worries that his dangerous lifestyle will steal him away. And although Garth believes she’s his perfect girl, the specter of betrayal keeps a tight grip on his heart.

Will the thrill-seeker and the wary woman succumb to the power of love?

The Patron of Emerson Pass is the emotional second book in the Emerson Pass Contemporaries small-town romance series. If you like lyrical prose, unexpected chances at happiness, and uplifting stories, then you’ll adore Tess Thompson’s sweet tale.

Book Links

Goodreads * Amazon *BN * Kobo * Google Play

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**My thoughts**

This is the story of Crystal and Garth. We’ve met them before in The Sugar Queen. You will want to go back to read that one if you want more details of the tragedy that brought them together. But it isn’t completely necessary to do so to enjoy this second installment in the contemporary branch of the Emerson Pass series.

I have to start off by acknowledging how Tess really has a way with words. She can poetically sum up life’s truths in such a way that you want to copy the phrases and hang them on your wall. We get this right off the bat in the prologue narrated by Crystal.

Both Crystal and Garth had come to Emerson Pass to escape the pain of the pasts. Crystal had lost her grandparents and her husband in accidents, plus lost her baby. Garth is recovering from a failed marriage. The tragedy of the fire that had destroyed their neighboring houses brought them together. But Crystal cannot convince herself to let go and give in to the relationship. And then fate steps in to shake things up on so many levels.

I admit that I didn’t have my usual warm fuzzies from Crystal and Garth as I usually do in Tess’s stories. But there are some other relationships going on, also related to past trauma, that made up for it in spades. I can’t really specify any more without spoilers. But I did shed a tear or two a few times throughout.

As with Sugar Queen, I enjoyed the nods to the historical branch of the series. I’m not usually a big fan of historical romance, but those hold a special place in my heart. Keep your eye out for references to a couple of Tess’s other series as well.

A fun addition to this book is an extensive collection of family recipes that were sent in by readers. I’m looking forward to trying some out.

Thank you to the author for a requested review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read my reviews from the Emerson Pass Historical series

Read my reviews from the Emerson Pass Contemporary series

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Meet Chloe from Warwick's Mermaid by Ellie Gray


I love it when we get to know characters better outside of their stories! Today we get to meet Chloe from Warwick's Mermaid by Ellie Gray in this character interview. We also get to take a sneak peek inside with an excerpt. Leave more questions in the comments section and then follow the tour for more! Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbor and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?

Read an excerpt:
Luke paused in the doorway, a glass of lemonade in each hand, and a bottle of mineral water tucked under his arm. Chloe was already sitting at a table under the shady canopy of an old tree, its branches providing welcome relief from the relentless heat of the sun. Underneath the table, Jasper was panting hard as she, too, struggled with the heat. Unaware of his gaze, Chloe reached into her bag and pulled out the bubble bath, flicking open the lid and raising it to her nose to breathe in the fragrance. Judging by her smile it was obviously not that bad, and he felt an unfamiliar lurch in his stomach. She was unlike anyone he’d spent time with before. There was a gentle innocence, a goodness about her and, despite his better judgement, he wanted to get to know her better. As he made his way across the courtyard, she bent forward to drop the bottle into her bag. A further smile playing across her lips as she withdrew a small piece of pale green rock and slipped it into her mouth.

“Are you hungry?”

She jumped slightly and looked up. “No, no…it’s a piece of rock.” After a brief hesitation, she reached once more into her bag to withdraw the white paper bag. “Would you like one?”

He set the glasses on the table and retrieved a small plastic container from underneath the table, filling it with the bottled water for Jasper, and smiling in amusement as he did so. “Offered with such enthusiasm! I take it you’re rather partial to…what is it, anyway?” He peered into the bag.

“Edinburgh rock. Have you ever tried it?”

“Can’t say I have.” He shook his head. “Thanks for the offer, but no, I’m not really a sweet sort of a guy.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” She teased. “I can imagine there are some people who might think you’re sweet.”

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Character Interview

Q: What's your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about YOU?

A: If you had asked me that a couple of years ago, I would have said I had no idea why someone would come up with a story about me! But things have changed more recently, I’ve changed. I guess I’ve been through a life changing experience! Meeting Luke was a bit of a catalyst to me finding myself. It was only when I met him that I realised I was just coasting through my life, taking the safe option. So, I guess the story that Ellie has told has been one of hope, of believing in yourself, and taking a chance on love.

Q: Can you tell us about your hero?

A: Luke. Gosh, just thinking about him gives me butterflies. I have to see Luke in a special light. Without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today; he believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He’s also the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met – both inside and out.

Q: Do you expect your hero to help or is he the problem?

A: I don’t expect anyone to help me, but over the last couple of years I’ve had to learn to accept help sometimes. There’s a point in the story when I tell Luke that I don’t want a knight in shining armor, and that I don’t want to be a damsel in distress, because I found myself being rescued by Luke on a couple of occasions – something he teases me about sometimes! But, I am most proud of the way I eventually stood up to Chris, my ex – he came back into my life and threatened me. A year ago I would have caved, I know I would, but this time I stood up to him and, like all bullies, he couldn’t take it. I now know just how strong a person I am, and I’m really proud of that.

Q: Where do you live?

A: I live on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast, just a few miles outside of Whitby, with its beautiful cobbled streets and Abbey ruins. My little cottage sits on the cliff top, with a winding path down to the private beach below. Luke’s cottage sits at the top of the cliffs at the other side of the beach – it’s very handy!

Q: During what time period does your story take place?

A: Modern day.

Q: How are you coping with the conflict in your life?

A: It’s been a struggle – learning to believe in myself and in Luke. Re-defining my relationship with my mother has also been so hard – for both me and for her. We’re still going through counselling together and it’s been strange trying to rebuild our relationship but I’m proud of Mum. She’s been through a lot too, and its lovely to see her starting to live her life and explore the possibility of a relationship. She deserves to be as happy as I am with someone.

Q: That’s all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.

A: You’re very welcome. They were really good questions – quite thought provoking, particularly as I don’t usually like talking about myself!

I love to write heartwarming, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense novels, with characters I really want my readers to engage with. I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK and, although I work full-time in the public sector, my favourite pastime, when not writing, is wandering around old stately homes and castles, or sitting at a pavement café in the sun and watching the world go by – always on the lookout for something that might spark the idea for my next novel.

I enjoy engaging with both readers and other authors, and am a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association. Feel free to contact me and chat about all things romance through my social media pages, which you can find at the bottom of this page.

Links for Ellie Gray, Contemporary Romance Author




Ellie Gray will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Review of Falling for Another Darcy (Love Manor Book 3) by Kate O'Keeffe


Don’t miss this laugh-out-loud, heart-warming story by USA TODAY bestselling author, Kate O'Keeffe. Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series and Sinéad Moriarty.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage. Raight?

That’s the way the song goes, anyway. For Emma Brady, marrying her Mr. Darcy was a road to happiness that is about to take a sharp turn to trouble. Creating a tiny Mr. Darcy isn’t exactly proving to be easy. Sure, being newly-weds mean they’re more than happy to give it a good shot, but as time ticks along, Emma and Sebastian’s efforts come to nothing.

It’s time to call in the big guns.

For Emma, that means mood swings, hot flashes, ovulation kits, and more needles than a haystack. Add that to an increasingly-disapproving granny, and Sebastian and Emma’s love is being put to the test in a way they never saw coming.

Will they get the family they so desperately want? And will their love survive? Or will Emma’s fairy tale ending with her Mr. Darcy slip between her fingers?

Book Links

Goodreads * Amazon

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**My thoughts**

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book because I loved the first two so much. It dropped right before Mother’s Day, which meant I read it that weekend, which made it touch my heart that much more.

I first need to say a huge thank you to Kate O’Keeffe for tackling the difficult topic of endometriosis. So many of us suffer from this and yet we still don’t talk about it nearly enough. I felt seen and heard for one of the first times and understood all of Emma’s ups and downs. The emotions were real: the pain and frustration of diagnoses and trying and hating yourself and the jealousy when friends can pop them out. I also felt like readers were well-educated in the topic without it being a medical lecture. I cried many tears while reading this. And the epilogue itself made me sob for a solid 15 minutes after finishing it.

This was a different way of ending this kind of a trilogy, and in spite of all of my tears, I loved it. I think a lot more women than we realize are truly going to empathize with Emma and Sebastian.

And now I want to go back and reread all three books.

I know that one spinoff story from the series has already published in an anthology I have, and I believe more are to come in the future. I look forward to getting to know there other characters even better and revisiting this world.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Median Gray by Bill Mesce, Jr.


Today, author Bill Mesce is here to talk to us about writing and to introduce us to his police thriller Median Gray. Read his thoughts and an excerpt and then follow the tour for even more. Be sure to leave your questions and comments along the way. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

New York City, Summer 1963

Rookie beat cop Jack Meara is bleeding out on the dirty floor of a tenement hallway - next to the body of another cop. The eyes of the shooter burned into his memory. Meara watches and waits to see the shooter brought to justice, but, instead, "Tony Boy" Maiella climbs up the Mob ranks, slipping off indictments as easily as his designer overcoat. But on the eve of his retirement, Meara decides on one last kamikaze-like try to even the scales of justice.

New York City, 1983

Rookie detective Ronnie Valerio finds himself unknowingly pulled into the wake of Meara's quest. A go-go palace bartender is being stalked, a body turns up in a neighborhood dumpster, machine guns blaze in the night, a New York bookie turns up dead in the Jersey Pinelands and the only thing they all have in common is, in one way or another, they all tie back to Jack Meara.

How far does a cop go to even a score? How far does a brother cop go to shield him? Is justice worth any price when the line between right and wrong blurs?

Read an excerpt:
Then another explosion of metal on metal, a spray of red taillight glass as the El Dorado buried its tail in the New Yorker blocking the foot of the driveway.

Meara, on the ground against the stairs, getting his pistol up, pointed at the broad-shouldered silhouette behind the wheel, sending off a shot. The soft-nosed bullet grazed the heavy, raked windshield and winged off. Shattering glass somewhere. A fresh scream.

Meara pulled himself to his feet. The pain in his side kept him from straightening, from drawing a full breath. He felt sweat on his face, wiped at it with the back of his hand, came away with blood, not sweat, all those flying shards from the Caddy bursting through the garage door…

The El Dorado had shoved the New Yorker out into the street where both cars sat log-jammed. Joey Rocks – even through the smoked glass of the Caddy’s windshield, Meara could see where that big, no-necked pile of fat and muscle had gotten its name – was still trying to shake off the shock of the collision.

Meara held his breath so as not to provoke the pain in his side, raised his pistol again, took careful aim, and put two bullets through the dark glass.

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Thoughts by Bill Mesce, Jr:

I remember sitting with my first editor over twenty years ago and I forget how it came up, but I said to her, “I’m not big on plot.”

She smiled and nodded. “I know.” It was that apparent.

I wrote three novels for her, all marketed as legal thrillers, but I don’t think there was a one of them where any half-intelligent reader didn’t know who did what to whom pretty early on. In fact, in that very first novel, you know exactly who the killer is before the first chapter is over.

Don’t get me wrong: I like a good mystery and have always been awed by the ability of mystery writers to build their puzzles, lay out their clues, throw in plot twists. I don’t know how they do it. My head doesn’t work that way.

My interest has always been why people do what they do, and that’s why I spend so much time with my characters.

Alfred Hitchcock, that Master of Suspense, had an axiom of sorts: that the more complicated the plot, the less time you have for character. It’s why he frequently cast such huge stars as Cary Grant and James Stewart; so the audience could immediately identify with them.

But on the page, you don’t have that kind of instant recognition. Every character is an unknown entity to the reader. I’m willing to trade the kind of dynamic forward-moving energy you get from a driving who-dunnit type of plot for taking the time to let my readers get to know my characters and, hopefully, identify with them.

Because I do have time to spend with my characters, I can let the reader see them in non-plot-connected activities. In the case of Median Gray’s main character – a young police officer named Ronnie Valerio – it’s watching him deal with typical young-man-in-the-big-city stuff: annoying neighbors, the routine insanity on the streets that was so much a mark of New York at that time (the novel is set in New York City in 1983), even dealing with that bitter cold that seems distinct to the city (I’ve spent a lot of time in New England where it’s colder, but still not as bone-deep painful as New York cold). And there’s how Ronnie deals with other people: other cops, his boss, people on the street.

My main tool for building a character is to model them on an already existing person. Sometimes it’s a person I know; a friend, someone from one of my jobs, a relative, etc. Sometimes it’s someone in the news. On occasion, it’s even been another character from a TV show or a movie! Those novels I wrote for my editor? The main character in all three was modeled after the character of “Lou Grant” as played by Ed Asner on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I don’t know, maybe it’s lazy to work this way, but I don’t know how other writers create a character from the ground up without them coming off like a creation rather than a person. When I build my characters this way, it gives me a reference point: how they’ll move, how they’ll act/react in any given situation, how they talk and how they deal with different kinds of people. I know their strengths, but perhaps more importantly – and I think the thing that readers find particularly identifiable – I know their weaknesses. I know this because I’ve already seen the model in action. I don’t have to create anything, just follow my characters and record their words and actions.

I suppose what I most want is for my readers to feel the reality of a place and recognize my characters as the kind of people it wouldn’t be unusual for them to know. It’s all real to me; I want it to be equally real to them.

Bill Mesce, Jr. Is an award-winning author and playwright as well as a screenwriter. He is an adjunct instructor at several colleges in his native New Jersey.

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Black Flag Journals: One Soldier's Experience in America's Longest War by Dennis John Woods


Black Flag Journals is a very personal book to author Dennis John Woods. Today he gives us more of the background of the book in addition to sharing an excerpt with us. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for even more insights. And best of luck entering the giveaway!

The story of America’s longest war is complicated and difficult to convey, unless you were there. Dennis Woods was there. By following his stories in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can sense the enormity of his combat experiences. Originally written for his daughter, Black Flag Journals is taken from the author’s nine battle book journals. It covers his time from the fall of the Twin Towers through his last combat tour.

Black Flag Journals contains not just stories from the first war of the new century, but a day-by-day record of events that other veterans may use to relate their own experiences. All who enjoy real life stories, and followers of history will connect with this first person account of America’s longest war.

Read an excerpt:
Rules of engagement

At higher echelons of command, the rules of engagement were used as a rheostat. That rheostat could be dialed up or down to adjust the level of violence. The level of violence was often adjusted to achieve military and political goals. At the soldier level, the rules allowed one to “kill with a conscience, if necessary.” I mention this now as, over time, the rules of engagement and what constituted a legal engagement would change from time to time based on conditions.

Buy links

Background of the book

Any book, especially one covering open warfare- house to house fighting in Iraq, valley to mountain top battle in Afghanistan, understanding the historical background and cultural setting is critical to understanding of the subjects’ actions- reactions. Where it concerns combat at the personal level, (ground level – face to face) cultural aspects become far more important than they are in historical narratives using a 10,000-foot (broad picture) perspective. The most difficult and troubling battle experiences I share in Black Flag Journals often open their personal meaning and significance when the historical and cultural background of the combatants is grasped.

In sharing my personal experiences in America’s longest war, I also share the social emotional impacts on myself and within my family. In this way a reader gains an insight through stories often only related between veterans. To achieve this, I often start a battle vignette by painting a word picture employing local background history. Often the illusive why some combatants behave the way they do is revealed through an explanation of local customs. 

As a personal combat narrative Black Flag Journals was written from a series of 9 journals. My intention was to use them as a means of explaining my absence to my elementary school aged daughter. Based on my earlier wars, I assumed that the war of terror would last maybe two years tops. Little did I or anyone know that this would be our longest war. Prior to 9/11 my longest war was the 1st Gulf War which took 9 months. That time included Operation Desert Shield, which was followed by 30 days of small unit border skirmishes and air operations culminating in a 100-hour ground assault titled Desert Storm. So, on the day the Twin Towers fell I fully expected that I would be retired long before my daughter grew into an adult. The reality though was this war would carry us from elementary school to college and I would still be returning to Afghanistan.

CSM Woods combat tours include;

Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada, 82d Airborne Division.
Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia – Iraq, 82d Airborne Division.
Operation Desert Fox 1998, Qatar, 5th Group Special Forces.
OEF 2 Afghanistan, 82d Airborne Division.
OIF 1 Iraq, First Armored Division.
OIF 6 Iraq, First Armored Division.
OEF X Afghanistan, 173D Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
OEF XIII Afghanistan, 191st Infantry Brigade

CSM Woods civilian education includes a Master of Education, (training & leadership) from North Central University, Prescott AZ, and a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior, Albany, New York.

Military education includes the United States Sergeants Majors Academy class # 58, Army force management course, Jump Master, Drill Sergeant, US Army Recruiter, Infantry Small Arms Master Gunner, Artillery Master Gunner, Amphibious Warfare leaders’ course (USMC), Anti-Armor Leaders course, Machine Gun Leaders course, Artillery Mechanics repair course, Small Arms repair course, Nuclear Biological Chemical defense, and all levels of air load planning and hazmat certification USAF.

CSM Woods awards include; one Distinguished Service medal, one Legion Of Merit,( 5) Bronze Star Medals, 5 Meritorious Service Medals, 4 ARCOM, 4 AAM, 1 Humanitarian service medal, 2 Armed Forces Expeditionary medals, Afghanistan and Iraq service medals. German Jump Master Wings, Qatar Jump wings as part of 5th Group, Netherlands Jumpmaster wings. Other awards include; Department of Defense “Inventor of the year” (2003) with 45 separate inventions. CSM Woods saved the United States Government over one Billion Dollars through cost avoidance. He is also the first recipient of the GRUBER award for an outstanding field artillery professional.

CSM Woods is credited by the US Army Smart Ideas program as the inventor of;

• The 105mm Howitzer night direct fire sight system M913 GELON.
• The 155mm towed Howitzer night sight system.
• The dual use day/ night direct fire sight reticule.
• The Dual optic MILES Laser trainer.
• The Urban Assault kit (PALADIN) improved crew protection, 155mm system.

On his most recent tour to Afghanistan, CSM Woods pioneered the first use of artillery training rounds in combat as a form of scalable fire support designed to limit civilian death and collateral damage. He is the author of, ‘Black Flag Journals One Soldiers Experience in America’s Longest War’, and numerous magazine, newspaper articles, including training pamphlets concerning Artillery, night vision, and combat operations.

Twitter: @djwoodswrites

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Read an exclusive excerpt from Nuclear Power Nuclear Game by Helen Huang


Welcome to the tour for Nuclear Power Nuclear Game by Helen Huang! Today I'm sharing with you an exclusive excerpt of this political thriller. Let the author know what you think and then follow the tour for even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

The year is 1950. Zoe and John, two young nuclear scientists from Berkeley, seem to have the perfect life, with promising careers and marriage plans. But their innocence is soon shattered when the Chinese Communist Party seizes power. Choosing to postpone the wedding and return back to her home country, Zoe finds herself locked in a political cage and separated from John indefinitely.

Caught in a complex web of revolutionary propaganda and forced to participate in dangerous research, Zoe must confront the looming question of where her true loyalties lie: with her country or with John back in America?

Set during China's march towards nuclear power amidst the political turmoil of the Cold War, Nuclear Power Nuclear Game spans multiple decades and countries across the globe to tell the story of two nuclear scientists' fight for world peace and a love torn apart by conflicting ideologies.

Read an exclusive excerpt:
Zoe and Major Liu had never had a close, loving relationship, more like two strangers accidentally sharing a room. He had no interest in her work beyond its significance to China’s defense, and she ignored his presence as best she could, except on the occasions when he demanded sex. Even then she called him Major Liu, and to him she was still Comrade Meng.

She was ashamed of her marriage, ashamed of how common and uneducated he was. The pregnancy— in fact, her entire marriage—had been difficult and demanding. At first, she had denied the fact that she was pregnant, unwilling to bear Major Liu’s child. She wore loose clothes to hide the bulge in her belly and exhausted herself with physical exertion, hoping to miscarry. But the heart beating inside her was relentless, as stubborn as she was. As she had so often before, eventually she resigned herself to the inevitable and gradually accepted the child. Perhaps it was compensation for her loveless marriage? Major Liu was stunned when she told him, eyeing her with equal parts doubt and bewilderment. Once he accepted the news, though, his usually dour face actually broke into a smile. “Let’s name the baby Xiaohong, Little Red. The child will be a little red soldier, born to defend our beloved motherland,” he exclaimed.

Xiaohong arrived a week early—a big, healthy girl—but the long, difficult labor and loss of blood almost killed Zoe. Too weak to care for a newborn and with Commissar Zhu insisting she return to work as soon as possible, she had reluctantly agreed when Major Liu proposed sending Xiaohong to Zoe’s parents in Beijing. He argued they would be able to provide a better environment for raising a child. The only comfort and meaning she might find in life was taken away. And the only link they had holding them together was gone.


Born and raised in Shanghai, Helen Huang now resides in Melbourne, Australia. Nuclear Power Nuclear Game is her first novel, inspired by her own experience living under the Communist regime and working at a nuclear institute in China.

To be a novelist was Helen’s childhood dream. She started writing Nuclear Power Nuclear Game when she was a housewife looking after her four daughters. It took her sixteen years to write, as she raised her children and grew her house design and construction business. Helen hopes to finish a sequel to Nuclear Power Nuclear Game next year.




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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Rules for Correct Writing Routines by Bill Zarchy, author of Finding George Washington


Authors often have their own rules and rituals for their writing routines. Author Bill Zarchy dares to break out of the typical mold! Check out his writing advice and get a sneak peek inside his book Finding George Washington, an interesting time travel tale! Be sure to leave questions and comments as you follow the tour. Best of luck in the giveaway!

On a freezing night in 1778, General George Washington vanishes. Walking away from the Valley Forge encampment, he takes a fall and is knocked unconscious, only to reappear at a dog park on San Francisco Bay—in the summer of 2014.

Washington befriends two Berkeley twenty-somethings who help him cope with the astonishing—and often comical—surprises of the twenty-first century.

Washington’s absence from Valley Forge, however, is not without serious consequences. As the world rapidly devolves around them—and their beloved Giants fight to salvage a disappointing season—George, Tim, and Matt are catapulted on a race across America to find a way to get George back to 1778.

Equal parts time travel tale, thriller, and baseball saga, Finding George Washington is a gripping, humorous, and entertaining look at what happens when past and present collide in the 9th inning, with the bases loaded and no one warming up in the bullpen.

Read an excerpt:

Chow stopped and glanced at his watch. He looked stricken.

“I have to go.”

“Go? How can you go now? I have a million questions! Where is the time machine? Can I see it?”

“In time, Tim, I have no doubt that you’ll see it.

“You can’t show it to me now?”

“I don’t have it with me,” he said, with careful sarcasm. “It’s not something that fits in your pocket.”

“What’s in the bag? Did you bring a laptop?”

“Yes, but it’s not for that. There’s something else I was going to show you, but I’ve spent far too much time explaining and not enough time planning. You’d be surprised to learn how little you really need to know.”

“Really? How could I possibly know how little I need to know, when, as it stands, I don’t know a damn thing?”

Chow shrugged. “You speak in riddles, grasshopper. The point is, for today I’ve run out of time.”

“What do we do with the General? How much danger is he in? And how about the rest of us?”

I had told Chow about Aunt Rachel’s hit-and-run “accident” and wondered aloud if it had been intended as an attack on George. I was desperate to resolve something, afraid that after this incredible tale Chow would slip away, and I’d never see him again.

“We still need to figure out what to do, Tim. The consequences of his not returning to Valley Forge are huge, as you can guess. We must get him back there. And soon.”

“Frankly, Mr. Chow, I fail to see why this is my problem. Why don’t you take him with you now?”

He smiled. “That does seem like it would be simple, doesn’t it? But there are dark forces at work, and we must sit tight for right now.”

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Rules for Correct Writing Routines

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The first rule for correct writing routines is that there are no rules. None that are more correct than others.

I’ve seen interviews with writers and teachers in books, magazines, and videos, where they espouse a particular routine. Gotta write every day, they say. Gotta write at the same time, in the same place, surrounded by calm. Sure.

Those admirable but arbitrary “gottas” just don’t fit everyone’s life. I wrote much of my first book while on the road. It’s called Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil, a memoir of my decades as a cinematographer, shooting film and video projects around the globe. A number of the 18 stories in Showdown began as blog posts from faraway hotels. Much of the rest invaded my imagination at home in front of a ballgame on TV, surrounded by kids and chaos. If I had waited for calm and a settled routine, the book would never have happened.

I don’t write every day, or at the same time. Far from it. If that works for you, great. If it doesn’t, don’t feel guilty, just grab those minutes and hours of writing time whenever and wherever you can.

That doesn’t mean all writing habits are pointless. Whenever I start a writing session, I like to go back over the last thing I’ve worked on and read it aloud. That’s how I re-engage my brain in my writing. It’s a good kickstarter for the gray matter. In fact, it’s a good technique at any point in the writing process. I often read my work aloud, to make sure it pleases the ear and flows with the rhythms of genuine speech and lucid description. I do try to avoid insipid, pointless dialogue and boring exposition.

I still write short pieces with Microsoft Word, but I wrote my debut novel, Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale, in Scrivener, a wonderful, highly adaptable bit of writing software from Literature and Latte. Inexpensive ($49), but immensely powerful. Scrivener makes it easy to create and edit chapters, which was perfect for me, because George ended up with 80 chapters that I had to reorder, split, combine, and monkey with several times. I don’t know how I would have done that in Word without tearing my hair out. A writer friend of mine keeps all the short pieces she’s working on in one Scrivener document and outputs each one separately to Word as needed.

Scrivener is pretty easy to master on a basic level — writing text, organizing sections, and pushing chapters around. It also has outlining functions, a way to display ideas on virtual index cards on a virtual corkboard, sections to use for character studies, and a place to plug in external research materials.

And it has massive customization controls. It’s not a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program like Word. With Scrivener, What You See on screen is customizable for the best screen experience — perhaps wider columns, larger text, a specialty screen font. What You Get when you output a Scrivener project to Word is separately adjustable, as are many of the headings, colors, display sizes, and font choices. You’d be surprised what a difference that makes. And for an old Mac Font Head like me, it’s heaven to play with … or, uh, optimize and maximize.

The kids are long gone and peace and quiet prevail in our house now, but it took me several years to pry myself away from writing at the dining room table and take over our small back bedroom as my office. It’s a great space for me to work in my three main areas of interest: writing, photography, and storytelling. I work at a nice wooden desk with my Mac laptop up on a stand to match its height with a second large monitor next to it. I use an external keyboard in a tray attached to the desk. Next to me is a door to our deck and garden.

Over the past seven years, I wrote and edited and published my second book, Finding George Washington, from my office. Because it’s a pandemic publication, all launch parties, readings, and events to date have been on Zoom, so I’ve had to equip my office with additional lighting, an upscale webcam, and a decent mic on a small stand. Can’t have the cinematographer’s video inaudible or looking muddy, dark, or out of focus!

One more thing: privacy. My wife grew up in a household where closed doors were a no-no, so it took us years of negotiation at first to learn to accommodate each other’s needs. It’s important to me to keep my office door closed, so that I’m not too distracted by the noise of the house. I often like to play music, which screens outside sounds and sometimes aids contemplation. I prefer soft jazz like the gentler sides of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, sometimes classical music. Never anything with lyrics or other distractions.

That’s how I do it, but your mileage may vary. Whatever works for you. If you’ve got the drive to write, it takes more than just inspiration. It takes perseverance, confidence in yourself, belief in your characters and story. And many hours in the chair. So get a comfy seat, create a workspace that suits you, and develop your own “correct” writing habits.

Bill Zarchy filmed projects on six continents during his 40 years as a cinematographer, captured in his first book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil. Now he writes novels, takes photos, and talks of many things.

Bill’s career includes filming three former presidents for the Emmy-winning West Wing Documentary Special, the Grammy-winning Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, feature films Conceiving Ada and Read You Like A Book, PBS science series Closer to Truth, musical performances as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Weird Al Yankovic, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and countless high-end projects for technology and medical companies.

His tales from the road, personal essays, and technical articles have appeared in Travelers’ Tales and Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, and American Cinematographer, Emmy, and other trade magazines.

Bill has a BA in Government from Dartmouth and an MA in Film from Stanford. He taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for twelve years. He is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a graduate of the EPIC Storytelling Program at Stagebridge in Oakland. This is his first novel.


Bill Zarchy be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Guns & Smoke by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith


Dystopia meets western romance in this collaboration between authors Lauren Sevier and A. Smith. Check out an excerpt from Guns & Smoke and then follow the tour for even more! Best of luck entering the giveaway!

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun danger lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

Read an excerpt:
“Those for me?” she asked. I hadn’t realized she was awake. I nodded, once again helping her sit up. I eased off the ruined dress and put the dry clothes on her as carefully as possible. I started to climb from the wagon to let her rest, but she reached out, grabbing my wrist.

“Please don’t go,” she said, her voice barely a whisper.

With a nod, I moved behind her, sitting with my back against the stolen crates. She leaned between my legs, resting her head against my chest. I brushed some of her matted hair away, pressing my lips to her temple. I held her, not tight enough to hurt her, but enough to let her know I was there.

“We can’t stay here,” she said after a while. Her voice startled me into alertness. “Coyotes are gonna come when they catch the scent of that horse.” Suddenly, I had an idea about what to do with the horse.

“I know,” I said. “But you need to rest.”

“We need to keep going,” she said. Neither of us moved as I sat there, holding her, lips pressed against her hair.

“Just let me hold you,” I whispered. “Just a little while longer.”

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Lauren Sevier & A. Smith are long time friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns & Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on TikTok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

Lauren Sevier:

Lauren Sevier and A. Smith will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

To Catch a Dream by Morgan Sheppard


Welcome to the blurb blitz for the contemporary romance To Catch a Dream by Morgan Sheppard. I'm just loving this cover! Enjoy an excerpt before you download your own copy. Be sure to follow the tour for even more, leaving comments and questions along the way. And of course, best of luck entering the giveaway!

A new job and good friends, twenty-six-year-old Caitlin has it all. Strong, independent, and content with her life, Caitlin isn’t looking for love.

Smart, sexy, and sweet, Will is everything a girl could want. He also makes Caitlin want things she was certain she could live without.

Life isn't always simple though, and Caitlin has decisions to make. Her ex-boyfriend, Andrew, is still hanging around and causing trouble. Not only that, but Cat refuses to choose between a new man and her two best friends.

With her heart on the line, Caitlin must decide if she's prepared to take a chance or play it safe.

To Catch a Dream is a sweet contemporary romance with sensual moments. It also contains some strong language.

Read an excerpt:

“Don’t you start,” I grinned at her. “You know why it can never happen with Will. I don’t play games, so I don’t want him to think there’s a chance.” 
“Are you all omniscient then?” she asked me. “You know your future? Wow, you’re even better than I thought you were. Cam and I are going on holiday in three months. Can you tell me what the weather’s going to be like?”

I gave her a small push, my lips quirking. “Yeah, alright, I get what you mean, Ash. But you know I can’t.”

“No, what I know is Will is one of my best friends, and I haven’t seen him react this way to anyone, like ever. I like you, and think you’ve had a rough go of it, but, Cat, don’t you see? You’re letting your past hold you back. What if your future is with Will but, being as stubborn as you are, you let it slip through your fingers.”

My eyes widened as Ashley spoke, and the hairs on my arms stood up. I rubbed them briskly as I faced her. “I get it, Ash. I really do. I’m just… I can’t, not yet. Maybe not ever. I think Andrew broke me.”

Ashley snorted. “No, he didn’t. Even after a week, I know you’re stronger than you think. You’re not stronger because of what you’ve been through. You got through it because you’re strong! Andrew will get what’s coming to him, and you’ll be the one to give it to him.” She tapped her chin and looked thoughtful. “Mind you, if Ben were to get in on the act, I’d pay to see it. That boy has a lot of pent up anger towards your ex.”

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Originally from the United Kingdom, Morgan Sheppard now resides in Germany, although she freely admits to having left part of her heart in Wales. 

Whilst a writer mainly in the fantasy genre, Morgan is more than happy to share her love of reading amongst the many different genres out there, and can always be found with a book close by.

As well as reading and writing, Morgan spends her time looking after her family and trying to learn German. Unfortunately, a natural aptitude for languages doesn’t appear to be one of her strong points. However, stubbornness is, so she continues to persevere. So far, Morgan is confident enough to order a beer and a pretzel.

You can also subscribe to her mailing list here, and get a #FREE copy of Marella, the book that started the World of Wraidd Elfennol series:




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Morgan Sheppard will be awarding a $5 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Things you didn't know about David Pereda, author of The Wall


Sometimes even an author's biggest fans may be surprised by some new things they can learn about their favorite author. Today, author David Pereda is sharing some new insights into himself and his writing. You can also take a peek inside his new book, The Wall, and then download your own copy. Be sure to follow the tour for even more, leaving questions and comments along the way. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

THOMAS BERTRAM is an American living in San Salvador with his fiancée CECILIA. They own a popular neighborhood restaurant and plan to wed soon. Thomas's dream is to obtain a resident visa for Cecilia and return to the United States.

DOMINGO JIMENEZ and his wife BLANCA own a small repair shop across the street. Domingo's dream is to move to America as well so that his seven-year-old daughter NANCY can grow up speaking English and having a good education and a better life than he and Blanca had.

When armed gang members invade their neighborhood to demand "protection" money and threaten them with death if they don't pay, Thomas and Domingo's dreams for the future take on a new perspective. They decide to flee the country with their families through Guatemala and Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

But their journey is more challenging than expected, and they face a myriad of difficulties and must overcome multiple obstacles that put not only their dreams but also their lives at risk.

Read an excerpt:
Thomas’s first impression was that Ciudad Juarez was a city suffering from schizophrenia.

Based on the Reforma newspaper article he was skimming before he fell asleep, the schizophrenia was even more severe than it appeared from the airplane window. According to the report, murderous dark forces moved underground through the city with impunity. Coexisting with a well-educated and law-abiding middle class breathed some of the world's most feared and violent drug cartels. And while the local police bragged about having achieved a drastic reduction in crime over the past decade, more than 1,000 women had been murdered—and over 3,000 reported missing during the same period.

The article hinted at a police-force cover-up—and even possible police involvement—and blamed the crimes on the transient population seeking to cross the border illegally into the United States. It ended with an impassioned plea to Mexican authorities.

It all read like blah-blah-blah to Thomas.

As the jetliner banked for a runway approach, he spotted some of the transient population described in the article. Small groups of people dotted the protracted chain-link fence, plastic bags either slung over their shoulders or resting on the ground at their feet. Thomas wondered how much the article's writer had been paid to blame those poor souls whose only desire was to find a better life in the United States.

Cecilia saw them too. “What are those people doing?”

“Waiting for night,” Thomas said as the plane straightened, and he lost sight of the fence. “To cross to the other side.”

The pilot landed with a jolt. After a couple of bounces that elicited frightened cries from alarmed passengers, the aircraft rolled to a stop on the tarmac in front of an oblong cream-colored building. Cecilia, Alex, and Thomas deplaned and were guided toward one of the doors by uniformed immigration officials. The sun was so hot that Thomas’s skin crinkled.

“We have to go through immigration?” Thomas asked, raising an eyebrow. “I thought we were in Mexico.”

“Border towns in Mexico always check your documents,” Alex said. “I don’t know why. I guess it’s in case you’re planning to cross into the United States illegally.”

Cecilia glanced at Thomas with concern, and he noted the dark circles under her eyes.

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***Followers of the GoddessFish Tour can now receive an exclusive and hefty discount on the ebook price of The Wall - from $6.99 to only $2.99. Here are the details:
1) Go to
2) Choose to Buy the book
3) Select the format when prompted.
4) When checking out, enter this discount: TV96K
5) Follow directions to check out and download the book and pay only $2.99 instead of $6.99.

--> The code TV96K can be distributed to anyone you'd like without limit. The coupon expires on December 31, 2021.

This discount will also become available at Barnes & Noble, Apple Store, and other ebook retailers but it may take up to 72 hours for the price to be updated on those platforms. Meanwhile, ordering it from Smashwords will work on any ebook platform and device.***

Things About Me Fans May Not Know

There are many things about me fans may not know. However, I don’t want fans to know everything about me, either, so I’ll stick in this article to stuff about me I don’t mind sharing.

The first one is that my most successful book is one my fans have probably never read, or, if they did, they didn’t know I wrote it. The book sold 50,000 copies, and it was famous for a while. I wrote it under a pen name, which I won’t disclose, and it was an erotic novel. My then-agent wanted me to write more, but I declined. My first daughter had just been born, and I didn’t want her growing up and asking me one day, “What kind of books do you write, dad?” And me answering, “I write erotic books, honey.”

So, I didn’t write any more erotic books.

The second thing my fans may not know about me, since I have published eleven novels and several of them have earned literary awards, is that English is my second language. I’m an immigrant myself, which helped me identify with the characters when writing THE WALL. I was a penniless nineteen-year-old non-English speaker when I arrived in America, clutching my immigration papers. While that happened a long time ago, I have never forgotten those early memories. I came to the United States seeking the American Dream: to be successful and have a better life than the one I had in my country of birth.

And I have.

My life has been a fantastic rollercoaster ride. I have been a millionaire three times, and three times I have lost everything and had to start with nothing all over again. I have been married several times to lovely and awesome women from different countries, including a French aristocrat who introduced me to European nobility, that gave me five beautiful children. I have traveled worldwide on business and pleasure to more than thirty countries, including those described in THE WALL. I have earned three college degrees: English Literature, Mathematics, and an MBA. I have lived in six different countries and learned four languages, including those spoken in the book. I have competed in show jumping, equestrian events, and track and won multiple medals and ribbons. And I have done a lot of crazy but fulfilling things too: race sports cars, jump obstacles higher than Michael Jordan on horseback, ride racing camels in the Arabian desert, and a few other things that bring smiles to my lips but that I will never share with anyone because I’m not the kiss-and-tell type.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about me, and possibly the most unexpected, is that I’m a cowboy at heart. I love the cowboy ideal, whether real or not—honesty, loyalty, and courage. In my teens, I dreamed of running away to Canada and becoming a cowboy. I still dream of owning a ranch with horses and cattle and living a cowboy life.

Who knows, now that my youngest daughter is going away to college, I may just do that. I love the smell of horse sweat in the morning.

David Pereda is the award-winning author of eleven thrillers and mainstream novels. His books have won the Lighthouse Book Awards twice, the Royal Palm Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Readers Favorite Awards twice. He has traveled to more than thirty countries around the world and speaks four languages

Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, Pereda had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, Pereda earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned BA degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He loves sports and has won many prizes competing in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

Pereda lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College.

Visit him online at:




David Pereda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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