Love Has No Limits

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Armine Papouchian and her self-help spiritual book Love Has No Limits.

Author’s description

At sixteen, Armine fell in love for the first time and lost that love for the first time. She was the youngest daughter of three in Armenia and the only one underage when her parents decided to immigrate to the United States. She had to go with and leave her beloved Alex behind. Her parents saw a land of opportunity while Armine saw heartbreak. It wasn’t the end of her story with Alex and certainly not the end of her life,as it had felt at the time, but there was more pain to follow. Sixteen-year-olds are resilient, but even when losses and hurt came calling repeatedly throughout Armine’s life, she had the strength to love and to rise again and again. Even as life moves on for Armine and Alex, their lives intersect again and again over the course of thirty years. Through deaths and divorces, their lives never quite line up from their opposite sides of the globe. Love Has No Limits is Armine’s story of keeping faith in oneself and in love despite heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. It reveals the joy available to those who rise and rise again.

About the Author

Arminé was born in Soviet Armenia and immigrated to United States with her parents when she was 17.  She worked in the health care industry for 33 years and held key leadership roles in various health plans. Most recently, she retired from a senior executive position to pursue service and paying forward.

She is currently involved in various volunteer roles. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, gardening, art museums, concerts, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.

Love Has No Limits is her first book.

Find the Author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56512392-love-has-no-limits

Buy the Book

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RJ6152L

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

While drinking a glass of red wine, I watched the blazing fire roll down the hill. I got the second emergency alert call to evacuate immediately. I couldn’t believe this was happening again. Last time this happened my son still lived at home, my parents lived with us, and Peaches, our sweet dog was still alive. Back then, I had to get everyone organized, packed, and ready to evacuate. Back then, I’d been more nervous, concerned about my aging parents, my teenage son and our dog, who could sense the tension and had anxiously paced back and forth with her tongue hanging out.

This time, it was just me. I thought about what I should take with me. After all, I had already lost so much in life, yet at the same time, I felt I was blessed with all that I still had. After all, my parents had moved me halfway around the world when I was a teenager, leaving my love behind. I had grieved losing two husbands by the time I was 50, another husband in between who betrayed me at my most vulnerable moment, and I’d struggled with my father’s cancer, which ended in suicide. Just as I was catching my breath, I had to put my dog to sleep followed by my mother’s long-term illness and her painful 1 death. At the same time, I was so grateful for all I had. I was so happy that I was not angry and resentful. I was not bitter; I was content. I had love again, and I was stronger than ever before. I was still standing.

As I packed a change of clothes, my laptop, few photo albums that my son requested and my small metal safe deposit box with important documents, I reflected on how little all our possessions really matter to us. As I was packing the albums, the memories started to come back, old wounds flared up and I started to feel the pain and the deep sadness. I ached for my son who had lost his father at age ten. I felt lonely; I missed the people I had in my life that I’d loved and lost. I missed all they brought to my life. At times, I could not believe I had survived all that had happened in my life in such a short time. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized the effects those pictures had on me and why I did not even want to take those albums with me. I had the memories in my heart and that’s all I could ever have, the rest of my life. I realized that’s why I no longer made photo albums. I realized how simplistic life had become for me. I did not need much. I cherished the moments I was with the people I loved and that is all I ever needed.

 

She’ll be here in two weeks

She’s the One Who Cares Too Much

Book 2, my story of the soft-spoken and caring sister who discovers her own fierce power, will be available for purchase Friday Feb 12 and can be pre-ordered now.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with Coral’s story at first. Her personality was too mild for my taste (I like wilder women) and her dreams were so traditional. But over the months we spent together, she won me over as we discovered her power and strength together.

Every woman has a right to pursue her own happiness, and while Coral may want the simple things in life, she’s hardly a simple lady. Furthermore, in the end she may really be the one sister who saves Ilari. I think there is a good chance it’s true, but I’ll have to keep writing to find out.

Gumbeaux Love

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jax Freyand and her southern women’s fiction novel, Gumbeaux Love.

Author’s description

The adventures of the Gumbeaux Sistahs continues. Five, fiery southern women wage wars against their unique problems using their improbable friendships, hilarious evil-genius schemes, strategy sessions with oh-so-many cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

Single, Southern artist, Judith Lafferty, casually confesses to her Gumbeaux Sistahs that she is occasionally lonely and would like to fall in love again. Seriously – you’d think she would know to keep her mouth shut around these women by now. The sistahs tackle her problem along with their own with their usual unreasonable, extreme plots and schemes, including a kidnapping, a cupid costume, trying out pick-up lines at the cheese counter, and blind dates from hell. In helping out their friend, the sistahs help each other out as well and bring to light the many flavors of love in all of our lives. Be ready for twists, turns, laugh-out-loud times, and heart-wrenching moments. You’ll be sure to recognize yourself and your best friends in the unstoppable sistahs.

What makes Louisiana Women So Special?

I’ve lived most of my adult life in the south, including nearly seven years in Lafayette Louisiana. So when given the chance to ask author Jax Freyand any question at all, I just had to know what it was she thought was distinctive about Southern women.

To my delight, she answered me specifically about the women of Louisiana. I have to say, I agree with her answer.

Not sure I can speak for all southern women,  but I know Louisiana women! Here’s what I find unique about them:

1.      Attitude – there’s a certain type of openness, impetuousness, and willingness to jump into the party spirit on a moment’s notice that happens to women in Louisiana.  Hand them a second-line handkerchief, and they will grab their own outlandish hats, beads, and boas and go off with total strangers, dancing down the street. It quite normal to the natives, but visitors notice it and are often enticed to move here because of it and many other reasons.

2.      Food – yes, food shows up everywhere in the US when women get together. Pot lucks and parties always turn up macaroni, potato salads, and baked beans. But when Louisiana women get together, Cher! Gumbo with hot French bread, little muffulettas, crawfish pasta, jambalaya, pulled pork po-boys, and bourbon bread pudding are just many of the unique mainstays for that group!

3.      Friendliness – sure there are friendly people all over the world. Thank you, God! But you can count on it in Louisiana. That’s how we were raised.

About the Author

Born in New Orleans, Jax came into this world with a sense of celebration of southern culture, food, family and fun. Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling. Her colorful art depicts everything from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings of southern icons. Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist from the World’s Record Academy.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her loveable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy.

The Gumbeaux Sistahs’ series of novels is a work of love for Jax After painting the Sistahs for many years, she finally gives voice to these women characters who have something to say and constantly make Jax laugh when she writes about them.

Find the Author

Website: http://www.gumbeauxsistahs.com/
Jax art and gifts can be seen at www.artbyjax.com.

Buy the Book

Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Gumbeaux-Love-Book-Sistahs-novels-ebook/dp/B08GJ9FZX5/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Judith rinsed her juice glass in the kitchen sink just as the doorbell rang.

“Who in the world at this hour?” she thought, shaking her head and glancing at the clock on the wall. “It’s not even eight o’clock.”

She walked to the front door and started to open it, but before she could swing it open all the way, a hand clutching a paper coffee cup shoved its way inside, barely missing her face.

“What?” she yelped. Then she laughed. “Oh no, are you kidding me?” She opened the door to five Gumbeaux Sistahs, including Bea, Helen, Dawn, Lola, and Trinity who stood on her front stoop holding coffee. It was especially a surprise to see Trinity there since she lived across the lake and had a long way to come. But the most unexpected thing of all was Dawn, who stood there looking embarrassed as all get-out, wearing a big, red Cupid costume.

“Not again!” said Judith, rolling her eyes and remembering that this was exactly the way that the sistahs had originally kidnapped her and become her best friends in the world.

Dawn grimaced and said, “I don’t know why I’m always the one who has to wear a stupid costume.”

Thank you!

Jax Freyand — we appreciate your sharing your book Gumbeaux Love with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

 

The Salty Rose

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Beth M. Caruso and her historical fiction novel The Salty Rose.

 Author’s description

Marie du Trieux, a tavern keeper with a salty tongue and a heart of gold, struggles as she navigates love and loss, Native wars, and possible banishment by authorities in the unruly trading port of New Amsterdam, an outpost of the Dutch West India Company.

 

In New England, John Tinker, merchant and assistant to a renowned alchemist and eventual leader of Connecticut Colony, must come to terms with a family tragedy of dark proportions, all the while supporting his mentor’s secret quest to find the Northwest Passage, a desired trading route purported to mystically unite the East with the West.

 

As the lives of Marie and John become intertwined through friendship and trade, a search for justice of a Dutch woman accused of witchcraft in Hartford puts them on a collision course affecting not only their own destinies but also the fate of colonial America.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Beth M. Caruso, is passionate to discover and convey important and interesting stories of women from earlier times. She recently won the literary prize in Genre Fiction (2020) from IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England) for her most recent novel The Salty Rose: Alchemists, Witches & A Tapper In New Amsterdam (2019). The Salty Rose is Beth’s second historical novel and explores alchemy in early colonial times, an insider’s view of the takeover of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and the Hartford Witch Panic with information she gathered from previous and ongoing research. Beth’s first historical novel is One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging (2015), a novel that tells the tale of Alice ‘Alse’ Young and the beginnings of the colonial witch trials. She based the story on original research she did by exploring early primary sources such as early Windsor land records, vital statistics, and other documents. She lives in Connecticut with her family. Beth kayaks and gardens to unwind.

Find the Author

Website: http://www.oneofwindsor.com
Email: oneofwindsor@yahoo.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oneofwindsor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethmcaruso/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Salty-Rose-Alchemists-Witches-Amsterdam/dp/1733373802

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-salty-rose-beth-m-caruso/1133991342

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

An Exclusive Excerpt for Us!

Chapter 7.

“Hello, Marie. Listen to Grandmamma so she can get a better look at you,” Sara said.

The midwife winked. “Yes, come, Marie. My granddaughter knows what’s best,” she said, smiling.

I guided them to a small room in the back of the tavern. In the exterior wall near the corner was the secret slot where the Indians who wanted a drink after hours placed their deer meat or other trade goods in hopes of a discreet exchange for liquor. My guests couldn’t see it since it was well hidden from the inside by a sliding facade.

“Sit, Marie, I need to see those feet. Are you still sick to your stomach?” she questioned.

I took a seat in a tall-backed wooden chair carved as a marriage present from Henri La Chaîne, a furniture maker and friend.

“No, it’s passed already. I’m fine, just a little tired but no more than with any other child,” I responded.

The midwife carefully placed her hand over my belly. “Do you feel her moving about?” she referred to the baby.

A loud crash emanated from the front of the tavern. The babe in my womb stirred abruptly in response.

“What’s this?” she cried.

We ran to the front, the three of us, to see what was the matter. Business in the tavern had been at a lull when I’d retreated to the back only a few minutes earlier.

On my way to the main room, I heard a man with an English accent screaming at Domingo.

“I won’t take a drink from a filthy rogue like you. Where’s your mistress?” He had just upended a table where Domingo had placed his drink and was ready to turn over some benches in his senseless rage. All my work of cleaning the tavern that morning was ruined in seconds.

Thank you!

Beth M. Caruso — we appreciate your sharing an exclusive excerpt from your book The Salty Rose with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

No More Secrets

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Joanne Guidoccio and her women’s fiction novel,  No More Secrets.

Author’s description

Angelica Delfino takes a special interest in the lives of her three nieces, whom she affectionately calls the daughters of her heart. Sensing that each woman is harboring a troubling, possibly even toxic secret, Angelica decides to share her secrets—secrets she had planned to take to the grave. Spellbound, the nieces listen as Angelica travels back six decades to reveal an incredulous tale of forbidden love, tragic loss, and reinvention. It is the classic immigrant story upended: an Italian widow’s transformative journey amid the most unlikely of circumstances.

Inspired by Angelica’s example, the younger women share their “First World” problems and, in the process, set themselves free.

But one heartbreaking secret remains untold…

Joanne Guidoccio shares how the people in her life influenced the characters in this story.

I’m always fascinated by how much an author draws on the people they are close to as they create their characters. Here is Guidoccio’s interesting take on this issue.

Bits and Pieces of Characters

Having lived and taught in different cities throughout the province of Ontario, I have felt free to “borrow” characteristics from friends, former colleagues, and students to create composite characters in my novels.

That was the modus operandi for the first five novels I wrote: Between Land and Sea, The Coming of Arabella, A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, and A Different Kind of Reunion.

While writing No More Secrets, I followed a slightly different path.

Angelica Delfino, the protagonist, is also a composite character. But this time, I borrowed from the Italian women of my mother’s generation. And, yes, I did include bits of my mother’s life. Before she died, Mama read an early draft and commented, “I can see myself here, as well as…” and then she mentioned several relatives and close friends.

The three nieces—Velia, Nora, and Teresa—belong to Generation Y. While sketching their characters, I considered former students but also thought back to my own experiences.

Growing up, I was surrounded by several friends and relatives who resembled Velia, the quintessential good Italian girl who followed the script. While I demonstrated some of her self-discipline and motivation for academic achievement, I didn’t marry at an early age, nor did I choose to stay home and raise a family.

Nora, Velia’s polar opposite, is considered the black sheep of the clan. Impulsive and carefree (at times reckless), Nora has taken many risks in her personal and work lives. Her disastrous marriage barely lasted one year. Often described as a Career ADDer, she experimented with several careers before finding her niche as an interior designer. In my late twenties and early thirties, I did go through a brief period of job-hopping.

Like Teresa, the youngest niece, I settled in Guelph, a mid-sized city in south-central Ontario. We are both introverts and teachers at Catholic school boards, but the resemblance ends there. A theology department head, Teresa is more spiritually inclined. Early in the novel, she speaks wistfully about her missionary work–something I admire but could never do.

Bellastrega, aka Lynn Miller, started off as a minor character. Initially, I intended to have Angelica’s psychic companion appear briefly in the first chapter. All that changed after she started invading my dreams. She ended up with her own POV and full control of the epilogue. Her character was inspired by a psychic in Northern Ontario. While I don’t possess psychic abilities, I do share a common interest with Bellastrega. When I retired twelve years ago, I made wellness a priority in my life. Many of Bellastrega’s comments and suggestions could easily have come from me.

About the Author

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio took advantage of early retirement and launched a second act as a writer. Her articles and book reviews have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Joanne writes paranormal romances, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario. 

Find the Author

Website – https://joanneguidoccio.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.ca/jguidoccio/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanneguidoccio
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanneguidoccio/
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Joanne-Guidoccio/e/B00FAWJGCG/

Buy the Book

Amazon (US) –  https://www.amazon.com/No-More-Secrets-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B08CVTYWWX
Amazon (Canada) – https://www.amazon.ca/No-More-Secrets-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B08CVTYWWX
Amazon (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-More-Secrets-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B08CVTYWWX
Amazon (Australia) – https://www.amazon.com.au/No-More-Secrets-Joanne-Guidoccio-ebook/dp/B08CVTYWWX/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“Go,” Kelly said. “Your aunt is dying, and this could be your last opportunity to spend some quality time together.”

“Her oncologist shared good news last week,” Nora said. “Her blood counts have improved, and the cancer hadn’t spread since her last visit. He mumbled something about a miracle.”

“A miracle?” Kelly’s eyes widened. “Has your aunt been seeing a healer?”

“You could say that,” Nora said as her eyes twinkled. “Right after Christmas, she hired a companion who’s been able to transform her life. I don’t know her real name. My mother calls her Bellastrega—beautiful witch.” All recent conversations with Ma had focused on Bellastrega. Relieved not to have to share her own problems, Nora had encouraged her mother to talk about the beautiful witch who had turned all their lives upside down. Nora enjoyed the weekly updates that sounded like soap operas.

“Is she a beautiful witch?”

Nora shrugged. “My mother mentioned her dyed-blonde hair, too-skinny body, and watery eyes. She’s put Zia on a vegan diet and an exercise regimen. At Christmas, Zia needed a walker to get around, but now she’s walking freely. My mother and aunt are convinced that Bellastrega is a witch who’ll end up robbing Angelica and leaving.” Nora had tried to point out that if Bellastrega’s intention was to steal, it would make more sense to let Angelica get weaker.

“She sounds intriguing,” Kelly said. “I’d go just to meet this woman.”

“Hmm. I guess.” Nora was curious and wouldn’t mind sitting and chatting with the woman about wellness. But from Zia Angelica’s email, it sounded like Bellastrega would leave soon after everyone arrived.

“Think of it as an adventure. How many beautiful witches have you met in this lifetime?”

Thank you!

Joanne Guidoccio — we appreciate your sharing information about No More Secrets with us! Best of luck with your book sales, and with all of your future writing.

All Bags Go To Cleveland

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author C. S. Hale and her paranormal romantic comedy novel, All Bags Go To Cleveland

Author’s description

Angela Grimalke appears more blonde bombshell than the gremlin she is. But there is no denying her supernatural truth after her clumsiness gets her fired from her modeling career. Forced to work for her family’s upscale airline, she spends her days slinging luggage and wishing her parents would get off her back about finding a nice gremlin guy to settle down with.

Relationships were the last thing on her mind, not that her family would accept that.

For Dave Ford his frequent business travel made it next to impossible for him to find a woman who could tolerate his chaotic schedule. Which is why he appreciates Angela. Neither of them are looking for love, but Dave feeds Angela’s addiction for chocolate while she provides him with the chaos to keep him on his toes.

However, as Angela’s parents bombard her with a parade of “eligible” gremlin men at their weekly family dinners, she finds herself torn between who she longs to be and her family’s expectations. Will she give in and live the life of magic they want for her? Or risk it all by to confessing to Dave that she isn’t human?

About the Author

Catherine “C.S.” Hale has been writing fantasy since she could hold a pencil. When not holed up in a comfortable corner writing all her books out by longhand, she can be found somewhere by the sea, enjoying tea and pastries.

Find the Author

Website: cshalebooks.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CatSHale
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorcshale

Buy the Book

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FVDJL54

 Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Focusing on the sparks of energy skittering along her fingers, she sent her magic into the printer. Angela might look like the cover model she’d once been but no one would guess that Windsor’s check-in counter was currently staffed by a pair of gremlins. Dave’s day—or rather night and morning—were about to become a little more exciting than he’d imagined. Dave would have a nice, relaxing flight to London while his garment bag went to Cleveland.

She tamped down the tendrils of guilt rising in her gut. It needed to be done. It was this bag or some mishap not of her choosing. Besides, who in their right mind would check a Louis Vuitton garment bag? First class contained specially built closets in which to hang them. She searched Dave’s thoughts again.

Where have I seen her before?

Angela snapped right back out and jerked her head down. She attached the claim sticker to his boarding pass and handed it to Dave, keeping her focus on the counter. Hopefully, her smile hid the panic now whirring in her chest like the engines that would take Dave across the Atlantic. “Enjoy your flight, Mr. Ford.”

“Always do.” With a small salute, Dave headed toward the security queue. What were the chances he’d be so cheerful in the morning?

Blackhorse Road

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Merida Johns and her women’s fiction/romance novel, Blackhorse Road.

Author’s description

Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road’s ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way.

– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.

 Writing for People Who Relish a Compelling Story

I’ve always struggled with others’ needs for me to define my target audience.

“Uh, people who like to think? Maybe people who are curious?” I told the woman in charge of placing my paperbacks in the local bookstore.

She gave me an eye roll. “I’m going put them in young adult,” she said.

Arrgghhh. So, when Merinda Johns described her book as “more than a romance novel” I was curious. Who did she see as her intended audience? I asked her and I love her response!

Yes,  Blackhorse Road is more than a romance, and there’s an unusual backstory about what propelled me to take an offramp from writing nonfiction, mostly textbooks, to authoring fiction.

After I retired from academia, I started my practice as a leadership coach and focused on helping women break the glass ceiling and fulfill their leadership and economic potential. During the past ten years, I transitioned from writing textbooks to motivational books on creating environments where people flourish through better leadership.

About three years ago, I was on a conference call with fellow life coaches, and we were discussing concepts of what makes a fulfilling life.  Bang! Like a thunderclap, I had an insight. What would it be like to help people understand the concepts of a flourishing life in a story instead of through a motivational book or text? After all, storytelling has been the most compelling form of communication for thousands of years. As far as I could recall, none of the great Profits fed up learning objectives and multiple-choice questions to their followers.  No!  They got their message across through stories.

Since I was ten-years-old, I had wanted to write fiction, but my professional career steered me in another direction.   Now, I saw an opportunity to follow the dream I had had as a child and write books that immersed readers in the human experience rather than writing about frameworks and theories.

Blackhorse Road is best characterized as women’s fiction—a story of a woman’s journey toward a fulfilled life. It is a story about how an ordinary woman tackles challenges, lives through sorrow and betrayal, struggles with self-doubt, and acts on her aspirations to achieve flourishing life.

Blackhorse Road blossoms from my imagination that is influenced by my experience, perspectives, and observations that give the story authenticity and sensitivity, helping readers connect with the characters and feel their joy, disappointment, sorrow, and happiness.

But Blackhorse Road has more—it is enriched by the backstories that set the context for the characters and events in the story—historical incidents, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, and psychology that influence the values of the characters and ultimately the consequences of their actions.  As Connor, one of the characters in Blackhorse Road says, “Time and place shape a person.” It’s the intermingling of these forces that creates a complicated explosion and tension within and among the characters.

Even though Blackhorse Road fits squarely into women’s fiction, it is a story that can appeal to everyone.  This realization came from two “ah-ha” moments that I had.

The first came during a virtual launch party for Blackhorse Road when an audience member asked the beta readers if the book would be appropriate for younger readers.  What prompted that question was the beta readers’ observation about how the lines of communication between Luci (the protagonist) and her father play a critical role in the formation of Luci’s values and belief system, and her grit to achieve autonomy.

In response to the question, one of the beta readers said that she had given the book to her seventeen-year-old granddaughter so that the two of them could read it together, and another beta reader shared that she was reading the book with her fourteen-year-old daughter.  The consensus among the beta readers was that the book was appropriate for teens fifteen and older—an insight we had not discussed at the original meeting of the beta readers seven months earlier!

Okay, I said to myself.  Blackhorse Road is for women readers fifteen years and older.

But then a  second ah-ha moment came roaring through like a tornado when I received a text from a fifties-something man.  “Just finished Blackhorse Road.  WOW!  Very powerful.  Made me cry!  Great job.  Let me know when you have a book signing event in my area.”

So, in the end, while Blackhorse Road has a lot of romance in it, it is more than a romance novel. Blackhorse Road is for anyone who relishes a compelling story about how ordinary people tackle challenges, live through love gained and loss and sorrow and betrayal, and who struggle with self-doubt, and act on their aspirations to achieve flourishing lives.

About the Author

Merida Johns takes her experience as an educator, consultant, and businesswoman and writes about the human experience. In 2018 Merida took an unlikely off-ramp from writing textbooks and motivational books to authoring women’s fiction. Her stories are learning lessons where awareness and curiosity transport readers to the most unexpected places within themselves.  Merida hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, grew up in Southern California and has lived from coast-to-coast in the United States.  Besides writing, she enjoys fabric arts, including weaving and knitting. She makes her home in the serene Midwest countryside that gives her the inspiration and space for storytelling.

Find the Author at:
Her website:  www.MeridaJohnsAuthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeridaJohnsAuthor/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/meridajohns
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Merida-L.-Johns/e/B001IU2KBS
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/MeridaJohns
Buy Blackhorse Road on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Uncertain what to make of Luci’s stillness, Barry brought his head close to hers and asked, “What are you thinking?”

Luci held back, still gazing ahead. She turned and drilled into Barry’s blue eyes. “I guess, using an Irish term, I could say, ‘What a bunch of malarkey!’” She drew back her lips in a saucy grin and weighed his reaction.

Luci’s response was unarming but charming. Barry laughed. “No one has ever told me in such a nice way that I’m full of bullshit.”

“Well, I guess there’s that!” Luci chuckled, then turned thoughtful. “Putting the ‘BS’ aside, I’d say the story is about choices, not a lovestruck fairy tale. It’s about risks and consequences and being true to your values. It’s about living who you are and not how someone else expects you to live.”

The Last Collection

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jeanne Mackin and her historical romance novel, The Last Collection .

Author’s description

An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.

When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.

Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.

“Sophisticated couture wars and looming world wars take center stage in Mackin’s latest, with a plot that buzzes with love triangles and political intrigue. A gorgeous meditation on art, fashion, and heartbreak. Stunning.” –Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

“Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.” –Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end. –Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach

“A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!” –Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

“As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read.” –Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

Fascinating facts about WWII fashion

by Jeanne Mackin

World War II has always fascinated me.  In fact, most wars have, because they bring out the best and the worst in us, and in our cultures. They are pivotal moments where almost everything changes.  But some things don’t change. When I was researching The Last Collection, I quickly realized that women’s desire to look and feel attractive not only does NOT change, but helps us get through some very dark moments. A little vanity goes a long way!

For instance: during power blackouts in Paris, during the war, beauty salons would ask American and British soldiers who were on leave to power the salon generators for the beauty equipment!  There’s a gorgeous photograph from the era of soldiers in the basement pedaling madly away on bicycles attached to generators while women sat under the bicycle-powered hairdryers. The women are reading Vogue; the soldiers are grinning, thinking of possible rewards.

During the occupation of Paris, the Germans made stringent rules about clothing rations, even dictating how long skirts could be and how much material they could contain. Parisian women routinely broke the law and defied the Germans by making dresses with yards and yards of fabric in them, much more than the law allowed.  One reason fashion moved away from short to longer in the forties was because of this defiance.  And the hats they flaunted during the war were outrageous to the point of laughable. In her autobiography, Shocking Life, designer Elsa Schiaparelli describes war fashions as “towering turbans in which one could have hidden three lovers, hats like storks’ nests, and shoulders as wide as the streets.’  All to poke fun at the army that was destroying their country and challenging their values. Fashion as morale booster!

About the Author

Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award-winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.

Her historical fiction explores the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level.  She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East, and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.

Find the author at:
JeanneMackin.com
Facebook.com/JeanneMackinauthor
Twitter.com/JeanneMackin1

Buy the book at:
Penguin Random House – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531859/the-last-collection-by-jeanne-mackin/
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H71Q5FQ

Yes, there is a giveaway

Jeanne Mackin will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

At the ball that night there were people whose faces I recognized, a blur of memory from my first evening in Paris at the Ritz, and many more people whom I didn’t recognize at all, men with military posture, women covered with jewels, men in dresses, women in tuxedos, ingénues in pastel gowns. And Charlie and Ania, beautiful Charlie and Ania, so immersed in each other’s gaze they could have been alone rather than dancing through crowded rooms.

…Coco arrived around eleven, in a diaphanous green gown that looked like fern fronds moving in a breeze when she moved.  It was Coco, blending into nature, but still Coco.

Schiap arrived soon after, dressed, as she had promised, as a tree, covered in a rough brown cloth that looked like tree bark, with branches extending from her arms and the crown of her head. Several cloth and feather birds perched on her shoulders. Whimsical, humorous, always-make-it-look easy Schiap.  Schiap got the louder applause when she made her entrance, and I saw Coco’s smile fade.

Who knew what was going through Coco’s mind that evening? Perhaps she had dreamed the night before of the orphanage, the father who had abandoned her and the mother who had died.

Perhaps she wasn’t thinking at all but only reacting, the way dry wood reacts when a match is put to it.

A Hundred Lies

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jean M. Grant and her historical fantasy romance novel, A Hundred Lies.

Author’s description

1322, Scotland

Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her. Uprooted yet again, she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. She flees to Scotland and seeks refuge in the arms of a laird’s son who happens to be a real Seer.

 

A bloody past and inevitable future plague Domhnall Montgomerie. He avoids physical contact with others to ease the painful visions. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight. Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even it means exposing her lies?

My Review

In A Hundred Lies, Jean M. Grant has created a likable hero in Rosalie, the fake fortune teller. She has placed her in a fascinating time and place, and done the research to make the setting come alive. Finally, she’s given her a thorny dilemma to vex her, and a threatening nemesis to chase her, so we all can hold our breath, hoping the best for her as we turn the pages. I enjoyed reading Rosalie’s adventures.

I wish I’d found the tortured nobleman who loves her to be as compelling, but I never quite did. He is an honorable man with a real talent for seeing the future, and I’m all for having feisty female leads attracted to someone interesting who isn’t a jerk. But he does spend a lot of time brooding about past mishaps and his relentless remorse gets a bit tiresome. Luckily, most of the rest of the cast, including his own mother and sister, and Rosalie’s aunt and uncle, keep things moving.

I appreciated the author’s ability to articulate this distant world, but she sometimes rambled through it a bit too slowly for my tastes. Some scenes cut in and out of past memories and included local facts in ways that reduced the punch of her narrative. That minor complaint aside, I enjoyed how well everything from knowledge of herbs to catty servant girls gave me the feel of being there.

I recommend this book to those who like their romance novels to have more to them than just a couple getting together, and I also recommend it to those who enjoy historical fantasy and wouldn’t mind a romance story as part of the package. Either way, I think readers will find a lot to like about this tale.

About the Author

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Find the Author at:
Website https://www.jeanmgrant.com/
Twitter https://twitter.com/JeanGrant05
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jeanmgrantauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16582543.Jean_M_Grant
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jean-m-grant
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Jean-M.-Grant/e/B0728KFXP9/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jeanmgrant/

Yes, there is a giveaway

Jean M. Grant will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

She drew his hand into her palm. Her pulse drummed in her ears. Breathe, Rose. Breathe. His fingers trembled in her hand but neither of them released the look. She tried to convey trust and understanding with her own gentle smile. When he seemed settled, she turned her gaze to his hand. After a pause, she said, “It is as I said. Air is your element.”

“What else do you see?” He leaned in, closer. Sweat, sage, hmmm…male? Was male a scent?

Feeling his eyes upon hers, she continued to scrutinize, drawing light touches over the mounds. “You’re somewhat content, though you spend hours alone to get away?”

He held a straight face. “Easy enough facts to guess. I’m a watchman. Fortune-tellers are good in their ploy.” She refrained from arguing. He was on the defense. Understandable. Most people were. He was correct after all. She stroked his fingers. Pretended to examine. His hands were ice-cold.

All right, memory. Time to shine. The marketplace fire, something from his youth. Domhnall liked animals. Seemed to not like fire or touch. She chanced the next statement. “Something in your past upsets you.” Again, stone-faced. At least his hand had stopped trembling.

She would throw out statements until one stuck. Had she been incorrect in her eavesdropping? Surely the servants had been gossiping about Domhnall.

He chewed his lip. Held her gaze.

She paused and pushed the candle closer. “To see better.”

He flinched.

Yes. Fire. It bothered him.

Cooking for Ghosts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal mystery novel, Cooking for Ghosts.

Author’s description:

Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, Cooking for Ghosts is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

My Review

Cooking for Ghosts is based on a great premise and is filled with a terrific cast of characters and just enough ghostly activity to keep you on the edge of your seat. It has plenty of humor, a lot of romance, and a few surprises.

My favorite aspects of this book included the many strong female characters and the wide variety of people who are written with affection and empathy. I appreciated the detailed look into the foodservice industry (where I once worked) and the wonderful descriptions of mouth-watering dishes.

I also thought the author hit exactly the right notes in this mostly-gentle ghost story. The paranormal parts were interesting and occasionally thought-provoking without being either horrifying (or disgusting) or being too cute.

I did struggle with the sheer amount of drama and trauma in every character’s life and, after a while, I found myself yearning to be introduced to someone without major issues. I  also got frustrated a few times when the backstories went on too long. I wanted to get back to the action moving this story forward.

The things I liked about this book far out-weighed those I didn’t, so I’d recommend it to anyone who appreciates complex stories of women’s lives, or novels about cooking fine food, or well-done ghost stories. If you enjoy two out of three, you are going to love this book!

About the Author:

Patricia v. Davis’s debut novel series, the secret spice cafe, is comprised of three books: s Cooking for Ghosts (2016) Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-seasoned (2019). The audiobooks will be released in 2020 by Tantor media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon.

Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California.

Say hello to Patricia at her author website: www.TheSecretSpice.com.
You can also find her at
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/authorpatriciavdavis/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/patriciaVdavis
TikTok:        @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_V._Davis

Buy The Secret Spice Cafe trilogy on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Patricia v. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Unconcerned with what her business partners were up to, Rohini was giggling with excitement. Hugging herself, she whirled in circles, then flung her arms up over her head and collapsed back in dizzy elation onto the enormous bed in the glorious stateroom. Everything was glorious. She was here. This was her room. The Secret Spice was, in part, her restaurant.

Hers.

And when she’d first seen the Queen from the back seat of Cynthia’s preposterous little car, she knew she was headed to exactly where she should be. She couldn’t stop smiling, until, abruptly, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes misted with tears.

“I made it, Zahir,” she whispered. “I made it.”

She sobered as she thought of him, of all he’d done for her, and all that she might still need to do on her own.

But that wasn’t for today. Today was for celebration and thankfulness. Getting up from the bed, she opened her case, pulled out all the little plastic sacks of spices and herbs she’d packed, and sighed with relief. Not a one had opened or torn. Even so, she could smell their pungent bouquet right through the protective wrappings. Rauvolfia, Serpentina, Jaiphal, Javitri, Khus Khus, Ashwagandha and more — why did cinnamon always smell the strongest? There were dozens of varieties that she’d stuffed inside shirt sleeves and trouser legs and white cotton gym socks, just like a drug dealer might hide a stash. The TSA had missed them completely. They’d even affixed a sticker to the top of her bag: “Checked by Homeland Security.”

Giggling again at that, Rohini placed all the smaller sacks into a large white bag she’d found in the wardrobe. The bag had a price list for various laundry services printed on it. With that mission accomplished, she took her treasures downstairs to the kitchen.

But she wasn’t two steps in before she stopped stock still and remained right where she was, listening.

“Oh, my,” she murmured to herself. “Oh, my, my, my.”

Now she understood why she’d felt that the ship had summoned her. To anyone else who might peek in, the kitchen appeared silent and empty. But not to Rohini. She could hear the walls sighing.

Gradually, she walked further inside, and the sighs turned to whispers. She stood still, breathing cautiously, waiting, watching. In unison, the stainless steel cooking utensils dangling from the long, narrow cylinders that were screwed to the walls began to sway, soundlessly. The copper pots that hung from the ceiling over the two spanking-new ovens and eight burner stoves began to twirl, gracefully. Every inanimate object in the room that wasn’t bolted down was waltzing eerily, on its own. To Rohini, the dance seemed sad rather than ghoulish.

Walking quietly, listening carefully, she followed the hushed sounds as they moved along the walls, leading her back to the scullery. As she approached, an ancient, enormous, floor-to-ceiling freezer blew out a puff of ice-cold air as its door swung wide open as though it were greeting her, then gently clicked closed again.

Unafraid, Rohini observed it all. Still clinging to the laundry bag filled with her precious sacks of spices, she turned in a full circle, leisurely, so as not to miss any of it. After a while, she set the bag down on one of the gleaming stainless steel work tables. Bending into a full and formal curtsy, she spoke aloud.

“It is my great honor to meet you, Your Majesty.”