The Ack Ack Girl

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Chris Karlsen and her historical romance novel, The Ack Ack Girl.

Author’s description

Love and War
A country under attack and the story of one woman’s fight to protect England and her heart.
1941. The German war machine has crushed all of Europe-only England holds fast. To force a surrender, the German Luftwaffe bombs cities and villages the length of the country. As the battle rages, Britain is in desperate need to put more pilots in the air.
To free up more men a new unit is formed: The Ack Ack Girls. These special teams of courageous women will now fight in the anti-aircraft stations. Determined to be part of the effort, Ava Armstrong, volunteers for one of the special teams.
Her unit just happens to be located near an RAF airfield teaming with pilots. Sparks fly, and not just from artillery, when Ava crosses paths with Chris Fairfield, a handsome and cocky pilot stationed there. But nothing is easy in time of war, not even love.

My Review

Chris Karlsen focuses on an amazing event in history that has received surprisingly little attention. As WWII drug on, some English women in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the ATS, a branch of the women’s army) served in crews of anti-aircraft fighters.

Author Karlsen focuses on one such woman, as she takes you into her day to day life. You learn about Ava’s family history and details of the sort of cake she prefers, the cat she saves in Coventry, and her favorite songs. Karlsen lets the reader follow her emotional journey as she faces her anger at the Germans,  joins the ATS, and becomes attracted to a fighter pilot. The nonchalant sexism of the day (by both men and women) is presented through conversation, as are the fears and frustrations caused by the war.

What I liked most about this book was the way Karlsen made me feel as if I walked through life with Ava. This author has an incredible ability to include sights, sounds and smells to make a scene seem real. For example, Ava doesn’t just sit down. “Careful of the peeling paint and rough wood, Ava sat in the rickety bench in front of the barracks to wait for him.” See what I mean?

I also applaud the amount of research put into this novel. From details on the women’s uniforms (and shoes!) to specifics about the tasks the women were trained and allowed to perform, the breath of information is astounding.

I did struggled a little with the style of the book. The author inserts gaps in time, with no more explanation or transition that to say “Coventry-later that day.” To me, it gave the story a feel of walking through an art gallery, looking at related and beautifully done paintings. I’m used to a book being more like a movie, where the action flows and almost everything presented moves the story along. Here, a lot of the detail seems to only serve the purpose of immersing the reader in the immediate scene, well done though that scene may be.

I’d recommend this book to many sorts of readers. Those fascinated by modern history and particularly World War Two would enjoy it, as would those interested in stories of women being allowed to step out of traditional roles, particularly during wartime. It has a romance at it’s center, but it’s also a book about female friendship.

My strongest recommendation, however, would go to anyone wanting to leave this time and place for a while and thoroughly experience another. Go — be part of Britain’s war effort. Reading this book is as close as you’re likely to get to using a time machine.

About the Author

SONY DSC

I was raised in Chicago. My father, a history professor, and my mother, a voracious reader passed on a love of history and books along with a love of travel. My husband and I retired to the Pacific Northwest where we live with four crazy rescue dogs.

I am a retired police detective. After twenty-five years in law enforcement, I decided to pursue my dream of writing. I’ve completed a historical-time travel romance series called Knights in Time. I currently write a historical suspense called The Bloodstone Series.

I am also working on a world war two series of novella romances. The first is Moonlight Serenade and currently available. The second is The Ack-Ack Girl.

Find the Author

Website — https://chriskarlsen.com/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ChrisKarlsenAuthor/
Twitter –https://twitter.com/AuthorCKarlsen
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VDSQGDM
Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-ack-ack-girl/id1554149585
B&N:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/1138717450
KOBO: https://books2read.com/u/bQdOXd
Thalia:  (this is a German site) https://www.thalia.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html
Bol-de: (another German site) https://www.bol.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID150770183.html
Angus & Robertson: (British site) https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/the-ack-ack-girl-chris-karlsen/p/9781393715412

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

When her mother turned around, the color had drained from her face and her eyes had a haunted look. “What is it, Mum?”

“They’re bombing Coventry. There’s a BBC reporter on site. He said dozens and dozens of planes are over the city.”

Ava sat on the sofa, listening to the live broadcast as the nightmare continued. Her stomach roiled. The mint-flavored tooth powder she’d used had tasted sweet and fresh, but now soured in her mouth.

“The cathedral is destroyed,” the reporter’s voice broke.

“Turn the sound up, Mum.”

“The sky is black with planes now. They’ve blotted out the moon.” The reporter broke into a coughing fit and then continued. “The city is aflame. It’s raining bombs. The terribleness of this night will never be forgotten. Coventry is no more.”

Eleven hours later

“Did you get any sleep?” her mother asked.

Ava shook her head. “The bombing only just stopped. They’re saying that most of the city is destroyed.”

Ava went upstairs to clean up and change clothes. When she came back down she told her mother, “I need to go. I have to see if Miss Finney is all right. I have to see if I still have a home there.”

Coventry-later that day

The train was standing room only. A blast of intense heat clobbered her as Ava stepped from the station. She found herself flashing back to the night of the blitz attack in London. Like London, hours after the last bombs fell flames still raged and painted the sky in orange and red here. Bright, hot embers filled the air, burning holes through the material of the umbrellas of those who carried them for protection.

She slowly and carefully made her way toward Miss Finney’s flat and the upstairs bedsit she let to Ava. She paused in front of the movie theatre around the corner from Miss Finney’s. The entire building had fallen but somehow the marquee remained undamaged. Perched on top of the rubble advertising, His Girl Friday. Ava had just seen the movie the previous week. She’d gone two nights in a row just to watch Cary Grant.

Thank you!

Chris Karlsen we appreciate your sharing your book  The Ack Ack Girl with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Vaccination Distractions

Most of us are getting vaccinated these days, and not all of us feel so great the next day.

I’m a pretty driven person, so I’m usually doing whatever needs to get done. However, I decided to give myself a vaccine break and just do what-ever I felt like for the afternoon. A sort of spontaneous sick day playing on my computer.

It was great. I drank hot tea and cuddled up under my favorite blanket and I even ate cookies. I started out with my newest pastime — I recently discovered Mahjong and now I’ve found two different places to play it online. I already knew I was drawn to classic games, those without people or plots, maybe because I tend to write such complicated books. Matching patterns soothes me, and let’s me turn off the words part of my brain.

I’ve also reaffirmed that I love playing with graphics. It’s what I do if you leave me alone with a computer and I’m not playing a game. Look at this cool collage I made with the first five main characters in my new series. I had more more fun doing this than I can possibly explain.

What can I say. To each our own, huh?

If you do get vaccinated (and I hope you will!) I wish you a nice recovery day, too, doing whatever dumb little things relax you and make you happy.

Moscow Nights

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author R.W. Buxton and his urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel, Moscow Nights.

Author’s description

Erin is desperate to save Gerry from shadowy forces that would do anything to prevent him from fulfilling the prophecy. But when she arrives, he’s with another woman and the worst thing is it’s Tina, his former partner at the FBI.

Can she convince him the threat is real, and not just to him, but Mary his young daughter.

Halfway around the world ominous figures hiding in the night plan the unthinkable and Gerry is the only one that can stop them. The threat is genuine but will he believe her? Will he believe in the prophecy? 

Erin must face her own past, a past she thought was over. It opens old wounds that send her careening on a path of destruction. Can she overcome them in time to save Gerry or will she lose everything because of a deep-rooted hurt that can’t be healed?

Guest Post

I love to ask other fantasy authors how much vocabulary they created for the book of theirs which I’m featuring. Author R.W. Buxton surprised me with his answer of  “one word.” Read his interesting explanation of why.

This is an easy one… Just one. Day-walker, a person with vampiric powers that aren’t undead and can survive the sun. Although in this book I break the rule, I guess you’ll have to read it to find out how, and why.

In urban fantasy, in general, I don’t see the need for the creation of many new words. After all, it’s set in the world we are all familiar with. A world we can reach out and touch every day. Sure there are fantastical creatures like vampires, werewolves, or ghosts, but they don’t require that many new words. There is one exception to this, and that’s urban fantasy that involves the Fae. For me, these usually cross over into the realm of true fantasy novels. In this sub-genre I find there is a good deal of new vocabulary and of course new worlds, or should I say realms.

Not that the first draft of Capital Thirst, my first novel, didn’t have its fair share of new vocabulary. After I posted that draft to an author critique site, I received overwhelming feedback that it wasn’t necessary and confused the reader. It disheartened me. I worked hard to create that vocabulary to build a mystic vampire world. Not to mention it was my first novel, and I wanted everyone to love it.

After much thought, I decided these other authors were probably right. It wasn’t necessary, and I wanted the book to take place in the real world, albeit one with vampires. So I took it out.

There is clearly a time and place for creating new vocabulary. Science fiction or pure fantasy, for example. But in the end, it just wasn’t necessary for the type of writing I’m doing. Overall, it just confused things.

About the Author

I love a good paranormal read, something about the un-dead haunts the fringes of my mind. Mix in romance, love, loss, and you have a great story.

I voraciously read everything, fiction, and non-fiction but always find myself turning back to the darker stories. I’ve always wanted to write and the dream became a reality with Capital Thirst, and the remainder of the Erin Kingsly novels.

I spend most of my days designing and building websites, but my free time is devoted to my wife, family, and cats. Yes three grown children and three cats. Things can be hectic.

For fun you might find me driving winding roads with the top down or out photographing nature.

Find the Author

Website — RWBuxton.com
Facebook — R.W. Buxton – Home | Facebook
Twitter — RW Buxton Author (@rwBuxtonAuthor) | Twitter
Bookbub — https://www.bookbub.com/authors/r-w-buxton
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19658320.R_W_Buxton
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48481089-capital-thirst
Allauthor — https://allauthor.com/author/rwbuxton/

Buy the Book

NOTE: The book is on sale for $0.99.

Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KXG6CWS
Apple — https://books.apple.com/us/book/moscow-nights/id1527771232
BN — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moscow-nights-rw-buxton/1137483626
Kobo — https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/moscow-nights-7

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

The car roared into the small town. She turned down the main street and headed for the road out of town. Free from the town’s confines, the country road that led to the highway lay ahead of her. She floored the gas pedal. The scream of the engine thudded in her ears. She pushed in the clutch without letting off the gas and crammed the car into a higher gear. The tires chirped as the car surged forward. She calculated in her mind that the drive with traffic took an hour or a little less. She had to do it tonight in record time, less than thirty minutes. Trees blurred past the window. The ramp to the highway now loomed ahead of her. She pressed the brake and downshifted to take the turn. The car slid but held the road. On the highway she could let the car loose. She prayed she would make it in time.

Lights flickered past in a constant succession as she tore down the highway. She glanced at the speedometer. She was nearing 190 kilometers per hour. It wasn’t all the car could do, so she pushed harder. Her head swam with images of Gerry as he faced Dumitru alone. The possibilities of what might happen to Tina.

Thank you!

R.W. Buxton — we appreciate your sharing your book Moscow Nights with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Once Upon A Princess Trio

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Deborah A. Bailey and her three fairy-tale inspired paranormal romance novellas entitled Once Upon A Princess Trio.

Author’s description

Formula for Fairy Tale Love:
1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After

For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love with shape-shifters, three wise and discerning princesses trust their hearts instead of their eyes and fall in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

“Heart of Stone:” Leesa trespasses into a haunted palace, where she meets a gargoyle. Breaking the spell that cursed him may carry a price steeper than she’s able…or willing…to pay.

“Beauty & the Faun:” Kayla flees an arranged marriage and falls for a faun shifter instead. But how can she ignore her duty by refusing to marry a prince?

“Land of Dreams:” Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to her awakening…or may unleash forces that will separate them forever. (Sequel to Heart of Stone)

Box set includes books 1-3 of the Once Upon A Princess paranormal fairy-tale inspired romance novellas.

Using Fairy Tale Elements in the Once Upon A Princess Novellas

I asked author Deborah A. Bailey to tell us how much vocabulary she created for her fantasy worlds in this trio and I got back fascinating information about what guided the creation of her entire worlds. Enjoy her answer.

For my worldbuilding, I considered creating words for the worlds I was writing about. But as it turned out I only ended up creating one word, “Malida.” The reason I created it was because I wanted to use it during a conversation between the hero and heroine in Heart of Stone. Willem, the hero, uses that word to refer to the heroine’s grandmother. The grandmother is a former queen of the province where the story is set. In the aftermath of a war, the heroine, Leesa, and her grandmother are (as far as they know) the only remaining members of the royal family.

When Willem asks Leesa about her grandmother he calls her Malida, which is also a term of endearment. It means “great mother.” For Willem to know that name, he would have to have known more about the family than he’s admitting.

Though I didn’t focus on creating the words and language for those worlds, Since they’re based on fairy tales, I made sure to include certain elements. For instance, I included princesses,  magic, and fantasy creatures. In Heart of Stone Willem is a gargoyle who is under a magical curse. He lives in a deserted palace and he has access to enchantments that were left there by the former inhabitant.

In Beauty and the Faun, the heroine ends up escaping into the Great Forest and it becomes a refuge. Forests are often used fairy tales as places filled with magic and mystery. Satyrs, forest nymphs, centaurs and fauns are among the inhabitants of the Great Forest. Each group has their own culture and behavior that they’re known for. The heroine finds these creatures when she enters the forest, and they show that this is an entirely different world than the one outside.

In Land of Dreams the Great Forest is also included, along with fauns and water nymphs. I added additional magical characters, such as elementals, shifters, and river deities. There’s also a character called the Night Queen who presides over the elementals. While I would’ve loved to have created other words (and languages) for the stories, I made sure to include many fantasy elements and fairy tale touches to set the mood.

About the Author

Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance novels include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her books include the Hathor Legacy science fiction romance series and the Family Pride and Once Upon A Princess shapeshifter paranormal romance series.

Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and have been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun and are included in, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. She’s the author of non-fiction books, and articles for various online publications.

Visit her site https://dbaileycoach.com/brightbooks for more information and subscribe to the newsletter here: https://eepurl.com/bokGdX so you’ll be the first to find out about giveaways, book launches and sneak peeks.

Find the Author

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/AuthorDeborahB
Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/AuthorDeborahB
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/debstyle3
FaceBook — https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeborahAB/
Amazon Author Page — https://amazon.com/author/deborahannbailey
Bookbub —  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/deborah-a-bailey

Buy the Book

Buy link (universal book link): https://books2read.com/u/4Dg5xA
Personal Sales page: https://payhip.com/brightbooks

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $40 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

Heart of Stone:

Leesa headed up the stairs and stopped at the 2nd floor landing. Eduardo and Erokan’s rooms had been on this floor. Dust was everywhere, but otherwise the furnishings were just as they’d been left. Varmont’s bedroom, private study and library were on the 3rd floor. Most likely he would’ve hidden some of his valuables there. She went upstairs to check. The doors to the Duke’s room, study and library were open. But the fourth door was closed. The treasure room, perhaps?

She opened the door and stepped inside. Strangely, this room wasn’t as dusty as the others. The air was heavy with perfume. Across from the door was a folding screen decorated with blue and yellow flowers. Behind it she could make out the base of a claw-foot tub.

To her surprise, the entire room had a feminine feeling, from the huge bed covered with blush pink coverlets and plush furs to the gold-trimmed white furniture. Even the jewel-encrusted skylight above her had its own beauty, reflecting colorful sprinkles of light over the pale stone walls.

A white cabinet with glass doors caught her attention. The shelves held glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. Some had liquids inside, others were empty. What were these? Perfumes? Or maybe potions.

The Duke used magic. Maybe this was where he’d kept his enchantments. Would they be worth anything? Possibly. But just as Leesa reached out to open the cabinet, the door slammed behind her.

Startled, she spun around. She was alone. Who had closed it? Leesa ran to the door and gripped the handle, expecting the door to open as easily as it had when she’d come in. But it didn’t. She pulled and banged on it, but it wouldn’t budge.

She was locked in.

Thank you!

Deborah A. Bailey — we appreciate your sharing Once Upon A Princess Trio with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Let Me Explain …

As I began to create The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters, I realized I wasn’t writing a series in the classical sense. In fact, my novels occur simultaneously, almost, as they present a time of great turmoil through the eyes of seven different participants.

Because these seven are sisters, though, they obviously make plenty of appearances in each others book. But, how one sees  their own actions is quite different from how they perceive what their sister does, right? Along with much else, I was excited to explore this point of view difference.

I’ve been looking for a succinct way to tell potential readers what in they are in for before they begin reading. Like most authors, I’d rather attract readers who like what I’m doing.

Today I came up with this add-on blurb and from now on I intend to add it to every book description. I think it helps. What do you think?

The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister do you think saved the realm? That will depend on whose story you read.

Ellerslie

Today it is my pleasure to welcome William Francis and his paranormal historical mystery novel, Ellerslie.

Author’s description

Did you know author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in a haunted house?

It’s the Jazz Age, it’s Prohibition and aviator Charles Lindbergh is the most famous person in America. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald rents a mansion in Edgemoor, Delaware called Ellerslie hoping for a quiet retreat so that he can write his next novel following The Great Gatsby.

April Ross, the first and only female history major at the University of Delaware, is commissioned by the owner of Ellerslie to research the estate’s history for a potential sale. At least, that’s what April is told. In the days ahead, April’s historical research uncovers Ellerslie’s former owners dating back to 1810. She interacts with the Fitzgeralds, yet endures unexplained occurrences and visits by an unknown woman. Against her better judgement, April eventually accepts that the woman is a ghost and realizes that her true purpose is to find out who this woman is, or was, and what happened to her in real life.

About the Author

Raised in Newark, Delaware, William spends his days working in Corporate America and writing about the First State. He achieved a Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, but also writes non-fiction. Through Arcadia Publishing he has produced 5 books related to Delaware: The DuPont Highway, Along the Kirkwood Highway, Along the Christina River, Building Interstate in 95 in Delaware and Newark Then & Now. Fiction titles include: A Life Told to None, The Umpire, Seacrest, and the five-star The Katie Dugan Case. Whether his books are fact or fiction, William hopes to entertain as well as inform and leave the reader with a satisfying experience.

Find the Author

Facebook: William Francis
Goodreads: William Francis (Author of The Katie Dugan Case) (goodreads.com)

Buy the Book

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08XK1JYC7

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

“I don’t know,” Scott said, lifting his glass of gin, his bowl of stew untouched. “I’m just so sick and tired of hearing about Charles Lindbergh. They report everything he says and does.”

Zelda spooned her stew and turned serious. “I’m sorry, Fitz. I know you’re upset about the latest sales figures for Gatsby. I should’ve been more receptive to your feelings when you told me.”

Scott took another sip. “I blame the title. I told you I hated the title.” He mimicked sarcasm. “The Great Gatsby. Rather pretentious, don’t you think? And what’s so great about him? He’s a sick symbol of today’s greed and self-absorption. Who needs to read a story about a man who epitomizes what we see in everyday society?”

“You know,” Zelda said, “I think those journalists who are coverin’ Lindbergh would better serve the public if they examined the disgusting tastes of American readers. They need to explain to me why dime novelists like Zane Grey are making a fortune while respectable writers like you, Fitz, are not.”

April appreciated seeing Zelda act kindly to her husband, but she wondered how long it would last.

“My friend Mencken is soooo right,” Scott said after tasting some stew. “Quote: ‘No one has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of plain people, nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

“Fitz, maybe you should write one of those dime novels.”

“I’d rather die.”

“Do not fret, monsieur. I believe you could write a good one.”

“Well,” Scott said to April, “what do you think? You’ve been silent so far.”

April put her spoon down and took a moment to formulate her response. “I’ve been reading The Great Gatsby and I really like it. I’m intrigued by the mysterious Jay Gatsby and how Nick perceives him. And then there’s the relationship between Jay and Daisy and Tom Buchanan. I look forward to finishing the book, hopefully tonight.”

“Thank you for saying so, but that wasn’t the question. Should I write a dime novel?”

“No, sir,” April said staring directly at Scott’s bloodshot eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with writing at an elite level. It’s a known fact that the masses prefer tabloid stories and yellow journalism, and that Mr. Hearts has capitalized on this. But I think you’d be doing yourself and the literary world a great disservice if you lowered your talents to that type of writing.”

Scott’s eyes watered. He looked shocked.

“Wow, Fitz,” Zelda said, humbled. “I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you about your writing.”

Thank you!

William Francis — we appreciate your sharing your book Ellerslie with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

What They Want Us To Know

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Shawndra Mcwhorter and her non-fiction inspirational book What They Want Us To Know: Messages of Hope, Meaning and Unity From the Animal Kingdom.

Author’s description

Have you ever wondered what animals would tell us if they could? This book will give you that chance to find out! By being able to receive downloaded messages from wild and domestic animals, Shawndra translates their messages for us. These animals have shared powerful messages of unity, connection and purpose, and steps that each of us are able to take to deepen the connection, find more meaning in our lives, and become the humans that the animals know we can be. You’ll hear messages from 12 different animals on what they want us to know in order to live a more profoundly amazing life. You’ll be given the opportunity to learn ways to be more compassionate, tolerant and heart-centered, to the animals and to each other.

A Guest Post on Balancing Life, Writing and Work

Even though the idea of this book came to me (was given to me?) in 2004, it took until May of 2020 to begin writing it. I really believe that I had to do a lot of healing work on myself in order to be able to ‘meet’ the animals on their level in the higher realms and translate their messages. I can look back now and see so clearly that I was not as open and ready to hear them then, as I am now. I’ve gone through major healing and evolution in the past several years, and it really feels as if one reason was to be able to be fully present and hear these animals clearly and with an open heart.

So while I was working full-time for the State of Washington, I had a side gig as a Reiki Healer. It wasn’t until May of 2020 that I finally found my way into a writing program. Once I found the right program, the right coach, the right publishing opportunity, the book poured out of me. I was still working both my jobs but it was finally the right time. I was able to submit the manuscript to my publisher three months after I started writing and it’s been a whirlwind since. I still work full-time so when I have to have calls with my publisher, social media manager, web site developer or work on my book promotion I make sure to pack my laptop, lunch and hunker down during any breaks during the day. A lot of this work is done at night. I space out my promotional calendar though over months vs days and weeks just knowing I don’t have the time and space for much more than that.

About the Author

Shawndra McWhorter has been an animal communicator since 2000, and is also an Usui and KarunaⓇ Reiki Master, working with humans and animals. Shawndra has helped more than 500 animals and their humans with her communication and healing skills. Shawndra is a past president of Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART), and also serves on the Board of Directors with Kindred Souls Foundation, both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations dedicated to helping animals. Shawndra began her disaster animal rescue work in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, where she deployed outside of New Orleans, LA to help rescue and care for the animals left behind. She has deployed to Chile, Peru, and to several states in the US volunteering helping animals recover from disasters. Shawndra also volunteered with Wolf Haven International in Tenino, WA for nearly eight years, and is still active in supporting their mission. She is the owner of Sanskrit Healing, using her skills to help humans, animals and the environment find balance. Shawndra has spent most of her life helping others and won an Emmy for a documentary that she directed and edited on illegal aliens in Southern California. Her approach is to educate and help others make mindful, ethical choices based on facts and data. Shawndra currently lives in Washington State with her dog Norman, who survived the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, OK in 2013.

Find the Author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shawndra-Mcwhorter-Author-106688011143920
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shawndramcwhorter/
Shawndra Mcwhorter – https://shawndramcwhorter.com/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/What-They-Want-Us-Know-ebook/dp/B08PJ28NWQ/ref=sr_1_1
Goodreads.com:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56422248-what-they-want-us-to-know
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-they-want-us-to-know-shawndra-mcwhorter/1138596437

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

Chapter Nine Norman the Dog

NORMAN IS THE DOG WHO currently shares my life with me, and as you can see, he is adorable! In 2013, an EF5 tornado hit the vicinity of Moore, Oklahoma, causing two billion dollars of damage, including the major destruction of two schools and more than three hundred homes. It also killed twenty-four people. After the disaster, I volunteered with American Humane to help care for the animal survivors in an emergency shelter. I flew out there and was working with the feral cats and cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). A few days after I had arrived, they brought in the last of the “tornado dogs” from the Moore Animal Shelter and put them in a quarantine area. The other volunteers working with the dogs spent all day cleaning crates and walking the dogs. Since I certainly wasn’t taking the cats for walks and feral cats wanted nothing to do with any of us, I had extra time, so I offered to help care for these quarantined dogs.

Thank you!

Shawndra Mcwhorter — we appreciate your sharing your book What They Want Us To Know: Messages of Hope, Meaning and Unity From the Animal Kingdom with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Isn’t she beautiful?

I understand cover reveals can be a big deal, but it’s just not my style. I’m happy to get an attractive cover I like and one that represents my books well. When I do, well, I want to share it. Like right away.

So …. here is the gorgeous cover for book 5 in the Seven Troublesome Sister Series.

It really is beautiful, isn’t it?

What is she holding? It’s called a psaltery, and it’s a stringed instrument that was quite popular in the 1200’s.  This 5th sister is a musician. (It’s one of the reasons she can’t keep quiet.)

Like it’s predecessor (cover 4) this was done by the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design and arrived almost perfect. The way it showed up is on the left. I had a few minor concerns. A psaltery is too heavy to be held the way she holds it. The lighting effects made her hair look like she was going gray. She seemed rather too tall and thin to be a real woman and her arms, in particular, looked off.

Most if not all of these, of course, were artifacts of the sort of photo manipulation DDD does to make their stunning but still affordable covers.

Back came this version, which corrected most of my concerns, except for the oddly long and skinny arms. We had one more round to improve the arms, and then I decided I wanted the castle on her other side. I was all excited about how our brains are accustomed to going from left to right and felt that the castle on the left would better convey that she was leaving to go somewhere else. (See my post Better Covers: Does Your Brain Prefer Left to Right?) Flipping the castle didn’t make as much difference as I’d hoped, but I liked it okay and was happy to call it good with only these three minor revisions.

I’d love to know if other authors are more, or less, picky than I am about their covers. If any of you reading this self-publish, please speak up and let me know!

Oh Good Now This

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Susan Merson and her women’s literary fiction novel, Oh Good Now This.

Author’s description

Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.

Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now.  Vivi reclaims her life, — with the help of a couple different dimensions– saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.

We need eerie music for this!

I am fascinated by characters that undergo a major transformation in a story, so I often ask an author if there is such a metamorphosis in the novel I’m featuring. I asked Susan Merson this, and you’ll see her interesting response below. But here’s the thing.

Sometimes, instead, I ask a different questions and it usually goes like this. “In my books I’ve always had one minor character who insisted on playing a larger role in the story. I’m curious: was there such a character in your novel?”

Guess what? Author Merson answered that questions also, and I didn’t even ask it. Cool, huh? Read on …

I like to think of my new book OH GOOD NOW THIS  as a second time around, coming of age story. I am fascinated by how people survive and live their lives fully, especially after loss and the plain old battles of living day to day.

Amanda is a woman in her 60’s who ends up living near Vivi, my protagonist, on a country road, hidden behind tall pine trees. She craves light and strips the house of all its possessions, heaves her clothes into the dumpster, white washes the walls, and scrapes the floors til they shine. Through the large window in her living room she can see the moon and puts her white mattress and white duvet directly in the path of its glow. She can not bear the weight of any memory, any lover, any remnant of what was and lives a reclusive, solo life until she welcomes a young man into her home. He is visiting the local college for a seminar and she needs the money from his room rental.

And she falls in love with him. His easy loping style, his curiosity, his tease of pleasure at her company. Just his presence in the house inspires her to return to the root of who she was as a young woman and she spends her days painting pine cones and making soup, pretending she does not care when or if he returns.

Of course, he leaves, returning to his own life, but freezing Amanda in this new beginning as a person who sees the world deeply, through an artist’s eye once again. And the love she bears for this man-boy, releases the hold her body had on its poisons. Renewed, refreshed, no blockages to hold them back, the old poisons find their way into her body, creating illness when she was just reclaiming life.

Amanda’s death informs the lives of my other characters in this world. The journey she makes from cynical, rejected trophy wife, to full and faulty artist—this unfolding—surprises everyone. And inspires them, as well.

Amanda was a surprise to me when I was writing the book. She showed up when Vivi needed to see how the choices we make in our own lives can affect us, can make our choice for life or death very real. Vivi insists that life is worth the struggle even though she has seen how giving in to poison can loosen our grips and let hope recede. Amanda shoves Vivi toward choosing life at an important juncture in the story and I am grateful she showed up to let me introduce her.

About the Author

Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series.

Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms.  As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUR NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT.  OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21.

She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy.  Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City.

Find the Author

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/susanmersonauthor
WEBSITE: http://www.susanmerson.com

The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):

TAROT FOR WRITERS #1:  INTRODUCTION
An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.
**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack. https://youtu.be/LGONsfOayJg

TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE
Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing. https://youtu.be/Mwq9x-I9oQE

TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER
A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure. https://youtu.be/CuovTNQ5ztk

TAROT FOR WRITERS #4:  WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY
On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story. https://youtu.be/eHm0mVSNaPo

TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS
Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather. https://youtu.be/EClPq0e-H70

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/oh-good-now…/1138532579
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1546617489
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Now-This-Susan…/dp/B08RCXVNTX/

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

They have settled into their chairs and Tara is tossing some cards, shuffling them and getting a feel. She flips over three cards.

“Oh, my dear. Some bleak times, past, yes?”

Vivi is startled by this pronouncement. “Well, it’s been a time of change, I’d say.”

“Change?” says Tara. “You betcha. This Tower card is about the whole thing coming crashing down. But it’s in the past position. See here? This is the present,” she shows Vivi the 7 of cups. It’s a picture of a man taking a look at a whole gallery of possibilities. “Look at him”, Tara says. “He’s got lots of things to choose from.”

“Well, that sounds good,” says Vivi tentatively.

“Not bad. Don’t get over infatuated with the possibilities. And the last one… here. The Hermit. Yep.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Oh it’s fine. Just a time to go inside and let things percolate. Inner wisdom and all that. Not a bad sentence!” Tara laughs again. “Now. Anything specific on your mind?” Tara continues to flip cards. “So,” she says. “Who is this guy? This King keeps showing up. King of Cups? He fell out of the deck twice while I was shuffling. “Who is this guy who won’t leave you alone?”

Vivi is mystified. “How did you…?’

“Oh, it’s not magic. The cards just know, that’s all. They pick up what you bring. Who is this guy?”

On a personal note:

I learned to read Tarot Cards at 17 years old, in the first creative writing class I ever took. My English teacher was way ahead of her time!  I agree with Susan Merson that Tarot readings are wonderful for many things, including providing inspiration for an author.

Thank you!

Susan Merson  — we appreciate your sharing your book Oh Good Now This with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Earl of Brecken

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Aubrey Wynne and her historical romance novel, Earl of Brecken.

Author’s description

A seductive Welsh earl on the brink of ruin. A wealthy cit in search of a hero.

Miss Evelina Franklin reads too many romance novels. She’s certain a handsome duke—or dashing highwayman—is in her future. In the meantime, Evie entertains herself with the admirers vying for her fortune.

The Earl of Brecken needs cash. His late father left their Welsh estate in ruin, and his mother will not let him rest until it is restored to its former glory. Notorious for his seductive charm, he searches the ballrooms for a wealthy heiress. His choices are dismal until he meets Miss Franklin. Guileless and gorgeous with an enormous dowry, she seems the answer to his prayers. Until his conscience makes an unexpected appearance.

About the Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and twice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.

Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow and the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.

Find the Author

Website: https://aubreywynne.com/
Facebook: https://facebook.com/magnificentvalor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aubreywynne51
Instagram: https://instagram.com/Aubreywynne51
Bookbub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/aubrey-wynne
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Aubrey-Wynne/e/B00II8QD6G/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7383937.Aubrey_Wynne
Subscribe to Aubrey’s newsletter for new releases and exclusive excerpts and free stories:
Newsletter: http://www.subscribepage.com/k3f1z5
Facebook Reading Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AubreyWynnesEverAfters/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 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

London, 1819

Lifting his glass, Madoc’s well-practiced smile returned. “Here’s to long, dull days of leisure. May I never take boredom for granted again.”

Sunderland guffawed. “By all means, enjoy them if you can before you become earl. After that, your days may not be filled with intrigue, but you will certainly stay occupied. My estate, properties, and seat in the Lords demand much of my time.”

His friend’s statement gave him pause. “I hadn’t really thought about the future, in that sense, but you’re right enough. I’ve been trained for the title and know what is expected of me. Yet, having the responsibility solely on my shoulders scares the hell out of me.” Madoc sighed. “If I fail an assignment, my disappearance will cause little harm. Another man will take my place, and the task will be accomplished. But making decisions that affect the lives of my tenants, people whose livelihood could be crushed by a man’s whim…”

The earl nodded. “The obligation can be heavy at times, but it’s our duty to maintain our inheritance, our family name. Those who tend the land and the animals, work within our abodes, are all an integral part of the system. Treat them fairly, and with the dignity they deserve, and you’ll do well. It’s that mutual understanding and common goal to make life better that will bond you to them.”

“Blast, if you don’t sound like my father.” Madoc laughed. “Next you’ll be telling me it’s time to find a wife. Speaking of, how is Grace?”

Thank you!

Aubrey Wynne — we appreciate your sharing your book Earl of Brecken with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.