The Hotel (Series)

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Michael James and his urban fantasy series, The Hotel.

Author’s description

The Series

No one has ever escaped from the Hotel at the End of Time. Until now.

Vain only wants to be left alone, but the Hotel has other plans. Forces will align against her: a group of multi-dimensional felons collectively named The Wyatts; and their leader, Trick, a mild-to-medium psychopath with a fondness for impractical jokes.

The only way forward is to go back. Back to the one place in the world she swore she’d never return.

Back to the Hotel.

 The Hotel at the End of Time

Vain is the only person to ever escape from the Hotel at the end of time. On her way out, she took their prized possession: A Padlock that grants immortality.

They will do anything to get it back.

The forces of the Hotel are aligned against her: mundane items turned into weapons; a group of multi-dimensional felons collectively named The Wyatts; and their leader, Trick, a mild-to-medium psychopath with a fondness for impractical jokes.

Everything changes when Vain meets Emma, a timid grad student with impossible and terrifying powers. Together, they are propelled into an adventure that will see them battle the Wyatts, blow up several objects of significant value, and quite by accident, discover a way to stop the Hotel.

Even with Emma, Vain has a lot of problems to deal with.

She’s exhausted from being hunted.

Stopping the Hotel might kill them.

She has a hangnail.

But Vain is resourceful. Vain is clever.

And she always has a plan.

The Well at the Bottom of Everything

Vain thought destroying the Portal to the Hotel at the End of Time would mean freedom for her and Roman, but her happy ever after is coming to an end.

A horrible mistake and a stray bullet force her to infiltrate the Hotel and contend with a new and terrible power: The Well at the Bottom of Everything.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken.

The Hotel will have its revenge.

The Funniest Answer Award Goes to …

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So when authors visit this blog,  I love to ask them if there was such a character in their novel.

Well, sooner or later I was going to ask that question to someone like Michael James. I suspect he frustrated many a teacher during his childhood by refusing to take their very serious questions seriously.

Please enjoy his hilarious response. (I did!)

Speaking of secondary characters, this is probably a spoiler, but the ghost of John Milton lives in my books and I cannot shut him up. I don’t mean this in a literary sense; John Milton is not a character in the novel. I mean that reading the story literally summons the ghost of John Milton who will come live in your home.

On the surface, I’ve written a simple story about a girl with no memory who escapes a Hotel at the End of Time that uses humans as batteries to power itself. It’s a simple tale, almost a trope for how often this story shows up in popular literature. I’d like to think I put a unique spin on the genre. But where was I? Oh yes. John Milton.

How was I supposed to know that writing this book would represent the exact perfect sequence of words required to summon John Milton to your home? I honestly had no idea.

Things you can expect from the ghost of John Milton:

1. Tons of talk about Paradise Lost. We get it dude, you wrote a classic. Move on.

2. Cheats for Skyrim. Dude is a huge Skyrim fan. Apparently they have Skyrim in Hell. Oh, PS, John Milton is in Hell.

3. Really terrible dating advice. Wear hats? What does that even mean John Milton?

Anyway, so yeah. He really ended up taking over. But to be clear – John Milton is not in my book. Just he shows up when you read it. What is in my book is laugh-out-loud humor, non-stop action, memorable characters and just about the best possible time imaginable.

 The Author’s Story

Michael James spent his formative years writing, and when he wasn’t writing, he was writing. A mistaken belief that a “real” job would be more satisfying led him down a dark path that did not involve writing but did involve meetings. Fortunately, he has since course-corrected and is back on the right (write? Ha!) path. The Hotel at the End of Time is not his first book, but it is the one with the most Hotels in it.

He lives in Canada with his family. When he’s not writing, he does Canadian things – saying sorry a lot, being polite, talking about the weather, you know how it goes.

Find the Author

Website: https://www.michaeljamesauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeJamesAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelJames
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mikejamesauthor/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-James/e/B07P8GJS8K

Buy the Book

The Hotel at the End of Time: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QG59SXL
The Well at the Bottom of Everything: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095CL2T6H

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

From The Well at the Bottom of Everything

“Can you unlock the phone?”

“I think so.” She pecked at the phone with her nose.

“Why don’t you have face recognition turned on?”

“I don’t like my phone judging me. I need to put on lipstick before I text? Come on.”

“That’s not how… it doesn’t matter. Is your code one, one, one, one? You need to change that.”

“This is the exact correct time to have that conversation,” she hissed. Her screen flashed with a green text bubble.

“It’s Roman,” she said. “He’s asking where I am.”

“Tell him to bring Emma and come save us. Actually, I don’t care if he comes. We need Emma.”

“Hey, Siri,” Vain whispered at the phone. “Call Roman.”

“Calling: Rome.” Siri’s robotic voice blared from the phone and Vain cringed. She stopped moving and waited for the Wyatts to come beat the crap out of them. Thankfully, they were still arguing and didn’t hear.

“Don’t call Rome. Turn your volume down.”

“Turning down volume,” whispered Siri. Better. Stupid phone robot.

“Call. Roman.” She spoke slowly, so stupid Siri would do better.

“Calling. Row Man’s boating supplies.” Vain hissed at Siri to hang up.

“Text him back,” Mark said, sounding frustrated.

“Siri. Respond to Roman. Wyatts. Come rescue.”

“Texting. Roman. Whites come stew.”

“We’re going to fucking die,” Vain said.

Thank you!

Michael James — we appreciate your sharing your series, The Hotel, with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.
And thanks for the excerpt and the guest post. They both made me laugh so loud my husband came out to the porch to make sure I was okay. (He doesn’t think I am and now he blames you. )

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.

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.

The Foes Between Us

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author J. M. Robison and her historical fantasy novel, The Foes Between Us.

Author’s description

In 1842 England, Brynn suspects Reuben’s “natural death” had actually been murder because she starts finding cryptic clues and maps Reuben left behind indicating she needs to find Zadicayn, an imprisoned young man claiming to be a wizard from the Middle Ages.

 

When Brynn frees Zadicayn, her once peaceful life now becomes dangerous when Zadicayn enlists her help to find his magical amulet, but it’s in the possession of Reuben’s murderers, and they’ll kill anyone, even Brynn, to keep it.

My Review

The Foes Between Us is a delightful book with a fine mix of history and fantasy. Much of it revolves around an outdoor-loving young English woman who is poorly-suited to the constraints of her society. The author has added a few twists to the restrictions placed on women in the 1840’s, including a brilliant device wherein women are literally sewn into their dresses and bloomers to keep them chaste.

The well-drawn characters in this story pull in the reader while an engaging plot that is part treasure hunt and part murder mystery keeps the pages turning. Eventually a wizard/victim of religious intolerance from three-hundred years earlier joins the story, providing extra dollops of magic to what has only been hinted at before. Much of this tale concerns the social injustices of both time periods, but more than enough parallels to our own time keep the observations relevant.

Author Robison has a far-better-than-average way with words. Deft bits of description pepper sentences driven by high-energy verbs. The story is told in a first-person present tense voice that adds a sense of urgency to each sentence. I liked the pace at which the plot moves, but have to admit at times her way of telling it wore me out. The occasional inner monologue provides humor and I appreciated those little breaks from the pounding activity.

I recommend this book to those who like historical fiction and to those who enjoy female protagonists with a mind of their own, ones who don’t spend the entire novel lusting after some man. I recommend it to those who enjoy reading about magic, or those who enjoy fantasy.  In fact, I recommend this novel to people who simply enjoy a good book.

If more than one of these applies to you, you need to check out this story.

About the Author

J.M. Robison is a fantasy author who chronicles the events which drive heroes to their knees, dethrone kings, and unhinge history to bring magic back to life. Someday she’ll pack the wagon and roam the mountains in search of dragons. She dares to believe in magic. Do you?

Find the Author

Facebook: @RobisonAuthor
Twitter: @JMRobison
Website: http://www.jmrobison.com

Buy the Book

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BWWKR7W/
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-foes-between-us-jm-robison/1128348688
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-foes-between-us/id1367740686
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-foes-between-us

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

Taking several minutes to convince myself that the only way is forward, I stand again and insert the three rubies into the matching three holes in the floor. Is that my heart beating, or some noise coming off the walls?

Hard-knocking clicks begin deep below my feet, like giant metallic cogs revolving under the floor. A grating noise accompanies, the sound moving up to the very stone I’m standing on.

I scramble back, jumping on the altar as if I’ll be safe there if the floor falls away.

The sound stops.

My heart shakes my ribcage like a prisoner wanting out of his cell. Nothing has changed in the chamber, but I don’t move. I hear another sound. A thumping. It’s coming from beneath the floor so quietly, I only hear it because I’m holding my breath.

Fear prickles through my body, but I can’t convince myself to run. Transfixed, I stare, even though I’m aware that whatever is coming up might do me harm. I draw Reuben’s bone-handled knife, planting my feet, determined to know what I came here for, what purpose stealing the two pieces of the keys had, whether Reuben’s death was worth it, and whether I’ve just released the monster Cuthbert warned me about.

The thumping rises higher and higher.

I grit my teeth, clench my knife. Reflexes on fire, I’m tensed and ready to spring, ready to run, ready to fight.

The sound stops. The trapdoor flies open with a crash on the floor.

A human arm reaches out.

Thank you!

J. M. Robinson — we appreciate your sharing your book The Foes Between Us with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Buddha and the Bee

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Cory Mortensen and his memoir The Buddha and the Bee: Biking through America’s Forgotten Roadways on a Journey of Discovery.

Author’s description

Life-Changing Journey…

…But this is NOT a typical blah-blah-blah memoir

 

Planning is for sissies. A solo bike ride across the country will be filled with sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and 80 degree temps every day, right? Not so much. The Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, an alkaline desert, and the Sierra Nevadas lay miles and days ahead. Disappointment with unrealized potential, and the thirst for what’s next drew farther away in the rotating wide-angle shockproof convex rear-view mirror.

 

“I will ride my bike down a never-ending ribbon of asphalt wearing a backpack.”

 

Cory Mortensen began his bike ride across the United States from Chaska, Minnesota, to Truckee, California, without a route, a timeline, or proper equipment. Along the way, he gained more than technical skills required for a ride that would test every fiber of his physical being and mental toughness. Ride along as he meets “unusual” characters, dangerous animals, and sweet little old ladies with a serious vendetta for strangers in their town.

 

Humor ■ Insight ■ Adventure ■ Gratitude ■ Peace

 

From long stretches of road ending in a vanishing point at the distant horizon, to stunning vistas, terrifying close calls, grueling conditions, failed equipment, and joyous milestones he stayed the course and gained an appreciation for the beauty of the land, the genius of engineering and marvel of nature.

About the Author

Cory Mortensen has ridden his collection of bicycles over a million miles of asphalt, dirt, mud, and backroads. In addition to the cross-country journey detailed in this book, he has traveled to over fifty-five countries, cycled from Minneapolis to Colorado solo to raise money for children born with congenital heart defects. He’s completed sixteen marathons on five continents, and survived three days of running with the bulls in Spain.

Cory is a certified Advanced PADI diver, and has enjoyed taking in life under the waves in locations all over the world. In 2003, he took time off from roaming, and accidentally started and built a company which he sold in 2013. That same year he married his best friend and explored the state of Texas for two years. The couple sold everything they owned, jumped on a plane to Ecuador and volunteered, trekked, and explored South America for sixteen months before returning to Phoenix, Arizona, where he works as a consultant and is soon to be a bestselling author.

The Buddha and the Bee is his first memoir in which he shares how a two month leave of absence redefined his life’s trajectory of sitting behind a desk and his decision to break society’s chains so he could live life on his terms.

What is This Author Passionate About?

… Evicting all those negative voices that have been living rent-free for all those years deep inside my head and focusing on my time with family and friends.

I read a book called, 20,000 days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now by Robert Smith. That, along with some interviews I listened to with Jessy Itzler, and my focus and priorities are now turned to concentrating my time with my wife and my time with family and friends who make me better, who challenge me, who do in fact judge me in way that makes me better.

I have great friends I see only once a year — if I live to be as old as my dad, that means I will only get to see these great friends 18 more times. I want to make the most of those times.

Additionally, I’m all about experiences: I like to travel, I like to do things I have never done. I’m fortunate to have found a wife who supports and enjoys travel as much as I do and supports my want to do new things.

Find the Author

Website: http://www.TheBuddhaAndTheBee.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BuddhaAndTheBee
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CoryMortensenAuthor
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/CoryMortensenAuthor/

Buy the Book

Amazon Hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Bee-Cory-Mortensen/dp/1735498114
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735498122
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08FLLBBP9
Indiebound  Hardcover: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781735498119
Paperback: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781735498126

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

DAY TWENTY-FOUR

It seemed as if I was the only person on this road. I saw no cars, no trucks. I didn’t even see an airplane or contrail. The human race could have been completely wiped out, and I wouldn’t know it, just like I didn’t know what was going on back east a few days ago. As far as I knew, it was just me and the clerk at the Maybell General Store. My situation could be worse. Juliane Koepcke was seventeen years old when, on Dec 24, 1971, the Lockheed Electra OB-R-941 commercial airliner the she was a passenger on was struck by lightning. The plane immediately broke up in the air. Still strapped to her seat, she fell two miles into the jungle. She survived the fall, with a broken collarbone, a gash on her arm that would eventually become infested with worms, and her right eye swollen shut. She spent ten days alone in the Amazonian rainforest, following a stream, wading through knee-deep water, until eventually she came across a group of fishermen. After two weeks spent recovering, she led a search party back into the jungle to locate the crash, ultimately finding her mother’s body.

And here I thought I was having a bad day.

Fighting the headwind, I occasionally took time to stop and stare at the road as it vanished into the horizon. I had been biking for forty minutes and gone only five miles.

I hoped to see a town, a house, a billboard—anything that showed signs of human life—but it was just me and the road and a rather large coyote.

“Coyote?!”

A coyote stood across the road, looking directly at me.

I had some important questions. What was I supposed to do when I came across a coyote? Were they aggressive? Did they attack humans? Were they fast? Could I out-pedal him? Not with this headwind. He could catch me without even having to run.

In the lore of Indigenous Americans, the coyote was many things. To some tribes, it was a hero who created, taught, and helped humans; to others, a warning of negative behaviors like greed and arrogance; still others looked at the coyote as a trickster who lacked wisdom—he got into lots of trouble, but was clever enough to get out of it.

This part of North America was home to the Snake Indians. The Snake Indians were made up of the Northern Paiute, Bannock, and Shoshone. The Bannock believed the coyote came to help and did good deeds for the people.

I looked west and so did the coyote. I looked back at the coyote, he back at me, and then he looked west again and bobbed his head, as if to say, “Let’s go.”

I started pedaling. The headwind continued; my coyote companion making everything a bit surreal. He was now part of my journey. I put off any thoughts of him being an adversary. He was helping me get through the day.

“You live around here?” I asked the coyote. The coyote gave no answer.

“You have family? Wife? Kids?” Still no answer.

“Do you know if there is a good restaurant in Dinosaur? I’m really hungry.”

Nothing. He could only be of so much help, I guess.

We moved together along Victory Highway, fighting the wind.

Over the next few miles, I watched him as he pranced over the mounds along the highway. He’d stop and wait for me when he got too far ahead, then would continue once I caught up. I was no longer thinking about the wind or the heat or the bumpy road. I thought about the people who had lived along the Yampa River. Ruins of the Fremont people dated back as far as 1500 BC. Their petroglyphs told their stories. The Snake, Ute, and Navajo came after the Fremont and made the land their new home.

Later came the cowboys. Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, Matt Warner, and Isom Dart all traveled this route when it was just a dusty horse trail, known as the Outlaw Trail.

And as I rode along with my coyote and wistful thoughts, there it was: the all too familiar sound of ninety-five pounds-per-square- inch of air leaving my rear tyre.

The coyote heard it, too. Perhaps the sound startled him, per haps it let him know dinner was ready. I looked down at my tyre and then at him. His body was turned, now facing me. I felt like perhaps our relationship had changed without my input. I thought back to lunch with my dad, when he asked if I was bringing a gun for protection. Then I looked at my flat tyre.

I took the pack off the bike, flipped the bike upside down to remove the rear wheel, and started removing the tyre and replacing the tube, as fast as I could. I looked up to see what the coyote was doing, but he was gone, vanished. I was relieved but also sad, as I was once again alone.

Raven’s Apprentice

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author D. Robert Hardy, his memoir Raven’s Apprentice, and an exclusive excerpt shared only with this blog!

 Author’s description

Raven’s Apprentice is a compelling true story from the west coast of B.C. that launches you into the world of Raven and our interconnectedness with all living things.

 

“Suddenly, without warning, they spun on a fin and started charging the boat. My thrill turned to real panic. Killer whales attacking a boat. Had there ever been such a thing? A paralysis gripped me. Now, within striking distance, they slipped into an arrowhead formation just below the surface. If the leader of the pack didn’t bring the boat down, his flanks would.”

 

“At about 20 feet off the bow, the frontrunner broke the surface, peeling waves off his rostrum as he continued his commitment to engage. Bracing for impact, my hands squeezed into the railing…”

 

Travel with me aboard MV Lady Guinevere. Witness being charged by transient killer whales, stalked by wolves and walking creeks so pristine you feel as if you were the first human to experience the wonder of nature.

 

“You have succeeded in bringing the reader on the voyage with you and into the deeper experience of transcendence and heightened awareness. Some of your experiences are literally skin tingling, many will leave your reader thinking and remembering for a long time to come.” – Sid Tafler – Writer, Editorbr.

 

“Don Hardy’s RAVEN’S APPRENTICE is a great and compelling story, both nuanced and vivid, that will leave readers wanting to head off on adventures of their own.”

– Heather Stockard – IndieReader

About the Author

Born in Halifax Nova Scotia. Grew up in small-town Cumberland, BC. but could not wait to get out and make his mark. Toured throughout Canada and the US as a professional musician until he realized he hated touring. Settled in Victoria, BC. Wrote six unpublished screenplays until he had real success with a stageplay called “A Garland for Judy.” It toured down the west coast from Bellingham to Los Angles but topped the bill in San Francisco for six months to sold-out shows. Eventually settling into technical writing and developing online courses for most of his working life. Raven’s Apprentice is a memoir that captured the imagination of a retired CBC executive who said, “You must bottle up all of this adventure into a book! …being rescued by transient killer whales encounters with wolves, spirits in the kelp … it’s all too exciting!” And so it is done.

Find the Author

Connect with D. Robert Hardy:
WEBSITE https://www.droberthardy.com/
INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/ravens_apprentice/?hl=en
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/drobert.hardy.1/

Buy the Book

Purchase Links:
AMAZON.COM https://amazon.com/dp/0228822297
AMAZON.CA https://amazon.ca/dp/0228822297
KINDLE https://amazon.com/dp/B08CS193XX
INDIGO CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/ravens-apprentice/9780228822301-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ravens-apprentice-d-robert-hardy/1137324048

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.

The Exclusive Excerpt

As I bounced along the logjams, a shot of adrenaline spiked, and the hair on my head felt charged. I was being watched. It had been the same experience all summer. I would arrive in the creek and within 10 or 15 minutes I would feel the pressure of another presence. It was the one creek where I had to wrestle my heart from filling my throat.

I slowed my gaze to scout the creek’s edge of low-lying huckleberries. I assessed every drop of rain, every leaf, every blade of bent grass. The ammonia smell from the fish carcasses lingered, but the earthy moss smells now blended with the autumn leaves, freshening the air. But there was another smell though … underlying the dominant fall fragrance that heightened my sense of danger even more.

Fear rang out. “Just be in the moment. Breathe. Don’t give into the mind’s trick of manifesting fear out of nothing. It was probably just a combination of smells that made it smell like …”

A game we have all played as children is gazing at clouds and imagining something within. We might see an elephant stampeding across the sky, or a peacock in the flowered wallpaper of our bedrooms. This was an essential part of the development of children with creative minds.

As I began to look closer at the underbrush, my thinking reversed. I was no longer imagining what I could see within the pattern but looking at the whole pattern.

My eyes adjusted to the larger picture before me. Then I saw them – eyes – unwavering and intense, maybe ten or fifteen feet away, and close enough to attack before I could respond. They were the eyes of something that couldn’t be convinced not to further their intent. I was looking into the soul of an animal that knew no fear and was at the top of the food chain in the forest. And the prophetic words of Willy Hanks came back to me … “If they let you live.”

Moon in Bastet

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author E.S. Danon and her magical realism and  Jewish fiction novel, Moon in Bastet.

Author’s description

A memoir turned into thrilling fiction; Moon in Bastet is based on the life of author E. S. Danon. The story follows a fourteen-year-old girl named Eva, an orphan living in the Negev desert of Israel who is working as a custodian of Cirque Du Christianisme. Her life is controlled by a volatile drunk named Bella who favors a group of equally volatile teenage bullies over her and her own safety or sanity.

Bullied, neglected, and alone – Eva’s only friends are an odd, thirteen–year–old Sephardic boy named Jack and a small cohort of Bedouin sister-wives. On the brink of giving up on life, Eva stumbles upon a mysterious cat in the middle of the desert. Or really, did the cat stumble upon her?

Together they must fight to stay alive, win the battles thrown at them, and Eva must learn to not only lean on others but to trust in herself.

Filled with mystery, magic, and symbolism – Moon in Bastet is a story of resilience, survivorship, forgiveness, and women empowerment. This is a work filled with Jewish mysticism that can be enjoyed by people of all races, ages, and religions everywhere.

About the Author

Elizabeth Danon received her B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University before working as a Marine Biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service. She traveled the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico: collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels and dredges.

When that didn’t pan out to be the glorified job that she expected, finding herself covered in shark snot and fish scales daily, Elizabeth became a technical writer. In her spare time, she began doing standup comedy after taking comedy bootcamp with the Armed Services Arts Partnership. At this time, she married the most wonderful man who also provides most of her joke writing material. Unfortunately, because he’s Indian he has also enabled her Maggi addiction… Like she needed that on top of her already long-standing iced coffee issues.

Her favorite show is Schitt’s Creek, as she feels a special bond to her fellow comedians – and Sephardic brethren. Growing up half-Jewish herself, Elizabeth eventually converted to being full-Jewish with Temple Israel as a student of Rabbi Panitz.

Her enriched, but complicated, heritage has been an inspiration for most of her creative writing. Being an Aries, she has always felt like a leader and has therefore integrated her feminist beliefs into her work, albeit dropping every women’s studies course that she ever elected in college.

Additionally, her writing has an unmistakable international presence. Elizabeth wanted to discover as much as she could about her Sephardic Heritage and went on Birthright, followed by her independent travels to over ten other countries… carrying nothing but a red bookbag.

Find the Author at

Website: https://linktr.ee/esdanon
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/esdanon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/DANON.ELIZABETH.BOOKS/about/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/esdanon

Buy Moon in Bastet

Buy on Amazon.   Buy at BN.

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.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Mist twinkles atop the desert sand as a cohort of camels take their morning promenade. A girl runs past them, chasing the rising globe of fire.

Her breath labors as she slips on a rock.

“Ugh!”

A perfect little scrape forms on her knee, but she continues onward and unfazed.

Her skin is olive tinted; her head covered by a canopy of endless brown, curly hair. On her face sit two prominent beauty marks, on either side of her mouth. She is slender and not yet fully grown, but by no means does she have a frail frame. She wears a beige, spaghetti strapped dress that is knee length and complete with a secret pocket – all of which is covered in dirt. A headband woven from plants and flowers sits around the girl’s head.

This girl is named Eva.

She sprints up another dune’s side, her dress ballooning around her as she sits suddenly with crossed legs. The mirage of the sun’s gaseous performance begins to play on the horizon; another Israeli sun rise in the Negev. Like toy soldiers, the sun’s rays advance in a medley of oranges and yellows. Pink is usually reserved for sunrises – however on this day, a rosy aura is cast around the girl as she grabs a rock and casts it towards the sun: This is how a desert girl skips rocks. Next, she takes aim at the arse of the nearest camel.

The rock misses by centimeters, causing a fuss amongst the cohort, but Eva’s almond shaped, brown eyes glisten.

“G-d! Adonai! Where are you? I see you in the colors of the sky!” Her voice echoes as her eyes drift upon the sunrise. “Why are you ignoring me like everyone else does? I feel you in the warmth of light but where are you? Why haven’t you rescued me yet?” She shivers and brings her bare feet in closer to herself. “Can you at least give me a jacket? You’re not very gentleman-like, you know… it’s really chilly this morning.”

Eva puckers her lips in defeat, and then meditates in the following silence, focusing on the warmth ricocheting from the sand and onto her goosebumps.

“Well at least my cramps are gone,” she says once her anxiety diminishes – massaging her lower stomach, happy that her most recent predicament has gone away. “But yet I still must deal with the cramp of life: being unheard and misunderstood.”

Reminded of the reason why she came to pray in the first place, Eva turns to the sky and gives a cloud a dirty look. “G-d, you have approximately twenty-four hours or I will throw rocks at every camel that I see! I can’t survive in that stupid Circus another day.” She throws a finger towards the unsuspecting cloud in the sky and pauses, thinking of a way to coax G-d into saving her.

“You know what – if you like your camels so much, then you better get me out of this place!” Shaking her head, she mumbles, “I’ll just throw rocks at each of their heads. Not like they would care. They’re already dumb… dumb camels.” She looks at a moon shaped scar on the top of her hand, given to her by one of the water-hoarding creatures several years ago.

“Dumb camels,” she repeats.

Silence again is all that responds to Eva once she finishes speaking to herself. She slumps over, shrugs, and decides to head back to her home that sits half-a-mile away from the dunes.

Her feet slip on the sand, causing her to lift her left hand to her face. She huffs as she thinks of her favorite book; reading it gives her solace in her own solitude. Eva sighs, feeling stuck in an ocean made of sand and trapped with her own imaginary desert marlin. She’s already picked out several camels to act as the sharks.

Ironically, one of the camels spits at her as she passes – as if asking, “Where’s your rock – dumb human?”

“Rude,” she mutters in response.

Eva finds her way to a camp studded with only several architectural structures that is surrounded by seven-foot-high wall made of sand. There is only one exit and one entrance, a sky-high rectangular structure made of wood that suffices as a gate. As she skips under it, a sign that reads Cirque du Christianism sways after her.

Officially home, she is welcomed by an array of Circus tents.

Her lazy footsteps saunter past the main tent to her right, soon halting as she approaches a much smaller blue tent. Looking back towards a white tipi, she can feel her body tensing as she holds her breath before leaping forward in front of the blue tent.

I hope he doesn’t attract attention to me.

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.”

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.

The Secret Spice Café Trilogy

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal fiction trilogy, The Secret Spice Cafe.

Author’s description

Book One: Cooking For Ghosts

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.

Book Two: Spells and Oregano

A mother desperate to save her twin sons, a war veteran in torment, a beautiful young psychic with a terrible secret, a powerful magician with a shattered soul, and a Queen steeped in history and glory. These extraordinary beings cross paths and set off a remarkable chain of events in Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy.

Overcome by despair after a trauma when she was sixteen, Sarita Taylor has spent the past ten years isolated and lonely aboard her beloved RMS Queen Mary. Fearful of outsiders, she dedicates her time to managing The Secret Spice Café, now an award-winning restaurant. Until Luca Miceli, a man with a dark past, steps on board.

Patricia V. Davis deftly spins past and present, mystery and magic, into a potent story of passionate longing and family tragedy all at once. Spells and Oregano is a compelling tale of atonement, devotion, and undying love, set aboard one of the world’s most magnificent, haunted ships.

The Secret Spice Trilogy is an Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection.

Book Three: Demons, Well Seasoned

Dare to Believe in Your Power…

A long-lost grandmother. A stay-at-home mom. A comic book fan. A five-year-old girl with a star-shaped birthmark. And nine more.

The cast is bigger, the stakes are higher. When Sarita’s grandmother, a Vodou priestess, foresees a terrible evil, Cynthia, Jane, Angela, and Rohini reunite on a heart-rending mission to save all that’s precious to them, including the iconic ship, the RMS Queen Mary. They cannot do it alone–the priestess tells them there must be thirteen on the night of the thirteenth moon. in this life-or-death pursuit. Yet, can she be trusted?

Spiced with history and the supernatural, Demons, Well-Seasoned takes us from 1930s Glasgow, to New Orleans and Harlem in the 1950s, to present-day southern California, and back again, on a metaphysical voyage that is both exhilarating and poignant. But before you embark upon this final sail with the denizens of The Secret Spice, be warned: expect to lose sleep, and keep tissues at hand. These valiant characters might just stay with you long after their story comes to a close.

Characters, Characters, Characters

Patricia V. Davis has woven a complex tale, spanning generations. I asked her what techniques she used to make sure her readers didn’t get lost in her large cast of characters. Here is her fascinating response.

To keep a reader turning pages in novels such as these, they have to be invested in the characters as much as they are in the story. With a large cast of characters, it’s always a challenge to make their voices distinguishable from one another.  In the case of Angela, Cynthia, Jane, Rohini, Sarita, and Cristiano, who are the main players in an even larger cast of characters, I had to consider the region of the world from which they each came, their ages, their sex, and even their life experiences.

How does that translate to the page? It’s simple enough to give a character description, a synopsis of all of the above for each. Simple, but boring.  I could have written, “Angela was a forty-five-year-old Italian-American from the east coast of the USA,” or I could show that by her actions, her thoughts and perceptions, her manner of speaking.  Each character was given “tells”—phrases they use routinely, motions they make, habits they have.

A reader could go through each novel with a highlighter if they wished, and find these things. Sharp eyes would notice that Rohini rarely, if ever, uses contractions when she speaks, for the reason that her English is careful and precise, as it’s her second language, and she learned how to speak it in her native India.  Cristiano, from Spain, will often sound more like he comes from Mexico. He explains that in the storyline. Sarita nibbles on her thumbnail when she gets nervous, Cynthia moves her hands way more than most, Jane sometimes uses expressions from her native northern England, such as “you lot” to mean, “you people,”  that a number of American readers unfamiliar with the lingo might think is a typo.

I got lucky—so lucky—on the audiobook narrator, Ann Marie Gideon. She loved the idea of all the accents, regions and ages so much, that she spent a lot of time with me, asking questions about each character. And she really nailed them. Her audiobook narration is the best I’ve heard.

Bottom line, writers worth their title research meticulously each character’s background, socio-economic level, life experiences, and take all of that into consideration when writing dialogue, and action.  I’m lucky to have met many people from many different parts of the world. That made it easier for me. I enjoyed writing them, as much as I enjoy hearing a reader say how ‘real’ the characters seemed to them.

They are real, as real as my imagination and pen could make them.

About the Author

Patricia V. Davis’s debut novel series, The Secret Spice Cafe, is comprised of three books: Cooking for Ghosts (2016), Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-Seasoned (2019.) The audio books 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.

Find Patricia V. Davis at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorpatriciavdavis/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patriciaVdavis
TikTok: @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_V._Davis

Read my review of her first book, Cooking for Ghosts!

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

from Demons, Well Seasoned

The rain was beastly. It blackened the sky. Like a serpent, it sprang from the pavements, coiled around potholes, and slithered along the road’s perimeters. But when it hit the car windows, it fell like tears, the tears of the inconsolable, the tears the Queen hid in her heart.

They were almost there. The most arduous part of the journey, the five-hour train ride from Ballater, was over. They were only six miles from Clydebank, thereabouts, and that was a mercy. She was exhausted already, and apprehensive about speaking in public for the first time. Not to a small gathering, moreover. She’d been told to expect an audience of two hundred thousand at least. That number had her clenching her gloved hand in her lap. Nerves and worry crawled and bumped around inside her in the same way the black Daimler limousine crawled and bumped over the drenched cobblestones and grooved steel tram tracks of Glasgow Road.

Her role was to maintain an air of serenity and confidence, so she kept her jitters to herself. It would be unthinkable to her to voice them aloud, which was just as well, as no one else shared her mood. Certainly not today. Despite the wet gloom saturating the shoes and clothing of the endless thread of men, women, and children who stood four and five deep on both sides of the streets, their expressions were jubilant as they waved to the Royal motorcade going by. And George, sitting beside her, waved back proudly. As he should do. As he deserved to do.

He’d saved them all.