20 November, 2019

#WeOnlyTalkBooks - Episode 2: Books about Books - @WeOnlyTalkBooks



We are back with the second episode where we talk about some books about Books & reading and some special focus on the book - End of Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.




Books Mentioned in the episode -

An uncommon Rader by Alan Bennett
I'd rather be reading by Anne Bogel
End of Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
The library book by Susan Orlean
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Too much Happiness by Alice Munroe
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Go on... tell us what you guys think. Leave a comment on the BLOG or TWEET to us!


19 November, 2019

#BlogTour :: Over the River and Through the Woods - @beckvalleybooks




A holiday pastiche from the authors of Mindful Writers Retreat, sure to light your festive candles!

From a Thanksgiving snow storm that mends old feuds… to the family misunderstandings that fuel new ones… a quirky elf and some romantic stardust will get you ready to go Over the River and Through the Woods on a journey through time!

Proceeds benefit Ligonier Camp & Conference Center Home of the Mindful Writers Retreats, Ligonier, PA

Available at....








Book Excerpts

LIMITED TIME OFFER
by Phil Giunta



***


A GIFT
by Lori M. Jones




***

Also available in the Mindful Writers Retreat Series...


Into the Woods is the title and theme for this assortment of short stories, poems, essays, music, and one walking meditation. Each piece is unique in tone and genre and the result is that the collection captures the fascinating, frightening, fun, healing, and fantastical wonder of time spent in the woods. The twenty-six contributors who attend Mindful Writers Retreats in the mountains of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, are donating one hundred percent of the proceeds to support the research and work of The Children’s Heart Foundation.

Available at....






Mindful Writers Retreat Authors 
Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. 


Twenty-one Mindful Writers Retreat Authors contributed to OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS. The group consists of bestsellers, award-winners, first-time authors, seasoned veterans, poets, memoirists, essayists, musicians, journalists, novelists, and short story writers who are traditionally, self and hybrid published. At Mindful Writers Retreats the labels don’t create a hierarchy, but instead reveal the richness of those who attend. Every single writer contributes to the magic and the fun that results from meditation, walking in the woods, and hour upon hour of mindful writing.

“Thanksgiving Traveler” – Janet McClintock
“Solstice” – Eileen Enwright Hodgetts
“Magic Sleigh Bed” – Michele Savaunah Zirkle 
“Tidings of Comfort and Joyce” – Kimberly Kurth Gray
“The Bridge on the River Obi-Wan” – Ramona DeFelice Long
“Reminiscing on the Nostalgia of Happier Times” – Amy Morley
“Christmas Pearl” – Demi Stevens 
“Once Upon a Life Well Spent” – Hilary Hauck
“The Christmas Tree” – Kathleen Shoop
“Tink” – Abigail Drake 
“Limited Time Offer” – Phil Giunta
“Cranberry River” – Lorraine Donohue Bonzelet
“The Christmas Angel” – MaryAlice Meli
“A Gift” – Lori M. Jones
“Stars of Peace” – N.J. Hammer
“Fathers and Daughters” – Jennifer Diamond
“The Day the Magic Died” – James Robinson, Jr.
“Shaping Christmas” – Denise Weaver
“Buon Natale” – Cara Reinard 
“First Nativity” – Larry Schardt
“’Twas a Hard Day’s Night and Another Auld Lang Syne” – Sherren Elias Pensiero

Many of the writers who contributed to the anthology. 
The retreats happen at Ligonier camp and conference center in Ligonier, PA. 

Find the Mindful Writers Retreat Series on Facebook HERE



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Winners Prize - 
$50 Amazon.com Giftcard plus Over the River and Through the Woods paperback
Second prize - Over the River and Through the Woods paperback
Open Worldwide
Ending on Sunday 8th December at 11.59pm EST


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#Interview with Jatin Kuberkar, #Author of The Treasure Syndicate

Check out his latest book THE TREASURE SYNDICATE


When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
It was at a family party. It happened when I was entrusted the duty of looking after some pesky kids while their mothers were busy in arrangements. To engage them, I tried cooking up a story about a ‘magical pot’ which, to my surprise, became a hit with the lot. In fact, I was surprised with my own ability of cooking up a story so fast. After that, I started to write short stories for kids. I really don’t remember when it transformed into a passion and here I am…

What inspires you to write?
There is not direct answer to this question.
Inspirations come in strange little bottles, some with a label and some just too transparent.
Rarely, they come with a lid so that I can test them and use only what is required; but for most of the times, they just need to be cracked open at my own risk.
The last I checked, a moment in waiting, a crazy lot of co-travelers or an uneducated cab driver with a strange story about a treasure hunting gang can inspire someone to write a book!

What kind of research goes into your book?
Having an idea or a concept or rather an abstract inspiration is not enough to write a book. There is a tremendous amount of research that needs to go in and that too ‘relevant’ research.
My story has its roots in a conversation with a cab driver. During our talk, he went through a lot of keywords that needed research.
Some of the keywords he had for me were, ‘Snakes’ and their connection to treasures, particularly the Red Sand Boa!
‘Unyielding treasures’ – he spoke about them and said that a cursed treasure could spell doom. When I research about this topic, I found many stories that connect treasures and curses.  ‘Black magic and Vashikaran’ was another topic that I didn’t know about. One can always disregard them as blind faith but is that the final answer we’ve got? Well, that is where I see an intriguing tangle!
Treasure hunting in itself is a vast topic, but I am proud to say that it has not been explored or experienced with the perspective that I have presented/projected in my book.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a collection of short stories and a non-fiction. Both of these are still in very early stages.
Apart from this, I am also working on a story that seems to be a potential candidate for the next Treasure Syndicate’s mission!

Please share three interesting facts about the characters in your book.
Acharya is like the central character in the book. This was a character I didn’t have any reference to. Moreover, I did not want to depict a stereotype astrologer…while I was in search for an inspiration, a scene from one of the Amitabh bacchan’s movie rolled on the TV. That is when I got a reference for describing the character of Acharya Neelkanth Agnihotri!

Kumar is an adaption of the Cab driver who narrated me the story. The only thing that changes there is, the original guy cursed his ‘luck’ for being trapped in this treasure tale, whereas, the one in the book is actually an angel of Luck, without whom the Syndicate is not complete.

The character Srikanth is a vague representation of my own self. You see, the catch is, if I am one of the characters, then I can better imagine and plot the story.

Have you read any books that have inspired you to improve or change yourself in any way?  
I was not at all a reader until I read ‘Wise and Otherwise’ by Sudha Murthy. Before that, only comics and Chandama, Chacha Chowdhari etc was on my reading list.
Then, the book that changed my thinking was The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari – Robin Sharma. This is by far the best self-help book I had come across.

Name three things that you believe are important to character development?
1. Knowing your character well. Not confusing it with the plot or the story. Characters are part of the story.
2. Choose between describing a character step by step v/s describing them at once.
3. Always referring to the character outline so that you don’t err during the story. (just so that a bald character does not carry a comb! 😊)

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to get over it?
I experience writer’s block quiet often… but over the period of time, I’ve realized that it is more of an indication that this is not what I should be writing. A percent of books that are incomplete in my list are all due to this. I guess, the god in me wants me to complete what he thinks is best for me… 😊

Do you know the ending of your books before you finish writing them?
Depends on the book/story that I am writing. For this one, I had not less than 5 climax sequences. None fitted well. Then, one fine day, I got an idea which matched perfectly and it was done!

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
The best advice was from a friend who said – you should probably express yourself in a more relatable and ‘reaching-out’ manner than writing poetry which is a more higher form of expression and is not easy for a casual reading.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Do not be in a hurry to publish your work. Give you ideas enough time to mature. Let them evolve. Find meaning in them… read, re-read your works critically and then, you will yourself know when it’s time to get it published.



#BlogTour :: Alee by @NicoleLoufas - @XpressoTours


Alee
Nicole Loufas

Publication date: November 19th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult

With just weeks left before her high school graduation, Alee dumps with her sunshine stealing boyfriend in epic fashion – by sleeping with his best friend.
Since bad things happen in three, becoming the school slut is just the beginning.
A mass shooting steals the life of Alee’s Olympic-bound best friend and a homeless drug addict turns out to be the father who abandoned Alee as a child.
With a backpack full of daddy-issues and a bucket list of broken dreams, Alee searches for light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Will the man who broke her, be the one who saves her life?




EXCERPT:

Funeral food is like every other party food. Pinwheel sandwiches, mini-meatballs in a brown sauce, wilted salad, and an assortment of cheese and crackers. Laine plucks a cucumber from the tray. He dips it in ranch then shoves it in his mouth with an inappropriately timed sexy smile.
“Bryn hates baby carrots. She said there was something unnatural about them.”
“Toss them.” Laine points to the trash receptacle. “She’s right, they look like fat little baby fingers.” He inspects a dried out digit shaped carrot.
I pick up the tray and carry it to the trash. “This is for Bryn.” The carrots make a raucous as they spill into the bin. A few people glance my way, not for long. Too much eye contact and they’ll have to acknowledge me, speak me, console me.
Laine tosses his carrot in from a few feet away. “Bryn for the win.” He holds pose a few seconds the way Steph Curry does when he hits a three.
We return to the buffet where Frances is speaking to Bryn’s English teacher. She was an honor student so we never had classes together.
“Bryn was smart,” I tell Laine because he’s the only one here who will listen. “She had a 4.0 for, like, ever.”
I remember watching her study, wondering where all that information went. She was like a sponge, absorbing everything around her. Bryn immersed herself in life. She was always moving, always busy with practice of some kind, volunteering, studying, me. I was a project too. She tried like hell to get me involved, get me out of my shell. My spirit animal is a crab; shells are my thing.
Laine and I move to the stage on the other side of the room. A bunch of unattended kids run back and forth squealing like baby pigs. Laine knows a couple of them. They jump on him as soon as he sits down and beg for piggyback rides. He obliges. Laine is a nice guy. I like Laine. That’s probably why I fucked him.
“Are any of these yours?” It’s a joke, but you never know. “That one kind of has your eyes.” I point to the little girl clinging to his back. He gently lets her down and she runs off.
“I volunteer at an after-school program at the rec. At first, it was just something to add to my college applications, but I liked it so I stayed.”
“You really are a good guy, aren’t you?”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“I owe you an apology, for that day. For sucking you into my shit show. You didn’t deserve that.”
His shoulder leans into mine. “No apology necessary. Honestly, I could tell you and Benny weren’t gonna make it.” Laine is Benny’s best friend, he knows all about Benny’s side chicks. Maybe that’s why he did it. I wonder if Bryn knew it too.


Author Bio:

Nicole was born and raised in California. She claims to be a San Francisco native, however she's lived in both Northern and Southern California. She credits her creativity to the fact that she attended 12 schools between kindergarten and her senior year in high school. Her nomadic childhood allowed her to reinvent herself often. Some might say she was a liar. While others see the stories she told as a coping mechanism. Twelve schools, in six cities, in twelve years - give her a break. Today she channels her storytelling ability into writing novels. Long story short - kids that lie become writers.



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18 November, 2019

#BookReview :: Dara Shukoh: The Man Who would be king by @avik_chanda

Check out the book on Amazon


I was hoping for a fictional story to tell me about the life of this ‘could-have-been-king’ prince when I picked up the book. Instead what I found between the pages was a non-fictional but well researched biography. It was my fault as I overlooked the genre mention in the review request email. However, I it turned out to be a happy mistake as I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and looking up places and people while reading it.

The author has presented the biography in a way that almost makes you feel that the stories / incidents are being told by someone who had witnessed it all first hand. Right from the first chapter ‘Rites of Passage’, there was a feel of storytelling in a way that you would expect in a fiction. It has this feel of ‘let me tell you the story of the life of this Prince’, rather than ‘here are the facts and the research to back up those facts about the life of the Mughal Prince’. As such the narrative of this biography made it a very engaging read.

Historians have often debated about the course of history and the fate of our country had Dara Shukoh prevailed and has ascended to the throne as Shah Jahan intended. The main reason for this debate is that Dara Shukoh was known to be more interested in arts and philosophy than he was in military pursuits. He was also considered to be liberal and unorthodox Muslim with an interest in religion and tolerance towards other faiths. The truth is that we will never know what could have happened as we cannot change history. However, author Avik Chanda makes a good case on his view and if you are trying to guess which way he is more inclined, then the title he uses for Dara should give you a good indication.

In addition, the author has provided detailed notes, charts and photos to supplement the readers’ experience. Even if you are someone who knows very little about the dynasty, it will be easy to follow the timeline and understand the life that Dara Shukoh lived and died.



Review copy received from Harper Collins India



17 November, 2019

#BookTour - The Speaking Stone by @RatnadipAcharya

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya

~ Book Tour ~

11th to 17th November



About the Book:
Mumbai, December 2016: 
A young man found an ancient-looking piece of stone with strange images and Sanskrit inscriptions. A quest to know the origin of the stone brought him to the distant part of the country. 

Chandannagar, December 2016: 
A young vivacious historian woman read an old book on a century-old secret story about a little known part of the country. Her curiosity got the better of her as the book disappeared mysteriously before she could complete it. She reached a sleepy quaint state of the country to satiate her curiosity. 

Eventually they both met and their search began from the city museum to a far-flung rock mountain which revealed a century-old story of a seductive danseuse, her enigmatic lover, a string of her admirers, a painter with a photographic memory, a bird that could speak in many voices, a benevolent king and a gruesome conspiracy. And the most important clue to decode the final secret was with the missing part of The Speaking Stone. But in the process of unearthing old secrets their lives were also in danger… 

Book Links:


Read an Excerpt:

Prologue

A pigeon fluttered its wings impatiently as if to give a signal to its beloved that the setting sun would soon glide down and disappear somewhere behind the western rim of the sky. That soon a diluted darkness would envelop the place where they had made their home for a long time; that soon the full moon would sail up in the sky, unhurriedly, transporting the little world around them into a magical land.

She was happily perching on the tall branch of a tree because from up there it could easily say goodbye to the last shaft of sunlight in its own way. It fluttered its wings again after a while but on this occasion not to invite her mate but in an effort to puff up the layers of her feathers for she knew that the approaching evening would bring another guest with it. It was fog. The darkness of the night
encouraged it to descend more vigorously upon the earth. Once she puffed herself up it helped her ward off the chilling cold of the night considerably.

She looked around, moving her nimble neck gracefully. But her mate, the other pigeon, was nowhere in the immediate vicinity. She looked at the moon now. The pale full moon of the late afternoon was slowly gaining its full glow as sunlight had already dimmed.

Suddenly another pigeon came flying and settled on the same branch beside her. This pigeon was slightly larger in size and its feathers white with occasional light brownish patches whereas the other pigeon, smaller in size, possessed spotlessly white feathers which accentuated its immaculate beauty. The larger pigeon now rubbed its neck against the smaller one and both the pigeons closed their eyes as a feeling of pure ecstasy filled them.

An inaudible moan escaped the smaller pigeon now. It was her way to tell her beloved that the entire night was left at their disposal for love-making and that for now, they must witness the beauty and calmness of the rising full moon.

Her mate must have been well-versed in understanding the words of her heart from just a little shift of her head or her muffled squeak. It also looked at the direction she was gazing.

And there, in the distant sky, the full moon of the foggy evening was rising up. As the moonlight became a little more intense it manoeuvred through the mist and reached the forest, the trees, the pigeons and the gigantic rocks of the mountain right behind the tree where the birds perched. There was a pleasant nip in the gentle wind, blowing almost in silence. The leaves of the trees were shaking languidly; they were longing to be covered with a layer of mist; something they felt they deserved after being scorched by the sunlight throughout the day.

The entire mountain was peacefully silent. All one could hear was a pastoral music that issued from the deep ravine a little ahead of the lines of trees when the wind blew through it. But this enchanting music had no effect on the mighty mountain and its rocks and stones, standing motionless, expressionless and silent, weathering the elements, wearing a stoic look for time infinity. A thick growth of vegetation made its way from different cracks of the rocks. Yet there were many large rocks, standing speck-less for eternity. On those rocks, many strange images were carved. Hundreds of large-sized stones were also found lying scattered around and the images of gods and goddesses were carved on many of them, too. No matter how desperately the thickets and vegetation around tried to cover those images on the rocks and stones, some mysterious force always foiled their effort as though those images cut on the rocks and stones must not be obscured by bushes or obliterated by time.

The moon glided a little up in the sky. Its tender light penetrated the fog, girdling the mysterious mountain in its bosom, and touched the rocks and stones softly. Its magic touch made the images on the stones and rocks alive in a strange way.

The pair of pigeons could never discern as to why they loved to feast their eyes on those rocks of the mountain where so many unusual images were engraved. They would spend no less than an hour on every full moon night, watching the play between light and life on those rocks and stones. And then they would return to their nest in silence as peace stole their heart.

Now a pleasant quietness and stillness descended upon the mountain before a mild footfall broke its sublime tranquillity. Suddenly appeared there an old monk with long flowing white beard, clad in two pieces of thin saffron cloth; one was his loincloth and the other one he wrapped around his chest and upper arms. The chill of the winter night seemed to have no effect on him. There were prominent wrinkles under his eyes and on his forehead, his hair snow-white, but yet his agile movement and backbone, as straight as a ramrod, didn’t qualify any visitor to the mountain of rocks to hazard a guess at his age. To be on the safer side they all called him ‘Ageless Saint’.

However, there was a certain reason behind it. The visitors to this mountain of rocks claimed that for decades they hadn’t witnessed any change in his look or stature. They were actually pilgrims to the mountain of rocks. In spite of the repeated efforts of many of them, nobody could ever make him speak. All he would do as a response to their questions was to reward them with a benign smile and an assuring nod of his head. Some of them even doubted that he was speech-impaired. It was not easy to meet him either. Apart from a few auspicious days never did he visit the mountain during the daytime. They claimed that he visited the mountain only when darkness fell and no one was around. It was also rumoured that he worshipped and meditated in front of the largest image on the rock at midnight.

It was a 40 feet tall image of the head of Lord Shiva. Here it was widely known as Kaal Bhairava. Like all other images of the rock mountain, it was also a low relief type of sculpture with a ten-foot-high embroidered headdress. It had a prominent third eye and its earlobes were decorated with circular earrings. On his headgear, small images of celestial figures were carved out and looking carefully at the image of Kaal Bhairava one might feel that those tiny celestial bodies were desperate to be one with Kaal Bhairava. Kaal Bhairava was a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva associated with annihilation. The deity was called upon as a protector as he guarded the eight directions of the universe. Bhairava was also described as the protector of the timid.

All that they knew about ‘Ageless Saint’ was that he lived in a small hut, deep in the valley, near a stream, far from human habitat and didn’t encourage any visitor to his place. They considered themselves lucky if they bumped into him on an auspicious day in the mountain of rocks for it was an open secret that as soon as pilgrims started thronging in the mountain, he disappeared in silence. But the more elusive Ageless Saint became the more curious the natives were to know about him. Yet none of them dared to invade the shroud of mysterious silence about him. It was whispered that there was some secret treasure hidden in those majestic rocks, those rock-cut and stone carved images of gods and goddesses which was only known to him.

Ageless Saint walked ahead slowly, taking in everything around him. He searched for those two pigeons. They had disappeared for the night. The remembrance of the pigeons brought a small smile to his lips. There was something common between those pigeons and him. Though long back he had stopped counting his age and years, he was pretty certain that this pair of pigeons had been here for many many years. Probably he was a young boy when he had seen the pair of pigeons for the first time.

Their unusually long life didn’t astound him and he had accepted them as a part of the mountain and rocks as the mountain had accepted him as a part of it, with the fullest trust, unquestioningly, with the love of its caring touch for the last many decades.

Ageless Saint reached near the rock where a gigantic image of Kaal Bhairava was carved. He touched the rock. It was cold to touch. Involuntarily his eyes closed when he felt a kind of calmness, serenity and peace from the rock filling his body.

He sat cross-legged on a piece of stone in front of Kaal Bhairava and meditated for long hours. Once he opened his eyes the night was about to end. The darkness was slightly liquid. He passed a long glance at the huge rocks and stones scattered around him. They were in hundreds. The images of many gods and goddesses were engraved on them. But the images of Lord Shiva monopolized, followed by those of Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Nandi Bull and a few more. Joining his hands, Ageless Saint gave a respectful pranam to all the images.

Even though no one knew who made those images, how and when those images had come into existence, Ageless Saint found himself deeply connected to them. He was thankful that visitors here were few and far between, barring on a few auspicious days. He had heard that no more was the princely state, whose part this mighty mountain was, ruled by kings. A few years after the independence of India this tiny state joined the independent India.

But it made little difference to him and the rock mountain. Only a handful of people knew about the mountain of rocks; probably, because it belonged to the most neglected part of India.

As the first shaft of light of dawn touched the mountain Ageless Saint retraced his steps towards his cottage, a few kilometres away from the mountain, when the chirping birds and whispering trees reclaimed the rocks and the mountain.

One of the strangest things in life is that the secrets and treasures of the world open their arms to embrace you only when no secrets matter to you anymore and the treasure you have found within yourself is more precious than any other worldly treasure, a thought passed through Ageless Saint’s mind. A pair of birds squeaked from a tree nearby as though they were seconding his thought.


About the Author:


Ratnadip Acharya is the author of two successful novels, Life is Always Aimless... Unless you love it and Paradise Lost & Regained. He is a columnist for the Speaking Tree in The Times of India. He contributed many write-ups in different collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Sophia and son, Akash.




Contact the Author:


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15 November, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: Meet the #Characters from @sourabhm_ofcl's The Sinners


*** Special Feature - November 2019 ***


About the Author:


Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.

A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.



Contact the Author:


Character Sketches:

The Sinners presents an eclectic mix of interesting characters.

Central to the story is Vikram Oberoi, the head of India Operations of NexGen, which manufactures smart devices and has stood up to competition from global players. He is handsome and charismatic, a ruthless go-getter, and notorious for his dalliances outside his marriage with Manvi Oberoi. Vikram gets into a relationship with Sonal Verma, a new intern in NexGen, much to the chagrin of his secretary Aarti Bansal, with whom he had a very public affair.

The suave Ashwin Saxena, Vikram’s subordinate in NexGen, was his classmate in Management school, who also used to be Manvi’s boyfriend. We also meet a mystery woman laying out honey-traps for vulnerable men in positions of authority or in the possession of confidential company information like Rakesh Behl, who heads Product Engineering, and Agastya, who works in the Networks and Systems Division of the company.

NexGen was set up by Devesh Nair, who, after working for close to thirty years for Alpha Tech, one of the largest global manufacturers of consumer electronics, left the company when his innovative business ideas were belittled by Arun Sundaram, country head of Alpha. In seven years since its inception, those same ideas have taken NexGen to unprecedented heights. Arun Sundaram will only be too happy to see the downfall of his arch rival Dev.



About the Book:


Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.

Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois? 

The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.





Book Links:

Giveaway:
1 Paperback Copy of The Sinners
1 Paperback Copy of The Colours of Passion

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14 November, 2019

#Spotlight :: Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love - @KWilkinsauthor






Hi everyone!

I’m announcing the release of my non-fiction guide to romance, Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love.

Whether you’re just starting out dating, in a committed relationship, newlyweds, or you’ve been married for twenty years, Romance Every Weekend will show you how you can strengthen the bond between you and your loved one and deepen your relationship.

Romance shouldn’t be reserved for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or an anniversary. Why should people wait for a special occasion to show someone they love that they care? Love can (and should) be expressed every chance you get.

Romance Every Weekend features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Everyone has his or her definition of “romance.” Some people like to send mushy cards, while others are more practical. But however you define it, romance is more than giving flowers, buying a box of chocolates, or getting frisky in the bedroom. Romance is all about making tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

They say “It’s the little things in life that count.” and I believe that’s true. A simple expression of love can go a long way to cheer someone up, make them feel special, and show you care. And let’s face it—everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated.

Romance Every Weekend contains 104 romantic suggestions designed to make your weekends sparkle. Why 104? There are 52 weeks in a year, and two suggestions per weekend will keep you and your partner busy. If your schedules don’t give you a lot of free time on the weekends, that’s okay. You can do these any time during the week.

Some suggestions include:

* Today, tell your sweetheart: “I knew I loved you when…” Sharing your feelings and expressing your love verbally has a deeper meaning than giving a gift or sending a card.
* Break out of your comfort zone. It’s time to try something new with your mate. Sign up for a class being offered today, in person, in your local area. It can be anything: cooking, Pilates, yoga, swimming, dancing, painting… Take the first class you find and run with it. (Whatever happens, remember, you’re in it together.)
* Watch the sun set together. No talking. But you can certainly hold hands. 

If you're looking for ways to keep your romance fresh, this is the book for you!

Romance Every Weekend makes a great holiday gift for you – or for your sweetie! Why not order it now and set a New Year’s resolution to try all 104 suggestions in 2020?

Get your copy here:


I hope you (and your partner) enjoy the suggestions. You may even be inspired to come up with a few of your own!

Kelli A. Wilkins

About the Author
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
In November 2019, she released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance. The book features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.
Kelli published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in August 2019. If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her disturbing novella, Nightmare in the North.
Her historical romance, The Viking’s Witch, was released in June 2019. This full-length novel takes place in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual romance with paranormal elements. 

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
Visit her website www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.

13 November, 2019

#Spotlight :: Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James

Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James Banner

 Death and Conspiracy

by Seeley James

on Tour November 11 - December 6, 2019

Synopsis:

Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James

Is Jacob Stearne a terrorist or a hero?

After fabled Ranger Jacob Stearne kills two terrorists before they can shoot hundreds of worshippers, he’s sent undercover to disrupt their neo-Nazi group’s plans for a global religious war. But the CIA agent who sends him on his mission may not be who he claims.

In his search for the dangerous terrorists, Jacob finds himself manipulated by international agencies, used gods, potential lovers, and racists alike. Everyone wants him to believe something he doesn’t. While infiltrating a neo-Nazi gathering, he must handle both warring factions and authorities who believe he’s the real terrorist.

Death & Conspiracy poses the question: Could you befriend white supremacists to stop mass-shootings?

Book Details:

Genre: Action/Adventure
Published by: Machined Media
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Number of Pages: 303
ISBN: 9781732238886
Series:Sabel Security Book 7
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH MY girlfriend.
I trudged along the stone-paved streets at dawn wearing my blue jeans and black leather jacket over a t-shirt that read, “That which does not kill me—should run.” I was thinking things over. There were no real indicators I could put my finger on, but when I said we should step out for coffee, she offered to join me “later.” Something in her tone of voice. Something in her distant gaze.
What happened? Last night we were thirsty for each other. I did my Julius Caesar impression, Vini, Vidi, Vici. She channeled the Whore of Babylon. Laughter and romping ensued.
This morning, she was different.
A shop lady dragged a stand filled with bouquets onto the sidewalk in front of her store. Figuring flowers might perk Jenny up, I picked one. The lady took one look at my face, smiled, and told me they were free for lovers. At least, I think that’s what she said. I studied Arabic and Pashto to get me through my eight tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. French never came up. I thanked her, sniffed the bouquet, and kept strolling.
We’d had a whirlwind romance, the kind you read about in books. If you read that kind of book. Which I don’t. So, I guess it was how I imagined a storybook romance goes. I’d saved her mother’s life, which led to Jenny getting a pardon. As soon as she got out of prison, she came to my house to say thank you in person. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like a storybook romance at all. Anyway. One thing led to another. Two weeks later, I invited her for a getaway weekend. I was thinking something like a bed-and-breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley. Cozy and affordable and nearby.
Then I made the mistake of telling my boss, Pia Sabel, about my plans. She thought Jenny Jenkins would prefer Paris. After all, Jenny’s the daughter of Bobby Jenkins, the billionaire drug lord—I mean, founder of Jenkins Pharmaceuticals. Since no one can say no to Ms. Sabel, especially when she insists on paying and providing a private jet, the next thing I knew we were in Paris, staying in the Hotel Lutetia on the Left Bank.
It turned out Jenny had been to Paris so many times it was like going to Walgreens. Her dad rented out Napoleon’s Tomb for her ninth birthday. For my ninth, Dad filled a barn bin with dried soybeans so we could jump in them. Things are different for farm boys in Iowa.
There was an upside. Instead of going to see the fire damage at Notre Dame or visiting the Louvre, she wanted to spend the entire trip in bed. I was fine with that.
Then this morning happened.
My brain came back to the street in front of me. Two men hauled tables and chairs out of a café and placed them on the sidewalk. I put my flowers on a table and dropped into a wicker chair. One of the men said something about not being open yet, but the other guy pulled him away.
I said, What did I do wrong? I made sure she was satisfied several times over. Wait. She wasn’t faking it, was she?
Mercury, winged messenger of the Roman gods, pulled up a chair next to me. If she be faking an orgasm when you’re going downtown like a Detroit rapper, who is she cheating?
Sometimes it’s nice to have a god you can chat with. Most of them are invisible and mute. I enjoy our little chats. Sometimes. But every now and then, the diagnosis of my Army psychiatrists rolls through my head like a thunderstorm. “PTSD-induced schizophrenia,” they said. Yeah. Well. What do they know? The guys who served with me in combat considered me divinely inspired.
Mercury first came to my aid in a battle where a company of Iraqi Republican Guards had pinned down a Marine platoon. I’d been separated from my Army Ranger unit and snuck through the combat zone lost, scared, and confused. With Mercury whispering in my ear, telling me where to aim, I took out half the Iraqis attacking the Marines and scattered the rest. The Marines loved me. I got medals. From then on, my heavenly powers on the battlefield made me the soldier’s soldier. Everybody wanted to transfer to my platoon.
All Mercury wanted was a return to his former glory. Just kick Christianity to the curb and reinstate the whole Roman pantheon. No problem. After fifteen hundred years, he and his buddies were done with living on food stamps and desperate for a reunion tour.
I said, Is it me? Too much of a socio-economic divide?
Mercury leaned in. You want a woman like that, brutha? Really want a woman like that? Then you gotta think like a Caesar.
I said, I’m her master and commander in the bedroom.
Sheeyit, dawg. Mercury rolled his eyes and leaned back. (Did I mention he’s black? He cites the Judeo-Christian Bible, where it says God made man in His image. Mercury points out that the Great Leap Forward happened in Southern Africa. There were no white people in Southern Africa in the days of Adam and Eve. Therefore, all gods are black. Yeah, took me a while too.) I’m talking real Caesar, not just another white dude whipping out some cheap leather gear in a hotel room. I’m talking invading nations, burning villages, raping, pillaging…
And that’s where I tune him out. Certain aspects of civilized behavior have changed a good deal since he whispered in the ears of the rich and powerful. I texted Jenny that I was waiting for her at the Café de la Mairie. She didn’t reply.
Ever listen to some old guy go on about winning the state championship back in high school? Try spending an hour listening to a used god talk about the good ol’ days when Julius Caesar defeated the official Roman Army under Pompey—not because he should but because he could.
Mercury said, And that’s how Julius Caesar became emperor. The lesson here is: Kill everyone who defies you.
I said, How’d that work out for ol’ Julius in the end?
The streets began to fill with enough vehicles to start the rhythmic honking cycles peculiar to big cities. It sounded a lot like that Broadway tune by George Gershwin. What was it called? “An American in …” somewhere.
There were no texts from Jenny on my phone when I checked for the three hundredth time. I sent her a picture of the menu and asked if she wanted me to order for her. No response.
Mercury said, There they go again. Those two clowns been circling the block all morning, dressed like Siberians.
I had a croissant with jam and a coffee. Alone.
Are you listening to me, homie?
Mercury’s supposed to be the god of eloquence, but tutoring William Shakespeare five hundred years ago didn’t work out for his resurrection, so he tried channeling inner-city kids. He thinks he sounds like Dr. Dre, but he comes off more like Eminem will in forty years. Desperately dated.
I’m telling you, Mercury said, those two are your ticket to fame. You kill them, and the press will love you. Glory will be ours!
Having lost track of which two people he wanted me to kill, I said, Jenny doesn’t care about glory.
The sun rose higher in the sky. The waiter brought more coffee. People going places began to fill the sidewalk. Singles, couples, families. It was Sunday, and many of them were filing into one big-ass church across the street.
Mercury said, What’s the big deal about this here girl has you so distracted, brutha?
I said, Remember when I rescued her mom from the assassins? Before her mom was VP, she was an admiral. And brass tends to expect a concierge rescue. But not Admiral Wilkes. She fought and ran and knocked out bad guys like a superhero. That woman was determined to get out of there. I was impressed. When Jenny showed up, I realized the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She was just as determined and driven as her mom. A woman like that, you can build a life together. A real partnership. The two of us working out family, friends, and careers together. We could grow old without the flame dying out.
Mercury said, Determined? Driven? You really want a woman like that, dude? Nothing but trouble if you ask me. In my day, women didn’t read, they didn’t vote, they didn’t talk back. We had a good thing going and y’all messed it up.
My phone’s screen was blank. Still no word from Jenny.
I said, Maybe she needs something more than just sex?
Mercury said, What else is there?
I dunno, I said. Like therapy or something. She had a traumatic year. Maybe she needs help with her mental health.
Mercury said, What would you know about mental health?
The waiter brought a vase for my bouquet. It was wilting. I gave him a nod. “Merci.”
Pretty much the extent of my French vocabulary.
I was stuck. If I went back now, I’d look insecure, worried. If I kept my cool, acted unconcerned, maybe she’d come around. Maybe she’d text me back.
I hate playing games like that. Unless I win.
See here now, bro. You need to take down those terrorists with the two coats. Mercury nodded at the men he’d pointed out earlier. You can be a hero again.
I said, What makes you think they’re terrorists?
Mercury said, They radiate hate.
Across the lane was a large, open plaza. In the center stood a massive chunk of marble with statues of ancient Frenchmen in niches surrounded by water splashing from a central fountain. The Frenchmen were probably important at some point in the history of the area, but now they were just a backdrop for selfies.
Two guys stood next to the fountain. They stole glances at the cathedral doors. They had jet black hair and beards. One had a swarthy, Mediterranean look. The other looked distinctly American. They kept their heads down, their hands shoved in their coat pockets. Their overcoats were heavy enough for winter, but it was a sunny spring day.
Maybe Jenny was worried about the paparazzi. We’d been swarmed outside the hotel. Again later when we went out to dinner. Neither of us is a celebrity, but her divorced parents are minor tabloid material. Jenkins Pharma sold a questionable number of opiates, and her mom is the Vice President of the United States. Which is why there’d been plenty of controversy over Jenny’s pardon.
The paparazzi couldn’t be it. I’d shared Ms. Sabel’s advice for dealing with tabloid photographers with Jenny. Ms. Sabel told me to smile for the cameras because (a) they hate that, and (b) they’ll print it anyway so you may as well look good. Jenny still hated them.
I thought about going to church. I checked the name of the one across the street. Église Saint-Sulpice. I invited Jenny in a text. We hadn’t discussed religion, and she didn’t seem the type, but if she was mad at me, where better to work things out? She was the kind of woman worth working things out for. The kind worth having an intimate relationship with. Someone you could tell all your secrets to. Or is it, someone to whom you could tell all your secrets? I never get that stuff right. Maybe she didn’t like my grammar.
Mercury grabbed my hair and pulled my head up out of my phone. He pointed at the two guys. Quit thinking about getting laid and ask yourself the million-dollar question: why two coats?
Shoplifters wear overcoats. It gives them room for all their stolen merchandise. So do mass shooters. Coats cover weapons.
The shorter guy fiddled with a string of beads. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He mumbled to himself. The American looked calmer, yet significantly more agitated than your average churchgoer. My military training included a good deal about recognizing terrorists. They often say prayers. They’re often quite nervous. They often sulk to avoid notice.
Either these two were sinners in desperate need of redemption … or they were terrorists.
I found myself crossing the street, heading for the fountain. At the same time, the two men headed for the church. As he pushed off, the short guy tossed his beads into the water.
It was a wide plaza, and they had a shorter distance. I changed course to intercept them. Being unarmed put me at a disadvantage. But they had the terrorist’s tunnel vision. Their eyes remained glued to the entrance. Nothing around them mattered anymore.
A few people in nice clothes funneled up the steps and filed through the massive front door, each taking a bulletin from the greeters. None of them wore more than a light sport coat.
The overcoat guys slowed and hung back. When the funnel cleared, the greeters at the door waited. The overcoat guys trotted up the steps and entered without taking the offered bulletin. Without a bulletin, they would have no idea which hymns to sing. Definitely terrorists.
I bounded up the steps, full throttle.
***
Excerpt from Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James. Copyright 2019 by Seeley James. Reproduced with permission from Machined Media. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Seeley James
His near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.
Seeley's love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.
His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.

Catch Up With Seeley James On:
SeeleyJames.com, Goodreads, BookBub, & Facebook!




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