28 June, 2019

#Spotlight :: Celebrate Pride Month with… Four Days with Jack

By Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Hi everyone,

To celebrate Pride Month, I’m sharing a look at the making of my gay romance, Four Days with Jack. In this contemporary novella, best friends David and Jack embark on a sexual relationship. David has always loved Jack and has fantasized about being his lover, but he lacked the courage to admit his feelings—until now.

Four Days with Jack is one of the few books I wrote without an outline. I think not having a pre-planned structure let the characters write their own story (so to speak), and took the book in new directions. 

At first, I didn’t know what the story would be. All I had was a basic plot (straight guy comes out to his gay best friend), a title, and one pivotal scene that takes place in a bathroom. (For those of you who have read the book, you know which scene I’m talking about—but I won’t give it away here.) 
From there, I let my imagination wander and came up with the resort, the rest of the plot, and the unusual cast of characters that Jack and David encounter. As I wrote, David quickly revealed a major conflict—inner turmoil. Over four days, David and Jack learn a lot about themselves, each other, and what sacrifices they’ll make to stay together. 

David has kept his true desires a secret from himself and everyone else. He’s afraid of what people will think about him if they know (or even suspect) that he’s gay. How will they react? Will they judge him? If so, how will his life change? 

These aren’t the typical types of questions that my straight characters have to face in their romances. And this line of thinking really got me wondering about what it’s like for people to come out in real life. Will they be shunned by friends and family? Should they tell anyone? Live a lie? Move to a new state? What if they live in a state that’s more conservative and not gay-friendly? What will their coworkers think? Is their preference really anybody’s business? 

I picked up on this theme of “What will people think?” and ran with it. In the book, David points out that Jack’s family disowned him when he came out, and David doesn’t want to go through the same type of heartache. Jack’s reply is pretty much: “So? They’ll get over it.” 

As I was writing this story, I considered “what people would think” about this book. How can a woman write a gay romance? What will people think about the love scenes? Then I reminded myself that I’m a writer, and I create the characters and scenes that make up the book. Basically, the story needs to be told, and I’m the one telling it. 

Writers need to turn off their internal editors and forge ahead with the story as it should be (and needs to be) told. If we constantly worried about what grandma would think about our writing, or if we were afraid to open up and let the characters and story take us into the bedroom, we’d never write anything except G-rated bedtime fables. And if a friend/relative/whoever has a problem with the subject matter, Jack’s right: they’ll get over it.

Or maybe not. One reader commented that she didn’t like the antagonist (Frank). As a writer, I’m glad to hear that! Frank is a blatant homophobic ass who says some pretty awful things to David and Jack, and he treats his own wife like crap. 

So why is he in the story? For two reasons: 1. to show that not everyone accepts openly gay couples, and 2. to add a level of confrontation and intolerance that help band David and Jack together during a crisis moment. Is Frank an over-the-top stereotype? No, I don’t think so, because he’s a compilation of a few real people I’ve encountered.

Even in this day and age, some people are offended by gay romances and consider them “icky” or immoral. (Yes, I was actually told by a book reviewer that gay romances are icky!) My philosophy is pretty simple when it comes to that: it’s a free country, so read whatever you want —but don’t expect me to censor what I write because you have a problem with it. 

Now more than ever, I’m just as proud of my gay romances as I am of my straight romances. Why? Because I’m a romance writer—and in my books, everyone deserves to be in love and live happily-ever-after with whatever partner they choose. 

And that’s the way it should be… in fiction and in real life.

Here’s the book summary and links:

When David invited his best friend on vacation, he never expected them to fall in love…

Spending four days in a tropical paradise with Jack is a dream come true. For years, David has lived a lie and denied his romantic feelings for Jack. Now that they’re together in an isolated Caribbean resort, he finally admits what he really wants—to be Jack’s lover. 

Jack has been in love with David for years and is encouraged by his desire to explore a sexual relationship. He’s more than willing to introduce David to the life he has always fantasized about. Their sizzling nighttime encounters confirm David’s long-hidden cravings, but what will happen when they leave the resort?

Will David come out and start a new life with Jack? Or will he go back to his old ways and risk losing the best friend he ever had?

Order Four Days with Jack here:
Amazon * All other platforms

I hope you’ll check it out. I fell in love with the characters, and I hope readers will too. It’s got a good blend of humor, drama, and plenty of sizzling love scenes that will heat up your summer!  

Happy Reading,

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, 5 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. 
Her historical romance, Dangerous Indenture, was released in March 2019. This full-length novel is set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.

She published the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence. 

Kelli released her latest Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable in 2018. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her novella, Nightmare in the North.
Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock and iStock to view her photos.
Kelli posts on her Facebook Author Page and Twitter
Visit her NEW Website and Blog to learn more about all of her writings.

27 June, 2019

#BlogTour :: High School Queens by Zachary Ryan

High School Queens
Zachary Ryan
(The High School Queens Trilogy, #1)
Published by: Kingston Publishing Company
Publication date: March 21st 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
They all thought they did a masterful job of keeping their secrets close to their chest. These stupid fools thought they were the high court of this kingdom, but they had no clue who was really pulling the strings. You might wonder to yourself, who would be that heartless to make them backstab their friends, expose other’s secrets, and lose their morals? You don’t need to know who I am, but you better remember my name, The Marked Queen.
Danielle, Andrew, Delilah, Aman, and Jasmine all are now faced with a mysterious villain whose one goal is to ruin each of their lives. They must protect their secrets at all cost, or they’ll be the next victim on Marked Day. They know what’s at stake, and they’ll stop at nothing to continue being: the rich spoiled girl, the normal teenager, the girl who isn’t banging the principal, the straight vlogger, and the girl who isn’t her dad’s punching bag. What happens when The Marked Queen changes up the game just in time for prom? Will each of our favorite puppets survive? Or are they willing to backstab each other just to keep up their personas? The only thing lost at this prom wasn’t going to be their virginity.
Sex, Lies, and High School Queens explores the major theme of self-acceptance. Can they learn to accept all their flaws or pray victim to The Marked Queen? Each chapter continues to fill your sweet tooth until the climactic moment at the prom where you get to have that final bite of the bitch cake you’ve been dying to consume.
Danielle, Delilah, and Jasmine on one side while Calvin, Aman, and Eddie were on the other side. “Now, before we announce who will be King and Queen, there is a video montage first.”
The video started off about Danielle with her fashion, Delilah with her writing, Jasmine with her studies, Calvin with baseball, Aman with vlogging, and Eddie with football. The video ended with all six of them in a group shot together.
Principal Grand smiled. “Well, that was something.” People started applauding. “Now it’s time to announce your Prom King and Queen.” Principal Grand opened the envelope. “Prom King and Queen of Johnson Prep 2018 are…” Principal Grand didn’t get to announce, because the projector started displaying another video.
Everyone turned to the screen and saw the new video. Everyone in the royal court except, Eddie’s, heart dropped. It started out with Delilah’s scandal being revealed in the form of a photo. The photo you might ask was a screenshot of Danielle spilling Delilah’s dirty secret to The Marked Queen. Delilah turned to look at Danielle.
“Someone turn this off!” Principal Grand screamed, because he couldn’t believe that this was happening. He was being exposed, and he didn’t know from who.
The next was of Andrew. It was another screenshot of Jasmine’s text to The Marked Queen. Jasmine turned to look at Andrew. She could tell that he was livid. What set him off the most, were the photos in the local newspaper of his mother’s destroyed grave. Andrew was filled with rage, and he didn’t know how to feel.
The next was for Flynn. It was a photo of Delilah’s work next to Flynn’s, exposing that he had taken material from her story to add to his. Delilah was pissed and hurt about Danielle’s betrayal, but she had a moment of gratification.
The next one was of Aman and Calvin. Aman and Calvin turned to each other. It was a photo of them kissing and a screenshot of Calvin telling The Marked Queen about their relationship. “How could you?” Aman felt completely betrayed by Calvin. Calvin wanted to feel remorse, but he felt free that it was finally out.
Then we had Jasmine’s dirty little secret. “I gave you Andrew!” she screamed, as she saw the photo of her father hitting her, and her puking in the bathroom. The caption was our favorite. “Maybe if she lost the weight faster, then her father wouldn’t have hurt her.”
The final one, was for the main Queen herself. It was a photo of Danielle’s real house. “Looks like this bitch was just a knock off.” It also had photos of her sewing her clothes from the window. “She believed she was Cinderella, but she would never fit into the glass slipper.” People laughed at that caption. Danielle felt mortified.
The lights in the room turned off. A spotlight had turned on toward the entrance. They saw her walk into the room, and everyone gasped at who entered. She walked into prom like the perfect villain. She knew the royal court was beneath her. Why have a plastic tiara, when your name would already be infamous? She headed straight toward her favorite subjects. Her dress was as red as the spilled blood of her victims. She knew no one expected her to be The Marked Queen, and that was what made this reveal so juicy. She grabbed a glass of sparkling cider off the table. She toasted to the puppets she had grown so fond of over the past year. “Hello, bitches,”

Author Bio:
Zachary Ryan grew up in a black-and-white box in Maryland, before moving to Chicago to start a new life. There, he found that he was accepted for his misfit status--and learned that it's perfectly normal to spend your twenties feeling lost and confused.
After a disastrous sexual encounter, Ryan stumbled on a group of true friends, or "soul cluster," that he connected with. Through his writing, he hopes to help other broken souls out there find comfort amid the chaos.


16 June, 2019

#Spotlight :: The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern

The Wedding Crasher

by Nikki Stern

on Tour June 1-30, 2019

The Wedding Crasher by Nikki SternSynopsis:

A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Ruthenia Press
Publication Date: May 8, 2019
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 978-0-9995487-3-8
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The dead woman lay in the clearing like a macabre version of Sleeping Beauty. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked ivory gown, set off by luminescent pearl drop earrings and a matching necklace that almost hid the dried blood around her throat. Her head rested on a satin pillow, her silky walnut hair spread behind her like a fan. The right hand held a bouquet of wilted flowers and rested on her chest underneath the left, absent the fourth finger. The ring finger.
Sheriff Sam Tate stood to one side of the grim tableau, arms folded, and took it all in: the victim; the tall white-haired man who knelt by the body; the deputy who walked the scene in throwaway boots, snapping pictures; the pale young man in running gear sitting on a rock, head almost to his knees; the uniformed officer who squatted beside him.
Sam had dressed in her standard uniform of pressed black slacks and a spotless white shirt. A shaft of early-morning sun bounced off the polished badge at her left breast pocket. On her right wrist, she wore a utilitarian watch. Three small studs twinkled along one earlobe, her single visible concession to a rebellious streak. She’d pulled her unruly dark locks into a tight braid. Ray-Bans shielded her green eyes, though not the line that formed between her brows.
One of the victim’s low-heeled white pumps had dropped off to reveal a slim ankle in hosiery. Stockings, not pantyhose, held up by an old-fashioned garter. Sam didn’t need to look.
He’s back, she thought, adding a curse for good measure.


Excerpt from The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern. Copyright 2019 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki Stern is the author of the inspirational HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist, and the thriller THE FORMER ASSASSIN, a 2018 Kindle Book Review category finalist. Her essays are included in three anthologies and she co-authored the interactive Café Noir murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Eight of her short stories have been published in various online journals and she was a Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch finalist for her short story “Long Away and Far Ago.” Nikki is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On:
nikkistern.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Enter To Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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14 June, 2019

#BookReview :: Decoding the Feronia Files by Tanushree Podder & Ajoy Podder

Check out the Book

This is the second IWE Cli-Fi that I have read so far.

HAARP was set up with the intent of researching weather modification and it was probably done so with the intent of solving global problems. But as is usually the case, atleast in fiction, the results were not what was expected. Extreme weather changes leading to natural disaster that wiped out a lot of life and infrastructure and as such the initiative was closed down. That did not stop the experiments… and with a device embedded in the Himalayas that can have tremendous ramifications, a hunt is on!

The book has a slow start as the authors take their time in giving background information to the readers and setting up the main characters for the story. As expected from a cli-fi, a certain amount of the information provided dealt with climate, the experiments that were undertaken and their implications. Once the base is built the book takes on the pace of an action thriller and there’s not a single dull moment. As for characters, with (almost) the whole world affected by the changes, all the major nations have a team looking into the matter. As such there is a wide set of characters and the cast involves people from agencies like CIA, R&AW, ISI, KGB, ASIS, to name a few. Then there are the suspects and the antagonists. All in all, it is a varied cast where each team brings in something different to offer to the plot. Their different personalities and quirks keep things interesting even though the books focus is more on the events than the characters.

The main aspect of the book is to make the readers realize the importance of treating nature right. I hope that when the readers realize the scope of the catastrophes waiting to happen whether human induced or otherwise, they will show some respect towards Mother Nature. At the same time it makes the readers also wonder if similar experiments can be carried out in reality to solve problems like global warming. This book delivers on many levels; from drama to action to suspense to food for thought, there is enough to keep the readers immersed in the pages. The narrative is crisp and the descriptions in book help the readers visualize each scene as they unfold.

I would have probably enjoyed the book more if the first half of the book was paced faster.

Review Copy received from Blogchatter Book Review Program

13 June, 2019

#BookReview :: Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe #5) by Rex Stout

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This was a ‘change’ from the usual Nero Wolfe books because… wait for it… Nero is not in his Brownstone but in a convention for the best chefs from around the world that is happening at West Virginia. Yes, so ultimately it is food that got Nero to travel. At the convention, a chef gets murdered and there are plenty of suspects around as the victim himself, was not very popular among his peers. Nero reluctantly takes up the case to find the murderer. It does help that he is also on the hunt for a recipe at the same time.

The plot was as usual interesting with a couple of red herrings. Nero continues to play things close and Archie is close on his heels. It was quite jarring to see Nero out and about and it was quite interesting too. There’s a huge cast of characters in the book offering up various possibilities in terms of motive for the murder. The jealousy and the competition between the chefs had an almost tangible feeling. Not to mention the employees of the resort where the convention was happening. That brought in the element of racism which was handled quite well by the author.  The prevalence of prejudice at the time had been captured in an effectual manner and the point that he makes about it being wrong is done in a subtle but effective way. A repeating theme in the series is Nero and Archie’s attitude towards women and it is evermore clear in this book. While I do find it offensive at times, the author balances it out by making sure that almost every story has a strong woman character. It’s a kind of conflict that I have come to terms with… almost. 

Even with Nero’s outing, I think this book could have been more as the beginning of the book was a bit too slow of a start. This is certainly not one of my favourites in the series so far, but I am not going to hold it against the series as with 70 odd stories in the series, a few are bound to fall short on expectations.

12 June, 2019

#BookReview :: One Corpse Too Many (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #2) by Ellis Peters

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I have wanted to read Ellis Peters for a while and thanks to Blossoms Book House, I got my hands on a couple books from ‘Chronicles of Brother Cadfael’ series. 

The war between King Stephen and Empress Maud had brought Shrewsbury to a standstill because of a siege. When King Stephen managed to take over the castle, he had his opposition hung till death. Brother Cadfael, with the permission of the King, brings the bodies of the dead in order to give them a proper burial. But there’s an extra corpse whose cause of death seems to be something other than the noose. Brother Cadfael takes it on himself to find out the fallen man’s identity and exact justice for him.

Brother Cadfael’s knack for observation is shown to the readers early on as is his sense of duty and justice. It doesn’t hurt that the author has also provided us with some hints to his past which makes him seem like a completely different person that he is now. As such, I found it pretty easy to like our protagonist. With his newfound apprentice in stow, Brother Cadfael does all he can to help those who are in need and find justice for a fallen innocent. Godric was an interesting character whose presence in the book added a lot more to the plot and provided some interesting twists. I have to say, even though it is a bit of a spoiler, I ended up liking Hugh Beringar quite a bit. He made an interesting opponent at first and then an even more interesting ally to have.

The author has managed to create a world set in early 12th century England come alive through the pages. It was interesting to see how the brothers of the Abbey managed to keep themselves separate from the war between King Stephen and Empress Maud. They welcomed anyone who needed the help and opened their gates to one and all.  The language used by the author suited the setting. I had trouble understanding a few dialogues in the first few chapters and had to reread the portion to understand. But I got into the flow quick enough and ended up enjoying both the language and the dialogue delivery.

A simple case of whodunit that seasoned mystery buffs will be able to catch on to, yet have a good time reading all about it.

11 June, 2019

#BookReview :: The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe #3) by Rex Stout

Check out the Book

The Rubber Band is another intricately woven plot that introduces a couple of new characters.

As usual, the Wolfe household is in a state, but for a change our protagonists are already working on a case while another interesting case falls into their laps. From money stolen from a desk to a last minute rescue of a man heading to the noose to a beautiful new client whose charms work wonders… this case has it all. But what can a fifty year old lynching case have to do with the present? And will Nero be able to handle all the police interference?

This time Nero has more people he can get to do all the legwork for him. As such Archie is in the Brownstone for most parts and it makes for a different kind of entertainment. Archie and Nero’s relationship is the cause of half the humour in the books. I love their dynamics and their banter and as usual they are up to it again. Also, there’s a particular situation in this book where the police search Nero’s house, and without giving any spoilers, it was a brilliant moment on the book.

This is a slow burn sort of a book. It takes a while for the actual plot to take off, but there is plenty in the meantime to keep the reader engaged. The plot in this one is complex and there are quite a few red herrings left along the way for the readers. I almost missed out on the whodunit myself.

All in all, another entertaining book in a series that is yet to disappoint me.

10 June, 2019

#Spotlight :: A Cloud of Fraud by Linda Ferreri

A Cloud Of Fraud by Linda Ferreri Banner

A Cloud of Fraud

by Linda Ferreri

on Tour June 1-30, 2019


A Cloud of Fraud by Linda Ferreri
A man is shot dead in front of City Hall in Philadelphia where his family is tangled in a bitter lawsuit. One brave woman, drawn there by a work of art, finds herself following a twisted trail to the hills of Le Marche in Italy to learn why. All the while, the cloud of fraud grows thicker and darker around her. But, as C. S. Forester said, perhaps the scandal of fraud enhances the flavor.

This thrilling story grabs and holds the reader from the first chapter through unexpected twists all the way to the richly satisfying ending. Art expert Claire Bliss and police Comandante Baldo are joined and antagonized by unforgettable characters in both Philadelphia and Italy. The authenticity of Ferreri's players and their territories give special vibrance to the novel.

Lovers of the Renaissance will be drawn in immediately by the book's cover, a painting of Mary Magdalene by Carlo Crivelli (ca. 1480) in the Rijksmuseum. Inside the book, a great art crime story unfolds together with a gem of a murder mystery.

A Cloud of Fraud is colorful, fast-moving entertainment.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Published by: Linda Ferreri Trustee
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Number of Pages: 315
ISBN: 978-0-578-47624-7
Purchase Links: Amazon | Kindle | Apple Books | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Early on in the Hard-heads case, at one of the bar association luncheons, Judge Pirandello had positioned himself next to one of his former clerks who was now a successful litigator in the Probate Court. Biggers, by name. There was the introductory chat about the wellbeing of their family members and the joke about the latest case here or there. The dialogue was familiar to both of them. The Hard-heads plaintiff was a problem person, the judge had learned, and he needed to be squashed to put an end to mostly frivolous claims, driven by greed. Everybody in the family knew it, the judge heard. He knew the type. The Probate Court was littered with greedy relatives, angry children with buxom young stepmothers wearing expensive jewelry their fathers had bought. He knew it all. The judge wanted rid of this case, and so he was pleased to learn that it was not worthy of His Honor's dignified much less close attention. The Hard-heads case had to go.
It would have gone long before now, the judge was thinking to himself as he growled into the cup of black tea, but these damned people had refused to take the hint, refused to be cowed or put in their places. Here and there at the few hearings he had conducted over this motion or that, he had seen a shrug of the shoulders by one or another lawyer.
"What could we do?" They might as well have said that out loud. The judge understood.
His knee was throbbing, but Judge Pirandello refused to have it replaced. The fact that cold weather was coming on made it worse. The goddamned orthopedic surgeon was another money-grubber. Were there no professionals left in his world who were not money-grubbers? He stretched his corpulence forward over the edge of his chair to reach for his footstool, then winced as he elevated the bad leg. He yelled out for Mary to bring him another cup of tea. Then, he opened the enormous file on the small table beside his chair.
In Re the Estate of Seri. He hated even the name. Italian people should not behave in this fashion, he thought. His own father would have come back from the dead to beat the daylights out of his heirs if they had behaved as these people were behaving. Suing one another. Claiming fraud. All of it. Disgraceful, he thought. They were each poised to receive a generous amount of money but no, that wasn't good enough. As with errant children, the Judge was both angry with and ashamed of the parties.
Excerpt from A Cloud of Fraud by Linda Ferreri. Copyright 2019 by Linda Ferreri. Reproduced with permission from Linda Ferreri. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Linda Ferreri
Linda Ferreri is the author of several art crime novels as well as witty illustrated iBooks. She is a highly respected international art law expert who divides her time between the United States and Le Marche in Italy.
Sometimes she says her most amusing book was her first, The King of UNINI, a sophisticated little romance set in Paris.

Catch Up With Linda Ferreri On:
acloudoffraud.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Enter To Win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Ferreri. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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09 June, 2019

#Interview with P.A. Minyard, #Author of Encounters with Demons

About the Author:

Patti lived in multiple cities along the East coast throughout her childhood never staying in any one place for more than seven years. She attained her degrees from the University of South Florida as well as Long Beach State and now resides in Ohio. She is a Certified Medical Dosimetrist. (Yeah, no one else knows what that is either!)

Amazon * Goodreads

An Interview with the Author:

Tell us about your writing process.
I find that ideas can arise at all hours of the day so I’m constantly taking notes on my phone. Once these notes hit a critical mass, I’ll transfer them to the story. I’m not one to sit down in front of the computer and force myself to write, I need a reason or impulse. My time is short as work takes up most of my days, so I try to be as productive as possible when at the computer. I’m most comfortable when the story comes to me.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
As much as I would like to share my favorite scene, I’m afraid it would give away a major plot point. That being said, my favorite scenes in general are the ones that elicit an emotional response. There were times when I had to walk away from writing a particular scene or sequence because I was overwhelmed with emotion. Hopefully, I conveyed those thoughts effectively enough to bring the reader with me. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Absolutely! LOL. I remember my English teachers telling me to write about what you know. While I try not to interject myself into my characters and let them speak for themselves, phrases or words I’ve used have crept into their dialogue. Anyone who knows me well and has read the book can easily point those areas out! Some of my insecurities find their way into the pages as well but I’m not so open as to reveal those.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
I’ll actually give you two.
1. Puke on the page, let it all out, everything can be edited later.
2. Don’t fall in love with your work, be open to suggestion and change.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I’ve spent half my life treating cancer patients and they hold a special place in my heart. I also have a fascination with the supernatural/paranormal and was taken by a story of a young cancer patient being tormented by a demon/entity. I have watched my patients struggle against that horrible disease and was incensed at the thought of a young boy enduring further anguish. I knew if I was in charge, things would be different and thus the Beloved were born.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of day?
I always have ideas churning and have even mapped out storylines that have gone nowhere to date. I do refer back to them for inspiration and have incorporated bits and bobs in my latest works. It’s so hard, though. I still have that little voice in the back of my head telling me that no one else cares about these stories or characters. You just have to get past those insecurities and give it a rip!

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read a lot more when I was younger, these days it’s mostly technical manuals. I have always enjoyed fantasy/science fiction and was taken with the novels written by Frank Herbert and Ursula K LeGuin. I love comics/anime/manga and the stories told by Leiji Matsumoto, Hayao Miyazaki, Rumiko Takahashi, and Joss Whedon. They have all influenced my writing and inspired me to create my own ordinary individuals thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Character driven stories, for me, are more satisfying to experience.
Also, I have taken to heart the wisdom of Dr. Seuss who cleverly stated “The writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Brevity can be powerful too.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Golf is my refuge. I have been playing now for 43 years, about the same amount of time as Tiger Woods. You’d think I’d be better! While my shoulders are shot and my game is no longer what it was, I still enjoy the experience of being outdoors, focusing on the now, and hearing that little ball clang against the cup as it drops in. There is nothing like the feeling of a purely struck golf ball. It’s as if the world slows down, you feel nothing because the strike is so smooth, and you watch the ball fly away on a perfect trajectory toward its intended target. A round of golf makes the world melt away if only for a few hours.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1.  I have made a Hole in One.
2.  My favorite band is Def Leppard
3.  I’m a hopeless but proud geek.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
There are two more books filled with stories of other Beloved soon to be released. While the Beloved share a connection and some commonality through the brotherhood, their experiences are unique to their situation. And of course, there are crossover characters who leave their mark along the way. I invite my readers to strap in and enjoy the ride.

About the Book:
Father-to-be Gabriel Walker has just been murdered by a bank robber.
Then he’s given the choice between passing into the Father’s kingdom or remaining behind to help others in need as a Beloved – a mythical demon hunter.
Although his assigned Guardian fumbles at explaining the rules of his complex new existence, Gabe learns a few cool tricks: he must hunt demons to survive and can travel through space and time to do so.
After Gabe proves to be an able demon-slayer, he attracts the attention of Nick, who has good reason to convince Gabe to return home to his wife…
As he navigates death with his newfound talents, Gabe doesn’t realize his biggest challenge lies ahead in trusting the other Beloveds. It turns out that the newest demon-hunter isn’t the only Beloved with incredible powers.
Gabe’s story as a modern-day beloved is juxtaposed against the story of Michel, the very first Beloved. While not all Beloved are related, those who come from Michel’s line seem to cause Nick the most trouble. Gabriel is one of Michel’s descendants …
Encounters with Demons is the first novel in a sci-fi saga of good vs. evil.

Find the Book on Amazon

08 June, 2019

#GuestPost :: Primrose’s Curse: A Fairy Tale of an Audacious Girl

About the Authors:
KIARA SHANKAR is a young talented author from San Francisco, California, USA. Apart from writing books, she loves reading, artwork, writing poems, playing with her friends, and listening to her favorite Bollywood music.
Kiara's poem “A Deadly Star” was published in the national level writing contest book “A Celebration of Poets” (Fall 2018 Edition - published by Creative Communication, Utah, USA).

VINAY SHANKAR is Kiara’s dad, a software professional, who found himself inspired by his daughter’s idea of writing fictional fairy tale books and decided to co-write books with her. This collaborative effort of the family is helping to bring great ideas to life!
Visit the authors’ website at https://www.vikipublishing.com

Get in Touch:
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Primrose’s Curse: A Fairy Tale of an Audacious Girl

A new kids/teen fiction book by debut authors Kiara Shankar and Vinay Shankar released on Mar 4, 2019.

It’s breathtaking story about Primrose Fernetise, a beautiful audacious twelve-year-old girl, and a group of woodland animals with divine mystical abilities set out on an adventurous mission to Hellevue, a murky island on the dreary part of Mystopical. Their daring mission involves vanquishing the evil sorceress Queen Evelyn Velecrona and breaking the curse she has cast on humanity. How do the woodland animals and Primrose plan and embark on their brave voyage to defeat the wicked sorceress? Will the bunch of lovable woodland animals and an innocent twelve-year-old girl really succeed in bringing down the dreadful Queen Evelyn? Also, will they be able to bring back peace, well-being and happiness to humanity? To find out more about this epic fairy tale, please do consider reading this entire book. 

It's a fiction book with beautiful color illustrations that will delight readers' (especially Kids') imagination! 

Check out the synopsis at this short video on YouTube.

About the Book:
Book Title:  Primrose’s Curse : A Fairy Tale of an Audacious Girl
Publisher: VIKI Publishing  
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Available Formats: ebook, Audiobook, Paperback, Hardcover
Print Length: 144 pages
Category: Children/Teen Fiction

Primrose Fernetise, a beautiful audacious twelve-year-old girl, and a group of woodland animals with divine mystical abilities set out on an adventurous mission to Hellevue, a murky island on the dreary part of Mystopical. Their daring mission involves vanquishing the evil sorceress Queen Evelyn Velecrona and breaking the curse she has cast on humanity. 
How do the woodland animals and Primrose plan and embark on their brave voyage to defeat the wicked sorceress?Will the bunch of lovable woodland animals and an innocent twelve-year-old girl really succeed in bringing down the dreadful Queen Evelyn? 
Also, will they be able to bring back peace, well-being and happiness to humanity? 
To find out more about this epic fairy tale, please do consider reading this entire book.

Book Links:

07 June, 2019

#Spotlight :: An Eye for a Lie by Cy Wyss

An Eye For A Lie by Cy Wyss Banner

An Eye for a Lie

by Cy Wyss

on Tour May 27 - July 27, 2019


An Eye for a Lie by Cy Wyss
Lukas Richter is a San Francisco police detective with a cybernetic eye and heightened senses. He can detect the same autonomous responses as a polygraph machine, so he has a leg up in determining guilt.

In An Eye for a Lie, his first full-length novel, Richter is accused of murder and the evidence seems incontrovertible, including a bullet that was somehow fired from his gun when he claims he was nowhere near the crime scene. In the background, San Francisco is aflame over Richter's shooting of an unarmed Asian man, an incident some are calling "the Asian Ferguson."

Can Inspector Richter convince a plucky and suspicious FBI agent of his innocence in the face of overwhelming accusations and public persecution?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC
Publication Date: May 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 258
ISBN: 978-0-9965465-3-9
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

"All units, active shooter in progress, be advised perp is SFPD . . ."
The police frequencies in Vessa's sedan couldn't get enough of the situation. She was hardly in her car before the address where Richter was came over the air. She headed there immediately, lights flashing, accelerator floored.
He was in a townhouse on ninth, near Tehama, only a handful of blocks from the Hall of Justice. The entire area was cordoned off and blanketed with police cars. Vessa badged her way through and got to Commander Bayes who stood with Deputy Chief Forrest several yards from the front door. The townhouse was painted lime green and the entrance stood ajar.
"Commander, what's the situation?" Vessa asked.
"He's holed up in there," Bayes shook his head toward the house. "Got a hostage."
"A hostage? You're kidding."
"Wish I was. Teenage girl, still up there. He let the rest of the family go."
Now, Bayes shook his head a different way, indicating Vessa should look near one of the ambulances. There was a man and a woman, firmly behind police lines. Both were slender with brown hair and the woman wore a red sweater. She was crying and the man and a paramedic were trying to comfort her.
"Commander, none of this makes sense. Can you imagine Richter taking a hostage? It doesn't feel right."
"C'mon, Agent Drake," Bayes said. "None of us can say we really know him now."
Vessa frowned up at the building. Between her and the front door lay perhaps twenty feet of tarmac and parked cars. Bayes turned to Forrest and they conferred. Before Vessa even knew what she was doing, she was off --crossing the street at a sprint.
"Hey!" Bayes yelled.
Forrest pointed. "Stop her!"
It was too late. She broke away from the lines and was at the door before anyone could grab her. She pushed the dark portal open and slipped inside, shutting it behind her, closing it fully so it locked. Inside, it took a couple of minutes for her eyes to adjust to the pale strobe lights coming through the front blinds and door windows. She was in an open living room. It was small and closely furnished with a dining room capping it off near the back of the building. She guessed the kitchen would be around the corner. To her right, a staircase led upward. The landing was dark.
Vessa had taken her gun out without consciously realizing it. Now, she stared at it in the undulating red and blue lights. What was she going to do with it? Shoot her lover when she found him?
She holstered the gun. "Oh, Luke," she said softly. As if in answer, something moved above her, making a dull thud on the floor. She startled.
Slowly, she made her way up the stairs. "Luke?" she called. "I'm coming upstairs."
There was no answer. At the top of the stairs were three doors. Two were dark and closed. Wan light traced the outline of the third door. She opened it cautiously.
The door creaked on its hinges to reveal a seemingly empty bedroom. The air was stale although the room was tidy and sparsely furnished with a queen-sized bed and two nightstands. The fluorescent lights from the street diffused around the edges of a thick curtain drawn across a large window. The occluded light wasn't strong enough to dispel the rooms shadows.
"Luke?" Vessa noticed she was whispering. She cleared her throat and spoke with as normal a voice as she could muster. "Luke? Where are you?"
"Here," came a reply.
She was practically on top of him by that time. He sat with his back to a wall across from the foot of the bed.
Vessa jumped. "Oh! You startled me."
He was staring at her. She half expected his evil eye to glow in the dimness but instead, she saw only normal dark eyes glittering from his outlined face. He sat with his knees bent and his arms resting between his legs. In his hands was a mass of blackness-his gun. That ugly piece of metal was a cursed reminder of what was going on and why they were here, facing each other in this shadowed space.
Vessa craned her neck around but didn't see anyone else. "Where's the girl?"
Richter watched Vessa intently for several seconds before answering. "The couple's outside. I let them go."
"No, apparently there's still a teenager in here somewhere."
Richter's gaze dropped to the carpet in front of him. "That would explain why it's just you and not SWAT. They think I have a hostage. Well, I don't."
"You have me."
His head snapped up. "You're not a hostage. Why are you here, anyway?"
"I'm here to get you. I don't want them gunning you down."
"You're here to arrest me, Special Agent Vessa Belle Drake?"
"Oh, Luke. We'll figure this out."
Richter brought the gun up in his right hand and pressed it to the underside of his chin, angled back toward his brain.
Vessa gasped. "No!" She was rooted to the spot, eyes wide.
He stared at her. "I guess whether I do it or SWAT does it, it's still death by cop."
Tears burned her eyes. "No, Luke. No. Why would you even think it? There must be some mistake. There must be some reason why those bullets matched."
"I won't be locked up. I won't be put back in the cage and poked and prodded, and studied to death this time."
Vessa remembered the shaking man sweating beside her in his bed at night. Even though he didn't speak of them, she knew he was having nightmares. Was it possible he was actually capable of pulling that trigger? Her chin throbbed where he'd bitten her. She couldn't stand this. How could she have been so wrong? She was never wrong. She swallowed. Never before had she fallen for a guilty man. How was she so blinded by hubris that she could feel this way about Richter when he was a merciless killer?
He stared at her, gun in his hand. He didn't move. She shook slightly with the emotions flooding her. Here she was, at the cusp of what she felt was the most important moment in her life. The man she loved sat before her, ready to take his own life if she didn't do or say the right thing next. She was paralyzed-absolutely paralyzed. All her training, and here she was, a shaking, paralyzed ball of nerves.
She burst into tears. How utterly professional.
Richter frowned.
Vessa's nose and eyes ran uncontrollably and she heaved great sighs. She didn't dare wave her arms around and wipe her face. Instead, she simply stood there and let her emotions pour down her cheeks.
Richter sighed. He lowered the gun. He dropped it with a thud to the carpet and kicked it toward her.
"How am I supposed to kill myself with you crying like that?"
She rushed to pick up the weapon and tucked it into the small of her back, under her blazer. She faced Richter, this time allowing herself to wipe the fluids from her face with her hands and sleeves. She could only imagine how many shades of fired she would be if Bully Benson had seen her outburst. She almost felt like declaring herself unfit for duty on the spot.
"I can't stand it," she said. "I can't lose you this way."
He said nothing. What was there to say? They stared at each other. Tears fell from her eyes until the momentum of her outburst ran its course and she finally managed to get a grip on herself.
Richter sat, inordinately relaxed, leaning against the wall, hands folded innocently between his legs.
"What now?" he asked.
She glanced toward the thick curtains shielding them from the snipers across the street.
"I'll have to cuff you. Then you won't be seen as a threat. Keep your head down, and I'll stay between you and them."
He craned his neck and looked over the bed toward the window. He watched the dark cloth for several seconds.
"Is your eye working? What do you see?"
"It's working," he said. "And, I see only reflections. Your temperature is up, though."
She came over and stood beside him. "Stay low," she said softly.
He got up and they crossed the room with him crouched low. They entered the windowless landing. Vessa closed the bedroom door behind them. She looked at the other two doors. The girl was probably behind one of them, asleep or with her headphones on, completely oblivious. Vessa pulled her cuffs out. Richter stood tall.
"All right?" she asked. She needed him to cooperate. She wasn't about to subdue such a large man in such a small space.
"Just a second," he said.
He bent and kissed her. They embraced. Vessa wanted the floor to open up and swallow them so they could stay like this forever. Of course it did not, and the moment had to end.
He straightened up again, turned his back to her, and extended his arms behind him so she could easily cuff him.
"I didn't shoot him," he said.
Before she could even think about it, Vessa responded.
"I know. I believe you."
Excerpt from An Eye for a Lie by Cy Wyss. Copyright 2019 by Cy Wyss. Reproduced with permission from Cy Wyss. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Cy Wyss
Cy Wyss is a writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has a Ph.D. in computer science and her day job involves wrangling and analyzing genetic data. Cy is the author of three full-length novels as well as a collection of short stories and the owner and chief editor of Nighttime Dog Press, LLC.
Before studying computer science, Cy obtained her undergraduate degree in mathematics and English literature as well as masters-level degrees in philosophy and artificial intelligence. She studied overseas for three years in the UK, although she never managed to develop a British accent.
Cy currently resides in Indianapolis with her husband, daughter, and two obstreperous but lovable felines. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and walking 5k races to benefit charity.

Catch Up With Cy Wyss On:
cywyss.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cy Wyss. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on May 27, 2019 and runs through July 29, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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06 June, 2019

#BookReview :: The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty

Check out the Book

The book starts five years after where The City of Brass ended. The prologue gives us a brief about the three main characters from the first book and how their lives have been.

Nahri finds herself married to the Prince and Heir of Daevabad as a political alliance. Yet with Ali and Dara gone, she is lonely in her royal life. All she can do is follow the guidance of her mentor and immerse herself in the art of healing. Ali, in the meantime, has built a new life for himself in exile. He is exploring and putting to use his new found abilities with water. Dara on the other hand finds himself resurrected by Manizheh and bound to his role of a faithful warrior. With the game of thrones in play with Manizheh and Ghassan as the main contenders, will our trio find their way back to each other?

I found The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper both very interesting, but for different reasons. For me, the first book laid the foundation for the world building and the main characters of the book. I enjoyed getting to know the main aspects and characters up close. The Kingdom of Copper on the other hand widens the possibilities in the world. We see a few more side characters and their development on the side while getting to know bit more about the other djinn tribes. At the same time, the court politics and the general mindset of the ‘society’ becomes clearer. Also, with the bulk of the world building being done in the first book, Kingdom of Copper has a pace that keeps you going.

The way the author has developed complex characters is what I love the most about this series. Not a single character is outright black or white. There is a shade of gray in every one of them and it makes you feel for all of them. Even the most evil character in the book had good intentions and the most heroic of them can be a total jerk. And this is not only the case with the leading characters only. The author has given enough depth to a lot of the side characters for us to be able to see the same trait in them. It makes loving or hating a particular character completely so impossible. In addition, some of the political tools used are so relevant to our world, that it makes us think harder.

If you cannot tell already, I am enjoying this series thoroughly and I do recommend it to fantasy lovers.

Review Copy received from Harper Collins India

03 June, 2019

#BookReview :: The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe #2) by Rex Stout

Check out the Book

Nero has been procrastinating when it came to taking up cases and funds are running low. Most importantly, the trusted sidekick, Archie is getting impatient. Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin return in this second instalment where their client is not a single person but a group of men who are nicknamed as ‘The League of Frightened Men’ in the course of the book.

This book was a bit different from the first in the sense that this seems to be a very open and shut case. A class reunion that ended badly sent a group of men running scared for their lives. They had been involved in a prank during their days at Harvard that crippled one of their classmates. It seems that now that person is back for revenge and will not be satisfied with anything less than claiming each of their lives. Pretty simple, eh? Well, read the book to find out.

I loved the fact that the plot was presented in a unique way. The detective was hired not to find the killer but just to find proof of the crimes. Nero takes his time with the case as he gets to know the whole group. It was fascinating to read about each interaction and the mystery buff in me kept nudging, it cannot be that simple, can it? And I am delighted to say that the author had almost had me fooled. Nero played it cool and it was a total pleasure to see the whole plot unfold.

I am in love with the author’s language. There is something to be said for an author who uses very specific words and manages to keep his narrative so crisp that there were times I just re-read a few paragraphs immediately after just for the pleasure of it. 

I absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend this series to mystery lovers.

02 June, 2019

#BookReview :: Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe #1) by Rex Stout

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A couple of my fellow bookworms have recommended this series to me a number of times, but I haven’t had the chance to read it before this year. In fact, I got my hands on my first Rex Stout novel around mid-May and in the two weeks since then, I have already read three more Nero Wolfe stories. 

Fer-de-Lance introduces Nero Wolfe, a Yugoslavian immigrant and Archie Goodwin, his American sidekick. There are two murders – one victim is a brother of a maid in Park Avenue and the second victim is a college professor.  The profiles of the victims are very different, yet the murders seem to be the handiwork of a single person. What is the connection between the two victims and why were they murdered? And wait, why did someone send Nero a fer-de-lance? 

Nero is extremely lazy and likes to stay within the confines of his home. He loves gourmet food and orchids and as such has employed a personal chef and a gardener to do his bidding. However, he is extremely good at solving mysteries that confound most people; it is how he manages to maintain his lifestyle. Archie balances out the character of Nero by doing all the leg work and bringing in wit and charm to the books. When Nero’s brain is combined with Archie’s street smarts, they make a formidable team. 

Somehow, I feel if Mycroft ever decided to open a detective agency – the result would be what we get from the Nero Wolfe Series. The author’s language is succinct and the narrative style is engaging. That combined with the characters and a whodunit plot, this book was a complete package that kept me glued to its pages for a solid couple of hours. A racy start to a promising series that every mystery/whodunit aficionado should give a try.