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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Blast: Spaces Between Notes by Kristina M. Sanchez



Inside the Book


Title: Spaces Between Notes 
Author: Kristina M. Sanchez 
Publisher: Amazon 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Nikolai Amorosa is one of those men’s men. You know the type—allergic to feelings, couldn’t have a heartfelt discussion if he tried, which he never did. Then, he lost his voice, and any chance of communication went out the window.

Unable to speak or otherwise interact with anyone, Niko’s anger was off the charts. It could’ve been worse; he could’ve been in jail. Instead, he found himself doing construction on Carys Harper’s house. Carys talked—a lot—both with her voice and her hands. She was also at the beck and call of her deaf little brother, Benny, which drove Niko nine kinds of crazy. Not that he would’ve said anything, even if he could.

Something else that drove him crazy? Carys was stubborn. She wouldn’t let him wallow. More than that, she seemed to hear all the things he couldn’t say. She understood him like she understood music. She heard what existed in the spaces between notes. She knew that sometimes silence screams the loudest.
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Amazon

Meet the Author


Kristina Sanchez is a lifelong insomniac whose creative career began when she used to make up stories about Bugs Bunny in her head while the rest of the house slept. She’s a Southern California native who can frequently be found at Disneyland because it’s easier to park there than go to the beach, sadly. Although writing is her first passion and only love, she finds fulfillment working in social services with the county of Orange. Currently, Kristina is the mother of a grumpy old man-cat named Mutt and a strange flight risk named Sirus Blackcat, who is, indeed, a black cat.

You can find Kristina easily enough on most social media platforms, where she will share her viewpoint on all the taboo subjects: religion, politics, and Supernatural, with the odd cat video thrown in for flavor. Prolific. Opinionated. Nerdy as all get out. Have fun, because you can bet she will.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Feature: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories by Bobbe Palmer

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Inside the Book:

Can This Be Home
Title: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories 
Author: Bobbe Palmer 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Fiction 
Format: Ebook

Annie has just suffered an unimaginable loss. While she spirals into the darkness of grief, her rancher husband, Ray, appears to lack emotion. But as a storm approaches their Wyoming ranch, Annie finally sees something in Ray's blue eyes that transforms everything.

In a compelling collection of stories, Bobbe Palmer shines a light on five women of different ages and circumstances as each faces unique challenges. After little Ally witnesses a fight between her father and another farmer over water, she soon discovers what happens when a man thinks he can do everything for himself. Janie was once happy with Brad. But that was before he let the drink overtake his life. Now all she worries about is which one of them it will kill first. Odd Ida does not like boys. But when one appears at her door, she invites him into her home-and unwittingly, into her life, where she learns loneliness can be cured. Sandy knows something is visiting her farmhouse at night. Now all she has to do is determine its identity and what it wants.

Can This Be Home? is a compilation of tales that offer powerful descriptions, tormented characters, and heartbreak as five women bravely confront their trials.

Meet the Author:
Bobbe Palmer attended Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Denver. After teaching school one year in Kansas, she married a Presbyterian minister. She assisted him as he served churches in Wyoming, and then in mission work in Alaska. Now a widow, Bobbe lives in Estes Park, Colorado.

Book Feature: Ghost Hampton by Ken McGorry #paranormal #thriller #Halloween



We're excited to be part of Ken McGorry's GHOST HAMPTON blog tour this month!  Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!



Title: GHOST HAMPTON
Author: Ken McGorry
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 450
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people's pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter's tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.

But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.

Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:

He heard her here. She was one of the whisperers. It seemed weirdly flattering at first.
           Ensconced in the MediCab that exhausted evening of the detour, Lyle had the windows down, allowing in fresh air and the angling rays of the setting sun. Commuter traffic from the train station had been annoyingly redirected onto Poplar Street. Fred crept forward, foot on the brake, with eight more cars ahead of them. Wrung out after his wrongheaded foray to Southampton, Lyle’s arms and shoulders ached; muscles, joints, his hands too. And he felt the onset of what Dr. Susan Wayne called “free-floating anxiety.” In Lyle’s case, a blob of uneasiness that could intensify into inchoate dread.
He was slumped in his Mr. Potter when the imposing shambles of a house came into view on his right. Everybody called it Old Vic. Sporting dumb old “No Trespassing” signs as long as anyone could remember, it was commonly held that Old Vic was once a brothel. Long ago, when Bridgehampton was part of the East End’s whaling industry, before it grew into a high-end summer getaway, real-estate bonanza and snob haven.
            Then there’s the suburban legend that Old Vic was haunted. Who says? No one and everyone, whether they believe it or not.
            The MediCab was crawling by Old Vic when Lyle first heard the whispers. He rose on his elbows, his chair secured to the van’s floor, and listened. Cats in heat. No, wait. This was more subtle, conversational. A furtive murmur that piqued his curiosity. He needed to listen again.
            “Hey Fred, make a right at the corner, please?”
            “Course correction, Mr. Hall?”
            “I want to circle back for another look at the old house. And Fred, call me Lyle, okay? Lyle is fine.” It had been six months with the same driver.
            Fred made the turn. Any such whim of Lyle Hall’s, he knew, was good for a crisp off-the-books twenty. It was even worth a twenty to stop at the ATM—Lyle would entrust Fred with his debit card and pass code to avoid the hassle. He also let Fred smoke.
            Fred drove around the block clockwise. From each side street Lyle got a view of Old Vic’s battered cupola poking above the trees and roof lines of summer homes. It was unsettling—the cupola, a little booth standing atop the third story, was Old Vic’s most exposed and weather-beaten feature. Any paint was scabby and vestigial. The cupola’s large oval oculus suggested a blinded Cyclops, its leaded glass shattered by determined boys with BB guns long before Lyle was born.
            They turned onto Poplar again, and approached the house.
            “Slow down, please, Fred? Actually, could you park?”
            Fred did so. Odd request, but Mr. Hall is, or was, a real estate tycoon.
            “And roll down the windows, please? And mind turning off the radio? ...Thanks. Cut the engine too, please, Fred? ...Thank you.”
            If Mr. Hall wants to smell Old Vic, Fred figured, this could be worth more than one folded twenty. He glanced at Lyle through his mirror, lit a butt, and texted his wife.
            To the west, clouds glowing orange and pink were eclipsed by the hulking old house. It grew darker. The last of the traffic was now gone. Lyle strained to hear. He tried to listen harder, if that’s possible.
            Quiet. Listen.

 



About the Author


Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try https://soundcloud.com/ken-mcgorry). Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guest Post from Emre Gurgen, author of Don Quixote Explained

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Inside the Book:

Don Quixote Explained
Title: Don Quixote Explained Author: Emre Gurgen Publisher: AuthorHouse Genre: Literary Criticism Format: Ebook/Paperback

  Don Quixote Explained focuses on seven topics: how Sancho Panza refines into a good governor through a series of jokes that turn earnest; how Cervantes satirizes religious extremism in Don Quixote by taking aim at the Holy Roman Catholic Church; how Don Quixote and Sancho Panza check-and-balance one another’s excesses by having opposite identities; how Cervantes refines Spanish farm girls by transforming Aldonza Lorenzo into Dulcinea; how outlaws like Roque Guinart and Gines Pasamonte can avoid criminality and why; how Cervantes establishes inter-religional harmony by having a Christian translator, on the one hand, and a Muslim narrator, on the other; and lastly, how Cervantes replaces a medieval view of love and marriage―where a woman is a housekeeper, lust-satisfier, and child begetter―with a modern view of equalitarian marriage typified by a joining of desires and a merger of personalities.

"AN ERUDITE EXAMINATION OF THE THEMES AND IDEAS IN DON QUIXOTE. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THE WRITING AND EXPOSITION OF THIS WELL-REASONED CRITIQUE. BUY IT AND STUDY IT. GERALD J. DAVIS, AUTHOR OF DON QUIXOTE, THE NEW TRANSLATION BY GERALD J. DAVIS" WWW.DON-QUIXOTE-EXPLAINED.COM

The Benefits of Agent Representation
Though it is possible to win a contract with a traditional publisher without a literary agent, if you are professionally represented, your chance of securing a book deal greatly increases
If you represent yourself to publishers.  If you eagerly mail unsolicited query letters directly to a publisher the likely outcome is that these houses will place your letter directly in a slush pile, often times unread, never to be looked at again. If you are extremely lucky, however, and somebody does read your letter, this person is usually a novice reader, a student just out of college, who rarely knows what they are doing.  Though, perhaps, intelligent, this person is extremely untested.  Thus, they read your query letter to gain experience.  That’s it.  Nothing less.  Nothing more. 
But let’s say, for arguments sake, that this person, though junior, likes your book and tries to help.  You may find that they lack the authority to get you represented.  Even if they bring your query letter to the attention of a more senior editor, this person usually dismisses you, and your book, offhand, in favor of an established author. So you lose anyway.
Though, occasionally, you hear of the strange case of an author winning a contract directly from a publisher against all odds, the probability of this happening is slim to none, since most publishers will not even consider a new book unless it comes from a reputed agent. Getting a book deal without an agent hardly ever happens.  It is the stuff of legends.  Usually, what happens is that publishers want to make fast money on a safe bet. So they go with agent represented manuscripts, even if they are horrible. 
Unless publishing houses are desperate for new leads, they will not even consider non-represented manuscripts, despite what they say in their submission guidelines.
Big box publishers, to repeat, rely on literary agents to make wise manuscript choices. Not authors shopping their wares.  This is because publishers generally believe that agents will only pitch a new book to them if it is viable in the marketplace. 
Commercial publishing houses, sadly, rarely consider manuscripts from inexperienced writers.  And if the nature of your work does not synergize with their list.  Forget it.  You have no chance. 
Furthermore, even if your proposal is a good one, it will probably get lost in the clutter,   since traditional publishers receive tons of junk mail,
Penetrating the old boy network of publishing professionals is very hard, since agents and publishers enjoy reciprocal relationships based on a lengthy track record of success.  Because both sides think they know what is sellable in the marketplace, they pass on many great books.   Mine included.  The cold reality is that many publishers will not even consider manuscripts that do not have an agent, since they want to back a book they think will succeed.  To them, manuscripts that have a chance of success have already been vetted by literary agents.  They have passed an initial screening round.  Most publishers, alas, will only ponder manuscripts forwarded to them by literary agents, because they believe that an agent will not jeopardize their reputations by advocating less than impressive books. 
So, if you want to avoid having you query letter go directly to the dreaded slush pilethe final resting place of many novelsI encourage you to get a literary agent. 
Yes, you can win a contract directly from a publisher, without agent representation.  But doing so is the exception, rather than the rule. 
If you think you can do it, by all means, be my guest.  Congratulations if you do.  But if you receive one rejection after another, as most of us do (or, worse yet, no response at all) try hard to get a literary agent, since agent representation helps. 
How to Get a Literary Agent
Query Letter
Gaining and sustaining the interest of a literary agent so they sign a contract with you is easier said than done.  The first step is writing an effective query letter. 
Address your query to the right editor or agent with the right title.  Format your query according to industry standards.  Spell the agencies name correctly and get its address right.  Pitch a great lead.  Tailor your query to the specific agency.  Offer a fresh idea.  Be creative in your presentation.  Tighten your query angle.  Sweeten the pot with photos, graphics, illustrations or renderings: with sidebars, sidelights, and giveaways.  Follow the submission guidelines of the agency exactly.  Ensure that your letter begins with an opening hook, provides supporting details, links your qualifications to the book being pitched, and includes a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). 
Book Proposal
Once you have hooked a literary agent with a good query letter, the next step is to send them an outstanding book proposal. 
A book proposal is written for one purpose only, to convince an agent that investing their time and effort in you, and your book, is a wise bet, one that will pay off.  To get an agent, then, you have to persuade them that your book is capable of making real money.  If they do not believe that, expect a polite brush off, at best. 
Here are a few basics of a good book proposal.  A clear book proposal consist of:
·         a cover page, with the name of your book, and a table of contents;
·         a short description of your book (4 sentences);
·         a more detailed synopsis of your book, with a brief chapter-by-chapter summary;
·         a marketing plan, stating how you will sell and brand your book;
·         an author bio, connecting your occupation and life experiences to the nature of your book;
·         an audience section detailing who will buy your book and why;
·         a competition section differentiating your book from the dozens of other books out there on identical, or similar, topics .
·         a description of follow-up books you are writing in a series, so they can make money from you again and again. 
To reiterate, a strong book proposal should have a cover page. The cover page should have:  the name of your book at the top; a by-line with your name; your manuscripts word count; the status of the manuscript (i.e. complete) and a numbered table of contents with the following sections:  I. Description; II. Synopsis; III. Marketing Plan; IV. Author Bio; V. Audience; VI. Competition; VII. Follow-Up Books. 
·         On the cover page include your contact information, such as your office and e-mail address, your telephone numbers (i.e. office phone, cell phone, and home phone), so agents can correspond with you by snail-mail; e-mail; by phone; etc.. 

·         The description section is a succinct three sentence description of your book noting its topic and theme. Generally, it attracts an agent’s immediate attention by noting how your topic is timely, original, and significant (i.e. why anybody would care).   

·         The next section of your book proposal is a more elaborate synopsis of your book which breaks down, in short paragraphs, each major section or chapter.  Agents read this part to correlate the theme of your book to a hot topic extant in the real world.  A good synopsis answers the “so what” question to literary agents.  So what?  Why should I read this? 

·         Then, comes your marketing plan. This section should detail, in bullet form, not only what you have already done to brand your book but what you will do in the future, too. Things to write in this section include participating in professional conferences, preferably as the key-note speaker.  Any book signings you have completed or have scheduled.  References to the URL of your personal author website (if you have one) which is stronger if it has:  high-traffic; a blog with high-quality, viral, posts; an online store with a high click through rate; and an impressive CV.  If you have a Face Book fan page connected to your website with thousands of genuine (not purchased) likes, mention this.  If you have a dedicated twitter account linked to your book, especially one that fans are tweeting about incessantly, mention this. If you have a distinguished career connected to the subject matter of your book talk about it.  If you host a radio show, with many listeners, discussing issues related to your book, tell them this. If you have professional, or social, networks in place that you can use to sell your books, highlight this. If you host a popular pod-cast centered on a relevant topic linked to your book, preferably a forum that can reach thousands of subscribers, let an agent know.  In brief, the marketing section of your book proposal is the most important section to literary agents, since they want to pitch a book that will sell quickly and well.  That’s it.  They only care about you and your book if they think they can make money from both. 

·         Then comes an Author Bio section.  Here is your opportunity to emphasize how your occupation, education, life experiences, and social connections, position you to have written the book(s) you have.  This section should describe why people will listen to you?  Are you an expert in the field?  Do your life experiences qualify you to write about a certain topic?  Why are you credible?  Explain this. 

·         Then comes a competition section emphasizing how your book is different from, or better than, recent books on the same, or a similar topic.  Be careful here.  Emphasize the strengths of your own book, in relation to the marketplace, rather than criticizing the competition. Differentiate your work and convince an agent why it will sell, especially if the topic has already been done, many times over.  If you are in the fortunate position to have written an important book on a topic that is little explored, or underexplored, but also has a large audience, definitely emphasize this. Then pat yourself on the back.  This is rare. If you write a strong competition section that conveys the originality, timeliness, and relevance of your book in relation to what has already been done on the subject, agents and publishers will want to acquire your book.  In short, if your book explores an old topic from a new angle, or pioneers a groundbreaking analysis of a new hot topic, congratulations, you deserve a book deal.  Hope you get one.  If not, go back to the drawing board. Start again.  Maybe, you can get a book deal with your next novel

·         Then comes an Audience section detailing who will read your book and why. The wider the audience the more likely agents and publishers will sign you.  Since publishing is a risky business, a gamble that produces frequent flops, publishers need to be reassured that your book has a chance of success.  (One friendly word of advice:  be realistic when evaluating your audience. Give specific statistics about who will buy your book and why.  Not vague promises.  Typically, literary agents have built in BS detectors.  So, whatever you do, do not jeopardize your credibility with ridiculous claims.  After all, most literary agents only represent books if they think they will do well in the literary marketplace.  If you make sweeping, unrealistic claims, you can do more harm than good by shooting your credibility). 

·         After this section comes a follow-up books section. In this section, outline how other books can flow from, or spin-off of, your proposed book.  Since agents want to pitch introductory novels to publishers with the promise of more books to come, it behooves you to pitch your book to agents as part of a larger narrative, so agents do not view your novel as a one-hit wonder, or a no-hit flop.  The truth is that agents are more likely to represent you to traditional publishers if you are able to deliver popular follow-up books. So, if you have written, are writing, or will write follow-up books, speak-up.  Remember, the first billionaire author, J.K. Rawling, wrote 3 Harry Potter books, in trilogy, before she even approached publishers.  Learn from this woman.

If all this is too abstract for you, and you want to view a sample of a decent book proposal, please visit my personal author website at www.don-quixote-explained.com and click on the book proposal tab.

Marketing Plan
A marketing plan, in short, will tell an agent what you will do to sell your books.  How, put simply, you will attain and maintain readers’ attention. 
A well-conceived marketing plan consists of many things.  A lecture circuit helps.  If you have delivered, or will deliver, speeches in prominent forums. Talks that have established you as an expert.  Mention this.  Also, if you have driven around the country, selling your self-published books, like John Grisham did, speak-up.  Agents love hearing that your book is already on store shelves.  If you are a reporter, a journalist, a regular columnist, a magazine editor, or a writing professional, mention that you have a potential network of colleagues you can call on.  Agents want to know how you plan on getting publicity / reviews for your books.  If you have a popular blog, with a high SEO, that is highly ranked by google algorithms and has an impressive click-through rate as well, broadcast this immediately!  If your blog posts have gone viral, or are commented (not spammed) mention this.  Agents are interested in getting people to talk about your book.  If you are ready to put your money where your mouth is by buying your books tell a publisher this.  If publishers believe that their print-runs will be bought by you, that there is no downside risk for them whatsoever, because you yourself will be their main customer, sure, they will publish your book, since they have nothing to lose and the world to gain.  If you are ready to fulfill consignment orders to book stores from your private supply of books, mention this.  It may help.  If possible, tout positive book sales before you even ask a literary agent asking to represent you.  If you can, they will probably sign you.   
Write Books in a Series

Big name publishers sign multi-year contracts with writers, not just because they have written one great book, however stellar, but because a writer can consistently produce best sellers, at the rate of one book a year:  Follow-up novels that are as good as, perhaps better, than the original.  In other words, big box publishers often form contracts with writers based on them authoring multiple books in fairly rapid succession.  Thus, if you write one book, then another, then the next, and so on, building a larger and larger audience with every publication, just like John Grisham did, eventually, you will be in the enviable position of having publishers approach you to publish your books, not the other way around. 
Meet the Author:
Emre Gurgen, the author of Don Quixote Explained: The Story of an Unconventional Hero, has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Pennsylvania State University. Currently, he lives in Germantown, Maryland, where he is writing a follow-up Don Quixote essay collection and study guide.

Tour Schedule

Tuesday, June 28 - Interviewed at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Wednesday, June 29 - Interviewed at  at I'm Shelf-ish
Thursday, June 30 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
________
Monday, July 4 - Interviewed at The Review From Here
Tuesday, July 5 - Guest blogging at My Bookish Pleasure
Wednesday, July 6 - Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Thursday, July 7 - Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
Friday, July 8 - Guest blogging at All Inclusive Retort
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Monday, July 11 - Guest blogging at A Title Wave
Tuesday, July 12 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Friday, July 15 - Guest blogging at As the Page Turns
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Monday, July 18 - Guest blogging at A Taste of My Mind
Tuesday, July 19 -  Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Wednesday, July 20 - Guest blogging at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, July 21 - Interviewed  at Bent Over Bookwords
Friday, July 22 - Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
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Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Blast! One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America's First Witch Hanging by Beth M. Caruso




About the Book:

Title: One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging
Author:  Beth M. Caruso
Publisher: Ladyslipper Press
Pages: 358
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Alice, a young woman prone to intuitive insights and loyalty to the only family she has ever known, leaves England for the rigid colony of the Massachusetts Bay in 1635 in hopes of reuniting with them again. Finally settling in Windsor, Connecticut, she encounters the rich American wilderness and its inhabitants, her own healing abilities, and the blinding fears of Puritan leaders which collide and set the stage for America's first witch hanging, her own, on May 26, 1647. 
     
This event and Alice's ties to her beloved family are catalysts that influence Connecticut's Governor John Winthrop Jr. to halt witchcraft hangings in much later years. Paradoxically, these same ties and the memory of the incidents that led to her accusation become a secret and destructive force behind Cotton Mather's written commentary on the Salem witch trials of 1692, provoking further witchcraft hysteria in Massachusetts forty-five years after her death.   
     
The author uses extensive historical research combined with literary inventions, to bring forth a shocking and passionate narrative theory explaining this tragic and important episode in American history. 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

NEW WINDSOR, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND, 1615

The infant was soon to enter the world. Alsie’s increased labor pains and a sudden wave of panic made a swift announcement of her baby’s imminent arrival. Gwendolyn, the midwife, motioned with a wise smile and nod to Alsie’s cousin. Mrs. Mary Merwin Tinker and her daughters were to make the final preparations for the newborn. The lines embedded under Gwendolyn’s eyes, eyes still bright after many years of life, were a testament to her wisdom and experience.
“Girls. It’s time. Quickly...Sarah, bring the rest of Gwendolyn’s supplies to the bedside table. She’ll need the string and knives shortly. Little Mary, come and support Alsie’s back. You too, Ellen. Assist Mary. Margaret, make sure the linens are warmed and everything else is ready for the babe! We must all give our support to cousin now,” spoke Mrs. Mary Tinker, their mother.
“Yes ma’am,” they replied in unison as some sisters hurried about making sure everything was in place for the birth, and the remaining sisters stayed at Alsie’s side to comfort her.
Despite the excitement inside, a branch softly and hypnotically continued to hit the leaded glass window of the thatched cottage in a steady cadence. Alsie had already been in a trance for the past hour, the trance a woman’s body and soul become held in toward the end of labor. 


About the Author


Beth M. Caruso grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent her childhood writing puppet shows and witches’ cookbooks. She became interested in French Literature and Hispanic Studies, receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati. She later obtained Masters degrees in Nursing and Public Health.
     
Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, she helped to improve the public health of local Karen hill tribes. She also had the privilege to care for hundreds of babies and their mothers as a labor and delivery nurse. 
     
Largely influenced by an apprenticeship with herbalist and wildcrafter, Will Endres, in North Carolina, she surrounds herself with plants through gardening and native species conservation.
Her latest passion is to discover and convey important stories of women in American history. One of Windsor is her debut novel. She lives in New England with her awesome husband, amazing children, loyal puppy, and cuddly cats. .  

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK


 



23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. by Robert J. Dornan


We're thrilled to be hosting Robert J. Dornan during his 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. virtual book tour! Please leave a question or comment below to let him know you stopped by!


Title: 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
Author: Robert J. Dornan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 550
Genre: Historical Fiction

In the early morning of her sister's wedding day, Mila Kharmalov stared in stunned silence at the coloured sparks streaming from Reactor Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.  At that very moment, her life and the lives of everyone she knew changed forever.

Years later and on another continent, Adam Byrd was writing biographies for everyday people looking to leave their legacy in book form. When the woman he loved phoned from Kiev offering him the chance to write the story of a lifetime, he jumped at the opportunity not realizing that his voyage would be a bumpy ride through a nations dark underbelly. With the help of his friend's quirky cousin, Adam is nudged into a fascinating adventure of love, greed, power and psychotic revenge, culminating with a shocking finale.

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is a work of fiction based on factual events from Chernobyl and villages throughout Ukraine.

For More Information

  • 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is available at Amazon..
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
The nurses at the reception desk were told not to stare at the late night visitor. He was a Ukrainian hero and deserved the highest level of respect. He arrived at midnight wearing sunglasses and a hoodie that covered most of his face. He said his name and the three nurses stood to welcome him as if honored by his presence. He was then led to Tania’s room. A wall light was lit above the bed. He didn’t recognize her.
Twenty-seven years had passed since the last time they spoke.  Tania was worried that Yuri would miss their wedding. He told her not to worry. She could have had a huge ceremony if he had not been so naïve with Asimov. If he had said no to the Colonels request, Yuri would still be alive. Tania didn’t know this part of the story. She didn’t know the love of her life agreed to dive into the radiated water to protect his best friend. 
It was his fault.
Samizdat adored the sisters but the government-owned newspapers wrote horrible articles about them. He plowed their path and never admitted so. Tania disappeared into obscurity, visited only by curious weekend thrill seekers. She has no hair and her skin is yellow.
It was his fault.
Alex pulled a chair next to the bed and touched her hand. She groaned but her eyes remained closed.
“I don’t know where to begin. I’m hoping you don’t open your eyes to see me speak. To watch the hurt in your eyes would be more painful than the burns on my face.  I abandoned you Tania. I abandoned you to hide from life…and to hide from you. My memories of the days before the explosion are what allow me to wake each morning. They are my life force and I owe this to you and Yuri. Without the two of you, I would have been a lonely man with few true friends.
And I still abandoned you. “
“I thought you were dead,” Tania whispered.
A startled Alex let go of her hand and almost tumbled off his chair. “I’ve awoken you,” he said between excited breaths.
“If I remember correctly, it’s not the first time. Am I dreaming Alex?”
“No my friend,” he replied. “It’s me next to you.”
Tania rubbed her eyes attempting to see her friend better. “Why are you covering your face?”
Alex tugged on the top of his hoodie and lowered his head. He dared not remove his sunglasses fearing he would startle Tania.  A patient on the other side of the room exhaled a long painful groan. This was followed by a seemingly chorused shuffling by the other patients.  He closed his eyes. Everywhere he visited, there was suffering. It followed him like a shadow. Tania repeated her question.
“The left side of my face including my eye is scarred from radiation. In situations such as this, I am more comfortable not revealing my deformity. Please don’t ask me to do so.”
“And I look better?” Tania replied with a short snort. “I won’t ask you to do what you don’t want Alex. You were always a stubborn man anyway.” She paused. “I wish you had come see me many years ago but I’m thrilled to have you here.”
“I’ve wanted to sit with you for a long time,” Alex responded.
“Then why didn’t you?” Tania asked between short breaths. “Why do you choose now when my last breath is so near? Alex, we mourned your death. Your mother was heartbroken. I visited her little hut in the Exclusion Zone and it was a memoriam. Photos of you adorned every inch on every wall. Asimov gave her a medal from the Kremlin in your memory that was front and centre above the main room couch.  She picked flowers and left them on your gravesite every day. She cried for years and died alone.” Tania inhaled a long breath. “I always wondered why your body was not entombed at Mitino.”
A full cup of water lay on the bed table and Alex handed it to his friend. She raised herself and sat upright.  The sole light in the room warmed her bumpy, hairless scalp.
“They told me I saved the Soviet Union,” Alex whispered. “They told me I saved Europe. I was a hero in so many eyes…” His voice trailed for a few seconds and he continued.  “I didn’t feel like a hero. The guilt was too heavy to endure. I ruined your life.”
“My life was not yours to ruin. You’re obviously here to say your peace so take a deep breath and tell me what has encumbered you all these years.” Tania stroked his hand with her fingertips. “Don’t fear judgment my old friend, it is not mine to deliver.”
Alex contemplated removing his sunglasses but did not. He had thought of this moment for more than two decades. The conversation took place hundreds of times while he lay in bed struggling to find sleep. He must stay strong.
“Asimov summoned us when someone from Pripyat mentioned Yuri and I were champion swimmers. I didn’t fully understand what the Commander was asking us to do but Yuri did. He didn’t chastise me when I eagerly volunteered. He was more concerned about you.
The suits they gave us were flimsy at best. After opening the sluice gates we tried to swim back as fast as we could but our legs were numb. My face stung like I had fallen on a bee hive. Smiles greeted us at the pond edge and pulled us out of the water. Within seconds I vomited, as did Yuri and Breshevski. I lay on my side and Breshevski was staring wide-eyed at me. I smiled, but he did not acknowledge me. His eyes were shining. I couldn’t understand how he could stare at me and not blink. Two men lifted him and as he was transported outside he yelled that Yuri and I were still in the water and someone had to save us. He was looking right at us.  I learned later that his goggles were defective. By the time he reached the hospital his corneas had melted.
Yuri vomited for a second time in less than three minutes. His arms could not hold him and he slumped into his own regurgitation. I was about to stand when two comrades wrapped my arms around their shoulders and dragged me outside.  Yuri was not far behind and was eased onto a stretcher while we waited for another ambulance.  I wasn’t suffering like Yuri and was strong enough to kneel next to him.  I was overcome with emotion when I looked at his bright red face. The skin on his forehead was cracked like a car window. I cried openly, and a photographer snapped a picture.  Yuri mumbled that if I continued to cry he would start calling me Alexandra. These were the last words he would ever say to me. I couldn’t stop bawling. Asimov was nearby and put his hand on my shoulder. Paramedics lifted Yuri and placed him in the ambulance that had mercifully arrived. I yelled out his name. I told him I was sorry. I was trembling and frozen in place. I didn’t hear the cheers from the workers in the background. I didn’t hear Asimov whispering in my ear. I could barely move so I sat with my head on bent knees. My best friend may die and it was my fault. Flashing lights blurred my vision. More photographers had gathered to take more photos.
Asimov, with the help of a few men, got me into a jeep and we drove back to the same hotel that Kremlin dignitaries were staying. They gave me a room with a shower that I used until no hot water remained. Aside from the tingling in my face, I was fine. They brought me new clothes. I had dinner with the Colonel and some other man I have long forgotten. They praised my efforts. I asked for updates on Yuri but none were available except that he was being flown to Moscow. I told Asimov that Yuri’s fiancée had to be called. The other man made a note and mentioned that Yuri’s condition and whereabouts would be posted in every newspaper across the Soviet Union. Asimov found his assistant’s comment inappropriate and said he would fly to Moscow himself and I was not to worry.
I did worry. It was all I did for years to come.
I had the strangest dream. It was an evening of sleep I never forgot. I excused myself from dinner early and returned to my room. Within minutes I was sleeping. I remember four white walls, a white floor and a white door. I was yelling for someone to save me but no one came. Every time I reached to open the door it would disappear and reappear on a different wall.  A bright light blinded me temporarily, and I realized the door had opened. The same light shone whenever the door opened except once. Yuri walked in through the lights and stood in front of me.  He said nothing and shook his head with disapproval before leaving through the wall behind me. You were next Tania, and you did the same as Yuri. Mila followed, as did my mother, Yulia, David and many others. Each paraded by me with contempt in their eyes. The last person to visit was Valeri Markov, a man I knew from the academy. When he entered the room there was no bright light. The door opened and shut. He smiled, tapped me on the shoulder and sat in the far corner. I asked what he was doing and where he thought he was. He said he was sharing a room with me… in hell. I woke up. Firecrackers from May Day celebrations burst in succession. Drunken soldiers and liquidators were singing. My face hurt.
The next morning I told Asimov I would return to my duties. He replied that I was to rest and not to worry about work for the next few days. He handed me two bottles of vodka and a radio. I wanted a newspaper and one was delivered to me along with breakfast and a prostitute. She drank my vodka and ate my breakfast. I read a small blurb about Reactor Four and that all was safe. There was no mention of Yuri or Breshevski. Maybe tomorrow, I thought. The prostitute danced around the room with a bottle of vodka in her hand.  She had undressed and wore only her panties. She spent most of the previous evening celebrating May Day with married politburo officials and smelled like liquor and old men. She passed out but not before puking on the curtains.

About the Author

Robert J Dornan is someone who wishes to leave a better world to his children. He realizes that the odds are slim but he will do whatever he can to increase the probability of success.  He is always open to discuss new and innovative ideas and hopes someday to see the building of a functional solar city as well as a fair and community-driven compensation system.

Robert’s latest book is the historical fiction, 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
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Book Feature: Girl Within Girl by S.P. Aruna



We're thrilled to be hosting S.P. Aruna and her GIRL WITHIN GIRL Virtual Book Tour today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!



Title: Girl Within Girl: An Erotic Thriller (Book 1: Unraveling)
Author: S.P. Aruna
Publisher: BookBaby
Pages: 170
Genre: Erotic Thriller

Katrina is never alone. She is bound to others inside her, tighter than any Siamese twins could ever be: Cherry, the freewheeling photojournalist, Anisa, the covert spy-assassin, and others as yet unknown, all sharing her body and mind as she goes about her work in a psychiatric hospital. But she is starting to unravel, and her sole hope is the handsome Dr. Sean Paisley, the only one who can make her whole again.

Girl Within Girl is a dark erotic thriller that wanders through a sensual maze of mind control and torture.

For More Information

  • Girl Within Girl is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
Shit! I've got about an hour to get to the airport!
Rummaging through my closet for the pre-packed bag I always kept for exigencies like this, I became extremely pissed. "Bitch hid it again under her pile of clothes! Why is she always doing that?"
I was talking about my roommate, whom I never see, Katy something.
But I eventually found it: a black Northern Face duffle bag. It had most things that I needed already packed inside; I only had to throw in a few simple items, like my toiletries, extra underwear...my sexy silk frock...then there are the things I needed on my person: passport, wallet, business cards - can't forget the business cards!
I grabbed a plastic box full of them from the recesses of the bottom drawer of my dresser; then took a few cards out to stick into the breast pocket of my cotton blouse, but not before looking at one to admire the design.
Cherry Cummins, Freelance Journalist & Professional Photographic Artist.  
I like that last part: Artist.
I know I'm a bit wild, and travelling in particular gets my juices going. But hey, consider this: you get on a plane in one part of this great globe, get some sleep, and wake up in another part; out of one world and into another.  Like magic.
I also consider myself, without shame mind you, a naughty pleasure seeker, and traveling   arouses my wicked inner urges even more. I knew I would have ample opportunities to release them on this trip, and this thought gave me little shudders of excitement.
They invented a bunch of ten dollar words for that type of behavior: hyper-sexuality, erotomania, nymphomania, satyriasis...whatever... I don't give two shits. Not long ago, homosexuality was considered some neurotic disorder in the psychiatric manuals. And you can bet your ass it isn't now!
I called up my usual taxi service and to my relief not only was the car's arrival timely, but the cabbie's deft driving got me to the airport in less than 20 minutes. The check-in line wasn't too bad; after all the passport checks, the X-rayed hand luggage, the TSA inspections, I still arrived at the departure gate ten minutes before boarding.
Columbian Airlines, Flight 148, non-stop to Bogota.
I had an exclusive photo-op and interview lined up with the person who was considered the tsar of all the drug lords in the western hemisphere: Dom Renaldo Cortez. It took me months to set this up, and you can't imagine the rush I felt when the plane finally descended to our destination eight hours later.
A pre-arranged car picked me up. Never got to see the capitol city, as we took a road straight out of town and drove for about two hours past crude one-storied dwellings, until we reached a local airstrip, where I boarded a single engine Cessna that flew me to Lishimango, a relatively new town deep in the jungle that, despite its airstrip, wasn't even on the map yet. From there I boarded a jeep that bounced past the luxuriant growth of trees that were all around us and ultimately took me to my objective: the mansion La Casa de Cortez.
It was magnificent, a white colonial manor with trimmings of gold. I proceeded up the steps to the entrance and no sooner had the door been opened by a short man dressed immaculately in a white tuxedo, I beheld a sight that took my breath away: a large parlor, it's walls covered with radiant grey-white marble, the floors tiled in deeply captivating aquamarine blue.  There was an effect of one being on a heavenly white-sand beach fringing a pristine sea. What made this more realistic was the sky-like azure ceiling fifteen feet above my head. The ebony furniture and black leather couches posed a striking contrast against the glowing background.
The man himself, my fascinating, sensual objective, seemed to appear out of nowhere, now slowly walking towards me, an eye-catching figure with an authoritative gait, yet casually dressed in a powder blue golf shirt and white slacks. His footfalls echoed like an impending event about to happen. He was somewhat brawny, possibly from working out. His tanned fleshy face was clean shaven, much to my surprise, but it was his arresting dark eyes that commanded my attention. When he got within a step of me, he extended his hand. "Welcome to my casa."
I accepted his hand, which held mine in a firm grip that gave me tingles and awakened my loins. He let go after a few seconds and I followed him as he turned in the direction from whence he came, the steps of his leather boots reverberating down the cavernous corridor like the advance of an intimidating army.
He turned his head slightly to address me, his gait hardly slackening. "I thought that perhaps you would spend the night here, and then in the morning we could do the interview and the pictures." His English was flawless, yet impregnated with a sensual Spanish accent much like Ricardo Montalban.
I had actually counted on spending the night and the implications therein. "Yes, that would be more than convenient. In fact, I'm grateful for a chance to rest up."
"Anything you want, just tell me. Perhaps you would like to freshen up before we meet for a, what you call, a sundowner?"
 "You read my mind," I said, a bit too eagerly.
"Rafael will show you to your room."
The diminutive man who had opened the door when I'd arrived, still dressed in a white half-coat, white shirt and tie, white cummerbund and white trousers, smiled at me with crooked teeth and led the way up winding marble stairs bounded by gleamingly varnished hardwood bannisters.  My room was luxurious: parquet floor, oak paneling, velvet drapes fringing a French window, and a four poster canopy bed. As I turned to thank Rafael, he smiled and exited.
The first thing I did was to lie luxuriantly in the giant bathtub immersed in foam and bubbles in a giant marble bathroom and, shortly after transforming myself into a more presentable female, rejoined my sexy host in a glorious dining room: cerise-painted walls trimmed with white moldings, a moderate-sized dining table in the middle of an earthen-brown tiled floor. Renaldo had changed into a white cotton button down shirt and khaki trousers. I had put on my short silk dress with the thin straps, leaving my shoulders and most of my legs exposed. I didn't bring anything more formal than that, so I was relieved that he was dressed just as casual.
 Dinner was superb: oysters on the half shell, a luxurious green salad served with the local bread, poached cod, oven-roasted asparagus, fillet de mignon and chicken cordon bleu; it was so much that I could only take small portions of each, savoring every taste.  Conversation was exhilarating: at first polite talk about tomorrow's photojournalistic work...and then...
"So, how long have you been a photojournalist?"
This question made me think too much. "As long as I can remember," I replied, distracted by some niggling bad vibes that came out of nowhere.
Anyway, my evasive answer didn't seem to bother him. "I admire your work."
"Do you really?"
"Yes, yes, of course I do. That piece on that artist...what's his name, Solonoy..."
"Solonay."
"Precisely."
After that, there followed an embarrassing silence, which we made up for by nibbling at more food.
"You're such a beautiful creature," he said out of the blue.
I know my good points: my blond wavy hair, my trim muscular figure...but let's face it, it would be kind enough to say my face was plain, especially considering my thin lips. How I hate my slit-like lips! Yet, it was obvious he still wanted me.
After we had finished our chocolate mousse he suddenly announced, "I think we should retire. Would you mind it much, if perhaps I cannot sleep, I knock on your door later on? Just to talk, of course."
I had to admit to myself that I was more than expecting this; I had been fantasizing about it for the past few weeks. Half of my incentive for coming here was my anticipation of Dom Reynaldo Cortez seducing me and taking me without compromise. I gave him a vixen smile. "There's no harm in trying."
And with that he got up, cuing me to proceed to my room.
Of course he knocked. And of course I opened. It doesn't take too much of an imagination to figure out what happened after that. But let me sum it up.
First, I need to make one thing clear. This man was alpha, with a capitol A, macho with a capitol M, and virile with a capitol V. Such a man doesn't hide it either; he just comes right out with it.
"You know, Columbia is filled with the most beautiful, sexiest, most passionate women in the entire world. The one thing they have in common is their lustrous dark hair. But yours...is the color of sunlight reflecting off the morning dew...like precious amber."
I think that any girl would recognize that as a come-on line, particularly when accompanied by the wolfish grin on his face. He approached me, unbuttoning his shirt, which he eventually threw off, and bare-chested, put his arms around my waist.
"Tonight is going to be a special one for me and you." He kissed me, slowly, deliberately, reinforcing the meaning behind his words.
He didn't need permission, he just seized me. He bit my neck like a vampire, and mauled my breasts like a hungry wolf; perhaps not a style for those who are more romantically inclined. It all depends on the woman and the mood she's in.
And I was the right woman in the right mood.
After he had calmed down and released his initial pent-up passion, the rest of the foreplay was agonizingly delicious. He really paid attention to my body, worshiping it with his lips and tongue, licking me all over like a preening housecat, then once again greedily consuming my breasts, like a newborn desperately trying to satiate his hunger. He raised his head and stared into my eyes before he pounced upon my lips.  His mouth worked on mine and I practically choked on his deep throat kisses. Then he slid down and did the same to my pussy, giving it the same attention as he did to my mouth, his lips brushing on my labia, his tongue lapping up my clit. When he eventually entered me, the housecat turned into a tiger.
The erect male penis can evoke different responses. On one level it is a rather crude organ, veiny, threatening, and even obscene.  On the other hand it can be fascinating and powerfully attractive. Again, it all depends on the woman and the mood she's in.
And I was the right woman in the right mood.
Renaldo's was long, so I expected it to bang against my cervix; something I liked, perversely if you will. He thrust into me hard, letting me know from the onset who was the boss.
"Your hair," he growled, baring his teeth in a vicious snarl, "so fucking beautiful, on your head and around your pussy, like nectar. I'm going to punish you for being so sexy!"
"Yes, yes!" I cried, then realizing I said the wrong words, I corrected myself. "No, no...Please...mercy!"
"None for you, you little bitch!"
"Ooooo...eeee!"
His prick unleashed its fury, bashing my innocent cunt left and right, high and low, Reynaldo roaring like a wild beast.
But I asked for it, didn't I? And I got it.
"YOU'RE MINE, YOU LITTLE BITCH!"
"YES, YES!"
 His coppery body assaulting my lily-white figure posed a frantic moving picture of carnal contrast, my body rebounding under his blows, my legs flailing helplessly in the air,. His stiff manhood left no doubt who was in charge, its pugnacious battering venting an inexplicable rage against my soft insides, walloping it on all sides. I was aware of myself half-sobbing, screaming out no, no but meaning yes, yes. I climaxed in a spray of fireworks, and he himself immediately shouted out, as he emptied his balls in me.
And later when he took me anally, bellowing like a rabid creature just as he did before, I surprised myself with how much pleasure I derived from the pain of it.
"WHO IS YOUR BOSS?" he screamed out while pounding my poor little butthole.
"YOU ARE!"
His arm reached underneath my body for my neck, which he cupped with a restrained but firm grip, firm enough to remind me that he could tear out my windpipe if he wanted to, and that put me on the edge of swooning from a delicious sense of helpless vulnerability. In fact, his renewed assault gave me so much titillation that I came even harder than the first time...
Wow! It was as good as I had imagined.
We both nodded off in a post-coital trance, but it wasn't long before my phone cell rang. It was a low volume ringtone, but it vibrated in a way that seemed to resonate in my skull. I sat up, reached for my purse on the night table, and fished for my phone. I looked over at Renaldo, my Dom, to see him snoring lightly. I pushed the receive button. "Hello?"
"One fish, two fish...red fish, blue fish."
About the Author

Half French, half Khmer (Cambodian), I'm a woman whose head is filled with fantasies and intriguing stories, and who wants to share them with others.

S.P. Aruna’s latest book is the erotic thriller, Girl Within Girl: An Erotic Thriller: Book 1: Unraveling.

Visit the author on Facebook.