Friday, 28 July 2017

Miscalculated Risks by Maria Riegger

Maria Riegger is based in the Washington, DC area. She is a banking/corporate attorney by day (but please don't hold that against her), and a fiction author by night.

Maria is a Gemini whose head has always been in the clouds. From a young age, her mother scolded her for not paying attention; when she was bored, she would make up stories in her head. She has been writing since she was about thirteen years old. A lover of languages, she speaks French, Spanish, and Catalan.

She has been caught air-guitaring in public. She loves to laugh and is the "go-to" person if a friend needs someone to laugh at his lame jokes. In true Gemini fashion, she indulges both her logical personality as an attorney as well as her creative fiction-writing personality. She loved law school and even misses it, which led her friends to conclude that she is certifiable.

A native of the Washington, DC area, she is a political junkie who has respect for all views and who admires the political involvement of Americans. She loves nothing more than a solid political discussion where all views are represented.

An irreverent Gen X’er, she writes gritty contemporary romance, with plenty of sarcasm.

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About the Book


What would you do if you met someone who defied all of your stereotypes?


Outspoken and abrasive, law student Isabel enjoys arguing with just about everyone, including her friends. It's 2010, and her strained relationship with her mother, less-than-stellar job prospects and frustrations with the conformist political culture of Washington, DC have left her resentful and unfulfilled. Only her sisters and a few good friends are able to keep her semi-grounded. When she meets a new fellow student who dares to challenge her, she is intrigued but skeptical. While Isabel is risk-averse where her feelings are concerned, she is also becoming increasingly curious. She's afraid to get close, because being vulnerable always lead to being hurt, doesn't it?

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Then suddenly a soft voice cut through all the chatter.

“Hey, Isabel.”

I whipped my head up, looking over my open laptop.

It was Tarek.

Jesus. I hadn’t even heard him approach.

I decided to take in the entire sight of him. Since he had addressed me directly, I finally had an excuse to take a good look at him. I decided afterward that it was kind of a mistake.

He was wearing a black T-shirt with dark jeans. His T-shirt hugged his chest, which, like his entire body, was lean and muscular. His short beard and goatee were neatly trimmed. He was certainly dark enough to be what Lara and Eric called “my type,” although I usually went for Latin men. I guessed his age to be about 28, but his eyes held an experience that made him seem more mature.

He wasn’t super-tall. I guessed that he was between 5 feet, 9 inches and 5 feet 10 inches. I was 5’6” so I more or less did a quick comparison. His curly black hair hung in carefully groomed, tight tiny ringlets around his face and almost down to his shoulders. He was incredibly sexy. He probably had to spend a lot of time on his hair, moussing it up, and that if he let it go it would probably be frizzy. His curls reminded me of Lara and her unruly hair, although her ringlets were more tousled and larger, and always framed her beautiful face perfectly. She was forever straightening it, but I kept telling her it looked gorgeous in ringlets, like Tarek’s curls did now. I felt myself softening a little at the thought of my sister, but I steeled my reserve and plastered a semi-scowl on my face. My scowl and general surly attitude were my defense mechanisms. After enough unpleasantness, people generally left me alone. I liked it that way. Eric, Josh and Dinesh were somehow building up a tolerance for it. It was starting to piss me off. Lately, everything was pissing me off.

I had to admit, however, that I was intrigued as well as annoyed. Few people had the nerve to come and talk to me like this, with no warning.

I decided not to say anything at first. I just stared and raised my eyebrows.

He waited a good three to four seconds before he spoke. The left corner of my mouth started to go up into a smirk. Invariably, there were only two reasons a guy like this, a semi-stranger no less, would deign to talk to me. If he was going to miss class and wanted to get my notes, he was shit outta luck. And if he wanted a booty call, well, I wasn’t quite sure yet how I would handle that. Little did I know, he wasn’t going to ask me either of those things.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Acceptable Misconduct by Maria Riegger

Maria Riegger is based in the Washington, DC area. She is a banking/corporate attorney by day (but please don't hold that against her), and a fiction author by night.

Maria is a Gemini whose head has always been in the clouds. From a young age, her mother scolded her for not paying attention; when she was bored, she would make up stories in her head. She has been writing since she was about thirteen years old. A lover of languages, she speaks French, Spanish, and Catalan.

She has been caught air-guitaring in public. She loves to laugh and is the "go-to" person if a friend needs someone to laugh at his lame jokes. In true Gemini fashion, she indulges both her logical personality as an attorney as well as her creative fiction-writing personality. She loved law school and even misses it, which led her friends to conclude that she is certifiable.

A native of the Washington, DC area, she is a political junkie who has respect for all views and who admires the political involvement of Americans. She loves nothing more than a solid political discussion where all views are represented.

An irreverent Gen X’er, she writes gritty contemporary romance, with plenty of sarcasm.

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About the Book


Antagonistic Washington DC law student Isabel must face her unsettled past and navigate the final weeks of the semester while figuring out fellow student Tarek's feelings for her before he slips away.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:


Why did you decide to be a writer?


I have always loved to write novellas, short stories, and other works. I reached the point at which I felt the need to create, and decided to write and self-publish novels.

Did you have a hard time sharing your work with the public?


It is certainly difficult to put yourself out there. I didn't allow myself to dwell too much on the fact that I was making myself vulnerable to criticism. Authors need to develop thick skin. Not every reader will love what you write, and that is OK.

Where are you from? 


I was born and grew up in northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, DC (where I still live).

Does your area have a good writing community?


There is a vibrant writing community here, with a ton of great resources. I organize a local writing group and members range from published authors to beginners, and work in several different genres.

Do you have a "day job"?


I'm a bank regulatory attorney during the day. I promise that it is not as boring as it sounds!

What genres do you write?


I write gritty contemporary romance, with plenty of sarcasm. I'm also working on a thriller and a couple of nonfiction works.

What inspires you to write?


Inspiration is all around us. Writing is an ideal activity for introverts like myself, but we also need to experience the world in order to get inspiration for our writing, and that includes interacting with people.

How often do you write?


I try to write at least a little every day. I definitely have spurts where I write furiously for several days, and other times when I write much less.

What is the oddest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?


I've been researching the Israeli Defense Force for a thriller I'm working on.


What authors and/or books have most influenced you?


Ken Follett is one of my favorite authors, and Eye of the Needle is one of my favorite novels. Follett is great at pacing and development, as well as at holding the reader's attention.

When did you first consider yourself an author?


I first considered myself an author when I published my first novel.

What are your goals as an author?


I hope to publish as many books as possible. I'm currently writing/outlining several, including a romance novel, a thriller, and a couple of nonfiction books.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?


I have difficulty finding time to write, especially with a full-time day job. I take notes on scenes, etc. whenever ideas strike, and add them to my manuscript when I get a chance. I also try to devote time during evenings and weekends to writing.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?


It makes my day to receive positive reviews. A couple of times, readers have sought me out on social media to tell me how much they enjoyed my book, and that is priceless.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?


The best writing advice I have ever received is to keep writing, and to write and publish as many books as you can. There is no surefire formula to being a successful author; however, one full-time author has written that being prolific is a driver of success. When readers find an author whom they like, they want to read every book published by that author.

What made you decide to self-publish?


I didn't want to spend too much time querying publishers to no avail. I also prefer to retain complete creative control as well as keep 100% of my proceeds.

What are you working on now?


I'm working on a contemporary romance set during a political campaign in the Washington, DC area.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Pandora Device by Joyce McPherson

Joyce McPherson is the author of the Camp Hawthorne series as well as biographies for young people. She is also the mother of nine children, who give useful advice for her books. In her spare time, she enjoys reading history, working with young people, and directing Shakespeare plays.

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About the Book


Stella’s grandmother doesn’t like to talk about her parents, even when she asks. But now that she’s in sixth grade, Stella needs answers. A rusty box provides a clue to the place her parents met—Camp Hawthorne—and Stella is determined to go. The camp’s secret draws her into extraordinary possibilities she never knew existed. And despite warnings to leave the past alone, she uncovers a mystery linked to her parents and must decide how much she will risk to find the truth.


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Keep reading for an excerpt:


Chapter One


Grandma didn’t like to talk about my parents, even when I asked. The sparkle would fade from her eyes, and her arms would wrap around me and hold me tight.

She seemed to gather strength from the bags of clothing, newspapers and odd gadgets she brought home every day, sorting them into piles at night until the rooms were crammed full with only a path down the middle.

For me, the rooms were like caves filled with treasure, and I used to invite Lindsey over to help me explore. I liked to think about the things we found—a black typewriter, a bomber hat, a spindly lace umbrella—they all belonged to someone once. There must be stories.

But the stories just stayed in my head until the day we found the box.

We were sorting through a pile of clothes, and Lindsey had tied a fringed shawl around her head so that only wisps of her blond hair showed.

“Look Stella. I’m a gypsy queen,” she said, rattling some bangles on her arms.

“And I’m a pirate.” I buckled on a leather belt and poked through another mound of stuff in hopes of finding boots.

Near the bottom, a moldy boot was caught under a rickety sewing machine. I tugged at it, but it wouldn’t budge. I finally pulled so hard that the machine creaked, and a rusty box flew free with the boot.

“Treasure,” Lindsey said.

I rubbed the grime from the lid, and a sudden lump rose in my throat. Faint letters were scratched on the box—Franny. My mother’s name.

My fingers prickled as I opened the lid.

Inside lay some faded photos and a red bandana, tied in a knot. I loosened it, and a key chain fell out. For a moment it sparkled in the dim room, but I looked again and it was just blue and white plastic, braided into a rope with an empty key ring at the end.

“Did you see that?” Lindsey asked, touching the key ring lightly.

“Let’s show Grandma,” I said.

We dashed down the hall to her library and squeezed through the stacks of newspapers that filled the room like yellowed skyscrapers.

She sat in her recliner in the midst of them, and I had a quick image of those towers slowly tilting until they whooshed across the floor and through the front door. That was my biggest nightmare—that the whole neighborhood would find out about Grandma’s collections.

“Look what we found,” I said.

Her face crinkled in a smile at the sight of us, but when she saw the box she put a hand on her heart. “I thought that was lost. It’s your mother’s keepsakes from camp.” She pulled out one of the pictures. “And here she is with your father.” Her gray eyes swept the room with the sad look she got when she talked about the past.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Accept the Broken Heart by Robin Leigh Anderson

Robin Leigh Anderson was born in the Montana Rockies and escaped to California in the early 1970s. She attended school in Montana, Washington State, and California, eventually settling in beautiful Santa Barbara with child and cats where she lived for 38 years before escaping sans grown child and late cats to Northern California. An advocate of reinventing oneself, Ms. Anderson dabbled in many of the major disciplines of life, providing fodder for the writing she pursued since she was eight. She has won numerous awards at writing conferences over the years, and was staff of the prestigious Santa Barbara Writer Conference for ten years. She has published numerous articles and short stories in her lifetime. She taught “crash-and-burn” intensive writing seminars in Santa Barbara and was the moderator of a writers’ critique group. She still conducts occasional seminars and enjoys editing others’ works, words being her all-consuming passion, as she writes in several genres.

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About the Book


What can be said of Hell, when at its most quiet, I was most terrified? The explosions that had rocked every fiber of my being and made my bones feel like they could simply shatter like tempered glass still resonated. I looked over at the wounded, wondering if I had the same haunted look in my eyes, and thought I probably did. In this war, no one leaves. No one goes home... and everyone is a casualty of war. Unbelievable love set against unbearable challenges. I lived this novel. We need to learn, and to teach others, to study war no more.

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Primary Excerpt from “Lucky Thirteen” chapter Accept the Broken Heart by Robin Leigh Anderson © 2016)


I wandered back down the darkened hall and found a room with a wide gurney, which I climbed up on, then pulled a sheet over my head and closed my eyes. The winter monsoon rains outside whooshed against the window and I fell asleep to the gentle sound, but not for long. A metallic crash startled me and I sat straight up. Quietly and cautiously, I opened the door and peered out. Faint light came from the junction of the halls and the large red glowing emergency buttons on the wall every few feet along the corridor. I stepped into the hall and heard a scuffling noise behind me. I turned and tried to focus my bleary eyes. A silhouette in the window at the end of the hall raised an arm. GUN! I heard a loud crack and glimpsed a burst of light.

My body slammed against the wall, my hand jamming against the nearest red alarm button as I slid to the floor, a fiery pain in my leg. Unable to catch my breath, I struggled to focus on something, anything, through my tears. The siren howled as I heard another crash, loud voices, people running. My nostrils flared at the acrid odor of gunpowder.

“Oh, my God! Oh, God, no!” Patty gasped as she knelt beside me. I tried to understand her words as she barked orders, to whom I didn’t know. When she pressed down on my knee, I cried out in pain. “I know, sweetie,” Patty said in a soothing voice, “I know it hurts, but we’ve got to stop the bleeding.”

“Bleeding,” I panted, my voice gurgling with tears. “I…what…”

“You were shot, honey,” Patty said as strong hands lifted me up from the floor. She gripped my hand as the gurney raced down the hall. “Prep O.R. 2…now!” she demanded. “Where is that fucking doctor!”

“Right here!” a voice shouted back.

Though I tried, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Instead, I simply drifted here and there, in childhood I’d learned the trick of disconnecting, my mind strong enough to reject the searing hot pain. I felt hands undressing me, the sharp prick of a needle in the crook of my arm, the pressure of a mask against my face. I tasted metal.

“You’re not alone, little sister,” Patty’s voice said in my ear, “you’re never alone.”


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Board Games by Piken Sander

Piken Sander lives among sprawling oak and aspen in Northern California to where she escaped from colder climes many years hence. Her randy Auntie asked her to ‘tell her a story’, demanding that there be strong women and steamy passion, and this began the writings of Piken as she crafted stories of girl meets boy, girl and boy go through the torture of life and beyond, with at the very least hopeful endings. When her Auntie passed, she left her niece a one-sentence note in her will: “Now publish the damn things.”

Piken’s day consists of writing and social media, and such difficult decisions as which of her dizzying array of wildly colorful pajamas she should wear on a given day. She loves a perfectly steeped cup of good tea. She has few she calls friends, but those in this cadre are cherished and fostered. A political liberal since preteens, she tolerates no racism or bigotry or inequality of any kind, especially in her stories.


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About the Book


At forty-five, striking Carol Blake has it all: a Chicago corporation she built from the ground up on the verge of international success with a complicated merger, and Brian Cross, who at thirty is the youngest Board member of her company. Against her better judgment, she and Brian fall in love and secretly marry. Marriage is not without your ups and downs, but as the merger grows closer to fruition, Carol’s Board of Directors, including Brian, undercut her to wrest control of her company from her. Betrayed and enraged, Carol must regain control. ...but is it too late?

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Keep reading for an interview with Carol Blake Cross from Board Games:


Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?


Midwest, I loved the diversity and the opportunities, and I gravitated to the city of Chicago to pursue my professional goals.

Do you have a close relationship with your family?


I have a crazy-close relationship with one cousin in particular, the fiery Louisa. My five younger brothers have been a constant in my life, protective and loyal to the core.

If you could compare yourself to someone from another novel, who would it be?


Jane Eyre fascinated me as a teenager, a young woman who defied convention to forge her way in a difficult world. I'd like to think I had her backbone.

Who is your enemy?


Greed is my enemy. Greed nearly destroyed my life, not mine, but that of those around me. It can make otherwise intelligent people behave abhorrently.

Who do you most admire in your world?


The incredible ethics of my business friend, Perry, I would and ultimately did trust him with everything.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?


I was betrayed and nearly ruined by the people in whom I put the most trust.


What is your greatest fear?


My greatest fear was failure, and working hard and being willing to change was the answer.

What is the most important lesson you've learned about life?


Be willing to trust but never close your eyes.

Do you have any hobbies?


I love to swim! So much so that I had a heated lap pool installed on the side of my house so I could indulge any time I wished.


Do you have a secret you've never told anyone?


I set aside the possibility of a full private life to attain my professional goals, and while I am proud of what I accomplished, there have been times that I looked at the lives of others in my life and wondered...

Have you ever been in love?


I had one special, breathtaking, all-consuming love...and he betrayed me. I wonder if I can ever trust again.

What is your favorite food?


Raised in the Midwest I am a beef girl all the way, nothing like a hearty roast or nice juicy steak!

What do you own that would be hardest to part with?


A certain chair from my bedroom in my Chicago home, many memories surrounding that comfy chair.


If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?


I would have learned much earlier in life the joy of stopping to smell the roses.

What is your greatest virtue?


Determination. I have endured a great deal in my life, and I do not let my determination to succeed and more importantly do the right thing along the way slip from my grasp.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid by Rita Emmett

Rita Emmett is a best-selling author of several books including The Procrastinator's Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook.

Her books are published in 32 countries and have sold over 310,000 copies worldwide.

She wrote her first picture book, Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid because she knows tons of children who might not be smart in school but they know a lot about trains or insects or they can fix things or they have the determination to stick to a hard job or they can make people laugh. Yet often --- because someone bullied them or made fun of them --- they are convinced that they are stupid. She based this book on an Einstein quote: "Everyone is a genius.But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid".

Rita hopes that this book will ignite in children the understanding that everyone is a genius. Twice Rita rode mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. This has nothing to do with her book. She just wanted you to know that.

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About the Book


“Everyone is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs trees, it will live its entire life feeling stupid." ~This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, is the theme of Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid.

Farkle Shark was feeling blue. His big sister Sparkle criticized the way he talked. But when Big Bully Boy called him stupid because he can’t climb trees, Sparkle jumped to her brother’s defense. Her advice, followed by a wild adventure, changed his attitude … and his life.

This fun and funny book will bring on laughs, cheers and an understanding of important life lessons about bullies and feeling stupid. (Haven’t we all felt that way some time in our lives?) Four to eight-year-olds and beginning readers will love Farkle’s story.

Get it Today on Amazon!


Keep reading for a guest post from the author:


Trying a Different Genre by Rita Emmett


Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a writing project where you don’t know what you’re doing … but you know it is what you are supposed to do?

I found myself on that type of journey – not knowing where the path would lead. I felt called to write Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid --based on a quote attributed to Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if a fish is judged by how well it climbs a tree, it will live its entire life feeling stupid.”

My first draft was 2,000 words. Attended a seminar, heard books should be 800 words or less. and decided to trim it a bit.

Then took a webinar and learned each page must be written to the illustration. Reviewed my text and realized the first 4 pages were the same two fish talking to each other.

Boring.

So I decided to give my character, Farkle goofy sayings. Big sister Sparkle would mock him and ask to imagine if that were true. Then a cloud would float over their heads while she imagined whatever it was he said.

I went to FIVERR.com, selected an illustrator (who turned out to live in Romania) and placed my first order.

Farkle’s opening goofy saying was: “Holy Mackerel Manhole”. I envisioned a mackerel popping out of a manhole in the middle of the street and bystanders looking astonished.

Brilliant, yes?

The next day, my 11-year-old neighbor (one of my readers) told me all kids will think that a manhole is a man’s butt hole.

Oh.

After several awkwardly worded emails, that is exactly what the Romanian artist thought also. If you read the book and see the mackerel popping out of a mailbox, you will be one of the few people who know that “Holy Mackerel Mailbox” was not the original quote.

Jumping into a totally new genre meant that every day I discovered something new to learn, but the journey was great fun. I loved every minute of it (even the embarrassing awkward manhole moment of it)

Moral of the story: if you feel driven to write something totally out of your comfort zone, but don’t know where to start … make the decision that YES, you will do it.

Then do your homework. Learn as much as possible. Each time you can’t figure out the next step, keep learning. Google it. You might stumble across articles, webinars or Youtube explanations that move you along.

And if you find yourself feeling stupid because you can’t figure out the next step, allow me to recommend a newly-released book where a shark named Farkle will teach you that JUST because you don’t know how to do THIS thing, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid.

Rita Emmet’s book, Farkle Shark, You Are Not Stupid is available at Amazon.com. Her procrastination book is still being sent to agents and, yes, Rita is cranky about it.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Redemption Games by Renee Scattergood



Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn't start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy and paranormal thrillers.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God's Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6).


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About the Book


Things go from bad to worse...


Jillian doesn’t think things can get any worse. She ran away from home and has survived on the streets for over a year, but when a man shows up promising her a better future, she ignores her instincts and goes with him. Now she finds herself on an alien world in a last-man-standing competition that she has no hope of winning unless she can find an ally.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


Jillian didn't like how cryptic he was being, but he seemed sincere. Of course, that didn't mean much, but the idea of never having to struggle for food and live in rundown buildings sounded intriguing. "If I say yes, what do I have to do?"

"Just sign this paper," he said, holding out a pen. "I will take you to the center for training. When you're ready, you'll participate in the competition. If you win, you will have glory and riches you can scarcely imagine."

Jillian hesitated. "And if I lose?"

"You will be sent home."

Jillian bit her lip. She didn't have anything to lose by participating. The worst that would happen is she'd end up right back where she was. So, she ignored the alarm bells in her head and took the pen, signing the form.

"You made the right choice," Aeron said with an eerie grin.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out something Jillian had never seen before. It was the size and shape of a cigar. Before she could stop him, he pressed it to her neck. Her vision blurred and then there was nothing.

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