Author Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens – A WAR IN TOO MANY WORLDS

Good day, my bookish divas and divos. It’s another chilly morning here in West Virginia, but the fall foliage is truly a wonder to behold. When I’m not spending my time reading, I simply gaze out my windows at the unbelievable beauty that is the seasonal foliage displayed on the surrounding hillsides. Although I’d love to spend some time in the future traveling to bookstores and libraries around the world, there are plenty of sights to behold here in West Virginia and in the United States first. Until I get to embark on my travels, I’ll sit back and enjoy visiting with a variety of different bookish folks. Today, I’m honored to welcome Elizabeth Crowens, author of A War in Too Many Worlds. Ms. Crowens will be answering a few questions for us about herself and her writings. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share, add A War in Too Many Worlds to your ever-growing TBR list, and follow the tour to learn more about this book and its author. Thank you, Ms. Crowens, for joining us today and participating in this author Q & A.

colorful Q&A graphic image with red "Q", gold "&", and green "A." The letter "A" also has a white figure seated on the top of the letter holding a blue book.

What’s on your bucket list?

More travel. I made five or six trips to the UK to research the Time Traveler Professor series. The pandemic put a real damper on that in the past two years, and it still has, but at least I got to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg before the Ukrainian invasion. I haven’t been overseas since and don’t feel all that comfortable yet. Looks doubtful if I’ll get to China anytime soon given the politics and the pandemic, and India was in dire shape. I still want to go to Tibet and Nepal. We’ll see…

What’s also on my bucket list, having the Time Traveler Professor series made into a streaming series like Doctor Who and being a creative advisor on the project. See below for the casting suggestions.

Your book is a movie! Who’s in your dream cast?

Funny you should ask, because I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for many years, so I’m always thinking along those lines.

Arthur Conan Doyle – Hugh Jackman
H.G. Wells – Rufus Sewell, from The Man in the High Castle and Victoria.
Harry Houdini – Michael Weston, played Houdini in the short-lived series, Doyle and Houdini
John Patrick Scott – Our protagonist has been the hardest one to cast. Also when the first book in the series starts out in 1898, he ages, and Book Three, A War in Too Many Worlds starts in late 1917. For a younger version, I’ve had my eye on Robert Sheehan, who plays Klaus in The Umbrella Academy or Timothée Chalamet. For the older versions, Cillian Murphy, from Peaky Blinders. Both are Irish actors but could play one who is Scottish.
Francois Poincaré – First choice: Sasha Baron Cohen, Second choice: Rami Malek. Francois reminded me a lot of Freddie Mercury. Obviously, Rami played him in Bohemian Rhapsody. Sasha was originally under consideration for that role.
Sophia Poincaré – possibly Marion Cotillard or Michelle Williams
Maria von Braun – Leonie Benesch, a German actress in the recent Around the World in Eighty Days and the television series Babylon Berlin and The Crown.
Leonora Offenbacher – Sarah Silverman
Rebecca Wells – Kate Winslet
Finneas “Finn” Fertle – Matt Smith, from Doctor Who and The Crown
Not sure about Helga, Max Pushkin, and Wendell Mackenzie.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Spread the word. Post an excellent review on both Amazon and Goodreads, even if you won the book in a giveaway. I hate to emphasize algorithms and statistics, but that’s how their search engines work. The more reviews, the more an author will get discovered. ♦

A War in Too Many Worlds

by Elizabeth Crowens

October 17 – November 11, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

A War in Too Many Worlds by Elizabeth Crowens

The Time Traveler Professor

The secret diaries of John Patrick Scott pick up at the close of 1917. British intelligence sends Scott to work undercover in Berlin with his old partner-in-crime, Wendell Mackenzie, as his outside contact in Paris. Back on the Western Front, Scott discovered his ability to see the ghosts of the dead. Unsure if that’s a blessing or a curse, he takes this one step further, employing spirits in the world of deception and intrigue. As the Russian monarchy crumbles and the Red Baron meets his final match, for Scott, true love is always beyond arm’s reach. His long-lost patrons and paramours, Sophia and Francois Poincaré, resurface but as potential enemies of the Crown.

Arthur Conan Doyle vows to retrieve his stolen time machine from H.G. Wells. Scott is still at odds with Doyle, who still refuses to publicly acknowledge his contributions for ghostwriting Sherlock Holmes, and Doyle encounters Harry Houdini in the most unlikely of places. Get ready for a wild ride.

Time Traveler Professor, Book Three: A War in Too Many Worlds, pairs murder, mayhem and mysticism in a mashup where The Lost World meets The Island of Doctor Moreau. Stay tuned for Book Four, The Story Beyond Time, the final book in this epic series.

Praise for A War in Too Many Worlds:

“You’ll find that time stands still as your turn the pages and enjoy the roller-coaster plot, the only disappointment arriving when you reach the final moments of this extraordinary story… and want more.”

 

“Meticulously researched and wholly evocative of its time period; rich detail, immersive atmosphere and clever use of documented Victorian interests in the paranormal give Crowens’s latest novel distinct authenticity. The difficult task of channeling such bold and beloved icons as Doyle, Wells and Houdini is confidently and capably handled. Brimming with specificity, historic flavor and intriguing supernatural fancy, A War in Too Many Worlds is an impressive feat of fact weaving into fiction; sure to please history buffs as well as the more fantastical at heart in equal measure.”

Leanna Renee Hieber, award-winning, bestselling author

 

“Pack your best time-traveling attire, your sense of humor, and your open mind. A War in Too Many Worlds by Elizabeth Crowens, the third book in the Time Traveler Professor series, is a vibrant, explosive treatise on the intersection of magic, science, and spirituality. The book is both a loving nod to an era when magic and science were separated by a hairsbreadth, and a Jungian exploration of time, memory, and mysticism. Though the topics are erudite, the author’s wit and humor combined with karmic twists, musical accompaniment, and a historical who’s who, keep the book moving to its thrilling and unexpected climax. The entire series is highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Kerry Adrienne, USA Today bestselling author

 

“This genre-bending trip through time and space offers the same delightfully loopy charm as a Doctor Who episode—but with its own irresistible allure, as if Douglas Adams and Jules Verne collaborated with a little help from Kafka. Crowens jumps effortlessly from the mournful haunts of Berlin during the Great War to the unpredictable travels of H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. Exotic—and yet strangely familiar—characters keep popping up to entertain us. However, even among the amusements are laments of lost loves and lost opportunities—along with ghosts (both real and imagined)—all of which elevate the story. Indeed, together with the many fantastic elements, we are moved by the strivings and desires of the all-too-human characters, who will stick with you long after you get to the last page.”

R.J. Koreto, author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt historical mysteries

 

“Take your favorite elements for a paranormal mystery adventure— from Victorian times into the 20th century, historical (and then some) characters like Conan Doyle, Jung, Houdini, and a few surprises. Add the MacGuffin of a mysterious red book, and you will understand the delights of Elizabeth Crowens’s series featuring the Time Traveling Professor. Things come to a head in the third book in this delightful series. If you need to escape this world for a bit, try the one she has so beautifully built for you.”

Jim Freund, host of the radio program Hour of the Wolf

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History / Time Travel
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions
Publication Date: August 16th, 2021
Number of Pages: 310
ISBN: 9781950384075 (paperback)
Series: Time Traveler Professor, #3
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:   IndieBound.org Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | The Mysterious Bookshop

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Currently New York City-based worked in the entertainment industry in NY and LA for over 25 years. Writing credits include Black Belt, Black Gate, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery magazines, stories in Hell’s Heart and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated A New York State of Fright, and three alternate history/SFF novels. Recipient of the MWA-NY Leo B. Burstein Scholarship, City Artists Corps / New York Foundation of the Arts grant, a Glimmer Train Honorable Mention, an Eric Hoffer First Prize, two Grand Prize and five First Prize Chanticleer Review awards, including a 2022 Grand Prize in the Chanticleer Review Cygnus Awards for Science Fiction for A War in Too Many Worlds.

Catch Up With Elizabeth Crowens:
www.ElizabethCrowens.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ecrowens
Instagram – @crowens_author
Twitter – @ECrowens
Facebook – @thereel.elizabeth.crowens

Tour Participants:

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

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Giveaway:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: R.G. Belsky – IT’S NEWS TO ME

Good day, book people. I kind of miss the longer days of Summer (don’t miss the heat for a variety of reasons), but I’m enjoying the spectacular fall foliage here in the hills and mountains of West Virginia as well as the cooler weather. (There’s something special about curling up in my reading chair with a good book, a blanket, and a nice hot cup of tea.) As most of you may know, I’m somewhat of a fanatical reader, reading and re-reading my favorite books and series. Why you might ask, do I reread and re-reread these books? Well, the stories are usually gripping and well-written, but I also feel a vested interest in the characters. I need to know what they’re going to do next and/or revisit what they’ve done in the past. For this reader, it truly is all about the character (and the writing). Thankfully, there are plenty of authors that understand this devotion and provide us with hours of reading pleasure by crafting new stories featuring these beloved characters. I’m pleased to welcome back, R.G. Belsky, author of the Clare Carlson series, including the latest release, It’s News to Me. Mr. Belsky will be discussing with us the importance of the character in character-driven stories. I hope you’ll find what he has to share enlightening. Thank you, Mr. Belsky, for coming back for a visit. I’m looking forward to learning more about your thoughts on characters. Without further adieu, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

IT’S REALLY ABOUT THE CHARACTER, NOT THE STORY
By R.G. Belsky

Philip Marlowe. Kinsey Millhone. Harry Bosch. Spenser. Stephanie Plum. Matt Scudder. Alex Delaware. Rizzoli and Isles.

If you’re a mystery fan, you know all of these characters. You buy their books. You read them. You love them.

I’ve been asked many times at mystery conferences and book signings and by readers what I think is more important in a mystery: the character or the mystery story itself.

That’s an easy one for me to answer.

The three most important things in any mystery novel — to paraphrase another well-known expression — is character, character, and character!

I mean if I’m reading a book that has an interesting story, but a boring character that I can’t relate to — well, I’ve never finished reading a book like that. On the other hand, if the story is weak but I like reading about the character…hey, I’m in! And that actually happens to me a lot of times.

The hard truth is that many successful mysteries — even by the great authors — don’t tell a particularly strong story.

Even the legendary Raymond Chandler (dare I say it!) is guilty of this. He is without question in my mind the greatest mystery author ever. And yet the stories are hard to follow, muddled at times, and usually don’t follow any kind of logical sequence of events. Doesn’t matter. Because of Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is the ultimate detective, the ultimate PI. Chandler does such a brilliant, incomparable job of writing about him and the LA scene from the ’40s and ’50s that we don’t care about the inconsistencies or holes in the story.

Robert B. Parker’s Spenser books are the same way. Love the character. Sets the bar for the wisecracking, cool private investigator of more recent times. A kind of a modern-day Marlowe. But there are very few surprises in the storylines of the Spenser books. Bad guys try to take him, he takes care of the bad guys — and makes sure justice is done. In between romancing his longtime girlfriend Susan Silverman. It’s a perfect formula that has little to do with the mystery itself in most of his books.

I’ve read pretty much all of the Sue Grafton “alphabet” books over the years. If you ask me to tell you one of the stories Kinsey Millhone was involved in, I’d have a hard time doing that. But I could tell you a lot about Kinsey herself — her background, her romances, what she likes to eat, etc.

Some prominent authors — like Michael Connelly, for example, do a better job of combing a more complex, twisty story with their character. But still, the reason I read the Harry Bosch books (and watch the TV series now) is for Harry Bosch — the wonderful character Connelly has been writing about now since the early 90s. Even better, we’ve gotten to see Bosch age over the years, which is an added nice touch for making the character seem real and relatable to the reader.

All of this is why I spent so much time and thought and effort in creating my own character of Clare Carlson.

This is my fifth mystery feature Clare Carlson — a TV journalist in New York City who breaks big crime stories and deals with a messy personal life — in It’s News to Me (Oceanview – Oct4).

But Clare didn’t just emerge out of nowhere.

In fact, she’s had three different names. She started out when I was writing the first book in the series as Jenny McKay because I’d written a series using that character as a TV reporter back in the early 90s. I thought at first I’d make her an older Jenny, but the timing of having her age at the right speed got too complicated. She then became Molly McQuillan, who worked for a sensational tabloid like the Enquirer or Star mag (where I once worked). I wasn’t entirely happy with Molly McQuillan either. And so I started writing that first book all over again with Clare Carlson as a talented but troubled ex-newspaper reporter who now worked for a TV news station. And that became an award-winning mystery called Yesterday’s News — which has now led to four more Clare Carlson books.

One of the most difficult parts of creating a compelling character is not just writing the positive stuff, it’s the negative too.

A good character has to be flawed, not perfect.

The flaws are crucial.

Reed Farrel Coleman, who wrote a number of the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone books after Parker’s death, said once that the Jesse Stone character was very difficult in some ways to write.

Why? Because he did seem perfect, at least at first glance. Good looking, tough, honest, and, of course, you thought about Tom Selleck playing him in the TV movies when you read the books. No one likes a perfect person. So Jesse had to have some flaws to make him interesting. A drinking problem. A failed marriage. A promising baseball career that was tragically cut short by an injury. Yes, he’s still very likable — but he’s flawed too. And that makes him so much more interesting.

So that’s what I’ve tried to do with my own character of Clare Carlson too.

I like the story I tell in It’s News to Me.

But I like Clare Carlson even better.

Hopefully, you will too. ♦

It’s News to Me

by R.G. Belsky

October 3-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

It's News to Me by RG Belsky

Dashed dreams: she wanted to run for president one day, now she’s dead at 20

When Riley Hunt—a beautiful, smart, popular student at Easton College in Manhattan—is brutally murdered, it becomes a big story for TV newswoman Clare Carlson.

After days of intense media coverage, a suspect is caught: a troubled Afghanistan war veteran with a history of violent and unstable behavior. The suspect’s mother, however, comes to Clare with new evidence that might prove her son’s innocence.

As Clare digs deeper into the puzzling case, she learns new information: Riley had complained about being stalked in the days before her murder, she was romantically involved with two different men—the son of a top police official and the son of a prominent underworld boss—and she had posted her picture on an escort service’s website offering paid dates with wealthy men.

Soon, Clare becomes convinced that Riley Hunt’s death is more than just a simple murder case—and that more lives, including her own, are now in danger until she uncovers the true story.

Praise for It’s News to Me:

“[It’s News to Me is] witty, clever and engaging. Clare Carlson’s irreverent comments and dogged reporter’s instincts make for a propulsive ride as she races from the chaos of a newsroom’s inner sanctum to the dangers of a murder victim’s deepest secrets. Once you start, you won’t put it down.”

Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times best-selling author

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN10: 1608094561 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781608094561 (hardcover)
ASIN: B0B1VPDNTL (Kindle edition)
ASIN B0BGQHZQV2 (Audible audiobook)
Series: Clare Carlson #5 (each is a stand-alone work)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | Bookdepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Author Bio:

R.G. Belsky

R.G. Belsky is an award-winning author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His new mystery, It’s News to Me, was published on October 4 by Oceanview. It is the fifth in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station. Belsky has published 19 novels—all set in the New York City media world where he has had a long career as a top editor at the New York Post, New York Daily News, Star magazine, and NBC News. He also writes thrillers under the name Dana Perry. He lives in New York City and is a contributing writer to The Big Thrill magazine.

Catch Up With R.G. Belsky:
www.RGBelsky.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @dickb79983
Instagram – @dickbelsky
Twitter – @DickBel
Facebook – @RGBelsky

Tour Participants:

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

https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=308035

GIVEAWAY:

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Book Showcase: VANISHING HOUR by Laura Griffin

VANISHING HOUR by Laura Griffin, barren landscape with a wind-bent tree in the foreground and pinkish-blue washed sky in the backgroundVanishing Hour by Laura Griffin
ISBN: 9780593546697 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780593546703 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781666617252 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0B6215P13 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09R6PFY7G (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 336

Release Date: October 25, 2022
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Fiction | Suspense & Thriller | Romantic Suspense | Crime Mysteries

When a cold case in Texas leads to a sinister string of disappearances, a newcomer to the small town helps a detective piece together the clues in this new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

Corporate lawyer Ava Burch has had enough of the big city and the daily grind. She grew up with her father, who raised search-and-rescue dogs, in rural Texas and has moved to the small town of Cuervo to spend time in the dry, rugged wilderness near Big Bend National Park. When she and her dog, Huck, discover an abandoned campsite on a volunteer search-and-rescue mission, she’s perplexed, but she carefully photographs it all the same.

All Grant Wycoff can see when he looks at Ava is a city slicker—with her designer jeans and shiny car—who has no business on a serious team made of seasoned outdoorsmen and retired cops. But when she tells him of her findings on the trail, he sees there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Ava’s discovery reminds Grant of the unsolved case of a young woman who went missing two years ago. As they look into the campsite further, another woman disappears under odd circumstances. With time running out, Ava and Grant must work against the brutal heat from both the Texas sun and their own electric chemistry to solve the case.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Promo quote by author Karen Robards "One of the best romantic thriller writers out there."

Promo quote by author Mary Burton: "Hooked me on page one and held me to the end."

Read an excerpt:

Missing children are an emergency. Always. Their little bodies are less able to regulate temperature, so they’re especially vulnerable to exposure. And in a place as vast and rugged as Silver Canyon State Park, additional hazards abounded: rattlesnakes, coyotes, hundred-foot cliffs. Even the anemic little creek that Ava had been following was terrifying. A child Noah’s size could drown in a bathtub.

Ava glanced up at the relentless sun that sucked moisture out of everything beneath it. She looked ahead at Huck, who trotted back and forth in front of her in his zigzag pattern. He was working the wind, as he’d been trained, tirelessly sniffing the air with his powerful nose, which could pick up anything with human scent on it, from a candy wrapper to a dropped article of clothing.

So far, nothing.

Ava checked her watch. Two long hours since she’d left the trailhead. Sweat stung her eyes, and she wiped her forehead with the back of her arm. She paused beside a boulder and dropped her pack on the dusty ground to retrieve one of her water bottles. Huck needed some, too, but right now he was intent on his work.

She took a lukewarm sip and scanned the scrub brush lining the canyon wall. Young children had a tendency to wander aimlessly until they found a place to curl up for a nap. Some would even hide from search teams, afraid of getting in trouble for being lost. So Ava had been incessantly scanning pockets of brush.

Huck halted in front of her, his nose lifted in the air. Ava froze and watched. But then his head dropped down and he resumed his zigzags. Ava tucked the water bottle away and pushed off the boulder to continue her trek.

She watched Huck, amazed by his energy. Even in this heat, he loved working, and when he had his vest on, he didn’t have an off switch. As he bounded around in front of her, she thought of the other teams, especially the canine one. She was surprised they hadn’t found something close to camp.

Of course, the parents had been there, which might have been a problem. Frantic parents threw off a lot of scent, which could have overpowered Noah’s smell and possibly confused the dog. Also, the temperature rising in the canyon could have wafted the scent up, well above the dog’s nose. Yet another challenge here was that young children didn’t throw off as much scent as adults. And still bodies-ones that were either asleep or unconscious-threw off less scent, too.

So there were all kinds of factors in play, especially in a park this size.

Ava checked her watch again and sped up her pace, unable to shake the feeling of dread that had been settling in her stomach as the hours ticked by. Scanning the canyon wall, her gaze caught on something beige and triangular.

A tent? No.

A tarp. She climbed onto a boulder for a closer look. About halfway up the slope of the canyon was a sand-colored canvas tarp that had been stretched taut to create a patch of shade. It looked like a primitive fort-just the sort of thing that would attract a kid’s attention, and her pulse quickened as she climbed closer. Nearing the tarp, she spied a small yellow tent tucked in the shade beneath it.

She glanced around for Huck, but he was sniffing along at the base of a rockslide.

Grabbing hold of a juniper tree, Ava levered herself onto the ledge. She ducked under the tarp and paused a moment for her eyes to adjust. The little tent was unzipped. Hope ballooned in her chest as she pulled back the flap and poked her head inside.

Her hope disappeared as she scanned the interior. No sleeping child curled up in the dimness. The air was utterly still, and everything was coated with a thin layer of dust, as though no one had been there in weeks, maybe months. A pile of gear in the corner included a cookstove, a hiking boot, and a blue bedroll with a carabiner clipped to it. Attached to the carabiner was a black key fob.

A chill snaked down her spine. Who would leave their car key out here? The fob seemed odd. Ditto for the hiking boot. Where was the other one? And where was its owner?

On impulse, Ava took out her phone and snapped a couple of pictures. As part of her SAR training, she’d learned to document crime scenes. She couldn’t pinpoint why, exactly, but that was what this felt like. She ducked out and snapped a shot of the exterior. A faint bark pulled her attention back to the mission. She couldn’t afford to get sidetracked, even though this place felt creepy. She put her phone away as she skimmed the surrounding area for the missing boot, or any sign of the boot’s owner. She glanced up the canyon, looking for evidence of a fire pit or any other camping equipment.

A soft whimper had her turning around.

Huck sat beside a rock pile, his ears pricked forward and his gaze fixed on hers. Ava’s heart skittered. This was his sit alert letting her know he’d found something.

“Show me,” she commanded, and he sprang into action, bounding across the creek bed. She climbed down the rocks and jogged after him, frantically searching the clumps of trees. Huck darted around a giant prickly pear cactus and behind a line of mesquite trees. Amid the fluttering green leaves, she caught a flash of red.

“Please, please, please,” she murmured.

Huck disappeared beneath the brush and barked. Ava spied a small white sneaker and a pudgy leg.

Huck danced in a circle, drunk on success and eager for his reward.

“Good boy, Huck! Good boy! Good boy!” She filled her voice with praise, even though her heart had lodged in her throat. The little body wasn’t moving. Oh God.

Excerpt from Vanishing Hour by Laura Griffin.
Copyright © 2022 by Laura Griffin.
Published by arrangement with Berkley Books
All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author photo, headshot of smiling blonde female wearing a black top

Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books and novellas. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages. Laura is a two-time RITA® Award winner (for Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Her book Desperate Girls was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by Publishers Weekly. Laura lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author via Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website
This excerpt is brought to you courtesy of Berkley Books

 

Book Blast: INHUMAN ACTS by Brooke L. French

Inhuman Acts

by Brooke L French

October 6, 2022 Book Blast

Synopsis:

Inhuman Acts by Brooke L French

A deadly, incurable disease creeps silentLY through Chattanooga. And its victims aren’t random.

When inexplicable human rabies cases appear in Tennessee, disease ecologist Letty Duquesne jumps at the chance to trace the virus back to its source. But the closer Letty gets to finding the outbreak’s origin, the further someone will go to stop her.

With an unwanted promotion threatening to take Letty far from the field work she loves, this outbreak feels like her last chance to make a difference. It’s not something she can ignore, especially now. The spillover of zoonotic diseases to the human population is on the rise and violent animal attacks — like the one that killed her sister — are becoming all too common.

Something in nature has gone very wrong.

Local authorities would rather she go home, but Letty can track a source animal like no one else. With the help of disgraced detective, Andrew Marsh, Letty follows the virus’s epidemiological trail. But her every move is watched. And the source animal is closer than she thinks.

Inhuman Acts is a pulse-pounding thriller. Gripping and intricately paced, Brooke L. French’s debut novel will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: September 29th, 2022
Number of Pages: 310
ISBN10: 1685130356 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781685130350 (paperback)
ASIN: B0BG6BPGF8 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0B1RT5Q48 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

April 7, 2017

A week at sea produced a lot of laundry. It fluttered above Jessa Duquesne as she lay on the foredeck of her parents’ sailboat, soaking up the morning sun. The air smelled of salt, waves splooshed against the hull, and seabirds cried out in the distance. It was everything she loved about a life lived outdoors.

Jessa lifted her head, searching the water for Mark. The ocean glittered, and the Nápali coast rose in the distance. Razor-sharp crags, each peak edged with green. Beautiful but empty. Just like the sea. No Mark.

She twisted to check their port side and spotted him beneath the surface. His body slid through a seemingly endless expanse of water, all sun-kissed skin and muscle.

Yum.

She’d never planned to marry, never had any interest in men that a one night stand couldn’t fix. At least, not until she’d met Mark. He surfaced for a breath then slipped back under the waves. Something moved behind him, further out. A dark shape, getting closer. Thick body, elongated dorsal fin, maybe eight feet long.

Jessa rolled onto her stomach and undid the shoulder ties of her bikini.

The sandbar shark was probably a female, given the size, and harmless as sharks went. Odd it was out this far from shore, though. Poor thing would probably be lunch for a bigger predator. A great white or a tiger shark. And it shouldn’t have been so close to the surface. Sandbar sharks usually hugged the bottom.

She should go get her camera. Maybe make a note of when she’d spotted it so she could have the data point. She could look up any other odd behavioral patterns when—

Stop it, Jessa.

There would be plenty of opportunities to study marine life when she got back to her office at the university. What she needed to do now was focus on all the wedding planning still left undone. She’d been putting off the worst of it — seating charts and table linens and all the other things she didn’t actually care about — hoping she could pawn them off on her sister. Or, at least, that she and Letty could handle them together this week, powered by a steady rotation of caffeine and wine.

Jessa sighed and shifted on her towel. It couldn’t be helped. Letty wasn’t the type to say no when work called, and it wasn’t like Jessa was sorry to be here. A little get-away with Mark was the perfect use for the week she’d already taken off work. But still…

Seating charts and table linens.

Yuck.

The minutiae danced through her mind, conspiring with the warm press of the sun to lull her into a near-doze…

Ice-cold water dripped onto the small of Jessa’s back, and she jumped with a yelp. “What the—?”

Mark stood over her, a grin on his face, dark hair dripping onto the deck. And her.

“Asshole.” She laughed, using the edge of her towel to wipe the water away while she admired the broad stretch of his chest, the V of his abdomen where it disappeared into the top of his swim trunks. “How was your swim?”

“Lonely.” He pulled a T-shirt from the rigging, where she’d hung it to dry. “Want to go below for a bit?”

She shook her head with a smile. “We’re out of condoms.” They’d used the last one the night before, and the memory brought heat to her cheeks. Even in the cramped confines of the cabin, he was a remarkable lover.

Mark shrugged. “The wedding’s in a month. You wouldn’t even be showing by then.”

His dark eyes sparked with mischief.

“You’re so bad.” Jessa retied the straps of her suit. “I’ll meet you down there. I need to hop in and cool off first.”

Mark helped her to her feet and pulled her close. “Don’t be long.” He pressed a kiss to her lips that tasted like salt water. “We’ve got to return the boat to your dad by four.”

She stepped back, winked at him, and dove off the side.

“Show-off!” he called down after her.

Jessa slipped into the water with barely a splash, like the lifelong swimmer she was. The water brushed a cool relief against her hot skin. Moored as far from land as they were, there was nothing to swim to. She settled for circuits around the boat. After a dozen, she turned onto her back and floated, giving her shoulders a break. The sky was a bright almost unnatural blue. It made a wide crescent against the darker indigo of the sea where the two met at the horizon.

Something brushed her foot.

Jessa stilled her legs, paddling with her arms to keep herself afloat as she searched for the culprit. A light-blue mass swirled below her.

Oh shit.

Ghostly strands reached up, inches from her skin.

Jellies.

And not just any jellyfish — box jellyfish. Large, square bodies with tentacles trailing below. Lots of them. Some as long as ten feet. Each tentacle had as many as five thousand stinging cells. Each one capable of causing excruciating pain and even death.

Don’t panic.

She had to stay calm, keep her wits. Which would be easier if she didn’t know their venom was deadlier than a cobra’s. Her mouth went dry. She turned in a slow circle, her breath tightening with each new jelly she spotted. They pulsed through the water underneath her. A writhing, growing mass.

She shifted the direction of her strokes, pulling herself away from them. How many were there? And why were they out now? Box jellyfish were always in the ocean, but Hawaii’s jellyfish tended to come and go with the cycle of the moon. And they weren’t due for weeks, especially not here. She and Mark had dropped anchor off Kauai, nowhere near the beaches of Oahu where box jellyfish were usually spotted.

“Mark?” She called out, but there was no sign of him.

Must be below deck.

She judged the distance to the boat. Maybe fifty yards. It would be easier and faster if she could kick. But she didn’t want to accidentally make contact with the jellyfish. Even one sting could send her into cardiac arrest. Her mouth was so dry, she could hardly swallow. The world shrunk to nothing more than the distance between her and the boat. She treaded water using only her arms, her muscles protesting, tired from the laps she’d done.

Just get to the ladder.

If you get stung, you’ll find the vinegar and douse yourself.

Jessa kept swimming, trying not to move her legs, gliding over the still-growing mass of jellies. Her heart pounded and she struggled to keep herself from hyperventilating. Forty yards, thirty, twenty-five. This was taking forever.

A lightning bolt of pain shot up from her ankle, a radiating burning sting. “Shit.”

Fuck this.

She kicked off, powering toward the boat. Her ankle burning, her jaw clenched tight against the pain.

Another strike, this one on the other leg and higher near her thigh. Like a thousand wasps stinging at once. Sweat broke out on her forehead, and she gasped at the sudden shock of pain, then another struck. And another. Her body seized, her arms freezing in place as the jellyfish wrapped themselves around her. Delicate strands weaving bands of fire across her body. Her heart thundered. The sear of agony blotting out the rest of the world, until it was the one true certain thing left.

Not the only thing.

“Mark!” Jessa forced out the word as her head slipped under the water, a sharp pain slicing her chest. She willed herself to push toward the surface, not to breathe in the saltwater around her. Except it wasn’t water. The jellyfish were everywhere.

A few feet below the surface, she opened her mouth and screamed.

***

Excerpt from Inhuman Acts by Brooke L. French.
Copyright 2022 by Brooke L. French.
Reproduced with permission from Brooke L. French.
All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Brooke L. French

Brooke L. French is a recovering lawyer turned writer who lives with her husband and sons between Atlanta and Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She spends most of her days gleefully researching and writing about fatal viruses, terrorism, and murder.

Brooke is likely on numerous watch lists.

Catch Up With Brooke L. French:
BrookeLFrench.com
Instagram – @brookelewisfrench
Facebook – @brooke.l.french

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Bookish Ramblings: Fall Book Festivals 2022

Photo by Irina Zhur on Pexels.com

Bookmarks NC Festival of Books & Authors bannerGood day, book people. I missed this year’s regional book festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina because I was sick and I’m still feeling some kinda way about that, let me tell you. The Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors took place on September 24, 2022. My plans were to hear the following authors speak and/or obtain signed copies of their books: Samira Amed, Sandra Cisneros, P. Djèlí Clark, Tracy Deonn, Jamie Ford, Megan Giddings, Oscar Hokeah, Tiffany D. Jackson, Tracey Livesay, Kwame Mbalia, Sarah McCoy, Brendan Slocumb, Tia Williams, and Rita Woods. If you haven’t attended this festival and live close by, I strongly encourage you to visit Bookmarks and put the 2023 festival on your calendar. (Psst, it is possible to purchase copies of books from this year’s festival via the Bookmarks Bookstore, just sayin’.) ♦

West Virginia Book Festival banner, October 21 & 22, Charleston Coliseum & Convention CenterLater this month I’ll be attending a local book festival, the West Virginia Book Festival. This year’s festival will be in-person, YAY! The author lineup includes C.J. Box, Marc Brown, Elin Hilderbrand, Victoria V.E. Schwab, and West Virginia authors Charlie Ryan & Mitch Evans, and more. The WV Book Festival will be taking place on October 21st and 22nd at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center (aka the Charleston Civic Center). ♦

Kentucky Book Festival BannerI’m still trying to figure out how to fit this event into my schedule due to commitments for a virtual book festival occurring at the same time. The 41st annual Kentucky Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th at one of my favorite indie bookstores, Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky. The following authors are scheduled for this year’s event: Wendell Berry in conversation with Crystal Wilkinson (hey, I’d go for this event alone!), Barbara Kingsolver in conversation with Jan Isenhour (ticketed event, requires advance registration), David Bell, Silas House, Geraldine Brooks, Frank X. Walker, Tom Clavin, and many, many more. A book festival taking place IN a bookstore is probably the closest I’m ever going to get to a “dream environment.” And I haven’t even mentioned all of the wonderful menu items at the Bronte Bistro! ♦

AuthorFest graphic for John Irving and Jason Reynolds, virtual event via Simon & Schuster on October 13 at 7:00 PM ET

Black Readers Con is partnering with Simon & Schuster to host an upcoming event: AuthorFest Fall 2022 with John Irving & Jason Reynolds, on October 13, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET. Both legendary authors are famous for crafting thought-provoking stories about the expression of self-identity through explorations of race, class, and sexuality. The conversation will be moderated by Simon & Schuster’s CEO, Jonathan Karp. This event is free but advance registration is required. Register for this event here. ♦

Black Readers Con BannerThe second annual Black Readers Con will be taking place virtually on October 29-30. There are over 50 speakers/panelists lined up to appear including J.L. Seegars, Robert Jones Jr., Kwame Mbalia, Darby Baham, Alechia Dow, Shaunna J. Edwards, Laila Sabreen, Taj McCoy, Catherine Adel West, Chencia C. Higgins, Vincent Tirado, Kosoko Jackson, Vanessa Riley, Sadeqa Johnson, and more. The purpose of this event is “to enhance and amplify the voices of Black Readers and the Book Clubs they love.” This is a ticketed event, so please register early and purchase your tickets. Thank you to the sponsors: Mocha Girls Read, Black Men Read, Diverse Reading Book Club, and Rae Legacy Publishing, and all of the bloggers, podcasters, bookstagrammers, booktubers, and others that have worked ceaselessly to help organize and promote this event. ♦

Books By the Banks Cincinnati Regional Book Festival graphic

I’m excited that the Books by the Banks – Cincinnati Regional Book Festival is returning this year on Saturday, November 19th at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. This festival hasn’t posted a schedule of events yet, but I’m still looking forward to attending. It is well worth the 8-hour round-trip drive. ♦

Will you be attending any bookish events over the next few months? Let us know, who knows your bookish event just might become an event I attend in 2023.


Happy Reading y’all!

Guest Post: Jodé Millman – THE MIDNIGHT CALL

Happy Tuesday, my bookish peeps, and welcome to October. Do you audio (listen to audiobooks, that is)? I recently developed the habit of listening to audiobooks, especially during road trips. As an audiobook listener, I haven’t given much attention to things such as whether or not the author has the rights to the audiobook or not. However, publishing and rights can be very convoluted so it is definitely a good idea to know what you as an author own and don’t own for your writings. As a reader, I definitely want authors to receive their fair share for their hard work. I’m honored to welcome back, Jodé Millman, author of The Midnight Call to the blog today. Ms. Millman will be discussing audiobooks with us, especially from the perspective of the author. I’m sure this information will be helpful for all of you authors and aspiring authors out there. Thank you, Ms. Millman, for taking the time to join us today. I look forward to learning your thoughts on audiobooks. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Listen Up: Do you own the rights to your Audiobook?
by Jodé Millman

As writers, we can’t help being excited about hearing our characters’ voices come alive on digital audiobooks. And audiobooks are enjoying a wave of popularity, which has only surged since the pandemic. According to the Audio Publishers Association, in 2021 the market grew by 25% to a $1.6B industry, following a trend of double-digit growth during the last ten years.

In 2021, nearly 74,000 audiobooks were published, representing a 6% growth over 2020, and now audiobook sales represent 9% of the total U.S. book sales. Of course, the 2022/23 picture will be different, given readers continued thirst for audio entertainment. And just so you know who’s listening, 54% of frequent listeners are under the age of 45, and new listenership and audiobook memberships have increased four-fold.

This good news means that digital audiobooks are creating a new revenue stream for writers. The great news is that the second-most popular genre is Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, after Sci-Fi/Fantasy, with Romance and Fiction taking a close third place.

Now that the optimistic industry trends have been covered, this article will examine whether authors own the rights to their audiobooks. The answer may surprise you.

Published Book versus Audiobook

First, let’s examine the difference between a “published book” and an “audiobook” which extends beyond their respective mediums – print versus digital recording. Be forewarned that understanding the concepts of “published books” and “audiobooks” is a bit like trying to get a handle on The Cat in the Hat‘s Thing One and Thing Two. The main premise is that “published books” and “audiobooks” are two separate legal and creative entities. Thing One (Published Books) is the original, underlying manuscript, which is owned by the author of the work and is protected under the Copyright Law. Thing Two (Audiobook) is considered a “derivative work” because it is a sound recording based upon a preexisting work – the manuscript. To create a sound recording, the publisher must first obtain the right to use the “published book” from the author, which will be covered later in the article.

Under the Copyright Law, a sound recording of the book must be captured in a medium from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated to others such as a digital track, disk, tape or other format. To clarify, a sound recording is a “fixed” recorded performance of a preexisting work, such as the Hamilton soundtrack derived from the Broadway production/book of Hamilton or the performance of Davinia Porter reading Diana Gabaldon’s Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone.

Performance + Production = Audiobook

Typically, the sound recording of composed of two parts – the performance captured in the recording and the parties who captured and processed those sounds to create the final performance. Under the Copyright statute, an author owns the underlying material, however, the publisher who produces the audiobook owns the sound recording, which includes both the performance (voice recording) and the production (capturing and engineering the sound), which also carry separate copyrights. Other than the right to royalties negotiated for the use of the novel, the author generally has no legal entitlement to the audiobook.

Similarly, the voice-over artist may claim copyright ownership of their performance on the recording, unless they were employed by the publisher to narrate the audiobook. When someone is a “work for hire,” they possess no independent claim to the audiobook simply because they performed the narration. Think of the voiceover artist as being a backup singer for the Rolling Stones. Merry Clayton is best known as Mick Jagger’s amazing duet partner on “Gimme Shelter.” She was compensated for singing during the recording session but receives no subsequent royalties whenever the song is played or the record is sold. She was merely an “artist for hire.”

License to Thrill

As mentioned above, in order for a publisher or audiobook producer to produce an audiobook, they must first obtain permission from the book’s author, the original copyright holder, to use or record the book. This grant of permission is included in a publishing agreement as known as a “subsidiary right.” The Author’s Guild Model Contract suggests that the audiobook royalties be equally shared between the publisher and author – 50/50. However, publishers argue that they bear the cost of producing, marketing and distributing the audiobook, which could be substantial. When negotiating your publishing deal, be aware of this valuable subsidiary right as it may mean substantial revenue in this rapidly changing digital environment.

Under the Copyright Law, an author’s entitlement to assign or license a book for use by another party is among the many rights protected under the law. Briefly, “assigning” the rights to the book means that an author is transferring or divesting all of the rights to the work. A great analogy is selling a car; the car is something that will never be returned. In contrast, “licensing” the book means that an author is allowing the use of their manuscript under limited circumstances. It’s like leasing the car–it will be returned at the end of the term. Licenses can be exclusive (one producer) or non-exclusive (multiple producers), but generally, licenses are exclusive.

As in my situation, my original publisher included the right to produce an audiobook of my debut novel, The Midnight Call, in my publishing agreement. They were entitled to the exclusive license to produce the audiobook for a period of two years after the publication of the book. If they failed to produce the audiobook within that time, the rights reverted to me, and I was free to either produce the book myself or license/assign it to another party. The audiobook was released in May 2020, which was nine months after the publication date of the trade paperback, and my publisher and I shared the royalties from the project. When my contract with them ended, I received my audiobook rights from them, and now I am the audiobook publisher with my own account on ACX and I receive all of the royalties from the copies sold.

It is also the responsibility of the producer to create an end product, which meets the quality standards acceptable to Audible, iTunes, or any other distributor. Audible.com’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) will not release any audiobooks that fail to meet those standards, and during the pandemic, the review time expanded from ten to more than thirty business days after submission for review.

In June 2022, Spotify acquired Findaway, an audiobook publishing and distribution platform, as part of the streaming app’s plans to expand into audiobooks. This offers independent authors and small presses another resource for entering the digital audio sphere and reaching Spotify’s 162 million monthly listeners using an à la carte approach, rather than a subscription model.

Producing your own Audiobook

If an author has retained the right to produce the audiobook or is self-published, then the landscape is quite different. The author producing their own audiobook would be responsible for: bearing the cost of engineering, finding the talent, drafting and executing a talent “work for hire” agreement, and bearing the costs of the talent, marketing and distributing the product. It is akin to self-publishing in the audio realm. Audiofile.com is a great industry resource and maintains a directory of audiobook talent and publishers. Additional resources to assist the creation of an audiobook can also be found through the Audio Publishers Association at Audiopub.org, Authorsguild.org, Copyright.gov, and ACX.com.

Conclusion

The downloadable audiobook market is booming, creating new revenue streams and challenges for authors. When negotiating a publishing contract, don’t undervalue the potential of the subsidiary right of audiobooks. Be sure to negotiate your fair share of royalties in this category as well as all other technological methods for the delivery of your manuscript to readers. And if you elect to enter the Wild West of audiobook production, there’s plenty of sound advice available. ♦

The Midnight Call

by Jodé Millman

October 3 – November 18th, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Midnight Call by Jodé Millman

Who would ever suspect that their mentor, teacher, and friend was a cold-blooded killer? Jessie Martin didn’t—at least not until she answers the midnight call.

Late one August night, Jessie’s lifelong mentor and friend–and presently a popular, charismatic, and handsome high school teacher–Terrence Butterfield calls. He utters a startling admission: he’s killed someone. He pleads for Jessie’s help, so out of loyalty she rushes to his aid completely unaware that she’s risking her relationship, her career, and her life–and that of her unborn child–to help Terrence.

Does Jessie’s presence at Terrence’s home implicate her in the gruesome murder of the teenage boy found in the basement? Why does Terrence betray Jessie when he has a chance to exonerate her of all charges? Has he been a monster in disguise for all these years?

To reclaim her life and prove her innocence, Jessie must untangle the web of lies and reveal the shocking truths behind the homicide. The quest turns out to be the fight of her life: to preserve everything and everyone she holds dear.

Praise for The Midnight Call:

WINNER OF THE 2020 BRONZE IPPY AWARD, 2020 INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARD FOR SUSPENSE/THRILLER AND THE 2020 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD FOR LEGAL THRILLER.

“A Must-Read”

USA Today Network

“The tricky legal maneuvering intrigues…Millman writes with verve.”

Publishers Weekly

“If you like courtroom battles, this legal thriller fits the bill!”

Chanticleer Reviews, Four Star Review. The Midnight Call won First Place in the 2014 CIBAs in the CLUE Awards

“An intriguing courtroom thriller.”

Top Shelf Magazine

“Friendship, insanity, the drama of a courtroom, with a touch of romance rounding out the narrative, will have readers struggling to answer the question: What happens after you answer that terrifying midnight call?”

Booktrib.com

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 400
Series: Queen City Crimes, Book 1
ASIN: B0BGQK7DY2 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B088YJ7X43 (Audible audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook

Author Bio:

Jodé Millman

Jodé Millman is the acclaimed author of Hooker Avenue and The Midnight Call, which won the Independent Press, American Fiction, and Independent Publisher Bronze IPPY Awards for Legal Thriller. She’s an attorney, a reviewer for Booktrib.com, the host/producer of The Backstage with the Bardavon podcast, and creator of The Writer’s Law. Jodé lives with her family in the Hudson Valley, where she is at work on the next installment of her “Queen City Crimes” series —novels inspired by true crimes in the region she calls home.

Discover more about Jodé, her work, and sign up for her newsletter at:
www.JodeMillman.com
Goodreads
LinkedIn
BookBub – @JodeMillmanAuthor
Instagram – @jodewrites
Twitter – @worldseats
Facebook – @JodeSusanMillmanAuthor

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Guest Post: Mally Becker – THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE

Hello, my fellow book lovers. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the cooler weather. I enjoy curling up on my favorite reading chair with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book (or two). Of course, I curl up on my favorite reading chair every season, but Fall and Winter just seem different. My reading tastes also seem to change with the weather, as I gravitate more towards historical fiction at this time of the year. If you’re always on the lookout for something new in the historical fiction arena, then you’re going to love today’s guest author visit. Please help me welcome back Mally Becker, author of The Counterfeit Wife. Ms. Becker will be providing us with an introduction to her latest book. Thank you, Ms. Becker, for coming back to visit, I’m eager to learn more about your latest book. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Guest Post graphic featuring a stack of books above the words GUEST POST in a scripted font

I’m excited and honored to be featured here today!

My name is Mally Becker, and I’m the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow and The Counterfeit Wife, which is out now wherever books are sold.

The Turncoat’s Widow introduces General Washington’s two most reluctant spies, young widow Becca Parcell and former British POW Daniel Alloway. Pressed into Washington’s service, this unlikely duo uncover a plot that threatens the new nation.

Combining mystery, a touch of romance, and history, The Counterfeit Wife opens months later as Becca and Daniel accept a new assignment from George Washington. Masquerading as newlyweds, they head to Philadelphia to uncover a ring of counterfeiters who are upending the wartime economy.

There, Becca comes face-to-face with a half-remembered woman from her childhood, which forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her past. When that woman becomes a suspect in the murder of one of the counterfeiting suspects, Becca and Daniel find themselves speeding to discover the real villain before he can kill again.

I can hear you asking why on earth Becca and Daniel needed to masquerade as a married couple.

It would have been quite a challenge for an unmarried couple to find “alone time” in the 18th century, a historian assured me. Society banned meetings between unmarried men and women without a chaperone.

Yet Becca and Daniel are amateur sleuths, in their 18th-century way. Without an ability to speak in private, how could they share their impression of suspects or evaluate the information one or the other uncovers?

A fake marriage seemed to me to be their only option. Martha Washington thinks it might work so long as they maintain all the proprieties, as she puts it in my story. General Washington is not as certain but approves the ruse, nonetheless.

When you read my books, The Counterfeit Wife or The Turncoat’s Widow, I hope that they entertain you. But I also hope that you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, attending a society party at City Tavern, breaking into an 18th-century printer’s shop, or chatting with the wealthiest women in Philadelphia.

And I hope above all else that you feel a connection to my female characters especially. Customs may change; clothing certainly does. But I think the things that make us human and our emotions are a constant throughout time.

I especially strove to bring to life women like Becca who chart their own course. Because there have always been women who cheerfully ignore society’s restrictions: women spies; women business owners; female poets; even women who led 18th-century riots.

I included a few of those historical women in The Counterfeit Wife, including Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter, Sally, and the wife of Pennsylvania’s governor, Esther Reed. She wrote that American women were “born for liberty” and led a group of women who knocked on every door in the city to raise money for the all-but-broke Continental Army.

As a friend of the Washingtons, Becca is invited to tag along on one of the group’s fundraising trips with Sally Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter who was, in fact, an important member of the Ladies Association. The dramatic meeting between Becca and a woman who lives there sets in motion an important part of my book’s plot.

You can learn more about me and my books at www.mallybecker.com. I hope to see you there! ♦

The Counterfeit Wife

by Mally Becker

September 19 – October 14, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE by Mally Becker book cover, yellow background with photo of the back of a white female, wearing a burgundy long-sleeve 17th century gown

Philadelphia, June 1780. George Washington’s two least likely spies return, masquerading as husband and wife as they search for traitors in Philadelphia.

Months have passed since young widow Becca Parcell and former printer Daniel Alloway foiled a plot that threatened the new nation. But independence is still a distant dream, and General Washington can’t afford more unrest, not with food prices rising daily and the value of money falling just as fast.

At the General’s request, Becca and Daniel travel to Philadelphia to track down traitors who are flooding the city with counterfeit money. Searching for clues, Becca befriends the wealthiest women in town, the members of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, while Daniel seeks information from the city’s printers.

But their straightforward mission quickly grows personal and deadly as a half-remembered woman from Becca’s childhood is arrested for murdering one of the suspected counterfeiters.

With time running out – and their faux marriage breaking apart – Becca and Daniel find themselves searching for a hate-driven villain who’s ready to kill again.

Praise for The Counterfeit Wife:

The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker has it all — adventure, romance and deceit … [w]ith smooth-as-ice prose and pitch-perfect dialogue.”

Tina deBellegarde, Agatha- and Derringer-nominated author of the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series

The Counterfeit Wife is a not-to-be-missed adventure that gives new meaning to rebel and loyalist, spy and spouse.”

Lori Robbins, award-winning author of the On Pointe and Masterclass Mystery series

“As the young country struggles for independence, so does Becca, and she will have you turning pages well into the night … I highly recommended The Counterfeit Wife and I’m already anxious for the third of the series.”

Eileen Harrison Sanchez, award-winning author of Freedom Lessons—A Novel

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121587
Series: A Revolutionary War Mystery
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Mally Becker author photo, headshot of white female with short, brown curly hair, and tortoise shell eyeglassesMally Becker combines her love of history and crime fiction in mysteries that feature strong, independent heroines. She is the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow, which Kirkus Reviews called, “A compelling tale… with charming main characters.” Her first novel was also named a Silver Falchion finalist and a CIBA “Mystery & Mayhem” finalist.

A member of the board of MWA-NY, Mally was an attorney until becoming a full-time writer and an instructor at The Writers Circle Workshops. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and the Historical Novel Society. Mally and her husband live in New Jersey, where they raised their wonderful son and spend as much time as they can hiking and kayaking.

Catch Up With Mally Becker:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mallybecker
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – @mallybeckerauthor

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Guest Post: Chris Patchell – THE PERFECT BROTHER

Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I’ve had the pleasure (and agony at times) to participate in a wide variety of local book clubs. I’m amazed that people join book clubs to read outside of their comfort zone but then place stipulations on what they will or will not read (myself included – I have a thing against memoirs). Some book club members refused to read books featuring child or spousal abuse, while others adamantly refused to read anything that included a pet that died. We all have our reading quirks, but I didn’t realize how prevalent the idea of “don’t harm/kill the pet” was in the reading world until I encountered it in numerous book group settings. I’m pleased to welcome back Chris Patchell, author of The Perfect Brother. Ms. Patchell will be sharing with us her perspective on “never kill the dog.” Thank you, Ms. Patchell, for taking the time to join us today, I’m eager to learn your thoughts on this widely held opinion.

Never Kill The Dog
by Chris Patchell

I was busy writing my first book when a good friend of mine who was reading some of my early drafts gave me a great piece of fiction writing advice. “Never kill the dog,” he said. “As if I would,” I responded with a slightly baffled and somewhat disconcerted grin. At the time, my husband and I had a beagle who we babied as if he was our firstborn.

I scoffed at the notion that I would harm a fictional pet, but truthfully, I had made some pretty unorthodox choices in my story so while I hid behind the pristine virtue of my good intentions, I could understand what might make him nervous about the fate of poor, faithful Molly.

Pets play a lot of different roles in fiction, as they do in our actual lives. In fiction, we are hard-wired to like a character who is kind to an animal, just as we instantly dislike other characters who mistreat or inflict harm upon a pet. How a character interacts with an animal can provide flashes of insight into their lives, like the cop living a solitary life who feeds a stray cat. Though she may have commitment issues, or be recently divorced, through her actions we can infer that she’s a little lonely and craving connection.

Pets are often depicted as having almost supernatural abilities to pick up on things that we mere mortals are unaware of. As such, they can be an effective source of ratcheting up the suspense in the story—like the dog staring out the window into the darkness growling with his hackles raised. As a reader, we immediately recognize the danger. We know that there’s someone lurking out there in the laurel hedge. Or worse, stories where the carcass of the family pet is found, and we know that the killer is sending a message.

In my latest book, The Perfect Brother, Indira Saraf is a young woman who longs to break free of her family’s expectations and assert her independence, but as much as she likes to think of herself as a lone wolf, Indira shares her condo with her beloved dog, Hazel. Throughout the story, as the stakes continue to rise and the pressure mounts on Indira, she presents a brave face to her family and friends, but it’s only when she’s alone with Hazel that she feels comfortable showing her vulnerable side. Hazel doesn’t judge. She’s there to provide comfort.

Some pets can also play the role of protector. Max, my 5-year-old Yorkie, barks like a big dog when anyone approaches the house. Woe be to the Amazon delivery person brave enough to drop a package on our doorstep, or the wayward sketchy plastic bag seen floating down the street. Max stands at the ready, fully prepared to protect his family at the slightest provocation. Now whether he could actually make good on his boisterous threats… Well… That’s another story.

The other thing I love about introducing pets into the storyline is the way you can use them to inject moments of levity into a stressful situation. There’s a delightfully uncomfortable scene in the book when a few characters stop by Indira’s place unexpectedly. Though the scene is painfully awkward, the only one who seems oblivious to Indira’s embarrassment is Hazel. She’s just happy to see more of her friends show up.

This is one way pets can amp up the humor in a story, but there are others, like the choice of an unlikely pet. Picture a straight-laced character who happens to have a foul-mouthed parrot. The opportunities are endless.

Pets are also a great way to show character development. In my book, Deception Bay, the protagonist, Austin Martell’s relationship with his mother’s cat is acrimonious, to say the least, but as the drama of the book unfolds, Austin and the cat form an unbreakable bond.

Pets can also present obstacles in the storyline, like the protector pet who scares off the antagonist, or a reason why a character has to leave a scene and return home. So unless you’re John Wick and the pet’s demise is the inciting event for an epic three-movie revenge story throw-down, like my friend Don, I would advise you to never kill the dog.

Reading books with pets in them brings me back to my childhood when I devoured stories written by James Herriot. Tales of the spoiled dog Trickie Woo, and a host of other delightful animal creatures imbued me with a love of reading.

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope you enjoy reading The Perfect Brother. ♦

The Perfect Brother

by Chris Patchell

September 26 – October 21, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

THE PERFECT BROTHER by Chris Patchell book cover, featuring a blue-washed background with trees behind a house with two brightly lit windows

 

A scandalous liaison. A killer on the loose. Can a young woman save her sibling from going down for murder?

Vancouver, Canada. Software engineer Indira Saraf refuses to march to her traditionalist parents’ old-world drum. Resentful of her brother’s golden-boy acceptance but still a devoted sister, she encourages him to confess his secret affair before he ends up married to a woman he doesn’t want. So she’s horrified when his student and lover is slain and he’s arrested for the gruesome crime.

Repurposing her own AI technology to prove his innocence, the unorthodox rebel scours the dead college girl’s life for clues. But when Indira discovers another missing co-ed and the suspects pile up, she learns the hard way that her digging has drawn deadly attention…

Can she hunt down the culprit before she takes a fatal fall?

The Perfect Brother is a chilling standalone suspense thriller. If you like dogged heroines, complex family relationships, and dangerous twists, then you’ll adore USA Today bestselling author Chris Patchell’s riveting tale.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Indie Pub
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Number of Pages: 421
ISBN: 9781733545242 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781733545235 (eBook)
ASIN: B0B2CN9M51 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Chris Patchell Author Photo (Headshot of women, light shoulder-length hair, smiling, wearing a black top and a necklace featuring red hearts)Chris Patchell is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author who started writing to curb the homicidal tendencies she experienced during her daily Seattle commute. She writes gripping suspense thrillers with romantic elements set in the Pacific Northwest and believes good fiction combines a magical mix of complex characters, compelling plots, and well-crafted stories.

Over the years, she has written numerous popular books and series, including bestsellers Deadly Lies, In the Dark, and her most recent collection of small-town crime novellas, the Lacey James Series. Along the way, her writing has won several awards, including a 2022 Next Generation Indie Book Award, an IndieReader Discovery Award, and a Pacific Northwest Literary Award.

When she’s not writing, you can find Chris reading books, hanging out with her family, watching football, and struggling to keep up with her workout regime, all while shushing her incessantly yapping Yorkies. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two kids.

Connect with Chris:
www.ChrisPatchell.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @chrispatchellauthor
Instagram – @chrispatchellauthor
Twitter – @chris_patchell
Facebook – @authorchrispatchell

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Book Showcase: FORGET ME by Lisa Sherman

FORGET ME by Lisa Sherman book cover, black cover, text in hot pink, pink floral petals in background, white-framed photograph with broken glass featuring  an embracing couple (man & woman)Forget Me, Forget Me Not Book 1, by Lisa Sherman
ISBN: 9781645407362 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781645407355 (ebook)
ASIN: B0B8QQ91KT (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Speaking Volumes LLC.
Release Date: August 22, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Mystery/Suspense

How can you know who you really are if you can’t remember your past?

Wanda Dellas is living someone else’s life: that’s the sense she’s had since a mysterious accident robbed her of her long-term memory. Lost and barely scraping by, Wanda cleans offices at night in order to support her young daughter.

Then Wanda sees a news report about a presumed dead businesswoman, Claire Stanbrick. Bad enough that Claire bears an uncanny resemblance to Wanda. But it turns out Claire went missing around the same time as Wanda’s accident, too. Plus, she can’t shake the sense that Claire’s husband Jack, who’s serving time in prison for Claire’s murder, is innocent. And she’s beginning to develop feelings for him. But which feelings are real and which are just figments of her fractured memory?

Answers to the past often come at a price.

As Wanda learns more about Claire, she realizes Claire didn’t have the picture-perfect life Wanda imagined . . . a fact someone following her is determined to keep a secret. And the more Wanda discovers, the more she faces new dangers that threaten her life . . . or is it Claire’s?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Apple Books | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Google Play Books | Kobo eBook

Read an Excerpt:

My nerves fire hot beneath my skin as I wait for the security guard to vanish. I loop my cleaning bucket over my arm and inch the cleaning cart toward the door, nothing to see here. I’m nonchalant, until I am certain he is out of sight. Then I rush in, leaving the door slightly ajar behind me. The room smells of mold, of dust and mothballs, but mostly of secrets. I breathe in the air, the same air Claire used to breathe, and wonder what discoveries await me.

The office has a presence to it, of life lived, of love. The familiarity of the space butters my skin. But I’m not sure why. I feel warm and bubbly. I want to dance. It seems as if I’ve seen it all before: the desk chair with the wobbly arm, the triangular table wedged into the corner, the half-bookcase standing against the back wall. But have I?

Piles of files and folders litter the floor. Old computers sit in a mound, crammed in a heap against the back wall. A desk sits at an awkward angle in the center of the room, stacked high with boxes. A thick layer of dirt coats the desktop from end to end. I run my pinky through it. This place hasn’t been cleaned in years. I pull out a can of wood cleaner and wipe the desk down with a cloth, polishing the sides, pressing dust out of the carved crevices. But I can’t just spend my time cleaning. I need to see if there’s any information I can find that will shed light on whether or not I am Claire.

My fingers trace the base of the desk drawer. I tug it open. Inside, two picture frames rest folded up. One with a photo of Claire and Jack, facing each other laughing, the tips of their noses covered in butter- cream, a wedding photo. I giggle and wipe at my own nose. But of course, there’s no frosting there.

The other contains a picture of Claire in a graduation gown, shaking hands with a dean, receiving a diploma. In the photo, she is beaming, her dimples peppering her cheeks, her red hair bright against the black cloth of the gown. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to remember something, anything about that day. The smell of flowering spring leaves in the quad? Shielding my eyes as the sun reflects off the tops of the program covers? The sound of applause as graduates cross the stage? But I’ve got nothing. Even the name of the university evades me. I flip the frame around, slide the metal tab to the side, and pry the picture out. The photo crinkles between my fingers as I read the words on the back. “Class of 2000.” I spin the year around in my mind, to see if it triggers something. My shoulders fall. Nothing.

I stuff the photos back into the drawer when a box, its top partially open, catches my eye. Inside are stacks and stacks of notepads and pens, each with an orange and white SMG logo printed across the top. SMG, Claire’s now-defunct company. I grab a fistful of pens and stick them in my smock. Souvenirs.

The room suddenly feels suffocating. I walk over to the window, press my palms against the glass and look out. The city is peaceful. Most offices are still dark and only a scant few cars make their way along the empty streets below. I rest my hands on top of the ledge, the marble smooth and cool beneath my fingertips. The answer to who I am is not out there.

I am shaken from my thoughts when footsteps shuffle into the room. It’s Astrid, sweet, sleepy Astrid, rubbing her eyes.

“Is it almost time to go home, Mama?”

“How did you know where I was?” I ask.

“I looked in all the rooms. I’m an explorer.”

A panic washes over me as I think about Astrid roaming the hallways by herself.

“Astrid, please. Next time you have to stay put. You can’t go wandering around. It isn’t safe to do that. Someone could see you. I’m not supposed to bring you with me. I could lose my job or worse, you could get hurt.”

She pouts at me. I’ve bruised her feelings. But that’s too bad. I would die if anything happened to her. Die.

I rest my hands on her shoulders. “You’re not in any trouble. Just promise me you won’t wander off again.”

“Promise.” She chews on a strand of hair.

I kiss the top of her head. I’m a horrible mother. It’s my fault we’re even here. She should be at home sleeping securely in bed. But she’s not. She’s stuck here with me. I’m going to get to the bottom of this. I just need to find out what happened to me. How did I end up shot and in the Wisconsin River? The answer to those questions lies somewhere with Claire and this company. It’s got to.

Excerpt from Forget Me by Lisa Sherman.
Copyright © 2022 by Lisa Sherman.
All rights reserved.
Published by Speaking Volumes LLC.

 

Meet The Author

Author Photo: Lisa Sherman, woman wearing jeans and sweater standing in front of blurred outdoor sceneLisa Sherman has always had a passion for stories and the fictional worlds created by her favorite authors. Her love of words led her to pursue a BA in English Literature as an undergraduate. Her interest in jurisprudence led her to law school, where she attained her Juris Doctor degree. Later, Lisa rounded out her love of writing by obtaining an MFA. Lisa has always been fascinated with the “why” behind people’s actions. As a writer of psychological thrillers and women’s fiction, she hopes readers will enjoy getting a sneak peek into what makes her characters act the way they do, especially when faced with challenging or extraordinary situations. Find out more at: https://lisashermanauthor.com/.

Connect with the Author: Instagram | Twitter | Website 

This excerpt brought to you by Books Forward PR

 

Book Review: A BRIGHTER FLAME by Christine Nolfi

A BRIGHTER FLAME by Christine Nolfi book cover, blue background with a large orange-red leaf behind a orange-yellow thin leaf mimicking a flameA Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi
ISBN: 9781542038843 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781799783862 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B09WPKL13Q (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09RK5VJLX (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Family Life

She’s always wanted a sense of belonging. The last place she expects to find it is home.

Vale Lightner’s dreams turn to ash when the Pittsburgh bar she owns goes up in flames. Just like the past she escaped, very little seems salvageable. Facing unavoidable change, Vale returns to her hometown of Philadelphia to stay with her grandmother.

She knows that returning also means facing everything she left behind: a mother and stepfather who shunted her into the background from the day they married, and her charmed and favored half-sister, Blythe, who has abandoned a perfect marriage and is now at a crossroads of her own. Everyone has their secrets, and this reunited family racked by them is about to reach a crisis point.

For a mother and her two daughters, this reunion is a chance for closure, newfound love, and forgiveness. As each of them reassesses her own memories of the past, only the truth can bring them together—in ways that could last forever. From the bestselling author of The Passing Storm comes a poignant novel about family secrets, healing, and the hope of second chances.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Amazon Audiobook on CD | Barnes and Noble | B&N Audiobook | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Bookshop Audiobook | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo

Vale Lightner is like so many others, in that she doesn’t feel that she quite fits in with her family. She is also constantly struggling to “fit in” various work environments. Vale is estranged from her mother, stepfather, and half-sister. The only “family” she currently has a relationship with is her father and maternal grandmother, but she strives to maintain those relationships no matter what. Sadly, Vale’s relationship with her father is tottering on the edge as they deal with their jointly-owned bar burning down. Vale isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life at this point, but owning another bar and returning to Philadelphia isn’t it. Vale is forced to accommodate her grandmother, who seems to be dealing with a major health issue. Returning to Philadelphia isn’t her first, second, or third choice, but she is used to starting over. This time around, she has to do it with her half-sister watching. As Vale begins to deal with the memories of her past, she comes to realize that there is a thin line between what we remember and what actually happened. Is it possible her relationship with her mother, stepfather, and half-sister was built on misperceptions? Is it possible for her to craft a new relationship with her sister? Vale has to decide if she’s willing to start over with her family? Can she forgive them as she seeks forgiveness for her own mistakes and start anew?

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy

I found A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. Vale was all-too-familiar in that she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in with her family. Vale is struggling on so many levels. She has to contend with the idea that her father is irresponsible and will never quite grow up and be the parent she wants. She is tormented by the idea that her mother didn’t really want to keep her but refused to give up custody to an irresponsible parent. She worries that her grandmother might be seriously ill. Vale also comes to the realization that her sister is dealing with just as many issues as she is and the only way to rebuild that relationship is by being the “big sister” her younger sister wants and needs. I won’t even get into the whole budding romance with her neighborhood pharmacist. I thought all of the characters were not only realistic but realistically flawed. Some were idealistic, others were pessimistic, and others were realistic with a touch of idealism. There aren’t any “bad guys” in this story, just a family filled with flawed individuals trying to make a way the best way they know how.

I have a huge list of “favorite” authors but only a handful that I will buy any and everything they write. Christine Nolfi is in both categories. A Brighter Flame is a multi-faceted multigenerational story that portrays relationships with all of their flaws. Each character is struggling with something major and it is only when they voice their struggles and fears that they are capable of moving forward with the help of family and friends. A Brighter Flame is not just about family or second chances, it is also about forgiveness, acceptance, and growth. If you can’t tell, I enjoyed A Brighter Flame. Even though I was afforded the opportunity to read this early via a digital review copy, I pre-ordered a digital copy for my personal library and ordered a print copy for my 87-y.o. mother (she loves reading Christine Nolfi books almost as much as I do). If you’re interested in reading a well-written contemporary story about family, hope, love, and second chances, then I strongly encourage you to go and get a copy of A Brighter Flame for yourself (I can’t wait to reread this one!).

Happy Reading, y’all! ♦

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the author via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”