Guest Post: David Gardner – THE JOURNALIST

The Journalist by David Gardner Banner

Good day, book people. I hope you had a wonderful weekend, kept safe and dry (especially for those of you in rain-soaked areas), and were able to get some reading done. I spent the weekend with my 86-y.o. mother and we both spent most of our time reading. If I had to choose a so-called “guilty pleasure,” mine would be reading almost anything I can get my hands on (I know, not much of a shocker or a guilty pleasure). Some people might be fascinated by reality television, others to sports, and then you have those that are obsessed with the tabloids. Today’s guest, David Gardner and author of The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller, knows quite a bit about tabloids and tabloid journalism and he’ll be sharing a few tidbits with us today. Please help me welcome author David Gardner to the blog. Thank you, Mr. Gardner for joining us today, the blog is now yours.

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Tabloid journalism fascinates me so much that I have forced the protagonist of my novel, The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller (Encircle Publications) to work for a particularly cheesy one. For me, the more fanciful the story, the better. Do others believe what they read in the tabloids? I have no idea.

What is a tabloid? It refers to newspapers one-half the physical size of broadsheets, which we think of as the standard dimensions for a newspaper. Right here I need to distinguish between tabloid-sized newspapers and tabloid journalism. Most large cities have a respectable, tabloid-sized newspaper. Some people speculate that this is to make it easier to read on a subway. Those papers often refer to themselves as compact.

Tabloid journalism is associated with the tabloid-sized papers of questionable repute found in supermarket checkout counters.

My novel’s hero has written breathless tabloid articles about green aliens who’ve taken up residence at the Boston Red Sox playing field, a famous television cook who’s gone on a hunger strike, and a boy in Brisbane who can tell the future by licking truck tires. Bizarre topics like these are only slight exaggerations of what some tabloids print.

The first tabloid newspaper is thought to be The Daily Mirror, started in London in 1903 by the interestingly named Alfred Harmsworth. By 1909 it was selling a million copies a day. Competitors flourished across the globe.

Today’s tabloids specialize in celebrity gossip with paparazzi photos showing their subject in awkward situations. We learn of the subject’s alarming weight gain, drinking problems, family troubles and general misbehavior—we’re more than happy to learn that the rich and famous are no better than we are. A few tabloids take a strong political stand. Those I avoid.

The Onion (which you can read online) brilliantly spoofs tabloids. Several daytime television shows owe their existence to tabloid journalism.

What is true in a tabloid and what is not? If the front page reads, “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby” and shows an “official photo” of the former First Lady tentatively gripping a creepy, bald, babyish thing, then you can be pretty sure the story is fake. (Yes, that actually appeared in the Weekly World News.)

“Surgeons Cut My Head Off—And Sewed It Back On!” That’s a real headline from the Weekly World News. The tabloid’s front cover shows a surgeon fussing over an operating table with the severed head of an attractive brunette wearing an expression of perfect serenity.

Some stories hover between truth and fiction. Tales of celebrity misdoings sometimes stray over the libel line and get the paper’s owners in court. And once in a while a grocery-store tabloid will actually beat the respectable press to a story. Tabloids were the first to disclose that the married Senator John Edwards had fathered a child with his girlfriend, which brought to an end his presidential run.

As stated earlier, I have a weakness for tabloids, the more lurid the better. While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I’ll often grab a tabloid off the rack, drop it on top of a box of Corn Flakes and mutter to the person behind me, “Uncle Larry asked me to pick up a copy.”

I’m not sure I’m fooling anyone.


The Journalist

A Paranormal Thriller

by David Gardner

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Journalist by David Gardner

If Jeff can’t save his ghostly ancestors from disappearing, so will he.

Writing for a cheesy Boston tabloid, Jeff Beekle fabricates a whimsical tale about a mob-built CIA prison for ghosts.

Which turns out to be true.

Now both the mob and the CIA have Jeff in their sights.

Even worse, Jeff discovers that his great-grandmother is an inmate and that she and the other spectral residents are being groomed as CIA spies. (And why not? They’re invisible, draw no salary, and won’t hop into bed with enemy agents.)

To his horror, Jeff learns that ancestors held too long in earthly captivity will vanish as if never born, taking with them all their descendants, which includes him.

Can Jeff outwit the mob and the CIA, free his ghostly ancestors, destroy the prison and save himself?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Paranormal Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10th 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 164599144X (ISBN13: 9781645991441)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Book Trailer for The Journalist:

Author Bio:

David Gardener

David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college, worked as a reporter and sold women’s shoes.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astro-photography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David Gardener:
DavidGardnerAuthor.com
Goodreads
Instagram – @davidagardner07
Twitter – @dgardner_author
Facebook – @david.gardner.33483

Tour Participants:

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Book Spotlight: CAJUN KISS OF DEATH by Ellen Byron

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

About Cajun Kiss of Death

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery

Cozy Mystery

7th in Series

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Crooked Lane Books (August 10, 2021)

Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 164385738X

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643857381

Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N6SMX1J

The next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.

In Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.

Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?

Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?

Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.

Purchase Links – PenguinRandomHouseAmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

About Ellen Byron

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series, which are inspired by her real-life, under the name Maria DiRico. Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart.

Author Links
Newsletter: https://www.ellenbyron.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/
https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/
Bookbub:
https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico
Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron?from_search=true&from_srp=true
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico?from_search=true&from_srp=true

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August 16 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

August 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

August 18 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

August 19 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

August 19 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

August 20 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

August 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 22 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 22 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

August 23 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

August 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 26 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Reading Is My SuperPower – RECIPE

August 28 – ThisIsMyTruthNow – REVIEW

August 28 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – Dear Reader – REVIEW

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Book Spotlight: THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson blog tour banner;  book cover is blue washed featuring a Victorian gentleman in a topcoat, with a walking stick and top hot walking across a bridge, a faint map appears in the overall background; "...a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." - Award-winning author Jocelyn Green; book tour: August 2-15, 2021

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson
ISBN: 9780764239137 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780764212369 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781493431502 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781705029749 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0983VZ6XZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08LG91Y95 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Bethany House Fiction
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Mystery | Suspense | Inspirational Fiction

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE - TMJohnson

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter—-the sole proof his actions were legal—has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

 

Advance Praise:

“Johnson debuts with a tense story of powerful interests teaming up to thwart a legal challenge in Georgian-era England…Johnson steeps his story in legal maneuvering, layers of intrigue, midnight chases, and even a hint of romance. While faith elements are subtle, this enthralling novel will appeal to fans of both legal thrillers and historical inspirationals.” — Publishers Weekly

“… a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This richly historical and lively paced story has all the makings of a modern classic.” — Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City

“At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson’s latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction.” — Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration and The Mozart Code

“A fascinating glimpse into a Regency London readers seldom see.” — Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of Edwardian fiction 

Meet The Author:

Author - Todd M Johnson headshot 2021Todd M. Johnson is the author of three legal thrillers: The Deposit Slip (2012), Critical Reaction (2013), and Fatal Trust (2017), and The Barrister and the Letter of Marque (2021), his first foray into historical mystery. He has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

Connect with the Author:

BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website 

Follow the Blog Tour:

Join the virtual book tour of The Barrister and the Letter of Marque, Todd M. Johnson’s highly acclaimed historical mystery, August 2-15, 2021. Over twenty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical mystery, suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set in London, England.

Tour Participants
Aug 02 The Readathon (Review)
Aug 02 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 02 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
Aug 03 Life of Literature (Review)
Aug 03 Captivated Reading (Spotlight)
Aug 04 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 04 The Green Mockingbird (Review)
Aug 05 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 05 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 06 Among the Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 06 The Blue Stocking (Review)
Aug 07 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 07 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)
Aug 08 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Aug 09 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 09 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Spotlight)
Aug 10 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 10 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 11 By the Book (Interview)
Aug 11 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 12 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Review)
Aug 12 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Aug 13 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 14 The Lit Bitch (Spotlight)
Aug 14 The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)
Aug 15 Vesper’s Place (Review)

This spotlight and blog tour brought to you by AustenProse

 

Guest Post: Lindsay Marcott – MRS. ROCHESTER’S GHOST

Good day, book people. Do you have a favorite classic? One of my favorite classics is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved this book since I read it for the first time many, many years ago in junior high school (aka middle school). Since my love affair began with Jane Eyre, I’ve become invested in all things Jane Eyre, i.e., movie and television adaptations, book adaptations, book retellings, books influenced by, etc. Needless to say, I was very excited when I heard about Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. I’m beyond excited to welcome none other than Lindsay Marcott today as she discusses with us a modern take on Jane Eyre. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and will add Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost to your TBR list, if it isn’t already there. Thank you, Ms. Marcott, for stopping by, the blog is now yours.

Jane Eyre for the Modern Age

by Lindsay Marcott

What is it about Jane Eyre that has made it a blockbuster for over a hundred and seventy years? The breathtaking writing, yes. The gripping plot: part Gothic romance, part coming-of-age story. The swooning romance between a rich man and a poor orphan, and the shock of the mad wife secreted in an attic.

But I think most of all it’s the voice of Jane herself: a young woman with an extraordinary sense of her own worth and independence. A voice that was revolutionary in 1847 when Charlotte Brontë published it. At the time, women had little say outside family and home. Their career opportunities outside of marriage were limited to underpaid servants and schoolteachers. Female characters in early Victorian novels were usually portrayed as either sugary too-good-to-be-true angels or fallen women seeking repentance.

Jane is neither. She’s constricted by the society she lives in—she needs to keep a stifling job as a governess or else starve to death—but she makes it clear she’d rather starve than sacrifice her will or stifle her intelligence. As a child, she has a temper and a will, even though she’s punished harshly for it. Later, when her employer, Mr. Rochester, grills her, she responds with strong opinions and engages in spirited debates. And when he tempts her to go live in sin with him in Europe, she escapes through the only means available to her—by running off to the surrounding moors, though it probably means she will die in those wilds. And she will not return to him until she learns he has fundamentally changed, and she can now love him passionately and physically without compromising her true self.

I believe it’s this will and independence of Jane’s that keep modern readers coming back for more (not to mention that throbbing romance!), and these are the same elements that inspire continual adaptations of the story. I had long dreamed of creating modern versions of these characters, because they so thrilled and delighted me and taught me life lessons over many years of my rereading the book. A nervy dream, yes. But also one that presented huge challenges: there are so many elements of the book that just won’t fly in an updated story.

For example: a current-day Jane would not be able to keep her curiosity under wraps about all the strange and spooky things going on in Mr. Rochester’s house. She wouldn’t just accept vague explanations or agree to his request to simply not ask about them. She would be itching to find out more.

Also a sexual relationship outside of marriage is no longer a taboo for most women of today. Jane wouldn’t have to flee that temptation. And of course a modern Mr. Rochester would be able to divorce a mad wife, though no doubt having to pay a heavy alimony for her future care. So that’s no longer even an obstacle.

But lies are always a problem in a relationship. Especially big lies.

A secret bigamist is a pretty big lie.

Being a secret murderer would be an even bigger one.

It was thinking about this that gave me the idea of adapting the book as a modern thriller. One in which Rochester does not have a stashed-away wife—instead he’s suspected of murdering a famous wife who has now disappeared. Jane would have to surreptitiously seek out the truth about him–guilty or not?–before she could give in to falling in love. And when spooky things happened, she would need to confront those as well. She would be risking an enormous amount. Losing the love of her life. And maybe also losing her life.

And so I set about writing a thriller, adding startling new twists, putting in jumps and shivers. The result is Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost. It was a joy to write, and I certainly hope it’s an equal joy to read.


 

Mrs. Rochester's GhostMrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott
ISBN: 9781542026383 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781542026390 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781713561422 (audiobook)
ISBN: 9781713561415 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DFSR14S (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B08L9LPFZP (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: August 1, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Thriller | Retelling

 In a modern and twisty retelling of Jane Eyre, a young woman must question everything she thinks she knows about love, loyalty, and murder.

Jane has lost everything: job, mother, relationship, even her home. A friend calls to offer an unusual deal—a cottage above the crashing surf of Big Sur on the estate of his employer, Evan Rochester. In return, Jane will tutor his teenage daughter. She accepts.

But nothing is quite as it seems at the Rochester estate. Though he’s been accused of murdering his glamorous and troubled wife, Evan Rochester insists she drowned herself. Jane is skeptical, but she still finds herself falling for the brilliant and secretive entrepreneur and growing close to his daughter.

And yet her deepening feelings for Evan can’t disguise dark suspicions aroused when a ghostly presence repeatedly appears in the night’s mist and fog. Jane embarks on an intense search for answers and uncovers evidence that soon puts Evan’s innocence into question. She’s determined to discover what really happened that fateful night, but what will the truth cost her?

 

Read An Excerpt:

The fog streamed in white scarves and pennants, with a bright half moon playing hide-and-seek among them. I walked briskly down the asphalt drive, Pilot racing figure eights around me. We cut across switchbacks toward the highway. I kept to the gravel shoulder as the grade descended.

A pair of headlights glowered in the mist, then swept swiftly by.

The highway continued to dip. Pilot romped ahead and disappeared from my sight around a curve.

“Pilot!” I heard him barking but couldn’t see him. I quickened my steps.

I found myself in the middle of a dense cloud. Fog gathered in the depression in the road.

“Pilot?” I yelled again. “Where are you?”

Excited yapping. But he was a ghost dog.

The roar of a motorcycle echoed from around the far side of the bend. Through the blanketing cloud, I caught a glimpse of the poodle trotting onto the road.

“Pilot, get back here!” I screamed.

The motorcycle’s headlamp glowed dimly as it appeared on the near side of the bend. Pilot barked with sudden frenzy. The headlamp veered crazily. Pilot darted off the road into the underbrush. A sickening sound of tires skidding out of control on gravel. A shout.

With horror, I watched motorcycle and rider slam down onto the gravel shoulder.

I ran toward the rider. He was sprawled crookedly next to the bike, but his limbs, encased in black leather and jeans, were moving stiffly. Alive, at least. With a groan, he hoisted himself up onto his elbows.

“Are you okay?” I shined my flashlight on him. He whipped his head. “What the hell are you?”

“Just a person,” I said quickly.

He yanked his goggles down. “For Chrissake. I meant who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Taking a walk.”

“What kind of lunatic goes out for a walk in this kind of fog?”

“Maybe the same kind of lunatic who drives way too fast in it.”

“You call that fast? Christ.” He gingerly gathered himself into a sitting position, then flexed his feet in the heavy boots experimentally. He took off his helmet and shook out a head of rough black curls. A week’s tangle of rough salt-and-pepper beard nearly obscured a wide mouth. The prominent nose might be called stately on a more good-natured face. “What the hell was that creature in the middle of the road?”

“A dog.”

“A dog?”

“A standard poodle. Unclipped.”

He put the helmet back on, then pulled a cell phone from his jacket and squinted at the screen. “Nothing,” he muttered.

“The reception’s kind of iffy around here.”

He flung out an arm. “Help me up, okay?”

I approached him tentatively. He was over six feet and powerfully built. About twice my weight, I guessed. “I’m not sure I can pull you.”

“Yeah, you probably can’t. Stoop down a little.”

God, he’s rude. I did, and he draped his arm around my shoulder, transferring his weight. My knees buckled a little but didn’t give. He began to stand, crumpled slightly, then got his balance and pulled himself up straight.

I suddenly became aware of his intense physicality. The power of his arm and shoulder against my body, the taut spring of the muscles in his chest. As if he sensed what I was feeling, he shook off my support and stood on his own feet.

“At least you can put weight on your feet,” I said. “That’s a good sign.”

“Are you a medical professional?”

“No.”

“Then your opinion doesn’t count for much at the moment.”

Go to hell, was on the tip of my tongue. But the fog’s chill was making me sniffle. It seemed absurd to attempt a stinging retort with a dripping nose. I swiped it surreptitiously with the sleeve of my jacket.

He walked, limping slightly, to the Harley. “This thing’s supposed to take a corner. That’s the main reason I bought it!” He gave the seat a savage kick. Then he hopped on his nonkicking boot and shook a fist as if in defiance of some bully of a god who particularly had it in for him.

I laughed.

He whirled on me. My laughter froze. The look of fury on his face sent a thrill of alarm through me. I edged backward; I felt at that moment he could murder me without compunction and leave my corpse to be devoured by coyotes and bobcats.

But then, to my astonishment, he grinned. “You’re right. I look like an ass.”

Pilot suddenly came crashing out of the underbrush.

“Is that your mutt?”

“Yes. Though, actually, not mine. He’s a recent addition at the place I’m staying.”

He stared at me, a thought dawning. I forced myself to stare back: deep-set eyes, dark as ink. I was about to introduce myself, but he yanked the goggles back over his eyes and stooped to the handlebar of the bike. “Help me get this up. Grab the other bar. You pull and I’ll push.”

“It’s too heavy.”

“I’ll do the heavy lifting. Just do what you can.”

Obstinately, I didn’t move.

“Please,” he added. He made the word sound like an obscenity.

I took a grudging step forward and grabbed hold of the handlebar with both hands. I tugged it toward me as he lifted his side with a grunt. The bike slowly rose upright.

“Hold it steady,” he said.

It felt like it weighed several tons—it took every ounce of my strength to keep my side up as he straddled the seat. He grasped both bars. Engaged the clutch, cursing in pain as he stomped on the pedal. He glanced at me briefly.

And then, sending up a heavy spray of gravel, the Harley roared off into the enveloping fog.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Rochester!” I shouted into the deepening gloom.

Excerpt from Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. Copyright © 2021 by Lindsay Marcott. Published by Thomas & Mercer. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Lindsay Marcott_(c) Kenneth LockerLindsay Marcott is the author of The Producer’s Daughter and six previous novels written as Lindsay Maracotta. Her books have been translated into eleven languages and adapted for cable. She also wrote for the Emmy-nominated HBO series The Hitchhiker and co-produced a number of films. She lives on the coast of California. You can contact the author on her website at https://www.lindsaymarcott.com/.

Connect with the author at:
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Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for one (1) Amazon gift card and one (1) digital copy of Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. This contest is being run by PitchLit Publicity Services. The winner will be selected and contacted by PitchLit at the end of the contest period. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Fran Lewis – POPULATION ZERO

Population Zero

by Fran Lewis

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Hello, book divas and divos. I hope you’ve had a good start to the month of August and found time to get some reading done. Now that it seems like we may be entering another phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, aka “the pandemic that won’t die,” I’m beginning to stockpile reading material. Today, I’m pleased to welcome back author Fran Lewis, with the release of her latest book Population Zero. Ms. Lewis will be talking a little bit about Population Zero and the current pandemic. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say about this work of science fiction and follow along with the blog tour to learn more about the book and author. Thank you, Ms. Lewis for returning today, the blog is yours.

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Population Zero is a compilation of different worlds that have no people have no sun, just darkness, scorching desert heat, no sun, or even enclosed in glass.

Would you want to live in any of my worlds?

I invited someone that is no longer alive to come back and experience the world and explain what he endured.

Here is what one person says about the world of devastation and envision yourself living in it.

Each world is different each person explains what the world is like, the environment and allows the reader to reflect on our world today send start appreciating what we have, and embrace life in a more positive way.

With this pandemic, there are so many changes we have to experience including not being able to at times just enjoy the sunshine without having to cover your face. Imagine a world without people and then maybe we will learn to get along better and embrace our differences, enjoy the outdoors, parks, and more. Population Zero is supposed to awaken us to the possibilities of what works without people would look like.

Life is not the same in our present world and by creating the imaginary worlds in my book I hoped to awaken people to the beauty of the forests, the warmth of the sun, and the water that is so precious and vital to our lives. Inviting someone to come back and experience my worlds I hoped would make those in our present one embrace life and the world they live in even more.

I am a reading and writing specialist and I asked some of my students to read this book and they thought it really hit the mark. Some of the pre-release reviews were really on the mark and I hope that with this tour more people will want to read my work.

Walking in the street with my face covered in a mask I often wonder what it would be like to see a smile, a grin and even more to say hello to a neighbor. No one seems happy and yet there are restaurants, movie theaters, and outdoor venues that have a lot of people and I am still not sure whether it is safe to eat inside a crowded restaurant. Population Zero, I hope you will enjoy it.

This book is totally my imagination, but you never know. Thank you for the guest post. Fran Lewis

Synopsis:

Population Zero by Fran Lewis

Imagine a forest so dense and so filled with trees that you cannot see anything but darkness. The smell of the dead leaves, the creatures that lived there, and the stench they created.

Imagine smashed windows and abandoned satellite dishes and blocks of plaster all over the ground.

Imagine… What might the world be like if humans were suddenly to disappear?

In Population Zero by Fran Lewis, we experience several post-human worlds through the eyes of people who were allowed to visit for one day. A world covered in ice, a world in complete darkness, a world where deserts are plentiful, and others…

Get a glimpse of what our planet would look like if humans stopped existing. Get a glimpse of the future.

Book Praise:

“Fran Lewis’s newest offering is a polished, razor-sharp double-edged sword. On one hand, it is reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone series and just as chilling. On the other, it is a poignant reminder of just how precious and fragile human life on this planet truly is. A riveting read.”
— Vincent Zandri, New York Times and USA Today bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author of The Girl Who Wasn’t There and the Dick Moonlight PI series.

Population Zero creatively focuses on the damage being done by COVID-19 as it ravages the human race, and our inability to deal with climate change.”
— Allan Topol, national best selling author of The French Revenge

Book Details:

Genre: Science Fiction
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 26th 2021
Number of Pages: 76
ISBN: 163752868X (ISBN13: 9781637528686)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

‪Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three master’s degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure.‪

Fran is the author of 19 titles and completed by the titled A Daughter’s Promise. Fran has 6 titles in her Faces Behind the Stones series and her magazine is MJ magazine. She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites.

Her network if MJ network on Blog Talk Radio. You can also find her reviews on just reviews on WordPress. Her latest titles are Sisters : Two sisters from the Bronx, What If? and Silent Voices in her Faces Behind the Stones series and the present one Population Zero. ‬

Catch Up With Our Author:
Tillie49.wordpress.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @berthatillie49
Twitter – @franellena
Facebook

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews & guest posts!
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Guest Post: Jason Bovberg – LOSER BABY

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’m coming off of a week of celebrating my birthday, something I hardly ever celebrate, but turning 60 is a milestone. Needless to say, my mind was all about books and bookish items for the past few days. Hey, book diva here! I think my diva-ness is rubbing off, because my 86-y.o. mother spent more time shopping in a bookstore than I did (okay, maybe it’s genetic and I got it from her!). So back to books and authors, I’ve been thinking about both quite a bit lately. Most authors tell us that they use all of their life experiences and personal encounters as potential ideas for both plots and characters, but what about the settings? Some authors create their towns and others may use their hometowns or towns they visit for settings. Jason Bovberg, author of the newly released Loser Baby, uses his hometown for this book and today he visits and explains why. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say, follow the blog tour, and add Loser Baby to your TBR list. Thank you, Mr. Bovberg, for taking time away from your busy writing and publishing schedule to join us today.

Santa Ana Noir

by Jason Bovberg

I’ve heard it said that Santa Ana is the armpit or even the butt hole of Orange County, California. Now, hey, come on, that just isn’t nice. I grew up in and around Santa Ana (mostly around), and I can state unequivocally that—although it has some butt hole qualities—it can be a fascinating, even exciting place. And that’s a dichotomy I wanted to explore in my new book Loser Baby.

Some of my favorite works of art have a powerful sense of place—from Carl Hiaasen’s Florida-based novels, to James Lee Burke’s explorations of New Orleans, to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent In the Heights, to Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles crime tales, to Spike Lee’s Brooklyn-bound Do the Right Thing. In my own previous novels, the apocalyptic-horror BLOOD trilogy (consisting of Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn), I went for a vivid setting in my current town of Fort Collins, Colorado, laying waste to the idyllic city. I had a blast with it, and so did local readers. For Loser Baby, I decided on Santa Ana because it seemed to speak exactly to the types of characters I wanted to play with, as well as the time I wanted them to live in.

Santa Ana is the center of diversity in SoCal, dense with Latino, Asian, African American, and Native American populations. Outsiders tend to have preconceived notions of southern California—based on things such as The Real Housewives of Orange County, or Beverly Hills 90210, or The Girls Next Door—as primarily an affluent, white-bread, Republican stronghold (and that’s definitely true of places like Newport Beach). But the largest of the Orange County communities are surprisingly thriving melting pots.

In many ways, cities like Santa Ana (and Huntington Beach and Westminster and Garden Grove and Anaheim) are microcosms of the United States today. Santa Ana reflects the best and the worst of us, and everything in between. There’s a strong sense of multiculturalism, of exhilarating diversity—and yet in other ways people tend to stick to their tribal groups. There can be startling moments of community and a feeling of belonging—and yet age-old traditions of xenophobia and fear can creep into the day-to-day. There’s beauty, and there’s hate, just like the rest of America.

And that makes Santa Ana a perfect setting for a crime story involving one character’s redemption.

Here’s Loser Baby‘s opening:

Smack in the middle of Santa Ana on a Friday night, gang-funk psychedelia, the animal snarl and faint butane odor of nitrous-juiced import cars, the streets undulating and ratcheting like a grungy arcade game—rumble, whoosh, clickety-clack. The city was still new to Jasmine Frank, this sprawling expanse of damp concrete, swaying palms, salty beach sweat, and steaming antifreeze. The japchae and the spicy fish tacos and the pulsating afro grooves, the cackling Chicano rap, the cacophony of indecipherable shouts coming at her along Westminster Boulevard—yes! She got off on the staccato ghetto thrill of it all, closing her eyes, lost in the jagged rhythms, the music and the traffic, crisscrossing like a spastic radio dial. A constantly moving mobile night life.

Right from the start, I wanted to emphasize that exciting diversity, to give a taste of what it’s like to ride along those streets—and then let loose with a wild thriller of a novel that involves multiple characters, a series of edge-of-your-seat misadventures, and a crazy collection of cars and cigarettes and fast-food burgers, and bad decisions.

There’s just something about the people that inhabit Loser Baby that told me they HAD to live in Santa Ana. This is not something that occurred to me after a lot of thinking and consideration—it happened immediately and naturally. When I thought about Jasmine and Jordan, Tommy and Kayla, Mark and Lori, I KNEW they were scraping together a rough-and-tumble existence right there on those streets. But beyond the details of their day-to-day, I wanted the story to comment on that wider perspective.

There’s a lot of anger and dysfunction and violence in Loser Baby, but there’s a lot of humor too. And in the end, there’s some redemption. I hope the same will one day be said about our country.

Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.


Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.

Book Praise:

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST and THAT LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE

Loser Baby is the real deal for hardcore crime fiction fans. This one grinds with the engine over the red line all the way. Hang on tight!”
—Eric Beetner, author of ALL THE WAY DOWN

Loser Baby is one cool book! Bovberg writes characters who get into your head and under your skin. You won’t shake this one easily: It’ll stay with you long after you read it!”
Terrill Lee Lankford, author of SHOOTERS and ANGRY MOON

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg’s greatest book and one of the best of the year.”
—Gary Phillips, author of BLOOD AND ASPHALT and BIRDS OF FIRE

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Dark Highway Press
Publication Date: August 2nd 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 9780966262988
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jason Bovberg

Jason Bovberg is the author of the Blood trilogy—Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn—as well as The Naked Dame, a throwback pulp noir novel. His forthcoming books include Tessa Goes Down, a border noir, and A Small Poisonous Act, a suburban crime novel. He is editor/publisher of Dark Highway Press, which published the controversial, erotic fairy tale Santa Steps Out and the weird western anthology Skull Full of Spurs.

He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at www.jasonbovberg.com.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JasonBovberg.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @jasonbovbergauthor
Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage

Tour Participants:

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jason Bovberg. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs August 1st through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: ABDI’S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

SOULstice Publishing Virtual Book Tour, ABDI'S WORLD: THE BLACK CACTUS ON LIFE, RUNNING, AND FUN by Abdi Abdirahman with Myles Schrag and foreword by Mo Farah, photo of Abdi Abdirahmah in white Nike track uniform, with Abdirahman name tag pinned to front of shirt, holding an American flag up in his arms behind him in victory.

Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running, and Fun by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag with a foreword by Mo Farah
ISBN-10: 1733188789 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781733188784 (paperback)
Release Date: August 16, 2021
Publisher: Soulstice Publishing, LLC
Genre: Nonfiction | Memoir | Sports Biographies | Running & Jogging

 
ABDI'S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

Abdi’s World is a quirky place where the only American distance athlete to qualify for five Olympics shares the stories that shaped his enduring love of running and his laid-back approach to life. Abdi Abdirahman arrived in Tucson, Arizona, as a teenager when his family escaped civil war in their home country of Somalia. How the “Black Cactus,” as he is affectionately known, stumbled upon a career as one of the world’s most durable and beloved track and road racers of the 21st century is a story of resilience, commitment, and respect for friends and competitors alike—told here in a guide that is part life lessons, part training tips, part autobiography, and all Abdi. He has traveled the globe and shared his joie de vivre at every stop, showing a magician’s ability to balance work and play that anyone young or old, in or out of running, could learn from to live a more meaningful life. Enter Abdi’s World to join him on his insightful journey—and see what happens when you meet his stride.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | BookDepository.com

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3
Representing America . . . Second Time’s a Charm

 

Have you ever been to Seville, Spain?

Neither have I.

I had plans to be there in August 1999, but I didn’t get to go—and I had only myself to blame.

So much was happening to me so fast that year. I was finishing my second year of classes at the University of Arizona and my final year of collegiate eligibility on the track. On the heels of the NCAAs came the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. I was running the 10,000m there in my first post-collegiate race. Though my fitness was still good, I had no idea what to expect in terms of my performance or how a big meet like this would be conducted.

Among those who would be competing—the very best professional distance runners in the country—I recognized plenty of names from the Pac-10 Conference. The top three in each event would qualify for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, which would be held in Seville. Representing the United States at the Worlds and the Olympics was the best opportunity for these guys to make their money. They weren’t going to show me any mercy.

I felt strong and played it smart in my event. From the start, I and the rest of the field deferred to Alan Culpepper, the favorite. He took charge and we let him. But I hung close and managed to take third place in 28:28.26, six seconds behind Culpepper and four seconds behind runner-up Brad Hauser, one of the Stanford twins I had run against many times over the past two years. In an instant I had achieved something I didn’t think possible—competing at a world-class competition as an American.

Soon, reality replaced my excitement. Paperwork, man. Take care of the details. That’s my hard-earned advice. When you make a national team, the USA Track & Field officials spring into action. Seville was less than two months away even as we crossed the finish line. USATF makes sure you have everything in order so you can make the international trip—passport, visa, fingerprints, shots, a lot of stuff I had never given any thought to. When they said to send them my passport so they could process my application for the trip, I sent them the only document I had: my green card. I didn’t think anything more about it until they called me a few days later and said, “Abdi, we need your passport.” A green card shows you’re in the United States legally, but it doesn’t make you a citizen.

I hadn’t been out of the United States since I arrived in 1993 through a program for Somali refugees. I’d been running and going to school for the past six years. My parents had always taken care of life’s details. They gained citizenship while I was in college, so I assumed that meant I was a U.S. citizen too. What I discovered was that my two brothers and four sisters, all under age 18, received automatic citizenship when my parents did. But I was an adult by then; I had to apply on my own. The clock to Seville was ticking down, and time wasn’t in my favor. I tried to fast-track citizenship, and there are mechanisms for doing that. But I couldn’t get it done soon enough.

When Culpepper and Hauser were running around the track at Seville’s Estadio Olímpico, I was watching it on TV in Tucson. While I was frustrated with myself and understood how I had made the mistake, I also felt like I had let down Meb Keflezighi, my UCLA friend who placed fourth at nationals and would have earned the third spot had I not been there. Meb didn’t have a qualifying time that met the standard required to go to Worlds. By the time I got this all sorted out, he didn’t have time to run a race that might have gotten him a qualifying mark. I’m a laid-back guy and don’t mind making fun of myself. I let things go pretty quickly . . . grudges, regrets, mistakes. But more than 20 years later, this is still a little embarrassing because it wasn’t fair to Meb.

Surely I’m the only athlete who has missed being on a national team because he didn’t know he wasn’t a citizen. Since then, I’ve been proud to represent the United States at the Olympics and the World Championships in track and cross country 13 times. But I can’t count this one.

If anything, this incident reminds me how naïve I was back then. I didn’t have big ambitions of being a runner; I had no big plans at all. Not getting the opportunity to be on the track in Seville in 1999 was an eye-opener. It made me realize I needed to take care of the details if I wanted to run at this level. The Olympic Trials were less than a year away, and I really wanted to wear a USA jersey. I barely remembered Somalia, but in America I had found a place where I could feel at home.

It was time to make it official.

***

As it turns out, if you allow enough time, the process of becoming an American isn’t so difficult. After passing the citizenship interview and exam, I was ready. I became a U.S. citizen on January 28, 2000, just under a month after I “officially” turned 23 years old. Like many refugees who arrive at a border without proof of birth, I was assigned a January 1 birthdate by immigration officials when I entered the United States. My actual birthdate is March 21, 1977, according to my mom, but you won’t see that anywhere else but here.

In just a few weeks, I would compete for a spot on the U.S. team that would go to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. My family had moved to Seattle, Washington, while I was in college, so Coach Murray joined me for a simple naturalization ceremony at the Pima County Courthouse in Tucson.

When you become naturalized as an American citizen, you stand in a strange sort of limbo. You are asked to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States against its enemies. You give up allegiance to any other nation. I had no problem committing to that and taking the oath of allegiance. Also on that day, the emcee names each of the former countries of the new citizens. When I heard “Somalia,” I stood up to acknowledge that was my old country. It’s a funny place to stand. I felt like I had been practicing becoming an American for the past six-plus years. Because of my incredibly rewarding college experience—which was still happening, since I would be taking a few more classes to complete my degree—I was comfortable saying I wanted to be a permanent part of American society. I felt American.

It was humbling and thrilling—I could feel a transition happening in real time. But as with my early days at U of A, where I felt increasingly accepted and open to all that was going on around me, it didn’t change how I saw others. I didn’t feel better than non–U.S. citizens I knew, just like I didn’t feel better than other students at Arizona. I didn’t feel like I was turning my back on Somalia, either. I was just stepping into who I wanted to be: an American. Likewise, I didn’t feel better about myself when I beat other guys in races during my college career, and I didn’t feel worse about myself when I lost to them. In all these situations, if you compare yourself to others and try to take on their journeys, you lose sight of where you want to go.

Excerpt from Abdi’s World by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Copyright 2021 © by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Abdi is an American long-distance runner and a five-time Olympian competing for the United States in the marathon in the upcoming Summer Olympics (July).

Born in Hargeisa, Somalia, Abdirahman graduated from Tucson High School in 1995 and attended Pima Community College before transferring to the University of Arizona for his junior and senior years. At Arizona, Abdirahman was named the 1998 Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country Male
Athlete of the Year. He finished second at the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

He launched his Olympic career when he competed in the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Abdirahman has competed in three Summer Olympics since and is the first American distance runner ever to make five Olympic teams.

At the 2020 United States Olympic Trials in Atlanta, Abdi finished 3rd in the marathon with a time of 2:10:03, securing his place on a fifth Olympic team, and, at 43, becoming the oldest American runner ever to make the Olympic team.

Connect with the Abdi via: Instagram | Twitter

 

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Guest Post: Colleen J. Shogan – DEAD AS A DUCK

Good day, book people. Can you believe we more than halfway through July?! Am I the only one that felt like 2020 seemed to drag on forever but 2021 is flying by a little too quickly? Perhaps it was the unknown pandemic scenario that added to the feeling that life seemed to drag by in slow motion last year. Although there seem to be a host of unknowns remaining with COVID-19, 2021 just seems to by speeding by like a bullet train. Although I’m glad things are getting back to some semblance of normal, I miss the slower pace of things during the quarantine, which I primarily spent reading, drinking tea, reading, and even more reading. I’ve wondered how authors used their “downtime” during the quarantine, and Colleen J. Shogan, author of Dead as a Duck, joins us today to discuss how she spent some of her quarantine time. Thank you, Ms. Shogan for joining us today, the blog is now yours.

In November 2019, my husband and I purchased a small vacation home in the town of Duck, located in the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina. Completely unaware of what would happen in the months ahead, we hoped to spend long weekends at the beach and our usual vacation in early September.

Of course, those plans were upended in March 2020, when the world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After learning that our work would be virtual for the foreseeable future, we began spending more time at our home in the Outer Banks.

This was an unexpected twist of fate, and certainly not anticipated. I was finishing the initial draft of Dead as a Duck. For the purposes of writing, it was fortuitous that I found myself in the location which served as the setting of the seventh book in my series. Instead of remembering the iconic places I was describing in the book, they were only a stroll away.

The Outer Banks is primarily a summer beach destination. There are full-time residents in all of the towns, but the population drastically shrinks once the warm weather dissipates. Such silence is conducive to writing, contemplation, and even relaxation. For the first time in twenty years, I could actually feel myself slow down to a manageable pace. At night, I sat outside on a balcony and gazed at the stars, twinkling in the evening sky. Most evenings, I could hear the gentle roar of the ocean, only three hundred yards away. There was no noise or light pollution to drown out the sounds of the waves and the brightness of the night sky.

It was therapeutic to spend time in the Outer Banks during those unpopulated weeks and months. At times, there might have only been one or two other occupants in residence on my street. The beach was empty all day long, and I cherished the early morning walks on the sand with my aging beagle mutt.

At first, it was difficult to write during the pandemic. But once I adjusted to the imposed quarantine and social distancing, writing became more of an escape than anything else. When I wrote, it was like time travel into a familiar world where a horrible virus hadn’t killed millions of people. It was a comforting reminder that there was a way of life before the pandemic, and that we would hopefully someday return to social interaction and discourse.

My quiet days have ended. The summer tourists now occupy the beaches, and I will return to my office near the White House soon. The devastation of the pandemic far outweighed any positives. However, I will remember my quiet days in the Outer Banks as an extraordinary, unusual experience in which life as we knew it changed forever and stood still at the same time.

Dead as a Duck (A Washington Whodunit) by Colleen J Shogan

About Dead as a Duck

Dead as a Duck (A Washington Whodunit)

Cozy Mystery 7th in Series

Publisher: Camel Press (July 14, 2021)

Paperback: 230 pages

ISBN-10: 1942078323

ISBN-13: 978-1942078326

Digital ASIN: B08WTPNBD6

Congressional staffer Kit Marshall is looking forward to a much-deserved summer vacation in the Outer Banks. When the mayor of the beach town turns up dead, Kit and her friends need to put their fun and relaxation on hold to help solve the crime.

August has been a busy month for congressional staffer Kit Marshall. She hit the road with her boss, Congresswoman Maeve Dixon, who is considering running for the United States Senate in North Carolina. After endless town halls and meet-and-greets, Kit is happy to end the tour in Duck, an upscale beach town in the Outer Banks.

Before Kit can relax on her much-deserved vacation with her husband Doug, brother Sebastian, best friend Meg, and beagle mutt Clarence, the body of Duck’s mayor is found floating in the shallow waters of the Currituck Sound.

Kit’s brother Sebastian, who got in a public kerfuffle with the victim the day before, becomes the prime suspect. Solving the mystery takes her to popular hotspots in the Outer Banks, including a private tour featuring the wild horses of Corolla.

Kit must sacrifice sun-filled days of relaxation to clear her brother. In the end, Kit and Sebastian put their own lives on the line to secure a confession from the killer and make sure justice is served.

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKobo
 

Praise for the Series

“The mystery is perplexing—for Kit and company, and for me—and well done. I was impressed by the complexity of the murder plot. I enjoyed the political theme, and all the details about lobbyists.” —Jane Reads

“To someone who has mastered that uniquely Washington skill of bobbling two cell phones and a glass of wine without spilling a drop, solving a murder is practically child’s play.” —HillRag

“A solid choice for political junkies and readers of ­Maggie ­Sefton, Fred Hunter, and Mike Lawson.” —Library Journal

“The fourth volume in author Colleen J. Shogan’s simply outstanding ‘Washington Whodunit’ series, K Street Killing is a consistently entertaining read with many an unexpected twist and turn by a true master of the genre.” —Midwest Book Review

“Shogan does a good job depicting the creaky, squeaky wheels of government, and Marshall plays politics and sleuth with equal dexterity in this capital Capitol Hill mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

“Loads of inside scoop about the workings of Senate offices—complete with all the gossiping, back-stabbing, and procedural maneuvering—plus an appealing young sleuth, sprightly pacing, and an edge-of-your-seat showdown on the Hart-Dirksen underground train.” —Literary Hill

“An excellent whodunit…. I was really impressed with this very smart story. The author is a former Senate staffer so she is writing what she knows, less the murder, I hope.” —Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book

“Readers who enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries written in the style of Agatha Christie will enjoy this promising debut mystery.” —The Washington Independent Review of Books

About Colleen J. Shogan

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at numerous universities. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Currently, she’s a Senior Vice President at the White House Historical Association. A member of Sisters in Crime, Colleen splits her time between Arlington, VA and Duck, NC.

Authors Prior titles: STABBING IN THE SENATE, HOMICIDE IN THE HOUSE, CALAMITY AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB, K STREET KILLING, GORE IN THE GARDEN, LARCENY AT THE LIBRARY

Author Links
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/washingtonwhodunit/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/cshogan276
Website – www.colleenshogan.com
GoodReads – www.goodreads.com/cshogan276

GIVEAWAY

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $75.00 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice). There will be one (1) winner selected. Void where prohibited.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

July 15 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

July 15 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

July 16 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

July 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 17 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

July 18 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 19 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – SPOTLIGHT

July 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

July 20 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 21 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

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Book Showcase: SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY by Katharine Schellman

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman Banner

Silence in the Library

by Katharine Schellman

July 12 – August 6, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit.

Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them.

“And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.”

Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.”

The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else.

Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above.

“Good morning, Father.”

He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised.

Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.”

He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?”

“It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—”

“What is your appointment?”

He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—”

“That sailor again, I assume?”

Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.”

“And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer.

Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric.

Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning.

She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused.

“You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently.

Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage.

But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her.

“Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.”

***

She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough.

Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls.

Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand.

For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching.

Lily nodded. “I know.”

Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.”

***

There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home.

“Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?”

“You mean you did not find me pretty before?”

“I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.”

Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.”

“Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out.

“Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!”

They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within.

Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?”

He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.”

“And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.”

“Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind.

The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm.

She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise.

His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?”

“The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?”

“Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.”

Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?”

“In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.”

***

Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

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Guest Post: Linda Lovely – WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE

With Neighbors Like These

by Linda Lovely

July 12 – August 6, 2021 Tour

Good day, book people. One of my many quirks, and I have quite a few, is that I enjoy reading about small towns but don’t like living in one. Although I live in one of the largest cities in my home state, it has a population of less than 50,000 so definitely has that small-town vibe. I love big cities, the bigger the better. Readjusting to small-town life after nearly 30 years of living in cities like Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA is huge. Having said that, I really enjoy small town life as it is portrayed in books. Today, I’m pleased to welcome an author that is no stranger to living and writing about small town life. Linda Lovely is the author of numerous books, including the recently released With Neighbors Like These. Ms. Lovely will be sharing with us why she’s attracted to writing about small town life. Thank you, Ms. Lovely, for stopping by and sharing with us today, the blog is all yours.

A Small Town Mold

As unlikely as it might seem, the heroines of my nine mystery-suspense novels have one thing in common—they’re native Iowans. This may seem rather odd given that only two of my books are set in Iowa, and one of these is a 1938 historical suspense.

My heroines range in age from late twenties to early fifties. Their professions run the gamut from forensic accountant to vegan chef. Two of my leading ladies retired from military careers—one as an Army Intelligence officer, the latest, as a Coast Guard Investigator. These women tend to live in the South. Not a big surprise since my husband and I have called the South home for four decades.

Yet, like me, my heroines either grew up in Keokuk, Iowa—my hometown—or another small Midwestern city.

Why? With my active imagination, it’s easy to picture what life might be like today for a vegan chef or a retired Coastie. What I can’t seem to envision is growing up someplace other than the Midwest. My values, frames of reference, figures of speech, experiences and outlook are rooted in my small town, middle-America upbringing. As a consequence, my heroines tote the same bags (for better or worse).

I’m talking lifestyle not politics. My heroines are independent and stubborn, partially as a result of growing up with smart, working mothers. These moms lectured their girls on the importance of education and encouraged their daughters to speak their minds. Since money was tight, my heroines worked summer jobs. They picked strawberries and tomatoes, taught swimming, waitressed, and worked as cooks. In addition to girlfriends, their friendship circles included boy pals. My heroines played softball, and rode their bikes to the public swimming pool. As members of high school debate teams, they traveled the state, arguing one side of a question one week, the opposite, the next.

I realize girls who grew up elsewhere may share the same values, determination and optimism as my heroines. I’m just not confident my writing can conjure up appropriate coming-of-age experiences for young women growing up in the Big Apple or LA, on a Deep South farm, or in a wealthy suburb. As a result, my heroines are stuck with the lessons and memories of my early years. Plus, their Iowa upbringing gives them a legit reason to call something “hinky” and share my other figure-of-speech peculiarities that sometimes stump my Southern-born critique partners.

That said, while my heroines all began their lives in Iowa, they’ve succeeded in diverse careers and they’ve found plenty of adventure, friendship, laughter and love in their new homes.


Synopsis:

With Neighbors Like These by Linda Lovely

MANAGING AN HOA IS MURDER…

He championed shooting deer inside the HOA’s nature sanctuary. Now his corpse is posed curbside, cradling a trophy deer head. The theatrical murder panics residents, and Ted Welch asks Kylee Kane, retired Coast Guard investigator, to help his HOA management firm calm fears. Kylee agrees. Her own mother is getting death threats over her crusade to protect the deer.

HOA=DOA TERROR REIGNS…

When a belligerent owner in another HOA is murdered, terror reigns. The Sheriff’s Department blames Ted for letting HOA feuds spiral into homicide. Kylee discovers links between the victims and suspects a recently-pardoned general is next. Authorities and the arrogant general dismiss her warning. Can she foil the third act in the crafty killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?

Praise for With Neighbors Like These:

“Linda Lovely delivers another twisty mystery with the perfect mix of wry humor and quirky characters. Anyone looking for a fun, fast page-turner, here it is!”
–Tami Hoag, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“HOA communities seem deceptively safe, but the mix of gossip and politics in rule-bound groups can be a fertile breeding ground for murder. For the gutsy Kylee Kane, a fact-finding gig in South Carolina’s Lowcountry turns increasingly complex and dangerous. With Neighbors Like These offers a distinctive setting, a tenacious female sleuth and captivating suspense.”
–Katherine Ramsland, bestselling author of How to Catch a Killer

“Low Country murder, intrigue, and even a little romance abound in With Neighbors Like These. Kylee Kane is a welcome addition to the genre, and author Linda Lovely knows how to stir the pot with crackling dialogue and a tidy little mystery. Highly recommended!”
–Richard Helms, Derringer and Thriller Awards winning author of Brittle Karma

Book Details:

Genre:Traditional Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 326
ISBN: 9781953789457
Series: HOA Mystery Series, Book 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Linda Lovely

A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime and former chapter president, Lovely also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For many years, she helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy. She lives on a lake in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, and enjoys swimming, tennis, gardening, long walks, and, of course, reading.

Catch Up With Our Author:
www.LindaLovely.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @LindaLovely
Twitter: @LovelyAuthor
Facebook: @LindaLovelyAuthor

 

Tour Participants:

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https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=301964

 

Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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