Guest Post: DiAnn Mills – TRACE OF DOUBT

trace-of-doubt-by-diann-mills--cover

Good day, book divas and divos. I spent about a year “thinking” about blogging about books before I took the first step and just started. This might seem like a small thing, but for an introvert like me it was huge. Sometimes, we just have to take that first step and everything else will seem to fall into place. I’m incredibly pleased to welcome today’s guest to the blog as her books routinely get added to my TBR list. Please help me welcome DiAnn Mills, author of the recently released Trace of Doubt. Ms. Mills will be discussing taking a leap of faith and following your dreams. I hope you’ll be like Ms. Mills and follow your dream, and while you’re making arrangements to do so, perhaps you’ll add Trace of Doubt to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Mills for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Never Too Late

DiAnn Mills

In 1996, my husband said to me, “Stop telling me someday you’re going to write a book. Do it now. Quit your job. I give you one year to get anything published.” My youngest son was a senior in high school. Was I too old to begin a new career writing fiction? I’d felt the urge to write for the previous five years, but I was afraid to get started. Afraid of failure. Afraid I was too old to begin a new career.

I wanted to write. Could taste the thrill of publication. “I believe in you,” my husband said.

I accepted the challenge and devised a plan to work smart and effectively. I looked at my writing goals like a full-time job. If I were to reach the ultimate of publication, I’d have to soar to the top of the craft. My day was organized into writing, studying how-to books, reading in my genre, digesting blog posts, and exploring which conferences would teach me the most and provide exposure to agents, editors, and other writers. I started a writer’s critique group that met for over ten years.

During the first year, I wrote devotions, articles, a short story, and a historical novel. Sure, I had a rejections and publications, but I never went back to my old job. In 1998, my first novel released. Oh, the excitement of tearing into the box of author copies. The cover … the book’s name … my name. A dream come true.

That was 87 books ago. But don’t think it’s been easy. Every novel is a little tougher to write. The characterization must be deeper. The plot’s twists and turns unexpected. The setting more intense. The dialogue and emotion like a sword fight. For me, writing five nonfiction books were like clawing my way up a cliff.

I believed my calling and purpose in life is to write and teach serious writers what I’ve learned and continue to learn about the craft, social media, marketing, branding, and reaching out to readers.

Techniques and tools of the craft weren’t immediately drop-shipped into my brain. I experienced lots of deletes and rewrites. Still do! Writing is about hard work and sacrifices.

The older we get; the more wisdom is packed into our heads. Now may be the time to organize your life and make a plan to march forward. Let others know you have a special interest and ask for support.

Coretta Scott King said, “I learned that when you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone.”

What is holding you back from reaching your goals? Be courageous and toss off those shackles. Now is the time to pursue your dreams.


Trace of Doubt

by DiAnn Mills

September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

Praise for Trace of Doubt:

“Well-researched… with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the story line keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart… Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 7th 2021
Number of Pages: 432
ISBN: 1496451856 (ISBN13: 9781496451859)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Tyndale | Books-A-Million | Murder By The Book | Goodreads

Check Out This Fab Trailer for Trace of Doubt:

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed:

DiAnnMills.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DiAnnMills
Instagram – @DiAnnMillsAuthor
Twitter – @DiAnnMills
Facebook – @DiAnnMills

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Guest Post: Kat Flannery – THE MEMORY BELL

the-memory-bell-by-kat-flannery--cover

Good day, book people. I hope those of you in the USA will get to spend some of your Labor Day holiday today reading. I hope those of you elsewhere are able to find some time today to squeeze in some reading. If you’re like me, an avid reader, I’m always amazed when I pick up a new-to-me book or series about how much detail the author will include about the characters. Some authors provide glimpses of the characters backstory and other authors will weave the backstory into overall story. It doesn’t seem to matter how they craft their characters, the more details I have about a character, the more three-dimensional they seem to become. Today I’m pleased to welcome an award-winning and bestselling author, Kat Flannery, whose latest book, The Memory Bell, was released a few months ago. Ms. Flannery will be discussing the importance of character biographies with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour, and add The Memory Bell to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Flannery, for taking time out of your busy schedule and joining us today. The blog is now yours.

Character Bios

Kat Flannery

The Memory Bell was so much fun to write, but that didn’t mean there weren’t challenges along the way. I’d be lying if I told you the whole writing process was a breeze, and nothing went wrong. Ha, I don’t think any author could spout that sentence as true. There are always problems and as the author—the creator you have to figure out how you’re going to fix them.

With all of my novels there are problems and sometimes they’re really big ones. You know, ones that require me to rewrite 10,000 words, or scratch a whole beginning, or worst-case scenario delete the whole manuscript and start over. Every single one of the above happened when I was writing The Memory Bell in the first four months. I honestly didn’t know if the book would ever get written.

When I set out to write a contemporary mystery littered with family drama, I had no idea how in-depth I would need to go to put the Penner’s to paper. The process was crazy and long and at times annoying. Why? Well for starters I had to write a bio on every single one of the Penners so that I could understand them better, really get to know them. Yeah, I had pages upon pages of backstory and conversations that I never used. Alas it was all necessary so that I could write each character perfectly. Did it make the process any less painful? No, it did not, but I know it needed to happen.

My job as an author is to deliver well researched, three dimensional characters that are real to my readers just like they are real to me. AND if that means I write 22,000 words of character biographies and backstory, then that is what I do. I hope you enjoy reading The Memory Bell and learning all about the devious Penner clan.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

The Memory Bell

by Kat Flannery

September 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery

Grace Penner’s safe haven crumbles when a body is found outside of town.

Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather’s will, Grace’s excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing.

Determined to find them, she is halted when the new detective, Bennet James, investigates her family. Grace is intent on showing the detective her family isn’t capable of murder, but as the investigation deepens, and pieces of the bell show up with ominous notes, Grace soon realizes the Penners are not what they seem. Amidst the tightly knit family; dark secrets, deception, and possibly even murder unfold.

Will Grace be able to save the family she loves more than anything without losing herself forever?

Praise for The Memory Bell:

“A naïve small-town girl and a disillusioned big-city cop, drawn together by an unsolved crime that is itself only the tip of the iceberg, The Memory Bell serves up the perfect steamy summer read.”
–Jenny Jaeckel, author of House of Rougeaux

“The story moves beyond a small town whodunit to probe the underlying bonds of history that connect a family.”
-Midwest Book Review

“Wonderful, engaging, and fast-paced! Flannery knows what she’s doing!”
-Jonas Saul, author of the Sarah Roberts series

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1684337089 (ISBN-13:978-1684337088)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Kat Flannery

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. A member of many writing Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. When she’s not busy writing, or marketing Kat volunteers her time to other aspiring authors. She has been a keynote speaker, lecturer and guest author inspiring readers and writers at every event she attends. Kat’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career, and continues to write for blogs and online magazines. A bestselling author, Kat’s books are available all over the world. The BRANDED TRILOGY is Kat’s award-winning series. With seven books published, Kat continues to plot what story will be next. Creativity is in all aspects of Kat’s career. She does Social Media and Marketing for her own career and businesses, writing ads, and other content.

Catch Up With Kat Flannery:
www.KatFlannery.com/Books-1
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatFlannery
Instagram – @katflannery_
Twitter – @KatFlannery1
Facebook – @kat.flannery.5

 

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Marlie Wasserman author of THE MURDERESS MUST DIE

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. Well, we have another week almost completed and I hope you’re all doing well. I’m in a variety of book clubs, some meet online and others meet locally. One of my local book clubs is dedicated to nonfiction, a genre I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like until recently. My nonfiction book club is a temporary hiatus and I’ve been reading a lot of true crime books as well as fictionalized books about real people (criminals and noncriminals). I’m hooked on both the true crime nonfiction stories as well as the fictionalized stories about people long gone. These are just a few of the reasons I’m incredibly honored to welcome today’s guest to the blog. Please help me welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman, author of The Murderess Must Die. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour, and add The Murderess Must Die to your ever-growing TBR lists. Thank you, Ms. Wasserman for joining us today and sharing your insight on true crime and historical crime fiction.

Focus on Killer or Victim?

I write in the mashed-up genre of true crime meets historical crime fiction. In short, I start with a true crime that happened long ago and then imagine the lives of the people involved in that crime. From the beginning I have both a known killer and a known victim. For my new novel, The Murderess Must Die, I began by focusing on the killer, a middle-aged woman named Martha Place, living in Brooklyn in 1898. I had less interest in her victim—Martha’s eighteen-year-old stepdaughter, Ida Place.

A few months into my writing I read an essay by Hallie Rubenhold, the author of a great nonfiction book, The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold admonishes writers of crime fiction to pay scant attention to criminals and more attention to victims. This was not a shock to me—I had been hearing well-intentioned newscasters advocate the same approach as they covered mass shootings—but I had been slow to apply the lesson to my own writing. I stopped work on my novel for a few days, wondering if I could continue to write a book that focused on the bad guy, or bad gal.

Rather than dropping the project, I re-conceived it to have multiple first-person points of view. Although Martha Place’s voice remains at the center of the novel, we also hear the voice of her dead victim, stepdaughter Ida. When readers first meet Ida, they see her behaving as a spoiled brat who has everything going for her and maybe deserves the harm that comes to her. I try to move beyond those first impressions to explore Ida’s tragic personal history, imagining how that history may have exacerbated traits that incited hatred in her stepmother.

Perhaps almost as importantly, Hallie Rubenhold’s admonition led me to expand on the definition of victim. Yes, Ida, as the murdered teenager, is the obvious victim, but Martha Place’s crime affects and arguably comes close to victimizing the many people who occupy concentric circles around her. By murdering Ida, Martha harms the reputation of her siblings and her nieces. By refusing to cooperate with her lawyers, Martha makes their job impossible. As the first woman to be executed in the electric chair, she unintentionally causes stress to the day matron and the night matron hired to guard her in Sing Sing. By refusing to consider herself a sinner, she challenges the spiritual advisors enlisted to guard her soul. By befriending the wife of the prison warden, Martha upsets the usual rhythms of Sing Sing. I look too at whether her impending doom affects the executioner, who had never pulled the switch on a woman before. How did the experience of being connected to a convicted killer change these people? Ida Place was the official victim, but not the only person who suffered.

When I followed advice to look at the victim as well as the killer, I used a wide lens, imagining how a single act of murder victimized overlapping communities. I am certain that is a useful lens for contemporary crime fiction as well as historical crime fiction.

The Murderess Must Die

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

August 16 – September 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha’s story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

 

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman’s poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place’s life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman’s life? This true-crime novel does more–it transcends the painful retelling of Place’s life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place’s personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

 

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

 

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn’t often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

 

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
www.MarlieWasserman.com
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman
Facebook – @marlie.wasserman

Tour Participants:

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlie Parker Wasserman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from August 16th until September 12, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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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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Join In on the Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Gardner. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each winner will ONE (1) signed print edition of The Journalist by David Gardner (US Mailing Addresses Only). The giveaway begins on August 1 and runs through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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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/.

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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.

guestpost.png

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. ‬

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Twitter – @franellena
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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.

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Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage

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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

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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

July 21 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

July 22 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 23 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

July 24 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

July 24 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

July 25 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

July 26 – Brooke Blogs – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 26 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

July 27 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

July 27 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 27 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

July 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

July 28 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

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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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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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Guest Post: James L’Etoile – BLACK LABEL

BLACK LABEL by James L'Etoile tour banner; aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge in background, book cover on the right: aerial view of Golden Gate Bridge at night highlighting lights on the bridge, BLACK LABEL at the top of the cover with a broken pill capsule emptying into the final "L" of the word LABEL.

Good day, book divas and divos. Are you anything like me and wondering what path writers’ have taken to get to them to where they are now? Do you question if they write about what they’ve experienced or are they simply incredibly creative and gifted at making it all up in their heads? If you’re like me and ask yourself those kinds of questions as you read, then you’re going to love today’s guest. Please help me welcome, James L’Etoile, author of the soon-to-be-released Black Label and more. Mr. L’Etoile has been kind enough to share with us his path to writing. I hope you’ll enjoy his visit, follow the blog tour, and add Black Label to your ever-increasing TBR list. Thank you, Mr. L’Etoile, for taking the time to join us today, the blog is now yours.

guestpost.png

Thank you for letting me guest post on your blog today. I’m James L’Etoile and I write thrillers and suspense. My latest, Black Label (Level Best Books) is set for release next week—gulp. Black Label will be my fourth traditionally published novel and I’m incredibly grateful for the readers, editors, reviewers, and bloggers who make everything that goes into a book worthwhile.

I’ll be bringing Black Label out on the road in 2021, after a strange and painful year. I enjoy talking about the book, writing and what goes into creating a story. A regular question I get at author events (remember when we could hold those live and in person) and conferences is, “When did you become a writer?” It’s a common question and several of my author friends are able to gleefully pipe off that they’ve been writing since they were nine years old, or they’ve published a dozen books by the time they were twenty-five.

That ain’t me.

I didn’t start my journey down the publishing trail until I’d retired from a twenty-nine year career working in California prison system. I served as a facility captain, hostage negotiator, associate warden of a maximum security prison, and the director of the state’s parole system. In my precious off time, I would read as a way to disconnect from the violence and madness of the world behind the bars. The reading continued after I quit working, but the characters and situations I experienced over those years stuck with me.

I don’t remember the book I was reading at the time, but the ending seemed a little flat and the characters felt somewhat recycled. I muttered to myself, “I could do better than that.” It hit me like a flash. I could do this. But what about all the writing workshops and MFA degrees? Don’t you need all that before you can write? The short answer is, no. You don’t have to pass any litmus test to call yourself a writer. The difficult part is the transition from writer to published author.

Confidence is the fuel you’ll need to burn on your journey to becoming a published author. It’s hard to come by in this business and burns quick. You’ll find your confidence in yourself and your ability to tell a compelling story. It takes time and patience to fill your tank. Some people believe they must have an MFA under their belt to feel confidence, while others dig deep upon their life experiences to fuel their quest. I fell into the latter and drew from the rich exposure to people who inhabit a darker world few come back from. Prison, parole, and probation are where you find people at their lowest, their most vulnerable, and in some cases you catch a faint glimmer of hope. Early in my career I worked as a probation officer writing pre-sentence reports for the sentencing judge. I’d go in the jail, interview the defendant and get their version of the crime, review all of the police reports and documents, talk with the victims, and put it all together for the judge into one document on which he would base his sentencing decision. I didn’t know it at the time, but even back then, I was, in a sense, writing crime stories. That ability to distill the elements of a story down to the essential elements, helped give me the confidence to transition into a published author.

Writing publishable commercial fiction meant learning more about the craft—the mechanics of writing if you will—of creating something that would grab a reader’s attention. Writers conferences and workshops like the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference are a great opportunity to learn all those things you didn’t know went into creating a story. Book Passage holds an annual craft-centered conference to help writers learn about story structure, voice, point-of-view, character development, and pacing—all elements a writer needs to bring to their work. I’ve attended Book Passage’s Mystery Writers Conference as a participant, and as a faculty member in recent years. The exposure to the tools and the authors at the event was priceless. I thank them in the acknowledgement pages of Black Label.

As a writer you’re constantly learning and honing your ability to tell stories. As a reader myself, I can sense when an author is phoning it in. While there is comfort in familiar characters, every novel, or short story, has to be better than the one before. There is a risk in the familiar and comfortable. If I’m not a little excited, apprehensive, and pulled in by the story I’m writing, there is a good chance that the reader won’t be all that excited either.

Writing and the daily practice of putting words on the page has been very therapeutic. The stress and violence I washed in everyday for nearly thirty years, now has a place to go. In my stories, there is justice for the aggrieved, redemption for the fallen, and a look into how the real-life criminal justice system interacts with those caught up in the process.

Every writer’s path is unique to their experience. Your mileage may vary…

I hope you have a chance to take a look at Black Label. I’ve taken the fear of being out of control, being in a place where no one believes you, and mixed it with the undercurrent of greed in the pharmaceutical industry. One woman is caught between greed, corporate corruption, and murder. Her life is on the line for a crime she doesn’t know if she committed, or not.


Black Label

by James L’Etoile

July 12 – August 8, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Black Label by James L'Etoile

Sanity is something you don’t miss until it’s gone. Hard charging pharmaceutical executive Jillian Cooper fears she’d destined to inherit her mother’s history of mental illness when she finds herself accused of murdering her boss. All the evidence tells her she’s either a murderer, or insane. When Jillian struggles to find the truth, she uncovers a web of black market pharmaceuticals, prison gangs, and greed. She begins to believe she may have killed to cover up the off-the-books drug operation.

Can she discover the truth before she’s condemned to life in prison, or a mental hospital?

Praise

“Tight, terrific, terrifying. BLACK LABEL delves into the murky world of pharmaceuticals where profit is prioritized above all else. L’Etoile creates a strong female lead in Jillian Cooper, a woman who faces obstacle after obstacle, but still charges into the abyss. More unnerving than a fistful of amphetamines. Unputdownable.”
—K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK

“James L’Etoile’s BLACK LABEL is a delightfully complex and twisty thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that will make you think long and hard before you swallow your next dose of medication. Add in an intrepid heroine willing to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth no matter the cost, and L’Etoile’s newest offering is a winner!”
— Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER

“Relentlessly fast-paced and compellingly twisty! The talented James L’Etoile sets up an irresistibly high-stakes situation: a woman is certain to be charged with murder and doesn’t remember a thing. Can she prove her innocence before she’s silenced forever? A dark journey through the world of big Pharma and big money—you will turn the pages as fast as you can.”
— Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling author of THE FIRST TO LIE

“If this book had a tag, it would say ‘proceed with caution’ because nothing is what it seems. Told with a vivid and visceral style, this is le Carré’s Constant Gardener meets The Fugitive. As the title suggests, BLACK LABEL is a top of the line thriller.”
Gabriel Valjan, Agatha and Anthony Award nominated author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1-953789-14-3
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

James L'Etoile

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include: At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River -The Other Side of Paradise.

Catch Up With James L’Etoile:
www.JamesLEtoile.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @jimletoile
Instagram – @AuthorJamesLEtoile
Twitter – @JamesLEtoile
Facebook – @james.letoile

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=302258

 

Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for James L’Etoile. There will be Seven (7) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $20 Amazon.com gift card; Three (3) winners will each receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card; and Two (2) winners will each receive 1 signed print edition of At What Cost and Bury the Past by James L’Etoile. The giveaway begins on July 12 and runs through August 10, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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